Early Announcement

• Tue 18 – Wed 19 04 2017 •
The Extreme Centre Symposium

A Symposium on the Future of Politics in Times of Populism

Tue 18 04 2017
21:00 Performance by MICHAEL PORTNOY

Wed 19 04 2017
21:00 Performance by LAIBACH

A seismic shock coupled with fear has seized the worldwide political landscape. Since the US presidential election and the UK’s vote to leave the EU, populist positions that until recently lurked in obscurity on the margins of democracy are abruptly gaining centrality. On the horizon appears not only a possible collapse of the EU but also a worldwide victory of authoritarian systems. Propaganda, hate speech, and attacks on minorities are suddenly becoming commonplace again. Is a new fascism imminent with the mainstream entry of right-wing nationalist positions? Or do different variations of fascism spread themselves out in a diversity of national flavours, whether in Europe or in the USA?

The conference takes up the title of a recently published book by the British historian Tariq Ali. It almost seems as though capitalism no longer needs democracy. Replacing the once reliable political categories of “left” and “right”, the “extreme centre” has emerged—a neoliberal consensus that, according to Ali, is distinguished primarily through a compliant service to the market.

Are Western democracies committing political suicide by increasingly adopting right-wing nationalist positions? What do these alarming developments mean for politics, society, and culture? Which arguments can curb the infamy of fabricated “facts,” a political rhetoric that disrespects all established democratic playing rules? Where can economic and political solutions be found and what do they look like?

Renowned sociologists, philosophers, theoreticians, and activists will meet in April in Cologne for a two-day conference to discuss these questions. Participants are Hungarian philosopher Ágnes Heller, Croatian philosopher and activist Srećko Horvat, and American sociologist Saskia Sassen on 18 04 2017; and British Pakistani historian and author Tariq Ali, Spanish doctor and theologist Teresa Forcades i Vila and German journalist and writer Andreas Speit on 19 04 2017. In close cooperation with regional universities, a student support program offering intensive workshops and discussions will complement the symposium. For this initiative, the Academy has issued an EU-wide Open Call.

Venue: Volksbühne am Rudolfplatz, Cologne
Tickets: Symposium 8 € / 5 € (reduced)
Michael Portnoy's performance is included in the price. Laibach Performance 28 € pre-sale of tickets and 30 € box office on the evening of the event; each incl. commission

In English and German