Black Box East

Even decades after the official end of the Cold War, ‘the East’ remains the Other. Only because of this reinforced Othering of what Western media now designates ‘post-communist’ space can it so comfortably function as a black box of the West’s ethical imperialism: the much-invoked opacity of ‘the East’ can be presented as a lack of transparency and hence a legitimation for the West’s ostensibly ‘civilizing’ therapies and impositions; meanwhile, that very opacity can be used to veil privatization processes of state-owned enterprises, for instance, in obscurantism, that is, beyond the light of rational comprehension and democratic accountability. Black-boxing ‘the East’ in this way makes it possible to conceal abuses of power, wide-ranging mechanisms of exploitation, and privatization-related aggravation of structural problems. Moreover, it provides the perfect conditions for the misuse of subsidies, white-collar crime, and organized crime.

Scrutinizing the double standards underlying capitalism’s post-1989 expansion, the Berliner Gazette (BG) project takes Germany as a starting point: a nation-state whose entrepreneurial agenda (“first we take East Germany, then we take eastern Europe and beyond”) has reached a critical limit. The most obvious signs of this would be the increasing precariousness and radicalization in ‘the new states’, as BG founding editors Magdalena Taube and Krystian Woznicki show in their introductory essay. Read it in English or in German.

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