National Corps at the IWM: Cicero vs. Die Zeit

22.01.2021

Two expected journalist investigations of my IWM case have been published, both of them in the German editions: Die Zeit and Cicero.

The article in Die Zeit Campus, which focuses on the students’ life, work and vocation, did not touch upon a truly interesting issue of academic liberties and a thin line between acceptable political involvement and scientific work. It was written from the perspective of the IWM’s administration who wanted to explain, and for some reason apologize, for their failure to google my political activities before selecting my project proposal. It could be credited for highlighting my account of the “swastika photograph” – unless they did it next to labelling all my contacts “white supremacist” and “Neo Nazi,” either mistakenly or by association.

Also, the journalists admitted that the IWM was founded by the conservatives, mentioned my expectation to contribute to the founding fathers’ idea of giving the floor to Eastern European intellectuals (that is, both anti-communist and, as we would say today, identitarian) and quoted the IWM rector’s assessment of my research project as conservative but absolutely unproblematic from the academic perspective.

However, after reading the article, the students will not practice critical reflection as required by Immanuel Kant’s motto of Enlightenment (“Have the courage to use your own reason!”). They will simply remember what kind of political involvement or associations they need to avoid if they want to pursue an academic career. Again, I could not expect a faster “field confirmation” of my research project for the IWM, “Jan Patočka on Ernst Jünger’s Dialectics of Enlightenment, and Europe After Ukraine,” dealing with the arrival of the ideals of Enlightenment and humanism at their direct opposite, totalitarian “cancel culture.” A personal conversation with one of the article’s authors was more promising.

Do not worry, “the good name” of the IWM will not suffer. Yet, something bigger is required to claim the reputation of the education institution striving to find insightful answers to the global challenges of today. In this respect the incident was not a blow to their reputation, vice versa.

The article by Die Zeit read at:

https://www.zeit.de/2021/04/iwm-stipendium-ukrainerin-rechtsextremismus-shalini-randeria
(the full text may be found on Telegram channel https://t.me/intermariumnc)

Cicero, German magazine covering politics and culture, came much closer to this standard.

Already a preview of the article (translated from German) made it clear that the need to withdraw the fellowship was not obvious: “The Viennese Institute for Human Sciences revoked a Ukrainian scientist’s scholarship. The reason for cancellation were her activities in the radical right-wing scene. But right-wing extremism researchers criticize the decision.”

Thomas Dudek refers to three of them: Adrien Nonjon, whose article “The First Lady of Ukrainian Nationalism” is very popular due to its title but is rarely read in-depth, Vyacheslav Likhachev and Anton Shekhovtsov. All of them agreed that my candidacy was suitable for the IWM, and the final word was given to Anton Shekhovtsov well-known for his comprehensive reasearch of the Eastern European Right. His point was partially similar to mine: liberalism ceases to be liberalism when it bars the others from the access to scientific research and public discussion. As a result, he argued, social mobility from the far-right milieu becomes impossible.

On my part, I would like to add that easy labels like “right-wing extremism” or “neo-fascism” are inaccurate when applied to my activities, which have never been opposed by the law enforcement of various countries, or the Italian CasaPound movement, respectively. Despite their self-description of this kind, it has nothing to do with the Anglo-Saxon, and Soviet, usage of the term “fascism” as synonymous to National Socialism or “everything totalitarian and inhuman.” Even its “palingenetic” understanding by Roger Griffin has its limits and does not reflect the avant-guarde and innovative overtones of its usage by CasaPound known for its anti-reactionary stance.

After the IWM story, I can assure all those interested that new distinctions in the fields of political philosophy and critique of ideology will only benefit from empirical political experience like mine. Polarization in the debates about the IWM’s decision fostered my determination to focus on scientific aspirations, and Cicero’s account of the case in the vein of early Telos initiating non-trivial discussions among different political camps was quite inspiring, too.

The article by Cicero read here:

https://www.cicero.de/aussenpolitik/olena-semenjaka-stipendium-iwm-asow-rechtsextremismus
(the full text may be found on Telegram channel https://t.me/intermariumnc)

Read in more detail about the case at: https://intermarium.org.ua/en/real-totalitarianism-in-the-academy-iwm-founded-by-conservatives-deprived-olena-semenyaka-of-fellowship-for-her-ties-with-azov/

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