'No we can't'. Crisis as chance

volume 9, number 1
February, 2009
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In 1931 two friends, Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht, planned to launch a journal named Krisis und Kritik, thus linking ‘crisis’ directly to ‘critique’ in a manner that would become emblematic of the very idea of societal crisis in Europe during this decade. Spreading to Europe, a financial crisis in the US reinforced the dominant crisis of the Old World: a political crisis in the form of a fascist upsurge. Whereas fascism blossomed to its fullest in total annihilation, however, Benjamin and Brecht’s journal was never realized. The first victim of war is critique. Other casualties were to follow, and for Benjamin it should all end there; he later killed himself while fleeing the Nazis.

When observing the political development in Europe during this epoch, it seems as if the realization of a crisis will lead to a worsening and further dissemination of the problems that provoked the crisis in the first place: the Versailles Treaty inspired the Germans (as well as other European states) to stronger forms of nationalism. Will the current crisis in capitalism likewise intensify the problems it creates?