Can Europe make it? https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/9711/all en “You black bastard” Offensive, friendly banter, somewhere in between or both? https://www.opendemocracy.net/barry-hindess/you-black-bastard-offensive-friendly-banter-somewhere-in-between-or-both <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>“There is no justification for racial discrimination, in theory or in practice, anywhere” and certainly not in Britain or Australia.</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-30930314.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-30930314.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sun columnist Kelvin MacKenzie suspended from the newspaper, April 14, 2017. Lewis Whyld/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The Sun publishes an article comparing a black Everton player to a gorilla. While the reporter denies that his piece could be seen as racist, The Sun issues an <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/apr/22/the-sun-prints-apology-for-kelvin-mackenzie-column-on-ross-barkley?utm_source=esp&amp;utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&amp;utm_term=222702&amp;subid=12600464&amp;CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2">apology</a>.</em><em> </em>How might the law deal with this situation? Was the original article racist, defamatory, ignorant or simply fair comment? </p> <h2><strong>“Is Australia Racist?”</strong></h2> <p>Just a little earlier, this issue had been debated, if that's not too strong a word for the discussions that took place, in Australia. A committee of the Australian Senate considered options for revising the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA), while a publicly-owned broadcaster, SBS, ran a series under the heading “Is Australia Racist?” and another Murdoch paper, <em>The Australian </em>had provoked outrage by publishing a cartoon by Bill Leak, a favourite of the Right, depicting a police officer handing an indigenous teenager over to the boy's father while telling him to keep the boy under control. The father responds “Okay. What's his name?” <em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p>The RDA had been introduced by the reforming and ill-fated Whitlam Labor Government in 1975 to embody the spirit of the UN's <em>International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination</em>, which came into force in 1969 and which the RDA ratified, and particularly its insistence that “there is no justification for racial discrimination, in theory or in practice, anywhere.” Along with SBS, the RDA is one of the few Whitlam legacies to have survived more or less unscathed into the twenty-first century, although it was, in fact, strengthened by another Labor Government's 1995 Racial Hatred Act which laid down procedures for dealing with allegations of racial discrimination and added sections 18C &amp; D, the latter specifying a number of exemptions to the provisions of the former.&nbsp; </p> <p>Both as a Whitlam Act, albeit slightly modified, and one with links to the UN – not to mention its threat to disrupt the minor everyday pleasures that many white Australians take in casually abusing others – it&nbsp; has been disputed by the Australian Right, who have focused overwhelmingly on the wording of section 18C which they see as impeding free speech – their main complaint against 18C from the beginning. There has also been some dispute over the procedures to be followed in dealing with allegations of racial discrimination. </p> <p>The disputed passage of 18C refers to acts that are “reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people” specifically when “the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.” Critics of the Act on the Right of the Liberal Party, who seem to have never recovered from the shock of the Whitlam years, object to the terms 'offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate' on the grounds that they are subjective (offence, for example, is said to be in the mind of the offended, an observation that is taken to mean that there can be no reliable legal test); insufficiently precise (although we should note that Australian Courts have found little difficulty in convicting many indigenous people of offensive behaviour towards police officers – who can be trusted to recognise offensive behaviour, especially when they see it directed against them); and that, notwithstanding the exemptions listed in section 18D, they serve to limit free speech. The latter has invited the critics' opponents to ask in turn, what they wanted people to be able to say that they cannot say now. <span class="mag-quote-center">The Chair of the Senate Committee considering options for reform denied a request by the ACT/NSW Aboriginal Legal Service that its representative be allowed to speak to the Committee.</span></p> <p>In a nicely symbolic act of discrimination, the Chair of the Senate Committee considering options for reform denied a request by the ACT/NSW Aboriginal Legal Service that its representative be allowed to speak to the Committee. The Government finally opted to replace 'offend insult, humiliate' with 'harass' and to introduce procedural changes, while insisting that the original 18C had been discredited and, further, that this change in wording made the Act stronger by making it clearer – only to have its revisions rejected by the Senate.</p> <h2><strong>Discrimination</strong></h2> <p>Several features of the 18C debate are worth noting. First, for all this interest in terminology, in the meanings of words and what people do with them, critical discussion of section 18C barely touched on two absolutely central terms, <em>discrimination</em> and <em>race</em> – nor, of course, did it touch on the derivative terms, 'racial', 'racism' and 'racist'. </p> <p>Starting with discrimination, we can note that its meanings range from the simple act of recognising difference – between, say, moths and butterflies, indigenous and other Australians or wasps and bees – through the capacity to recognise such differences to action towards others that is unjust or prejudicial. The RDA targets only discrimination in this last sense, which is also the most recent: the earliest English-language use of the term in this sense noted by the OED was in 1819, while discrimination in the first sense appeared as early as 1621. <span class="mag-quote-center">Discrimination against indigenous Australians is also discrimination in favour of non-indigenous Australians.</span></p> <p>Discrimination against others in the prejudicial sense clearly depends on the act of discrimination in the sense of recognition of difference. Yet, we should not imagine that prejudicial discrimination is entirely negative in its effects. We often find references to positive discrimination, discrimination that favours disadvantaged groups, for example, through quotas in schools or universities, many introduced as gestures towards rectifying earlier discrimination against them. There is also a second important sense in which discrimination can be positive, essentially because it always cuts both ways. Just as some are victims of unjust and prejudicial actions, many others, who are not victims,&nbsp; experience a no less unjust and prejudicial discrimination in their favour. Discrimination against indigenous Australians is also discrimination in favour of non-indigenous Australians.</p> <h2><strong>Collective behaviour</strong></h2> <p>Notice finally that, like the RDA itself, the debate treats racial discrimination, as basically a matter of&nbsp; some people or organisations doing something unpleasant to one or more others because of 'their race, etc...'. This raises three points, two of which I return to later: first, both the RDA and the recent 18C debate take it forgranted that races exist, which is undeniable in one sense and problematic in others; second, treating racism as resulting from prejudice suggests that the problem rests primarily in the minds of individuals. Thirdly, widespread inequities result not only from the prejudicial conduct of one or more individuals but also from the conduct of state agencies and the collective behaviour of banks and other organisations. </p> <p>Perhaps the clearest example of the latter is <em>redlining</em>, which led to the de facto segregation of many US cities outside the South. The term itself comes from American investigative journalism in the 1960's: it refers to the practice of restricting services&nbsp; – whether by not providing clinics, hospitals, schools and supermarkets, or locating them in places that some find hard to access or by selectively adjusting prices for insurance and mortgages – to residents of certain areas according to the racial or ethnic composition of those areas. Redlining is a clear case of discrimination that is difficult to blame on the bias of any single individual or group. <span class="mag-quote-center">The net result of their actions amounts to massive discrimination against indigenous people and in favour of the non-indigenous population </span></p><p>As to the inequities enacted by state agencies, we need only think of the ongoing scandal of Aboriginal deaths in custody and disproportionate rates of indigenous incarceration, Australian Governments' cavalier treatment of native title or of the quality of the services provided to Australia's indigenous peoples by agencies operating at various levels of Australian government. The net result of their actions amounts to massive discrimination against indigenous people and in favour of the non-indigenous population. </p> <p>In December 2007 the Council of Australian Governments recognised the seriousness of the issue, agreeing that steps must be taken at all levels of government to address gross inequalities between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians in the areas of health, education and employment. To this end, reports on progress are presented every year to the Australian parliament and they have so far been uniformly and predictably disappointing, a fact that is no less predictably deplored by politicians and media outlets before the rest of Australia gets on with other business</p> <p>We might also think of the Australian practice of immigration detention. The 1901 Immigration Restriction Act, generally regarded as the basis of the White Australia Policy, aimed to prevent or severely limit the immigration of non-Europeans. It prohibited the immigration of various classes of people, with the result that they could not migrate legally to Australia, and provided for <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illegal_immigrant">illegal immigrants</a>, <em>other than those of European descent</em>, to be held in detention before they were deported. While the Immigration Restriction Act was finally replaced by the 1958 Migration Act, immigration detention has continued in various forms. </p> <p>Under the current regime of offshore detention, which operates in spite of Australia's obligation as a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention not to penalise migrants seeking asylum, hundreds of refugees are incarcerated on Manus Island in PNG, which PNG courts have declared illegal, and Nauru. While White Australia openly discriminated in favour of Europeans, today's offshore detention regime does so covertly by incarcerating non-Europeans. So few refugees of European descent arrive in Australia by boat that the question of making special provision for them simply does not arise. We can only imagine what might happen if boatloads of English-speaking whites, displaced, say, from Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa, Kenya or Zimbabwe, were to start arriving on Australian shores</p> <h2><strong>Race itself</strong></h2> <p>Compared to unjust or prejudicial treatment, discrimination in the earlier sense of recognition of difference might seem to be relatively innocuous. Unfortunately, consideration of discrimination on the basis of race will show that this harmless appearance may be deceptive. Some observers have argued that the making or perception of racial distinctions should be seen as racist.</p> <p>As for race itself, 18C renders discrimination illegal whenever “the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person.” Here the RDA clearly assumes that racial differences exist, along with differences in colour and national or ethnic origin. There have been too many accounts of race for me to even attempt to examine them here.&nbsp; <span class="mag-quote-center">While races were perceived as objects of study, racial discrimination was widely experienced as an intractable social reality.</span></p> <p>So cutting a long and complex story short, we can note, first, that races have generally been understood as populations distinguished from other races by their common inheritance, this last being variously understood in terms of blood, descent from one or a few common ancestors or genes. In nineteenth century Europe and America racial differences were often treated as matters of scientific inquiry. Alongside the resulting 'scientific' discussions of race there were others drawing in part on versions of 'scientific' race theory, with some also drawing on tendentious readings of the Biblical Old Testament. Second, while races were perceived as objects of study, racial discrimination was widely experienced as an intractable social reality – a social fact in the sense of Durkheimian sociology, that is, as a societal feature that exercises an external constraint on individuals – something that could not be wished away and that simply had to be negotiated. </p> <h2><strong>Outsiders regardless</strong></h2> <p>If racial discrimination is a social fact, so too are the races it distinguishes. The coexistence of the social fact of race and talk about different races raises many issues requiring further clarification, only a few of which can be touched on here. First, is there a causal relationship between talk about races and the social fact of racial discrimination? This would suggest the comforting view, at least for many intellectuals, that the rigorous examination of various accounts of races (which I have not attempted here) would certainly result in discrediting most of them and would thus be a practical way of undermining racial discrimination as a social fact. </p> <p>Appealing to some as this view might be, it is hardly plausible. In medieval Europe, populations were distinguished ostensibly on the basis of descent but without reference to any concept of race, with Jews, Moors, Roma (Gypsies) all being identified as outsiders. Yet, if racial difference can appear as social fact in the absence of talk about races, it hardly makes sense to treat it as caused by such talk. If anything, the relationship works in the contrary direction&nbsp; 'Scientific' racism and other accounts of racial difference can be seen as serially unsuccessful attempts to make sense of the social fact.&nbsp; </p><p>Following this last point, we should not expect too much from critical discussion of influential accounts of racial differences. This is not to say that critiquing these accounts is a waste of time, only that it will not bring about the short-term results that some might hope for. We should not expect even the most powerful critiques to bring the whole edifice of racial discrimination crashing down. In fact, as with many complex social phenomena, there is little point in trying to identify a singular cause of racial discrimination. The more important question for us today is how does racial discrimination continue, or how is it reproduced, and here, I suggest, 'scientific' and other accounts of racial difference do play an important part. </p> <h2><strong>Denial and prejudice</strong></h2> <p>Consider, for example, the vexed issue of race and intelligence. Around the end of the nineteenth century anthropologists and psychologists began to seek scientific evidence for and explanations of the superior mental capacities of Europeans – a truth which, for the most part, they simply took for granted. To this end, they compared brain sizes, skull shapes and sizes and adapted the recently developed techniques of intelligence testing. (I leave aside the contentious issue of whether the intelligence of individuals is amenable to testing in a culturally-neutral fashion.) By the mid-1930s psychologists had settled on the view that environmental and cultural factors were more significant determinants of intelligence than inheritance and this has since remained the majority view.</p> <p>In a striking precursor to recent debates around global warming, a minority of specialists including, Hans Eysenck and Arthur Jensen, continued to hold out against this consensus, thereby providing excuses for an influential kind of denialism that still informs American education policies and political debates about positive discrimination in colleges and universities, for example. For example in Hernstein &amp; Murray's disturbingly popular <em>The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life</em>&nbsp; (which prompted a cautiously even-handed report from the American Psychological Association and a powerful rebuttal in Stephen Jay Gould's expanded 1996 edition of his <em>The Mismeasure of Man</em>) and the ‘academic’ Journals<em> Mankind Quarterly &amp; Intelligence. </em></p> <p>What happens in this denialism is that the perception of Black and White as different – which might seem to be no more than a matter of discrimination in the first sense noted above and thus innocuous&nbsp; –&nbsp; comes together with a problematic psychological measure to justify racial discrimination, in the prejudicial sense, thereby reinforcing and reproducing existing prejudicial regimes. </p> <h2><strong>“Are Australians Racist?”</strong></h2> <p>Finally, what of the individualism of the RDA and the debate around 18C? I noted earlier that both the Act and the 18C debate understood discrimination as a matter of one or more persons or organisations doing something unpleasant to one or more others. There is no doubt that this happens, but I also noted that this focus on individual misconduct tends to discount discrimination by government agencies and other organisations. </p> <p>While the Act does not deny that there may be discrimination by government agencies, section 6 insists that “nothing in this Act renders the Crown liable to be prosecuted for an offence.” Thus, if the Australian State or Commonwealth Governments were tempted to indulge in racial discrimination, as I have insisted they are, the RDA offers no protection.</p> <p>Yet, ignoring government agencies is not the only significant limitation of the Act's individualistic focus. This focus suggests that the main problem of discrimination is a matter of prejudiced individuals. Suppose that we come up with a reliable explanation of individual prejudice, where would that leave us? In February 2017, the Australian broadcasting network, SBS broadcast a series under the heading “Is Australia Racist?” In practice, the series interpreted this question as meaning “Are Australians Racist?” and it turned out, to nobody's great surprise, that many were and way too many others experienced racial prejudice in their daily lives. <span class="mag-quote-center">We fear, or are prejudiced against, some people who don't look like we do: and we don't fear as much, or are less prejudiced against, others who also don't look like we do.</span></p> <p>SBS drew on the work of psychologists and sociologists, the latter investigating the extent of racist behaviour by or towards Australians and the former providing an account of this racism as a kind of prejudice based on fear of “people who don't look like we do”, and suggesting that this fear was <em>hard-wired</em> into our brains but that we could change it, if we so desired, with a bit of effort.</p> <p>Unfortunately, even if we were to accept the idea of hard-wiring in the soft tissues of our nervous systems, this account of racism would be seriously incomplete. We all grow up with people who don't look like ourselves and members of our immediate family, and over time we learn not to be afraid of many of them. So, we fear, or are prejudiced against, some people who don't look like we do: and we don't fear as much, or are less prejudiced against, others who also don't look like we do. What distinguishes the two groups is not that people in one look like we do and those in the other do not, since neither of them look like we do. So, there must be something else going on, something that is not captured by consideration of whether they look like we do.</p> <h2><strong>Beyond something unpleasant</strong></h2> <p>I have picked on the SBS series here, not to damn the network but rather to bring out the limits of treating racism as a kind of individual prejudice: no account of prejudice as a psychic process can tell us which people are targeted, why these are and those not. Nor is my observation that SBS sought the assistance of psychologists and sociologists intended to undermine the value of these disciplines. I write as a recovering sociologist and my point is simply that, in this case, their assistance did not get us far. Perhaps SBS was just unlucky or asked its hired psychologists the wrong questions. Yet, if accounts of discrimination as a matter of individual prejudice cannot explain who the discrimination targets, perhaps we should, once again, turn the issue around and consider the possibility that prejudice is turned against populations because they have been and often still are targeted by states, powerful groups or organisations. <span class="mag-quote-center">Prejudice is turned against populations because they have been and often still are targeted by states, powerful groups or organisations.</span></p> <p>To conclude, if racial discrimination is a social fact, then so, too, will be the races it distinguishes. However, these races should be understood as populations identified by the fact of being targeted by racial discrimination, not as the entities specified by accounts of races that focus on heritable features that are allegedly shared by their members. This last point deserves more consideration than I can offer here: if only because, first, colonial territories and their successor states often contain distinct and differentially targeted populations; and, second, racial discrimination and the races it identifies cut across national boundaries. Races as targeted populations are all too real, but races as populations unified by shared genetic traits are little more than dangerous fictions: they are not the products of distinct creations, whether by God, geography or evolution, nor populations descended from Ham, Japhet &amp; Seth, the sons of Noah, as a literal reading of the Book of Genesis might suggest. <span class="mag-quote-center">If races are targeted populations, and therefore social constructs, there are no rational grounds for supposing that any one of the races currently identified is superior to any of the others.</span></p> <p>Again, if races are targeted populations, and therefore social constructs, there are no rational grounds for supposing that any one of the races currently identified is superior to any of the others. Thus, returning to the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (which Australia ratified by passing the Whitlam Government's RDA): “there is no justification for racial discrimination, in theory or in practice, anywhere” and certainly not in Britain or Australia.</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/umut-erel-elisavet-tapini/from-insecurity-to-insecurity-black-and-ethnic-minority">From insecurity to insecurity: Black and Ethnic Minority Europeans in the UK</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"> Australia </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> </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 UK Australia Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality Ideas International politics Barry Hindess Sun, 23 Apr 2017 08:18:05 +0000 Barry Hindess 110326 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Transatlantic data transfers and privacy protection: an ongoing battle https://www.opendemocracy.net/valsamis-mitsilegas-niovi-vavoula/transatlantic-data-transfers-and-privacy-protection-ongoing-battle <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A meaningful legal response would be the establishment of global privacy standards – a ‘new universal law on surveillance’. Undoubtedly, EU law and case law could provide a guiding light.</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/JAC_Passport.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/JAC_Passport.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'>Joseph Cannataci: the new UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy.</span></span></span>In an era of ‘big data’ and mass surveillance revelations, it appears that everything is data and data is everything. </p> <p>Everyday activities, such as traveling or using different means of communication, may be accessed by law enforcement authorities, not only within the EU, but also shared with the US officials on the other side of the Atlantic. </p> <p>It goes without saying that this ‘collect-it-all’ mentality, as <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Surveillance-After-Snowden-David-Lyon/dp/0745690858">Lyon</a> puts it, places an enormous burden on the fundamental right to privacy, as enshrined in Articles 7 EUCFR and Article 8 ECHR), which according to some skeptics is already dead anyway. </p> <p>In this context, we aim to highlight two main points: the emergence of a global level-playing field on privacy through the development of transatlantic agreements; and the challenges to such developments, including US efforts to circumvent data protection provisions with a view to expanding their extraterritorial reach.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <h2><strong>Transatlantic data exchanges: towards a global level-playing field on privacy</strong></h2> <p>The long-standing viewpoint of the EU, now entrenched in Article 45 of the <a href="http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32016R0679&amp;from=EN">General Data Protection Regulation</a>, is that transfers of personal data from the EU to third countries may take place solely if that country provides an <em>adequate</em> level of privacy protection. </p> <p>With regard to the US, the traditional approach has been one of presumed trust, whereby both the EU and the US mutually recognise their privacy standards. </p> <p>Nevertheless, this declaration of trust was challenged in <a href="http://curia.europa.eu/juris/documents.jsf?num=c-362/14"><em>Schrems</em></a>, where the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Court_of_Justice_of_the_European_Union">CJEU</a> declared the invalidity of the EU-US Safe Harbor Agreement (EU-US Safe Harbor Commission Decision), which explicitly asserted that US data protection rules provide an adequate level of protection. Whilst not referring to the NSA revelations as such, the concerns stemming from the possibility of mass surveillance on behalf of the US underpin the Court’s reasoning. Firstly, the Grand Chamber provided a definition of the meaning of adequacy in EU law and by identifying the means of its assessment. It required a particularly high threshold in relation to the transfers of data, by proclaiming that the requirement of adequacy should be understood as requiring the third country to ensure a level of protection ‘essentially equivalent’ to that guaranteed under EU law (para 73). <span class="mag-quote-center">The Court of Justice of the European Union clarified that generalised, mass, and unlimited surveillance is contrary to privacy and data protection.</span></p> <p>The Court explained that if there were no such requirement, the objective of ensuring a high level of data protection would be disregarded, and this high level of data protection could easily be circumvented by transfers of personal data from the EU to third countries for processing in those countries. Secondly, it affirmed that the adequacy decisions are subject to a rigorous periodical review, particularly if evidence gives rise to doubts that the level of protection remains adequate (para 76). </p> <p>Of particular importance in this respect are any circumstances that may have arisen after the adoption of the decision (para 77). Based on these general principles, the Grand Chamber found that the level of protection in the US is inadequate, because public authorities could have access on a generalised basis to the content of electronic communications of all persons whose data has been transferred from the EU to the US without any differentiation, limitation or exception, which compromises the essence of privacy, as guaranteed by Article&nbsp;7 of the Charter. By reiterating and expanding its <em>Digital Rights Ireland</em> proclamations, the CJEU clarified that generalised, mass, and unlimited surveillance is contrary to privacy and data protection.</p> <h2><strong>Privacy Shield</strong></h2> <p>The judgment in <em>Schrems</em> has made its way into jurisprudential history as a privacy victory resulting in the Safe Harbor Agreement being replaced by the substantially more detailed Privacy Shield, which was adopted<em> </em>on 12 July 2016. </p> <p>The new framework brings more clarity as regards the data protection obligations on companies importing data from the EU (such as notice obligations, data retention limits, access rights and security requirements) and contains additional safeguards on US access to the data, as well as more effective protection and redress for individuals (to the companies or EU Data Protection Authorities) and annual joint review to monitor compliance with the Agreement that will be conducted by the Commission and the Department of Commerce. Whilst the Privacy Shield constitutes a significant improvement in comparison to the previous regime, privacy challenges remain. As the <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/article-29/press-material/press-release/art29_press_material/2016/20160726_wp29_wp_statement_eu_us_privacy_shield_en.pdf">Article 29 Working Party</a> has pointed out, specific rules on automated decisions and of a general right to object are missing, and stricter guarantees concerning the independence and the powers of the Ombudsperson mechanism would have been appropriate. </p> <p>Importantly, the key aspect of the Schrems judgment regarding bulk data access and indiscriminate surveillance has not been adequately addressed, due to a lack of concrete assurances on behalf of US officials. <span class="mag-quote-center">The key aspect of the Schrems judgment regarding bulk data access and indiscriminate surveillance has not been adequately addressed, due to a lack of concrete assurances on behalf of US officials.</span></p> <h2><strong>Umbrella Agreement</strong><strong></strong></h2> <p>The adoption of the Privacy Shield was not the sole development of last year in this field. The first text of a transatlantic agreement on privacy, known as the <a href="http://statewatch.org/news/2015/sep/eu-us-umbrella-agreement-full-text.pdf">‘Umbrella Agreement’</a>, was concluded in December 2016 and entered into force on 1 February 2017, after four years of lively discussions. </p> <p>The Agreement prescribes data protection standards for the transatlantic exchange of personal information in relation to the prevention, detection, or prosecution of criminal offences, including terrorism, with a view to ensuring ‘a high level of protection of personal information ΄whilst enhancing cooperation between the US and the EU and its Member States (Article 2). <span class="mag-quote-center">EU citizens will be entitled to seek the enforcement of their privacy rights before US Courts (Article 19).</span></p> <p>A series of data protection safeguards are included such as a prohibition of data transfer to third parties without the consent of the relevant EU body (Article 7), and limits to the retention periods of the transferred data (Article 12). However, perhaps the most important safeguard – and one much negotiated – is the fact that EU citizens will be entitled to seek the enforcement of their privacy rights before US Courts (Article 19). </p> <p>Although originally the US refused to grant judicial redress and insisted on administrative redress only, the Judicial Redress Bill successfully passed in October 2015. Even so, the ‘Umbrella Agreement’ seems to disregard the CJEU’s pronouncements in <em>Digital Rights Ireland</em> and <em>Schrems</em>, not only by maintaining the presumption that the US data protection regime complies with the EU one, but also by allowing the onward transfer of data with ‘other authorities’ including ‘authorities of constituent territorial entities of the Parties not covered by this Agreement’ (Articles 6(2), 14(1) and (2) and 20(1)(b)). </p> <p>Furthermore, even though the Agreement refers to ‘effective oversight’, the US will meet this requirement ‘cumulatively’ – that is through more than one authority, which does not meet the independent supervision requirements of EU law, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights (Article 21(3)). </p> <p>As for judicial redress, its availability is subject to any requirements that administrative redress first be exhausted (Article 19) and only to address violations of the Agreement, not to challenge the lawfulness of data processing as a whole. Besides, judicial redress is applicable only to citizens of the parties to the agreement, which falls short of the ECHR.</p> <h2><strong>Mass surveillance moves in</strong></h2> <p>The aforementioned developments highlight three interrelated issues; first, the emergence of the CJEU as a quasi-constitutional court and a guardian of privacy and data protection rights, with a key role in establishing a global privacy regime embracing high-standard characteristics; secondly, be that as it may, the role of the Court is not enough, since the legislation adopted in the aftermath of judgments such as <em>Schrems</em>, though constituting a noticeable improvement, still falls short of EU privacy standards; and third, a recurring competition between the EU and the US to impose their privacy standards has resulted in the EU privacy regime being sidelined in <em>lieu</em> of the US model which is based on mass surveillance and bulk processing of data in a generalised manner. </p> <p>This highly permissive model is also highlighted by the US practice to bypass existing arrangements in order to have direct access to personal data held by private entities in the EU.</p> <h2><strong>Extraterritorial access to private companies’ data by law enforcement authorities</strong></h2> <p>A key case for understanding how the US authorities have attempted to bypass the already relaxed data protection provisions with a view to having access to private data is the <a href="http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca2/14-2985/14-2985-2017-01-24.html"><em>Microsoft Corp. v United States</em></a> saga. </p> <p>The case arose in 2013 when Microsoft refused to disclose the contents of an email account to the US authorities, despite being mandated by a search warrant, on the basis that the US court could not compel Microsoft to do so because the data were stored in Ireland and in any case the data were owned by the email user, rather than the company as such. </p> <p>The US government argued that there was no conflict of laws and that the US retains the authority to order an entity within its jurisdiction to repatriate records. According to this view, Microsoft, as a US-based company, enjoys a “corporate citizenship” which involves some responsibilities, including the duty to comply with a disclosure order issued by a US court. In May 2014, a federal magistrate judge disagreed with Microsoft and ordered it to turn over the emails, but Microsoft won the appeal before the District Court for the Southern District of New York. Although the Government requested a second hearing, the end of the Microsoft saga was marked in January 2017 with the denial of the request. </p> <p>Undoubtedly, the fundamental problem with the US approach lies in the fact that it completely disregards and circumvents the formal and mandatory procedure of a mutual legal assistance request, as prescribed in the dedicated legal instrument, the EU-US Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), signed in 2003 alongside a parallel transatlantic Agreement on extradition, which must be interpreted in conformity with the Charter and the Court's case-law in <em>Digital Rights Ireland, Schrems</em> and <em>Watson</em>. </p> <p>As Digital Rights Ireland Limited has eloquently <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/250254939/Amicus-Brief-Digital-Rights-Ireland-Liberty-and-ORG-in-Microsoft-v-USA">pointed out</a>: &nbsp;</p> <blockquote><p>‘[a]dopting the US position would allow the US government unilaterally to substitute US court compulsion for the balancing process represented by the MLAT information request procedures’. </p></blockquote> <p>The US counter-arguments in this respect are that using MLATs would not be effective, as the data could quickly be moved to a different country and because mutual legal assistance procedures are lengthy and do not result in a prompt disclosure of records. </p> <p>Remarkably, by opting for direct access to the data, the US authorities wish to circumvent an agreement which is problematic on its own merit, with rather weak provisions on data protection and privacy. For example, Article 9 aims at facilitating the exchange of data between the US and the EU to the broadest extent possible, despite their differences in privacy protection. Furthermore, key principles of data protection law, such as the purpose limitation, are nullified due to the broadly worded purpose of the Agreement. Another point of concern involves Article 9(4), which allows a State to apply the use limitation provision of the applicable bilateral mutual legal assistance treaty instead of Article 9 of the Agreement, when doing so will result in less restriction on the use of information. </p> <h2><strong>To </strong><strong>conclude</strong></h2> <p>This briefing attempts to highlight the ongoing tension between the need to ensure effective law enforcement whilst safeguarding the privacy of individuals to the greatest extent possible on the basis of the high EU standards. </p> <p>We want to draw attention not only to the legitimisation of the American model of surveillance through transatlantic cooperation, but to the current struggle taking place – even with a little help from the Courts – to provide an effective protection of privacy. </p> <p>A meaningful legal response in this respect would be the establishment of global privacy standards, in the form of a ‘new universal law on surveillance’<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a>, as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy in a Digital Age, Joseph Cannataci, frames it. Undoubtedly, EU law and case law could provide a guiding light in this respect, by requiring the prohibition of mass and indiscriminate surveillance already from the stage of data collection, and mandating a comprehensive legal framework regarding the extraterritorial reach of the State and the extraterritorial application of human rights.</p><p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/24/we-need-geneva-convention-for-the-internet-says-new-un-privacy-chief"> </a><em><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/24/we-need-geneva-convention-for-the-internet-says-new-un-privacy-chief">Digital Surveillance ‘worse than Orwell</a>’, says new UN privacy chief, </em>the Guardian, 24 August 2015.</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>See <a href="https://www.ceps.eu/content/ceps-ideas-lab-2017-reconstructing-union">CEPS Ideas Lab 2017 - Reconstructing the Union</a>.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-anoth-sidebox"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ideaslab2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/CEPS-Armband.jpg" width="100%" style="margin-bottom:10px;" /></a> <div style="90%;"> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ian-borg/migration-policies-effective-ways-to-address-smuggling">Migration policies: effective ways to address smuggling</a><br />IAN BORG <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/karolina-babicka/refugee-crisis-and-central-and-eastern-europe-what-solidarity-do-we-need">Refugee crisis and Central and Eastern Europe: what solidarity do we need?</a><br />KAROLINA BABICKA <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/jean-pierre-schembri/tomorrow-s-agency-for-asylum">Tomorrow’s Agency for Asylum</a><br />JEAN-PIERRE SCHEMBRI <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brian-donald/migrant-smuggling-to-eu-need-for-coordinated-response">Migrant smuggling to the EU – the need for a coordinated response</a><br />BRIAN DONALD <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/regina-catrambone/three-humanitarian-proposals">Three humanitarian proposals</a><br />REGINA CATRAMBONE <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/m-rio-marques/challenges-of-mediterranean-illegal-migration-crisis">Challenges of the Mediterranean illegal migration crisis</a><br />MÁRIO MARQUES <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/anneliese-baldaccini/it-is-time-to-move-beyond-dublin-logic">It is time to move beyond the Dublin logic</a><br />ANNELIESE BALDACCINI <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/kamil-matuszczyk/migration-crisis-in-2017-challenges-for-eu-solidarity">Migration crisis in 2017 – challenges for EU solidarity</a><br />KAMIL MATUSZCZYK </div> </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="/digitaliberties/elspeth-guild-didier-bigo-sergio-carrera/method-in-trump-s-madness">Method in Trump’s madness?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/wfd/david-krivanek-dia-kayyali/street-surveillance-and-skyrocketing-self-defence">Street surveillance and skyrocketing self-defence</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> digitaLiberties Can Europe make it? United States EU CEPS 2017 Niovi Vavoula Valsamis Mitsilegas Sun, 23 Apr 2017 08:00:35 +0000 Valsamis Mitsilegas and Niovi Vavoula 110318 at https://www.opendemocracy.net RIP United Kingdom, 1927-2017 https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/vassilis-k-fouskas/rip-united-kingdom-1927-2017 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Tories maintain the electoral momentum and the political initiative, something which is not only going to damage Labour irreversibly, but the entire country, with Brexit negotiations breaking it apart.</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-30680641.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-30680641.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="316" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Angela Merkel at a special summit of EU leaders to mark the 60th anniversary of the bloc's founding Treaty of Rome on March 25, 2017. Burzykowski Damian/Newspix/Prss Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Theresa May's call for a snap election received <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/033bebde-24d5-11e7-a34a-538b4cb30025">overwhelming endorsement</a> from parliament by 522 to 13, whereas the Scottish SNP abstained. It is now expected that parliament will end all business in early May in the run up to the ballot of 8 June. Why did May call an early election since her argument all along has been that the "country needs stability" and that new elections would take place as normal in 2020?</p> <p>May was appointed PM in the wake of the Brexit referendum of 23 June 2016, after the country, albeit narrowly, voted to leave the EU. Commentators argue that she needed an electoral mandate to strengthen her position and image as PM. Also, her surprise move, the argument goes, was caused by a shrewd power calculus, the most important factors being the disarray in the Labour Party; the need for May to strengthen her grip on her own party and government undermining Europhile influence while boosting her parliamentary majority (currently only at 17 seats whereas polls show a Tory lead as high as 21%); and, thereby ‘strengthening the external position of the country in the Brexit negotiations’ that May herself triggered on 29 March. These arguments do not go <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2017/apr/18/corbyn-cressida-dick-met-police-a-gun-may-not-have-saved-pc-killed-in-westminster-terror-attack-says-new-met-chief-politics-live">to the bone</a> of British, European and global politics. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite the fact that the ruling party élites of both major parties took a strategic decision to respect the people's verdict of 23 June 2016, the establishment and business elites are still deeply divided over the question of EU membership. More than 44 percent of UK exports are bound for the EU and the euro-currency swaps taking place daily in the City of London are counted in trillions of euros. More euros may be circulating on a daily basis in London's financial district than in the <a href="http://www.europeanfinancialreview.com/?p=8315">entire Euro-zone</a> between its 340 million consumers. </p> <p>This is one of the reasons why the Labour Party argues that a ‘hard Brexit’ must be avoided at all costs and threatens to block any deal that fails to maintain access to the single European market while guaranteeing free movement of people. These two points, apparently, are the only substantive differences between Labour and the Tories on the question of Britain's EU membership. </p> <p>Yet, this is what Labour says, not what Germany says. And Germany, as Charles Grant of the Centre for European Reform put it, would not allow Britain a soft exit, especially if <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/19/germany-strong-eu-britain-easy-brexit-angela-merkel">Angela Merkel lost</a> the forthcoming election in September 2017. Germany will not bend the rules of the union for the sake of Britain at the moment when she is asking everybody in Europe to respect those rules, including France. Some countries, such as Greece, are experiencing massive austerity bondage precisely because the rules cannot be broken. Thus, it is unlikely that Brexit will last <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/anthony-barnet/why-is-she-frit">more than two years</a> as advocated by Anthony Barnett. For the same reason, the strategy advocated by <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/sunny-hundal/labour-mps-must-weaponise-hard-brexit-for-any-chance-of-defeating-tories">Sunny Hundal</a> according to which "Labour must weaponise hard Brexit for any chance of defeating the Tories" is not going to succeed. Labour can try, but I doubt it will succeed. It is Berlin that sets out the rules on the Brexit timetable, not London, unless the Germans get some arm-twisting from Trump at some point down the line. Again, this is unlikely given the importance of Germany, both economically and geo-politically. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>The referendum matters more than the forthcoming election, in what way?</strong></h2> <p>The Labour Party of Corbyn-McDonnell managed to recruit and mobilise a remarkable number of members in a short period of time and <em>Momentum </em>has played a crucial role. But this enthusiasm has not extended to society. At present, polls give Labour an unimpressive 25%. This, I argue, is not because of the Bennite, Euro-sceptic past of the new Labour leadership, or the Blairite opposition within Labour. Quite the reverse: it has to do with the abandonment of Benn's positions on the EU, and as a consequence, with the strategy the Corbyn-McDonnell leadership pursued in the run-up to the referendum. </p> <p>Tony Benn famously said that those who govern us should be constantly asked five questions: What powers have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you? The new Labour leadership has failed the single most important test in the referendum of June last year as it neglected to align itself with British society from which it draws its power and to which it should be accountable. Lukewarm support for the ‘Remain’ campaign of the Tories was a blatant mistake. The vote of British society has beaten up both the major parties.</p> <p>We should not forget that soon after Corbyn was elected leader, the Labour Party, despite its serious internal problems, was neck and neck with the Tories in the opinion polls. True, the British people would be reluctant to cast their vote in favour of a divided party whose leadership is forced to strike one compromise after another in order to maintain a certain unity. However, the point I am making here is of a different variety: I argue that the Labour Party last year missed a golden opportunity to put forth a <em>social democratic</em>, pro-labour and pro-migration agenda <em>against </em><a href="http://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_the_long_shadow_of_ordoliberalism">Germany's ordoliberal Europe</a> of austerity and authoritarianism. Instead, it preferred to align itself with the Tory leadership and embrace a ‘Remain’ campaign <em>against </em>British society, arguing that the EU can change from within. This wrong strategy comes at a high cost, not just for Labour, but for the country as a whole.&nbsp; </p> <p>Had Labour had a clear social democratic position on why Britain should leave the ordoliberal EU and fight for another, <em>social democratic</em> EU for the benefit of both the British and the Europeans, then this would have had the following benefits for the Labour Party, Britain and Europe: </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 1) It would have regained the initiative from the Tories, increasing massively its electoral support; the Tories would have split and become a political irrelevance;&nbsp; </p><p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 2) It would have had the extended social support required to effect, once in office, radical policy changes in the banking and financial sectors re-directing their activity to productive investment, taking them away from speculative arbitrage and greedy profiteering;</p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 3)&nbsp; Likewise, and due to wide popular support, once in office, it would be in a position to place under public democratic control key economic sectors and services (e.g. Royal Mail, education, railways);</p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 4)&nbsp; It would have been possible and realistic to construct a united left platform with the Scottish SNP and Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland aimed at working together for a social democratic Britain and Europe; this would have brought to an end all nationalisms at home while acting as a lighthouse for European societies, where xenophobic and racist parties are thriving from Athens to Paris and from Budapest to Amsterdam and Vienna. It would have been Labour Britain's sovereign decision to regulate migration from Europe and elsewhere. No need to have it as a negotiation issue with the EU. </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 5) It would have also been possible, once in government, to freeze Britain's military adventures abroad, de-couple from Trump's militarism and work within the UN and the OSCE for a peaceful international order in the framework of an <em>independent&nbsp; </em>British foreign policy (now both Russia and the EU humiliate and pour scorn on Boris Johnson's Britain as an irrelevance without an independent voice in foreign affairs); </p> <p>Having said this, the Labour Party in 2016 would have had the chance to initiate for the Left in Britain, Europe and the world what Margaret Thatcher started politically in 1979 for the neo-liberal Right (although one may argue that the first neo-liberal governance programme was initiated by the authoritarian government of Pinochet in Chile, a government that the chief ideologue of neo-liberalism, Friedrich Hayek, supported openly). </p> <p>It would have had great chances to succeed, not least because of the structural socio-economic trend towards<em> de-globalization. </em>At the very moment the parliament will be suspending its work for the ballot of 8 June, the most important bill to be discussed will be that concerning blocking foreign capital acquiring British assets. In other words, the parliament is discussing de-globalization measures. And so does Trump, and this is what he discussed with May. Labour's wrong strategy in the run-up to the referendum of 23 June 2016 is the yardstick for its electoral defeat in the forthcoming election. </p> <h2><strong>The break-up of the United Kingdom</strong></h2> <p>True, from now till June 8, political time condensed is long enough to turn things upside down. </p> <p>For example, the Lib-Dems, who are reborn by claiming a consistent pro-European profile, may score spectacularly well, especially if they merge with the Blairite wing of the Labour Party and <em>The New Europeans, </em>an initiative pioneered by former Labour MP for London-Wimbledon, Roger Casale. </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-29387894.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-29387894.jpg" 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'>Gina Miller, now mounting a tactical voting campaign against "hard Brexit".Victoria Jones/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Also, Gina Miller, a campaigner whose legal challenge forced the government to seek parliamentary approval for EU's exit article 50, is putting together <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/apr/19/gina-miller-best-for-britain-tactical-voting-against-hard-brexit">a new campaign</a> for tactical voting against "hard Brexit" and this may add to sapping the massive Tory lead in the polls. </p> <p>Importantly, local elections in the country take place on May 4 and we may see a good return for the Lib Dems and Labour. But as I argued above, Labour has a wrong strategy because it suffers from an erroneous reading of the structural tendency towards de-globalization and from a protracted bureaucratic battle inside the parliamentary Labour Party, which extends to Westminster institutions, networks and lobbies, forcing its leadership into unnecessary compromises which carry a high political cost. </p> <p>In this respect, I consider both parties responsible for the nationalistic division and break-up of the country, not to mention the bureaucratic walls already raised for EU citizens in the UK. I hope, by the way, to be proved completely wrong and that the unity of the country emerges triumphant as more resilient than this brief analysis suggests.&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="/uk/anthony-barnet/why-is-she-frit">Why is she frit?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/sunny-hundal/labour-mps-must-weaponise-hard-brexit-for-any-chance-of-defeating-tories">Labour MPs must weaponise Hard Brexit for any chance of defeating the Tories</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/thomas-seibert/challenge-is-not-so-different-in-germany-from-rest-of-europe">The challenge is not so different in Germany from the rest of Europe</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-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 EU UK Brexit2016 Vassilis K. Fouskas Sat, 22 Apr 2017 17:08:16 +0000 Vassilis K. Fouskas 110321 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Method in Trump’s madness? https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/elspeth-guild-didier-bigo-sergio-carrera/method-in-trump-s-madness <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A look at Donald Trump’s 'travel bans' with an eye to the harvesting of personal data, and the EU-US Privacy Shield, now on life support.</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-31017672.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-31017672.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'>Trump looks over Executive Orders on April 21, 2017. Ron Sachs/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>On January 27, 2017, the US President issued an Executive Order entitled “<em>Protecting the nation from foreign terrorists’ entry into the United States</em>”.<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> The order suspended the admission to the US of nationals from seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – for a 90-day period. In addition, the order suspended the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days and placed a cap on the number of arrivals permitted in the fiscal year 2017. In another important move, the order requires the Department of Homeland Security together with the Attorney General to collect and publish, every 180 days, statistics on the number of foreign nationals charged with terrorism-related offences (or radicalised). The first travel ban also included a number of other grounds, which were removed from the second version.</p> <p>The implementation of the Executive Order immediately resulted in substantial chaos in the travel industry as companies aligned their practices to the new reality of ‘non-admission’. It also sparked controversy in many parts of the country owing to the questionable legality of separating families and the constitutionality of the order itself. Several legal challenges were successfully waged in US trial courts, leading to a decision of the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on February 9, which upheld the original decisions and refused to reverse the lower courts. The first plaintiffs in the matters were two states: Washington and Minnesota. </p> <p>On March 6, the US President issued a new Executive Order<a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a> once again barring from entry into the US nationals of six countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen (Iraq had been taken off the list, a fact we will come back to shortly). Similarly to its predecessor, it suspended the refugee programme and ordered statistics on foreign offenders to be collected, but this time the argumentation for the selection of the six countries was (marginally) more sophisticated. A judge in Hawaii has already suspended the new Executive Order and at the time of writing it is not clear how far the US Government will appeal the matter.<a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a></p> <p class="p1">Despite the very considerable media coverage of the impact, effects and fate of the Executive Orders, there has been surprising silence about the core objective of the orders, as if the terminology ‘Muslim ban’, focusing on identity politics, has successfully distracted attention from the data harvesting objective of the order. </p> <p class="p1">In fact, all countries which refuse to deliver the personal data of their citizens to the US could be put on the list. Therefore the objective is not to struggle against the state sponsors of terrorism, but to have an advantage regarding the harvesting of personal data in the world, in order to feed US intelligence agencies for many uses which may go far beyond the struggle against terrorism. <span class="mag-quote-center">Therefore the objective is not to struggle against the state sponsors of terrorism, but to have an advantage regarding the harvesting of personal data in the world.</span></p> <p class="p1">Section 3 of the January 27 order and Section 2 of the March 6 order are substantially the same. They state the purpose of the Executive Order and what the President seeks by these rather dramatic actions. The purpose is simple: <em>to require foreign countries to provide information about their citizens as requested by the US authorities.</em> The information that the US authorities seek about nationals of foreign countries is for the purpose of adjudicating an application by the person for a visa, admission or other benefits under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Specifically, it is to determine <em>“whether the presence of an alien in the country or area increases the likelihood that the alien is a credible threat to the national security of the United States</em>”. </p> <p class="p1">It is not specified what information that may be, but it is information that is <em>additional</em> to what is already available to the US authorities. The purpose of the adjudication is to determine that the person is not a security or public-safety threat. The objective is to assess the credibility of the alien not on the basis of his or her actions, but through <em>a correlation of travel undertaken by the individual and a profile generated by an algorithm</em>, which the US authorities call a “threat assessment”. </p> <p class="p1">What this means is that the individual becomes a part of a class of persons with whom he or she has no connection at all except that which the algorithm has determined. There is no question of a presumption of innocent behaviour here but rather the production of an algorithm of suspicion accumulating in different watchlists the number of persons to flag or to refuse at the borders, as subjects who are “potentially dangerous” and almost guilty by association without any efficient causality. The section in addition permits the Secretary of Homeland Security to require certain information from particular countries about their nationals but not from others (no equality among countries is required).</p> <h2><strong>What do they want to know?</strong></h2> <p>Nowhere in the Executive Order is it made clear <em>what</em> information the US authorities want states to provide to them about their own citizens. We know, however, that the US Congress amended the Visa Waiver Program on 18 December 2015 (under the Obama Presidency) and required all travellers of Visa Waiver Program countries (which includes most EU citizens) travelling to the US after 21 January 2016 who had been present in Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan or Yemen at any time on or after 1 March 2011 to obtain a visa before travelling to the US.<a href="#_ftn4">[4]</a> The Commission also noted this change in its report on visa reciprocity in April 2016.<a href="#_ftn5">[5]</a> </p> <p>Perhaps some of the additional information that the US authorities seek relates to the travel activities of other citizens. However it is not evident that states are aware of their citizens’ travel histories. It may be that governments become aware of where their citizens have been in the process of renewing or replacing their passports. Yet this is not always necessarily the case. <em>Only travel agencies and airlines through their shared passenger name record (PNR) systems have solid evidence of where people have been.</em> According to experts, there are only three major companies that process and store PNR: Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport (the latter consisting essentially of Worldspan and Galileo, both of which are part of Travelport but with separate operations).<a href="#_ftn6">[6]</a> Amadeus is based in Spain, and the other two are US companies. </p> <p>Perhaps the US has in mind achieving with other countries a similar kind of cooperation as the one established by its authorities, under a 2013 agreement, between the UK, Northern Ireland and the US,<a href="#_ftn7">[7]</a> in which the UK shares all data on all persons (except US nationals) seeking authorisation to transit through, travel to, work in the UK or take up UK citizenship, including data from admissibility, immigration and nationality compliance actions. This includes personal data, statistical data or both. Via an exchange of notes on 29 September 2016,<a href="#_ftn8">[8]</a> the scope of the agreement was enlarged to include British citizens (EU citizens had already been included in the original 2013 agreement). <span class="mag-quote-center">It may simply be that the US has decided that negotiating such agreements requires too much time and has the disadvantage of requiring reciprocity.</span></p> <p>While citizens generally are not required to provide much in the way of documentation other than a passport to enter their own state, they may have to provide substantial amounts of personal data to sponsor third-country national family members or visitors. This information is also now freely available to the US authorities (on a reciprocal basis of course). But the US only has two such agreements in force: with Canada and the UK. Although in principle such agreements were to be concluded between the so-called ‘Five Eye countries’ (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA), no agreement with the latter two countries has yet been concluded. It may simply be that the US has decided that negotiating such agreements requires too much time and has the disadvantage of requiring reciprocity, prompting the authorities to seek a more coercive way to encourage the “sharing” of personal data.</p> <h2><strong>Convincing Iraq</strong></h2> <p>Given that the objective of the first and second Executive Orders is to encourage states to provide the US with personal data about their citizens, have they been successful in achieving this objective? It seems so with the weakest. Between the first and the second Executive Order, the Iraqi government took steps to enhance travel documentation, information sharing and the return of Iraqi nationals subject to removal orders from the US (section 1(g) Executive Order 6 March 2017). This would seem to indicate that the <em>threat of a blanket US travel ban based on citizenship has had the desired effect of convincing the Iraqi authorities to share more personal data about their citizens with the US</em>. The order does not specify what additional information is now being shared that was not before. </p> <p>Both the first and second Executive Orders provide that the governments of the countries whose nationals are subject to these bans will be requested to provide information within 60 days of notification or be subject to an extension of the ban (Section 2(d)). Furthermore, the Secretary of Homeland Security in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence will conduct a worldwide review to identify what <em>additional information</em> is needed from each country in order to determine that its citizens are not a security or public-safety threat (Section 2(a)). Failure to provide the information results in inclusion in the list of countries whose citizens are banned from entry to the US (Section 2). At any time the President can add more countries to the list (Section 2(f)). </p> <h2><strong>Conflicting with the EU</strong></h2> <p class="mag-quote-center">Mass or bulk surveillance of EU citizens is not consistent with EU data protection rules as well as the legal principles of proportionality and necessity.</p> <p>There is no consideration in the Executive Orders of the consequences for other countries of revealing personal data about their citizens to a foreign state. The assumption is that <em>if the law of a country or jurisdiction presents an obstacle to personal data sharing, it is for the country concerned to change the law or accept a no-entry ban for its citizens to the US</em>. This poses substantial conflicts with European Union laws which rely on a solid <em>data protection and privacy legal framework</em>. </p> <p>In addition to the 2016 General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 and the Data Protection Directive for police and criminal justice authorities 2016/680,<a href="#_ftn9">[9]</a> the Court of Justice of the EU has handed down a series of landmark judgments requiring the European institutions and Member States to refrain from permitting the transfer of personal data to third countries except where EU privacy standards are complied with.<a href="#_ftn10">[10]</a> In brief, the main EU rules on data protection essentially require the following legal standards to be effectively protected:</p> <ol><li>a clear limit on the use of data to the purpose for which it has been collected (purpose limitation principle);</li><li>time limits on retention of data consistent with the purpose;</li><li>deletion of personal data as soon as it is no longer needed;</li><li>limitation on access to data only to those specifically authorised;</li><li>a prohibition on onward transfer and use unless specifically authorised; and</li><li>the entitlement of the data subject to control of his or her personal data, correction and deletion as well as effective remedies and judicial redress rights.</li></ol> <p>In the 2015 <em>Schrems</em> case the Court of Justice concluded that access on a generalised basis to electronic communications is tantamount to compromising the essence of the EU fundamental right to respect for private life laid down in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.<a href="#_ftn11">[11]</a> This effectively means that mass or bulk surveillance of EU citizens is not consistent with EU data protection rules as well as the legal principles of proportionality and necessity. The Luxembourg Court held that access on a generalised basis to the context of electronic communications is tantamount to profoundly compromising the essence of the fundamental right to respect for private life.<a href="#_ftn12">[12]</a> The Court also found that ensuring access to effective remedies and independent judicial review of the derogations or interferences by state and national security authorities of the rights of privacy and data protection in the name of national security, constitute key conditions for ensuring the rule of law.<a href="#_ftn13">[13]</a> <span class="mag-quote-center">Access on a generalised basis to the context of electronic communications is tantamount to profoundly compromising the essence of the fundamental right to respect for private life.</span></p> <h2><strong>Does the data subject have rights?</strong></h2> <p>Access to EU citizens’ personal data has been much discussed in the context of EU-USA transatlantic data flows by commercial enterprises. The issue of the protection of EU fundamental rights of the data subject was a matter of controversy and some complexity in light of the US approach to personal data as belonging to the agency or entity which has collected it rather than the data subject, and persisting US practices of bulk surveillance. After the invalidation by the Court of Justice of the EU of the previous Safe Harbour decision in the above-mentioned <em>Schrems</em> Case C-362/14 in October 2015, a rather convoluted solution to the EU – US difference was found in order to enable companies to send persons data between the EU and the US, under the guise of the so-called ‘EU-US Privacy Shield’.<a href="#_ftn14">[14]</a> </p> <p>The legality and adequacy of the EU-US Privacy Shield as sufficiently protective of EU personal data legal standards has since then been disputed.<a href="#_ftn15">[15]</a> The adoption on January 3, 2017 of yet another Executive Order 12333 by the US Attorney General on ‘<em>Procedures for the availability or dissemination of raw signals intelligence information by the National Security Agency under Section 2.3</em>’ puts the sustainability of the Privacy Shield and the EU right to privacy under increasing strain.<a href="#_ftn16">[16]</a> The Executive Order basically allows the US NSA ever greater and direct access and processing of raw data and communications of EU citizens and residents without any clear and effective democratic supervision, judicial guarantees and effective remedies. <span class="mag-quote-center">The Executive Order basically allows the US NSA ever greater and direct access and processing of raw data and communications of EU citizens and residents without any clear and effective democratic supervision.</span></p> <h2><strong>An explosive EU-US cocktail</strong></h2> <p>This Executive Order takes US security practices into yet another major step away from EU data protection rules, and when combined with the previously mentioned Executive Order aimed at ‘<em>Protecting the nation from foreign terrorists’ entry into the United States</em>’ the resulting cocktail is nothing but explosive. Consequently, the ‘adequacy decision’ that the European Commission conducts regarding the legality of transfer of data between commercial organisations from the EU to the US (in particular the extent to which the level of protection of the right to privacy and data protection in the US is <em>essentially equivalent</em> to the one in the EU) is simply bound to fall apart. <span class="mag-quote-center">All these Executive Orders constitute evidence that the US is effectively non-compliant.</span></p> <p>All these Executive Orders constitute evidence that the US is effectively non-compliant. A similar conclusion has been reached by the European Parliament. In a Motion for a Resolution adopted on March 29, 2017 the Parliament expresses deep concerns about these developments in the US and calls on the European Commission to independently and transparently examine the compatibility of these new US orders and practices with the commitments by the EU under the Privacy Shield.<a href="#_ftn17">[17]</a> </p> <p>The European Parliament is also calling on the Commission to re-consider its current decision about the adequacy, effectiveness and feasibility of the privacy and data protection granted by the US in the upcoming first joint annual review of the Privacy Shield,<a href="#_ftn18">[18]</a> in particular in the context of law enforcement activities and national security authorities. </p> <p>The Parliament also reminds EU data protection authorities (EU DPAs) to closely monitor these latest developments and effectively exercise their envisaged powers, including the possibility of temporarily suspending or definitely banning personal data transfers to the US.</p> <h2><strong>Sweetener or threat</strong></h2> <p>The US approach in the 6 March 2017 Executive Order appears to be to require states to provide personal data about their citizens to the US or to face blanket travel bans against their citizens entering the US. This means that any concerns which states may have about the protection of the personal data of their citizens are by and large overridden. The negotiation of an agreement with the US which seeks to satisfy these requirements, such as the EU-US Privacy Shield, is no longer the US model. Instead, access to US territory is the sweetener or the threat which is being used to extract from states personal data about their citizens. <span class="mag-quote-center">Access to US territory is the sweetener or the threat which is being used to extract from states personal data about their citizens.</span></p> <p>As the European Commissioner has recently stated, "The commitments the US has taken must be respected".<a href="#_ftn19">[19]</a> EU-USA Transatlantic data transfers can only happen under effective rule of law and fundamental rights protection. The European Commission should seek written clarification by US authorities about the intention and impact of all these recent US Executive Orders and closely engage the European Parliament in the follow-up process. </p> <p>The evidence on inadequacy of protection in the US cannot be more solid. A Commission decision suspending the EU-US Privacy Shield would be an inevitable and welcomed step forward in ensuring more legal certainty for companies, citizens and authorities in the EU.</p> <p>A clear message which must inform this new phase of transatlantic relations is that unilateral actions exclude the possibility of diplomacy and prevent a balanced weighing of different perspectives, costs and interests in complex times for international relations. </p> <h2><strong>Let’s talk about this<br /></strong></h2> <p>The US Executive Orders examined in this paper reveal however a profound lack of consultation with the relevant actors affected by these decisions, chiefly the authorities of other states and supranational organisations such as the EU, but also the private sector, all of which have legitimate and critical interests in these matters. </p> <p>More mistrust has inevitably followed, which calls in our view for <em>more diplomacy and democratic rule of law with fundamental rights guarantees and cooperation</em> as the most effective antidotes. One way to move this forward would be for the European Parliament to boost and further strengthen existing efforts under the Transatlantic Legislators Dialogue<a href="#_ftn20">[20]</a> in an attempt to substantially reinforce a regular and structured venue for inter-parliamentary dialogue with their relevant counterparts in the US Congress and Senate. </p> <p>This could constitute a new democratic scrutiny framework for sharing information and cooperating more closely on relevant US and EU legal and policy developments which like the recent US Executive Orders have profound repercussions on transatlantic relations covering Justice and Home Affairs policies.</p><p><em>This briefing was <a href="https://www.ceps.eu/publications/trump%E2%80%99s-travel-bans-harvesting-personal-data-and-requiem-eu-us-privacy-shield">first published </a>by the Centre for European Policy Studies on April 5, 2017.</em></p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> The White House, Office of Press Department, Executive Order ‘Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States’, 27th January 2017. Retrievable from <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/27/executive-order-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states">https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/27/executive-order-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states</a> </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 6th March 2017, Available at <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/03/06/executive-order-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states">https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/03/06/executive-order-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states</a> </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a> The New York Times, Hawaii Judge Extends Order Blocking Trump’s Travel Ban, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/us/politics/travel-ban-trump-judge-hawaii.html">https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/us/politics/travel-ban-trump-judge-hawaii.html</a> </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref4">[4]</a> Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 (<a href="https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr158/summary">https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr158/summary</a>) accessed 17 March 2017.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref5">[5]</a> European Commission, Communication on the “State of play and the possible ways forward as regards the situation of non-reciprocity with certain third countries in the area of visa policy”, COM(2016)221, 12 April 2016.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref6">[6]</a> Edward Hasbrouck, “What's in a Passenger Name Record (PNR)?”, The Practical Nomad (<a href="https://hasbrouck.org/articles/PNR.html">https://hasbrouck.org/articles/PNR.html</a>) accessed 17 March 2017.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref7">[7]</a> Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the United States of America for the Sharing of Visa, Immigration, and Nationality Information 18 April 2013.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref8">[8]</a> Treaty Series No. 35 (2016).</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref9">[9]</a> Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC, OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 1; Directive (EU) 2016/680 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purposes of the prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties, and on the free movement of such data, OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 89.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref10">[10]</a> Refer to C‑362/14 <em>Schrems,</em> 6 October 2015.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref11">[11]</a> For an analysis see S. Carrera and E. Guild (2015), Safe Harbour or into the Storm? EU-US Data Transfers after the Schrems Judgment, CEPS Liberty and Security in Europe Papers, Brussels, November 2015.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref12">[12]</a> Refer to paragraph paragraphs 94 and 95 of the judgment.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref13">[13]</a> Paragraph 95 of the <em>Schrems</em> judgement. </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref14">[14]</a> Refer to <a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-2461_en.htm">http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-2461_en.htm</a> See also European Commission, Communication Transatlantic Data Flows: Restoring Trust through Strong Safeguards, COM(2016) 117 final, 29.2.2016.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref15">[15]</a> See for instance <a href="http://www.alstonprivacy.com/eu-u-s-privacy-shield-faces-judicial-attack/">http://www.alstonprivacy.com/eu-u-s-privacy-shield-faces-judicial-attack/</a> accessed 30 March 2017. For an overview of the Privacy Shield Programme visit <a href="https://www.privacyshield.gov/Program-Overview">https://www.privacyshield.gov/Program-Overview</a> </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref16">[16]</a> The full text of this Executive Order is available in the New York Times article ‘N.S.A. Gets More Latitude to Share Intercepted Communications’, 12 January 2017, retrievable from <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/12/us/politics/nsa-gets-more-latitude-to-share-intercepted-communications.html">https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/12/us/politics/nsa-gets-more-latitude-to-share-intercepted-communications.html</a> </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref17">[17]</a> European Parliament, Motion for a Resolution, on the adequacy of the protection afforded by the EU-US Privacy Shield&nbsp;(2016/3018(RSP)), 29. March 2017, accessible at <a href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&amp;reference=B8-2017-0235&amp;format=XML&amp;language=EN">http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&amp;reference=B8-2017-0235&amp;format=XML&amp;language=EN</a> </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref18">[18]</a> European Commission, Implementing Decision (EU) 2016/1250 of 12 July 2016 pursuant to Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the adequacy of the protection provided by the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, C(2016) 4176, OJ L 207/1, 1.8.2016.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref19">[19]</a> EUobserver, EU trying to salvage US deal on data privacy, 30 March 2017, available at <a href="https://euobserver.com/justice/137438">https://euobserver.com/justice/137438</a> See also EUobserver, Trump's anti-privacy order stirs EU angst, 27 January 2017, retrievable from <a href="https://euobserver.com/justice/136699">https://euobserver.com/justice/136699</a> </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref20">[20]</a> For more information see <a href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/intcoop/tld/default_en.htm">http://www.europarl.europa.eu/intcoop/tld/default_en.htm</a> </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 class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> Iraq </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Australia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Canada </div> <div class="field-item odd"> New Zealand </div> <div class="field-item even"> Iran </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Libya </div> <div class="field-item even"> Somalia </div> <div class="field-item odd"> South Sudan </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Yemen </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> digitaLiberties digitaLiberties Can Europe make it? Yemen Syria South Sudan Somalia Libya Iran New Zealand Canada Australia Iraq UK United States EU Sergio Carrera Didier Bigo Elspeth Guild Sat, 22 Apr 2017 13:20:04 +0000 Elspeth Guild, Didier Bigo and Sergio Carrera 110316 at https://www.opendemocracy.net To be or not to be: the future of opposition in post-referendum Turkey https://www.opendemocracy.net/halil-gurhanli/to-be-or-not-to-be-future-of-opposition-in-post-referendum-turkey <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In post-referendum Turkey, it is not just Erdoğan and his supporters but the opposition as well who refuse to recognize their adversaries as legitimate – an explosive formula.<strong></strong></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-30731933.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-30731933.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Turkish Opposition Party Republican People's Party (CHP) Leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu attends a "NO" campaign meeting on March 28, 2017, in Kocaeli, three weeks ahead of the referendum on an executive presidency.Depo Photos/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The most significant result of the April 16 referendum in Turkey seems to be that noone but the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his supporters accepts it. <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/halil-gurhanli/turkish-referendum-that-is-not">As predicted</a>, the referendum has yielded <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/16/erdogan-claims-victory-in-turkish-constitutional-referendum">controversial results</a> after extremely unfair and suspicious processes of campaigning, voting and counting. The official results declare a narrow win for Erdoğan’s ‘yes’ camp to legally cement his one-man regime: but external observers and opposition state that <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/turkish-referendum-million-votes-manipulated-recep-tayyip-erdogan-council-of-europe-observer-a7690181.html">up to 2.5 million</a> votes could have been manipulated as a result of a <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39632874">blatantly illegal decision</a> by the High Electoral Board (YSK). </p> <p>All the opposition parties, including the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and the opposition wing of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), contest the results and, thereby, question the very legitimacy of Erdoğan rule as well as the regime he wants to impose. Spontaneous rallies of <a href="http://www.dw.com/en/anti-erdogan-protests-held-as-turkey-extends-state-of-emergency/a-38458252">mass protest</a> calling for the referendum to be annulled continue in several cities. So do the <a href="http://www.birgun.net/haber-detay/houses-of-no-voters-in-turkey-raided-by-police-38-people-in-custody-156065.html">arrests</a> of those protesting. This means that in post-referendum Turkey, it is not just Erdoğan and his supporters but the opposition as well who refuse to recognize their adversaries as legitimate. This is an explosive formula because the referendum has carried the toxic polarization in Turkey to a whole new level where now everyone considers politics an existential battle that only one side can survive.<span class="mag-quote-center"> In Turkey now everyone considers politics an existential battle that only one side can survive.</span></p> <p>Nevertheless, the referendum has left the opposition at a historic crossroads: will they simply cease the struggle now that the YSK has <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/19/turkish-election-board-recep-tayyip-erdogan-referendum">rejected</a> their appeals, or will they keep the fight going through whichever means is available? This is identical to the question about whether they will keep acting as if Turkey were even a nominally democratic country. Their answer to those questions will simultaneously determine whether they will gradually wither away from the Turkish political scene. </p> <p>It is about time that they realize there is no room for any real opposition in Erdoğan’s new Turkey, which can be neatly summed up in <a href="http://www.eurasianet.org/node/67131">a principle</a> with eerie historical connotations: “one nation, one flag, one state, one man.” An entire society will have to be reorganized accordingly, so the opposition no longer has the luxury of playing by its rules but has to fight, tooth and nail, for survival. There is no pleasant way out of this any more.</p> <p>But does the opposition act as if they realized how dire the situation is? In a press conference held the day after the referendum, despite <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-politics-opposition-idUSKBN17J0OM?il=0">calling for annulment of the results</a>, the CHP spokesperson Bülent Tezcan sidestepped a very direct question: What will CHP do if the YSK rejects the objections? This is the crux of the matter. Will the party finally divert from the usual path of bending backwards every time it confronts Erdoğan’s will, as in the so-called "<a href="http://www.euractiv.com/section/enlargement/opinion/how-not-to-manage-a-political-crisis-the-turkish-example/">parliamentary oath crisis</a>" in 2011, and controversies surrounding Ankara <a href="http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/siyaset/56167/Ankara_da_24_saatlik_skandal.html">municipal elections</a> and <a href="http://www.haberturk.com/gundem/haber/988298-aymden-mansur-yavasa-sok">presidential elections</a> in 2014? </p> <p>In all those and numerous other instances, the CHP failed to hold its ground in the face of abject violations of the law. Instead, the party got humiliated, ate its words and succumbed to Erdoğan's will. This has led to a pessimism that the opposition does not have what it takes to compete in the game of politics Erdoğan so cunningly plays. Such toothless opposition is precisely the reason why there has been an overwhelming agreement, even within his own party, that the CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu lacks the very quality of leadership to translate their mass anger and frustration into political action, and stand as a viable alternative to Erdoğan. Alas, it is largely up to him to make a choice for the entire opposition, for the MHP has practically committed suicide by acting as Erdoğan’s fifth column, and the HDP remains incapacitated since it has became the target of Erdoğan’s wrath after costing him the June 2015 elections.</p> <p>Post-referendum, there seem to be two paths lying before the opposition. The first is &nbsp;‘business as usual’, where legal avenues are exhausted and heavy words of protest are uttered. This path, at best, would result in a favourable ruling obtained from <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-politics-opposition-idUSKBN17J0OM?il=0">the European Court of Human Rights</a> (ECHR) – a court with no capacity to enforce its decisions with Erdoğan under no obligation to abide by them. Ultimately, this would have a similar effect to that of the OSCE <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/17/turkey-vote-referendum-curtailed-fundamental-freedoms-european-observers">report</a>, providing factual bases for the moral condemnation of the Turkish government. It would, however, fall short of accomplishing much else.</p> <p>Predictably, such a decision would be music to Erdoğan’s ears, who would quickly dismiss it as yet another futile attempt by Turkey’s internal and external enemies to hamper the country’s unstoppable rise, as he has already done with the OSCE report. As far as the opposition is concerned, this would give credence to the suspicion that the CHP leadership has been secretly hoping for a two-party parliament where they could play the part of the opposition in a fake theatre of “pluralist democracy” for as long as possible. In the end, this option would likely turn Turkey into a country akin to <a href="http://www.osce.org/institutions/110015?download=true">Azerbaijan</a> or <a href="http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/belarus">Belarus</a>, where opposition figureheads nobody knows the names of take part in sham elections nobody even bothers to follow, which serve the purpose of maintaining the democratic façade nobody actually believes in. Sadly, this seems like the most probable scenario at the moment.</p> <p>The second path for the opposition is to refuse playing defensive anymore and initiate an offensive act through <em>passive disobedience</em>. This could be displayed most clearly and effectively by boycotting the parliament all together and, preferably, resigning en masse from the posts of MP. Since the regime, ‘legalized’ through the referendum, renders the parliament an impotent branch with no real legislative power or capacity to scrutinize the President, attending that theatre amounts to granting it legitimacy. <span class="mag-quote-center">Protecting the dignity of their position as the legitimate representatives of the people would paradoxically require members of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey to renounce that very office.</span></p> <p>Under current circumstances, protecting the dignity of their position as the legitimate representatives of the people would paradoxically require members of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey to renounce that very office. Hereupon, every single day spent in that capacity degrades the parliament further into a mere rubberstamp for Erdoğan’s wishes and his arbitrary use of power, for its sole purpose now is to reproduce that power by providing him with a transparent cover of ‘democratic legitimacy.’ In contrast, the act of resignation would be one of respect for the sanctity of parliament as the ultimate embodiment of democratic popular sovereignty. It would, nonetheless, undermine the legitimacy of the regime itself, depriving Erdoğan of a much-needed seal of approval to maintain the collective lie that Turkey is a democratic country where the rule of law still exists.</p> <p>The CHP spokeperson Selin Sayer Böke has already <a href="http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/main-opposition-party-could-withdraw-from-parliament-spokeswoman.aspx?pageID=238&amp;nID=112194&amp;NewsCatID=338">hinted</a> that such an act is on the cards. However, CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu and his clique were predictably quick to <a href="http://www.posta.com.tr/kemal-kilicdaroglu-meclis-i-terk-etmeyiz-haberi-1288359">dismiss her statement</a> in no uncertain terms, suggesting that the current leadership is determined not to go down that road: ‘We have no intention to withdraw from the Parliament, where the people have sent us to be present and defend their rights against this election fraud.’ It would be shameful of CHP leadership to deny the party and overall “no” camp that chance because, if maintained decisively, such an act has the potential to unite Turkey’s fragmented opposition behind a single and simple demand for the annulment of the referendum, suspending their mutual differences for a while. Meral Akşener, de facto leader of the MHP’s opposition wing, has already declared her determination to keep the ultra-nationalist electorate focused on the dubious referendum results, and <a href="https://twitter.com/meral_aksener/status/854611283060158464">dismissed</a> rumours that a new nationalist right-wing party of hers was in the making. Statements from the HDP also indicate that the party is committed to taking all sorts of <a href="http://www.bbc.com/turkce/haberler-turkiye-39640229">non-violent acts</a> to get the referendum results annulled. <span class="mag-quote-center">It is against a possible emergence of such unity that Erdoğan revived the spectre of the death penalty as a pre-emptive attack in his “victory” speech.</span></p> <p>It is against a possible emergence of such unity that Erdoğan has revived the spectre of the <a href="https://guardian.ng/news/erdogan-revives-spectre-of-death-penalty-in-turkey/">death penalty</a> as a pre-emptive attack in his “victory” speech, which could drive a wedge between the opposition parties. Thus, it would be crucial to protect this fading and fragile unity firmly behind the singular demand for the annulment of referendum and remain resilient in the face of Erdoğan’s familiar salvos that are likely to arrive in future, up to and including calling snap elections. Contrary to the <a href="http://www.birgun.net/haber-detay/sine-i-millet-ne-getirir-ne-goturur-156348.html">claims</a> of some well-meaning voices within the CHP leadership, the point of such passive disobedience is not to go to elections but to score an undeniable victory against Erdoğan by imposing a democratic red line and making him take back his referendum that has blatantly violated that line. This is about scoring one vital goal in a rigged game on an uneven field that is overseen by vastly partial referees while missing several of your key players. It falls pathetically short of winning the game: but it makes you think for a moment that it is somehow possible.</p> <p>Moreover, a resignation en masse could harness genuine support from outside the country as well. Having witnessed the AKP government’s gradual and methodical policy of annihilating any real source of opposition to its absolute rule at least since the Gezi Protests in June 2013, those who genuinely value the future of Turkey have long been <a href="https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/articles/opinion/kati-piri-eu-must-freeze-accession-talks-turkey">declaring</a> support and sympathy for the country’s democratic opposition, but failing (or not feeling obliged) to do anything more than that. </p> <p>While paying lip service to the principles of democracy and human rights, western governments have kept their co-operation with the Erdoğan regime intact, granting it international legitimacy as well as unlimited access to global markets, which are essential to maintaining those thoroughly corrupt crony capitalist networks it is built upon. Rendering the illusion of “democratic Turkey” impossible to maintain, such a peaceful yet radical act carries the potential of strengthening the hands of those groups outside Turkey, enabling them to put much more pressure on decision-makers to actually do something effective before all is lost. Some have already <a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/04/16/rip-turkey-1921-2017/">declared the Republic of Turkey dead</a>.</p> <p>In such dire circumstances, symbolically charged, democratic acts of protest by leading figures of the opposition (not only a resignation en masse but also even more spectacular deeds such as chaining oneself to the doors of YSK building) could prove enormously powerful in articulating the combined and often conflicting feelings of impotence, frustration, anger and defiance that are prevalent among a major part of the population. </p> <p>In the absence of any other actor with enough resources to galvanize a significant opposition movement, it is largely up to the CHP leadership whether to take a leap of faith into the unknown and abandon their relative safety by committing a truly democratic and political act. This is definitely a risky and even borderline suicidal act, especially under draconian laws of <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/04/turkey-extend-state-emergency-months-170418034656371.html">the state of emergency</a>. But anything short of that would amount to a slow, humiliating death for all the opposition parties anyway.<span class="mag-quote-center">Anything short of that would amount to a slow, humiliating death for all the opposition parties anyway.</span></p> <p>Avoiding confrontation and keeping it at the level of a courteous contest<em> </em>within the limits and according to the rules of the game imposed by Erdoğan has evidently failed in the face of an opponent who never hesitates in playing dirty to get his way no matter what. This is simply not a viable option any more. Direct and spectacular acts that seek to unite opposition and mobilize the masses towards making a truly democratic appearance, on the other hand, offer a slim chance. </p> <p>Unfortunately this is the only chance opposition in Turkey has now. Although as the leader of the main opposition party he occupies the most advantageous position to seize it, Kılıçdaroğlu, like his predecessor Deniz Baykal, seems determined to go down in the pages of history as yet another feckless leader. His deep fear of making any mistakes stops him from taking a turn at a critical juncture and, instead, keeps everyone on that tragically familiar path down to certain annihilation, without even putting up a decent fight. What little hope that remains lies in those who would put up that fight against and despite him.</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="/neophytos-loizides-evangelos-liaras/badly-timed-ill-conceived-and-fraudulent-yet-turkey-s-opposition">Badly-timed, ill-conceived and fraudulent, yet Turkey’s opposition could be the one to gain from Erdoğan’s presidential referendum </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"> 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"> 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? Arab Awakening EU Turkey Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Ideas International politics Turkish Dawn Halil Gurhanli Sat, 22 Apr 2017 11:45:21 +0000 Halil Gurhanli 110315 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Refugee crisis and Central and Eastern Europe: what solidarity do we need? https://www.opendemocracy.net/karolina-babicka/refugee-crisis-and-central-and-eastern-europe-what-solidarity-do-we-need <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>There is a disconnect between law and practice whereby the EU is continually reforming the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) but seems incapable of implementing it.</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-30562700.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-30562700.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'>Ai Weiwei showing his installation with of a 70 meter long rubber boat with 280 larger-than-life figures of refugees hanging from the ceiling of the National Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic, 16 March 2017. Michael Heitmann/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>The CEE countries have in the past few years taken a very strong stance against refugees. They are not willing to host refugees – whether this involves the claim that these are people from different cultures or have different religions, or blaming the inadequate infrastructure and the fact that people do not want to come to these countries.&nbsp;There is a rise in negative public attitudes towards Muslims and other foreigners.</p> <p>For instance: the Czech Republic systematically abuses migrants’ rights as part of a deterrent strategy. The number of detained migrants rose from a few hundred in 2013 to 8,500 in 2015.&nbsp;The Bulgarian police continues&nbsp;to “apprehend people who arrive, to fingerprint and detain them for deportation”. And there are an&nbsp;<a href="http://detainedinbg.com/blog/2017/02/13/ngos-report-widespread-push-back-practices-and-denial-of-access-to-state-territory-to-asylum-seekers-in-central-and-eastern-europe/">increasing number of reports of violent push-backs</a>&nbsp;and collective expulsions from Bulgaria. Hungary has just passed a law that allows for automatic detention for all asylum seekers. <span class="mag-quote-center">Hungary has just passed a law that allows for automatic detention for all asylum seekers.</span></p> <p>There is a direct connection between&nbsp;<em>the stance taken towards migration and refugees</em>&nbsp;and the rule of law crises in CEE countries, as migration flows have been used by rightwing populists to fuel and justify skepticism about human rights, the rule of law, and the EU legal order, and to block implementation of EU solidarity measures such as relocation.</p> <p>The EU has been unwilling or unable to adequately defend its values (and sometimes laws) as regards migrants specifically, as well as the rule of law generally, and needs to take stronger positions on both.&nbsp;On numerous occasions the Commission should have started infringement proceedings and we are not seeing it happen. There is a disconnect between law and practice whereby the EU is continually reforming the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) but seems incapable of implementing it.</p> <p>Member states show little&nbsp;willingness to improve their asylum systems and uphold human rights. With the overall dysfunctional Dublin Regulation, relocation and lack of resettlement places, the EU member states seem to compete with each other over who will attract less asylum seekers. <span class="mag-quote-center">With the overall dysfunctional Dublin Regulation, relocation and lack of resettlement places, the EU member states seem to compete with each other over who will attract less asylum seekers.</span></p> <p>Looking at the solidarity mechanism, priority should be given to family re-unification, voluntary re-location and financial solidarity. Relocation needs to be to places where reception conditions can comply with human rights.&nbsp;The minimum that is needed is a correct implementation of the existing legislation – such as the current Dublin rules: first criteria should be family reunification – to send people forward to a country where they have a family, not just backwards to a first country of entry, as we are seeing today.</p> <p>We should reflect on the work of the&nbsp;United Nations&nbsp;<span>Special Rapporteur</span>&nbsp;on the Human&nbsp;Rights of Migrants&nbsp;and his critique of the EU as well as of individual EU member states and his push for legal migration routes to Europe (Report from 2015). It was one of the first times that the UN human rights mechanisms have addressed the EU specifically.&nbsp;Francois Crepeau has said many times to the EU countries that&nbsp;territorial sovereignty cannot be protected at the expense of human rights. He has been calling for legal and safe routes for refugees (and economic migrants).</p> <p>The Geneva refugee convention was enacted when no visa regimes were in place. It is based on a presumption that a person fleeing persecution can enter another country to seek protection. However if you look at the case of Syrians today, the only country that issues humanitarian visas to some of them is Brazil and only Sudan has no visa requirement for Syrians. Other than these, there is no legal way for Syrians to leave the country and seek protection. Even when crossing the border to Turkey, people are now being pushed back as a result of the EU-Turkey deal.</p> <p>Therefore the current system, where refugees can get protection in Europe only when they reach European soil – and there is no legal and safe way to actually do so – pushes people into irregular ways to reach Europe, where their life and dignity are threatened. This fosters the smuggling and even trafficking of human beings.</p> <p>People should come to Europe through regular channels rather than spend all their money on smugglers and risk their lives in this way. What solidarity responses do we need? Safe and legal channels: family reunification visas, resettlement, humanitarian visa, etc. <span class="mag-quote-center">People should come to Europe through regular channels rather than spend all their money on smugglers and risk their lives in this way.</span></p> <p>Refugees and migrants lack access to political rights in Europe, which is one of the major reasons why they can be used as scapegoats by governments. This absence is the main reason for the lack of political will to pay any attention to their rights. Migrants and refugees should have the right to vote in local elections at least. Otherwise populist politicians can repeat all over again the same arguments and they will have find little opposing argument. </p><p> Francois Crepeau has also said that rights have never been fought for better than by people themselves, as in the case of those who fought for the rights of women or LGBTI. We should try to find ways to empower migrants to be able to fight for their rights.</p><p><em>The 2017 CEPS Ideas Lab – a key annual event on EU policy organised by the Brussels-based think tank, the Centre for European Policy Studies – asked how such core EU challenges as Rights &amp; Security can be implemented with respect for the EU rule of law and fundamental rights. Cooperating with openDemocracy, we bring the resulting debates to this dedicated page.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>See <a href="https://www.ceps.eu/content/ceps-ideas-lab-2017-reconstructing-union">CEPS Ideas Lab 2017 - Reconstructing the Union</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-anoth-sidebox"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ideaslab2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/CEPS-Armband.jpg" width="100%" style="margin-bottom:10px;" /></a> <div style="90%;"> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ian-borg/migration-policies-effective-ways-to-address-smuggling">Migration policies: effective ways to address smuggling</a><br />IAN BORG <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/karolina-babicka/refugee-crisis-and-central-and-eastern-europe-what-solidarity-do-we-need">Refugee crisis and Central and Eastern Europe: what solidarity do we need?</a><br />KAROLINA BABICKA <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/jean-pierre-schembri/tomorrow-s-agency-for-asylum">Tomorrow’s Agency for Asylum</a><br />JEAN-PIERRE SCHEMBRI <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brian-donald/migrant-smuggling-to-eu-need-for-coordinated-response">Migrant smuggling to the EU – the need for a coordinated response</a><br />BRIAN DONALD <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/regina-catrambone/three-humanitarian-proposals">Three humanitarian proposals</a><br />REGINA CATRAMBONE <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/m-rio-marques/challenges-of-mediterranean-illegal-migration-crisis">Challenges of the Mediterranean illegal migration crisis</a><br />MÁRIO MARQUES <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/anneliese-baldaccini/it-is-time-to-move-beyond-dublin-logic">It is time to move beyond the Dublin logic</a><br />ANNELIESE BALDACCINI <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/kamil-matuszczyk/migration-crisis-in-2017-challenges-for-eu-solidarity">Migration crisis in 2017 – challenges for EU solidarity</a><br />KAMIL MATUSZCZYK </div> </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-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? EU Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government International politics CEPS 2017 Karolina Babicka Sat, 22 Apr 2017 07:42:27 +0000 Karolina Babicka 110128 at https://www.opendemocracy.net From insecurity to insecurity: Black and Ethnic Minority Europeans in the UK https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/umut-erel-elisavet-tapini/from-insecurity-to-insecurity-black-and-ethnic-minority <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>“If all the Europeans leave, who work so hard and they pay taxes, how are they going to manage to keep the benefit system in the first place?”</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/500209/3448434514_d6590ff92b_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/3448434514_d6590ff92b_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'>On the tube. Flickr/ Adrian Brady. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The recent vote in the House of Commons not to guarantee the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK refreshed concerns among many European citizens who had, perhaps not felt compelled to worry much about their position in UK society before last year’s BREXIT referendum. Yet in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, we have seen xenophobic verbal and physical attacks against those thought to be European citizens, as well as Black and Ethnic Minority British citizens. </p> <p>This is of course deeply worrying, as any rise in xenophobia and racism undermines democratic forms of sociality. One aspect which has perhaps not caught the public imagination arises from one of the calls of the pro-Brexit campaigners. They have emphasised that in demanding curbs on European migration, they are ‘calling for an end to discrimination in the treatment of people wanting to come here’ (“Fair and Controlled”, 2017). They argue that by controlling EU citizens’ migration to the UK, they are ending discrimination in favour of EU citizens, giving more opportunities to enter the country for non-EU migrants. </p> <p>Underlying this argument is the assumption that EU citizens are white and ethnically European. This reproduces racialized ideas of what it means to be European, in particular ignoring the ways in which European identity is deeply enmeshed in colonial projects. Such a view problematically equates Europeanness with whiteness. This ignores the presence of people of colour in Europe, whether it be centuries-old Black European communities or those who migrated more recently, often as parts of postcolonial or labour migrations.</p> <h2><strong>Challenging research</strong></h2> <p>Our recent research on the experiences of recent Black and Ethnic Minority migrants from Greece and Spain challenges such an argument that pitches European citizens and Black and minority migrants’ rights against each other. </p> <p>As practices of counting ethnic minorities or migrants differ nationally, it is not easy to put a number to ethnic minority Europeans. Analysing Eurostat records (<a href="http://www.ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statisticsexplained/index.php/Acquisition_of_citizenship_statistics">Eurostat, 2016</a>), we found that the countries with the highest number of new citizenships were Spain (225, 000; i.e. 23% of the EU28 total), the UK (207, 500; i.e. 21%), Germany (115, 100; i.e. 12%), Italy (100, 700; i.e. 10 %) and France (97, 300; i.e. 10% of the EU28 total). Most new citizenship applications in the EU (89%) were from third country nationals, with the highest numbers coming from citizens of Morocco, followed by citizens of India, Turkey, Colombia, Albania and Ecuador. </p> <h2><strong>Black and Ethnic Minority EU citizens in the UK</strong></h2> <p>Among ethnic minority residents and citizens of European countries, there are also a number who have taken up their rights to free movement within the EU. Among the 3.3 million EU citizens who live in the UK, there are ethnic minority EU citizens. Our recent pilot research has looked at the experiences and motivations of Black, Minority and Ethnic European citizens who have migrated to the UK. </p> <p>Our research focused on the countries most likely to have become sending states, following the Great Recession in 2008, i.e. Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain and looked in particular at Latin Americans and Eastern Europeans as the ‘New Europeans’ most likely to exercise their newly acquired right of onward migration to the UK. </p> <p>Looking at the breakdown of these ‘New Europeans’ in 2013, 30,200 Moroccans, 38,900 Colombians and 38,400 Ecuadorians were granted citizenship in Spain, which also has the highest number of new citizenships granted (<a href="http://www.ec.europe.eu/eurostat/statisticsexplained/index.php/Acquisition_of_citizenship_statistics">Eurostat, 2016</a>). Italy has also granted citizenship to 25,400 Moroccans and 13,700 Albanians, whereas Portugal has granted citizenship to 5,100 Brazilians. A large number of Albanians were also granted citizenship in Greece (25,800). Data from the Census in 2011 in England and Wales might assist in understanding some of these onward migrations; nevertheless, it is still quite difficult to provide an estimate of more recent migrations (i.e. post-2011) or migrations of BME ‘New Europeans’ in the UK. </p> <p>Previous research found that BME Europeans, especially where they were highly educated and skilled, were motivated in their migration to the UK by factors such as joining an existing ethnic community or family members, the relative ease of self employment in the UK, as well as what they perceived to be a more multiculturalist society where ethnic differences were more welcomed than they felt in their European home countries. However, as we spoke with our research participants in spring 2016, the foremost reason why our interview partners had moved to the UK was economic. Our small sample was comprised of migrants from Spain and Greece, who had been born in Latin America or Eastern Europe. Their experiences clearly reflect the impact of the economic crisis in Southern Europe, where they could not make ends meet any more. </p> <p>Jose, an 18 year old from Colombia, who had attended school in Spain and worked part time on farms and in construction points out how the financial crisis affected the whole family:</p> <blockquote><p>It was the crisis in Spain, we couldn’t live there any more. My father lost his job and then we lost the house too. He had bought a house and we got evicted, as we couldn’t pay.</p></blockquote> <p>This decision for many came at the end of a prolonged journey of being in insecure employment situations, often without a contract. Our interview partners had often felt settled in their European countries and, until the financial crisis, had not contemplated moving onto a new country. Manjola found it hard to leave her home in Greece, where she felt she had built her whole life. However because of destitution, she was compelled to migrate to the UK:</p> <blockquote><p>With no jobs in Greece, I couldn’t keep the house any more, there was no money for the rent. (….) What can I do? Go back to Greece? How? There are no jobs there! Go back to Albania? There are no jobs there either! Let alone that in Albania I’m even more of a stranger than I am in Greece! </p></blockquote> <p>While their migration to the UK was strongly motivated by economic factors, accessing more regular and regulated jobs also allowed our participants to spend more time as a family. Laetitia and her husband initially migrated from Bolivia. During their time in Spain, they ‘used to work from Sunday to Sunday, no day off. Every day. And it was really-really hard for us. We did this job for 9 years.’ In the UK she works as a cleaner for two hours a day, ‘5-7 am before my children wake up. And my husband works from 9 am in the morning till 11 pm at night. So, his working schedule is one day double-shift, followed by one day off. So yes, much better balance. And my older daughter now says, oh now I have my family, I have my mother…. ‘ </p> <p>So, while migration to the UK could mean immediate improved everyday life for some of our interview partners, we also heard about exploitation, such as Amelia’s experience in the workplace: ‘I had an experience, working as a waitress and they… didn’t pay me.’&nbsp; For most, this type of experience was part of their early days in the UK and the more they had access to local knowledge, the better they were able to organise their lives to avoid or challenge such exploitation. However, as we spoke to them right after the vote to leave the EU, the spectre of Brexit cast anxieties and doubts over their future aspirations.&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>BREXIT a looming new insecurity</strong></h2> <p>The issue of Brexit came up for most of our interview partners. They are worried about how these political developments will affect them. Ronaldo is a very determined young man from Bolivia, who follows his dream to become a policeman, which he could not realise in Spain:</p> <blockquote><p>The main concern is if the UK is going to stay in Europe or not. Because of course, this would affect my plans tremendously. What if I start to train as a policeman here and my dream is cut short for the second time?</p></blockquote> <p>Juliana, an Ecuadoria-Spanish woman in her early 50s, brings up the political situation straight away: </p><blockquote><p>‘The main concern is the current political situation, because we only have European citizenship, not British citizenship. We will see what happens.’</p></blockquote> <p>While other participants were more preoccupied with personal concerns, all our interview partners were keen to contest the idea that migrants were benefit tourists, an argument they very much associated with debates before the BREXIT vote. Ronaldo in his early 20s, a Bolivian-Spaniard: </p> <blockquote><p>The people that I know, no one gets benefits. Especially the young people. They go to work, they work really hard. They wake up at 3&nbsp; o’clock in the morning, they work until 8 o’clock, they go to English classes after, they usually just get some sleep on the bus So, what I see here is that, everyone makes so many sacrifices, in order to make it. I feel very moved by that, seeing people trying so hard. </p></blockquote> <p>Svetlana, in her late forties, who is Russian-Greek feels that the media and politicians</p> <blockquote><p>&nbsp;…didn’t’ tell the truth when they did all this Brexit campaign.They blamed everything on migrants and it is not true. At all. (…) We try to make our own way here, working. If all the Europeans leave, who work so hard and they pay taxes, how are they going to manage to keep the benefit system in the first place?</p></blockquote> <p>They clearly worry about their future rights to live and work in the UK. A worry which has not been addressed by the current political climate of ‘Hard Brexit’ as exemplified in recent statements by the Prime Minister which refuse to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK. </p> <p>While all EU citizens living in the UK have to face an uncertain future, those BME Europeans, who arrived in the country post-2011 are more likely to be threatened. As we have found in our study, they are mostly in low-skilled precarious employment positions, so they lack the social and economic capital that characterised earlier, mostly white European migrations. Furthermore, in the current stream of xenophobia and racism, they are marginalised both as Europeans with an insecure outlook and as racial or ethnic Other, stereotyped as benefit or health tourists. </p> <p>Hence, this ‘minority within a minority’ has experienced one insecurity after another. The recent vote in the House of Commons and Theresa May’s strong views on using EU citizens’ residence rights as a bargaining chip in BREXIT negotiations are deeply worrying for all EU citizens, including this minority within a minority in the UK. Having experienced multiple and successive insecurities already, they should be allowed to plan their futures. This requires addressing racism and xenophobia against EU citizens and Black and Minority Ethnic citizens and migrants not as separate but connected pheonomena before they can further erode the social fabric of our communities, workplaces and cities.&nbsp; </p> <p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>References</strong></p> <p>Ahrens, Jill Melissa Kelly and Ilse van Liempt (2016) <em>Free Movement? The Onward Migration of EU Citizens Born in Somalia, Iran, and Nigeria, Population</em>, Space Place 22, 84<strong>–</strong>98</p> <p>Bhambra,<strong> </strong>Gurminder K (2015) <a href="http://www.sicherheitspolitik-blog.de/2015/10/01/the-refugee-crisis-and-our-connected-histories-of-colonialism-and-empire/">The refugee crisis and our connected histories of colonialism and empire.</a> </p> <p>Eurostat (2016). <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statisticsexplained/index.php/Acquisition_of_citizenship_statistics">Statistics Explained: Acquisition of Citizenship Statistics.</a>&nbsp; </p><p>“<a href="https://www.changebritain.org/campaigns/fair-immigration">Fair and Controlled Immigration</a>” (2017). In <em>Change Britain</em>.</p><p>Gutiérrez Rodríguez, E.; Boatca, M. and S. Costa. 2010. "Introduction: Decolonizing European Sociology: Different paths towards a pending project." In <em>Decolonizing European Sociology: Transdisciplinary Approaches</em>, edited by Gutiérrez Rodríguez, E.; Boatca, M. and S. Costa, 1–13. Farnham, UK: Ashgate</p> <p>Office of National Statistics (2016): <a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/internationalmigration/bulletins/migrationstatisticsquarterlyreport/previousReleases">Migration Statistics Quarterly Report, 2016.</a> </p> <p>Office of National Statistics (2015): 2011 <em><a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/internationalmigration/articles/populationbycountryofbirthandnationalityreport/2015-09-27">Census Analysis. Population by Country of Birth and Nationality Report. August 2015.</a> </em></p> <p>Office of National Statistics (2016). <a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/uklabourmarket/june2016">UK Labour Market: Estimates of Employment, Unemployment, Economic Inactivity and other Employment-Related Statistics for the UK.</a> <em>Statistical Bulletin</em>, June 2016.</p> <p>Office of National Statistics (2016) <a href="http://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/datasets/employmentbycountryofbirthandnationalityemp06">EMP06: Employment by Country of Birth and Nationality. <em>Dataset: </em>May 2016.</a> </p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-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 UK Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Economics Equality International politics Brexit2016 People Flow Elisavet Tapini Umut Erel Fri, 21 Apr 2017 10:36:41 +0000 Umut Erel and Elisavet Tapini 110278 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Amiens – a cacophony of voices https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/joshua-neicho/amiens-cacophony-of-voices <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What is the political mood in Emmanuel Macron’s home town this week? How is his campaign faring alongside the Le Pen supporters, among the Whirlpool factory workers, the old and young?</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/IMG_3002-3.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_3002-3.JPG" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Amiens, Cathedral town.</span></span></span>Talking in the run-up to Easter to campaigners for French election frontrunner Emmanuel Macron in his home town of Amiens and it’s clear to their minds that he has a certain saintliness, even godliness.</p> <p>Nicolas, a marketing director for a luxury fashion brand in his mid-thirties who studied at the same lycée as Macron and his younger brother describes an event he worked on with Emmanuel, a ceremony for newly graduated bakers.</p> <p>“We had to stay one hour. He was there for three hours without any cameras. There was a person in a wheelchair who told us, ‘I’ve met dozens of ministers, and Macron is the only one who talked to me crouching down, not sitting in a chair or standing up. He was talking to me on the same level’.</p> <p>“He’s a philosopher. Above all he's a humanist, clearly. He's interested in people of every kind. When people say 'he's a banker, he worked four years for Rothschilds', then I say OK - so what? He knows how to work in the private sector. That's not the case with François Fillon, who’s been an Assembly deputy for 34-35 years”.</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_2974.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_2974.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'>Nicolas, the Macron campaigner</span></span></span>Nicolas is from a socialist family, the son of two teachers, and was previously a campaigner for François Hollande before coming over to Macron because of his position on social issues and freshness of vision. He speaks warmly of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the other Left candidates, but feels Macron’s platform is “the only way for us to be pragmatic, to have a real global vision of France”. When I challenge him about what the 39 year old former Economy Minister stands for, alluding to a report that many of his supporters couldn’t name his policies, he comes back at me sharply, asking if I have read the manifesto. He spells out Macron’s appeal to him – the symbolic power of his support for gay marriage; his planned reforms of health insurance to make it easier for small firms to take on more staff, and of out-of-work benefits to encourage people to move on from jobs they hate. </p><h2><strong>Beyond the sterile game?</strong></h2><p class="mag-quote-center">With his emphasis on mutual respect, “Macron got citizens to talk one to the other” she says.</p> <p>Other activists in the En Marche! insurgency, founded by Macron in Amiens a year ago this month, alight on different things. Laure, who works for non-profits and has recently returned from working abroad to the small town-turned-suburb of Amiens where she grew up, draws a diagram that puts him in the dead centre of the political spectrum, crossing out unsuccessful moderate candidates on the Left and Right to show how polarised politics has become. With his emphasis on mutual respect, “Macron got citizens to talk one to the other” she says. In her early 30s, she is going to spread the word among millennials – “where they play football or basketball, where they’re holidaying”. Lawyer Muriel, who has never previously been involved in politics, draws hope from his disavowal of the “sterile game of the parties” and En Marche’s new parliamentary candidates from civil society - “people like you and me”.</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_3018.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_3018.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'>Lawyer Muriel</span></span></span>But despite Macron still leading in the polls, and being odds on to defeat Marine Le Pen in the final round, there’s nervousness in the En Marche! camp. The fuzziness of Macron’s support has reduced considerably since February, when only a third of those backing him said they were certain to turn up at the polls, putting him ninth out of 11 candidates looking at this category alone; but as of an April 4 survey, he was still trailing Fillon and Le Pen among committed voters. As the “ultimate insider”, in the words of Olivier Royant of Paris Match, he attracts brickbats more than he does bouquets. He – of the most gilded educational background – is resented for his meteoric rise without ever facing a democratic test (he went from François Hollande's backroom advisor to his deputy chief of staff before his appointment as Economy Minister in 2014). And while he resigned from the Cabinet last August after establishing En Marche! and has declared he is neither Left or Right, for many he remains tainted by his association with the Hollande government - "Micron" in online jibes, a Lilliputian cipher for the political establishment. His policy thinking is mocked by rivals as vague and vapid, and the area he is most passionate about and where he has political form, reforming the French economy, puts him on a collision course with workers and the unions. </p><p>In the era of Trump and Brexit, for a leading election candidate to have double the backing among high earners as working class voters, and support that correlates most closely with highest level of educational attainment is an uncomfortable perch. The rallying of support for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, suggests Agnès Verdier Molinié of thinktank IFRAP, may mean that regardless of his politics, the charismatic 65 year old looks more like a President to thousands of conservative-minded voters than En Marche’s gap-toothed young pretender.</p> <h2><strong>Amiens is like France</strong></h2> <p>Amiens (pop.132,000), famous for its cathedral, its role in the world wars and, fittingly, its <em>Macarons </em>(macaroons) is “like France” socially and politically, my host for the weekend tells me. There are neighbourhoods like Henriville, where Macron grew up, with solid neoclassical townhouses; drive a little past the city centre, by the Whirlpool factory which in 2018 will be closed and its operations shifted to Poland and there are districts like Faubourg de Hem, with brick terraces decked out with satellite dishes. In the city centre, most passers-by are white, but with fair numbers of ethnic minority locals and people from all over the world too. The National Front are strong in the villages around Amiens and towards the mouth of the Somme, in the same <em>departement,</em> is a traditional Left heartland.</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_2944.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_2944.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 Whirlpool factory</span></span></span>Nicolas has warned me that there isn’t an overt feeling of local loyalty to Macron – that Emmanuel left Amiens when he was young and “we don’t put up flags” to campaign – and so it proves. Outside Jean Trogneux, the landmark patisserie owned by Macron’s in-laws, I fail to find a single passer-by set on voting for Macron because they are truly enthusiastic about him, rather than as a compromise option. He’s never done anything around here, says a Mélenchon-supporting secondary school maths teacher, who would vote Macron to stop Le Pen. A couple of people tell me that they like the struggling Socialist candidate, Benoît Hamon, or prefer his policy programme. Philippe, an architect in his 50s, thinks Macron is too young and inexperienced and will vote Fillon, "because the Republicans remain Republicans". In the event of a Macron-Le Pen showdown, "I might vote Macron, but one section of the Republicans will vote Le Pen and another won't vote". "We're not worried by Marine Le Pen. They can’t do anything – it’s French, in a way!” says a Hamon-favouring young Muslim queuing for an ice cream – before revealing quite proudly that he and his two friends won’t vote.</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_2982.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_2982.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'>Hamon-favouring non-voters, Mohamed, Sofeane and Mahfoud.</span></span></span>In the car park of Macron's former lycée La Providence, a group of venture scouts in their late teens are getting ready to go off on an expedition. Surely they are keen on the man who would become France's youngest-ever President? No, the three I speak to are voting for François<em> </em>Fillon - "he's better for enterprise and investment", says Antoine. Young people aren't fired up over Macron, he tells me; he might represent a break from the two-party system, but he needs to get enough untested En Marche! representatives into the Assembly in June if he wants to change anything. "Macron left town, he was never elected" says the father of one of the scouts, who has lived in Amiens for 40 years. "What does he stand for? Nobody knows". He says he is undecided - "we voted for Hollande, and nobody likes Hollande. I'll vote for the best programme, not the best person, but the programme doesn't arrive". <span class="mag-quote-center">"I'll vote for the best programme, not the best person, but the programme doesn't arrive".</span></p> <h2><strong>What about the workers?</strong></h2> <p>Then there are Amiens’ industrial workers, for whom the Whirlpool announcement is the latest in a series of factory closures. Macron was lambasted first as a “phantom” for not speaking out against the move, then for the non-interventionist position he took in a debate with local journalist and Left Party parliamentary candidate François Ruffin: “I’m not going to go on a truck and say it is not going to close”. </p> <p>Christophe Saguez of the Somme region CGT union explains why Macron’s expressed desire to save jobs by trying to secure a buyer for the site does not wash with workers: “There is a sense of impunity. Groups can accumulate profits, closing industrial sites without being accountable. Most candidates for the highest office do not question this logic. They are compassionate, sometimes criticize the leadership of the multinational but without going to challenge the power of finance. Macron the son of Amiens who was a minister in the current government, is of this same way of thinking, which explains why there is no support from industrial workers for his project which has nothing new about it”.</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_2939.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_2939.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'>Landmark patisserie owned by Macron's in-laws.</span></span></span>“Macron brought in labour force liberalisation - workers know exactly the side he has taken” says Loic Terlon of the Somme Left Party. He also describes the strength of anti-EU feeling in France, enough to take France out if there was a referendum on whether to remain in the EU as currently constituted - the diametric opposite of Macron’s vision of closer European co-operation. Éric Richermoz, a 24 yr.old National Front councillor in the region takes a strikingly similar tone. Most French people are Eurosceptic, he argues, while Macron, blind to the miseries of the “French rust belt”, is content with the power given to the European Commission, presenting himself as a man of a new era but in fact backed by a gallery of political has-beens: “he's a kind of Margaret Thatcher”. <span class="mag-quote-center">“Macron brought in labour force liberalisation - workers know exactly the side he has taken.”</span></p><p>The local campaigners I speak to are far from complacent, or even confident about Macron’s ultimate victory. Nicolas describes the effectiveness of the National Front’s split strategy, focused on workers’ grievances without racist undertones in the North and playing off fears of Islam and terrorism in the South, the cleverness of their branding and ubiquity of their social media presence. “Everyone was laughing at Donald Trump in Paris. No-one thought he could win. [Le Pen] has never been so close to power, never. And she can win, of course she can win”. Laure jokes, in reference to Brexit and Trump, that “my generation think polls are for people who like sports”. They have strategies for reaching out to undecided voters – students who say they’re not interested in politics and might be susceptible to Le Pen; ways of talking to people by asking first if they know who they are going to vote for, then what candidates they are considering, and letting them go into their whole political outlook. </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_2979.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_2979.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'>Philippe,architect and Fillon-voter.</span></span></span>Demographics and historical experience suggest Macron will win if he reaches the second round, and that he can do it without the working-class vote, as Nicolas Sarkozy did in 2007, so high are abstention levels. But there are two ways of looking at this election – that France is, all in all, a moderate country which likes clean-cut politicians, as Nabila Ramdani argued in a recent radio debate. Or that, while not in truth experiencing an upsurge in racism and immigrants shutting themselves off from society, the nation’s inescapable tone is one of dissonance: "its many tensions, its sour mood, its sense of political unravelling, its anti-élite sentiment and its many social ills", as Natalie Nougayrede describes in a recent piece. <span class="mag-quote-center">"Le Pen has never been so close to power. And she can win, of course she can win".</span></p><p>Agnès Verdier Molinié of IFRAP thinks the stereotypes about French work culture are unfair, that entrepreneurs and blue-collar employees often work together and more French people want economic reform than oppose it. A cacophony of voices, and the popularity of Mélenchon and Le Pen would suggest the opposite. “If Macron wins, it will change things, it has to”, Nicolas says, foreseeing that extremism and France’s stick-in-mud tendencies can be defeated so long as he proves the new broom he has promised. That’s easier said than done, even for a secular saint; and he has to get there first.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_2940.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_2940.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'>Front National office in Amiens.</span></span></span></p><p><em>Thanks go to Michael Willoughby, photographer, for these portraits of Amiens </em><em>(all rights reserved).</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/philippe-marli-re/french-tragedy-or-farce-2017-presidential-election-1">French tragedy or farce: the 2017 presidential election – 1</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/alex-sakalis/diem25-example-of-internal-democracy-in-action">DiEM25: an example of internal democracy in action</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/lucas-goetz/quo-vadis-alsace-politics-in-land-of-paradox">Quo vadis Alsace? Politics in the land of paradox</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/francis-ghile-s/this-french-presidential-election-is-historic">This French presidential election is historic</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/patrice-de-beer/brexit-le-pen-france">Brexit and France: a divorce by mutual consent?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/hugh-mcdonnell/marine-le-pen-vel-dhiv-round-up-and-grey-zone-of-vichy-france">Marine Le Pen, the Vel d&#039;Hiv round-up, and the grey zone of Vichy France</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"> France </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? France Josh Neicho Thu, 20 Apr 2017 16:55:21 +0000 Josh Neicho 110271 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The masses have spoken, but not all hope is lost, for Turkey’s democracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/tezcan-gumus/masses-have-spoken-but-not-all-hope-is-lost-for-turkey-s-democracy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This inherent ability to cancel itself out is democracy’s paradox:&nbsp; to “sow the seeds of its own destruction”, succumbing to the electoral will of the majority. </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-30963320.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-30963320.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'>Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan addresses supporters in Presidential Palace, Ankara, Turkey April 17, 2017. Depo Photos/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>The 51.3% win for the ‘yes’ vote means the country in 2019 will transition to a presidential system from a parliamentary democracy that it has lived under since 1945. Unlike the US-style presidential system, the Turkish model won’t have the separation of powers that provide strong checks on the executive. Rather presidency <em>a-la Turka</em> provides the executive with the keys to the state, legislature, and judiciary. The president will be accountable to virtually nobody, the country susceptible to the whims of a single person’s wishes. <span class="mag-quote-center">These victories fuelled the perception of the AKP as the architects of contemporary Turkey who alone understood what was best for the country.</span></p> <p>Turkey has for many years witnessed the steady dismantling of democracy under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s rule. Consecutive electoral victories since 2002 by Erdoğan’s AKP allowed the party to govern single-handedly with an overwhelming majority in the National Assembly. Over time, these victories fuelled the perception of the AKP as the architects of contemporary Turkey who alone understood what was best for the country. Ruling with a strong majority in parliament for Erdoğan and his AKP comrades was equated with the unrestricted exercise of a power carried out with systemic efficiency. </p> <p>Indeed, the early years witnessed some democratic gains but after the 2007 victory the trend began to reverse, picking up full speed from 2010 onwards. During these years, the legislative actions indicated a government taking great strides at pulling apart any democratic institutions and practices. Turkey’s already fragile democracy couldn’t withstand the onslaught of their overwhelming majority. Erdoğan’s government became comfortable, at times gloating, in their efforts to muzzle, marginalise and repress their opposition. What little tolerance existed disappeared altogether for any opposition and critics. &nbsp;<span class="mag-quote-center">What little tolerance existed disappeared altogether for any opposition and critics. </span></p> <p>In the face of the erosion of political and civil rights of their fellow countrymen, freedom of assembly, the press, independence of the judiciary and social harmony withered away, replaced by an extremely polarised and divided society. The public continued to re-elect Erdoğan. </p> <p>The period of democracy’s cessation was neither brief nor sudden. Rather the coming end of democracy was slow and steady. Developments following the failed coup on the night of July 15, 2016 marked the inevitable termination of democracy, formalised with the slim victory for the ‘yes’ vote in the referendum. </p> <h2><strong>Reversible democracy?</strong></h2> <p>Turkey’s experience flies in the face of assumptions that the path of democratisation is near irreversible, at the least difficult to reverse. The country’s experience is another lesson that in democracy nothing is out of the question if the majority so choose. It demonstrates democracy has no inbuilt mechanism to deny anti-democratic ideals from slipping into its midst. When supported by enough numbers anything can be put into question, interrogated, repealed – even the idea of democracy itself. </p> <p>The cancellation of democracy indeed remains a perpetual risk, which no democracy can legitimately guard against.&nbsp; This inherent ability to cancel itself out is democracy’s paradox:&nbsp; to “sow the seeds of its own destruction” as Mark Chou has stated, die at its own hands, succumbing to the electoral will of the majority. </p> <h2><strong>All is not lost</strong></h2> <p>Yet, all hope for Turkey’s democracy is not lost. The coming end of democracy need not be permanent or assured. As the masses can choose to end democracy, they are as capable of reviving it. </p> <p>In opposing the presidential system, 49% of the country voted ‘no’. This by no means is a small minority in a country in which around 46 million are reported to have cast their ballots. The difference between the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ vote is around one million, by no means irreversible. Despite utilising the state’s resources to drive his campaign, control over 90% of the country’s media, imprisoning politicians, activists and journalists, and creating an alliance with the <em>Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi</em> (Nationalist Movement Party, MHP), Erdoğan failed to receive a decisive victory, hardly the “strong mandate” he was striving for. The combined vote share of the AKP and the MHP was more than 60% in the 2015 elections, and the April 16 result did not yield a similar result from their union. This 51% signifies a significant drop in both their vote potentials. <span class="mag-quote-center">Worryingly for Erdoğan, the ‘no’ vote won in Turkey’s largest cities Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.</span></p> <p>A solid belt along the Aegean and Mediterranean regions rejected the proposed executive presidency. Worryingly for Erdoğan, the ‘no’ vote won in Turkey’s largest cities Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. Together with other major cities of Antalya, Adana and Mersin, where ‘no’ also prevailed, they represent the country’s financial, industrial and touristic heartlands all opposed to Erdoğan’s vision for Turkey. In addition, the majority of the Kurdish majority regions in the south and southeast voted overwhelmingly against the constitutional changes. </p> <h2><strong>Peak Erdoğan?</strong></h2> <p>Perhaps, this is an indication that Erdoğan has reached the limits of his electoral power and could have a hard time sustaining his narrow popularity in the lead up to the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections. </p> <p>Subsequent developments from the referendum suggest there are credible claims that voter manipulation occurred to hand the narrow victory to the ‘yes’ campaign. The two main opposition parties Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi (Republican Peoples’ Party, CHP) and the Halkların Demokratik Partisi (Peoples’ Democratic Party, HDP) and hundreds of citizens have appealed to the election watchdog for the annulment of a critical referendum that resulted in a narrow win for the government, arguing that unsealed ballot papers and envelopes were counted in open violation of the law.</p> <p>The European Commission has also urged Turkey to launch “transparent investigations” into alleged voting irregularities in the constitutional referendum.&nbsp;The international observers charged on April 17 that the referendum campaign was conducted on an “unlevel playing field” and that the vote count was “marred by late procedural changes that removed key safeguards.” Turkey’s Supreme Electoral Board (YSK) made a controversial last-minute decision on April 16 to count ballots that had not been stamped by officials. This has brought into serious disrepute the legitimacy of President Erdoğan’s victory domestically and internationally, which will further stimulate the “no” camps. </p> <p>Indeed, the outcome shows a deeply polarised society. As troubling as this is, the staunch resistance by the opposition groups signifies that the fight for democracy has yet to be concluded. Given that this group did not wilt away in the face of undemocratic and illiberal practices in the lead up to the vote, there is no indication that they will disappear now that the decision has handed him victory. Further slight shifts on the political landscape provide further hope. There are murmurs that experienced and established former politicians from MHP like Meral Akşener, or the AKP, could be getting ready to form another centre-right party in the post-referendum era. Depending on the names involved, a new centre-right party might challenge Erdoğan’s electoral power. <span class="mag-quote-center">Erdoğan’s likely response will be to… extend his grip over the state to expend all his power to advance his personal vision.</span></p> <p>Erdoğan’s likely response, in the short term, will be to press ahead with his victory and extend his grip over the state to expend all his power to advance his personal vision. It will be hard for him both to extinguish the deep tradition and spirit of competitive politics and completely erode the organisational power and support of party’s like the CHP and HDP, that have shown immense resilience. </p> <p>Erdoğan is experienced enough to know that this slim victory, in spite of his efforts, will not allow him to take steps as freely as he could with a greater margin. Turkey’s parliamentary system has been replaced with a presidential one that is not restricted by any checks and balances, with no quick reversal in sight. Yet, the world’s political history is littered with the many lives and deaths of democracy. Turkey will be no exception. As grim as it might seem at this point, there still beats a pulse of hope. The tussle between the two diametrically opposed camps will create the space and tension to keep political pluralism alive in Turkey, just enough to sustain the flame for 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="/neophytos-loizides-evangelos-liaras/badly-timed-ill-conceived-and-fraudulent-yet-turkey-s-opposition">Badly-timed, ill-conceived and fraudulent, yet Turkey’s opposition could be the one to gain from Erdoğan’s presidential referendum </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/nil-mutluer/turkish-flight-and-new-diaspora-in-town">Turkey&#039;s &#039;special refugees&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/halil-gurhanli/turkish-referendum-that-is-not">Turkish referendum that is not</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/william-eichler/making-of-demagogue-how-erdo">The making of a demagogue: how Erdoğan became Turkey&#039;s strongman</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> </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> </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? Arab Awakening Turkey Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Turkish Dawn Tezcan Gumus Thu, 20 Apr 2017 10:56:43 +0000 Tezcan Gumus 110250 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Badly-timed, ill-conceived and fraudulent, yet Turkey’s opposition could be the one to gain from Erdoğan’s presidential referendum https://www.opendemocracy.net/neophytos-loizides-evangelos-liaras/badly-timed-ill-conceived-and-fraudulent-yet-turkey-s-opposition <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Turkish political system will have to reach a new level of democratic maturity, to challenge Erdoğan’s monopoly of office in a way that would bring forward positive change. </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-26309265.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-26309265.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'>Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, May 2016. Frank Augstein/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>While most analysts naturally tend to focus on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan increasing his powers following the highly contested vote last Sunday, the introduction of a presidential system could unexpectedly favor his opponents. </p> <p>This might sound surprising given the polarization and arguments during the referendum, but it is based on recent cases, like the 2015 Sri Lankan elections, and the fact that a presidential system, especially a two-round one, is more likely to incentivize defections within the ruling AKP.</p> <p>International media and organizations have rightly criticized the procedures and timing of President Erdoğan’s April 16 referendum. Although those who follow Turkey are not unfamiliar to depressing news titles, the most recent ones such as <a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/04/16/rip-turkey-1921-2017/">RIP Turkey, 1921-2017</a>, <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/turkey-referendum-intimidation-unfair-campaigning-watchdog-observer-european-council-a7687206.html">Intimidation and Unfair Campaigning </a>&nbsp;and <a href="http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2017/04/17/no-hope-in-turkey/">No hope for Turkey</a> point to an irreversible transition to authoritarianism and argue that there is <a href="http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2017/04/17/no-hope-in-turkey/">no silver lining to be sought in the aftermath of the Turkish constitutional referendum</a><em>. </em></p> <h2><strong>Switching system</strong></h2> <p>Such a transition to authoritarian rule might have taken place regardless of the outcome of the referendum. Nonetheless, the new presidential system creates a set of unfamiliar dynamics for Turkish political parties. During the referendum campaign the ‘no’ side has rightly pointed to Turkey’s parliamentary tradition and lack of experience with the presidential system; yet this unfamiliarity might eventually harm President Erdoğan more than his opponents. Turkey’s new presidential system... includes a two-round system that makes smaller parties and their unsuccessful candidates potential kingmakers.</p> <p>For one thing, the Turkish president and AKP have been winning elections since 2002 under a highly problematic majoritarian parliamentary system that eliminated smaller parties through an electoral threshold of 10&nbsp;percent. Unlike consensus-based parliamentary democracies where minority parties are proportionally represented and frequently serve as much needed coalition partners, <a href="http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=21483">majoritarian democracies provide no credible guarantees for the inclusion of minority views.</a> <span class="mag-quote-center">Turkey’s new presidential system makes smaller parties and their unsuccessful candidates potential kingmakers if frontrunners fail to win more than fifty per cent in the first round. </span></p> <h2><strong>Fragile majoritarian despotism</strong></h2> <p>A presidential system, particularly when coupled with a two-round electoral system, may break majoritarian despotism just as easily as it can make it. Sri Lanka, one of the longest-living democracies in Asia, offers a recent example. After winning the civil war against the Tamil Tigers, <a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/01/21/sri-lankas-surprising-election-victor/">President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s grip on power seemed unshakeable</a>. He won the presidential election in 2010, swiftly arrested the opposition candidate, placed his family members in positions of power and amended the constitution to abolish term limits for presidents. </p> <p>Rajapaksa was poised to win another term, but a series of defections from his Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), led by health minister Maithripala Sirisena, upset his plans. Accusing Rajapaksa of rampant corruption and nepotism, Sirisena put forward his own candidacy, supported by the opposition United National Party (UNP) and even former president Chandrika Kumaratunga, the daughter of SLFP’s founder. </p> <p>In the 2015 presidential election, Sirisena received massive support from the Tamil and Muslim minorities and managed to win the presidency and form a ruling coalition between his faction and UNP. Rajapaksa’s constitutional amendments were repealed. Even though progress on transitional justice has been slow, Sirisena’s administration appears much more willing to negotiate with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the main minority party, on issues of devolution and post-war reconciliation. <span class="mag-quote-center">Rajapaksa’s constitutional amendments were repealed.</span></p> <h2><strong>Alternative scenario</strong></h2> <p>Could something similar happen in Turkey? Right now this may seem like a fantasy scenario, but the post-referendum constitutional setup does not technically preclude it. Erdoğan won the referendum only marginally, an indication that his popularity is not as immense as he’d hoped. In future presidential elections, the two-round electoral system will allow opposition parties to coordinate between them and back the same candidate on the second round, even if they fail to do so on the first round. For all its problems, Turkey remains an electoral democracy and the opposition can still try to build an alternative majority. <span class="mag-quote-center">Turkey remains an electoral democracy and the opposition can still try to build an alternative majority.</span></p> <p>Here is where the limits of the comparison with Sri Lanka become apparent. After the end of the civil war, the Sri Lankan Tamil politicians have moderated their demands, but a spirit of reconciliation and willingness to avoid the mistakes of the past also prevails within the Sinhalese majority. </p> <p>Despite the wounds of the war and sharp disagreements over human rights abuses, this spirit allowed politicians across a wide range of parties to agree on a minimally common agenda to unseat Rajapaksa from power. In Turkey, the ideological distance between segments of the opposition (particularly the Turkish nationalist MHP and the Kurdish HDP) is still too wide to allow such a common agenda. This is underlined by the fact that MHP’s leadership officially backed Erdogan but many nationalist voters apparently did not follow the party line. AKP still commands a near-majority of the vote. Therefore, a transition will be much dependent on a significant AKP defection. </p> <p>Importantly, the Turkish political system will have to reach a new level of democratic maturity, in order to build a coalition that could challenge Erdoğan’s monopoly of office –and do so in a way that would bring forward positive change. </p><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"> Sri Lanka </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? Arab Awakening Sri Lanka Turkey Turkish Dawn Evangelos Liaras Neophytos Loizides Thu, 20 Apr 2017 06:51:37 +0000 Neophytos Loizides and Evangelos Liaras 110248 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The five 'infections' of the social democratic 'family' in the Western Balkans https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/othon-anastasakis/five-infections-of-social-democratic-family-in-western-balkans <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Social democracy is failing all across Europe; but it's impotence in the Balkans especially is having serious consequences for the region.</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-20759848.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-20759848.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'>Nikola Gruveski, Macedonian Prime Minister, with Angela Merkel. Markus Schreiber/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Looking at the current Western Balkans’ political landscape, in the first half of 2017, one notices that in all of the former Yugoslav states, nationalists dominate the scene and all governments are formed by parties that were involved in the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s on the pro-independence side. </p> <p>From the Tudjman founded HDZ in Croatia to Serbia’s Progressive Party (born from the Party of Radicals), from Montenegro’s one party rule to Bosnia’s ethnic tri-partite Presidency, and from Kosovo’s former fighters to Gruevski’s authoritarianism in Macedonia, the region oozes nationalism, identity politics, border disputes and rival historical claims. </p> <p>All of these governing parties are on the right-wing side of the ideological spectrum (except Montenegro), they are socially conservative, openly neo-liberal in their economic policies and not particularly tolerant towards ethnic minorities. The parties of the centre-left, the so-called social democratic parties, are currently in opposition in the Western Balkans and have a limited impact. In an environment of increasing social inequalities, dodgy privatisations, de-industrialisation and the lowest GDP per capita in Europe, the centre left space is left without a voice. </p> <p>This has not always been the case, as there are a large number of parties in the Western Balkans that call themselves social democratic or socialist, which have played a significant role in the post-communist transformation of these polities, in the context of a variety of cleavages of right versus left, authoritarianism versus democracy, nationalism versus cosmopolitanism and extremism versus moderation. </p> <p>In this piece, I argue that the social democratic parties in the Western Balkans are in a state of ideological confusion and lacking political strategy. In their declarations, all of them affirm their allegiance to a progressive and moderate political agenda, they present themselves as solid pro-Europeans, conciliatory vis a vis ethnic minorities and socially sensitive. </p> <p>In reality, however, they practice very little of all that, and most of them have compromised their ideas for the sake of power. They fail to propose any alternatives to the current dominant conservative paradigms and in that sense they are emulating the wider European centre-left story. </p> <p>Today, social democracy in the Western Balkans is suffering from five “infections”. These are the communist, the neo-liberal, the ethnic, the fragmentation and the external.</p><h2><strong>1.&nbsp;</strong><strong>The communist infection</strong>&nbsp;</h2> <p>What we call social democracy in the Western Balkans today is in historical terms a choice between continuity and rupture with the pre-1989 communist parties. The initial formative years of regime change and transition have left a clear imprint on party politics, <a href="https://bib.irb.hr/datoteka/859978.Dolenec_Democratization-in-the-Balkans.pdf">in general</a>, and social democratic politics, <a href="http://sam.gov.tr/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Othon_Anastasakis.pdf">in particular</a>. Back in the 1990s, the re-labelling social democracy was the passport to the new world of democratic politics, indicating the ideological transformation and decommunistisation of the former totalitarian parties. </p> <p>As in other East European countries, the electoral success of these parties depended on their rebranding as social democratic. As it happened, following the collapse of the communist rule, the communist parties either reformed early (FYR Macedonia), or reformed later (Croatia, Albania), or turned nationalist (Serbia, Montenegro). Many of the reformed communist parties, played a pivotal role during the years of transition, as important power contenders, in government or opposition, giving birth gradually to new formations, a “second generation” of social democratic parties in the Western Balkans. </p> <p>The real question, which remains until today, is to what extent they succeeded in ridding themselves from communism, by democratising their internal procedures, embracing new issues, attracting new members, especially from the younger generation. While all these parties adjusted to the new competitive environment of elections, in most cases, they retained much of their prior political culture of top down hierarchical structures, clientelist distribution of administrative jobs and resources, internal fights among personalities and resistance to new ideas. </p> <p>Many of these parties are still struggling to attract new members, they are slow in introducing internal reforms and display an unconditional obedience to the party leader. Some of them like Djukanovic’s party in Montenegro or Dodik’s party in Republika Srpska are criticised openly for authoritarian practices and anti-social democratic tendencies. But even in the case of Albania where the Socialist Party has been lately trying to modernise and embrace new members, there has been heavy criticism on the adopted party rule that the leader of the party cannot be challenged or removed if he or she loses the election. There is often a feeling in the region that social democratic parties are still guided by “unreformed communists”.</p><h2><strong>2.&nbsp;</strong><strong>The neoliberal infection</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p>During the long transition years, the regional economics were dominated by the hegemonic discourse of neoliberalism. As all of the economic policies were designed from abroad, with no domestic input whatsoever, the practices of privatisation, de-industrialisation, and labour reforms were never challenged, despite the fact that they were generating all sorts of market deviations, oligopolies, corrupt practices and social inequalities. </p> <p>For all the Western Balkan states, the post-communist economic model comprised infrastructural, tourist and construction opportunities, leading mostly to <a href="http://www.bankofgreece.gr/BogEkdoseis/From_Crisis_to_Recovery_FINAL_lores.pdf">economies of services and consumption</a>. Following the FDI boost, the consumption boom and the high rates of growth of the 2000s, the financial and the eurozone crises affected the small, open and vulnerable economies of the Western Balkans by hitting their banking sectors, decreasing investment, exacerbating growth rates, widening social inequalities, increasing unemployment and weakening welfare provisions. The rising numbers of outward migration and brain drain to advanced western Europe, during the last few years, testifies to the gloomy economic conditions and the lack of opportunities in all Western Balkan states. </p> <p>Where has social democracy stood in this sequencing of transition, boom and bust? From the start, the social democratic parties distanced themselves from the disgraced communist dogmas by adopting ad hoc and less ideological positions and abiding to the new economic principles. Hostages to “the end of ideology” thesis, they refused to explore any regional deviations from the hegemonic liberal and neoliberal consensus while at the same time losing their traditional clientele, the working classes and trade unionism, all of which disappeared in the new space of deindustrialisation. </p> <p>By espousing wholeheartedly, the European Union perspective, they attached themselves to the rhetoric of structural reforms, fiscal discipline and spending cuts, largely designed by the IMF, and resigned from any claims to social justice, equality, trade unionism and social protection for the sake of the TINA (There Is No Alternative) thesis. Today, some social democrats in the region justify their ideological obedience to neoliberalism by claiming that their countries may need more free market opportunities before they can improve on social policies and implement the true social democratic ideals!</p> <h2><strong>3.&nbsp;</strong><strong>The nationalist infection</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p>Like all other political parties in the Western Balkans, social democratic parties have not been immune to the nationalist claims and ethnic divisions that have tormented the post-Yugoslav space. </p> <p>While they adopted a pro-European liberal orientation and declared themselves more tolerant towards ethnic and minority rights, many of them were actively or passively responsive to nationalist ideas, if these helped them win elections and remain in power. Djukanovic flirting with Yugoslav nationalism at first, co-cooperating with Serbian nationalism later, before embracing full hearted Montenegrin nationalism, helped sustain himself and his party in power for the last three decades and becoming the longest serving post-communist leader in Central and Eastern Europe. &nbsp;In fact, his Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) due to its chameleon-like changes managed to enjoy power uninterruptedly since 1991, making Montenegro’s polity a “dominant party system”.&nbsp; </p> <p>Elsewhere, social democratic parties, like Dodik’s Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) in Bosnia abandoned their ideals for the sake of independence for Republika Srpska. The ethnicisation of Bosnian politics infected even the Social Democratic Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina (SDP BiH), the only influential multi-ethnic party and the only alternative to the dominant ethnic party system, which constantly faced serious dilemmas, whether to give in to nationalists in power-sharing arrangements or defend its multi-ethnic cause in opposition. </p> <p>In Kosovo, what was originally a promising and fresh social democratic option, Vetevendosje turned into a purely nationalist movement, currently monopolising the patriotic agenda by disrupting the parliamentary process against any border deals with Montenegro and normalisation with Serbia. Most of the social democratic parties in the Western Balkans, for fear that they will be criticised by the nationalist parties as anti-patriotic, opt for ambiguity on issues of national interest, adopting unclear, non-credible approaches on the sensitive national questions. </p> <p>This is the case of the social democratic parties in Serbia, most of which are not trusted to handle relations with Kosovo, <a href="https://www.sant.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/serbiakosovoworkshopreport.pdf">leaving the space</a> for formerly hard and currently reformed nationalists, such as Aleksandar Vucic and Ivica Dacic, to have their “Nixon in China” moment with Kosovo and claim their nationalist credentials.</p><h2><strong>4.&nbsp;</strong><strong>The infection of fragmentation</strong></h2> <p>It is well known that the biggest fights are usually within the family and that the biggest political enemies are always from within. This is certainly true for the social democratic political family, where political infights are often personal and for the sake of power grabbing and access to state resources. </p> <p>All social democratic parties in the region have been infected by fragmentation and creation of new political formations, all of which have declared their true allegiance to social democracy and end up fighting each other, instead of the ideological enemies beyond. </p> <p>This is very visible in Montenegro where even under the dominating shadow of Djukanonic’s Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), the centre left space includes a number of smaller alternatives, such as currently the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Social Democrats (SD) and the Democratic Montenegro, among others. </p> <p>In Serbia, following Tadic’s electoral defeat in 2012, the centre-left space is inundated with social democratic parties all of which have been struggling to surpass the 5% parliamentary threshold; this includes the Democratic Party (DS), the Social Democratic Party of Serbia (SDPS), the Social Democratic Party (SDS), the League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina (LSV), Together for Serbia or the Party of United Pensioners for Serbia all of which are represented in the National Assembly of the 2016 elections totalling 40 MPs all together out of 250. </p><p>The fragmentation of the centre left space is further exacerbated by the existence of a number of socialist, green or other one issue parties. This has allowed the present strongman of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic to use consecutive elections (three in the last three years) to benefit from the opposition’s fragmentation and consolidate his own position. </p> <p>In the April 2017 presidential elections, Vucic triumphed from the first round with 55% followed by the independent Sasa Jankovic who just got a 17%, raising fears among European democrats that Serbia is gradually turning into another “Orban’s land”.</p> <h2><strong>5. The external infection </strong></h2> <p>Much of what is happening in the Western Balkans is reminiscent of the state of European social democracy, and is a reflection of a wider social democratic malaise in the continent. </p> <p>To be sure, the ideological problems with European social democracy have their roots in the 1980s and 1990s, which led the British political philosopher Ralf Dahrendorf famously predict the “end of the social democratic century”. &nbsp;Indeed, the start of the new century signalled the futility of “the third way” in its ideological closeness to market liberalism while, at the same time, some of the socially progressive ideas, traditionally espoused by social democrats were gradually embraced by the parties of the centre right too. </p> <p>Consequently, the consecutive economic crises gave a big blow to the most influential social democratic parties in Europe including Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and most prominently Greece, not only because they had no alternative to the dominant socio-economic model but also because they were largely seen to be responsible for the severe economic downturn. </p> <p>One after the other the social democratic parties have been performing badly in national electoral results while the 2014 European Parliament elections confirmed this negative trend across Europe’s social democracy, with its lowest representation since 1979. </p> <p>Similarly, social democracy is suffering electorally in central and eastern Europe with conservative parties currently prevailing almost everywhere from Bulgaria to Poland and Hungary, the latter shifting clearly towards authoritarianism. No wonder then that the impact of Europe’s social democracy on their Western Balkan counterparts is bound to be weak in terms of political guidance and ideological inspiration.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>It should be added here that the European Party of Socialists (and the Socialist International) to whom most of the Western Balkan social democratic parties are attached, have no commonly agreed yardsticks or examples of best practice for democratic party development that could be transposed to social democratic parties in the region. The best they have been offering is their influence on keeping the accession process of the Western Balkans alive but with not much <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/government-and-opposition/article/limited-influence-the-role-of-the-party-of-european-socialists-in-shaping-social-democracy-in-central-and-eastern-europe/1F8E677386C7621688113DA3D2634E2C">practical guidance</a> along the way. If there is any leverage this comes mostly from the European Commission, in the context of the accession process and this relates more to inter-party relations, rather than intra-party developments, such as brokering in parliamentary boycotts in Albania, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro or Kosovo. </p> <p>In fact, by focusing on executive politics and prioritising inter-party relations and consensus politics, the EU and its social democratic parties have underestimated the importance of democratisation and modernisation of the party machines, while the preference for technocrats and capacity building depoliticises the parties and strips them from their ideological dynamism. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Conclusion</strong></h2> <p>Between the years 2012 to 2016, many Balkan states experienced citizen’s unrests, starting with Bulgaria and Romania and extending to Croatia, Bosnia, FYR Macedonia and Montenegro. Social democratic parties failed to cease the moment and capitalise on such mobilisation because in the eyes of the electorates they were seen as equally responsible for their dismay and discontent. This essay has shown that the reason why social democratic, centre left politics are failing to capture the imagination of the electorates is because they are suffering from multiple infections of internal and external nature. </p> <p>Social democracy in the Western Balkans like with the rest of Europe lacks the full package - consistent ideology and credible political strategy. It suffers more when compared with the existing political alternatives which are clearer and even, dare one say, more authentic in their ideological proclamations: from the radical left which has embraced a critical anti-globalisation, anti-neoliberal discourse but totally lacks political strategy, to the conservative, centre right political alternatives which are openly embracing nationalism, neo-liberal policies as well as use a statist friendly discourse and dominate political praxis.</p> <p>On the contrary, the centre left cannot convince that they have genuinely reformed from the communist times, that they can deal with the difficult national questions, that they can address the social and economic inequalities, nor that they can stay united as a credible alternative. One then would expect that Europe’s social democratic family should try to be the guide for genuine reform in the Western Balkan region, but in order to do this, it needs first to find its own orientation.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Albania </div> <div class="field-item even"> Bulgaria </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Serbia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Macedonia </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Kosovo </div> <div class="field-item even"> Montenegro </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> <div class="field-item even"> 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 Bosnia and Herzegovina Montenegro Kosovo Macedonia Serbia Bulgaria Albania Othon Anastasakis Wed, 19 Apr 2017 17:33:27 +0000 Othon Anastasakis 110242 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Quo vadis Alsace? Politics in the land of paradox https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/lucas-goetz/quo-vadis-alsace-politics-in-land-of-paradox <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Why are so many people in Alsace voting for the Front National?</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/kay.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/kay.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'>A square in the Alsatian town of Kaysersberg. Nono vlf/Wikimedia. CC.</span></span></span></p><p>Once upon a time there was a land between the Vosges Mountains and the Rhine. It is said that to the victor belong the spoils, and for centuries this region changed hands between French and German rulers, depending on who had won the most recent war.</p><p> Though historically its inhabitants speak German, it is culturally neither entirely German, nor French. Its most famous son, Nobel laureate Albert Schweitzer, is known all over the world for his humanitarian work and philosophy of reverence for life. This land has also become a popular attraction amongst tourists, who marvel at the Strasbourg cathedral and enjoy the local <em>Flammekueche</em> and <em>Riesling</em> wine. </p> <p>Yet you may struggle to find this region on recent maps of France. In 2014, the French government <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/a6796026.html">merged Alsace</a> into a megaregion almost twice the size of Belgium, effectively depriving it of a legal and institutional existence. This move was almost unanimously opposed by Alsatian civil society and was met with <a href="http://www.leparisien.fr/alsace/alsace-des-milliers-de-manifestants-rejettent-la-reforme-territoriale-11-10-2014-4205587.php">large scale protests</a> throughout the region. Many saw the loss of their regional council as a threat to their regional identity, economy and local democracy. </p> <p>The opposition movement to the megaregion, now known as the Grand Est (Great East), has caused a revival of the Alsatian identity and made the Alsatian autonomist party the third political force in Alsace, ahead of president Hollande’s Parti Socialiste. </p> <p>At the same time, in the most recent regional elections, the far right Front National <a href="http://www.dna.fr/politique/elections-regionales-2015-tour-1?departement=68">scored above 30%</a> in both Alsatian <em>départements</em>. How can a French nationalist party attain these electoral heights in a region with such a strong bicultural identity? Will the Alsatian movement be able to form a viable alternative?</p> <p>In line with its long Christian democratic traditions, Alsace has since the end of the Second World War consistently and overwhelmingly voted for the centre-right. <em>Les Republicains</em> are the dominant party in Alsace and control most local assemblies. The centre left Parti Socialiste has historically been rather unpopular in Alsace, with the notable exception of Strasbourg, the only big city with a socialist mayor. </p> <p>Despite the high scores of the Front National in Alsace, it is not among the territories in France with the highest votes for the far-right party. In fact, even within the Grand Est it doesn’t supply the most votes to Le Pen’s party. However the paradox remains that a region which has not been French for such a big part of its history can cast over 30% of its votes for a party whose views on French identity leave little room for regional diversity.</p> <p>Michel Krempper is an Alsatian historian and has written numerous books on the Alsatian autonomist movement. He believes that the reasons for the Front National’s success in Alsace can be explained by the history of the region in the years that followed the Second World War. After invading and occupying France, Hitler integrated Alsace into his Reich and young Alsatians were forcefully enrolled to fight on the Eastern front, many never returning.</p> <p>“As soon as the Nazis left, purges took place which led to a rejection of the Alsatian identity, because it is a Germanic identity,” explains Mr Kremmper. “Alsatians ended up being ashamed of being Alsatian because they were made to believe that everything German is also Nazi. This led to overzealous patriotism, encouraged by most political parties. It is on this basis that the Front National grew in Alsace. The Front National is the political expression of Alsatians who want to be more patriotic than the patriots.” </p> <p>Alsatian philosopher Pierre Klein is a lifelong militant for French-German bilingualism in his region. He does not believe there is such thing as an ‘Alsatian’ Front National vote and notes the paradox of voting for a far-right party in a fiercely pro-European region.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The Alsatians have developed an inferiority complex towards France and get near mystical feelings when they hear ‘la Marseillaise’.</p> <p>“There is no specific Front National vote in Alsace. The Front National vote in Alsace is a French vote in Alsace; it is identical to the rest of France. The same people vote Front National in Alsace as in the rest of France and this applies to all other parties,” he argues.</p> <p>“Europe has long been an alternative identity for Alsatian; those who didn’t dare express themselves as Alsatians expressed themselves as Europeans, though this is also in decline. Yet today most Alsatians and especially the younger generations have a purely French identity.” </p> <p>The Front National vote in Alsace is fuelled by the same general sentiment of discontent as in the rest of France. Ironically, it could be argued that it is a sign that the policy of assimilation France imposed on Alsace has been successful. Below the surface, it also reflects the struggle of Alsatians with their own identity. </p> <p>‘There is a misunderstood patriotism and some Alsatians will simply vote for those who shout <em>‘Vive la France’</em> the loudest’ explains Mr Klein. ‘The Alsatians have developed an inferiority complex towards France and get near mystical feelings when they hear <em>‘la Marseillaise’.</em> </p> <p>The French state has, since the times of the Revolution, sought to <a href="http://trinitycollegelawreview.org/french-language-law-the-attempted-ruination-of-frances-linguistic-diversity/">marginalize regional languages</a>. Unlike its neighbours, France has not given its regional minorities institutions which much power or means. Just like other regional languages of France, German (and its local dialect Alsatian –German) is in steep decline. Alsatian history has not been taught in school and Alsatians remained largely ignorant of their history. Alsace and the Alsatians seemed to be quietly heading to the dustbins of history leaving only some marketable folklore and gastronomy as traces of their existence. </p><p>But then the territorial reform happened. Then Prime Minister Manuel Valls <a href="http://www.dna.fr/actualite/2014/10/14/manuel-valls-il-n-y-a-pas-de-peuple-alsacien-il-n-y-a-qu-un-seul-peuple-francais">proclaimed</a> in the national assembly that there was no such thing as the Alsatian people. Within weeks demonstrators paraded in streets of all major Alsatian cities. The Alsatian red and white flag once again found a place in the popular conscience and the autonomist party Unser Land became the third political force in Alsace. Many wondered whether this movement would be able to siphon away votes from the French far right.</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/alsacee.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/alsacee.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="344" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Alsatians protest in Colmar, France. Nicolas Ory-Genin. Photo used with permission of author.</span></span></span></p><p>“This is the dream of the Alsatian autonomists. They hoped to take voters away from the Front National. If people are to vote in protest, they might as well protest as Alsatians,” says Michel Krempper. “The regional elections of 2015 were held right after the terrorist attacks in Paris and national themes, such as security, came to the forefront. The autonomists hoped that people would vote for them against the Front National but they had a cruel reality check”.</p> <p>Though the autonomists were the main political force in Alsace during the interwar years, their history became taboo after the Second World War. It is only in the twenty years that a new generation of Alsatian historians started to challenge the dominant French narrative and allowed Alsatians to rediscover their own political history. </p> <p>“We have seen a certain renaissance of the idea of Alsace alongside new demands,” explains Pierre Klein. “It has been very symbolic. In Alsace, the political culture of this movement is yet to be built. Alsace has over the last century been robbed not only of its language and history but also of its culture.” </p> <p>“Places like Catalonia and Wales have strong movements because they are linked to a political culture and economy. The Alsatian autonomists have to work seriously at creating a political culture and educating their members, activists and the Alsatian voters.” </p> <p>“The average Alsatian voter does not have the culture to understand autonomism. In 1935 the Alsatian voters knew exactly what autonomism means because they experienced it 25 years before under the German Empire,“ adds Michel Krempper. “The autonomists today still struggle to speak the language of the people. The advantages of autonomy remain very abstract. Many Alsatians are not aware of the advantages a federal and decentralized political system brings to their neighbours, Switzerland and Germany.” </p> <p>Despite making impressive electoral gains, the autonomists are still far from being the dominant political force in Alsace they once were. Though achieving double digit scores in the countryside and small towns, they still struggle to attract more urban voters. This is especially visible in the Alsatian capital Strasbourg where in the last regional elections they scored well below their Alsatian average.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Alsace has over the last century been robbed not only of its language and history but also of its culture.</p> <p>The upcoming French elections are the most unpredictable in recent political history. With both mainstream left and right wing parties entering this race with weakened candidates, young centrist Macron looks like he can mount a serious challenge to the bipartisan system which has dominated French political life since De Gaulle. Yet, can Alsace expect anything from these elections? </p> <p>“No candidate, either on the left or on the right has clearly indicated a willingness to grant Alsace its own institution,” adds Pierre Klein. “I do not see any really Girondins (federalists) candidates willing to challenge the Jacobins ideology.” </p> <p>“‘It is a catastrophe,” laments Michel Kremmper. “Le Pen is explicitly opposed to linguistic diversity and regional institutions. I have also read Macron’s book on this subject but he has not expressed himself much on this issue. (Far left candidate) Mélenchon is entirely within the Jacobin tradition, pushed to radical levels.” </p> <p>There are nevertheless some reasons for careful optimism in Alsace. The presidents of the two ‘<em>départemens</em>’ which make up Alsace have openly challenged the Grand Est. Both departmental councils have met and agreed to work towards a ‘Territorial Assembly of Alsace’ to <a href="http://www.lalsace.fr/actualite/2017/02/04/vers-une-assemblee-d-alsace-mais-laquelle">ensure that</a> ‘Alsace remains a political reality’. The fact that this new initiative comes from local politicians of <em>les Republicains</em> indicates a widely shared desire for a new Alsatian institution. </p> <p>Different hypothesis exist as to what this could become; a merger of the two <em>départements </em>or a new territorial assembly with reinforced competencies. This initiative was brought about by local centre-right politicians, previously opposed to the Grand Est, who want an Alsatian instruction to preserve a local democracy.</p> <p>“France is a democracy and if there is a strong demand it will have to give in,” believes Pierre Klein. ‘Our regionalism is not an ethnic-ism but a democracy-ism. We need to renovate French democracy and leave behind Jacobinism’. </p> <p>France remains one of the most centralized states in Europe and will probably be so for some time. Nevertheless, even within this framework progress remain possible, as the Corsicans and Basques have recently demonstrated. In Alsace, grassroots activism has led to the continuous development of bilingual education, with more and more children acquiring fluency in German.</p> <p>Alsace stands at a crossroad. It can either become diluted in a vast territory without history and identity, alienated from its neighbours and with a high support for French nationalism. Or it can fulfil its historic destiny and become a bridge between cultures, at the centre of Europe and proud of its diverse identity. To be or not to be, that is the Alsatian question.&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/philippe-marli-re/french-tragedy-or-farce-2017-presidential-election-1">French tragedy or farce: the 2017 presidential election – 1</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/lucas-goetz/alsace-fights-back-french-david-vs-goliath-story">Alsace fights back: a French David vs. Goliath story</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"> France </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? France Lucas Goetz Wed, 19 Apr 2017 16:59:30 +0000 Lucas Goetz 110239 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Three humanitarian proposals https://www.opendemocracy.net/regina-catrambone/three-humanitarian-proposals <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>"The people we rescue are increasingly reporting having been exploited, abused, beaten, kidnapped for ransom or tortured along the journey from their country of origin to the Libyan coast."</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-24051248.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-24051248.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A small inflatable rubber dinghy approaches the coast of Lesbos loaded with refugees through crossing from Turkey, September 2015. Debets/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>On February 23 this year, I had the pleasure to be in Brussels for the event “CEPS Lab – Reconstructing the Union” as a discussion leader, and in my panel “Rights &amp; Security” we discussed a topic central to our era: migration and effective ways to eradicate smuggling. </p> <p>Despite different opinions and perspectives there was a general agreement that alternatives to the deadly sea journey need to be established as soon as possible. As long as EU Member States as a whole do not offer safe and legal ways to reach Europe, smugglers’ business will continue to thrive, as they continue to conduct their activities with no respect for basic human rights or international law. </p> <p>So far, Europe has been mostly focused on stopping migration flows, along with policing and border control. </p> <p>Due to our perspective at the forefront of the migration crisis at sea, at MOAS we constantly deal with the immediate and most terrible effects of human smuggling. </p> <p>The people we rescue are increasingly reporting having been exploited, abused, beaten, kidnapped for ransom or tortured along the journey from their country of origin to the Libyan coast. We cannot ignore this awful reality. </p> <p>Humanitarian conditions are also deteriorating in Libya where people held in detention camps are victims of physical and psychological abuses, sexual violence, inhuman treatment and other human rights violations. Migrants reporting forced labour and arbitrary detention with no access to lawyers or legal assistance are also on the increase. </p> <p>Last year, we dealt with an unprecedented number of injuries and psychological traumas spread among the people we helped, due to the abuses they had suffered at the hands of smugglers and human traffickers. </p> <p>This situation suggests a greater level of systematization and industrialization among smuggling networks than in the past, with more actors competing to maximize their opportunities and to meet the demand. </p> <p>Worth mentioning is also a change in smuggling practices. In 2014, on an inflatable boat we would find around 75-80 people, while last year MOAS' team rescued up to 120-150 people per boat. Also, we see the number of people packed onto wooden boats increasing, and their&nbsp; condition worsening year on year. </p> <p>On average 50 or 60 more people are packed on the same boat nowadays compared to the past. </p> <p>In my view, in order to defeat the smuggling business the first option has to be to create efficient alternatives and eradicate their networks through the implementation of humanitarian corridors and resettlement policies. </p> <p>For this reason, we strongly believe that the focus of the EU should be on humanitarian efforts, rather than just preventing people from getting to Europe. Smuggling networks have industrialized despite Europe’s efforts to stop the flow by building walls and raising fences along its external and internal borders. This approach has brought no long-term solution to the current humanitarian crisis. </p> <p>MOAS proposes the creation of valid alternatives to uncontrolled migration flows through the establishment of safe and legal routes. <span class="mag-quote-center">MOAS proposes the creation of valid alternatives to uncontrolled migration flows through the establishment of safe and legal routes. </span></p> <p>A large-scale implementation of this model would help to eradicate smuggling networks, as it will provide vulnerable people with legal access to European soil. Moreover, it will increase our safety and security since eligible candidates would be assessed in advance. </p> <p>A second option is a better implementation of the resettlement policy. This would allow a more rational distribution of asylum seekers and refugees within Europe with the ultimate goal of integrating them in our shared community. I personally devote special attention to this policy since it is one of the best ways to avoid the trafficking of women. </p> <p>Women are especially vulnerable to being targeted by smugglers and more and more often they simply disappear from reception centres and end up trapped in prostitution. </p> <p>Last, but not the least, as a long-term solution MOAS believes it is fundamentally important to spread knowledge and information about the deadly journey. </p> <p>According to the people we rescue, most of them are totally unaware of the dangers that they will face when they are leaving their country of origin. Many say they would not attempt the crossing again. This huge lack of information has to be addressed as soon as possible. Education plays a key role in improving the current situation, as well as investing in those countries generating the highest number of refugees and migrants. Moreover, we should explore innovative ways of eradicating the existing push factors by improving the quality of life in the countries generating the highest number of refugees. </p> <p>In a nutshell, our proposals are: safe and legal routes through the creation of humanitarian corridors; a better implementation of the resettlement and relocation policies and a system of shared information in the countries of origin.</p><p><em>The 2017 CEPS Ideas Lab – a key annual event on EU policy organised by the Brussels-based think tank, the Centre for European Policy Studies – asked how such core EU challenges as Rights &amp; Security can be implemented with respect for the EU rule of law and fundamental rights. Cooperating with openDemocracy, we bring the resulting debates to this dedicated page.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>See <a href="https://www.ceps.eu/content/ceps-ideas-lab-2017-reconstructing-union">CEPS Ideas Lab 2017 - Reconstructing the Union</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-anoth-sidebox"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ideaslab2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/CEPS-Armband.jpg" width="100%" style="margin-bottom:10px;" /></a> <div style="90%;"> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ian-borg/migration-policies-effective-ways-to-address-smuggling">Migration policies: effective ways to address smuggling</a><br />IAN BORG <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/karolina-babicka/refugee-crisis-and-central-and-eastern-europe-what-solidarity-do-we-need">Refugee crisis and Central and Eastern Europe: what solidarity do we need?</a><br />KAROLINA BABICKA <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/jean-pierre-schembri/tomorrow-s-agency-for-asylum">Tomorrow’s Agency for Asylum</a><br />JEAN-PIERRE SCHEMBRI <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brian-donald/migrant-smuggling-to-eu-need-for-coordinated-response">Migrant smuggling to the EU – the need for a coordinated response</a><br />BRIAN DONALD <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/regina-catrambone/three-humanitarian-proposals">Three humanitarian proposals</a><br />REGINA CATRAMBONE <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/m-rio-marques/challenges-of-mediterranean-illegal-migration-crisis">Challenges of the Mediterranean illegal migration crisis</a><br />MÁRIO MARQUES <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/anneliese-baldaccini/it-is-time-to-move-beyond-dublin-logic">It is time to move beyond the Dublin logic</a><br />ANNELIESE BALDACCINI <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/kamil-matuszczyk/migration-crisis-in-2017-challenges-for-eu-solidarity">Migration crisis in 2017 – challenges for EU solidarity</a><br />KAMIL MATUSZCZYK </div> </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"> Libya </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"> 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? Libya EU Civil society Conflict Culture International politics CEPS 2017 Regina Catrambone Wed, 19 Apr 2017 08:50:28 +0000 Regina Catrambone 110135 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Migrant smuggling to the EU – the need for a coordinated response https://www.opendemocracy.net/brian-donald/migrant-smuggling-to-eu-need-for-coordinated-response <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>From national authorities to EU institutions and international organisations, it is imperative that efforts to tackle the threats are coordinated. </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-30902212.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-30902212.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'>A wooden boat that carried 80 refugees during their flight from Libya to Europe can be seen at the exhibition at the state museum in Hanover, Germany, 6 April 2017. Peter Steffen/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Migrant smuggling has emerged as one of the most profitable and widespread criminal activities for organised crime in the EU. The profits generated reach billions of euros every year and the demand for facilitation services remains high. Migrant smuggling is now a large, profitable and sophisticated criminal market; almost all irregular migrants entering the EU resort to paid facilitation services at some point of their journey. </p><h2> </h2><h2><strong>Who are the smugglers? </strong></h2> <p>Migrant smuggling to the EU is organised and controlled by sophisticated criminal groups displaying unprecedented levels of organisation and coordination. Present all along the migratory routes, smugglers act in networks; this allows them to offer tailored services at the various steps of the process, from transport and accommodation in origin and transit countries to assistance for the legalisation of the stay once the final destination has been reached. </p> <p>The networks generally bring together various EU and non-EU nationalities, making migrant smuggling a truly multi-national business. Smugglers from over 122 nationalities have so far been identified.<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> The groups are often poly-criminal, also engaging in other criminal activities such as trafficking in human beings, drug trafficking, fraud or organised property crime. </p> <h2><strong>Why are they a threat to the EU?</strong></h2> <p>Migrant smuggling networks are highly flexible and quickly adapt to changes in their environment. They are well aware of existing policies and business opportunities and adjust their modus operandi accordingly. They do so by shifting routes and means of transport, but also the type of service they offer. For example, migrant smugglers increasingly rely on social media to advertise their services; they also use ride-sharing applications and peer-to-peer accommodation platforms to cover their activities. Such resilience and adaptability mean that law enforcement agencies must develop innovative investigation techniques and constantly be on the look out for new developments. </p> <p>A key part of the migrant smuggling business model is supplying fraudulent documents used by irregular migrants to enter the EU, circulate between Member States or legalise their residence status. The types of documents on offer vary from genuine passport and identity cards rented to look-alike individuals to fraudulent travel documents or breeder documents (e.g. false work contract or marriage records) used to apply for genuine visas, residency status or work permits. As the quality of the documents is improving they become more difficult to detect for the authorities. This makes it more difficult to control the entries and creates the risk that potentially dangerous individuals might use this opportunity to enter the EU undetected. </p> <p>Migrant smuggling is a highly profitable criminal activity featuring sustained high levels of demand and relatively low levels of risk. As a result, more and more actors are turning to this activity, sometimes blurring the lines between legal and illegal activities. Individual criminal entrepreneurs use opportunities offered by modern communication tools to offer ad-hoc services such as transportation or accommodation; they are opportunistic and tend to step in and out of the business quite quickly. We also see that Organised Crime Groups (OGCs) who were until now active in other fields are increasingly turning to migrant smuggling; they use their contacts and criminal resources to infiltrate this market and generate additional incomes.&nbsp; </p><p>Last but not least, it should not be forgotten that although they might present themselves as ‘<em>service providers</em>’, migrant smuggling networks are not tour operators. Their core business is to exploit the vulnerability and hopes of migrants for their own financial gain. The high fees imposed may result in debt bondage that can lead to longterm exploitation after the migrant has arrived at his or her destination. Reports of emotional and physical abuse are common, particularly when it comes to women or minors. Finally the conditions in which migrants are transported often pose a direct threat to their safety. In 2016, 5098 people died in the Mediterranean alone;<a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a> this year, we have already reached 649 deaths.<a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a> This cannot be tolerated. </p> <h2><strong>What can be done to address these threats?</strong></h2> <p>Tackling the threats emerging from the migratory crisis is not an easy task. Many different aspects come into play and must be considered. This includes the push factors in departing countries; our border and internal security policies; as well as our approach towards legal migration, relocation and returns. The complexity and scale of the threat requires a comprehensive answer. In addition, considering the diversity of stakeholders involved, from national authorities to EU institutions and international organisations, it is imperative that efforts be coordinated. </p> <p>Europol has a crucial role to play in that regard. Indeed, since it became operational in 1999, Europol has been an important centre for law enforcement expertise in Europe. It is a key criminal information hub providing intelligence and direct operational support to law enforcement across (and beyond) the EU. </p> <p>The European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC), hosted at Europol, was launched in February 2016 to facilitate the cooperation between all stakeholders and give Member States a platform for information exchange and operational coordination. Within less than a year, data on over 17,400 suspected smugglers was submitted and the centre helped launch over 2,500 new international investigations.<a href="#_ftn4">[4]</a> The EMSC works closely with our other centres, the European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) and the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), to build synergies between national and European experts across all relevant areas. In addition to providing analytical and operational support, Europol is therefore present in the Italian and Greek hotspots together with the EU Regional Task Force to perform secondary security checks aimed at detecting potential terrorist networks. Through the EU Internet Referral Unit, we also take an active role in disrupting online recruitment and smuggling services by monitoring their social media activity and working with industry partners for their removal.</p> <p>The Malta Declaration made in February 2017 by the heads of state and governments of the EU is a key instrument in taking this cooperation further and ensuring that all aspects of the question are addressed. It promotes an integrated approach in which all relevant stakeholders are to join forces to address specific operational needs. It also has a strong focus on addressing root causes and improving the capabilities of local authorities dealing with the various aspects of migration in the departure and transit countries. </p> <p>Europol particularly welcomes the forward looking approach laid down in Malta. We are now actively working, in close cooperation with our partners, to fulfil those important objectives. Due to our mandate, our primary focus naturally is the disruption of smuggling networks; other organisations are better suited when it comes to improving reception capacities or supporting socio-economic development in source countries.&nbsp; EMSC is pursuing its efforts to improve the intelligence picture on migrant smuggling, close the intelligence gaps and increase the information exchange between law enforcement and other stakeholders (in particular with naval missions and the private sector). </p> <p>We are also looking into possibilities to increase our cooperation with key partners in the region. A lot has already been achieved regarding cooperation with EU Common Security and Defence Policy (<a href="https://eeas.europa.eu/topics/common-security-and-defence-policy-csdp_en">CSDP</a>) missions and operations (especially <a href="http://eunavfor.eu/mission">EUNAVFOR</a>); we are now aiming at increased cooperation with the countries neighbouring Libya. </p><hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> EU Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment 2017.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> IOM missing migrants project.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a> IOM Missing Migrant project – 27 March 2017.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref4">[4]</a> European Migrant Smuggling Centre, First Year Activity Report.</p><p><em>The 2017 CEPS Ideas Lab – a key annual event on EU policy organised by the Brussels-based think tank, the Centre for European Policy Studies – asked how such core EU challenges as Rights &amp; Security can be implemented with respect for the EU rule of law and fundamental rights. Cooperating with openDemocracy, we bring the resulting debates to this dedicated page.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>See <a href="https://www.ceps.eu/content/ceps-ideas-lab-2017-reconstructing-union">CEPS Ideas Lab 2017 - Reconstructing the Union</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-anoth-sidebox"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ideaslab2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/CEPS-Armband.jpg" width="100%" style="margin-bottom:10px;" /></a> <div style="90%;"> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ian-borg/migration-policies-effective-ways-to-address-smuggling">Migration policies: effective ways to address smuggling</a><br />IAN BORG <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/karolina-babicka/refugee-crisis-and-central-and-eastern-europe-what-solidarity-do-we-need">Refugee crisis and Central and Eastern Europe: what solidarity do we need?</a><br />KAROLINA BABICKA <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/jean-pierre-schembri/tomorrow-s-agency-for-asylum">Tomorrow’s Agency for Asylum</a><br />JEAN-PIERRE SCHEMBRI <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brian-donald/migrant-smuggling-to-eu-need-for-coordinated-response">Migrant smuggling to the EU – the need for a coordinated response</a><br />BRIAN DONALD <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/regina-catrambone/three-humanitarian-proposals">Three humanitarian proposals</a><br />REGINA CATRAMBONE <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/m-rio-marques/challenges-of-mediterranean-illegal-migration-crisis">Challenges of the Mediterranean illegal migration crisis</a><br />MÁRIO MARQUES <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/anneliese-baldaccini/it-is-time-to-move-beyond-dublin-logic">It is time to move beyond the Dublin logic</a><br />ANNELIESE BALDACCINI <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/kamil-matuszczyk/migration-crisis-in-2017-challenges-for-eu-solidarity">Migration crisis in 2017 – challenges for EU solidarity</a><br />KAMIL MATUSZCZYK </div> </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-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </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? EU Conflict International politics CEPS 2017 Brian Donald Tue, 18 Apr 2017 19:57:43 +0000 Brian Donald 110133 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The truth behind Front National's change of heart https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/tommaso-segantini/truth-behind-front-nationals-change-of-heart <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Despite its suggestive rhetoric and its appeals to the lower classes, the party's disguise as a champion of "the people" is a sham, and must be uncovered.</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-30966597.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-30966597.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'>Marine Le Pen. Marechal Aurore/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Marine Le Pen's Front National (FN) is leading in the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/polls-le-pen-france-presidential-election_us_58c9ae5de4b0ec9d29d8733a">polls</a> of the upcoming French presidential elections with more than 20% of the share of the vote; for the first time since WWII, the prospect of the far-right gaining power in France is not far-fetched.</p> <p>The FN's success in recent years is due, to a large extent, to its capacity to attract voters from the working class and the most vulnerable communities of France.</p> <p>The party has adopted left-wing rhetoric to increase its appeal among working class people, and presented itself as the only political force fighting against finance, globalization and the "ultra-liberal" European Union, in the defence of workers.</p> <p>As the Parti Socialiste (PS) abandoned working class communities, pursuing the anti-social path of the previous right wing government, the <a href="http://www.bfmtv.com/politique/sondage-44percent-des-ouvriers-ont-l-intention-de-voter-pour-marine-le-pen-1107529.html">majority</a> of French factory workers appear to either abstain in disillusionment or support the FN.</p> <p>However, behind the <a href="https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/03/far-right-ukip-fn-welfare-immigration-working-class-voters/">leftist mask</a> worn by the FN in recent years, lays the substantial, unchanged nature of the party.</p> <p>Historian Enzo Traverso, expert on fascism, has argued that despite the transformations of the FN under Marine Le Pen's leadership, the "anthropological fabric" of the party is still made of a "fascist hard core", and that the party still has an important neo-fascist militant base. While it "dialectically transcends its fascist character", Traverso continues, the FN does not entirely reject it.</p> <p>Today, the FN's ruling elite and activist base combines the remnants of party founder Jean Marie Le Pen's legacy, some former national-leftist militants, such as party vice-president Florian Philippot, and an economically liberal, antistatist, socially conservative branch, embodied by Marine Le Pen's niece, Marion Marechal-Le Pen.</p> <p>The combination of these different souls of the FN has resulted in a vague and incoherent political platform, combining right and left wing proposals, kept together by the party's exclusivist chauvinism.</p> <p>The FN's stance on last year's major popular upheavals in France, the mobilizations against the government's regressive El Khomri labour law and the Nuit Debout movement, validated Traverso's analysis, as the party displayed its real essence: deeply hostile towards working class values and institutions, and authoritarian.</p> <p>The party's official statements called for the repeal of the El Khomri law.</p> <p>At the same time, however, the liberal wing of the FN <a href="http://www.humanite.fr/loi-travail-le-coeur-du-fn-balance-entre-matraquage-policier-et-matraquage-social-608643">stated</a> that the law could be "an opportunity to introduce measures that could go in the direction of the aspirations of business", and that the reform could be "part of the solution" to the economic crisis.</p> <p>Also, when the same law was being discussed in Parliament, a number of FN deputies proposed a <a href="https://www.publicsenat.fr/lcp/politique/loi-travail-mesures-liberales-defavorables-aux-syndicats-des-senateurs-fn-1383321">number of amendments</a> to the law aimed at further liberalising the labour market and restraining trade unions' influence and room for manoeuvre. In the end, the amendments were withdrawn after an article on the subject appeared in the press.</p> <p>Thus, while Marine Le Pen was demanding the withdrawal of the bill, important members of the party still anchored to the laissez faire capitalism economic doctrine of the party during the 1980s were praising the reform.</p> <p>Moreover, at the beginning of the protests, Marine Le Pen <a href="http://www.liberation.fr/france/2016/06/22/interdiction-des-manifestations-marine-le-pen-retourne-sa-veste_1461208">demanded</a> that the government ban the demonstrations because of the state of emergency. However, after a month, seeing that the mobilisation was receiving substantial popular support, she retracted her statement.</p> <p>To hide its ambiguities and inconsistencies, the FN tried to bring the debate onto its favourite terrains, immigration and the European Union. The party tried to shift attention from its internal contradictions, insisting instead on blaming immigrants for unemployment and low salaries, and <a href="http://www.frontnational.com/loi-elkhomri-salaries-jetables-pme-oubliees-pour-nous-cest-non/">denouncing</a> the "retreat of secularism at the workplace" and the "religious grievances" of some employees that cause "enormous problems" to companies.</p> <p>The efforts of the party to divide and undermine solidarity between protesters on the basis of ethnicity or religion represented a huge gift to the corporations and business groups supporting the reform, and further demonstrated that for the FN, the primary social divide is not one of class, between exploiters and the exploited, but rather one based on culture and race.</p> <p>In fact, the FN spends most of its time and energy pitting people against one another: immigrants against "native" French, public against private employees, active workers against "scroungers" dependent on benefits. This divide-and-rule tactic is a well-known strategy employed by those in power to prevent people from collectively organizing and pressing for change from below. <span class="mag-quote-center">This divide-and-rule tactic is a well-known strategy employed by those in power to prevent people from collectively organizing and pressing for change from below.</span></p> <p>How can a party claim to represent the "people" while it is committed tearing down the fragile bonds of solidarity that still exist between them, fuelling conflict and tensions?</p> <p>Above all, the FN enthusiastically contributed to the effort to delegitimize protest. The party repeatedly denounced the "casseurs", the thugs, and violent rioters, conflating the whole peaceful social movement with fringe rioutous groups.</p> <p>While the FN expressed its unconditional support for the police's crackdown on protesters, and condemned the chaos provoked by "extreme left militias", it never explicitly expressed solidarity with the mobilisation, instead accusing French trade unions (the main organisers) and protesters of taking the country "hostage".</p> <p>These accusations should not sound surprising, considering the FN's long-standing and strongly anchored antagonism towards trade unions. The party has regularly called for "the abandonment of a class-based syndicalism", <a href="http://www.humanite.fr/loi-travail-le-coeur-du-fn-balance-entre-matraquage-policier-et-matraquage-social-608643">favouring</a> instead a form of "corporatism" based on a fanciful "constructive concertation" between social partners rather than the alteration of power relations through strikes and collective organizing.</p> <p>FN vice-president Louis Aliot made the party's stance explicit during an interview at the peak of the mobilisations against the El Khomri law, <a href="https://www.pressreader.com/france/le-journal-du-centre/20160614/281612419681047">stating</a> that "strikes are an archaic system" of expressing grievances.</p> <p>Earlier in 2016, the party was also strongly opposed to the emergence of the Nuit Debout movement, a spontaneous, progressive social movement born out of the protests against the labour law of the government. Protestors gathered in Place de la Republique, in Paris, and held night assemblies on various themes of public interest.</p> <p>The movement quickly spread across many cities in France, before dissolving after a few months.</p> <p>At the time, the FN <a href="https://twitter.com/wdesaintjust/status/720166415916015616/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&amp;ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffingtonpost.fr%2F2016%2F04%2F13%2Ffront-national-nuit-debout-centre-operationnel-saccage-paris_n_9679070.html">described</a> Nuit Debout as an "operational centre of pillage" of Paris and a security threat, liable for acts of "violence" and the "degradation" of the French Republic, composed of "violent, sectarian and intolerant extreme left" groups. FN called for the a hardening and prolongation of the state of emergency, the repression of protests, and, ultimately, the "dissolution" of the movement.</p> <p>These statements are consistent with the party's ideology and project for France. In its presidential programme, the FN envisages a militarisation of French society by "massively rearming" police forces with new arms and equipment, as well as "morally and juridically". This last passage clearly indicates the FN's intention to give the police a free hand and drastically increase its power of repression, notably against demonstrators, as last year's events <a href="http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2015/11/27/les-militants-de-la-cop21-cible-de-l-etat-d-urgence_4818885_3224.html">demonstrated</a>, eliminating all forms of accountability. <span class="mag-quote-center">The FN envisages a militarisation of French society by "massively rearming" police forces.</span></p> <p>Opportunistic, vague, authoritarian, contradictory: this is what the FN proved to be during its twists and turns around the El Khomri reform and the Nuit Debout movement.</p> <p>The FN's aversion and estrangement towards popular mobilizations was evident, as its ambiguities and class contempt came to the fore, and its double discourse was exposed.</p> <p>When it came to choose which side to support, the FN either remained silent, or positioned itself against protesters.</p> <p>The party's fake solidarity with workers and its opaque and incoherent stance reveals its real nature, one fundamentally opposed to workers' aspirations, its hostility towards trade unions, the main vehicles for the working class to fight for its rights, and its authoritarian reflexes.</p> <p>Despite its suggestive rhetoric and its appeals to the lower classes, the party's disguise as a champion of "the people" is a sham, and must be uncovered.</p> <p>The electoral progress of the FN among working class communities and the diffusion of its reactionary and racist ideas fuel divisions within French society, and represent a big setback for the prospect of creating a unitary social movement from below.</p> <p>In addition to the necessary indignation and condemnation of the party's chauvinism and undemocratic nature, it is crucial to challenge the FN's social discourse directed at rightfully angry and disillusioned working class communities in France.&nbsp;</p> <p>In this respect, we cannot rely on traditional mainstream parties to fight the FN.</p> <p>In fact, the centre-right, represented by Les Républicains, which continues to push for more austerity measures, and the Parti Socialiste, which under the mandate of François Hollande fully embraced neoliberalism, betraying its original constituencies and promises, are at the root of the FN's rise: both have uncritically defended the socially destructive policies of the European Union, increased inequalities and unemployment, and participated in the gradual erosion of the country's social safety net.</p> <p>They have lost all credibility, and, although they declare themselves as the only barrier to the FN, they carry the historical load of its ascent.</p> <p>Only a radical, strong, alternative discourse, based on hope and solidarity, that denounces both the FN's racism and xenophobia and that exposes its disguise as the upholder of worker's needs, along with a credible political vision, will succeed in regaining the lost ground, and redirecting people's anger in a progressive direction, towards those at the top of society, instead of readily available scapegoats.&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/philippe-marli-re/french-tragedy-or-farce-2017-presidential-election-1">French tragedy or farce: the 2017 presidential election – 1</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/alex-sakalis/diem25-example-of-internal-democracy-in-action">DiEM25: an example of internal democracy in action</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"> France </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? France Tommaso Segantini Tue, 18 Apr 2017 15:44:26 +0000 Tommaso Segantini 110201 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why is she frit? https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/anthony-barnet/why-is-she-frit <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What is the British prime minister afraid of? </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/553846/ladynotforturning.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/ladynotforturning.jpeg" alt="lead lead " title="" width="460" height="615" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>So, the prime minister is for turning. The reason that Theresa May set out for her 'cut and run' general election is not convincing. The personal cost to her will be very great. Huge, of course, if she loses. This is most unlikely - but nothing is impossible should Labour pro-Remain voters swing behind the Lib Dems tactically. A Tory majority of 35, double their present advantage, would be a more than significant, moral defeat. </p><p>And even if May gets the majority of 100 plus she hopes for, the prime minister is irreparably damaged. She had record-breaking personal ratings because she seemed to be different, a woman who did what she said, someone who did not, as she put it, ‘play games’. A woman of quiet conviction. Less belligerent than Thatcher, but all the more Christian and less self-interested. A woman of her word, who got on with the job. Now she has broken her word. One that was much pledged since she declared her candidacy and stated there would be no general election until 2020. A pledge she and her spokespeople have repeated firmly ever since. </p> <p>Now all this has evaporated. She is just like the rest, only worse. She is no longer a woman who keeps her word, she plays the game, she is a fixer like the rest of them. But without the charm, guile or reading, or even a good excuse.</p><p>Why has she risked such a cost? Her claim that ‘the country’ is uniting behind her vision of Brexit but <em>Westminster</em> is not doing so, hardly bears consideration. To blame the weakest opposition in recorded history for forcing her to U-turn is implausible. Millions of people must go to the polls because Jeremy Corbyn is not being cooperative enough? Pull the other one.</p><p>This morning she explained her change of mind saying, “Since I became Prime Minister I have said that there should be no election until 2020, but now I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the decisions I must take”. </p><p>But what <em>has changed</em>? She does not tell us. What are ‘the decisions she must take’ that she wants voters to support? She does not spell it out. It is not the decision over Brexit, that has been taken.</p><p>As general rule, if you smell something fishy, there is a rotting fish. </p><p>The only real clue is where May says, “If we do not hold a general election now their political game-playing [i.e. the ‘game playing’ of the opposition parties] will continue, and the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled election. Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country". </p><p>This is about as opaque an explanation as it is possible to get. In fact it is an attempt to confuse. To understand what she is saying you have to turn to the real power in the land for the next few years at least, the European Union. Everyone who wants to know what is going on in Britain today needs first to read the EU’s official&nbsp; response to May’s letter triggering Article 50. The Council’s guidance on the Brexit negotiations. It is reproduced here by <a href="https://ig.ft.com/eu-brexit-guidelines-annotated/">the<em> Financial Times</em></a><em> </em>with handy side notes by Alex Barker.&nbsp; </p><p>Two passages stand out, first: ‘nothing will be agreed until everything is agreed’. This means that the costs the UK must pay for leaving, the rights of EU citizens and their families, the initial terms of a post-EU trade deal, everything remains in the pot to be stirred until March 2019 when everything will have to be finalised. There may be some agreements in principle beforehand, but nothing will be completed. It means there is going to be considerable uncertainty for the City and business right up until the last day and night of the negotiations. The EU will want a good trading relationship with the UK and at the same time it will want Brexit to hurt and has said it must do so. The best way of achieving this is for the EU to draw the process out. But all the vested interests of the UK's finance and business have told the government they want less uncertainty and a good transition. So May and company are already well on the back foot.&nbsp;</p><p> They will have to go for a transitional agreement. The EU has said they can have this. But, the EU memorandum states firmly – oh, and if you think the language the EU uses is that of a commanding authority to a minor power, this <em>may</em> be because of the EU’s illusion of grandeur in the run-up to the French elections, or it may just reflect reality – anyway, the EU states: </p> <blockquote><p>To the extent necessary and legally possible, the negotiations may also seek to determine transitional arrangements which are in the interest of the Union and, as appropriate, to provide for bridges towards the foreseeable framework for the future relationship. Any such transitional arrangements must be clearly defined, limited in time, and subject to effective enforcement mechanisms. Should a time-limited prolongation of Union acquis be considered, this would require existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory and enforcement instruments and structures to apply</p></blockquote> <p>The FT’s Alex Barker explains: </p> <blockquote><p>This will make British officials in Whitehall recoil. In far more explicit language than expected, the EU is saying that a gradual transition out of the single market — the prolongation of the acquis — will basically require Britain accepting all the obligations of membership. In other words, that means adopting EU laws, even when they change. It means accepting the European Commission’s right to check those rules are properly applied. It means paying budget contributions, and accepting the supervisory decisions of EU regulators and agencies. And perhaps most difficult of all it means accepting the "enforcement" structures of the EU — which ultimately runs to the European Court of Justice. This passage cuts straight across many of Theresa May's objectives for Brexit, including leaving ECJ jurisdiction and taking control of free movement.</p></blockquote> <p>This is what has changed. Across the last two weeks it has become clear to May’s team that there will have to be an extensive transitional period. As <a href="http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/british-government-realises-brexit-is-a-mistake-official-says-1.3048046#.WPUBVLv0If8.twitter">the <em>Irish Times</em> reported</a>, a senior Irish official in close contact with the UK over Brexit said, “I see signs in the contacts that we’re having, both at EU level and with the UK, of a gradual realisation that Brexit in many ways is an act of great self-harm, and that the focus now is on minimising that self-harm’. The only way to do this is with a transition agreement. But the EU have npw told the May government that if this is what the UK wants it is fine by the EU; however, the UK will have to remain within the full legal framework of the EU <em>and this is non-negotiable</em>. </p> <p>In short, what has changed is nothing to do with Westminster, or the balance of power in the UK. It has dawned on the Prime Minister that by the time of a 2020 election, instead of the UK having left the EU with a trading agreement as she dreamt, it will still be paying its dues <em>and </em>paying a large leaving bill <em>and </em>still be under European Court jurisdiction <em>and</em> may still even have to accept free movement. Only by 2022 at best can she hope to have realised her Brexit.</p> <p>The EU response to their Article 50 letter ruined May's hoped for 2020 election scenario. To have simply pushed ahead meant an election suffering the worst of all worlds, a hard Brexit in principle and continued membership in fact. Ideally, the best response would have been to call an election next year, so they could go to the country again in 2023. But that would have meant calling for a mandate in the middle of detailed Article 50 negotiations and disrupting a time-constricted process. Whereas now, before the EU heads of government have yet to meet to confirm their approval of the proposed guidelines, and prior to the negotiations starting there was a chance - a last chance. If they wanted to push back the next election, they had to go straightaway or not at all.</p> <p>The case of the cut and run election of 2017 has nothing to do with what the Prime Minister claims it to be. It is not due to the strength or awkwardness of the opposition. She is cashing in her cards as a woman of conviction to position herself for re-election in 2022, thanks to the EU busting her plans for 2020. She is no longer a woman of her word, but a woman running scared, knowing she will have to compromise, afraid of the insane hard-liners in her own back-benchers who have never trusted a remainer like her anyway, wanting to ‘be in control’ over the whole Brexit negotiation, including its compromises, running for presidential authority over it. </p> <p>If she gets her way now, it will end badly. The best outcome is that she does not. All those opposed to her authoritarian approach, whether you are for Brexit or not, should join forces and support the candidate most likely to defeat the Conservatives in any constituency that they might win.</p><p><em>If you want to buy a subscriber copy of Anthony Barnett's <a href="https://unbound.com/books/brexit">THE LURE OF GREATNESS: England's Brexit and America's Trump</a>, you should get your copy by June. Otherwise it will be published at the end of August. You can get it from the <a href="https://unbound.com/books/brexit">Unbound website</a>.</em></p><p><em><strong>Contribute to openDemocracyUK's snap election coverage: <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/civicrm/contribute/transact%3Freset%3D1%2526id%3D24">chip in £10 today</a>.</strong><br /></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="/anthony-barnett/brexit-is-old-people-s-home">Brexit is an old people’s home</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/anthony-barnet/brexit-has-killed-sovereignty-of-parliament">Brexit has killed the sovereignty of Parliament </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/daily-mail-takes-power-0">The Daily Mail takes power</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"> 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> uk Can Europe make it? uk UK EU Anthony Barnett Tue, 18 Apr 2017 14:39:33 +0000 Anthony Barnett 110199 at https://www.opendemocracy.net French tragedy or farce: the 2017 presidential election – 1 https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/philippe-marli-re/french-tragedy-or-farce-2017-presidential-election-1 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Why Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s late surge? Are we about to see de Gaulle's fifth republic replaced by a sixth? <span style="font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 107%; font-family: &amp;amp;amp; mso-fareast-font-family: Calibri; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;"></span>And in 2017, what does a Citizens' Revolution look like? </p> </div> </div> </div> <ul><li><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-30902916.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-30902916.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="680" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jean-Luc Mélenchon, campaign poster. Apaydin Alain/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Phillipe Marlière introduced his blow by blow account of the 2012 French presidential elections thus: 'Charles de Gaulle once said that the French presidential election was “an encounter between the nation and a man” (sic). There is much more to it though. I invite you to follow my journey: analysis of results, as well as personal thoughts on candidates, debates, the media, opinion polls and the “mood” of French voters.' </em><em>Now he is back, and with the burning question of the hour: what is behind the incredible rise of Jean-Luc Mélenchon? How far will it go?</em></li></ul><p>With less than a week to go before the first round of the 2017 French presidential election, the latest twist in a long – very long – list of twists and turns, has been the late surge of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of France Insoumise (Unbowed France).</p> <p>Until March 20, the former Left Front Candidate was trailing Benoît Hamon in fifth position. According to the latest opinion polls, Mélenchon is in third position ahead of François Fillon, the conservative candidate. What is more, he is now within touching distance of Emmanuel Macron, an independent centrist candidate, and Marine Le Pen for the extreme right’s Front National. Both Macron and Le Pen have been losing support over the past weeks. The momentum is clearly with Mélenchon.</p> <p>Mélenchon could make it to the second round next week, and if opposed to Le Pen, he would indeed be the clear favourite to become the next president. What an astonishing change of fortune for a candidate who last February was stuck at less than 10% in the polls while Hamon, the victor of the centre left primary election, registered a promising 17%.</p> <p>How to explain such a late surge? There are internal and external factors. Mélenchon, of all candidates, is certainly the better prepared. He was a candidate for the Left Front in 2012, and since then has been a vocal opponent of the unpopular socialist government. He declared his candidacy one and a half years ago (he had been thinking about running long before that).</p><p> Decisively, he chose to go it alone this time and do things his own way: he would not be the candidate of the radical left, but the self-appointed “champion of the people”. His traditional allies (the Communist party and other small left-wing parties) would play no major role in his campaign this time. The red flags are no longer welcome at his mass rallies and have been replaced by tricolour flags. The Internationale is no longer sung at the end of meetings, and the Marseillaise is now the new common anthem.</p> <p>In true populist fashion – a notion which Mélenchon positively accepts – the “Unbowed leader” no longer attempts to gather together all constituencies of the Left, but he aims to “build a people”. In other words, he follows a cross-class tactic and hopes to capture votes from all kinds of social and demographic backgrounds. Mélenchon met several times with Chantal Mouffe and the late Ernesto Laclau, both academic experts on populism. They discussed “left-wing populism”, a strategy designed to fight back against the rise of “right-wing populism” embodied in France by the Front National.</p> <p>Jean-Luc Mélenchon believes that the Left is dying because it has forgotten that politics is about conflicts, passion and symbolism. “Third Way politics”, he reckons, by adjusting to the demands of globalised finance capitalism, has committed political suicide. Across Europe, ordinary workers are deserting social democratic parties <em>en masse</em>. Hence the necessity to re-engage with social justice-related rhetoric and politics, but also to recapture themes which have arguably been ‘abandoned’ to the right and the far-right, notably patriotism. Although it is a new approach on the French left, this tactic was put into practice with relative success in Spain by Podemos.</p> <p>As the campaign progresses, Mélenchon is less and less perceived as a ‘radical left’ candidate. This is clearly part of a plan to come across as a non-divisive figure who reaches out to voters from both the left and right. He has lately registered more support from moderate socialist voters, but he is also appealing to people who initially intended to vote for Macron or Le Pen. After rediscovering his radical roots in 2008 when he quit the Parti Socialiste (PS) in which he had been a party official for 35 years, Mélenchon has yet again reinvented himself as a pro-environmentalist grandfather figure who waves the tricolour flag.</p> <h2><strong>Model citizen</strong></h2> <p>Environmental issues bind people across social classes and generations, the father figure (like Mitterrand, his political hero) tends to project an image of unity and appeasement (he appears much calmer on television and has stopped picking fights with journalists) and the tricolour flag is a stringent sign of his conversion to populist politics (although he was always a republican patriot). Mélenchon’s blatant patriotism – for some nationalism – has raised a few eyebrows on the left. Furthermore, he is an old-fashioned republican who praises the “French model of citizenship”. This communitarian conception of integration relies on a discourse which abstractly posits the equality of all, irrespective of social, ethnic and gender backgrounds; a conception of citizenship which is shared by a majority of voters, including conservative and Front National ones.</p> <p>Mélenchon’s efforts to triangulate right-wing politics while opposing the FN’s “ethnicization” of politics have ultimately paid off. His obstinate opposition to the “neoliberal drift” of Hollande and Valls in power is certainly appreciated by a majority of the public. He has also captured the anti-establishment <em>zeitgeist</em> in the country. He early on understood that volatile and angry voters wanted to “kick the incumbents out”. But, in the end, those factors may have played a marginal role in Mélenchon’s recent success.</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/500209/33027385152_6e09940649_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/33027385152_6e09940649_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>JEAN LUC MELENCHON 201. Flickr/Richard Grandmorin. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <h2><strong>Mediocre opponents</strong></h2> <p>Mélenchon’s spectacular rise was also boosted by the mediocrity of his opponents: Le Pen who peaked in the polls early is not having a good campaign. There have been corruption allegations against her. Fillon was arguably on course to win this election last December until the French realised that he had a neo-Thatcherite economic agenda. Then multiple corruption&nbsp; allegations involving personal gain for members of his own family have destroyed his electoral prospects. This being said, and rather amazingly, Fillon is resilient and cannot be written off as we speak. Macron is a largely untested politician and the left, in general, scorns the former trader who is seen as a French Tony Blair.</p> <p>But the real reasons for Mélenchon’s ascendency is Hamon’s dramatic collapse in the polls. A young modern leftist, esteemed on the left in general, Hamon won the primary pledging to break with Hollande’s and Valls’s mix of economically liberal reforms (e.g. Labour law) and politically illiberal measures (e.g. the plan to revoke the citizenship of dual-nationality terrorists). Like Mélenchon’s, Hamon’s programme is broadly speaking of a left-wing social democratic nature. He is also interested in green issues, talks about gender and ethnic-related issues. </p> <p>He thought that as a candidate of a more central party on the left, he would manage to syphon off Mélenchon’s votes as the electorate would soon realise that it would be a more effective choice to support Hamon to defeat Le Pen and Fillon, than the more radical Mélenchon. </p> <p>But Hamon (and all commentators – myself included) underestimated two things: after five years in office the PS is now a totally contaminated brand. Moreover, party officials soon broke ranks and pledged their support for Macron although he is not a PS member. They did so because they belong to the neoliberal right-wing of the party and they could not contemplate a Hamon victory. </p> <p>Realising that Hamon was badly let down by Valls and other former ministers, voters started changing their mind about what would be a “useful vote” to defeat the right and the extreme right. The more moderate socialist voters chose Macron tactically, and more recently, seeing that the Hamon ship was taking on water, more traditionally left-wing voters switched their allegiance to Mélenchon. The “Unbowed leader” unexpectedly became the last hope for leftists of all types to beat Fillon, Le Pen but also Macron. This last-minute support for Mélenchon does not mean full adhesion to his persona or programme, far from it.</p> <h2><strong>An incredible rise</strong></h2> <p>Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s incredible rise – which might now bring him all the way to the Élysée Palace – can be explained by his ability to grasp and mobilise the rebellious mood of the nation. But he has also been incredibly lucky in operating in a situation of near institutional and political collapse which has served him remarkably well. </p><p>Whether Mélenchon wins this election or not, it remains to be seen how his “Citizen’s revolution” and the establishment of a 6th republic in place of de Gaulle’s 5th republic can be achieved without compromising with left-wing parties and trade-unions which, on a number of economic, political (laïcité, antiracism, gender-related issues) and geopolitical issues (Syria, Russia, the European Union) have strong reservations about Mélenchon’s style and politics. </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="/rosemary-bechler/jean-luc-melenchon-interview"> France is a universal nation: Mélenchon speaks out</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/philippe-marli%C3%A8re/marli%C3%A8re-across-la-manche-diary-of-2012-french-presidential-election">Marlière across La Manche: a diary of the 2012 French presidential election</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"> France </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? France Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics Ideas International politics Philippe Marlière French tragedy or farce? 2017 elections Tue, 18 Apr 2017 11:12:16 +0000 Philippe Marlière 110166 at https://www.opendemocracy.net DiEM25: an example of internal democracy in action https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/alex-sakalis/diem25-example-of-internal-democracy-in-action <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>For an inspiring example of internal democracy in action, look no further than DiEM25’s briefing paper on the French elections.</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-30820439.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-30820439.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'>French Presidential candidates take part in a televised debate. Pool/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>We all know that democracy is in a bad state in the EU. Since the Greek tragedy of 2015, when the veil was lifted from the internal engine of the European Union, it is clear that democracy is no longer being preached let alone practiced. But at the same time, new democratic processes are being invented. One example of this is <a href="https://diem25.org/what-is-diem25/">DiEM25</a> - a pan-European and democratic movement, as it debates the upcoming French elections.</p> <p>French DiEM members began the debate among themselves, at their local DSCs (democratic spontaneous collectives) and on the DiEM forum. So that non-Francophones could follow and participate in the debate, there was also an <a href="https://www.diem25.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=175&amp;t=13894">English language thread</a>, where French members summarised what was being discussed and engaged with other members across Europe.</p> <p>The result was a&nbsp;briefing&nbsp;written by the members of DiEM25 France and endorsed by DiEM's Coordinating Collective, summarising each of the main candidates’ policies vis-à-vis the economy, the environment and European solidarity. </p><p>The document gives a brief assessment of each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses viewed from the perspective of DiEM25's <a href="https://diem25.org/end/">New Deal For Europe</a>. It is a background breifing and a discussion opener designed to act as the basis of internal deliberation on DiEM25's official stance with respect to Round 1 of the French presidential elections. </p><p>The briefing also poses some interesting questions. Who has the better policies on the environment? Who can best heal a tense society still labouring under a 'state of emergency'? And what happened to the early promise of Benoit Hamon?</p><p>Here is the briefing:</p><h2>DiEM25’s stance in the 2017 French Presidential and Legislative Elections&nbsp;</h2> <p><strong><em>This text, written by members of DiEM25 France and endorsed by the Coordinating Collective, is intended as a background briefing to act as the basis of DiEM25’s internal deliberation on DiEM25’s official stance vis-à-vis the French Presidential Election (Round 1 in particular)</em></strong></p> <p>The French political system (the Fifth Republic) concentrates a great deal of power in the hands of one person (the President), thus subordinating Parliament to executive power. This conflicts with the democratic principles advocated by DIEM25. The fact that the legislative elections follow the presidential ones by one month only tends to favour the candidates supporting the President elect. </p><p>Additionally, the electoral system (two-rounds, first-past-the-post, no proportional representation) favours the established large parties to the detriment of smaller or younger parties. Indeed, in response to this situation, two candidates – Benoît Hamon and Jean-Luc Mélenchon – include in their programs the establishment of a Sixth Republic, that is to say a complete and radical reform of the French political system.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Presidential elections</strong></h2> <p>The first round of the 2017 presidential election will see 11 candidates amongst which 5 have or could have a possible claim to victory: </p><p>François Fillon (Les Républicains – LR, conservative right) </p><p>Marine Le Pen (Front National – FN, extreme-right) </p><p>Emmanuel Macron (En Marche – EM, centre-right and centre-left) </p><p>Benoît Hamon (Parti Socialiste - PS, left, allied with the green party, Europe-Ecologie Les Verts - EELV) </p><p>Jean-Luc Mélenchon (France Insoumise – FI, radical left).</p> <p>There is no need to detail here the position of Marine Le Pen, who believes France should leave the European Union and the Euro (Frexit), nor the position of François Fillon who is aligned with Angela Merkel on European issues, and who, on economic and social matters, proposes devastating austerity policies. </p><p>It is nonetheless important to note that Marine Le Pen is almost assured a place in the second round of the election. The same polls show that she would lose to any candidate opposing her in the second round, giving her opponent the practical guarantee of becoming the French Republic’s new President.</p> <p>DiEM25, therefore, is confined to assessing the relative merits of three candidates: Benoît Hamon, Emmanuel Macron, and Jean-Luc Melenchon.&nbsp;</p> <h2><em><strong>Benoît Hamon</strong></em></h2> <p>On European economic recovery, Benoît Hamon is proposing a program based on green investments and an ecological transition, mutualisation of public debt and its purchase by the European Central Bank, social cohesion and a European minimum wage, welcoming policies for refugees, fiscal harmonisation and a European budget, as well as the suspension of CETA.</p> <p><strong><em><span>Comment</span>:</em></strong> While these policies resemble DiEM25’s they, unfortunately, lack the sophistication of their counterparts in DiEM25’s European New Deal. </p><p>For instance, there is no direct link between the ECB’s quantitative easing project and an EIB-led and managed pan-European investment program – no limited debt conversion plan that can be applied to all Eurozone public debt without Treaty change or changing the ECB’s charter – a reaffirmation of the 3% Maastricht deficit limit that contradicts Hamon’s pronouncement for a Universal Basic Income (which, by the way, differs substantially from DiEM25’s Universal Basic Dividend proposal – see below). The result is a policy agend characterised by naiveté and that is, therefore, open to legitimate criticism by Hamon’s opponents.</p> <p>On democratisation at a pan-European level, Benoît Hamon has adopted the Piketty Group’s proposal for the creation of a Euro Chamber, comprising parliamentarians from national parliaments. This contradicts DiEM25’s proposal to embark on a Constitutional Assembly process rather than creating a fig leaf of parliamentarianism by which to cover up the lack of democratic legitimacy.</p> <p><strong><em><span>Comment</span>: </em></strong>The Euro Chamber proposal is a ‘deal-breaker’ for DiEM25 because it demonstrates Hamon’s tendency toward a faux federalism that, in the end, does not differ substantially to the Macron-Schäuble basic plan.</p> <p>On social issues, Hamon plans to suppress the El Khomri law and to progressively put in place a Universal Basic Income, conditions of which have evolved throughout the campaign. He is also favourable to a common European Defence plan and to a European energy policy. The method he proposes to attain his goals is one of gradual renegotiations of treaties, without specifying exactly how.</p> <p><strong><em><span>Comment</span>:</em></strong> The Universal Basic Income proposal has given Hamon much ‘air’ space. But it is fundamentally flawed. DiEM25 has explained (as part of our European New Deal) that, while a rolling out a universal basic payment is crucial, it cannot and should not be funded by taxes. </p><p>If it is (as Hamon’s program implies), it will either lead to a blowout of government expenditure or it will cannibilise the existing welfare state. It is for this reason that our European New Deal has put a great deal of thought in ways of funding a Universal Basic Dividend not from taxation but from creating a European Equity Depository that will own property rights to returns from capital and IP rights. Hamon’s proposal is, in this sense, primitive and damages a good idea’s long-term prospects.</p> <p><span><strong><em>Summary:</em></strong></span> Benoît Hamon’s program comes closest to DiEM25’s European New Deal. Alas, it does not come close enough. The Hamon program’s policies that are similar to DiEM25’s are far cruder than those in the European New Deal and, therefore, open to legitimate attacks from the Right. As for the rest, that pertain to Europe’s democratic future, they are too close to Macron’s and impossible to defend from the Left. For this reason DiEM25 would have difficulty supporting Benoît Hamon’s in the first round.</p> <h2><em><strong>Emmanuel Macron</strong></em></h2> <p>On Europe, Emmanuel Macron holds a pro-European position that, on some points, seems to concur with some of DIEM25’s positions, for example: pan-European democratic conventions, refugees and a policy of favouring federal solutions But, his readiness to acquiesce to generalised austerity in exchange for a macro- economically insignificant Eurozone-wide budget constitutes an effective capitulation to Wolfgang Schäuble’s Plan for Europe. </p><p>More worryingly, Macron is clearly aligned with the CDU’s fixation with neoliberal labour market reforms in the spirit of the German Hartz-Schröeder’s reforms as well as cuts in state aid for local authorities. </p><p>The Macron and El-Khomri laws from the present government, that he inspired, give an idea of his future policies, as do his recent pronouncements in favour of reducing the current wealth taxes without committing to an increase in inheritance taxes. We also note that Macron is favourable to CETA.</p> <p><span><strong><em>Summary:</em></strong></span> Given Macron’s insupportable position on Europe and neoliberal domestic program, DiEM25 cannot support his candidacy in the first round of the Presidential elections.&nbsp;</p> <h2><em><strong>Jean-Luc Mélenchon</strong></em></h2> <p>Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s program includes many measures close to Benoit Hamon’s, particularly regarding the European Central Bank, public debt purchase, economic revival, energy and ecological transition, and social convergence. </p><p>Mélenchon opposes Hamon on the Maastricht deficit rule, on defence and on the universal basic income. He stands for strict political supervision of the ECB, control of finance, ending privatisation of public services and a “united and ecological protectionism”.</p> <p>Regarding European matters Jean-Luc Mélenchon has a two-pronged strategy:</p> <p>⁃ Plan A starts with the unilateral cessation of application of fiscal treaties and of regressive social directives, and capital control. He then proposes to renegotiate those treaties and directives leveraging the threat of exiting them.</p> <p>⁃ Plan B, in case of a failure of Plan A negotiations, states an exit from the single currency after referendum, a new common currency for “willing countries” and the setting up of a “cooperation with other peoples of Europe”.</p> <p><strong><em><span>Summary</span>:</em></strong> Melenchon’s proposals would have had DiEM25’s complete support in… 1983. His vision of the fiscal and monetary ‘rules’ would have been far preferable to those that prevailed in the end, beginning with Maastricht. </p><p>However, DiEM25 believes strongly that, in 2017, Plans A&amp;B above are inappropriate. Any attempt to implement them will lead to the creation of a deep fault line separating the surplus from the deficit countries, along the river Rhine and across the Alps, with the result of a massively accelerated crisis of extreme deflation in the North East and stagflation everywhere else. </p><p>Perhaps this is unavoidable and will happen even without Jean-Luc Melenchon’s election (as a result of the terrible effects of the Establishment’s current policies). But to make these terrible developments the Left’s own plan is a major miscalculation that, in the end, only benefits Marine Le Pen. This is why DiEM25 cannot support Jean-Luc Melenchon’s candidacy.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Legislative elections</strong></h2> <p>Given that it is likely – in the absence of a coalition between Benoît Hamon and Jean-Luc Mélenchon – that the elected candidate will not come from one of the main parties (PS, LR), there will be a question of whether the next president will have a majority in the National Assembly (Parliament). In the - likely - event of the election of Emmanuel Macron, he will have to govern with either a right wing majority, or with no stable majority at all, but with strong LR and PS groups, and a substantial FN group.</p> <p>Besides, there is a likeliness that the Socialist Party (PS) would implode after the presidential election, especially if Emmanuel Macron is elected. This could allow the establishment of political coalitions during the legislative elections: Hamon’s left, together with Mélenchon’s left could seize the opportunity to reinforce the weight of a progressive and social left in the National Assembly.</p> <h2><strong>DiEM25 France's position</strong></h2> <p>DiEM25 would like to support a single candidate before the first round. As a political movement we feel the need and the duty to offer clear guidance to French voters seeking our advice. Some of us worry that if DIEM25 does not adopt a clear position at such a significant political moment, it runs the risk of becoming irrelevant in the French political context. However, the political situation in France today raises serious questions about the defensibility of supporting one of the above three candidates.</p> <p>The centre left has clearly imploded, following five years of President Hollande’s government. Benoît Hamon has valiantly tried to salvage the Socialist Party from the Hollande wreck age but has adopted policies that, even if well intended, lack credibility. In addition, many DiEM25ers in France do not trust the Socialist Party and are afraid that Benoît Hamon may ‘Hollandise’ himself after the election or, more likely, fail to transform the culture of the PS.</p> <p>Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Left Party has also failed to rise up to the occasion. His program cannot be implemented on the day after the election in a manner that stabilizes the French and European economic crisis so as to allow for a new progressive, internationalism against the forces both of the establishment and the Nationalist International. Moreover, his pronouncements diverge from those of his close entourage: for some his plan B is solely a leverage to negotiate plan A seriously. Others however see Plan B as their Plan A, rendering them allies (even if unwillingly) of Le Pen.</p> <p>As for Macron, he ruled himself out by his decision to seek the anointment of both Angela Merkel and of the parts of the French bourgeoisie that demand lower taxes for themselves.</p> <p>Ideally, DiEM25 would want to see a single candidate represent progressive internationalism in France’s Presidential Election - it would be the only way to ensure the crushing defeat of both Le Pen and the neoliberal establishment, perhaps from the 1st Round. The failure to build such an alliance is an opportunity for DIEM25 France to think, unite and act politically on the European question.</p> <h2>CONCLUSION: DiEM25’s POSITION – a proposal</h2> <p>DiEM25 will, as always, decide on its stance collectively and democratically by means of an internal ballot that will involve four options:</p> <p><strong><span>Option A –</span></strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong>DiEM25 calls upon French progressives to: (1) Vote in the 1st<strong> </strong>Round of the Presidential Election for <em>any</em> candidate <em>other</em> than Le Pen or Fillon, (2) Campaign for a single progressive internationalist list of parliamentary candidates in the legislative elections.</p> <p><strong><span>Option B </span></strong><strong>–<span> </span></strong>Vote for Benoît Hamon in the 1st<strong><span> </span></strong>Round of the Presidential Election</p> <p><strong><span>Option C </span></strong><strong>–<span> </span></strong>Vote for Emmanuel Macron in the 1st<strong><span> </span></strong>Round of the Presidential Election</p> <p><strong><span>Option D </span></strong><strong>–<span> </span></strong>Vote for Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the 1st<strong><span> </span></strong>Round of the Presidential Election</p> <p><span><em>PLEASE NOTE:</em></span> Two discussion threads are available on the Forum to discuss what DIEM25’s position should be regarding the French presidential and legislative elections: One is <a href="https://www.diem25.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=175&amp;t=13895">in French</a>.&nbsp;The other <a href="https://www.diem25.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=175&amp;t=13894">in English</a>.</p> <p><strong>And here were the results:</strong></p> <p>A (59.48%)</p> <p>B (13.62%)</p> <p>C (8.08%)</p> <p>D (18.83%)</p><p>In keeping with the principle of DiEM as a pan-European movement, all members of all nationalities were allowed to vote. After all, the French election will affect the rest of Europe as much as it will affect France.</p><p>And remarkably, members chose not to rally behind one candidate but to support an alliance of forces against fascism and/or neoliberalism.</p> <p>As well as French Presidential debates, DiEM25 members had previously engaged in democratic discussions to arrive at their positions for the <a href="https://diem25.org/diem-members-deciding-our-brexit-stance/">Brexit referendum</a> (and its aftermath), as well as the <a href="https://diem25.org/tag/italy/">Italian constitutional referendum</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="/can-europe-make-it/yanis-varoufakis/eu-cannot-survive-if-it-sticks-to-business-as-usual">The EU cannot survive if it sticks to business as usual</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/alex-sakalis/is-europe-colonising-itself-review-of-europe-s-forbidden-colony">Is Europe colonising itself? A review of &quot;Europe’s Forbidden Colony&quot;</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"> France </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? France Alex Sakalis Esplanade DiEM25 Tue, 18 Apr 2017 09:43:35 +0000 Alex Sakalis 110181 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Turkish referendum that is not https://www.opendemocracy.net/halil-gurhanli/turkish-referendum-that-is-not <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Even when it is obvious that a given regime is a dictatorship or a particular election an utter sham, one has to act as if it is not in order to reproduce the democratic system.<strong></strong></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-30937554.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-30937554.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'>Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gives a speech during an event to close the electoral campaign in Sariyer, near Istanbul, Turkey, 15 April 2017. Michael Kappeler/Press Agency. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Citizens of Turkey are about to vote in a referendum to decide whether to abandon the country’s parliamentary regime for an exceptionally powerful <a href="http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21720611-turks-are-split-over-giving-new-powers-recep-tayyip-erdogan-be-warned-he-would-use-them">executive presidency</a>. Constitutional amendments in question would grant the president <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/Erdogans_Turkey">complete power</a> to rule with impunity over the executive and the budget, and a considerable authority over the judiciary, while relegating the parliament to a shadow of its former self with minimal power of scrutiny. </p> <p>On paper, this is probably ‘the <a href="http://www.politico.eu/article/turkey-referendum-recep-tayyip-erdogan-power-grab-constitution/">most radical</a> political change since the modern republic’s foundation in 1923’ and ‘the culmination of a steady drift towards <a href="https://theconversation.com/turkey-holds-its-breath-and-prepares-for-an-explosive-referendum-75819">authoritarianism</a> in Turkey which began a decade ago.</p> <p>However, from a strictly practical perspective, it is possible to argue that there is hardly any point in the coming Turkish referendum to be held on April 16, 2017. Despite all the hype within the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ camps, both of which consider it as the most important vote ever to be cast in the country’s history, one tends to miss that the referendum cannot yield a major change in practical terms regardless of what the actual result may be. <span class="mag-quote-center">The referendum cannot yield a major change in practical terms regardless of what the actual result may be.</span></p> <p>If ‘yes’ votes carry the day and the constitutional amendments pass, the ‘new’ regime will be largely the same as the one that has already been in practice since 28 August 2014, the day Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took the oath of office and became the 12th President of Turkey. At least since then, Erdoğan has been ruling <em>de facto</em> as the executive President, and acting upon the capacities ‘new’ amendments propose to grant him with completely impunity. Enjoying an absolute authority over the sheepishly loyal AKP government he has personally handpicked, Erdoğan has already issued executive decrees, dismissed and appointed ministers, managed the use of armed forces both within and beyond the country’s borders, nullifying the elections, dissolving the parliament, declaring a state of emergency, and ordering mass institutional purges and arrests of MPs, mayors, journalists, academics, businessmen and others. </p> <p>In the contrary case where the amendments fail to pass, there is no indication whatsoever that the current situation where Erdoğan maintains a complete grip on power will not simply continue. The very fact that the referendum is to be held under the current state of emergency (going on for over 8 months and able to be extended indefinitely) is an obvious sign that things are not expected to change much in the aftermath of the referendum, even if the opposition votes somehow ‘win’.</p> <p>Especially in the absence of any organized opposition or institutional limitation to speak of under the ongoing state of emergency where his word is practically law, it is therefore not immediately clear to see why Erdoğan has insisted on holding a referendum. After all, at best, it would retrospectively grant <em>de jure </em>cover to his <em>de facto </em>rule. Is it even necessary to make all this look legitimate in a country where the sovereign can and does rule in a manner that is completely unrestrained by principles of rule of law and the separation of powers, and either violently suppresses or renders subservient almost all entities that are designed to check and balance his sovereign power? </p> <p>In my opinion, the <em>significance</em> of this particular referendum lies entirely in its symbolic and spacial dimensions, a combination of which constitutes the reason why Erdoğan and the AKP government have been pushing hard for it to take place. On the one hand, the April 16 referendum is a symbolic act because it constitutes an indispensable step to granting democratic legitimacy to Erdoğan’s one-man rule. That is, of course, insofar as democracy is crudely degraded to the unconstrained rule of a numerical majority, usually ‘gained’ under highly questionable, unfair and opaque circumstances of campaigning, voting and counting. Nonetheless, a significant feature of the <a href="https://muse.jhu.edu/article/384018">democratic hegemony</a> of the post-war era is that it is a symbolic one, obliging the ruling classes to maintain the façade of democracy by displaying at least a nominal respect for its formal procedures. Even when it is obvious that a given regime is a dictatorship or a particular election an utter sham, one has to act as if it is not in order to reproduce the <a href="https://books.google.fi/books?id=1QrSKH_Q5M8C&amp;lpg=PP1&amp;dq=hanson%20democracy%20Political%20Innovation%20and%20Conceptual%20Change&amp;pg=PP1#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false">democratic</a> system.</p> <p>This, after all, is the why many patently nondemocratic regimes feel obliged to call themselves democracies, such as the ‘Democratic’ Republics of Congo, North Korea, and Laos. It is also the reason why regimes like Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, Nazarbayev’s Kazakhstan, Lukashenko’s Belarus, and Aliyev’s Azerbaijan still go through the symbolic ritual of ‘democratic’ elections under conditions that all but negate the very point of holding elections in the first place. Erdoğan’s regime, in this sense, needs those credentials to maintain the democratic façade, without which its <a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/01/06/why-turkeys-mother-of-all-corruption-scandals-refuses-to-go-away/">deeply corrupt</a> and <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/TR/OHCHR_South-East_TurkeyReport_10March2017.pdf">increasingly violent</a> rule is simply naked, but in a twisted and reflexive sense. </p> <p>Even though the current regime in Turkey would probably continue undisturbed even after a ‘no’ result, those who have stood by it cannot do so in the absence of the <a href="https://books.google.fi/books?id=Z_PAu_39rSIC&amp;lpg=PA50&amp;ots=uAarWgaI2r&amp;dq=zizek%20big%20other%20emperor%20clothes&amp;pg=PA49#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false">symbolic efficacy</a> provided by ‘popular sovereignty’ that enables them to disavow the brute facts of the real. That is to say, without the seal of approval the April 16 referendum is supposed to provide, it is impossible to maintain the collective lie and keep acting <em>as if</em> the political regime in Turkey carries even minimal democratic legitimacy.</p> <p>The April 16 referendum is also a spatial act that serves to further polarize and consolidate the bipolar hegemony in Turkish politics around the figure of Erdoğan himself, antagonistically dividing society between the two homogenous camps of Erdoğanists and anti-Erdoğanists. Reducing the plurality of positions within the political space to a bipolar division of ‘yes’ and ‘no’, it functions as a litmus test that compels all to disclose their ‘true colors’ vis-à-vis the figure of Erdoğan. </p> <p>This has already created an irreconcilable schism within the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the only significant competitor to the AKP for the country’s overwhelmingly right-wing electorate. Accusing the MHP leader and his clique of acting as Erdoğan’s fifth column, a <a href="http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/03/turkey-henna-tattoos-become-a-symbol-of-resistance.html">sizable group</a> led by several MPs has rejected the official ‘yes’ stance of the party and splintered off to campaign for a ‘no’ vote. A similar yet less prominent line of division is discernable among the <a href="http://www.dw.com/tr/k%C3%BCrtlerin-oyu-ne-olacak/a-37968304">Kurdish</a> political movements as well. An Erdoğanist minority has been in formation around the optimistic conviction that a decisive victory in the referendum would give the President the necessary boost of power and confidence to restart the peace negotiations with the Kurds. <span class="mag-quote-center">It is the maintenance and reinforcement of this particular antagonism, the bipolar form itself, which is of vital importance for the survival of Erdoğan’s and, by extension, AKP’s hegemony in Turkish politics.</span></p> <p>It is the maintenance and reinforcement of this particular antagonism, the bipolar form itself, which is of vital importance for the survival of Erdoğan’s and, by extension, AKP’s hegemony in Turkish politics. In the absence of any other mobilizing factors that used to enable the AKP government to consolidate and expand its support base (such as economic policies generating prosperity and growth, welfare policies offering social security, foreign policy success stories providing a sense of national pride and common identity) this pure antagonism based on a cult of personality that depicts every political conflict as a matter of life and death for the leader and ‘the people’ he is supposed to embody is the only way for the AKP to remain in power. Thus, the April 16 referendum is an act of desperation on AKP’s part, which uses perhaps the only gun left in its war chest: Erdoğan.</p> <p>In this sense, the referendum is also the ultimate expression of Erdoğan’s political narcissism, indicating that he is willing to risk it all just to maintain his position in the spotlight and remain the locus of the Turkish body politic. In the midst of all that chaos, violence and noise, the April 16 referendum is ultimately a very expensive and reckless way of forcing every single citizen in Turkey to answer an essentially personal and, in fact, trivial question: Don’t you like Erdoğan? After fifteen years in power alone, it is rather tragic to witness the crumbling of a once mighty self-confidence into a sad question that begs for an affirmation of self-worth in the eyes of others.</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="/caglar-ezikoglu/erdogan-s-mastery-of-polarization">Erdogan’s mastery of polarization</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/nil-mutluer/turkish-flight-and-new-diaspora-in-town">Turkey&#039;s &#039;special refugees&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/elif-shafak/will-turkey-slide-into-dictatorship">Will Turkey slide into dictatorship?</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> </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> </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? Arab Awakening Turkey Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Turkish Dawn Halil Gurhanli Sat, 15 Apr 2017 19:50:05 +0000 Halil Gurhanli 110160 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘Prevent’, free speech and antisemitism https://www.opendemocracy.net/walter-armbrust/prevent-free-speech-and-antisemitism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As a talking point for debate it might be productive. The problem arises from the government of the United Kingdom ‘adopting’ IHRA’s definition of antisemitism in a quasi-official manner.</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 2017-04-15 at 13.38.54.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 13.38.54.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot of Farid Esack, Head of Religious Studies, University of Johannesburg. Israel Apartheid Week 2017 speaker.YouTube.</span></span></span>Recently petitions and letters <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/feb/27/university-wrong-to-ban-israeli-apartheid-week-event">have been circulating</a> protesting at the British Government’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s <a href="https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/">definition of antisemitism</a>. They argue that the IHRA definition of antisemitism dangerously conflates political speech critical of Israel, or in support of Palestinian rights in the Occupied Territories, with antisemitism. The letters and petitions respond in part to campaigns against annual Israel Apartheid Week seminars in the UK, which have cited the IHRA definition in their initiatives to shut down such events. The protests against the government’s position on the IHRA definition are broadly correct in their assertions about the danger’s of the government’s actions. But there are some aspects of the situation that warrant slightly different emphases than most of the letters and petitions have made.</p> <p>One problem with the IHRA definition is less the definition itself than a disclaimer line in the document that, in the abstract, anticipates the objection that its intention is simply to shut down political speech connected to Israel: “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.” </p> <p>But what does “criticism” mean? What are the criteria for “similarity”? One can imagine a comparison between criticisms of the United States, Britain and Israel. It would be impossible to understand the history of the United States without acknowledging the centrality of slavery, the dispossession of Native Americans, and racism that governed the attitudes of White Americans toward both. Modern Britain would be incomprehensible if one tried to erase colonialism, underpinned by violence and its own forms of racism, from the narrative. The experience of American slavery and British colonialism respectively, while by no means isolated or somehow “incomparable” to other histories, is nonetheless particular to each country. By the same token Israeli history is incomplete without discussing the role of settler colonialism in the founding of the state, and subsequently the dispossession of Palestinians’ rights through occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. </p> <p>Just as histories of the United States and Britain must reckon with the specific legacies of their pasts, so must histories of Israel.</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/Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 13.54.27.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 13.54.27.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot: Aja Monet, poet. Israel Apartheid week 2017 speaker. YouTube.</span></span></span>But in practice it is difficult for anyone to delve into the history of Israel or its current policies of occupation without risking vilification or, increasingly, being silenced altogether. This year’s <a href="http://apartheidweek.org/">Israel Apartheid Week</a> addressed “100 years of Palestinian resistance against settler colonialism, since the inception of the Balfour Declaration,” seeking to link that endeavor to campaigns calling for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. Settler colonialism, as previously mentioned, is an inescapable part of Israel’s history as a state, just as slavery and colonialism are part of the history of the United States and Britain. Sanctions, the goal of BDS advocated by Israel Apartheid activists, are a tool often used by the British government. For example, sanctions were applied against Iraq before the 2003 invasion, Iran before the 2015 nuclear deal was signed, and Russia (ongoing, due to the Russian occupation of the Crimea in 2014). An additional 19 countries have been <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-sanctions-regime-specific-consolidated-lists-and-releases">sanctioned by the UK</a> at various levels and for various periods over the past few decades. The imposing of sanctions and their subsequent lifting once conditions have been met suggest that they are an effective tool of diplomacy. There is therefore nothing exceptional about advocating sanctions against Israel. </p><p>Nonetheless contrary to the spirit and letter of the IHRA’s disclaimer clause, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2017/03/02/british-universities-have-duty-jewish-students-monitor-israel/">individuals</a> and <a href="https://antisemitism.uk/caa-releases-guide-for-students-dealing-with-antisemitism-during-israeli-apartheid-week/">organizations</a> have explicitly sought to link Israel Apartheid Week to antisemitism on the basis of the IHRA definition. The IHRA’s nominal attempt to define when criticism is legitimate is, in practice, inoperable. Why should this be so?</p> <p>If the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism were used as a talking point for a debate it might be a productive document. The problem arises from the fact that the government of the United Kingdom has “adopted” IHRA’s definition in <a href="https://cfoi.co.uk/universities-minister-calls-on-uk-universities-to-tackle-anti-semitism-particularly-in-context-of-israel-apartheid-week/">a quasi-official manner</a>, and has therefore put itself in a position to tell us when it thinks a speaker or a topic is anti-Semitic, or to encourage others to do so. </p> <p>Crucially, this does not come in a vacuum. The government’s position on the IHRA definition must be put in the context of its ‘Prevent’ legislation, which has been the law since 2015. Prevent is ostensibly part of a <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2015/9780111133309/pdfs/ukdsiod_9780111133309_en.pdf">counter-terrorism strategy</a>, but in every way it actually feeds radicalization by encouraging or in some cases requiring universities to censor speakers and to conduct surveillance on students. Prevent erodes trust between students and faculty and actually creates reasons for radicalization rather than impediments to it. The Prevent legislation is deeply malignant to the cause of free speech in universities.</p> <p>Prevent conflicts with the Education (No. 2) Act of 1986, which was designed to uphold <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1986/61/section/43">freedom of speech in universities</a>. The 1986 legislation might be seen as either invalidating Prevent altogether, or as functionally analogous to the IHRA’s ineffectual disclaimer clause. It will ultimately be the latter. One notes that the <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2015/9780111133309/pdfs/ukdsiod_9780111133309_en.pdf">Prevent Duty Guidance document</a> mentions the 1986 legislation ominously, as something to be subject to “further guidance issued on the management of external speakers and events.” “Further guidance” will not be in the interest of freedom of speech. Once Prevent became law it was allotted bureaucratic resources, administered through the Higher Education Funding Council of Britain, in order to compel compliance. As a bureaucracy of the state, HEFCE’s Prevent apparatus can only demonstrate its productivity in the form of narrowing the limits of academic freedom. Its purpose is precisely to peel away issues that can be defined as <em>outside</em> the scope of academic freedom. If it fails to do this, the Prevent bureaucracy will not be seen as effective. </p> <p>In this context, consider the implications of the government’s “adoption” of the IHRA definition of antisemitism. The “adoption” of the IHRA definition of antisemitism is vague and quasi-official, but there is nothing quasi about Prevent. Combining the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism with Prevent is very dangerous indeed, and results in exactly the conflations of political speech with antisemitism that so many have protested. Moreover, third parties seeking to suppress free speech on Israel in universities have <a href="https://antisemitism.uk/caa-releases-guide-for-students-dealing-with-antisemitism-during-israeli-apartheid-week/">explicitly linked</a> the adoption of the IHRA definition with Prevent.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/16649323_993471950753127_2165136663887071311_n.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/16649323_993471950753127_2165136663887071311_n.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="273" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>University of Cambridge protest, Israel Apartheid week 2017. Cambridge University PalSoc.</span></span></span>This brings me to the most crucial issue, which is that Prevent empowers a range of <em>non-governmental</em> entities to decide for us whether or not we have met the criterion of criticising Israel in a manner “similar to criticism of any other country.” In other words, third parties from outside the university can make complaints against speakers at our events, and Prevent obliges universities to investigate these complaints. These non-governmental entities may include the right-wing press operating in a realm of “alternative facts,” as well as organizations or individuals who simply wish to suppress discussion of facts they consider opposed to their political agendas. Universities struggle to devise sensible policies for handling such interventions. The government's adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism raises the likelihood of politically motivated interventions into our affairs, and weakens our defenses against them. Hence the IHRA definition becomes not a tool put into the hands of people concerned with antisemitism, but instead a weapon put into the hands of those who wish to suppress activists and academics speaking on Palestinian issues. It also becomes hugely threatening to timid university administrators who are nervous about granting authority to speak on topics considered controversial by the dictates of Prevent. </p><p>If current trends continue, soon we will be unable to speak critically about Israel or in favor of Palestinian rights in the Occupied Territories. Other issues will be similarly peeled away from the sphere of allowable speech. Prevent is fundamentally anti-intellectual and ultimately counterproductive to the cause of security. This is because it encourages or demands silence rather than discussion. </p> <p>Silence leads to ignorance, which can never make us more secure. The same tactic can potentially be used to suppress all speech at odds with the state’s agendas, or with the agendas of unaccountable people and organizations. I predict that in the case at hand the government's adoption of the IHRA definition will not stop a single antisemitic act, and that it is dead certain to continue suppressing legitimate political views critical of Israel. This is what the government’s adoption of it is designed to achieve.&nbsp;</p> <p>But what is happening now to Palestinians and their supporters is part of a much larger assault on freedom. The government’s quasi-official adoption of a definition of antisemitism has nothing to do with preventing antisemitism, and everything to do with a malicious spirit of authoritarianism now sweeping the world.</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="/victoria-brittain/legal-obligations-on-palestinian-rights">Legal obligations on Palestinian rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/henry-giroux-joan-pedro-cara-ana/henry-giroux-public-intellectual-on-menace-of-trump-and-new-authori">Henry Giroux, public intellectual, on the menace of Trump and the new authoritarianism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/david-plank-rosemary-bechler/chilling-effects-politics-of-anti-semitism-in-uk">Chilling effects: the politics of anti-semitism in the UK</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"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item even"> Palestine </div> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </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"> 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? Arab Awakening uk United States UK Palestine Israel Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Anti-Semitism and the left Walter Armbrust Sat, 15 Apr 2017 11:14:29 +0000 Walter Armbrust 110158 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Turkey's 'special refugees' https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/nil-mutluer/turkish-flight-and-new-diaspora-in-town <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In Turkey's story, the western gaze is searching for new victims. Yes, I fled Turkey with my three year old daughter, but am I that victim?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="BodyB"><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-30671802.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-30671802.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'>A year after the EU deal with Turkey to stem the flow of migrants into Europe, Hungary is doubling down protection of its border.Syrian refugee family at the Kelebija transit camp, March 23,2017.Krystian Maj/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p class="BodyB">The western gaze needs fresh victims and apparently it sees in me one of those new victims. How do I know this? I read it in the newspaper, in the Wall Street Journal, no less. Here is what the WSJ said about me on August 24, 2016:</p> <blockquote><p class="BodyB">In Istanbul, Nil Mutluer grabbed her 3-year-old daughter and raced with a suitcase toward Turkey’s coast. The former sociology-department chair at the city’s Nisantasi University narrowly escaped the nation’s looming dragnet. “Authorities had already begun questioning colleagues at the airports,” said Dr. Mutluer, a Western-leaning liberal who took a ferry to Greece en route to an academic post in Berlin.</p></blockquote> <p class="BodyB">A striking beginning for a newspaper story isn't it? An academic single mother escapes with only one suitcase and her three years old daughter, via Greece to boot! Touching too – exactly the sort of human interest story of victimisation that the western gaze seems to demand from its news outlets. </p> <p class="BodyB">A couple of months after that story was published, the Turkish correspondent of another major European news outlet, herself a Turkish citizen, contacted me. Having finally discovered what has been happening to Academics for Peace since the beginning of the year, she told me that she had interviewed a number of other academics who had left Turkey and that she would like to include my story in her article as well. </p> <p class="BodyB">I agreed on one condition. I asked her to keep my visit to Greece before coming to Germany out of her article – not because it was something that I particularly wanted to hide, but because I thought that it was irrelevant. The only possible relevance was that Syrian refugees also sought to reach Europe via Greece, but though politically persecuted in Turkey, I was and am not a refugee and that was not the reason why I chose to make a stop in Greece, before going to Germany.&nbsp; "But going to Europe via Greece is what makes your story different from the others" she protested.&nbsp; "But it is irrelevant" I protested back. In the end, her article was published and, thanks to my adamant refusal, this time my story was not in it. </p> <p class="BodyA">Yes, the western gaze needs new victims, but am I that victim? Well, I am a 'scholar at risk', that much is true enough. Although I have been active in various feminist and human rights circles and have been working on issues regarding democratization for almost two decades, I have officially gained that status thanks to one modest political act in a whole lifetime: I joined over a thousand other colleagues – Academics for Peace – in signing a peace petition, "We will not be a Party to This Crime", which called on the Turkish state to cease its accelerating violence in the Kurdish provinces and respect domestic and international laws. </p> <p class="BodyA">Our action was peaceful, but President Erdogan's response to it was disproportionately heavy-handed. In no less than five public speeches targeting us, he accused us of making terrorist propaganda and betraying the country. Taking their clue from Erdogan's speeches, pro-governmental newspapers published our photos and our names without bothering to disguise their threats of vengeance for what they considered to be an 'act of treason' on our part. One ultra-nationalist mafia leader voiced his desire to take a shower in our blood. Public prosecutors started criminal investigations against all the signatories of the petition, and four of our friends, who were unfortunate enough to read at a press-conference a joint press-release expressing our commitment to demanding peace, had to spend more than a month in pre-trial detention. </p> <p class="BodyA">The governmental regulatory body of higher education in Turkey, the so-called Higher Education Council pushed the universities to open disciplinary investigations against the signatories. Most university administrations did what they were told, and some universities summarily dismissed those faculty members who signed the peace petition. My university was one of them, and I was fired from my position as the head of the Sociology Department of Nisantasi University in February 2016. </p> <p class="BodyA">That's how I have found myself in Berlin, at Humboldt University's Diversity and Social Conflict Department as a Philipp Schwartz Fellow – a fellowship awarded to 'Scholars at Risk.' Meanwhile not only academics but also a growing number of journalists, artists, human rights activists and, in fact, anyone who dared to criticize the government's policies in the Kurdish provinces or the rising authoritarianism in Turkey, found themselves at the receiving end of governmental persecution, stigmatization and imprisonment.&nbsp; </p> <h2 class="BodyB"><strong>Potential refugee status</strong></h2> <p class="BodyB">Since I moved to Germany, I have had many encounters with German and European institutions and the media. On most occasions, I have received direct support and solidarity from colleagues and representatives in various institutions and organizations. Nevertheless there were also quite a number of encounters where I felt that the western gaze required me as a victimized subject of its own choice – a subject who is heard only when she talks about the ordeals she has been put through by her persecutor, namely Erdoğan; a subject who is seen only when she exemplifies, in her very person, the authoritarian straitjacket that Erdoğan has been imposing on Turkey. This was what the western gaze wanted to see and wanted me to show. Quite often I felt as if I were selected as a potential refugee for the sole purpose of voicing/showing what the mainstream western institutions and media wanted to hear/to see. <span class="mag-quote-center">Europe needs me as a victim to assure itself that it is indeed 'the saviour' that it has imagined itself to be.</span></p> <p class="BodyB">This feeling returns me to the debates in postcolonial studies over recent decades around the agency of the speaker. Can the non-European speak in her own voice? If she does, can she be heard? What I feel now is that I represent the gendered embodied subject that those debates are centered around; that Europe needs me as a victim to assure itself that it is indeed 'the saviour' that it has imagined itself to be. I am also needed to reconstruct its modern gendered, ethnicized 'secular' values in this new era when the dice are being cast anew.</p> <h2 class="BodyB"><strong>The role of Turkey in reconstructing Europeanness </strong></h2> <p class="BodyA">The time-honored method of reconstructing western values is through a binary opposition between the secular and civilized West versus fundamentalist and barbaric East. The question is whether the modern mindset shaped by and around binary oppositions between ethnic, gendered, religious, or class identities, can affirm the superiority of Western values over Eastern ones without sounding politically incorrect? In today’s world, from the mouth of an un-hyphenated and mainstream European citizen, an affirmation of the superiority of western values over eastern ones does indeed sound too Islamophobic, too ethnocentric, even racist. It would be, however, a different and politically less incorrect matter if the members of a community of educated intellectuals, journalists, academics, dissidents of all colors coming in from the East and rapidly constituting a new diaspora in the heartlands of Europe – were to voice it. </p><p class="BodyA">That’s why the task of boosting European self-confidence as a secular and civilized saviour of humanity is assigned not to the <em>real</em> refugees who run for their lives from the war-torn regions of the world to reach Europe in millions, only to find out that they are unwelcome. Instead, the role of rebuilding that familiar/superior sense of a Europeanness that offers relief to a ‘special’ group of non-European intellectuals, is given to that special community that are relieved. In this sense, I am part of what can be called a group of special refugees, who are chosen by the western gaze as its ideal victims. Moreover, this 'victim-savior' imagery conceals the complex motives of western actors engaged in the war in Syria to pursue their own economic and political agenda. <span class="mag-quote-center">This 'victim-savior' imagery conceals the complex motives of western actors engaged in the war in Syria to pursue their own economic and political agenda.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></span></p> <p class="BodyA">This, more or less, is what I think was at play in the many interviews I gave and seminars I participated in, after I came to Europe. Readers, listeners and interviewers were more interested in the fact that our freedom of expression was violated by the Turkish government than the content of what we wanted to express to the government freely without interference. Apparently, the fact that we are "western leaning" educated victims and that our persecutor, president Erdoğan, is an authoritarian politician from an Islamicist background are a necessary and sufficient explanation for what is going on in Turkey. However, such binary presentations are always exclusionary and they only serve to cover up what one is simply not interested in seeing. </p> <p class="BodyA">In our case, what this binary presentation of Turkey’s authoritarian Islamist leader against secular, western-leaning dissidents serves to conceal is the complicity of the secular Turkish nationalists in the Islamist AKP government's violent policies in the Kurdish regions. It also blurs EU's and European governments' own complicity in continuing to support the AKP and Erdoğan even long after he took a manifestly authoritarian turn and, as a result, the human rights situation in Turkey deteriorated further. </p> <h2 class="BodyA"><strong>Reading Turkey</strong></h2> <p>Reading Turkey through the binary opposition between the West and the East keeps the true dynamics of power of Turkish politics out of the focus of the western gaze. This results in misjudging the character of Erdoğan's power as well as misperceiving the secular-westernist bloc (the Ataturkists or Kemalists)&nbsp; as a monolithic and homogenous group. Yet, Turkish nationalism and the anti-Kurdish sentiments associated with it often serve as a discursive common ground, on which the West, as represented by Ataturk's old secular Turkey, and the East, as represented by Erdogan's new Islamic dictatorship in the making, form uneasy but effective alliances, at various levels. <span class="mag-quote-center">Erdoğan plays the Kurdish card to mobilize the Turkish nationalist sentiments prevalent not only in the Islamic but also secular sections of the society, against the democratic opposition to his dictatorial ambitions.&nbsp; </span></p><p class="BodyA">In the European media these alliances are often treated as uninteresting, if not unimportant small prints which no one has the wish or motivation to read – if, that is, they are covered at all. </p> <p class="BodyA">In reality, in understanding what is going on in Turkey under Erdoğan, it is crucial to note that the main opposition party representing the western-leaning secular values of Ataturk's Turkey, the CHP (<em>Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi</em>, Republican People's Party), voted last year with the Islamist AKP to revoke the legislative immunity of the Members of the Parliament which resulted, as predicted, in the eventual imprisonment of 13 deputies of the pro-Kurdish opposition party HDP (Halklarin Demokrasi Partisi, Peoples' Democracy Party), including its two spokespersons. Similarly, after Erdoğan parted company with the Gulenists<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> following the latter group’s corruption allegations against himself and key names in the government in December 2013 he looked for a new partner to run the state bureaucracy and approached the so called 'Ergenekon'<a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a> group known as defenders of the 'deep state'.&nbsp; </p> <p class="BodyA">This new realignment is extremely important for the course of Erdoğan’s politics because Ergenekon defenders who are known for their ultranationalist and secularist convictions are today in charge of the security operations in the Kurdish regions of the country where under extended curfews countless cases of human rights violations, including violations of the right to life and to property are taking place without the scrutiny of the Western gaze. These facts are not less important than the ordeals that we, as Academics for Peace, had to go through simply because it was the security operations in the Kurdish regions and the resulting human rights violations that&nbsp; prompted us, the Academics for Peace, to come up with our peace petition in the first place. </p> <h2 class="BodyA"><strong>Teaching Europeans</strong></h2> <p class="BodyA">In an article published on July 26, 2016 in Al-Jazeera, Hamid Dabashi describes the way that European thinkers selectively fail to hear some sectors of non-Europeans in the following words:</p> <blockquote><p class="BodyA">Why should Europeans not be able to read, even when we write in the language they understand? They cannot read because they (as “Europeans,” caught in the snare of an exhausted but self-nostalgic metaphor) are assimilating what they read back into that snare and into what they already know – and are thus incapable of projecting it forward into something they may not know and yet might be able to learn.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p></blockquote> <p class="BodyA">I agree with Dabashi that the mainstream of the European media and institutions do suffer from a similar disability in “reading" Turkey. By keeping their focus solely on Erdoğan and his dictatorial ambitions, and by assimilating what they see into what they already know, namely the time-honored binary dichotomy between the secular West and Islamic East, they fail to appreciate how Erdoğan plays the Kurdish card to mobilize the Turkish nationalist sentiments prevalent not only in the Islamic but also secular sections of the society, against the democratic opposition to his dictatorial ambitions.&nbsp; </p> <p class="BodyA">As a matter of fact, the Turkish state has always been quite agile in using arguments of national security to crush struggles for democratization by leftists, feminists, liberals, LGBTIs and intellectuals: but Erdoğan 's latest attack on HDP has carried this long tradition of authoritarianism to new heights. </p> <h2 class="BodyA"><strong>A peace too far</strong></h2> <p class="BodyA">HDP is in fact, an alliance of a number of left-wing political movements active mostly in the non-Kurdish western regions of Turkey within the Kurdish political movement. It was formed during the so-called peace process, when the country welcomed a ceasefire and the end of political violence. After a campaign staunchly opposing Erdoğan's dictatorial ambitions and promising a human rights based and pluralistic democracy, HDP succeeded in passing the 10% electoral threshold and getting 13% of votes in the June 7, 2016 elections. As a result, Erdoğan's AKP lost its absolute majority in the parliament. Instead of opting to form a coalition with one of the other political parties in the parliament however, Erdoğan decided to repeat the elections and played a key role in breaking the peace process with the PKK (<em>Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan</em>, The Kurdistan Worker's Party) in a rupture that led to the most recent bout of political violence in Turkey. </p> <p>Amidst escalating clashes with the PKK in the Kurdish regions of the country, frequent suicide bombings by such terrorist organizations as ISIS, and TAK (a radical splinter group of the PKK) in various urban centers of Turkey which claimed hundreds of life, and an intense defamation campaign stigmatizing HDP as a supporter of terrorism and violence, Erdoğan's AKP managed to froth up fresh anti-Kurdish sentiment in society. When the elections were indeed "renewed" on November 1, 2016 through Erdoğan’s manipulations, the AKP won back its absolute majority in the Parliament, while the HDP votes fell to 11%. The new AKP government launched the security operations mentioned above in the course of which hundreds of civilians were injured or killed, and entire towns were, literally, demolished. <span class="mag-quote-center">Could Erdoğan implement these violent policies in the Kurdish regions, without the active support, or at least, silent complicity of at least some of the secular segments of the society?</span> </p><p class="BodyA">Would any of this have happened, if the HDP had not struck a clear, staunchly democratic stance against Erdoğan's dictatorial ambitions, or if the PKK had simply continued to resist responding to Erdoğan's provocations in the Kurdish region? Could Erdoğan implement these violent policies in the Kurdish regions, without the active support, or at least, silent complicity of at least some of the secular segments of the society? The answers to these questions are of key importance for a truthful understanding of what is going on in Turkey. </p> <h2 class="BodyA"><strong>Europe’s Kurdish issue</strong></h2> <p class="BodyA">Unfortunately, however, neither these questions, nor the cycle of violence which has befallen the Kurdish regions of Turkey since the June 7, 2016 elections has become as visible to the western gaze, as the personal hardships that we, the Academics for Peace, have had to suffer as a result of our call to the Turkish Government, to break that insane cycle of violence. </p> <p class="BodyA">As an academic active in human rights and feminist circles, I have participated in many advocacy missions at various EU-platforms, as well as in a number of European states in the last decade. And in the last three or four years I have experienced first hand the difficulty that many European human rights activists too have been experiencing, namely the difficulty of getting European officials to take an active interest in the detorioration of the human rights situation in Turkey, particularly in the Kurdish regions of the country.&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/PA-21027332.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-21027332.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'>Turkish and Syrian Kurds try to tear down border fence at Suruc in Sanliurfa province, September, 2014. Tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds fled into Turkey after an onslaught by the jihadist Islamic State (IS) group. Many wanted to return to protect their homes. Depo Photos/Press Association. All rights re-served.</span></span></span>But the Kurdish issue is not just limited to Turkey, and taking an active interest in it requires the European mainstream media to follow closely all the actors involved in the war encompassing the whole region. It also requires them to share responsibility for the millions of the real refugees that that war generates. When we think about the European weapons used in that war, as well as the shady refugee deal that was struck with Erdoğan to keep the real victims of that war, namely the Syrian refugees, outside European borders, it is hardly surprising that the readers of the European mainstream media are so reluctant to look in the direction we are trying to point out. </p><h2 class="BodyA"><strong>'There is a crack in everything/ That's how the light gets in'</strong></h2> <p class="BodyA">Let me draw to my conclusion. First, the carriers of the western gaze are not only Europeans. As I mentioned earlier, there are also Turkish journalists who want to use the position of a victim with a muted voice. But more importantly, there are also European journalists and institutions who keep a critical distance from the western gaze and position themselves as equals when they come face to face with this “special” group of non-European intellectuals. When they stand in solidarity with the latter, they think not <em>in lieu</em> of them but with them, they respect that special group’s agency and&nbsp; they do not impose predetermined frames, restricting what the members of this special group want to express. <span class="mag-quote-center">“I cannot help thinking that it could be us, who had to go through what you have gone through.”</span></p> <p class="BodyA">The words of a German TV documentarist I met epitomizes this mindset: "We are obviously different, you and us" he said to me after an interview, "but there are so many similarities between our everyday lives and our worldviews that I cannot help thinking that it could be us, who had to go through what you have gone through. What difference does this experience make in your lives? What do you think are the visible and invisible reasons of all this? It is very important to hear that from you..." When I asked him why that is so important he answered: "How else can we think of the next step (to remedy these wrongs)?"</p> <p class="BodyA">This approach of recognizing and respecting the differences and commonalities between one’s own and others' knowledge, of listening and thinking through both and attempting to move forward towards a new thinking and action resonates with what Walter D. Mignolo calls "border thinking." Mignolo develops this concept in conjunction with what Abdelkebir Khatibi's calls "an other thinking." According to Mignolo Khatibi, "an other thinking is a way of thinking without the other... (and) based on spatial confrontations between different concepts of&nbsp; history."<a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a> For Mignolo, Khatibi's "an other thinking" is possible when local histories and particular power relations are taken into consideration. For him, border thinking not only aims to understand the knowledge from the subaltern point of view but also closes the gap between opposite knowledges. He explains border thinking as:</p> <blockquote><p>the moments in which the imaginary world system cracks. Border thinking is still within the imaginary of the modern world system but repressed by the dominance of hermeneutics and epistemology as the keywords controlling the conceptualisation of knowledge.<a href="#_ftn4">[4]</a></p></blockquote> <p class="BodyA">Thinking through bodies of knowledge presented against one another, together with one another, and doing so critically cracks the world presented by the binaries. It is these cracks that make "an other thinking possible." Instead of watching and attaching meanings to policies, actors and approaches effecting our lives that stay within the framework of the knowledge we know, these cracks allow us to actively intervene in them. <span class="mag-quote-center">Thinking through bodies of knowledge presented against one another, together with one another, and doing so critically cracks the world presented by the binaries.</span></p> <p class="BodyA">The European mainstream may well have a tendency to give a muted voice to the members of the new diasporas to preserve modern European values. It may also have the power to make its own knowledge more visible. Yet, there are also European media, European academics and European institutions, who pursue truth through the cracks, who resist being trapped in the triangle of <em>victim - persecutor - saviour.</em> Some of them are already engaged in border thinking, and some of them are open to think with us, and to produce the new with us, when they confront us. </p> <p class="BodyA">Instead of just categorizing and positioning us, the members of the new diaspora, as ‘others’, they recognize us as human beings with a full voice. They understand what we mean when we say: I am here, I have a voice, I am not your historical constellation. As Leonard Cohen said in Anthem: "There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in" and they are the cracks which allow the light into the western gaze.</p><h2>Coming soon: a new project to challenge censorship in Turkey.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/turkey">Sign up here.</a></h2><p class="BodyA"><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-25232128.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-25232128.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'>Syrian refugees hold candles, a flag and a placard in solidarity with the victims of a suicide bomb attack in the Sultanahmet district of central Istanbul, Turkey, January, 2016. Peter Kneffel/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p> <p class="Footnote"><em>An earlier French version of this article will be published in Mouvements&nbsp; (Special Issue, "Turquie autoritaire, Turquie contestataire", Summer 2017).</em></p> <p class="Footnote"><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> Gulen movement is a religious and social movement in Turkey with strong transnational ties. Especially after 1980 coup it gained power in state bureaucracy and until late 2013 it had a strong alliance with the AKP governments.After being declared as the culprit of the failed coup of July 15th, 2016 by the AKP government, there has been a huge purge against its members or indeed anyone who is suspected to be a member.&nbsp; </p> <p class="Footnote"><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> <em>Ergenekon</em> is said to be an extra-legal ultranationalist Gladio-type organization closely associated with what is sometimes called the "deep state." The so-called <em>Ergenekon</em> trials are a group of trials in which hundreds of military officers, journalists and opposition lawmakers were accused of being members of this organization and of plotting a coup against the legitimate government of the Republic of Turkey. </p> <p class="Footnote"><a href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a> Mignolo, Walter D. (2000)<em> Local Histories / Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges and Border Thinking, </em>Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press; 67<em>.</em></p> <p class="Footnote"><a href="#_ftnref4">[4]</a> Mignolo, 2000: 23.</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="/ercan-ayboga/round-clock-control-in-diyarbakir">Round the clock control in Diyarbakir</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/abdullah-demirbas-eleanor-finley/sur-against-state-violence-in-turkey-interview-with-former-mayor-ab">Sur: against state violence in Turkey - an interview with former mayor Abdullah Demirbas</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/nurcan-baysal/cizre-don-t-forgive-us">Cizre, don’t forgive us! </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/nadje-al-ali-latif-tas-g-ltan-ki-anak/kurdish-women-s-battle-continues-against-state-and-patriarchy-"> Kurdish women’s battle continues against state and patriarchy, says first female co-mayor of Diyarbakir. Interview </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/nurcan-baysal/writing-from-diyarbak-r-under-blockade">Writing from Diyarbakır under blockade</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/julian-de-medeiros/turkish-academics-deserve-solidarity-fight-for-academic-freedom-is-global">Turkish academics deserve solidarity: the fight for academic freedom is global </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/nurcan-baysal/kurdish-region-since-coup-attempt">The Kurdish region since the coup attempt</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"> 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 Turkey Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Turkish Dawn Nil Mutluer Thu, 13 Apr 2017 07:33:31 +0000 Nil Mutluer 110115 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The choice: democracy caught between nationalism and federalism https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/choice-democracy-caught-between-nationalism-and-federalism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The forthcoming elections, in France, Germany, and elsewhere, will mark a watershed. It is a time for choices to be made.</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-19766173.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-19766173.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" width="460" height="328" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>German chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán. Hannibal Hanschke/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Altiero Spinelli, the founder of European federalism, wrote in the ‘Ventotene Manifesto’ (1941) that, “The dividing line between progressive and reactionary parties (…) falls along the line, very new and substantial, that separates the party members into two groups. The first is made up of those who conceive the essential purpose and goal of struggle as the ancient one, that is, the conquest of national political power (…). The second are those who see the creation of a solid international State as the main purpose; they will direct popular forces toward this goal, and, having won national power, will use it first and foremost as an instrument for achieving international unity.”</p> <p>In essence, Spinelli was writing about a division between ‘nationalism’ and ‘federalism’. These days, 76 years since Spinelli&nbsp;(with the help of fellow prisoners Rossi and Colorni)&nbsp;jotted down his Manifesto; nationalism is again centre stage, while the idea of ‘federalism’ (or, more broadly, that of political integration) has been eroded by the malfunctioning and woes of the European Union (EU). Together with the decline of inter (and supra-) national institutions, however, nationalism is corroding the quality of democracy itself. For the sake of simplicity, let us divide the western world (and Europe) into ‘West’ and ‘East’, older and newer democracies.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>For more than twenty years Western Europe has witnessed the rise of populist nationalisms. The faces of Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen, Matteo Salvini, Nigel Farage and their likes are by now well-known and familiar to many, in the media, academia, and of course among voters. We have been reassured about their democratic credentials and respect for&nbsp;the ‘rules of the game’, but how far can we trust them? Can we trust somebody (Geert Wilders), who has repeatedly called for the ban of the Koran? How far has Marine Le Pen truly cut ties with her father’s legacy? Intolerance, racism, nationalism, criticism of ‘European values’ can hardly co-exist with democratic values and institutions, particularly at times of persistent economic crisis. Parties and politicians can pay lip service to democracy, but their real choice and actions will be influenced by the conditions they are living in (the ‘structures’ of so much social theory…). Furthermore, populist nationalism is also the outcome of the weaknesses of ruling classes which have too often chosen the not-so-democratic (yet comfortable!) option of ‘grand coalitions’, which in a sense are the degeneration of Spinelli’s ‘pro-international’ forces.&nbsp;</p> <p>Germany had a coalition government from 2005-2009 and then again since 2013. Italy experienced a national unity government under a technocrat, Mario Monti, in 2011-13 and then a ‘quasi’ grand coalition under PMs Letta, Renzi, and Gentiloni. Austria has seen the two major parties in power together since 2006. In countries like Belgium and the Netherlands, coalition governments are a kind of tradition, even if some ‘traditional’ parties such as Dutch Labour have meanwhile almost disappeared (see the recent elections). Coalition governments are somehow acceptable at times of crisis (as in World War Two Britain), but over the long term tend to become conservative, negotiate on every tiny issue, and lose sight of bolder political aims.&nbsp;<em>Frau Merkel</em>’s pro-European rhetoric has sadly translated into little else than (paternalistic but financially painful) criticism of ‘profligate’ southern European countries. This is dogmatic (or opportunistic?) allegiance to neoliberal diktats, nothing else.&nbsp;</p> <p>Eastern Europe suffered the consequences of imposed neoliberalism earlier and in a harsher way, and this has resulted in what are sometimes called ‘illiberal democracies’. This is not confined to academic or media-friendly labels, but is the way Mr Orban himself refers to ‘his’ Hungary. Orban has consistently rejected the liberal values which are at the heart of the European project. </p> <p>While his politics have been rather opportunistic on the whole, there is no such thing as an ‘illiberal democracy’: it is a contradiction in terms. Trying to invert words and say ‘liberal autocracy’,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301682817_Liberal_Autocracy"><span>as is proposed by some scholars</span></a>, does not improve the terms of the equation. Orban’s Hungary has more than one authoritarian aspect and should be punished by the EU, even if – to be honest – it is a predictable response to the neoliberal excesses of those international forces (including Hungarian-born George Soros) which brought to Budapest the market without politics, not to mention&nbsp;<em>European</em>&nbsp;politics. The socio-economic wasteland of the 1990s has been once again filled by the sirens of nationalism – not such a big surprise, after all.&nbsp;Among ‘models’ Orban has referred to <a href="http://www.kormany.hu/en/the-prime-minister/the-prime-minister-s-speeches/prime-minister-viktor-orban-s-speech-at-the-25th-balvanyos-summer-free-university-and-student-camp">on more than one occasion</a>, there dwell Turkey and China.</p> <p>Turkey is a key case because until the early 2000s Ankara was looking west and keen on joining the EU, an option which was seen as a way to further modernise the country and consolidate its fragile democratic credentials. Now the country risks becoming a one-man show, especially if power-hungry Erdoğan wins the forthcoming constitutional referendum (16 April), which would transform Turkey into a presidential republic.&nbsp;Respect for <a href="https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2017/turkey">freedoms and rights</a> has declined tremendously,&nbsp;and the country is slipping towards authoritarianism and a toxic combination of neoliberalism and political Islam. Can this be a model for states like Hungary, which are still EU members?&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>China, of course, is a much bigger and more important example. Its companies are sweeping the whole world in a whirlpool of investments, acquisitions, and economic diplomacy. China is no democracy, if political concepts make sense. However, it has handled globalisation better than any other country and has something to offer, namely the idea (less so the practice) of ‘meritocracy’, which is deeply embedded in Confucian culture.&nbsp;The Canadian scholar, Daniel A. Bell, has famously <a href="https://www.chinafile.com/reporting-opinion/viewpoint/response-andrew-nathan">extolled China’s meritocratic virtues</a>. </p> <p>While reality might still be different from ideals, China has a lesson for the West. The quality of our political classes has tremendously declined, as the main events of 2016 have made clear. Democracy should help ‘select’, not just ‘elect’ leaders. Unfortunately, populist nationalists have been a poor response to the inadequacies of those ‘internationalist’ (or ‘federalist’, to return to Spinelli) elites who, particularly in Europe, should have governed in the twenty-first&nbsp;century.</p> <p>The forthcoming elections, in France, Germany, and elsewhere, will mark a watershed. It is a time for choices. Nationalists claim to respect the democratic game but it is difficult to forget that even fascism claimed to be a democracy, but one&nbsp;<a href="http://www.worldfuturefund.org/wffmaster/Reading/Germany/mussolini.htm"><span>‘organized, centralized, authoritarian’</span></a>. Which side of Spinelli’s divide do we choose?</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> </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"> 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 Civil society Conflict Democracy and government International politics Giovanni Biava Ernesto Gallo Wed, 12 Apr 2017 18:50:30 +0000 Ernesto Gallo and Giovanni Biava 110104 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How Facebook and the New York Times corporatised 'fake news' https://www.opendemocracy.net/mara-einstein/facebook-new-york-times-corporatised-fake-news-advertising <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We often talk about far-right US publishers or Macedonia’s fake news industry plaguing our media landscape. But there’s another fraud that too often goes unseen: ‘black ops advertising’.</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/549501/PA-30372802.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Facebook&#039;s advertising expert Andrew Bosworth, 2017. Christian Charisius/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549501/PA-30372802.jpg" alt="lead " title="Facebook&#039;s advertising expert Andrew Bosworth, 2017. Christian Charisius/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved." class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Facebook's advertising expert Andrew Bosworth, 2017. Christian Charisius/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>There’s been a lot of talk about fake news lately. The truth is that fake news isn’t new.</p> <p>What is new is the extent to which fake news has overtaken the media landscape and the forms that this misinformation takes. News pieces from far-right ideologues like Alex Jones’ <em>Infowars</em> or <em>Breitbart</em> or <em>Fox News</em> constitute one type of propaganda. Another propagator of deception are Macedonians pumping out stories through politically named websites, more to generate personal income than to push a particular agenda. But the third – and perhaps surprising source – are the mainstream marketers.</p> <p>In the last few years, a new marketing trend – what I call “Black Ops Advertising” – has overtaken the digital landscape. Black ops, or covert, advertising is commercial content that has been obscured so as to appear to be editorial content. These hidden sales messages primarily take two forms: native advertising and content marketing. </p> <p>Native advertising is any type of sponsored content that has been created to be indigenous to the site within which it appears. You are likely most aware of this in the form of the ads that appear within your newsfeed on Facebook or Twitter. These in-feed native ads look like anything else that a friend or family member might send to you, but with some limited indicators that there is an advertiser attached – such as “sponsored” or “promoted” in faded gray type. An increasingly popular form of this is ‘custom native’: advertising produced by the publisher for the marketer. </p> <p>Meanwhile, content marketing is information or entertainment created by an advertiser that has no sales message attached. For example, a website called Van Winkle’s presents stories about the science, health, and cultural aspects of sleep <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/cmo/2015/06/09/mattress-company-casper-launches-sleep-focused-publication-van-winkles/">and is produced</a> by a mattress and bedding company called Casper. Consumers are unlikely to know this because the company’s name is not readily evident on the site. In truth, though, that hardly matters. Whether native advertising or content marketing, these sales messages are most likely to be viewed through social media. So rather than the advertiser promoting the product or service, your friend or family member has ‘shared’ the content with you, thereby providing an implied endorsement.</p> <p>While industry people I interviewed said that readers, notably young, digitally savvy millennials, were aware of the ads, I was leery. An increasing number of academic studies now refute those industry claims. <a href="http://www.the7eye.org.il/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/00913367.2015.pdf">Wojdynski and Evans (2015)</a> found that 17% of readers did not recognize native ads, and more recent research confirms their findings (<a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21670811.2017.1293488">Amazeen and Muddiman, <em>Digital Journalism</em>, 2017</a>). The <a href="https://sheg.stanford.edu/upload/V3LessonPlans/Executive%20Summary%2011.21.16.pdf">Stanford History Education Group (2016)</a> found that 82% of middle schoolers – a cohort particularly versed in digital media – could not differentiate ads from news.</p> <p>Why so confused? First, there is no uniformity in labeling. Some sites say ‘promoted’, some say ‘sponsored’, some say ‘partner content’. How is anyone supposed to decipher that? Second, in terms of ‘custom native’, the ads are typically produced by either former journalists or the editorial staff itself. Across the world, <a href="https://nativeadvertisinginstitute.com/blog/magazines-use-own-editorial-staff-in-native-ad-solutions/">68% of publishers</a> say that their editorial staff are now producing the commercial content. And who better to make the commercial content look like the editorial that surrounds it, if the point is to utterly disguise commercial bias? If you take a look at <a href="https://nativeadvertisinginstitute.com/blog/10-examples-buzzfeed-native-advertising/">listicles</a> on <em>BuzzFeed</em> or <a href="https://nativeadvertisinginstitute.com/blog/the-new-york-times-makes-some-of-the-best-native-advertising-and-here-is-why/">‘articles’</a> on the <em>New York Times</em> website, replete with headlines and bylines, one thing is clear: the cues through which we understand that something is advertising are fast disappearing. </p> <p>Regulation is severely lacking. 37% of advertisers were not in compliance in <a href="https://resources.mediaradar.com/newsroom/mediaradar-report-reveals-37-percent-of-publishers-not-native-compliant">a recent study</a> of over 12,000 online advertising campaigns. One advertiser successfully sued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was the department store Lord &amp; Taylor, who used ‘online influencers’ to promote a new line of clothing without requiring that the fashion bloggers promote the fact that they were being paid. Influencers who do not disclose their connections to advertisers have become a rampant form of deceptive promotion. </p> <p>Notably, <a href="http://variety.com/2016/digital/news/kardashians-instagram-paid-ads-product-placements-1201842072/">Kim Kardashian</a> was targeted by the FTC for exactly these misleading practices. The FTC’s remedy is to insert the ‘#ad’ hashtag into posts on social media platforms like Instagram. But this is too obscure, and an unlikely deterrent for her followers, many of whom are young girls like those studied by the Stanford researchers.</p> <p>Social media and its concomitant big data drive this marketing format. Social media is designed to get us to share, particularly those things that generate strong emotions. The technology itself fuels the sharing because it is designed for us to spend increasing amounts of time with it. Between 2015 and 2016, Americans spent <a href="http://www.adweek.com/tv-video/us-adults-consume-entire-hour-more-media-day-they-did-just-last-year-172218/">one hour more a day</a> with media and that increase was driven by time spent on mobile devices. </p> <p>What makes this particularly insidious are the growing number of marketing and data companies that manipulate the content we see. <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/lukebailey/the-social-chain?utm_term=.tdRz1qZb1L#.fcAbjK6DjQ">Social Chain</a>, for example, uses their own feeds and those of ‘associates’ to drive what is trending on Twitter. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/mar/04/nigel-oakes-cambridge-analytica-what-role-brexit-trump">Cambridge Analytica</a>, the company touted as the powerhouse behind the success of the Trump campaign, uses information from Facebook such as our ‘likes’ to create psychographic profiles that can be used to target readers with highly specific commercial content. And what they have done for politics is also done for advertisers.</p> <p>It is the economic structure of our media environment, reliant on advertising dollars, that has allowed this situation to arise. The <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-38168281">teenagers in Macedonia</a> would not have had any interest in setting up a fake news industry if they could not make a substantial living from it. Facebook could have shut them down, but they had no incentive to do so. And on Twitter, the current US president continues to post, even while he violates their terms of use almost every time.</p> <p>The tacit agreement between publishers and their audiences has been that media outlets would provide content, as long as we agreed to watch the advertising. The problem is that we have become so good at avoiding advertising. And so the marketers have had to come up with new ways to get their sales message in front of us, without letting us recognise the advertising. First it was DVRs, and now increasingly ad blockers have enabled us to avoid huge swathes of commercial messages. Traditionally, the way to compensate for that was to be as in-your-face as possible: huge golden arches, oversized swooshes, and so on. Today, the tactic is to make the advertising so obscured that we won’t quickly click to the next page. Unless something is done by regulators and consumers, these ads will become even more covert, as they are increasingly viewed on mobile devices and through video formats.</p><p> If ads will no longer support content, then the money has to come from somewhere. It will come out of the pocket of consumers in the form of subscriptions for apps and access to websites. And what about people who cannot afford to pay? Publishers won’t want them and advertisers are not interested in them. We will not just have a digital divide; we will have an information divide.</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="/ourkingdom/peter-oborne/why-i-have-resigned-from-telegraph">Why I have resigned from the Telegraph</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/wfd/daniel-mccarthy-matthew-fluck/leaky-politics">Leaky politics: the false promise of transparency </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitaliberties/charles-bradley/why-facebook-s-fake-news-filter-won-t-work">Why Facebook’s fake news filter won’t work</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? Mara Einstein Wed, 12 Apr 2017 16:18:23 +0000 Mara Einstein 110098 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Henry Giroux, public intellectual, on the menace of Trump and the new authoritarianism https://www.opendemocracy.net/henry-giroux-joan-pedro-cara-ana/henry-giroux-public-intellectual-on-menace-of-trump-and-new-authori <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>“Trump’s election... confirms that the dark and haunting possibilities of authoritarianism are upon us, and have made way for a more extreme and totalitarian form of late capitalism.”&nbsp; Extended interview.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://henryagiroux.com/"><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-30852415.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-30852415.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'>The US President and Steve Bannon amongst others briefed on the Syria military strike by the National Security team in Florida, April 6, 2017. CNP/SIPA USA/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Henry Giroux</em></a><em> has written extensively on cultural studies, youth studies, popular culture, media studies, social theory, and the politics of higher and public education. Being one of the founding theorists and practitioners of critical pedagogy in the United States and Canada, Giroux has engaged in public critique of neoliberalism, the rise of neo-authoritarianism and the politics of war, as well as their effects on public culture and education. In this interview, he discusses the new developments that are taking place in the United States and the possible strategies and tactics to engage successfully in processes of resistance and egalitarian social transformation during the Trump era.</em></p> <p><strong><em> <span>Joan </span><span>Pedro-Carañana</span> (JPC):</em></strong><em> Hello Professor Giroux and thank you for having this interview. We can begin by discussing the current state of US politics and then move on to looking at the alternatives for change. Let’s start with your evaluation of the first two months of Trump’s presidency. </em></p> <p><strong>Henry Giroux (HG):</strong> The first two months of Trump’s presidency fit perfectly with his neo-fascist ideology. Rather than being constrained by the history and power of the presidency as some have predicted, Trump has unapologetically embraced a deeply authoritarian ideology and politics, evident in a number of actions.</p> <p>First, at his inaugural address he echoed fascist sentiments of the past by painting a dystopian image of the United States marked by carnage, rusted out factories, blighted communities, and ignorant students. Underlying this apocalyptic vision was a characteristically authoritarian emphasis on exploiting fear, the call for a strong man to address the nation’s problems, the demolition of traditional institutions of governance, an insistence on expanding the military, and an appeal to xenophobia and racism in order to establish terror as a major weapon of governance. </p> <p>Second, Trump’s support for militarism, white nationalism, right-wing populism, and a version of neoliberalism on steroids was made concrete in his various cabinet and related appointments, which consisted mostly of generals, white supremacists, Islamophobes, Wall Street insiders, religious extremists, billionaires, &nbsp;anti-intellectuals, incompetents, climate change deniers, and free-market fundamentalists. <span class="mag-quote-center">What all of these appointments share is a neoliberal and white nationalist ideology aimed at destroying all of those public spheres, such as education and the critical media that enabled democracy to function.</span></p> <p>What all of these appointments share is a neoliberal and white nationalist ideology aimed at destroying all of those public spheres, such as education and the critical media that enabled democracy to function, and political institutions such as an independent judiciary. They are also united in eliminating policies that protect regulatory agencies and provide a foundation for holding power accountable. At stake here, is a united front of neo-fascists who are intent on eroding those institutions, values, resources, and social relations not predicated upon and organized according to the dictates of neoliberal rationality.&nbsp; </p> <p>Third, Trump initiated a number of executive orders that left no doubt that he was more than willing to destroy the environment, rip immigrant families apart, eliminate or weaken regulatory agencies, expand a bloated Pentagon budget, destroy public education, eliminate millions from health care insurance, deport 11 million unauthorized immigrants from the United States, unleash the military and police to enact his authoritarian white nationalist agenda, and invest billions in building a wall that stands as a symbol of white supremacy and racial hatred. </p> <p>There is a culture of cruelty at work here that can be seen in the Trump administration’s willingness to destroy any program that may provide assistance to the poor, working and middle classes, the elderly, and young people. Moreover, the Trump regime is filled with warmongers who have taken power at a time in which the possibilities of a nuclear war with North Korea and Russia have reached dangerous levels. Furthermore, there is the possibility that the Trump administration will escalate a military conflict with Iran and become more involved militarily in Syria. <span class="mag-quote-center">Furthermore, there is the possibility that the Trump administration will escalate a military conflict. </span></p> <p>Fourth, Trump has repeatedly exhibited a shocking disrespect for the truth, law, and civil liberties, and in doing so he has undermined the ability of citizens to be able to discern the truth in public discourse, test assumptions, weigh evidence, and insist on rigorous ethical standards and methods in holding power answerable.<strong> &nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Yet Trump has done more than&nbsp; committ what Eric Alterman calls “public crimes against the truth.”<a href="#_edn1">[i]</a> Public trust collapses in the absence of dissent, a culture of questioning, hard arguments, and a belief that truth not only exists but is also indispensable to a democracy. <span class="mag-quote-center">Public trust collapses in the absence of dissent.</span></p> <p>Trump has lied repeatedly, even going so far as to accuse former President Obama of wiretapping, and when confronted with his misrepresentation of the facts, he has attacked critics as purveyors of fake news. Under Trump words no longer have any meaning and disappear into the rabbit hole of “alternative facts,” undermining the capacity for political dialogue, a culture of questioning, and civic culture itself. Furthermore, Trump not only refuses to use the term democracy in his speeches, he is doing everything he can to establish the foundations for an overt authoritarian society. Trump has proven in his first few months in office that he is a tragedy for justice, democracy, and the planet and a triumph for an American style proto-fascism. </p> <p><strong><em>JPC:</em></strong><em> You have argued that contemporary societies are at a turning point that is bringing about the rise of a new authoritarianism. Trump, by this account, would only be the tipping point of this transformation? </em></p> <p><strong>HG: </strong>The dark elements of totalitarianism have a long history in the United States, and can be seen in the legacy of nativism, white supremacy, Jim Crow<strong>, </strong>lynchings, ultra-nationalism, and right-wing populist movements such as the Klu Klux Klan and militiamen that have been endemic to shaping American culture and society. </p> <p>They are also evident in the religious fundamentalism that has shaped so much of American history with its anti-intellectualism and contempt for the separation of church and state. Further evidence can be found in the history of corporations using state power to undermine democracy by smashing labor movements and weakening democratic political spheres. </p> <p>The shadow of totalitarianism can also be seen in the kind of political fundamentalism that emerged in the United States in the 1920s in the Palmer raids and in the 50s with the rise of the McCarthy period and the squelching of dissent. We see it in the Powell Memo in the 1970s and in the first major report of the Trilateral Commission report called <em>The Crisis of Democracy,</em> which viewed democracy as an excess and &nbsp;threat. We also saw elements of it in the use of the FBI’s COINTELPRO program in which radical groups were infiltrated, and in the case of the Black Panthers some of its members were killed. &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/COINTELPRO_-_Jean_Seberg.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/COINTELPRO_-_Jean_Seberg.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 COINTELPRO document outlining the FBI's plans to 'neutralize' Jean Seberg for her support for the Black Panther Party. Wikicommons/Richard W. Held. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>In spite of this sad legacy, Trump’s ascendency represents something new and even more dangerous. No president has displayed such sociopathic behavior, abolished the distinction between truth and fiction, surrounded himself with white nationalists and religious fundamentalists, and exhibit a “willingness to overtly invoke all the worst ethnic, religious, and racial hatreds in order to appeal to the most despicable elements of our society and unleash an upsurge of racism, anti-Semitism, sexual assault, and nativism by the KKK and other hate groups.”<a href="#_edn2">[ii]</a></p> <p>Conservative commentator Charles Sykes is right in arguing that the administration’s “discrediting independent sources of information also has two major advantages for Mr. Trump: It helps insulate him from criticism and it allows him to create his own narratives, metrics and “alternative facts.”<a href="#_edn3">[iii]</a> All administrations lie, but what we are seeing here is an attack on credibility itself.” In a terrifying signal of his willingness to discredit critical media outlets and suppress dissent, he has gone so far as to label the critical media as the “enemy of the people,” while his chief strategist, Stephan Bannon, has called them the “opposition party.” He has attacked –&nbsp;and in some cases fired – judges who have disagreed with his policies, threatened to withdraw federal funds from universities that he thought were largely inhabited by liberals and leftists, embraced alt-right conspiracy theories in order to attack his opponents and give legitimacy to his own flights from reason and morality.&nbsp; <span class="mag-quote-center">What must be acknowledged is that a new historical conjuncture emerged in the 1970s when neoliberal capitalism began to wage an unprecedented war against the social contract.</span></p> <p>What must be acknowledged is that a new historical conjuncture emerged in the 1970s when neoliberal capitalism began to wage an unprecedented war against the social contract, implemented austerity programs that weakened democratic public spheres, aggressively attacked the welfare state, and waged an assault on all of those institutions crucial to creating a critical formative culture in which matters of economic justice, civic literacy, freedom, and the social imagination are nurtured among the polity. &nbsp;</p> <p>The longstanding contract between labor and capital was torn up as politics became local, while power was no longer bounded by geography and embedded in a global elite with no obligations to nation states. As the nation state weakened, it was reduced to regulatory formation to serve the interest of the rich, corporations, and the financial elite. The power to get things done is no longer in the hands of the state; it now resides in the hands of the global elite and is managed by markets. </p> <p>What has emerged with the rise of neoliberalism is both a crisis of the state and a crisis of agency and politics. One consequence of the separation of power and politics was that neoliberalism gave rise to massive inequalities in wealth, income, and power furthering rule by the financial elite and an economy of the 1%. The state was not able to provide social provisions and has rapidly been reduced to its carceral functions. &nbsp;That is, as the social state was hollowed out, the punishing state increasingly took over its obligations. Political compromise, dialogue, and social investments gave way to a culture of containments, cruelty, militarism, and violence. </p> <p>The war on terror further militarized American society and created the foundation for a culture of fear and a permanent war culture. War cultures need enemies and in a society governed by a ruthless notion of self-interest, privatization, and commodification, more and more groups were demonized, cast aside, and viewed as disposable. This included poor Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, unauthorized immigrants, &nbsp;transgender communities, and young people who protested the increasing authoritarianism of American society. </p> <p>Trump’s appeal to national greatness, populism, support for state violence against dissenters, a disdain for human solidarity, and a longstanding culture of racism has a long legacy in the United States, and was accelerated as the Republican Party was overtaken by religious, economic, and educational fundamentalists. Increasingly economics drove politics, set policies, and put a premium on the ability of markets to solve all problems, to control not only the economy but all of social life. Under a savage neoliberalism, repression has become permanent in the US as schools and the local police were militarized and more and more everyday behaviors, including a range of social problems, were criminalized. <span class="mag-quote-center">In addition, the dystopian embrace of an Orwellian control society was intensified under the umbrella of a National Security State, with its 17 intelligence agencies.</span></p> <p>In addition, the dystopian embrace of an Orwellian control society was intensified under the umbrella of a National Security State, with its 17 intelligence agencies. The attacks on democratic ideals, values, institutions, and social relations were accentuated through the complicity of an apologetic mainstream media more concerned about their ratings than about their responsibility as constitutive of the Fourth Estate.&nbsp; </p> <p>As entertainment replaced the imperatives of a critical media, celebrity and consumer culture further serve to dumb down, depoliticize, and infantilize the polity. With the erosion of civic culture, historical memory, critical education, and any sense of shared citizenship, it was easy for Trump to create a corrupt political, economic, ethical, and social swamp while stoking the fears and anger of diverse elements of a displaced, forgotten, and angry polity who rightly felt cast aside by both political parties. &nbsp;</p> <p>Rather than being viewed as some eccentric clown and narcissistic blowhard, Trump must be viewed as the distilled essence of a much larger war on democracy brought to life in late modernity by an economic system that has increasingly used all the ideological and repressive institutions at its disposal to consolidate power in the hands of the 1%. Trump is both a symptom and accelerant of these forces and has moved a culture of bigotry, racism, greed, and hatred from the margins to the center of American society.<strong>&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong></p> <h2><strong>Trump’s forebears</strong></h2> <p><strong><em>JPC: </em></strong><em>What would be the similarities and the differences in regards to past forms of authoritarianism and totalitarianism?</em></p> <p><strong>HG:</strong> There are echoes of classical fascism of the 1920s and 1030s in much of what Trump says and how he performs. Fascist overtones resound as Trump taps into a sea of misdirected anger, promotes himself as a strong leader who can save a nation in decline and repeats the fascist script of white nationalism in his attacks on immigrants and Muslims. <span class="mag-quote-center">He has managed to organize millions of people who believe that loyalty is more important than civic freedom and responsibility.</span></p> <p>He also flirts with fascism in his call for a revival of ultra-nationalism, his discourse of racist hate, scapegoating the “other;” and his juvenile tantrums and tweet attacks on anyone who disagrees with him. His use of the spectacle to create a culture of self-promotion; his mix of politics and theater mediated by an emotional brutality and a willingness to elevate emotion over reason, war over peace, violence over critique, and militarism over democracy. </p> <p>Trump’s addiction to massive self-enrichment and the gangster morality that informs it threatens to normalize a new level of political corruption. Moreover, he uses fear and terror to demonize the other and pay tribute to an unbridled militarism. He has surrounded himself with a right-wing inner circle to help him implement his dangerous policies on health care, the environment, the economy, foreign policy, immigration, and civil liberties. &nbsp;</p> <p>He has also expanded the notion of propaganda to something more perilous and lethal for a democracy. A habitual liar, he has attempted to obliterate the distinction between the facts and fiction, evidence-based arguments and lying, and in doing so has extended unlike at any other time in American history the landscape of distortion, misrepresentation, and falsification. He has not only reinforced the legitimacy of what I call the disimagination machine, but also created among large segments of the public a distrust of the truth and the institutions that promote critical thinking. </p> <p>Consequently, he has managed to organize millions of people who believe that loyalty is more important than civic freedom and responsibility. In doing so he has emptied the language of politics and the horizon of politics of any substantive meaning, contributing to an authoritarian and depoliticized culture of sensationalism, immediacy, fear, and anxiety. Trump has galvanized and emboldened all the anti-democratic forces that have been shaping neoliberal capitalisms across the globe for the last forty years. </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-29365678_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-29365678_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'>Counter protesters march against a planned KKK rally on December 3, 2016. The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan called it a ''Victory Klavalkade Klan Parade'' in celebration of the presidential election of Donald Trump. Carol Guzy/Press Association.All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Unlike dictatorships of the 1930s, he has not set up a secret police, created concentration camps, taken complete control of the state, arrested dissenters, and developed a one party system. Moreover, there are no Nazi storm troopers and there is no violence waged by paramilitary forces. Yet while Trump’s America is not a replica of Nazi Germany, it expresses elements of totalitarianism in distinctly American forms. Hannah Arendt warned that rather than being a thing of the past, elements of totalitarianism would more than likely in mid-century crystallize into new forms. Surely, as Bill Dixon points out, “the all too protean origins of totalitarianism are still with us: loneliness as the normal register of social life, the frenzied lawfulness of ideological certitude, mass poverty and mass homelessness, the routine use of terror as a political instrument, and the ever growing speeds and scales of media, economics, and warfare.” The conditions that produce the terrifying curse of totalitarianism seem to be upon us and are visible in Trump’s denial of civil liberties, the stoking of fear in the general population, a hostility to the rule of law and a free and critical press, a contempt for the truth, and this attempt to create a new political formation through an alignment of religious fundamentalists, racists, xenophobes, Islamophobes, the ultra-rich, and unhinged militarists. &nbsp; </p><p><strong><em>JPC:</em></strong><em> What connects neoliberalism to the emergence of neo-authoritarianism? </em></p> <p><strong>HG:</strong> For the last forty years, neoliberalism has aggressively functioned as an economic, political and social project designed to consolidate wealth and power in the hands of the upper 1%. It functions through multiple registers as an ideology, mode of governance, policy making machine, and a poisonous form of public pedagogy. </p> <p>As an ideology, it views the market as the primary organizing principle of society while embracing privatization, deregulation, and commodification as fundamental to the organization of politics and everyday life. As a mode of governance, it produces subjects wedded to unchecked self-interest and unbridled individualism while normalizing shark-like competition, the view that inequality is self-evidently a part of the natural order, and that consumption is the only valid obligation of citizenship. </p> <p>As a policy machine, it allows money to drive politics, sells off state functions, weakens unions, replaces the welfare state with the warfare state, and seeks to eliminate social provisions while increasingly expanding the reach of the police state through the ongoing criminalization of social problems. &nbsp;</p> <p>As a form of public pedagogy, it wages a war against public values, critical thinking, and all forms of solidarity that embrace notions of collaboration, social responsibility, and the common good. </p> <p>Neoliberalism has created the political, social and pedagogical landscape that accelerated the anti-democratic tendencies to create the conditions for a new authoritarianism in the United States. </p> <p>It has created a society ruled by fear, imposed massive hardships and gross inequities that benefit the rich through austerity policies, eroded the civic and formative culture necessary to produce critically-informed citizens, and destroyed any sense of shared citizenship. </p> <p>At the same time, neoliberalism has accelerated a culture of consumption, sensationalism, shock, and spectacularized violence in a way that produces not only a widespread landscape of unchecked competition, commodification, and vulgarity but also a society in which agency is militarized, infantilized, and depoliticized. </p> <p>New technologies that could advance social media platforms have been used by groups such as the Black Lives Matter movement and when coupled with the development of critical online media to educate and advance a radically democratic agenda have opened up new spaces of public pedagogy and resistance. At the same time, the landscape of the new technologies and mainstream social media operate within a powerful neoliberal ecosystem that exercises an inordinate influence in heightening narcissism, isolation, anxiety and loneliness. <span class="mag-quote-center">The landscape of the new technologies and mainstream social media operate within a powerful neoliberal ecosystem that exercises an inordinate influence in heightening narcissism, isolation, anxiety and loneliness. </span></p> <p>By individualizing all social problems along with elevating individual responsibility to the highest ideal, neoliberalism has dismantled the bridges between private and public life making it almost impossible to translate private issues into broader systemic considerations. Neoliberalism created the conditions for the transformation of a liberal democracy into a fascist state by creating the foundations for not only control of commanding institutions by a financial elite, but also by eliminating the civil, personal, and political protections offered to individuals in a free society. </p> <p>If authoritarianism in its various forms aims at the destruction of the liberal democratic order, neoliberalism provides the conditions for that devestating transformation to happen by creating a society adrift in extreme violence, cruelty, and a pathological disdain for democracy. Trump’s election as the President of the United States only confirms the dark and haunting possibilities of authoritarianism are upon us and have made way for a more extreme and totalitarian form of late capitalism. &nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>JPC:</em></strong><em> In your view, what role have educational institutions such as universities played in this US society? </em></p> <p><strong>HG: </strong>Ideally, educational institutions<strong> </strong>such as&nbsp; higher education should be understood as democratic public spheres – as spaces in which education enables students to develop a keen sense of economic justice, deepen a sense of moral and political agency, utilize critical analytical skills, and cultivate a civic literacy through which they learn to respect the rights and perspectives of others. In this instance, higher education should exhibit in its policies and practices a responsibility not only to search for the truth regardless of where it may lead, but also to educate students to make authority and power politically and morally accountable while at the same time sustaining a democratic, formative public culture. </p> <p>Unfortunately, the ideal is at odds with the reality, especially since the 1960s when a wave of student struggles to democratize the university and make it more inclusive mobilized a systemic and coordinated attack on the university as an alleged center of radical and liberal thought. Conservatives began to focus on how to change the mission of the university so as to bring it in line with free market principles while limiting the admission of minorities. Evidence of such a coordinated attack was obvious in claims by the Trilateral Commission complaining of the excess of democracy and later in the Powell Memo which claimed that advocates of the free market had to use their power and money to take back higher education from the student radicals and the excesses of democracy. But the greatest threat to higher education came from the growing ascendency of neoliberalism in the late 1970s, and its assumption of power with the election of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.</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/Granada-Hills-Charter-High-School.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Granada-Hills-Charter-High-School.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'>In 2003 Granada Hills Charter High School became the largest charter school in the United States.Wikicommons/jcjusay. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Under the regime of neoliberalism in the United States as well as in many other countries, many of the problems facing higher education can be linked to eviscerated funding models, the domination of these institutions by market mechanisms, the rise of for-profit colleges, the rise of charter schools, the intrusion of the national security state, and the slow demise of faculty self-governance, all of which not only contradicts the culture and democratic value of higher education but also makes a mockery of the very meaning and mission of the university as a democratic public sphere. </p><p>With the onslaught of neoliberal austerity measures, the mission of higher education was transformed from educating citizens to training students for the workforce. At the same time, the culture of business has replaced any vestige of democratic governance, with faculty reduced to degrading labor practices and students viewed mainly as customers. </p> <p>Rather than enlarge the moral imagination and critical capacities of students, too many universities are now wedded to producing would-be hedge fund managers and depoliticized workers, and creating modes of education that promote a “technically trained docility.” Strapped for money and increasingly defined in the language of corporate culture, many universities are now driven principally by vocational, military, and economic considerations while increasingly removing academic knowledge production from democratic values and projects. </p> <p>The ideal of higher education as a place to think, to engage in pure research, to promote dialogue, and to learn how to hold power accountable is viewed as a threat to neoliberal modes of governance. At the same time, education is viewed by the apostles of market fundamentalism as a space for producing profits and educating a supine and fearful labor force, as well as a powerful institution for indoctrinating students into accepting the obedience demanded by the corporate order.</p> <p><strong><em>JPC:</em></strong><em> You have also written about the need for and the possibilities of organizing forces of resistance and change during the Trump presidency. In particular, you have emphasized the importance of expanding the connections among diverse social movements. What are the groups that in your view could work together within the United States? </em></p> <p><strong>HG:</strong> I have argued that single issue movements such as the Black Lives Matter and anti-war movements have done a great deal to spread the principles of justice, equity, and inclusion in the United States and have incorporated a range of movements extending from those fighting for civil rights and lower student tuition to the struggles by young people against police violence and the mass incarceration state. </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-30820738.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-30820738.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'>At Grand Central station in New York City on April 4, 2017 for a public action and vigil.Erik McGregor/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>I have argued that as important as these movements are as an expression of legitimate democratic ambitions, they often operate in ideological and political silos that run the risk of fragmenting the left while preventing it from developing a more comprehensive understanding of politics itself.&nbsp; </p><p>In this instance, politics itself has to be rethought in terms of bringing together a wide range of single issue movements so as to create a broad-based political formation that as Chantal Mouffe argues is “receptive to those democratic aspirations and orientates them toward a [broader] defense of equality and social justice.”<a href="#_edn4">[iv]</a> </p> <p>The left and progressives need to unite to create a social movement united in its defense of radical democracy, a rejection of non-democratic forms of governance, and rejection of the notion that capitalism and democracy are synonymous. &nbsp;</p> <p>There is a need to pull the different elements of the left together so as to both affirm single issue movements and also recognize their limits when confronting the myriad dimensions of political, economic, and social oppression, particularly given how the machinery and rationality of &nbsp;neoliberalism works now to govern all of social life. </p> <p>Michael Lerner rightly argues that “we need to both validate and move beyond identity politics, to unite across class, race and gender, and bring to the forefront the intersectionality or shared experience of all the different forms of pain and&nbsp; suffering….This kind of solidarity must be extended to all people on earth.”<a href="#_edn5">[v]</a> </p> <p>Finally, it is crucial to recognize that given the hold of neoliberalism on American politics and the move of neo-fascism from the margins to the center of power, it is crucial for progressives and the left to unite in their efforts “to create a powerful anti-capitalist movement from below, representing an altogether different solution, aimed at epoch-making structural change.”<a href="#_edn6">[vi]</a>&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>Agents of resistance</strong></h2> <p><strong><em>JPC:</em></strong><em> What about the old idea of internationalism? Is it better to dedicate efforts to advancing the national front or trying to build alliances between social movements and political forces from different countries in a longer process? Can both approaches be combined?</em></p> <p><strong>HG:</strong> There is no outside in politics any longer. Power is global and its effects touch everyone irrespective of national boundaries and local struggles. The threats of nuclear war, environmental destruction, terrorism,&nbsp; the refugee crisis, militarism, and the predatory appropriations of resources, profits, and capital by the global ruling elite suggest that politics has to be waged on an international level in order to create resistance movements that can not only learn from and support each other. We need to create a new kind of politics that addresses the global reach of power and the growing potential for both mass destruction and mass global resistance. This does not imply giving up on local and national politics. On the contrary, it means connecting the dots so that the links between local and state politics can be understood within the logic of wider global forces and the interests that shape them. </p> <p><strong><em>JPC:</em></strong><em> Another key idea that you are promoting is that progressive movements must also embrace those who are angry with existing political and economic systems, but who lack a critical frame of reference for understanding the conditions for their anger. Could you sketch out your understanding of a concept that is so important in your work of critical pedagogy?</em></p> <p><strong>HG:</strong> Following theorists such as Paulo Freire, Antonio Gramsci, C. Wright Mills, Raymond Williams and Cornelius Castoriadis, I have made central to my work the recognition that the crisis of democracy was not only about economic domination or outright repression but also involved the crisis of pedagogy and education.&nbsp; </p> <p>Progressives would do well to take account of the profound educational transformations taking place among a variety of cultural apparatuses, which are really teaching machines,&nbsp; and in doing so reclaim pedagogy as a central category of politics itself. </p> <p>The late Pierre Bourdieu was right when he stated that the left has too often “underestimated the symbolic and pedagogical dimensions of struggle and have not always forged appropriate weapons to fight on this front.”<a href="#_edn7">[vii]</a> He also states that “left intellectuals must recognize that the most important forms of domination are not only economic but also intellectual and pedagogical, and lie on the side of belief and persuasion. It is important to recognize that intellectuals bear an enormous responsibility for challenging this form of domination.”<a href="#_edn8">[viii]</a> </p> <p>These are important pedagogical interventions and imply that critical pedagogy in the broadest sense is not just about matters of understanding, however critical, but also provides the conditions, ideals, and practices necessary for assuming the responsibilities we have as citizens to expose human misery and to eliminate the conditions that produce it. Pedagogy is about changing consciousness, developing discourses and modes of representation in which people can recognize themselves and their problems, and be able to invest in a new understanding of both individual and collective struggle.&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/PA-29097320.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-29097320.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'>Bernie Sanders points to a supporter during a Get Out the Vote rally on November 5, 2016, in Colorado Springs, CO, USA. Colorado Springs Gazette/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Matters of responsibility, social action, and political intervention do not simply develop out of social critique but also forms of self-reflection, critical analysis, and communicative engagement. In short, any radical democratic project must incorporate the need for intellectuals and others to address critical pedagogy not only as a mode of educated hope and a crucial element of an insurrectional educational project, but also as a practice that addresses the possibility of interpretation as a form of intervention in the world. </p><p>It is crucial to recognize that any viable approach to a democratically inspired politics must embrace the challenge of enabling people to recognize and invest something of themselves in the language, representations, ideology, values, and sensibilities used by the left and other progressives. This means taking up the task of making something meaningful in order to make it critical and transformative. </p> <p>Equally important is the need to give people the knowledge and skills to understand how private and everyday troubles connect to wider structures. As Stuart Hall has noted, “You can't just rest with the underlying structural logic. And so you think about what is likely to awaken identification. There's no politics without identification. People have to invest something of themselves, something that they recognize is of them or speaks to their condition, and without that moment of recognition ... you won't have a political movement without that moment of identification.”<a href="#_edn9">[ix]</a> &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Critical pedagogy can neither be reduced to a method nor is it non-directive in the manner of a spontaneous conversation with friends over coffee. As public intellectuals, authority must be reconfigured not as a way to stifle the curiosity and deaden the imagination, but as a platform that provides the conditions for students to learn the knowledge, skills, values, and social relationships that enhance their capacities to assume authority over the forces that shape their lives both in and out of schools. </p> <p>I have argued for years that critical pedagogy must always be attentive to addressing the democratic potential of engaging how experience, knowledge, and power are shaped both in the classroom and in wider public spheres and cultural apparatuses, extending from the social media and the Internet to film culture and the critical and mainstream media. </p> <p>In this sense, critical pedagogy and education itself must become both central to politics and linked to the recovery of historical memory, to the abolition of existing inequities, and a “hopeful version of democracy where the outcome is a more just, equitable society that works toward the end of oppression and suffering of all.”<a href="#_edn10">[x]</a></p> <p><strong><em>JPC:</em></strong><em> We can conclude the interview by looking at the future with some informed optimism. Can you explain the concept of militant hope?</em></p> <p><strong>HG:</strong> Any confrontation with the current historical moment has to be contoured with a sense of hope and possibility so that intellectuals, artists, workers, educators, and young people can imagine otherwise in order to act otherwise.&nbsp; </p> <p>While many countries have become more authoritarian and repressive, there are signs that neoliberalism in its various versions is currently being challenged, especially by young people, and that the social imagination is still alive. </p> <p>The pathologies of neoliberalism are becoming more and more obvious and the contradictions between rule by the few and the imperatives of a liberal democracy have become more jarring and visible. The widespread support for Bernie Sanders, especially among young people, is a hopeful sign, as is the fact that many Americans favor progressive programs such as a government-guaranteed healthcare program, social security and higher taxes for the rich. <span class="mag-quote-center">The pathologies of neoliberalism are becoming more and more obvious and the contradictions between rule by the few and the imperatives of a liberal democracy have become more jarring and visible. </span></p> <p>For resistance not to disappear in the fog of cynicism, the urgency of the present moment demands recognizing that the cruel and harsh reality of a society that finds justice, morality, and the truth repugnant has to be repeatedly challenged as an excuse for either a withdrawal from political life or a collapse of faith in the possibility of change. </p> <p>A militant hope should foster a sense of moral outrage and the need to organize with great ferocity. There are no victories without struggles. And while we may be entering a historical moment that has tipped over into an unapologetic authoritarianism, such moments are as hopeful as they are dangerous. The urgency of such moments can galvanize people into a new understanding of the meaning and value of collective political resistance.</p> <p>What cannot be forgotten is that no society is without resistance, and hope can never be reduced to merely an abstraction. Hope has to be informed, concrete, and actionable.&nbsp; Hope in the abstract is not enough. We need a form of militant hope and practice that engages with the forces of authoritarianism on educational and political fronts so as to become a foundation for what might be called hope in action – that is, a new force of collective resistance and a vehicle for anger transformed into collective struggle, a principle for making despair unconvincing and struggle possible. </p> <p>Nothing will change unless people begin to take seriously the deeply rooted cultural and subjective underpinnings of oppression in the United States and what it might require to make such issues meaningful in both personal and collective ways, in order to make them critical and transformative. This is fundamentally a pedagogical as well as a political concern. As Charles Derber has explained, knowing “how to express possibilities and convey them authentically and persuasively seems crucially important”<a href="#_edn11">[xi]</a> if any viable notion of resistance is to take place. </p> <p><em>JPC: Thank you</em></p><p> <em>This interview was originally published on <a href="http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/40188-the-menace-of-trump-and-the-new-authoritarianism-an-interview-with-henry-giroux">Truthout</a> on April 11, 2017. Thanks go to them and to the author for permission to republish.</em> </p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ednref1">[i]</a> Eric Alterman, “Kafka Would’t Dare,” The Nation ( April 3, 2017), p. 6.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref2">[ii]</a> Peter Dreier, “American Fascist,” <em>Common Dreams</em>, [January 20, 2017]. Online: http://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/01/20/american-fascist</p> <p><a href="#_ednref3">[iii]</a> Charles J. Sykes, “Why Nobody Cares the President Is Lying,” <em>The New York Times</em>, [Feb 4, 2017] Online: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/04/opinion/sunday/why-nobody-cares-the-president-is-lying.html</p> <p><a href="#_ednref4">[iv]</a> Chantal Mouffe, “The Populist Moment,” <em>Open Democracy</em>, (November 21, 2016) <br /> Online: https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/chantal-mouffe/populist-moment</p> <p><a href="#_ednref5">[v]</a> Rabbi Michael Lerner, “Overcoming Trump-ism: A New Strategy for Progressives,” <em>Tikkun Magazine</em>, Vol. 32, No. 1 (Winter 2017). Online: http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/overcoming-trump-ism-a-new-strategy-for-progressives </p> <p><a href="#_ednref6">[vi]</a> John Bellamy Foster, “Neofascism in the White House,” <em>Monthly Review</em>, [April 1, 2017]. Online: https://monthlyreview.org/2017/04/01/neofascism-in-the-white-house/</p> <p><a href="#_ednref7">[vii]</a> Pierre Bourdieu, <em>Acts of Resistance</em> (New York: Free Press, 1998), p. 11.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref8">[viii]</a> Pierre Bourdieu and Gunter Grass, “The ‘Progressive’ Restoration: A Franco-German Dialogue,” <em>New Left Review</em> 14 (March-April, 2002), P. 2.</p> <p class="22"><a href="#_ednref9">[ix]</a> Stuart Hall and Les Back, “In Conversation: At Home and Not at Home”, <em>Cultural Studies</em>,<em> </em>Vol. 23, No. 4, (July 2009), pp. 680-681</p> <p><a href="#_ednref10">[x]</a> Richard Voelz, “Reconsidering the Image of Preacher-Teacher: Intersections between Henry Giroux’s Critical Pedagogy and Homiletics,” <em>Practical Matters </em>(Spring 2014), p. 79.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref11">[xi]</a> Charles Derber, private correspondence with the author, January 29, 2014.</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="/democraciaabierta/chantal-mouffe/populist-moment">The populist moment</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/jon-bloomfield/dangerous-road-to-divisive-places">Dangerous road to divisive places</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/maria-stephan/inside-outside-strategy-for-defending-us-republic">An inside-outside strategy for defending the US Republic</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/jo-o-de-pina-cabral/populism-and-fraternity-in-portugal">Populism and fraternity in Portugal</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wfd/can-europe-make-it/g-m-tam-s/mystery-of-populism-finally-unveiled">The mystery of ‘populism’ finally unveiled</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"> 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? United States Joan Pedro-Carañana Henry A. Giroux Wed, 12 Apr 2017 15:15:35 +0000 Henry A. Giroux and Joan Pedro-Carañana 110085 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Three forays into ideology in the age of post-truth politics https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/rachel-johnson/three-forays-into-ideology-in-age-of-post-truth-politics <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Attempts to wrestle with fake news and post-truth lack a concept of ideology to tell us not only what is believed, but why, and suggest how to move on.</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-29703402.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-29703402.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Trump refuses to answer a reporter accused of spreading 'fake news',January, 2017.Gary Hershom/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In an age of so-called ‘post-truth politics’ and ‘alternative facts’, the question of ideology has become pressing. Following Donald J. Trump’s election, many journalists and scholars looked for explanations. Did the electorate really believe the outrageous falsehoods that his campaign was based on, or was there something else at work? The same goes for the proliferation of fake news – how do we understand the fact that such unreliable sources can wield influence in the public sphere?</p> <p>If the only issue at stake here were an absence of truth in politics and journalism, the solution would be simple: politicians and journalists need to check facts (and stick to them), and the public needs to maintain a critical stance and boycott unreliable sources. </p> <p>However, this solution may rely on an outdated model of ideology: the theory that ideology is simply people being told and believing inaccurate information. Many scholars argue that ideology functions in a far more complex way than this. If we want to understand and combat post-truth politics, do we need to update our understanding of ideology first?</p> <p>I will summarise three theories of ideology whose application could take us further towards coping&nbsp; with today’s predicament. In doing so, I will have to omit the contributions of several other important thinkers, such as Rosa Luxemburg, Antonio Gramsci, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Stuart Hall, Pierre Bourdieu and Judith Butler. I recommend that readers wanting a more comprehensive overview of the subject read <a href="http://www.brill.com/theories-ideology">Theories of Ideology: The Powers of Alienation and Subjection by Jan Rehmann</a>.</p> <h2><strong>Karl Marx – ideology as an expression of class relations</strong></h2> <p>One of Marx’s most important texts in this regard is <em>The German Ideology </em>(1845). We can begin to understand the essence of this text by examining this key passage:</p> <p>The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as 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/Karl_Marx.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Karl_Marx.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'>Portrait of Karl Marx, 1865. Wikicommons/ John Jabez Edwin Mayall - International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>There are two key points here: one concerning who has power in a society, and one concerning the nature of that power. </p><p>First of all, those who control the means of production (i.e. owners of companies, political leaders etc.) also control, overall, the dominant ideas in that society. By the same token, those who don’t control the means of production (i.e. the workers) are subject to these dominant ideas. </p> <p>We can sum up this state of affairs with the term ‘class relations’ or ‘material relations of production’: some groups, or classes, own the means to produce commodities and circulate ideas, while others do not. Marx’ and Engels’ thinking seems close to the notion of ideology as false consciousness: the working class appear to be duped by a ruling class who have the power to spread whatever falsities help them maintain control. </p> <p>With the second point, however, we see that things are more complicated than a ruling class simply telling lies and the exploited class believing them. Instead, these dominant ideas are themselves expressions of ‘the dominant material relationships’. What this means is that the dominant ideas are themselves determined by the material relations of production. Ideology is a projection of the material relations between classes (who owns what). </p> <p>Although still on the tricky terrain of ideology as false consciousness, Marx and Engels have introduced an important nuance. If ideology is an expression of material relations, then thinking of ideology in terms of ideas or consciousness is not sufficient. Rather, one has to start by considering the relations of production, and treat them as the source of ideology. In this model, if we are to undermine the ruling ideology – such as the ideology that allows the proliferation of ‘alternative facts’ – we would have to analyse and disrupt the economic structures from which the ruling class draws its power. [This thinking led Marx to write his most famous work, <em>Capital</em> (1863-83)]</p> <p>In terms of combating fake news, for example, a Marxist theory would argue that it is not enough to approach the issue only on the terrain of ideas. Rather, it would advocate looking behind the false headlines to the relations of production that allow such headlines to circulate in the first place. Instead of pointing out that a publication is inaccurate, we would ask who owns that publication, and what relations between different classes (e.g. media moguls and the working class) are being expressed and exploited. In Marxist theory, fake news is an expression of the interest of the ruling class. Therefore, undermining it needs to take place at the level of class struggle, of undermining the very relations of class that permit fake news in the first place.</p> <h2><strong>Louis Althusser’s Ideological State Apparatus</strong></h2> <p>Fast forwarding we come to Louis Althusser, whose ‘Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses’ (1970) interprets and updates Marx and Engels’s theory of ideology (with the help of several thinkers, including notably Vladimir Lenin).</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/500209/8421995478_23620739fe_k.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/8421995478_23620739fe_k.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'>Louis Althusser. Flickr/Arturo Espinoaa. </span></span></span>Althusser’s text has three key contributions, most of which re-interpret classical Marxist theory: </p><ol><li>He highlights the fact that class relations determine ideology only in the last instance. </li><li>He locates ideology in material apparatuses – institutions such as religion, education, government and media.</li><li>He theorises the way in which ideology ‘interpellates individuals as subjects.’</li></ol> <p>The first point is important to bear in mind since, as we saw earlier, Marx’s writing on ideology is liable to be misunderstood as a theory of workers being brainwashed by the ruling class. ‘Determination in the last instance’ means that we need to consider the whole variety of factors that contribute to the development of society, the ruling ideology and the effects of ideology on people. According to Althusser there is no straight line between class relations, the ideology that is projected by them, and people’s beliefs. Rather, we can say that the projection of class relations onto ideology is actually refracted by several other factors. Althusser goes into this theory in more detail in his essay “Contradiction and Overdetermination” (1962).</p> <p>The second point helps us to understand this process of refraction, and to elaborate on the ‘material existence’ of ideology. Althusser argues that ideology does not just come from economic structures (class relations) but also exists in, and is influenced by, really existing institutions. He calls these ‘ideological state apparatuses’ (ISAs) since they are usually related to the State and make up the site of ideology. The various ideological state apparatuses include: the religious ISA (churches), the educational ISA (schools), the legal ISA (law, courts), the political ISA (the political system and its parties), the communications ISA (the media).</p> <p>To engage with Althusser’s third contribution, we need to understand the key word for his theory of the functioning of ideology, ‘interpellation’. Interpellation is usually described in terms of call and response. The example Althusser gives is that of a policeman shouting ‘Hey, you there!’ and an individual turning round to answer the call. </p> <p>That moment of recognition (turning round to answer) is the sign of successful interpellation. Through interpellation we recognise ourselves as subjects of a certain ideological formation, and we recognise our place in the world, as designated by ideology. In Althusser’s example, the individual recognises themself as subject to the law and therefore responds to the policeman’s call. In such instances the individual has a set place in relation to an ideological state apparatus (that of a subject) and is expected to engage in certain practises as a result (turning around). </p> <p>Considering this in relation to post-truth politics, we can think of the apparatuses in which it is most manifest, such as the government and the media. As a citizen I am expected to respect the will of the government, even if its power is based on ‘alternative facts’ or false promises. As a consumer of news, I am expected to read and engage with the media, even if it publishes blatant untruths. The only way out of this, in Althusser’s model, is to dismantle the apparatuses themselves and thereby totally refuse any position in relation to them.</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/nhs leave bus.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/nhs leave bus.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>'Leave' bus in Brexit referendum.</span></span></span><em>(N.B. For a recent update on Althusser’s theory of ideological state apparatuses, see</em><a href="http://www.cairn-int.info/resume.php?ID_ARTICLE=E_AMX_052_0164"> ‘Postideological Market Apparatuses: The Interpellations of Advertising and Unpayable Debt’ by Maria Kakogianni</a><em> (2012, currently only available in French)</em>. </p><h2><strong>Slavoj Žižek and the ‘secret’ of ideology</strong></h2> <p>Fast forwarding once more, and we reach the last stop on this tour of theories of ideology: Slavoj Žižek. We’ve passed thinkers such as Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Pierre Bourdieu, and Michel Foucault to name but a few. I can only recommend that interested readers take the time to explore the works of these other important theorists. </p> <p>While Žižek has had a bad press recently, his theory of ideology has much to offer for understanding our current conditions of existence. In his first English-language publication, <em>The Sublime Object of Ideology</em> (1989), Žižek re-interpreted both Marx and Althusser in a way that clears a path for the analysis of post-truth politics.</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/Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 08.26.54.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 08.26.54.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Slavoj Žižek at Occupy Wall St.</span></span></span>Žižek argues that Althusser’s account of ideology as interpellation ‘aim[s] at grasping the efficiency of an ideology exclusively through the mechanisms of imaginary and symbolic identification’. In other words, Žižek charges Althusser with assuming that ideology completely interpellates us, and that we uncritically accept the position that ideology designates for us. </p><p>Žižek responds by arguing that interpellation actually functions through a lack of total identification between the individual and ideology. In other words, ideology actually works when we don’t fully recognise ourselves in interpellation’s call. According to Žižek, as long as an ideology is experienced as containing something ‘senseless’ – a ‘secret’ – that we cannot totally comprehend or identify with, it will have authority over us. </p> <p>Therefore, the power that post-truth politics holds lies in our belief that there is something more to it – that it is part of an elaborate scheme of ideological control. Once we abandon this belief we can realise the senselessness of the situation: Trump really is an idiot (albeit one with a lot of power and money), and some journalists do care more about clickbait than truth, and so on. </p> <p>If we put this together with the lessons of Marx and Althusser, we can define ideology as: the belief that institutions hold authority due to their possession of some secret knowledge rather than the material fact of their owners’ and leaders’ privileged position in the hierarchy of class relations. </p> <p>This may be the end of this article, but it is only a beginning of the work we need to do on ideology. We need to continue to build our comprehension of the ideological formations that have contributed to our democracy stalling and a politics of post-truth taking its place. It is not enough to say that people are simply naïve, or that speaking the truth in public will resolve all our problems. We need to look to economic structures, ideological apparatuses and the obscene senselessness of power if we are to understand, and ultimately undermine, post-truth. </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/justin-schlosberg/media-technology-military-industrial-complex">The media–technology–military industrial complex</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/deniz-kellecioglu/battle-for-minds-and-role-of-human-behaviour-in-generating-plutocracies">The battle for minds, and role of human behaviour in generating plutocracies</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wfd/sara-carpenter/learning-in-movement-moment">Learning in a &#039;movement moment&#039;</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> </div> </fieldset> <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 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? Can Europe make it? Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics Ideas International politics Internet Rachel Johnson Wed, 12 Apr 2017 06:47:17 +0000 Rachel Johnson 110072 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Dangerous road to divisive places https://www.opendemocracy.net/jon-bloomfield/dangerous-road-to-divisive-places <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A review of <em>The Road to Somewhere. The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics</em> by David Goodhart, London (2017).</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/500209/32625380942_40cd3c6d00_h.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/32625380942_40cd3c6d00_h.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'>Marine Le Pen 2017, Au nom du peuple. (In the name of the people). Flickr/Richard Grandmorin. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/the-road-to-somewhere/">This book</a> is a difficult read. It is a mixture of selective facts and figures combined with data from opinion surveys and Goodhart’s own assertions and value judgements. At times the writing is elusive and hard to pin down. But in a fast-changing world where social democracy has lost its way, the book’s underlying narrative serves as a manifesto to deliver readers into the arms of the country’s nationalist Right. To those of a progressive and social democratic persuasion it is both dangerous and divisive.</p> <p>Goodhart asserts that the country is divided into three blocs: the Anywheres who went to university and have a broadly liberal individualistic outlook; the Somewheres who live close to their place of birth, did not go to university and have a sense of rootedness and identity that the Anywheres have lost; and the In-Betweeners. He asserts that the Somewheres represent broadly half the population and the other two a quarter each. He maintains that it is the Anywheres who have dominated British life for the last few decades, increasingly since the onset of the Blair government. Brexit represents the revolt of the Somewheres against this dominance. The In-Betweeners are referred to initially but then rarely get a look-in. For Goodhart the world is basically divided between the Anywheres, “the upper professional class” with their global world outlook and the Somewheres, with their preference for place, stability and nation. These are Britain’s ‘two value blocs’ and the book is a paean of praise for the preferences and prejudices of the Somewheres. </p> <p>There are many flaws with this story. Firstly, class. Goodhart generally avoids the term but his Somewheres are clearly the working class while those Anywheres who go to university are lumped together as “the upper professional class” even though this includes everyone from those who go on to do low grade office and administrative work through to hedge fund managers and senior executives. Apparently the three years at university are sufficiently formative to mould all these diverse people into one homogenous bloc with common values that inform and shape their future political outlook. Jesuits would be envious indeed of the influence of university Vice Chancellors, were it so. <span class="mag-quote-center">“the upper professional class”… includes everyone from those who go on to do low grade office and administrative work through to hedge fund managers and senior executives.</span></p> <p>Goodhart does concede that within this Anywhere grouping there is a subset of ‘Global Villagers’ who form around 3% of the total population and who constitute the key movers and shakers. Here he gets closer to the class realities of the twenty-first century world. Indeed, he makes some points not dissimilar to those made by the Occupy movement about the 1%.&nbsp; Yet there is no evidence to show that it is their university experience that shapes and informs ‘Davos man’. Was it crucial to the emergence of Rupert Murdoch, the most archetypal Global Villager that you could find and the most influential man in Britain, who merits not a single mention in Goodhart’s book? Or the Barclay Brothers, or Arron Banks? </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/Brecqhou_-_Barclay_Brothers_Castle.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Brecqhou_-_Barclay_Brothers_Castle.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'>Brecqhou - Barclay Brothers' Castle, 2009. Wikicommons. Public domain.</span></span></span>Secondly, Goodhart substitutes cod sociology for politics and in the process has constructed a false thesis. The last four decades have seen a <span>political</span> project of concerted neo-liberal globalisation initiated by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and accelerated after the fall of the Soviet Union under the leadership of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Tony Blair. Goodhart rightly criticises some of Blair’s more outrageous hyper-globalisation rhetoric. But he fails to recognise neo-liberalism as an Establishment project – by the Global Villagers to use his term – designed to take advantage of the ICT revolution and the collapse of the USSR to create a new model of rampant, financial capitalism. <span class="mag-quote-center">The last four decades have seen a <span>political</span> project of concerted neo-liberal globalisation...&nbsp; accelerated after the fall of the Soviet Union under the leadership of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Tony Blair.</span> Instead he lumps all progressives, liberals and professionals into what he terms this Anywhere agenda. He gives a list of measures that “go with the grain of Anywhere thinking” which range from no intervention in the UK on takeover deals by foreign companies; support for universities to raise their student fees to £9,000; and military intervention in Iraq.(page 225) This is completely absurd. These were all part of the neo-liberal world view. Their most ardent advocates were to be found in the editorial pages of our Brexit-supporting, national press, a point completely absent from Goodhart’s book. Didn’t Anywheres form part of the huge demonstrations of opposition to the Iraq war? Weren’t the Liberal Democrats punished by large numbers of ‘Anywhere’ voters at the 2015 election precisely because they had supported the imposition of huge increases in student fees? The Anywhere/Somewhere divide is a fake construct designed with a purpose, namely to suggest that there is an unbridgeable gulf between the working and professional classes. <span class="mag-quote-center">The Anywhere/Somewhere divide is a fake construct designed with a purpose, namely to suggest that there is an unbridgeable gulf between the working and professional classes.</span></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/500209/5262039150_2a8cbfd6f7_z_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/5262039150_2a8cbfd6f7_z_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'>Student protests over fees, Parliament Square, 2010. Flickr/Bob Bob. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>This relates to Goodhart’s third flaw, that somehow there is an essential, unchanging bedrock of common sense, natural and patriotic values at the core of the working class, which Anywheres do not understand. Yet even Goodhart is forced to admit that there have been immense social changes over the last forty years in relation to gender, race and sexuality and that these have occurred across the whole class range. Goodhart tries to shoehorn this into his Anywhere/Somewhere prism (pp40-41) but the reality is that vast swathes of the population have shifted their attitudes over this period and that the crucial determinant has been age. Not surprisingly, the slowest rate of change has been amongst the oldest. </p> <p>These changes have come about partly through legislation but crucially through material changes in people’s daily existence, above all with the arrival of the contraceptive pill, a far more decisive change in the lives of most people than the development of mass higher education. The pill and easier divorce have changed the material circumstances of women’s lives, above all working class women; they have shifted their ‘common sense’ and ‘natural’ horizons. To Goodhart the 1960s are a cause of regret. “The arrival of the pill and easier abortion further separated sex from association with family and long-term commitment.” (p.193) and his policy recommendations reflect a wish to put key elements of the old order back in place so that men “have a family commitment to work.” (P.208.)</p> <p>Fourthly, Goodhart’s justified concerns about globalisation blind him to the economic realities of today’s world. He tries to find facts and figures to suggest that these trends are not that substantial. He is burying his head in the sand. With the emergence of the trans-national corporation, modern ICT, mass transport and the opening up of the old Communist blocs there has been a huge surge in cross-border commercial activity. Economics has leapt the boundaries of the nation state in all medium-sized and small countries. Up to 10,000 freight vehicles a day pass through Dover. Around 4.4 million lorry journeys are made between the EU and the UK each year. The UK forms part of an integrated single market economy, which is why those proposing a hard Brexit are being so reckless. Goodhart seems to find it hard to conceive that a person can recognise this, approve of European integration and yet still retain a national and local identity. Many of us have multiple identities and in an interdependent world these increasingly reflect reality. As the Green movement – largely ignored in this book – expresses it, ‘think global, act local.’ There is no gulf between the two. Most people can ‘walk and chew gum’ at the same time. <span class="mag-quote-center">The UK forms part of an integrated single market economy, which is why those proposing a hard Brexit are being so reckless.</span></p> <p>Many of the ills that his book addresses arise from the project of neo-liberal globalisation. Under Clinton and Blair’s influence much of European social democracy signed up for this hyper-globalisation model and are now suffering the consequences of their love affair with neo-liberalism. Yet Goodhart fails to see that there are a range of potential models of globalisation. If social democracy is to survive as a political force across Europe it has to connect with the inter-dependent realities of the modern world while applying the core values of liberty, equality and solidarity to them. That means a clear acknowledgement that New Labour’s infatuation with a neo-liberal model of globalisation including its attachment to unmanaged migration did profound harm to both social democracy as a political philosophy and to the traditional alliances between working class communities, the public sector and the liberal intelligentsia that formed the basis of its winning coalitions. Any social democratic project has to repair that damage. <span class="mag-quote-center">Any social democratic project has to repair that damage. </span></p> <p>There are multiple ways to reconnect social democracy with the working class and its diverse communities and display a genuine commitment to towns and localities. Goodhart suggests a few, notably on apprenticeships but fails to mention some obvious ones. Shedding the disdainful term ‘Old Labour’ would be a symbolic start. If you want to support policies that help working class and poor households then defend the Sure Start programme, a Labour achievement that goes unmentioned by Goodhart. He does not mention these vital community centres because basically he prefers women or grandmothers to look after the kids. Reverse the cuts to the Educational Maintenance Allowances that allowed 16-18 year olds from poor households to stay on at technical college with a grant. Attack the concerted austerity drive of the Cameron government which removed the youth and community services that served tens of thousands of young people in deprived communities. Above all, stop the endless reductions in local authority budgets that mean that adult social care is pruned to the bone, that basic home help and care services are now outsourced with an increasing use of zero hour contracts and 15 minute visits. Since 2009-2010 it is local authorities in the poorest and most deprived parts of the country that have taken the biggest hit on austerity and the services that they provide to working class communities that have been undermined along with the professional pride of the care staff. Yet Goodhart makes no mention of this concerted austerity drive as it does not fit with his narrative. <span class="mag-quote-center">Since 2009-2010 it is local authorities in the poorest and most deprived parts of the country that have taken the biggest hit on austerity.</span></p> <p>Even where he makes sound arguments he fails to draw the obvious conclusions. He notes that Germany has a different model of capitalism; that workers are represented on the boards of its large companies; that organised labour has helped to slow de-industrialisation and retain a strong technical and vocational training ethos. But there is not a word about trade unions in Britain. He makes no proposal to reform the anti-trade union laws of the Thatcher era that Labour was too scared to challenge. Whenever one hears claims by politicians and commentators to be concerned about the working class there is one simple way to gauge whether they are genuine. Do they support the right of workers to combine together and join a trade union? Will they make it easier for workers in trade unions to gain official recognition from their employer? Will they remove those measures that restrict a union’s capacity to take action against their employer? If Goodhart genuinely wants to shift the balance of power within the economy to those with relatively little economic clout, then these are the steps that he would promote. These would challenge employers like Sports Direct and help workers to gain decent pay and conditions through their own actions. On this, he is silent. </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/Oxford_Street-_Sports_Direct_(33100203570)(1)_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Oxford_Street-_Sports_Direct_(33100203570)(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'>Oxford Street: Sports Direct, 2016. Wikicommons/Paul the Archivist. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><span class="mag-quote-center">Whenever one hears claims by politicians and commentators to be concerned about the working class there is one simple way to gauge whether they are genuine. Do they support the right of workers to combine together and join a trade union?</span></p> <p>Goodhart’s overriding flaw is to assume there is only one type of globalisation and that the only counter to it is nationalism. In this he follows the route of Trump and Le Pen. His ‘road to somewhere’ will end up in a similar place.&nbsp; This helps to explain why the author uses kid gloves in describing them. To readers who think that is a harsh judgement then the section on the hard Right should dispel any illusions. Most are “decent populists”, “populism is the new socialism”, “UKIP and the Front National have been dragged sharply to the left in recent years.”&nbsp; Then there is the genteel language used about Donald Trump. In some of his campaign speeches Trump did “nod towards” white America’s anti-black traditions. He ”joined in” the campaign about Barak Obama’s birthplace, whereas in fact he was its main advocate. “He is not a white supremacist” but he just appoints one – Steve Bannon – as his top adviser. </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/500209/7421294464_b977839763_k.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/7421294464_b977839763_k.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'>Meeting, May 1st, Front National, France, 2012. Flickr/Blandine de Cain. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><span class="mag-quote-center">Goodhart’s overriding flaw is to assume there is only one type of globalisation and that the only counter to it is nationalism.</span></p> <p>Thus, it is not surprising that Goodhart proposes a reactionary policy menu built around traditionalist, socially conservative and nationalist policy themes unified around the scary Blue Labour slogan of ‘flag, faith and family’ with its eerie Nazi era echoes of ‘Kinder, Kuche, Kirche.’ Having demonised the progressive middle class, Goodhart cuddles up to “the decent populists.” A few years ago Goodhart described himself as ‘a social democrat.’ In this book he is ‘from the Radical centre.’ He is certainly on the road to somewhere. But it is not a destination that any progressive or social democrat should follow. I see Melanie Philipps and Arron Banks thumbing a lift on the road ahead.</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/jon-bloomfield/responding-to-brexit-breaking-with-neo-liberalism">Responding to Brexit: breaking with neo-liberalism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/stuart-weir/blue-labours-controversial-ideas-are-good-for-miliband-and-his-party">Blue Labour&#039;s controversial ideas are good for Miliband and his party</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/philippe-marli-re-antonis-galanopoulos/strange-death-of-social-democracy-in-europ">The strange death of social democracy in Europe</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-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> uk Can Europe make it? uk UK Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics Ideas International politics Jon Bloomfield Tue, 11 Apr 2017 17:19:17 +0000 Jon Bloomfield 110067 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Marine Le Pen, the Vel d'Hiv round-up, and the grey zone of Vichy France https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/hugh-mcdonnell/marine-le-pen-vel-dhiv-round-up-and-grey-zone-of-vichy-france <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Marine Le Pen has courted yet more controversy by saying that France is not responsible for the rounding up of Jews in Paris during WWII, but grey zones in the country's collective memory still abound.</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/pet.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/pet.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'>The grave of Philippe Pétain on Île d'Yeu, France. Wikimedia. CC.</span></span></span>On Sunday Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right Front National denied on TV that France or the French state were responsible for the infamous Vel d’Hiv round-up of Jews in Paris on 16-17 July 1942. Corralled by French police into the eponymous cycling stadium, most of these 13,000 Jews ended up in Nazi death camps. But for Le Pen, widely expected to top the first round of the Presidential elections on 23 April, “if there are people responsible, it’s those who were in power at the time. It’s not France.”</p><p>In a follow-up statement, she invoked the authority of former presidents de Gaulle and Mitterrand to insist that France and the Republic were in London during the German occupation, and that the Nazi-collaborationist Vichy regime “was not France”. Drawing on their respective inferences that Vichy was merely an aberration of the French Republic and imposter as representative of France, she holds that while individuals shared responsibility for the atrocities of the period on a personal basis; none could be imputed to France as such. What are the implications and historical stakes of her intervention? And how is this likely to play out in the run-in to the elections?</p><p>A useful starting point to make sense of the stakes of this issue is an editorial in the leading French daily&nbsp;<em>Le Monde</em>&nbsp;in 1992 - a period of particularly prolific and vexed public discourse about France’s Vichy past - that invoked Italian Auschwitz survivor and writer Primo Levi. This drew on his concept of the “grey zone” to understand French complicity and collaboration during the German Occupation.</p><p>While Marine Le Pen has been shrewdly steering the FN away from the grey zone of complicity of Vichy nostalgia and Holocaust denial that were important aspects of FN culture, she has been less canny in summoning up De Gaulle’s and Mitterrand’s republican credentials in relation to their handling of France’s collusion during the Second World War.</p><p>Marine Le Pen’s stewardship of the Front National since 2011 has seen considerable energy invested in&nbsp;<em>dédiabiolisation</em>&nbsp;- or, detoxification - of the party whose origins lay in post-war fascism, including nostalgia for Vichy, unrepentant colonialism, and indeed, Holocaust denial. Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine’s predecessor and father, has landed in legal hot water many times for denial of the Holocaust, reiterating as recently as 2015 that the Nazi gas chambers were “a detail” of the Second World War, and insisting that all kinds of patriots were welcome in the FN - fervent Pétainists (collaborationists with Vichy France) no less than fervent Gaullists.</p><p>Conspicuous in Marine Le Pen’s refurbishment of the FN is precisely the brandishing of the republican idiom that historically has drawn from anti-fascism. Adherents of French republicanism&nbsp;typically profess an allegiance to the values of liberty, equality, and fraternity; separation of church and state; and liberal democracy and the rule of law. Conventional wisdom in France has long posited an unbridgeable divide between the French Republic and the Front National.</p><p>Marine set out her stall as leader by immediately attacking this consensus. At her inaugural presidential speech, to the evident discomfort of some in the audience, she proclaimed the FN “a great republican political party” and asserted ownership of “liberty, equality, fraternity.” Instead of harking back to pre-Rousseau ideals, she stressed the need to recover the spirit of the Fifth Republic — a mythical golden age in which de Gaulle’s France prospered domestically and commanded respect internationally — and declared that those around her were the true defenders of the republic.</p><p>In appropriating the idea of republicanism, Marine undercut the very language used to quarantine and stigmatize the FN, and created an effective narrative vehicle to propel its message. Frontists were no longer rednecks but guardians of secularism, the separation of church and state, and defenders of beleaguered European minorities and victimized groups. Not that this Republican message couldn’t sometimes be particularly aggressiveness as a bone to the party faithful - Marine’s comparison of Muslim prayers to the Nazi Occupation in Lyon in 2015, for instance.</p><p>Part of the savviness of this direction was that it could channel the melding of republican language with Frontist-style discourse, certainly by scandal-hit presidential contender François Fillon’s The Republicans, but also by the President Hollande’s Parti Socialiste. Notably, this included railing against the ‘tyranny of penitence’ – Marine’s expressed rationale for yesterday’s intervention on the Vel d’Hiv roundup. In this view, French society is plagued by self-castigation for historical injustices which have no bearing in reality outside the minds of domineering leftists.</p><p>If this was the impulse behind Marine’s intervention, it is unlikely to yield political capital, however. As&nbsp;<em>Le Monde</em>&nbsp;noted in an editorial yesterday, equivocations about Vichy might have been serviceable in the past, but are so no longer after President Chirac’s intervention in July 1995. In a departure from his predecessors, here he acknowledged France’s responsibility, including that of the French state, for deporting thousands of Jews to German death camps.</p><p>French memory of the Vichy years has passed through various phases over the decades. If the political legacies of de Gaulle and Mitterrand are minable for many political resources, they are scare in valuable material relating to Vichy today. That de Gaulle’s posthumous mystique has held up well is due much more to his Resistance credentials and, perhaps above all, his presiding over a period of exceptional post-war economic growth, the famous&nbsp;<em>trente glorieuses</em>. However, the simplistic post-Second World War Gaullist trope of a France of Resisters pitted against a tiny crew of collaborators has fared much less well. Even before the end of the General’s own life his framing had come under heavy fire, epitomised by, for example, Marcel Ophuls’ documentary&nbsp;<em>The Sorrow and the Pity</em>&nbsp;and American historian Robert Paxton’s seminal work on Vichy France.</p><p>As this binary and self-serving framing came apart, the grey zone of Vichy returned with a vengeance. And Mitterrand, for his part, was a quintessential embodiment of the ambiguity surrounding Vichy. It was in fact in the context of the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary commemoration of the Vel d’Hiv round-up in July 1992 that his practice of annually laying a wreath at the grave of Marshal Pétain came under sharp scrutiny. </p><p>After the ceremony, Mitterrand announced he would continue the practice before reversing course after a public outcry. In 1994 he anticipated Marine’s denial that the republic was culpable for such atrocities, refusing to apologize in the name of France. More damningly, he maintained a personal friendship with the leading henchman of the Vel d’Hiv operation, René Bousquet as late as 1986. Mitterrand’s own youthful admiration for Pétain sparked something of a media furore in late 1994 with renewed revelations of his work within the Vichy regime before turning to the Resistance.</p><p>Mitterrand handled the affair by doubling down on obfuscation, emphasizing the ambivalence of Vichy - a grey zone both in the sense that it was difficult to know what was going on, and in the sense that participation in the regime was not in itself a mark of culpability. Contrary to his earlier stubborn delineation between Vichy and the Republic, he then averred that one could in fact be working at Vichy as a sincere Republican. </p><p>If Mitterrand could pull off this rhetorical greying manoeuvre, it was in due in large part to his famous Machiavellian political acumen; his record, however qualified, of anti-racist initiatives whilst President; and the settling of accounts as he neared the end of his second presidential term and, indeed, his battle with cancer.</p><p>Marine Le Pen has no such assets going for her. Perhaps she might take solace from the fact that despite the media furore, the spotlight on Mitterrand’s own grey zone in his personal history had no negative effect on his approval ratings. And a much lower percentage of the French electorate has personal contact with the Vichy period today; in this vein, it is striking that the FN is scoring highest amongst 18-24 year olds for whom anti-fascist denunciations of the FN have less purchase.</p><p>Yet, to have denied French responsibility for the Vel d’Hiv round-up in this way seems to indicate an overreaching of a Republican FN in parading a version of patriotism whereby France is a priori admirable and wrongful acts detachable in advance as un-French. Given the fragility of the detoxified ground of the party, the grey zone of Vichy would seem unfavourable terrain to stake out this position. </p><p>In a presidential contest which revolves around transfer votes in the second round, her opponents will no doubt try to capitalise on this to dissuade potential FN voters between now and the election run-off on 7 May.&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/patrice-de-beer/brexit-le-pen-france">Brexit and France: a divorce by mutual consent?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arab-awakening/samah-jabr/more-royal-than-king-encounter-with-french-zionism">&#039;More royal than the king&#039;: an encounter with French Zionism</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"> France </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? France Hugh McDonnell Tue, 11 Apr 2017 14:15:21 +0000 Hugh McDonnell 110060 at https://www.opendemocracy.net This French presidential election is historic https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/francis-ghile-s/this-french-presidential-election-is-historic <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>On 23 April, voters will have to decide whether to give Macron the chance to reform France or whether they prefer to entrust the fate of the republic to a wrecker. <strong><em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/francis-ghil-s/francia-unas-elecciones-presidenciales-hist-ricas">Español</a> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/francis-ghil-s/fran-umas-elei-es-presidenciais-hist-ricas">Português</a></em></strong><strong></strong></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-30820287_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/PA-30820287_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'>Ten of eleven candidates for the upcoming presidential election. Pool/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>On 21 April, 2002, France’s voters unveiled the full and shocking extent of their political disenchantment by sending the veteran far-right leader Jean Marie Le Pen through to the second round of presidential elections to face the outgoing Jacques Chirac. This unexpected success was the most staggering election result in European politics in years. It signed the death warrant of the Fifth Republic. If French voters send Marine Le Pen into the second round of the presidential elections on 23 April and her opponent is Emmanuel Macron, a further nail will have been driven into the republic’s coffin. Fifteen years ago, the socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin was eliminated and his party humiliated. If the candidate of the conservative Republican Party and former Prime Minister François Fillon is eliminated, the run off will be between two outsiders.</p> <p>The Fifth Republic is France’s third longest political regime after the monarchy which was destroyed by the Revolution of 1789 and the Third Republic (1879-1940). It functioned well until 2002 because it was predicated on the existence of two solid coalitions - one built around the Socialist Party the other around the Gaullist one - and delivered, until the early 1980s, solid economic growth. If both coalitions collapse now, the way in which French politics are conducted will have to be recast. Its constitution will have to be rewritten.</p> <p>The two coalitions which have ruled France since 1958 are deeply split on Europe, as many voters show growing hostility, if not outright rejection, of the European Union - of which France was one of the founders. Most French people are not interested in Germany and display increasing hostility to its perceived capacity to impose its own views on the conduct of European economic policy. Marine Le Pen’s agenda is protectionist. She has soft pedalled her long proclaimed wish to pull France out of the Euro recently (70% of French people are against) but remains steady in her conviction that much warmer relations with Vladimir Putin would help French interests. The Russian leader certainly helps the National Front’s interests as Russian banks lend money to the party. Her economic program is a rag bag, but half of those who vote for the party over which she presides care little about it. They want to kick the system in the teeth and express their disgust at endless corruption scandals, their fear of losing their jobs - not least, as they see it, to immigrants from Africa. While the National Front waves Islam(ism) as a red rag, its founder, Marine’s father Jean Marie Le Pen, remains overtly anti-Semitic. He is convinced that France should never have granted independence to Algeria in 1962. Anti-Paris-based elite feelings combine with a sense of helplessness about what the future holds.</p> <p>Emmanuel Macron is a prodigy who has risen astride finance and high-end public management, a progeny of the elite <em>École Nationale d’Administration</em> and a superior French investment bank, Rothschild. He is not an outsider, but combines a liberal take on reforming the French economy and recognition that France’s behaviour in Algeria, that black box of French politics, was “barbaric”. He was uncomfortable with the state of emergency imposed after the Bataclan terrorist attack in Paris in November 2015, was opposed to the idea of stripping French citizens, be they terrorists, of their nationality because it reminded him of the Vichy laws of 1940. In a country where citizens with a beard or Muslim-sounding names are four times less likely to get a job interview, Macron is despised on the hard right for saying that France should assume its share of responsibility vis a vis those Frenchmen and women who are Muslim and its colonial behaviour in Algeria. It is despised on the hard left too for being “the Mozart of Finance” - a nickname he earned for his role advising Nestlé on its $1.2bn acquisition of a unit of Pfizer in 2012, which earned him substantial profits. The euro zone crisis and a deeply ingrained suspicion of money and capitalism have deepened anti-bank sentiment in France across the political spectrum.</p> <p>That said, it is anybody’s guess whether the loans from Russians banks to the National Front and Vladimir Putin’s endorsement of Marine Le Pen are election winners. François Fillon and his wife are for their part embroiled in a corruption probe. This did not stop Fillon’s pro-business Republican Party from releasing a drawing of Macron with a hooked nose, a top hat and large cigar, tapping into 1930s conspiratorial anti-Semite imagery. The conservative candidate is hardly critical of the Russian president’s policies in Europe and the Middle East, a sign of poor judgement in the view of many of his supporters.</p> <p>French voters are worried by what they feel is their country’s decline and loss of identity but they are also deeply conservative. The fact that serious reforms have not been attempted for more than a generation reflects badly on politicians, who do not dare confront their countrymen with the truth.&nbsp; But are the French ready for some serious reform, or would they prefer to risk exiting the Euro and the EU, which would upend any chance of reform? Emmanuel Macron’s rise in politics – he was adviser to Francois Hollande at the presidency then Minister of Economic Affairs until he resigned last year - has left him no time to acquire the livery of defender of the realm. His handsome boyish looks may be deceptive, however. Voters will decide shortly whether there is steel here, albeit in an exquisite velvet glove. A high abstention rate would help the National Front, but it has never been above a fifth of those entitled to vote since 1969. Will 2017 mark a break with the recent past?</p> <p>Emmanuel Macron has a further advantage. Not only is he the only contender who can claim not to be an extremist but he might be also the right man to recast the all-important alliance between France and Germany. No one knows who the next German chancellor will be, but Macron is nothing but a deeply convinced European. The Fifth Republic has, to all intents and purposes, stopped working since 2002. French voters will have to decide whether it is worth giving Macron a chance to reform France or whether they wish to entrust the fate of the republic to a wrecker.</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> </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"> 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> DemocraciaAbierta Can Europe make it? France Civil society Democracy and government Ideas International politics Francis Ghilès Tue, 11 Apr 2017 06:30:00 +0000 Francis Ghilès 110026 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Abolish work, the robots are coming! https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/jaroslav-fiala/abolish-work-robots-are-coming <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Czech Republic is among those countries most vulnerable to the effects of the automation of work. Robots are going to replace laborers and journalists alike – is there a way out?</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/rob.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/rob.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'>Robot welders. Wikimedia. CC.</span></span></span></p><p>We Czechs enjoy judging whether someone has worked ‘enough’ and relegating those who have not to the unenviable position of despicable filth. It is ridiculous. In actual fact, we are running an absurd race to the bottom, competing with one another to be ripped off. </p><p>Our wages are already&nbsp;<a href="http://a2larm.cz/2017/01/v-cesku-prace-neslechti-platove-rozdily-strme-rostou/">laughably low</a>. Now the threat of widespread job loss due to the automation of work looms on the horizon. </p><p>The Czech Republic will be one of the countries which will suffer most from the replacement of human labour with robots. This should be reason enough to start exploring the idea of a completely different society, one in which our income would not depend on paid employment. But can we?</p><h2>Alien Invasion</h2><p><a href="https://www.oecd.org/employment/Automation-and-independent-work-in-a-digital-economy-2016.pdf">As a recent OECD study</a>&nbsp;shows, among developed countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are the most vulnerable to widespread unemployment caused by the introduction of automation in the workplace. People will not only lose their jobs, they will also lose access to the resources and stability necessary to live in our society.</p><p>Think of it this way: the Czech Republic has been invaded by aliens. As soon as they shrug off their spacesuits, it becomes abundantly clear that they have not come to steal, plunder, rape or take over the government – in fact, they have just come to work. There are thousands of them. They are highly intelligent, capable of learning and work is, literally, their reason for existence. They don’t need rest, free time, accommodation, privacy or sleep. They don’t have to eat because they don’t feel hunger. They don’t have emotions, desires or sexual needs.</p><p>These aliens start participating in our economy. They want to work and they do not require pay; the work being their only reward. They start in routine jobs, in factories and production, but in time, the aliens show the capacity to perform more complex tasks and start replacing humans in highly skilled jobs. </p><p>Even employers who want no part in this will eventually have no choice but to start employing aliens in order to remain competitive in the market. Unemployment will rise, the wages of those still working will stagnate or drop. Czechs, fearing the future, will stop buying and spending. An economic crisis will follow, revealing that the alien invasion has never been quite as innocent as it first appeared.</p><h2>Robots as assemblymen, robots as journalists</h2><p>The aliens of whom we speak are not the ‘Muslim invaders’ who have become such a popular (and utterly absurd) media focus in the Czech Republic. We are talking about automation. The threat we face is due to the fact that, of the countries in the EU,&nbsp;<a href="https://zpravy.aktualne.cz/ekonomika/cesko-je-nejprumyslovejsi-zemi-eu-projdete-si-novy-zebricek/r~04502e66554e11e5a80c0025900fea04/">we rely most heavily on industry</a>. </p><p>Almost fifty per cent of our economy is based on industry, making us more dependent on it than neighbouring Germany. About 1.45 million people – that is a third of Czech employees – work in industry, predominantly the in automobile manufacturing. These workers will be the first to be displaced by the metal aliens.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Alongside factories and supermarkets, robots are now used in food manufacturing.</p><p>There are plenty of examples from other countries. In the USA, the financial crisis was followed by an&nbsp;<a href="http://conexus.cberdata.org/files/MfgReality.pdf">eighteen per cent increase in industrial production</a>, but no boom in employment. Instead, the factories were operated by robots. </p><p>According to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf">a 2013 study</a>, 47 per cent of American jobs are at risk of disappearing because of automation. And the technology keeps getting smarter: alongside factories and supermarkets, robots are now used in food manufacturing, transport, medicine and education. And it doesn’t stop here.</p><p>In 2009, a group of scientists at the Northwestern University in Chicago developed technology capable of&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jun/28/computer-writing-journalism-artificial-intelligence">doing a journalist’s job</a>. The system, known as StatsMonkey, originally wrote articles about sports: after the input of a set basic data set the computer managed to create a text indistinguishable from one penned by a sports commentator. </p><p>The group then proceeded to found a company called Narrative Science and to introduce a further improvement in this technology, Quill, a computer capable of writing pieces from multiple fields of interest, including politics and economics. Quill has since been used by many large media outlets, including&nbsp; Forbes, journals and news portals (although many prefer to keep it secret so one can only guess whether the article you are reading was actually written by a human being). </p><p>Nevertheless, the folks at Narrative Science claim that, within fifteen years, robots will have become the authors of more than ninety percent of news articles written.</p><h2>The path towards a new form of totalitarianism?</h2><p>But here in the Czech Republic, we are not concerned with such issues. Instead, our largest political parties are focused on out-doing each other in working out a means of efficiently disposing of ‘slackers’ and ‘parasites’. Which is simply absurd. One cannot help feeling that repression and a frantic enforcement of work (in a time where work itself is threatened by widespread job loss) can only pave the way towards a new fascism. </p><p>Why have Czech politicians chosen this moment to combat unemployment? Why do our ‘leftist’ parties (in reality, often functionally indistinguishable from the ultra-Right) want to punish the unemployed, or even ‘lock up the parasites’, as the Communist party would have it? Why does President Miloš Zeman so ardently advocate&nbsp;<a href="http://denikreferendum.cz/clanek/24244-zeman-nektere-socialni-davky-skodi-omezil-by-treba-podporu-v-hmotne-nouzi">abolishing social benefits</a>? Are they all merely fanatical idiots, or is there something more behind it?</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Why does President Miloš Zeman so ardently advocate&nbsp;<a href="http://denikreferendum.cz/clanek/24244-zeman-nektere-socialni-davky-skodi-omezil-by-treba-podporu-v-hmotne-nouzi">abolishing social benefits</a>?</p><p>The American blogger, Noah Smith,&nbsp;<a href="https://qz.com/185945/drones-are-about-to-upheave-society-in-a-way-we-havent-seen-in-700-years/">has warned</a>&nbsp;against a future in which the ‘mass of lumpen humanity teeters on the edge of starvation’. The automatization of work could result in the majority of the human race becoming ‘redundant’. We will return to feudalism – only this time we will have modern technology and humanity will be superfluous to labour. </p><p>The richest will seclude themselves in fortified communities protected by drones and armed robots, while the rest will have their basic human rights taken from them. A situation, in fact, similar to the one depicted by the science fiction film Elysium, where the plutocracy lives on a comfy orbital station while most people suffer unbearable conditions on Earth. Today, this may sound overblown and conspiratorial; but where are the guarantees our ‘elites’ are not laying the groundwork for a similar system?</p><h2>To free ourselves from work</h2><p>In order to avoid such stark visions of the future, we need to re-evaluate the role of work in Czech society. After the revolution in 1989, the ideal to strive for was supposed to be freedom – but we have ended up in a totalitarian system of work instead. Work has become a new religion which has devoured our lives; in exchange, it fills us with anxiety and erases the difference between free time and working hours. </p><p>No one is willing to ask why we toil for hours on end in exchange for meagre alms. Why should we listen to officially-sanctioned morons who preach the need for austerity while our lives have become nothing more than the means for the rich to earn money?</p><p>The next step will be to establish an&nbsp;<a href="http://a2larm.cz/2016/08/prekariat-nepodmineny-zakladni-prijem/">unconditional basic income</a>. It is not the ultimate solution to everything and we need to fight for a basic income greater than the current minimum wage. This base income will offer benefits other than guaranteeing a standard quality of life. One of the dangers of automated work is that society will produce goods that no one can buy. </p><p>An unconditional income would provide the unemployed with the money needed to continue purchasing and, in so doing, supporting the economy. It would also motivate people to look for work they actually want to do – or even to start a business of their own. It would be a solution for the people who need to work less or not at all and would prefer to focus on more useful things.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Unconditional basic income would be a temporary solution – one that sets our hands and minds free to build a different, better society, one not dependent on slave labour and exploitation.</p><p>Such an unconditional basic income would be a temporary solution – one that sets our hands and minds free to build a different, better society, one not dependent on slave labour and exploitation. Job loss has been identified as a serious threat by the OECD, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the UN and countless scientific studies. </p><p>The robots are coming, regardless of what we think of base income. The solution to the changes automation will effect in society is not a restoration of the feudal establishment, led by treacherous Czech politicians hell-bent on punishing the ‘parasites’. We are facing what may turn out to be the greatest challenge humans have faced in history: we need to free ourselves from work.</p><p><em>Translation by Michal Chmela</em></p><p><em>Originally published at <a href="http://politicalcritique.org/cee/czech-republic/2017/abolish-work-the-robots-are-coming/">Political Critique</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="/can-europe-make-it/benjamin-tallis-mark-galeotti-michal-koran-jakub-eberle-ondrej-ditrych/czech-republic-gives-up-on-eu">The Czech Republic gives up on the EU – and foreign policy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/bernard-rorke-marek-szilvasi/racisms-cruelest-cut-coercive-sterilization-of-roman">Racism&#039;s cruelest cut: coercive sterilisation of Romani women and their fight for justice in the Czech Republic (1966-2016)</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"> Czech Republic </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? Czech Republic Jaroslav Fiala Mon, 10 Apr 2017 19:47:28 +0000 Jaroslav Fiala 110034 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘The best Roma in the village is the Roma who works as a servant’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/szilvia-r-zm-ves-isak-skenderi-violeta-vajda/best-roma-in-village-is-roma-who-wor <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>On this year's International Roma Day, three writers reflect on how Roma slave labour was used to help build Europe's prosperity, and how Roma communities are still suffering the after effects.</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/pic_7.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/pic_7.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="288" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Alina Serban, Director of ‘The Great Shame’, a play about the history of Romani slavery.</span></span></span></p><p>We have recently seen an explosion of books, articles and reference papers finally naming the oppression of Roma as an externally constructed phenomenon, based on exclusion and structural discrimination. </p><p>In part because of the painstaking work of research that goes into the Romani remembrance and identity building movement, we are seeing a momentous shift in the way Roma see themselves across Europe, as a people excluded not because of their own faults but as populations kept marginal as a matter of state policy. </p><p>These arguments are made in detail by&nbsp;Aidan McGarry in his new&nbsp;<a href="http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/R/bo26260138.html" target="_blank">book on Romaphobia</a>, where he identifies the exclusion of Romani populations from public goods as part of nation building in European countries. McGarry shows how historically newly nationalist states needed to point to populations who did not belong to the mythical nation state so that by contrast, they could exalt their preferred subjects and build among them a questionable solidarity. Fomenting Romaphobia [and anti-semitism] allowed nascent nation states to find the outsiders against whom these exalted subjects could unite.</p> <p>But there is another argument that could be made for the enduring nature of antigypsyism: that far from being purely excluded, Romani people have always been part of the fabric of European societies, but have been allowed to remain on condition of fulfilling the role of the least favoured in society, lower than serfs and in some instances, legally enslaved. </p><p>In this way, the exploitation of Roma labour has been (mis)used to build European societies and nations. Vast wealth has been amassed by the few - specifically the crown, the church and the landowners, but also by extension by well-to-do non-Roma - at the expense of large numbers of Roma people kept in degrading conditions and excluded to make sure they don’t rebel against their lot in life. This ensured that whatever your station in life, there was always someone lower down who could do the dirty work and who could be exploited further, so that you could still survive well enough in the stacked system of exploitation that we all live in.&nbsp;</p> <p>Adam Ramsay has made <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/trade-empire-2-0-and-the-lies-we-tell-ourselves/">this kind of argument</a> brilliantly with regards to how colonialism has been used to similar effect in the UK. It is now time to confront and become accountable, morally, politically and perhaps eventually economically, for the historic theft of Roma labour that has underpinned the emergence of European states, as Margareta Matache and Jacqueline Bhabha point out in this timely and encouraging <a href="http://fpif.org/roma-slavery-case-reparations/">article</a>.</p> <h2><strong>Vignettes tell a story of subservience</strong></h2> <p>Once we, the authors of this article, started thinking about this topic, we found that the proof we need to make our argument was all around us. For a start, all Europeans can relate to the following anecdotes if we take the time to reflect on our personal relationships with Romani people and communities.</p> <p>Those of us who are Romani can usually tell a version of the following story, recounted from personal experience by Isak:&nbsp; </p> <p><em>‘Even now in my small village the best Roma in the village is one guy who still works for these Serbs for morning to evening for whatever they give him. The Serbs consider him ‘the best Roma in the village’ the rest who don’t want to work for the Serbs are ‘bad Roma’, they are seen as rebellious/traitors. You are not regarded as a good person if you don’t work as a servant.’ </em></p> <p>Those of us who are non-Romani, if we care to cast our minds back to our rural childhoods, will recall our families allowing or not allowing the Roma to pass over our land, using Romani workers for the dirtiest of jobs (like cleaning out stables) and paying them a pittance or not at all, or more recently, passing by Roma begging in the streets and regarding them as non-people, arrived at this station in life somehow because of their own fault. </p><p>Only recently in very polite conversation, Violeta overheard a couple of Hungarian ladies lament the fact that ‘you can no longer get any Roma to clear out the bracken in the garden, they have all gone to work abroad!’ – with the implication that they should not go and work abroad since it is their duty to stay and do the unwanted physical work of those of us who have better things to do with our time.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>A history of slavery lives on</strong></h2> <p>However, the small stories above are only echoes of all-encompassing and thoroughly entrenched power relationships between non-Roma and Roma: relationships that have for centuries ruthlessly exploited the work of Roma for the benefit of non-Roma majority populations.</p> <p>This is evidenced by the history of Roma enslavement and the persistence of feudal relationships in many countries - institutionalised or just tacitly practiced on the ground.</p> <p>In one of the most stark and convincing examples, non-Roma wealth in Romania (of the crown, of the church and of landowners or even wealthy peasants) has been built on the institution of Romani slavery in a way similar that the wealth of white people elsewhere (UK and Western Europe, and the US) has been built upon centuries of exploitation of black people, whether through colonialism or enslavement. Almost identical bills of sales for Roma slaves in Romania, dated centuries apart, have been documented by Romani historians such as <a href="https://www.uhpress.co.uk/books-content/we-are-the-romani-people">Ian Hancock</a>, and show an unbroken institutionalized context for the practice of slavery. </p> <p>A number of Romani activists and artists are already raising this issue through their work and they deserve a wider audience. Hopefully everyone with an interest in the subject has watched the film <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmTYOY_jQWc">Aferim!</a>, winner of the silver bear for Best Director at Berlinale 2015.</p><p> More recently, Romanian Roma actor and director Alina Serban has won widespread acclaim for her play <a href="http://www.cafebabel.co.uk/article/eng-romani-slavery-romanias-great-shame.html">‘The Great Shame’</a>, detailing both the history and the present day effects of Roma enslavement. The official day of <a href="http://www.romaeducationfund.hu/news/ref/news-and-events/one-hundred-sixty-one-years-ago-roma-were-emancipated-half-millennium-slave">February 20</a> that commemorates the liberation of Romani slaves in Romania is a good start to teaching us more about this history and its effects that we all need to internalize. </p><p>Commemorating it might help us see how not only the memory of the institution of slavery but also an understanding of its after-effects have been erased from our contemporary reality. Because make no mistake: the modern hand of the state, through keeping Roma excluded from access to public goods in a myriad of institutionalized ways, is built on this enslavement and servitude of Roma and ensures that wealth has historically stayed and continues to remain in non-Roma hands.</p> <p>The same practice of exploitation lives on at an institutional level in Hungary in workfare programs that force the (mostly Romani) unemployed to work for a pittance at the mercy of local politicians. Szilvia who has many years of experience supporting Romani communities to develop advocacy programs, has noticed the following:&nbsp;</p> <p><em>‘What they [local authorities] are currently doing in Hungary with people in the public employment [workfare] system is that they are putting them to work cleaning the streets, cleaning the backyard of the mayor, for pay that is about half the minimum wage and should actually be given as benefits. </em></p><p><em>Roma are organized in groups with a supervisor and they do this work every day. It is very unimaginative and degrading. This makes them depend more on the system, the mayor and the local council representatives who are the ones who will run in local elections. People are classed as low level workers, just because they are Roma. There are some non-Romani people involved in public employment system, but they are treated differently, they get better jobs, and those are individually tailored to their skills.</em></p><p><em> How they treat Roma and non-Roma public employees is very different. Our program concluded it is because of discrimination, that stereotypes exist in all institutions against Roma. This employment system is a big trap, because there is no way to get out into the primary labour market or the open labour market. Usually the mayor or those very close to them are treating the people as their servants and Roma people themselves who work in the system get to think that they are the servants of the mayor and the local representatives.’ </em></p> <p>Most of the Roma residents are employed in the public employment system or by local entrepreneurs (mostly farmers) for seasonal works. The public employment system does not fulfil its mission because it does not motivate for transition towards the open labour market, therefore most of the public employees stagnate in this situation.&nbsp;In this way the public employment system conserves poverty.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Solidarity can teach us a lesson</strong></h2> <p>Similarly to the subservient role imposed upon indigenous people in other places, the oppression of Roma – called depending on your viewpoint, either antigypsyism or Romaphobia - is motivated and persists as much for the economic gain of the majority European non-Roma population as for parallel and reinforcing reasons connected to nation building by exclusion. </p><p>There is much that Romani and other indigenous movements can learn from each other about how to dismantle this history of subservience and that work is happening in many ways through activists involved in the Romani and indigenous rights movements. </p><p>In the meantime, it is important, on International Roma Day, for each of us to become aware of and actively do our own learning about this subject. Going after our personal histories of how we relate to Romani communities may help us understand how we fit into the larger, institutionalized system of oppression and exclusion.&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="/od-russia/brigid-o-keeffe/roma-homeland-that-never-was">The Roma homeland that never was</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/bernard-rorke-marek-szilvasi/racisms-cruelest-cut-coercive-sterilization-of-roman">Racism&#039;s cruelest cut: coercive sterilisation of Romani women and their fight for justice in the Czech Republic (1966-2016)</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"> Romania </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? Romania Violeta Vajda Isak Skenderi Szilvia Rézmüves Fri, 07 Apr 2017 15:18:25 +0000 Szilvia Rézmüves, Isak Skenderi and Violeta Vajda 109962 at https://www.opendemocracy.net And you thought Trump was bad https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/michael-stewart/and-you-thought-trump-was-bad <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>European leaders have found their nemesis in Viktor Orbán, whose legislation closing down the Central European University constitutes an ethno-nationalist and authoritarian challenge to Europe's liberal order.</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-29958931.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-29958931.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'>Vladimir Putin and Viktor Orban hold a press conference after their meeting in Budapest, Hungary, on Feb. 2, 2017. Xinhua/SIPA USA/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>If guests questioned the significance of a university to its founder, the former President and Rector of Central European University, John Shattuck, liked to remind them that unlike most human institutions, universities can boast longevity. Which significant institutions live on, he would ask, from the years of renaissance glory in Florence, Venice or Padua? Their universities. Or, to put the matter in more familiar terms, what other British corporation founded in 1421 survives and thrives 600 years on, as does King’s College Cambridge?</p> <p>But after yesterday’s news from Budapest, it may be that the distinguished diplomat and former head of Harvard Library, spoke too soon.</p> <p>At 12.30 yesterday lunchtime, the Hungarian parliament passed an amendment to its Education Bill which is expressly and solely intended to close the most successful university in Central and Eastern Europe. </p> <p>The act of parliament – <a href="http://budapestbeacon.com/public-policy/fidesz-kdnp-passes-lex-ceu/45551">now popularly known in Hungary as Lex CEU</a> – has already provoked outrage across Europe and the world with hundreds of academics <a href="https://www.ceu.edu/istandwithceu">signing the main petition</a> including <a href="https://www.ceu.edu/article/2017-03-31/14-nobel-laureates-other-leading-academics-urge-hungarian-government-withdraw">20 Nobel Laureates</a>. It is to all appearances an act of self-harm, with both the European Commission for Culture – Tibor Navrocsics (a Hungarian government appointee, as it happens) and leading conservative Hungarian academics including László Lovász, president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, <a href="http://hvg.hu/itthon/20170329_mtaelnok_fontos_hogy_maradjon_a_ceu">standing by CEU</a>.&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>A puzzle</strong></h2> <p>So, what on earth is going on?</p> <p>According to Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary, talking on his Friday morning radio show, CEU has been ‘cheating’ the system. The new Act – the relevant clauses of which were published late on a Friday night less than two weeks ago and were then debated in Parliament this week in an accelerated procedure – re-establishes ‘the law’ that foreign universities operating in Hungary must have a fully operational campus in their home country. </p> <p>Something is wrong here in that CEU is both an institution domiciled in the State of New York and a fully accredited Hungarian University. &nbsp;At the time of the onerous and bureaucratically watertight Hungarian accreditation procedure – under Mr Orbán’s administration – no one noticed that CEU had been acting illegally. </p> <p>Some interpreters believe that Mr Orbán meant to say that since most of CEU’s master degrees are awarded after one year’s study (unlike most Hungarian Universities that demand two years [the UK has had exceptional status in Europe for many years]) CEU is competing unfairly (‘cheating’) against local competitors. </p> <p>But this does not make sense since those who are losing out in the supposed competition are not complaining. CEU has the best library in the region and allows Hungarian university staff and students to use it for free. The university maintains outstanding academic relations with its Hungarian neighbours who recognise it as the main site through which Hungarian higher education finds a window to the wider world. Numerous joint research projects are currently running and the university provides a welcome home to star Hungarian academics seeking a return home, like the world leading network scientist, Albert-László Barabási, inventor of the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scale-free_network">scale-free network</a> concept or the world class team that lead cognitive science there.</p> <p>So, the puzzle remains.</p> <h2><strong>Independent forces</strong></h2> <p>Now, it is famously difficult today to work out what the Hungarian government’s next moves are in any particular field. With a strangulated media, an enfeebled opposition and a political elite held hostage by an apparently unbeatable premier, analysts are reduced to speculating about the mental disposition of the erratic Mr Orbán. For what is certain is that nothing gets done by his government without his express permission. But there are reasons to think that the Hungarian government is seriously intent on wounding or even killing off CEU – at least in its Hungarian embodiment.</p> <p>Key to the issue is the personal and ideological antipathy the Hungarian Prime Minister and his circle bear to CEU’s founder, George Soros. Soros’ endowment of CEU – to the tune of over $880 million makes it Europe’s richest university and so a powerful and independent force. As a private university, moreover, its governance lies beyond Orbán’s famously meddling hands.</p> <p>Zoltán Balog, whose Ministry of Human Capacities covers much of the Hungarian state administration yesterday told parliament: <em>“The existence of a strong, autonomous and internationally-recognized university is in Hungary’s interests. But it is not in our interests to have players in the background who are conspiring against the democratically elected government or for example to support Soros-organizations. Soros’s organizations are not above the law.”</em> The former presbyterian minister then added that George Soros was engaged in a “worldwide smear campaign” against Hungary, noting that the current bill, or presumably the opposition to it, would “uncover the power of the network.”</p> <h2><strong>Shutting down universities</strong></h2> <p>Mr Orbán has proclaimed that he is building a European version of the ‘illiberal democracy’ championed by Vladimir Putin, Recep Erdogan and Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore. This represents the literal inversion of the Popperian Open Society that Soros’ NGO network and his university has championed and promoted. Mr Orbán’s vision is for a national ‘social’ democracy with a strong, interventionist state and open preference for ethnic compatriots in all public matters. </p> <p>Only a few days ago did Mr Orbán say he wants to see only Hungarians in Hungary. CEU, an institution with faculty from 30 countries and students from over 100 countries represents all that the Orbanistas disdain. Worse, with this profile and teaching only in English, the graduate-only university sits in the top 200 universities worldwide, with its best departments in the top 50. Not one of the Hungarian language universities today reaches into the world’s top 500. To a heartfelt ethnic patriot and passionate Hungarian nationalist this hurts. More, it represents a challenge to the very ideology he trumpets. </p> <p>While trumpeting at full volume their own anti-communism (many of Mr Orban’s economic policies are designed to ‘grab back from the communists all they stole from us’), the style in which they conduct politics smacks of nothing so much as the Bolshevik rulers of the region. Since 2010, Orban’s government has, inter alia, devised a law formally designed to lower top civil servants’ salaries to squeeze out the independent head of the National Bank; used retirement legislation to force out disloyal elder judges from the judiciary; through dubious financial manoeuvres <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/a-hungarian-newspaper-embarrasses-the-government-days-later-it-is-shut-down/2016/10/20/3f9d6b24-9494-11e6-bc79-af1cd3d2984b_story.html?tid=a_inl&amp;utm_term=.5a2e2595440f">closed overnight the leading opposition paper, <em>Népszabadság</em></a>; and through administrative pressure brought cultural institutions, local governments and even schools under the fist of the government. And now, just like the communists, they propose to shut down a university. </p> <p>Universities represent a last bastion of free thought in Hungary. And CEU sits on top of the pile. Indeed, it has been one of the sites where young thinkers from around the region have met, have talked together and have tried to work out how to take the transformation promised in 1990 through to its conclusion. </p> <p>The higher echelons of Ukrainian and Georgian civil services and political life have a disproportionate number of CEU graduates as do those of the former Yugoslav states. Three weeks ago Mr Putin shut down the European University in St Petersburg by executive order. He and and Mr Orban are famously close as thieves, though it is not likely that they have formally coordinated their moves.</p> <h2><strong>A tragedy </strong></h2> <p>There is nothing wrong in principle with arguing against the liberal ‘open society’ consensus. There are powerful arguments against the rights-based discourse of justice and social policy that dominates at Central European University. But those arguments are to be had in the universities. It is not the business of governments to enforce administrative victories in these matters.</p> <p>Commentators have been worrying over a Le Pen presidency, but in Mr Orbán, the European Union has already met its nemesis. A revanchist, ethno-nationalist authoritarian is now openly challenging the ‘liberal values’ that the British prime minister extols at the heart of our continent’s modern history. </p> <p>Or, as the conservative Hungarian political scientist, Zoltán Balázs – who happens to be an Orbán supporter and an elected deputy Mayor of Budapest’s XV district – put it in <a href="http://24.hu/kozelet/2017/04/03/balazs-zoltan-balkani-sotet-erdektelen-orszagga-csuszhatunk-vissza/">an interview yesterday</a>, “if the government gets its way”, Hungary will become, “a darker, more balkanic country of less interest to the west and, from a social, economic and scientific point of view, we will slide back into the ranks of countries that can barely even claim to be ‘also rans’.”</p> <p>It would be a tragedy for Hungary and the whole of European public life were Mr Orbán to win this battle.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>This article was first published on UCL European Institute’s blog, <a href="http://www.ucl.ac.uk/european-institute/analysis/2016-17/thought-trump-bad">Analysis</a>, on&nbsp; April 6, 2017.</em></p> <p><em>Note on transparency: George Soros established the Open Society Foundation and the&nbsp;Open Society Initiative for Europe, both of which are&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/about/supporters"><em>supporters of openDemocracy’s work</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</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 on <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/countries/hungary">Hungary</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/cathrine-thorleifsson/sliding-towards-autocracy">Sliding towards autocracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/polina-aronson-tatyana-dvornikova/european-university-at-st-petersburg-no-license-to-learn">The European University at St Petersburg: no license to learn? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/ana-gurau/hungarian-governments-war-on-free-speech">The Hungarian government&#039;s war on free speech</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/hidv-gi-b-attila-alexandra-barcea/hungary-shock-tactics-against-press-freedoms">The crushing of independent press in Hungary</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"> 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 Hungary Michael Stewart Thu, 06 Apr 2017 16:37:49 +0000 Michael Stewart 109940 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Sliding towards autocracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/cathrine-thorleifsson/sliding-towards-autocracy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A defining characteristic of this populist form of autocracy is the rejection of diversity and the attack on democratic institutions. Orbán is succeeding in both.<em></em></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-30788961.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-30788961.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'>Close to ten thousand people demonstrate their support and solidarity with the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary, on April 2, 2017. Xinhua/SIPA USA/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Viktor Orbán<strong> </strong>and his populist radical right Fidesz is with the support of Jobbik sliding towards autocracy. A favorite scapegoat for the Hungarian neo-nationalists is the American-Hungarian, Jewish philanthropist George Soros. </p> <p>The Hungarian state’s attack on Central European University founded by American-Hungarian philanthropist George Soros is symptomatic of the slow sliding towards autocracy Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has embarked on. </p> <p>Since Orbán’s return to office in 2010, his ruling populist-right Fidesz has drawn Hungary in an increasingly authoritarian direction. Orbán has openly embraced illiberal democracy as a model of statehood. He has used his party’s two-thirds majority in parliament to pass bills that effectively attack or dismantle the checks and balances of democracy; the electoral process, media and academic freedom, civil society and judicial independence.</p> <p>In tandem with consolidating power, Orbán has hyped up his role as Hungary and Europe’s strongman. Through an affective politics of fear<em>,</em> Orbán<em><strong> </strong></em>exploits religion and irredentism, presenting himself as the righteous protector of a nation and civilization in danger.</p> <p>This was evident with the mass migration of 2015 that was used by the government to boost popular support for securitization policies. A sense of crisis allowed Orbán to shift public attention from Hungary´s scandals of corruption, to the ground of immigration and national security. Numerous xenophobic, anti-immigration campaigns propagated by Fidesz drew sharp boundaries around an imagined virtuous Hungarian nation in relation to the “lenient elites” in Brussels and Muslim “crimmigrants”. </p> <p>Orbán presents himself as the authentic voice of the people and protector of a Christian tradition of the West that is endangered by liberal “globalists” such as Chancellor Angela Merkel and George Soros. </p> <h2><strong>The Jobbik effect</strong></h2> <p>The attack on liberal actors and institutions is a key mechanism for how Orbán paves the way for radical Hungarian nationalism in the name of allegedly defending the nation against “enemy groups”. </p> <p>Since 2010, the rise of the far right Jobbik ‘movement for a better future’ has had a clear effect on Orbán. Fidesz has radicalised its agenda, adopting rhetoric and policies traditionally associated with the ultranationalist party that is known of old for its antisemitism, anti-Zionism, anti-ziganism and anti-liberalism. While Jobbik has strived to “dedemonise” the party, the extremist message remains the same.</p> <p>The Jobbik leaders I interviewed in 2015 presented a dystopic view of globalisation and liberal democracy, fearing that all will erode national identity and sovereignty. MP Márton Gyöngyösi repeatedly stressed during my parliamentary interview that: “Liberalism is our enemy number one.”</p> <p>According to Jobbik, those responsible for spreading liberalism are the corrupt elites, the lying press, the liberal courts and liberal academics with dangerous and “non-patriotic” ideas. </p> <p>Jobbik’s solution to the alleged moral decay occurring under liberalism is a return to nationalism modelled around a nostalgically remembered golden era of ‘Greater Hungary’. Ethno-national boundaries must be reinforced to protect Hungary against, in the words of the leader Gábor Vona, “the darkness of globalisation”. </p> <h2><strong>Convenient scapegoats</strong></h2> <p>In 1989, Orbán spent one year in Oxford on a scholarship from the Soros foundation. He had the same supervisor as Bill Clinton, Polish-born political philosopher Zbigniew Pełczyński. Evidently, the ideas he acquired did not translate into support either for liberal democracy or George Soros. </p> <p>In Fidesz/Jobbik discourse, the American-Hungarian philanthropist George Soros personifies the elite, cosmopolitans in favour of open borders that threaten Hungarian identity, welfare and security. </p> <p>The hatred towards George Soros reached new heights during the refugee crisis of 2015, providing fertile ground for conspiratorial anti-systemic narratives. Interviews with Jobbik politicians and supporters on their views and responses to mass migration frequently turned to a discussion of George Soros who they cited as responsible for all the societal ills associated with globalisation. </p> <p>In an apocalyptic discourse conflating forced displacement with crime, informants claimed that the “national traitor Soros” was financing a secret masterplan to turn Europe into a Muslim caliphate. One man who had brought his wife and five-year old daughter to a Jobbik forum on migration had never encountered Muslim refugees in person. Still, he was passionately convinced that they were ‘the biological weapon of the American and Israeli Jews who wanted to spread Islam to Europe’.</p> <p>Such conspiracy thinking about a Jewish masterplan to take over Christian Europe with uncontrolled migration from Muslim lands reconfigures antisemitism and islamophobia so that they are brought together into a new grammar of exclusion. &nbsp;</p> <p>While the fear and fantasy relate to Jews and migrants of Muslim origin, they resemble older conspiracy theories targeting the Roma minorities. The Roma as the “Jew’s biological weapon against Hungarians” is an established conspiracy theory that is regularly invoked at the right-wing extremist website <em>kuruc.info </em>that has explicit connections to Jobbik.<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a>&nbsp; </p> <p>It is worth noting that imagery of George Soros and a liberal, Jewish elite engulfing the globe and financing open borders is not confined to Jobbik circles, but can be found elsewhere, including the conspiratorial Breitbart News.</p> <h2><strong>A struggling democracy</strong></h2> <p>A defining characteristic of this populist form of autocracy is the rejection of diversity and the attack on democratic institutions. Orbán is succeeding in both. With the numerous legislative amendments attacking the checks and balances of democracy, he is essentially removing the voices of opposition. </p> <p>When it comes to minority rights and protection, he appears more as an opportunist. He has allowed Jobbik’s radical nationalism to move from the margins to the mainstream. A clear and consistent troubling pattern of xenophobia has increasingly influenced Fidesz’ securitisation of difference. Both Fidesz and Jobbik have created a common nationalist identity and purpose for chosen insiders while criminalizing internal and external others.&nbsp; </p> <p>In illiberal Hungary, George Soros has come to function as a “conceptual Jew”, an abstract thought category to which all sorts of violent social imaginaries of enemies of the nation are ascribed. </p> <p>The slow sliding towards autocracy in Hungary is a pertinent reminder that democratisation processes in post-communist Europe are inherently volatile and reversible. </p> <p>Liberal democracy is always vulnerable because its strongest opponents can make use of their right to challenge its foundation. The path ahead depends on the degree to which the EU together with concerned citizens opposing the illiberal turn can mobilise themselves and act to protect democracy, together with the conventions, freedoms and values that sustain it.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> The website was one of the sponsors of Jobbik’s undercover campaign on migration, with its logo printed at the poster advertising the event in <em>Martonvásár.</em></p> <p><em>Note on transparency: George Soros established the Open Society Foundation and the&nbsp;Open Society Initiative for Europe, both of which are&nbsp;</em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/about/supporters"><em>supporters of openDemocracy’s work</em></a><em>.</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/ana-gurau/hungarian-governments-war-on-free-speech">The Hungarian government&#039;s war on free speech</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/vassilis-petsinis/geopolitics-of-trumpology">The geopolitics of Trumpology</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heather-grabbe-goran-buldioski/long-reach-of-orb-n-s-referendum-experiment"> The long reach of Orbán’s referendum experiment</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/vassilis-petsinis/what-does-anti-semitic-party-look-like-in-europe-today">What does an anti-Semitic party look like in Europe today?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/florian-irminger/silence-eu-s-strategy-for-human-rights-abuses-in-europe"> Silence – the EU’s strategy for human rights abuses in its neighbourhood</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"> 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 Hungary Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government International politics Cathrine Thorleifsson Thu, 06 Apr 2017 16:08:05 +0000 Cathrine Thorleifsson 109939 at https://www.opendemocracy.net After walking 5,500km through hell https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/piers-purdy/after-walking-5500km-through-hell <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The stories from a week in France’s only humanitarian centre for registered refugees show us that their work is needed now more than ever. <strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/piers-purdy/ap-s-avoir-parcouru-5500km-travers-lenfer">Français</a></strong></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/Life&#039;sGood-0598.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Life&#039;sGood-0598.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="688" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>An advert reads 'The Good Life', overlooking the humanitarian centre in Porte de la Chapelle, in the North of Paris. Photo by Piers Purdy. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Most of my conversations at the humanitarian centre in Porte de la Chappelle, Paris, started in the same way, with me asking “Where are you from?” In the case of 17 year-old Muhammad, he explained that he was from Afghanistan and that he had walked over 5,500km to get here. Despite us standing in the cold of a December night in Paris, with only a cup of soup to warm us, he was still eager to talk with me in English about his journey: the need to escape the insecurity back home, the racist abuse he received on his travels and how he lost friends along the way.</p><p>“Iran is very dangerous”, he told me. One route of the ‘Afghan exodus’ demands walking through desert, over several days and nights with very little food and water, to get to Tehran,<a href="http://samuelhall.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/IOM-Smuggling-Report_Afghanistan-chapter.pdf"> the major hub and staging post of smuggling Afghan nationals in the country</a>. “Some of my group died of dehydration in the desert”, he told me, the experience of witnessing his travelling companions’ passing in such a way clearly having made its mark on him. And aside from the perils of fatigue, the Afghan-Iran border is rife with violence. Once described as <a href="///C:/Users/Piers/Downloads/The%20people%20who%20were%20passing%20through%20the%20Utopia">the scariest little corner of the world</a>, the dangers of people smuggling, ongoing insurgency and trigger-happy border patrol guards do not make this a suitable environment for teenagers. He didn’t seem to want to recount the details.</p><p>Arriving in Europe is certainly no entry into the ‘promised land’ either, as extortion, robbery and violence remain familiar threats in many parts. In Bulgaria specifically, a number of visitors to the centre recited worrying tales of abuse – claims that have also <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2015/12/refugees-bulgaria-extortion-robbery-violence-151210102939544.html">reported by the media</a>. Muhammad himself told me that the little money he had managed to keep hold of, after his long journey to Europe, was taken from him by Bulgarian authorities after the transport they were travelling on had been pulled over. Now he had nothing left.</p> <h2><strong>“It’s Paris. You don’t come here for the weather.”</strong></h2><p> For those refugees I had the pleasure of meeting during my stay, the humanitarian centre in Porte de la Chapelle was still not the end. After arriving at the men-only camp (women, children and families are welcomed at a separate in Ivry, Val de Marne), refugees have time to rest, receive a medical check-up (physical and psychological) and are given information on asylum procedures. They are mainly from Afghanistan, Eritrea and Sudan. But after ten days, they leave the camp and join a ‘reception and orientation centre’ (CAO) in a region of France. The subsequent integration into French society takes over, and this experience is very much dependent on the individual and the region they are relocated to.</p><p>The humanitarian centre at Porte de la Chapelle is the only humanitarian camp in France. It differs from the Grand-Synthe camp near Dunkirk – the first camp in France to comply with the UN’s refugee agency standards - as its residents are registered as part of the asylum process in France. It differs from others, such as the widely-reported ‘Jungle’ in Calais, in that it is dry, warm and safe. It is also relatively exclusive, accommodating a maximum of 400 refugees at any one time, due to its logistical capacity.</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/_26_0608.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/_26_0608.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'>The humanitarian centre's infrastructure is an abandoned SNCF building, the French railway network, in the North of Paris. Photo by Piers Purdy. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p>The centre consists of two separate main buildings: the distinctive 800m² ‘bubble’ where visitors are first received, meet with staff and receive basic care; and a second two-storey concrete block, reminiscent of an abandoned car park. In the latter, an impressive design of eight colour-coded blocks, each with heated cabins to sleep in, sanitary facilities and a sitting area. It is well organised, and a significant improvement on the cold, wet floor of Paris’ pavements.</p><p>There is not much by means of entertainment inside the camp. Unsurprisingly, the outdoor gym machines and table tennis tables were about as well used and those that are dotted around your local park and or housing estates. Instead, time is passed through conversation – and the occasional light-hearted bartering with the clothes distribution centre for slimmer jeans, or a more fashionable pair of trainers.</p><p>And in the evening, the residents leave and join the crowds gathered at the entrance to the centre, where they lend their company to the long queue of those who have not been so lucky as to receive entry into the centre yet. In winter, the temperatures can drop below zero, it often rains and a line of police vans in the peripheries. It is here, outside the gates, that Utopia 56, the organisation recruiting and mobilising volunteers at the centre, come alive. They distribute blankets, hot drinks and food – as well as keep a sharp eye out for vulnerable minors, always ready to bend over backwards for their well-being.</p> <p>It was remarkable to see how the warmth of another refugee or volunteer -&nbsp; as they shared interests, jokes and cigarettes together in the cold of night – can calm the anxieties of a young man, thousands of miles from home, if only for a short while.</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/_20_0602.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/_20_0602.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'>Residents at the centre board the daily coach that distributes refugees to 'reception and orientation centres' (CAO) across France. Photo by Piers Purdy. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <h2><strong>What’s the magic ingredient?</strong></h2><p> When I asked Utopia 56 what made the Porte de la Chapelle project possible, I was told “it is the formidable enthusiasm of citizens.” Of course, the centre has been backed by Paris mayor, Anne Hidalgo, and co-financed by both the city and the state, as well as falling under the umbrella management of <a href="https://www.emmaus-solidarite.org/">EMMAÜS Solidarité</a>. But it is the determination of the volunteers that has ultimately made it a success.</p><p>Unlike some other organisations, Utopia 56 accept ‘short-term’ volunteers.&nbsp; This allows citizens who usually would not be able to fulfil a long-term commitment to offer their help. The majority of volunteers are therefore students, who come from across France and abroad during their holidays (many of whom were from the UK). There are also those who find gaps in their work schedules, and even retirees, who can volunteer for a few hours throughout the week, be it by distributing clothing, giving French classes or just offering friendly conversation as a distraction when the sun goes down and the cold starts to bite.</p><p>Furthermore, the organisation has been encouraged by the number of volunteers who have left the centre, but continued to find ways of helping: by organising donations, French classes and even football tournaments. The experience has that effect on people, and the organisation has thrived because of it. Utopia 56 began in 2016 with thirty volunteers, but through word of mouth and the contagious results of car-sharing, a year after its creation, there are now more than 4,000 members.</p> <p>That’s not to say that there aren’t challenges. The capacity of the project is on a much smaller scale than is needed, and you don’t have to look far in Paris to find tents clustered beneath bridges, out of sight and reeking of filth and wood smoke. The dismantling of ‘Jungle’ in Calais - and the authority’s subsequent refusal to permit alternative provisions of safe accommodation, meal distribution or even showers – is a reminder of the social tensions we are currently facing throughout Europe that are constraining the efforts of these organisations.</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/Police-0591.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Police-0591.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'>French police, armed and wearing protective armour, escort a march for 'the human rights and fundamental liberties of migrant peoples' on International Migrants Day, Paris. Photo by Piers Purdy. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p>The plight of Europe’s refugees may not fill our front pages, but it should nevertheless remain on our minds. Despite <a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/10/05/key-facts-about-the-worlds-refugees/">far fewer refugees entering Europe in 2016</a>, compared to the peak of 1.3 million in 2015, already this year <a href="http://www.unhcr.org/europe-emergency.html">20,580 have risked their lives at sea</a>, with 537 feared drowned. And throughout Europe, those attempting to settle are facing rising resentment and abuse, as they are used as targets for the ambitions of far-right, populist political leaders.</p> <p>The firm anti-immigration positions of both the National Front’s Marie Le Pen and the Republican’s Francois Fillon candidacies have consolidated wide popular support in France. Certainly, any success either of them, or their views, have in the upcoming first round of the presidential elections will cast a resurgent wave of uncertainty over the lives of refugees hoping for a future in the country, and over the work of organisations like Utopia 56. After walking 5,500km through hell, the young men, women and children need organisations like these to put a smile on their faces and a warm blanket over their shoulders. We can also be there to give our support.</p><p>You can visit Utopia56's website <a href="http://www.utopia56.com/en">here</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="/arab-awakening/samah-jabr/more-royal-than-king-encounter-with-french-zionism">&#039;More royal than the king&#039;: an encounter with French Zionism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/nadim-houry/breaking-france-s-addiction-to-its-state-of-emergency">Breaking France’s addiction to its state of emergency</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"> France </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? France Piers Purdy Thu, 06 Apr 2017 15:39:53 +0000 Piers Purdy 109896 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Building new solidarities between movements: insurrectionary politics of food autonomy in the city of Athens https://www.opendemocracy.net/ines-morales-bernardos/building-new-solidarities-between-movements-insurrectionary-politics-of-food- <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Their insurrectionary politics of autonomy, such as food autonomy in Athens, is crucial for building new solidarities and emancipatory imaginaries within cities.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmovements"><img width="460px" alt="open Movements" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/openmovements-banner.jpg" /></a><br /><strong>The <i><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmovements">openMovements</a></i> series invites leading social scientists to share their research results and perspectives on contemporary social struggles.</strong></p><p><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/pic1_11.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/pic1_11.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="303" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></strong></p><p>“<i>Every town should have its agora, where all who are animated by a common passion can meet together”</i></p> <p><i>The Evolution of the Cities, 1895, Élisée Reclus</i></p><p><i>----</i></p> <p>The global tendency that we are witnessing, as Giorgio Agamben <a style="font-size: 13px; font-weight: normal;" href="https://roarmag.org/essays/agamben-destituent-power-democracy/">described</a><span style="font-size: 13px; font-weight: normal;">, of “</span><i>convergence of an absolutely liberal paradigm in the economy with an unprecedented and equally absolute paradigm of state and police control</i><span style="font-size: 13px; font-weight: normal;">”, is leading to the re-emergence of a socio-spatial imaginary defined not so much by institutions and political parties, but by movements creating, in their practices, discourses and modes of action, new political, social and economic spaces. </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13px; font-weight: normal;">Under these circumstances, and since the 2008 capitalist (debt) crisis, we evidenced how the autonomy of the cities is being challenged by radical movements across the Southern European peripheries. Besides the traditional economic, labour or more confrontational struggles, these radical movements are directly connecting with the material and emotional conditions to organize and maintain life in cities. </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13px; font-weight: normal;">Furthermore a process that it is embedded within the deconstruction of what they perceived as increased violent urban order imposed by state and capital and that it is also rooted in the historical unsustainable modes of</span><a style="font-size: 13px; font-weight: normal;" href="https://libcom.org/library/radical-agriculture-murray-bookchin"> food production</a><span style="font-size: 13px; font-weight: normal;"> </span><a style="font-size: 13px; font-weight: normal;" href="https://libcom.org/library/radical-agriculture-murray-bookchin">.</a> </p><p>Following this observation, we have explored the creative insurrectionist process released by <a href="http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/10126/1/Introduction_Revolt_and_Crisis_in_Greece.pdf">2008 revolts in Athens</a>. And more specifically the convergences of the autonomous movement together with other radical movements as performed and experienced in this city which have been re-constructing the food autonomy since 2008.</p> <h2><strong>The autonomous food geography of the city of Athens: a new contested territory</strong></h2> <p>----</p><p><i>“They tried to bury us, they didn't know we were seeds” </i></p> <p><i>Graffiti in Parko Navarinou, Exarchia, 2017</i></p><p><i>----</i></p> <p>The insurrectionary politics of autonomy “<i>as involving a sensitivity to the fragility of what exists and to the different forms of natural, social and cultural life that should be preserved, along with a desire to radically modify other social form</i>s” that Saul Newman introduced in his work about revolutionary fantasies and <a href="http://eagainst.com/articles/saul-newman-postanarchism/">autonomous zones</a>, expresses some of the meanings of the practice of autonomy developed in the city of Athens since 2008 revolts.</p> <p>Through the shared memories of the revolts and the everyday life of the city we came along to understand that the current geography of the food autonomy of Athens it's a complex contested space. More precisely, a space that was boosted and has been reshaped since the streets were occupied in December 2008 after the assassination of Alexis Grigoropoulos and through the cooperation of heterogeneous radical movements.</p><p>----</p> <p><i>“A completely different time and space from what we have experienced before was created. We felt we could intervene on the reality in a more direct form. We felt that we could solve the problems of the city” </i></p> <p>Katerina, remembering 2008 December revolts, Exarcheia, 2015</p><p>----</p> <p>As Katerina shared, these revolts boosted a time and space that made them believe they could “<i>solve the problems of the city</i>”. What others expressed through their desire to “Παίρνουμε τη ζωή μας στα χέρια μας” (“<i>take back their lives in their hands</i>”)&nbsp; (Areti, Nikos, Michalis, Vaso, and many other rebels of December 2008). The “<i>spirit of Decembe</i>r” (Giorgos, Exarxeia, Athens, 2015) released passions and desires which gradually have been transformed in a creative re-appropriation of the city and the setting up of new autonomous spaces. </p> <p>The persistently changing material and emotional needs arose (e.g. outrage, unemployment, hunger) in this period of mobilisations and the answer of various radical movements to them have been shaping simultaneously their new political imaginaries and these new spaces. </p><p>Spaces where we have observed, life, and thus also food production, it is currently re-(self)-organized to facilitate gaining the needed conditions for their pursuing “take back our lives in our hands”, i.e, political autonomy from state and capital. Among them, we find community urban gardens, collective kitchens, food cooperatives, self-organized food banks and self-organized farmers markets. </p> <p>The everyday life encounters within these spaces and the support of the existing self-organized structures of the traditional <a href="http://www.pmpress.org/productsheets/pm_titles/city_is_ours.pdf">autonomous movement[1]</a> have led to the reconfiguration of these movements and to the emergence of new other radical movements. Moreover, it has resulted in building new “<i>sporadic</i>” ties among them and <i>“more social</i>” political imaginaries (Giorgos, Social Centre Nosotros; Thanos, Social Centre Eutopia, Athens, 2016).</p> <p>Meaning, the traditional autonomous movement allied itself with the “Koukolouris” rebels that met on the barricades during the<strong> </strong>2008 revolts and which characterized themselves with a more confrontational militancy. And after 2011 new uprising and occupation of Syntagma square, also with activists with more “<i>hippie-like values” </i>and socio-ecological concerns. These alliances resulted mainly in spreading the “<i>seeds of the revolt</i>” and the desire of autonomy all over the city. </p> <p>More concrete and also spontaneous alliances have resulted with the radical trends of new specific movements. In answering to increased rates of unemployment, have come together with the radical trends of a new “Social and solidarity economy movement” which has been built by establishing networks of “structures of solidarity”. </p><p>With the Greek trend of the new “Back to the land movement”, built by the increasing numbers of the “educated young” urban unemployed moving to the countryside to farm in Greece since 2008. And the “No middleman movement”, which has been built since 2012 by the cooperation among farmers and consumers in the cities to facilitate both the distribution and the consumption of food. Movements and alliances that have brought together a great diversity of constituencies. From students to retired activist. Unemployed and public servants, from women to men. Migrants and refugees, consumers, farmers, old activists and new rebels.&nbsp;</p> <p>The prefigurative politics (assembly, horizontality, consensus decision-making) that are building these spaces and relations of the movements, have resulted in giving a decentralised and rhizomatic cooperative structure to their relationships. Beside this outcome, the prefigurative politics are perceived to be crucial to create the emerging new solidarities, trust and mutual aid relations. Moreover, to enable these movements to adapt themselves to the increased uncertainty and changing everyday life needs of the city and its neighbourhoods since 2008. </p> <p>The performance of these relations and the geography of the food autonomy, has been built in synchronization with the <a href="http://www.anarxeio.gr/files/pdf/athina_anoxiroti_polh.pdf">geography of the revolt</a>. In this way the geography of food autonomy has been expanding from the historically contested neighbourhood in the city centre (Exarcheia), through social centres, “stekia”, squats or community urban gardens, to various neighbourhoods (e.g. Petroupoli, Lambidona, Nikeias, Akademía Platonos, Zografou) and its political organizational structures and neighborhood assemblies. </p><p>And from them to other cities (e.g.Thessaloniki) and their surrounding countryside through farming collectives. Through this processes of decentralisation and densification they have been engaging the neighbourhoods and the collectives on their everyday organization and maintenance of life. Moreover, they are building new relations between new and traditional farmers and a broad umbrella of consumers in the city. </p> <p>The previous existence of certain spaces in the neighbourhood of Exarcheia and solidarities with movements from the southern peripheries of Latin America and Europe have been crucial to both, to trigger the process and to sustain it. Meaning, social centres, squats and stekia from the autonomous scene and the historical cooperative <a href="https://sporos.espiv.net/en.html">Sporos</a> (Seed)<a href="file:///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/OpenMovements_CrossMovements_Athens_InesMorales.docx#_ftn2">[2]</a>. </p><p>Furthermore, the ongoing inspiration of the politics of autonomy and the strength of transnational solidarity of urban and rural movements such as the Zapatistas in Mexico, “Piqueteros, asambleístas”, and “fábricas recuperadas” of the 2001 uprising in Argentina, the Kurdish communities in Rojava, and European urban autonomous movements.</p> <h2><strong>Tensions in the everyday life of building new solidarites</strong></h2> <p>A persistent re-configuration of these movements, their relations and spaces have been occurring during these years. Such phenomenon can be understood, on one side as resulting by their material and political difficulties to create common spaces of struggle. And on the other side, by their creativity and awareness that allowed to adapt themselves to the changing material or emotional needs arisen (e.g. anger, unemployment, food emergency). </p><p>As Alex was sharing with us “<i>the passion, and the individual “fantasies”, or political projects, are leading to constant fragmentations</i>” (Exarcheia, 2016). The radical features of these movements are among others the causes that create tensions between. Looking to certain spaces such food cooperatives or farmers markets, and the changing construction of their common ground, we have come to identify tensions due to the difficulties of gaining the material autonomy needed. </p><p>Besides the collective needs of the movements, individual needs of the activists-affected, such as waged labour or incomes, have transformed some of these spaces from volunteers based to formal working cooperatives. While looking at the self-organized food banks we identify tensions between their transformative dimension and the humanitarian one. A tension that can be found in the paths that construct solidarities and reject philanthropy, through the mutual or delegative relationships between “activist-solidarious” and “affected”, and the construction of these two different identities. </p> <p>The political construction of the spaces and the movements, keeping the “habitus” of hierarchical and delegative forms of organization and relation, maintaining informal hierarchies (leadership, group of vanguard) is perceived after various conversations, and the observation of these spaces, to persistent competitive relations and divisions of the movements. The political socialization of many of the activist within the traditional political parties (Greek Communist Party (KKE), or Syriza) and the traditional trade unions, is perceived as the main cause for maintaining these hierarchies. </p> <p>The different rural or urban features of these movements can create also some tensions due to their different constraints and sometimes understandings of their same struggles and aims. Meaning their different needs of organization, more loose relations and times, or different needed logistics, financial needs, transports. </p> <p>Instability within these movements and their alliances has been experienced also due to their porosity to be influenced by the parliamentary political context. This has been mainly observed in between the 2012 Greek elections, when the political party Syriza first got into parliament, and their acceptance of a new memorandum 2015 once they got elected in 2015 referendum. Delegation has been the main process identified creating tensions between the movements due to their different relations and approaches to the umbrella of organizations related to Syriza and set up in 2012, Solidarity for All. </p> <p>The increased control and destabilisation of these movements have also occurred through police repression and the traditional left parties control of their “spontaneous” insurrectionist features. The economical and material control implemented through the various memorandums since 2010 by the International Monetary Fund, European Union and the European Central Bank, and the resulted increased taxation on food goods and professional activities (farmers, working food cooperatives) make difficult their more stable and formal status and relations. Besides this, these repressions have been perceived to create boundaries and stronger ties built on trust and mutual aid among the participants and the various movements.&nbsp; </p> <p>The relations with the local institutions have been established in a top-down direction, through Solidarity for All, and through some programs from the municipality of Athens trying to establish food policies (i.e. urban agriculture, schools gardens). Some of the spaces or groups have sporadic relations with the local governments to re-negotiate the management of material resources such as water or electricity (e.g. community urban gardens Elleniko).</p><p>Since the last approval of the memorandum in 2015, and through the continuous material cuts, the few spaces of negotiations with political parties or NGOs have almost disappeared. Universities are the formal institutions that remain having more exchanges and co-operations with these spaces.</p><h2>The city of Athens as an opportunity for new emancipatory scenarios</h2> <p>In the increasingly polarized and global city of Athens, we have perceived the reconstruction of urban food autonomy as an increased complex space where it's possible the collaboration of the autonomous movement with urban and rural heterogeneous movements, at a local level but also worldwide (e.g. BioME (Thessaloniki, Greece), Zapatistas (México)). </p><p>As result of the new food geography new relationships based on cooperation, trust and mutual aid between farmers in the countryside and consumers in the city of Athens are resulting, re-wedding the city and the countryside and thus modifying the metabolism of the city. Furthermore, the multiple connections and collaboration between these radical movements, between the countryside and the city, at a local and global level, seems to influence positively the creation of stronger bonds within the movements. </p> <p>Cities, and in this case, the city of Athens, are perceived as relational incubators for new emancipatory scenarios. But is the existence and the everyday life collective construction of certain autonomous spaces (e.g. community urban gardens, collective kitchens) through prefigurative politics, what creates the stable ground for new cooperative relations and new emancipatory imaginaries. </p><p>As experienced during 8 years in the city of Athens the expansion and multiplication of these spaces and the everyday life encounters and politics that have emerged from them, have led them to work on the concrete (e.g. food emergency, unemployment) and in this way to gradually leave aside political divergences between the different participants and movements that converge on them. Yet, re-politicizing the everyday by engaging the neighbourhoods and the collectives on the organizing and maintenance of life, of food production, and in this way widening their transformative dimension. </p> <p>It is important to notice that the focus of these movements on the everyday life dimension together with the local and global persistent and changing forms of social control performed in the city of Athens (e.g. austerity, police repression) are bringing tensions within the movements. But at the same time are allowing them to create more resilient relationships based on trust and mutual aid. </p><p>The quality of these relationships, loose, sporadic, spontaneous, it is resulting by the malleability of the spaces. The diverse discourses, subjectivities, constituencies, needs, engaged on these spaces and the aim to respect this diversity it is the main cause. Something also remarkable and positive from this kind of relations and their adaptability it is that is also allowing them to create sporadic relations with local governments in order to full-fill material needs, such as water or electricity needed to run their spaces.&nbsp; </p> <p>Based on these observations, we argue that there is a need to reconsider the quality of the relations that conceive the cooperation of movements and that are able to build new emancipatory imaginaries within cities. Relationships that allow also the opening of new imaginaries to confront the socio-ecological limits of cities.</p><p>----</p><p><a href="file:///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/OpenMovements_CrossMovements_Athens_InesMorales.docx#_ftnref1"><sup><sup>[1]</sup></sup></a><sup> T</sup>he autonomous movement, it is a term not well accepted by the movements in Athens. But it used in this work to refer to anarchists, anti-authoritarians, libertarian communists, autonomists, anti-fascists and other movements that are based on horizontal and self-organized political structures. In a call made from one of the collectives where the ethnographic work has been done, they addressed them as follows, “anarchist, communist, comrades, political groups, squats, stekia”.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="file:///C:/Users/Alex/Desktop/OpenMovements_CrossMovements_Athens_InesMorales.docx#_ftnref2"><sup><sup>[2]</sup></sup></a><sup> </sup>This cooperative, divided nowadays in two different collectives, Svoura and Syn-allois, it was a local experimental space for <i>“alternative and solidarity trade”</i> built within the solidarity movement with Zapatistas communities in Mexico.</p> <div style="background-color: #f9f3ff; width: 100%; float: right; border-top: solid 3px #DAC2EA;" class="partnership-in-article-banner-infobox"> <div style="margin-bottom: 8px; padding: 14px;" class="partnership-in-article-banner-infobox-inner"><span style="font-size: 1.2em; margin-bottom: 8px;"><strong>How to cite:</strong></span><br /> Morales Bernardos, I. (2017) Building new solidarities between movements: insurrectionary politics of food autonomy in the city of Athens, Open Democracy / ISA RC-47: Open Movements, 6 April. https://opendemocracy.net/ines-morales-bernardos/building-new-solidarities-between-movements-insurrectionary-politics-of-food-</div><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmovements"><img style="width: 460px;" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/openmovements-banner.jpg" /></a></div><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://opendemocracy.net/od-partnerships/openmovements"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/openmovements-banner-small_1.jpg" alt="" /></a></p><p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-partnerships/openmovements">openMovements</a> partnership.</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"> Greece </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? Greece openmovements Ines Morales Bernardos Thu, 06 Apr 2017 14:59:12 +0000 Ines Morales Bernardos 109937 at https://www.opendemocracy.net What the hell is going on in Macedonia? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/david-stefanoski/what-hell-is-going-on-in-macedonia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A maelstrom of scandals, drama, violence and anger has seen Macedonia sliding towards collapse in recent months, with serious implications for the Balkans as a whole.</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-26499116.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-26499116.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'>Macedonia's triumphal arch, a legacy of the Skopje 2014 project, was attacked with dyed water balloons as part of the Colourful revolution. PAimages/Jacopo Landi/NurPhoto. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>The past few years have been increasingly turbulent for the Republic of Macedonia. The country has been stuck in a deep crisis since 2014, with the rare glimmers of hope being quickly extinguished, and few people in the country seeing a future for themselves at home. So how did we get here?</p> <p>Macedonia has been ruled by the conservative Macedonian VMRO-DPMNE party and their coalition partner, the self-proclaimed “Marxist-Leninist” Albanian party, DUI, since 2006. Although DUI has nothing to do with the Marxist-Leninist ideology, their partners do employ some conservative thought into creating a new faux culture and identity for the Macedonians. This new identity is mostly based on nationalism, inclusing the revival of lesser known and lesser revered figures from the past such as <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andon_Kyoseto">Andon Kjoseto</a>, a hitman that lived through the anti-Ottoman rebellion. </p> <p>This self-stylized reinvention of the national identity has been the bane of many critics for its crudeness and for being based on “alternative facts”, however it had a financial drawback as well – the government began an initiative to reinvent the national identity, which included a project called “Skopje 2014”, among other things. This initiative has cost hundreds of millions of dollars - some estimates even going as far as 700 million - and it has delivered in a big way, putting up hundreds of monuments, mostly in the centre of the capital, Skopje, but also in other cities around the country. </p> <p>This nationalistic wave was dulled by the protest movements that started to appear in the fall of 2014. First, as usual, came the students, then the teachers, professors, high school students, part-time workers and pretty much everyone else that had a bone to pick with the uncontrolled “reforms” the government was making. All of these new movements used antinationalist rhetoric, and some of them (Student’s plenum) even negotiated the government into submission after a two week long occupation of the universities. Thus, the cracks in the rock-solid power of VMRO-DPMNE and DUI began to form. </p> <p>Following the students, the main opposition party, the SDSM started publishing audio recordings of wiretapped officials. It was a huge scandal, revealing that the national intelligence agency had wiretapped the entire government, opposition, media, all political figures, foreign diplomats and embassies, as well as thousands of other people. It is still unclear who ordered this to be done, and where the recordings would go, but somehow they came into the hands of Zoran Zaev, leader of the SDSM. </p><p>He published them one by one from his party headquarters until 5 May 2015, when a recording of the then-head of the ministry of interior and her spokesperson talking disparagingly about a boy being killed at the victory celebrations after the elections was released.</p> <p>The recording sparked a public revolt that had been lacking for years, where a few thousand people, unorganized and unprepared, tried to storm the government building. After a few hours and a few dozen injured, riot police dispersed the crowd. Four days later, the police engaged in a firefight with a terrorist group in the second largest city, Kumanovo, and eight police officers died. This sparked a period of mourning and the protests were either transformed or called off. </p> <p>In the following months, the four major political parties at that time, the VMRO-DPMNE, SDSM, DUI and DPA signed the Przhino agreement, implementing a special public prosecutor to investigate the crimes implicated in the audio recordings. The SPP has brought up dozens of new cases over the following months, and while no sentences have been brought yet, the prosecution is working on several cases against high government officials and businessmen. </p><p>According to the big picture presented in opposition media, Macedonia has been ruled by a criminal elite instead of a political party and it is hard to not see the evidence, especially after you’ve literally heard it on leaked recordings. Meanwhile in 2016, a protest movement called the “Colourful revolution”, spearheaded by the SDSM alongside dozens of NGO’s and initiatives raged on for over two months, gathering tens of thousands of supporters. </p><p>The cause for this was the general decree that the President of the Republic, Gjorgje Ivanov proclaimed in April, giving amnesty to any and all politicians in Macedonia from the cases initiated by the special prosecution. After a while, the President withdrew his amnesty and the protests settled down.</p> <p>The next big thing that happened were the parliamentary elections in December 2016, where the ruling VMRO-DPMNE fell to 51 MPs, and the SDSM rose to 49, while the main Albanian parties DUI and DPA both lost MPs to the new Albanian parties Besa and the Albanian Alliance coalition. </p><p>After a lot of pressure from all sides and the obvious fact that VMRO-DPMNE could not assemble a majority to form a government, the SDSM provided proof to the public and the President who had asked for it, that it had formed a parliamentary majority of 67 out of the 120 seats. </p> <p>SDSM had assembled this majority with the signatures of the representatives from DUI, who turned on their coalition partner, and the new Albanian parties. A small, but important detail here is that a new far-right movement called Tvrdokorni (a name meaning something between “hardcore” and “hardliners”) sprung up and marched through the capital, condemning both SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE as traitors to the national Macedonian interests. </p> <p>Amazingly, the President refused to give a mandate to the opposition leader Zoran Zaev saying that, through his coalition with the ethnic Albanian parties, he was following the agenda of neighbouring Albania and thus threatened the territorial integrity of Macedonia. Meanwhile, an initiative supported by VMRO-DPMNE appeared, mimicking the methods of the Colourful revolution in its entirety, protesting in over 20 cities and with thousands of people. </p> <p>The only difference between the Colourful revolution and the so-called “Black revolution” is that the latter stands for Macedonian national pride, against foreign influences and Albanian domination, while the Colourful revolution stood for multi-nationalism and rule of law. Both protest movements encapsulate some degree of violence – the Colourful revolution practiced soft violence, throwing water balloons filled with all kinds of colors on government symbols and buildings, while the new movement has started by attacking prominent opposition politicians, supporters and media. This is where we are today. </p> <p>However, over the last period, things started to get a bit blurry. The main subject in the media is no longer the crime that had sparked this whole crisis, or the wiretapping scandal. Now, the media is concentrated on nationalism and the erosion of the state.</p><p> This is because of the latest developments in the political situation, where all of the ethnic Albanian parties went to Tirana and created an Albanian political platform that seeks to implement bilingualism in Macedonia, making Albanian the second official state language. </p> <p>The VMRO-DPMNE responded harshly to this platform, but DUI officials repeatedly stated that in negotiations for the new government between the current coalition in power, the ruling Macedonian party accepted all of the terms except for the continued existence of the special public prosecution. </p> <p>Thus, nationalism from both sides soars after years of silence. One as a veiled irredentist political statement and the other as a self-proclaimed defender of the unitary character of the state, while at the same time being against the opposition and a supporter of the current parties in power. </p> <p>Although the situation is incredibly convoluted, there are still positive sides. One of these is in regards to the failure in the rise of the far-right. VMRO-DPMNE, with its infinite wisdom, has sidestepped their only chance at reforming their party into one that would become more powerful, by subduing the Tvrdokorni movement and replacing it with a Colourful Revolution-type one. </p> <p>The Tvrdokorni gathered a decent number of supporters in a relatively short period of time, partisan and non-partisan nationalists alike. Through this far-right movement that shares its ideology with the ruling Macedonian party, DPMNE could have reformed into a much stronger and more concentrated force based on ideology instead of the loose technocracy and organized crime base which it has become. On the other hand, the SDSM’s peaceful and reformist ways of non-violence have brought it within grasp of coming to power after 11 years in opposition. </p> <p>After all that, we have to pose the question “What effect will this have on the situation in the country and the region?”</p> <p>First, we have to take into consideration the cultural standpoints. Macedonia has two major ethnic groups – the Macedonians and the Albanians, but only the Albanian political parties are connected with their peers in Albania and Kosovo. This necessarily implies support from those states and therefore interference in domestic affairs, however it also necessitates caution as all of these parties are very close. </p> <p>President Ivanov in his address to the nation, declared that Albania had meddled in the country’s domestic affairs. He received a response from Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama which denied this, however the diplomatic incident stands. Macedonia has been plagued by diplomatic incidents as the VMRO-DPMNE leader, Nikola Gruevski called for the removal of foreign-funded organizations and nosy ambassadors, referring mainly to US Ambassador Jess Baily who has had frequent talks with all party leaders. </p> <p>Furthermore, Ivanov mentioned in a subsequent statement that the army of the Republic of Macedonia is ready to defend its borders should need arise, prompting responses from neighboring nations. Newspaper articles fly about, stating that Kosovar forces are on the border, that terrorists are forming in Macedonia and so on, aggravating the situation even further. </p> <p>Statements were made by NATO and EU high representatives to calm the situation down and ask Ivanov to give the mandate to Zaev per democratic principle, but the situation still remains unclear. Thus, even though Macedonia is at the centre of the clash of power and cultural differences between its indigenous people, as well as the struggle between globalist, pro-western cultural influences and the local traditions, I would say that the attempts of the ruling party to turn Macedonia’s situation from a “state under occupation by a criminal group” into one of ethnic conflict, have been relatively unsuccessful. </p> <p>What is clear though is the support that the Russian government is giving to the current party in power, saying that VMRO-DPMNE is fighting irredentism and foreign influences, instead of the obvious struggle to stay out of prison for the billions of dollars extracted from the state treasury through various means over the last 11 years. Zaev has repeatedly said that all criminals from all parties, including SDSM but primarily VMRO-DPMNE must answer for any crimes they have committed, and that everything can be debated if it is within the constitution. </p> <p>With the Russian influence and the American domineering position coupled with the EU’s (uncertain at times) support for the rule of law and democracy, the country is well on its way to change. We can expect a new government soon, as President Ivanov has no power to keep the country in chaos by withholding the democratic mandate from the parliamentary majority. </p><p>Sooner or later, he will have to reverse his decision because the country is already falling apart – the government is currently not doing anything, instead choosing to hibernate until disbanded, the parliament has not assembled for two and a half months and the judiciary is experiencing major shake-ups and resignations as SPP cases start to flow in. </p> <p>Even more troubling is the postponing of local elections that were supposed to take place in May, but were not called for by any party within the legal time limits. No local government means no paychecks for those employed by it, and these are the thousands of people that will starve should this come to pass. </p><p>So very soon, if nothing changes, Macedonia could have no executive body, no legislative body, weak judiciary bodies and illegitimate and powerless local authorities. It is very unclear what would come from the midst of the chaos, but with the current flow of events, it can’t possibly be good. </p> <p>Will it be a nationalist resurgence in far right parties, or a major left uprising through the newly formed leftist party? Will it be an inter-ethnic or an intra-ethnic conflict being perpetuated by the media? Will the rumors of a nationalist Macedonian paramilitary group come true, or will Macedonia just slip back into the mantra of “Euroatlantic integration, peace and cohabitation”? </p> <p>Surrounded by the NATO on three sides it is clear that the organization wants this territory in its control, however the question is how are they going to drive the social factors to implement this wish? </p><p>In the end, hope dies last, but right now it is dying quickly, with only one of the possible outcomes being positive – that the new government forms as quickly as possible, shuts down the country’s organized crime which has occupied it, and no blood flows in the process, because we all know, once the Balkans get going, Europe trembles.&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/roland-gjoni-timothy-less/macedonia-s-elections-how-eus-continues-to-fail-western">Macedonia’s elections: how the EU continues to fail the Western Balkans</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/lana-pasic/democracy-25-years-after-yugoslavia">Democracy, 25 years after Yugoslavia</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"> Macedonia </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? Macedonia David Stefanoski Mon, 03 Apr 2017 14:18:15 +0000 David Stefanoski 109859 at https://www.opendemocracy.net