• 18​ – 19​ 04​ 2017 •
The Extreme Centre – On the Future of Politics in Populist Times

Moderated by MARGARITA TSOMOU (18.4.) and GEORG RESTLE (19.4.)

Venue: Volksbühne am Rudolfplatz, Aachener Str. 5, 50674 Cologne
8 € day ticket / 5 € reduced / 4 € reduced for groups of 10 persons or more

Reservation recommended. To reserve tickets, please write to
Reservation open until April 11. Box office on the days of the events opens at 16:00. Group tickets only available via reservation.

In English with German translation

Politics today are undergoing a tectonic global shift. The constant ping-pong between center left and center right characterizing the epoch of neoliberalism is over. If, after the Second World War, with the creation of the “welfare state,” capitalism was still constraining xenophobia and nationalism, it is obvious that today capitalism doesn’t need democracy anymore. Policies until recently advocated only by the ultra-right are now implemented by a political establishment formerly sworn to moderation. The former political categories of left and right are completely unreliable, and the center itself has become extreme, to paraphrase the title of a recent book by Tariq Ali. What do these processes mean to politics, to society, and to culture? Is there any way to recoup notions of left and right after a radicalized centrism has eliminated the very notion of politics? Social theorists, philosophers, and activists join for a two-day conference to discuss the hegemony of the “Extreme Centre” as it has emerged over recent years. They examine the reasons for the collapse or implosion of political cultures both in Europe and beyond, and ask what that might mean for the future of politics.

TUE 18 4 2017/ 17:30

ÁGNES HELLER is a Hungarian philosopher and a Holocaust survivor. She was one of the key members of the Budapest School, a forum formed by philosopher Georg Lukács in the early 1960s to promote the renewal of Marxist criticism in the face of really existing socialism in Hungary. Heller emigrated to New York in 1986, where she became Hannah Arendt’s successor as chair for philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York. She authored numerous works, among others Everyday Life (Routledge Kegan & Paul 1984), The Theory of Need in Marx (Allison and Busby 1976) and Can Modernity Survive? (polity press 1990). In 2016, her essay Von der Utopie zur Dystopie: Was können wir uns wünschen? (Edition Konturen) was released.

SREĆKO HORVAT is a Croatian philosopher and activist regarded as one of the central figures of the New Left in post-Yugoslavia. Most recently published books include Subversion! (Zero Books 2017), The Radicality of Love (Polity 2015) and together with Slavoj Žižek What Does Europe Want? (Columbia University Press 2014). Together with Yannis Varoufakis, he is one of the initiators of the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM 2025). Horvat is co-curator of the symposium The Extreme Centre and will be in Cologne as a Fellow of the Academy of the Arts of the World in April/May 2017. He lives and works in Zagreb.

SASKIA SASSEN is an American sociologist and economist. During the 1980s and 1990s, she emerged as a key author in urban sociology, who coined the term of the “global city”. Her work examines the impact of globalization, economic restructuring, and communication technology upon urban life and its governance. Sassen authored numerous books which have been translated into well over 20 languages. Most recent titles include Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy (2014), Cities in a World Economy (Sage 2012) and Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages (Princeton University Press 2008). Sassen is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, New York, and a Member of its Committee on Global Thought.

MARGARITA TSOMOU works as an author, dramatic advisor, cultural worker and curator. Based in Berlin, she is one of the publishers of the pop-feminist Missy Magazine.

WED 19 4 2017 / 18:00

TARIQ ALI is a writer, historian and filmmaker. Ali counts as one of the most important voices of the European Left. A founding co-editor of the New Left Review, Ali contributes regularly to The Guardian and the London Review of Books. He has been a consistent critic of US dominance in the Middle and Near East in his books Bush in Babylon (2003) and The Obama Syndrome (2010). Most recently, his book The Extreme Centre: A Warning (2015) criticizes the political elite in the UK for its devotion to an increasingly radical neoliberal capitalism. During the United Kingdom’s European Union membership referendum, 2016, Ali was one of the few figures on the left to support Britain leaving the European Union. He lives and works in London.

TERESA FORCADES I VILA is a doctor and holds a PhD in theology. After studying medicine in Barcelona and New York and theology at Harvard she joined the Order of Saint Benedict in 1997. As a fierce opponent of the pharmaceutical industry Forcades is particularly critical of the medicalization of society. As a theologian she is committed to strengthening the rights of gay people and women, also within the Catholic Church. In her numerous speeches and contributions to debates she campaigns for direct democracy and a more equal distribution of goods. Forcades is considered one of the most influential voices of the intellectual Left in Europe.

ANDREAS SPEIT is a journalist and author who has specialized in right-wing extremism and neo-Nazism in Germany. He has been a regular contributor to the daily taz since 1991, focusing on right-wing esotericism, intellectual right-wing extremism, and German nationalism. He has authored and coauthored numerous books on the neo-Nazi and right-wing populist movements in Germany, most recently publishing Bürgerliche Scharfmacher. Deutschlands neue rechte Mitte – von AfD bis Pegida (Orell Füssli 2016), which examines the roots of Germany’s New Right at the heart of its political establishment. Speit lives in Hamburg.

GEORG RESTLE is a German journalist. He heads and anchors the political TV news magazine Monitor on ARD. Restle is based in Cologne.

For the first time, in conjunction with The Extreme Centre, the Academy has invited 25 students from around Europe to attend the symposium and participate in an intensive two-day workshop in Cologne. The workshop is tutored by MORITZ VON STETTEN, research associate at the Chair for Cultural Sociology at the University Bonn. Project manager is NINA PASZKOWSKI.