Can Europe make it? https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/9711/all cached version 22/01/2018 16:50:58 en Can America be a Good Place again? https://www.opendemocracy.net/manuel-serrano/can-america-be-good-place-again <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Americans need to remind themselves that it´s possible to act morally in an amoral world, and shape each other’s attitudes by opening up a debate about what is good and bad.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/PA-31085579.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/PA-31085579.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="329" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Amnesty International hold a protest with 100 'Statues of Liberty', to mark US President Donald Trump first 100 days in office. 29 April 2017. Yui Mok/PA Archive/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><em>“</em><em>It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.</em><em>”</em></p><p><em></em>- Eleanor Roosevelt</p><p>America is sliding into a darker version of itself. The view that liberal democracy is good and authoritarian nationalism is bad is not consensual any more. The narrative that <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/grading-donald-trumps-first-nine-months-in-office">kept the country together</a> is in danger of disintegrating. And the corruption of democratic institutions takes place in front of our eyes. </p> <p>We have grown <a href="https://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2018/01/twelve-months-ten-covers">accustomed to a President</a> who is <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/18/republicans-trump-silence-racism">not checked by his own political party</a> and accuses the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/17/business/trump-calls-the-news-media-the-enemy-of-the-people.html">media of being his enemy</a>. It´s hard to believe that an <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/17/us/politics/obama-legacy-changed-man.html">articulate and restrained President</a> lived in the White House barely a year ago. <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/10/politics/obama-libya-biggest-mistake/index.html">Despite his shortcomings</a>, Barack Obama was an inspiration against racism and misogyny. Donald Trump is only interested in <em>Making America White Again</em>. And <a href="https://theconversation.com/trumps-lies-are-white-nationalist-gospel-90089">alienating millions of Americans in the process</a>. </p> <p>From day one most journalists found it difficult to deal with a president who enjoys the attention but detests the responsibility of office. Torn between normalising Mr Trump or denouncing him, many of us have failed to acknowledge that the point is not that he tricked American voters, <a href="https://integrallife.com/trump-post-truth-world/">but that they voted for him despite his contempt for democracy and decency</a>.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Donald Trump is only interested in&nbsp;<em>Making America White Again</em>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Values that we assumed to be universal are not so for <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/av/election-us-2016-37329812/clinton-half-of-trump-supporters-basket-of-deplorables">millions of America</a>ns. Speaking from our pulpits we forgot the audience we need to address. Counting myself amongst those who have failed miserably to reach Trump supporters, I´m changing course. In an attempt to draw them away from <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/01/15/how-fox-and-friends-rewrites-trumps-reality">Fox and Friends</a>, I´m <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/12/arts/television/trump-isnt-watching-too-much-tv-hes-watching-the-wrong-kind.html">writing about a television show</a>. One that doesn’t give us any answers, but that reminds us that most times the important thing is asking the right questions.</p> <h2><strong>The Good Place </strong></h2> <p>The show in question is called <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4955642/"><em>The Good Place</em>,</a> and it is about a selfish American woman, Eleanor, who dies and goes to Heaven because of a bureaucratic mistake. While there, she is given a soul mate, Chidi, a Senegalese-born moral philosopher <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/10/how-the-good-place-goes-beyond-the-trolley-problem/543393/">with an inclination to overthink</a>. Going against her old self, Eleanor tells Chidi she is a fraud and doesn’t deserve to be there. </p> <p>Chidi, facing an ethical dilemma, decides to help by teaching her how to <a href="https://theconversation.com/kantian-comedy-the-philosophy-of-the-good-place-86057">become a better person</a>. They´re joined by another fraud, Jason Mendonça, and a British philanthropist, Tahani Al Jamil. Overseeing <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Good_Place"><em>The Good Place</em></a> is Michael, the architect responsible for fulfilling all the residents’ wishes.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">As the show premises change, you start to ask different questions. At the beginning, you asked yourself what makes a person good. By the end of the season, you ask yourself what makes a person better.&nbsp;</p> <p>But just as happens in real life, things are seldom what they seem. What looked like yet another comedy, turns out to be a dystopia that offers astonishing insights into the dark times in which we live. As it turns out – <em>spoilers alert</em> – Eleanor didn’t arrive at <em>The Good Place</em> by mistake; <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVG1YGdoCWo">the residents had been in Hell all along</a>. Michael is not an angel, but a subaltern demon that has come up with an experimental project designed to torture humans.</p> <p>As the show premises change, you start to ask different questions. At the beginning, you asked yourself what makes a person good. By the end of the season, you ask yourself what makes a person better. Is the utmost good the greatest <a href="https://theconversation.com/kantian-comedy-the-philosophy-of-the-good-place-86057">happiness for the greatest number</a>? Or have we a responsibility to act in an exemplary way and never treat people as a <a href="https://theconversation.com/kantian-comedy-the-philosophy-of-the-good-place-86057">means to an end</a>? Against all odds, Eleanor becomes a better person under conditions that would logically make her worse. And Chidi, a moral philosopher obsessed with the implications of his decisions, becomes a better person by deciding to help Eleanor.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Is the utmost good the greatest&nbsp;happiness for the greatest number? Or have we a responsibility to act in an exemplary way and never treat people as a&nbsp;means to an end?&nbsp;</p> <p>The allure of the show is that it forces viewers to pose questions they don’t know how to begin to answer. And that has rarely been as important as it is today because, for all intents and purposes, we are living in Trump´s <em>Good Place</em>: a world where <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2018/01/the_case_against_oprah.html">celebrities and talk-host shows</a> have replaced meaningful leadership, where <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2016/sep/20/why-facebook-is-public-enemy-number-one-for-newspapers-and-journalism">Twitter and Facebook</a> have substituted serious debate and where America embraces <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/16/opinion/trump-america-international-surrender.html">isolationism instead of internationalism</a>. </p> <p>Tweet by tweet, indecency after indecency, we dive into a narrative constructed over racism, hatred and ignorance. The consequences go beyond the sum of the President´s words and actions, setting public discourse alight and turning Americans against each other. After calling Mexicans ‘rapists’ and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/28/opinion/donald-trumps-muslim-ban-is-cowardly-and-dangerous.html">characterizing Muslims as ‘terrorists</a>’, the “shithole” affair <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/trump-shithole-comment-racist-in-the-oval-office">tells us nothing we didn’t know already</a> about Mr Trump. But it speaks volumes about the questions we are avoiding asking ourselves.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Screenshot from The Good Place official website..png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Screenshot from The Good Place official website..png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="311" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot from The Good Place official website.</span></span></span></p><h2><strong>The art of being free</strong></h2> <p>We should start by acknowledging that Donald Trump is not the cause, but a <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/donald-trump-is-a-symptom-of-americas-dark-side/">symptom of a deeper existential crisis</a> undermining democracy in America. The polarised country is operating in <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/av/technology-41251243/donald-trump-is-symptom-of-click-bait-says-twitter-co-founder-evan-williams">entirely different information universes</a>, which make it difficult for citizens to engage in a meaningful debate with each other. And make it impossible for journalists to get their message beyond their monolithic audiences. </p> <p>These <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/10/what-facebook-did/542502/">communication bubbles</a>, together with invaluable help from the Clinton campaign and the lack of a proper progressive narrative, opened the White House doors to an administration of nativists and ultraconservatives. For the malcontents of globalisation, Mr Trump is a valiant man who is not afraid to challenge the <em>establishment</em>. It´s pointless to tell them that the President couldn’t care less about their ambitions, their anxieties and their jobs: they have bought into the President’s narrative <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/23/opinion/trumps-lies.html">about fake news and dishonest journalists</a>.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Tweet by tweet, indecency after indecency, we dive into a narrative constructed over racism, hatred and ignorance.&nbsp;</p> <p>Trump has successfully convinced his supporters that everyone is out to get them, when in fact the problem is that progressives are <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2016/nov/13/donald-trump-product-of-new-economic-depression">ignoring them</a>. <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/22/opinion/when-it-comes-to-baskets-were-all-deplorable.html">Most progressives forgot</a> that this constituted a self-defeat when they condemned millions of their fellow citizen <a href="https://integrallife.com/trump-post-truth-world/">to irrelevancy</a>. Excluding them from a national conversation has only increased the polarization that reached record levels during Barack Obama´s presidency and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/08/opinion/political-polarization-trump.html">escalated during Trump’s first year in office</a>. </p> <p>In a political climate such as this, it becomes difficult to defend democracy, as citizens seem unable to agree on what it stands for any more. Decency and integrity are at risk of becoming hollow words. And as <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2018/01/12/obama-weighs/1027893001/">alternative facts</a> become stronger, objective truth and morality weaken. Suddenly we find ourselves in a place that is everything but <em>good</em>. Lost in our own narrative, we end up talking to ourselves about a presidency <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/01/fire-and-fury-is-actually-a-coup-for-trump/550016/">where everything becomes a story</a>.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">In a political climate such as this, it becomes difficult to defend democracy, as citizens seem unable to agree on what it stands for any more.&nbsp;</p> <p>But contrary to <em>The Good Place</em>, this is not a television series. And we are not locked in a bad system gone good, but a good system gone bad. Institutions and traditions are expected to limit the impact of Trump´s presidency. But to believe they <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/02/american-institutions-wont-keep-you-safe-trumps-excesses">will stave off the degradation of public discourse and democracy</a> by themselves is foolish. That´s why Americans and not just Americans, must remember that democracies are built on constant dialogue between all members of society, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/22/opinion/when-it-comes-to-baskets-were-all-deplorable.html">no matter how different</a> they might be. </p> <p>As Tocqueville wrote, nothing is more wonderful than the art of being free, but nothing is harder to learn how to use than freedom. Doing so <a href="https://integrallife.com/trump-post-truth-world/">requires an honest debate</a> about our common anxieties and conflicting priorities. But it´s a conversation that must take place <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/what-normalization-means">without compromising</a> our fundamental belief in liberal democracy, equality and decency. </p> <p><em>The Good Place</em> beautifully captures the contradictions of living in a place ruled by those who cannot understand it. The four human beings chosen for this torture because their anxieties would make each other miserable, instead learn to live with their differences. They convinced me at least that despite the odds, it´s possible to shape other people’s attitudes by opening up a debate about what is good and bad. It is possible to act morally in an amoral and immoral world, if we are willing to commit our emotions and our reason to the project of saving our democracy.</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="/openglobalrights/mark-philip-bradley/might-trump-lead-us-activists-to-rediscover-international-human">Might Trump lead US activists to rediscover international human rights? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/zoe-samudzi/donald-trump-is-not-uniquely-bigoted">Donald Trump is not uniquely bigoted. 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North-Africa West-Asia United States Civil society Democracy and government Ideas Manuel Nunes Ramires Serrano Sun, 21 Jan 2018 11:13:35 +0000 Manuel Nunes Ramires Serrano 115740 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Can Bulgaria achieve its Balkan ambitions? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/marcu-niculescu/can-bulgaria-achieve-its-balkan-ambitions <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Bulgaria’s new role as president of the Council of the EU has started with a bang – quite literally.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34421467.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34421467.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Bulgarian President Rumen Radev (1st R) speaks at the ceremony held in the Ivan Vazov National Theatre, in Sofia, capital of Bulgaria on Jan. 11, 2018 to launch Bulgaria's six-month rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU). Wang Xinran/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Bulgaria’s new role as <a href="http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/council-eu/presidency-council-eu/">president of the Council of the EU</a> has started with a bang – quite literally. Just days after the country stepped up to the plate for the <a href="https://news.am/eng/news/429462.html">six-month rotating presidency</a> on January 1, one of its most influential businessmen, Peter Hristov – a 49-year-old said to have close ties to Bulgaria’s ruling party – was shot dead outside his <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/08/influential-bulgarian-businessman-killed-in-broad-daylight-in-sofia">office in broad daylight</a>. </p> <p>Making matters worse, that same week saw <a href="https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy-environment/news/bulgarias-eu-presidency-start-drowned-by-protest-shouts/">thousands</a> marching down the streets of Sofia, chanting “Mafia”, “Resign” and “Corruption” in protest to the country’s plans to build a ski resort in the cherished national park of Pirin.</p> <p>Sadly, such incidents are by no means unusual in a country that continues to struggle with deep-seated cronyism, weak law enforcement, and organized crime. And Hristov’s death is a painful reminder that Bulgaria’s presidency of the EU will be more likely be dominated by Sofia’s own problems than about its <em>leadership </em>of the group of 27 member states.</p> <p>Bulgaria <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/262e070c-d6ce-11e7-ae3e-563c04c5339a">wants</a> to use its EU presidency to accelerate the accession process for the western Balkans. Those efforts will come to a head during a May summit in Sofia, where officials will meet with heads of state from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia to discuss the accession process. The summit is intended to give each hopeful member state a tailored action plan to achieve membership.</p> <h2><strong>Wishful thinking?</strong></h2> <p>But is it actually wise to fast-track the talks with these western Balkan states? As laudable a goal as it is to bring these countries into the EU fold, Bulgaria shows once again that it’s better to err on the side of caution. Ever since Sofia joined, the pace of reform has lost steam, and the hope that Brussels’ soft power will be enough to set the country on an even keel proved to be nothing more than wishful thinking.</p> <p>Indeed, Bulgaria’s report sheet 11 years after joining makes for disappointing reading. According to Transparency International, the country is the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/28/bulgaria-corruption-eu-presidency-far-right-minority-parties-concerns">most corrupt in the EU</a>. Organised crime and graft is endemic – <a href="http://www.csd.bg/artShow.php?id=17723">research</a> shows that 24% of the Bulgarian population over 18 had been pressured into a bribe and that the country’s society is permeated by “powerful actors capable of acquiring preferential treatment through complex corruption deals and other violations of the law”.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34325088_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34325088_0.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protest outside Council of Ministers in Sofia, January 4, 2018, with posters saying: "We do not give the centuries-old Pirin forests to the oligarchs," and "We want legality, Bansko is a balloon." NurPhoto/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Not surprisingly given such ubiquitous corruption, the Bulgarian economy is not an appealing prospect for foreign investors – one factor that explains why the country remains the <a href="https://www.stripes.com/news/europe/a-tale-of-what-could-have-been-for-the-eu-s-poorest-country-1.502702">poorest</a> in the EU. </p><p>Most recently, the government hit two Austrian and Czech energy companies, EVN and CEZ, with a total of $3.63 million in fines for allegedly breaking competition rules. For CEZ, this proved to be the final straw and the company has started packing up due to its long-standing disputes with Sofia. In a separate case, Indian investor ANJ was <a href="https://www.euractiv.com/section/central-europe/news/foreign-businesses-denounce-bulgarian-corruption/">asked</a> to pay a €1 million bribe to buy a local chemical fertiliser plant. When they refused, the company was sold off to a Bulgarian oligarch.</p> <p>Given these kinds of issues, there is little wonder that Bulgaria, alongside Romania, remains subject to special monitoring under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) to ensure the country meets its commitments in judicial reforms and the fight against corruption. With such plodding progress on key indicators, how can Bulgaria credibly push for further advancement for <a href="https://www.europeanleadershipnetwork.org/commentary/2018-watchlist/">Montenegro and Serbia</a>, the two Balkan states that have already opened accession talks – and which struggle with the very same issues?</p> <h2><strong>Montenegro and Serbia in the same boat</strong></h2> <p>So far, Montenegro has provisionally <a href="https://www.rferl.org/a/serbia-montenegro-new-negotiation-chapters-european-union/28909741.html">closed</a> three out of 35 chapters in accession negotiations for the EU and Serbia has closed two. </p> <p>In September, the European Commission <a href="https://seenews.com/news/juncker-expects-serbia-montenegro-to-join-eu-before-2025-590447#sthash.0KcOd2M2.dpuf">said</a> it planned to draw up a strategy for the two states to accede by 2025, emphasizing issues such as corruption and rule of law.</p> <p>It’s easy to see why they have focused on these areas. For one thing, politicians in Montenegro – up to and including heads of state – are notoriously corrupt. </p> <p>The perennial Milo Djukanovic, who has served six terms as either prime minister or president since the 1990s, has been accused of <a href="https://www.occrp.org/personoftheyear/2015/">enabling</a> trafficking, gang activity, and other shady dealings in the country. Unfortunately, his plans to make a comeback and run for president this year don’t bode well for the country’s reform prospects.</p> <p>What’s more, for over a year opposition lawmakers have been <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/montenegro-budget/montenegro-passes-2018-budget-reducing-deficit-idUSL8N1OR12D">boycotting</a> parliament in protest over alleged <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/boycott-of-montenegrin-parliament-starts-to-fray-12-13-2017">irregularities</a> during the 2016 elections. The stalemate raises the question of how the EU can credibly put what has essentially dissolved into a one-party state on the fast track to membership.</p> <p>Additionally, like Bulgaria, Montenegro has had a difficult time courting western investors and expanding its economy. Last year, Italian energy company A2A <a href="https://balkangreenenergynews.com/italian-a2a-selling-shares-in-montenegro-power-company/">sold</a> its shares in the country, saying the government had <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/epcg-ma-a2a/italys-a2a-hires-rothschild-to-sell-stake-in-montenegros-epcg-sources-idUSL8N1IK4MZ">failed</a> to guarantee adequate investment returns, management autonomy, and transparent regulations. These kinds of difficulties have compounded shaky growth and expanding government debt, which is expected to reach over 80% of GDP this year.</p> <p>Serbia is in the same boat. A recent <a href="https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/4595-eu-enlargement-report-western-balkan-states-must-tackle-organized-crime-and-corruption">EU report</a> noted that while Belgrade has made some progress, “prevalent corruption and an inadequate institutional set-up continue to hamper political and commercial development”. The country currently has a corruption ranking of 42, placing it 72nd among 176 countries – an indicator of “endemic” corruption, according to <a href="https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2017&amp;mm=01&amp;dd=26&amp;nav_id=100339">Transparency International</a>.</p> <h2><strong>Stealing Bulgaria’s thunder?</strong></h2> <p>Of course, none of these obstacles are insurmountable. For all of its enduring issues, Bulgaria's EU ascension ushered in transformative economic growth. Its status as one of the EU's newest members continues to intrigue outside capital looking for dynamic European markets with room left for growth. </p> <p>The other Balkan states will surely have that example in mind when they meet in Sofia, and the action plans should generate momentum towards reform.</p> <p>Could trustworthy, transparent business climates in countries like Serbia steal Bulgaria's thunder and end its window of opportunity to catch up with its western counterparts? If Bulgarian lawmakers let the country list further away from European standards, they may have the answer to that question in short order.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bulgaria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Serbia </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Montenegro </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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Montenegro Serbia Bulgaria Marcu Niculescu Fri, 19 Jan 2018 16:15:52 +0000 Marcu Niculescu 115726 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Anti-feminism and anti-gender far right politics in Europe and beyond https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/angela-mcrobbie/anti-feminism-and-anti-gender-far-right-politics-in-europe-and-be <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The proclaimed support of the EU for gender equality is seen as one element in a wider programme of colonization, whereby what was once Marxism is now replaced by gender politics. Book review.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-25352534.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-25352534.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Christiane Taubira when she was French Justice Minister in 2013. Bernard-Salinier/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The rise, over the last two decades, of the neo-nationalist, populist right is now a well-established fact across the political landscape. But the precise permutations taken and modes of organisation and affiliations on specific issues such as anti-LGBTQ rights, which many of these groups have pursued, is often less well-known. Two recent books, one by Bruno Perreau titled <em><a href="http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=27481">Queer Theory: The French Response </a>(2016 Stanford)</em> and the other edited by David Paternotte and Roman Kuhar titled <em><a href="https://www.rowmaninternational.com/book/antigender_campaigns_in_europe/3-156-7734fc12-00e3-47fc-8478-05897740ac19">Anti-Gender Campaigns in Europe</a>,</em> (<em>Rowman and Littlefield</em> 2017) make significant inroads in filling this gap, each of them focusing on Europe, and in particular on questions of sexuality and gender. </p> <h2><strong>‘Natural order’</strong></h2> <p>It transpires that campaigns against civil unions, same-sex marriage and full parenting rights to LGBTQ people were initiated largely from within the Roman Catholic church dating back to the late 1990s. There is a good deal of traffic between lay conservative Catholic campaigners, members of Opus Dei, as well as clerics, who acted as intermediaries bringing to the attention of Vatican scholars, developments from feminism and subsequently queer theory, each of which are perceived as threats to the family and the ‘natural order’. </p> <p>Over the space of a few years feminism and queer theory has come to be subsumed by the term ‘gender theory’ which is then demonised as a ‘totalitarian’ force, for its attempts to undermine the differences between men and women and the sanctity of ‘holy matrimony’ as the only rightful institution for the bringing up of children. </p> <p>This invocation of the spectre of Stalinism is clearly a deliberate ploy to instil fear of the return of communism. Paradoxically, ‘gender ideology’ is seen as both American in its endorsement of communities of difference, and state-authoritarian (suggestive of East European socialism) in its attempts to impose a whole new coercive social order. This activity is most pronounced in France, as Perreau demonstrates. Here it finds fertile ground among right wing thinkers and writers, but also from some on the left. Well-known feminist writers like Sylviane Agacinski (married to the former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin) join this chorus of denunciation, characterising gender theory as something ‘monstrous’ emanating from American universities and threatening the very fabric of French society. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-1565629.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-1565629.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Lionel Jospin and Sylviane Agacinski on holiday in 2001. ABACA/ Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>The attacks on the French <em>Marriage for All</em> Bill of 2013 presented by the then Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira, came first from Catholic campaigners including clergy and intellectuals and writers, but soon spread to various far right groups. </p><p>This culminated in the shockingly racist attacks by <em>Manif Pour Tous</em> on Christiane Taubira, a woman of French Guianaian origin, with posters depicting her ‘as a half-human half-Godzilla figure, a monstrous emblem of the destruction of the French family’ (Perreau p 60). </p> <p>Still, it is the machinations of the Holy See that underscore these activities. Various lay activists, writing in their Catholic blogs, claimed to have the ear of the Holy Father and especially that of the theologian and philosopher Joseph Ratzinger both before and after he became Pope Benedict XVI. Perreau traces the pathways of such figures as they provide their own take on queer theory, as the American Opus Dei member and writer Dale O’Leary who lampoons it in her book <em>The Gender Agenda.</em> Advocating gender identity, according to O’Leary is comparable to choosing one’s daily wardrobe and make up, a maliciously profound mis-reading of Butler’s influential <em>Gender Trouble</em> of 1990. Perreau says that these tracts by O’Leary and others were purportedly made available to the Pope, who, along with his Cura, in turn produced a number of philosophical responses, all published and widely distributed. </p> <p>The Vatican, from Pope Benedict XVI to the current Pope Francis goes to great lengths to hold at bay this idea of gender equality which they see as sweeping Europe and well beyond, undermining ideas of ‘human ecology’ which have preserved the anthropological nuclear family over the centuries. If feminism, from the late 1960s onwards, disturbs this idyll of happy family life by supporting divorce, birth control and rights to abortion, these more recent activities culminate, as the Cura sees it, in LGBTQ people assuming equal rights to those of the heterosexual majority, and in the dissolution of sexual difference. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-2336069.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-2336069.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger elected as new Pope in 2005. Zabulon Laurent/ Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Perreau traces activities which connect upper middle-class Opus Dei Catholics with members of the Front Nationale and various other far right organisations including the fascistic <em>Bloc Identitaire</em>. At the heart of these mobilisations is <em>Manif Pour Tous</em> which borrows a good deal of its tactics from the left, including street demonstrations with silent marches and street pray-ins. These groups are constantly monitoring changes in French life, for example, lessons on gender equality in the school system which they see as eating away at the fabric of French life, in much the same way as they blame feminism for destroying romance.&nbsp; </p><h2><strong>A class dimension</strong></h2> <p>Bruno Perreau has done a remarkable job in order to make the case that the nation itself was perceived as under threat by LGBTQ activists. He alludes to the fact that single women in France are not permitted access to IVF, thus showing the entire field of sexuality to be indisputably the prerogative of the heterosexual nuclear family. </p> <p>He also argues that a great deal of effort was made within these political circles in France, from the mainstream to the margins, to ensure that granting LGBTQ rights of marriage did not fundamentally disturb the seemingly harmonious and God-given union of family and nation state. Even the majority of feminists and supporters of the Socialist Party in France seem to have fallen into line with this deeply conservative stance. </p> <p>It goes without saying that the hundreds of thousands of people in France, especially of immigrant background, whose family lives for various reasons diverge from this pathway must then be envisaged as failed, and stigmatised as such. </p> <p>Likewise women without a partner and hoping nevertheless to be able to become a mother are forced to look outside France for IVF. They too must experience condemnation and condescension as single mothers. </p> <p>Inevitably there is a class as well as a racial dimension, since poverty and unemployment often make the nuclear family an unfulfillable reality for so many. Overall Perreau shows how antiquated fears of a gay conspiracy combined with fascination for this still ‘deviant’ sexuality, linger deep within the psyche of the white French political classes. And where the RC church heartlessly still disapproves of adoption for the reason that it ‘condones adulterous behaviour’ we can see why Perreau and the activist groups such as <em>Les Tordues</em> who in the context of these neo-nationalist upsurges have struggled for the full range of LGBTQ rights, feel the urgent need for a community of belonging.&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>French and German common-sense</strong></h2> <p>In <em>Anti-Genderism Campaigns in Europe</em>, Paula-Irene Villa provides the most succinct account of what is now frequently referred to in Germany <em>as anti-genderismus</em>. This has a different lineage, and is less orchestrated by the Catholic church. &nbsp;Instead it emerges more directly from the mainstream as well as the populist right, but also from within the ranks of academia, and finds ample grounds across the German media, from quality press such as <em>Die Zeit</em> to feminist magazines such as <em>Emma.</em> This campaign works by appealing to the common-sense of the nation against what is claimed to be the extremes of ‘gender ideology’. </p> <p>What Paula-Irene Villa understands as ‘post-essentialist’ definitions of gender as ‘not determined by nature’ but rather by ‘complex socially instituted’ differences, has led to both outrage and ridicule, and within the university system to claims that gender research is not scientific. </p> <p>Although well-known German feminists such as the journalist Alice Schwarzer, founding editor and owner of Emma magazine, have controversially joined this <em>anti-genderismus</em> chorus, there is at the same time a deep connection between anti-feminism and the anti-LGBTQ campaigns. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-22738609.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-22738609.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>TV host with guests including Alice Schwarz, second left, on TV talk show on the topic 'Sexual variety: Man, woman, whatever?', April, 2015. Horst Galuschka/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The informal and deeply conservative settlement reached in what was then west-Germany from the late 70s in response to feminist demands for equal access to labour markets, was to make a full professional working life more or less antipathetic to having children. Lack of quality child care and the school day finishing at 13.30 required costly and elaborate arrangements, again a clear disincentive to women to the point that being a feminist and /or lesbian meant in effect not being a mother. </p><p>Post re-unification the right and its allies in the press and on TV easily invoke the spectre of ‘forced labour’ and of the GDR working women into the ground, in order to promote the ideal of the stay-at-home mother (as does incidentally the well-known Marxist sociologist Wolfgang Streeck). </p> <h2><strong>Honest speaking out</strong></h2> <p>There are various other voices who join this cacophony of outrage including for example many with grievances against the feminist left such as the journalist Bettina Rohl, daughter of Ulrike Meinhof. Rohl’s right wing stance leads her to blame the EU as over-interventionist especially in regard to its ‘gender mainstreaming’ policies. </p> <p>Villa reports how after decades of feminism still the image of the working mother is routinely disapproved of. ‘For many Germans, working mothers do not therefore embody an appropriate social model’. This kind of public discourse finds wide readerships and audiences by affecting a simultaneously heroic and purportedly honest stance, one that suggests the author is daring to speak out, (echoing Trump when he declares that he tweets what others think but dare not say). </p> <p>Across many other member states, the EU is blamed for endorsing this ‘gender agenda’ to the detriment of traditional family life. Indeed the proclaimed support of the EU for gender equality is seen as one element in a wider programme of colonization whereby what was once Marxism is now replaced by gender politics. </p> <p>This again reflects increasingly evangelical Vatican fears about losing its grip amongst Catholics across the world, especially the young. In Italy it is reported that parents are encouraged to phone an anti-gender helpline to report ‘indoctrination’ of their children at school, in what is seen as an ‘anthropological emergency’ even by leading figures from the left. </p> <h2><strong>European sexual politics</strong></h2> <p>Above all, these volumes speak to the dangerous convergences of interests from the RC church, the far right, the neo-fascistic right, to the mainstream parties of the right, while also finding some traction within the left and within strains of liberal feminism. </p> <p>They converge on a specific vocabulary which envisages new feminisms and LGBTQ politics as embodying a profound threat to national culture and to social reproduction. If such alliances and cross-fertilisations have not found the exact same opportunities in the UK, for example, this should neither blind us to the distinctive contours which anti-feminist hostility and anti-LGBTQ opposition take, nor should it permit any basking in some badly-needed respite of temporary solace. (I am not immune to grasping onto shards of hope. The need for fantasies of ‘progress’ is sometimes irresistible.) </p> <p>The UK government is less vindictive in the policy environment it has put in place for transmen and women, especially youngsters. A historically more progressive youth and pop culture contribute to a ‘common culture’ which in turn has a more socially mixed audience and readership than in many other parts of Europe.&nbsp; </p> <p>But against this many have pointed out that after the Brexit vote was reported, hate crimes against non-white people, against white east Europeans, and against LGBTQ people rose remarkably. This is undeniably the case. Perhaps one lesson also emerging from these discussions is the added effort needed on the part of British ‘remainers’ to find ways of maintaining full participation in European sexual politics. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Two recent books on&nbsp; questions of sexuality and gender:</p><p><br /> <em><a href="http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=27481">Queer Theory: The French Response</a> (2016 Stanford) by Bruno Perreau</em> <em></em></p><p><em><a href="https://www.rowmaninternational.com/book/antigender_campaigns_in_europe/3-156-7734fc12-00e3-47fc-8478-05897740ac19">Anti-Gender Campaigns in Europe</a>,</em> (<em>Rowman and Littlefield</em> 2017) edited by David Paternotte and Roman Kuhar </p> </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"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> France </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Germany </div> <div class="field-item even"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Science </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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? UK Germany France EU Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality Ideas International politics Science World Forum for Democracy 2017 World Forum for Democracy Angela McRobbie Thu, 18 Jan 2018 14:55:37 +0000 Angela McRobbie 115715 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘Happy 18th birthday! You’re out’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/hsiao-hung-pai/happy-18th-birthday-you-re-out <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Tougher internal controls under Macron are only giving police more powers, allowing them to conduct identity checks in emergency shelters. Brutality towards migrants is likely to become even more common.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/chapter6. children watching performance in Dunkirk Grande Synthe Liniere camp.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/chapter6. children watching performance in Dunkirk Grande Synthe Liniere camp.JPG" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Children inside the former Liniere camp in Grande Synthe, northern France. Many who couldn't cope with life inside reception shelters had ended up in this camp.</span></span></span>On New Year’s Eve, when cities were cheering and watching fireworks, Jahid called me from his shelter in France. He had been there since spring 2017, and had been living with the hope that his life would be sorted out in the not-too-distant future. </p> <p>The underage refugee I had met in Lampedusa eighteen months ago was entitled to protection, and as such was promised by the French authorities that he would be given an “immigrant card” within two years that would ensure his indefinite leave to remain in the country. Ten months later, however, he was abruptly informed that his entitlement to protection will be coming to an end in five months’ time when he reaches eighteen. </p> <p>Where will he go? What can he do? I have as few answers as he does. </p> <p>This is the agonising cycle of life for tens of thousands of refugee and undocumented children and teenagers in Europe. Their lives are held hostage by the border regime across the continent, and they are experiencing hardship and destitution like many adult refugees. The majority<strong> </strong>of these children and youths are unaccompanied and without resources, and barely even understand why their misery continues beyond their arrival in Europe. </p> <p>35 million, that is 15%, of the estimated 232 million migrants worldwide, are children and youths under the age of twenty. The majority of them are in developing countries, rather than in Europe. In 2016, more than 63,300 unaccompanied minors entered the EU (half of them Syrian and Afghan refugees). Among them, more than 25,000<strong> </strong>reached Italy via the Mediterranean sea route. </p> <p>As the world’s wealthiest continent, Europe has nevertheless been unable or unwilling to offer protection and provide a safe haven for these displaced young people. Child rights are enshrined within a Treaty of the EU and that it is a right recognized by the Council of the EU (the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights and the United Nations Convention on<strong> </strong>the Rights of the Child<strong> </strong>establish how children should be treated regardless of their migratory status, nationality or background, and “children shall have the right to such protection and care as is necessary for their well-being and that the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration in all actions relating to children”). However, EU countries have miserably failed to protect children despite their migratory status and ethnic background. </p> <h2><strong>Why don’t French local authorities have the resources to cope?</strong></h2> <p>My new book, <em>Bordered Lives: How Europe Fails Refugees and Migrants</em>, documents the destiny of some of these children who have ended up in the camps in Italy and other parts of Europe after their rescue at sea. More than 600 migrants were kept in the camp on the island of Lampedusa when I visited, 400 of them underage. These minors were then transferred to camps across Sicily and mainland Italy. Finding themselves in miserable conditions and enduring long bureaucratic delays about decisions on their status, many of them absconded from these camps and went north, either to Germany or further north to Scandinavian countries, or France. </p> <p>France, despite politicians across the spectrum talking about the country being “overburdened” by refugees, has not developed sufficient infrastructure to support the incoming minors, let alone adults. Across the country, there are between 6,000 and 8,000 undocumented minors in the care of local authorities, who are legally bound to support them but not always equipped for such a task. “Local authorities don’t have the resources to cope,” is the standard line repeated by everyone, yet nothing has been done to expand their capacity. Undocumented migrants and asylum seekers, including large numbers of children, become visibly destitute in France’s cities and towns. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/chapter6. children in Dunkirk camp.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/chapter6. children in Dunkirk camp.JPG" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Inside Dunkirk Grand Synthe Liniere camp, northern France.</span></span></span>In<strong> </strong>Seine-Saint-Denis (in Paris’ northern suburbs) and in central Paris, where the majority of young migrants arrive, they sleep rough in the streets and rely on charity for basic food provision. Homelessness of migrant minors has become part of the urban landscape in this First World country. Some of them move out into rural France, to get away from the harshness of being destitute in a metropolis. Many try to seek protection in shelters: others end up again in the streets outside Paris. </p><h2><strong>“Irresponsible adults”</strong> </h2> <p>I followed the lives of some of these children from their arrival in Europe and saw how their dreams of finding a safe haven and secure livelihood fell apart along the way. Many times when the walls of borders closed in, it was impossible for me not to want to intervene and try to offer a way out. But the system always overwhelmed. I witnessed how these young minds were toughened, and hearts broken – by local hostility and racism, by the trickery and deception of those who were supposed be in the position of care.&nbsp; </p> <p>Inside shelters, the minors have their basic needs met, such as food, lodging and some language lessons depending on what is available. The quality of care varies according to the allocation of resources, and in most cases, little individual attention is given. As time goes on, the children often realize that these places are as transitory as those they’ve been in all along their long journey, the security only illusory, and that they may cease to be sheltered when they reach eighteen.</p> <p>In theory, France is one of the five EU member states (along with Cyprus, Italy, Spain and Sweden) where undocumented children are entitled to the same level of health care as citizen children (although they’re not eligible for mainstream healthcare insurance except when they’re unaccompanied minors). In reality their access to healthcare depends on the shelters in which they are placed and how much care they are given in those shelters. I have not met one child who told me that they had been given immediate health care when they fell ill, if at all. Jahid, the 17-year-old I mentioned earlier, for one, had waited for over four months just to see a doctor. </p> <p>Children who are living in these shelters often feel isolated from the rest of society, with little guidance and advice from those providing their care, and grow increasingly more anxious about their migratory status and their future in France. Jahid often revealed that he felt alone and confused. Social workers who are responsible for him rarely paid him attention. When he enquired about their plans for him, they often responded in a casual manner, showing no commitment to his case. Jahid had come to know them as “irresponsible adults”, in his words. </p> <p>He isn’t alone in the way he’s been “dealt with” by those in position of care. Most minors in shelters are left in the dark about what might happen to them, whether they will be given regular status and whether there will be any change in their situation when they reach eighteen.</p> <h2><strong>France, land of asylum</strong></h2> <p>I visited Amiens in France, nicknamed “little Venice of the North”, a couple of times, and saw how many underage undocumented migrants found temporary solutions to their isolation. This city, only an hour north of Paris, has had a growing number of undocumented children and youths coming in over the past two decades. Since 2011, around 100 of them came to this city every year. However, in Amiens, like in other places in the Somme region, the child welfare services (ASE) do not have enough beds in group homes. Some young refugees are housed in hotels.</p> <p>Charities have come in to fill the gap – a pattern that has been repeated elsewhere all over France. For instance, France Terre d’Asile<strong> </strong>(“France Land of Asylum”), provided local-government-subsidized housing to dozens of unaccompanied children from Congo, Sudan or Guinea, and organised French lessons and workshops for them. Organisations such as this have helped the local authorities ease the pressure by sharing the task of providing housing and support to young refugees and migrants. </p> <p>I came across a group called Solidarity Network of Amiens, a grassroots gathering of volunteers who were organised on social media. One of the children I was visiting invited one of the volunteers, a local teacher in her thirties, to come to meet me. She met the children often and helped them with learning French. &nbsp;“Everybody can decide to help as they want,” the volunteer told me. “Often, we put up posts on Facebook about needing help with food, with accommodation, books or transport… We also organise social events like birthday parties, Eid, visit to the zoo and various shows in town…” Apart from providing the much-needed temporary housing (albeit on an ad-hoc basis), the group volunteers become an important social network for the young. Social interaction with the outside world is much needed, and I could see how it helped the children cope with their lives in limbo.</p> <h2><strong>Bone-tests and beards</strong></h2> <p>Inside these shelters, the senseless, lengthy waiting for an unknown future is a massive weight on a young spirit. As it turns out, in France, only 40% of these unaccompanied minors who ask to be taken into care are actually accepted and able to stay in the system. The key idea for the authorities is not to provide protection but to “de-incentivize” and deter more minors from coming into the system. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/chapter1. school poster in Lampedusa.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/chapter1. school poster in Lampedusa.JPG" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A school poster, 'people not borders', in Lampedusa, where Jahid (in the article & book) was detained when arriving in Europe.</span></span></span>The deterrence, as shown by the experience of many children seeking protection, is provided by a series of obstacles to keep them away from being accepted and given regular status. For instance, the French authorities adopt a racially-motivated, “guilty before proven innocent” approach and use a bone test system to determine the age of migrants – this is despite the practice having been condemned by many in Europe as inhumane and, in fact, unscientific: the bone test was originally conceived for height prediction and not age, and can give results with up to twenty-year margin of error. </p><p>Boys and girls who are staying in shelters are constantly monitored (by those responsible for their care) for changes in their appearances, and signs of growing up, such as boys growing a beard. Soon enough, these youngsters would be singled out for assessment and have to go through a complicated series of legal procedures, to determine whether they are eligible for protection. Can you imagine European children being subjected to such a deeply offensive age assessment mechanism? </p> <h2><strong>Macron in Le Pen’s footsteps</strong></h2> <p>Many unaccompanied children and youths are simply unprepared for the level of racism in French society. Their right to healthcare and education is something that France’s Front National wants to end. Its leader Marine le Pen had put it like this: "I’ve got nothing against foreigners but I say to them: if you come to our country, don’t expect that you will be taken care of, treated (by the health system) and that your children will be educated for free. No more playtime.” The racial hatred of Front National unfortunately often echoes throughout mainstream society. The culture of suspicion and resentment towards refugees and any “foreign-looking” people is evident in the segregated existence of those seeking protection.</p> <p>There were sighs of relief when Marine Le Pen failed to win the presidency in last May’s election. But soon enough, refugees and asylum seekers came to see that Macron was occupying what used to be Front National territory and bringing in anti-migrant, anti-refugee policies. Under Macron, an action plan was launched a month after the election, to “systematically deport” failed asylum seekers and “illegal economic migrants”. &nbsp;In 2016, 16,489 people were deported; deportations rose by 14% in 2017. </p> <p>Last Tuesday (January 16) in Calais, Macron outlined his new immigration and asylum policy which ensures a higher number of expulsions of failed asylum seekers and undocumented migrants. Tougher immigration controls will be introduced in a bill and discussed at the council of ministers in February.</p> <p>A large part of the impact of the French immigration regime has been the fear of the police who are seen by most migrants as a threat to their safety. As the police are tasked with enforcing migration regulations, no migrants, particularly the undocumented, would see it as safe to report any incident of violence to the police, who are already known for their racism. I often saw stop and search on French streets and station platforms, where police officers were physically aggressive. Police brutality was (and still is) ingrained in the experience of every migrant in Calais and Dunkirk as it has been part of their everyday life. </p> <p>Tougher internal controls under Macron are only giving police more powers, allowing them to conduct identity checks in places where migrants live, even in emergency shelters. Brutality towards migrants is likely to become even more common. Many of these unaccompanied children are already living a precarious life on the edge of society. These tougher controls will put them at even greater risk of racial violence from both the far-right and the police. </p> <h2><strong>Going underground</strong></h2> <p>Jahid remembers the day when he arrived on an island that he did not know was called Lampedusa and how far away he was from home. Back then, he had escaped slave labour in Libya, and never expected to battle away his life with borders in Fortress Europe. The only path left for him now is going underground and joining the <em>sans papiers</em>, because, like many trapped in Europe, returning home is no option.</p> <p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Bordered-Lives-Europe-Refugees-Migrants/dp/1780264380"><em>Bordered Lives: How Europe Fails Refugees and Migrants</em></a>, is published by New Internationalist, on 18 January 2018.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://newint.org/books/politics/bordered-lives/"><em>Bordered Lives: How Europe Fails Refugees and Migrants</em></a>, is published by New Internationalist, on 18 January 2018.<img src="image/png;base64,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" alt="" /></p> </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"> France </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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? uk EU France People Flow Hsiao-Hung Pai Thu, 18 Jan 2018 11:40:02 +0000 Hsiao-Hung Pai 115709 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Fighting in the left corner https://www.opendemocracy.net/michael-chessum-rosemary-bechler/fighting-in-left-corner <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>“We are an organization with one staff member, and a limited amount of energy because nobody in the political and activist left wants to talk about Brexit! “</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_0082_preview.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_0082_preview.jpeg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>MIchael in thought in the market place for ideas, Team Syntegrity 2017, Barcelona.</span></span></span>Rosemary Bechler (R): We are keeping track of the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/team-syntegrity-process">Team Syntegrity process</a> and its impact, and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/teamsyntegrity">participants </a>seem quite happy to do this. In your case, Michael, I have an added reason for a catch-up, because I felt guilty as your host as well as a facilitator of the event – not something that one normally combines! – that I didn’t register the algorithm preventing you from participating in the ‘<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/luis-mart-n-noam-titelman-emma-avil-s-andreas-karitzis-rhiannon-white/transform-and-rebuild-left">transforming and rebuilding the left’</a> discussion – which is where so much of your expertise in various fields lies.</em></p> <p><em>I should have done something about the fact that you weren’t really able to contribute as you would have wished. </em></p> <p><em>So, well, why don’t we give you the opportunity to talk through what you were thinking about, and update us on that as we approach the end of 2017. We can just feed it back into the post-event stream of consciousness that we are tracking! Does that make sense?</em></p> <p><strong>Michael Chessum (M):&nbsp; </strong>Sure! It wasn’t that big a deal. I had a great time!&nbsp; I don’t normally think of myself as a leftist dogmatist but surrounded by pirate people, I found myself fighting in the left corner pretty well throughout. </p> <p>So what have I been up to? Well, I still work in ‘<a href="https://en-gb.facebook.com/AnotherEuropeIsPossible/">Another Europe is possible</a>’.&nbsp; Since the days of the radical Remain campaign, we have been grant-funded by the Joseph Rowntree Trust and I am fully-funded, working in Global Justice Now, just around the corner. </p> <p>For the last year our main priority has been the Progressive Deal for Europe, based on our six progressive reasons for EU membership which gives you a series of flashpoints to fight over: workers’ rights, environmental protection, free movement, human rights, science and research funding and Erasmus. </p> <p>Free movement and migration is the main controversy that engages us. But what we are doing now is pivoting towards the democratic process as such. So our remit is these six elements, plus democracy and the process. This is because of the Withdrawal Bill, but also because of the need to review strategy around a possible call for a new referendum on the terms of any final deal, including an option to remain. </p> <p>The question is how we do that? How do we communicate such options in a way that isn’t totally toxic.</p> <p><em>R: Why did the <a href="https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2017-19/europeanunionwithdrawal.html">Withdrawal Bill</a> elicit this change of tack?</em></p> <p><strong>M:</strong> Well, the Bill as currently constituted is the biggest power grab by the political executive in modern British political history.&nbsp; It takes hundreds of EU laws, claiming merely to be doing the admin for the Brexit transfer, but in the process in fact gives important powers to the executive to strip out major rights and protections, without going through a vote in parliament. <span class="mag-quote-center">The Bill as currently constituted is the biggest power grab by the political executive in modern British political history.</span></p> <p><em>R: Do we have a list now of what they are keenest to strip out?</em></p> <p><strong>M:</strong> Sort of. A lot of them are very up front. What came up this week, for instance, was the Fundamental Charter of Human Rights, which they very forthrightly insist is ‘coming out’. We lost the vote on that one, including all the material on digital rights and privacy for example, in an extraordinary moment of spinelessness on the part of the Tory rebels. </p> <p>Labour forwarded an amendment to keep the Fundamental Charter on the books. Dominic Grieve, Tory backbencher, leading his band of rebels, puts forward an identical amendment.&nbsp; The Tory Minister gets up and says, “ Well I have heard Dominic Grieve’s position and would like to assure him that I am producing a report on this and will be looking into this again”… &nbsp;and so Grieve withdraws his amendment and then leads his Tory rebels to vote against Labour’s amendment which was lost by ten votes ! So Grieve took the whip. You have to hope there has been some sort of backstage deal because together we could have won on the Charter. </p> <p>It was one of those moments when as a leftist you can only rely on the House of Lords, like the civil rights campaigns of the Blair years, where the Lords were again the only recourse. &nbsp;Because that’s where it all goes next. They will then kick it back. The thing that they will do is put the Charter back in, and the Government could give way then in that ping pong period. But what is not happening is any kind of ‘cross-party alliance’. Ken Clarke <em>is</em> the cross-party alliance. He is the only Tory who is consistent in voting with the opposition. The rest of them are totally solid. </p> <p>The Opposition is on the whole solidly united on this terrain, except for the bigger issues in the second and third readings when Frank Field and Kate Hoey, who are pro-Brexit, come out in favour of the Government, which makes things more difficult. <span class="mag-quote-center">Ken Clarke <em>is</em> the cross-party alliance.</span></p> <p>So we are forced to think about democratic process under these circumstances because this is the most important and dangerous piece of legislation that has faced the country in a long, long time. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_0081_preview.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_0081_preview.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>The political left, moreover, isn’t mobilized around this at all. This has been a huge missed opportunity for them. Because if we had managed to popularize this democratic cause against the power-grab, even with one of those boring old traditional rallies and marches in Central London, we could have brought popular pressure to bear and at least made the Government think twice about a lot of these things. Especially given the very weak parliamentary position the Government is in. </p><p>We have missed a trick on this precisely because it is about process, and the left has never known how to talk about democratic process very well at all. This is why even in Corbyn’s platform and movement, despite it being very radical and popular, there is nothing in there about federalism, democratic electoral reform, the crisis of the British state as such. None of that is in there. For the same reason, the political left is not focused on this seminal power challenge. <span class="mag-quote-center">The left has never known how to talk about democratic process very well at all.</span></p> <p><em>R. Has Momentum and its very creative <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuOT5RGdD5g">World Transformed festival</a> which accompanies Labour party conferences nowadays made no difference in this area – because surely wherever ordinary people are invited to have a voice, that is where democratic process begins to matter!? I was disappointed to see Momentum close itself to non-members of the Labour party, for example. Doesn’t that constrain Momentum’s true potential? </em></p> <p><strong>M.</strong> I don’t think Momentum has missed its chance. What you had in Momentum when I ended up ceasing to be on its steering committee in January this year, was two competing functions. There is the social movement, facing society, and engaged in community activism, and the disciplined party faction. The first function is quasi-democratic, but it is a very messy process and can be very unpleasant too. On the other hand, you have this very disciplined party machinery which is essentially top down. </p> <p>So that dual life played out in the initial leadership campaign for Corbyn which produced Momentum. Momentum changed into the second leadership campaign, and then changed back into being Momentum, and that dual life has always been there. But Jon Lansman’s understanding of the need for a very well run, top down effective campaign – very effective at what they do, winning the internal elections, mobilizing for general elections – has essentially won out for now.&nbsp; What it isn’t any more is a pluralistic, bottom-up, grass roots organization. The local groups have no official say. </p> <p>Some people think that was what Momentum always should have been. For others, their position is determined by factional politics. So announcing that Momentum would henceforth be Labour members only was ensuring that whoever was expelled from the Labour party – at the time it was the organized far left who were internal opponents of Lansman and the current leadership&nbsp; grouping who were getting expelled – would be prevented from taking it over. Moreover, Momentum at the time was also deciding to ‘seek affiliation to the Labour Party’, which was easier if you went down that road of ‘Labour members only’. </p> <p>But I agree, I do think the decision to exclude non-members was a mistake, because effectively it takes us backwards by several steps. The British Left has been through a collapse of British Labour Party membership, the near death of the official labour movement under Thatcher and then the hollowing out of what’s left of the Labour Party under Blair. </p> <p>Suddenly, almost from the outside, but relying on party activists who had been around for a long time – people like Lansman who did good work, together with Corbyn and McDonnell – formed a base from which the left on the outside could spring to life inside a transforming party. Unfortunately that is not the narrative which Momentum’s current leadership has of its own history. For them, this is labour values proving themselves and coming true again. So we are moving back, historically, in terms of where this surge has come from. </p> <p><em>R. But if Momentum can’t reach outwards, how will it build its movement? Isn’t this frustratingly self-defeating?</em></p> <p><strong>M:</strong> It will begin to reach outwards more again. If you think about it, so far there has been the leadership campaign, setting up Momentum, and then from early 2016, in short order, waves of rebellion, the referendum, another leadership election, internal warfare, 2017 and the e-mail coup in which all the structures were abolished, and then an election called in May. So there has been no room to breathe thus far. </p> <p>But they are recruiting staff as I understand it, to campaign around issues, not just around elections. Even at the grassroots of the Labour left, though, people are more party oriented than they were a year ago, and a lot of that has to do with what they learned from the polarising second leadership election, which hardened everybody against the Parliamentary Labour Party and against the Labour right. Everybody knew who the enemy was all of a sudden and was going to make sure they beat them in their local CLP. That was it. <span class="mag-quote-center">Everybody knew who the enemy was all of a sudden and was going to make sure they beat them in their local CLP.</span></p> <p>But one way or another, those Momentum outreach campaigns are going to become essential. Either there will be a bit of let up, now, and we have to face all those cuts on a local level which are still under way, so we have to become active around that defence. Or there will be another general election… and Momentum will become crucial for reaching out.</p> <p>The big problem is that the strategy of that disciplined party faction is always going to be vesting control in the party leadership: ”what we need to do is get behind the party leadership and make sure we get a Labour Government.” There is very little intellectual engagement in that strategy – maybe taking a long hard look at Greece or Chile, or any example we have of a serious leftwing government&nbsp; gaining power under contemporary global conditions, and what happens to them, either in terms of being forced out, or in terms of self-destructive compromises. So there are a lot of dangers in gathering all your agency at the top of these party mechanisms. <span class="mag-quote-center">There are a lot of dangers in gathering all your agency at the top of these party mechanisms.</span></p> <p><em>R: Very interesting. Do you mind my asking how you came to quit the steering group of Momentum last January?</em></p> <p><strong>M:</strong> I didn’t quit. The steering group was abolished. A democratic conference was being planned for a few months after, which would have had delegates from all over the country. Lansman wrote an e-mail proposing a new constitution to the 12 people then on the steering group, which didn’t have a steering committee in it. People in the majority had already been lined up to agree. In my group, three refused to participate and one said no. But in an hour and a half, all of the democratic structures which had been evolved within Momentum were simply swept out. So was I, and I haven’t been back in the office since. </p> <p>There was a question about us setting up some new kind of process – a grassroots Momentum&nbsp;– since we totally agreed that what had happened, which we refer to as ‘the coup’, had no democratic legitimacy. But after that, there were a lot of disagreements: the debate was split between ‘delegates-based movements’ and one member one vote – I didn’t like either much and was looking for a compromise position. </p> <p>Then there were differences over whether we should split from Momentum or leave Momentum, or stay inside, and I was saying let’s fight on.&nbsp; All the different opposition elements failed to get on with each other, and what with the disagreements and no funding, it wasn’t going to go anywhere very fast.</p> <p><em>R:&nbsp; So where next for fighting for a better leftwing understanding of democratic process?</em></p> <p><strong>M:</strong> I’m friends with a lot of the people involved in Momentum still. I just haven’t been actively involved or in the office. Lansman and I had a friendly but slightly tense conversation at party conference. But yes, I come from a background in the student movement and the labour movement and I do understand both democratic traditions. What I see inside Westminster and inside the Labour Party, is that these are systems where you do whatever you can get away with. <span class="mag-quote-center">Inside Westminster and inside the Labour Party, these are systems where you do whatever you can get away with. </span></p> <p>This isn’t just about opportunism. It is about the basic norms of our democracy. It strikes me as absurd, for example, and I only learned this recently. But there are four hundred amendments tabled to this incredibly important bit of legislation we were talking about. Who gets to choose which ones get selected for debate? The Deputy Speaker of the House, with no rights of appeal.&nbsp; When are the chosen amendments announced? On the day of each amendment debate. So you don’t know what’s coming up until the day of the decision, so – how do you run a public campaign? </p> <p>You don’t. Parliament is not about running public debates. There may be scrutinizing committees, calling for submissions of evidence that then get circulated. We have a legal expert who has written a lot of these amendments, working on these. But this is not at all the same as a public information campaign. <span class="mag-quote-center">Parliament is not about running public debates.</span></p> <p>There is then one account of what happened in Momentum which is a single story running from that totally unaccountable feature of Westminster politics, into ripple effects on all surrounding processes. You have a Westminster elite that with processes and procedures like this is deliberately walling itself off from the outside world. In that system, MPs and your parliamentary representatives have the supra-rights that accrue to parliamentary sovereignty. That infects the Labour Party via the PLP. Because what MP’s essentially have is a sense of entitlement on the basis that they have been elected by the people, and as such have the right to tell the membership of the Labour Party to ‘sod off’. </p> <p>That means that the basic norms of democracy – that you should be able to select your candidates – that you should be able to give them a steer in close consultation – that the MPs are the voice of the Labour movement in parliament rather than being some kind of professional detached entity with their own rights – that is where all the trouble starts. That infects the whole culture of the Labour party, including, subconsciously, the old Labour left, who basically have an attitude which isn’t rigorously, procedurally democratic. They too are out to win, at any cost, and by the shortest route. Things will happen at local and national level to do with conferences which are basically about people who don’t technically have the right, somehow taking it upon themselves to throw their weight around because they can get away with it. </p> <p>It goes broader than the thinness of our representative democracy: it is about the lack of process. Ultimately, it is about a lack of respect for members and a lack of respect for their collective wisdom. Whereas, in a world which had a rational approach to movement-building, I like to think that we would put that argument for the organization that I want to see to the members as a whole and trust them to know what’s best. <span class="mag-quote-center">It goes broader than the thinness of our representative democracy: it is about the lack of process.</span></p> <p><em>R. So here are two issues that I think did come up in the Team Syntegrity in Barcelona. One was ‘rational approaches’ as such: and the question of what happens to these in the emotional times in which we seem to be living – your generation seems to know much more about this than say, mine did. </em></p> <p><em>The other question is about ‘collective wisdom’.&nbsp; Under the individualizing pressures of neoliberalism, can one really rely on collective wisdom in the same ways we once did? I’m thinking of the proliferation of enemy images which is the way the right increasingly wield power. Don’t we need rich pluralist political cultures to overcome this – a commitment to much more empowering forms of self-organisation, and conscious, willed collaboration with others – not just a rubber-stamping chorus of approval ?</em></p> <p><strong>M:</strong> Absolutely, but the need for pluralism doesn’t only correspond to the need to involve individual voices. Pluralism is the only force that enables a movement to redefine itself, adapt, to be an effective collective. Yes, people want agency and I think that getting people to think about their agency collectively is almost the first step in political consciousness, where a subculture becomes a politics. This challenge is not at all confined to working under neoliberal conditions. A sub-culture, ‘Corbynism’ for example, means that being into Labour politics suddenly becomes ‘cool’, with ‘grime nights for Corbyn’ and whatever. And this is the start. </p> <p>The leaders of ‘the Momentum coup’, by the way, are always talking about ‘the dynamism of the Sanders movement’. But ironically the Democratic Socialists, the Momentum-like movement in the US, are a delegate-based movement who run socialist education meetings, which actually I think may be a good idea. It’s really missing from Momentum and the Labour left, reading things and talking about politics and ideas…. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_0030_preview.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_0030_preview.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Yes political movements need pluralism more than ever I suppose, but I also remember the 2007 student movement with people coming out onto the streets who almost wanted agency just for themselves. And it was drawing them into that collective that made them political. &nbsp;<span class="mag-quote-center">It was drawing them into that collective that made them political.&nbsp; </span></p> <p><em>R. So in the absence of this basic democratic and democratizing culture, how will Another Europe is Possible make that pivot towards democracy? </em></p> <p><strong>M:</strong> &nbsp;The ‘referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal with an option to remain’ has always been our policy, but it’s hugely difficult! We refer to this as ‘the Rotdwor’ problem, which is an unpronounceable acronym using the first letters of that phrase to sum up rather well the communications challenge involved! </p> <p>Especially if it is accompanied by what we refer to as ‘the blue problem’ – that many people campaigning for Remain seem to think that waving EU flags and singing Ode to Joy at random passers by is enough to win over the swing voters – not true. (I couldn’t help thinking that if all the people marching on the March for Europe had thought to do this before the referendum, that might have been more useful!) </p> <p>And then there is the Establishment problem that Alistair Campbell believes he is a good face for the movement – also not true.</p> <p>So this is probably our main demand and how do we articulate it? <span class="mag-quote-center">Then there is the Establishment problem that Alistair Campbell believes he is a good face for the movement – also not true.</span></p> <p>‘Free movement’ is the other big issue campaign, but that is very much a principled argument to be had within the labour movement and amongst progressives about migration and what we think about it.</p> <p>On the referendum, it is making a very reasonable democratic case to say, the British people decided by a small majority that they wanted to exit Europe. They didn’t know at the time what that meant. Now it means this. They should be allowed to decide whether that corresponds to what they wanted.</p> <p>That’s very rational: but you can’t just say that. I’m straw-manning one strand inside the Remain movement – but one strand of thinking is undoubtedly of the opinion that people were misled and stupid and therefore should vote again. We can’t give any traction in any way to that sort of idea. </p> <p>They are right that what would make the difference this time is that it would be a vote on a particular deal, and they are also right, in my opinion, to believe that we might win that vote overwhelmingly, and not just because the demographics would be more in our favour with those too young to vote last time coming of age and some of the older generation dying off. </p> <p>Even so, what we need is a narrative that can also bring in a more resurgent, anti-Establishment case. When people experience the downturn in the economy that’s going to result from Brexit, they won’t be saying, “Oh that’s bloody Brexit!” For most people it will just be the next chapter in a series of betrayals by the political elites. And so to have a narrative that opposes Brexit on the basis that it will cause yet more of what afflicts us, has to be an anti-Establishment argument. <span class="mag-quote-center">To have a narrative that opposes Brexit on the basis that it will cause yet more of what afflicts us, has to be an anti-Establishment argument. </span></p> <p><em>R. The right led by the far right will manage to make that case very well if we leave a vacuum there.</em></p> <p><strong>M:</strong> Exactly. </p> <p><em>R. Isn’t that why we need a much more profound debate about what future we want for the UK?</em></p> <p><strong>M:</strong> We do need some kind of nationwide deliberative process, to be sure, and one basic reason for calling for a referendum is that it is not democracy if you can’t change your mind. We don’t have just one election and then that’s it for all time !&nbsp; </p> <p>The flaw with a referendum however is precisely the lack of deliberation, and so the question arises, how could we inject some of that deliberative democracy into a debate leading up to the referendum? </p> <p>From the position we are in, at the end of the day, and I hesitate to call it a single movement – but this is the problem of the Remain people in general – the considerable resources are all in the wrong places. We, for example, are an organization with one staff member, and a limited amount of energy because nobody in the political and activist left wants to talk about Brexit! </p> <p><em>R: Really?</em></p> <p><strong>M:</strong> Well, the decision not to have a Brexit debate at Labour Party conference was the result of the Momentum leadership not wanting to put the Labour leadership in a difficult position. Something similar is going on with the free movement issue, though most CLP’s would like to talk about free movement. But the Left doesn’t want to talk about Brexit because the orthodox position is, “Why do you want to talk about this. We need to get a Labour Government in and once we do that, then we can talk about what we want for our society and all this. Let’s just get behind the leadership and push it through.” </p> <p>That’s what I was referring to when I commented on the notion of investing all of your power in the leadership – the lack of ideas, the lack of a sense of history and what has happened to governments in the past… the lack of discussion.</p> <p>So that lack of energy and of resources makes it very difficult for us to turn our minds to how best to prompt a national debate. Instead, we have got to go into the Labour Party and the progressive spectrum of parties in the UK and try and persuade people who have some influence. I was at a Lib Dem conference running a fringe event, also the SNP conference and the Greens. We need to persuade these people across the broad left any way that we can, by just doing the basic nuts and bolts of a very basic politics, that this referendum idea is the right, progressive and democratic way to go.</p> <p><em>R: Aren’t you worried about the false binarism involved in another referendum, once again forcing apart what I see as natural allies: those who wish to stay in Europe to have a broad democratic alliance that can change it fundamentally in the interests of all the European peoples, and those who want to leave in the hope that they will have more democratic control over their lives and their prosperity as a result? Hasn’t the Labour Party been rather clever at not alienating either of those two important constituencies? What I’d like to see is a richer opportunity for debate between them… don’t you agree?</em></p> <p><strong>M:</strong> It will be important the way the new referendum is framed: of course that’s true. It needs to be drawn up along very different lines. The good thing is that the Tories are making that possible. Because they are busy making themselves ‘the party of Brexit’, and that makes it much easier to talk about Brexit as a Conservative cause. </p> <p>At ‘Another Europe’ we talk about a ‘fresh’ rather than a ‘second’ referendum, precisely because this will be a discussion about a bad deal that is on the table. Taking it down will be relatively easy. But getting the opportunity in the first place is what is going to be very difficult, the critical thing. And that is why the national conversation is not our priority.</p> <p><em>R: But isn’t it the same issue that’s at stake? Don’t you need people leaping up all over the place and saying – you’re not pushing that through without giving me a chance to ask questions and say what I think! And doesn’t that come down to the expectation at least, if not the experience, of a deeper democracy in the UK, as well as across Europe? Isn’t this what we have to push for in the next two years of&nbsp; ‘transition period’ – or longer maybe if Yanis Varoufakis is right about how long these transitions actually take?</em></p> <p><strong>M:</strong> It is about mobilization. A lot of people are talking and thinking about this. But we need to know how we can put pressure on our political leaders to that end. Not another academic debate in the abstract about what we need. Do they want one? – that’s what we need to establish.</p> <p><em>R: So aren’t you getting pushed back into top down politics, because of the lack of time and capacity?</em></p> <p><strong>M:</strong> Absolutely. Yes.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_0058_preview.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_0058_preview.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Team Syntegrity, June 2017. Cameron Thibos, photographer. All rights reserved.</span></span></span><em>R: One of your six demands is on ‘free movement’. How did you bring about that Labour campaign, seemingly overnight?</em></p> <p><strong>M:</strong> I and others thought that we needed <a href="https://www.labourfreemovement.org/">an organization</a> that is specifically dedicated to intervening on this issue in the Labour Party. We set it up, wrote a statement, got a few MP’s on it and a few trade union leaders. I was surprised how well it went and we got a load of press coverage. So immediately it shot out of the cannon, around three thousand people signed up. </p> <p>We went to conference and Young Labour submitted a ‘contemporary motion’ which didn’t get debated because Brexit wasn’t debated, so you had this bizarre position where the ‘Single Market’ motion, predominantly from Labour’s rightwing, and our ‘Free Movement’ motion would have ended up being composited together, which would have been strange. But it was never prioritized. </p> <p>Now we have a few irons in the fire. We need to start building up constituency-level pressure and sending speakers all over the country. I’ve been talking this over today. We particularly want to start talking about migrant workers’ struggles, European and non-European, McDonalds and the like, so that we can start to kick back against a growing tendency on the Labour left to compromise with the right on ‘free movement’ while attempting to make it look as if you are taking a leftwing position.&nbsp; </p> <p>The totally disingenuous position we come across a lot is, “No, I’ll vote against your motion to defend ‘free movement’, because why can’t we have free movement globally?” Our motion always has talked about us defending and extending free movement. But let’s defend what we have got! That’s our argument. While these guys are really covering themselves as they resort to the age-old proud tradition of throwing migrants under the bus for reasons of electoral credibility! </p> <p>The UK labour movement has a long history of this: the TUC after all lobbied for the Aliens Act, didn’t it! What you find now is people who have come out of Bennism and also around the old Communist Party who can convince themselves that free movement is just a tool to drive down wages. <span class="mag-quote-center">What you find now is people… who can convince themselves that free movement is just a tool to drive down wages.</span></p> <p>So we are going to try and kick back against all of that. We would like to get Momentum on board, because it has a huge base of young people who are internationalists. It’s not going to be easy, thanks to that new constitution, but if we can get 10% of all Momentum signatures and a referendum call and win that vote, they will be bound to help us at the next Labour party conference. </p> <p>Once again, however, we have to be careful to balance reaching out to our metropolitan, millennial choir on the one hand, and at the same time trying to reach out to a much broader layer of people, for whom migration is not an exchange of advantages but something that happens to them, without it being at all obvious that this guarantees their rights as well – people who would never consider living, studying or working in Europe, for example.</p> <p><em>R: I wonder if you felt at the Team Syntegrity in Barcelona that there was only a limited understanding among European progressives of those sorts of profound political challenges in Brexit Britain today?</em></p> <p><strong>M:</strong> There definitely is. I was at the European Alternatives meeting, the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/joan-pedro-cara-ana/re-thinking-strategies-for-social-change-in-transeuropa">Transeuropa festival </a>in Madrid, and it was a very good conference. But although Britain is often referred to by leftwing Europeans as the great hope for Europe – there is not a profound understanding of Brexit or Brexit Britain, and the different deepseated ways in which neoliberalism and the Thatcher period have affected our political culture in the UK. </p> <p>And at the same time, many of them will cheer on the European Commission in the negotiations… So there is a lot to talk through!</p> <p><em>R: Well, thank you so much for this conversation, Michael, and very good luck! </em></p><p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_3966_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_3966_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="613" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Team Syntegrity 2017</p><p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/teamsyntegrity"><strong>Meet the participants</strong></a></p> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/team-syntegrity-results"><strong>Some results </strong></a></p> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/team-syntegrity-process"><strong>Process in their own words</strong></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <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="/ashish-ghadiali-rosemary-bechler/while-sun-shines">While the sun shines</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/joan-pedro-cara-ana/re-thinking-strategies-for-social-change-in-transeuropa">Re-thinking strategies for social change in Transeuropa</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/andreas-karitzis/let-s-not-politicise-let-s-skill">Let’s not ‘politicise’: let’s skill</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/wiebke-hansen-rosemary-bechler/change-in-consensual-way">Change in a consensual way</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/agnieszka-wi-niewska/from-civil-society-to-political-society">From civil society to political society</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/noam-titelman/politics-of-feelings">The politics of feelings</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/rosemary-bechler-luthfur-ullah/meeting-lofa">Meeting Lofa</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/emma-avil-s/intercommunication-past-and-future">Intercommunication in Barcelona, past and future</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"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </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> Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Brexit2016 Team Syntegrity Rosemary Bechler Michael Chessum Tue, 16 Jan 2018 16:38:33 +0000 Michael Chessum and Rosemary Bechler 115679 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A second referendum on the deal with the EU: a multi-option poll https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/peter-emerson/second-referendum-on-deal-with-eu-multi-option-poll <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>More than anything else, perhaps, the UK now needs something which is not just accurate but also inclusive.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Ramon_Llull.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Ramon_Llull.jpeg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ramon Llull/Raimundus Lullus (1232? - 1316. Wikicommons/ from the collection of Friderici Roth-Scholtzii Noriberg. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>To identify the nation’s collective will, we need to collate the voters’ individual wills. This cannot be done in a ‘yes-or-no?’ (‘remain-or-leave?’) vote in which some people say only what they do <em>not</em>&nbsp; want. So, logically, the 2016 referendum did not and could not identify “the will of the people.” This is confirmed by the fact that, today, nobody knows what the collective will actually is, and hence all the arguments about whether Brexit is to be ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ or whatever? <span class="mag-quote-center">Nobody knows what the collective will actually is, and hence all the arguments about whether Brexit is to be ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ or whatever...</span></p> <p>If that ballot had been multi-optional – something like ‘the UK in the EU, the EEA, the Customs Union or the WTO?’ – each voter could have voted for what they actually wanted, and, if people had voted ‘sincerely’ rather than ‘tactically’ – to use the terms from social choice science – the most popular option could have been identified.</p> <p>The correct procedure would have been to set up an independent commission, so to determine which options best represented the national debate; this was done in New Zealand in 1992, before they had their five-option referendum on their electoral system.</p> <h2><strong>Multi-option polling</strong></h2> <p>Consider the theory. When the House of Lords debated Lords reform in 2003, they took five majority votes on five options, but lost all of them.</p> <p>If Brexit had been four majority votes on the above four-options, and if, as in the Lords, voters had cast a preference only once, then ‘in the EU’ could have got 48% and each of the other three a part of 52%.&nbsp; In other words, the 2016 referendum should probably have been a victory for ‘remain in the EU’. <span class="mag-quote-center">The 2016 referendum should probably have been a victory for ‘remain in the EU’.</span></p> <p>So what should happen now?&nbsp; At the very least, academia and the media, not least the BBC, should begin talking about multi-option decision-making. (It has been in the public domain for over 800 years, after Ramón Llull first raised the subject. And he, of course, was a Catalan!)&nbsp; It must further be recognised that some jurisdictions have actually used multi-option referendums, like Westminster. &nbsp;Ha!&nbsp; The precedent was set in 1949, when after protests in Halifax, Newfoundland was eventually allowed a plebiscite of three-options. Later, in 1982 in Guam, six options were presented to the electorate; not only that, a further option was left blank, so anyone(s) who wanted to (campaign and) vote for a seventh option could do exactly that.</p> <p>In summary, a pluralist democracy is possible; and ideally, as Ramón Llull implied, the appropriate voting procedures should be preferential.</p> <h2><strong>Preferential polling</strong></h2> <p>In multi-candidate elections or multi-option decisions, a voter cannot express his/her opinion <em>accurately</em> if, <em>á la</em> George Orwell, he is able to say, in effect, only “This one ‘good’ and those ones ‘bad’.”&nbsp; Furthermore, any calculation of the collective based on such inaccurate data will obviously also be inaccurate.&nbsp; Therefore, individuals should indeed be allowed to cast their preferences. <span class="mag-quote-center">Individuals should indeed be allowed to cast their preferences.&nbsp; </span> </p> <p>In let’s say a five-option debate, he who casts one preference (and says nothing about the other options) gives his favourite 1 point (and zero to the other options). She who casts two preferences gives her favourite 2 points (her 2nd choice 1 point, and zero to the other three options). And so on. So he who casts all five preferences gives his favourite 5 points, (his 2nd choice 4 points, his 3rd 3, etc.). The difference is always 1 point; there is no especial weighting.</p> <p>Wanting to win, the protagonist will ask her supporters to give her option the maximum 5 points, that is, to cast full ballots. In all, she will need lots of high preferences, a few middle ones perhaps, but very few low ones; accordingly, she should try to persuade any opponents to give her option not a 5th but a higher preference.&nbsp; </p> <p>This points-system of voting – the Modified Borda Count, MBC – was considered by Ramón Llull in 1199, formally proposed by Jean-Charles de Borda in 1774, and then adopted in the French Academy of Sciences ten years later.&nbsp; (Alas it was replaced in 1800 by majority voting, on the orders of one not best known for his democratic ideals, Napoléon Bonaparte.)&nbsp; The MBC identifies the option with the highest average preference… and an average, of course, involves <em>every</em> voter, not just a majority of them.&nbsp; The methodology, therefore, is inclusive.&nbsp; And more than anything else, perhaps, the UK now needs something which is not just accurate but also inclusive.</p> <h2><strong>Any second (or fresh) referendum</strong></h2> <p>Accordingly, the government should task an independent commission to receive submissions and then draw up a multi-option referendum of between 4 – 6 options. The subsequent ballot should allow the voters to cast their preferences; the count should be conducted according to the rules laid down for an MBC; and the option with the highest points total should be declared the winner.&nbsp; </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="/wfd/peter-emerson/brexit-wrecks-it-theory-of-collective-decision-making">Brexit wrecks it: the theory of collective decision making</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/oliver-norgrove/interesting-brexit-experiment-worthy-of-analysis">An interesting Brexit experiment worthy of analysis</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"> 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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? uk EU Brexit2016 Peter Emerson Tue, 16 Jan 2018 08:22:01 +0000 Peter Emerson 115664 at https://www.opendemocracy.net On Lesvos, police violence crushes refugees' peaceful resistance: justice for the Moria 35 https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/maya-thomas-davis/on-lesvos-police-violence-crushes-refugees-resistance-justice-f <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>At the edge of Fortress Europe, violence, arbitrary raids and arrests, racist profiling, exaggerated criminal charges and punitive detention are scandalous – but by no means an aberration from the logic of borders and their enforcement.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/IMG_20170718_101005 (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/IMG_20170718_101005 (1).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Justice for the Moria 35. Photo: Zaid. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Since the EU-Turkey ‘deal’ came into force in March 2016, thousands of people fleeing all forms of violence have been trapped on the Greek islands, at the outskirts of fortress Europe, as a ‘containment’ measure. The <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur44/3825/2016/en/">deal</a> means European states line the pockets of Erdogan’s repressive authoritarian regime and turn a blind eye to well-documented human rights violations committed systematically against activists, lawyers, journalists, LGBTQI+ folk, Kurdish people, and Syrians; to <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur44/7157/2017/en/?utm_source=facebook&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_term&amp;utm_campaign=social">breaches</a> of <em>non-refoulement</em>; to the fact Turkey is not even a signatory to the 1968 Protocol to the Geneva Convention extending international protection to non-EU nationals. </p><p>European powers <a href="http://www.asylumineurope.org/news/04-10-2017/greece-ruling-council-state-asylum-procedure-post-eu-turkey-deal">cite</a> dodgy diplomatic assurances in order to designate Turkey a ‘<a href="https://www.ecre.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Policy-Note-08.pdf">safe third country</a>’ and externalise European borders there. Meanwhile, the islands of Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Kos and Leros have been transformed into sites of indefinite confinement – where individuals seeking freedom, safety and dignity have instead been held in limbo for up to 20 months; enduring abject inhumane and degrading conditions in dangerously overcrowded ‘hot-spot’ facilities, under the constant threat of deportation.&nbsp;</p> <p class="mag-quote-right">Women sleep in adult diapers to avoid having to make a trip to the toilets in the night.</p><p>Lesvos is the largest of these ‘open-air prisons’ in the eastern Aegean. With its northernmost tip only eight kilometres from the Turkish coast, hundreds of people survive the perilous journey across the Mytilene strait to arrive at its shores on a daily basis. The 'hotspot’ camp in Lesvos – Moria – is a former army base built to accommodate a maximum of approximately 1,800 people. There are currently nearly four times that number – around 7,000 – crammed within the confines of its razor-wire topped fences in conditions unfit for human habitation.</p><p>This includes unaccompanied minors, pregnant women, disabled folk, the wounded, the elderly, people with serious mental illness, survivors of all forms of trauma. Around 4,000 people are currently sleeping in flimsy summer tents, or on the bare ground, as temperatures drop to single digits and below. At least five people perished in Moria last winter. Two people, including a five-year-old child, have died there in the past two months.</p><p>A toxic combination of inadequate shelter, lack of access to healthcare, information or legal advice, unhygienic facilities, queues for hours for appalling food, restricted access to water, fascist attacks, institutional racism, and interminable waiting in fear have created a desperate situation that <em>Medecins Sans Frontieres</em> is calling a <a href="http://www.msf.org/sites/msf.org/files/2017_10_mental_health_greece_report_final_low.pdf">mental health emergency</a>. There are regular suicide attempts and self-harm is endemic. </p><p>Sexual exploitation of minors and adults is a reality. So is violence, particularly against <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/12/15/greece-dire-risks-women-asylum-seekers">women, girls</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=309129119494411&amp;id=286931478380842">LGBTQI+ folk</a>. Women sleep in adult diapers to avoid having to make a trip to the toilets in the night. Such conditions make the UNHCR’s insistent use of the word ‘beneficiary’ to refer to people accommodated in the camp a sick joke. Moria was recently called a <a href="http://greece.greekreporter.com/2017/10/06/migrant-camp-in-lesvos-a-concentration-camp-says-human-rights-watch/">concentration camp</a> by a Human Rights Watch worker. It is a living hell.&nbsp;</p> <p>Article 7 of the Recast Reception Conditions Directive, part of the Common European Asylum System, authorises European member states to restrict the free movement of applicants for international protection within their territories only where ‘<em>the assigned area shall not affect the unalienable sphere of private life and shall allow sufficient scope for guaranteeing access to all benefits under this Directive</em>’. Given the abysmal conditions in Lesvos, it is clear that other '<em>benefits</em>' under the directive, including ‘<em>material reception conditions [which] provide an adequate standard of living for applicants... guarantee their subsistence and protect their physical and mental health</em>’ are not ‘<em>guarant[eed]</em>’, to say the least. Even without examining the legality of the EU-Turkey agreement, or the ‘safe third country’ concept more broadly, geographical restriction to Lesvos should be regarded unlawful. It compounds every systematic human rights violation already taking place.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">Such conditions make the UNHCR’s insistent use of the word ‘beneficiary’ to refer to people accommodated in the camp a sick joke.</p> <p>In this context, the hundreds of peaceful protesters who gathered outside the European Asylum Support Office in Moria for the second day in a row on the morning of July 18th 2017, demanding free movement to the mainland, were simply asking that Greece and the European Union comply with their own laws. The protests were organised to take place while a week-long Amnesty conference examining the consequences of the EU-Turkey deal had brought some international attention to Lesvos, which has long since fallen out of the mainstream media spotlight. Community leaders spoke on local radio, participated in talks and workshops and reached out to authorities in the hope of negotiating a modest demand that those held on the island for over six months be permitted to leave. Protesters in the camp held hand-made banners denouncing conditions, and chanted “Liberté!” in the face of a growing police presence.</p> <p>Greek state authorities responded to this peaceful exercise of the right to protest with repressive violence. Humanitarian actors were evicted from the camp, which was put on lockdown: trapping the majority of protesters outside and imprisoning a small group within, along with other residents resting in their isoboxes who had not participated in the demonstration. Police used quantities of teargas that made it painful to breathe even at the distance of the hill overlooking the camp. Officers were filmed gathering rocks from the ground and throwing them at protesters, who attempted to resist: taking shelter between the rows of isoboxes and trying to extinguish tear gas canisters with UNHCR buckets filled with water.</p> <p>By around 3pm everything appeared to be calm, and people were observed walking calmly around the camp again. Then, an hour later, armed riot police entered Moria. They targeted and violently raided the ‘African section’ of the camp: forcibly entering isoboxes, dragging people out, shooting teargas at close range, and brutally assaulting seemingly every individual they came into contact with, including a pregnant woman. From the hilltop overlooking the camp you could hear disturbing screams and shouts. You could see terrified people fleeing the ‘African section’ in every direction, only to be intercepted in the open space to the left of the isoboxes, or on the main pathway through the camp, and beaten to the ground by an officer soon joined by three or four more. For approximately 10 minutes, everywhere you looked groups of police officers in full riot gear were gathered around individuals already lying on the floor – some barefoot or in their underclothes – kicking and beating them with their boots and truncheons.</p> <p>35 people were arrested in this violent, arbitrary raid. One of the arrestees was beaten so brutally he was hospitalised for a week. In the days following the arrests, Amnesty International carried out interviews with arrestees and witnesses, and published a <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/EUR2568452017ENGLISH.pdf">report</a> demanding Greek authorities launch an investigation into the police’s excessive use of force amounting to possible torture. The report indicates arrestees were subject to racist abuse and beaten again in police custody. When arrestees were brought to Mytilene court on Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd of July, many were still barefoot. Some were bleeding from injuries that had been left untreated in the days spent in prison, and doctors from <em>Medicins Sans Frontieres</em> came to court at the urgent request of the <a href="http://www.legalcentrelesbos.org/partners/">Legal Centre Lesvos</a> team to dress injuries including head wounds and provide pain relief. The defendants brought to court on Friday morning had not been given food.</p> <p class="mag-quote-right">35 people were arrested in this violent, arbitrary raid.</p><p>Many of the 35 arrested in Moria were not even present at the morning’s peaceful protest, let alone the clashes between a small number of protesters and riot police that ensued. 34 of the 35 men arrested are black. This led observers to conclude arrests were racially profiled and arbitrary: people were targeted solely because of their race and their location within the camp at the time of the police raid. Such a conclusion is only compounded by the apparent absence of individualised evidence against any of the 35, who were all charged with a catalogue of identical offences during preliminary hearings: arson, attempted assault, resisting arrest, rioting, damage to private property and disturbing the public peace. </p><p>In light of the dawn police raids that took place in Moria camp the following Monday, 24th July, it seems clear that these arrests were part of a policy of collective punishment and intimidation: calculated to instil fear in the camp and prevent organising to expose the realities of structural violence and inhumanity European policies have spawned in Lesvos.</p> <p>However, it is also clear that while the violence perpetrated by law enforcement officials, arbitrary raids and arrests, racist profiling, exaggerated criminal charges, punitive detention and lack of access to due process in this case are scandalous, these forms of state violence are by no means an aberration from the logic of borders and their enforcement. There has been a disturbingly successful effort to cast people who cross borders irregularly as inherently criminal, inherently imprisonable, subjects. </p><p>This ideological work – which precludes engagement with imperialist Europe’s past and present exploits as causes of the many forms of violent dispossession that force human movement – renders migrants inherently imprisonable, legitimising incarceration without charge in detention centres for periods longer than some criminal sentences, inherently deportable to contexts of danger and death without any semblance of due process or effective remedy. Were you surprised when you read that the fences of Moria camp – supposedly built to accommodate people seeking safety – are topped with razor wire?&nbsp;</p> <p>The racially profiled Moria 35 arrests also took place in a context where discrimination on the basis of nationality is official policy. In Lesvos and other Greek ‘hotspot’ islands, applicants for international protection arriving from countries with asylum recognition rates of below 25% are categorised as ‘economic profile’, ‘undesirable aliens’ as opposed to ‘refugee profile’ applicants. Those are the explicit words of a police circular describing the pilot project. </p><p>On this basis, people are held in closed detention for the duration of a ‘fast-track’ border procedure. Individuals subject to this fast-track process <a href="http://www.statewatch.org/news/2017/nov/danish-refugee-council-fundamental-rights.pdf">reportedly</a> undergo their asylum interviews in handcuffs. The policy clearly constitutes arbitrary deprivation of liberty, precludes due process and effective remedy, and is in flagrant violation of the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of race or nationality under Article 3 of the Refugee Convention. Yet, in many ways, it is the logical conclusion of the ‘victim or criminal’ binary produced by toxic narratives on migration. 28 countries of origin are considered ‘economic profile’ under the policy, including many of the West African nations defendants in the Moria 35 case originate from.&nbsp;</p> <p class="mag-quote-left">While the violence perpetrated in this case is scandalous, these forms of state violence are by no means an aberration from the logic of borders and their enforcement.</p><p>In his concurring opinion in the ECtHR case <em>Hirsi Jamaa v Italy</em> – which found that Italy’s pushback of migrant boats to Libya violated international human rights law – Judge Pinto de Albuquerque observed that the "ultimate question...is how Europe should recognise that refugees have 'the right to have rights', to quote Hannah Arendt". </p><p>The mechanisms by which brutal European ‘deterrence’ policies systematically strip thousands of human beings of such a ‘right to have rights’ is acutely apparent in the Moria 35 case. Long before the 35 defendants were brutally assaulted and arbitrarily arrested by police, they had already been denied the substantive right to seek asylum, to freedom from discrimination on the basis of nationality, the right to freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The right to have rights was precisely what the women and men from many different countries who gathered outside the European Asylum Support Office on Tuesday 18th July 2017 were calling for: collectively insisting on human dignity in the face of a brutal divide-and-rule system.</p> <p>But the systemic injustices that are being perpetrated against thousands of people imprisoned out of sight on the geographical margins of Europe, in restricted access camps beyond the scrutiny of local populations or media, are easily invisibilised. Racist violence against refugees at the hands of law enforcement officials is <a href="https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/research-subject-groups/centre-criminology/centreborder-criminologies/blog/2017/03/ill-treatment">frequently met with impunity</a>. Pretrial detention is <a href="https://www.fairtrials.org/wp-content/uploads/A-Measure-of-Last-Resort-Full-Version.pdf">overused</a> in Greece, for excessively long periods and disproportionately for foreign nationals: despite many having serious mental and physical health conditions which should preclude pretrial incarceration, 30 of the defendants in this case have now been in prisons in Athens and Chios for six months.</p><p>And the stakes could not be higher for each of the 35 defendants. Not only do the criminal charges against them carry disproportionately heavy sentences if convicted – up to 10 years in prison – but conviction is also likely to mean exclusion from the right to international protection. This would mean deportation back to places these individuals risked everything to flee.</p> <p>Without sustained political pressure and international oversight, what hope of any semblance of equality of arms – let alone justice – can there be in the Moria 35 case, which essentially sets the claims of Greek state police forces against those of foreign migrants already cast as inherently criminal? They will face the case against them in an unknown language, under an unknown legal framework. Understandable fears about their own safety may prevent witnesses from coming forward. For these reasons, the <a href="http://www.legalcentrelesbos.org/ ">Legal Centre Lesvos</a> is building a solidarity campaign alongside coordinating the criminal defence team of Greek lawyers who will represent the Moria 35 at trial. Please support the campaign however you can. Raise awareness, donate, act as an international trial observer<a href="https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/justice-for-the-moria-35.">:</a>&nbsp;<a href="https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/justice-for-the-moria-35">https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/justice-for-the-moria-35</a></p><p><em>A version of this article originally appeared in the October issue of the <a href="http://www.haldane.org/socialist-lawyer/">Socialist Lawyer</a>.&nbsp;</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="/dimitris-christopoulos/exiles-in-aegean-year-after-eu-turkey-deal">&#039;Exiles in the Aegean&#039;: a year after the EU–Turkey deal</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/kirsty-hughes/eu-loses-all-moral-standing-on-lesbos">EU loses all moral standing on Lesbos</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/kerem-oktem/zombie-politics-europe-turkey-and-disposable-human">Zombie politics: Europe, Turkey and the disposable human</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/berfu-kiziltan/europe-in-despair-refugee-crisis-and-press-freedom-in-turkey"> Europe in despair: refugee crisis and press freedom in Turkey</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Maya Thomas-Davis Turkey-EU deal Mon, 15 Jan 2018 17:05:08 +0000 Maya Thomas-Davis 115661 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Circularity. A new strategic horizon https://www.opendemocracy.net/rahel-sophia-s-alessio-kolioulis/circularity-new-strategic-horizon <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In a circular democracy, plural practices move beyond the idea of state sovereignty towards a sovereignty of proximity that can co-manage basic needs.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Working Group.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Working Group.jpeg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Breakout working group from a session at Fearless Cities in Barcelona on 'Building non-state Institutions', June, 2017. Bertie Russell.</span></span></span>Looking at the history of the radical left, the twentieth century was marked by two opposite political strategies: the vertical strategy of party structures and the horizontal strategies of social movements. We argue, the new strategic horizon is <em>circular</em>. </p> <p>In the last two decades, we have witnessed a steady rise of anti-democratic trends and disappointment with politics. Faced with these challenges, contemporary democracies appear vulnerable and unable to defend themselves. At the same time, a radical change is taking place. Movements around the world – through platforms and transnational networks – are experimenting with new forms of democratic practices and political institutions. They take back control, influence politics directly and change the conditions under which politics operate.</p> <p>What are the core principles of these movements and how can the strategies of those involved be distinguished from previous actors?</p> <h2>The idea of social movements has been exhausted</h2> <p>New streams of theory and political activism have overturned many assumptions underlying concepts such as power, social change and democracy. Today, the idea of social movements has also been exhausted, alongside the conviction that possibilities of democratic change could not be imagined within the existing paradigms. New strategies are emerging. For instance, the tactics of the new municipal movements differ in many ways from previous practices and strategies.</p> <p>In opposition to horizontal or vertical strategies – such as in the cases of autonomous organisations or instruments of political representation – many contemporary political initiatives are driven by a circular strategy that escapes both the categories of ‘early socialism’, to borrow Axel Honneth’s expression, and the autonomous positions of movements emerging around the struggles of the ’68.</p> <p>The “return” to the right of the city, as shown by new municipal movements, can be seen as a result of the experiences of previous forms of protest in the context of the 2008 financial crisis, the struggles against austerity politics, and the experiments with Podemos and Syriza. These movements combine elements of non-hierarchical strategies and tactical leadership, as advocated for instance by Hardt and Negri in their recent book <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/krystian-woznicki-michael-hardt/struggling-with-state"><em>Assembly</em></a>. These elements are formed by constitutive practices, self-transformation, longterm visions and responses to social emergency. This is what we call circular strategy. But how is this horizon distinguished from vertical and horizontal practices?</p> <h2>Three paradigms</h2> <p>Vertical and horizontal principles have been deployed in the past under different circumstances, although neither of them can be linked in a definitive way to one particular movement or political strategy.</p> <p>However, an attempt to simplify tactics and strategies under these umbrella terms could bring clarity to the old question: “what is to be done?” There are a set of principles we would like to highlight in order to define these two broader tendencies.</p> <p>Following David Harvey’s reading of Marx, it is possible to distinguish three economic and political paradigms, which also correspond to the three volumes of the<em> Capital</em>. The <em>first paradigm</em> hinges on mass production and large factories. It is the era when socialist and communist parties were shaped against the verticality of production lines, mobilising the masses to confront capitalists with a workers’ vanguard. </p> <p>The <em>second paradigm</em> is characterised by the increasing importance of the sphere of reproduction for the expansion of market economies. The struggles move outside the factory and in favour of horizontal alliances. Movements and autonomous formations fight for a new set of objectives such as against racism, patriarchy, heterosexism, the destruction of the environment and colonialism. </p> <p>The <em>third paradigm</em> invoked by Harvey is based on finance capital and the redistribution of realised value in the second paradigm. Struggles are over rent, wages and borders. Rent, because gentrification denies the demands for social housing. Wages, because the job market is transformed by new technologies. Borders, because new forms of colonialism and climate change are displacing large parts of the global population. Given the current circumstances, how can radical subjects respond today to these transformations?</p> <h2>Vertical strategies and horizontal strategies</h2> <p>While the vertical movements are in line with the Marxist tradition, favouring party lines linked to state-based models of social change that reduce antagonism to class struggle, horizontal movements follow a community-based model for social change. A new democratic order is created by people’s actions who take control of their own lives through constant struggles, rather than in a revolutionary event.</p> <p>Strategies of vertical movements can be understood as primarily or exclusively class-based, addressing ideal concepts and the democratic principle of representation. For vertical activists, the proletariat is the prior revolutionary force represented by the social-democratic party. The ends of social change are seen as prior to the means. Common practices are strikes, the destruction of machinery and the strategic activities of revolutionary intellectuals. </p> <p>Horizontal movements, on the contrary, implement autonomous strategies, organizing without leaders in a non-hierarchical and decentralized fashion. This is a type of organisation in line with the democratic principle of self-realization. The strategies focus on anti-representation, the politics of everyday life, individual transformation and a non-authoritarian society. The ends of social change must be consistent with its means. They engage in a variety of protests and do not focus solely on class as the fundamental axis of oppression but address a wider range of adversaries.</p> <p>Vertical and horizontal movements do face important challenges such as the insufficiencies of isolated strategies; the incorporation into the conventional scripts of the state; the balance of power between the movement and the political party, and the challenge to remain capable of change. Even when these movements manage to take state power, this does not guarantee effectiveness or radicality, as the cases of Syriza and Podemos have demonstrated. Too often those who take power end up repeating the practices of those they took power from. </p> <h2>A call for a new circular horizon</h2> <p>The new circular horizon highlights the shift from vertical and horizontal strategies towards circular practices, which go beyond the key characteristics of both traditions and change the underlying assumptions of democracy, power and social change.</p> <p>For instance, the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/oscar-reyes-bertie-russell/eight-lessons-from-barcelona-en-com-on-how-to-take-bac">new municipal movements</a> challenge the traditional notion of democracy as a form of governance and competing political parties. They call for a democracy which identifies social relations, everyday praxis and democratic experiences as a characteristic core of democracy. Moreover, these movements do not subscribe to traditional notions of power. Rather, power is seen as the capacity to bring about continuous change and adjust to new circumstances and experiences. </p> <p>The circular movements are undoing the leaderless strategies that guided social movements and replacing them with strategies of tactical leadership. These strategies are limited to short-term action and tied to specific occasions, whereby movements are responsible for constructing the strategy appropriate to new demands. And yet, they challenge the notion of social change that confines the achievement of radical transformation either to self-transformation or the ‘occupation of institutions’. Rather than looking at these strategies as isolated principles they regard both as part of what makes meaningful change possible.</p> <h2>What is ‘circular’ about transnational and municipal movements? </h2> <p>Circular strategies can be defined across five key dimensions: radical, pragmatic, plural, open and experimental.</p> <p>Circular strategies are represented by <em>radical</em> practices insofar as they aim to extend democratic principles to all social spheres by affecting radical change simultaneously within and against political institutions and everyday practices. Circular strategies are <em>pragmatic</em> in the sense that practices seek to respond to social emergencies by providing access to housing, healthcare, food, water, education, and data. Circular strategies are <em>plural</em> because they connect a plurality of agencies in a circulation of struggles following the idea of co-producing, co-management, co-ownership. The fluid relationship between new alliances of activists, citizens and politicians allow for multiple levels of coordination and continuous learning, without having to pass through a rigid central leadership.</p> <p>Circular strategies are <em>open</em> and <em>experimental </em>as <em>power is circulating and moves out of the centre as the circle becomes bigger and bigger. </em>These practices aim to continuously test and modify democratic principles, procedures and policies by critically reflecting on their practical consequences for the improvement of democratic experiences. For instance, the ends and means of radical social change are continuously adjusted one to the other in order to test how social freedom and equality can best be implemented under any specific circumstances.</p> <h2>Coming up: a circular democracy?</h2> <p>The new municipal movement can be seen as a prefiguration of a circular democracy to come.</p> <p>The circular democracy to come is <em>radical</em>: social relations are becoming the ends and not the means of democratic politics. By maintaining a relevant anchorage in the everyday practices of people, the function of political institutions then changes. Now they improve both the quality of social relations and democratic experience by involving people in the decisions that affect them.</p> <p>The coming circular democracy is <em>pragmatic</em>: from a democracy of bureaucracy it moves towards a democracy of problem solving; a circular democracy responds to social emergency by providing access to public services, by solidarity-networks, reduction of costs and removal of bureaucratic barriers. Looking at the networked shape of so-called platform capitalism or the gig economy, circularity represents a tactical horizon that can confront the re-appearance of institutionalised racism and the precarization of life in the spaces where they appear. </p> <p>The coming circular democracy is <em>plural</em>: a gate-keeper democracy gets replaced by a democratic ‘co-production’ that is based on the idea of the commons. Plural practices move beyond the idea of state sovereignty towards a sovereignty of proximity that can co-manage basic needs such as energy, water, food, housing, education and digital sovereignty. Methods for including collective intelligence inspire and inform new democratic practices and institutions that foster lasting structures of discussions <em>and</em> decision-making: What should be our future investments? What and how do we want to produce? How do we want to spend the public budget? </p> <p>The coming circular democracy is <em>open</em> and <em>experimental</em>: democratic principles, procedures and policies are tested in short intervals and adjust to new circumstances by reflecting critically on their practical consequences for the improvement of democratic experiences. </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="/plan-c/radical-municipalism-demanding-future">Radical municipalism: demanding the future</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/krystian-woznicki-michael-hardt/struggling-with-state">Struggling with the state</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/rahel-sophia-s/is-diem25-still-vehicle-for-change">Is DiEM25 still a vehicle for change?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/seren-selvin-korkmaz-alphan-telek/left-transformation-versus-left-populism-why-it">Left-transformation versus left-populism: why it matters</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/jeremy-gilbert/epochal-election-welcome-to-era-of-platform-politics"> An epochal election: welcome to the era of platform politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/emma-avil-s/intercommunication-past-and-future">Intercommunication in Barcelona, past and future</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/stefaan-g-verhulst/from-resistance-to-reimagining-governance-6-shifts-that-can-improve-way-we-solve-">From #Resistance to #Reimagining governance: 6 shifts that can improve the way we solve public problems</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/diem25/not-just-another-political-party">Not just another political party </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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> Can Europe make it? Alessio Kolioulis Rahel Sophia Süß DiEM25 Mon, 15 Jan 2018 16:32:24 +0000 Rahel Sophia Süß and Alessio Kolioulis 115656 at https://www.opendemocracy.net South Tyrol – a distorting mirror for Vienna, Rome and liberal London https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/alessio-colonnelli/south-tyrol-distorting-mirror-for-vienna-rome-and-liberal-lond <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Three capitals – the financial and military heart, the bridge with eastern Europe, and the ancient caput mundi on the Mediterranean – form a triangle, at whose centre emerges South Tyrol.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/2364238272_bc56436e93_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/2364238272_bc56436e93_z.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Benito says – believe, obey, fight! Bolzano’s bas-relief, 2008. Flickr/John Shave. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>South Tyrol is a hot topic, currently being debated in Austria, Italy and Britain. They boast loud politics, drawing in others as well. In all three, Euroscepticism has firmly taken hold.</p> <p>One section of the London press and Vienna's newly elected government have zoned in on Italy's largest, richest and least Italian of all provinces. What they discussed contains a throwback to the upheavals of the first post-war period.</p> <p>Half a million South Tyroleans can still feel the icy reverberations of that time. Others know this too; they peer anxiously, everyone holding a different lens.</p> <p>The <em>Guardian</em> published an analysis on how a fascist <em>bas-relief</em> in Bozen's <em>Gerichtsplatz </em>(“Law Court Square”) has been defused by a work of art, one <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/06/bolzano-italian-town-defuse-controversial-monuments">inspired by Hannah Arendt's thinking</a>. (Oddly enough, the op-ed never uses the terms 'South Tyrol' or 'South Tyrolean', but instead employs the Italian name 'Bolzano', not emphasising sufficiently the Austrian ethnic side of the story.)</p> <p>From the bombastic headline – “A small Italian town can teach the world how to defuse controversial monuments” – it would rightly seem that the sole merit goes to this mountain municipality.</p> <p>But, digging deeper, you find another consideration: in 2011 it was apparently the government in Rome which asked Bozen to do something about the Mussolini-on-a-horse. <span class="mag-quote-center">Whereas London waxes lyrical about all things Italian, Austria openly challenges Italy.</span></p> <p>Not so much a local initiative, then, as a push from Rome. A sign that Italy might well have woken up from its torpor and recalibrated the past, ready to honour the return of <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-italy-king/remains-of-exiled-italian-king-return-to-italy-idUSKBN1EB0L7">the remains of disgraced Victor Emmanuel III</a>, the king who abandoned the country to the Nazis. A newly gained national awareness which in liberal London's eyes is a step in the right direction.</p> <p>Vienna too is focusing on South Tyrol. But whereas London waxes lyrical about all things Italian, Austria openly challenges Italy. The Austrian citizenship offered only to German-speaking South Tyroleans is riddled with revenge, many argue. Unfortunately, no public register exists explicitly stating who belongs to which linguistic group.</p> <p>What you <em>do</em> find though, is an unrepresentative <a href="http://www.provinz.bz.it/de/dienstleistungen-a-z.asp?bnsv_svid=1015344">archive of who speaks which native language</a>; a rudimentary tool based on self-certification, which you can change at any time, at a whim, as the Bozen-born acclaimed novelist <a href="https://rep.repubblica.it/pwa/commento/2017/12/19/news/il_passaporto_dei_surfisti_d_alto_adige-184636651/">Luca D'Andrea wrote in the national press</a>, maybe perhaps you have discovered that certain jobs in the public sector (22 per cent of the job market) are only open to speakers of one language.</p> <p>This is a mechanism based on proportional representation of the size of the linguistic groups which relies on the “infallibility” of the register. Grotesquely, this office is located in that very <em>Gerichtsplatz</em>. Convoluted? It's worse than that – divisive. Yet, Vienna finds this system reliable for calculating how many Austrian passports they'd need to issue. All very convenient. <span class="mag-quote-center">Convoluted? It's worse than that – divisive.</span></p> <p>But consider: if you want to hand out Austrian passports in predominantly German-speaking South Tyrol, then why not offer it to <em>everyone</em> who was born, or who has lived there long enough, and can prove proficiency in German by showing their <a href="http://www.provinz.bz.it/bildung-sprache/zweisprachigkeit/zweisprachigkeitspruefung/niveau-a.asp">grade “A”</a> in the <em>Zweisprachigkeitsprüfung</em> (<a href="http://www.provinz.bz.it/bildung-sprache/zweisprachigkeit/default.asp">“Bilingualism Test”</a>)?</p> <p>By doing so, a proportion of local Italian speakers could claim an Austrian passport, making this novel idea less sectarian and acceptable (some may also have ancestors from Trentino, part of the Habsburg empire until 1918, known as <em>Welschtirol</em>, or “Italian Tyrol”). Not something the ultra-nationalist Freedom Party of Austria would be thrilled about.</p> <p>Did Vienna not realise how unsystematic ethnic categorisation is in South Tyrol? Hard to believe they didn't. The important thing is <a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/italy-warns-against-austrian-passports-move/">provocation</a>. You can either challenge it or ignore it. Rome has chosen the former: <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/c4d5ef34-e4d2-11e7-8b99-0191e45377ec">a resounding <em>No</em> to dual citizenship was the answer</a>. <span class="mag-quote-center">The important thing is provocation.</span></p> <p>So, which Rome are we talking about? Is this the same magnanimous Rome – applauded by the anti-Brexit London press, determined to make Europeans sound enlightened – who allegedly encouraged Bozen to do something about its fascist monuments (without addressing its own)?</p> <p>Here we have three capitals speaking of Italy's outpost in diverging ways: London, Europe's financial and military heart; Vienna, the bridge into eastern Europe; and Rome, the ancient <em>caput mundi. </em>If you were to join these powerhouses on a map, the lines would form a triangle, with South Tyrol right at its centre.</p> <p>This is a tiny region that has little to teach others, namely <a href="http://www.globalpolicyjournal.com/blog/17/02/2015/model-peace-east-ukraine-south-tyrol-autonomy">Donetsk</a> and Catalonia, <a href="http://www.provincia.bz.it/news/it/news.asp?news_action=4&amp;news_article_id=599720">as local leaders have boasted</a>, but it has found a few solutions applicable to its own very specific circumstances. This is why South Tyrol is much talked about in these Eurosceptic times, where corners are getting tighter by the day.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Austria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Italy </div> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? UK Italy Austria Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality International politics Alessio Colonnelli Sun, 14 Jan 2018 10:13:52 +0000 Alessio Colonnelli 115642 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Milo Yiannopoulos, product of the crisis of post-modern politics https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/bal-zs-b-cskei-bal-zs-bark-czi/milo-yiannopoulos-product-of-crisis-of-post-modern-politics <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A troll who might as well be the new prototype of the 21st-century politician, what Milo does to us is what we have done to the world. Therein lies the challenge.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34012210.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34012210.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protesters clash during a demonstration outside Milo Yiannopoulos' sold out show at the Melbourne Pavilion in Melbourne, Monday, December 4, 2017. Erik Anderson/ Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Can a non-ideological right exist? Is there such a thing as rebellious conservativism? Can being a member of a sexual minority be used as a shield to hold in front of you when you attack the forts of (supposedly) traditional left/liberal political correctness? These are the questions we should ask in relation to the quasi-invitation of Milo Yiannopoulos, a celebrated star of the Trump (online) subculture and a figure almost completely unknown in Hungary, to a <a href="https://index.hu/kulfold/2017/12/31/nem_a_kormany_schmidt_mariaek_hivtak_meg_milot/">conference organized by the Hungarian government</a>. </p> <p>Typically, in the current reality of Hungarian politics however, we tend to respond to such crisis identities and crisis-political products of (post-)modernism as those of Milo by hysterically stigmatizing the phenomenon as far-rightism. <a href="http://nadas.irolap.hu/hu/nadas-peter-richard-swartz-parbeszed">To quote the dialogue of Péter Nádas and Richard Swartz</a>: "Verdicts appearing in the clothing of finality are valid for one day only (...). They are final verdicts based on the prejudices derived from contemporary taste."</p> <p>Let us examine why Milo should be considered more than just a "far right" provocateur, and why he may instead be a product of the crisis of postmodern politics. </p> <p>Starting his career as a tech journalist and gaining dubious fame for his extreme acts and statements, and actually becoming a real opinion shaper as communication between such individuals and the public became increasingly privatized, Milo reduced public political discourse to the language of social media, thus becoming the face of an "alt-right" that concurrently denies the validity of ideologies, is anti-elite and xenophobic as well as heavily reliant on the fear of postmodern identity-driven politics. He is the face of a right the political essence of which may perhaps be most validly described as ‘troll politics’.</p> <h2><strong>Systematic upsetting</strong></h2> <p>Earlier on, a significant part of Milo's activities was that he went to anti-Trump rallies with his camera during the presidential election campaign, and while the participants of these events were demonstrating for peace, solidarity, and compassion under the flag of a tolerant America, they often reacted arrogantly and violently in Milo's videos. This was the way the Trumpist online network was able to "deconstruct" the self-image of Democrat supporters. Shared at an exponential rate within minutes, these videos, albeit aired with less significant viewership compared to the total American population, managed to reach where they needed to (and even farther), via the new online marketing tools. </p> <p>So the point of these actions was to quickly and widely "deconstruct" or undermine the image that the democrats attempted to convey about themselves. Recording the scene with his mobile phone, Milo accosted democratic protesters who gradually lost their "political temper" to the point when one particular demonstrator began to pound Yiannopoulos with a "Peace" sign, while Milo was broadcasting the whole thing live on Facebook, thanks to Mark Zuckerberg. </p> <h2><strong>Bubbles</strong></h2> <p>This kind of "systematic upsetting" could not have worked so well in the time of the slow-response print media. The camera crews of major networks were sometimes unable to cover demonstrations in the era before online media dominance but the appearance and widespread use of (smart) phones has even rendered them unnecessary. Due to the new technology, opinion narration is privatized and the impact of the New York Times opinion column is less significant in the era of visual images (used as [counter-]evidence). We are stepping from one media bubble to another, finding ourselves in the narrative quarantines of meta-realities of whose real or supposed impact we don't really have any idea. </p> <p>The context of the above is described by Péter Csigó as follows: "Collective speculation in financial markets has not been the sole case to manifest the systemic crisis of feedback (or “responsivity”) mechanisms in late modern society. Similarly to financial investors, today’s political actors are also immersed in a self-referential speculative game, a “bubble” that retreats from reality and follows its self-justifying inner logic. While finance actors speculate collectively on financial asset prices and on to what extent these prices faithfully represent underlying “fundamental” processes, the system of “mediatized populist democracy” nurtures a collective speculation about “the people” and “the popular.” </p> <p>Politicians, experts, and observers commonly speculate on how to win the “popularity contest” of politics, how to win the hearts and minds of their popular media-using constituencies. However, this speculative process has detached itself from the real trends of public opinion formation – and it has betrayed the “fundamentals” of the political field just as has been the case with financial bubbles and the real economy." </p> <p>So mediatized democracy struggles with structural feedback and responsivity defects, which then exaggerate the perception of events, individuals and scandals, and the "impact" of which is further intensified by the reactions of a critical public. </p> <p>This is how Milo, who is not simply a troll but the product of the crisis of mediatized politics and the consequence of the disintegration of self-evidence, becomes well-known, popular and even a point of reference. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34012457.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34012457.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Supporters of British alt-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos clash with left-wing protesters in Lilyfield, Sydney, Tuesday, December 5, 2017. Danny Casey. Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <h2><strong>Soft-censorship</strong></h2> <p>On the other hand, if you really look into it, the aura of this product of political crisis is not very far-removed from the political technology of contemporary leaders considered as right-wing populists. The primary goal of this political activity is not to promote the common good but to maintain a grip on power by occupying and monopolizing certain sectors (media, entertainment, etc.) and transferring them into the hands of the business elite collaborating with the holders of power, so that the thus "captured" state can manipulate the public through soft censorship. </p> <p>Despite the many differences (that are equally important but not emphasized here), the above political technology seems to work in such countries as Russia, Hungary, Turkey and the United States. The intensity and grade of organized resistance to it depends on the individual features of the given region. </p> <p>However, this is not the only area where the radical innovation of an alternative and populist right manifests itself. It is also demonstrated in understanding the negative effects of postmodern politics. Liberalized by the new leftist movements of the 1960s, the left lulled itself into the illusion that the working class and their attendant social groups had disappeared. The postmodernism of the 1990s basked in the un-narratibility of the world (including the <em>ego</em>) and the diffusion of values (and the <em>ego</em>). </p> <p>At the collapse of the Eastern bloc, the (neo)liberals of the post-bipolar world were celebrating the onset of the eternal peace so desired and the multi-coloured democracy of identities as well as the conforming triumph of the market. In the meantime, the contemporary right attempted to modernize, while also preserving their original meaning, the ideas (nation, family, community) that formed the natural foundation of their political efforts. </p> <p>These values were typically met with irony from progressives, who were using forms of&nbsp; political expression that were coming into line with the principles of marketing (i.e. politicians are to be advertised the same way as detergents) and making tabloidism a key device of political communication. At the time, they were right in thinking that they would be able to dominate the language of political postmodernism. However, that political thought relied on the indomitable nature of political correctness, that is, its applicability to all situations. But this failed to integrate the impulses and the sometimes extreme self-expressions of those at the bottom of the pile, who were thus ashamed of them and therefore suppressed them.</p> <p>These suppressions were liberated by the populist (pop-political) right. In its communication, it preserves the traditional ideas of political conservativism and blends them with the expressions of live speech imitating the language of social media, including its slang components. </p> <p>Power-oriented in its rhetoric, this passionate language is rooted in the sentiments of the oppressed. It is no longer just tabloidism: not only does it open its bedroom doors wide; it also exposes bedroom activities completely unveiled for the political consumer.</p> <p>In the context of "official politics", the Milos of the world are trolls. However, they don't care whether their statements correspond to the reality or the experience they identify reality with. Ignoring debates, they cause scandal and create chaos to force their way into the political discourse, click by click. They no longer want to defeat or surpass postmodern intellectual narratives. Instead, they want to make them their own, turn them upside down so that they could eventually hold them up to the progressive elite as a mocking glass. Ultimately, this ideology-deprived politics aims to sell itself as the natural addiction of the "people" and the amplifier of the voice of those at the bottom – which also sounds all too familiar in Hungary. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34007938_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34007938_0.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>British alt-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos speaks during an event at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, December 5, 2017. Lukas Coch/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <h2><strong>Seriously?</strong></h2> <p>Does Milo Yiannopoulos take himself seriously? He doesn't need to. Do Orbán's people take him seriously? They may, but probably just as much as they have realized that postmodern liberalism must be defeated using postmodernism as the "means", by creating chaos, upsetting or even ridiculing values and throwing around ideological inconsistencies. </p> <p>Milo Yiannopoulos heralds the era of a new politics. He is consciously spontaneous, innovatively conservative, a trend-setting extremist. A troll who might as well be the new prototype of the 21st-century politician. </p> <p>What Milo does to us is what we have done to the world.</p> <p>Therein lies the challenge.</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="/andries-du-toit/hyper-political-anti-politics">Hyper-political anti-politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/people-debate_36/article_328.jsp">Neither Jews nor Germans: where is liberalism taking us?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openindia/n-jayaram/india-at-70-bigotry-rules">India at 70: bigotry rules</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"> Hungary </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> Australia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Internet </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> Can Europe make it? digitaLiberties Can Europe make it? Australia EU United States Hungary Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government International politics Internet Balázs Barkóczi Balázs Böcskei Wed, 10 Jan 2018 13:28:27 +0000 Balázs Böcskei and Balázs Barkóczi 115592 at https://www.opendemocracy.net What happens after displacement? Syrians re-settling Istanbul through food https://www.opendemocracy.net/ezgi-tuncer/what-happens-after-displacement-syrians-re-settling-istanbul-through-food <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Successful food restaurants in certain neighbourhood of Istanbul, such as Fatih Malta Street, now create a hub for Syrians residing all around Istanbul to meet in the religious Fatih neighbourhood.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4222.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4222.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ezgi Tuncer. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>This week’s series, '</em>Turkey: crisis and loss', <em>curated by Mehmet Kurt, will unpack the connections between crisis in contemporary Turkey and a politics of loss. It is inspired by a recent collaborative Queen’s University Belfast and Bilgi University Istanbul Global Challenges Workshop which took place in Istanbul in June 2017. </em></p><p><em> </em></p><p><em>The workshop chose the concept of ‘loss’ to better understand social transformation in the context of internal/international migration and displacement in Turkey. We discussed ‘loss’ both in its psychosocial reading as a form of mourning, melancholia, nostalgia, sadness, trauma, and depression and within a social-scientific frame as contested sets of relations and structures of feeling in historical, economic and socio-political processes</em>. </p><p>Global cities easily absorb ethnic cultures and hybrid socio-spatial constitutions by dint of producing multitude, mobility and heterogeneity. So, it is quite common to observe Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian and numerous other ethnic neighborhoods and migrant kitchens in global cities such as London, New York, Dubai, Seoul, Sydney and Sao Paulo. However, Istanbul has only experienced this phenomenon relatively recently, thanks to Syrian refugees as well as Uighur and Uzbek migrants, even though it is a <a href="http://www.lboro.ac.uk/gawc/citymap.html">vast node</a> in the global cities network.</p> <p>After the war in Syria erupted in 2011, Turkey became both a <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34131911">safe refuge</a> and passage for <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/02/this-drone-footage-captures-the-full-extent-of-syria-s-destruction">displaced Syrians</a>. Formal reports from institutions, NGOs and local news as well as early studies on the <a href="https://www.bbvaresearch.com/en/publicaciones/the-refugee-crisis-challenges-for-europe/">refugee crisis</a> in Turkey focused mostly on problems such as poverty, the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/30/world/europe/turkey-strengthens-rights-of-syrian-refugees.html">challenging conditions</a> at camps, exclusion, and the lack of human rights and laws.</p> <p>However, a considerable number of refugees and migrants settled in Istanbul and have survived. A group of middle-income refugees who had been displaced in the early years of the war resettled in the city by starting food businesses in Fatih, Aksaray and Beyoğlu, which at the same time can be seen as an attempt at re-dwelling, appropriating and place making. This has happened to such an extent that a Syrian neighborhood has appeared around Fatih Mosque. For instance, connected to the northwest door of Fatih Mosque and smelling of coffee, spices, pitta bread and kebab, Malta Street<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> has become a Syrian street market where mostly Arabic labeled food stuffs are sold by both Turkish and Syrian vendors.&nbsp; </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4290.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4290.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <blockquote><p><em>On the weekends, this place is full of Syrians coming from everywhere like Başakşehir, Esenyurt, Zeytinburnu </em>–<em> it became a common meeting point for them. </em>(Personal communication, September 27, 2016)</p></blockquote> <p>Following Malta street, on the south of Fatih, there is a variety of Syrian fast food shops side by side along two avenues, Akşemsettin and Akdeniz, but one of them, Saruja Damascus Restaurant, differs from the others, in that it mostly produces homemade dishes. The owner of this diner explained why in our meeting:</p> <blockquote><p><em>I was working in the computer sector in Damascus. When the war started, I moved to Dubai and tried to start a business but failed. After I moved to Istanbul, I planned to realize my dream to open a diner based on homemade meals. Everybody around me asked me if I was crazy. They suggested I cook Turkish food. But that night I decided to run a Syrian restaurant and took that risk. All of my Syrian customers are grateful to me, even Turks started to come. Thank God, we have been successful.</em> <a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a>&nbsp; </p></blockquote><p>When Turkish migrants brought <em>döner kebap</em> to Berlin, it became a catalyst for cultural coalescence between Germans and Turks. While <em>döner kebap</em> was originally served as an a la carte plate in Turkey in the 1970s, it became the most popular fast food in Germany in the 1980s, producing and introducing Turkish cuisine.<a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a>,<a href="#_ftn4">[4]</a> Diaspora communities are mostly precursors for constituting a national identity through food and cuisine.<a href="#_ftn5">[5]</a> For this reason, food, as material culture, can be seen as an efficient tool for fictionalizing imagined communities<a href="#_ftn6">[6]</a> and building strong relations between members. With this in mind, what is the role of Syrian food for cultural integration and the national constitution in Istanbul and how have Syrians integrated into daily life by appropriating space through food?</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_0380.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_0380.JPG" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <h2><strong>Re-dwelling stories</strong></h2> <p>All Syrian interviewees, coming mostly from Damascus and Aleppo, were confronted with war in 2012. By then, those who had had to migrate to other countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt or Libya in the first phase, then reached Turkey for economic reasons. Compared to other Muslim countries, interviewees described Turkey as the most indulgent country in terms of work and living conditions, i.e., that despite the lack of legal permission or status, local authorities in Turkey let them stay and work without the proper certificates.</p> <p>Leaving behind their homeland and members of their families, the majority of our interviewees traveled with their legal passports and passed over nation-state borders and through security points at airports. Very few of them were forced to cross Turkey’s territorial borders illegally: some reached Mersin by sea. After entering Turkey, some of them found their relatives and friends in Ankara, Eskişehir, İzmir and Bursa. However Istanbul was the final destination for both economic and social reasons. Istanbul, as a capitalist city forming a significant focal point in the global network, has further business opportunities and, as a cosmopolitan metropolis, enables some Syrians to be invisible in daily life. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4307.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4307.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Furthermore, it seems like a European city for some Syrians from Damascus. However, as most European countries’ most common religion and/or cultural touchstone is Christianity, Europe was not the choice for ethnic Arab Muslim Syrians, who instead chose to stay in Istanbul. Islam is the most important and unifying commonality, beside the ambiguous legal conditions found in Turkey that put Syrians in both advantageous and disadvantageous circumstances. Islamic rituals and Muslim communities in Fatih, especially Fatih Mosque as a divine temple, attracted relatively wealthy Syrians to this neighborhood both to live and to set up their businesses. </p><blockquote><p><em>Islam is here in Fatih, everywhere.</em> <em>We are not good in Besiktas or Kadikoy, but here AKP people like us, here Muslims are everywhere. </em>(Personal communication, October 10, 2016)</p></blockquote> <h2><strong>Appropriating urban space </strong></h2> <p>The majority of managers and owners of local Syrian restaurants and markets, who were formerly in the food service business in Syria, found Malta Street lucrative for its spatial connectivity to Fatih Mosque. For that reason, within two years, many Syrian investors offered doubled prices for local shops and restaurants and took over these properties. </p> <p>This food economy and mobility can be interpreted as being supported by the publicity of Islam or as Islamic capitalism. This rapid handover of urban space increased real estate values of the properties in Fatih, which has drawn less-than-friendly reactions from Turkish locals. On the other hand, unlike Malta Street, which is closed to traffic, the wide Akdeniz and Aksemsettin Avenues can accommodate both Turkish and Syrian restaurants at approximately equal rates. As many Syrians have chosen to live in this area for cultural reasons, Syrians opening restaurants chose the front shops on these avenues. Consequently, the Syrian diners and restaurants that are mostly patronized by the Syrian community as spaces of solidarity are signifiers of appropriation and reproduction of urban space. </p> <h2><strong>Toward a communal space between Turks and Syrians (?)</strong></h2> <p>Alongside the newfound purpose for these urban spaces, the appropriation practices of Syrian restaurants and markets on these streets has been an impetus for a social interface between Turkish and Syrian neighbors who have many commonalities in terms of food culture. For the last year, the number of Turkish guests has reached nearly a quarter of the total, which makes managers expectant that more Turks will come. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4330.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4330.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Language seems to be a barrier, however many of them attempt to learn Turkish whereas a few Turkish tradesmen besides bilingual Turkish locals attempt to learn Arabic. However, some exclusivist discourses also appear in which nationalism manifests itself through food. Even though all raw materials and stocks are produced in Turkey and kebab, <em>içli köfte</em>, meze and other common dishes are not derived solely from Syrian food from Mesopotamia or southeastern Turkey, Turks found various ways to express their distaste for Arabic and Kurdish culture. </p><blockquote><p><em>Syrian meals are indigestible, fatty, spicy and hot</em> <em>and they are not hygienic at all. I don’t eat there. </em>(Personal communication, October 25, 2016)</p></blockquote> <p>An old coffee shop owner said that Syrian migrants are all <em>"</em>traitors<em>" </em>for the reason that <em>"</em>they all escaped from fighting and left their homeland to enemies.<em>"</em><em> </em>Having given this background, he continued: "Drinking 10 or 15 espresso-based coffees a day, Syrians cannot be selling real Brazilian coffee, it is not that cheap. They are liars, tricksters.’<em> </em></p> <p>This interface seems simultaneously to bring new communalities alongside segregations. </p> <h2><strong>Re-constructing the Syrian Community</strong></h2> <p>Food itself and restaurants are tools for re-building the Syrian community in Istanbul. The food business maintains communication within the community as well as solidarity. Social media is also a powerful mediator. Even though discrimination between Syrians based on origin appears from time to time, they are open about the hostility between themselves and fellow Syrians depending on whether you are from Aleppo or Damascus. Interviewees from Damascus said they find those from Aleppo provincial and vulgar. Turks interviewed claimed that Aleppans are aggressive and easy to pick fights. However, this discrimination based on ethnic and provincial differences do not seem to cause spatial segregation between them.</p> <p>Class distinction is much more obvious. Restaurant owners and managers who live in Fatih are either property owners or can afford rents that run from 1,500 TL to 2,000 TL per month. Interestingly, despite their economic power and brotherhood in Islam, they explained that they have encountered much exclusionary discrimination in Fatih. As they are seen as strangers, real estate agents often refuse to show them houses or direct them to expensive ones. </p> <blockquote><p><em>We did the same thing to Iraqis. When they came to our country,</em> <em>we showed them expensive houses, excluded them. God punishes us. </em>(Personal communication, September 23, 2016)</p></blockquote> <p>Coming from the fringes of the city or living with 15 others in Fatih, Syrian workers who can only afford to pay rent of 500 TL per month cannot spare the time for a social life or an education. However, they are under the protection of their wealthy employers. </p> <p>Food, as a material culture, provides a vehicle for socio-spatial reproduction in Fatih. Syrian food culture reconstitutes national unity, belonging and solidarity among the diaspora community while also mediating possible cultural coalescing. Furthermore, it seems that food, in addition to providing a livelihood through business, as a mobile cultural memory that reminds the consumer of Syria, helps Syrians appropriate urban space and re-settle. However, even though the Syrian interviewees said that they are now familiar and comfortable with Istanbul and have left the abrasive memories of war behind, they all seem determined to return as soon as the war ends. This could be related to belonging, topophilia or patriotism, but their indistinct prospects in Turkey also effect their decisions. </p> <h2><strong>In the zone of indistinct law</strong></h2> <p>Since Turkey signed the UN Geneva Refugee Convention in 1951 and the Protocol in 1967, relating to refugees, maintaining provision, and Turkey’s protection commitment is limited to citizens of European countries who seek asylum in Turkey. Most refugees or asylum seekers from non-European countries can only stay temporarily in Turkey under the &nbsp;temporary protection provided by the government until they are granted refugee status and resettlement in a third country. The Temporary Protection Regulation from October 2014, afforded Syrians the right to obtain an identity card and number to access health and educational services. However, due to complicated bureaucratic procedures, it takes months for Syrians to obtain the ID cards that their work permits rely on.</p> <p>With an ambiguous status of being <em>under temporary protection</em> and stigmatized as <em>strangers</em>, Syrians have been left in a <em>state of exception</em><a href="#_ftn7">[7]</a> in which temporariness, nomadism and suspension have become the rule of their lives.<a href="#_ftn8">[8]</a> These migrants, or unofficial refugees, have become "bodies without words"<a href="#_ftn9">[9]</a> who are denied citizenship and civil rights. In January 2016, the obligation to obtain a visa was implemented for Syrian citizens. Meanwhile, the open-door policy enabled displaced Syrians to enter Turkey illegally. However, for security reasons, surveillance and control of the southeastern border was strengthened with concrete walls. </p> <p>This condition can be called a "zone of indistinction" in which displaced Syrians are forced to exist. It is not the city, but the forest; they are not citizens, but strangers. This liminal gray area is in between inside and outside. It is ‘the camp’ in Agamben’s sense.</p> <h2><strong>Exiting from the camp – the power of survivors</strong></h2> <p>In Giorgio Agamben’s camp theory, those left in a state of exception are passive, bio-political objects deprived of civil rights. However, the camp can turn into a "zone of resistance" in some cases. Thus, objectified bodies return to powerful subjects/citizens through resistance. In this case, even if the focus group consists of relatively wealthier Syrians who had the chance to escape the war in its early years, they still struggle to escape bio-political power by appropriating space through their national food culture. Restaurants have afforded them the opportunity to gain both economic and cultural capital. And as such, this group of Syrians repels the deactivating role of the dominant power, through their own constitutive powers.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_0342.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_0342.JPG" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>All photographs Ezgi Tuncer. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> Conducted by Burcu Tüm and me between August and October 2016, this pilot case study covers observations, mappings and interviews with 32 restaurants and markets in the Fatih district of Istanbul. The preliminary version of this study was presented in the Berlin-Istanbul Lecture Series Urban Space and Refugees, on 27 -28 October 2016. </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> Kök Projekt, in collaboration with Salt GALATA, organized a series of meetings called Urban Food. Their first hosts were Dalia Mortada, the coordinator of the Savoring Syria Project, and Bilal Haji Khalaf, the owner of Saruja. </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a> <a href="http://archive.ceu.hu/biblio/author/4173">Caglar, A.</a>&nbsp;"<a href="http://archive.ceu.hu/node/15308">Mc Kebap : Döner Kebap and the social positioning struggle of German Turks</a>,"&nbsp;<em>Changing food habits : case studies from Africa, South America and Europe</em>, <a href="http://archive.ceu.hu/biblio/author/5116">C. Lentz</a> (ed.), Vol. 2. Food history and culture 2. New York: Routledge, 1999. pp. 263-284.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref4">[4]</a> Karaosmanoglu, D. (2010) ‘Küreselleşen Tatlar Döner Kebabın Avrupa Notları’, <em>Gastro</em>, N. 54, pp. 108-113. </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref5">[5]</a> Onaran, B. (2016) <em>MutfakTarih Yemeğin Politik Serüvenleri</em>, İletişim Yayınları, İstanbul.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref6">[6]</a> Anderson, B. (1993) <em>Hayali Cemaatler Milliyetçiliğin Kökenleri ve Yayılması</em>, Metis Yayınları, İstanbul.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref7">[7]</a> Agamben, G. (2005) <em>State of Exception</em>, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref8">[8]</a> Agamben, G. (1998) <em>Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life</em>, Stanford University Press, California.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref9">[9]</a> Diken, B., &amp; Laustsen, C. B. (2006). The camp. Geografiska Annaler B, 88, 443-452. </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="/evi-chatzipanagiotidou-fiona-murphy/combatting-loss-refugees-employment-and-social-entrepreneurship-">Combatting loss: refugees, employment and social entrepreneurship in Turkey </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ulrike-m-vieten/refugees-displacement-and-moving-bodies-studying-loss-and-language-of-dance">Refugees, displacement and moving bodies: studying loss and the language of dance</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"> Turkey </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </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> Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia Syria Turkey Turkish Dawn Ezgi Tuncer Wed, 10 Jan 2018 06:47:28 +0000 Ezgi Tuncer 115564 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Let’s set the record straight on fake news, Mr President https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/let-s-set-record-straight-on-fake-news-mr-president <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An open letter and new year's message to President Emmanuel Macron from Paola Pietrandrea, member of the DiEM25 coordinating collective.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34315016.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34315016.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>French President Emmanuel Macron presents his New Year wishes to the press at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, on January 3, 2018. Blondet Eliot/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Mr. President,</p> <p>On January 4, you used your annual New Year’s speech to the press to express great concern about the circulation of fake news on the Internet.</p> <p>As a specialist in the field and a committed citizen, I can only thank you for having opened this crucial debate for the preservation of modern democracy.</p> <p>I must, however, ask you to clarify certain elements of your speech, to dispel some misunderstandings that it may have created and especially invite you to take into account in your reflection, some elements of the global context that promote the nuisance power of tendentious speech, propaganda and fake news.</p> <p>In your speech, you attribute the recent eruption of fake news in the media field to the following:</p> <blockquote><p>“By a fascination for an absolute horizontality, we considered that all words could indeed be equal and that their regulation was inevitably suspect as mere choice”.</p></blockquote> <p>adding:</p> <blockquote><p>“This is not the case, not all words are equal.”</p></blockquote> <p>Now, in the country which you represent, it is established since the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 that:</p> <blockquote><p>“The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the most precious rights of man: every citizen can therefore speak, write, print freely, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law…”</p></blockquote> <p>Let us dispel misunderstandings, Mr President, since, unfortunately, your speech lends itself to misinterpretation, and clarification seems necessary. Can you confirm that in speaking of the “fascination for absolute horizontality,” you are not referring to the principles that inspired the Declaration of Rights of Man and of the Citizen: and that by saying that all words are not equal, you do not mean to say, in the exercise of your functions, that all speakers do not have the same rights of free speech?</p> <p>As a democrat, I am obliged to teach my students that all words are equal, that all speakers have the same right to speak. However, I agree with you on one point: it is true that not all speeches are equal. Our democratic life is defined in its very essence by the exercise of a continuous discursive practice that allows citizens to collectively construct epistemic, moral and deontic judgments. It is, indeed, through speech, or rather through ‘speech acts’, that we manage to decide together what is true, what is right and what it is necessary to do. However, for the democratic process to be honest, correct and useful, the discourses that animate it must have an unavoidable characteristic: they must be falsifiable. A falsifiable discourse is a precise discourse, where referents are identifiable, where all the predications are openly supported by the speaker or attributed to clear sources, where all the argumentative relations are explicit. These characteristics, which relate public discourse to scientific discourse, allow discourses to be contradicted through argumentation – rather than authority – and to be overtaken, if need be. These two properties allow public debate to remain both healthy and lively.</p> <p>In this perspective, your opposition between the authority of the journalist and the unreliability of “any blogger” can sound simplistic.</p> <p>The authority of a speaker, Mr. President, does not derive from his social status, but from his effort to be honest.</p> <p>There are unofficial discourses constructed with all the responsibility demanded and official speeches that do not fulfil the conditions of acceptable speech in public debate; the evidence, Mr. President – I’m sorry to say – is in your very address to the press. Although official, your speech is not exempt from the typical vices of toxic discourse: you refer, for example, to “a strategy and a strategy financed” by “powers” in “certain illiberal democracies” as the source of the spread of fake news. By saying that, Mr President, you create alarm without taking responsibility. The object of your accusations being unclear, no one will ever falsify your speech, but you will achieve the effect of making us feel threatened.</p> <p>Another example from your speech: you say that the rise of fake news:</p> <blockquote><p>“Is very often used by powers that somehow take advantage of the weaknesses of democracy, its extreme openness, its inability to sort, to prioritize, to basically recognize a form of authority. ”</p></blockquote> <p>In saying that the extreme openness of democracy is a weakness, Mr President, you allow us to infer your intention to limit this openness, without however taking responsibility for what you said. The Democrats will not be able to accuse you of having made liberticidal remarks, but the pathway to liberticidal speech acts will have been opened.</p> <p>I do not take a position, Mr President, on the nature of the measures you have announced: others have done so by showing that <a href="http://www.liberation.fr/france/2018/01/04/fake-news-la-fausse-piste-de-macron_1620423"><strong>they add nothing to the existing legislation</strong></a>, that the very notion of ‘fake news’ is vague, ambiguous, and lacking in precise reference; and that therefore any prohibition on the dissemination of information based on the idea of fake news is <a href="https://www.codingrights.org/open-letter-from-latin-american-and-caribbean-civil-society-representatives-on-the-concerns-around-the-discourse-about-fake-news-and-elections/"><strong>incompatible with international standards</strong></a> defining the restriction of freedom of expression.</p> <p>However, I will allow myself a few general considerations: you open, by tackling this subject, a fundamental debate of our time, the debate on the government – or governance, as we have been saying for some time – of the digital revolution. This is a broad and complex debate about a radical change affecting our entire civilization, not just the manipulation of the electoral game that you have placed at the centre of your speech.</p> <p>As a citizen, I wonder if we can tackle this issue by continuing to ignore the fact that we have let the industry manage the digital revolution, that we have allowed the giants of the web to gain monopoly positions by feeding them citizens’ data that politics did not want to protect; that we do nothing against the filter bubbles that <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/jul/12/how-technology-disrupted-the-truth"><strong>manipulate and pervert public debate</strong></a> even more than the spread of fake news; that we allow digital businesses to dictate the selection, format, design, framework, and timing of information dissemination (whether false or true); that we have not been able to create the right conditions to rethink the education of young people and continuing education in the light of this revolution, leaving citizens bereft of any critical thinking or critical tools to meet the impact that this radical change has on their personal lives as on their public life.</p> <p>DiEM25, the movement to which I have the honour and the pleasure of belonging, confronts all these themes within the general framework of a reflection on the democratization of the economic, ecological, cultural and strategic foundations of our society. And we do it by adopting a participative democracy approach. We consider that in the effort to democratize the foundations of our society, an effort that you seem to support, all citizens must be involved in the public debate, not only because, as our fathers taught us, all words are equal, but because all the words, or better still, all the responsible words, are necessary to this end.</p> <p>DiEM25 is committed to marshal these words, Mr. President: I very much hope that you will be able to listen to us.</p> <p>In asking you to accept my New Year message, allow me to close by wishing you the opportunity our motto recalls, to “pick the moment” that makes you a true defender of democracy: Carpe DiEM, Mr. President.</p> <p>Paola Pietrandrea<br /> Linguist<br /> Member of <a href="https://diem25.org/cc/">DiEM25’s Coordinating Collective</a></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="/natalie-fenton-des-freedman/media-and-twenty-first-century-fake-democracy">Media and twenty first century fake democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/andries-du-toit/beyond-fact-checking-media-populism-and-post-truth-politics">Beyond fact-checking: the media, populism and post-truth politics </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitalliberties/truth-about-algorithms">The truth about algorithms</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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> Can Europe make it? digitaLiberties Can Europe make it? Paola Pietrandrea DiEM25 Tue, 09 Jan 2018 14:03:29 +0000 Paola Pietrandrea 115574 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Refugees, displacement and moving bodies: studying loss and the language of dance https://www.opendemocracy.net/ulrike-m-vieten/refugees-displacement-and-moving-bodies-studying-loss-and-language-of-dance <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Dance offers an avenue to communicate experiences of loss (for example of refugees, expelled ethno-religious or national minorities) beyond language barriers.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Ulrike Image 1_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Ulrike Image 1_0.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Dance performance in the Duncairn centre, Belfast, 14 December 2017. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>This week’s series, '</em>Turkey: crisis and loss', <em>curated by Mehmet Kurt, will unpack the connections between crisis in contemporary Turkey and a politics of loss. It is inspired by a recent collaborative Queen’s University Belfast and Bilgi University Istanbul Global Challenges Workshop which took place in Istanbul in June 2017. </em></p><p><em> </em></p><p><em>The workshop chose the concept of ‘loss’ to better understand social transformation in the context of internal/international migration and displacement in Turkey. We discussed ‘loss’ both in its psychosocial reading as a form of mourning, melancholia, nostalgia, sadness, trauma, and depression and within a social-scientific frame as contested sets of relations and structures of feeling in historical, economic and socio-political processes</em>. </p><blockquote><p><em>‘Humanity is in crisis – and there is no exit from that crisis other than solidarity of humans.’ (Zygmunt Bauman, 2016)</em><strong><em>&nbsp;</em></strong></p></blockquote><p>The current mass movement of people fleeing from war zones and devastation – the so called refugee ‘crisis’ since 2015 – makes urgent the need to understand <em>loss </em>in the context of displaced people immigrating to Europe and to other parts of the worlds (e.g. Asia; Africa, Americas). But we also need to understand the notion of ‘loss’ in terms of host nations and populations losing their traditional sense of stability, security and safety. Human tragedies and human costs of displacement, migration and movement affect numerous places across the so-called post-industrial western world and beyond. Thus, deepening our knowledge of loss is a way of coming to terms with the contemporary liminality, temporality as well as contact and conflict zones of late modernity. </p><p>Loss as a concept looms in psychological studies dealing with trauma, the mourning of loved ones, but also in social science looking at a contested set of power relations and structures of feeling with respect to historical, cultural and wider socio-economic processes. Loss and the transformation of societies are connected as loss and structures of feeling are.</p> <p>Theoretical and empirical connections of loss in the analysis of migration and displacement have also been made in a variety of disciplinary and thematic fields. For example, ‘diaspora has been largely defined by “what is left behind” and notions of <em>nostalgia </em>and longing, which constitute significant elements of loss.’ (<a href="http://allegralaboratory.net/counting-our-losses-reflections-from-a-newton-fundbritish-council-workshop-on-loss-and-displacement-newtonloss/">Murphy &amp; Chatzipanagiotidou, 2016</a>). Minority ethno-national-religious groups such as Jews, Armenians and Greek represent classic diasporic groups, connected to historical experiences of dispersal and imaginaries of the homeland. Here, loss is linked to group belonging and specific memories of the past. A notion of ‘becoming’ is central that takes on board Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987) concept of ‘de-territorialization and re-territorialization’. It is here where the notion of loss as absence, but also as the effort to generate something different, perhaps, even something ’new’, comes into sight.</p> <h2><strong>Loss and dance theory</strong></h2> <p>According to <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/DOCUMENTS-CONTEMPORARY-Lepecki-Aug-10-2012-Paperback/dp/B00F3ZUYOY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1515432929&amp;sr=1-1&amp;keywords=Andr%C3%A9+Lepecki+2012">André Lepecki</a>, dance has five constitutive qualities: ‘ephemerality, corporality, precariousness, scoring and performativity.’ Dance is to a degree ephemeral as ‘it leaves no object behind after its performance’. This quality as connected to corporeality – dancing as embodying presence – captures physically the meaning of loss. When the performance is finished, the act is lost; but it will be re-enacted as new performance again, and again. ‘Making a dance return, again and again.’ </p> <p>This insistence on the ‘ethics of persisting while facing the demands of absence’ speaks to the intrinsic instability that loss creates. It is here where the tension between the phenomenon of ‘loss’ and the practice of ‘dance’ produces interesting angles. As Lepecki argues further there have been collaborations between philosophy and dance choreographers in the past. Particularly in the Continental European history of dance as art, philosophers Deleuze and Guattari, Derrida, Nancy, but also Agamben have talked about dance and gesture ‘while developing their political philosophies of modernity and contemporaneity’. Moving people and moving bodies become intertwined emotional and material social practices. <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/dance-research-journal/article/dance-and-the-political-states-of-exception/F630C3A4128E2DC1F4F39999B45BBAF2">Mark Franko</a> stresses the political dimension of dance, ‘Since the seventeenth century dance has served to fashion and project images of monarchy, national identity, gendered identity, racialized identity and ritualized identity. But, in most of these areas it has also demonstrated the ability to stand apart, acting as a critical theory of society’. </p> <p>The latter reminds us of the potential of critical reflection that is opening up space for an audience to identify political meaning. </p> <h2><strong>The study – Loss and the Language of Dance</strong></h2> <p>It is here, where the idea to develop an innovative and interdisciplinary project started: moving beyond a widely-held perception of refugees lacking their own agency, as individuals become labelled as a group of ‘refugees’. The 7 month pilot research project, ‘Loss and the Language of Dance: embodying displacement in Turkey’<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> focuses on specific localities (Northern Ireland: Belfast and Derry; Turkey: Istanbul) and individual experiences of loss by displaced people. </p> <p>Unlike written texts or spoken words limiting the possibility of sharing individual and collective experiences of loss primarily to cultural or language insiders, dance offers an avenue to communicate experiences of loss (e.g. of refugees, expelled ethno-religious or national minorities) beyond language barriers.</p> <p>It is an opportunity to embark on an innovative and groundbreaking collaboration between academics with inter-or transdisciplinary background, and professional artists, performers and civil society agents from Turkey. The research project explores how the concept of loss can be translated into the language of dance while looking into structures of feeling, how loss is enacted by contemporary dance, and analyzing responses of audiences to dance performances on loss in different countries. While approaching contemporary modern dance as an aesthetic tool tailored to challenge social-political practices, it aims to contribute to a cosmopolitan cultural archive of transnational belonging and understanding of loss in Europe, and beyond. </p> <p>The project is organized into two consecutive parts: <em>part 1</em> – a week of intellectual exchange and performances in Northern Ireland took place 11-16 December 2017. <em>Part 2,</em> consists of several focus group interviews in Northern Ireland, and a forum in Istanbul mid-February 2018. In Istanbul the dance performance ‘loss and displacement’ in its final stage will also be staged. Further we will facilitate an interdisciplinary symposium with NGOs, different UK- and Turkey-based partners and possibly, also involve a professional dancer, who was displaced and has become a refugee.</p> <h2><strong>Performing loss and displacement in Northern Ireland</strong></h2> <p>In the week 11-16 December, the Istanbul based dance-company ‘<em>Ciplak Ayaklar’</em>, visited Belfast and Derry to perform ‘<a href="http://www.strongertogetherni.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Nothing-is-in-the-Right-Place-Poster-.pdf">Nothing is in the right place’</a>, a work in progress.</p> <p>On the days of the two performances we distributed a questionnaire to get to know the audience, but also in order to recruit people willing to take part in the study, later on. Audience numbers were lower than expected, but those who attended were impressed, moved and stimulated by the dance performances. </p> <p>Some of the feedback we got: nearly 80% of those who attended are willing to be interviewed. Each dance performance was organized in 5 sequences using different material (e.g. plywood; but also water; sound and light), and included a Q&amp;A session after the performance. One man, in his fifties, connected the feeling of loss as it was aesthetically ‘re’-created’ with the experience of local families having lost members of the family in conflict, or ‘at sea’. Constructive advice was also given to the dancers on how to make the dance performance stronger. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Ulrike Image 2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Ulrike Image 2.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Dance performance at the Culturlaan centre in Derry, 15 December 2017. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p><strong>Further reading</strong></p> <p>Agamben, G. (2005) ‘Movement’, transcribed lecture. Multitudes Online (2005), in: A. Lepecki (ed.) <em>DANCE – Documents of Contemporary Art,</em> Cambridge- Massachusetts: Whitechapel Gallery and MIT Press, 142-144.</p> <p>Bauman, Zygmunt (2016). <em>Strangers at Our Door</em>. Cambridge: Polity Press.</p> <p>Deleuze, G. &amp; Guattari, F. (1987) <em>A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia</em> (translated by B. Massumi). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.</p> <p>Franko, M. (2006) ‘Dance and the Political: States of Exception’, <em>Dance Research Journal,</em> vol. 38, no. 1 and 2; reprinted in <em>Dance discourses: Keywords in Dance Research</em>, ed. Susanne Franco and Marina Nordera, London and New York: Routledge, 2007, 12-13.</p> <p>Healey, R. L. (2006) ‘Asylum-seekers and refugees: a structuration theory analysis of their experience in the UK’, <em>Population, Space and Place</em> 12 (4), 257-271.</p> <p>Isin, E. F. and M. Saward, eds. (2013). <em>Enacting European Citizenship</em>. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.</p> <p>Lepecki, A. (2012), Introduction// Dance as a Practice of Contemporaneity’, in Andre Lepecki, (ed.) DANCE – Documents of Contemporary Art, Cambridge- Massachusetts: Whitechapel Gallery and MIT Press, 14-23.</p> <p>Murphy, F. &amp; U. M. Vieten (2017), Final Report: <em>Asylum seekers and refugees’ experiences with living in Northern Ireland,</em> on behalf of the FMDFM Stormont.</p> <p>Pratt, M. L. (1991) ‘Arts of the Contact Zone’. <em>Profession</em>, 30-40.</p> <p>Recchi, E. (2014). ‘Pathways to European identity formation: a tale of two models’, <em>Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research</em> vol. 27, No.2, 119-133.</p> <p>Safran, E. (1991) ‘Diasporas in modern societies: Myths of homeland and return. <em>Diaspora,</em> 1 (1), 83-99.</p> <p>Vieten, U. M. (2014) ‘When I land in Islamabad I feel home and when I land in Heathrow I feel home – Gendered Belonging and Diasporic Identities of South Asian British Citizens in London, in Leicester and in North England’, in: G. Tsolidis (ed.) <em>Migration, Diaspora and Identity – Cross-National Experiences</em>, Dordrecht/ Heidelberg/ New York/ London: Springer, 51-74.</p> <p>Vieten, U. M. &amp; G. Valentine (2016) ‘Counter-Mappings: Cartography and Difference’, in: U. M. Vieten &amp; G. Valentine (eds.) Cartographies of Differences – Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Oxford/ Bern/ Berlin/Bruxelles/Frankfurt am Main/ New York/ Wien: Peter Lang, 1-11. </p> <hr size="1" /><p>The pilot project is funded by the Department for Economy (DfE); Northern Ireland as part of the Global Challenge Research Funding (GCRF); Dr Ulrike M Vieten is the Principal Investigator.</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="/evi-chatzipanagiotidou-fiona-murphy/combatting-loss-refugees-employment-and-social-entrepreneurship-">Combatting loss: refugees, employment and social entrepreneurship in Turkey </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ezgi-tuncer/what-happens-after-displacement-syrians-re-settling-istanbul-through-food">What happens after displacement? Syrians re-settling Istanbul through food</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"> Northern Ireland </div> <div class="field-item even"> Turkey </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> Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia Turkey Northern Ireland Ulrike M Vieten Tue, 09 Jan 2018 08:44:47 +0000 Ulrike M Vieten 115560 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Appropriation and de-politicization: the uncomfortable discussion on Umm Kulthum in Berlin https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/leil-zahra/cultural-hegemony-and-appropriation-on-umm-kulthum-in-berl <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An open letter about intellectual and artistic spaces being used to quash a side of the debate, to delegitimize voices and valid criticism instead of engaging in much needed intellectual debates.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/Umm_Kulthum_funeral.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/Umm_Kulthum_funeral.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'> Funeral of Umm Kulthum, 1975. Middle East Broadcasting Center. Public domain. </span></span></span>This is a response to&nbsp;<a class="profileLink" href="https://www.facebook.com/HAUBerlin/?fref=mentions">HAU Hebbel am Ufer</a>'s statement regarding the criticism surrounding their event "Diva: Celebrating Oum Kalthoum // Ariel Efraim Ashbel &amp; friends"; and <a href="http://www.tagesspiegel.de/kultur/lieder-von-oum-kalthoum-am-hau-das-schwierige-erbe-einer-aegyptischen-antizionistin/20814290.html">the article appearing in Der Tagesspiegel</a> where HAU director&nbsp;Annemie Vanackere&nbsp;dismisses the criticism as "identity politics", portraying a "theatre" of "multiculturalism" and "bridges".&nbsp;</p><p>I had the opportunity to meet Ms. Vanackere when I participated in a panel at HAU that centred (in part) around some currents in the "white left" and European art circles refusing any criticism towards Islam in the context of fighting Islamophobia. Something I am against. Islamophobia is a serious form of discrimination, and it should be faced, but it shouldn't become a lazy argument to discredit critical voices within Islam or around it. Back then I also spoke about the complexities in my own personal experience of being a Queer, Muslim, Atheist, Migrant living in Germany with a set of privileges (lighter skin, artist stature..etc).&nbsp;</p><p>I think there will be a letter that is being prepared by Arab and non-Arab artists to respond to the event, and to detail the criticism. But I decided to speak up as the article in&nbsp;<a class="profileLink" href="https://www.facebook.com/tagesspiegel/?fref=mentions">Tagesspiegel</a>&nbsp;is quite dangerous and to be honest, offensive. Above all, it is offensive to the intellect of those who have engaged in discussion with the artist and HAU to detail the reasons for why this event is problematic.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-left">Germany has a particular condition when criticising anything that has to do with Israel</p><p>Germany has a particular condition when criticising anything that has to do with Israel. The same line of lazy thinking that I was against during the HAU panel: using Islamophobia (which is existing and rampant) to discredit criticism. Allusions of anti-semitism (which is existing and rampant and should be faced) to discredit any type of criticism towards the Israeli government. Many artists/academics in Germany are afraid to speak when it comes to such topics. I do of course risk ostracisation and being "blacklisted" from funding or from spaces to work - similar to what various friends from Jewish Israeli artists and activists based in Berlin are suffering as consequences of their criticism of the Israeli government or Zionism.&nbsp;</p><p>This particular case is <em>not</em>&nbsp;about HAU, and this is <em>not</em>&nbsp;about this event. This is about intellectual and artistic spaces being used to quash a side of the debate, to delegitimize voices and valid criticism instead of engaging in the much needed intellectual debate about appropriation, depoliticization, re-appropriation, colonial discourses and an intentional cognitive dissonance to protect a hegemonic self-congratulatory /theatre/ space of openness.&nbsp;</p><p class="blockquote-new">“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit in with the core belief.” <span>Frantz&nbsp;Fanon - Black Skin White Masks</span>.&nbsp;</p><p>What HAU and Ms. Vanackere seem to intentionally miss - as I have full confidence in their intelligence and intellect; is that this goes beyond the Middle East and what they discredit as "identity politics". Despite various people and artists writing to HAU, they decided to reduce the argument to the following statement:</p><p class="blockquote-new">"In the Arab world Oum Kalthoum’s work is of deep significance and how it is interpreted is followed with critical interest: Is an Arab, Jewish Israeli, working with Arab musicians, allowed to interpret the songs of an Egyptian icon? In order for a work, which can doubtlessly be considered world heritage, to retain its vitality and even expand its reach, it should be open to interpretation. Ariel Ashbel has already done this during the first version of "Diva: Celebrating Oum Kalthoum" last year at the Berliner Uferstudios. The concert there brought together people from the neighbourhood, making Oum Kalthoum’s music accessible to them and giving life to the idea that a concrete encounter between individuals is still possible despite any political tensions and conflicts. We consider it important to give space to this idea and invite all of you to attend on January 6 and 7 at HAU Hebbel am Ufer."</p><p>Instead of addressing the political and intellectual arguments presented, HAU rather opt to feed the very same liberal narrative the event was criticized for. This white "laissez-faire" artistic space that is void of a critical approach and that fails to address key complexities.</p><p>The criticism is not about an "Arab Jew" working on Umm Kulthum per se. It is rather about an Israeli working on Umm Kulthum <em>and</em>&nbsp;striping her, forcefully, out of the politics she represents. I will not delve into the sexism of depoliticizing such a political female voice as that is a whole set of other points. Umm Kulthum was and still is an iconic singer <em>and</em>&nbsp;a key political figure that enjoyed massive political power - too nationalist for my taste, but nevertheless. It is about a (self-identified) Israeli artist who despite denouncing the crimes of his government (check his statement on his personal page), fails to see the implications of his art.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/Om_Kolthoum_Nasser_Sadat.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/Om_Kolthoum_Nasser_Sadat.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Umm Kulthum alongside Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anouar Al Sadat. (CC BY 4.0)</span></span></span>There are much bigger postcolonial implications of this beyond the Middle East. In an earlier comment, I mentioned similar problems if I was as an Arab artist to tackle Amazigh or Kurdish topics or art (to name a few). Similar if a Spanish artist was to tackle Mexican art. Just like the artist, I too have left to "laissez-faire" in Berlin. But I do take responsibility for the hegemony of the Arabic identity on the cultures that have suffered from its colonialism. When I want to "build bridges", I start by my own side of the bridge, by <em>listening&nbsp;</em>and learning. </p><p>HAU uses the Mizrahi identity to give the artist a carte blanche. The debate could be richer if we dissect both the Mizrahi and the Arab identities and engage in dialogue around them. We can also talk about the Israeli construction of a Mizrahi identity, and the Arab identity in relation to the Israeli. Both culturally and politically. A rich discussion. The artist is the product, by choice or not, culturally and economically, of the very power that Umm Kulthum was resisting, "remaking" her to fit a narrative she didn't subscribe to. To work around all those complexities require a space for discussion, not an imposition.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Umm Kulthum raised funds for the resistance against Israeli colonialism</p><p>The artist himself/themself doesn't speak a word of Arabic and in his previous presentation he couldn't even translate the titles of the songs he worked on and was presenting. He lacks the necessary understanding to make anything about Umm Kulthum "more accessible". And by doing so, he and HAU are risking to present an erroneous image of an icon that encompasses issues of high cultural, political and social importance. Take for example the singer, with due respect to her efforts; she fails at the most basic of the ins and outs of Arabic Tarab and her Orab (عُرب) are a miss. This is key to understanding Umm Kulthum to make her "accessible". If you take away the politics, the Tarab component, the figure she was/is, what is left? A reduced gentrified image of an icon.&nbsp;</p><p>Umm Kulthum raised funds for the resistance against Israeli colonialism and was a militant in nationalist politics at the time to resist worldwide imperialism. She played an active political role both on state and public levels. I can of course include my criticism of the power she enjoyed and some of the politics she portrayed, but that is not the point here. Rewriting her to feed a narrative she vocally resisted is unfortunate. Umm Kulthum didn't subscribe to "music for music" or "art for art" (to be honest I don't know anyone who does).&nbsp;</p><p>The criticism is about a discourse of cultural hegemony and appropriation that is very well known and which many of us non-white artists are witnesses to and sometimes victims of. It is also about token representation that aims to evade the responsibility rather than embrace the dialogue and the complexity. There are organized efforts worldwide between Israeli and non-Israeli artists to collaborate and work in ways that do not feed the narrative of power and respect the plights of the oppressed. I invite you to educate yourselves on that. It is more constructive than being on the defensive. All sides learn from a constructive discussion.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Multiculturalism and bridges, if they are to be constructed with respect, require discussion and care - sometimes painful, at times uncomfortable, but nevertheless necessary.</p><p>Your response is unfortunate. I do give you more credit than that. The artist wrote a much better response on his personal page and though he failed to address a good chunk of the criticism; he understands the complexity to better extents. I again recommend a Fanon reading, even Amilcar Cabral.&nbsp;</p><p>I invite you to engage in debate. It is not a win/lose situation for anyone, it is a chance for an important intellectual and artistic dialogue and discussion to happen. Multiculturalism and bridges, if they are to be constructed with respect, require discussion and care - sometimes painful, at times uncomfortable, but nevertheless necessary. Be the space to embrace it, not the space to quash it.&nbsp;</p><p>“Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.” Bertolt Brecht</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="/north-africa-west-asia/are-litmus-tests-on-culture-spreading-from-israel-to-berlin">Are litmus tests on culture spreading from Israel to Berlin?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/moritz-pieper/infallibility-of-david-on-anti-semitism-and-criticising-israeli-foreign-policy">The infallibility of David? On anti-semitism and criticising Israeli foreign policy</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 class="field-item even"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </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> North-Africa West-Asia Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia Palestine Israel Germany Culture hegemony art Leil Zahra Mon, 08 Jan 2018 17:17:12 +0000 Leil Zahra 115538 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Combatting loss: refugees, employment and social entrepreneurship in Turkey https://www.opendemocracy.net/evi-chatzipanagiotidou-fiona-murphy/combatting-loss-refugees-employment-and-social-entrepreneurship- <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Turkey, at the crossroads of refugee flows, hosts 3.4 million refugees, while not granting them refugee status but a state of exception. Hospitality and hostility go hand in hand. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/0Y2A3622.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/0Y2A3622.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Life and waiting in a Greek refugee camp. Mehmet Kurt. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>This week’s series, '</em>Turkey: crisis and loss', <em>curated by Mehmet Kurt, will unpack the connections between crisis in contemporary Turkey and a politics of loss. It is inspired by a recent collaborative Queen’s University Belfast and Bilgi University Istanbul Global Challenges Workshop which took place in Istanbul in June 2017. </em></p><p><em> </em></p><p><em>The workshop chose the concept of ‘loss’ to better understand social transformation in the context of internal/international migration and displacement in Turkey. We discussed ‘loss’ both in its psychosocial reading as a form of mourning, melancholia, nostalgia, sadness, trauma, and depression and within a social-scientific frame as contested sets of relations and structures of feeling in historical, economic and socio-political processes</em>. </p><blockquote><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Dazed by the rush of French motorists, lorry-drivers, and holiday makers, we take a sharp turn off the frenetic motorway past an imposing hyper-market and warehouse packed with Saturday shoppers. Our car creeps slowly down a dusty sand-track, past blemishes of outcroppings and pock-marked hill-sides into the makeshift refugee camp. This strip of road appears harsh even with the sun bright on the stony sand. We pull up onto the side of the road, parking behind another car. Beyond the road, a large field, soft and damp in places, like volcanic ash stretches before us. </em></p><p><em><br /></em></p><p><em>It has been raining for days but today we are embraced by the warm spring sunshine. The saccharine sound of pretty birds float above us, spring is here but yet somehow there is chaos in the rippling trees beyond the field. </em><em>Pebbles of eyes stare upwards and out at us as we unfold heavy boxes of clothes from the boot of our car. On hearing that our team of volunteers are about to distribute t-shirts, shadows move towards us shifting like lacework on the pale green muddied grass. Our companion, a young British woman, shakes the hands of a number of men who are walking down the track. Introductions are made – many of the men are Turkish and Syrian Kurds who have made the long arduous journey to Calais in the hope that they might cross into the United Kingdom. Conversation turns to Turkey – and Adnan – a tall blue-eyed Syrian refugee, tells us that while he had lived in Turkey almost since the beginning of the Syrian war, the lack of employment opportunities had finally forced him to think about moving to the UK. (Fieldnotes, Calais, May 2017). </em></p></blockquote> <p>That we live in a time of crisis and loss might seem like an understatement to someone like Adnan. In 2018, more people than ever have been forcibly displaced from their homes, with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees claiming that there are now over 65 million people globally suffering forced displacement. Many countries have failed to adequately deal with issues of forced displacement, with asylum seekers and refugees continuing to live their lives in protracted crisis situations. </p> <p>Turkey is the largest host of refugees in the world with over 3.4 million now living in the country, and with 90% of Syrian refugees living in urban centres. Whereas the dominant representation of a refugee is of someone living in a refugee camp, the largest percentage of the recently displaced are living in urban centres. Istanbul hosts the largest number of refugees out of all Turkish cities. This has had an enormous political, social and economic impact on both refugees and local communities. </p> <p>Turkish citizens have become witnesses to the multiple incursions and worlds of loss engendered through conflict and forced displacement. Loss, indeed, as we well know, permeates all of our lives in one way or another – we all know its force. As human beings, we know that it is constituted in multiple forms, that it shapes our worldviews, even our way of being in the world. But the losses carved from conflict and forced displacement are even more all-encompassing. Loss is visible everywhere in this contemporary border crisis –persons, families, connections both physical and metaphysical-objects, things, even memories are lost in the experience of forced displacement. Loss shrouds the experience of seeking refuge like an immense force-field. One might go as far as to say that loss is embodied by those who move in this particular crisis context.</p> <h2><strong>‘Guests’</strong></h2> <p>For Adnan, however, narrating his experience of forced displacement, his time in Turkey meant confronting yet another loss – the loss of his sense of self-worth. He, like many young men of his age, defined that sense of self-worth and value through his professional status. Adnan’s main reason for leaving Turkey was because he could not find any suitable employment. He told of an impoverished life of loss, of waiting, of hoping, of disappointment. No longer able to tolerate his life in Istanbul, he left for the United Kingdom. As a Syrian living under Turkish asylum policy, Adnan like other Syrians, was treated as a ‘guest,’ and not as ‘refugee.’ Syrians reside in Turkey under a temporary protection scheme which operates the principles of an open-door policy, humanitarian assistance and non-refoulement. Turkey is not obliged to grant asylum to asylum seekers outside Europe as enshrined in the 1951 Refugee Convention. &nbsp;</p> <p>Adnan, an articulate educated man in his twenties, bemoaned the complexities of being treated as a ‘guest’ without the legal rights of someone with refugee status. For him, the category of guest was ambiguous at best, signposting the lack of rights accorded to Syrians living in Turkey. Syrians in Turkey were only granted the right to work in Jan 2016 but this right to work is highly contingent on quotas and often limited to particular areas within Turkey. Many Syrians in Turkey remain unemployed or underemployed as a result, and continue to be a target for unscrupulous and exploitative employers. Labour market abuses remain a critical issue which needs to be better addressed. </p> <p>Turkey is not an exception in this regard. In many contexts, asylum seekers and refugees are treated as people who only possess vulnerabilities ­– their capabilities, creativity and resourcefulness are frequently overlooked or undermined. There is an urgent need to develop and implement better integration strategies through which to better the lives of people seeking refuge. Integration is a hotly debated concept, but one which must be considered a framework through which to better service provision and support to people seeking refuge.&nbsp; Education, skills-building and employment all play a pivotal role in social inclusion for asylum seekers and refugees: however, many countries fail to fully implement employment rights for asylum seekers. </p> <h2><strong>Social entrepreneurship</strong></h2> <p>Turkey recognizes the role of building better labour market opportunities for refugees through the 3RP <a href="http://www.3rpsyriacrisis.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/3RP-Regional-Strategic-Overview-2017-2018.pdf">Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan 2017-18</a>. &nbsp;It goes without saying that better labour market integration links to poverty and inequality reduction, and the development of more sustainable livelihoods for the displaced. There are many possible pathways to achieve this and while a substantial amount of humanitarian initiatives are channelled to address these issues, state support continues marginal at best. </p> <p>Social entrepreneurship is one such pathway into the labour market for refugees, and provides a step towards a more inclusive type of urban citizenship and integration. In addition to international and state aid, social entrepreneurship has been recognised by the UNHCR as a crucial avenue for alleviating poverty and enhancing the integration of refugees. In the lively cities of Istanbul and Ankara, there are a large number of social entrepreneurship projects run by refugees and local NGOs that provide spaces for up-skilling, education and training. These initiatives offer diverse services; from technology projects and training to art galleries that provide visibility for the work of refugees, and craft classes that are aimed at women, who gain skills and income. </p> <p>Similar stories and initiatives are unfolding elsewhere in Europe. In Ireland, Syrian chefs have come together to cook, fundraise and create awareness of the refugee experience. The Our Table Project in Dublin, Ireland is a restaurant project run by an asylum seeker, Ellie Kisoymbe to highlight Ireland’s system of detention for asylum seekers with view to becoming a properly functioning business. In Slovenia, a restaurant called SKUHNA&nbsp;run by asylum seekers and refugees serves different foods depending on the nationality of the chef (who rotates nightly). In Denmark, participants in the Refugee Entrepreneurs Denmark have created an Assyrian catering company and a car washing enterprise that provides job training for other refugees. </p> <h2><strong>State support</strong></h2> <p>We are careful, however, not to construct social entrepreneurship as an ultimate solution or as a panacea for the ‘refugee crisis’. Indeed, an over emphasis on labour integration or on the economic resilience of refugees can also be read as a state attempt at deferring the responsibility of addressing the protracted crisis situations of asylum seekers and refugees. ‘Social entrepreneurship’ has also in some cases been appropriated by neoliberal rhetoric that individualises and quantifies ‘loss’. We see labour integration as just one part of the multiple services and supports needed for asylum seekers and refugees in Turkey and elsewhere.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>Rather then, grassroots social entrepreneurship projects are important portals to enhancing skills, providing outlets for creativity, connecting individuals to broader networks, and finally, when properly supported becoming fully functioning enterprises with the ability to scale. Many of the existing social entrepreneurship projects in Turkey also positively impact the local communities in which they are situated, thereby enhancing the visibility of refugee communities, and more broadly, the cultural, creative and economic makeup of the city. They also work to attenuate many of the losses felt by people seeking refuge. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Adnan would have liked to have worked in Turkey. However, the ideological underpinnings of Turkish migration management prevented him from doing so. So many like Adnan are routinely underemployed and exploited. Adnan also told us how this leads to a deskilling and demotivating of individuals who have no professional outlet. Many of the Social Entrepreneurship initiatives in Turkey work to combat this by highlighting the depth of creativity and entrepreneurship that exists amongst people seeking refuge. Right across Europe, there are examples of how refugee entrepreneurs are leveraging their creativity and skills to build a better world for their families and the societies in which they now live. Better state support needs to be put in place to allow them to continue to do so.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/0Y2A3866.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/0Y2A3866.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Life and waiting in a Greek refugee camp. Mehmet Kurt. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></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="/mediterranean-journeys-in-hope/leonie-ansems-de-vries-marta-welander/calais-demolition-mission-accom">Calais demolition: ‘mission accomplished’, the politics of exhaustion and continued struggles for mobility</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/michele-levoy/dealbreaker-eu-migration-policy-causes-more-harm-and-chaos-one-year">Dealbreaker: EU migration policy causes more harm and chaos one year after EU-Turkey deal </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/sergio-carrera-aikaterini-drakopolou/unsafe-turkey-unsafe-europe">Unsafe Turkey, unsafe Europe</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ulrike-m-vieten/refugees-displacement-and-moving-bodies-studying-loss-and-language-of-dance">Refugees, displacement and moving bodies: studying loss and the language of dance</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"> Turkey </div> <div class="field-item even"> Greece </div> <div class="field-item odd"> France </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> Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia EU France Greece Turkey Turkish Dawn Evi Chatzipanagiotidou Fiona Murphy Mon, 08 Jan 2018 12:19:47 +0000 Fiona Murphy and Evi Chatzipanagiotidou 115542 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Reclaiming the right to life: hunger strikes and protests in Denmark’s deportation centres https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/susi-meret-annika-lindberg-jose-joaquin-arce-bayona-martin-bak-j-rgensen/reclaimi <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This movement aims to make public the consequences of this politics of dehumanisation; politics that ‘kill slowly’ which are structurally produced and legitimized by law.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_7543_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_7543_0.JPG" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Farjad and fellow-residents at the Kærshovedgaard 'departure' centre, Denmark. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>‘If we return, they will kill us. But here, they are killing us slowly…They don’t care about us. They say we might stay here until we die’.</em> (Farjad, hunger striker at the removal centre Kærshovedgaard, Denmark, October 2016) </p><p>Farjad and twenty-seven other fellow-residents at the Kærshovedgaard so-called ‘departure’ centre (<em>udrejsecenter</em>) had been on hunger strike for the seventh day when we met them. They live cut-off at Kærshovedgaard, one of two recently-opened Danish deportation centres, the other being in Sjælsmark, about 35 km North of urban Copenhagen. Kjærshovedgaard is a former prison placed in the remote woods in the Mid-Jutland peninsula. Today the buildings quarter about 200 asylum seekers, men and women. Most of these people had their application rejected by the Danish authorities; others are awaiting to appeal their first instance decision (they are so-called ‘phase-two’ asylum seekers). </p> <p>The Kærshovegaard and Sjælsmark deportation camps bear witness to the widespread implementation, across northern Europe, of practices of ‘crimmigration’ (Stumpf 2006). These policies create a strict relationship between criminal and immigration law. This mutual dependence accomplishes a twofold strategy: on the one hand, within criminal law, a process of exclusion, resulting in physical and societal segregation from the rest of the society enacted through physical confinement and detention-like conditions. On the other, policies of exclusion entailing the isolation and then expulsion/deportation of criminalized migrants from the national territory (Aas and Bosworth 2013). Thus Denmark follows apace the developments observed in the rest of Europe, also triggered by European measures such as the 2008 EU directive on returns (2008/115/EC). This prompts the enactment of return schemes based on ‘common standards and procedures’ in the member states to ‘return illegal stayers from third countries’. The directive entails the possibility of detaining people for up to 18 months and putting in place a 5-year ban from EU territory. The implementation of these regulations have resulted in the physical and spatio-geographical control and isolation of the ‘undesired’, ‘unwanted’, turned into ‘deportables’. These people, according to the Danish Minister for Immigration, Integration and Housing Inger Støjberg ‘must be sent out of the country as soon as possible’, and their life in Denmark made as ‘intolerable as possible’.</p> <p>The conversion of the Sjælsmark military barracks into a deportation centre was made public by the previous Social Democrat-led government. The first <a href="http://justitsministeriet.dk/nyt-og-presse/pressemeddelelser/2013/udrejsecenter-skal-faa-flere-asylansoegere-til-rejse-hjem">deportation centres</a> for rejected asylum seekers were opened in 2013 (see also Gibney 2008; De Genova &amp; Peutz 2010), with the aim of pressing rejected asylum-seekers, foreign national offenders, and individuals on so-called ‘tolerated stay’ to leave the country as soon as possible and preferably ‘voluntarily’. Those accommodated in the centres are held there either because deportation is not possible in the foreseeable future (that is, within the 18 months that mark the time limit for immigration detention) and/or because there are no legal grounds for detaining them. This way, residents are neither detained nor free, but held in a legal grey-zone, which the hunger strikers protest against, being fearful of detention in conditions of pseudo-captivity for the rest of their lives. </p><p>The poor standard of the structures, their geographical isolation and the withdrawal of all forms of economic support together with the mandatory (poor) food catering, are put in place by authorities in removal centres with the clear purpose of pushing people to a voluntary departure and return to the country of origin. The proposal to execute stricter deportation practices was formerly drafted and approved under the former centre-left government (backed also by the Unity List and the Social Liberals) and the support of the right-wing Liberal Alliance. In late summer 2013, the then Minister of Justice Morten Bødskov avowed that: </p><blockquote><p>“The accommodation in the departure centre is a very clear message telling them [rejected asylum seekers] that this is the last stop in Denmark and that now you must go home. The asylum seekers will be further motivated to leave with the revoking of all forms of monetary support and instead the application of a packet lunch scheme and by accepting counselling on their voluntary departure”.&nbsp; </p></blockquote><p>The deportation centre Kærshovedgaard was opened under the government so-called asylum political package in the fall of 2015. It was meant to act as a supplementary facility to the already up and running Sjælsmark centre. Throughout 2016, people staying at Sjælsmark were transferred to Kærshovedgaard, mainly to make space for families with children. Today about 160 rejected asylum seekers, including several children are living in isolation at the Sjælsmark centre. In the near future, the selection will start at an earlier phase: all those who receive a negative answer to their asylum application will be moved immediately to Avnstrup center, nearby Roskilde. This centre will function as <a href="http://refugees.dk/en/news/2018/january/avnstrup-becomes-return-center/">a new removal center</a>, where authorities will assess whether the rejected asylum seeker cooperates or not with his/her ‘repatriation’. If considered unwilling to cooperate, the rejected asylum seeker is to be moved to the deportation centers Kærshovedgaard or Sjælsmark. The ‘return center’ is part of the 2018 state budget implementations agreed by the government and the Danish People’s Party. </p><p>Compared to the deportation centres already operative in other European countries (e.g. Spain, Italy, the UK), Danish authorities tend to emphasize the more lenient conditions required for the duration in Danish removal centres. Official brochures and homepages inform us <a href="http://www.ikast-brande.dk/media/10350689/Faktaark_Udrejsecenter_Kaershovedgaard-_090216.pdf">for example</a> that ‘the residents are not detained and they can thus move freely to and from the centre. However, as a point of departure they will be subject to so-called ‘residence-duty’. This means that while they are ‘free’ to leave the centre in daytime, they have the duty to stay overnight at the centre. Those who are obliged to respect this, can only stay overnight outside the centre if the immigration service has given them permission’.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Yet we argue that these concessions to the rule do not change the inhumane conditions of this system and tend actually to reinforce paradigms that associate immigration with crime, and crime to the perceived need for physically and socially isolating people. This logic underpins deportation centres despite the fact that no crime has been committed, unless migration and asylum are treated as such. The mainstream media and the political narrative further contribute to entrenching in public opinion this criminalization framing. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Hunger strikes as performative and citizenship acts</strong></h2> <p>Farjad and the others have chosen to protest against what they see as their collective criminalisation and stigmatisation by Danish authorities. They see their exclusion and isolation from the rest of the society as a way to erase them as persona, to leave them with only their <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giorgio_Agamben">bare life</a>, deprived of all basic rights. They decided to protest by the only way still available to them, taking their situation fully into account: by refusing to eat. In this sense, their hunger strikes are in itself to be understood as an act of citizenship (Isin and Nielsen 2008) a radical political performative act (Butler 2015) in line with similar acts of protest and struggles initiated by non-status refugees living in deportation centres in Denmark and elsewhere. At the end of 2015, for instance, a group of residents in Sjælsmark centre initiated a movement that aimed at making public the consequences of this politics of dehumanisation; politics that ‘kill slowly’ which are structurally produced and legitimized by law. Tragically, most of them were lately forcibly relocated to Kærshovedgaard. </p> <p>Findings <a href="http://archivio.medicisenzafrontiere.it/allegati/pubblicazioni/rapporti/cpt_finale.pdf;%20https://www.ecre.org/aida-reports-on-italy-malta-and-spain-southern-borders-a-laboratory-for-deflection-policies/">from other countries</a> show that removal centres only lead to a deterioration in life conditions and increase the numbers of individuals forced into illegality, who decide to go underground to avoid deportation, and who are pushed into a life of uncertainty and destitution. Personal testimonies, reports and articles further prove irrefutably how longterm confinement to the deportation centres afflicts the psychological and physical well-being of the residents, and particularly children. The hunger strikers at Kærshovedgaard explained that they had observed their fellow residents undergo a transformation after arriving in deportation camps, whereby ‘the lights in their eyes go out’. That these are matters of life and death is illustrated for example by the tragic news of <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/nov/20/fourth-death-at-lincoln-immigration-removal-centre-prompts-inquiry">the fourth death</a> at the immigration removal centre Morton Hall in the UK. Also at Kærshovedgaard, several suicide attempts have been registered in the past year. </p> <p>Stuck in a legal and existential grey-zone, living in isolation, invisible to the rest of society, nearly under detention and with minimal prospects of pursuing a future life in Denmark or Europe, hunger strikers highlight the intolerable life conditions that Danish and European politics have condemned them to, regarding their motives for migrating and their aims in life as a criminal offense. </p> <p>We argue that rather than facilitating returns, deportation centres have opened up a legal grey zone that allows nation states to deny their legal, political and humanitarian responsibilities for rejected asylum-seekers, with tragic implications for the present and future life of these people. Also, the politics of refusal and contempt practiced by the Danish government towards rejected asylum seekers is regularly justified by the need to safeguard the welfare state and the country’s social cohesion. We want to expose this link between nationalism, racism, and welfare chauvinism. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Most of the (un)deportables in Danish removal centres come from countries that Denmark declares safe (amongst these Afghanistan, Somalia), or countries with which no bilateral agreement has yet been enforced. In their monthly binding meetings with the foreign police, they are relentlessly encouraged to leave the country for destinations they know are unsafe, from whence they fled years ago, or sometimes have never visited (e.g. the case of children with parents in Sjælsmark centre). Yet the incitements to leave the departure centres have reportedly been poor, if not non-existent: as of early 2017, only two of the then 116 Kærshovedgaard residents have been returned. At the same time an unknown but increasing number has gone underground before or after arrival in deportation centres. Thus, while on the one side there are clear records that these practices of isolation, exhaustion, and segregation are failing their goal, on the other side their evident impact includes putting non-status refugees in distress and under psychological pressure, through legally-sanctioned practices of state violence and the deprivation of basic rights.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>These practices also put removal centre staff in the awkward position of ‘managing’ rejected asylum seekers who the government seems neither to care for, nor wish to control. The prison and probation service operating the centre reflect the logics of the <a href="http://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1274&amp;context=aulr">crimmigration</a> procedure. Prison officers lack a mandate to perform any of their core functions, including using force, disciplining, or ‘rehabilitating’ residents. Meanwhile, Red Cross workers, who carry out ‘<a href="https://www.rodekors.dk/det-goer-vi/roede-kors-asyl/asylcentre/center-kaershovedgaard">humanitarian’</a> tasks navigate uneasily between their humanitarian mandate and the restrictive conditions of the centres. A prison officer remarked bluntly during an interview: </p> <blockquote><p>‘They say we should make life ‘intolerable’ for them, to make life shit. I find that appalling. They should get out here and see the reality. A colleague of mine said that one day we’ll have to get a funeral undertaker out here, because what are we to do with them? (…) This gets right to the long-term question: what do we do with them? They are unwanted here, they are unwanted everywhere they go. It’s not dignified to treat them like that’.&nbsp; </p></blockquote><p>The officer’s concern brings to mind Hannah Arendt’s diagnosis of the situation for ‘undesirable’ refugees and the stateless, for whom there is no law and no place to turn to, no rights to claim. Inmates are indeed reduced to a condition of <a href="http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=2003">bare life</a>, denied both political and legal representation. The hunger strike should be interpreted in this light: an act of refusal and rebellion against their being forcefully made invisible to the rest of the society. A way to make this visible in the only possible way left available: by using their bodies. </p> <h2><strong>This is Noman’s Land</strong></h2> <p>There is a spatial approach and a racial control through which migrant populations are managed in Europe today. Through spatial means to the extent that spaces of detention and deportation need to be produced and reproduced. Through racial control in the sense that it targets disproportionately populations racialized as non-white.&nbsp;</p><p>The condition of rightlessness is partly generated by the fact that residents of Kærshovedgård are not referred to as detained – although this indeed is a matter for debate (Ugelvik &amp; Ugelvik, Valenta &amp; Thorshaug). As the hunger strikers at Kærshovedgaard observe:</p> <blockquote><p>‘We have to pass by seven locked gates and doors to get out and back in again … We are treated like criminals, but still, prisoners have more rights than we do’. </p></blockquote> <p>The biometric control system enables the immigration service to register residents’ movements inside and out of the centre; a practice which <a href="http://politiken.dk/indland/art6013614/K%C3%A6rshovedg%C3%A5rd-er-v%C3%A6rre-end-f%C3%A6ngsel)">has been directly criticised</a> by the so-called Helsinki-committee. Also, failure to regularly register and be present can generate a prison sentence of up to one and a half years. But according to authorities, residents are nevertheless ‘free to move and free to leave’ at any time; yet whether they leave to their countries of origin, or abscond and remain irregularly in Denmark or elsewhere in Europe, whether they remain <a href="https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/De-Genova-GDP-Paper-2016.pdf">detainable and deportable</a>, seems to mean very little to these Danish authorities. </p> <p>Indeed, what seems vital for them is to find ways to offload responsibility for the residents’ fate. In a recent article on the treatment of rejected asylum-seekers in the Netherlands, Barak Kalir coins the term ‘<a href="https://www.berghahnjournals.com/view/journals/focaal/2017/77/focaal770101.xml">surrogate deportation’</a> to describe the strategy, which saves states any costs and administrative efforts associated with forced removals, such as: operating detention, administering appeals processes, purchasing flight tickets, arranging travel documents, and offering medical attention. </p> <p>Hunger strikers have not managed to engage their controlling, or ‘caretaking’ state representatives in dialogue regarding their action. People at Kærshovedgaard and Sjælsmark are ‘nobody’s problem’ in no man’s land – at least not until they ‘show up’ in another European country to get trapped in yet another of the vicious cycles of the European bureaucratic roundabout procedures. Meanwhile, the Danish version of a deportation centre provides the state with an economically, politically, and legally convenient alternative to detention. For the people at Kærshovedgaard and Sjælsmark this can only mean being trapped in a legal and social limbo, deprived of their basic rights. This is why people have been on hunger strike at Kærshovedgaard, to expose and thereby counter the culture of criminalisation, abandonment, and deportation.&nbsp; </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="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/uk-immigration-detention-truth-is-out">UK immigration detention: the truth is out</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/child-was-held-for-staggering-151-days-in-men-s-immigration-l">Child was held for a staggering 151 days in men’s immigration lockup Morton Hall in Lincolnshire</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/mediterranean-journeys-in-hope/brad-k-blitz/from-refugees-to-prisoners">From refugees to prisoners</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/rod-jones/global-war-and-state-of-exception">Global war and the state of exception</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/etienne-balibar/europe-in-crisis-which-new-foundation">Europe in crisis: which ‘new foundation’?</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"> Denmark </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Denmark Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Economics Equality International politics Susi Meret Martin Bak Jørgensen Jose Joaquin Arce Bayona Annika Lindberg Sun, 07 Jan 2018 15:11:16 +0000 Annika Lindberg, Susi Meret, Jose Joaquin Arce Bayona and Martin Bak Jørgensen 115525 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Are we living through a new “Weimar era”? Constructive resolutions for our future https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/nicola-bertoldi/are-we-living-through-new-weimar-era-constructive-resolutions-for <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>It has been argued that progressives should drop the 1930’s analogy altogether, on the grounds that this risks identifying the threat posed to democratic societies as inherent in the very demos itself.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-S38324,_Tag_von_Potsdam,_Adolf_Hitler,_Paul_v._Hindenburg(1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-S38324,_Tag_von_Potsdam,_Adolf_Hitler,_Paul_v._Hindenburg(1).jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The end of the Weimar Republic. Adolf Hitler greets President Paul von Hindenburg, in Potsdam, Germany, on March 21, 1933, in a pose designed to project an image of Hitler as non-threatening to the established order. Wikicommons/US Holocaust Memorial Museum; US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of B. I. Sanders. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span>The <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/kasia-narkowicz-bolaji-balogun/what-motivated-60000-who-joined-far-right-polish-i">infamous “March of Independence</a>” that took place in Warsaw on November 11, last year, has raised once again the question of whether we are living through a new version of the 1930s. While commentators, scholars and politicians are making extensive use of this historical analogy, its meaning remains ambiguous. It has been argued that progressives should drop it altogether, since it risks fostering a conservative interpretation of the current economic and political crisis, which identifies the threat posed to democratic societies as existing in the very demos itself. </em></p> <p><em>However, the problem lies less in the analogy than in the way in which the latter is framed. Although it can be used to uphold technocratic policies, it can also serve democratic and progressive purposes. DiEM25’s proposals, such as our ambitious “European New Deal”, are precisely the living proof that the lessons from our dark past can be learnt and transformed into constructive resolutions for our future. Now, it is time to prepare for translating such resolutions into action, starting with the next EU parliamentary elections. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</em></p><p>As widely reported by media outlets worldwide, tens of thousands of far-right nationalists and neo-fascists flooded the streets of Warsaw on Poland’s Independence Day. Demonstrators displayed old fascist symbols and chanted slogans such as <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/12/white-europe-60000-nationalists-march-on-polands-independence-day">“We want God”, “White Europe of brotherly nations”, “Remove Jewry from power”</a>. Such a march is the clear sign that <a href="https://diem25.org/fascists-marching-in-warsaw-another-sign-of-europes-growing-far-right-problem/">Europe is facing a serious threat posed by the growth of far-right movements</a>, which has been so far downplayed, or outright ignored, both by the conservative and the liberal wings of the establishment. </p> <p>Moreover, the rise of neofascism and far-right extremism cannot be discounted as a symptom of the immaturity of East European democracies, given that <a href="https://www.newstatesman.com/world/europe/2017/03/rise-nationalists-guide-europe-s-far-right-parties">West European ones have proved not at all immune to the same menace</a>. Since this surge is clearly related both to the “Great Recession” into which the world economy has sunk since 2007 and to the crisis that has been crippling the very foundations of modern liberal democracies in recent years, we are left to wonder whether <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/01/are-we-living-through-another-1930s-paul-mason">“we are living through another 1930s”</a>. If so, in which sense is this historical analogy correct?</p> <h2><strong>Elite syncopations</strong></h2> <p>DiEM25 is built precisely on <a href="https://diem25.org/what-is-diem25/">the assumption</a> that the steady disintegration of the European Union is threatening to push our continent back to those years. Such an analysis seems now commonplace, as commentators, scholars and politicians have started to make extensive use of it. It has been argued, for instance, that the election of Donald Trump has brought the USA into a <a href="https://weimarstudies.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/trump-and-weimar-germany/">“Weimar phase”</a> in their history. However, as argued <a href="https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/12/trump-hitler-germany-fascism-weimar-democracy/">by Daniel Bessner and Udi Greenberg in the Jacobin Magazine</a>, seeing our own predicament “through the lens of the Weimar Republic, then, comes with considerable peril”, since this might fuel élitist and technocratic responses, based on the assumption that “democracy’s survival depends on restricting the people’s power and on forming an unelected, bureaucratic elite shielded from public scrutiny”. </p> <p>Such an assumption is clearly spelt out in <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/04/america-tyranny-donald-trump.html">Andrew Sullivan’s short essay on why America is ripe for tyranny</a>. In this essay, Donald Trump is depicted as a quasi-fascist rabble-rouser whose success is to be imputed to the undoing of the “large, hefty barriers between the popular will and the exercise of power” that had been constructed by the Founding Fathers, as well as to the frustration inflicted on white working-class Americans by the excessive demands of “minorities”. Therefore, instead of highlighting the dangers posed by the insurgence of neo-fascist movements, this conservative interpretation of the “back to the 1930s analogy” ends up amalgamating those movements with all other expressions of discontent with the current <em>status quo</em>. Such a narrative, however, is both analytically fallacious and politically misleading, and this for four main reasons.</p> <h2><strong>Four arguments from Hitler and Mussolini to Arendt and Marx</strong></h2> <p>First, historically speaking, the Nazi regime cannot be viewed as the result of an “excess of democracy”, since Adolph Hitler never received an absolute majority in the ballots and his rise was made possible by <a href="https://www.britannica.com/biography/Adolf-Hitler/Rise-to-power">the support of conservative elites</a>, who were willing to use him as an extreme measure against the “Red peril”. The same could be argued for the rise of Benito Mussolini in Italy: the March on Rome, which persuaded king Victor Emanuel III to appoint him as Prime Minister, was the culmination of a mobilization of fascist “black shirt” squads against left-wing parties, trade unions and workers’ councils, while his first cabinet included <a href="https://www.britannica.com/place/Italy/The-Fascist-era#ref319028">“nationalists, two Fascist ministers, Liberals and even…two Catholic ministers from the Popular Party”</a>. </p> <p>Second, such a narrative overemphasizes the mass support that neo-fascist and far-right movements can gather. The problem with those movements lies less in their electoral and militant strength than in the fact that their ideas <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/18/more-girls-fewer-skinheads-polands-far-right-wrestles-with-changing-image">“are seeping into the mainstream”</a>, thus pushing rightward the entire political spectrum. </p> <p>Third, as Bessner and Greenberg further observe, the thinking that underpins this interpretation of the insurgence of neo-fascism risks exacerbating, rather than to mitigating, the threat that it is supposed to avoid: “while xenophobia and racism remain critical to understanding populism’s appeal, the sense that people have no control over their own government and that too much power is concentrated in the hands of unaccountable elites also fuels popular outrage”.&nbsp; </p><p>Fourth, such a use of the “back to the 1930s analogy” exclusively focuses on the pathological and conjunctural aspects of fascism, while overlooking the “structurally” fascist, or even Nazi, features of our own democratic societies. <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1963/02/16/eichmann-in-jerusalem-i">As Hannah Arendt argues in Eichmann in Jerusalem</a>, there exist very plausible reasons why we should fear “a repetition of the crimes committed by the Nazis”, the most important of which is the fact that our societies constantly render large sections of their populations “superfluous”. Just to name two examples, on one hand, technological progress is threatening to exacerbate what Karl Marx deemed to be the human cost of economic production “under the rule of private property”: <a href="https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/needs.htm">“production of too many useful things produces too large a useless population”</a>; on the other hand, the complex factors that are causing the so-called “refugee crisis”, which is in fact a structural feature of the current state of the world, also contribute to transforming human beings into “superfluous things”, which must be allocated their place in a “sustainable” manner.</p> <h2><strong>Two resolutions for the future</strong></h2> <p>Should we thus conclude that any analogy between our predicament and the crisis of the 1930s is doomed to be misleading? According to Bessner and Greenberg, progressive forces should retire all references to the Weimar Republic and the 1930s. In their view, this is a necessary precondition for persuading people to reject “technocratic politics and the close collaboration between the government and economic elites”, while building “viable coalitions” committed to “distributionist policies” and to addressing “the needs of the many”. </p> <p>However, they overlook the two main lessons that those analogies can still teach us. First, it would be dangerously delusional to expect that the total collapse of the European Union would bring forth a radical, progressive alternative to neo-liberalism. Quite the contrary, it could only exacerbate the structurally fascist features of our imperfect democratic order. That is why, for a start, the European Union must be saved from itself: <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/feb/18/yanis-varoufakis-how-i-became-an-erratic-marxist">“Not out of love for European capitalism, for the eurozone, for Brussels, or for the European Central Bank, but just because we want to minimize the unnecessary human toll from this crisis”</a>. </p> <p>Second, our current predicament requires solutions that must both be bold and pragmatic, such as DiEM25’s proposals for a <a href="https://diem25.org/end/">“European New Deal”</a>, which combine the lessons of Roosevelt’s New Deal with the necessity of tackling such pressing issues as the ecological transition and a bold “post-capitalist” outlook on the future. Moreover, such proposals are tightly related to the political effort to identify a <a href="https://global.ilmanifesto.it/varoufakis-wants-a-european-new-deal-and-a-constitution/">“third space”</a>, beyond the establishment (both liberal and conservative) and national-populist forces, which aim to recover a past that never existed in the first place, in order to foster democratic control and participation across the whole Europe. </p> <p>For all those reasons, it might be argued that the problem does not lie in the analogy itself, but in the way in which the latter is framed. Although it can be used to uphold technocratic policies, it can also serve democratic and progressive purposes. </p> <p>DiEM25 is precisely the living proof that the lessons from our dark past can be learned and transformed into constructive resolutions for our future. Now, it is time to prepare for translating such resolutions into action, starting from the next elections to the European Parliament. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</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/etienne-balibar/europe-in-crisis-which-new-foundation">Europe in crisis: which ‘new foundation’?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/kasia-narkowicz-bolaji-balogun/what-motivated-60000-who-joined-far-right-polish-i">What motivated the 60,000 people who joined the far-right Polish Independence March?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/anna-krasteva/facts-will-not-save-youth-from-fake-citizenship-will">Facts will not save (the youth) from Fake. Citizenship will</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/wfd/can-europe-make-it/thomas-weyn/arendtian-approach-to-post-truth-politics">An Arendtian approach to post-truth politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/krystian-woznicki-michael-hardt/struggling-with-state">Struggling with the state</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/nicola-bertoldi/left-is-dead-carpe-diem">The Left is dead, carpe DiEM! </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/seren-selvin-korkmaz-alphan-telek/origins-of-populism-bogus-democracy-and-capital">The origins of populism: bogus-democracy and capitalism </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/seren-selvin-korkmaz-alphan-telek/left-transformation-versus-left-populism-why-it">Left-transformation versus left-populism: why it matters</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 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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Germany Nicola Bertoldi DiEM25 Wed, 03 Jan 2018 18:27:10 +0000 Nicola Bertoldi 115494 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Struggling with the state https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/krystian-woznicki-michael-hardt/struggling-with-state <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Three strategies – engaging with state institutions, practising exodus in the form of prefigurative politics, and an aim of taking power – need not be viewed in isolation, but can bolster one another and lead towards lasting democratic transformation.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Standard"><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-32678140.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-32678140.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>New Yorkers took to the streets on September 5, 2017 to defend DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced its closure. Erik McGregor/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>While working on the politics of citizenship at the <a href="http://www.berlinergazette.de/friendly-fire">Friendly Fire</a> conference, we focused on civil society initiatives that struggle to create new political forms of belonging and on initiatives that try to reclaim the state as a “people’s platform”. In this context, an interview undertaken with the political theorist Michael Hardt was instructive in rethinking the relationship between social movements and the state. Hardt is best known for his work with the philosopher Toni Negri – their trilogy “Empire”, “Multitude” and “Commonwealth” has had a great impact on thinking and acting politically in the 21<span>st</span> century.&nbsp;</em></p> <p class="Standard"><strong>Krystian Woznicki (KW): </strong>In your recent work with Toni Negri – such as the new book “Assembly” – you have focused on cooperation in general, and on building robust institutions from within social movements in particular. In contrast, you seem not to consider it key to 'rebuild' or 'repair' the state and its institutions. But is this really an either/or issue, or is it rather about whether and how to reconcile both approaches?&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>Michael Hardt (MH):</strong> You are certainly right that this is not an either/or issue and that we can engage state institutions at the same time that we develop the power of social movements.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard">In line with your point, I would add that it has been easy to recognise the insufficiencies of some of the standard strategies, especially when posed in isolation. First, the venerable strategy of a long march through the institutions remains important today. But we also have to make clear how those who have embarked on that march have often gotten lost and never arrived at their destination. The inertia of the institutions has in many cases proven too strong.</p> <p class="Standard">Second, the strategy of exodus – that is, the prefigurative practices of social movements, especially in the encampments and occupations of recent years – has raised hopes for new democratic relations and demonstrates their arrangements on a small scale. The experiences have made really significant contributions, but they have been socially limited and relatively brief. Moreover, they have been difficult to sustain over an extended period in conflict with the values of the dominant society.<strong><em>&nbsp;</em></strong></p> <p class="mag-quote-center"><strong>The strategy of taking power remains an important goal. But we have to recognize the limitations of this strategy too.</strong>&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard">Finally, the strategy of taking power remains an important goal. But we have to recognize the limitations of this strategy too. Even when we manage to take state power, that does not guarantee effectiveness – the Syriza experience in Summer 2015 might be read as an illustration of the limits sovereign states can face. But, more important, too often those who take power end up repeating the practices of those they took power from.</p> <p class="Standard">There’s no need to despair in the light of such difficulties and defeats. Instead we should discover ways that these three strategies can bolster one another and lead towards a lasting, democratic transformation. In fact, I would say that these strategies can only be effective when they are pursued in concert, and in relation to each other. In all cases, I think that goes in the direction that you are suggesting.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>KW: </strong>There is a noteworthy approach to solving this dilemma, as explained by the philosopher, Fred Moten: there is “this monolithic thing that appears to be the referent when people utter the word ‘state’. [But] it’s not monolithic at all... There are all kinds of little holes and tunnels... through the state that are being produced and maintained constantly by the people who are also at the same time doing this labor that ends in the production of the state.” Can we reimagine this labor as a political project to rebuild and reinvent democracy?</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>MH:</strong> I agree that the state is not a monolith. There are always pockets for doing the work of social welfare – which is important work, of course, but not always transformative. There are also always opportunities for reform within the state. But one should not underestimate either the inertia of state institutions, as I said, or underestimate the overall coherence of the set of state institutions. Louis Althusser provided a useful metaphor when analyzing the coherence of the ideological state apparatuses, which, I know, extend beyond what you are thinking of here. He claimed that the ideological state apparatuses are each relatively autonomous in their functioning but, like musicians in an orchestra, they all read off the same score. Before putting faith in the work conducted in these pockets within the state, then, one should ask if ultimately they are reading off the same score of the state as a whole.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard"><span class="mag-quote-center">There's this monolithic thing that appears to be the referent when people utter the word ‘state’. But it’s not monolithic at all.</span></p><p class="Standard"><strong></strong>Here, then, are two criteria that might help guide any such reformist projects. First, in order to open up potential for transformation, any reformist project has to be also antagonistic. An antagonistic reformism is both within and against the state (at least, in its current form). Second, such reformism must always be nurtured in alliance with projects outside the state. (The alliances and exchanges between factions of certain political parties and social movements, in Germany and elsewhere, is one way to configure this relationship.) These two criteria are only a start, obviously, but they can be useful to avoid the illusions of reformism.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>KW: </strong>The state is enmeshed in global networks and ultimately emerges from these networks that are also constitutive of the multitude. What role and relevance do you ascribe to the cooperation between state sectors and non-state sectors such as the multitude? Perhaps you could give an example?&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>MH:</strong> The relations between social movements and progressive governments in Latin America over the course of the past two decades provide one set of examples. Each of these governments – in countries including Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador – came to power on the backs of powerful social movements. The question is how the new government in power relates to those movements.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard">One model is for the movements to be quelled, as if their work is done by bringing the new government to power and the state can now represent their interests. The other model is for the continuing action of the movements, sometimes antagonistic to and sometimes in collaboration with the state. In the former model, the state reduces the effectiveness of the movements and in the latter it fosters their growth and gives them more space.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">Any reformist project has to be also antagonistic. An antagonistic reformism is both within and against the state.</p><p class="Standard">I think the second model provides the only beneficial and sustainable arrangement. In any case, this alternative gives a criterion for evaluating the progressive experiences of those Latin American governments, which have in large part come to an end.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard">In Europe, the experiences of Syriza and Podemos can be analyzed using this same criterion. Many debates internal to Podemos, in particular, have focused on the space, power, and autonomy afforded to the movements in relation to the party structures and leadership.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard">I thus agree with the emphasis you place on the relations between state and non-state actors. The crucial question, though, regards the terms and priorities of the relationship.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>KW: </strong>Emerging from out of the Syriza experiment is DiEM25 – a new transnational political party. Is this perhaps also an example of that?&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>MH:</strong> The core aspect of DiEM25’s project, as I understand it, might aid us in our discussion: the claim that political problems will not be resolved (only) at the national level but that we must focus (also) at the supranational level, that is, at the level of Europe. Your questions have suggested that you believe that the nation-state is the most important site for political action. I certainly agree with you that it is <em>one</em> important site, but it is not the only one and perhaps not even the central one.&nbsp;DiEM’s focus on Europe is one way of recognizing the importance of sites for politics beyond the nation-state.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>KW: </strong>If the new organizations that we are talking about here are 'located' outside the state but are still – by expanding their cooperative capacities – also related to it, how can they actually manage to keep their antagonism thriving and avoid being incorporated into the conventional scripts of the state? Perhaps you could give a concrete example for us to learn from?&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>MH:</strong> I understand your desire to refer each time to concrete examples, but sometimes reference to a specific example limits a theoretical point and often the specificity distorts the discussion.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard">Let’s try this example and see how it works. The civil rights movement in the United States in the 1960s aimed to reform the state from the outside and succeeded in part. I imagine everyone knows the basic outlines of this history. The movement demanded voting rights for African Americans, desegregation, an end to police brutality, and the reform of many other forms of institutional racism. To a large extent, the movement maintained its antagonistic stance without being incorporated into the state. Martin Luther King, Jr., for example, famously refused an invitation by President Johnson to take an official position in the government. Some notable leaders did later become politicians – John Lewis is a well-known example – but that seems to me like an indication of the success of the movement,&nbsp;not its failure.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard">Today the Black Lives Matter movements are certainly maintaining their antagonism without being incorporated into the conventional scripts of the state. And they are doing this with very different organizational structures than the old civil&nbsp;rights movements.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard">One shouldn’t measure the success of such movements, of course, only in terms of concrete reforms that they directly bring about.&nbsp; Often much more important are the indirect changes they bring about, such as revealing, at a social level, forms of oppression that had been unrecognised by many, or simply by mobilising a widespread desire for social justice. My point, in part, is just that there are many different ways that success can and should be measured.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard">But let me come back to what I understand to be your primary concern here. I agree that today’s social movements – powerful and inspiring as they are – do face an important challenge: they need to develop the capability to enact real social transformation and to create lasting institutions. (The institutions they create will have to&nbsp;be of a different nature than the existing political institutions.They will have to create what Toni and I call nonsovereign institutions, but that is another discussion.) To say the movements face this challenge does not mean that they need to reproduce old models of centralised parties. They will have to invent new models in line with the demands for democracy that run throughout the movements.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>KW: </strong>I wonder whether we are not neglecting the point of view of illegalised migrants, whose perspective is mostly not informed by the European enlightenment and its ensuing conception of political actors and of political discourse in general as a matter of rational thinking and public debating, articulating demands and reforming institutions or laws, etc. A perspective, by the way, that has contributed to constituting political actors as citizens and vice versa. Looking at this broader framework, we have to acknowledge that illegalised migrants, who nowadays constitute one of the largest undeclared social movements in history, are excluded from our political discourse.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>MH:</strong> It is true, as you suggest, that there are many barriers that prevent undocumented migrants from participating in social movements and other “unofficial” forms of political expression. There are certainly linguistic and cultural barriers, but one major obstacle is that they run major risks (being arrested, being deported) for even participating in a demonstration.</p> <p class="Standard">But there are also many instances of undocumented migrants being engaged social movements. One inspiring example is the Dreamers in the US. They lack citizenship but have (with great courage) been successful in organising an effective social movement. More to your point, though, are the experiments with co-research that are conducted in some migrant organisations in Europe and North America. The point is for the migrants to become, not only objects of charity or assistance, but also political subjects themselves. Those are challenging experiments but important ones.&nbsp;</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">There is no such thing as a leftist government. What there can be is a government that gives more or less space to the Left.</p><p class="Standard">But let me come back to my main point. I am not advocating that we focus our political energies only on social movements that refuse engagement with the state and its electoral institutions. But neither do I maintain that the state is the only terrain of effective politics. My point is that we need to pursue many strategies simultaneously. We should find ways of linking together, as I said earlier, projects of prefigurative politics, antagonistic reformism, and the taking of power – without thinking that any one of these is sufficient alone.</p> <p class="Standard">Here is another approach that leads, I think, to the same point. In the video interview series with Gilles Deleuze called <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%27Ab%C3%A9c%C3%A9daire_de_Gilles_Deleuze">L'Abécédaire de Gilles Deleuze</a>, Claire Parnet proposes “Gauche” for the letter G. Deleuze begins by remarking, “Il n’y a pas de gouvernmente de gauche” – there is no such thing as a leftist government. What there can be, he continues, is a government that gives more or less space to the Left. That might help reframe the relationship between the state and social movements, which has been at the center of our discussion. The state can play an important role, but it is never the sole or even primary terrain of struggle. Reformist projects that work within and against the state, as well as efforts to take state power, must always look to the social terrain, nourish and learn from developments there, because that is where the real processes of transformation will arise.</p> <p class="Standard"><em>The documentation of the Berliner Gazette’s Friendly Fire conference is <a href="http://www.berlinergazette.de/friendly-fire">available here</a>.</em></p> <p class="Standard"><em>The German version of this interview is available on <a href="http://berlinergazette.de/interview-michael-hardt-soziale-bewegungen-und-staaten">Berliner Gazette</a>.</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="/digitaliberties/krystian-woznicki-felicity-scott/outlaw-spaces-strategic-reversals-of-power-at-margi">Outlaw spaces: strategic reversals of power at the margins</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/digitaliberties/krystian-woznicki-deborah-cowen/acts-of-disruption">The special power of disruption in an age of logistical warfare</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitaliberties/krystian-woznicki-eleanor-saitta/there-is-only-life-and-power-not-digital-and-non-di">There is only life and power – not digital and non-digital life and power</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Krystian Woznicki Michael Hardt DiEM25 Tue, 02 Jan 2018 12:43:20 +0000 Michael Hardt and Krystian Woznicki 115453 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A mass for a fascist: a troubling history haunts modern Croatia https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/una-hajdari/mass-for-fascist-troubling-history-haunts-modern-croatia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Far-right ideologies grow ever more comfortable in the Croatian mainstream, encouraged by a lack of serious condemnation of their activities.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/26194567_10156309891099131_312383953_o.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/26194567_10156309891099131_312383953_o.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>"Worshippers"at a memorial service for Ante Pavelic in Zagreb, Croatia. Photo by Una Hajdari.</span></span></span>The persistent beating of rain on a particularly gloomy winter evening in Zagreb did not stop a crowd of devout churchgoers from gathering in front of the Basilica of the Heart of Jesus in the center of the Croatian capital. For twenty years, this towering Jesuit church has been the setting for an annual mass held on the anniversary of the death of Ante Pavelic, the head of one of the most murderous regimes in Europe during the Second World War.</p> <p>The scene unraveling in front of the church had a distinctly conspiratorial feel to it. While the men and occasional woman huddled together, speaking in hushed tones, a group of policemen across the street watch on patiently. The mass has attracted protesters in the past years and is often covered by local media outlets, even though the congregation and the Jesuit order itself represent a minority within the wider Croatian population.</p> <p>Openly “worshipping” Pavelic is not commonplace in modern Croatian society, and the use of paraphernalia and symbols associating to the Independent State of Croatia (cro. NDH), the official name of the WWII Nazi puppet state that he headed, is also punishable by law. This did not stop some of the men seen later sitting in the front pews of the church from sporting t-shirts bearing the recognizable letter “U”, the emblem of the fiercely nationalist <em>Ustasa</em> organization formed by Pavelic, and others gathered in front of the church from exchanging calendars depicting the image of Pavelic and a map of Greater Croatia.</p> <p>Drazen Keleminec also joined the group gathered in front of the church. The leader of the marginal yet publicity-attracting Autochthonous Croatian Party of Rights (cro. A-HSP), a socially conservative, far right party, made headlines in September when he organized the public burning of a critical Croatian newspaper known for scrutinizing right-wing movements in the country. On this particular evening, Keleminec seemed like he felt at home amongst the crowd as he enthusiastically greeted young admirers who approached him in front of the Basilica. </p> <p>While no high-ranking public officials were seen at this event, it is undeniable that masses like this one – similar ones dedicated to Pavelic have been held in other Croatian towns – reflect a silent acceptance of strong right-wing tendencies present in post-war independent Croatia. </p><p>A bloody conflict in the early 90s that marked the break from Croatia’s socialist twentieth-century history and the accompanying rise of strong nationalist sentiments has fuelled a resurgence of appreciation for figures like Pavelic and others, such as Alojzije Stepinac, the cardinal that served as the Archbishop of Zagreb during WWII. Both were castigated by the Yugoslav socialist regime after the Second World War, and both figures have been reinstated as symbols of national pride in the period following the 90s. Stepinac, unlike Pavelic, has even seen public acceptance by the mainstream Catholic Church leadership in Croatia, who have sought his canonization from the Vatican. </p> <p>“The people who visit these masses or similar events are definitely not part of the mainstream, in the classical sense,” says historian Dragan Markovina. “The problem lies in the fact that the mainstream finds no fault with it. Even when they do react to such events, it occurs under pressure and they utter a couple of courteous sentences while acknowledging the right of anyone to organize memorial masses for the deceased.”</p> <p>“The people who organize these masses do not do so without the knowledge, and possibly even the blessing, of the greater part of the Catholic church and the Church has never distanced itself from these groups,” says Markovina. “The more mainstream centre-right movements in the country, on the other hand, see these groups and their positive opinions of the NDH and Pavelic as a vehicle for their own survival on the scene, helping them legitimize their right-leaning political visions for the future.”</p> <p>Croatia’s political playing field has been dominated by the centre-right Croatian Democratic Union (cro. HDZ), whose founder Franjo Tudjman was the figurehead of the movement seeking independence from the crumbling Yugoslav federation in the early 90s and the first president of the independent nation that followed.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/26178399_10156309891399131_1498294454_o.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/26178399_10156309891399131_1498294454_o.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="395" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Clergy deliver a mass to remember Ante Pavelic. Photo by Una Hajdari.</span></span></span>Their domination of the political scene in the country is the result of a carefully crafted approach, conceived by Tudjman, which includes acknowledging the existence of right-wing groups just enough to keep them satisfied and to ensure a loyal voting base, all the while making sure to keep them at bay so as not to risk the legitimacy of an independent Croatia in a European and international scene that generally frowns upon open shows of support for neo-fascist tendencies.</p> <p>This fragile balance is often disrupted on anniversaries such as this one or on dates considered to be of historical importance for the formation of the Croatian nation. The anniversary of the largest military campaign during the conflict in the 90s, Operation Storm (cro. Oluja), that takes place in early August, has often been the setting for a general increase in right-wing rhetoric across the country. Seen as a strategic victory for the fledgling Croatian state at the time, the military campaign was mainly fought against rebel formations of the Serbian minority in Croatia along the entire western and southwestern territories that later marked the border of the new Croatian state. This anniversary has been acknowledged by every leader and party in power since then, even though they have rarely criticized the war crimes that took place and the nationalist free-for-all that usually accompanies these events.</p> <p>Ethnic minorities, such as the Croatian Serb minority that currently form about 4.5 percent of the population, are often seen as a threat to the domination of policies favoring the Croat majority in the country. Here too, Pavelic serves as “inspiration” for nationalists – his NDH is thought to have sent 80,000 Croatian Serbs as well as Jews, Roma, Communists and other enemies of state to their death in the Jasenovac concentration camp, thought to be one of the deadliest and most brutal camps in the region during World War II. The newspaper whose public burning Keleminec participated in is published by the Serbian National Council, the political body of the Croatian Serb minority, and they are seen by the right-wing as spreading lies at the expense of “Croatian national interests” by criticizing the right-wing and their intolerance towards minorities.</p> <p>These tendencies, while strongly rooted in the past, show no sign of abating. Another reference to Pavelic-era Croatian history that has become “popularized” by the right wing is the use of the chant “Ready for the Home(land)” or “Za dom spremni”, which was the Croatian alternative to “Sieg Heil”. </p><p>As recently as this summer, a dispute over a plaque bearing this chant in the vicinity of the memorial site dedicated to the Jasenovac concentration camp threatened to bring down the ruling government coalition, with HDZ and other right-leaning parties refusing to openly condemn the existence of the plaque and its placement on a building close to the former concentration camp. Representatives of the Jewish and Serbian minority communities have refused to participate in the official commemoration for the victims of the camp, citing the government’s tolerance of fascist ideologies as an affront to the victims of the camp.</p> <p>“There is no doubt that the dominant majority of HDZ and their voters and their ideological base is deeply nationalist and revisionist,” purports Markovina, who claims that any time HDZ has had to “put a different face forward, they did so when facing criticism from the rest of Europe or from domestic adversaries.” </p><p>According to him, political movements that will serve as serious challengers to the domination of the right-leaning HDZ and their acceptance of right-wing groups have yet to appear. “There are very few figures in the Croatian liberal mainstream who have shown to be committed anti-nationalists and anti-revisionists. HDZ’s main opponents on the political scene have always cowered from taking on the nationalist sentiments in the country, for fear of being labeled ‘unpatriotic’.”</p><p><em>This story was enabled by "Reporters in the Field", a program by the Robert Bosch Foundation hosted together with the media NGO n-ost.</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/vassilis-petsinis/competing-conservatisms-in-serbia-and-croatia">Competing conservatisms in Serbia and Croatia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/othon-anastasakis/five-infections-of-social-democratic-family-in-western-balkans">The five &#039;infections&#039; of the social democratic &#039;family&#039; in the Western Balkans</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"> Croatia </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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Croatia Una Hajdari Fri, 29 Dec 2017 18:59:41 +0000 Una Hajdari 115485 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Western Thrace: where your way of life is governed by a hundred year old treaty https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/eleni-konidari/western-thrace-where-your-way-of-life-is-governed-by-hundred-year- <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>I don’t know if the Treaty of Lausanne is anachronistic. I am, however, certain that what needs to be revised is the anchoring of people to the Treaty in order to claim equal and free lives.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-34059302.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-34059302.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>People waiting to see Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his visit to Komotini, Greece on 8 December 2017. PAimages/Grigoris Siamidis/NurPhoto/Sipa USA. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>In his historical visit to Greece earlier this month, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan unexpectedly brought up the Treaty of Lausanne, condemning Greece for violating it with regards to the lives of the Muslim minority in Western Thrace. Therefore, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CMZPIqIQbQ">he asked</a> for the Treaty to be revised so that it becomes relevant again.</p> <p>Although Erdoğan brought the discussion about Lausanne to an international audience (<a href="https://www.ft.com/content/c348340c-dc43-11e7-a039-c64b1c09b482">Financial Times</a>, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/07/turkish-president-erdogan-to-make-landmark-visit-to-greece">The Guardian</a>, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/07/world/europe/erdogan-greece-turkey-visit.html">The New York Times</a>, <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-42265260">BBC</a> to name but a few) the Lausanne box is always open within the local politics of Western Thrace, and on various occasions also comes into the public realm at a national level in Greece when there is discussion around the Muslim minority in Thrace, Turkishness or Islam in Greece.</p> <p>The Treaty of Lausanne is an international law dating back to 1923. A Peace Conference was held in Lausanne at the end of the Greco-Turkish war in 1922 that also marked the birth of the Republic of Turkey. In an era of radical nationalism, the first agreement in Lausanne was a compulsory <a href="http://www.mfa.gov.tr/lausanne-peace-treaty-vi_-convention-concerning-the-exchange-of-greek-and-turkish-populations-signed-at-lausanne_.en.mfa">exchange of populations</a> - a mild yet, at this scale, unprecedented means of ethnic cleansing: ‘Turkish nationals of the Greek Orthodox religion’ had to move to Greece and the ‘Greek nationals of the Moslem religion’ had to move to Turkey. </p><p>From the exchange were exempted the ‘Muslims’ of Western Thrace and the Greek-Orthodox from Istanbul, Gökçeada and Bozcaada, creating the respective minorities in either country. Due to a series of discriminatory measures and a pogrom followed later by expulsions, the number of Greek minority members in Turkey has dramatically diminished to virtual non-existence. The Turco-Muslim minority group in Greece, a largely rural population in the North of the country, has kept more or less its number, having suffered nonetheless decades of overt institutionalised discrimination that was only officially denounced in the 1990s.&nbsp;</p> <p>Nikos Kotzias, the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, notorious for his nationalist background, tried to capitalise on Erdogan’s statement to further the Greek nationalist, Turkish-phobic rhetoric. Meanwhile, a few days after Erdoğan’s comments about the rights of people in Western Thrace, a boat arrived on the Oinouses island in the Aegean with 32 Turkish nationals on board seeking political asylum in Greece. If we are concerned about minority rights’ protection and struggle and want to break with hypocrisy, better not to be distracted by what is preached from the top but rather look at <a href="http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.anthro.35.081705.123245">how international law operates in the vernacular</a> in the concerned communities and review what needs to be changed at a grassroots level.</p> <p>In the aftermath of the Peace Conference in Lausanne, Western Thrace became a borderland; both fixed and fluid. Fixed by the frontier that the river Evros/Maritsa poses between the two states and the imposition of a limit, a border. Fluid by its character as a world-in-between - a melting pot within a landscape of cultural trauma. Eyerman (2001) defines cultural trauma as ‘a dramatic loss of identity and meaning, a tear in the social fabric, affecting a group of people that has achieved some degree of cohesion’. The minority and majority groups in Thrace as well as the ‘Greek nation’ as constructed in mainstream narratives have all experienced through Lausanne ‘a dramatic loss of identity and meaning’.</p> <p>The Greek nation, as imagined, has experienced a biblical loss. In Greece, the events prior to the Peace Conference are memorialised as the ‘Asia Minor Disaster’. In Western Thrace, a group glued under the collective identity ‘Muslim minority’ experienced a radical challenging of their belonging to their homelands. Thracian Muslims have been the historical residents of the region and they also enjoyed collectively, for centuries, a majority identity as Muslim subjects in the Ottoman Empire. After Lausanne, they turned into alien subjects.</p> <p>On the other hand, the newcomers, the Lausanne-made refugees from Turkey, forcibly uprooted from theirs and their ancestors’ lands, came to a region where they had to establish themselves vis-a-vis people who felt tightly linked to the trauma they suffered. It was the Turks, the Muslims, that had to be their neighbours, simultaneously living reminders of a potential re-loss; the foot of Turkey in Greek territories.</p> <p>The Treaty of Lausanne in Western Thrace has been experienced in the Thracian society at large as a story of victimisation and as such has defined the way citizenship and social equality has been experienced by both sides in the area: minority and majority.</p> <p>For the minority group, Lausanne constitutes what they often call their ‘birth certificate’ and ‘Constitution’. Living in a country that does not deal well with minorities, the group is tightly anchored to the one international law text that forces the Greek government to acknowledge their existence and to grant them rights. </p><p>Symbolically, the Treaty of Lausanne is a powerful totem in the Freudian sense. It operates as a sacred symbol which represents the origins of the minority group and functions as their guide and rescuer. Its sacred character makes it untouchable, especially because the group’s collective identity derives from the shared fate that unites all minority members in relation to it. </p><p>The Treaty of Lausanne stated the rights conferred to the non- Muslim minorities in Turkey and specified that the same rights should be conferred to the Muslim minority in Greece. This simple sense-making quote, that the two minorities should enjoy the same rights, has been used ever since by both the Greek and Turkish authorities as a way <a href="http://www.turquieeuropeenne.eu/publication-reciprocity-greek-and-turkish-minorities-law-religion-and.html">to equally mistreat</a> the minorities and to tie their destinies to the Greco-Turkish relations.</p> <p>This way Lausanne opened an arena for dependency politics in regard to the minorities. It has also opened a dead-end discussion that goes no further than highlighting the atrocities and violations in both camps to justify oppression and limit the dialogue to the tight Lausanne boundaries: a claustrophobic vacuum that is perceived as the only space to guarantee protection, when in fact very little has been achieved. Greek nationalists use Lausanne to deny rights, whatever can be deniable. </p><p>Minority patriotism and Turkish nationalism in Greece use Lausanne to claim what is claimable. And the battle goes on in a vicious cycle. It has been a small elite within the minority group in Thrace that mainly advocates for the rights of their people responding to the state’s rhetoric by adopting the same one in the same terms. </p><p>This has not only had the effect of reproducing the oppressive for the group ideology - nationalism - but also in a second degree oppressing the rights of individuals that do not identify as Turks within the minority. What most of the ordinary people of minority labelling agree with in Thrace, is that this situation of conflict continues because it confers both monetary and symbolic capital to many. Nationalism operates as a profitable business locally: play the game well and you can win money, status, jobs.&nbsp;</p> <p>I don’t know if the Treaty of Lausanne is anachronistic. I am, however, certain that what needs to be revised is the anchoring of people to the Treaty in order to claim equal and free lives. If it is understood that neither the Greek nor the Turkish state have a tradition in truly wanting to protect minorities, the struggle for change has to be reinvented at its grassroots. At the community level, a law that has symbolically being synonymous to trauma and dependency and springs directly from an era of radical nationalism, can only establish, as it has done so far, a long-term sense of powerlessness. </p><p>The more people experience their identities through victimhood, the more they are looking for a saviour, the more powerless they will continue to be. At this level of community discourse and lived experience, Lausanne is not liberating but rather a barrier to building a radical new way of establishing minority rights in Greece, beyond the bubble of Western Thrace, that need not only be limited around religious, linguistic and ethnic otherness but the very essence of citizenship.</p> <p>- - - - </p> <p>Eyerman, R. (2001). <em>Cultural Trauma: Slavery and the Formation of African American Identity</em> (Cambridge Cultural Social Studies). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press</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="/ahmet-insel/demirta-verdict-and-enemy-criminal-law">The Demirtaş verdict and ‘enemy criminal law’</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/george-martinidis/shadowboxing-over-greek-civil-war">Shadowboxing over the Greek Civil War</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"> Greece </div> <div class="field-item even"> Turkey </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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Turkey Greece Eleni Konidari Thu, 28 Dec 2017 15:38:31 +0000 Eleni Konidari 115480 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Catalan elections: all that for that? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/patrice-de-beer/catalan-elections-all-that-for-that <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Facilitators, middlemen, discrete openings so that both sides could start to talk to – and not scream at – each other again and try to reach a compromise, are these now European dirty words?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34196216.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34196216.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy speaks during final stretch before crux elections on December 21. NurPhoto/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>All that for that? The December 21 Catalan elections have, as might have been expected, given a new mandate to the three pro-independence parties. Yes, with a majority cut from 4 to 2 seats (70 in total), and a percentage of voters of 47.4%, 0.4% lower than in 2015, but with a number of voters boosted by almost 200,000, allowing them to overtake the symbolic threshold of 2 million. </p> <p>All that despite massive hostile propaganda, including from many media, a number of leaders in jail or in exile and the regional administration taken over by Madrid. </p> <p>On the other side, the modern right of Ciudadanos (Ciutadans in Catalonia) has trounced the old right Popular Party (PP) of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, which has come last with a humiliating 3 seats.</p> <p>Ciudadanos is now the most voted for party in Catalunya, with 37 seats and 1.1 million votes. But with little chance of being able to form a government, as local Socialists have once again failed in their dreams of becoming a major player, and the local branch of Podemos’ new left, with a meagre 8 seats, can’t expect to play power broker. Even more important, Ciudadanos has become the leading conservative force in the country, boosted by their young and dynamic leaders who are not tainted, as is the PP, by its corrupt image. For how long can the PP, now leading a minority national government elected by only 29% of voters in 2015, cling to power despite the parallel weakness of their historical Socialist rivals, the PSOE?</p> <h2><strong>Rajoy’s self-defeat</strong></h2> <p>So, all that for that? A crisis which has destabilised Catalonia and could well spread to Spain itself. Could Mr Rajoy and his party’s ten-year-long offensive against Catalanist parties become his nemesis? Looking back in history is often interesting, even for politicians well known for their short memories. Remember 2006, when Catalan “government” and José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s Socialist (PSOE) government signed an agreement, ratified by the Spanish Cortes and Catalan voters, giving the Principality a new status – or Estatut – with increased autonomous power, which seemed then the best solution for a then low-key dispute. This was a compromise rejected by the PP who asked the Constitutional Court to rule it out of order. Which the Court agreed to do in 2010, with regard to its major provisions.</p> <p>What happened then? Since he was returned to power in 2012, Rajoy has refused any negotiation on the Statute with Barcelona. And, in parallel, the marginal number of independentists in a region – which had gained in 2006 and lost in 2010 the right to call itself a state within Spain and had appeared for a time well satisfied by this autonomy plus – skyrocketed, climbing in seven years from 300,000 to over 2 million. And what do we have now? Federalists turned into independentists and a new crisis engineered by Mr Rajoy which could, and should have been avoided. Which pro-independence leader could have dreamt of a better result?</p> <p>Why such a self defeating strategy? Was it deliberate or just a succession of errors and failures by politicians having lost sync with the richest region, long known for its finicky attachment to its traditions, culture and language? Or was it a way for equally discredited traditional national parties, left and right, to cling to power by searching for a scapegoat made responsible for the economic social and political crisis Spain has been going through? New parties, Ciudadanos like Podemos, don’t seem to have more workable solutions, the first too much prone to fanning the flames of Spanish nationalism, while the other is torn between conflicting factions.</p> <h2><strong>Polarisation and force</strong></h2> <p>So, where are we now? An almost equally, divided country. Anti-independence parties are still seats away from a majority. Their propaganda leitmotiv of a reunified Catalonia back into the fold was marred by Mr. Rajoy’s imposition of the state of emergency through article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. And their aim of reducing Catalan government’s powers, specifically in the touchy fields of education and language, has also harmed their image among the 2/3 of Catalans in favour of more devolved powers. Would it not be better to convince Catalans that they are welcome back in the fold rather than threatening them with a brutal return to the “rule of law”? The carrot rather than the big stick?</p> <p>On the other hand, Madrid’s repressive policy in the name of law and order drove thousands of moderate voters towards the centrist PDeCat of former Premier Carles Puigdemont – in exile in Brussels – which remains the major independentist force, and Republican ERC of – detained – leader Oriol Junqueras, while many disillusioned voters have left the radical left CUP. But, with newly (re)elected representatives still locked up or threatened to be jailed if they come back, putting in place a new government won’t be plain sailing. Especially as Mr Rajoy has promised to reimpose art. 155 it they were to proclaim once again their desire to achieve independence, accusing them of breaking the law, and has rejected Mr Puigdemont’s offer of starting negotiations without preconditions after years at a standstill since the PP’s return to power in 2011. </p> <p>Meanwhile magistrates are pursuing their enquiries into charges of “rebellion” or “sedition” against a wider number of independentist figures, which could threaten any future negotiation process. But could they go as far as destroying any hope of a solution by sending enough independentists deputies to jail, to the great satisfaction of extremists from both sides?</p> <h2><strong>Whatever happened to diplomacy?&nbsp; </strong></h2> <p>Now we have a Catalonia still miles away from a consensus. Uncrushed, pro-independence movements feel much more confident, even after bungling their own independence process through overconfidence and under experience. Compromises appear as hard to achieve, the parties advocating for it – Socialists and Podemos – having failed to convince enough voters. And, bolstered by his personal success, against Madrid as well as against his ERC rival Junqueras, Mr Puigdemont feels more confident than ever. Another standstill. For how long, when Catalans are desperately wanting a solution and a return to stability?</p> <p>Spain as a whole needs politicians of a higher calibre and moral standard, but also with a vision. Yet they have to do what they can with what is available. This is where the European Union, the institution, like its members, should have a role to play. </p><p> Yes, they have to abide by EU rules and not let down a member state. But what is diplomacy all about? Facilitators, middlemen, discrete openings so that both sides could start to talk to – and not scream at – each other again and try to reach a – difficult and painful – compromise, are these now European dirty words? Is helping a member state through a friendly hand up to extract itself from a deadly conundrum which could well taint one day the whole Union and threaten its economy at a time when Brexit and other crises are brewing, a treacherous move? Or are we going towards new Catalan and, possibly, new Spanish elections whose outcome might not be any clearer?</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/patrice-de-beer/catalonia-s-december-21-elections">Catalonia’s December 21 elections</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/kalypso-nicola-dis/catalonia-and-theaters-of-recognition"> Catalonia and the theatres of recognition </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/j-lia-monta/catalonia-cry-for-understanding-and-recognition">Catalonia: a cry for understanding and recognition</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/thomas-seibert/catalonia-democracy-and-secession">Catalonia: democracy and secession </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/cristina-flesher-fominaya/spain-shall-we-talk"> Spain: shall we talk?</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"> Spain </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Spain Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government International politics Catalonia Patrice de Beer Sat, 23 Dec 2017 14:18:03 +0000 Patrice de Beer 115475 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Antonio Guterres and the world as it is https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/manuel-nunes-ramires-serrano/antonio-guterres-and-world-as-it-is <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The role of the UN Secretary-General is the most difficult job in the world. But it gets worse when the President of the United States represents a threat to the values enshrined in the Charter.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Donald Trump and António Guterres at the United Nations General Assembly .Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead. Public Domain._0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Donald Trump and António Guterres at the United Nations General Assembly .Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead. Public Domain._0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Donald Trump and António Guterres at the United Nations General Assembly .Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead. Public Domain.</span></span></span></p><p>“It is a world not of angels but of angles, where men speak of moral principles but act on power principles; a world where we are always moral and our enemies always immoral.” </p> <p>- Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals</p> <p>Antonio Guterres was <a href="https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/library-blog/posts/ant%C3%B3nio-guterres-sworn-in-as-next-un-secretary-general/">sworn in as the ninth United Nations Secretary-General</a> a year ago. After taking the oath of office before the 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Guterres promised a nimble, efficient and effective organization capable of working for peace, supporting sustainable development and reforming its internal management. An organization that focuses more on people, and less on bureaucracy. With the <a href="http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/">Sustainable Development Goals</a> as its agenda and the values of the <a href="http://www.un.org/en/charter-united-nations/">UN Charter</a> as its moral compass. The threats to our values, defended Mr. Guterres a few weeks after <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/09/us/politics/hillary-clinton-donald-trump-president.html">Donald Trump´s elections as President</a>, are based on fear of each other, which can only be defeated by upholding what brings us together. Reading Mr. Guterres speech a year after, there is no doubt that he was aware of the dimension of the challenge ahead. He recognized that despite being better connected than ever, fragmentation within our societies has never been greater. Solidarity and tolerance, he hinted, seem to have lost their meaning.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Reading Mr. Guterres speech a year after, there is no doubt that he was aware of the dimension of the challenge ahead.&nbsp;</p> <p>Navigating the restless waters of diplomacy and international affairs is something Mr. Guterres is used to after his ten-year mandate as <a href="http://www.unhcr.org/antonio-guterres-portugal-2005-2015.html">High Commissioner for the Refugees</a>. But the position of Secretary-General of the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/19/world/what-is-united-nations-un-explained.html">United Nations</a> is the most difficult job in the world. And it gets worse when the President of the most powerful country <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/donald-trumps-new-world-disorder">loathes multilateralism</a> and the United Nations itself. The importance of consensus and mediation in a world always five minutes away from disaster it´s lost on Mr. Trump, <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/04/what-is-nativist-trump/521355/">a nativist and isolationist</a> who threatens most of the values enshrined in the UN Charter. Few Secretary-General´s inherited such an unstable international scene while having to accommodate the tantrums <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/29/opinion/trumps-deadly-narcissism.html">of a President in love with himself</a>. </p> <p>Mr. Guterres has enjoyed relative success during his first year in office. He supervised a <a href="https://www.uneca.org/stories/guterres-commends-ecowas-role-gambia%E2%80%99s-peaceful-transition">peaceful agreement in the Gambia</a>, saw new sanctions implemented against North Korea and facilitated negotiations <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=57133#.Wi_hUVXibIU">between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides</a>. These are not major breakthroughs. Still, they reinforce Mr. Guterres´s position as a mediator and diplomat willing to go the distance to restore peace. It would be unfair to expect Mr. Guterres to do more, considering the relative power of his office and the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/15/un-chief-antonio-guterres-united-europe-essential-to-keep-peace-in-chaotic-world">largely chaotic world</a> we live in.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The importance of consensus and mediation in a world always five minutes away from disaster it´s lost on Mr. Trump,&nbsp;a nativist and isolationist&nbsp;who threatens most of the values enshrined in the UN Charter.</p> <p>There´s a wrong assumption that the United Nations Secretary-General <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/19/world/what-is-united-nations-un-explained.html">can change the course of history by himself</a>. He is the <a href="https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/former-secretaries-general">symbol of the United Nations</a> and a spokesman for the interests of the world´s people. But the <em>real power</em> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jan/15/the-end-of-power-moses-naim-review">lies elsewhere</a>. It is up to the General Assembly to vote any resolutions brought forth by sponsoring states. And it´s up to the <a href="http://www.un.org/en/sc/">Security Council</a> to maintain peace and security, as well as adopting changes to the United Nations Charter.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres visited the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan on Tuesday morning, 28 March 2017. UN WomenBenoît Almeras Flick Some rights reserved._0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres visited the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan on Tuesday morning, 28 March 2017. UN WomenBenoît Almeras Flick Some rights reserved._0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres visited the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan on Tuesday morning, 28 March 2017. UN WomenBenoît Almeras Flick Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>The Secretary-General can bring to the attention of the Security Council matters that he believes might threaten international peace and security. He can also hold meetings with world leaders and attend sessions of United Nation bodies. He is also expected to use the so-called “<a href="http://www.uncyprustalks.org/report-of-the-secretary-general-on-his-mission-of-good-offices-in-cyprus-28-september-2017/">good offices</a>” to prevent disputes from arising or escalating. However, he cannot impose his will on states.</p> <p>Convincing the President of the United States that political solutions are a better option than an <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/09/19/trump-we-have-no-choice-but-totally-destroy-north-korea-if-continues-nuclear-path/680329001/">indiscriminate use of force and idle threats</a> it´s a phenomenal challenge. Convincing him that international affairs are a delicate matter seems like a lost battle. The recognition of <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/06/donald-trump-us-jerusalem-israel-capital">Jerusalem as the capital of Israel</a> it´s a perfect example of Mr. Trump´s <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/21/politics/haley-un-jerusalem/index.html">recklessness</a>. It will only make negotiations <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=57431#.Wi_2xlXibIU">more difficult</a> and a <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=57431#.Wi_2xlXibIU">two-state solution</a> hardly achievable. It´s worth imagining what Mr. Guterres would have been able to do this year if he hadn’t had to keep an eye on the President of the United States. Fortunately, he has been able to establish a good working relationship with Mr. Trump. Unfortunately, the time invested in convincing him that <a href="https://www.cfr.org/article/funding-united-nations-what-impact-do-us-contributions-have-un-agencies-and-programs">he shouldn’t abandon the UN to its faith</a> it was the time he could have spent in actively denouncing the <a href="https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/dangerous-rise-of-populism#537fde">populist wave in Europe</a>, the <a href="https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/dangerous-rise-of-populism#1529d7">rise of authoritarianism</a> in countries like Turkey or Egypt and the <a href="https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/dangerous-rise-of-populism#62b3a7">attacks on civilians in Syria</a>.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">There´s a wrong assumption that the United Nations Secretary-General&nbsp;can change the course of history by himself. He is the&nbsp;symbol of the United Nations&nbsp;and a spokesman for the interests of the world´s people. But the&nbsp;real power&nbsp;lies elsewhere.</p> <p>Mr. Guterres enshrines the moral authority of the United Nations. As such, he is expected to advocate for those who too <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/11/paris-beirut-media-coverage/416457/">often fail to make the headlines</a>. But criticizing <a href="https://www.ted.com/talks/antonio_guterres_refugees_have_the_right_to_be_protected">the limitation regarding the number of refugees allowed to enter Europe</a> and the <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-muslim-ban-travel-new-changes-restrictions-what-are-they-differences-countries-list-a7962527.html">decision to establish a Muslim ban</a> is not enough. <a href="http://www.1for7billion.org/news/2017/4/11/1-for-7-billion-founders-release-report-urging-the-sg-to-build-an-inclusive-un">Human rights activists and NGO´s</a> have asked him to pay closer attention to the most vulnerable, and to denounce those <a href="https://www.fidh.org/en/region/asia/burma/open-letter-to-un-secretary-general-antonio-guterres-about-the">who violate human rights with impunity</a>. But the former High Commissioner for Refugees has also been praised for focusing on conflict prevention, peace and security. And opening the doors for an administrative reform that the organisation desperately needed. He also has taken important steps to <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=57527#.Wi_4oVXibIU">address gender inequality</a> and has been able to convince the United Nations General Assembly to agree on a <a href="https://theglobalobservatory.org/2017/09/terrorism-countering-violent-extremism-guterres/">reform of UN´s counterterrorism architecture</a>. Mr. Guterres´s decision to establish a High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation was also welcomed: it will provide his office with advice and <a href="https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/personnel-appointments/2017-09-13/secretary-general%E2%80%99s-high-level-advisory-board-mediation">back specific mediation efforts</a>.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Antonio Guterres addressing the European Parliament. European Union 2017 - European Parliament. All rights reserved._0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Antonio Guterres addressing the European Parliament. European Union 2017 - European Parliament. All rights reserved._0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Antonio Guterres addressing the European Parliament. European Union 2017 - European Parliament. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>It´s arguable that the UN Secretary-General could have done more during his first year in office. However, we should keep in mind that the current international waters are not easy to navigate. And that to be able to do so, Mr. Guterres must find the correct equilibrium <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=57483#.Wi_6OFXibIU">between diplomacy and advocacy</a>. The Secretary-General cannot antagonize member states, no matter how strongly he might feel about an issue. Mr. Trump decision to withdraw from the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/climate/trump-paris-climate-agreement.html">Paris Climate Agreement</a> and the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/03/world/americas/united-nations-migration-pact.html">UN Global Compact on Migration</a> is certainly a setback for Mr. Guterres. But one that he must be able to turnaround for the benefit of the world´s people.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Mr. Guterres enshrines the moral authority of the United Nations. As such, he is expected to advocate for those who too&nbsp;often fail to make the headlines.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/syria">crisis in Syria</a>, the <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29319423">war in Yemen</a>, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/11004928/Afghanistan-has-cost-more-to-rebuild-than-Europe-after-Second-World-War.html">rebuilding Afghanistan</a>, reaching a peace agreement in <a href="https://www.voanews.com/a/un-secretery-general-guterres-on-south-sudan-and-gambia/3702303.html">South Sudan</a> and addressing the human rights crisis<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/28/un-chief-calls-for-end-to-myanmar-military-operations-in-rohingya-crisis"> in Myanmar</a> involve dealing with internal and external actors, contradictory interests and different agendas. Finding solutions requires months of negotiations and diplomatic efforts. Unfortunately, everyone wants magical solutions, <em>b<em><em>ut&nbsp;</em></em><em>refuse to believe in magic</em>.</em></p> <p>Two thousand and seventeen was a difficult year. Two thousand and eighteen could be even worse if the situation in <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/10/donald-trump-diplomacy-israel-jerusalem-palestine">the Middle East</a> and <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/09/18/the-risk-of-nuclear-war-with-north-korea">North Korea escalates</a>. Still, we should trust Mr. Guterres. The Secretary-General of the United Nations knows that this is the <em>world as it is</em>. And as Saul Alinsky wrote, this is where you start.&nbsp;</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="/5050/stephanie-sugars/united-nations-reform-conflict-prevention">Conflict prevention: will the United Nations return to its roots?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openglobalrights/yvonne-terlingen/choosing-new-un-secretary-general-who-will-champion-human-rights-0">Choosing a new UN Secretary-General who will champion human rights </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/alex-randall/trump-and-climate-change-why-not-talk-about-threat-multipliers">Trump and climate change: why not talk about threat multipliers? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/mediterranean-journeys-in-hope/ban-ki-moon/refugees-and-migrants-crisis-of-solidarity">Refugees and migrants: a crisis of solidarity</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/maria-alvanou/refugees-on-greek-shores-humane-response"> Refugees on the Greek shores: a humane response</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-pence-jerusalem-christian-zionism-connection">Trump, Pence, Jerusalem: the Christian Zionism connection</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trump-vs-northkorea-45echo">Trump vs North Korea: a 1945 echo</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"> Portugal </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? United States Portugal Civil society Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Manuel Nunes Ramires Serrano Fri, 22 Dec 2017 21:36:28 +0000 Manuel Nunes Ramires Serrano 115471 at https://www.opendemocracy.net What motivated the 60,000 people who joined the far-right Polish Independence March? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/kasia-narkowicz-bolaji-balogun/what-motivated-60000-who-joined-far-right-polish-i <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>On 11th November, around 60,000 people joined Poland’s Independence March, organised by members of two far-right groups. A march on such a scale raises serious questions about the country’s relationship to racism.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33684488.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-33684488.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Independence Day March in Warsaw, 11 November 2017. Jaap Arriens/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Piotr Szczęsny was an ordinary Polish citizen who set himself on fire outside the Warsaw Palace of Culture and Science on the 19th October 2017. His action wasn’t an accident; it was a protest against the current Polish government. Just before Szczęsny set himself ablaze, he read passages of a personal <a href="https://twitter.com/mycielski/status/921128957281538048">manifesto</a> that read: "I, an ordinary human being like you, call on you all – don't wait any longer!". His death went largely<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/06/in-poland-last-month-an-act-of-self-sacrifice-on-a-par-with-jan-palach"> unreported</a> internationally.</p> <p>Yet Szczęsny’s call to action did move some people in Poland. Since his death, there have been daily recitals&nbsp;by a woman standing alone in the middle of a town square in Cieszyn, in Southern Poland – she continuously reads Szczęsny’s manifesto aloud. Among other things, Szczęsny protested against: “the hate speech and xenophobia, which this government has pushed into public debate”; “the hostile attitude to immigrants” and “discrimination against minorities”.&nbsp;</p> <p class="mag-quote-left">In Poland, we rarely talk about racism.</p><p>On November 11th, the same woman who had taken it upon herself to spread Szczęsny’s words, Gabriela Lazarek, entered a Catholic Church where the far-right Independence March organisers held their pre-demonstration mass. She held a sign that quoted the late Polish Pope John Paul II: ‘<a href="http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2017/11/14/woman-thrown-out-of-polish-church-for-racism-is-a-sin-banner/">Racism is a sin that constitutes a serious offence against God</a>’. She was pushed out of the church while the priest lectured about the importance of nationalism and Polishness. The congregation later joined 60 000 people in the Independence March.</p> <p>In Poland, we rarely talk about racism – it is wrongly understood as something that Poland has little historical encounter with. Racism has a long, if not often talked about, history in Poland. Racism in Poland is expressed through ways in which racialised people have been treated in the country, including Jews, Roma and Muslims. We can’t ignore the connection between race and Polish homogeneity, where whiteness and racial politics have become key to a nationalist project promoted by the current Polish government that perceives heterogeneity as a threat.</p> <h2><strong>The Polish Independence March</strong></h2> <p>On the 11th of November each year, Poles commemorate their country regaining independence in 1918 and reappearing on the map of Europe after 123 years of disappearance.</p> <p>Poles have celebrated Independence Day in various ways over the years, but not primarily through participating in the Independence March. Until 2010, the march attracted mainly nationalists and football fans – both groups are known for their xenophobic and at times violent behaviour. From then on, the Independence March started pulling in crowds, and in 2011 there were suddenly 20,000 people participating. </p><p class="mag-quote-right">Conversations about nationalism in Poland are inseparable from those about racism.</p><p>In the past six years, these numbers have continued to grow, culminating in a sea of 60,000 people this year, uniting under the slogan: “We Want God”. While not all march-goers were far-right extremists – and this is what <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/12/white-europe-60000-nationalists-march-on-polands-independence-day">some international media</a> ignored – there are important questions to ask about the willingness of regular citizens to join a march organised by members of two far-right groups, the All-Polish Youth and the ONR, that take their names and ideas from the fascist groups of the 1930s.&nbsp;</p> <p>Nationalism expressed through racist sentiments has become mainstream in Poland. In Poland, like other parts of Europe, racist views are <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbHh0kLXMe0">on the rise</a> and becoming more <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-40416133">commonplace acceptable</a> with the shift to the right following the election of the Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (PiS) party. As Rafał Pankowski of the Nigdy Więcej [Never Again Association] emphasised, there is a <a href="http://www.nigdywiecej.org/en/multimedia/audio-materials">climate of acceptance</a> for extreme nationalist ideology. In 2016, the organisation recorded the ‘<a href="https://discoversociety.org/2016/06/01/re-emerging-racisms-understanding-hate-in-poland/">biggest wave of hatred’</a> in the country’s recent history, reporting several incidents taking place every day. While the mainstreaming of racist discourse and corresponding violence has to be partially attributed to the current ruling party, the phenomenon of racism in Poland is not new, even if it is rarely discussed.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Polishness and whiteness</strong></h2> <p>Recent migration from the Middle East and Africa – while most of the people arriving are not attempting to reach Poland – was used divisively by the political and media class to exacerbate the flourishing of racism in Poland in the past couple of years; yet this migration didn’t create race and racism in Poland. The conditions for this intensification are embedded in long-standing representations of people seen as non-white: Jews; Roma, Tatars and black people. A crude distinction between ‘whites’ and ‘blacks’ is entrenched in Polish culture, where those in the second category have always been excluded from ideas of Polishness, as was surfaced explicitly at the recent Independence March.&nbsp;</p> <p>During the Independence March, some attendants called for <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/polish-nationalist-youth-march-draws-thousands-in-capital-1510429006">‘White Europe’ and asserted the need for ‘Clean Blood’</a>. The <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01419870.2017.1392028">purity of race</a> as proclaimed by the organisers –&nbsp;who identified as race-separatists&nbsp;– is a key mechanism in promoting hierarchy among people. In this racist logic, while st blacks are placed just above the apes, whites are placed closer to God through the angels, implying the higher status and purity of the white race. As such, the main slogan of the Independence March – ‘We want God’ – can be analysed as a desire to purify the nation of all sorts of impure ‘Others’ and return to a past that in fact never actually existed.&nbsp;</p> <p>When refugees started appearing on European shores, Polish politicians and media warned of the diseases that newcomers might bring. This debate resurfaced over recent months when <a href="http://wyborcza.pl/7,75398,22163746,uchodzcy-przyniesli-choroby-co-tak-naprawde-znajdziemy-w.html">right-wing Polish media</a> quoted an Islamophobic think-tank, the Gatestone Institute, claiming that <a href="https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/10676/germany-migrants-infectious">infectious diseases are spreading as migrants settle in</a>.</p> <p>Seen in this way, mobilising around ideas about racial purity and whiteness becomes central to the reimagining of Polishness, as was observed in the recent <a href="https://dorzeczy.pl/kraj/46991/Rzecznik-Mlodziezy-Wszechpolskiej-Nie-jestesmy-rasistami-ale-separatystami-rasowymi.html">interview</a> given by the All-Polish Youth’s spokesman Mateusz Pławski during Poland’s Independence March, where he said that his organisation believes in ‘<a href="https://dorzeczy.pl/kraj/46991/Rzecznik-Mlodziezy-Wszechpolskiej-Nie-jestesmy-rasistami-ale-separatystami-rasowymi.html">race separatism</a>’.</p> <p>The spokesperson has since resigned due to the media storm he caused. He argued that his words were ‘over-interpreted’ and reminded the public of his saying that “no race is better than another” which he considered proof of the far-right organisation’s non-racism. During the now-infamous interview, he said that “ethnicities should not mix” and that “a black person is not a Pole”. While these ideas about race separatism are not coherent with <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OoSdnebLxw">Poland’s multicultural history</a> and the presence of <a href="https://books.google.co.in/books?id=9Tbed6iMNLEC&amp;printsec=frontcover&amp;dq=god%27s+playground&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0ahUKEwiAp_jigPDXAhVKPo8KHY7UABQQ6AEIJTAA#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false">Jewish, </a>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1369183X.2016.1194744">Muslim</a> and <a href="http://afryka.org/afryka.pdf">Black people in the country</a>, they have been accepted as norms due to a strong desire to maintain <a href="https://www.onr.com.pl/deklaracja-ideowa/">racial purity</a>&nbsp;</p> <p>Polishness, as it is conceptualised today, relies on a notion of sameness that is sustained by the power of <a href="http://www.cbos.pl/PL/publikacje/public_opinion/2015/06_2015.pdf">whiteness</a>: a group of people linked by a common ‘blood’, common culture and common religion.. Of course, Poles have the right to remember their history of victimisation, and to point out the injustices that continue to afflict the country. Regardless of the reasons and motivations for people to participate in Poland’s Independence March, using whiteness as a right to exclude those that are deemed not-quite-European, as <a href="https://dorzeczy.pl/kraj/46991/Rzecznik-Mlodziezy-Wszechpolskiej-Nie-jestesmy-rasistami-ale-separatystami-rasowymi.html">Mateusz Pławski</a> did in his interview, unveils the intimate relationship between Polishness and whiteness that has become explicit in the Polish response to the refugee crisis.&nbsp;</p> <p class="mag-quote-left">In online discussions about refugees, people have referred to Auschwitz – located in Poland – as an ‘ideal hotel’ for refugees. </p><p>In 2015, the right-wing PiS won the Polish elections, replacing the more centre-liberal Platforma Obywatelska (PO). PiS’s coming into power has coincided with escalations of the ‘refugee crisis’. The party used the growing numbers of people arriving on European shores to mobilise against immigration and strengthen their political agenda of increasingly closed borders. Several anti-refugee demonstrations were organised across Poland, exhibiting anti-Muslim as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Roma sentiments. The new government refused to accept any refugees into Poland, unless they were Christians.</p> <p>During an anti-Muslim demonstration organised by the far-right National Radical Camp (ONR), a group which is also one of the organisers of the Independence March, one participant set fire to an effigy of an Orthodox Jew who was holding an EU flag. At another anti-refugee demonstration, a member of the same far-right group, ONR, was investigated for hate speech when <a href="http://www.otwarta.org/kategoria/monitoring/nietolerancja/page/5/">she warned</a> about white Europe becoming extinct, equating Muslims with rapists and Jews with imperialists.</p> <p>When the ONR organised a march in 2016 in the city of Białystok, international students were informed of the racist nature of the groups and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/osrodek.monitorowania/photos/a.137368036438338.1073741828.137358556439286/388788454629627/?type=3&amp;theater">urged on Facebook</a> to stay inside “to avoid any unpleasant incidents”. During one anti-refugee demonstration in Warsaw, demonstrators shouted “Poland for Poles”, “Islam – death of white Europe” and “The whole of Poland shouts with us, kill Islam with machetes”.</p> <p>In online discussions about refugees, people have referred to Auschwitz – located in Poland – as an ‘ideal hotel’ for refugees. If they ever make it to court, these cases are often dropped or at least not treated seriously by the authorities. Political decisions such as these have had a direct impact, empowering the far-right.</p> <p>The Polish Law and Justice (PiS) government needs to take concrete actions against the culture of hate that is growing, and going unpunished, in Poland. It is time for Poles to recognise that Poland has a problem with racism, that the nationalism currently promoted by its government and right-wing groups is intimately tied to a long history of dangerous racial exclusion. It is time that the call to action of Piotr Szczęsny be answered by all sections of the Polish society: “We, ordinary human beings, like you, hear your call – and we won’t wait any longer!”.</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/kasia-narkowicz-konrad-pedziwiatr/why-are-polish-people-so-wrong-about-muslims-in">Why are Polish people so wrong about Muslims in their country?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/kasia-narkowicz/czarny-protest-how-polish-women-took-to-streets">Czarny Protest: how Polish women took to the streets</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Bolaji Balogun Kasia Narkowicz Thu, 21 Dec 2017 11:44:51 +0000 Kasia Narkowicz and Bolaji Balogun 115438 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The origins of populism: bogus-democracy and capitalism https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/seren-selvin-korkmaz-alphan-telek/origins-of-populism-bogus-democracy-and-capital <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The reality of racism, hatred, anger, insecurity and inequalities is spreading irresistibly. There is no way of escaping from all these daily phenomena unless there is an alternative systemic project to challenge it. <a href="https://medium.com/diferencias/los-or%C3%ADgenes-del-populismo-falsa-democracia-y-capitalismo-ac493fde9820"><em><strong>Español.</strong></em></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34209745.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34209745.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Austria's new Chancellor Sebastian Kurz gives the press conference after meeting at European Commission HQ in Brussels, Belgium on 19.12.2017. Wiktor Dabkowski/ Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>In the past, when a country was suffocating, it could be aired by opening the windows to neighboring countries. But now we do not have this resource any more. In neighboring countries the air has become as unbreathable as in ours. </em>José Ortega Y Gasset</p><p>The concept of ‘left-populism’ that has been attributed to emerging democratic and justice-based political movements throughout the world, including such entities as Podemos, Syriza, France Insoumis, the Five Star Movement, Jeremy Corbyn's Labour and Bernie Sanders' alternative political agendas, involves a misconceptualisation. We offer a new concept called “left-transformation” to explain the policies of those movements and argue that they are not populist, and that their programs are in fact anti-populist and based on justice. In this first piece, we will focus on the concept of populism, elaborate its origins and invite the reader to rethink the concept. Our <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/seren-selvin-korkmaz-alphan-telek/left-transformation-versus-left-populism-why-it">second article</a> will explain why we use the concept of ‘left-transformation’ and why it is a more radical way of forming a political strategy for those movements.</p> <p>It is apparent that global society is experiencing a severe oscillation in its political, social and economic spheres. This oscillation stems on the one hand, from inequality, precarity, poverty, the resurgence of racism and the rise authoritarian regimes throughout the world; on the other hand from democratic and justice-based movements whose goal is to ensure equality, liberty and fraternity in their societies. That is to say, the polarization is deepening and societies can now be divided into basically two camps: conservatives and progressives. "The tyranny of the majority" which is becoming the hegemonic power in many countries threatens the notion of “plurality” and targets minorities, intellectuals, democrats and migrants as enemies. Under these circumstances, the uncertainty of the future both politically and economically rattles the everyday life of people, inhibiting any expectations they may have of prosperous lives. </p> <p>The aura of the current era has created an illusion in academic and political debates, which has led to its being described as "the age of populism". However, we argue that populism is just a morbid symptom of this age. In his famous work <em>Prison Notebooks</em>, Antonio Gramsci argued that "the crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum, a great variety of morbid symptoms appear ." Today, once again humanity encounters a crisis while capitalism is in its death throes and the new order cannot emerge. However, we believe that as Milton Friedman opined, " only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change.” The history of the world has witnessed progressive movements arising from periods of crisis, resulting in gains for basic human rights and producing democratization waves.</p> <p>Today, there are similar signs of the emergence of new progressive movements throughout the world such as Podemos, Syriza, France Insoumis, the Five Star Movement in Italy, the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership and Momentum, and Bernie Sanders's alternative political groups in the US. These movements are based on issues of justice and equality. However, they have faced two dangers: (1) the fusion of populist politicians and international mainstream institutions and media, and (2) academic mischaracterization of such movements. </p> <p>With regard to the first threat, populist and mainstream leaders often label newly formed democratic movements “utopic” or “politically impossible” in the political realm. The movements headed by such figures usually base their power on fear and anxiety and often successfully persuade the masses into believing that “there is no alternative”, to inhibit the spreading of hope and courage. As for the second threat, in academia, those movements are described as “left-wing populist”. Using the notorious concept of "populism" for these movements undermines their progressive ideas and capacity to change. Hence the need, spelt out in our second article for the concept of “left-transformation”.</p> <h2><strong>What is populism?</strong></h2> <p>Today, populism is addressed as a dominant political phenomenon throughout the world. We argue that populism is a real threat to the consolidation of justice and democracy, deepening polarization in the society and manipulating information. Although it is a very popular topic in academia and a rising phenomenon in politics, the literature on populism is scattered. Theoretical debates on populism have not reached a consensus over the definition of the concept: instead there is a consensus on its vagueness and elusiveness. Thus, to define the anti-populist and progressive characteristics of left-transformation movements we will explain our approach to the concept. </p> <p>Populism is mainly explained in the literature as a political strategy, discourse, ideology, and kind of policy.[i] Prominent academics like Benjamin Arditi, Benjamin Moffitt, Cas Mudde, Chantal Mouffe, Ernesto Laclau, Margaret Canovan have explained the concept in various ways. We will elaborate populism as a kind of policy-making rather than a well-structured ideology. However, such policy-making, it is generally agreed, is a pathology of democracy. </p> <p>The existing literature on populism has consensus on three main characteristics: First, populism divides the society into two camps: “the people” and “elites”. Second, the people and elites are in an antagonistic relationship as two homogeneous groups: "the pure people" versus "the corrupt elite". Third, populists argue that people should be the sovereign in politics and all obstacles against this notion should be removed.[ii] However, is it possible to label any political movement a populist one just because it is against the establishment and refers mainly to “the people” in its discourse? How can we distinguish the inclusive and justice-based political programs of the transformative movements under this general heading?</p> <p>In this respect, we believe that Jan-Werner Müller’s comprehensive conceptualization is helpful to define the distinct characteristics of populism. In his book, “What is populism”, which was published in 2016, Müller argues that populists divide society in two but attribute legitimacy only to themselves and the people who support them. By people, populists refer to "people like us"; others are illegitimate and a potential enemy. Populist politics asserts that the main source of the existing problems in society lie in those intellectuals, journalists, academics, judicial members and terrorists and whoever else are captured by them into one very large spectrum. Thus, populism is based on an exclusionary perception towards sections of society. It is a moral way of imagining the political world, and this kind of politics of morality cannot as such be consolidated. [iii]</p> <p>Muller points out that not everyone who criticizes elites are populists. Populists are anti-pluralists by claiming that they alone represent the people and all other political competitors are essentially illegitimate and not part of "the people". According to Muller, populists do not aim to create a participatory democracy. Their resort to referendums is not a path taken to encourage the participation of people in government, but arises from their wish to be confirmed by “the people” for their acts of power. Populists argue that only they can determine the will of the real people.[iv] Muller asserts that when populists govern, they engage in occupying the state, mass clientelism and corruption, and suppress civil society. They can write constitutions but those constitutions are designed to keep them in power in the name of the popular will. [v] </p> <p>It is obvious that populism is a pejorative term in the sense that it is accepted as “a pathology of democracy”, and populist leaders are recognised as political manipulators who act on behalf of their own interests by using “the common people” to their own ends. On the other hand, there are also ongoing debates on the necessity of populism as a catalyst for ultimate democratization, and on populism as the “inevitable product of democracy”.[vi] Muller argues that populism is not a corrective for liberal democracy but that it does help us to understand the reasons for the current proliferating problems of the existing system. Furthermore, we believe that the rise of populism heralds the simultaneous emergence of progressive movements in politics which can recognize the sources of populist tendencies in society.</p> <h2><strong>The origins of populism</strong></h2> <p>We believe that there are two main reasons for the emergence and rise of populism: bogus-democracy and capitalism. While the former creates and deepens political inequalities, the latter attains the same end in the economic realm. These two aspects are not interdependent from each other but interrelated. The rise of populism mainly stems from people's search for a new form of representation as a result of a political and economic impasse. However, populism does not offer a solution for these inequalities and insecurities: instead it deepens the existing problems. Furthermore, populist movements have prompted the suppression of basic rights. Populists in governments combine with contagions of bogus-democracy and capitalism to create countries where people are more precarious, fearful about their future, frustrated, lonely and angry.</p> <p>We argue that populism is based on a very specific way of reading social conflicts to use them to disseminate and consolidate their ideas. Albert Hirschman defines two kinds of social conflicts: one is the conflict of “more or less”-“divisible”, the other is the conflict of “either-or”-“non-divisible”.[vii] It can be argued that until the 1980s, class politics still had an influence in the political arena. Class politics is based on the conflict of “more or less” and this conflict can be overcome with a politics of redistribution. To be specific, working classes demanded a more just distribution and equality in both politics and economics by using their unions and political parties as intermediaries. Although class politics has a conflict at its roots, it does not terminate the political discussion on such conflict. However, “either-or” conflict does not allow any discussion. In politics and society, this conflict can be formulated as: “you are religious or not, you are like us or not, you will participate like us or you will leave the country.” This strict division of society is the highest level of identity politics. The demise of class politics and the rise of identity politics since the 1980s has severely narrowed the political spectrum. Worse, identity politics has been turning into a politics of finger-wagging morality under the impact of populism. </p> <p>The predominance of identity politics has created a political and social crisis and triggered populist movements. Populism as a kind of policy-making pursues “either-or” divisions and does not attempt to create a policy agenda that gets rid of conflicts. Furthermore, today we have reached a stage of bogus-democratization, whereby the democratic principle has deteriorated and the participation of people in politics has been constrained to a democratic shell. By bogus-democracy we refer to a political system where democracy is confined to a voting mechanism, checks and balances in the system are undermined and political and economic power is in the hands of the establishment, the barons of the established order, a fusion of plutocrats and political elites.</p> <p>However; the reason for populism is not confined to identity politics and the politicians who exploit it. Another important cause is the capitalism which creates severe inequalities and insecurities which are reflected in everyday life. Rent-seeking barons who dominate the economic and political areas benefit from profits; but the burden of the loss is carried by ordinary people. Each person carries this burden of financial and political crisis in their everyday lives. Although there is some amelioration after crises, the continuity of systemic crises, the never-ending passion for rent-seeking and the remorseless commodification of basic resources have created and deepened poverty, resentment, frustration and exasperation in society – feelings that soon turn to anger.</p> <p>The commodification of basic needs and the expansionist notion of a rent-seeking capitalism as well as political inequalities within and across countries create both domestic and regional wars. Politicians and international institutions who are expected to prevent those wars either support the wars, or become incapable of preventing them. As a result of this, people have to leave their home countries and become refugees.</p> <p>Migrants are exposed to exclusion in host societies that lack social and political justice. The future which is on offer from the populists promises people an image of better living conditions by getting rid of the refugees, minorities or any possible perceived threat to their future. The idea of “sharing the bread which is already too little with the strangers” is used by populists as a fear that underpins the unequal and unjust hegemonic order of the current age. Moreover, the increasing flow of migration and governments’ failure to provide inclusive migration policies exacerbates the polarization and racism in host societies. Migrants are specifically targeted as the source of those inequalities and conflicts in society.</p> <p>There is another story in the non-western countries. This time it is not the refugees but the opposition labelled as terrorists who are coded as the source of all problems. While the migrants are coded as the source of social and economic unrest by western populists, the progressive opposition become the targets of populist demagogues in the non-western countries by being labelled ‘terrorists’. Intellectuals, journalists, academics are marked out as the main reason for insecurity, precariousness, poverty, and exclusion in society.</p> <p>Seeking those who are guilty for the existing crisis is a recurring historical phenomenon. After the Great Depression of 1928, fascism raised and created violent consequences for humanity as a whole. Today, in the lack of inclusive and alternative agendas to cope with problems, people embrace populist ideas throughout the world. Even the developed countries which are known as the front-line of western democracy experience the rise of populism such as Trump’s leadership in the US, the National Front in France, the Freedom Party in Austria, the Alternative for Germany.</p> <p>To sum up, the world is in a systemic stalemate. The reality of racism, hatred, anger, insecurity and inequalities is spreading irresistibly. There is no way of escaping from all these daily phenomena unless there is an alternative systemic project to challenge it. However, these inequalities, which stem from bogus-democracy and the dynamics of capitalism have simultaneously established the ground for alternative movements that have the potential to transform the daily lives of people and show them the possibility of an alternative perception of a just society where they can live prosperously as equal and free members. Their programs focus on the establishment of social and political justice. Although they are coded as left-populism both in academia and in the political arena, we insist that they are not populist. In the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/seren-selvin-korkmaz-alphan-telek/left-transformation-versus-left-populism-why-it">second article</a>, we will explain why we refuse to apply the term to these alternative movements and why this distinction is a must for all people who desire to live in a just future society.</p> <hr size="2" /> <p>[i] &nbsp;Yunus Sözen(2017) <a href="http://tusiad.org/tr/tum/item/9819-bati-dunyasinda-yukselen-sag-populizm-ve-uluslararasi-sisteme-olasi-etkileri-toplantisi">Demokrasi, Otoriterlik ve Populizmin Yükselişi</a>, p.10.<a href="http://tusiad.org/tr/tum/item/9819-bati-dunyasinda-yukselen-sag-populizm-ve-uluslararasi-sisteme-olasi-etkileri-toplantisi"> </a></p> <p>[ii] Yunus Sözen (2010) Politics of the People: Hegemonic Ideology and Regime Oscillation in Turkey and Argentina, Unpublished Dissertation, New York University, Department of Politics. pp.237-238</p> <p>[iii] Jan-Werner Müller (2016), “What is Populism”, University of Pennsylvania Press, p. 38.</p> <p>[iv] Ibid. p. 101</p> <p>[v] Ibid. P.102</p> <p>[vi] Christa Deiwiks (2009) “Populism.” Living Reviews in Democracy.<a href="http://www.livingreviews.org/lrd-2009-3"> http://www.livingreviews.org/lrd-2009-3</a></p> <p>[vii] Albert O. Hirschman (1994). Social Conflicts as Pillars of Democratic Market Society. Political Theory 22 (2):203-218.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Part Two: <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/seren-selvin-korkmaz-alphan-telek/left-transformation-versus-left-populism-why-it">Left-transformation versus left-populism: why it matters</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <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/seren-selvin-korkmaz-alphan-telek/left-transformation-versus-left-populism-why-it">Left-transformation versus left-populism: why it matters</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/etienne-balibar/europe-in-crisis-which-new-foundation">Europe in crisis: which ‘new foundation’?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/rahel-sophia-s/is-diem25-still-vehicle-for-change">Is DiEM25 still a vehicle for change?</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"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? United States EU Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics Ideas International politics World Forum for Democracy 2017 Alphan Telek Seren Selvin Korkmaz Thu, 21 Dec 2017 10:20:38 +0000 Seren Selvin Korkmaz and Alphan Telek 115433 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Left-transformation versus left-populism: why it matters https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/seren-selvin-korkmaz-alphan-telek/left-transformation-versus-left-populism-why-it <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The perception of political justice that transforms is very different from the discursive tool of the “national will” used by populists who degrade democracy by equating it with the ballot box. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-33545643.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-33545643.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>US Senator Bernie Sanders (Democrat of Vermont) speaks during a rally led by US Congressional Democrats against President Donald J. Trump's proposed tax plan outside the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on November 1, 2017. Edelman Alex/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” Victor Hugo</em></p> <p>We are in the middle of a swell that has a significant potential to make our daily lives worse than ever. The swell t<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/seren-selvin-korkmaz-alphan-telek/origins-of-populism-bogus-democracy-and-capital">hat we discuss</a> is a combination of the political, social and economic dynamics of our age. It reflects itself as a rise of populism in politics; losing a sense of "solidarity," increasing polarization and racism among members of society; and insecure relations in the economy. This setting does not provide much prospect of a peaceful world in which people live as equal and free members of a just society.</p> <p>The economic insecurity and life full of uncertainties that humanity experiences is not at all fair. Worse, the unequal power relations among and within the nations have caused wars and conflicts that result in the flow of millions of refugees. Moreover, governmental failure in providing inclusive migration policies exacerbate the polarization and racism in host societies. As a result of these experiences, people increasingly feel anger and isolation, since there is no social and political structure which can cope with the current crises of the world. In the absence of socialist, democratic and progressive movements, the contagious ideas that are spread by populist demagogues are perceived as the only means for the salvation of societies and populism has become a shelter for people where they can feel safe.</p> <p>Nonetheless, the current crisis that the world experiences also has the potential to produce a progressive change for a just society in the future. The most progressive ideas throughout history emerged in severe crises. We argue that the current swell can be reversed with a new political program that offers a change in the everyday life of people who feel they are subjected to structural injustices. This new political program is based on a simple idea: the left-transformation of politics, society and economy – the transformation which will create a democratic political sphere where people are strengthened in decision-making processes; a society where solidarity is based on common good, rather than hatred or anger, becomes the general principle; and an economic structure where relations of production and distribution are arranged to provide people with economic rights. We argue that whoever pursues this idea of a just society is by definition not left-populist. But that they are the transformers of our age.</p> <p>There are newly emerging transformative movements throughout the world, which construct their policies on the basis of “hope” to change the everyday lives of people and strengthen them in political, economic and social spheres. Those movements are identified as left-populist by the prominent scholar of populism studies, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/chantal-mouffe">Chantal Mouffe</a>. However, we argue that using the notorious concept of populism undermines the huge potential of those movements and that is why we propose a new conceptualization, left-transformation, to define them.</p> <p>This article offers a theoretical framework for left-transformation and discusses the potential for change throughout the world by answering the following questions: what advantage does the concept of left-transformation have over that of left-populism? What is left-transformation? Who are the transformers leading progressive change in the world? Does the current age offer the proper conditions for their emergence and flourishing or not? What do their political programs suggest? Is left-transformation achievable? We believe that answering these questions will not only launch a new theoretical debate but also construct a basis for political change. We consider our studies in left-transformation a journey whose road is necessarily uneven and steep. The thing that makes us stay on the road is our belief in change and desire to live in a more just society which will be built on the consolidation of democracy in politics, solidarity in society and secure and just relations of production and distribution in the economy.</p> <h2><strong>On the origins of left-transformation</strong></h2> <p>Let’s elaborate the concept of ‘left-transformation’ first to identify the current political and socio-economic crises in a historical context and secondly to formulate a political agenda which can challenge them. The crises that humanity suffers today are mainly a blend of products of capitalism, and a recent political phenomenon, populism. Inspired by Karl Polanyi’s&nbsp;<em>The&nbsp;Great Transformation</em>, we assert that transformative movements, which have arisen as a reaction in different geographies around the world, are the only agents that can overwhelm this dangerous fusion of capitalism and populism. Recently, the legitimacy crisis of this fusion has created a convenient political environment for socialists, long paralyzed, and newly emerging progressive leftists. That is why transformative movements such as Podemos, Syriza, France Insoumis, the Five Star Movement in Italy, the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and Momentum, and Bernie Sanders's alternative politics in the US have started to show significant successes in recently held elections in their countries.</p> <p>The current crises have appeared in an era that witnessed the emergence of a bogus-democratization after the demise of the idea of socialism. While the violent circumstances of neoliberalism caused the decline of social solidarity, increasing economic inequality and insecurity, bogus-democratization excluded ordinary people from decision-making processes at the local, national and global levels. Individuals during this period feel insecure, alone, vulnerable and worry about the future. In other words, the existing order expunges people’s “right to the future”. That is why over the past two decades, as a political reaction to these morbid syndromes, people have sought shelter in nationalist politics, communitarian solutions, religious fanaticism, and populism. Moreover, isolation, loss of trust, hatred and racism has increased in everyday life. The rise of identity politics has also deepened the ‘otherization’ process in society when it combined with the rising economic inequalities. Rather than fighting with the existing structural injustices which exacerbate inequalities, people have directed their hatred at the “others” even though those people suffer from the same economic and political conditions.</p> <p>In the absence of an idea that reminds people that in fact they are on the same side against injustice, the main political demarcation line has been constructed on the contradiction between populists and progressives. However, this kind of distinction in politics does not provide a progressive solution to the current crisis. Rather it exacerbates the rise of populism. There are similar groups on each side who suffer from the same conditions and have similar concerns in everyday life. We believe that neither class nor identity politics but a combination of the two can offer a progressive agenda to overcome the humanitarian crisis of the age. We argue that transformative movements combine class and identity politics and represent the "common good" for people from both the populist and progressive constituencies. Furthermore, these movements desire to change the system to provide democracy and inclusion in politics, solidarity in society, secure relations of production and just relations of distribution. This can be done only by ‘justice politics’ using ‘hope’ as a political sentiment that can create and expand the ranks of solidarity. We call this ‘left-transformation’.</p> <h2><strong>Left-transformation vs left-populism: hope vs anger</strong></h2> <p>It is evident that the phenomena that gave birth to the transformative movements were "anger" and "antagonism" towards the plutocracy and political elites who currently dominate the status quo. However, we argue that the only phenomena that can sustain the power of these transformative movements are their “justice” based political programs, and the political sentiment of “hope” that we can transform the world into a liveable place offering equality, freedom, and solidarity.</p> <p>For a long time, these transformative movements have been called ‘left-populist’. However, as explained in <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/seren-selvin-korkmaz-alphan-telek/origins-of-populism-bogus-democracy-and-capital">our previous article</a>, although there are some similarities, transformative movements do not share the same root or ideals as populism. We believe that identifying those movements as populist undermines their progressive agendas. To line up the discourses and policies of Le Pen, Wilders, Trump with Podemos, Syriza, France Insoumis under the theoretical category of populism leads to a misreading. There are two main sources of this confusion. First, mainstream media, political actors, and plutocrats define all these transformative-movements as populist because of their desire to undermine the influence and potential of these movements. In other words, a coalition of capitalist powers, institutions and intellectual sources desire to destroy the influence of these movements by distorting them in the public gaze, and undermining their legitimacy.</p> <p>The second reason is that <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/chantal-mouffe">Chantal Mouffe</a>, the ideologue of these movements, describes these movements as left populist. In the absence of alternative conceptualizations, Mouffe's concept of left-populism has outweighed all the other explanations and has been embraced by the leadership of the transformative-movements. However, we firmly reject this conceptualization. Although it was an appropriate conception in the emerging phases of those movements after 2008, today the concept no longer provides a sufficient tool to distinguish them and it does not serve the purpose of expanding solidarity and support among people.</p> <p>Mouffe’s conception of left-populism is based on the sentiment of ‘anger’ and ‘antagonism' as a way of doing politics to establish an alternative hegemony over and against capitalism and liberal democracy. Thus, according to Mouffe, a counter-hegemonic movement like Podemos should use the anger of people who suffer from the existing system and pursue that antagonism as a method of mobilisation that will build a strong movement. Her conception of politics requires a polarization both in society and politics.</p> <p>Chantal Mouffe’s idea of the consolidation of ‘antagonistic politics’ by using ‘anger’ is no longer sufficient to form a feasible and progressive political strategy for these counter-hegemonic movements. By rejecting Mouffe’s theoretical framework, we propose “hope” rather than anger as the benchmark of political sentiment by framing all policies and promises as ‘justice politics.' Why is this necessary today?</p> <p>It is reasonable and acceptable that ‘anger’ is a fundamental constitutive element of progressive politics. Anger is necessary to reject the exclusionary and non-democratic policies imposed on people. It is an awakening sentiment that initiates a struggle against an unjust everyday life. The conception of antagonistic politics emerges right here since it is the method of making politics that deploys the feeling of anger. Antagonism is constructed by defining an enemy and a struggle against this enemy. Although this type of relationship between political sentiment and a style of making politics is necessary to initiate a political movement, it is not the right strategy to sustain and to expand support for the movement. The politics and discourses of a progressive movement cannot be confined only to antagonism. Rather than anger and antagonism, hope and a ‘justice’ politics can provide an expanding line of solidarity that alone can guarantee the political power to confront the fusion of plutocrats and political elites.</p> <p>Antagonism as a style of politics has always been a part of political life. However, a ‘justice politics’ around the principle of solidarity and hope is a more radical way of making politics. Left-transformation movements cannot confine themselves only to antagonism. They should provide new programs, new discourses and new policies that can attract people and reach more people as a part of the solidarity they create.</p> <p>As we claimed before, the thing that mainly distinguishes the left-transformation concept from left-populism is its justice politics. Using the analytical perspective of Erik Olin Wright, we can divide justice into sub-categories: political justice and social justice.[i]&nbsp;Political justice requires the implementation of basic rights not only for citizens but all the people who live in the jurisdiction area of left-transformation movements. Secondly, it demands democratization and an active participation of the people in decision-making processes by strengthening them at the local, national and global levels. This perception of political justice is very different from the discursive tool of the “national will” which is used by the populists. Political justice does not degrade democracy by equating it with going to the ballot box during elections. In other words, political justice does really aim to strengthen both individual and collective participation in political and public spheres.</p> <p>Furthermore, the idea of social justice requires strengthening people economically: giving them economic rights[ii]&nbsp;such as a universal basic income, job security, and democracy in the workplace, levying taxes on riches, wealth and rentier benefits etc. The underlying principle in the economic field is to make people economically robust so that they are not affected by the flows of market and rents. For a decent life, people must have a right to free education, free health services, social protection and child-caring services etc. However, strengthening people in relations of production by giving them some kind of security is not enough. The distribution of wealth is also not fair. There should be new mechanisms and concepts to cope with this situation. Housing policies, wealth transfers, limits on inheritance, taxes on <em>rentier </em>benefits are some mechanisms transformative movements could employ to curb the deepening inequalities in society. Without a new economic system – relations of production and distribution –&nbsp;initiating these policies, it is impossible to ensure social justice.</p> <p>Justice politics ensures the strengthening of people both in the political and economic realms. That is why, if the movements who follow the idea of social justice achieve their goals, the polarization, racism, nationalism, religious fanaticism, communitarian fidelities in the social sphere will decline, and solidarity will emerge as the moral value that holds members of the society together in peace. Then we can talk about a just society whose members are equal and free. This is no more about anger: rather, it reflects the hope to change the world.</p> <p>To sum up, movements like Podemos, Syriza and others are not left-populist but left-transformation movements. Whoever fights for social and political justice is entitled to be a transformer. That is why we call our age the ‘age of transformers’. All the conditions in political, social and economic life force us to find a solution against skyrocketing injustices and inequalities. The existence of these injustices shows the maturity of conditions necessary in order that a left-transformation becomes at once desirable and achievable. We believe that left-transformation is an idea whose time has come. For all those people who demand a democratic world, it is there, waiting to make its move.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>[i]&nbsp;Erik Olin Wright,&nbsp;Envisioning Real Utopias,&nbsp;p. 12</p> <p>[ii]&nbsp;<a href="https://www.guystanding.com/files/documents/CDHE_Standing.pdf">Guy Standing</a> </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Part one: <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/seren-selvin-korkmaz-alphan-telek/origins-of-populism-bogus-democracy-and-capital">The origins of populism: bogus-democracy and capitalism</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <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/seren-selvin-korkmaz-alphan-telek/origins-of-populism-bogus-democracy-and-capital">The origins of populism: bogus-democracy and capitalism </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/etienne-balibar/europe-in-crisis-which-new-foundation">Europe in crisis: which ‘new foundation’?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/rahel-sophia-s/is-diem25-still-vehicle-for-change">Is DiEM25 still a vehicle for change?</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"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? United States EU World Forum for Democracy 2017 Seren Selvin Korkmaz Alphan Telek Thu, 21 Dec 2017 10:19:21 +0000 Alphan Telek and Seren Selvin Korkmaz 115436 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Childless proletarians: ten years after the ‘great recession’, would you start from here? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/ernesto-gallo/childless-proletarians-ten-years-after-great-recession-would-you-st <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="Default">Far-right populism, with its emphasis on nationalism, cultural ‘purity’, anti-immigration, and security, might become a much stronger catalyser of votes, even where this has not yet happened.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Default"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34151080.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34151080.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi and Vice President Vitor Constancio at a press conference in ECB HQ in Frankfurt, Germany, on Dec.14, 2017. Xinhua/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Ten years after the inception of the ‘Great Recession’ we can clearly see some of its political effects. The economic woes of the developed world have enhanced the chances of leaders like Donald Trump, contributed to Brexit and its unfolding, and boosted ‘populism’ in the West and beyond. How far have economic problems influenced the rise of populism? Is there any kind of long-term dynamic? </p> <p class="Default">We claim that one of the causes of the dissatisfaction with democracy’s current state is the existence of two or more labour markets or, to use a more ‘technical’ term, labour market segmentation. </p> <p class="Default">The idea that there would be many labour markets, each of them being structured as a separate segment, gained popularity in US universities in the 1960s-70s. Economists noticed the existence of a primary market with competitive, high-skills jobs for highly-educated professionals, and a secondary market of jobs requiring lower skills, that are less competitive and often occupied by women or marginalised groups – minorities, the youth, migrants. This tendency has gradually expanded from the US to the rest of the west, Europe, and now potentially the global world. <span class="mag-quote-center">Globalising competition has reproduced dualism and segmentation all over the world.</span></p> <p class="Default">Globalising competition has reproduced dualism and segmentation all over the world. A few industries (mainly in high technology and the services) increasingly employ highly-paid and cosmopolitan ‘innovators’ or ‘creatives’, people who often attended the best colleges and universities; meanwhile, hundreds of millions of workers fight for ‘McJobs’, with long working hours, poor training, high turnover, and limited possibilities to ‘climb the career ladder’. In more peripheral countries (think about Southern or Eastern Europe) this translates into high unemployment (especially for the youth), precarious working conditions, and sometimes the emergence of informal sectors bordering on organised crime and mafias. In a country such as Poland, which has experienced sustained economic growth, <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2014/12/lessons-from-polands-dual-labour-market/">the share of wage-workers in fixed-term employment is as high as 25%.</a> </p> <p class="Default">Unfortunately, labour market dualisms have been strengthened by entrenched social and political hierarchies: in Italy, Greece, to a lesser extent Spain, clientelistic state apparatuses have defended their privileged positions in the public sector, while temporary contracts and informality proliferate in the private economy, and mainly affect the younger generations. <span class="mag-quote-center">Clientelistic state apparatuses have defended their privileged positions in the public sector, while temporary contracts and informality proliferate in the private economy.</span></p> <p class="Default">In countries like Britain or the USA privilege coincides with wealth or ‘educational capital’ (and is embodied by the ‘Oxbridge’ or ‘Ivy League’ elites) and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jun/28/labour-and-tories-have-both-failed-on-social-mobility-report-finds">social mobility has stagnated or even declined</a>. Armies of new proletarians, usually without children (how to support them financially?), often qualified (though not in the so-called ‘top-ranking’ institutions or universities), usually propertyless, are emerging as new social and economic actors, and have now entered the political arena. Some authors have called them <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/aug/19/britian-labour-figures-hide-real-workload">‘the precariat’</a>, and highlighted the risk that they could become a source of votes for populist (especially far-right) parties. </p> <p class="Default">How severe is the risk? How far-right oriented are the ‘new proletarians’ or – to coin a new word – ‘precarians’? </p> <h2 class="Default"><strong>What kind of catalyst?</strong></h2> <p class="Default">There is no single or simple answer. For example, data on German elections show that the far-right, anti-immigration AfD (<em>Alternative fuer Deutschland</em>) <a href="http://www.dw.com/en/are-afd-voters-the-same-as-trump-voters/a-36345438">enjoys popularity also among the middle and upper classes</a>. Yet in the recent (2017) polls, when AfD obtained 94 <em>Bundestag</em> seats, its best achievement was in Germany’s poorer Eastern <em>Laender </em>(e.g. 27% in Saxony; 22.7% in Thuringia), where job insecurity is high, and there is widespread disaffection with the policies of traditional parties such as the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) or the SPD (Social Democratic Party). It is well-known that both Marine Le Pen and Trump gained votes in areas of France and the USA with strong and impoverished working classes, while high education levels tended to be more associated with Clinton’s and especially Macron’s supporters. Brexit was mainly popular among the less affluent and educated, while lower educational levels were generally associated with <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Revolt-Right-Explaining-Extremism-Democracy/dp/0415661501">UKIP supporters in its ‘golden age’</a> (basically, until 2016). </p> <p class="Default">In other words, data show some variety; far-right populism tends to be popular among poorer or less educated strata, even if there are exceptions. A more qualitative vision, however, suggests that trends, especially in crisis times, are rather fluid; and that far-right populism, with its emphasis on nationalism, cultural ‘purity’, anti-immigration, and security, might become a much stronger catalyser of the votes of the disaffected, marginalised, and ‘left-behind’, even where this has not yet happened and where labour markets pit against each other an ‘elite’ in the primary job market and ‘masses’ of disappointed in the secondary.&nbsp; </p> <h2 class="Default"><strong>Weak democracies and lose-lose games</strong></h2> <p class="Default">Such a disillusionment is also rooted in the weakness of western politics in the global age. A quick glance at Europe’s largest democracies is very telling. Three months after the federal elections Germany is still without a government, and the most likely solution seems to be a return to the CDU-SPD Grand Coalition. Grand coalitions tend to compact the ruling elites and can thus be a way to boost populist rhetoric. <span class="mag-quote-center">Grand coalitions tend to compact the ruling elites and can thus be a way to boost populist rhetoric. </span></p> <p class="Default">Another large EU country, Italy, might fall in the same trap in 2018, when elections will take place and neither a resurgent Berlusconi nor an unconvincing Renzi nor the Five Star Movement seem to be able to gain a stable majority. France’s Macron ‘experiment’, after a glittering start, <a href="https://qz.com/1159399/emmanuel-macrons-approval-ratings-show-unprecedented-rise-in-popularity-in-france/">has been challenged by low approval ratings</a>. Britain is embattled in Brexit limbo and might soon go for elections, too. Spain has had minority governments for about two years, and has handled the Catalan issue as a kind of lose-lose game. The EU itself has assigned two crucial Authorities (on banking and medicine) by lottery, as if they were the objects of football competition drawings. Who is ready to take responsibility for their choices? </p> <p class="Default">Last but certainly not least we cannot forget that the European Central Bank is holding Europe together with its Quantitative Easing policy. What will happen after&nbsp; the end of Mario Draghi’s mandate? The ‘old continent’’s 2018 promises to be highly challenging. </p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? United States EU Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics Equality International politics Giovanni Biava Ernesto Gallo Wed, 20 Dec 2017 10:02:56 +0000 Ernesto Gallo and Giovanni Biava 115409 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Consumer is King? Of class actions and who matters in EU law https://www.opendemocracy.net/openjustice/christopher-patz/consumer-is-king-of-class-actions-and-who-matters-in-eu-law <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The European Commission proposes that consumers should be able to take class actions in future, in the wake of the VW Dieselgate scandal. But it has forgotten other victims of corporate harm.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/11477716354_85a9169b8e_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/11477716354_85a9169b8e_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/104013316@N06/11477716354/in/photolist-iufich-bBut1F-c1dJRQ-osJE6J-esvM2E-gq7GiJ-Y6foav-Y6foC4-9jKRgG-9jKRgY-iu2biA-5vX7Wp-9hSHPx-rdDms2-9jKRgS-21Vxj16-eqWaED-o8noMp-srMAfF-21inGyZ-erSukq-du2X44-hYZapN-nYiGH5-7k6jnW-mEkRU7-T7iLbT-gq835j-5P3mHt-ezZRC9-cJMRZ5-aoEU9G-5773fW-d2bapN-eR1AnH-5YYdFT-r7iT6A-pZeKbB-63c8i2-fNpx7D-eH8oyZ-YmK8Bu-8KLbKc-831gf1-r71Non-iu1MpY-dr11dT-dr1dv3-a5zuW2-qLvjE8">Keita Kuroki/Flickr</a>, Creative Commons license.<br /></em></p><p>A fire in a textile factory in Pakistan killed over 260 workers on 11 September 2012. The workers were producing directly for the German clothes retailer KiK! (“Kunde ist König!” or <em>Consumer is King!)</em> in a building without fire alarms, emergency exits, or fire extinguishers. Of the roughly four hundred relatives and injured survivors, only four were able to afford to bring<a href="https://www.ecchr.eu/en/our_work/business-and-human-rights/working-conditions-in-south-asia/pakistan-kik.html"> claims for compensation</a> against the clothes brand in Germany, financed by German NGOs. These four separate claims all argue the same thing: the brand broke its duty to ensure the factory had fire safety measures in place. In August 2016, <a href="http://www.sueddeutsche.de/wirtschaft/textilindustrie-kik-muss-wegen-brand-in-pakistanischer-fabrik-vor-gericht-1.3141509">German judges</a> accepted jurisdiction over the cases and granted the four individuals legal aid.</p> <p>Now, at the end of 2017, the roughly 400 remaining survivors and relatives are time-barred from bringing more cases, as they were unable to raise the necessary funds in time. </p> <p>Collective redress (also known as “class action”) is a procedure allowing many individuals to bring their judicial claims together in a single proceeding against a common defendant. It economises the proceedings for claimants by enabling them to run the one same case for many, at roughly the same financial cost and risk. It economises the functioning of the judiciary, as numerous identical claims are dealt with together, thereby saving the courts time and resources.</p> <p>Had collective redress been available in Germany, all fire survivors and relatives of the deceased workers could have brought one combined claim against <em>Consumer is King!</em>. However it isn’t, and its availability across EU Member States is a disharmonised patchwork. The <em>Consumer is King!</em> case is just one current example from an EU Member State where the lack of collective address has resulted in the denial of access to justice for hundreds of people having suffered grievous harm.</p><p>In October 2017 the European Commission announced plans for EU-wide legislation for collective redress. But unlike previous,<a href="http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A32013H0396"> non-binding efforts</a> from the Commission that applied to all victims of corporate harm, the current binding proposal is only for consumers. So if people who bought jeans from <em>Consumer is King!</em> somehow suffered harm as a result (say, the jeans didn’t perform the way they were advertised), they could join together and claim their rights against the company as the consumers of its products. But those who made the jeans, or any others suffering harm as a result of the company’s malpractice (hypothetically say, a factory waste spill, or discriminatory hiring practices), are not afforded the right. </p> <p>Whilst it is very clear the Commission’s proposal comes in response to the VW Dieselgate scandal (where consumers in the US were able to obtain <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-volkswagen-emissions/u-s-judge-approves-14-7-billion-deal-in-vw-diesel-scandal-idUSKCN12P22F">billions</a> in compensation, whilst those in the EU struggle to obtain anything), it is far from clear why others harmed by gross business misconduct are excluded from the proposal.</p> <p>One<a href="http://www.corporatejustice.org/documents/ahrri_report_final-2.pdf"> study</a> has found that over half of the companies listed on the UK FTSE 100, France’s CAC 40 and the German DAX 30 have been identified in allegations or concerns regarding adverse human rights impacts. Without question, not all these allegations or concerns would meet the requisite standard of proof required by a court in order to order compensation. Nonetheless the numbers are alarming, and testify to the reality that whilst globalisation has granted corporations much freedom of operation, rules for their accountability and the protection of the people they harm lag behind. </p> <p>Harm caused by large corporate entities seriously affects all manner of people. When a mine barrage breaks and 100,000 square meters of cyanide laced water spills into the Danube river system, huge numbers of people suffer as a result. In 2000, collective redress was not available for the Romanian and Hungarian victims of the worst<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2000_Baia_Mare_cyanide_spill"> environmental disaster</a> in Europe since Chernobyl. It isn’t today, and indeed it still wouldn’t be under the Commission’s current proposed legislation. </p> <p>Similar situations persist in cases of discrimination, labour abuse, violations of anti-trust law as well as data protection. The disharmonised patchwork of collective redress across the EU also has a negative impact on fair competition, as varied corporate exposure to deterrent (injunctive) and corrective (compensatory) action across Member States means some companies are more easily subjected to class-action litigation than others, depending on where they operate within the single market. This is creating an unfair playing field for companies. </p><p>Compared to consumer cases, the barriers to justice in corporate environmental harm and human rights cases are typically even more extreme. To begin with, such cases require masses of expert evidence, testimony, and studies in order to prove causation of harm; they involve prolonged legal fees, not to mention the intimidating prospect of financial ruin in the event of loss (the loser-pays principle standard to EU legal systems means a claimant must pay the defendant’s legal costs if the claimant loses). For a corporate defendant on the other hand, the decision to litigate is often hardly even a matter for consideration.<a href="https://blogs.worldbank.org/publicsphere/world-s-top-100-economies-31-countries-69-corporations"> 69 of the world’s 100</a> largest economies are corporations, not nation-states. Such a disempowering set of circumstances often leaves individuals with claims against large corporate entities with a convenient and oft-proclaimed right to access justice and remedy on paper, but not in practice.</p> <p>The worldwide deficit concerning access to remedy in cases of harm occasioned by corporations is real and significant. It has been acknowledged by the international community and is the subject of one of the tree pillars of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business &amp; Human Rights (UNGPs), a breakthrough, yet non-binding international instrument agreed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 and endorsed by all major European countries as well as the EU itself. The UNGPs confirm that States have a duty to ensure the effective functioning of their judicial systems for victims of business harm. This means addressing the clear and blatant power imbalances between individual claimants and large, well-resourced corporations.</p> <p>Allowing individual claimants the right to bring their cases together is a concrete and effective way to fulfil this state duty, and gives tangible practical effect to the right to effective remedy for victims.&nbsp;<span>Indeed, it is a plea being made by international and European human rights bodies and public agencies including the </span><span><a href="https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?p=&amp;Ref=CM/Rec(2016)3&amp;Language=lanEnglish&amp;Ver=original&amp;BackColorInternet=DBDCF2&amp;BackColorIntranet=FDC864&amp;BackColorLogged=FDC864&amp;direct=true"><span>Council of Europe</span></a><span>, the </span><a href="http://fra.europa.eu/en/opinion/2017/business-human-rights"><span>EU Fundamental Rights Agency</span></a><span>, the </span><a href="http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv%3AOJ.C_.2014.170.01.0068.01.ENG">European Economic and Social Committee</a><span> as well as a diverse cross-section of civil society and various MEPs.</span></span></p><p><span><span></span></span>By crowning the consumer king, the EU commission ignores the legitimate right to remedy for all other people suffering serious harm occasioned by irresponsible corporate conduct. Europe can still seize the opportunity to make equal the right to effective remedy for all those harmed by business malpractice.&nbsp;</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="/uk/christine-berry/next-vw-scandal">The next VW scandal</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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> openJustice Can Europe make it? uk openJustice Christopher Patz Wed, 20 Dec 2017 06:00:04 +0000 Christopher Patz 115394 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Catalonia and the theatres of recognition https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/kalypso-nicola-dis/catalonia-and-theaters-of-recognition <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Isn’t it the case that fellow Europeans not only have the right to comment on the affairs of their neighbours but that doing so is a political virtue which ought to be cultivated?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34196200.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34196200.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Catalan Popular Party candidate for the upcoming Catalan regional election Xavier Garcia Albiol and Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy in a campaign meeting in Salou, Spain on December 17, 2017. NurPhoto/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>It seems as though in the ongoing Spanish debate over the Catalonian question, one must start by stating where one speaks from. So here it is. As a Greek and French citizen married to a Brit living in Brexitland, whose Franco-German mother survived the last European civil war by denying both her nationalities, whose father’s parents lost everything as 1922 refugees from Asia Minor, I do not belong nowhere but in many somewheres. </p> <p>While I hate all nationalisms, I do like the sense of anchoring that comes with national belonging – and feel extremely lucky to have so many such anchors. To be absolutely clear: my instinct is strongly <em>against</em> Catalonian independence. But I am also wary of passing judgment on the merit of the case from far away. Indeed, I try to be especially attuned these days to the dangers of denying the complexity and mysteries of politics of which we are not familiar, having just co-authored a book delving into the many ways in which Germans and Greeks reveled for many years in a long-distance ping-pong of simplistic caricatures of each other.<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> </p> <p>And yet I have been saddened over the last few weeks by the implicit and explicit outrage coming from various quarters in Spain that make it offensive to express an opinion on the Catalonian question from abroad. Many Spaniards, including friends of mine, project a palpable sense that outsiders are suspicious <em>a priori</em>, at best ignorant of the facts or at worse downright condescending, teaching Spaniards about their own history or politics.<em> </em></p> <p>Sure, it happens. But do I have to exhume my Spanish great-grand mother, to obtain a <em>droit de parole?&nbsp; </em>Isn’t it the case instead that fellow Europeans not only have the right to comment on the affairs of their neighbours but that doing so is a political virtue which ought to be cultivated? Indeed, and as long as we are not condescending, we must be <em>more</em> not <em>less</em> interested in each other’s affairs. The European project will not be built through wishing into existence a single European demos involved in a single European public sphere. Instead it will be deepened through the mutual recognition of its many different demoi, whether these hail from nations, regions or cities. Multiple demoi who, in an ideal world, know each other’s politics almost as well as their own.</p> <p>Spaniards do understand that foreigners’ opinions matter at least for instrumental reasons: in order to succeed in secession, a local population needs to convince not only a majority in their midst as well as the public of the mother state, but also the ‘outside world’ which would ultimately need to recognise the new entity.&nbsp;But beyond this instrumental reason, should they not ask: hum, what can I learn from a conversation with this international audience? Can their viewpoint challenge my own in any useful ways? Am I not risking groupthink if I only want to hear what my compatriots have to say? And how would I feel if I was asked to keep out of neighbouring countries’ affairs?</p> <p>It is not such a spirit which I experienced in the saga surrounding the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/barbara-spinelli-et-al/upholding-rule-of-law-in-european-union"><em>Open Letter on the Rule of Law in the European Union</em></a> that was submitted to Mr Tusk and Mr Juncker on 3 November. As a signatory, I had joined hundreds of public intellectuals and politicians from around Europe who endorsed the letter, driven by a shared concern about the actions that the current Spanish government undertook in handling the 1 October referendum in Catalonia. As someone truly uncomfortable with the antics of the Catalonian independentists, I had been reassured that this was the sole focus of our letter. The point was not to write a balanced summary of what is happening in Catalonia – countless Spanish commentators and Spanish friends have done this brilliantly. </p> <p>Indeed, as we saw it, the Spanish government’s failure to respect rules of decent democratic governance in some way helps create the conditions of possibility of Catalonian independence. Clearly we were not condoning the actions of the Catalan leadership. I believed and I still believe that the independentists were wrong to call an illegal referendum and refuse to establish a minimum threshold for a secession vote to be valid, and wrong to proclaim independence on the basis of a defective referendum. Undoubtedly, these are instances of abuse of power at the regional level. Clearly, I could not be happy with actions that ignore the deep divisions within Catalan society, that ignore that to this day a majority of Catalans poll against independence, a majority that fails to be reflected in the parliament because of the over-representation of rural areas. Clearly, I hate the instances of loathsome ostracizing of children of unionist families in schools, or the way pro-union Catalans are often treated by self ascribed “true Catalans” as “enemies of the Catalan people” (we are familiar with the phrase here in the UK). In fact, I passionately believe that oppressive expressions of nationalism must be condemned wherever they occur. But this was not the object of our letter.</p> <p>Message sent is not message received. I have never been so attacked for being stupid or naïve or both. Don’t you understand that the Spanish government has simply applied “the rule of law”? Don’t you know that our Constitution does not allow what they are doing? That Rajoy has the law on his side? How can you be so gullible as to believe all their fake news! When, in a collective response (incidentally not to our final text) hundreds of Spanish public lawyers rebutted our letter, not on its substance but on our incapacity to grasp “facts”, I was not surprised that their letter had only allowed for Spanish signatories, clearly the only ones accredited to speak on the matter.</p> <p>All people or nations crave for recognition of self-worth and recognition starts with focusing on you rather than me. As I tried to give my questioners the benefit of the doubt that they had not given me, and as I witnessed the fate of others in and out of Spain who dare to be critical and who were punished for it, it occurred to me that three theatres of mutual recognition and its denial mirror each other in this story: between Spaniards and their foreign observers, between Catalonians (from both sides) and their Spanish compatriots, and of course between two or more sides in Catalonia itself. </p> <p>Denials of recognition in each of these theatres feed on and reinforce each other, creating a downward spiral towards an abyss of mutual acrimony. And conversely, each effort at recognizing the other as warranting respect by putting oneself in their shoes even as we disagree, reinforces the same empathetic attitude in the other theatres. If we agree that political games can bring out the worse side of human nature, empathy is the ultimate antidote, the secret to creating an upward spiral where the impulse for separation is most likely to lose its ground.</p> <p>What are the critics of the Spanish government on “Rule of Law “ grounds trying to say? That this story is not just about Spain but about a century long conversation across Europe about the true spirit of the Rule of Law. The Rule of Law is not about simply applying “the law on the books”. This is <em>our </em>conversation too! And in that conversation I am more than happy to agree to disagree, as long as we have listened to each other first. Some of us believe that the elusive idea of the Rule of Law was refined over centuries above all to mitigate power asymmetry and guard against the arbitrary exercise of power by rulers. According to the most basic liberal philosophy, the Rule of Law is about the behaviour of the most powerful (e.g. States). So it is in regard to their action that we need to be the most vigilant if we want our criticism to bite regarding the legality of actors like Catalonia’s independentists. If States enjoy a monopoly of the legitimate use of force, such a privilege needs to be handled with great care anywhere in the world. </p> <p>Sure, everyone must respect the law, and the independentists have not. I am happy to condemn their actions over and over again. But our vigilance must start with the State itself, which must be held to higher standards, not only in the use of force (my Spanish friends love to point out that all governments beat up demonstrators) but when it comes to other repressive behaviors too. Simple unreflexive “legalism” is not enough for anyone alive to European history, especially in the XXth century, or for anyone who listens to autocrats expounding on the rule of law – the likes of Xi or Orban have nothing to do with Spain, don’t get me wrong; but the point here is that appealing to the “law” is a widespread trick which does not automatically imply its benign interpretation. </p> <p>Instead, a government must use the law to create spaces for the full expression of all opinions to guarantee what philosophers like Hannah Arendt, Etienne Balibar, Albena Azmanova and others conceived as a “right to politics” for all, a right to be recognised as someone that matters by that political community, the right to a voice, not just a vote. In such spaces, consent emerges as an active practice, not a simple product of the force of law. </p> <p>No doubt that such a right to politics has been at the heart of Spanish democracy for many decades. But are we, outsiders, not allowed to translate our concerns about these bigger questions into a conversation with Spanish friends without giving rise to opprobrium? </p> <h2><strong>The conversation</strong></h2> <p>So for the sake of a constructive dialogue and in order to strengthen a European public space which thrives on diversity and exchanges, let us discuss some of the many questions raised by Catalonia from the viewpoint of outsiders. &nbsp;</p> <p>–&nbsp;&nbsp; Is it the function of the intelligentsia to mobilise in order to defend the ‘honour of the nation'? What if we favor instead a more conversational and tolerant patriotism?</p> <p>–&nbsp; Should the Rule of Law be reduced to Rule-by-Law to become a magic rhetorical wand against outside critics? </p> <p>–&nbsp; Can the crisis in Catalonia be solved by arguing that the illegal acts of one side (Catalan nationalists) justify the legal but illegitimate acts of the other side (the Spanish state)? Should we not always ask how the way our State enforces the law generates consent or erodes it?</p> <p>–&nbsp; Is it good enough to claim, as the Spanish government does, that its actions are justified because they are backed by the verdict of judges? </p> <p>–&nbsp;&nbsp; Is it enough simply to appeal to Spain’s Constitution when observers point out that the Catalans were not given the option of a legal (consultative non binding) consultation, in contrast with the Scots or Quebecois? There are revolutions and liberation movements in history (eg Gandhi…) that we like and others we dislike – but do we discuss them only on the grounds of legality? If political dissent (specifically as an aspiration to a vote on independence) cannot express itself legally, should we be surprised, even if we disapprove, that it will look for other ways? </p> <p>–&nbsp; How can this ubiquitous appeal to the Constitution avoid sounding like a mantra to outsiders – at least when it is said without of a counterbalancing ethos of dialogue and respect? </p> <p>–&nbsp;&nbsp; In the end, should we not be worried that while the mainstream Spanish parties may be right legally, the language they sometimes use can unleash ever more intolerant views towards the “Catalans”, views that they may not be able to control in the end? </p> <p>If we condemn all nationalisms we must be consistent and advocate an open conception of democracy and the kind of understanding of the Rule of Law that goes along with it. The point of the conversation is not to agree on whether Catalonia has a “just cause” for seceding, given its growing dissatisfaction with the central government. Nor is it to agree on what the right boundaries for a democratic vote ought to be, Catalonia or Spain. These are proper questions that Spain is passionately debating. The point of the conversation is the conversation itself. </p> <p>The EU, so dear to the Spanish people, is a reconciliation project. And if it is functioning at all, it ought to help each of its member states invent and reinvent every day its own national reconciliation project (god knows that almost all our countries are all messed up on that count!). There is no doubt that the concern with accountable rule is shared broadly in Spain and that even if a great majority of Spanish citizens are against Catalan independence, they also agree on the importance of mobilising collectively in defence of democracy and basic rights for everyone in Spain. &nbsp;</p> <p>Let us hope that the elections of 21 December will not further polarize the debate but instead help heal the divisions that are now ailing Spanish society.&nbsp;A wide alliance of forces can take shape in Spain against the abuse of power wherever it comes from, the national state or the region. There is a plethora of work and proposals for a constructive way out of this crisis, a crisis which cannot be solved simply by new elections. It will be a great pity if such a rare historical opportunity for mutual recognition in action goes to waste.&nbsp; </p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> Claudia Sternberg, Kira Gartzou-Katsouyanni, Kalypso Nicolaidis, The Greco-German Affair in the Euro Crisis: Mutual Recognition Lost? Palgrave, 2017</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/barbara-spinelli-et-al/upholding-rule-of-law-in-european-union">Upholding the Rule of Law in the European Union</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/albena-azmanova-barbara-spinelli-co-signatories/la-defensa-de-lestat-de-dret-la-uni-europea">La defensa de l&#039;estat de dret a la Unió Europea</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/albena-azmanova-barbara-spinelli-co-signatories/la-defensa-del-estado-de-derecho-">La defensa del estado de derecho en la Unión Europea</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"> Spain </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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Spain Catalonia Kalypso Nicolaïdis Tue, 19 Dec 2017 09:00:31 +0000 Kalypso Nicolaïdis 115387 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Is DiEM25 still a vehicle for change? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/rahel-sophia-s/is-diem25-still-vehicle-for-change <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>DiEM25 members’ vote for the first transnational political party in Europe is a vote for more leadership. But the new strategic horizon is experimental and circular.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/6029785539_ddb9475319_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/6029785539_ddb9475319_z.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Spiral. Wikicommons/fdecomite. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>With DiEM25´s vote to establish the first European transnational political party on November 8, the movement takes its strategy to the next step: pushing forward its European New Deal<span> <a href="https://diem25.org/end/">programme</a> </span>by contesting the European elections in 2019.</p> <p>The decision to establish a political party raises a number of important questions: Can electoral politics be a meaningful instrument to achieve a more radical and democratic Europe? How to balance the power between the political movement and the party in order for DiEM25 to remain capable of change? How, while restricting political leadership to local and short-term tactics, can the movement remain open to ideas and capable of continuously adjusting to new circumstances and experiences? </p> <h2>Can electoral politics be a meaningful instrument?&nbsp; </h2><p>DiEM25´s political programme can be briefly summarized as follows: democratic alternatives are possible and they are necessary. This does not, however, tell us much about the movement´s capacity to act. Although its call for a new democratic horizon is ubiquitous, aiming for radical democratic change is not enough. Whether DiEM25 can remain capable of change is linked to a more general debate: is electoral politics a meaningful instrument to fight for a more radical democratic European Union?</p> <p>Following on DiEM25´s proposal ‘<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/diem25/not-just-another-political-party">Not just another political party</a>’, electoral politics can become a crucial form of leadership within a movement. The question is not ‘if’ but ‘how’. DiEM25´s political party differs from other political parties in three ways. </p><p>Firstly, and to be precise, we have to speak of a transnational party list which consists of a transnational decision-making structure and considers cross-national candidacies. Secondly, DiEM25´s ‘electoral wing’ will take the form of a political party in each country that represents transnational, pan-European political movements in selected electoral contests. Thirdly, in order to ensure that the transnational party list and the various country-specific manifestos are in line with DiEM25’s principles and procedures, the electoral manifesto and charter of national parties will be debated and approved via all-member DiEM25 internal votes. All members decide independently whether they want to join the electoral wing or not. This principle seeks to protect the movement from the electoral wing.&nbsp; </p> <p>How to balance the power between the political movement and the party? Concerns that the electoral wing will turn the movement into an umbrella party have to be addressed. The decision for a transnational electoral wing as proposed by DiEM25´s Coordinating Collective was not without an alternative. In fact, five options were passionately discussed in the weeks before the vote. Members could choose between different proposals of transforming DiEM25 in a political party or the option of not establishing an electoral wing. </p> <p>With a voter´s turnout of 72.98%, DiEM25`s members voted with 62.55% for the proposal ‘<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/diem25/not-just-another-political-party">Not Just Another Political Party’</a>. Only full members were allowed to vote, namely those who joined DiEM25 before the vote was called, those who accessed their account in the last three months, and those who verified their identity. The second highest voted option (16.3%) was the proposal ‘Yes, but…’ which implies the same proposal as the first option "Not Just Another Political Party" but with seven amendments. In order to balance the power between the political movement and the party the amendments sought to secure the control of the electoral wing by the movement and to guarantee the flourishing of open ideas towards an open future. One concrete suggestion of the ‘Yes, but...’ option was for instance to re-examine the idea of a transnational political party after one year. </p> <h2>Can DiEM25 remain capable of change?</h2> <p>The challenge DiEM25 faces as a transnational political movement and party is to remain capable of change. Precisely because political strategies are multifaceted, never fully predictable, and there is always more than one good solution, the experimental character of democracy has to be taken into account.&nbsp; </p> <p>Against a notion of democracy as a form of government and contesting political parties, what we need is a notion of democracy which identifies social relations, everyday praxis and democratic experiences as a characteristic core of democracy. </p> <p>In concrete terms, DiEM25 can remain capable of change by implementing experimental strategies which aim at the hypothetical testing of different options. This implies a) maintaining a relevant anchorage in the everyday practices of its members and b) continuously testing and modifying its principles, procedures, policies and timeline by critically reflecting on its practical consequences for the improvement of democratic experiences within the movement and the political party.</p> <h2>The new strategic horizon is experimental and circular </h2> <p>After the vertical and horizontal strategies of the twentieth century, Alessio Kolioulis and I argued that the new strategic horizon for political movements is experimental and <a href="https://engagee.tumblr.com/post/166463225265/assembly">circular</a>. As Hardt and Negri suggest in their new book ‘Assembly’, tactical leadership should be limited to short-term action and tied to specific occasions, whereas the movement itself is responsible for the strategy (Hardt and Negri speak of the strategic multitude). </p> <p>DiEM25´s vote for a transnational political party is a vote for more leadership. The future will demonstrate how capable DiEM25 will be to restrict leadership to a tactical role, or what has been referred to as 'a tool'. The chances of such an approach are promising: protecting the movement and at the same time fostering lasting structures by guaranteeing long term claims AND democratic decisions.</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/diem25/not-just-another-political-party">Not just another political party </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/shawn-buckles/diem25-historic-moment-for-international-progressive-movement">DiEM25: A historic moment for the international progressive movement?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/on-diem25-s-electoral-wing-reply-from-cc-member-to-thoughts-on-historic-moment">On DiEM25’s electoral wing: reply from a CC member to thoughts on ‘a historic moment’</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Rahel Sophia Süß DiEM25 Mon, 18 Dec 2017 13:42:02 +0000 Rahel Sophia Süß 115375 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Catalonia’s December 21 elections https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/patrice-de-beer/catalonia-s-december-21-elections <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>It is time for the Spanish establishment to realise that their country, like any other democracy, can’t be maintained harmoniously only by threatening the use of force and prison sentences.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34067548.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34067548.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>An election campaign poster ahead of December 21 Catalan regional vote. NurPhoto/Press Assoiation. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The Spanish central government has called for new elections in Catalonia this coming Thursday, December 21, with the official aim of re-establishing stability and the rule of law after a protracted crisis which peaked with the outlawed referendum on independence organised by the regional Catalan «&nbsp;government&nbsp;» last October 1. </p> <p>Despite the – sometimes brutal – police intervention, voting was held almost throughout Catalonia, giving 90% votes in favour of independence. But with an abstention rate reaching 58%, mostly from anti-independence voters. Madrid at once declared the voting void, imposed a state of emergency based on article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, disbanded the elected autonomous government, put it under the control of the Spanish authorities, and sent to jail almost all the ministers they managed to grab – the head of government, «&nbsp;President&nbsp;» Carles Puigdemont, and four others ministers having fled to Brussels to avoid detention – as well as the leaders of the two main Catalanist popular movements.</p> <p>We have all been following live this crisis that hardly any European – Catalans and Spanish excepted – had heard or bothered about before. Two political visions facing off at each other, the rule of law and order, period, vs. the right of peoples to decide on their own fate; the legitimacy of a five-centuries old centralised monarchy vs. the cry for independence from a people tracing its history since Charlemagne, proud of its traditions, culture and language suppressed by the Bourbon kings in the eighteenth century and by the Franco dictatorship in 1939 and which has elected autonomist, then independentist governments almost since Spain’s return to democracy in 1978.</p> <h2><strong>A difficult choice</strong></h2> <p>It is difficult to choose between these two logics. The European Union as a whole has sided with Madrid, logically, as Spain is a member of the club. But also nowhere in Europe has a democratic government let an internal crisis brew to the same point as in Spain without bothering to find a prior solution or way out. </p> <p>Worse, the conservative central government of the Popular Party (PP), led by Manuel Rajoy, seem to have done its utmost to fan the flames of independentism in Catalonia. In the UK, David Cameron’s government granted a referendum on independence to the Scottish nationalists, and won; the same had happened before in Canada with Québec. And in France, Corsican nationalists – a large part of whom had openly advocated independence and had connections with terrorism – are in charge of a region which has been granted far more power than any other French region.</p> <p>History, and even journalism, are not – nor should they be – informed by an immediate emotional reaction to events coming out of nowhere because we had not paid enough long term attention to a crisis brewing up in front of us. As for Catalonia, it has long been run by bourgeois, and often parochial, nationalists, who in the 1990s, supported a Madrid conservative government whose same conservative views on economy and society they shared, in a country where the weight of institutional Roman Catholicism still prevails. And, being moderates and not firebrands – unlike the Basque ETA – they have historically been in favour of some kind of pactism with the central government to strengthen their autonomy, restored by the 1978 Constitution.</p> <p>Thus they negotiated with the Zapatero Socialist government a new status, or Estatut, which gave them more power and the right to call themselves a nation within Spain. It was approved in 2006 by a referendum for Catalans as well as by the Spanish Parliament. The PP immediately took this decision to the Constitutional court which took four years to cancel the crucial points of the Estatut. One year later, the PP was returned to power under Mr. Rajoy. </p> <p>Since then they have rejected any renegotiations with Barcelona. This inflexible policy, joined with Spanish nationalist posturing by some Madrid politicians, and media, including sadly, the prestigious daily El Pais, as well as the derogatory terms sometimes used against Catalans, portrayed as egoists, traitors, if not Nazis, fanned the embers of Catalan nationalism, thus driving the, till then, marginal independence movement to an – albeit small – majority in Parliament.</p> <p>This movement has been carried forward by its own success. And politicians being as they are, i.e. not better or worse, no more or less corrupt than many other Spanish politicians, a country well know for its corrupt practices, the two major parties – moderate PDeCat (Democratic and European Party of Catalonia) of Mr Puigdemont and leftish ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia) – more provincial, less well travelled, were afraid of being outbid by the other if not by their own electorate. They also had to rely on the extreme left CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy) to retain a working majority in Parliament.</p> <p>Thus propelled by their own hopes, they did not register two major factors. On the domestic front – including among the large minority of Catalans who have originated in other parts of Spain, but not all, many having fully integrated into Catalan nationalist society – this rebirth of Catalan irredentism has been instrumental in boosting a renewed Spanish, or more precisely Castillian nationalism. A feeling widely used by Spanish politicians, right and left, to invoke their own political aims, as it was deployed to deal with the Basques during the dark years of ETA terrorism. This has been too much underestimated by independentists.</p> <p>It has also emboldened the most reactionary fringe of Spanish society, where Mr Rajoy appears a relatively moderate. Some PP leaders have called for article 155 to be imposed if need be in other autonomous regions like the Basque Country, but also on some run by the left, like Castilla La Mancha or Andalusia. And the new conservative party Ciudadanus (Citizens) is now outplaying Rajoy on his own right and threatening PP’s pre-eminence, asking for a dismantling of some of Catalonia’s rights, including those on the use of the Catalan language.</p> <p>But also what Catalan leaders did not realise, contrary to their own dreams, was that European public opinion does not have great sympathy for those portrayed as «&nbsp;separatists&nbsp;» – even if this has somewhat changed after the last referendum, and the harsh repression which has followed, increasing sympathy for them. Moreover, they did not understand that there was no way any European government would go against another one, but would stick to European solidarity, by hook or by crook, either just out of sympathy or because they face problems of the same kind at home.</p> <h2><strong>Defusing crisis</strong></h2> <p>Nevertheless, politics is not only the art of playing one off against the other. It is primarily the art of defusing crisis, and of soothing hard feelings. And especially with a Catalan society now divided into two almost equal parts. </p> <p>Opinion polls show that no one can achieve a clearcut victory on Dec 21. One or two seats more for the pro or against independence, depending on the day the polls were made, and an absolute majority unpredictable, if any. Which could give a key role to the Podemos affiliate, Catalunya en Comu (Catalonia Together), equally split on independence.</p> <p>Rather than appeasing passions, Madrid has chosen the hard way: suspending Catalonia’s autonomy for the first time since democracy was re-established; refusing even to consider discussing any changes in Spanish-Catalan relations; sending, handcuffed like criminals, independentist leaders to jail, threatening them with 10 to 50 years of imprisonment for rebellion, sedition or prevarication – some offences not even listed in European penal codes. </p> <p>To give an example, the master-mind of the murder in cold blood, by an Islamist terrorist, of 3 Jewish pupils, one teacher and three soldiers in France in 2012 was sentenced earlier this year to «&nbsp;only&nbsp;» 20 years in jail. And when anti-independentist Catalan Socialist leader Miquel Iceta asked for the release of prisoners in order to calm down the situation and avoid raising even more independentist feelings, his party colleague, ex-president of the European Parliament Josep Borrell, replied that, before soothing, we have to «&nbsp;disinfect&nbsp;». Meanwhile Defence Minister Maria Dolores de Cospedal has told the military that their role was «&nbsp;to be prepared against any attack on democracy&nbsp;».</p> <h2><strong>Threats don’t help</strong></h2> <p>Whatever the outcome of Thursday’s vote, Catalonia will remain divided. Yet all Catalans will have to live, work, and eventually govern together. If independentists carry the day, they will have to extend a friendlier hand towards those their politics has estranged. And they have already been warned by Madrid that, if they were to talk again of independence, article 155 would be imposed once again, with all its dire consequences. </p> <p>But if a shaky anti-independence coalition between Socialists, PP and Ciudadanus win, they too will have to reassure nationalists that they won’t become second class citizens in their own land, and their land within Spain. The preemptive threats coming from Madrid won't help. </p> <p>It is time for the Spanish establishment to realise that their country, like any other democracy, can’t be maintained harmoniously only with a threat of the use of force and prison sentences. They will have to convince the several millions of Catalan independentists that Spain could once again be a welcoming place for them. Not an easy task. But this will be a prerequisite if Spain is to regain stability, political as well as social and economic, and remain a major power within Europe.&nbsp;</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="/patrice-de-beer/catalonia-revisited-farewell-to-great-expectations">Catalonia revisited: farewell to great expectations?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/patrice-de-beer/catalonia-vs-spain-clash-of-two-nationalisms">Catalonia vs Spain, a clash of two nationalisms</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"> Spain </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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Spain Catalonia Patrice de Beer Sat, 16 Dec 2017 17:53:45 +0000 Patrice de Beer 115361 at https://www.opendemocracy.net John Mills, chair of Labour Leave, explains his hopes for Brexit https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/looking-at-lexit/opendemocracy-john-mills/john-mills-chair-of-labour-leave-explains-his-hopes-for- <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>John Mills, entrepreneur, economist, and Labour donor, defied the party leadership and campaigned for Britain to leave the EU. We ask the chair of Labour Leave what he wants from Brexit.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-22268525.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-22268525.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="324" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>John Mills campaigning in the run-up to the referendum. Paimages/Jonathan Brady. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><em>The CEO of successful retail business JML, which makes consumer products for UK and worldwide markets, is a veteran Labour donor<strong>. </strong>As a longstanding Eurosceptic, however, he defied the party leadership to campaign for, and fund, the Leave campaign. Eighteen months on, we asked John Mills about what he wants from Brexit.</em></p> <p><strong>Looking at Lexit: First, then: why did you do it?</strong></p> <p><strong>John Mills:</strong> I have never been violently against the EU, but I campaigned for Leave rather than Remain because, on balance, I thought that in the long-term the UK would be better off outside the EU than as a member of it.</p> <p><strong>LaL:</strong> <strong>You’re a businessman, and an economist: most of your peers thought the opposite. Why were they wrong, do you think?</strong></p> <p><strong>JM:</strong> I think their models were largely wrong. Most economists endorsed the views put forward by the Treasury, the Bank of England, the OECD and the IMF that the UK economy would tank if the referendum vote resulted in a Leave outcome. When this materialised, the anticipated downturn did not happen.</p> <p><strong>LaL:</strong> <strong>You’re also a loyal Labour donor. When you left the official Vote Leave campaign to chair Labour Leave, you said there needed to be “a distinctive voice” making the Labour case for Brexit. In the cacophony of the Brexit debate, do you think this voice was heard?</strong></p> <p><strong>JM:</strong> I think it was. There is considerable evidence that during the two months running up to the referendum, when Labour Leave was active, about 10% of the 9.3m people who voted Labour in 2015 switched from Remain to Leave when voting in the June 2016 referendum.</p> <p><strong>LaL: Some Leave voters define themselves as “lexiters”; they regard the EU as a malign institution, whose consumer and workplace regulations merely mask the lubrication of the wheels of capital. Do you see the EU as an obstacle to the pursuit of a more responsible capitalism?</strong></p> <p><strong>JM:</strong> Broadly speaking, I don’t. However, I am not sure how much sense some of the four freedoms make, especially unrestricted migration across a very steep economic gradient between eastern and western Europe.</p> <p><strong>LaL: What positive outcomes of Brexit have you seen so far?</strong></p> <p><strong>JM:</strong> I think the main one has been <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/59f58aa8-7cea-11e7-9108-edda0bcbc928">some resurgence</a> of manufacturing industry as a result of the depreciation of sterling triggered by the EU referendum result.</p> <p><strong>LaL: You have long been a strong advocate for a large devaluation as a way of fixing the UK's economy. In broad-brush terms, your view is that we will get good jobs in industrial heartlands and productivity growth if we rebalance towards manufacturing, and that a devaluation of sterling is needed to do this. Do you think of your Leave and Devaluation campaigns as being linked?</strong></p> <p><strong>JM:</strong> Essentially, there are two separate issues here – rebalancing the UK economy seems to me to be pretty urgently required whether or not Brexit was taking place. The two issues do merge together though in that the prospect of Brexit&nbsp;brought sterling down, following the EU referendum, from around $1.45 to $1.25, although it is now back to around $1.35, and if there is a hard Brexit I have little doubt that it will fall again.</p> <p><strong>LaL: You think that we will “better-off” outside the EU. Other than devaluation, are there other long-term economic benefits of Brexit?</strong></p> <p><strong>JM:</strong> In my view, whether we are in or out of the EU won’t make nearly as much difference to the future of the UK economy as the choices we make on domestic economic policy – and what happens in the rest of the world. There will eventually be some gain to the UK economy from paying less into the EU budgets and perhaps from the UK having more free trade agreements, although these are two-edged swords. We won’t gain from mutual tariff reductions unless we are competitive enough to hold our own.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-33847573.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-33847573.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Since the referendum, some UK exports, including cars, have done well. Others have struggled. PAimages/Anna Gowthorpe. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><strong>LaL: How might a Labour-led Brexit differ from a Tory-led Brexit? And with the Tories likely to remain power until 2019, what role do you see for Labour in influencing the negotiations?&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>JM:</strong> I think there is some danger that a Labour Brexit would be more expensive than a Conservative one as a result of Labour being exceptionally unwilling to contemplate trading with the EU on WTO terms, thus significantly weakening the UK’s bargaining position. Because of the narrow and relatively unstable government majority since the 2017 election, Labour may even weaken this bargaining position from the opposition benches.</p> <p><strong>LaL: So you see WTO terms as an option, at least for bargaining purposes. But what would be your preferred outcome for the UK? Single Market, EEA or EFTA status? Or something else?</strong></p> <p><strong>JM:</strong> I think the best outcome would be for the UK to be out of the Single Market, the European Economic Area and the Customs Union but with a comprehensive Free Trade Deal in place between the UK and the EU27.</p> <p><strong>LaL: A trade relationship that <a href="https://iea.org.uk/publications/is-sterling-devaluation-the-path-to-prosperity/">you have argued</a> is currently very bad for the UK economy. You are worried that we are living off either borrowing from abroad or selling "family silver" to pay for our imports.</strong></p> <p><strong>JM:</strong> Yes, I am.</p> <p><strong>LaL:</strong> <strong>You point out that our biggest trade deficit is with the EU.</strong></p> <p><strong>JM:</strong> Almost all of it.</p> <p><strong>LaL:</strong> <strong>You also argue that the main tool for tackling this problem should be the exchange rate. But what about import tariffs? In a Labour Brexit future, might such tariffs, above single market levels but below WTO standards, be used to boost domestic production?&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>JM:</strong> As a very general rule, I think that devaluation is a much better solution than tariffs or quotas. Tariffs and quotas do nothing to make exports more competitive – indeed the reverse if they make inputs more expensive, thus making much more difficult for them to satisfy the Marshall-Lerner condition for improving net trade. They involve collection expenses and market distortion – and once they get above a fairly low level they encourage evasion. For all these reasons I think we should avoid this kind of protectionism like the plague.</p> <p><strong>LaL: You’re against protectionism, then?</strong></p> <p><strong>JM:</strong> Yes - and that’s one of the reasons I’m eurosceptic. I think the EU is a protectionist and over-regulated organisation and that much damage has been done to the world economy by the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy.*</p> <p><strong>LaL: Do you have misgivings, then, about Corbyn’s industrial strategy? Since the summer, Corbyn has repeatedly proposed “a Brexit that <em>uses powers returned from Brussels</em> to support a new industrial strategy [and] upgrade our economy in every region and nation.”</strong></p> <p><strong>JM:</strong> I have always had serious reservations as to whether policies like this deliver the hoped-for results.</p> <p><strong>LaL: Why?</strong></p> <p><strong>JM:</strong> I don’t think that either the interventionist industrial strategies favoured by the left, or the deregulation and more competition favoured by the right will do much good. On the contrary, I think we need to use market forces, targeted by the government, to make investment in manufacturing profitable again, to provide a foundation for the restructuring which I think the economy so badly needs.</p><p>----</p> <p>*We will be investigating the CAP and CFP as part of a later article in the <em>Looking at Lexit</em> series. If you’d like to contribute, please get in touch!</p> <p><em>This article is part of our&nbsp;</em><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/freeform-tags/looking-at-lexit">Looking at Lexit</a><em>&nbsp;series, examining the left case for exiting the EU.</em></p> <p><em>Disclaimer: John Mills sits on the openDemocracy board, and is donor to the website; however, he has had no involvement in the funding or commissioning of this series.</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/looking-at-lexit/christian-wolmar/lexit-on-rails">Lexit: on the rails</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/looking-at-lexit/julian-sayarer/is-lexit-centrist-fantasy">Is Lexit a centrist fantasy?</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"> UK </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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? uk UK Brexit2016 Looking at Lexit Looking at Lexit John Mills Sat, 16 Dec 2017 09:49:19 +0000 John Mills and Looking at Lexit 115320 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The good conscience of French intellectuals: the case of Thomas Guénolé and the French left of Jean-Luc Mélenchon. An open letter https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/alana-lentin-and-others/good-conscience-of-french-intellectuals-case-of-thomas-gu <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Our right to live freely in the Diaspora is under attack, from both Christian and Zionist supremacism.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 14.22.22_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 14.22.22_0.png" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="263" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot: Muslim slam poet, Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan reciting her poem, ‘This Is Not a Humanising Poem.’ YouTube.</span></span></span>Jews like us find ourselves in an interesting predicament these days. On the one hand, we fear the return of overt antisemitism, as witnessed in Charlottesville, Virginia, when a mob of white supremacists marched, torches blazing, chanting, ‘Jews will not replace us.’ On the other hand, the very thing that threatens our safety as Jews – the white Christian tradition of Jew hatred – is used against us when we argue that the colonial occupier, Israel does not represent us. </p> <p>Anti-Zionist Jews from France, where calling for boycott, divestment or sanctions against Israel has been made an offence, to the US, where our colleagues have been hounded out of universities for daring to speak about the crimes of Israeli colonialism, are under threat. The Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu dared to tell all Jews that he went to Paris after the Charlie Hebdo attack ‘as a representative of the entire Jewish people.’ Our right to live freely in the Diaspora is under attack, from both Christian and Zionist supremacism.&nbsp; </p> <p>There has always been a right and a wrong way to be a Jew in the Diaspora. The historian Enzo Traverso put it well when he wrote in 1996 that the ‘emancipation’ of the Jews of France was a ‘revolution from above.’ For those Orthodox Ashkenazi Jews, revolutionary emancipation did not equate with freedom. Forced to assimilate, the Jews were the objects not the subjects of their emancipation. </p> <p>Today, there is still a right and a wrong way to be a Jew and it is still dictated to us by the agents of white supremacy. Jews must side with the state, forget that antisemitism is foundational to the birth of European modernity, and identify it exclusively with Muslims and the Islamic world. But the only way to understand antisemitism is in terms of its place in the racial archipelago. How antisemitism relates to antiblackness, racial colonialism, and Islamophobia is integral to understanding both its ability to shapeshift over time and its cooptation by white elites in the furtherance of racial domination. &nbsp;<span class="mag-quote-center">How antisemitism relates to antiblackness, racial colonialism, and Islamophobia is integral to understanding both its ability to shapeshift over time and its cooptation by white elites in the furtherance of racial domination. </span></p> <p>These problems are not dissociable from the case of Thomas Guénolé, a member of la France Insoumise, the main left party of oppostion in France. Guénolé has accused Houria Bouteldja - member of the decolonial movement, the ‘Party of the Indigenous of the Republic’ (PIR) – of&nbsp; racism and antisemitism. For anyone who has read <a href="https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/whites-jews-and-us">Boutledja’s book</a>, ‘Whites, Jews and Us&nbsp;: Towards a Politics of Revolutionary Love’, published in English by <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Whites-Jews-Us-Semiotext-Intervention/dp/1635900034/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1513261140&amp;">Semiotexte(s)</a>, these are outrageous accusations. </p> <p>The case of Thomas Guénolé concerns us as antiracist and anticolonialist Jews because he represents a worrying tendency in leftist political thought, particularly in France. Guénolé’s self-righteous attitude reveals that the French public intellectual understands neither racism nor antisemitism. He is a hindrance to the aim of defining and struggling against antisemitism and to the broader antiracism to which we are committed. </p> <p>Guénolé chooses, like many other proponents of France’s imperious brand of ‘universalist antiracism’, to misread Houria Bouteldja’s book, <em>Les Blancs, les juifs et nous</em> and, in particular, to ignore her call for a ‘politics of revolutionary love’. This is because his interest in racism and antiracism appears to be merely academic. He seems to have the facts and figures at his fingertips but his lack of understanding, or willingness to know, what it <em>means</em> to be made abject is clear in his recourse to the discourse of inclusion as a panacea to discrimination, or what he calls in his Ted talk, ‘unfairness’. </p> <p>Boutledja’s book, like no other text, gets to the heart of the deep rupture between Jews and other racialized people created in the aftermath of the Shoah, and cemented with the birth of the Zionist state of Israel, to whiten the history of European Jew hatred. Why does the West insist on the Shoah as being the epitome of racist crimes, to the detriment of recognizing its placement within an ecology of racial colonialism with which it was consistent? While the crimes of colonialism could be externalized, due to both geography and to the non-human status accorded to those ‘nativised’ by the great ‘discoverers’, the Shoah happened on European home soil, to people with whom white Christians dined and danced, whose books they read and on whose couches they lay. </p> <p>Of course, the very discourse of European Jewry’s urbanity is one based on racialized divisiveness between East and West; secular and religious. It is the same logic that propels Thomas Guénolé to entreat French society to calm down in its attitude to young people in the French <em>banlieues</em>. In the well-established tradition of white sociology of ‘race relations’, that we can trace back to the Chicago School, Guénolé wants us to know that the grand majority of Muslims are ordinary people ‘just like us’ who just want to be given an equal chance in life. 85% of Muslim women, he tells us, in the aim of bringing comfort, do not wear the veil. We should all listen to rap because it is real poetry, of a piece with that of Rimbaud no less. </p> <p>Seeing as Guénolé is an admirer of the spoken word, we encourage him to listen to the words of Muslim slam poet, <a href="https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Muslim+slam+poet%2c+Suhaiymah+Manzoor-Khan&amp;view=detail&amp;mid=649D6D793FB706EACBF7649D6D793FB706EACBF7&amp;FORM=VIRE">Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan</a> in her poem, ‘This Is Not a Humanising Poem.’ A poem that would make people see that Muslims are people just like them, is not the poem she wants to write; it is ‘the poem I have been reduced to.’ Instead she beseeches,</p> <p>‘Love us when we’re lazy</p> <p>Love us when we’re poor…</p> <p>When we’re wretched</p> <p>Suicidal</p> <p>Naked and contributing nothing</p> <p>Love us then.’</p> <p>That is what a decolonial antiracist politics is about. It is about overturning centuries of injustice, not sitting on a moral high-ground that fails to take account of one’s own complicity in creating the hierarchies of being an antiracist of the right kind (universalist, secular, patriotic) and of the wrong kind (anti-colonial, desiring the abolition of whiteness). <span class="mag-quote-center">That is what a decolonial antiracist politics is about. It is about overturning centuries of injustice, not sitting on a moral high-ground that fails to take account of one’s own complicity in creating the hierarchies of being an antiracist of the right kind...</span></p> <p>Frantz Fanon, who Guénolé does not seem to think is important for his interpretation of racism, despite the growing resonance of the words he wrote now nearly seventy years ago, foretold the bankruptcy of the white antiracism that Thomas Guénolé represents. And just as Houria Boutledja is accused today, Fanon had his own detractor (disguised as friend) in the figure of Jean Paul Sartre. Sartre accused the advocates of négritude of ‘an antiracist racism’ thus gifting us with the fiction of ‘universal racism’, paving the way for the new cardinal sin: ‘anti-white racism.’</p> <p>It is quite breathtaking for us to see that, in the aim of defending us from the scourge of antisemitism, Guénolé, relies on the lie of ‘reverse racism’. There are two main forms of antisemitism today and they are becoming rapidly and frighteningly related to each other. The first is the Jew hatred of old, seen in the growing confidence of the extreme right in Europe, North America and Australia. The second is the antisemitism of Zionism which forces all Jews to identify with Israel. The complicity between these two anti-Semitic trends is based, firstly, on their common basis in Islamophobia and racism, (particularly today against refugees). The second is based on the common aim of both the Israeli state and of far-right extremists that all Jews leave the Diaspora to live on occupied Palestinian land. </p> <p>When Thomas Guénolé seeks to defend us by naming Houria Boutledja an anti-Semite and a racist he makes of us an enemy. Houria Bouteldja’s book is a lament for the lost past in common of Jews and Muslims in her native Algeria; it is a mourning for what could have been had French colonial rule not driven a decisive chasm between these two groups of natives in a strategy of divide and rule.</p> <p>Despite everything, there has always been a history of Jewish radical struggle, first against the effort to assimilate us by force, later against the effort to annihilate us, to banish us from the Diaspora and to force us to fight those with whom we are nevertheless identified. </p> <p>This letter is a call not only to Thomas Guénolé to say that you do not stand with us, but to other Jews: freedom does not come through either domination or cooptation. Only by standing with those whose sisterhood and brotherhood was stolen from us do we have a chance of survival. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="xmsonormal"><strong>Alana Lentin</strong> (Associate Professor, Western Sydney University), <strong>Haim Bresheeth</strong> (Professorial Research Fellow, SOAS, London), <strong>Ilan Pappe</strong> (Historian), <strong>Seth Linder</strong> (Writer, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland, Member of Jewish Voice for Just Peace Ireland), <strong>Adi Ophir&nbsp;</strong>(Professor Emeritus, Tel Aviv University, Visiting Professor, The Cogut Institute for the Humanities and the Program for Middle East Studies, Brown University), <strong>Sylvere Lotringer</strong> (Editor, Sémiotext(e)), <strong>Ella Shohat</strong> (Professor, New York University), <strong>Liliana Cordova-Kaczerginski</strong> (Co-founder of IJAN and daughter of a resistant poet from the ghetto of Vilnius), <strong>Dr. Laurence Davis</strong> (College Lecturer, Cork, Ireland), <strong>Hector Grad</strong> (Associated Professor in Social Anthropology, Autonomous University of Madrid), <strong>Dr Claudia Prestel</strong> (Associate Professor, UK), <strong>Dr Ronit Lentin</strong> (Retired Associate Professor of Sociology, Trinity College Dublin), <strong>Sarah Schulman</strong> (Distinguished Professor, City University of New York), <strong>Mireille Fanon Mendès-France</strong> (President of The Frantz Fanon Foundation), <strong>Joëlle Marelli</strong> (Former Head of Programme at the International College of Philosophy, Paris), <strong>Gil Anidjar</strong>&nbsp;(Professor, Department of Religion and Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia University), <strong>Ariella Azoulay</strong> (Professor of Modern Culture &amp; Media and Comparative Literature, Brown University), <strong>Michelle Sibony</strong> (Union Juive Française pour la Paix, France), <strong>Eric Hazan</strong> (Editor, France), <strong>Linda Cooper</strong>, Human Rights Activist, DocP-Diensten Onderzoek Centrum Palestina, Netherlands (Services &amp; Research Center for Palestine)</p> <p class="xmsonormal">&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> France </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU France Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics others Alana Lentin Thu, 14 Dec 2017 14:32:59 +0000 Alana Lentin and others 115319 at https://www.opendemocracy.net From #Resistance to #Reimagining governance: 6 shifts that can improve the way we solve public problems https://www.opendemocracy.net/stefaan-g-verhulst/from-resistance-to-reimagining-governance-6-shifts-that-can-improve-way-we-solve- <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>For change to be meaningful and positive, the question arises: What kind of government do we really want? One that moves us beyond <em>resistance,</em> to begin <em>rebuilding.</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/3@台大E論壇.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/3@台大E論壇.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>v-Taiwan in action.</span></span></span>We live in turbulent times. Around the world, old certainties are in flux, being jettisoned by voters and protestors for new, often radically different ideas and institutions. This upheaval is evident in specific political events – the Arab Spring, the election of Trump, Brexit – but also in a more general distrust of conventional wisdom, élite authority, and technocratic control. </em></p> <p><em>At the same time, trust in government worldwide is at an all-time low. According to a recent <a href="http://www.people-press.org/2017/05/03/public-trust-in-government-1958-2017/">Pew survey</a>, only 20% of Americans say they trust the government always or most of the time. Other surveys indicate that faith in democracy as a form of government has fallen to recent lows in many western nations, including in the United States and Europe. </em></p> <p><em>These are just some of the many indications of a general lack of faith and confidence in established institutions, including government, the media, science, and the financial sector. We are living, as an article in the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-era-of-disbelief/2017/02/26/e4fa3786-faac-11e6-be05-1a3817ac21a5_story.html?utm_term=.be209e2f7404">Washington Post</a> put it, in an “era of disbelief.”</em></p> <p><em>The upheaval generated by this disbelief seems to feed on itself. Action leads to reaction, and changes to political, economic or cultural sources of authority often lead to pushback and new forms of resistance. The growing meme of Resistance (#Resistance, to borrow the terminology of its adherents) has been particularly evident in the United States since the election of Donald Trump. But the sentiment is also evident in other parts of the world, notably Europe, where street protests and extremists often push past political norms and ideological boundaries – notably in Brexit and the rise of far-right parties across the continent (though Emmanuel Macron’s election in France suggests the continuing potential of counter-movements). Similarly, the Arab Spring emerged largely as a resistance movement, seeking to overthrow long-established rulers and systems of authority. </em></p> <p><em>There is no doubt that #Resistance (and its associated movements) holds genuine transformative potential. But for the change it brings to be meaningful (and positive), we need to ask the question: What kind of government do we really want? </em></p> <p><em>Working to maintain the status quo or simply returning to, for instance, a pre-Trump reality cannot provide for the change we need to counter the decline in trust, the rise of populism and the complex social, economic and cultural problems we face. We need a clear articulation of alternatives.&nbsp; Without such an articulation, there is a danger of a certain hollowness and dispersion of energies. The call for #Resistance requires a more concrete –and ultimately more productive – program that is concerned not just with rejecting or tearing down, but with building up new institutions and governance processes. What’s needed, in short, is not simply #Resistance.</em></p> <p><em>Below, I suggest six shifts that can help us reimagine governance for the twenty-first century. Several of these shifts are enabled by recent technological changes (e.g., the advent of big data, blockchain and collective intelligence) as well as other emerging methods such as design thinking, behavioral economics, and agile development. </em></p> <p><em>Some of the shifts I suggest have been experimented with, but they have often been developed in an ad hoc manner without a full understanding of how they could make a more systemic impact. Part of the purpose of this paper is to begin the process of a more systematic enquiry; the following amounts to a preliminary outline or blueprint for reimagined governance for the twenty-first century.</em></p><p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 18.15.44.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 18.15.44.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></em></p><h2><strong>Shift 1: from gatekeeper to platform</strong></h2> <p>To begin assembling this blueprint, we first need to consider how the old model of government as a centralized gatekeeper of information and resources can be replaced by a more open model in which government serves as a platform to match distributed resources (supply) to distributed needs (demand). </p> <p>Our society faces increasingly complex and inter-dependent challenges – climate change, social inequality, terrorism, rapid and unplanned urbanization. This is the demand side of the equation. At the same time, on the supply side, technological advances have given us two new resources to address the challenges: data and an increasingly connected global population, which in turn leads to a more collective and distributed expertise. The opportunity is thus to unlock both the data that is being collected and tap into and connect the distributed expertise to provide innovative, inter-disciplinary, and cross-border or cross-agency solutions. <span class="mag-quote-center">On the supply side, technological advances have given us two new resources to address the challenges: data and an increasingly connected global population, which in turn leads to a more collective and distributed expertise.</span></p> <p>If we are to seize this opportunity, then we need to begin by moving beyond existing approaches to governance and information-sharing, where a centralized agency determines who (or what institution) should have access to what specific (often sector-specific) data. What’s required instead is a far more flexible, distributed platform that can match the supply and the demand of data. Such a system is far better equipped to efficiently channel information to those who can best use it. It is also more strategically placed to gather and collect expertise and insight from disparate and dispersed sources, for example using crowdsourced information and the collective intelligence of both data creators and users.</p> <p class="Normal1">Some examples of such “people centric platforms” do exist. They include, for instance, <a href="http://www.sermo.com/media/press-releases-view/94">SERMO</a>, a global social network that allows physicians to share expertise, evaluate patient prescriptions, and communicate with peers. Similarly, <a href="https://www.goodsamapp.org/">GoodSAM</a> in the UK or <a href="http://www.pulsepoint.org/">Pulsepoint</a> in the US are mobile applications that allow users to self-identify as CPR-trained in order to respond to cardiac emergencies in their area; both platforms demonstrating the potential for citizens to supplement government services, particularly emergency services. </p> <p>More than 100 examples are collected and analyzed in the GovLabs’ “<a href="http://datacollaboratives.org/">data collaboratives</a>” project, which seeks to identify innovative uses of private (often corporate) data to meet public challenges. For example, one notable data collaborative is a partnership between telecommunications company Safaricom and the Harvard School of Public Health, where Safaricom provides de-identified mobile phone data to researchers; they, in turn, map the incidence of malaria and the movement of people. All these examples point to the emergence of new models of public-private partnerships that, considered together, represent an important shift in governance practices and processes.</p> <h2><strong>Shift 2: from inward to user-and-problem orientation</strong></h2> <p>Too much government is currently focused on government itself: inwardly directed, aimed more at bureaucratic expediency than the needs of citizens. Government processes and institutions should be re-designed to focus on outcomes – to solve real problems faced by the public, and to address the needs of citizens rather than government officials. </p> <p>One way to facilitate this shift is to introduce more design thinking and other user-centric methods into government. Several government innovation labs (e.g., <a href="http://mind-lab.dk/en/">MindLab</a> in Denmark or <a href="https://www.marsdd.com/systems-change/mars-solutions-lab/">MaRS Solutions Lab</a> in Canada) have already begun this process. Early results are encouraging, but one key challenge they face is finding ways to scale practices so that there is a government-wide adoption of a user-centric mindset. <span class="mag-quote-center">One key challenge they face is finding ways to scale practices so that there is a government-wide adoption of a user-centric mindset. </span></p> <p>Moving to more user-centric forms of government also means striving for less complexity. Some examples of such initiatives include Portugal’s <a href="http://historico.simplex.gov.pt/downloads/whatissimplex.pdf">Simplex program</a>, which seeks to address the need for simplifying the Portuguese public sector and its service delivery; or the US’s “<a href="https://plainlanguage.gov/">plainlanguage</a>” initiative, which seeks to support the use of <a href="http://thegovlab.org/simplexity/">clear communication</a> in government writing. </p> <p>What’s essential in such approaches is to stop the steady and apparently inexorable creep toward more bureaucracy (attempted, for example, in Slovakia, with its <a href="http://www.stopbirokraciji.si/en/home/">Stop Bureaucracy</a> initiative). It is also important to become more sensitive to context, and to adopt design principles that focus on constant iteration and improvements so as to improve the responsiveness and accountability of government and its participants.</p> <h2><strong>Shift 3: from closed to open</strong></h2> <p>Openness should become a core principle of effective twenty-first century governance. The traditional closed, top-down model of government is not only anachronistic, but also increasingly ineffective in an era of open sourcing and crowdsourced innovation. Indeed, it is precisely this closed characteristic of governance – embodied in hierarchical, authoritative patterns and bureaucratic control&nbsp;– that the dispersed #Resistance movement is directed against. </p> <p>Opening-up government will not only make government more effective; it will also go a considerable way to overcoming the growing deficit of trust that today characterizes the relationship between citizens and the state. <span class="mag-quote-center">Opening-up government will not only make government more effective; it will also go a considerable way to overcoming the growing deficit of trust.</span></p> <p>In practice, becoming more open means, at a minimum, opening up government data, and using open innovation methods to solicit input and ideas from a broader base. The Obama administration’s move to increase access to government data (in particular its launch of the data.gov site) has played a large part in increasing the global visibility and the legitimacy of the concept of open governance. &nbsp;</p> <p>Around the world, in both developed and developing countries, governments have created or are considering creating open data programs and portals. As evidenced by <a href="http://odimpact.org/">research</a> conducted by the GovLab (supported by Omidyar Network), open data projects are playing an increasingly important role in economic and social development, spurring progress in areas as varied as healthcare, education, banking, agriculture, climate change and innovation. </p> <p>Similarly, several governments have started to experiment with open mechanisms, including prizes and challenges, to encourage and incentivize innovation in governance. Such efforts include the White House’s <a href="https://www.challenge.gov/about/">Challenge.gov</a> platform, where more than 740 challenges from more than 100 agencies across federal government have been launched since its creation in 2010. These efforts remain fledgling – though promising – and <a href="https://medium.com/@sverhulst/governing-through-prizes-and-challenges-677f3ef861d1">more research</a> is required to increase our understanding of whether, and under what conditions, they can really lead to lasting, sustainable shifts in governance paradigms. &nbsp;</p><h2><strong>Shift 4: from deliberation to collaboration and co-creation</strong></h2> <p>Traditionally, citizen engagement has been focused on deliberation or enabling citizens to “air their voice.” Yet people don’t just possess voices; they also possess expertise that can be used to co-create solutions. Citizen expertise comes in a range of flavors – from interests and experiences to skills and credentialed knowledge. All of these are potentially valuable for governments to engage with and harness when attempting to solve problems. <span class="mag-quote-center">People don’t just possess voices; they also possess expertise that can be used to co-create solutions.</span></p> <p>Expertise in the twenty-first century has several distinctive characteristics. For one thing, it is fundamentally dispersed and fragmented – spread across disciplines, geographies and other boundaries. This fragmentation is a result both of new technologies, which spread insights more widely, and the increasing complexity of public problems, which calls for a great mix of disciplines and perspectives. </p> <p>Given these characteristics, it naturally follows that effective solutions can only result from greater inter-connectivity – i.e., bringing together people’s dispersed expertise to create more collaborative forms of governance. Crowdsourcing is one powerful example: it allows disparate actors, many of whom have traditionally been excluded from the processes of governance, to share knowledge and collaboratively generate solutions. <a href="https://civichall.org/civicist/vtaiwan-democracy-frontier/">vTaiwan</a> is an interesting example of a collaborative platform that can lead to collaborative solutions. It is an AI-driven discussion platform that collects questions, suggestions and comments from citizens. Once collected, these questions are addressed in public meetings, broadcast online, whose goal is to build consensus around priority problem areas and important considerations in solving those problems. The final goal of the platform is to lead to crowdsourced legislation drafting – often called <a href="https://crowd.law/">crowdlaw</a>.&nbsp; </p> <p>In addition to their role in drawing on dispersed expertise, such crowdsourced approaches may have other advantages. At its core, collective intelligence is fundamentally concerned with bringing in outliers’ expertise. As such, it may also go some distance toward addressing perceptions of inequality and marginalization that have contributed to the current crisis of governance and the birth of #Resistance movements and ideologies.</p> <h2><strong>Shift 5: from ideology to evidence-based</strong></h2> <p>Today’s government is in many ways a relic of the past. Institutions and processes are based on what worked (or was perceived to work) decades or even centuries ago; in many cases, they are the result of archaic beliefs or ideologies about the role of the state and its relationship to citizens. Today, however, governments can leverage the vast troves of data and analytical capacity, often available in real time, to move toward a more evidence-based governance model. </p> <p>Boosting analytical capacity is central to this shift. This means new hiring and training practices, as well as a willingness to invest in and build the technical tools required to sift through vast piles of often unstructured data. Institutions must also commit to acting on the insights and lessons gleaned from data. Most fundamentally, government (its institutions and processes) must be re-conceptualized as a constantly evolving, iterative project – one that is far more nimble and agile than its current incarnation. <span class="mag-quote-center">Government (its institutions and processes) must be re-conceptualized as a constantly evolving, iterative project – one that is far more nimble and agile than its current incarnation.</span></p> <p>Some countries have taken steps in this direction. The UK, for instance, has pioneered the What Works Network, a collaborative of 7 independent <a href="https://www.gov.uk/guidance/what-works-network#more-about-the-what-works-centres">What Works Centres</a> and 2 affiliate members that collate evidence to evaluate how effective policy programs and practices are. The <a href="https://www.cep.gov/about.html">Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP)</a> was established&nbsp;by the US Congress in 2016 to “develop a strategy for increasing the availability and use of data in order to build evidence about government programs, while protecting privacy and confidentiality”. In its <a href="https://www.cep.gov/cep-final-report.html">final report</a> among other steps, the Commission has<strong> </strong>recommended establishing a National Secure Data Service “to facilitate access to data for evidence building while ensuring privacy and transparency in how those data are used.” The goal of this new service is to link existing government data on a temporary basis (without creating a permanent data warehouse) in order to help institutions, policymakers and other actors better analyze the effectiveness of government programs and processes. </p> <h2><strong>Shift 6: from centralized to distributed</strong></h2> <p>The final shift that needs to take place is a move from the current centralized, top-down model of government to one that is decentralized and distributed. Much as knowledge in the twenty-first century is dispersed, so are lines of authority, communication and even personal identities (citizens’ allegiances and sense of self are rarely as cohesive and unitary as in the past). </p> <p>In response, every stage of the policy cycle should be re-designed in a more decentralized and <a href="https://www.gp-digital.org/news/gpd-publishes-new-paper-on-distributed-internet-governance/">distributed manner</a> – from agenda-setting to response identification, to implementation, enforcement and review. </p> <p>A good example of distributed agenda setting can be found in Madrid’s open government platform, <a href="https://decide.madrid.es/proposals">DecideMadrid</a>, developed by <a href="http://medialab-prado.es/">Medialab-Prado</a>, which encourages citizens to submit proposals to improve the city. If at least 1% of site visitors (currently 27,064 people over the age of 16 visit the site<strong> </strong>on a regular basis) are interested in a submitted idea, then the idea moves to a voting phase. In February 2017, after a preliminary vote, two submitted ideas were actually enacted by the city council. Other successful examples of distributed governance include the Constituent Assembly used to draft Egypt’s constitution, and the Democracy in Action incentive that encourages citizen engagement and participatory budgeting in Chicago’s 49th Ward. </p> <p>It is worth noting that the emergence and application of <a href="https://blockchan.ge/">blockchain technologies (BCT)</a> can accelerate distributed approaches to governance. BCTs deploy a shared, synchronized, distributed ledger of transactions, guaranteeing privacy and security; this leads to greater integrity of data and increased trust by providing a permanent record of who accessed ledgers and what they did. <span class="mag-quote-center">By providing transparency and accountability in new and distributed ways, BCTs have the potential to positively empower populations to become part of the governance process using trusted identities.</span></p> <p>By providing transparency and accountability in new and distributed ways, BCTs have the potential to positively empower populations to become part of the governance process using trusted identities. One interesting example can be found in the <a href="https://voatz.com/">Voatz</a> platform, which seeks to provide a mobile election platform using blockchain technology. The platform seeks to allow for more direct citizen engagement on a wider variety of topics, and has been used, at the local level like the <a href="https://tuftsdaily.com/opinion/editorial/2017/09/28/editorial-use-voatz-step-right-direction/">Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate election</a> or during events like the <a href="https://blog.voatz.com/?p=256">Massachusetts Democratic Party State Convention</a>.</p> <p><strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; * * *</strong>&nbsp; </p><p>In combination, the six shifts outlined above suggest a radically new approach to governance – one focused more on flexibility and responsiveness, and better attuned to the inherent need for meaningful relationships between citizen and the state. Old barriers and old hierarchies that limit growth and change must be replaced by the more collaborative approach described above. Citizens are no longer simply governed; they are, in fact, essential components of governance. <span class="mag-quote-center">Citizens are no longer simply governed; they are, in fact, essential components of governance.</span></p> <p>Of course these six shifts represent only an outline, the scaffolding of a #Reimagined governance for the twenty-first century. While we have provided some specific examples, the precise manifestation of these principles will vary from context to context, geography to geography. </p><p> What matters is the effort to move beyond mere <em>resistance</em> and onto a more substantive engagement with <em>rebuilding</em> – to ask what comes next, and to harness the current disenchantment and loss of faith in a more productive manner. It is said that moments of crisis are also moments of opportunity. There is little doubt that we face a crisis of governance at the moment; this is also a chance to design a new and improved government</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>openDemocracy was at this year's World Forum for Democracy, exploring the impact of populism on our media, political parties and democracy (see the <a href="https://www.coe.int/en/web/world-forum-democracy/home">WFD2017 website</a> for details).</p> </div> </div> </div> <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/patrick-chalmers/tapping-will-of-people-route-to-radically-better-democracy">Tapping the will of the people – a route to radically better democracy?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/oliver-norgrove/interesting-brexit-experiment-worthy-of-analysis">An interesting Brexit experiment worthy of analysis</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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> digitaLiberties Can Europe make it? Brexit2016 World Forum for Democracy 2017 Stefaan G. Verhulst Tue, 12 Dec 2017 18:50:55 +0000 Stefaan G. Verhulst 115273 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Tapping the will of the people – a route to radically better democracy? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/patrick-chalmers/tapping-will-of-people-route-to-radically-better-democracy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Ireland's innovative Citizen Assembly is changing the way the country debates sensitive issues like abortion. What else could it achieve?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/Roslyn Fuller gesture shot.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/Roslyn Fuller gesture shot.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Dr Roslyn Fuller says electoral arithmetic makes abortion politically tough to tackle</span></span></span>It’s hardly news on <i>openDemocracy</i> to say the usual model of western representative government is under siege. Divisive campaigns, stained by fake news and dark money, are yielding disputed outcomes and bitterly split electorates. General elections and other votes seem ever less free or fair, if indeed they ever were. Many of the resulting administrations are mired in disarray, just as <a href="https://www.slideshare.net/ethanz/what-next-civic-engagement-in-an-age-of-high-mistrust">levels of public trust</a> in both politicians and news media fall through the floor.</p> <p>What chance, then, for reasoned debate and political compromise between people with widely divergent views on a highly contentious and sensitive topic? What hope, dare anyone ask, of something resembling “democracy”?</p> <p>Not a cat’s chance, you might think. Well, you’d be wrong, at least in one, real-life instance.</p> <p>Ireland recently pulled off just such coup on no less a sensitive subject than its de facto ban on abortion. That the country managed the feat is remarkable enough, even though it’s yet to change one letter of existing law. More intriguing still is that the Irish raised the bar globally on questions of how governments might operate with far greater accountability to citizens.</p> <p>Both those outcomes became possible in 2016, when Ireland’s politicians <a href="https://www.citizensassembly.ie/en/About-the-Citizens-Assembly/Background/">pass</a><a href="https://www.citizensassembly.ie/en/About-the-Citizens-Assembly/Background/">ed</a><a href="https://www.citizensassembly.ie/en/About-the-Citizens-Assembly/Background/"> </a><a href="https://www.citizensassembly.ie/en/About-the-Citizens-Assembly/Background/">abortion questions </a><a href="https://www.citizensassembly.ie/en/About-the-Citizens-Assembly/Background/">to a Citizens’ Assembly</a>. Their decision moved detailed policy deliberation away from elected officials to a process involving randomly selected Irish people. Knowingly or not, they’d tipped their hats to ancient Athens’s original concept of democracy.</p> <p>You could hardly blame the politicians for wanting a break on abortion. Many faced virulent <a href="http://www.thejournal.ie/how-ireland-legislated-for-abortion-oral-history-1574589-Jul2014/">insults and threats</a> for speaking out on the issue. Various failed attempts at reform over the years made abortion a toxic topic for any party depending on marginal or rural seats to hold power. Procedural barriers to change are also huge. Abortion law is embedded in the Constitution, making any proposed amendment subject to approval by national referendum.</p> <p>Yet pressures for change have also intensified. The UN human rights committee <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/09/ireland-abortion-laws-violated-human-rights-says-un">called </a><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/09/ireland-abortion-laws-violated-human-rights-says-un">on Ireland </a><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/09/ireland-abortion-laws-violated-human-rights-says-un">last year </a><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/09/ireland-abortion-laws-violated-human-rights-says-un">to change </a><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/09/ireland-abortion-laws-violated-human-rights-says-un">its abortion </a><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/09/ireland-abortion-laws-violated-human-rights-says-un">laws</a>, saying they subjected a woman to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, violating her human rights. Notorious cases, such as <a href="http://www.thejournal.ie/savita-praveen-halappanavar-abortion-galway-hospital-673590-Nov2012/">one involving Savita Halappanavar</a>, who died in 2012 after being denied abortion, also played their parts.</p> <p>Roslyn Fuller ran unsuccessfully as an independent candidate in Ireland’s 2016 general election. She recalls countless questions on abortion, way ahead of those on all other issues. The Canadian-Irish author and academic says the same goes for all parties, including Fine Gael, the senior governing partner in Ireland’s minority coalition.</p> <p>“They depend on winning seats in a lot of areas where a small margin of voters can decide that seat,” Fuller said last July. She was speaking in an interview on Irish political reform, shot for the short film <i>When Citizens Assemble</i>. “What that means is that effectively, a small minority of people can keep an item off the agenda,” she added.</p> <p>Or rather they could do until the Citizens’ Assembly began its work in late 2016. During five weekends held over five months, its 100 members considered how Ireland might change its abortion laws to better honour women’s rights. They concluded <a href="https://www.citizensassembly.ie/en/News/The-Citizens-Assembly-Publishes-Report-and-Recommendations-on-the-Eighth-Amendment-of-the-Constitution-.html">with a series of votes and recommendations</a> to radically liberalise existing arrangements, amend the Constitution and improve reproductive health provision for women.</p> <p>Assembly chair Justice Mary Laffoy, the sole appointee among Assembly members, sent her summary report to parliament last June. A cross-party committee then began examining the findings with a view to producing its own conclusions. It’s also due to propose wording for <a href="http://www.independent.ie/breaking-news/irish-news/irish-abortion-referendum-due-to-be-held-next-summer-leo-varadkar-announces-36171266.html">a referendum promised by</a> Prime Minister Leo Varadkar for mid 2018.</p> <p>“I think it surprised all observers, it’s safe to say, in terms of how far the Citizens’ Assembly want to take the liberalisation of our abortion legislation,” says Professor David Farrell, head of University College Dublin’s School of Politics and International Relations.</p> <p>The soft-spoken Farrell, <a href="https://www.citizensassembly.ie/en/About-the-Citizens-Assembly/Background/Research/">research le</a><a href="https://www.citizensassembly.ie/en/About-the-Citizens-Assembly/Background/Research/">ad</a> on the Citizens’ Assembly process, is a quiet champion for better ways of doing government. He’s one of the founding editors of the <a href="https://politicalreform.ie/about-2/">Irish Politics Forum</a> blog.</p> <p>Ireland has one of the most restrictive abortion regimes in Europe, <a href="https://www.reproductiverights.org/sites/crr.civicactions.net/files/documents/AbortionMap2014.PDF">if not </a><a href="https://www.reproductiverights.org/sites/crr.civicactions.net/files/documents/AbortionMap2014.PDF">the world</a>. Its Constitution equates the right to life of a pregnant woman with that of an embryo or foetus, pretty much from the time of conception. It criminalises abortion except when a continued pregnancy risks the would-be mother’s own life.</p> <p><iframe allow="encrypted-media" gesture="media" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MjpuDk9_BWI" frameborder="0" height="315" width="460"></iframe></p> <p>The law’s effects have been to export the practice of abortions rather than prevent them. More than 170,000 women and girls left Ireland to get abortion services between January 1980 and December 2016, according to <a href="https://www.ifpa.ie/Hot-Topics/Abortion/Statistics">t</a><a href="https://www.ifpa.ie/Hot-Topics/Abortion/Statistics">he Irish Family Planning Association</a>. The arrangement hits hardest those lacking either the money or family support to travel abroad to end unwanted pregnancies. Others are turning to telemedicine, <a href="http://time.com/4531429/medication-abortion-ireland/">getting abortion pills sent through the post</a> from abroad for use at home.</p> <p>Kate O’Connell won a Fine Gael parliamentary seat in the same election contested by Fuller. The pharmacist and mother of three is an ardent advocate for abortion law reform. She’s rare enough already for being a young woman in Ireland’s <a href="https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SG.GEN.PARL.ZS?end=2017&amp;start=2017&amp;view=map">male-dominated </a><a href="https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SG.GEN.PARL.ZS?end=2017&amp;start=2017&amp;view=map">parliament</a>. Setting her further apart is that <a href="https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/health-features/kate-oconnell-our-foetus-had-a-10pc-chance-of-being-born-alive-and-my-country-couldnt-facilitate-our-choices-when-we-needed-it-most-31425022.html">she dares talk publicly about having faced the prospect</a> of terminating a pregnancy.</p> <p>“I think this issue in Ireland could never have got to the point we’re at today were it not for the Citizens’ Assembly. I think we would have been years getting there, if we ever got there,” she says<i>.</i></p> <p>O’Connell’s critics on the cross-party parliamentary committee accuse her of pro-abortion bias. That’s one of the lesser barbs to have flown during <a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/tensions-flare-at-oireachtas-abortion-committee-1.3244567">highly charged exchanges</a> between its members.</p> <p>Of course the critics are correct, O’Connell is biased. But then again so are they and so are the rest of us. How any society navigates members’ biases in search of compromise is the stuff of all politics.</p> <p>Social psychologists talk of confirmation bias, our tendency to look for news and views that match our beliefs while rejecting those that don’t. This was probably an evolutionary cognitive advantage for our ancestors, helping them survive within protective “in-groups”. It’s <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/nov/29/vortex-online-political-debate-arguments-trump-brexit">highly problematic for practising politics</a> in the age of social media and tailored news feeds. What worth an in-group or out-group, after all, versus the merciless physics of climate change? Who would benefit from a universally destructive nuclear missile exchange initially <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/936209447747190784">teed up on Twitter</a>?</p> <p>The divisive effects of confirmation bias are amplified for politicians contesting elections. Their chances of winning seats depend on looking and sounding better than opponents, a process that also <a href="http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/B/bo22555152.html">favours the biggest spenders</a>. Candidates and their supporters coalesce into mutually antagonistic camps. Think of pro and anti-Brexit, for or against Donald. Always-on campaigning makes consensus building and compromise – the basis of healthy, functioning community – near impossible.</p> <p>Ancient Athenians understood the pitfalls of elections. That’s <a href="https://youtu.be/KS9EMvbBq_U">why they embedded random selection of citizens</a> and assemblies into the heart of their politics. Downgrading elections saved would-be candidates from lying about their plans, themselves and their opponents. It also prevented the handing of outsize powers to the unrepresentative elites who would usually win most ballots. The effect was to boost the chances of common wisdom and compromise seeing the day.</p> <p>Those basic elements look attractive in today’s fractious political climate. The contrast between elected versus randomly selected certainly jumps out in the style of exchanges witnessed within the joint parliamentary committee versus those at the Citizens’ Assembly.</p> <p>“There was no major arguments or disputes here at the Citizens’ Assembly even though there was serious disagreements, as there would always be on this subject,” says John Long, a 56-year-old electronics technician from the southern Irish city of Cork.</p> <p>Long was one of four participants agreeing to speak on camera for <i>When Citizens Assemble</i>. The others were a student, a self-employed events organiser, both women, and a truck driver. Each showed depth and insight in reflecting on their experiences and how their views evolved. Nothing in what they said looked anything like the tyranny of crowds warned of by US constitution writers and <a href="https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/John_Dalberg-Acton,_1st_Baron_Acton">other establishment figures worried about unbridled</a> “democracy”.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/Harbour shot.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/Harbour shot.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A random sample of Irish citizens were asked to deliberate on changes to abortion laws.</span></span></span>Who better than Irish citizens, after all, to deliberate on fairer abortion laws for Ireland’s women? A randomly selected, representative sample of people, can operate free from the pressures of either campaigning or political office. Its members can focus exclusively on working through the complex and sensitive questions involved. Their source materials and conclusions are available <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2DgyetL9aUTMry_F9B9yUw">for all to see</a>, valuable resources to help transform the quality of debate surrounding any subsequent referendum.</p> <p>Contrast that with the facts black hole, for which both sides were to blame, that was the UK’s Brexit vote.</p> <p>“Citizens, when you leave them to these assemblies, without much in the way of control overtop of them – they don’t actually make crazy reckless decisions,” says Fuller. “They get together and they talk and they come to compromises and they do consider things. There’s not really a major mystery of how to do this,” she adds.</p> <p>Assembly participants’ political antennae are uniquely tuned by their diverse daily lives. Their combined efforts at politics stand up impressively beside those of the narrower elite of professionals in Dublin, or Westminster and Washington for that matter.</p> <p>Long is clear about the disconnect that exists between traditional political parties and their publics, and how the Citizens’ Assembly helps bridge that gulf: “This is a new layer of democracy – you can’t have too much democracy. Democracy should be an expression of the will of the people. So we think, here, we’re an expression of the will of the people.”</p> <p>His view certainly merits a deeper look by our media – the driving rationale for this film on the assembly’s work and that of others like it elsewhere around the world. Ireland’s innovation offers valuable lessons not just for political scientists but also for journalists and our wider societies. If the assembly process works for Ireland, on this most controversial of issues, where else might it be tried, and how soon could we start?</p> <p><a href="http://patrickchalmers.com/democracy-work/"><i>Patrick Chalmers </i></a><i>is director and producer of <b>When Citizens Assemble</b>, launch film for planned nine-episode global series on lottery-based democracy innovations.</i></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>openDemocracy was at this year's World Forum for Democracy, exploring the impact of populism on our media, political parties and democracy (see the <a href="https://www.coe.int/en/web/world-forum-democracy/home">WFD2017 website</a> for details).</p> </div> </div> </div> <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="/5050/lara-whyte/young-women-leading-ireland-campaign-against-abortion">On the warpath: the young women leading Ireland’s campaign against abortion</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/tony-phillips/dublin-s-housing-cultural-revolution">Dublin’s housing: a cultural revolution</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/stefaan-g-verhulst/from-resistance-to-reimagining-governance-6-shifts-that-can-improve-way-we-solve-">From #Resistance to #Reimagining governance: 6 shifts that can improve the way we solve public problems</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/oliver-norgrove/interesting-brexit-experiment-worthy-of-analysis">An interesting Brexit experiment worthy of analysis</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"> Ireland </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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Ireland World Forum for Democracy 2017 Patrick Chalmers Tue, 12 Dec 2017 17:26:45 +0000 Patrick Chalmers 115269 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Could the end of Britain’s tabloid-driven migration policy be in sight? https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/phoebe-griffith/could-end-of-britain-s-tabloid-driven-migration-policy-be-in-sight <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Right now, there’s a political window for a more sensible, positive approach to migration that could boost regional economies, strengthen productivity and help achieve trade deals, a new report finds.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/express migrants.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/express migrants.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: Just a few of the Daily Express's anti-migrant front pages</em></p><p>Veterans of the migration debate know better than to predict the future. But following years of continued growth, it seems like immigration to the UK may have finally <a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/internationalmigration/bulletins/migrationstatisticsquarterlyreport/november2017">peaked</a>. This slowdown, alongside the outcome of the EU referendum, has influenced the tone of the debate. According to the <a href="https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/shifting-ground-attitudes-towards-immigration-and-brexit">polling</a>, migration has fallen down the public’s list of concerns. And politicians seem to have taken note.</p> <p>The Government has been taking tentative steps towards a more rational approach towards <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/aug/24/expert-panel-impact-international-students-uk-jobs-migration-advisory-committee">international students</a>, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2017/11/14/theresa-may-doubles-visa-numbers-tech-workers/">highly skilled</a> migrants and <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/home-secretary-commissions-major-study-on-eu-workers">EU workers</a>. Today, for example, immigration minister Brandon Lewis announced that the government would <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/dec/12/minister-outlines-how-eu-nationals-will-apply-for-uk-settled-status-brexit">streamline the application process for EU migrants to achieve 'settled status'</a>, from a controversial 85-page form to a short online process - something <a href="http://www.ippr.org/files/publications/pdf/deemed-leave_briefing_Mar2017.pdf">the IPPR called for back in March</a>. And in general, rather than deferring to the whims of the right-wing press, the approach now seems to be to let the Migration Advisory Committee, a panel of independent experts, arbitrate.&nbsp;</p> <p>We should take full advantage of this possibly brief period of calm. Following years of tabloid-driven crisis management, here is an opportunity to take stock and set out what the country aims to achieve through its immigration policy. </p> <p>So what should be the aims? As underlined by IPPR’s <a href="https://www.ippr.org/cej">Commission on Economic Justice</a>, the UK economy faces big challenges – from stagnant wage and productivity growth, to widening regional inequality and trade imbalances. Our call is for migration policy to be designed not in isolation but with the explicit aim of taking on these problems. In our <a href="https://www.ippr.org/research/publications/an-immigration-strategy-for-the-uk">report</a>, we set out how to do this. </p> <p>Take widening regional inequality. At present, migration flows reflect the disparities which divide the UK – skilled migrants concentrate disproportionately in the parts of the country where there are the most jobs and opportunities. Our <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/dec/02/sharp-drop-in-net-migration-of-eu-citizens-outside-south-east-england">analysis</a> shows that new migration is effectively zero in many parts of the UK today. </p> <p>Rather than address this challenge, current policy decisions are exacerbating these inequalities. The wage thresholds used to determine whether migrants qualify for skilled visas reflect London salaries. So parts of the country where wages are lower find it harder to compete. Reversing this would be relatively simple: thresholds for areas outside the capital and the South East could be set at a lower level creating an incentive for international talent to flow in that direction. This more level playing field is essential for parts of the UK which are increasing held back by population decline and skills shortages, such as Scotland and the North East.</p> <p>Smarter immigration policies could also be part of the solution to the UK’s productivity puzzle. On the one hand, the current system of work permits could be actively used to incentivise employers to invest in improving the skills and working conditions of UK workers. Employers who can demonstrate that they offer good terms and invest in training could earn the status of Trusted Sponsors. In return they would benefit from a series of perks, such as more flexibility, less bureaucracy and smaller fees. And the immigration system could work much harder to ensure that the UK remains a destination of choice for international talent – from engineers and programmers to world class architects and designers. In the wake of Brexit, attracting these people is going to take more work than before. The UK should launch a Global Talent Visa to ensure it can still compete. </p> <p>Until now, the UK has failed to translate growing migration flows into stronger trading links. At present Germany has a better trade balance with India than the UK, despite the fact that its sub-continental diaspora is comparatively tiny. This is despite the evidence that migrants are a powerful asset when it comes to opening new markets, particularly in services. Their skills and networks help lower the social, linguistic and cultural barriers which can act as a stronger inhibitor than tariffs and customs. <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/international-graduates-help-birmingham-firm-grow">Pilots</a> suggest that programmes which actively engage migrants currently in the UK could boost trade with key emerging countries.</p> <p>For too long the migration debate has taken place at fever pitch. Bad policy decisions have ensued. It’s time for a fresh start.&nbsp;</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="/uk/satbir-singh/another-lonely-skype-christmas-thanks-to-minimum-income-guarantee">Another lonely Skype Christmas, thanks to the ‘minimum income requirement’?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/elisa-mosler-vidal/post-facts-post-gains-economics-of-labour-migration-after-brexit">Post-facts, post-gains: the economics of labour migration after Brexit</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/luke-cooper/free-movement-plus-third-way-on-brexitmigration-debate">Free Movement Plus: a third way on the Brexit/migration debate </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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> uk Can Europe make it? uk Brexit2016 Phoebe Griffith Tue, 12 Dec 2017 16:25:27 +0000 Phoebe Griffith 115268 at https://www.opendemocracy.net