Juliane Mendelsohn https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/13520/all cached version 14/02/2019 10:17:17 en My 350 on BREXIT: the state of the union https://www.opendemocracy.net/juliane-mendelsohn/my-350-on-brexit-state-of-union <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As narcissistic children of relativism and post-modernism, what else can we resort to but the faith in our own dreams, our own narratives?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Ten years ago I moved to Europe, with little idea of what Europe was. Certain only that I would no longer be fully African, but I wouldn’t be German and I wouldn’t be British either. I made good use of most of the so-called ‘common market freedoms’, but I never felt any great sense of accomplishment, community or aspiration just because of them. Europe always had to be more. What, I could not tell. </p> <p>Little did we know how bad things could become. Narratives of financial demise were compounded by those of climate catastrophe and either migrated or homebred terrorism. Calls to end ‘financial terrorism’ have only ended in banks becoming larger and a negotiation of a stock exchange merger (basically the biggest banking merger of all times). Calls to invest in infrastructure and to control euro-wide sovereign debt have ended in the catch-22 of an ever-expansive market securities programme. Fear of German hegemony has crowned Merkel <a href="http://time.com/time-person-of-the-year-2015-angela-merkel/">person of the year</a> and the OXI celebrations have ended in Tspiras calling Juncker <a href="https://twitter.com/tsipras_eu/status/745335824217145345">‘<em>a good friend of Europe and a good friend of Greece’.</em></a><em> &nbsp;</em>All the while, the big ‘<em>k</em>no<em>wn unknown’</em>, the crisis of legitimacy and the crisis of democracy has given way to right wing populisms, calls for the end of Europe, and a Brexit.</p> <p>Can we still change things if only we want to and provided we accept the institutions as they stand? I used to worry about <em>this party or that</em>, rally for <em>this party or that</em>, lay my faith in intelligent leadership and read the autobiographies of politicians that I thought had an ounce of honour to sell. I can only speak for myself and not for my Facebook colleagues who seem to have replaced every ounce of news and <em>democratic discourse</em> with comedy shows, but over the last couple of years I have basically become disillusioned by all political parties in equal amounts (though for very different reasons).</p> <p>As narcissistic children of relativism and post-modernism, what else can we resort to but the faith in our own dreams, our own narratives? There are <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/03/world/europe/brexit-young-generations-european-identity.html?_r=2">heartfelt stories of my friends’ Erasmus’ friendships</a> and <a href="https://vimeo.com/172554329">adorable tales of sensible youth’s holding town hall meetings</a>. But pretty events alone do not a union make and ‘town halls’ do not transport 19th century notions of democracy into the future. The stories of great nations are not those of my generation. But nor is the overcoming of world wars. So far, the only story we have written is that of a generation being driven blindly to the abyss, with no certainty of a path of return and only the dire prospects of separation. </p> <p>Let us try to make sense of a Union that needs to become a federation, of capital markets that need sensible regulation, of migrants that need to be met at our borders, not as refugees or potential terrorists, but as people. And of a Europe Union that cannot be certain of itself and its institutions, but only of its service to its people. Let us say no to the dissolution of Schengen and the continuation of austerity. Let us dream up all the possibilities and opportunities necessary for us to reclaim common sense, empathy and agency. Let us create what we need be human in the most European sense of the word. </p> <p><em>In the aftermath of the historic British vote to leave the EU, openDemocracy is&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/please-send-us-your-350-word-response-to-eu-referendum-result-taking-britain-out-"><em>asking for our readers' thoughts on Brexit</em></a><em>&nbsp;and what needs to happen next in 350 words. We've had an extraordinary response and you can&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexit2016"><em>read them all here</em></a><em>.</em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> EU UK Brexit Juliane Mendelsohn Sun, 10 Jul 2016 18:26:33 +0000 Juliane Mendelsohn 103775 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Germany's election campaign: Terminally, terminally boring https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/juliane-mendelsohn/germanys-election-campaign-terminally-terminally-boring <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The German election campaign lacks vision and fresh ideas. This is no accident. It’s the tactical brilliance of Angela Merkel.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/3965596147_fd83452eb0_o.jpg" alt="Flickr/Abode of Chaos. Some rights reserved." /><span class="image-caption">Flickr/Abode of Chaos. Some rights reserved.</span></p><p><span>There is a Chinese proverb: &ldquo;May you live in interesting times.&rdquo; And by God we Germans are. We get to decide who benefits from our prosperity and who simply gets a mini-job or a television to keep them occupied. We get to reclaim our privacy rights and understand the <a href="http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/merkel-neuland-gaff-elicits-ridicule-and-goes-viral-on-twitter-a-906859.html">Neuland</a> that is the Internet. We get to set up windmills and thousands of kilometres of energy grids to ensure our independence or to save polar bears from drowning. We can afford to empathise with the Greek shop-owner and make up for our harsh and misguided austerity policies.</span></p><p>Despite all of this, the German election campaign has been vague and terminally, terminally boring. This is no accident. Rather, it&rsquo;s the tactical brilliance of Angela Merkel, who will win the 22 September election by default provided she ensures that visions and policy issues have no place in this campaign.</p><p>In her eight years as Chancellor, Ms. Merkel has created a political culture that leaves no room for criticism or political debate. She does this by presenting all major decisions as being involuntary acts of necessity. Whether she is creating Europe&rsquo;s largest renewable energy market or signing guarantees on Greek debt, Ms. Merkel has depicted herself as a curator, not an agent.</p><h2><span>Caught up in Merkel&rsquo;s game</span></h2><p>If it weren&rsquo;t for Fukushima, we would still have nuclear energy. If it weren&rsquo;t for the mistakes of the&nbsp;SPD, Greece would not be in the Eurozone, and she wouldn&rsquo;t have to impose austerity on its people. Since she governs without personality or conviction, her choices are characterised as necessities and her mistakes are easily rebranded as systemic problems rather than failures of judgement. In summary, she is an anti-visionary and, in this respect, an anti-leader. Her electoral campaign leaves no room for policy choices about Germany&rsquo;s future. If you accept her terms, there is no room for meaningful opposition either&hellip; and it is almost impossible for the leader of the opposition to portray himself as the &ldquo;anti-Merkel&rdquo;.</p><p>This doesn&rsquo;t, of course, remove all blame from her opponent Peer Steinbr&uuml;ck. Nothing stood in the way of him swamping this campaign with personality, vision and a grand political alternative to the current state of affairs except his lack of personality, vision and a grand political alternative. Any great opposition leader with political convictions of his own, strategists and a desire to win might have caught up with Merkel&rsquo;s game. But only a brave opposition can profit in such circumstances: the seats for the party that rises from the grave merely to scratch at the surface of the issues have already been reserved for Merkel&rsquo;s liberal coalition partner, the&nbsp;FDP.</p><p>The real tragedy of this campaign is that it de-politicises the German people and robs the electorate of their democratic agency. Voters are not being given the opportunity to participate in a process that could bring about change and have been given no material by which to pass value judgements. Of course, as a voter, you have the right not to hold an opinion on political issues that do not concern you directly.</p><p>But this negative democratic freedom is one afforded to voters, not their leaders! The function of an election is the crystallization of issues &ndash; no matter how complex they may appear &ndash; into the policies and principles that underlie them, allowing voters to make value judgments on competing visions, and so to decide on their future.</p><h2><span>No vision, No future</span></h2><p>Whilst the next Chancellor, or let&rsquo;s be honest, Ms. Merkel, inherits the good fortune of economic growth, making domestic affairs and social policies easier to deal with, the greatest and historic challenge lies in addressing the question of Europe. Germany&rsquo;s approach is still grossly insufficient. Perhaps Ms Merkel would not have let the entire southern periphery into the Eurozone. Perhaps she would have never signed the Maastricht Treaty either or turned the&nbsp;EEC&nbsp;into the EU. Who knows? But it does not follow that she has no agency in any of the decisions she has made since then or that her actions have no political consequences. Equally feeble is the opposition leader&rsquo;s grand counter-narrative: &ldquo;Eurobonds! Eurobonds!&rdquo; Whatever that means.</p><p>German voters are not being provided with enough information, or any vision of what the future might look like. This applies to every aspect of this election. Leaders that are willing to govern without the involvement of their people, leaders that have no time for debates or new ideas, have failed their electorate.</p><p><em>This article has previously been <a href="http://www.theeuropean-magazine.com/juliane-mendelsohn/7375-germanys-election-campaign">published</a> by our partner <a href="http://www.theeuropean-magazine.com/">The European</a>. Thanks go to the editors for allowing us to republish it here.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/ulrich-beck/power-of-merkiavelli-angela-merkel%E2%80%99s-hesitation-in-euro-crisis">The power of Merkiavelli: Angela Merkel’s hesitation in the Euro-crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/herfried-m%C3%BCnkler/covert-and-hidden-populism-in-unified-germany">Covert and hidden populism in unified Germany</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Germany </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Germany Juliane Mendelsohn Spotlight on Germany Elections 2013 Mon, 09 Sep 2013 12:46:33 +0000 Juliane Mendelsohn 75267 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Juliane Mendelsohn https://www.opendemocracy.net/content/juliane-mendelsohn <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Juliane Mendelsohn </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www.theeuropean-magazine.com/juliane-mendelsohn">Juliane Mendelsohn</a> grew up in South Africa before moving to Berlin, where she lectures at the Free University on banking regulation and European law. She is a former finalist of the World Debating Championship.</p> Juliane Mendelsohn Mon, 09 Sep 2013 11:25:02 +0000 Juliane Mendelsohn 75268 at https://www.opendemocracy.net