Before anything else, Pierre Kompany is a courageous man. A man of integrity, too, who can make a difference in Belgian politics.

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Photo: Pierre Kompany/Facebook

Shortly after his election as mayor of Ganshoren, a Brussels municipality, Pierre Kompany retweeted this tweet :

It is, of course, true that Kompany is the first black mayor in Belgium — but maybe, with white Belgians of Tintin country, this should trigger some serious self-reflection, rather than this airy euphoria that seems to breeze through at least the liberal population of the country.

Here we are, in nearly 2019, and contrary to everything our common humanity could have hoped for, the colour of Pierre Kompany’s skin is the newsworthy item — even for the New York Times :

Riace, hospitality village

Yesterday, Domenico “Mimmo” Lucano, the “Italian mayor who saved his village by welcoming refugeeshas been expelled from his village by the Italy’s extreme-right government.

He had been under house arrest since October 2, accused of aiding and abetting illegal immigration. Now he faces divieto di dimora, prohibition of residence in Riace.

Only two days ago, Matteo Salvini, the extreme-right Deputy Prime Minister of Italy, has ordered the deportation of over 300 migrants from Riace.

In barely two weeks time, the Italian extreme-right government as good as accomplished the destruction of a project had been running for two decades. But the people of Riace, and their mayor, are not backing down.

Riace, in the deepest South of Calabria — one of the poorest regions in Italy — in the 1990s was a dying village, abandoned by the local Italians, who immigrated to go working in the North of the country, or abroad.

The reinvention of Riace is a unique project that combines the revitalisation of one of those many depopulated villages with hospitality and integration of refugees from all over the world.

Riace has had a long history with welcoming refugees. …

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Eudaimonic reading matter? Photo ©Radical Rag Dolls’ Factory

A eudaimonic life is not about self-centred happiness — it needs a philosophical framework, an ethical vision, and political involvement.

The Western World seems to be getting morose and steadily more crotchety in its desperate pursuit of happiness. Self-improvement and happiness are the eternal topics du jour. A quick Google search reveals: no lifestyle magazine, or even (usually well-respected) mainstream newspaper without its own ”How To Be Happy in Three (or Five, or Ten) Easy Steps”.

Clearly, we’ve lost our way.

What is happiness? What are the sources of happiness? According to the deafening marketing machine roaring in our ears, life satisfaction mostly consists of physical pleasure and luxury — things to possess — as per the much hated Goop

TK caption

Is there a rational foundation for ethical behaviour? Do universal ethical standards exist? Who or what ultimately defines what is good or bad?

Ethics — simply put, what is good or bad, wrong or right? On the most personal level, it‘s about me and my conscience. Standing in front of the mirror, what do I see? Can I look myself in the eyes?

But it is every bit as much about how we, as political animals, shall live together. What are the fundamental beliefs, the ethical principles underlying the making of laws by our lawmakers?

To reach Eudaimonia, as Aristoteles has it, the inner as well as the public life need a certain degree of harmony and peace and justness — things…

What do we need for our Excellent Lives? In today’s political discourse, mutual distrust and hate are the accepted new norms. Otherness is once again depicted as a threat. Whatever happened to tolerance and fraternity, those precious Western Enlightenment values? And how can we hope for personal happiness when our public spaces are poisoned with hate speech and wilful antagonism?

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God is Light upon Light. Photo by malcolm lightbody

We are living in great times, and they are getting bigger all the time. The world is in a pretty bad place, from all I hear (just quoting, dear reader!):

  • We are threatened by Islam, a religion of fanatic desert warriors — Muslims are bloodthirsty by instinct, a cruel race by nature. As everybody knows, the basic concept of the Quran is “Holy War”.
  • Refugees from overseas — from strange, threatening parts of the world are flooding our civilised, peace-loving, enlightened Western countries. The floodgates have been opened, and a deluge, a hurricane of unwelcome, unwanted people is overwhelming us…

What do you need for your Excellent Life?

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“Always there for you.” Eudaimonia overkill much?

Are we being happy yet?

We live in great times, and they are getting bigger all the time. The personal has become extremely political once again. The paradigms of the last two centuries have crumbled. The political Left is gasping its last gasps, while the extreme Right, in spite of everything that history has to teach us, is gaining traction at an alarming pace.

On the personal level, this leaves us with high levels not only of discontent and anxiety, but also of unrest and anger. Increasing poverty, inequality and unemployment, refugees from all kinds of hells on earth who need our help when we…

An overview of the stories I’ve written about Eudaimonia, the Excellent Life.

What is Eudaimonia? In this introductory story, you will find the short answer. In the following articles, I have elaborated on what Eudaimonia is, and how to reach it. How can we redefine this philosophical concept from Ancient Greece for the twenty-first century? I have organised the stories into five themes:

  1. Literature
  2. Travelling the Political Landscape
  3. Solidarity 3.0
  4. Feminism & Other Equality Movements
  5. Kitchen Table Politics
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In the second part of this series, Jonathan Harker travels through the “Borgo Pass” and arrives at Count Dracula’s Castle. (You can find the first part here)

In this part:

- Intro: Hard to stomach?

  1. What happened last week
  2. Strange Food: Paprika, Mămăligă and Stuffed Eggplant for Breakfast
  3. Geography of Horror. The Borders of Civilisation — entering the Realms of Superstition & Turkishness
  4. Heart of Otherness: The Ottoman Empire
  5. Empire nostalgia and Islamophobia today
  6. Jonathan Harker’s last dinner in Bistritz — anxiety rises!

Hard to stomach?

As our Anglican Englishman travels to the Eastern borders of Hungary (and therefore to the most remote outposts of the Donau Monarchy), he is confronted not only with the memories and the remnants of the Turkish domination and of Islam, but also with Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity. Paprikahendl was only the appetiser…

Center of socialist power in Ghent: "Ons Huis" and the "Groote Magazijnen"

Being a tale of solidarity and collaboration against all odds. And a salute to that other Red City in my life.

Last week, I wrote about Red Vienna: in the 1920s, a socialist dream had been realised there. This week, I take you to Ghent, in Belgium. In this city, by the end of the nineteenth century, another kind of socialist universe had been created. The protagonist of the socialist story in Ghent (and in Belgium) was Edward Anseele, the tireless and driven leader of the socialist movement. He decided that the Workers deserved not only decent working and living conditions, but also the best of culture and education. By 1913, he had built the Feestzaal Vooruit in Ghent, an opulent Proletarian Culture Temple. It was the crowning architectural achievement of the Socialist culture in Ghent.

A fluffy yet captivating Gothic melodrama written in 1913, this “Novel of Romance and Intrige” also gives the reader an unusual perspective of Vienna just before WWI.

— —

Topics in this essay:

  1. Vienna and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire before the outbreak of the Great War
  2. Mary Roberts Rinehart: Adventurous Journalist as well asWriter of Romantic Fiction & Crime Novels
  3. Gothic Romance or the horror of social reality?
  4. Hitler in Vienna, the Workers’ Revolt & the Negerdörfl (“Nigger Village”)
  5. Kaffeehaus Culture & Contemporary Magazines
  6. La Condition Féminine: Mary Roberts Rinehart, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie & Henry James
  7. … and a riveting good story, too!
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Just before the outbreak of the Great War, American violinist Harmony Wells — a typical Gothic romance heroine — who is studying music in Vienna, meets Peter…

Innanja M.

In search of Eudaimonia. Essays in Literature, Politics, Ethics, History and Feminism. Proudly collaborating with the Radical Rag Dolls.

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