Can Europe make it? https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/9711/all en Is the world finally breaking its silence on Turkey? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/john-dalhuisen/what-will-it-take-for-world-to-break-its-silence-on-turkey <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>"Members of my staff are sad not just for their friends, but for their country. What will it take for the world to break its silence?"</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-25760342.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-25760342.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'>Federica Mogherini, EU High representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the EU arrives at 2016 summit with Turkey. (Aurore Belot / Press association) All rights reserved. </span></span></span>In Turkey, truth and justice have become strangers. Six human rights defenders were imprisoned this week on the absurd charge of supporting a terrorist organization. They await trial, which could prolong their incarceration for several months. Four others were released but remain under investigation. Their movements have been restricted and they have to report to the police three times a week.</p> <p>Among those imprisoned is Idil Eser, Amnesty International’s director in Turkey. “I have committed no crime,” she wrote to me from detention last week. Nor have any of the others. Since the July coup in 2016, the Turkish government has seized on any whisper of dissent as an excuse to crackdown on political opponents. In this climate, even defending human rights is treated like a crime.</p> <p>Despite a foreign policy supposedly committed to supporting human rights defenders globally, the EU’s public response to Turkey’s horrific crackdown on human rights had been muted.</p><p>But just days after they were remanded, the European Commission joined governments and world leaders, including Angela Merkel, to demand their immediate and unconditional release. With remarkable speed and speaking with uncommon unity the governments of Germany, Holland the US, France, Belgium, Ireland and Austria have all called for their immediate release.</p> <p>On July 25, at a meeting with Turkey’s Foreign Minister in Brussels, the EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, has an opportunity to make amends. Rather than hide behind honeyed words and soft diplomacy, she must make an explicit demand for the release of Eser and other human rights defenders unjustly detained. <span class="mag-quote-center">On July 25, at a meeting with Turkey’s Foreign Minister in Brussels, the EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, has an opportunity to make amends.</span></p> <p>Just last year, people in Turkey looked on in horror as journalists were dragged away during live broadcasts. Children were roused from their sleep as jets thundered overhead and gunshots echoed across the city. During 12 hours of bloodshed, 250 people were killed and thousands injured. Many people felt a sense of relief the next day when news spread that the attempted coup had failed.</p> <p>But that feeling was short-lived. Five days later, the government imposed a state of emergency. Since then, it has been extended every three months. And its effects become progressively worse each time. Criminal investigations have been opened against 150,000 people accused being part of the “Fethullah Terrorist Organization,” which the government claims masterminded the July coup. Every day, the number of people under investigation grows.</p> <p>As a result of the crackdown, some 50,000 people languish in jail. Among them are at least 130 journalists, the highest number of any country in the world. More than 100,000 public sector workers, including a quarter of the judiciary, have been arbitrarily dismissed. Last week alone, more than 140 arrest warrants were issued for IT workers, and hundreds of academics were cast out of their jobs.</p> <p>Last month, the purge arrived at Amnesty International’s door. Taner Kilic, Amnesty Turkey’s chair, was remanded in pretrial detention on the fictive claim that he is a member of the Fethullah Terrorist Organization. Authorities accuse him of being in possession of an encrypted messaging app favored by the Gülen movement. Taner, who is a human rights professional but a technology novice, had never heard of the app, let alone used it.</p> <p>This week, President Recep Tayyep Erdoğan warned that the state of emergency could last “several years.” “First, we will chop off the heads of those traitors,” he said, in a menacing tirade. “When they appear in court, let’s make them appear in orange suits like in Guantanamo Bay.”</p> <p>Ruling by executive decree, eluding the scrutiny of parliament and even the increasingly cowed courts, the government has crippled state institutions and civil society with a ferocity that rivals that of the 1980s military junta.</p> <p>Those responsible for the violence that killed and injured people in in last year’s attempted coup surely must be brought to justice. But those crimes cannot serve as a justification for a wave of repression that shows no signs of relenting. Erdoğan came to power on a promise to break with Turkey’s ugly past. But the more powerful he has become, the more closely he has come to emulate the repressive practices of those who came before him.</p> <p>With some exceptions, the international community has studiously maintained a silence on what is happening in Turkey.</p> <p>For many countries, Ankara is too important a political ally for human rights to matter. They need the country to stave off waves of migrants and refugees, to be an ally in Syria, and to halt the spread of the Islamic State. Erdoğan knows this — and he uses it to his advantage. He knows it blinds foreign leaders to the human rights violations taking place in plain sight.</p> <p>Members of my staff are on the ground in Turkey. Some had waited outside the courthouse until the early hours when the sentences were delivered and, when I spoke to them, their voices were thick with emotion. They are sad not just for their friends, but for their country. What will it take for the world to break its silence? As foreign leaders wordlessly look on, people fighting for basic human rights in Turkey are being imprisoned one by one.&nbsp;Soon, there will be no one left.</p><p><em>This was first published on Politico on <a href="http://www.politico.eu/article/amnesty-international-in-turkey-defending-human-rights-is-a-crime/">July 19 here.</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="/erol-ndero-lu/me-turkey-and-our-uncertainty">Me, Turkey and our uncertainty </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/bilge-yabanci/eu-s-self-inflicted-traps-undermine-its-ability-to-respond-to-turke">The EU’s self-inflicted traps undermine its ability to respond to Turkey’s creeping authoritarianism </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/mehmet-ugur/turkey-sick-man-of-europe-reappears">Turkey, sick man of Europe, reappears?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/sergio-carrera-aikaterini-drakopolou/unsafe-turkey-unsafe-europe">Unsafe Turkey, unsafe Europe</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/bilge-yabanci-kerem-oktem/what-could-and-should-eu-do-with-turkey-s-authoritarian-consolidation">What could and should the EU do with Turkey?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/emma-sinclair-webb/no-eu-turkey-is-not-safe-for-everyone">No, EU, Turkey is not safe for everyone</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 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? North-Africa West-Asia Turkey Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Turkish Dawn John Dalhuisen Fri, 21 Jul 2017 14:14:44 +0000 John Dalhuisen 112438 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Stop blaming the rescuers https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/charles-heller-lorenzo-pezzani/stop-blaming-mediterranean-rescuers <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Attacks against rescue efforts in the Mediterranean must stop. The recent Italian and EU proposals are just the last steps of an ongoing de-legitimisation campaign that is putting the lives of thousands of migrants at risk.</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/FB-event-pic.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/FB-event-pic.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Iuventa of the NGO Jugend Rettet rescues several migrants in distress during the Easter weekend 2017. Due to continuing inadequacy of state rescue operations, NGOs present in the area are often working at the limit of their capacities. Credit: Moonbird Airborne Operation / www.sea-watch.org, www.hpi.swiss</span></span></span>It has been spreading like a trail of powder. A <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39686239">heinous argument</a> blaming rescue efforts in the Mediterranean for colluding with smugglers, encouraging more migrants to attempt the perilous sea crossing and ultimately endangering their lives, has, over the past few months, broken out of the small circles of far-right conspiracy theories to reach the headlines of prominent newspapers and become the official position of European states and institutions. The latest proposal by the Italian government to block its ports to nongovernmental rescue vessels and the subsequent <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/03/anger-at-rules-plan-for-migrant-charities-in-mediterranean">EU-endorsed plan</a> to impose a <a href="http://www.statewatch.org/news/2017/jul/italy-eu-sar-code-of-conduct.pdf">code of conduct</a> to limit their activities are only the most recent outcomes of months of virulent attacks. These proposals disturbingly converge with the initiative of far-right groups which are chartering <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/03/far-right-raises-50000-target-refugee-rescue-boats-med">their own vessel</a> to stop NGOs at sea. Should these different initiatives succeed in blocking or hindering rescue efforts, the consequences for migrants would be disastrous.</p> <p>The accusation that rescue efforts would be the cause of the soaring numbers of crossings and deaths at sea is far from new. Already in 2014, the Italian military-humanitarian Mare Nostrum operation, which had for a year deployed unprecedented means to rescue migrants at sea, was accused of constituting a “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/oct/27/uk-mediterranean-migrant-rescue-plan">pull-factor</a>” that endangered migrants’ lives. The termination of Mare Nostrum, however, did not lead to less crossings, only to a staggering rise in the number of deaths at sea. It was precisely to fill the lethal gap in rescue capabilities left by the EU and its member states that NGOs courageously stepped in with their own vessels. During recent months, they have repeatedly given proof of their fundamental life-saving role, often operating at the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/21/refugees-stranded-mediterranean-dinghy">limit of their capacities</a> to make up for the lack of state rescue means. Despite this, it is their activities which are today threatened by a campaign of criminalisation and de-legitimisation. </p> <p>While the most heinous accusations of collusion with the smugglers have been revealed to be <a href="http://www.repubblica.it/cronaca/2017/05/16/news/migranti_commissione_difesa_stop_a_corridoi_ong-165587838/">baseless</a> and receded from mainstream discourse, a subtler but no less grave accusation initially formulated by Frontex, the European Union border and coast guard agency, and reminiscent of that formulated against Mare Nostrum, has proven remarkably resilient. A recent <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/14/world/europe/migrant-rescue-efforts-deadly.html">article</a> by the <em>New York Times </em>titled “Efforts to Rescue Migrants Caused Deadly, Unexpected Consequences” offers the latest example of this argument. After showing through data visualisation and cartography that in the past few years rescue operations have moved closer to Libyan coasts, the NYT authors uncritically voice the concerns raised by Frontex that this shift would have “introduced a deadly incentive for more migrants to risk the journey and for smugglers to launch more boats”. </p> <p>They also claim that the presence of rescue vessels would have encouraged smugglers to use even more dangerous tactics, such as using “flimsy boats and provide just enough fuel to reach the edge of Libyan waters”. In sum, while admitting that “rescuing migrants closer to the Libyan coast saved hundreds of people at sea”, the article casts a dark shadow over rescue efforts in the Mediterranean, claiming that, despite themselves, “strategies to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean Sea […] have pushed desperate migrants into even more desperate situations”. With a cunning sleight of hand, the rescuers are turned here into the culprits for the growing numbers of deaths at sea.</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/iuventa (56 di 81).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/iuventa (56 di 81).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'>Rescued migrants on the deck of the Iuventa of the NGO Jugend Rettet during the Easter weekend 2017. Despite a nominal capacity of no more than 100 people, the Iuventa had to take on board hundreds of people to make up for the absence of state-led rescue assets. Credit: Giulia Bertoluzzi</span></span></span>As humanitarian actors know all too well, they must always confront the possibility that their intervention may unwillingly amplify the problem&nbsp;they set out to alleviate. But today, there is solid evidence that these arguments are fundamentally mistaken and that rehearsing them uncritically only contributes to legitimising a dangerous policy.</p> <p>As we have demonstrated in <a href="https://blamingtherescuers.org/report/">a recently published report</a>, rescue efforts were not the main driver of increasing arrivals over 2016. Data collected by Frontex itself provides evidence that the overall increase during that year was mainly due to more crossings by migrants from several West and Central African nationalities which predated the deployment of NGO vessels. Furthermore, a 46% increase in the number of arrivals was registered in the western Mediterranean for 2016, while no proactive rescue operation was deployed in that area. Faced with political and economic crises in several countries on the African continent and with appalling conditions in Libya, migrants have little choice but to attempt the sea crossing, with or without resuce means.</p> <p>We also demonstrate that rescue efforts by NGOs were not the main cause of worsening conditions of crossing but a life-saving response to evolving smuggling practices that predated their intervention. For instance, the shift from larger and more solid wooden boats to rickety and smaller rubber boats, which has been acknowledged as a major factor in the increasing deaths at sea, occurred already in late 2015, when the presence of NGOs was still marginal. </p> <p>One of the most important factors leading to this trend was the EU’s anti-smuggling <a href="http://www.statewatch.org/news/2017/jul/uk-hol-op-sophia.htm">Operation Sophia</a>, which, by destroying smugglers’ vessels once migrants had been rescued, prevented the re-use of wooden boats. Another crucial factor has been the increasing attempts by the Libyan Coast Guard to (selectively) intercept migrant boats. These and other factors converged to push even further the downward spiral in the conditions of crossing offered by smugglers. While it cannot be ruled out that NGO rescue efforts contributed to consolidate specific tactical shifts in the practices of smugglers, it is wrong, we show, to claim that they were driving them. </p> <p>Finally, and most importantly, our statistical analysis indicates that there is a strong negative correlation between the migrant mortality rate and the deployment of NGOs’ rescue vessels. In short, over the course of 2016, the more NGO vessels were deployed, the safer the crossing became for migrants. This provides the strongest demonstration of the life-saving role played by rescue efforts and a forceful empirical rebuttal of their supposed “deadly consequences”.</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/Untitled_1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/Untitled_1.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="350" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Monthly migrant mortality rates for 2016 (based on IOM and UNHCR data) and number of deployed NGO rescue vessels, showing a striking negative correlation: the more vessels are present, the safer the crossing becomes for migrants. Credit: Forensic Oceanography</span></span></span></p><p>The ending of Mare Nostrum was recognised too late by Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, as a “serious mistake” that “<a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-15-4896_en.htm">cost human lives</a>”. Today EU institutions and members states are on a course to repeat this same “mistake”, with a wicked twist. This time they are not simply persisting in their resolve to <em>not</em> provide adequate rescue means in the aim of deterring migrants from crossing, but they are also actively seeking to stop those who made up for their lethal absence and continue to remind the EU of the unacceptable deaths at its shores. </p> <p>The only "rescue" activities European policy makers wish to see are those operated by the EU funded and equipped <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur30/6319/2017/en/">Libyan Coast Guard</a>, regardless of the proven collusion of its agents with smugglers, the repeated deaths their intervention has caused and the horrendous conditions migrants face once pulled-back to Libya. This is the cynical and lethal policy of containment implemented today by the EU.</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/D16MedSea1021SeaWatch2-031232.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/D16MedSea1021SeaWatch2-031232.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'>In the night of 21 October 2016, the Coast Guard of Zawiya, Libya, violently interrupted a rescue operation that had been started by the rescue vessel of the NGO Sea-Watch. This led to the death of at least 25 people. Credits: Christian Ditsch. </span></span></span>NGOs themselves are acutely aware that rescue at sea cannot be <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/auralie-ponthieu/migrants-europe-crisis-sea_b_7088986.html">the “solution”</a> to the death of migrants in the Mediterranean. Only a fundamental shift towards policies enabling the passage of migrants through safe and legal means will bring an end to the daily reality of thousands of migrants in distress, and with it the need to rescue them. But as long as migrants are forced to resort to smugglers for lack of legal pathways, and while states continue to refuse to deploy their own proactive rescue operations, the presence of NGOs close to the Libyan coast will remain both a humanitarian necessity and a much-needed expression of the refusal to silently accept the ongoing carnage at sea.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://blamingtherescuers.org/">Blaming the rescuers (2017)</a> a report by Forensic Oceanography (Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani)</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"> Libya </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"> Conflict </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? 50.50 Can Europe make it? EU Libya Conflict Democracy and government International politics 50.50 People on the Move Lorenzo Pezzani Charles Heller Tue, 18 Jul 2017 15:21:44 +0000 Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani 112332 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Poland has a duty to preserve judicial independence https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/nils-mui-nieks/poland-s-duty-to-preserve-judicial-independence <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Polish government's proposed law to take control of the country's judiciary is the latest in a worrying trend towards authoritarianism in the country.</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-32082846.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-32082846.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>People with lit candles protest outside the Court in Płock, Poland on 16 July 2017. Thousands of Poles have taken to the streets of many Polish cities to protest the politicization of the judiciary. PAimages/ Wiktor Dabkowski. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Twenty years ago, the adoption of a new Constitution by Poland’s National Assembly marked a defining moment in the country’s history.</p><p>After almost five decades of one-party rule, the Polish people gave expression to their aspiration for freedom and democracy through a set of founding rules protecting citizens from abuses of power and anchoring Poland’s future to human rights and social justice. That future is today at risk, as legislative measures against the independence of the judiciary threaten the very heart of this modern constitutional order.</p><p>The adoption by the Parliament of a set of amendments to the Act on the National Council for the Judiciary recently is a case in point. By assuming the authority to select the judges who sit on that Council, the legislature gave itself the decisive role in the appointment of judges, thus undermining judicial independence and, as a consequence, the safeguards of citizens against the arbitrariness of power concentrated in a single branch of government.</p><p>These amendments represent the latest of a series of measures which have been undermining the legitimacy and independence of the judiciary in recent months. Particularly illustrative of the negative consequences of such measures is the creeping politicisation of the Constitutional Tribunal whose composition and rules of procedure have been hastily amended several times.</p><p> Valid rulings handed down were not published, some disappeared from the Court’s website, lawfully elected judges were not sworn in as others took their place, and public trust in the institution plummeted. Merging the functions of Minister of Justice and Prosecutor General without sufficient safeguards to avoid abuses of power and conflicts of interest was yet another indicator of the growing political pressure on the justice system. </p><p>Other draft bills increasing the already far-reaching powers of the Minister of Justice over the judiciary, including one envisaging a sweeping reform of the Supreme Court, are currently debated by the Parliament.&nbsp;</p><p>This disregard for the well-established principles of independence of the judiciary and separation of powers is often explained by the proposition that politicians hold a higher democratic legitimacy than judges by virtue of being elected, and that they can therefore modify all the rules at will.</p><p>This is both wrong and dangerous.</p><p>It is wrong, because in a democracy, governments and parliaments do not hold a monopoly on legitimacy. They share it with the judiciary, which is the ultimate guarantor of the rights of the present and future generations and for this reason has to remain independent and impervious to undue political interference.</p><p>At the same time, it is dangerous because the delegitimisation of the judiciary inevitably polarises society and erodes public trust in all state institutions, a situation which may destabilise the democratic fabric of a country. Legislatures change, political parties come and go – but the judiciary has to remain resistant to power shifts resulting from the electoral process, like a keel that keeps a ship stable on water in all weather conditions.</p><p>If the keel has imperfections, it must be repaired. But the changes introduced over the last year risk sinking the ship altogether.&nbsp; Elected officials should use their power to propose, make and change laws in a responsible way and make sure that they strengthen the independence, impartiality and efficiency of the judiciary rather than reining it in.</p><p>They can do so by applying consistently and systematically both the provisions of the Constitution and the relevant international standards. In this context, the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers – the body where 47 European countries, including Poland, take decisions and provide guidance concerning human rights, democracy and the rule of law – <a href="https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1707137">adopted a recommendation in 2010</a> on how to safeguard the independence, efficiency and responsibilities of judges.</p><p>I find four elements of this recommendation particularly topical for Poland today.</p><p>First, the executive and the legislature should avoid actions and discourse which may discredit the judiciary or undermine its independence.</p><p>Second, councils for the judiciary should be independent bodies which safeguard judicial independence and promote its efficient functioning, with at least half of their members who are judges chosen by their peers.</p><p>Third, unless they seriously breach disciplinary or criminal provisions or “can no longer perform judicial functions”, judges should be vested with security of tenure and irremovability.</p><p>Fourth, an independent authority or court should determine the liability of judges who fail to carry out their duties in an efficient and proper manner, without the involvement of political bodies and in full compliance with the principles of a fair trial.</p><p>These principles have been established to allow independent judges to protect citizens from arbitrary use of government power. It is therefore in the interest of the Polish people that their government and Parliament stop undermining the judiciary and uphold the constitutional order.</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/tom-junes/trump-pandered-to-polish-nationalist-right-to-sell-gas">The real reason Trump went to Poland</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/jaroslav-fiala/reflections-of-post-communist-peasant">Reflections of a post-communist peasant</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"> Poland </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? Poland Nils Muižnieks Mon, 17 Jul 2017 17:35:28 +0000 Nils Muižnieks 112327 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why the ICC examination into torture and other abuses by UK soldiers in Iraq must continue https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/carla-ferstman/why-icc-examination-into-torture-and-other-abuses-by-uk-soldiers-in-iraq-must-cont <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="Default">The Office of the Prosecutor is under pressure to conclude the examination. It must remain open. The Prosecutor should be taking it to the next logical step – a full-blown investigation.&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/1024px-1_RRF_engage_Iraqi_Army_positions_with_their_81mm_Mortars._Iraq._26-03-2003_MOD_45142764.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/1024px-1_RRF_engage_Iraqi_Army_positions_with_their_81mm_Mortars._Iraq._26-03-2003_MOD_45142764.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Royal Regiment of Fusiliers preparing to engage enemy targets, south of Basra, March 2003. Wikicmmons/ Cpl Paul Jarvis/MOD. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The International Criminal Court has received numerous submissions of information about the UK military’s conduct in Iraq. An initial preliminary examination was opened and then later <a href="https://www.icc-cpi.int/NR/rdonlyres/04D143C8-19FB-466C-AB77-4CDB2FDEBEF7/143682/OTP_letter_to_senders_re_Iraq_9_February_2006.pdf">closed in 2006</a>. Although there was a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court had been committed, namely wilful killing, torture and inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners and civilians, the Prosecutor’s view was that the gravity threshold was not met. The number of victims of alleged abused at that time was very limited, totalling in all less than 20 persons, so the ‘quantitative criteria’ was not fulfilled. </p> <p>Subsequently, more information on alleged crimes was supplied, and in May 2014 the ICC Prosecutor <a href="https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=otp-statement-iraq-13-05-2014">announced&nbsp;the re-opening of the previously terminated preliminary examination</a>. This preliminary examination is ongoing. <a href="https://www.icc-cpi.int/iccdocs/otp/161114-otp-rep-PE_ENG.pdf">According to her latest report</a>, the ICC Prosecutor is currently finalizing the assessment of whether the alleged crimes committed by UK nationals fall within the subject-matter jurisdiction of the Court. In other words, do the crimes fall within the definition of war crimes or crimes against humanity, and do they meet the Prosecutor’s gravity threshold? </p> <p class="Default">The Office of the Prosecutor is now under pressure to conclude the examination. &nbsp;But this examination must remain open. Instead, the Prosecutor should be taking it to the next logical step – a full-blown investigation.&nbsp; </p> <p class="xmsonormal">Under the ICC Statute, the Court can only pursue an investigation and prosecution if it can be shown that the country with competence over the said crimes (in this case the UK) is unable or unwilling genuinely to pursue the matters which the ICC is specifically investigating, domestically. The UK has one of the strongest and most highly renowned legal systems in the world. Thus, it would be difficult to say that the competent UK authorities are unable to pursue an investigation or prosecution. Certainly they are able to do so. The issue is one of willingness and this is now seriously in question. <span class="mag-quote-center">It would be difficult to say that the competent UK authorities are unable to pursue an investigation or prosecution. Certainly they are able to do so. The issue is one of willingness and this is now seriously in question.</span></p> <p>There have been numerous investigations, including criminal investigations but there have been no prosecutions of UK armed forces personnel since the creation of the Iraq Historical Allegations Team (IHAT), which was established to review and investigate the growing number of allegations of abuse of Iraqi civilians by UK armed forces personnel in Iraq during the period of 2003 to July 2009. This in itself is extraordinary given that the MOD has spent about £60 million on IHAT, and paid out £20 million in compensation for abuse in over 300 “civil” cases (a process separate from IHAT).</p> <p>But IHAT’s focus was mainly the rank and file soldiers. There has never been a genuine attempt to prosecute the&nbsp;high-ranking&nbsp;military commanders or the senior officials who ordered and/or who were complicit in the&nbsp;commission of torture in Iraq. The IHAT may have been held up by the UK Government to the ICC Prosecutor and others as evidence that it was investigating, in order to stand up to the ICC’s ‘complementarity’ test. But has it all been an exercise in smoke and mirrors ?</p> <p>Most alarmingly, a clear picture of abuse during interrogation has emerged. In 2003, British interrogators were challenged for their use of the <a href="https://rightsinfo.org/stories/the-five-techniques/">outlawed ‘5 techniques’ - deprivation of sleep, food and drink, stress positions, hooding and subjection to ‘white noise’ (loud static)</a>, on up to 40 prisoners. Six months later, Baha Mousa was beaten to death during ‘tactical questioning’. In the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14825889">Baha Mousa Inquiry</a> in 2010, the MOD admitted it had breached the Geneva Conventions during interrogations and this is likely to have taken place between 2003-2009. &nbsp;According to sources, the typical practice was that Iraqis were taken into armoured vehicles, beaten, then either taken for a few days to an undisclosed location to be ‘worked over’, or taken straight to detention where they would be kept for about a month, during which time they were subjected to sleep and food deprivation, stress positions, physical, sexual and religious abuse and restricted access to toilets. Many of the detainees were photographed naked. </p> <p>There are also allegations that special forces aided the rendition of Iraqi prisoners to and from secret detention facilities in the Western desert and that prisoners were not officially recorded in medical facilities, presumably so that their existence could be officially denied. Who was ultimately responsible for this?</p> <p class="xmsolistparagraph">Arguably, the UK Government has undermined the very investigative body they originally championed. They have painted a set of simple narratives: ‘Our brave troops’, ‘ambulance chasing lawyers’, ‘vexatious’, ‘spurious’ and ‘baseless’ claims. This painting of narratives was easy to do; one of the claimant lawyers was dramatically <a href="http://www.solicitorstribunal.org.uk/sites/default/files-sdt/11510.2016.Philip%20Joseph%20Shiner.pdf">struck off by the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal</a> for his improper actions, which helped to reinforce the Government’s narrative. On the other hand, <a href="http://www.solicitorstribunal.org.uk/sites/default/files-sdt/SDT%20Press%20Release%20-%209%20June%202017_0.pdf">another firm has been cleared of any wrongdoing</a>, but this has passed almost without mention. <span class="mag-quote-center">The ethics of a lawyer in a single case doesn’t say anything about the strength or weakness of the evidence itself, which should have been independently investigated and any underlying crimes prosecuted.</span></p> <p class="xmsolistparagraph">But the ethics of a lawyer in a single case doesn’t say anything about the strength or weakness of the evidence itself, which should have been independently investigated and any underlying crimes prosecuted. Indeed, IHAT never relied exclusively on claimant lawyers for its evidence; IHAT undertook its own investigations, and there were a number of ICRC reports of abuse along with service personnel witnesses, some of whom had sounded their alarm about mistreatment as early as 2003. </p> <p class="xmsolistparagraph">Over the last year, there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of allegations being investigated, with hundreds of ongoing investigations shut down prematurely, some because of the so-called taint of the providence of the allegations – the ‘ambulance-chasing lawyers’. But many credible investigations were not being pursued, including the death of Tariq Sabri al-Fahdawi on board an RAF helicopter in Iraq in April 2003, and the death of Ahmed Jabbar Kareem Ali, an Iraqi teenager who drowned after being forced into a river by British soldiers, or even <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhOYpy0iIz8">the beating of children captured on video by News of the World</a>. And there has been an entirely unacceptable delay in investigating and prosecuting crimes where there is clear evidence of abuse.</p><p class="xmsolistparagraph">There have been a number of deaths in custody and almost six years after a major public inquiry found that Baha Mousa, a hotel receptionist, had been beaten to death by British soldiers in Basra, no new prosecutions have yet been brought. The High Court judge overseeing the ongoing civil claims against the MOD, Mr Justice Leggatt, recently described this delay as ‘extraordinarily difficult to understand.’ Apparently, Ministry of Defence civil servants began to interfere in the conduct of investigations and the vetting of evidence. Months before the plans were put in place to close IHAT down, the MOD instructed investigators that it could no longer interview service personnel as part of its investigations.&nbsp; </p> <p class="xmsonormal">Some of these tactics are similar to what has recently been revealed in the <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/rogue-sas-unit-accused-of-executing-civilians-in-afghanistan-f2bqlc897">Sunday Times’ exposé on the SAS in Afghanistan</a> – Operation Northmoor, where about 90% of the 600 allegations had been shelved. These Afghanistan allegations were generated in part by evidence supplied by soldiers and through ICRC reports.&nbsp; Operation Northmoor is being run by the SIB – the Army police investigating army alleged offences. It was determined that the Army police wasn’t sufficiently independent to carry out the investigations in Iraq; this begs the question why they are leading the investigations in Afghanistan. </p> <p>The MOD has confirmed to REDRESS that 752 of the IHAT cases concern interrogation and that the videos of some of the interrogations are held in the archives of Defence Intelligence and with IHAT. The MOD will know whether these allegations are true or not and to what extent they are to blame. It seems extraordinary that the MOD is now responsible for closing down an investigation which could legitimately question members of their own Ministry. </p> <p class="xmsolistparagraph">Now that the IHAT investigation has effectively closed, the few investigations that remain open will be transferred to a less independent process – reportedly, the Airforce police will be leading the investigations, overseen by the Provost Marshall of the RAF. This ignores the <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2011/1334.html">appellate ruling in respect of IHAT</a> which required that the investigators be hierarchically, institutionally and practically independent from those they were investigating. </p> <p class="xmsonormal">All that this shows is that the UK Government is unwilling to pay anything more than lip-service to its obligation to investigate and prosecute abuses allegedly perpetrated by service personnel and the higher echelons who ordered or condoned such acts. <span class="mag-quote-center">The UK Government is unwilling to pay anything more than lip-service to its obligation to investigate and prosecute abuses allegedly perpetrated by service personnel and the higher echelons who ordered or condoned such acts.</span></p> <p class="xmsonormal">This is why the ICC should maintain its preliminary examination and take it to the next logical step: a full blown investigation. The fact that the competent UK authorities are able to prosecute but have chosen not to do so, is a sad testament of the respect for the rule of law in this country. That the UK Government is unwilling to pursue these matters itself has now become clear. The numbers of allegations which have not been subject to independent scrutiny remains high and problematic. But furthermore, the assessment of the gravity of the alleged crimes should also take into account the abuse of power and the high prospects for impunity. </p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> <div class="field-item even"> Afghanistan </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"> 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> uk Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia uk Afghanistan Iraq Conflict Democracy and government International politics openJustice Carla Ferstman Sun, 16 Jul 2017 10:36:50 +0000 Carla Ferstman 112288 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Fear and loathing in Turkish academia: a tale of appeasement and complicity https://www.opendemocracy.net/umut-ozkirimli/fear-and-loathing-in-turkish-academia-tale-of-appeasement-and-complicity <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Can fear explain the loathing that the victims of this ‘academic cleansing’ are exposed to, often by their own colleagues? Could insecurity justify the complicity?<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/Bogazici_University.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Bogazici_University.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 hitherto “untouched” Boğaziçi University, 2012. Wikicommons/ Turkmessage. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>It was a “call for papers” like all others. “On behalf of the Turkish Political Economy Society (TPES)”, said the organizers of the 5th TPES Interdisciplinary Workshop on Turkey and Latin America in Comparative Perspective, “we would be happy if you would consider submitting an abstract and help us spread the word by forwarding the CfP to other scholars who may be interested.” </p><p>Many probably did, among them Yasemin Yılmaz and Orçun Selçuk, two PhD candidates from The City University of New York and Florida International University respectively, who saw this as an opportunity to share their work with and get feedback from their peers and senior academics in Turkey and beyond.<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> </p> <p>Both received a positive reply from the organizing committee on 27 April 2017 and were invited to present their papers at the two-day workshop that was going to take place on 20-21 July at Koç University, Istanbul under the auspices of the Center for Research on Globalization, Peace, and Democratic Governance (GLODEM). “We are unable to offer any funding for travel and accommodation”, the generic invitation letter stated, but neither Yasemin nor Orçun cared as they were happy to be part of a scholarly event in one of Turkey’s most prestigious universities, in front of an audience that included scholars from other, equally prestigious, universities such as Sabancı, Bilkent and Özyeğin, to name but a few. </p> <p>The <a href="http://tpes.sabanciuniv.edu/sites/tpes.sabanciuniv.edu/files/tpes_workshop_2017_tentative_program.pdf">tentative programme</a> of the workshop they were sent about a month later had their names on as presenters and asked them to submit their full papers on ‘Self-Coups and Presidential Power Grabs in Peru and Turkey’(Selçuk) and ‘Elite Interests and Media Suppression: The Cases of Turkey and Venezuela’ (Yılmaz) by 6 July.</p> <p>Alas, they never got the chance to submit their full papers as, nine days before the July 6 deadline, they received yet another unsolicited, this time quite disturbing email from the organisers. The text of the email, an affront to everything that academe stands for, is worth quoting in full:</p> <blockquote><p>Dear Yasemin (Orçun)</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>We hope this email finds you well. We are writing to you regarding the Turkey-Latin America workshop and we’re afraid it’s bad news.<br /> <br /> Last week, we, as the organizers of the workshop, <em>were urged by the TPES Steering Committee </em>not to include <em>papers on politically very sensitive topics</em>, given the potential consequences for everybody involved in the currently extreme conditions for academic work in Turkey. Unfortunately, <em>your paper was identified as one such sensitive topic</em>. Therefore, with the greatest regret and reluctance, we are extremely sorry to inform you that we have to remove your paper from the workshop. We are aware that you must have already made your travel arrangements and that presenting at the workshop might have allowed you to receive university reimbursement for your trip. We apologize for the great inconvenience this short-notice change causes for you.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Right now, we can’t do much more than to ask for your understanding. If you would like to discuss this in more detail we can talk over skype or in person when you’re in Istanbul. Also, <em>you would certainly be welcome to join us for the workshop informally</em>, if you would still be interested in that. <em>For the TPES Steering Committee it was just important that your paper does not appear on the official program or during the workshop.</em><br /> <br /> We look forward to hearing from you on this matter. Please let us know if you have any questions. </p></blockquote> <h2><strong>Appeasement or complicity?</strong>&nbsp; </h2><p>“<em>We look forward to hearing from you on this matter.</em>” Nothing less, nothing more! How could the organizers, themselves well-known academics, (be willing to) write such an outrageous email? Who urged them to remove the said papers and to “disinvite” Yasemin and Orçun? We would find out, after the scandal became public, that most members of the TPES Steering Committee were not even aware of the decision, let alone the email (see below). </p> <p>Who decided that their papers were “<em>politically very sensitive</em>” and according to which criteria? Does “<em>politically very sensitive</em>” mean critical of the regime – a full-blown autocracy with Erdoğan at its helm? How could anyone with a modicum of collegiality, professionalism, in fact sense of decency, encourage two young scholars at the beginning of their careers to attend a workshop they have been disinvited from “<em>informally</em>”, adding insult to injury? </p> <p>We do not know the answers to these questions. The statement released by TPES Steering Committee on June 30, under pressure from those appalled by the decision, pointed to “a lack of communication among the TPES Steering Committee and the Organizing Committee”, claiming that “the removal decision and its implementation took place through an intervention without the knowledge of all committee members, without following due processes of consensual decision making”. It also apologized for “the distress” they had caused the colleagues whose papers were removed and <a href="http://tpes.sabanciuniv.edu">announced</a> that the workshop has been cancelled. No mention of reimbursement for the costs incurred by the participants – which would have certainly alleviated “the distress” caused; no assumption of responsibility; no reference to accountability. Rather, a certain urge to protect the culprit(s), a warped solidarity they have spared their younger colleagues. (“An intervention”? What kind of intervention? Whose intervention?)<a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a> &nbsp;</p> <p>This incident is but the most recent, and perhaps also the most dramatic, example of the growing sense of fear and insecurity that has engulfed Turkish academia in the wake of the failed 15 July putsch. The details of the post-coup crackdown on institutions of higher education have been well-documented.<a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a> To quickly recap, more than 5000 academics have been sacked with a string of executive decrees, including hundreds of Peace Declaration signatories, approximately 20 times more than the number of academics who lost their jobs in all the military coups combined according to some estimates. </p> <p>A lifetime ban from employment as civil servants has been imposed on most of the dismissed academic personnel; and their passports have been confiscated or cancelled. In the meantime, two scholars, Mehmet Fatih Traş and Mustafa Sadık Akdağ, have committed suicide;<a href="#_ftn4">[4]</a> two others, Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça have completed 130 days of the hunger strike they have commenced in an attempt to get their jobs back. Countless others who are lucky enough to keep their passports are desperately looking for a grant or job abroad, as reports released by such institutions as Scholars at Risk (SAR), Scholar Rescue Fund, Cara Scholars at Risk Network document. </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-31425025.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-31425025.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 riot police detained demonstrators who gather at Besiktas to support detained teachers Semih Ozakca and Nuriye Gulmen, in Istanbul, Turkey, on May 23, 2017. Depo Photos/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Under such circumstances, fear is warranted, and a certain amount of caution is not only necessary but also advisable, in particular for those who have families or loved ones to care and provide for. It is not fair to ask those who do not have the means or the will to leave the country to be “heroes”, given the indifference of the not-so-silent millions who have expressed their approval of Erdoğan’s ambitions in the 16 April constitutional referendum or western leaders who, while on occasion expressing their concerns, do not hesitate to happily shake hands with Turkey’s strongman when a photo op presents itself. </p><p>But can fear explain the loathing that the victims of this ‘academic cleansing’ are exposed to, often by their own colleagues who are trying to cozy up to the regime in order to share its spoils? Could insecurity justify the complicity of hoards of administrators – among them rectors, deans, directors of centers and think tanks – who provide lists of “traitors” to be wiped out; or of the power-hungry lower-ranking “academic” who snitches on his/her colleagues to get a promotion? Last but certainly not least, will we satisfy an authoritarian regime bent on eliminating all signs of dissent, within academia or anywhere else, by pursuing a policy of “appeasement”?&nbsp; </p><h2><strong>The case for targeted academic boycott</strong></h2> <p>The answer to the last question raised above is “yes” for some – certainly, it seems, for the organizers of the 5th TPES Interdisciplinary Workshop and/or those who “urged them” to remove the allegedly politically sensitive papers. There are, however, those who disagree and call for a “<a href="https://academicboycottofturkey.wordpress.com">targeted academic boycott</a>” of the Turkish higher education system. They define themselves as a group of academics united in their commitment to academic freedom and international standards stated in various international documents on higher education, including some signatories of the Peace Declaration. </p> <p>As is the case with, say, the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/luigi-daniele/penal-populism-and-bds-movement-after-security-council-res-2334">BDS movement</a>, not everybody is a friend of this call, or boycotting in general. It is argued for instance that the call should come from “inside”, i.e. those affected; that a boycott would cause more harm than good to those who chose or had to remain, hence for whom interaction with the outside world is vital (that a boycott of the Turkish Higher Education Council would amount to an end to all EU and Erasmus projects); and that the boycott would risk destroying existing niches rather than building up alternative ones. And so on. </p> <p>Even though I am broadly sympathetic to the logic (and the feeling) behind this thinking, I do not think the counter-arguments hold much water, at least not in the case of this particular call.<a href="#_ftn5">[5]</a> </p> <p>For one thing, the lines that separate the “inside” from the “outside” are hardly clear. Most of those who have issued the call are recent, involuntary, victims of the purges themselves and do not particularly enjoy being in exile. In any case, it is not realistic to expect such bold actions from those “inside”, as the consequences would far outweigh any benefits that could be derived from these actions. Finally, those “inside” themselves turn to their colleagues “outside” for solidarity since the latter can help them in a variety of ways, by raising awareness, by mobilizing international public opinion, or simply by acting as a “ventriloque” for those whose voices are muffled.</p> <p>On the other hand, this call for academic boycott is “selective”, targeting the Higher Education Council (YÖK) and the Scientific and Technological Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) which have been the perpetrators of the regime’s oppressive policies and “complicit universities” which have not only dutifully implemented the orders given by the government, but also encouraged the remaining staff to act as “informants”. </p> <p>The targeted boycott call explicitly excludes “(a) arrangements/agreements designed to help/facilitate student exchange and (b) requests from individual academics in Turkey for visiting fellowships or similar engagements with universities outside Turkey”. As for existing niches, again, the boycott does not target institutions of higher education who nurture such niches; in any case, as the Koç-TPES controversy clearly shows, the number of such niches is shrinking by the day (the government has rounded up 72 more academics even as this essay was being written, among them academics from the hitherto “untouched” Boğaziçi University).<a href="#_ftn6">[6]</a>&nbsp; </p><h2><strong>The ghost of Neville Chamberlain</strong>&nbsp; </h2><p>I believe it is high time not only to boycott government-controlled institutions of higher education and complicit universities, but also to extend the boycott to those who are tempted by Neville Chamberlain’s dreams and pursue a policy of appeasement vis-à-vis Turkey’s rogue government, i.e. private universities such as Koç and associated centers such as GLODEM and TPES – among others – which masquerade as respectable institutions of higher education dedicated to “critical thinking, collaborative research and networking” while taking a pro-regime stance on “politically very sensitive” matters.<a href="#_ftn7">[7]</a> </p> <p>Those who took the decision to “disinvite” Yasemin Yılmaz and Orçun Selçuk and send them the above-quoted dreadful email may continue to believe, as Chamberlain did, that “they are bringing peace with honour”, then “go home and get a nice quiet sleep”.<a href="#_ftn8">[8]</a> But as the “great appeaser”, in R. A. C. Parker’s words, himself realized when the Second World War started in September 1939, they may find out that everything they have worked for, everything they have hoped for has crashed into ruins.<a href="#_ftn9">[9]</a> </p> <p>And they will be, in fact we will all be, remembered by the choices we have made in these straitened times. </p> <blockquote><p>Morality does not stop at the frontier’s edge. These principles are universal . . . It may, as a pragmatic matter, be that you can influence your own side more. But I also know from working in the Middle East for decades now that if you’re in jail in Saudi Arabia or Iran, and you feel you’re forgotten, it means a lot to know that there are people in the West who are publicizing your case, who are protesting or sending letters, which never get answered . . . It makes a difference. </p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Fred Halliday</strong><a href="#_ftn10"> [10]</a> </p></blockquote> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> I would like to thank Yasemin Yılmaz and Orçun Selçuk for sharing their story with me. The responsibility for the views expressed herein lies solely with me.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> I have contacted all members of TPES Steering Committee and GLODEM – most of whom I know personally – on 28 June 2017 via email and asked for some clarification. Out of thirteen people, only two have replied and they have both refused to make further comments.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a> See for example the <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14747731.2017.1325171">special issue of <em>Globalizations</em></a> I have edited (open access), in particular <a href="//www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14747731.2017.1325171">Özkırımlı 2017 </a>and <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14747731.2017.1325170">Kandiyoti and Emanet 2017</a>. See also <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17539153.2017.1326559">Baser et al. 2017</a> and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14683849.2017.1343148">Abbas and Zalta 2017</a>.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref4">[4]</a> See Özkırımlı 2017 for the story of Mehmet Fatih Traş.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref5">[5]</a> For the purposes of full disclosure, I would like to state that I am not part of the group which organized the boycott and have become aware of it after it has been announced publicly, like everyone else. I am, however, one of the signatories of the petition that supports it.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref6">[6]</a> <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-detentions-idUSKBN19V0RT">https://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-detentions-idUSKBN19V0RT</a> </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref7">[7]</a> <a href="http://tpes.sabanciuniv.edu/who-are-we">http://tpes.sabanciuniv.edu/who-are-we</a> </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref8">[8]</a> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/sep/05/chamberlain-munich-appeasement-second-world-war">https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/sep/05/chamberlain-munich-appeasement-second-world-war</a>. </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref9">[9]</a> R. A. C. Parker, <em>Chamberlain and Appeasement: British Foreign Policy and the Coming of the Second World War</em>. Palgrave Macmillan: London and New York, 1993, p. 1.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref10">[10]</a> <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/danny-postel/who-is-responsible-interview-with-fred-halliday">https://www.opendemocracy.net/danny-postel/who-is-responsible-interview-with-fred-halliday</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="/sinem-arslan/smear-campaign-against-academics-for-peace"> Smear campaign against Academics for Peace</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/erol-ndero-lu/me-turkey-and-our-uncertainty">Me, Turkey and our uncertainty </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/umut-ozkirimli/hej-carl-bildt-are-you-asleep-should-europe-still-stand-by-erdo"> Hej Carl Bildt, are you asleep? Should Europe still stand by Erdoğan?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/danny-postel/who-is-responsible-interview-with-fred-halliday">Who is responsible? An interview with Fred Halliday</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"> 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? North-Africa West-Asia EU Turkey Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government International politics Turkish Dawn Umut Ozkirimli Thu, 13 Jul 2017 16:11:25 +0000 Umut Ozkirimli 112257 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How could we use the EU budget to strengthen democracy? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/kl-ra-hajdu/how-could-we-use-eu-budget-to-strenghthen-democracy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In March, Jean-Claude Juncker presented five future scenarios for the European Union. They failed to include ideas about how the EU could make its citizens happier, healthier or better off.</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-31985629.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-31985629.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'>Jean-Claude Juncker. NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In March this year Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, presented five scenarios for the future of the European Union.</p><p>They failed to include ideas about how the future EU could make its citizens happier, healthier or better off. The scenarios were more about reforming European integration and finding ways to make Europeans less frustrated about the European project, as living in a peaceful cooperation without a war for many decades no longer seems to be enough. And for many people, just ask the Brits, it is clearly not enough.</p> <p>In a response to these five scenarios, European civil society came up with an alternative vision, the <a href="http://www.foeeurope.org/6thscenario">6th scenario</a>. In this paper, inspiring policy goals, with potential to unite Europeans in reinvigorating the European project are put into the spotlight. </p><p>In our view, Europe (and the whole world), needs a future with sustainability at its heart. Because it is not progress that economic growth is skyrocketing, if at the same time millions of people cannot afford food or basic services. Equally, it is not progress if we manage to eradicate poverty - for a while at least - if we do this by undermining the ecological preconditions of our wellbeing. We would still end up condemning future generations to dangerous climate change, and the loss of one third of our crop yields due to the disappearance of pollinators. </p><p>So all in all, even if we achieve absolute financial and macro-economic stability, improved security and a more efficiently managed EU, if future reform does not achieve a deep socio-economic transition towards sustainability, it is simply good for nothing.</p> <p>Of course, Juncker’s paper only presents broad ideas about European integration, and the devil is always in the detail. Following up on the five scenarios, the European Commission has published five reflection papers on different topics, including globalisation, the social dimension of Europe, and most recently on the future of EU finances. </p> <p>The reflection paper on finances includes a lot of nice language, sometimes even too nice and too optimistic in its assessment of the current situation, but it also proposes some new ideas, which could truly contribute to sustainability and building strong democracies. </p> <p>As an important innovation, it includes common European values: peace, democracy, the rule of law, freedom, fundamental rights, equality and solidarity as criteria for determining ‘EU value added’. Even though EU value added might seem like a small technical detail, it is still the most important criterion in making the decision as to whether a project or investment is worth financing with EU money. </p><p>Adding common European values to these criteria is a new idea, explicitly added to the list in response to public pressure. Others include supporting the EU objectives and obligations as enshrined in the Treaty, spill-over effects for instance between regions - as a result of Cohesion Funds payments, and the slippery concept of generating public good at a European level, which noticeably means something totally different for a Budget Commissioner and for a civil society activist. </p> <p>If the EU budget is to support European values, including peace, maybe it should not start by diverting more and more European money to defence research, or by increasing its present assistance to partner countries in capacity building, as well as in military missions. Europe must remain a peace project.</p> <p>It is also rather sad that building democracy is an emerging need in Europe, but let us face it: with recent developments in countries like Hungary, Poland or Bulgaria, where NGOs are under increasing state pressure that makes it difficult to operate freely and represent citizens’ interest, this is a &nbsp;reality. </p><p>Many Europeans think that these efforts should go well beyond supporting educational exchange programmes or NGO activism. Making the rule of law and the respect of fundamental rights an ex ante condition in accessing EU funds would be a strong message not only to national governments, but also to European citizens. </p><p>Many of us are already tired of turning “Brussels” into a punching bag for populist politicians. It is high time that the EU stands up for itself and also for its values, because no community of any kind can be successful without holding to common values. </p> <p>Of course in a strong democracy citizens need to make well informed decisions, and when it comes to the functioning of the EU, the role of national and European decision makers, and particularly to specific European decisions in areas from food security to energy performance of buildings or youth unemployment, people today are surprisingly ill informed. </p><p>Especially if it lies in the interest of national governments to keep it that way. Otherwise it would be hard to carry out national consultations when false claims such as: “<em>Hungary is committed to reducing taxes. Brussels is attacking our country on this” </em>are being made. If you are not aware: tax rules are unanimously decided in the EU, with the consent of each Member State. The EU would be doing itself a big favour if the future budget also supported programmes to improve the ‘EU literacy’ of the people. </p> <p>Surely, strong democracies, resilient economies and a fair society need to be founded on a broader basis than just a bit more knowledge and common values. Therefore, within the cross-sectoral alliance of civil society organisations <a href="https://www.sdgwatcheurope.org/">SDG Watch Europe</a>, we have developed a set of <a href="http://www.ceeweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Sustainability_principles_MFF-leaflet.pdf">sustainability principles</a>, which, if mainstreamed into the future EU budget, hold the potential for meaningful reform. </p><p>These principles should work together to ensure that EU spending and lending makes peoples’ lives better, reduces our unsustainable environmental impact and builds a resilient economy where socio-economic inequalities are reduced.&nbsp; </p><p>Within our <a href="http://www.peoplesbudget.eu/">PeoplesBudget </a>campaign, we will work towards introducing sustainability proofing, a new and innovative approach in the design and implementation of the future EU budget, which can ensure that the budget contributes in the greatest way possible to sustainability and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals for the benefit of all Europeans.&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="/ann-mettler/where-do-we-go-from-here-designing-future-of-europe">Where do we go from here? Designing the future of Europe </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/dimitris-papadimoulis/he-european-challenge-unity-return-to-growth-and-social-pil">Τhe European challenge: unity, return to growth and the social pillar </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Klára Hajdu Thu, 13 Jul 2017 16:04:16 +0000 Klára Hajdu 112260 at https://www.opendemocracy.net From civil society to political society https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/agnieszka-wi-niewska/from-civil-society-to-political-society <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="Textbody">“You can avoid paying attention to politics only until politics starts paying attention to you.” Thoughts gathered at Team Syntegrity 2017 in Barcelona.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Standard"><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_0261.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_0261.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'>Agnieszka (right) in the row of 'critics' in the foreground. Team Syntegrity 2017, Artchimboldi, Barcelona. </span></span></span>For many years now I have been meeting activists in Poland and in Europe – people working in NGOs, social movements, informal environments and cultural institutions. Some are embedded in professional western NGOs that resemble corporations, some occupy theatres or take over factories. We keep on talking about our actions, engagement, about our goals. Recently, we have started talking more about politics, because it looks as if the time when civil society ran in parallel or completely separately from politics is coming to an end. <span class="mag-quote-center">It looks as if the time when civil society ran in parallel or completely separately from politics is coming to an end.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <h2 class="Standard"><strong>Maintaining virtue in NGOs</strong></h2> <p class="Standard">Civil society is a great idea. In a perfectly liberal-democratic world, where parliament really represents society and its diversity, where politics (and the space between politics and business) is not always populated by the same people, and where political parties articulate interests and develop ideas (or at least take seriously what think tanks are telling them), instead of just serving citizens the daily pulp called ‘message of the day’ – that’s where civil society can do a lot. </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_3964.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_3964.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'>Making an icosahedron.</span></span></span>It can create a space to engage people in defending different values, in scrutinizing those in political power (in such an arrangement, guardian, ecological, feminist or social equality organizations deliver a wake-up call if problems arise, and mobilise citizens so that politicians, enlightened or not, have to deal with a given topic). It can also organize people with hobbies or those who love their local area. All of this can be done by civil society in a perfect world. But as it happens, we do not live in one.&nbsp; </p><p class="Standard">In our world, and this is clearly visible in Poland, social organizations, i.e. those that formally constituted the NGO sector, but also those working informally, have been reduced to playing the role of patching up holes in places on which the State has given up. Activists work with kids from difficult neighbourhoods, care for those with handicaps and bridge educational inequalities. The city halls or ministries sometimes even help them by providing some money – because this is good business for both cities and the State. Activists usually do more for less. </p> <p class="Standard">At the same time, in our world, we have been persuaded that politics is ugly (or maybe it has itself shown us its ugly face, so that no decent person ventures there?). Civil society was to be strictly non-political, and to keep politics at a healthy distance. This even makes sense, since back in the 90s in Poland we had an opportunity to have true politics, democratic elections and local authorities that were close to the people… And so we understood the division of labour. It was theoretically sound. </p> <p class="Standard">Unfortunately, something went wrong. Politics has become a media spectacle, and the social associations and foundations have succumbed meanwhile to an ailment known as grantoid NGO-isation. Law and Justice’s rise to power tipped the balance in our country (and Orban’s in Hungary). That ‘innocent’, apolitical time is now over. </p> <h2 class="Standard"><strong>The City is Ours, Zagreb is Ours</strong></h2> <p class="Standard">People working within social movements and organizations abroad tell me about many years of striving for the current conditions in which their actions can take place. Friends from Croatia managed to create the <a href="http://kulturanova.hr/zaklada/o-zakladi"><em>Kultura Nova</em></a> foundation, which supports social organizations working in the culture sector. They convinced the Ministry of Culture to support them. In Zagreb, they created <em>Pogon</em>, an independent culture centre which is a non-profit public cultural institution, based on an innovative civil-public partnership model. The founders and managers of <a href="http://www.upogoni.org/en/"><em>Pogon</em></a> are activists from the union called <a href="https://operacijagrad.net/"><em>Operacija:Grad</em></a> (Operation:City) and the city of Zagreb. </p> <p class="Standard">I was so envious of the team from the Croatian capital as they showed me all those organizations and all those independent spaces – such as <em><a href="https://www.timeout.com/croatia/clubs/pogon-jedinstvo">Jedinstvo</a></em> – places created to host festivals, debates, expositions by all those who wish to organize one. After a while it turned out, however, that even though my friends worked themselves to the bone, there was always a risk that a takeover by new authorities could turn all they achieved to dust. <a href="http://www.total-croatia-news.com/politics/2369-croatian-artists-protest-against-new-culture-minister">They told</a> me: “Everything which the artists and cultural sector representatives have accomplished in recent years has been trashed in a matter of just one week”.</p> <p class="Standard">So in the spring, I met a friend from Zagreb. Excited, he told me that a team of activists are going to take part in the elections: that it was not enough to ‘do civil society’ any more. In May <em>Zagreb je naš</em>! (Zagreb is OURS!) got almost 8% of the votes in local elections. </p> <p class="Standard">I heard similar stories from friends in Barcelona. In their case, mobilization was facilitated by the economic crisis. Today, some of them are running local politics after their <em>Barcelona en Comu </em>made it into the local authorities. The team from Zagreb was inspired and supported by their friends in Barcelona. After years of joint work in this environment, our contacts and mutual support are on the rise. </p> <p class="Standard">A friend from DiEM25, <a href="http://krytykapolityczna.pl/swiat/ue/zagrzeb-juz-prawie-lewacki/">Srećko Horvat told Krytyka Polityczna</a> (Political Critique): “Influenced by the experience of <em>Barcelona en Comu</em> and so called 'rebel cities', this coalition is not only bringing new and radical politics back to Croatia, but they have succeeded in something which was until now unimaginable in the Balkans: by bringing together 5 new progressive green and left political parties, <a href="https://diem25.org/diem25-members-agree-to-support-zagreb-is-ours-ahead-of-elections/"><em>Zagreb je naš</em>!</a> has proved that only by creating a broad front of progressives is there a chance to get out of our current deadlock.”</p> <p class="Standard">In Romania, the <em>Demos </em>platform wants to enter party politics. <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/claudia-ciobanu/romanias-new-kids-on-block">Andreea Petruț from Demos</a> said: “Additionally, we think that to implement our political agenda, we need both channels: the political party and civic activism in support of our values”. Then she added: “many members of our platform have been organising, participating in or at least supporting those protests.” Why do they bestir themselves? Because “the political environment in Romania is starting to become more toxic”.</p> <p class="Textbody">I remember Polish urban movements participating in the local elections in 2014. They entered the fray when some of the activists there also felt that it was the only way to bring about change, to move one’s proposals from the basket labelled “good ideas” to the one called “zoning plan”. </p> <p class="Textbody">The problem there was that some of the urban movements in Poland really badly wanted to remain ‘non-political’. They stood in local elections, but they wanted to work ‘alongside politics’, and it was difficult to tell what they meant by that. Maybe it was all about avoiding conversations about politics, i.e. seriously discussing one’s views. In the end, the city council members in Warsaw, elected from the list of Miasto Jest Nasze (The City is Ours), one by one abandoned Jan Śpiewak their leader.</p> <h2 class="Textbody">It won’t do itself </h2> <p class="Textbody">We all know a neoliberal story about the rich getting richer and the affluence trickling down, magically, or at least automatically, onto those less rich, and even entirely poor. But this is not what has happened, nor will it ever happen. </p> <p class="Textbody">The same goes for waving a magic wand when it comes to civil society. We can create hundreds, or even thousands of excellent local initiatives – in culture, in remembering forgotten history, or testing alternative economic solutions. But these experiences, or effects of these actions, will not automatically go anywhere near the parliament, where the law is written, nor the city hall, where city planning is carried out; nor will it go into the European Parliament or European Commission, where the legal framework for the EU and its members is being forged. &nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_0074.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_0074.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'>Team Syntegrity 2017 opening question.</span></span></span>I told the European Commons Assembly the same thing in November last year in the European Parliament. Brussels was then a meeting point for activists dealing with the “commons” (one of the <a href="http://www.eurozine.com/culture-with-people-not-just-for-people/">hottest topics</a> of the last few years – it is all about common goods, such as city spaces, but also available housing, culture or all those skate parks built by local communities, or city gardens planted by activists). Since the European Parliament has created an intergroup focusing on the “commons”, it was possible to hold this large meeting in Brussels. </p><p class="Textbody">Of course, we talked a lot about our experiences, we showed pictures of all those excellent initiatives, but by the evening something had snapped. The organizers invited myself and Lorenzo Marsili to meet the participants of the Commons Assembly. We are both members of DiEM25 Coordinating Collective. The evening meeting showed that those who had so far been talking about individual ‘activist’ experience, now wanted to speak about the looming Brexit, Trump winning the elections, populism gaining momentum – and what to do about it. Many said, over and over again, that they do not ‘do politics’, that the ‘commons’ are neither left nor right-wing (but let’s face it, they are definitely left). It was clear that we could not avoid talking politics any more. The old wisdom has it – <em>you can avoid paying attention to politics only until politics starts paying attention to you.</em></p> <p class="Standard">Poland is similar. In spring 2017, a coalition of NGOs started demanding that the European Commission applies Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union. The head of Amnesty International Poland, Draginja Nadażdin, <a href="http://krytykapolityczna.pl/kraj/nadazdin-smiszek-przywara-ejchart-dubois-pora-na-bunt-instytucji/">when speaking to Krytyka Polityczna said</a> “We won’t be silenced and we won’t be intimidated by the accusation that we are telling on the government. We criticize the situation that needs critical appraisal.” </p> <p class="Standard">Organizations which had so far not criticized the authorities, even though they tried to assess the impact of the situation in the country, this time unequivocally stood against the policies of the Polish government. The authorities then launched a counterattack against the NGOs. This is typical of the populists, as documented by Jan-Werner Müller in his <em>What is Populism?</em>, and as illustrated by Victor Orban and his recent ‘Foreign Agents’ law.</p> <p class="Standard">I believe that, for years, the arrangement between politicians and civil society in Poland was clear. Politicians did not pick on the NGOs as long as NGOs did their work – work which the State did not want to do. And NGOs did not pick on the politicians too much, because it was clear that sooner or later, one would have to find ways to work together. This was convenient for politicians – the smaller organizations, which often financed their activities from money assigned by a given ministry or the local authority, could barely afford to wage a war with those in power. This characteristic division of labour has been in operation since the1990s, even though it finally turned out that the NGOs took upon themselves more than they should have. </p> <p class="Standard">Finally, the political situation that, as Romanians said, turned ‘toxic’, the disillusionment brought by lack of change, and the general dissatisfaction took over. How long can one ‘do’ debates, workshops, festivals, write reports? 25 years of work and very little to show for it. We in Poland have been given some little bits – participatory budgets, election lists quotas, Culture Pact. Some people amongst us got jobs in public institutions and in city halls. Great! Local authorities can learn a lot from activists, and vice versa. But this is all too little, considering the challenges. And when Law and Justice came to power even these little bits became unreliable, and the third sector – excluding the part deemed ‘proper’ – became no longer a nagging petitioner, but an open enemy of the authorities. </p> <h2 class="Standard"><strong>Challenging the ‘apolitical’</strong></h2> <p class="Standard">There is an interesting discussion going on within the Polish NGO portal ngo.pl – should the NGOs go into politics or not? In it, <a href="http://opinie.ngo.pl/wiadomosc/2061264.html">Jan Mencwel, an activist from Warsaw, reminded everyone</a> that, “there is a false and disturbing conviction, damaging not only for the third sector but also for the form of public debate, that there is a clear moral distinction between social and ‘political’ actions – the former is pure, impeccable and altruistic, the latter being a dirty game.”</p> <p class="Standard">The discussion about NGOs and their ‘political turn’ is not necessarily about each and every NGO setting up a political party or joining one, or about all civil society representatives now having to run for public posts. It is about – as Mencwel duly noted – “questioning the ‘apolitical’ as the major virtue of a social activist.”</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_0078.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_0078.JPG" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Such challenging of the apolitical stance is well under way – in Barcelona, Zagreb and, as we see, in Poland. What we witness is what we, in Krytyka Polityczna, inspired among others by Paweł Załęski’s <em>Neoliberalism and Civil Society</em>, would like to call a transition from civil society towards a political society. </p><p class="Standard">When last year the Friedrich Ebert Foundation invited us, among other NGOs, to co-create one of the topic sessions in the Academy for Social Democracy – which was supposed to teach and to network various progressive activists, both members of political parties, as well as people working for NGOs and informal groups – our colleague <a href="http://www.eurozine.com/authors/michal-sutowski/">Michał Sutowski</a> suggested that we focus precisely on ‘political society’. By that we meant all the different kinds of people’s organizations – including parties, NGOs, campaigns and many others. We asked: how can they respond to current politics challenges, share their experience and create a practical synergy in changing political reality?</p> <p class="Standard">When we published the first issue of <em>Krytyka Polityczna</em> 15 years ago, using the bad word ‘political’ in the title, people thought we were crazy. Politics is confined to political parties – we heard. Maybe that was why, for the next 10 years, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/slawomir-sierakowski">Sławomir Sierakowski</a> has had to answer the question: when are you going to set up a party? We never did. But some of us went into politics. We are in political parties, we work in city halls, we run in elections. Both then as now, we conceive of the ‘political’ to be broad – to be a sphere of influence, exerted by different means, over public and social life.</p> <p class="Standard">Three months ago in Rome, DiEM25 presented the New European Order program. A month ago in Berlin, Yanis Varoufakis announced that, should the need arise, people from DiEM25 were ready to run in elections with this program. <span class="mag-quote-center">It is now a conversation about going into politics, following new rules, as they are sketched by citizens. </span></p> <p class="Standard">DiEM25 is not a think tank which just writes a programme, publishes it on their webpage and waits for somebody to use it. It is up to its members to decide if DIEM25 should establish an international party. When I talked to them in Berlin, some are having doubts, some quite the contrary. It is clear, however, that a conversation about changes in Europe is no longer one in which the words ‘politics’ and ‘citizens’ cannot be used in the same sentence. It is now a conversation about going into politics, following new rules, as they are sketched by citizens. </p> <p class="Standard">The idea of an apolitical civil society made some sense back in the 90s. In Krytyka Polityczna, since its inception, we have made a fuss about it, considering the ‘apolitical’ to be a scam. Today, the idea of a civil society has run out of juice. It does not fit the zeitgeist. </p> <p class="Standard">Political society is making its entry on stage. In parts of Europe it already sits in local authorities, where it is getting ready for parliamentary elections. Igor Stokfiszewski once wrote about <a href="https://wydawnictwo.krytykapolityczna.pl/zwrot-polityczny-igor-stokfiszewski-247?search_query=stokfiszewski&amp;results=7#.WUo8N4Wygfo">the ‘political turn’ in culture</a>. It is time to write about the political turn in civil society. </p> <p class="Standard"><em>This text was written during the Team Syntegrity meeting organised by openDemocracy. Conversations with people attending the meeting were most inspiring and I heartfully thank everyone who contributed.</em></p> <p class="Standard"><em>Translated by Katarzyna Byłów-Antkowiak</em><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/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="/boaventura-de-sousa-santos/podemos-wave">The Podemos wave</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/slawomir-sierakowski-tristan-sechrest/put-vaclav-havel-in-any-election-today-and-">Put Vaclav Havel in any election today and he would lose. Is that OK?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/joan-pedro-cara-ana/team-syntegrity-comprehensive-method-of-hope">Team Syntegrity, a comprehensive method of hope</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"> 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? Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Team Syntegrity Agnieszka Wiśniewska Thu, 13 Jul 2017 13:26:33 +0000 Agnieszka Wiśniewska 112241 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 'Constructive disobedience': a critique https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/emmanuel-melissaris/constructive-disobedience-critique <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>For disobedience to be justified in a fully public, democratic way it needs to be grounded in horizontal, pre-institutional political relations (an extremely difficult challenge both philosophically and politically).</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/P1150157[1].jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/P1150157[1].jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ada Colau at a public engagement event that took place in Sants-Montjuïc on 18 February 2017. Photo by Bertie Russell. CC BY-NC-SA.</span></span></span><a href="https://diem25.org/">DiEM25</a>’s call to ‘constructive disobedience’ is intriguing. It sounds promising, exciting even, but what it might mean is not immediately obvious. The explanatory note that the movement has <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/diem25/guide-to-constructive-disobedience">now published</a> is therefore extremely welcome. It is also rather unenlightening.</p> <p>DiEM25 laments the fact that “Europe is disintegrating due to the incompetent authoritarianism of its institutions”. A first-stage course of action against this malaise is ‘constructive disobedience’.</p> <p>This is a call to local institutions to occasionally disobey EU law and policy. Such action, the idea goes, is ‘constructive’ and therefore permissible when the principle on which it is grounded can be ‘universalised’. This is an explicit reference to the Kantian conception of universalisation. What the authors have in mind is something like a contradiction in the will. To oversimplify the idea: if everyone did what you propose to do, would you will the result? If not, you ought not to do it. If so, knock yourself out.</p> <p>This reference to the Kantian tradition is rather surprising given the left-leaning character of DiEM25 and, very importantly, its explicit commitment to democracy. There is also an unwarranted, conflation between Kant’s moral and political philosophies. I do not mean to take DiEM25 to task for inaccurately or inconsistently name-checking Kant; my concern is not of a philological nature. There are, however, some substantive implications to this and it is those that I want to tease out.</p> <p>First of all, it is interesting that constructive disobedience seems to be a duty of institutions (“municipalities, city councils, regions and governments”). Now, the trouble with institutions is that they are heavily circumscribed. The range of actions that is permissible for them to pursue is determined by the normative institutional nexus, in which they are placed. </p><p>This requirement is both formal – institutions must act <em>as</em> public institutions – and substantive – they must always remain in-line with the normative orientation of the institutional structure. Any departure from this normative framework means that institutions act in an unauthorised, non-public manner. </p><p>DiEM25 therefore applies the wrong universalisation test. It is not contradictions in the will that institutions must avoid; institutions very simply do not have a will in the same way as individuals do. What they are under duty to do is to remain within and maintain the rightful, civil condition, which is assumed to be the realisation of the will of the people as a unity.</p> <p>How, then, can we make sense of constructive disobedience as a departure from the institutional structure in a way that remains public? One option might be that the ‘public’ invoked by constructive disobedience is not that of the EU structure but that of local democracies. The latter then emerge as enjoying priority over the former. This, however, is not to democratise the EU; it is to shrink it by breaking it down into its constituent parts. It is therefore also inconsistent with DiEM25’s overall goal of federalism.&nbsp;</p> <p>At first one might think that “constructive” is meant in the common parlance sense of being helpful, of making some progressive contribution. But perhaps it means something else, more technical. </p><p>Perhaps it is a call to institutions to (re)construct the true spirit of EU Law in the de Toquevillian sense of appealing to the <em>consensus universalis</em> underpinning the law, which Arendt invokes in her defence of civil disobedience. Local institutions are ascribed the task of authoritatively interpreting EU law. This might also explain why “constructive” is opposed to “deconstructive” rather than to “destructive”. The idea seems to be that the EU institutional order is built interpretatively and cumulatively from all levels of administration and in light of some overarching principles.&nbsp;</p> <p>But then we stumble upon the problem of institutional closure again. How may institutions overshoot their prescribed competence, and therefore their legitimacy, and decide on non-institutional grounds without exceeding their democratic support?</p> <p>There are interpretative margins, of course. Sometimes what seems like a departure, like “disobedience”, on the part of an institution will not be that at all; it will be the permissible exercise of discretion. The question is how wide the margins of discretion are and how they are determined. DiEM25’s call to constructive disobedience implies that they are determined not by procedural and substantive rules within the institutional structure but rather by some overarching, underdetermined, and rather nebulous principles. </p><p>What these principles require, the argument might go, can be reconstructed from a philosophical perspective, which local institutions are in a position to take. This, however, happens in the absence of those whose real interests, will, beliefs ought to be represented in decision-making of this sort. The worrying upshot of this is that what emerges as the alternative to ‘incompetent authoritarianism’ is not democracy but ‘competent authoritarianism’.&nbsp;</p> <p>The intuition behind DiEM25’s constructive disobedience is sound. The institutional structure of the EU is full of cracks, which undermine democracy. Departures from these institutions might be the way of streamlining the EU and democratically reconciling local and European institutions – it is certain that disobedience has a transformative force. </p><p>However, for disobedience to be justified in a fully public, democratic, way it needs to be grounded in horizontal, pre-institutional political relations (an extremely difficult challenge both philosophically and politically). To require local institutions to exceed their democratic competence and legitimacy can only exacerbate the problem that DiEM25 sets out to solve.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/diem25/guide-to-constructive-disobedience">A guide to &quot;Constructive Disobedience&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/yanis-varoufakis-franco-berardi/resignation-letter-from-franco-bifo-berardi-to-ya">Resignation letter from Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi to DiEM25 and Yanis Varoufakis&#039; reply</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Emmanuel Melissaris DiEM25 Wed, 12 Jul 2017 14:51:27 +0000 Emmanuel Melissaris 112181 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Can mosques and minarets be tools for democracy? https://www.opendemocracy.net/serdar-m-de-irmencio-lu/can-mosques-and-minarets-be-tools-for-democracy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>If anyone has doubts about the predominance of a strain of political Islam in Turkey, this week they should be watching Turkey’s mosques. <em>Part two of three.</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-28269804.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-28269804.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 Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar delivers a speech during the Democracy and Martyrs' Rally in Istanbul, Sunday, August 7, 2016. Depo Photos/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>It is quite common for a military regime to change the names associated with public spaces (e.g., squares, avenues, streets) and public institutions (e.g., schools, hospitals), particularly if these are associated with a previous regime or ideologies designated as subversive or simply as the “arch-enemy”. After the 12 September 1980 coup in Turkey, for instance, the military regime in Turkey cleansed public spaces and institutions of “unsuitable” names.</p> <p>But it is not only the military who are interested in renaming schools. For as long as militarism is considered a viable ideology, civilian governments can also be intent on naming schools after military figures, events, or martyrs. That is exactly what has happened in Turkey. Turkey is now full of schools named after martyrs. </p> <p>Under the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has ruled Turkey since 2002, this militarist practice intensified:</p> <blockquote><p>“In 2007, for instance, the Provincial Education Directorate of Kars changed the names of seven village schools with a single decision. The schools were named after the village they were located in. These schools now carry a name that has nothing to do with the village or the region. The schools have been turned into sites marking a never-ending conflict.”<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a></p></blockquote> <p>Local governments controlled by AKP played their part diligently. Even parks for children were named after martyrs. Municipalities in Istanbul played a major role in promoting martyrdom in the context of the Battle of Gallipoli, known as the Victory of Çanakkale. But Sincan Municipality, which is part of metropolitan Ankara and long considered to be a bastion of political Islam, surpassed all others in 2012: the mayor <a href="https://sincan.bel.tr/HaberDetay.aspx?HID=207">announced</a> that 36 parks would be named after martyrs. Many parks were previously named after key figures from the Ottoman dynasty, such as Gazi Osman and Orhan Gazi. It was quite clear that the local administration had an agenda: the public needed to be reminded of the magnificent heritage of the the Ottoman Empire and young people, in particular, indoctrinated into seeing the martyrs as examples to follow.</p> <h2><strong>Mosques and vigils</strong></h2> <p>After the failed coup attempt on 15 July last year, the zeal for renaming public institutions reached an unprecedented high. This time mosques were targeted, too. Mosques, initially used to mobilize the public against the coup attempt, soon became tools for a political machine that wanted to keep the entire population on the verge of something.</p> <p>The regime was eager to develop <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/asil-peker-dogra/minarets-and-cell-towers-are-our-bayonets-reflections-on-july-15-coup-attempt-in-tu">novel channels and strategies of political communication</a>. The goal was to reinforce two notions. First, the regime was in control, and secondly, the regime and the nation were one entity. The regime was determined to use this “<a href="http://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/?fa=67826">god-sent</a>” opportunity to consolidate its control and public support.</p> <p>One of the new channels was “<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/asil-peker-dogra/minarets-and-cell-towers-are-our-bayonets-reflections-on-july-15-coup-attempt-in-tu">democracy vigils</a>”, initiated and staged by central government in AKP-controlled municipalities. Each vigil was highly publicised, totally safe to attend and orchestrated in a top-down fashion. And they had nothing to do with democracy. Rather, these provided stages for large numbers of extras to be summoned every night to deliver what they were expected to deliver – night after night. The vigil in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, for instance, was more like a major film set. It was on television, on social media, on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TW6SUE0jBmw">YouTube</a>, and politicians kept repeating the message, “<em>Democracy has been saved</em>.”</p> <p>The vigils ended on 10 August with major gatherings. In Pendik, on the Asian side, crowds were greeted with big banners at the <em>National Will Gathering</em>. They were provided with the opportunity of a photo shoot. In the background, it said “<em>Thank you Pendik, thank you Turkey, thanks for saving your will</em>”, meaning that it was the public who saved the regime. (They now saved the administration it was their will to elect.) Before the photo shoot everybody was given a flag. And it was left to the person to decide if they wanted to contribute a political message to this setup. Some contributed <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/09/what-this-hand-gesture-means-for-egypts-future/279730/">the “four finger” gesture</a>, introduced into Turkey’s political scene by President Erdoğan. The gesture, imported from Egypt, came from a tradition of hardcore political Islam.</p> <p>The vigils fulfilled a very important function. They raised the emotions, made people feel like they were part of a democracy that they had never really participated in. If the vigil and the festive activities were democracy, crowds were the living proof of it. But the vigils served a more subtle function, too: they legitimized the regime’s militarism and belief in violence. The crowds were also celebrating the violence directed at anyone and everyone accused of being associated with the failed coup, with Gülenists, and all the rest. Those who wanted to overthrow the regime were all to be regarded as subhuman, dehumanized. </p> <p>One of the many videos broadcast on television shows <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhojnBvwPgU">an officer shouting insults</a> at captive soldiers and officers in a military area in Etimesgut, in Ankara. He calls them dogs, traitor, traitor dogs and so on. The voiceover says he is teaching them a lesson. He accuses them of following someone “<em>who has not been circumcised</em>” meaning not even a Muslim. Associating non-Muslims, particularly the Armenians, with “terrorists” has been common practice for decades. Many <a href="http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/tr/contents/articles/originals/2015/10/turkey-armenian-kurds-minorities-forced-to-be-turkish.html">AKP politicians</a> have endorsed the practice and had no problem admitting that they did not have respect for non-Muslims. In 2014, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2014/08/06/is-armenian-an-insult-turkeys-prime-minister-seems-to-think-so/?utm_term=.1c0ddb136342">President Erdoğan apologized</a> for uttering the word "Armenian" in public. After 15 July, <a href="https://www.evrensel.net/daily/322754/dens-and-beasts-dehumanisation-as-politics-in-turkey">dehumanisation became the norm</a> in the way the regime framed its opponents. Opponents were simply subhuman enemies and were turned into outcasts.</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-28269902.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-28269902.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'>Flag-waving during the speech of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Democracy and Martyrs' Rally in Istanbul, Sunday, August 7, 2016. Depo Photos/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <h2><strong>Mosques with a new name</strong></h2> <p>The Directorate of Religious Affairs, which is in charge of all mosques and religious affairs in Turkey, asked all preachers to call people to the streets in the hours following the coup attempt. But the preachers were ordered to continue <em>sela</em> calls on 16 July and the following day. The mosques were turned into political tools to repeatedly remind the population of the coup attempt.</p> <blockquote><p>The last two times that the ezan and the sela were incanted outside of ritual time occurred before the Republic of Turkey’s boundaries were established in 1923. During World War I, as the British and French laid siege to Istanbul at the Battle of Gallipoli, Ottomans heard the ezan and the sela sounding across the Marmara Sea. In 1922, Greek soldiers retreating from Anatolia ostensibly left the port city of Izmir with recitations ringing in their ears. In both cases, the ezan and sela were used to marshal Ottoman Muslims to defend their communities. </p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Reciting the call to prayer outside of normalized Islamic ritual time rendered this July coup a kind of war against Turkey itself.<a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a></p></blockquote> <p>The persistent use of mosques indicated, more than anything, that Turkey was indeed in extraordinary times, a time of war. For those against political Islam, each <em>sela</em> was a reminder of that infamous line, "<em>The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets..</em>."</p> <p>Turkey was indeed under a state of emergency and the government initiated a campaign to associate mosques with the resistance to the 15 July coup attempt. The coup attempt was over and the country was under the firm control of an authoritarian regime. So clearly, the campaign to associate mosques with the resistance was first and foremost a political move.</p> <p>In August, the campaign started in İzmir. Yamanlar Koleji, one of the first of the many private schools in Turkey founded or associated by the Gülenists, was transformed into a religious school for girls. The new name of the school, <em>Şehit İlhan Varank Kız Anadolu İmam Hatip Lisesi</em>, not only sounded long and awkward but was very much an amalgamation of several victory messages. First, the school was named after a “democracy martyr”, a professor from a university in Istanbul. Secondly, the renaming proved the fact that the regime was conquering and eradicating Gülen schools and turning them into their kind of school, an “<em>imam hatip</em>” school. Third, this was going to be a girls-only school in a city where such schools and the regime were not welcome. The private school had a large structure built as a mosque but used as a library. The structure was also seized and turned into a mosque with the name “<em>15 July Martyrs Mosque</em>.”</p> <p>Pendik, a big municipality on Istanbul’s Asian side, was next. A mosque commissioned by a businessman who had made a fortune in the construction business was renamed “15 July Martyrs Mosque.” The businessman was linked to Gülen. He was first arrested and then released with an <a href="http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/halit-dumankayanin-ayak-bilegine-elektronik-kelepce-takildi-40124945">electronic device</a> attached to his leg. His business empire was under attack by the regime. Amidst these troubles, he asked the mosque to be renamed.</p> <p>More mosques were renamed as the <em>15 July Martyrs Mosque</em>. In Bahçelievler, on the European side of Istanbul, a mosque that carried the name Çobançeşme, the name of the neighborhood, was renamed. In Bafra, a city near Samsun in the north, a mosque named after Ismet Pasha (Ismet Inönü) was renamed. Also in the North, a new mosque in a village called Üyükören was renamed.</p> <p>In Antalya, in the south, Denizkenarı Mosque was renamed. In Çerkezköy, which is the west near Tekirdağ, Tepe Emlak Konutları Mosque also became 15 July Martyrs Mosque. In Çelikhan, which is in the east about 90 km. from Adıyaman, a groundbreaking ceremony for the 15 July Nation Martyrs Mosque took place. And in central Turkey, a new mosque was built in a village called Hilalli in Çorum Province, also with the same name.</p> <h2><strong>Not only in Turkey</strong></h2> <p>What is particularly amazing is the geographical spread of the idea to name mosques after 15 July. One of the first mosques to be named as such was located in Bulgaria: It was named as “<a href="http://www.kircaalihaber.com/?pid=3&amp;id_news=17797">15 July Democracy Martyrs Mosque</a>” on 21 August. The opening ceremony was attended by the heads of the Muslim religious establishment in Bulgaria and also by three high-level representatives of the DOST party.</p> <p>The idea reached as far as Kyrgyzstan, thanks to the <a href="https://www.ihh.org.tr/en">IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation</a>, which is very closely associated with AKP, and said to be active in more than 100 countries. For years it commissioned mosques around the world, including the biggest mosque in Vietnam. Recently, the foundation named <a href="https://www.ihh.org.tr/haber/ihhdan-kirgizistana-3-yeni-cami">two of three mosques it commissioned in Kyrgyzstan</a> after the 15 July Martrys.</p> <h2><strong>Diyanet working overtime</strong></h2> <p>The renaming campaign was led by the Directorate of Religious Affairs (or Diyanet), which is now an extension of the ruling party. It is provided with the budget of 5-6 ministries combined. It now has a television channel, a radio channel, many publications and vast powers. Now nobody in Turkey seems to be surprised when Diyanet backs each and every political move by the regime.</p> <p>This week Diyanet is working over time. Diyanet is supposed to oversee religious activities but this week it is busy organizing many activities, including a new publication: a new book (<em>15 July as Told by the Veterans</em>), a documentary and short films about 15 July. Next, an special exhibition with 15 July as the theme. Diyanet publishes a monthly magazine: this July it has a special issue dedicated to 15 July. High-level Diyanet officers are going to visit the families of “15 July martyrs” and also the “15 July veterans”.</p> <p>Friday is when Diyanet is always more active. On 14 July, special activities, all titled “<em>Commemoration of Our Martyrs</em>,” will be held across the country in Quran courses for children. Quran reading sessions will be held across the country before Friday prayers. One hundred thousand prayers will read in honor of martyrs. Friday prayers and the sermons will focus on 15 July.</p> <p>And then there will be activities on 15 July. Diyanet will hold special activities with the slogan, “<em>From Coups that Silenced Prayers to Sala that Silenced Prayers</em>.” A web page devoted to 15 July will be published. And on Saturday night Diyanet will organize for sala calls from minarets at 00:13 across the country in 90 thousand mosques. The lights of the mosques and minarets will be on all night.</p> <p>Diyanet was founded to oversee and manage religious affairs, and to serve the new secular republic. It is not part of any ministry. It is attached to the Prime Minister’s Office, just like many other key agencies. In the 80s it turned into an umbrella for variants of political Islam to organize under. Under AKP, it turned into a political mechanism serving the regime. </p> <p>After 15 July and under the state of emergency, Diyanet has no reason to be shy. The regime has no reason to be careful. Mosques, funerals, martyrs are all in the service of a one-man regime. If anyone has any doubts about the predominance of this strain of political Islam in Turkey, this week they should be watching the mosques in Turkey and aware of how mosques, as well as schools and parks have been renamed. </p> <p>Last year the regime in Turkey organized an unprecedented campaign to make the world believe that last year democracy was saved on 15 July. It is true that the regime survived. And the regime has turned the coup attempt into a survival strategy because it has no other way to claim legitimacy. The <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/serdar-m-de-irmencio-lu/governor-is-busy">frenzy around 15 July</a> has a very good explanation. That infamous line, "<em>The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers</em>," fits the strategy well.</p><hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> http://www.wri-irg.org/en/story/2011/militarism-all-over-schools-turkey</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> http://theconversation.com/turkeys-coup-and-the-call-to-prayer-sounds-of-violence-meet-islamic-devotionals-63746.</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="/serdar-m-de-irmencio-lu/governor-is-busy">The governor is busy</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-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia Turkey Turkish Dawn Serdar M. Değirmencioğlu Wed, 12 Jul 2017 08:05:53 +0000 Serdar M. Değirmencioğlu 112224 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Competing conservatisms in Serbia and Croatia https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/vassilis-petsinis/competing-conservatisms-in-serbia-and-croatia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Nationalist conservatives are dominating the political scenes in Serbia and Croatia, but how do they compare and differ in the way they rule?</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-31860465.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-31860465.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="289" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Serbian PM Ana Brnabic, who is openly gay, was nominated for the position by President Aleksandar Vucic, leader of the nationalist conservative SNS. Predrag Milosavljevic/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The last few years have witnessed the domination of Serbia’s and Croatia’s political landscapes by two, nominally, conservative parties of the centre-right: the Serbian Progressive Party-SNS and the Croatian Democratic Community-HDZ.</p><p>Despite their shared Yugoslav heritage, the evolutionary trajectories of these two parties into prevalent political actors are qualitatively different. The main questions here are: How did the SNS and the HDZ come to dominate Serbia’s and Croatia’s political spectrums? What does this tell us about the outlooks of these two parties towards the EU? </p> <h2><strong>SNS: reformation as de-radicalization<em></em></strong></h2> <p>On 24 February 2003, the Serbian Radical Party-SRS leader, Vojislav Sešelj, surrendered himself to the ICTY. Although he officially retained party-leader status, the actual administration passed into the hands of Tomislav Nikolić; one of Sešelj’s most trusted associates. </p><p>Back then, Aleksandar Vučić was a young and ambitious SRS-cadre who had served as Information Minister in Mirko Marjanović’s short-lived government (1998-2000). At that early stage, Nikolić and Vučić vowed to preserve Sešelj’s legacy. Vučić especially castigated the EU for its ‘blatant disregard’ of Serbian national interests and its ‘cultural imperialism’ (e.g. the alleged ‘imposition’ of LGBT rights). He even contributed the <a href="http://www.atvbl.com/vuciceva-proslost-engleski-pederski-isprdak-toni-bler/">foreword</a> for a book, published by Vojislav Sešelj in 2005, bearing the title: ‘English homosexual minnow: Tony Blair’ (Serbian title: ‘<em>Engleski pederski isprdak: Toni Bler’</em>). </p> <p>Throughout most of the 2000s, the SRS exerted a powerful appeal to rural voters and to certain segments of the urban proletariat. The party succeeded in maintaining the groupness<em> </em>of an electorate which consisted of target-groups as heterogeneous as: anti-Western nationalists; former voters of Slobodan Milošević’s Socialist Party-SPS; and various ‘losers’ of the transition. However, the SRS never made it to the halls of power as result of last moment <em>cordon sanitaire</em> arrangements among the centrist and centre-right parties. </p><p>These political forces had been marred by fragmentation which was subject to conflicting ideological prerogatives or, even worse, inter-personal antipathies. For instance, the legalistic and statist political culture of the Democratic Party of Serbia-DSS often came at odds with the ‘Third Way’ outlooks adopted by the centrist Democratic Party-DS. Meanwhile, the simultaneous emphasis on the EU accession process and the preservation of conservative values (e.g. the informal partnership between the Serbian Orthodox Church and the state) would render the Serbian Renewal Movement-SPO a peculiarly <em>sui generis </em>political actor. </p> <p>Tomislav Nikolić started to elaborate more efficient ways for the SRS to capitalize on these cleavages among their rivals and establish a firmer foothold on the political mainstream. In short, he proposed that: lesser emphasis should be put on nationalism; greater stress should be placed on reforming the economy and other domestic issues; the EU accession process should be conditionally endorsed. </p><p>After a series of tense disagreements, Nikolić departed from the SRS and was soon joined by Vučić. Officially proclaimed on 21 October, 2008, the Serbian Progressive Party-SNS assumed the identity of a centre-right party and endorsed accession to the EU under the fundamental condition that Serbia’s national interests in its neighbourhood (e.g. Kosovo and Republika Srpska) are effectively safeguarded. </p><p>In light of the global economic crisis, the ‘Third Way’ prerogatives, espoused by the DS, quickly lost their popular appeal whereas the other parties have been continuously failing to project a sound alternative to the masses. As result of this reformation process and realignments on the macro-political level, the SNS has come to <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/vassilis-petsinis/enter-serbias-orb-n-aleksandar-vu-i-and-his-catch-all-politics">dominate</a> a continuum that stretches from the boundaries of the liberal centre all the way to the conservative right.</p> <h2><strong>HDZ: reformation as byproduct of systemic transformation<em></em></strong></h2> <p>President Franjo Tuđman’s death (10 December 1999) was a watershed for Croatia. The absence of equally charismatic figures within the HDZ and the widespread fatigue after a decade of nationalism and warfare diverted electoral support towards the Social Democrats-SDP. During its term in government, the SDP initiated a s<em>ystemic transformation</em> which consisted of: the restriction of Presidential competencies; the substantial upgrading of legislation on <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17449057.2012.751173">minority rights</a>; the emphatic commitment to Croatia’s accession process to the EU. </p><p>These developments spurred the marginalization of the more nationalistic and Eurosceptic elements within the HDZ as well as this party’s expression of firm endorsement to Croatia’s trajectory towards the EU. Throughout all of this though, the HDZ remained rather critical over the external pressures for steadier cooperation with the ICTY (e.g. the case of general Ante Gotovina) and the public use of Serb Cyrillic script in multiethnic municipalities (e.g. Eastern Slavonia). These external pressures generated discontent among the Croatian public, especially the residents of rural constituencies with the most traumatic memories from the latest conflict. &nbsp;</p> <p>The ensuing capitalization on these grievances enabled the HDZ-leader, former PM Ivo Sanader, to form two consecutive governments between 2003 and 2009 (later to be replaced by the new PM, Jadranka Kosor). Meanwhile, the participation of the Independent Democratic Serbian Party-SDSS in the first Sanader government, as a coalition partner, clearly hinted at the HDZ’s substantial reformation or ‘de-Tuđmanization’ (Croatian: <em>Detuđmanizacija</em>). </p><p>Throughout that period, the HDZ had to rely on support from coalition partners and did not succeed in establishing itself as a preponderant actor in its own right. Even worse, allegations over Sanader’s direct involvement in acts of <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-11969520">fraud</a> took a negative toll on the party’s public image.</p> <p>Most recently, the HDZ emerged victorious in the 2016 parliamentary elections although it still has to rely on support from smaller coalition partners. Furthermore, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović was the HDZ nominee for the 2015 presidential elections. The key to the party’s enduring success should be sought in the ‘selective re-appropriation’ of elements from Franjo Tuđman’s legacy which was officially spearheaded by <a href="https://www.vecernji.hr/vijesti/karamarko-ni-za-pavelica-ni-za-tita-moramo-se-vratiti-tudjmanu-407309">Tomislav Karamarko</a> during his tenure as HDZ-leader. </p><p>This change of course seems to resonate with the dominant mood among several layers of the electorate during the last few years. The HDZ, as well as the SNS, have mutually capitalized on varying shades of Euroscepticism in Croatia and Serbia with the objective to enhance the appeal to their target-groups. However, how similar the policymaking patterns of these two parties <em>actually</em> are? &nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Conservative values versus political maneuvering &nbsp;</strong></h2> <p>Croatia’s entry to the EU (2013) brought about several benefits for the country. EU-membership has facilitated Croatia to promote and upgrade its tourist industry whereas, in light of the <a href="https://tradingeconomics.com/croatia/youth-unemployment-rate">youth unemployment</a>, it has also enabled a younger generation of highly-qualified professionals to seek employment opportunities within the common European space. </p><p>Nevertheless, the persistence of the economic and the refugee crises inside the EU rendered a growing percentage among the Croatian public highly sceptical over the actual timing. Moreover, an extensive network of extra-parliamentary actors has been still seeking political capital out of public grievances over minority rights (e.g. <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/vukovar-bilingualism-introduce-faces-violent-resistance">war veteran associations</a>) as well as LGBT rights (e.g. several groupings affiliated to the Catholic Church). </p><p>In response to these public grievances, the HDZ granted its assent to the constitutional referendum on the <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-25172778">same-sex marriage ban</a> (2013). Most recently, the party endorsed the Zagreb Mayor’s decision to <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/zagreb-mayor-opts-for-renaming-tito-s-square-06-27-2017-1">rename</a> Marshall Tito square into the Square of the Republic of Croatia. </p> <p>This endeavor to remove vestiges of the Communist past and the simultaneous endorsement of conservative values helps forge a rudimentary bridge between the HDZ and, say, the conservative parties of Hungary and/or Poland. By contrast to these governments, during the refugee crisis, Croatia <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2015/sep/18/refugee-crisis-hungary-builds-border-fence-with-croatia-live-updates#block-55fbea61e4b0c46d88e0313a">objected</a> to the erection of razor wire fences along its borders. </p><p>However, the HDZ-led government staunchly scrutinizes the long-term viability of the EU’s quotas arrangement for refugees. Largely as consequence of the country’s more recent entry to the EU, Eurosceptic speech in Croatia is not as vocal as within the ‘Visegrad Four’ group. </p><p>Nevertheless, the party’s attempts to capitalize on cultural<em> </em>Euroscepticism in public discourse (e.g. the allegedly ‘external imposition’ of minority/LGBT rights and the refugee quotas) has elicited the more emphatic embedment of HDZ into the conservative right. </p> <p>The state of affairs in Serbia seems to be qualitatively different. Although still incorporating a cultural component, the latest wave of Serbian ‘Euroscepticism outside the EU’ has been predominantly geopolitical. During his tenure as the Serbian President (2012-2017), Tomislav Nikolić concretized the doctrine of <a href="http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/bueros/belgrad/13440.pdf">‘Balkan’ foreign policy</a>. </p><p>Without halting the EU-accession process, this notion addresses a foreign policy of equal distance from Euro-Atlantic institutions and other global partners (mainly Russia). At an early stage, this pattern of policymaking was prompted by the occasional friction with Brussels and powerful Western governments (e.g. Germany) over Kosovo and other vital issues in regional geopolitics. Within the current context of the economic and the refugee crises, this concept clearly resonates with the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.b92.net/info/vesti/index.php?yyyy=2017&amp;mm=06&amp;dd=19&amp;nav_category=12&amp;nav_id=1273800">declining appeal</a>&nbsp;of the prospective EU-membership among the Serbian public.</p><p> Furthermore, the entrenchment of SNS as the preponderant political force has provided President Vučić with plenty of room for tactical and situationally adaptive maneuvering. This has facilitated the Serbian President to placate a broad range of nationalistic/conservative interest groups in the interior (e.g. the <a href="http://rs.n1info.com/a251513/Vesti/Vesti/Rehabilitovan-Nikola-Kalabic.html">historical restitution</a> of controversial figures from the Second World War) while, simultaneously, extending symbolic gestures towards Brussels in regards to the Serbian government’s standard commitment to the EU system of values (e.g. the latest appointment of openly gay <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/15/serbia-gains-its-first-female-and-gay-prime-minister-ana-brnabic">Ana Brnabić</a> as PM). </p><p>Although it might appear precarious to proceed to solid predictions for the future, it becomes visible that the HDZ has embarked on a more decisive course towards the conservative right in a comparable fashion to centre-right parties in Central Europe (albeit the Eurosceptic voices inside this party remain considerably milder). </p><p>Meanwhile, in Serbia, the long-term sustainability of the SNS’ political maneuvering is conditional upon the potential of the other political forces, as well as civic and extra-parliamentary actors, to project a convincing alternative to the electorate.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/vassilis-petsinis/enter-serbias-orb-n-aleksandar-vu-i-and-his-catch-all-politics">Enter Serbia&#039;s ‘Orbán’? Aleksandar Vučić and his catch-all politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/tom-junes/trump-pandered-to-polish-nationalist-right-to-sell-gas">The real reason Trump went to Poland</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Croatia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Serbia </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? Serbia Croatia Vassilis Petsinis Tue, 11 Jul 2017 16:33:08 +0000 Vassilis Petsinis 112198 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Single market maze contains clues to complex Brexit puzzle https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/william-davison/single-market-maze-contains-clues-to-complex-brexit-puzzle <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>While political debate over Brexit sidestepped the complexities of the single market, domestic volatility makes replicating trading arrangements much more difficult.</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/500209/7345216194_7f568745f5_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/7345216194_7f568745f5_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'>Robotic surgery – state of the art in 2012,at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, Va. Flickr/US army image. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>In many ways the hi-tech firm just outside Cambridge fits into a vision of an optimistic future for the British economy sketched out by breezy Brexit advocates. </p> <p>In a leafy business park, highly educated workers dart around a lab fine-tuning the operation of a robot that could soon be performing keyhole surgery across the globe. A technician wearing 3-D goggles grips a surgeon console that looks as if it belongs in a virtual-reality arcade, not an operating theatre, and guides a mechanical arm on his screen so an instrument plucks a suture. Health industry representatives from the UK and Europe are due to arrive later that day to cast their eye over the prototype.</p> <p>Brexit visionaries like Conservative European parliamentarian Daniel Hannan have <a href="http://www.conservativehome.com/thecolumnists/2017/02/daniel-hannan-a-singapore-style-economy-isnt-a-threat-its-a-growth-strategy.html">argued</a> that when the economy breaks free from the clutches of the European Union's overbearing bureaucracy, many such value-adding innovators will explore global markets from their newly deregulated, low-tax, UK base.</p> <p>Others, like Chief Executive Officer of Cambridge Medical Robotics (CMR), Martin Frost, have somewhat more mundane views about impending departure from the EU. Those centre on what the separation will mean for the medical devices regulatory system, which ends in products receiving a CE (European Conformity) mark, allowing them to be sold across the <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/growth/single-market_en">European Single Market</a> without further checks.</p> <p>"We always built our product to be relevant to Europe and the United States. And that's when we get concerned about what that regulatory regime will look like in Europe in 2020," he says.</p> <p>For a company like CMR, which is developing a complex device, the uncertainty is a problem, as it needs to know, for example, what safety features to design almost a decade in advance. A dramatic change in the regulatory environment could cost the company millions of pounds. Unfortunately for Frost, and thousands of businesses with similar concerns, certainty about what even the outlines of Brexit will amount to is in short supply. </p> <p>The reason for that is primarily because there has been precious little substantive national debate about the post-separation trade options that the government can pursue. The referendum was fought on political rather than economic grounds and the bitter divisions it exacerbated still very much shape media reporting and public attitudes. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>After the referendum, Prime Minister Theresa May's new government could have decided that, while it had to take the country out of the EU, leaving the Single Market was an unnecessarily daunting and risky challenge. However, May <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/the-governments-negotiating-objectives-for-exiting-the-eu-pm-speech">embraced</a> the idea of a clean break in order to focus on controlling immigration and reclaiming sovereignty, which includes ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).</p> <h2><strong>The Single Market</strong></h2> <p>Since the surprise loss of a Conservative majority in the June election, that strategy has come under increased scrutiny. But the discussion of Brexit options in the interests of protecting the economy is poorly defined and ill-informed, partly because of the complexities of the multi-layered single market. </p> <p>The resulting lack of clarity from a weakened, divided, and distracted political class means even staunch Brexit supporters acknowledge the path to a smooth departure is increasingly strewn with obstacles. And a large proportion of those come from the ending of painstakingly constructed regulatory unions that are key to freeing up trade.</p> <p>The Single Market has been at the core of the European integration project since its inception. Today's arrangements stem from the creation of the <a href="http://www.ab.gov.tr/files/ardb/evt/1_avrupa_birligi/1_3_antlasmalar/1_3_1_kurucu_antlasmalar/1957_treaty_establishing_eec.pdf">European Economic Community</a> (EEC) in 1957 which aimed to build a common market according to freedom of movement principles. The UK joined France, Germany and four others in the EEC in 1973 after the existing members had completed a Customs Union in 1968 to abolish internal tariffs. Successful efforts to revitalize integration in the 1980s led to the formal declaration of the Single Market in 1993. </p> <p>Superficially, the Single Market appears straightforward and finite. It facilitates borderless trade between member states by creating an economic zone for Europe as if it is one country. For example, it gives a printing cartridge manufacturer in Leicester as much right to set up an office and do business in Lyon as it has to do so in Liverpool. Crucially, participating countries have to accept in principle the freedom of movement of goods, people, services and capital.</p> <p>While that overview is accurate, the Single Market is also an evolving, fragmented, labyrinthine process to set rules and standards across almost all sectors in order to regulate economic interactions and thereby try and facilitate cross-border business in the EU and connected trade blocs. Despite considerable progress at harmonisation, the effort is continuous. For example, the EU Commission is trying to <a href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2014/510981/EPRS_STU%282014%29510981_REV1_EN.pdf">improve</a> internal energy, capital and digital markets and is incorporating international plans to reduce corporate tax avoidance. Many EU standards stem from the work of other <a href="http://www.fao.org/fao-who-codexalimentarius/en/">multinational bodies</a>. </p> <p>To ensure the market's laws are followed there is an accompanying apparatus of organisations to inspect, verify and certify, while the ECJ is the arbitrator of disputes. Leaving means undoing this work and undertaking a laborious effort to replace it, rather than, for example, pushing ahead to try and establish common markets in significantly non-integrated service sectors like healthcare or construction.</p> <h2><strong>Regulatory union</strong></h2> <p>Although CMR's robot surgeon is indeed at the frontier of technological advances, the market for medical devices is well established, as is the EU regulatory system for them. The barriers to trade erected by leaving that system are just one example among thousands of the costly disruption that will be caused by leaving the Single Market.</p> <p>For CMR, the path to the CE mark is complying with the UK's <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2002/618/introduction/made">Medical Devices Regulations</a>, which stem from EU directives with instructions such as: 'the measurement, monitoring and display scale must be designed in line with ergonomic principles.' As it's a high-risk product, it would then apply to one of five EU 'notified bodies' in the UK who assess compliance and issue the CE mark.</p> <p>If Brexit occurs as planned, the UK will no longer have EU notified bodies, which means applying to one based in Europe. Frost would therefore like the status quo maintained, even if the UK exits the Single Market, but that appears to be impossible: ending membership means rupturing the regulatory union. There are comparable dilemmas for the valuable <a href="https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmenvaud/912/91203.htm#_idTextAnchor004">chemicals</a> industry and many other heavily regulated sectors. </p> <p>One of the organisations responsible for medical devices is the British Standards Institute (BSI), which <a href="https://www.bsigroup.com/en-US/medical-devices/News-center/E-updates/2017-enews/eu-referendum-result/">said</a> it is confident a deal can be struck whereby UK assessors would be treated as equivalent to EU notified bodies. After negotiating trade deals, seven non-EU rich nations have similar <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/growth/single-market/goods/international-aspects/mutual-recognition-agreements_en">arrangements</a> for some industries. But despite the BSI's bullishness, which echoes the government's Brexit aspirations, this option has the same downsides as other Single Market alternatives: regardless of the existing convergence, negotiating and then implementing fresh regulatory regimes for all industries simultaneously as part of a UK-EU trade deal will probably take years, and the result will be less smooth trade anyway. It's also currently unclear what transitional arrangements could be set up in the meantime, especially without May relaxing her stance on the ECJ.</p> <p>While the BSI position elicits queries, Frost's notion that medical device regulations can be dealt with separately from the Single Market, which he sees as primarily about eliminating tariffs, is, at best, optimistic. Such views are symptomatic of a muddled debate about Brexit and the global economy, according to Matthew Bishop, a senior lecturer in international politics at Sheffield University.</p> <p>Bishop argues that modern trade deals are less about tariffs on finished products – it's <a href="http://unctad.org/en/pages/PressRelease.aspx?OriginalVersionID=113">estimated</a>, for example, that 80 percent of global trade is within value chains controlled by multinationals – and much more focused on the arcane regulatory arrangements that govern market interactions, including associated issues like labour and environmental rules. </p> <p>And trade in Europe isn't shaped solely by Single Market rules. Instead it stems from a "fiendishly complicated cornucopia of bilateral and multilateral agreements", including the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Bishop said. The Brexiteer idea that deregulating will boost UK exports is therefore largely a fallacy, he believes, as market access through trade deals always means adhering to detailed rules.</p> <h2><strong>Massive risks</strong></h2> <p>Given this messy, precarious reality, Bishop is bewildered by the blasé approach from nominally pro-business Conservatives to the Single Market, which anchors the UK's position in the global trading system. "I personally just cannot believe that a Conservative government especially is taking such massive risks with the British economy," he said. <span class="mag-quote-center">"I personally just cannot believe that a Conservative government especially is taking such massive risks with the British economy," he said</span></p><p>As the onerous realities of separation loomed after the referendum, there was already uncertainty about the best way forward among Conservatives. Since the election, Treasury minister Philip Hammond has become prominent in stressing the need for a Brexit that protects the economy. But, so far, he has not proposed any tangible deviations from the government's February <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-united-kingdoms-exit-from-and-new-partnership-with-the-european-union-white-paper">position paper</a>. </p><p>This lack of clarity among Conservatives is matched by Labour under left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn. In its election <a href="http://www.labour.org.uk/page/-/Images/manifesto-2017/Labour%20Manifesto%202017.pdf">manifesto</a> the party supported ending the freedom of movement of people while retaining the benefits of the Single Market. That is against the principles of the EU project, and nobody is suggesting Brussels will make a positive exception for the UK. Indeed, many people think European leaders want the separation deal to serve as a warning for others tempted to follow the UK's path.</p> <p>Still, the Labour leadership may maintain its fuzzy stance and let the Conservatives grapple with Brexit while it focuses on pressing home its domestic advantage by continuing to oppose austerity. A senior party source said the emphasis will be on opposing Conservatives’ efforts to use the excuse of Brexit to slash taxes and regulations in order to maintain competitiveness. </p> <p>Although Labour attracted many Remain voters, long-term Eurosceptic Corbyn has concerns about some Single Market rules, such as limiting state aid to industry and banning government procurement favouring local firms, the source said. That makes a change in approach unlikely, despite the growing pressure from other factions in the party. <span class="mag-quote-center">A senior party source said the emphasis will be on opposing Conservatives’ efforts to use the excuse of Brexit to slash taxes and regulations in order to maintain competitiveness.</span></p> <h2><strong>Gradual decoupling</strong></h2> <p>A long-term EU critic who has a clearer strategy is researcher, author and <a href="http://eureferendum.com/">blogger</a> Richard North. He has been plotting a practical decoupling for over a decade. North, a UK Independence Party candidate in northern England for European <a href="http://howtobeacompletebastard.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/putting-history-to-bed.html">elections</a> in 2004, exudes contempt for a London-centric establishment he says is incapable of learning from outsiders. </p> <p>He believes this elite's lack of detailed understanding of the EU has led to misconceptions surrounding Brexit snowballing. Some of his research illustrating this point is striking. For example, it became <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/sky-views-were-staying-in-the-customs-union-and-heres-why-10634866">received wisdom</a> that staying in the Customs Union was an option and that exiting it would mean the reintroduction of border checks. These claims are misleading, according to North, despite their being underpinned by research from the Treasury.</p> <p>Instead, while the Customs Union abolished internal tariffs, it was the development of other elements of the Single Market that eliminated border checks as regulations were standardized. So, if the UK left the Single Market, livestock exports, for example, would need inspecting at the border, unless regulatory harmonization was re-established. A Customs Union would not prevent that and, regardless, leaving it is set to occur automatically upon Brexit. US investment bank J.P. Morgan has arrived at similar <a href="http://www.eureferendum.com/documents/JPM%20Customs%20Union.pdf">conclusions</a>, while the EU lead negotiator's comments also support this type of view.</p> <p>Still, despite such confusion, as the process staggers forward, North has at least planned for it. The thrust of his preferred approach is that because the current level of integration took 44 years to achieve, separation should be incremental. For him, this means leaving the EU, but not immediately exiting the Single Market. That can be done by applying to re-join the European Free Trade Area (EFTA). EFTA members Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are part of the Single Market through the <a href="http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/ALL/?uri=CELEX:21994A0103(01)">Agreement on the European Economic Area</a>. If the EU <a href="http://www.efta.int/faq">agreed</a>, the UK could re-join the EEA through EFTA. Some <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/what-is-transitional-brexit-explained-theresa-may-deal-article-50-a7430456.html">commentators</a> think this option could form the basis of a transitional arrangement, but an EFTA source said that was unlikely.</p> <p>In North's opinion, other paths are riskier. The government’s plan to negotiate and implement a comprehensive trade deal is likely to take years, despite existing regulatory convergence. Trading on WTO terms means another complex period of <a href="https://tradebetablog.wordpress.com/2017/01/06/limits-of-possibility/">haggling</a> as, for example, the UK's duty-free import quotas are cleaved out of the EU's. And it would, again, also mean ending regulatory union, which would stifle access to an EU market that accounts for around 45 percent of UK exports, or £222 billion in 2015. Richard North worries that a failure to follow the EFTA/EEA strategy risks derailing Brexit entirely as the process gets bogged down in years of talks. <span class="mag-quote-center">Richard North worries that a failure to follow the EFTA/EEA strategy risks derailing Brexit entirely as the process gets bogged down in years of talks.</span></p> <h2><strong>Negotiating pain</strong></h2> <p>However, deciding to pursue that option, which has been lurking somewhere on the national agenda since the referendum campaign, would only be a baby step. The government would still have to sell the deal to Conservatives who want a clean break. That would be tough, as remaining part of the Single Market via EFTA/EEA means abiding by relevant EU regulations, contributing to the union's budget, accepting decisions of a non-British court, and accepting in principle the freedom of movement of people. </p> <p>Helping the cause would be the fact that once part of the EEA as an EFTA member, the <a href="http://www.efta.int/media/documents/legal-texts/eea/the-eea-agreement/Main%20Text%20of%20the%20Agreement/EEAagreement.pdf">agreement</a> allows the parties to unilaterally take measures that could plausibly be used to control immigration. Uncontrollable movement from the EU, it should not be forgotten, was a significant factor in the referendum. </p> <p>Amid the fallout from the Grenfell fire tragedy, which highlighted the importance of effective regulation, May's minority government has begun negotiations with Brussels, but trade is not yet on the table. </p> <p>Instead, the parties are focusing first on the future rights of UK citizens living in the EU and vice-versa, agreeing the financial accounting of the separation, and the plan for the Irish border, which is currently relatively open, but is set to become the EU and single market frontier. If progress is made in these tricky initial discussions, talks on trade could occur this year, but it's unclear how much detail the EU is willing to go into before the UK departs. Meanwhile, a group of Labour <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jun/20/labour-politicians-join-forces-to-fight-against-tories-hard-brexit?CMP=share_btn_tw">parliamentarians</a> have broken ranks with Corbyn to say the UK should stay in the Single Market. Included in that faction was Daniel Zeichner, the member for strongly pro-EU Cambridge, who resigned from the shadow cabinet in late June over the issue. </p> <p>On the fringes of this wealthy, liberal city, in the weeks after the shock election, Frost, an experienced tech entrepreneur, has been hosting busloads of Chinese health industry types, eager to scrutinize CMR's ground-breaking surgeon-robot. He's planning to tap into financing to get his device to market within a year or so and is confident the globally focused venture will succeed, whatever Brexit brings. Like many in the UK, he hopes that the hung parliament and a chastened government mean a less economically disruptive deal. </p> <p>But despite the reassuring noises from ministers and their opposition counterparts about seeking a separation that is in the interests of jobs and business, Frost recognizes that there is still a lack of clarity and lots of unhelpful uncertainty around. "Brexit is just a pain for us," he said.</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/john-weeks/trade-access-unemployment-and-other-single-market-mythologies">Brits should remember the spirit of cooperation at the root of the EU single market</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </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? uk EU UK Conflict Democracy and government International politics Brexit2016 William Davison Tue, 11 Jul 2017 08:04:51 +0000 William Davison 112190 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The governor is busy https://www.opendemocracy.net/serdar-m-de-irmencio-lu/governor-is-busy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>No matter how large or crowded Istanbul becomes, the centralized government structure does not change. There is always a single governor... <em>Part one of three.</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-31628117.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-31628117.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'>Soldier's funeral ceremony in Istanbul,1 June, 2017. Can Erok/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>About a decade ago nobody could tell where Istanbul started and ended. Now a decade later, metropolitan İstanbul is larger than ever. The population has reached 15 million. The metropolitan area is so big that it is now divided into about 40 municipalities. But no matter how large or crowded Istanbul becomes, the centralized government structure does not change. There is always <a href="http://www.istanbul.gov.tr/en/governorship-of-istanbul/governor-of-istanbul">a single governor</a>.</p> <p>With this type of centralized government structure, one would expect the governor to be extremely busy. In a metropolitan area with 15 million, the governor must be busy every minute of the day. And given the fact that Istanbul is an ever-expanding city, the governor must be thinking about the future of the city all the time.</p> <p>A quick look at the <a href="https://twitter.com/TC_istanbul">governor’s official twitter account</a> might help curious minds with the task of finding out what the governor is doing. The governor’s twitter account is being used on a daily basis. Most tweets come with a photograph. The governor seems to be busy. Let us examine his activities in June.</p> <p>On 1 June, the governor is at a funeral ceremony. This is a funeral for a fallen soldier, and therefore it is officially a martyr’s funeral. The next day, 2 June, the governor is at a funeral ceremony again. Another fallen soldier, another martyr, another official funeral. But this must be an important funeral because the President of Turkey is there, too. </p> <p>In June, the governor is at a Ramadan dinner (iftar) almost every evening. On 6 June, the governor is at the annual Ramadan dinner organized by the Istanbul Police Directorate in honor of martyrs’ families and veterans. The following week, on 14 June, he is at the annual Ramadan dinner organized by the Istanbul Directorate of Gendarmerie. This dinner is in honor of martyrs’ families and veterans, too. </p> <p>18 June, another Ramadan dinner. This time the governor is with the family of a “<em>15 July Democracy Martyr</em>.” Individuals who were killed on 15 July last year in the heat of the attempted coup were quickly labelled by the regime, “<em>Democracy Martyrs</em>.”</p> <p>On 24 June, the governor is at yet another official funeral ceremony for a martyr. This is evidently an important ceremony given the fact that the Minister of Defense is present as well. Two days later, on 26 June, the governor is visiting two homes. There must be an important reason. Otherwise why should the governor pay visits to these homes? The reason has to do with the regime’s interest in martyrs. The governor is visiting the families of two fallen soldiers.</p> <p>For those who are not familiar with the political climate in Turkey, it might be difficult to understand why the governor of the largest city in Turkey is so busy with these ceremonial activities. The reason is not difficult to understand. The regime is <a href="https://www.evrensel.net/daily/321686/name-of-the-game-is-martyrdom">promoting militarism and martyrdom</a>. The fallen soldiers and their funerals are the natural outcome of this policy. But the funerals are not reducing the popularity of the regime. The rulers of Turkey are busy promoting martyrdom as a heavenly gift, the ultimate service of the faithful to their nation and religion. </p> <p>Ramadan dinners are religious events. When organized in honor of martyrs’ families, they signify the religious value attached to the ultimate sacrifice. Home visits provide the personal touch. And official ceremonies provide a shop window for the media. </p> <p>Nobody dares to question the sanctity of martyrdom. It is very difficult to talk about martyrdom when there are so many fallen soldiers and so many families who are not willing to raise the possibility that their sons died in vain. Thus, the martyrs provide legitimacy for the war they died for. That is exactly what the regime wants. Legitimacy for a deadly and futile policy. <a href="https://www.evrensel.net/daily/321686/name-of-the-game-is-martyrdom">The name of the game is martyrdom</a>.</p> <p>The regime invented the term “<em>Democracy Martyrs</em>” following the same logic. Those who were killed on 15 July last year in the heat of the attempted coup were quickly sanctified. The rally organized by the regime to push Turkey into a political dead-end was named ‘<a href="https://bianet.org/english/society/177592-democracy-and-martyrs-rally-in-yenikapi">Democracy and Martyrs Rally</a>” so as to drive the point firmly home in public opinion. These people died for a glorious cause: they all died for the regime. If they were willing to be martyrs for this regime, that means this regime was worth dying for. </p> <p>The people defended it, so it must have a been a good regime, a democracy. Nobody knows what really happened on 15 July last year. But this question fades into the shadows of the “<em>Democracy Martyrs</em>” – their deaths suppress the search for truth.</p> <p>This is probably why the governor of Istanbul pays special attention to “<em>Democracy Martyrs</em>” and their families. This is probably the reason why on 31 May he met with five individuals, labeled “<em>15 July Veterans.</em>” Nothing coincidental here; it is all very serious business. The regime has even founded a “non-governmental” organization called “<a href="http://www.15temmuzdernegi.org/">15 July Society</a>” and the governor was at the Ramadan dinner organized by this organization on 8 June.</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/500209/8 June -Governor solo at 15 July Society Ramadan dinner.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/8 June -Governor solo at 15 July Society Ramadan dinner.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 governor, Vasip Şahin, at the 15 July families' iftar.</span></span></span>The governor of İstanbul is obviously very busy promoting martyrdom and particularly those labeled as “<em>Democracy Martyrs</em>.” After all, the regime is at stake. But he is not alone. Take the most recent example. The <a href="http://www.milliyet.com.tr/nigde-valisinin-ilk-isi-omer-halisdemir-nigde-yerelhaber-2138627/">governor of Niğde started his first day on duty with a visit to Ömer Halisdemir’s tomb</a> and gave a passionate speech. Halisdemir was turned into a hero because he shot and killed one of the generals in command of the coup plot. The first order of business for public administrators in Turkey is promoting martyrdom and promoting the 15 July Victory. </p><p>Last week <a href="https://www.tccb.gov.tr/en/news/542/78745/cumhurbaskanligi-sozcusu-kalin-15-temmuz-milletimizin-temel-gundemidir.html">Presidential Spokesperson Kalın made this clear</a> for everyone at a press conference in İstanbul: </p> <blockquote><p>"Upon the call of President Erdoğan, a process of democracy watch will be initiated once again on the night of July 15. Mr. President will personally attend the democracy watch that night. He will meet with martyrs’ families and veterans on various occasions. In this regard, it is of great importance that we do not let July 15 be forgotten...”.</p></blockquote> <p>Serving the public used to be a priority for public administrators once upon a time. The priority now is promoting a regime that has no future. That is what the <a href="http://www.skylife.com/en/2017-07/july-15-day-of-democracy-and-national-solidarity">ongoing frenzy</a> is all about. In Turkey as <a href="https://sarajevomarathon.ba/en/services/race-in-honor-of-democracy-15th-july/">elsewhere</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"> 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 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? North-Africa West-Asia Turkey Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government International politics Serdar M. Değirmencioğlu Tue, 11 Jul 2017 06:00:59 +0000 Serdar M. Değirmencioğlu 112173 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The real reason Trump went to Poland https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/tom-junes/trump-pandered-to-polish-nationalist-right-to-sell-gas <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Trump went to Poland to sell gas to its nationalist right wing government - and other big EU countries were not impressed.</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-31954023.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-31954023.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'>U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Polish President Andrzej Duda attend a joint press conference in Warsaw, Poland, July 6, 2017. PAimages/Xinhua/Chen Xu. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Donald Trump attended the G20 summit in Hamburg last week where he had his first face-to-face meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Given the likely scrutiny and commotion the event would receive, Trump needed a sure foreign policy 'win'. Hence the short preceding stopover in Warsaw where Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) establishment was only too happy to cater to the US president's needs.</p> <p>The visit was somewhat unconventional. Framed as a work meeting with Poland's president Andrzej Duda, it was supposed to have the allure of a major geopolitical event underlining Poland's status as a US ally and project American support for the Three Seas Initiative (TSI) summit taking place in Warsaw.</p> <p>No sooner had Trump left Warsaw for Hamburg than FOX News <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fymMHb2Mrjw">blasted eulogies</a> of a 'Reaganesque performance' and Polish government-controlled media were hailing Trump's visit as an <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOkM7AS0nLw">event of historic magnitude</a>. In reality, the tangible outcomes of Trump's visit are somewhat less remarkable.</p> <h2><strong>A presidential propaganda stunt</strong></h2> <p>Trump's visit was meant to carry symbolic weight. Daniel Tilles, editor of the Notes from Poland social media news group, <a href="http://www.politico.eu/article/donald-trump-poland-birds-of-a-feather/">commented prior to the visit</a> that Trump and PiS "share a distain for the conventional rules and practices of democracy" and will try to "capitalize on their agreement on major issues like migration, defense and a distrust of institutions such as the media and the judiciary".</p> <p>Both sides did not fail to deliver. On 6 June, on Warsaw's Krasińki Square, Trump gave his <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/06/politics/trump-speech-poland-transcript/index.html">first major public speech on foreign soil</a> to an exalted crowd of thousands of specially bussed-in PiS supporters. The footage from the speech was reminiscent of Trump's campaign rallies with all the adulation his pharaonic Ego craved.</p> <p>For his part, Trump declared America's love for Poland, credited Polish-Americans for voting for him, and heaped praise on the PiS establishment. His speech left PiS delirious. Prime Minister Beata Szydło <a href="http://www.polsatnews.pl/wiadomosc/2017-07-06/polska-jest-gwarantem-swiatowego-pokoju-premier-po-wystapieniu-trumpa/">immediately stated</a> that the speech demonstrated that now "Poland was an important country" and even a "guarantor of world peace".</p> <p>There were few <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2017/07/06/poland-intv-amanpour-bartosz-wielinski.cnn">genuinely critical voices</a> in the press, but only Greenpeace, the Razem (Together) party and other leftist groups staged small protests. Poland is a middle-sized country in Europe, but too often its elites suffer from the inferiority complex of a small country. The parliamentary opposition, still struggling to mount a credible electoral challenge to PiS, dared not criticise Trump's speech seeing it as a 'success for Poland'. PiS could not have wished for a better propaganda coup.</p> <h2><strong>Peddling a clash of civilisations</strong></h2> <p>Trump's speech, with its stress on 'sovereignty' and 'freedom' ('democracy' was not mentioned), was carefully tailored to reverberate PiS' own rhetoric. There was a nationalist undertone throughout the flattery with historical references meant to appease PiS-style patriotism - a tale of martyrdom in the face of oppression, heroic feats, and acts of resistance all driven by an unwavering national spirit based on traditional Catholic values.</p> <p>Even before Trump's arrival, <a href="https://wiadomosci.wp.pl/to-oni-mieli-pisac-przemowienie-donalda-trumpa-dzieki-ich-pracy-pis-moze-tryumfowac-6141623542388865a">reports emerged</a> that a controversial historian, Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, from the <a href="http://www.iwp.edu/faculty/">Institute of World Politics</a> (which employs another <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/01/sebastian-gorka-to-leave-white-house-amid-accusations-of-links-to-far-right">infamous Trump advisor</a>, Sebastian Gorka), had a hand in writing the speech. <a href="http://hopenothate.org.uk/2017/07/05/trumps-visit-poland-ignites-controversy-far-right-links/">According to</a> Rafał Pankowski, a member of the anti-racist <a href="http://www.nigdywiecej.org/">Never Again Association</a>, this "raised eyebrows because of Chodakiewicz’s long record of far-right links. He is mostly known as a denier of Polish responsibility for acts of antisemitism".</p> <p>Trump's speech seemed to downplay the Holocaust in comparison to the calamities that Poles had suffered and to the dismay of Poland's Jewish community he was the first US president <a href="http://www.politico.eu/article/trump-snubs-warsaws-jewish-community-sends-ivanka-to-ghetto-monument/?utm_content=buffer9a8ad&amp;utm_medium=social&amp;utm_source=facebook.com&amp;utm_campaign=buffer">not to stop</a> at the Warsaw Ghetto memorial. In this light, Trump's conjuring up of a 'western civilisation under threat' was most disquieting. It was grist to the mill of PiS' own anti-refugee rhetoric in defence of 'Christian' civilisation. Even Trump's fleeting invitation to Russia to join this 'civilisational' struggle did not seem to unsettle Polish nationalist sentiments.</p> <h2><strong>'America First' energy politics</strong></h2> <p>Did the visit wield any results beyond photo-ops and ideological support for both sides' populist policies? Trump reneged on <a href="http://www.thenews.pl/1/10/Artykul/273151,Trump-to-deal-with-visafree-travel-for-Poles-if-elected">promises of visa-free travel</a> for Poles and refrained from <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-in-poland-a-clash-of-civilizations-battle-cry-or-reality-tv-as-policy">any explicit</a> security guarantees. A <a href="http://www.defensenews.com/articles/poland-signs-memo-with-us-outlining-roadmap-to-buy-patriot">memorandum of intent</a> was signed for the purchase of next-generation Patriot missiles, but it is doubtful whether this will be a sale successfully concluded.</p> <p>The key to understanding the visit lies in the TSI summit, taking place while Trump visited. The TSI is a reincarnation of the interwar 'Intermarium' concept - a Polish-promoted alliance of small states in between Russia and Germany. It was rehashed by Poland and Croatia with a pragmatic goal of more inter-regional co-operation and improving energy infrastructure. Trump attended the summit's inauguration ceremony and <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/usa-russia-energy-fight-for-the-balkans-07-06-2017">urged the countries present</a> to buy US Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).</p> <p>The United States has recently become a gas exporter. Entering the Polish market means competing with Qatari LNG as well as Russian gas delivered via pipelines. The recent <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/04/business/energy-environment/qatar-gas-lng-saudi-blockade.html">blockade of Qatar</a> – which shares its gas field with Iran – could provide opportunities for the US in this regard. </p><p>Simultaneously, it puts the US at odds with Russia which is eyeing building two new pipelines - Nord Stream II to Germany and TurkStream through Turkey and the Balkans. While Germany and Turkey remain Russia's two biggest markets, "establishing Turkey and Southeast Europe as a new transit corridor for Russian gas remains a long shot", <a href="https://www.the-american-interest.com/2016/10/13/russia-and-turkey-read-the-fine-print/">according to</a> Dimitar Bechev, a non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council specialised in Balkans-Russia relations.</p> <p>For this reason, Trump's visit was mainly seen by PiS <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/07/05/trumps-visit-to-poland-seen-as-a-snub-to-the-e-u-and-germany/?utm_term=.a18631c3d24f">as a snub to the EU</a> (to show US support amid EU criticism of PiS' illiberal policies) and Germany in particular which is hoping to be a gas hub for the region (if the Nord Stream II pipeline gets the go-ahead). This is where the LNG terminal in the Polish port of Świnoujście comes in. </p><p>Recently opened and named after the late president Lech Kaczyński, it is a longstanding PiS pet project. Through Świnoujście PiS hopes not only to become less dependent on Russian gas, but challenge German hegemony by <a href="http://www.thenews.pl/1/12/Artykul/315189,Poland-could-be-ga">becoming a regional gas hub</a> itself. In order to realise this, <a href="http://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_trump_in_warsaw_what_is_at_stake_for_poland_and_7306">Poland needs US investment</a>. In other words, if Trump is selling, Poland will be buying and hoping to attract enough interest for the US to invest in its ambitions.&nbsp;</p> <p>Yet, Trump's backing of PiS could lead to an increased politicisation of the TSI. Far right ideologues like Chodakiewicz are proponents of such a course <a href="http://www.iwp.edu/news_publications/book/intermarium-the-land-between-the-black-and-baltic-seas">seeing it</a> as "culturally and ideologically compatible with American national interests". </p><p>Matthew Kott, a researcher at Uppsala University who has studied <a href="http://www.neweasterneurope.eu/articles-and-commentary/2367-a-far-right-hijack-of-intermarium">Intermarium's appeal among the region's populists</a>, sees it as PiS' attempt <a href="https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/07/06/trump-stumbles-into-europes-pipeline-politics-putin-europe-poland-liquified-natural-gas-three-seas-initiative/">to create a 'Poland First' foreign policy</a> offering the possibility of being "the big fish in a small pond". Time will tell if the Trump administration is interested in more than just selling gas but also willing to invest in a PiS-led project that could potentially destabilise the EU.</p> <h2><strong>The art of the deal</strong></h2> <p>Following the G20 summit, Trump's meeting with Putin captured the headlines in the US, but he was able to tweet photos of an adoring crowd in Warsaw. </p><p>Ultimately, Trump was in Poland to sell gas. Otherwise, the immediate impact of the visit will be limited to Poland as the big EU countries were not impressed. While <a href="https://theconversation.com/is-trump-actually-popular-in-poland-80653">surveys show</a> that only a minority of Poles support PiS and an even smaller number are positively inclined towards Trump, PiS is still polling higher than the opposition and Poles are traditionally sympathetic to America.</p> <p>Trump's visit, owing to the opposition's approval, will most likely bolster PiS' image and consolidate its hardcore base. Nationalists are already trying to capitalise on Trump's speech by referring to his 'civilisational' endorsement of Poland's conservative values <a href="http://www.rp.pl/Polityka/307079905-Robert-Winnicki-pyta-czy-ambasador-USA-przestanie-wspierac-Parade-Rownosci.html">to attack the LGBT movement</a>. </p><p>Meanwhile, the government-controlled media will keep spinning Trump's visit for political gain making it harder for the opposition to present itself as a successful electoral alternative to PiS' illiberal policies.&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/kasia-narkowicz-konrad-pedziwiatr/why-are-polish-people-so-wrong-about-muslims-in">Why are Polish people so wrong about Muslims in their country?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/tom-junes/will-polish-students-step-and-seize-their-opportunity">Will Polish students step up and seize their opportunity?</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"> Poland </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? United States Poland Tom Junes Mon, 10 Jul 2017 16:59:54 +0000 Tom Junes 112183 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Brussels works: disorder as a political instrument? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/kristof-titeca/brussels-works-disorder-as-political-instrument <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Brussels is shaken by a major corruption scandal, manifesting a perverse entanglement of politics, power and self-enrichment. Here, the concept of ‘disorder as a political instrument’ is highly applicable. </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-30714870.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-30714870.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Resigning Mayor of Brussels, Yvan Mayeur, hosting Sadiq Khan at City Hall in the Grand-Place in Brussels in March, 2017. Stefan Rousseau/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In recent weeks, Brussels – and Belgian – politics have been shaken by a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/13/world/europe/brussels-mayor-yvan-mayeur-scandal.html?_r=0">corruption scandal</a>. In early June, it emerged that the Brussels mayor, Yvan Mayeur, had set up a financial reward system for himself and a close political ally to run for years, through which each of them collected around <a href="https://www.demorgen.be/buitenland/mayeur-de-man-van-112-000-euro-b3b7655b/">112,000 euro</a>s for meetings that never took&nbsp; place. The most striking part was that this reward structure was set up within ‘ <a href="http://samusocial.be/">Samu social</a>’, an agency that takes care of the homeless. In other words: this financial reward system was based on funds destined for the homeless. This was not the first time an event of this kind has occurred: the French-speaking socialist party (PS), all-powerful for decades in French-speaking Belgium and Brussels, allowed a series of such structures to be set up, resulting in a similar range of scandals. </p> <p>Belgium has always had a complicated political structure – six parliaments and governments – in order to balance the power of the various regional and linguistic communities (Dutch- and French-speaking, and a small German-speaking community). Brussels is at the heart of these complexities: it is the only place in Belgium where French- and Dutch-speaking communities live together, governed by a maze of various political institutions. It is ruled by a parliament and government, 19 autonomous borough assemblies, six different police zones and 33 public housing companies. Quite a number of these institutions – such as the 19 borough assemblies within the Brussels capital – are primarily the result of a struggle for power and influence between political actors. Together, the Brussels region has 166 ministers, mayors and city councillors, which is more than Berlin (71) and Paris (42) combined.</p> <p>The underlying raison d’être for this situation is the Belgium ‘pacification’ model, which thrives on consensus between the various cultural and political communities in Belgium. So, why were the above corruption scandals able to happen in this model?</p> <p>Interestingly enough, in explaining the underlying dynamics, it is particularly useful to look at a range of conceptual tools introduced into Africanist literature in the late nineties. More particularly<em>, </em>Patrick Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz’s book ‘<a href="https://books.google.be/books/about/Africa_Works.html?id=7O8WJB-kzewC&amp;redir_esc=y">Africa works’</a>, in which they describe ‘disorder as a political instrument‘. The book, which caused a major stir in African studies, explained how disorder is not to the disadvantage of African political leaders, but actually provides them with a whole range of benefits: it allows them to further entrench their political support networks through the accumulation and redistribution of resources. In this way, disorder ‘works’ for African leaders: these ‘big men’ are able to bind their constituency on the basis of how they redistribute resources to them – a phenomenon which Jean-Francois Bayart in the same period characterised as the ‘politics of the belly’.&nbsp; </p> <p>The book was part of a rather heated debate in academia, the main criticism being the essentialising nature of the book, and its lack of empirically grounded, nuanced understanding. Interestingly enough, greater empirical understanding of these dynamics is not only to be found in sub-Saharan African politics, but also in Brussels: these insights provide an excellent framework for understanding politics in Belgium’s capital. </p> <p>Crucial in this is Brussels’ sheer complexity of institutions and resources, not only for politicians, but also for everyday life. As an example, while many homeless persons sleep near the Brussels north station, it depends on which bench they sleep to determine the borough and service that should help them. (The photo blog ‘<a href="http://www.belgian-solutions.be/">Belgian solutions’</a> perfectly demonstrates the absurdity of what results.)</p> <p>This complexity and fragmentation creates an almost textbook case study of Chabal and Daloz’ politics of disorder. To rule public services in Brussels, a whole range of agencies, non-profits and positions have been created. This structure is very clear for insiders – the political parties in power – as it allows a whole range of positions to be distributed: around<a href="http://www.standaard.be/cnt/dmf20170616_02928563"> 200 agencies with around 1,400 positions</a>, which for outsiders are extremely opaque and difficult to control. </p> <p>This offers a range of political and financial opportunities: it is both an excellent patronage opportunity (i.e. it allows the distribution of jobs for political allies), and a source of self-enrichment. For example, it emerged that the chairperson of the Samusocial (the organisation which supports homeless persons) was allowed a yearly salary of <a href="http://www.bruzz.be/nl/actua/pascale-peraita-verdiende-204000-euro-jaar">204,000 euro</a>s, a salary almost as high as the Belgian prime minister. Moreover, <a href="http://www.nieuwsblad.be/cnt/dmf20170613_02922980">family members of top officials</a> were given jobs in this organisation. </p><p>After the eruption of the scandal, a <a href="http://www.lesoir.be/99771/article/2017-06-15/apres-le-scandale-du-samusocial-les-cuisines-bruxelloises-dans-la-tourmente">range of other</a> non-profits entered the limelight, with similar dynamics at stake. In other words, this politics of disorder has a clear neopatrimonial system at its heart: power gives access to a range of resources, allowing for a variety of patronage networks to function. As another illustration, mayors’ of the borough assemblies are nicknamed ‘barons’ – the Brussels translation of ‘big men’ – for the way they conduct politics: autonomously on their fiefdom, and to a large extent unresponsively to demands for reform. Again, the patronage system allows them to do so: numerous people profit from this wider patronage system, as they are dependent on these ‘big men’ for a variety of issues, such as access to social housing, or jobs.</p> <p>This fragmentation and complexity means that all political actors are focusing exclusively on their own territory, which is often very small – such as in the case of the barons’ / big men’s 19 borough assemblies. In doing so, more global and widespread problems such as mobility, social housing and security are much more difficult to tackle. This became particularly clear after the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, when the Brussels’ police was internationally criticised for their failure to notice the preparation of these attacks. </p><p>The division of Brussels into 6 police zones was seen as a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/25/world/europe/its-capital-frozen-belgium-surveys-past-failures-and-squabbles.html">major reason for this malfunctioning</a>&nbsp; (something which had been raised before i<a href="http://www.politico.eu/article/why-is-brussels-terrorism-hot-spot-molenbeek-paris-attacks/">nternally</a> ). While the Flemish political parties in the Brussels parliament unanimously proposed unifying the police force (similar to e.g. London), the French-speaking parties unanimously rejected the proposal. The fraction leader of the French-speaking Christian democrats called the proposal an <a href="https://twitter.com/Cerexhe/status/667696108982943744?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&amp;ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bruzz.be%2Fnl%2Fnieuws%2Fvlaamse-partijen-unaniem-voor-een-brusselse-politiezone">instrumentalisation of the victims of the Paris attacks for communitarian politics</a>. In other words, communitarian identity politics plays an important role in Brussels politics. This phenomenon, referred to in Africa as the ‘retraditionalisation’ of politics (i.e. the re-emergence of ethnic identities in politics), makes any reform very difficult in Brussels. </p> <p>The final remaining question is: what happens with this system, once a ‘big man’ is forced out? As indicated above, the mayor of the city of Brussels had to resign after this scandal. In their ‘politics of disorder’, Chabal and Daloz argue that regime change does not mean a change of system: the new ‘big man’ simply continues to use his power to accumulate wealth and to deliver to his constituents. Also in Brussels, the system seems not to have changed: Brussels’ newly elected mayor – Philip Close – is known as the ‘cumul’ champion in Brussels, i.e. the politician combing the most seats possible in a wide range of public, private and para-public institutions.</p><p>His other nickname ‘Mr Showbizz’, illustrates how he <a href="https://www.demorgen.be/plus/een-profijtelijk-kluwen-b-1497657604912/">uses public means to compete in the private market</a> of organising concerts and other cultural events. A judicial body recently judged this as a <a href="http://www.bruzz.be/nl/actua/rechter-geeft-stad-ongelijk-over-koninklijk-circus">conflict of interest</a>. Although he announced to let go of some of these positions, it <a href="http://www.politico.eu/article/philippe-close-brussels-mayor-didnt-declare-7-side-jobs/">turned out he did not declare all of these posts.</a> &nbsp;</p><p>Moreover, instead of offering clear apologies to the population for the former mayor’s corruption scandal, much effort was put in honouring his work.&nbsp; At the same time, the new mayor announced to <a href="https://www.demorgen.be/politiek/stad-brussel-schrapt-40-procent-van-de-mandaten-en-20-procent-van-de-structuren-b28cdcb6/AigZT/">cut 40% of the existing positions and 20% of the various institution</a>s, all of which were sources of patronage. Would it be possible to change both the Big Man, and the system on which it functions?</p><p>-</p><p><em><em><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/07/10/want-to-understand-belgiums-complicated-politics-and-scandals-lets-look-at-africa/?utm_term=.d457b60c08e5">Originally published</a> as</em> “Want to understand Belgium’s complicated politics and scandals? Let’s look at Africa." <em>The Monkey Cage, 10 July 2017</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/paul-magnette/huge-victory-for-belgiums-ceta-opponents-paul-magnettes-speech">A huge victory for Belgium&#039;s CETA opponents: Paul Magnette&#039;s speech</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/anya-topolski/from-sorrow-to-shame-of-belgium">From the sorrow to the shame of Belgium</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"> Belgium </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"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </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 Belgium Democracy and government Economics International politics Kristof Titeca Mon, 10 Jul 2017 14:40:09 +0000 Kristof Titeca 111988 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Art and the refugee ‘crisis’: Mediterranean blues https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/iain-chambers/art-and-refugee-crisis-mediterranean-blues <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Artists are mapping new itineraries of the Mediterranean, throwing into relief an incurable colonial wound that continues to bleed into the present.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Body"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Where_We_Are_Now@Kate_Stanworth_02-2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Saidou: Mali to Italy. &quot;I came to Europe because of the war. I went to Algeria and from there I took a boat without knowing "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Where_We_Are_Now@Kate_Stanworth_02-2.jpg" alt="" title="Saidou: Mali to Italy. &quot;I came to Europe because of the war. I went to Algeria and from there I took a boat without knowing " width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Saidou: Mali to Italy. "I came to Europe because of the war. I went to Algeria and from there I took a boat without knowing where I was going. It happened this way, that’s destiny." Photo ©Kate Stanworth.</span></span></span>The so-called contemporary migrant ‘emergency’ in the Mediterranean is the deliberate political and juridical construction of Europe. Refusing Article 13 of the <a href="http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/">Universal Declaration of Human Rights</a> (1948), all European states have decided that not everyone has the right to move and migrate. This violent exercise of European and First World power reopens a profound colonial wound. Migrants rendered objects of <em>our</em> legislation and laws signal once again the asymmetrical relations of power that produced the colonial world and its ongoing fashioning of the present.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body">Today, the evocation of&nbsp; ‘<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35703467">emergency</a>’ and ‘<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34131911">crisis</a>’ in the Mediterranean, signalled in the brutal <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necropolitics">necropolitics</a> of leaving some to drown, others to be turned back, and all to be forced to suffer horrendous journeys over desert, sea and increasingly fortified barriers, clearly draws on altogether deeper geographies of regulation and possession.</p> <p class="Body">European colonial power was established, affirmed and secured by control of the seas. Just as in 1800, when Napoleon and Nelson were fighting for global hegemony around its shores and on its waters, the Mediterranean remains an exclusively European matter (with Israel and Turkey as subcontractors). It is part and parcel of the geometry of the colonial present, where our security invariably secures someone’s else’s death. There is a beautiful <a href="https://vimeo.com/114849871">short film</a> by the Ethiopian activist and film make Dagmawi Yimer (<em>Asmat/Names</em>) that seeks to rescue from the anonymity of the depths those who have drowned by restoring their names to memory, transforming the sea into a vital archive for us condemned ‘to listen to these screams’. Yimer was himself an ‘illegal’ migrant who made it across the sea.</p> <p class="Body">In this situation, although consistently sidestepped and avoided for embarrassing the hollow claims of European humanism, a number of contemporary visual artists insist that we return to the scene of the crime. Here we explore the terrible gap between the arbitrary violence of the law and the insistence of social and historical justice.&nbsp; </p><p class="Body">On April 12 this year, in the context of an AHRC financed programme ‘<a href="https://respondingtocrisis.wordpress.com/">Responding to Crisis: Forced Migration and the Humanities in the Twenty-First Century</a>’, involving Keele and Royal Holloway universities and the University of Naples, ‘Orientale’, a workshop entitled <em>Sea Crossings: The Mediterranean and its Others’</em> was held in Naples in a former squat ‘L’Asilo’. This structure is among the several occupied buildings in the city recognised by the town council as cultural centres. An intensive day of debate and discussion was punctured by three artistic instances involving Zineb Sedira, Kate Stanworth and Giacomo Sferlazzo. In different ways, the photographic work exhibited by Kate Stanworth, the discussion of her own work by Zineb Sedira and the performance by Giacomo Sferlazzo, proposed a radical realignment of the usual coordinates for registering and discussing migration in today’s Mediterranean.</p> <p class="Body">Kate Stanworth’s <a href="http://www.katestanworth.com/where-we-are-now">photographic exhibition</a> of diverse migrants dislocated in European cities – ‘Where we are now’ – rightly played on the ambivalence of ‘we’. If, most obviously, the collective noun refers to relocated migrants in unfamiliar lands and cities, forced to re-negotiate their way in the world robbed of domestic referents, the insidious undertow is that the ‘we’ is also us and our responsibility for such situations. In the translation of transit we discover not simply that migrants, often under dramatic duress, are forced to transform themselves continually in order to engage with unplanned situations, but also that the very contexts of European culture and home are being translated. It is this mutual process, no matter how sharply asymmetrical the powers involved, that unleashes the slow but profound remaking of home, citizenship, culture and belonging… for all; not, and most obviously, only for the unexpected stranger. The narratives sustained in Stanworth’s photographs and the brief captions provided by the migrants cut up ready explanations and the flat maps of our understanding with rougher, often difficult to assimilate, interrogations. The latter leave no one really feeling at home.</p><p class="Body"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Where_We_Are_Now@Kate_Stanworth_05.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=": Salma: Syria to Germany. &quot;I still have this dream to come back to Syria. If I complete my studies I can make radical change th"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Where_We_Are_Now@Kate_Stanworth_05.jpg" alt="" title=": Salma: Syria to Germany. &quot;I still have this dream to come back to Syria. If I complete my studies I can make radical change th" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Salma: Syria to Germany. "I still have this dream to come back to Syria. If I complete my studies I can make radical change there, I can give benefit for the people and the country." Photo ©Kate Stanworth.</span></span></span>In her <a href="http://zinebsedira.com/">visual and mixed media work</a>, the Franco-Algerian artist Zineb Sedira draws us into the slippage and the translation that accompanies the transit of contemporary ‘<a href="https://www.scribd.com/doc/136001547/Traveling-cultures">traveling cultures</a>’: women in white veils who oscillate in the interval of Islam and Christianity: perhaps Muslim or the Madonna (<em>Self Portrait or the Virgin Mary</em>, 2000). Elsewhere, between rusting hulks of ships bobbing in the sea waters of Mauritania (<em>Shipwreck series</em>, 2008), derelict colonial buildings on the Algerian coast (<em>Haunted </em>House, 2006) and the glances northwards from the African shore, maritime horizons promotes desire and dreams of a better life.</p> <p class="Body">Here the sea, as a troubled archive, constructed as a site of multiple crossings, is transformed from a presumably dumb accessory to the political life and histories occurring on land to become a historical interrogation. If occidental modernity depended on its marine mastery to realise a colonial appropriation of the globe, a maritime reasoning (<em>Floating Coffins</em>, 2009) today insists on the transit of other narrations on and over its waters. The ambivalence of the sea as both bridge and barrier reveals the deeper political economy of migration and its long term centrality to the making of the modern world. The ruins of a European colonial past here haunt the configurations of the present.</p> <p class="Body">Giacomo Sferlazzo <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1aFhJC9R28">recounts in song and storytelling</a> a history of Lampedusa. Once again, this is an oblique narrative. It refuses to tow the line. It transforms this tiny island of desert scrub (once covered in woods and full of wild life until charcoal burning brought about an ecological disaster) that lies 200 km south of Tunis and Algiers into another tale. As an outreach of Europe in Africa, at least geographically speaking, the island has in recent decades notoriously become a ‘hot spot’ for ‘illegal’ migration. A lost out island far to the south of Sicily, once home to Muslim, Christians, pirates, sponge divers and fishermen, Lampedusa has been transformed into a border outpost and militarised zone, a juridical fortress with a detention centre.</p> <p class="Body">Sferlazzo’s words and music unpack the arbitrary rigidity of this existing situation. The sedimented histories, resistance and refusals of a homogenous and static representation, stamped by the authority of Italy and Europe, falls apart. Crossed by multiple bodies and histories, the island escapes reduction to a frontier settlement and becomes the laboratory for questions and processes that neither Italy nor Europe seem capable of answering. Contrary to unilateral definitions of the Mediterranean and of Lampedusa’s role in policing and protecting its borders, Sferlazzo’s songs and stories rescue from the archives sustained by this island and the surrounding sea a humanism that exceeds the limits of European and Occidental sovereignty.</p> <p class="Body"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Where_We_Are_Now@Kate_Stanworth_08.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Bourak: Syria to Germany. &quot;I wanted to make the journey like an adventure, discovering new places and cities. We called it an ad"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/Where_We_Are_Now@Kate_Stanworth_08.jpg" alt="" title="Bourak: Syria to Germany. &quot;I wanted to make the journey like an adventure, discovering new places and cities. We called it an ad" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Bourak: Syria to Germany. "I wanted to make the journey like an adventure, discovering new places and cities. We called it an adventure and something to remember. It was only when we saw families and children on our journey that we thought about the suffering." Photo ©Kate Stanworth. </span></span></span>Tracing itineraries that commence from the south – from south of the Sahara, from the south of the Mediterranean, of Italy, of Europe – the work of all three artists disorientate and reorientate our mapping of the modern world. Here we confront the journeys induced by music and the visual arts: their invitation to look, and to look and listen again, that is always accompanied by the grit in the eye, the dissonance in the ear, that scratches the conventional framing and figuration of the world. This produces a slash in our habitual tempo-spatial coordinates. As such it leaves a potential trace, the after-life of a disturbance, an interrogation.</p> <p class="Body">In an important sense, art in its concentrated attention and affects is always about matter out of place. The figuration of the migrant in the contemporary field of vision deepens and disseminates this unhomely quality. For the modern migrant is not only the reminder of a colonial past that powerfully and unilaterally made the world over in a certain fashion. She also shadows present artistic practices with what the prevailing sense of modernity structurally seeks to avoid or negate, precisely in order to secure its particular sense of home and belonging. </p> <p class="Body">On the other side of the canvas, in the margins of the frame, throwing a constant shadow across the visual field and disturbing our ears, those other histories fester as an incurable wound that continues to bleed into the present. Reopening the archive of a modernity whose art seemingly revolves around itself, the critical pace here quickens, threatening to spin out of the regulated order of its institutional reception in order to dirty the whiteness of its walls and the rationality of its knowledge with the dirt, death, despair, destitution and desires of an other worldly order.</p><p class="Body"><em>This article is part of the series</em><em>&nbsp;</em><em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/forced-migration-and-humanities">Forced Migration&nbsp;and the Humanities</a>. This dialogue is an editorial partnership with openDemocracy 50.50 led by Mariangela Palladino (Keele University) and Agnes Woolley (Royal Holloway University of London).&nbsp;</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jerome-phelps/refugee-crisis-art-weiwei">Why is so much art about the ‘refugee crisis’ so bad? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/karolina-follis/reflections-on-post-humanitarianism-in-dark-times">Reflections on post-humanitarianism in dark times</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mariangela-palladino-agnes-woolley/borderlands-words-against-walls">Borderlands: words against walls</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/agnes-woolley/arts-and-humanities-tackling-challenges-of-mass-displacement"> The arts and humanities: tackling the challenges of mass displacement</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/migrationsreconstructing-britishness-in-art">Migrations:reconstructing &#039;Britishness&#039; in art</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jane-freedman-vasiliki-touhouliotis/fleeing-europe"> Fleeing Europe?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/qusay-loubani/from-border-to-harbour-greek-tragedy-goes-on">From the border to the harbour: the Greek tragedy goes on </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/charles-heller-lorenzo-pezzani/mourning-dead-while-violating-living"> Mourning the dead while violating the living</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </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> 50.50 50.50 Can Europe make it? EU Culture Ideas International politics People Flow Forced Migration and the Humanities 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick Iain Chambers Mon, 10 Jul 2017 08:44:37 +0000 Iain Chambers 112037 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Punish the smuggler or reward the smuggler? Recent refugee arrivals in Greece https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/fotini-rantsiou/punish-smuggler-or-reward-smuggler-recent-refugee-arrivals-in-greece <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As its northern and western neighbours close their doors to asylum seekers through policies, borders and distance, Greece continues to welcome them to the best of its ability.</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_1202.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_1202.JPG" alt="lead 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 recent arrival on Greek shores. Author's photograph.</span></span></span>Media coverage of the refugee situation in Greece focuses heavily on the Syrians and secondarily on Afghans and Iraqis. While these are indeed the three most highly represented nationalities among asylum seekers in Greece, the past six to twelve months have seen a gradual shift. </p> <p>The vast numbers of Syrians that came through Greece in 2015 only <a href="http://www.irinnews.org/analysis/2015/10/13">passed</a> through Turkey. Many were well-off urban educated professionals and had left Syria only days before reaching Greek shores. The European Union responded to the refugee flows in 2015 with a relocation programme, which aimed on paper to share the responsibility of hosting refugees between member states. With the Balkan route open, refugees would continue from the Greek islands by ship or plane and bus or train, even walking towards central and northern Europe. The need for smugglers (imperative to be able to reach the Turkish border, travel through it and cross the sea to Greece) ended once they had reached the islands. </p> <p>The relocation plan was devised for those arriving and registering in Greece to convince them to stop taking the Balkan route, thereby – according to its planners – curbing the profits going to the smugglers. In fact this plan rewarded smugglers who continued their business in Turkey and beyond, in Syria, Iran and Afghanistan, only providing a solution for some nationalities, chiefly Syrians. A year and a half later, the smuggling business remains alive and well.&nbsp; <span class="mag-quote-center">The Bidoon of Kuwait have family in the UK but are no longer given visas to travel there. Instead they come to Greece illegally and apply for family reunification.</span></p> <p>Turkey’s land border with Syria was virtually open to refugees until early 2016 when the pushbacks to Syria started. At the same time a visa requirement for Syrians was implemented for travel by land and ferry. As a result the ferry from Lebanon to Turkey was no longer an option for Syrians trying to reach Turkey. The closure of the Balkan route began gradually in late 2015 and the EU-Turkey deal was implemented in March 2016. All these measures reduced the number of Syrians coming to Greece. </p> <p>Fast forward to 2017, taking the period from 10 May to 27 June 2017 as an example, a total of 982 asylum seekers reached the island of Lesvos. The top nationalities were: Democratic Republic of Congo, or DRC (202), Syria (160), Iraq (116), Afghanistan (61). The rest were from Iran, Kuwait (Bidoon), Palestine, Guinea, Eritrea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Morocco, Yemen, Togo, Gambia, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Sri Lanka, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Sudan and Nigeria. One person each came from Bolivia, Cuba, South Africa, Haiti and Uganda. Similar trends are noted on the other islands which act as the entry point to Greece.</p> <p>Those of us acquainted with Moria reception and identification centre in Lesvos have noticed the nationality change among the&nbsp; new arrivals over the last two years: many more Africans and less Arabs. Groups of Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans are still coming grouped together, while Africans from different nationalities arrive in different groups with other nationalities. The smuggling fees vary according to nationality. <span class="mag-quote-center">Citizens of sub-Saharan Africa come from a number of conflicts in the region, both internal and cross-border. North Africans face chronic instability in their countries.&nbsp;</span> </p> <p>One may wonder why people&nbsp; from Africa, whether northern or sub-Sahara, take the route to Europe through Greece, rather than the intuitively more direct route to Italy or Spain. A look at flight routes and visa regimes provides the answer. One may reach the Greek islands from as far away as central Africa, using Turkish Airlines, a Turkish visa and a smuggler picked at Istanbul airport or the Aegean coast, for less than 1,500 dollars total and at considreably less ris than the Libyan route.&nbsp; </p> <p>Turkish Airlines has 200 destinations worldwide and at reasonable prices. For example, one way flight from Kinshasa to Istanbul costs 833 dollars, Abidjan to Istanbul, 709 dollars and Casablanca to Istanbul 458 dollars. </p> <p>Turkish Airlines is close to President Erdogan in more ways than one: in ‘humanitarian missions’ particularly in <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/03/19/turkish-airlines-to-send-supplies-to-somalia-after-social-media_a_21902874/">Somalia</a> and <a href="https://www.dailysabah.com/economy/2017/06/09/turkish-food-products-flying-off-shelves-in-qatari-markets-as-blockage-remains">Qatar</a>, as well as <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/turkey-coup-attempt-latest-news-turkish-airlines-fires-employees-fethullah-gulen-a7154986.html">political purges</a> in the airline, following the failed coup in Turkey in July 2016. Reaching the Aegean coast is easy, whether by bus, taxi or smuggler. These days, smugglers charge less than 500 dollars – even as low as 200 dollars – from the Turkish coast to the Greek islands these days.</p> <p>Secondly, visas for Turkey are generally easily obtained. From the nationalities arriving in Lesvos in June, all except Cubans and Palestinians, depending on where they were registered, are exempt from any visa requirement or need only an electronic visa, easily obtained online for the cost of 20 dollars. </p> <p>The question why some nationalities may need refuge often comes up. Without going further into individual cases, whereby people may be facing persecution for reasons that go beyond nationality (religious, professional, sexual orientation, other), we can sift through some general push factors. </p> <p>The Bidoon of Kuwait are a group who used to live a nomadic life and are not accepted as Kuwaiti citizens. The reasons they have started coming through this route, is because they have family in the UK but are no longer given visas to travel there. Instead they come to Greece illegally and apply for family reunification. </p> <p>Palestinians arrive in Greece mainly from Syria, but also Lebanon and the West Bank. The fate of those from Syria is similar to Syrian citizens but these people are choosing to come to Europe illegally, because they are refused visas to any European country where they may have family or where they want to study. &nbsp;<span class="mag-quote-center">Palestinians… are choosing to come to Europe illegally, because they are refused visas to any European country where they may have family or where they want to study.</span> </p> <p>Eritreans are often <a href="https://fotinirantsiou.com/2017/06/08/mapping-of-israeli-and-jewish-ngos-in-the-refugee-response-in-greece/">rejected</a> asylum seekers from Israel, deported to Rwanda with cash, which they use to escape again through the Aegean route. Women from the Dominican Republic are usually trafficked to Turkey and once they manage to escape to Greece, seek assistance to return to their country. Citizens of sub-Saharan Africa come from a number of conflicts in the region, both internal and cross-border, including purges in the DRC and by the Boko Haram. North Africans face chronic instability in their countries. &nbsp;</p> <p>The complexity of the cases facing the Greek asylum service is obvious. With virtually all the new arrivals since the EU-Turkey deal applying for asylum in Greece, even if the ultimate goal is to leave the country, there are currently around 70 nationalities among the asylum seekers, with the corresponding needs in interpretation and context analysis as well as careul consideration of individual circumstances. This is time consuming and costly.</p> <p>The international community has been under the false impression that providing assistance to the countries around Syria and putting up with Turkey’s demands for more funding&nbsp; – the latest being <a href="https://www.iom.int/news/eur-20-million-eu-project-support-turkish-coast-guard-seeks-save-more-migrant-lives">twenty</a> million euros for the Turkish coastguard – will stop refugee flows. This approach ignores many realities, for example the facts that people flee wars and unsustainable situations all over the world, that smugglers are available and provide a service when there are no legal routes and that there are states that facilitate them. <span class="mag-quote-center">Eritreans are often rejected asylum seekers from Israel, returned to Rwanda with cash, which they use to escape again through the Aegean route.</span></p> <p>As its northern and western neighbours close their doors to asylum seekers through policies, borders and distance, Greece continues to welcome them to the best of its ability. At the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa, easily accessible from Turkey, which has an interest in keeping Greece on its toes, there will continue to exist a need for Greece to be prepared to respond. Preparedness in the form of a legal framework, institutions flexible enough to scale up and respond to a suddenly increased influx, infrastructure and stocks, shouldn’t be seen by the Greek government as a pull factor or a luxury but as a necessity. And the EU should support them in this approach. &nbsp;</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Greece </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 Greece Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Economics Equality International politics People Flow Fotini Rantsiou Mon, 10 Jul 2017 07:06:39 +0000 Fotini Rantsiou 112168 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Resignation letter from Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi to DiEM25 and Yanis Varoufakis' reply https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/yanis-varoufakis-franco-berardi/resignation-letter-from-franco-bifo-berardi-to-ya <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The writer, media theorist and activist wrote to say “I am no longer a European given Europe’s daily crimes” &amp; “thus I resign from DiEM25”. Read his letter, and Yanis Varoufakis’ reply.</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-31489341.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-31489341.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'>May 26, 2017: The ships of NGOs in the Mediterranean save thousands of lives. The Aquarius ship arrives in the port of Salerno with its load of about 1400 migrants. On board 170 minors and 21 pregnant women. Danilo Balducci/Zuma Press/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><h2>From Franco 'Bifo' Berardi:</h2><p>Dear Yanis, dear friends and comrades of the Democracy in Europe Movement 25,&nbsp; </p><p>After the shameful decisions of the <a href="https://www.rferl.org/a/un-migrants-libya-italy-france-germany-rescue/28590459.html">Paris meeting</a> of Minniti/ Collomb/ de Maziere – it’s time to understand that there is something flawed in our project of re-establishing democracy in Europe: this possibility does not exist.</p> <p>Democratic Europe is an oxymoron, as Europe is the heart of financial dictatorship in the world. Peaceful Europe is an oxymoron, as Europe is the core of war, racism and aggressiveness. We have trusted that Europe could overcome its history of violence, but now it’s time to acknowledge the truth: Europe is nothing but nationalism, colonialism, capitalism and fascism.</p> <p>During the Second World War not many protested against deportation, segregation, torture and extermination of Jews, Roma, communist militants and homosexuals. People had no information about the extermination.</p> <p>Now we are daily acquainted about what is happening all around the Mediterranean basin, we know how deadly is the effect of European neglect and of the refusal to take responsibility for the migration wave that is a direct result of the wars provoked by two centuries of colonialism.</p> <p>The Archipelago of Infamy is spreading all around the Mediterranean Sea.</p> <p>Europeans are building concentration camps on their own territory, and they pay their Gauleiter of Turkey, Libya, Egypt and Israeli to do the dirty job on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, where salt water has replaced <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zyklon_B">ZyklonB.</a> </p> <p>To stop the migratory, Euro-Nazism is going to build enormous extermination camps. The non-governmental organisations guilty of rescuing people from the sea will be contained, downsized, criminalised, repressed.</p> <p>The externalisation of the European borders means extermination.</p> <p>Extermination is the word that defines the historical mission of Europe.</p> <p>Nazism is the only political form that corresponds to the soul of the European people.</p> <p>In the last twenty-five years (since when, in February 1991, a ship loaded with 26,000 Albanians entered the port of Brindisi) we have known that the great migration had began. Two paths were possible at that point.</p> <p>Opening its borders, starting a global distribution of resources, investing its wealth in a long-lasting process of reception and integration of young people coming massively from the sea. This was the first path.</p> <p>The second was to reject, to dissuade, to make almost impossible the easy journey from Northern Africa to the coasts of Spain, Italy and Greece.</p> <p>Europeans have chosen the second way, and they are daily drowning uncountable children and women and men.</p> <p>Auschwitz on the beach.</p> <p>With the exception of a minority of doctors, voluntary workers, activists and fishers, who now are accused of being the abetters of illegal migrants, the majority of the European population are refusing to deal with their own historical responsibility.</p> <p>Therefore, I declare that I’m not European any more. And I declare that I have never been European.</p> <p>We have naively expected that an alliance of British murderers, French killers, Italian stranglers, German slaughterers and Spanish slayers could give birth to a democratic peaceful friendly union. This pretence is over, and I’m sick of it.</p> <p>Five centuries of colonialism, capitalism and nationalism have turned Europeans into the enemy of human kind. May they be cursed forever! May Europeans be swept away by the storm they have generated, by the weapons they are building, by the fire they have ignited, by the hatred they have cultivated!</p> <p>Because of the aforementioned reasons I must renounce the honour of being part of the Advisory Panel of DIEM25.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>From Yanis Varoufakis:</h2> <p><em>A few days ago, I received a letter from Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi that works like a punch-in-the-stomach type of wake-up call addressed to all Europeans. To crown its tough message, Bifo concludes that his conscience cannot fathom being a European any longer, given Europe’s daily crimes against logic and humanity. Thus, Bifo concludes, he is compelled also to resign from DiEM25’s Advisory Panel. Here are my reasons why we, at DiEM25, refuse to accept his resignation.</em></p> <p>Dear Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi, dear friend, dear comrade,</p> <p>Hannah Arendt once said that as long as one German died at Auschwitz because of her or his opposition to Nazism, the Germans are not responsible collectively for Nazism.</p> <p>Your letter to us, renouncing the horrors perpetrated in Europe’s name and resigning from our <em>Democracy in Europe Movement</em> (DiEM25) in protest, offers Europeans the same kind of possibility of redemption that Arendt’s ‘single-German-dying-in-Auschwitz’ offered the people of Germany.</p> <p>You wrote a splendid and timely “J’ accuse” letter to Europeans as a true, unreconstructed, fed-up, European. And in so doing you offered Europe a small, tiny but important chance to save its soul.</p> <p>It is very likely, as you fear, that Europe will throw that chance away; that Europeans will fail to exploit the minuscule chance that you offered. But it does not matter.</p> <p>What matters is, first, that you, an authentic European, are putting Europe in the dock while, at one and the same time, offering it a precious chance of redemption. Only a true European radical, democrat and humanist could do that.</p> <p>Secondly, it matters that there are many others like you. And that DiEM25, on whose Advisory Panel you have served, and from which you are now resigning in a bid to shake up our collective and individual consciences, is full of Europeans like you.</p> <ul><li>Europeans who, like you, are mad as hell with our Europe, as it is and as it acts.</li><li>Europeans who, nevertheless, realise that to shed their ‘European’ label in disgust at what Europe is doing to its citizens and to the citizens of the rest of the world requires also declaring that they are no longer Italian, French, British, Greek, Italian… since it is the nation-states of Europe that perpetrate, in the first instance, the scandalous policies that you so powerfully, and rightly, denounce.</li><li>Europeans who, mad as we are at Europe’s crimes, understand that renouncing Europe but not Italy, France, Greece, Germany, Britain etc. only plays into the hands of those propagating the fantasy of returning to the bosom of our benevolent nation-states; a fantasy that I know you abhor and one that DiEM25 is railing against.</li><li>Europeans who, enraged by what is being perpetrated in their name, are determined to demonstrate that the only way of being good citizens of the world is to be IN and AGAINST <span>this.</span></li></ul> <p>This is the reason we, at DiEM25, are proud of you and your “J’ accuse” letter of resignation from our Advisory Panel.</p> <p>And it is the reason why we do not accept it!</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"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Equality International politics Yanis Varoufakis Franco Berardi DiEM25 Sat, 08 Jul 2017 22:07:34 +0000 Franco Berardi and Yanis Varoufakis 112163 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Brits should remember the spirit of cooperation at the root of the EU single market https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/john-weeks/trade-access-unemployment-and-other-single-market-mythologies <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Commonly cited arguments for staying in the single market not only don't stand up to interrogation, they also neglect what post-WWII European trading unity was meant to be about – cooperation.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/27051279943_4ad5544d4d_k.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/27051279943_4ad5544d4d_k.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="262" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Single market conference 2016. EU2016 NL/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Last week, a cross-party group of British MPs <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jun/30/labour-single-market-rebels-vow-to-continue-pressure-on-pm-brexit-amendment-access-may-corbyn">tabled an amendment</a><span> to the Queen’s speech calling on the government to commit to staying in the single market. As a result of their support for the unsuccessful amendment, </span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jun/29/jeremy-corbyn-sacks-three-frontbenchers-after-single-market-vote">three Labour shadow cabinet members</a><span> were forced to resign.</span></p><h2>What is the single market?</h2><p dir="ltr">The amendment revealed a possible confusion by its supporters about the nature of the single market and the European Union. The wording of the amendment, which includes no reference to citizens’ rights guaranteed by EU treaties, implicitly suggested that 1) the single market provides trade access to the 27 other countries of the union, and 2) that the single market is the most important aspect of EU membership – indeed its core.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Under international trading rules, exporters anywhere in the world can export to or import from the European Union.</p><p dir="ltr">Both are wrong. Under international trading rules, exporters anywhere in the world can export to or import from the European Union – have “access”, in other words. The average tariff for non-EU members is <a href="https://fullfact.org/europe/uk-leaving-eu-trade/">less than 3%</a>. The average for a specific country depends on what it exports. One of the highest EU rates falls on automobiles, at 10%, though this tariff is unlikely to negatively impact on UK car producers. EU car <a href="http://www.acea.be/statistics/article/motor-vehicle-trade-between-the-uk-and-main-eu-partners">imports were three times exports</a> in 2016 (€14.6 billion in exports to the EU 27, compared to imports of €44.7 billion).</p><p dir="ltr">EU trade with non-EU countries also indicates nuances on the issue of “access”. In 2015 the 27 EU countries (other than Britain) exported over a third of their goods to non-EU and non-UK countries. For three of the four largest countries, the share was over 40% (with Italy at 43%, Germany at 42%, France at 41% and Spain at 36%). A rather surprising EU trend has been the relative decline of intra-trade, from 69% in 2003 to 63% in 2015 (<a href="http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Intra-EU_trade_in_goods_-_recent_trends">Eurostat Figure 5</a>).</p><p dir="ltr"><span class="mag-quote-center">The post-WWII European unity movement was not primarily about trade, and was certainly not about free trade.</span>More important than the structure of EU trade is the fact that the post-WWII European unity movement was not primarily about trade, and was certainly not about free trade. The European Union represents the continuation of the post-war project that began with the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951, whose purpose was not competition but cooperation among the members (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands).</p><p dir="ltr">For the next three decades, the central purpose of this and subsequent stages of European integration was peace among European governments that had been engaged in colonial rivalry, proxy wars or direct conflict for over a century. Overwhelming emphasis by the European Commission on the purely economic aspects of European integration – the “single market” – dates from the introduction of the euro. This emphasis derives from the hegemony of neoliberal ideology in Europe, especially in the German government and the German central bank (Bundesbank).</p><h2>The single market and saving jobs</h2><p dir="ltr">A commonly encountered anxiety cited by the amendment rebels is that withdrawing from the EU single market will result in UK job losses. The logic behind this anxiety seems so obvious that no reasonable person would contest it: British businesses hire people who produce goods and services, and a portion of these are exported to EU countries; ending full EU membership would reduce these exports and, as a result, those businesses would lay people off. More EU exports mean more British jobs; fewer EU exports mean fewer British jobs. As obvious as this logic may seem, when deconstructed into its analytical parts we discover that it is, at best, partially true, and could be wrong.</p><p dir="ltr">To make this simple, I start with what is usually cited as the worst outcome – that the UK government reaches no agreement with the European Commission (the formal agency for EU governments) on future trading arrangements. As a result, British exporters must pay EU tariffs on their goods (there are no tariffs on services which are regulated by other rules).</p><p dir="ltr">As a result of British goods increasing in price in EU countries, exports may fall and employment in the UK may fall. However, for at least two reasons, total UK employment may not fall. First, if EU tariffs cause UK exports and employment to decline, then it must also be the case that UK tariffs will make EU exports decline. The lower EU exports may in part be replaced by UK production, which would increase domestic employment.</p><p dir="ltr">If goods trade between Britain and the EU 27 were equal (if our EU exports were to equal our EU imports), and in similar products, we would expect the UK tariff gain to more or less equal the EU tariff loss. In 2015 the balance was a negative €120 billion (about £86 billion), which was over two-thirds of the average of imports and exports. Because of this deficit, we can reasonably conclude that the net impact on UK employment of EU trading through tariffs is not likely to be negative, though it could result in job losses in some sectors offset by gains in others.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">UK goods trade with non-EU countries has grown faster than with the EU 27.</p><p dir="ltr">Second, sales lost in the EU 27 countries by UK good exporters might be diverted to non-EU countries. UK goods trade with non-EU countries has grown faster than with the EU 27. This is part of a more general trend, with the EU 27 countries increasing their extra-EU trade faster than EU internal trade. To a great extent the austerity-constrained slow growth of the EU economies explains the relative stagnation of the internal goods trade.</p><h2>Politics of the single market</h2><p dir="ltr">That tariffs induce increases in domestic employment should come as no surprise. It is a trade policy known to past generations as “beggar thy neighbour”. As the great British economist <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/6879ea32-6ad0-11e2-9871-00144feab49a?mhq5j=e1">Joan Robinson explained</a> 80 years ago, tariffs do indeed tend to increase employment in the tariff raising country. As a result, employment falls in the country hit by the tariff, inducing its government to match or exceed the level initial tariff attack. The result can be a tariff war in which political relations among trading partners deteriorate – into armed conflict in extreme cases.</p><p dir="ltr">Rather than facilitating trade for its own sake, the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community and the subsequent European Economic Community sought to prevent this sequence of tariff wars leading to political conflict. The wording of the amendment to the Queen’s Speech mentioned at the outset of this article sought to preserve membership in the single market without simultaneous commitment to the political and social goals of European cooperation and unity.</p><p>If that interpretation of the amendment is correct, it embodied a narrow, purely economic view of our relations with the continent. This focus on the single market as a “free trade” goal desirable in itself is part of the globalisation ideology that has weakened support for EU membership in Britain as well as across Europe. It may well be that those voting for the amendment acted on <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/jeremy-corbyn-labour-chuka-umunna-single-market-brexit-eu-negotiations-a7818121.html">their convictions</a>; if so, the convictions were definitively neoliberal.</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="/brexitdivisions/guy-sears/four-myths-about-brexit-and-financial-services">Four myths about Brexit and financial services</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? John Weeks Sat, 08 Jul 2017 14:09:25 +0000 John Weeks 112088 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Team Syntegrity, a comprehensive method of hope https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/joan-pedro-cara-ana/team-syntegrity-comprehensive-method-of-hope <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Collaborating, competing, contradicting, negotiating, accommodating and compromising, all took place to different degrees in one symbiotic process. Our first participant report-back.</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_0025.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_0025.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'>Team Syntegrity participants in Barcelona in June, 2017.</span></span></span>The Team Syntegrity (TS) sessions held in Barcelona on 19-22 June provided a space and a method of hope in which a variety of social powers unfolded through association and combination. </p> <p>The objective was to think collectively about how civil society may be able to confront the main global crises and democratise our societies. Since the results will be made public shortly, I will focus in this piece on the method that allowed us to come up with concrete proposals and the processes that helped us to advance and build a sense of belonging.</p> <p>One of the key strengths of the sessions was the cybernetic method of non-hierarchical participation that set the rules for constructive and efficient dialogue and decision-making. This approach was based on 12 teams comprised of five members from a variety of backgrounds. Each team was in charge of discussing one specific topic and developing concrete statements, proposals or recommendations that set the path for strategic action. </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_0282.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_0282.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Topic discussants (at the table) and a row of "critics". Behind them, some"observers".</span></span></span>They received feedback from the "critics", who contributed to improving the discussions and the proposals. In addition, the "observers" moved information from one team to another in informal conversations, helping to develop further synergies. All participants were involved in each of the three roles, thus providing different inputs. </p><p>Fundamental to the method was relating the different topics in order to address the interconnected crises that are generating so much suffering at a global level, such as the economic, environmental, educational, media and ethical crises. Since everybody participated as a member in two teams, we were able to integrate bilateral learnings. For example, participating in the Internet and the Biosphere teams helped me reflect on the environmental consequences of the current models of production, distribution, consumption and disposal of communication technologies and contents. </p> <p>The TS method therefore helped us analytically to connect multiple levels of reality. It provided the perfect organisation for efficient, individual and collective self-management. Although the method included several more aspects that I haven't mentioned, the following icosahedron is really helpful as it shows the different connections between topics and participants.</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 2017-07-08 at 00.25.36.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-07-08 at 00.25.36.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="331" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The icosahedron for Team Syntegrity 2017 in Barcelona.</span></span></span></p> <p>The methods of collective participation, although extremely rich opportunities for the exchange of ideas, are never easy to complete successfully in practice – challenges and difficulties always arise. This is why the frameworks for discussion and decision-making that we established spontaneously were so fundamental. We had to decide on the fly the processes we wanted to promote and those we wanted to discourage. </p> <p>For example, it was important to manage time wisely so that each team member would have the same opportunities to express ideas. Equally important were the processes of individual self-management, which worked great, as demonstrated not only by the high-quality contributions of participants, but also by the ways of contributing: the respect for others, the language, the tone, the demonstrations of support, the reorientation of discussions that went off-track... </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_0197.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_0197.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The author and fellow participants.</span></span></span>We managed to deal individually, severally and collectively with misunderstandings, dissatisfaction, irrelevant conflicts that distract us from the main effort, and even with the all too common problem of swollen egos, which had very little presence in these days. </p><p>In the face of dominant values of rugged competition, selfishness and the sick obsession with capital accumulation, we foregrounded the principles of cooperation, mutual trust and support, free sharing and empathy. However, we did not do so through simplistic binaries, but rather through an empirical, imaginative and creative orientation of these natural human traits. This way, competition ceased to be understood in the negative way that capitalism promotes, i.e., as a zero-sum game in which one side wins to the detriment of the other side. Instead, we practiced a healthy approach that allowed us to question, criticise and contrast ideas, discard, refine, piggyback or develop them as a team to reach the optimal level in what we may call a process of competitive collaboration. This is the kind of highly effective process of individual and collective improvement also to be found in team sports. </p> <p>All of this was accomplished by treating others as human beings with intrinsic dignity. Acknowledging the value of each of us was fundamental in opening our minds to listening, learning and cooperating with others while still defending our own point of view. Collaborating, competing, contradicting, negotiating, accommodating and compromising, all took place to different degrees in one symbiotic process. Consensus was often reached, but it was not a necessary outcome since the statements and the proposals could also include differing views.</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_0101.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_0101.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="690" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>In contrast to the perverse logic of labour exploitation and consumerism that affirms the principle of "tomorrow, corpses, you will enjoy life", we experienced the joys and pleasures of engaging in practices of and for social justice. Against the loneliness that the system creates, we continued to build networks grounded on friendship, affinity, community and trust that can grow with time. </p><p>This is the logic of taking care of ourselves and of others, since we acknowledged that individuals fulfil themselves collectively and that the community requires individual freedom and creativity. This approach allowed for the crystallisation of a philosophy of practical love to different kinds of people; a potential that we all have inside us. This is love as the practice of freedom because liberty can only be expanded through genuine solidarity. </p> <p>If the Enlightenment showed the power of rationality while excluding the power of emotion, Romanticism showed the power of passion while excluding reason. The exclusionist pattern has continued until today, when perspectives on the power of affects preclude the power of reason. However, social change requires a combination of affects and rationality. There is nothing more rational than the emotions that push us towards justice, freedom, fraternity and equality. In this vein, we engaged with the politics of feelings through a systematic TS method that helped us develop the concrete proposals and plans that we will shortly deliver. </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_0077.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_0077.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 opening question.</span></span></span>This approach of rational passion involved the diagnosis of classism, racism, sexism, LGBTI-phobia and other types of oppressions, as well as the therapy. First, understanding reality, to then develop the tactic of <em>being change</em> at an individual and community level, within a strategy to change concrete social realities and, eventually, achieve the objective of macro-social transformation. </p><p>The TS is one of the many practical examples developing around the world that provide a real demonstration that other forms of life and sociability are not only desirable, but also possible. In other words, massive oppression is not unavoidable, there are many alternatives taking place and we can learn from all of them. </p> <p>The event showed that of course we can, when many people are dedicated to social justice and that, as Antonio Machado wrote, "the path is made by walking". The TS experience was one more step in building the "We" — based on informed hope, collective struggle and mutual trust and support — that is needed to face the multiple crises looming over humanity and the environment. And to create a more liveable world by and for the majority of the population.</p> <iframe width="460" height="259" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HNGm4qaQtyM?rel=0&amp;controls=0&amp;showinfo=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> <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>Meet the participants of Team Syntegrity 2017 oganised by openDemocracy this June in Barcelona, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/teamsyntegrity">More here.</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="/node/611">Stafford Beer: the man who could have run the world</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"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Internet </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Science </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality Ideas International politics Internet Science Team Syntegrity Joan Pedro-Carañana Fri, 07 Jul 2017 23:30:42 +0000 Joan Pedro-Carañana 112157 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Simone Veil – a passionate believer in Europe https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/francis-ghil-s/simone-veil-passionate-believer-in-europe <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>She was a tower of moral rectitude like that other great Jewish figure of French post war politics, Pierre Mendes France. In memoriam.</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/500209/770px-Simone_Veil,_gymnase_Japy_2008_02_27_n3_ret.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/770px-Simone_Veil,_gymnase_Japy_2008_02_27_n3_ret.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="538" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Simone Veil, 2008. Wikicommons/Marie-Lan Nguyen. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>In an age of political vacuousness, we often ask what has happened to the quality of our leaders. Many believe that we deserve such poor leaders because we live in trivial, reality television-addled times dominated by consumerism. Electors across Europe seem, more often than not, unhappy with the leaders of their respective political parties. </p> <p>The French however were never unhappy with Simone Veil, who has died at the age of 89. &nbsp;She was a – reluctant – politician of stature whose appeal transcended age, class and region. She was respected and held in immense affection ever since, as minister of health of President Valery Giscard d’Estaing in 1974 she won the bitter battle to make abortion legal, at a time when most French male politicians, especially if they were conservative Catholics, wanted women as tokens in ministerial office – government was a man’s business.</p> <p>Simone Veil survived Auschwitz and though never a campaigner for Jewish causes knew that being Jewish was central to her life. She did not take kindly to the brutal killing fields of the Balkans in the 1990s or Gaza being called genocide. She had witnessed the Holocaust and knew the difference. She refused to accept General de Gaulle’s decision to cover up French complicity in the Holocaust and objected to his disdainful rhetoric after Israel's victory in the Six Day War in 1967, to the effect that Jews were an eternally “domineering” people, a rhetoric that owed rather more than it acknowledged to the 1930s right. She was bitter that it took the French state till 1995 to acknowledge that it was the French government, not simply a perverse band of Petainists that organised the deportation of Jews from France till 1944.</p> <p>She is remembered today as the first president of the European parliament – to which she was elected MP in 1979. She was a passionate believer in the European project because history and her family’s life – she lost her parents and brother in the gas ovens of Germany and Lithuania – told her it was the only way to prevent another war in Europe. She never had a rude word to say about Germans, thus helping to reconcile a generation of young French people to their country’s erstwhile enemy.</p> <p>It is totally in keeping with the ideals of the French republic that she should be laid to rest, with her husband Antoine Veil, who died in 2013, in the Pantheon. Not since the late nineteenth century and the death of the poet Victor Hugo has the French head of state decided to honour a French citizen so fully and upon her death. What may be more surprising is that the Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika should have praised her in such emotional terms. </p> <p>As a young magistrate during the war of liberation of Algeria, she was sent in 1957 to visit prisons there and was so appalled by what she witnessed that she wrote her report to the ministry of justice by hand, not trusting a typed copy not to go astray. She pleaded for Front de Liberation National prisoners who were condemned to the guillotine – who numbered a few hundred – to be moved to French prisons as she was afraid that they might be murdered in prison by enraged French officers. After all, Francois Mitterrand had allowed many executions of FLN prisoners not long before, when he was minister of justice. She ensured that FLN women prisoners were regrouped in one prison in France to ensure greater protection.</p> <p>When they married, her husband saw the role of his wife as that of a mother at home, but Simone Veil would have none of that and was determined to become a judge. Her husband gave up his wish to go into politics and went into business, but his wife was always a reluctant politician. When it was suggested she should stand for the presidency she demurred, the French were not ready to elect a woman president. She was a tower of moral rectitude like that other great Jewish figure of French post war politics, Pierre Mendes France.</p> <p>Personally she had a capacity to engage seriously with all those she met. After testifying to the UN Commission of Eminent Persons on Algeria, of which she was a member, at a meeting in Lisbon in June 1998, she came over to congratulate me and make a few remarks about what I had said. Over dinner, presided over by the Portuguese president Mario Soares, her comments were pithy and sometimes very funny. Her capacity to empathise and engage with someone she did not know, her deep intelligence and luminous eyes across which flicked a sudden sadness – as if pictures of Auschwitz were coming back, made a few hours with her unforgettable. </p> <p>She was a <em>grande dame</em> to her fingertips. When receiving her at the Académie Française in 2012, Jean d’Ormesson struck the right note&nbsp;: “<em>Comme l’immense majorité des Français, nous vous aimons Madame. </em><em>Soyez la bienvenue au fauteuil de Racine, qui parlait si bien de l’amour.” &nbsp;</em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> France </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU France Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Francis Ghilès Fri, 07 Jul 2017 20:59:44 +0000 Francis Ghilès 112156 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Democracy in the age of Macron https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biaval/democracy-in-age-of-macron <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What European democracies have lacked most, since at least the 1980s, is high-profile political vision.<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/500209/640px-Bundesarchiv_B_145_Bild-F054631-0013,_Ludwigshafen,_CDU-Bundesparteitag,_Kohl.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-Bundesarchiv_B_145_Bild-F054631-0013,_Ludwigshafen,_CDU-Bundesparteitag,_Kohl.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'>Helmut Kohl. October 1978.Wikicommons/German Federal Archive. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>In recent weeks there have been crucial elections in three large European countries, France (presidential and parliamentary), Britain, and Italy (municipal elections). Overall, about 105 million voters have been called to the polls. While results have been quite surprising, and relatively new figures (Jeremy Corbyn and Emmanuel Macron) have gained international prominence, European democracy has not really demonstrated its strengths.</p> <p>The most encouraging aspect has been the rise in the youth vote, which in Britain has mainly been won by Corbyn’s Labour. British youngsters are somewhat better off than their peers on the continent: youth unemployment would be around 11%, much less than in most EU countries (22% in France; 35% in Italy; 39% in Spain). And yet they have expressed dissatisfaction by voting en masse for Corbyn and rejecting the perspectives of austerity, debt, and uncertainty. </p> <p>At the same time their choice has been a demand for better politics, and for a return of values, vision, and ideas; they have had enough of self-serving Oxford-educated cliques, and élite infighting. They have had enough of the few, of all the browbeating issued by the oligarchy in the run-up to the Brexit referendum as well as in its aftermath. An anti-élite attitude has emerged also among the French youth. At least in the first round of the presidential polls (22 April), those under 24 preferred more ‘extremist’ Le Pen and Melenchon to the ‘moderate’ and ‘centrist’, Emmanuel Macron. Macron largely won the second round and the legislative polls; yet the overall turnout in the latter two rounds was as low as 49 and 43%. So the fact that ‘Republique en Marche!’ brought many youngsters to the National Assembly is not a true measure of its appeal among younger generations. Will Macron really bring ‘change’? If so, in what way?</p> <p>A strong political cleavage, also evident last year in the US elections, is forming between metropolitan areas and the ‘countryside’. Better-educated ‘urbanites’ voted Democrats, Labour, and Macron. Most British large cities voted Labour; in London, Corbyn’s party obtained 49 seats; the Conservatives, 21. Similar conditions apply to Macron in France – he won Paris with a share of almost 90%. </p> <p>That said, Labour and ‘En Marche!’ differ profoundly in many other respects. Corbyn’s platform is clear and well-defined, partly through discussion with a high-profile (and much-debated) Committee of Economic Advisors. There is a party, there is a vision. By contrast, and despite his connections with heavyweight economists (such as Jacques Attali and Jean Pisani-Ferry), Macron has been vague and generic, bordering on demagogy and resembling a constantly metamorphosing hologram. </p> <p>His case is as worrying as that of the so-called ‘personality parties’ (Berlusconi’s ‘Forza Italia’ being the most famous example) which emerged in Europe about twenty years ago and which still maintain a degree of organisation and structure; ‘Republique en Marche!’ looks like a ‘big tent’, one tailored to a supposedly charismatic leader, who somehow puts himself before and above the party, and has crucial links to little-transparent external forces (such as ‘high finance’). Needless to say, this evolution is highly problematic for modern democracy.</p> <p>Such a growing personalisation of politics, and the ‘volatility’ of party structures in ‘peripheral’ areas, have also contributed to the decline in popularity of globalist and ‘progressive’ forces in the rural areas. Feeling more and more marginalised, the ‘periphery’ (a derogatory and unfair term in itself) has turned both ‘far right’ and ‘far left’. </p> <p>Protectionism, re-industrialisation, exit from the euro, and other (sometimes populist) slogans have captured the attention and the votes of dispossessed factory workers, miners, agricultural workers, or the unemployed. Can the ‘global’ world, if it wants to stick to democratic principles, afford to neglect and forget millions and millions of voters? After all, Hillary Clinton, amongst other reasons, lost the US presidential polls in the ‘peripheries’, while Macron realised the point a bit late on, after his opponent Marine Le Pen visited an embattled factory in his own home town, Amiens. </p> <p>Now though is the time to act. Will the new president understand that democracy cannot be ‘rule by the few’ and demonstrate this in the facts and choices he puts before people, beyond his flamboyant rhetoric?</p> <p>What European democracies have lacked most, since at least the 1980s, is high-profile political vision. A politician with a vision in fact passed away on 16 June: we are talking about Helmut Kohl. The former German chancellor was not flawless (from a CDU financial scandal to the much-debated early recognition of Croatia, which contributed to increasing tensions in the former Yugoslavia). But he had a grand vision for Germany and Europe, and pursued it despite numerous obstacles. German re-unification, in his view, complemented European integration; it was Kohl, who, despite little knowledge of economics, pushed the euro as a political project of peace between Germany and France. </p> <p>As he used to recall, he had lost an older brother in World War Two and was deeply committed to European peace. Moreover, German re-unification might have given him a place in history books, but probably cost him the chancellorship (in 1995), because of its tremendous economic effects on the eastern Länder. In a sense, he sacrificed his own career, and did not then attempt the financially rewarding adventures into consultancies, banks, or corporations, which so many younger politicians have attempted.</p> <p>Macron is 48 years’ Kohl’s junior. Will history remember him as a statesman or a pale hologram, a leader, or a figurehead in pursuit of factional interests? Perhaps it is too early to say. But western democracy urgently needs to regain the vision, the ideals, the nobility of the generation of politicians who witnessed World War Two and its aftermath. It matters to Europe, to democracy, and to our future. Better economic conditions, which so many youngsters need, require first and foremost better 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="/can-europe-make-it/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/choice-democracy-caught-between-nationalism-and-federalism">The choice: democracy caught between nationalism and federalism</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 class="field-item even"> UK </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Italy </div> <div class="field-item even"> Germany </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <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? Germany Italy UK France Democracy and government International politics Giovanni Biava Ernesto Gallo Fri, 07 Jul 2017 20:08:37 +0000 Ernesto Gallo and Giovanni Biava 112155 at https://www.opendemocracy.net It´s time for cities to lead https://www.opendemocracy.net/marvin-rees/it-s-time-for-cities-to-lead <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In 2005, Ken Livingstone convened a gathering of 18 city leaders that would go on to become the<a href="http://www.c40.org/">&nbsp;C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group</a> – one of the most powerful urban advocacy networks in the world. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/marvin-rees/lleg-la-hora-de-que-las-ciudades-lideren">Spanish</a></strong></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-31842865.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-31842865.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="309" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Mayor of Baltimore, Catherine Pugh, with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in front of the 2017 Mayors Challenge poster at the US Conference of Mayors, Miami Beach, June 26, 2017. TNS/SIPA USA/Press Association.All rights reserved.</span></span></span>If the test of successful political leadership could be distilled to a single issue, the fight to safeguard our climate would be a strong candidate.&nbsp;With President Trump withdrawing the US from the&nbsp;<a href="http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9485.php">Paris Climate Change Agreement</a>&nbsp;(COP21), he abdicates a claim to serious leadership. Instead, he has vastly diminished the power and prestige of the US. And in the process, he has imperiled Americans, and citizens everywhere.</p> <p>Climate change is real and its impacts will be far-reaching. There is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ipcc.ch/">scientific consensus</a>&nbsp;on the relationships between carbon emissions and spiraling temperatures above and below the oceans. There is already&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2016/aug/10/climate-scientists-make-a-bold-prediction-about-sea-level-rise">evidence of rising sea levels</a>, flooding, heatwaves and worsening population health, including in the US. There is no possibility of making America great again on a dead planet.&nbsp;</p> <p>Trump’s abdication of leadership on climate change is more than the failure of a deeply flawed individual. It is symptomatic of a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/worldeconomicforum/2016/11/12/americas-dominance-is-over-by-2030-well-have-a-handful-of-global-powers/#72d5bf4057a7">dysfunctional international political system</a>&nbsp;organized around nation states. Our national political leaders are increasingly unable to safeguard and protect us, let alone provide a positive vision and lead us to a better future. It is time to re-balance the global system from national to urban sovereignty.&nbsp;</p> <p>A global devolution revolution is already under way. In 2016, a&nbsp;<a href="https://globalparliamentofmayors.org/">Global Parliament of Mayors</a>&nbsp;was created precisely to empower an international network of cities. The Parliament's founder, the&nbsp;late Dr Benjamin Barber, set out an&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/07/fix-climate-change-put-cities-not-countries-in-charge-oslo-seoul">optimistic yet pragmatic vision</a>&nbsp;in his new book -&nbsp;<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Cool-Cities-Sovereignty-Global-Warming/dp/0300224206"><em>Cool Cities, Urban Sovereignty and the Fix for Global Warming</em></a><em>.&nbsp;</em>Barber described nation states as dysfunctional and constrained by rigidly ideological national party politics:</p> <p>"Locked inside a sovereignty defined by an independence that feels today more parochial than cosmopolitan", Barber writes. "National leaders have defaulted in dealing with the big issues of an interdependent world: terrorism, anarchic financial markets, pandemic disease, nuclear proliferation, the refugee crisis, economic justice, and climate change.”&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The&nbsp;<a href="https://globalparliamentofmayors.org/">Global Parliament of Mayors</a>&nbsp;does not fit neatly into a nation state model of global governance. Indeed, President Trump’s&nbsp;<a href="https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2017-06-05/trumps-paris-agreement-withdrawal-context">pull-out of COP21</a>&nbsp;underlines that the model itself is broken. The re-calibration of sovereignty from national to city leadership is no longer just a novel idea, it is essential. After all,&nbsp;<a href="http://ideas.ted.com/why-cities-rule-the-world/">city leaders are at the coal face&nbsp;</a>of monumental planetary challenges such as climate change, migration, inequality in ways that national authorities simply cannot engage or deliver.</p> <p><span class="mag-quote-center">Cities are already taking center stage on some of the world's most pressing threats.</span> Cities are already taking center stage on some of the world's most pressing threats. Empowered and resourced cities are getting on with addressing problems and mobilizing solutions. They cannot afford to be hamstrung by collective action dilemmas. Former New York mayor&nbsp;<a href="https://books.google.com.br/books?id=HiBoDQAAQBAJ&amp;pg=PA31&amp;lpg=PA31&amp;dq=bloomberg+%22negotiations+over+a+global+treaty+on+climate+change%22&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=FiK1M4yxWa&amp;sig=CgufGQ02jgAPSZesm5aZMm5Ka1Y&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0ahUKEwjbxsn5lrvUAhXBKCYKHczmAH4Q6AEIIjAA#v=onepage&amp;q=bloomberg%20%22negotiations%20over%20a%20global%20treaty%20on%20climate%20change%22&amp;f=false">Michael Bloomberg argues</a>&nbsp;that nation state-led "negotiations over a global treaty on climate change long suffered from the same faults that doom other kinds of international treaties: nations are hesitant to agree to any restrictions until everyone else has agreed to them.”</p> <p>Notwithstanding the announcement by President Trump, <a href="https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/6/30/15892040/blue-america-trump">200 US cities</a>&nbsp;and over 1,400 companies&nbsp;have already committed to "honor and uphold" COP21. While a powerful signal of city leadership, it is not without precedent. In 1997 when Washington D.C. refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.citymayors.com/environment/usmayors_kyoto.html">hundreds of US cities</a>&nbsp;committed to meeting its targets. In 2005, former London&nbsp;<a href="http://www.citymayors.com/environment/usmayors_kyoto.html">Mayor Ken Livingston convened a gathering of 18 city leaders</a>&nbsp;that would go on to become the<a href="http://www.c40.org/">&nbsp;C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group</a>, now one of the most powerful urban advocacy networks in the world.&nbsp;</p> <p>This sort of city leadership is not confined to climate change. Throughout 2017, dozens of so-called&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/25/us/judge-blocks-trump-sanctuary-cities.html?_r=0">Sanctuary Cities have defied President Trump's efforts</a>&nbsp;to have them detain undocumented migrants, irrespective of whether or not they are suspected felons. In the UK,&nbsp;<a href="https://cityofsanctuary.org/">Cities of Sanctuary</a>&nbsp;are also working to find ways to care and support asylum seekers. And British cities are exploring ways they can remain active participants in the EU irrespective of their national government’s fortunes in negotiating a Brexit that is good for Britain.</p> <p>City leadership needs to go global. It is not enough for cities to simply be given the space to undertake activities within their municipal boundaries. Cities need the resources and platform to shape the global context in which they operate. Mayors and city leaders are under no illusion that they will receive support from national governments to do this. To the contrary for cities to genuinely unlock the potential of a new urban agenda, at least three conditions must be met.&nbsp;</p> <p>First, inter-city solidarity is critical. The&nbsp;<a href="https://globalparliamentofmayors.org/">Global Parliament of Mayors</a>&nbsp;offers a network to strengthen city voices and influence. But expressions of good will are insufficient. Mayors and civic leaders must identify opportunities and systems to allow cities to exchange technical and material resources to get things done. For example, we are currently exploring ways UK cities could mobilize financial assistance for US Sanctuary cities that are financially penalized by President Trump. The Parliament is an incubator of these kinds of interactions. <span class="mag-quote-center">We are currently exploring ways UK cities could mobilize financial assistance for US Sanctuary cities that are financially penalized by President Trump.</span></p> <p>Second, multilateral organizations such as the United Nations, World Bank, World Trade Organization and European Union need to accommodate cities. They must adjust to ensure formal representation of city level leaders sitting alongside and equal to national leaders. It is worth recalling that cities like New York, London, Paris, Seoul and Tokyo have economies larger than most nation states. Cities represent a layer of governance, not a topic to be discussed. They must be treated and heard accordingly.</p> <p>Third, foundations, trusts and businesses would be wise to start investing in global inter-city networks. Global political and economic power is increasingly mediated through thousands of cities around the world. Yet city leaders and their teams still face difficulties when undertaking diplomacy, including legitimate questions about international travel. National politicians face no such criticism. Getting the city voice to the table will require resourcing.&nbsp;</p> <p>There is a glaring failure of national political leadership, and it has real world consequences. Mayors feel these impacts immediately. Now is the time for cities to lead.</p> <p><em>Robert Muggah, the co-founder of the Igarapé Institute and SecDev Group and co-chair of the consultative committee to the Global Parliament of Mayors, contributed to this article.</em><em></em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? uk EU United States UK Marvin Rees Tue, 04 Jul 2017 12:24:45 +0000 Marvin Rees 112060 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Brexit negotiations: why are the liberal media accepting the first lie of nationalism? https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/adam-ramsay/brexit-negotiations-why-is-liberal-media-accepting-first-lie-of-nationalism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>On Steve Baker's corporate interests and Brexit negotiations as shock doctrine.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/steve baker 3.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/steve baker 3.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Brexit minister Steve Baker. Image: BBC, fair use.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">As I crawled through our new Brexit minister’s asbestos-lined <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay-peter-geoghegan/new-brexit-minister-arms-industry-american-hard-right-and-e">maze of corporate lobby links</a>, something became more obvious than ever. Most of the liberal commentary on Britain’s negotiations to leave the EU has fallen for the first lie of nationalism: that there is such a thing as a coherent national interest.</p><p dir="ltr">While the right wing press waves its union flags as it cheers ‘our’ negotiating team, left and liberal commentators have largely lined up to sneer at how incompetent and underprepared Britain’s government is for such a complex process. But, while it’s largely true that David Davis and his junior ministers seem not to have much idea what they are doing, it’s not their incompetence that we should be worrying about. </p><p dir="ltr">In a couple of days of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay-peter-geoghegan/new-brexit-minister-arms-industry-american-hard-right-and-e">trudging through</a> the new junior Brexit minister Steve Baker’s register of interests, his Companies House account, and his many hundreds of public statements, Peter Geoghegan and I were able to find countless examples of his willingness to repeat the lines of powerful interest groups. He took thousands of pounds from an arms company and served as vice-chair of the all party parliamentary group on aerospace, promoting the arms industry in parliament. He articulated the arguments of extreme fossil fuel firms, the asbestos lobby, the vaping industry, even the oil-rich dictatorship of Equatorial Guinea. </p><p dir="ltr">Other than the outrageous fact that it’s perfectly legal and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/adam-ramsay/it%27s-no-surprise-rifkind-and-straw-don%27t-get-it-westminster%27s-swimming-in-cor">not even particularly unusual</a> for an MP to take thousands of pounds from a company, then promote their industry in parliament, the revelations tell us something really important about the web of power interests around the Brexiteers.</p><p dir="ltr">And, for me, this emphasises the real risk of Brexit. It reaffirmed what amounts to (along with Northern Ireland) the biggest worry of this whole affair, which isn’t about some abstract question of what’s ‘best’ for the country as a whole. After all, what do workers manufacturing cars in Sunderland have in common with those manufacturing credit default swaps in the City? Do the crofters of Sutherland really share much of an interest with the Duke of Sutherland? Do Tory voters in David Davis' seat have the same worries about Brexit as Sinn Fein supporters in Derry?</p><p dir="ltr">Whilst, of course, some things will impact on everyone who lives within the British and Irish Isles to some extent, the troubling questions aren’t really the ones about things which effect all of us. The worrying issues are the majority, where both sides in the negotiations will have to choose what – and who – to prioritise.</p><p dir="ltr">In her now legendary book “The Shock Doctrine”, Naomi Klein details how, for decades, neoliberals have used crises to force through their radical, pro-corporate agenda. It’s not through the slow mechanics of normal democratic processes that the great privatisations and deregulations have taken place. Rather, big business tends to grab everything at precisely the moments that it’s all up in the air. From the plundering of Russia in the wake of the collapse of the USSR to the privatisation of beaches after the 2004 tsunami in south east Asia to the attacks on public housing, schools and hospitals in New Orleans in the wake of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/naomi-klein/the-shock-doctrine-in-act_b_77886.html">hurricane Katrina</a>, the corporate agenda has marched on the back of crisis after crisis the world over. </p><p dir="ltr">The only thing that’s different about Brexit is that the crisis wasn’t a natural disaster or the final collapse of a dying regime. It was actively created by the same groups as have promoted shock therapy before, as an opportunity to force through the interests of the rich and powerful. Whatever the various possibilities for ‘Lexit’ might have been with a theoretical different government, the people who led the campaign to deliver a Leave vote saw it as an opportunity to remove Britain’s ‘red tape’ protections against corporate abuse, to turn the country into a playground for the rich and powerful, and to undermine the global action on climate change which the EU has played a key role in, and which represents an existential threat to much of the fossil fuel industry. </p><p dir="ltr">And the people in the room, negotiating what our future relationship with the EU – and our future trade deals with the rest of the world – will look like, were at the forefront of that movement. They are exactly the same people whose networks of friends and backers include the 'think tanks' with unknown funding sources, who argue against any kind of law which restricts profit, and who think that freedom means only the freedom to extract wealth from workers and the planet.</p><p dir="ltr">The threat of Brexit is not that Davis and his team are incompetent, nor that Liam Fox’s attempts at trade deals fail. The worry is that they might just turn out to be competent enough to achieve some of what they set out to achieve. They may just deliver a small percentage of the Brexit they envisaged, which could mean American agribusiness sweeping away England’s hedgerows and pumping our beef full of hormones. It could mean US health firms winning the right to bid for NHS contracts. It would mean the dismantling of rights at work and giving corporations the right to sue Britain for any laws which impinge on their profits. In the shadows around the negotiating room, who knows what the tobacco lobby, the asbestos lobby (which, it turns out, is still a thing), and a whole range of other corporate groups we’ve barely yet heard of will be pushing for? </p><p dir="ltr">And as it becomes clearer and clearer that large portions of the City backed Brexit as a way to free themselves from pesky European regulations, who knows what Davis and co will give them as they untie Britain from the EU’s web of rules and laws?</p><p dir="ltr">The worry in the Brexit negotiations isn’t that the EU officials walk over the British government. It’s that both sides succeed in doing what they do best: putting the interests of the rich and powerful ahead of the concerns of ordinary people across Britain, and Europe, and the world. And the problem with the way it’s being covered is that it makes it harder for us to mobilise against this onslaught on ordinary people. </p><p dir="ltr">We shouldn’t be mocking Davis, Fox and co. We should be mobilising to defend our holiday pay, our clean air and water, our health service, our countryside and wildlife, and everything else that they will auction off to the highest bidder before you can write another joke about how they didn’t have their meeting papers properly indexed.</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/brexitinc/adam-ramsay-peter-geoghegan/new-brexit-minister-arms-industry-american-hard-right-and-e">The new Brexit minister, the arms industry, the American hard right… and Equatorial Guinea</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/adam-ramsay/gate-crashing-inner-sanctum-of-elite-at-paris-climate-talks">Gate–crashing &#039;the inner sanctum of the elite&#039; at the Paris climate talks</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/brendan-montague/clean-brexit-dirty-brexit-is-this-last-exit-before-armageddon">Clean Brexit, Dirty Brexit: Is this the last exit before armageddon?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk Brexit Inc. Adam Ramsay Tue, 04 Jul 2017 10:13:08 +0000 Adam Ramsay 112067 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Dirty Brexit and the covert war on regulation https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brendan-montague/dirty-brexit-and-covert-war-on-regulation <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="font-family: &amp;amp;amp; mso-fareast-font-family: &amp;amp;amp; mso-fareast-language: EN-GB;">During the next three months Brendan Montague will investigate the business interests and motives of the businessmen that sponsored Dirty Brexit... </span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p> </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/AlfedPalmersmokestacks_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/AlfedPalmersmokestacks_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="356" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><em>Image: WikiCommons.</em></p><p class="MsoNormal"><em><span>“Do you try and win votes over the important issues (which means fighting the battle on basically unfavourable ground)?</span></em><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><em><span>“Or do you forget about winning voters over and concentrate on trying to convince them that the unimportant issues (on which they are already on your side) are really important?</span></em><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><em><span>“For a variety of reasons the Tory strategists eventually plumped for the second course. I believe they were right to so do.”</span></em><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>The ‘Scapegoat’ is Europe</span></strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>Immigration is in reality an unimportant issue. </span><span><a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/05/07/eu-immigrants-vital-uk-economy-cbi-warns/" target="_blank"><span>Immigrants make a “vital” contribution</span></a></span><span> to the UK economy. And yet immigration dominated the Brexit campaign. Brexit in turn dominated the general election with Theresa May demanding a mandate for the negotiations with the rest of the European Union.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>The dog-whistle politics of the Tories and UKIP seemed to deafen swathes of the electorate to the important issues: the government’s responsibility for a moribund economy, chronic housing shortages, </span><span><a href="http://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/appalling-grenfell-tower-tragedy-puts-fire-safety-and-cuts-to-services-in-sharp-focus-a3564931.html" target="_blank"><span>fatal cuts to public services</span></a></span><span>, the sell-off of the NHS, and the crisis of climate change.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>The Tories convinced some British white working class voters that immigration was really important because it was an issue on which white politicians appeared to be on the same side. And everybody forgot about the </span><span><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/brendan-montague/dirty-donors-back-theresa-may-in-snap-elections-to-secure-dirty-brexit" target="_blank"><span>Tory donors</span></a></span><span> and their </span><span><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/magic-money-tree-dont-let-politicians-tell-otherwise/" target="_blank"><span>magic money tree</span></a></span><span>.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>Crisis in Housing, Health, Employment</span></strong><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>It’s a very old trick. The quote above is from Lord Lawson, the chairman of the Vote Leave campaign. But it does not refer to the recent Brexit crisis.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>It’s Lawson’s contemporaneous analysis of the 1964 general election for the <span>Financial Times</span>. He humbly coined it “Lawson’s law of election campaigning” in his self-serving autobiography, <span>The View from Number 11: Memoirs of a Radical Tory.</span></span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>The Tories convinced many that immigration was the problem. But May as home secretary failed to solve the ‘problem’ of immigration. This allowed the Brexiteers to present Brexit as the solution to immigration, and by implication the crisis in housing, health, employment.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>Poisoned Air and Rivers</span></strong><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>But this investigation by<em> </em><span>openDemocracy</span> suggests that immigration was only of marginal importance even to those who ran the Brexit campaign. They knew it would win votes.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>What they really wanted was to leave Europe, and leave behind environmental regulations and human rights legislation designed to protect the population from </span><span><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/brendan-montague/clean-brexit-dirty-brexit-is-this-last-exit-before-armageddon" target="_blank"><span>poisoned air and rivers</span></a></span><span>, from dangerously long working hours, and from climate change.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>The key question we are attempting to answer in the Brexit Inc. series is, why hasn’t Britain done more to protect the environment and prevent run-away climate change? The threat is extreme, and very real.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>The Countervailing Force is Business</span></strong><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>Environmental campaigners have since the early 1970s fought hard to force governments around the world to protect their citizens, and the natural environment that is the material substance of their nation. But fight for the environment is far from over, and we’re losing badly.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>Brexit means this conflict will now take place in Westminster, Holyrood, Cardiff Bay, Stormont (and possibly Dublin) rather than Brussels. But why are the politicians resistant to the pressure of the environmental groups and their supporters?</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>The public, the environment charities, those politicians who are seriously concerned about climate change represent a serious force. But the countervailing force is business - micro, small, monopoly and transnational.</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>Hating Environmental Regulations</span></strong><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>What does this look like up close? How did businesses influence the Brexit campaign? Was the business community split? And how did the industrial wing of the Brexit campaign succeed?</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>Our investigation into the Brexit campaign has established that most of the people publicly&nbsp;involved in the Brexit campaign are small to medium businessmen who see regulation and government as an impediment to profit and success.</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>The European Union is seen - rightly - as an instrument of regulation and state restrictions on the private sector. It is therefore deeply resented. In particular, the business people involved in Vote Leave and Business for Britain hate environmental regulations and the working time directive.</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>“Regulation Costs Business”</span></strong><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>Business for Britain, one of the two main Brexit campaign groups, raised concerns about regulations designed to reduce emissions, including from the transport sector. Many of those involved work directly or indirectly for companies with high intensity emissions. They made sure their core supporters understood the important issues.</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>Business for Britain released a press release early in its campaign, headlined “<span>New Research Reveals £12bn Cost of Lisbon Treaty to British Businesses”</span>.</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>It stated: “Research by Business for Britain, based on official Government data, finds that EU r</span><span><a href="http://businessforbritain.org/2014/02/24/new-research-reveals-12bn-cost-of-lisbon-treaty-to-british-businesses/" target="_blank"><span>egulation stemming from the Lisbon Treaty</span></a></span><span> has cost UK businesses £12.2bn since December 2009, and currently hits British companies for £6.1bn annually.</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>“The Steady and Unaccountable Intrusion”</span></strong><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>“In 2009, David Cameron correctly warned: ‘The problem we’re facing today... will now be made worse by the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty... These problems boil down to the steady and unaccountable intrusion of the European Union into nearly every aspect of our lives’.”</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>Matthew Elliott, the chief executive of Business for Britain, was quoted saying: “The Lisbon Treaty was hugely unpopular at the time, and we can now see that it has increased the cost of doing business in Britain.”</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>There is an extremely strong correlation between supporting Britain leaving the European Union and espousing climate denial. There are very many points of evidence that the same group of people are promoting Brexit and attacking climate science and policy.</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>“Greater Profitability and Growth”</span></strong><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>The same motive - a dislike of regulations - drives climate denial and in particular the attack on the UNFCCC and IPCC process, and the European Union’s role in that process.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>The assumption is that without the European Union the Conservative government would be free to remove regulations, allowing for greater profitability and growth for companies which are carbon intensive or otherwise polluting.</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>Lawson (yes, him again), argued that “EU regulation is untouchable” without Brexit. Ian Brown was the South East chairman of Business for Britain and works in the carbon intensive construction industry. He attacked the working time directive in the local newspaper.</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>“Sheer Mountain of Regulation”</span></strong><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>Carl Chambers, then Yorkshire chairman of Business for Britain, works for CNG, which is the “largest independent shipper of gas in the UK”. He is also opposed to European Union regulations.</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>“The European Union has been a very costly exercise for the UK,” he told local media. “We are spending £350m a week and that’s on top of the cost of complying with the sheer mountain of</span><span><a href="http://www.chad.co.uk/news/local/business-support-for-brexit-is-growing-says-campaign-chief-1-7659845%23ixzz41HOsJUZx" target="_blank"><span> regulation and law which come out of Brussels</span></a></span><span>.</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>“The reason I have got involved is if you are going to have regulations and laws that affect businesses as well as the general population, those laws should be passed as close to those people as possible...We have got 50 per cent of our laws and regulations coming from Brussels. It’s unrepresentative, it’s unaccountable and it’s costly.”</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>“Bureaucrats in Brussels”</span></strong><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>Nigel Baxter, the East Midland chairman of Business for Britain, runs RH Commercial Vehicles with sites in Cossington in Leicestershire and Alfreton in Derbyshire, and is the boss of a truck hire company in Nottingham.</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>The local newspaper reported: “He says many small and medium-sized businesses in the East Midlands are fed up with bureaucrats in Brussels imposing oppressive regulations and costs on them, and want to see a fundamental change in the UK's relationship with Europe.”</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>The centrality of regulation was largely underreported in the media, but not totally ignored. Perhaps the best example is the following from the <span>Economist</span>, under the headline “</span><span><a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2016/02/graphics-britain-s-referendum-eu-membership" target="_blank"><span>Regulation is perhaps the Eurosceptics’ biggest bugbear”.</span></a>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>Stick to Most of the Rules</span></strong><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>“When trying to show how much Britain might gain from leaving the EU, they tot up all the costs of EU regulation, assert that there are no benefits from it and assume that, after Brexit, the whole lot could be scrapped.”</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>And. Yet. “The OECD club of mostly rich countries has compared the extent of regulation in product and labour markets among its members and finds that Britain is among the least regulated countries in Europe. Indeed, Britain compares favourably with non-EU countries such as America, Australia and Canada.</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>“And there is little to suggest that, if it were to leave the EU, it would tear up many rules. Moreover, if a post-Brexit Britain wanted to retain full access to the single European market, it would almost certainly have to stick with most of the accompanying rules.”</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>Greater Anxiety is Yet to Come</span></strong><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>The most unpopular claim you can make is that the public has been deceived. The idea that you have been deceived creates too much shame and anxiety to bring into consciousness. It is almost as hard to say publicly that you have changed your mind, you may have been wrong.</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>This is what makes Lawson’s law of election campaigning so powerful, and so insidious and cruel. The public voted because they do need a “strong and stable” society: security at work, support through hospitals and social care.</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>We were told that immigrants were taking away those services. That Brexit would stop immigration. That we would have jobs, schools, hospitals. The reality is Brexit means ever greater economic and environmental instability. So far greater anxiety is yet to come. Unless of course...</span><span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><em><span>NEXT: Brexit is the latest battle in a 70-year war on regulation and environmental protection. We meet the generals and the soldiers - and examine their vested interests.</span></em><span></span></p> <p>&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/brexitinc/brendan-montague/clean-brexit-dirty-brexit-is-this-last-exit-before-armageddon">Clean Brexit, Dirty Brexit: Is this the last exit before armageddon?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/brexitinc/amy-hall/three-ways-fossil-fuel-industry-influences-uk-political-system-and-three-things-y">Three ways the fossil fuel industry influences the UK political system – and three things you can do</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brendan-montague/opposition-parties-offer-choices-from-soft-clean-brexit-to-hard-dirty-brexit">Opposition parties offer choices from soft clean Brexit to hard dirty Brexit</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk Brexit Inc. Brendan Montague Mon, 03 Jul 2017 11:59:11 +0000 Brendan Montague 112046 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A guide to "Constructive Disobedience" https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/diem25/guide-to-constructive-disobedience <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>To confront the Establishment head-on, and bring about the Progressive Europe that is desperately needed, we call on activists everywhere to practise “Constructive Disobedience”. What do we mean by this? Read on to find 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/magnette.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/magnette.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'>Paul Magnette, Minister-President of the Walloon Region, famously held up the passing of CETA at an EU level in 2016. Flickr/European Committee of the Regions. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>We founded DiEM25 on the belief that the EU is disintegrating due to the incompetent authoritarianism of its institutions and, more generally, of Europe’s ‘deep’ establishment. A negative reinforcement mechanism between authoritarianism and failed policies feeds the centrifugal forces tearing Europe apart, with Brexit just the prelude.</p><p>To jolt Europe out of its path to ruin (i.e. a disintegration that will only benefit xenophobic, nationalist, regressive forces) we propose that municipalities, city councils, regions and governments practise&nbsp;Constructive Disobedience. But what does this mean? What should be disobeyed and how can disobedience prove constructive, as opposed to deconstructive?</p><h2>Disobedience</h2><p>The EU establishment, at least since the euro crisis erupted following the 2008 global financial crisis, has chosen to implement policies and to issue directives that violate basic principles that a defensible and sustainable EU should espouse. </p><p>Such policies or directives whose implementation will damage the EU’s long-term image and integrity&nbsp;<em>must</em>&nbsp;be disobeyed! Disobeying such policies and directives is a Europeanist’s&nbsp;duty&nbsp;– rather than the un-European reaction that the establishment portrays it as.</p><h2>Constructive</h2><p>Disobeying policies or directives that damage Europe’s integrity is&nbsp;necessary but insufficient. To be progressive and constructive, we must accompany disobedience by counter-proposals fully outlining alternative policies or directives to those we disobey. </p><p>These alternative policies or directives must, in addition, be&nbsp;<em>universalisable</em>&nbsp;(in the Kantian sense of being the policies one should want to see adopted, at once, throughout Europe). In other words, our disobedience does not qualify as constructive if the alternatives we propose are based on the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) syndrome, or are of the type that, if adopted in every country, some parts of Europe will suffer.</p><p><strong>Examples of Disobedience that are&nbsp;<em>not</em>&nbsp;Constructive</strong></p><ol><li>The Irish governments’ long-term policy of offering multinational big tech and pharma companies&nbsp;<a href="https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/ireland-apple-unfair-tax-deal-by-yanis-varoufakis-2016-09?barrier=accessreg">sweetheart corporate tax deals</a>, and disobeying the European Commission’s directive to end these deals, does not qualify as Constructive Disobedience. Why? Because the Irish governments’ policy fails the&nbsp;<em>universalisability</em>&nbsp;test: If every EU member state offered such deals to Google, Apple, etc., these companies would have no incentive to stay in Ireland. Ireland would then lose its gains but the benefits to Europe as a whole from giving these corporations effective tax immunity would be grossly overshadowed by the loss of aggregate taxes.</li><li>The refusal by various governments (like&nbsp;<a href="http://www.dw.com/en/hungary-and-slovakia-take-eu-refugee-quota-scheme-to-court/a-38781422">Hungary</a>&nbsp;in 2017) to accept its allotted share of refugees. Again, while this is an example of disobedience, it most certainly fails the&nbsp;<em>universalisability</em>&nbsp;test: If every member-state refused to take on refugees (something that in the cases of Greece and Italy would involve unspeakable brutality at high seas), Europe would violate its international treaty obligations, not to mention its self-image as a civilised continent.</li><li>The Italian government’s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/eu-budget-italy-rules-idUSR1N1AF01B">demand</a>&nbsp;in 2016 to be allowed to violate the EU’s ‘fiscal compact’ budget rules at will, while consenting to the proposition that other countries (e.g. Greece) are subjected to calamitous austerity. By definition, this form of disobedience cannot be&nbsp;<em>universalisable</em>, as it seeks to exempt one country from strictures that the ‘disobeyer’ agrees to see imposed on another country. To render the Italian government’s disobedience constructive, Prime Minister Renzi would have to outline in full counter-proposals regarding: alternative fiscal rules, a proper banking union, aggregate investment policy for the eurozone as a whole and, last but not least, a European policy of public debt management.</li></ol><p><strong>Examples of Constructive Disobedience</strong></p><ol><li>Wallonia’s&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/neil-campbell/wallonia-ceta-and-meaning-of-openness">disobedience to CETA</a>&nbsp;in 2016 passes the test of&nbsp;<em>universalisability</em>, thus qualifying as an example of Constructive Disobedience. Its objections focused on the establishment of private tribunals where governments and municipalities could be fined by multinationals outside the purview of Wallonia’s legal framework. Wallonia’s success at blocking CETA would not just benefit Wallonia’s democratic sovereignty but would act as a shield for the democratic sovereignty of every member state or region of the EU. In so doing, it would enhance, rather than imperil, Europe’s integrity.</li><li>The Greek Spring of 2015 was another example of Constructive Disobedience since: (a) the troika-inspired fiscal and reform program that the Greek government was disobeying was the template on which the policy of universalised (pan-European) austerity had been built, inflaming a pan-European deflationary crisis detrimental to every member state in Europe (including Germany); and (b) the counter-proposals of the Greek government (e.g. on debt swaps, low but positive primary surpluses and reforms that targeted the oligarchy) would have been beneficial to Greece without jeopardising the well-being of any other member state (indeed, they would have benefitted the rest of Europe by helping Greece repay a larger portion of its debt).</li><li>The Italian government’s 2016&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-eu-budget-italy-veto-idUSKCN12Q27X">threat to veto the EU budget</a>&nbsp;unless there is a common migration and refugee policy is consistent with the&nbsp;<em>universalisability</em>&nbsp;test: If every member-state threatened to do the same, and toward the same objective, Europe would be jolted out of its present scandalous lack of a common, coordinated policy on migration/refugees!</li></ol><h2>Why Constructive Disobedience is important in the absence of democratic federal institutions</h2><p>During the standoff between Wallonia and Brussels over CETA, commentators were lamenting that a small Belgian region should have the right to hold out against the rest of the EU, making EU-level decision-making impossibly inefficient. But what are they proposing?</p><p>The only way of making pan-European decision making more efficient is by transferring the sovereignty of state or regional parliaments to a federal, pan-European parliament. To withdraw now (before a sovereign federal parliament is instituted) the right of regional or national parliaments to say ‘No’ to the loss of their sovereignty is to end even the pretence that we live in democracies!</p><p>As long as there is no democratic process at the heart of the EU, it is intolerable to force upon parliaments (like Wallonia’s) the loss of their sovereignty just because the ‘majority’ of other parliaments demand it. </p><p>This is equivalent to banning Constructive Disobedience of cities, regions and member states well before a truly federal system is vested with democratic sovereignty. Democrats across Europe must oppose such barbarity… with all their resolve.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/diem25/hamburg-is-transforming-itself-into-orwellian-dystopia-for-g20-summit">Hamburg transformed itself into an Orwellian dystopia for the G20 Summit</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/neil-campbell/wallonia-ceta-and-meaning-of-openness">Wallonia, CETA and the meaning of &#039;openness&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/paul-magnette/huge-victory-for-belgiums-ceta-opponents-paul-magnettes-speech">A huge victory for Belgium&#039;s CETA opponents: Paul Magnette&#039;s speech</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/giorgia-de-stefano-ben-hall/story-of-diem25uk-list-open-letter-to-future-members">How we are bringing democracy to our politics - and how you can join in </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/plan-c/radical-municipalism-demanding-future">Radical municipalism: demanding the future</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/emmanuel-melissaris/constructive-disobedience-critique">&#039;Constructive disobedience&#039;: a critique</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? DiEM25 DiEM25 Mon, 03 Jul 2017 11:24:20 +0000 DiEM25 112038 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Hamburg transformed itself into an Orwellian dystopia for the G20 Summit https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/diem25/hamburg-is-transforming-itself-into-orwellian-dystopia-for-g20-summit <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>On July 7-8 the G20 Summit took place in Hamburg. The city’s authorities plan to transform it into a democracy-free zone of complete surveillance, enforced by paramilitary means. We wrote the open letter below to the Senate of Hamburg to protest.</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-31971771.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-31971771.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="323" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A demonstrator stands in front of a water canon on Millerntor square in Hamburg, Germany, 7 July 2017. The police cut off a demonstration with several thousand participants.Boris Roessler/Press Asociation. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Honourable Senators of the City of Hamburg,</p><p>We are the&nbsp;<em>Democracy in Europe Movement 2025&nbsp;</em>(DiEM25), a pan-European alliance of European citizens for the democratisation of Europe. What we are witnessing in Hamburg worries us deeply.</p><p>In less than three weeks from now, the world’s attention will be drawn to your city, as you host the planet’s most powerful heads of state for the G20 summit. Let us be clear: the G20 has no democratic mandate: it embodies the politics of austerity, social inequality, war and ecological destruction. The protests and draconian security measures that follow G20 summits around the world are testament to this group’s odiously illiberal and autocratic nature.</p><p>Yet on July 7 and 8, your city will take security measures that are extreme even by G20 standards. Andy Grote, your senator of the interior, went back on a previous <a href="https://www.ndr.de/nachrichten/hamburg/Buergerschaft-debattiert-ueber-G20-Demos,gipfeltreffen268.html">promise to not ban demonstrations</a> and declared&nbsp;a&nbsp;general&nbsp;decree&nbsp;forbidding any&nbsp;kind of&nbsp;assembly&nbsp;in a&nbsp;territory&nbsp;of&nbsp;38 km2. </p><p>Predator drones, usually deployed in warzones, will circle the skies, tanks will be out on the streets, and over 15,000 police officers are expected to be on patrol, including those on horseback and with dogs. </p><p>Robots deployed by U.S. secret services will crawl through sewers and subway tunnels (doing what exactly? <a href="http://www.zeit.de/hamburg/stadtleben/2017-06/elbvertiefung-09-06-2017">No-one knows</a> since the U.S. won’t give us any information about them!) Hamburg will be transformed into an Orwellian dystopia of complete surveillance, enforced by paramilitary means; a democracy-free area.</p><p>Senators, these moves are a travesty against the democratic identity of the “free and hanseatic city of Hamburg”, to use its official name. They are a blow to the standing of European democracy as a whole and its perception across the world.</p><p>We will not be deterred. From July 5 to July 8 we will be in Hamburg to demonstrate for global solidarity, to protest against the G20’s illiberal policies, and to put forward real political alternatives to austerity, war, social inequalities and ecocide. </p><p>In line with the constitution of your city, which cites Hamburg’s role as ‘mediating between all the world’s parts and people in the spirit of peace’, we will peacefully and constructively #disOBEY the international dogma of austerity.</p><p>Please feel free to <a href="https://diem25.org/event/closing-event-of-the-global-solidarity-summit-g20-alternative-summit/">join us in our festival of democracy</a>.</p><p>Carpe DiEM!</p><p><iframe width="460" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KLq54gTJjEo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/diem25/guide-to-constructive-disobedience">A guide to &quot;Constructive Disobedience&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/yanis-varoufakis/what-role-is-germany-playing-in-european-union-and-what-is-meant">What role is Germany playing in the European Union and what is meant by “Multi-Speed Europe”?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/women-and-men-from-all-over-europe-and-world/from-across-world-together-against-g">From across the world together against the G20: an open letter to the people of Hamburg</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Germany </div> </div> </div> <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? Germany DiEM25 DiEM25 Mon, 03 Jul 2017 11:02:16 +0000 DiEM25 112039 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Jo Cox MP: the compassionate road to war https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-dix/jo-cox-mp-compassionate-road-to-war <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 13.3333px;">Jo Cox MP was the embodiment of humanitarianism, but does that make her politics - specifically her stance on intervention in Syria - beyond criticism?&nbsp;</span></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/563363/512px-London_anti-war_protest_banners.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563363/512px-London_anti-war_protest_banners.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="614" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Stop The War march is September 2002 in London. Wikimedia/William M Connelley. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Jo Cox’s tragically brief career as a Labour MP was cut short by Thomas Mair who, inspired by a far-right ideology, murdered her just over a year ago on 16 June 2016. The Labour MP left behind a husband and two young children aged four and five. During the trial, the MP for Batley and Spen was described by the judge as generous of spirit which was “evident in the selfless concern she had for others even when facing a violent death”. Brendan Cox described his wife as being driven “by a very powerful sense of empathy and so when she would meet people who had a problem, she would be committed to dealing with that problem no matter how difficult or seemingly unsolvable”.</p> <p>Jo Cox was the embodiment of humanitarianism, having worked for several NGOs, most notably Oxfam but also Save the Children and the National Society for the Protection of Children. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, paid tribute to the Labour MP’s “deep commitment to humanity”. This humanitarianism, her compassionate character and appalling murder seem to place Jo Cox’s politics beyond criticism. But on how to intervene in Syria, are they?</p><h2>Military intervention in Syria</h2><p>Labour and Conservative hawks have invoked Jo Cox’s memory to generate support for western military intervention in Syria and beyond. These powerful political interests, allied to Syrian rebels, use claims of genocide, human rights abuses and humanitarian crisis as trumps to win political debate and delegitimise opposition to war.</p> <p>The most notable aspect of Jo Cox’s tragically short parliamentary career was her outspoken stance for escalating war in support of the so-called 'moderate rebels' in Syria. From the Blairite wing of the Labour party, she worked with neoconservatives and other Conservative hawks to use claims of genocide to support taking humanitarian intervention on the side of the moderate rebels by establishing safe havens, the delivery of humanitarian aid to rebel areas and support for the White Helmets.</p> <p>At the time of her death, Jo Cox was working on a report with the Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat (former principal adviser to the Chief of Defence Staff). This has been posthumously published by the Conservative think tank Policy Exchange as&nbsp;<a href="https://policyexchange.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Intervention-01-17_v8.pdf"><em>The Cost of Doing Nothing</em></a><em>: The price of inaction in the face of mass atrocities</em>&nbsp;(January 2017). In this report, the Labour MP Alison McGovern, chair of Progress, the Blairite think tank, and Tugendhat argue in support of military intervention: “a commitment by all parties to move in this direction would be a fitting legacy for our tireless, brave and humanitarian colleague, Jo Cox”.&nbsp;</p> <p>The report was due to be published on the day of the Chilcot inquiry on 6 July 2016, to counter growing British scepticism about foreign military interventions. The preface of the report was written by Dean Godson, director of Policy Exchange and a prominent British neoconservative. Professor John Bew, a founding member of the neoconservative Henry Jackson Society, also contributed. This organisation, established in 2005, is the leading think tank in support of military intervention. It also has a history of demonising Muslims.</p> <p>Conservative hawks tend to emphasise less altruistic motivations for military intervention and can be more explicit about the implications of establishing supposedly humanitarian initiatives such as safe havens. Michael Weiss, director of communications for the Henry Jackson Society, argued in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.henryjacksonsociety.org/cms/harriercollectionitems/SyriaIntervention.pdf"><em>Intervention in Syria</em></a>, published in December 2011, for the establishment of a safe area which should “not only be used as a base for home-grown rebel military operations but as a political and communications hub for the Syrian opposition.” Weiss added: “Its role should be tantamount to the one played by Benghazi in helping the Libyan Transitional National Council topple the Gaddafi regime.”</p> <p>While Tugendhat favoured human rights and humanitarian military intervention, he was&nbsp;<a href="https://policyexchange.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/clearing-the-fog-of-law.pdf">critical of the human rights laws</a>&nbsp;that constrained the actions of British soldiers, stating that “judicial imperialism should urgently be reversed.”</p> <p>Imperialism and humanitarianism have a close historical association, imperialism was often justified as a humanitarian or “civilising” act.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/26/friend-jo-cox-would-never-want-britain-withdraw-world-must/">Tugendhat stated</a>&nbsp;that he and Cox wanted to elevate the role of the military as a force that can “change lives for the better”. He added: “‘We wanted to show that Britain’s history of intervention, military and otherwise, is common to both our political traditions and has been an integral part of our foreign and national security policy for over two hundred years.”</p><h2>War or humanitarian intervention?</h2> <p>In the post-Cold War period&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13642987.2017.1314644?journalCode=fjhr20">war has become reinvented as “humanitarian intervention”</a>&nbsp;to make it more palatable to sceptical western public opinion including the leftwing. During the nineties, leftists who had opposed the Vietnam War, the US interventions in Central America, and the nuclear arms race were seduced by human rights and humanitarian arguments for war. Kosovo in 1999 was depicted as the first “humanitarian war” and a model for future military interventions.</p> <p>The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was also justified as a “humanitarian intervention”. The disastrous consequences of that invasion and the exposure of the deceptions and calculations behind the war undermined “humanitarian” justifications for war. Some humanitarian organisations, most notably <em>Médecins Sans Frontières</em> (MSF), became critical of the way powerful western states were using human rights and humanitarianism to justify war and imperialism.</p> <p>In Afghanistan, NATO used humanitarian aid as part of a counterinsurgency strategy and propaganda to win the hearts and minds of the local population. The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, notoriously described NGOs as “a force multiplier for us, such an important part of our combat team”. Humanitarian NGOs signed <a href="https://www.icvanetwork.org/system/files/versions/Afghanistan-A%20Call%20for%20Security%20%28Joint%20NGO%20Letter%29.pdf">Afghanistan: A Call for Security</a> described as a&nbsp;<a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=wnBjDgAAQBAJ&amp;pg=PT25&amp;lpg=PT25&amp;dq=Afghanistan:+A+Call+for+Security%E2%80%99+described+as+a+%E2%80%98gung-ho%E2%80%99+docum&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=sr6IWk2it7&amp;sig=wJYLj7qcdef3azyDpOcSjgvCd9k&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0ahUKEwjH7Y6eu77UAhWpI8AKHVgpBX4Q6AEINDAC#v=onepage&amp;q=Afghanistan%3A%20A%20Call%20for%20Security’%20described%20as%20a%20‘gung-ho’%20docum&amp;f=false">“gung-ho” document</a>&nbsp;demanding more ”robust” NATO military action.</p> <p>The intensification of Britain’s involvement in the “good war” in Afghanistan after 2006 was supposed to restore the reputation of the military after the “bad war” in Iraq.&nbsp;<a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Qb23aL0zfkEC&amp;pg=PA235&amp;lpg=PA235&amp;dq=in+practice,+we+ended+up+killing+a+lot+of+people,+destroying+lots+of+bazaars+and+mosques.+We+absolutely+knew+it+was+not+what+we+were+there+to+do,+and+would+not+be+helpful&amp;sourc">General David Richards</a>, who was head of the British armed forces, reflected on the war in Afghanistan: “in practice, we ended up killing a lot of people, destroying lots of bazaars and mosques. We absolutely knew it was not what we were there to do, and would not be helpful”.</p> <p>British public opinion defied cross-party support for the “good war” in Afghanistan and consistently opposed intervention from the start of the escalation of the war in 2006. The public’s reluctance to suffer casualties joined with no-win outcomes to explain why deception and humanitarian arguments had to be deployed to reduce public misgivings.</p><h2>The example of Libya</h2> <p>There is considerable evidence to suggest that deception was used to justify and extend NATO’s intervention in Libya 2011. Advocates of humanitarian intervention claimed that President Gaddafi’s forces, which were advancing on the rebels in Benghazi, would commit genocide against civilians – another Srebrenica – unless NATO aircraft intervened. In 2017,&nbsp;<a href="https://policyexchange.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Intervention-01-17_v8.pdf">McGovern and Tugendhat</a>&nbsp;argued that the Libyan intervention “almost certainly saved tens of thousands from slaughter by Gaddafi and the current level of violence is nowhere near the genocide he threatened to unleash”. The House of Commons supported military intervention on 21 March 2011 by a vote of 557 MPs to 13 (the latter included Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell).</p> <p>The&nbsp;<a href="https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmfaff/119/119.pdf">House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) report on Libya, in September 2016</a>, found that Gaddafi’s threat to civilians was “overstated”. This claim is backed up by academic research that suggests the regime was trying to negotiate and targeted rebels rather than civilians. The FAC argued, ”by the summer of 2011, the limited intervention to protect civilians had drifted into an opportunist policy of regime change. That policy was not underpinned by a strategy to support and shape post-Gaddafi Libya.”&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17502977.2015.1137391">Jack Holland and Mike Aaronson</a>&nbsp;have argued that “the UK’s political objective may well have been the removal of Gaddafi, but it was not astute to openly articulate it as such.” President Obama was to describe post-intervention Libya as a “shit show”.</p> <p>The Russians and Chinese argue that NATO’s deception on Libya is why they are reluctant to support similar humanitarian action in Syria. The chaotic consequences of “humanitarian intervention” in Libya have underlined the ineffectiveness of military action already apparent in Iraq and Afghanistan.</p> <p>During her parliamentary career Jo Cox was a co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group Friends of Syria that urged stronger “humanitarian military” action in support of moderate rebels and against the Assad regime. Humanitarians often claim to be “non-political” or “above politics”. After all, who can be against “humanitarianism”, saving “civilians” and opposing "genocide”? The key question is: who defines what these terms mean and what are their implications for policy? Compassion has too often been a cover for escalating war.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">&nbsp;After all, who can be against "humanitarianism", saving "civilians" and opposing "genocide"?&nbsp;</p> <p>Jo Cox allied with Andrew Mitchell – former Conservative International Development Secretary and Libya hawk – <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/11/british-forces-ethical-solution-syria-humanitarian-crisis">to argue that Syria</a>&nbsp;was a case of genocide by comparing it to Bosnia and Rwanda. They presented war as a Manichaean struggle between the evil dictator Assad who is perpetrating a genocide on the Syrian people and the moderate rebels: ”<a href="https://policyexchange.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Intervention-01-17_v8.pdf">never again can we let innocents suffer as they did in the Holocaust. Never again</a>”. Innocents are depicted as always the victims of Assad and not of the rebels – but the rebels have also carried out atrocities.</p> <p>The humanitarian proposal of a “safe haven” was effectively a call for the escalation of NATO’s military involvement in Syria and risked a military confrontation with Russia. For&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/11/british-forces-ethical-solution-syria-humanitarian-crisis">Cox and Mitchell</a>, a military component was part of an ethical response, but what was critical was “that the protection of civilians must be at the centre of the mission”. Safe havens should be created to offer sanctuary from both Assad and ISIS. They argued that “preventing the regime from killing civilians, and signalling intent to Russia, is far more likely to compel the regime to the negotiating table than anything currently being done or mooted”. International law should be broken by ignoring Russia’s and China’s veto on UN action.</p><h2>A "successful" invasion?</h2> <p>So in December 2015 Jo Cox refused to support British involvement in the bombing of Syria because she thought this military action did not go far enough in support of moderate rebel groups. She opposed an “ISIS first” strategy because it would alienate “moderate rebels”. Although Jo Cox thought the invasion of Iraq was Labour’s “darkest hour”, she argued that this was because there was ”<a href="http://www.jocox.org.uk/2016/05/25/newspaper-column-time-to-enforce-syrias-ceasefire-to-save-lives/">no follow up strategy</a>”, suggesting that such invasions could be successful. Elsewhere she argued that she opposed the Iraq war because “the risk to civilian lives was too high, and their protection was never the central objective”. Kosovo and Sierra Leone were successes, she argued, because ”civilian protection was key”.</p> <p>Jo Cox took a hard line in favour of Syrian peace negotiations aiming at the removal of Assad and a rebel victory rather than a diplomatic compromise that might end the violence. Western intransigence can encourage rebels to hold out on negotiations in hope of a Libyan-style NATO military solution. In&nbsp;<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/12140058/We-must-not-let-America-sell-out-the-Syrian-rebels-to-Putin-and-Assad.html">February 2016, Jo Cox and the German Green Party MP, Omid Nouripour</a>, rejected US negotiations with Russia of a peace settlement in Syria in favour of a “much more muscular” European response. They added: “the US seems intent on a peace settlement that will be dangerously unbalanced. Such is the determination to secure [a] deal at any cost that they are prepared to offer far too many concessions to Assad and their Russian allies. This undermines the Syrian opposition, who feel betrayed by the international community. It also diminishes the chance for a sustainable peace and relegates the protection of civilians virtually out of the conference room. If we don’t stand up for them, nobody will”.</p> <p>Jo Cox’s advocacy for the White Helmets in Syria follows from this convergence between humanitarianism and arguments to escalate the war on the side of 'moderate rebels' for war. She nominated the White Helmets for the Nobel Peace Prize for their rescue work in Syria and one third of her memorial fund is to be donated to them. The White Helmets appear to be a humanitarian organisation that is above politics and prepared to help Syrian people in distress regardless of their politics. Max Blumenthal, however, has uncovered evidence that the White Helmets are aligned to rebel groups. They were founded by a former British Army officer and are financially backed by western governments.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/how-white-helmets-became-international-heroes-while-pushing-us-military">The White Helmets leadership is “driven by a pro-interventionist agenda conceived by the Western governments and the public relations groups that back them”</a>. The British government has, reportedly, been involved in&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/03/how-britain-funds-the-propaganda-war-against-isis-in-syria">propaganda campaigns</a>&nbsp;in support of “moderate rebel" groups.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The key criticism of the Labour and Conservative hawks' proposals is that their humanitarian arguments are misleading.</p> <p>The key criticism of the Labour and Conservative hawks' proposals is that their humanitarian arguments are misleading. Proposals for no fly zones, safe havens, humanitarian corridors, humanitarian access seem so “reasonable” and “non-political” that they conceal the highly politicised nature of asking NATO to take one side in a civil war, and the threat of escalation. </p> <p>In 2012, the head of the US military, General Martin Dempsey, estimated that at least&nbsp;<a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?redir_esc=y&amp;id=c3jsDAAAQBAJ&amp;q=dempsey+70%2C000#v=snippet&amp;q=dempsey%2070%2C000&amp;f=false">70,000 US servicemen</a>&nbsp;would be required to impose a no-fly zone over Syria. Some experts have estimated that about 200,000 troops – and perhaps several times that number – would be needed for 'peace enforcement' in Syria or 300-500,000 for a full-scale invasion. The consequences of deeper military involvement became even more serious after September 2015 when Russian aircrafts were deployed to Syria, raising the prospect of a wider war.</p> <p>President Obama opposed the imposition of a no-fly zone in Syria because it was an act of war that would involve attacking the Syrian air force and destroying its air defences, sophisticated defences designed to protect the country from the Israeli air force. Hillary Clinton, a key US Liberal hawk and then-Secretary of State, admitted privately that to achieve a no-fly zone “<a href="https://theintercept.com/2016/10/10/in-secret-goldman-sachs-speech-hillary-clinton-admitted-no-fly-zone-would-kill-a-lot-of-syrians/">you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians</a>” because air defence systems were located in civilian areas. Protecting some civilians means that other civilians will die.</p> <p>The former UK Foreign Secretary and military interventionist, William Hague, opposed the creation of safe havens which was&nbsp;<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/11929820/Safe-havens-for-beleaguered-Syrians-would-be-a-dangerous-distraction.html">“impractical at best dangerous at worst”</a>. He argued that “in Syria's fluid battlefields, massive ground forces would be needed to defend any “safe” area from terrorist infiltration and short-range bombardment. The most thoughtful advocates of this policy, such as my old colleague Andrew Mitchell and Labour MP Jo Cox, recognise this. Yet no one can say which country will provide the tens of thousands of troops that would be necessary, and be ready to reinforce them if necessary.”</p> <h2>Siding with the "moderate" rebels</h2><p>The west did take the side of moderate rebels early on in the Syrian war. In August 2011, after five months of the Syrian uprising, President Obama called for the removal of Assad and a transition to democracy. Together with its allies, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the west armed the opposition to Assad. At first they provided non-lethal aid to the Syrian rebels, but from at least 2012 the US was directly involved in training and arming Syrian rebels. The US spent millions of dollars and&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/sep/16/us-military-syrian-isis-fighters">failed to create a force of ‘pro-western moderate rebels”</a>. In August 2012, the US&nbsp;<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-crisis-the-west-wrings-its-hands-in-horror-but-it-was-our-folly-that-helped-create-this-a6677621.html">Defence Intelligence Agency</a>, the Pentagon’s intelligence arm, reported that “Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq, later ISIS] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria”. It is believed that weapons supplied by the west and its allies to 'moderate' groups have been seized by more hard-line groups, such as the Al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra.</p> <p>Syrian rebels have an incentive to provoke state repression in order to generate support for NATO military intervention which can be used to defeat Assad. The danger of local forces allying with western llberal hawks and neoconservatives to bring about military intervention was apparent during the Iraq invasion 2003. Iraqi exiles provided suspect intelligence on weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and assured neoconservatives and liberal hawks that an invasion would be easy and popular.</p> <p>The hawks claimed that the Syrian (and Libyan) uprisings were popular, democratic revolutions which made victory inevitable over President Assad. This encouraged the west to demand his removal from power, to arm rebels and miss opportunities for negotiations that might lead to accommodation. Only with the rise of ISIS and the deeper involvement of Russia has pragmatism won out over 'wishful thinking'.</p> <p>The military interventionists argue that the Bosnian and Rwandan genocides were the result of the failure of western intervention. This involves the assumption that the simple application of military force will be successful. The key example of success is Kosovo where exaggerated claims of genocide were used to legitimise a humanitarian war in which NATO bombed from 15,000 feet, killed about 500 civilians without any NATO deaths. The effectiveness of military force is undermined by the subsequent failures in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Both Iraq and Libya involved the use of deception to justify military intervention. </p> <p>Jo Cox’s compassion is not in question: but the consequences of so-called humanitarian military intervention can be catastrophic. These arguments demonise and criminalise the participants in war with the clear implication that, rather than negotiate, these wars should be fought until the enemy is defeated, which is when ‘justice’ can be imposed. After the invasion of Iraq, David Kennedy, an academic lawyer and human rights activist, wrote in&nbsp;<em>The Dark Sides of Virtue</em>&nbsp;(2004):</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">The generation which built the human rights movement focused its attention on the ways in which evil people in evil societies could be identified and restrained. More acute now is how good people, well-intentioned people in good societies, can go wrong, can entrench, support, the very things they have learned to denounce.</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/adam-ramsay/fascist-terrorism">We need to talk about fascist terrorism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/kate-ferguson/5-principles-for-responsible-internationalist-policy-on-syria">5 principles for a responsible internationalist policy on Syria</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/mary-kaldor/what-to-do-about-syrias-new-war">What to do about Syria&#039;s new war?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia uk Paul Dixon Thu, 29 Jun 2017 08:30:32 +0000 Paul Dixon 111986 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Enter Serbia's ‘Orbán’? Aleksandar Vučić and his catch-all politics https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/vassilis-petsinis/enter-serbias-orb-n-aleksandar-vu-i-and-his-catch-all-politics <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Why the right-wing Serbian President's appointment of an openly gay woman to the position of Prime Minister is not as incongruous as it appears.</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/vuc.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/vuc.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic - a canny political maneuverer? Wikimedia. PD.</span></span></span></p><p>On 26 May 2017, the local court in the western Serbian town of Valjevo restituted the historical memory (Serbian: <em>rehabilitacija</em>) of Second World War Chetnik military commander, Nikola Kalabić. </p><p>Although this story was not disseminated much further beyond the national and regional media, it still generated controversy and puzzled Serbian society. On 15 June, in a story which captivated the attention of international media and press, Ana Brnabić, a self-declared lesbian, was nominated by President Aleksandar Vučić for the post of Prime Minister. </p><p>This is the first time that a person of this sexual orientation has been appointed to such a high political post in a southeast European country. Would it be possible to interconnect these two stories and clarify this ’discrepancy’? Does this apparent contrast tell us something about the current state of political affairs in Serbia?</p> <h2><strong>From Kalabić</strong><strong>’s</strong><strong> </strong><strong><em>rehabilitacija</em></strong><strong> to the appointment of the new PM</strong></h2> <p>During the Second World War, Nikola Kalabić (1906-1946) was High Commander of the Chetnik ‘Mountain Guard’ (Serbian: <em>Gorska Garda</em>). Under the leadership of Dragoljub ‘Draža’ Mihailović, the royalist Chetnik resistance movement (also known as the ‘Yugoslav Army in the Homeland’) drew predominantly Serbian support and, until 1943, enjoyed the backing of Britain. </p><p>Throughout the Communist era, the official Yugoslav historiography charged Chetniks of <em>white terror</em> and relegated the movement to the status of a Nazi-collaborationist force, almost equivalent to the <em>Ustaše </em>in neighbouring Croatia. Kalabić and his ‘Mountain Guard’, in particular, had been accused of perpetrating large-scale atrocities across central Serbia (i.e. Kosmaj, Smederevo and Aranđelovac) and concluding an official <a href="https://books.google.ee/books?id=yoCaAAAAIAAJ&amp;redir_esc=y">collaboration pact</a> (German: <em>Waffenruhe-Verträge</em>) with the Axis in November 1943.</p> <p>Since the 1990s, certain representatives of the Serbian intelligentsia and right-wing politicians, as diverse as Vuk Drašković and Vojislav Sešelj, initiated various processes for the historical restitution of the Chetnik movement. Furthermore, a series of Chetnik-themed festivities, with the annual gathering in Ravna Gora (the Chetnik hearth) as their peak, have been taking place throughout the country. </p><p>On this occasion, the formal petition for the restitution of Nikola Kalabić’s historical memory was submitted by his granddaughter, and Valjevo native, Vesna Dragojević-Kalabić. Assisted by the state’s committee for the investigation of crimes committed under Axis occupation, high judge Dragan Obradović <a href="http://rs.n1info.com/a251513/Vesti/Vesti/Rehabilitovan-Nikola-Kalabic.html">approved</a> the appeal. </p><p>Although President Vučić granted his assent to the verdict, this decision caused an upheaval and generated wide discontent across the <a href="http://www.novosti.rs/vesti/naslovna/drustvo/aktuelno.290.html:667262-Nikola-Kalabic-rehabilitovan">centre-left/left angle</a> of the party spectrum (i.e. the Movement of Socialists-PS, the Socialist Democrat Party of Serbia-SPS and the League of Vojvodina’s Social Democrats-LSV). Certain among the government’s critics have spread rumours that this verdict may even be a prelude for the prospective restitution of Milan Nedić, leader of Serbia’s quisling government during the Second World War. Meanwhile, Serbian society remains <a href="http://www.blic.rs/vesti/drustvo/da-li-se-slazete-sa-rehabilitacijom-nikole-kalabica/hn745hd">polarized</a> over the court’s decision. </p> <p>Roughly a couple of weeks later, a non-party technocrat and University of Hull graduate, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/15/serbia-gains-its-first-female-and-gay-prime-minister-ana-brnabic">Ana Brnabić</a> was nominated for the seat of Serbia’s PM. President Aleksandar Vučić justified his choice on the basis of meritocracy and described his nominee as a ‘young and hardworking politician with individual and professional qualities’. </p><p>In all of this, however, the international media and press put an almost disproportional weight on Brnabić’s identity as an openly gay woman. Although safeguarded by the state legislation against discrimination and placed under the auspices of the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights, LGBT rights have long formed a contested sphere in Serbia’s legal as well as public discourse. In 2001, the first Belgrade Pride parade was violently disrupted by nationalist counter-protesters who were joined by Red Star and FK Partizan football hooligans. </p> <p>Quite a few journalistic accounts hinted at <em>cultural essentialism</em> and rushed to interpret this opposition to LGBT rights in Serbia as the persistence of a highly idiosyncratic Balkan <em>machismo</em>. Nevertheless, a comparative and more diligent outlook can demonstrate that a series of political, as well as extra-parliamentary, actors have basically incorporated their objections to LGBT rights into their cultural<em> </em>Euroscepticism as it has also been the case in other post-Communist polities (e.g. <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/vassilis-petsinis/contentious-politics-in-baltics-new-wave-of-right-wing-populism">the Baltic States</a>, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland). </p><p>How can one put into context and make sense of these two, qualitatively conflicting, developments within such a short period of time? The answer lies in the current state of affairs in Serbian politics as well as Serbia’s ’Balkan’ doctrine of foreign policy.</p> <h2><strong>Aleksandar Vučić</strong><strong> and his SNS as the preponderant political actors in Serbia</strong></h2> <p>During Tomislav Nikolić’s tenure in office as party-chairman, the reformation process of the old Serbian Radical Party-SRS into the centre-right Serbian Progressive Party-SNS brought about the marginalization of the ’new’ SRS. Further along the right angle of the spectrum, the latest decision of the Democratic Party of Serbia-DSS to form a <a href="http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2016&amp;mm=04&amp;dd=29&amp;nav_id=97853">coalition</a> with the more nationalistic Dveri did not enhance this party’s political weight. </p><p>Meanwhile, following Boris Tadić’s tenure in office as President of the Republic (2004-2012), Serbia’s centrist/liberal forces (e.g. the Democratic Party-DS) have been continuously shrinking as result of their inability to project a convincing political alternative to the electorate. As a direct consequence of these realignments on the macro-level, the SNS has consolidated its status as a predominant actor within a political continuum that ranges from the boundaries of the liberal centre all the way to the conservative right. </p> <p>Most recently, following the 2017 presidential elections, fears that Aleksandar Vučić may take advantage of his status in order to evolve into a ‘Serbian Orbán’ spurred a string of <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/serbia-protests-media-aleksandar-vucic-prime-minister-police-a7673532.html">youth protests</a> in Belgrade and other major urban centres. By contrast to the Hungarian Premier, instead of making a more emphatic and authoritarian turn towards the right, Vučić seems keener on taking advantage of: (a) a high degree of informality<em> </em>in policymaking; (b) plenty of room for tactical and situationally adaptive maneuvering. </p><p>In this light, the absence of formidable contenders along the political spectrum has ostensibly facilitated Aleksandar Vučić and the ruling SNS to proceed into various acts of ‘political juggling’ with the objective to placate a heterogeneous array of interest groups that stretch from the centrist/liberal all the way to the more nationalistic/conservative forces of the party system. </p><p>This, in turn, can help comprehend the apparent oscillation between decisions as contrasting as the historical restitution of controversial figures from the Second World War and the subsequent appointment of a lesbian candidate to the seat of the PM.</p> <h2><strong>Serbia’s ‘Balkan’ doctrine of foreign policy</strong></h2> <p>During his tenure in office as the Serbian President, Tomislav Nikolić (2012-2017) concretized the doctrine of ‘Balkan’ foreign policy. Without actually freezing Serbia’s accession process to the EU, this notion addresses a foreign policy of equal distance from Euro-Atlantic institutions and other global partners (mainly Russia). </p><p>At a first instance, this pattern of policymaking was prompted by the occasional friction with Brussels and powerful western governments (e.g. Germany) over Kosovo and other crucial issues in regional geopolitics. Especially in light of the economic and the refugee crises, this concept currently resonates with the <a href="http://www.b92.net/info/vesti/index.php?yyyy=2017&amp;mm=06&amp;dd=19&amp;nav_category=12&amp;nav_id=1273800">declining appeal</a> of the prospective EU-membership among the Serbian public. </p> <p>From this perspective, the appointment of Ana Brnabić as the new PM may also help Vučić provide, if only subtly, a <em>symbolic</em> gesture towards Brussels in regards to the Serbian government’s alleged commitment to the EU system of values and, by extension, the EU-accession process. </p><p>At this point, one may recall adjacent Albania’s pledge to legalize same-sex unions and its warm reception among policymaking circles in Brussels (2009) although the actual implementation of the draft law has been subject to a long series of <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/02/08/albanian-courts-asked-recognize-same-sex-partnerships">impediments</a>. </p><p>As a final remark, one might argue that the sequence between these two ostensibly contrasting developments is not random but reflects the desire and capacity of a powerful government to make tactical and situationally adaptive<em> </em>adjustments mainly in domestic and, to a secondary extent, foreign politics. </p><p>The long-term sustainability of this policymaking pattern is conditional upon: (a) the competence of the other political forces to project a drastic alternative to the predominant SNS; (b) the gradual emergence of civic and extra-parliamentary actors with the potential to contest the prospective ‘Orbánization’ of Serbian 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="/can-europe-make-it/othon-anastasakis/five-infections-of-social-democratic-family-in-western-balkans">The five &#039;infections&#039; of the social democratic &#039;family&#039; in the Western Balkans</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lepa-mladjenovi/at-heart-of-movement-to-end-men-s-violence">Lesbians at the heart of the movement to end men’s violence </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"> Serbia </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? Serbia Vassilis Petsinis Wed, 28 Jun 2017 08:20:15 +0000 Vassilis Petsinis 111957 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A Corbyn-led government should start by scrapping the Prevent Strategy https://www.opendemocracy.net/eva-nanopoulos/corbyn-led-government-should-start-by-scrapping-prevent-strategy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Corbyn wants to talk about and address the causes of terrorist violence? This will require scrapping the Prevent Strategy. </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-31783986.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-31783986.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" width="460" height="275" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott responds to the statement by Home Secretary Amber Rudd in the House of Commons on the recent terror attacks in the UK, June 22,2017. Press Association Wire. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In less than two weeks, Jeremy Corbyn managed to see through (at least) two spectacular achievements. One was a staggering political earthquake, which puts Labour much closer to a parliamentary majority than was ever thought possible. The other was to open up some breathing space in the asphyxiating and toxic public debate about terrorism and counter-terrorism. </p> <p>In the aftermath of the tragic <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Manchester_Arena_bombing">Manchester attacks</a>, Corbyn emphasised that the War on Terror was not working, that an effective response required a more informed understanding of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">the causes of terrorism</a> and that this included looking seriously into the government’s foreign policy decisions. </p> <p>It is no surprise that foreign policy or political and social conditions have stayed out of public debate on terrorism for so long. It may be the sheer shock and consternation that follows terrorist violence. It may be the <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/jeremy-corbyn-speech-manchester-attack-salman-abedi-terrorism-terrorist-honest-causes-a7757186.html">(false) assumption</a> that talking seriously about the causes of terrorism is to justify it. Or it may be the view that nihilist violence is not something we can, and therefore should, try to understand. But it is also years of repeated counter-terrorism legislation that have kept hammering the point that terrorism is something exogenous rather than endogenous to society and that we can fight it by legislation rather than radical political or social change. </p><h2>State responsibility</h2> <p>The Prevent Strategy, which was legalised by the Counter-Terrorism Act 2015, is a central plank of this narrative. Prevent broke away with the myth that terrorism is something that is born abroad, in the ‘failed’ States and the dictatorships of the East. But the figure of the ‘home-grown’ ‘radicalised’ terrorist that emerged out of the strategy fundamentally distorted the problem. Prevent locates the causes of terrorism at the level of abstract ideas – extremism and terrorism begin with the vocal opposition to British values – and their incubation into individual vulnerable bodies eventually producing the intractable terrorist self. This not only avoids taking stock of the inter-connections between foreign policy and domestic security or between neo-liberal policies and global human insecurity. It also more fundamentally forecloses any form of State responsibility for terrorist violence. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Although it is no secret that the strategy is primarily aimed at the Muslim community – and that it therefore itself contributes to the creeping Islamophobia that has characterised the War on Terror and that fuels the sort of racist violence underpinning the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/19/finsbury-park-attack-visual-guide-graphics-maps">Finsbury Park attack</a>s – Prevent is not fundamentally concerned with trying to pin down what these ‘extremist’ ideas are. What matters is that they are not the values of the British State and hence that terrorism could never truly be traced back to its actions or policies, whether at home or abroad. </p> <p>Replacing ‘British values’ with ‘universal democratic values’, as the Liberal Democrats <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/sep/13/lib-dems-aim-to-scrap-counter-productive-prevent-strategy">propose</a>, may address some of the problems underpinning the definition of extremism, not least the hypocrisy that the rule of law, democracy or human rights, are somehow peculiarly British values. But it would not counter the view that terrorism is something that inherently inhabits the ‘outside’, rather than a form of violence that emerges out of a complex set of factors that include the actions of the British State and other <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-internet-regulated-london-bridge-terror-attack-google-facebook-whatsapp-borough-security-a7771896.html">allied democratic governments</a>. &nbsp;</p><h2>More of the same </h2> <p>In contrast to Corbyn’s response, Theresa May’s reaction to the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/04/london-bridge-attack-pushes-theresa-may-into-promising-new-laws">Manchester</a> and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/04/london-bridge-attack-pushes-theresa-may-into-promising-new-laws">London Bridge</a> attacks was to promise yet more counter-terrorism legislation. Harsher restrictions on movement through the tightening and expansion of TPIMs (Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures), more deportations, greater powers of surveillance, longer sentences. Curbing the actions of these individuals will, she maintains, deliver ‘safety and strength’ to the public, despite the fact that hard legislation has already tried and visibly failed to diminish terrorist violence. </p> <p>Given widespread criticism and <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/teachers-to-debate-stance-on-prevent-counter-terrorism-strategy-in-schools-a6956066.html">opposition</a> to Prevent, her position on the strategy remains ambiguous. May’s four-point plan for a renewed package of counter-terrorism legislation now includes recasting Prevent as an Engage programme. But only a few months ago there were rumours that the policy would be <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/nov/11/prevent-strategy-uk-counter-radicalisation-widened-despite-criticism-concerns">strengthened</a> further. In any event, no major U-turn is to be expected on the policy. Just as TPIMS are increasingly looking like the control orders regime which they were meant to replace, any change to the Prevent strategy is likely to be cosmetic and temporary at best. </p> <p>May’s longer term plan, moreover, is to expand, not reverse, the counter-extremism agenda by transposing much of the counter-terrorism toolkit to this area, introducing such measures as the banning of extremist groups or extremist disruption orders and closure orders designed to stop individuals engaging in extremist behaviour, and shutting down premises used to support extremism. Her latest project – formally announced in the Queen’s speech – includes the creation of a <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-conservative-manchester-attack-general-election-2017-commission-countering-extremism-a7759486.html">Commission for Counter-Extremism</a> designed, among other things, to advise the government on how to assert British pluralistic values, building further on the problematic assumptions that underpin the Prevent agenda. </p><h2>Enabling genuine dialogue</h2><p>Last December, Diane Abbott called for a major review and fundamental rethink of the Prevent strategy. But if we really are to begin talking seriously about the causes of terrorism and deliver on the changes that are genuinely capable of tackling terrorist violence, there is no watered-down version of Prevent that will do the trick. </p><p>Prevent is not an unworkable, ineffective or <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/sep/13/lib-dems-aim-to-scrap-counter-productive-prevent-strategy">counter-productive</a> strategy. It is the lifeblood of a political establishment that seeks to pre-empt any meaningful public dialogue about the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/nafeez-mosaddeq-ahmed/theresa-may-s-counter-extremism-plan-will-create-incompetent-p">links</a> between terrorist violence and the actions of the State at home and abroad. Corbyn is right that if there are difficult conversations to be had, this must start with the UK’s relationship to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. But for these conversations to take place, Prevent and the language of extremism must go. </p> <p>Blairism imported counter-radicalisation from the Netherlands into UK policy. The Tories expanded the Prevent strategy and placed it on the statute book. It should be among the first steps of a Corbyn-led government to put it back where it belongs: the wish-list of a defeated right wing opposition.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&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>Paul Rogers is <strong>openDemocracy's</strong> international security adviser. See <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">his weekly column here.</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="/digitaliberties/nafeez-mosaddeq-ahmed/theresa-may-s-counter-extremism-plan-will-create-incompetent-p">Theresa May’s counter-extremism plan will create an incompetent police state </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/paul-thomas-ted-cantle/extremism-and-%27prevent%27-need-to-trust-in-education"> Extremism and &#039;Prevent&#039;: the need to trust in education</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/walter-armbrust/prevent-free-speech-and-antisemitism"> ‘Prevent’, free speech and antisemitism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/jamie-bartlett-carl-miller/should-britain-work-with-extremists-to-prevent-terrorism-where">Should Britain work with &#039;extremists&#039; to prevent terrorism? Where do we draw the line?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/anthony-cornish/we-need-to-talk-about-how-we-talk-about-prevent">We need to talk about how we talk about Prevent</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/paul-thomas-ted-cantle/prevent-and-antiextremism-education">Prevent and anti-extremism education</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitaliberties/francesco-ragazzi/trust-and-suspicion-under-policed-multiculturalism">Trust and suspicion under ‘policed multiculturalism’</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/amandine-scherrer-didier-bigo/will-democratic-debate-over-counterrorism-gain-edge">Will the democratic debate over counterrorism gain the edge in battle? </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 class="field-item odd"> United States </div> <div class="field-item even"> Saudi Arabia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia uk Saudi Arabia United States EU UK Gulf states Eva Nanopoulos Mon, 26 Jun 2017 19:57:02 +0000 Eva Nanopoulos 111905 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Radical municipalism: demanding the future https://www.opendemocracy.net/plan-c/radical-municipalism-demanding-future <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>‘Municipal politics’ may raise new types of demands crucial in organising powerful social movements and improving material conditions, while orienting us towards new understandings of what is possible. 
</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Working Group.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Working Group.JPG" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Breakout working group from a session at Fearless Cities on 'Building non-state Institutions'. Bertie Russell.</span></span></span>The last decade has been a miserable decade. As the global capitalist socio-economic system continues to seize up, and as inequality deepens both between and across nations, the Global North has been met with a reactionary nationalist backlash. This backlash has been fuelled by the common narrative that it is malevolent ‘outsiders’ that are the cause of our problems – Mexicans, European migrants, the poor, the disabled, the working class, and so on. From so-called ‘moderate’ politicians to blood-baying ethno-nationalists, the response has been to empower those calling for a resurgence of the nation-state – to put up boundaries, borders and walls and to expel all those individuals and institutions allegedly intent on benefiting at our expense. </p> <p>This nationalist backlash is based on a fundamental misconception – that if only it was possible to reinstate a parochial and ‘sovereign’ nation-state, it would be possible to ‘take back control’. That our collapsing wages, surging living costs, and hollowing out of social support has been a result of being ‘exposed’ to globalisation, and that if we could only reinstate some well-managed ‘good British/ American/ French capitalism’ then we’d all be enjoying our bread and roses. </p> <p>All this fails to recognise that deindustrialization, the offshoring of production, exposure to cheap imports, and the emergence of huge personal debt, are not the result of the mismanagement of the economy. To the contrary, these strategies (amongst others such as installing puppet dictatorships, ‘structurally readjusting’ trade rules, privatizing social goods and ‘financialization’) are part of an ideological response to the systemic capitalist crisis of the 1970s. These are not symptoms of a system going wrong, but rather a concerted attempt to ‘offset’ crisis and restore profitability to an ailing economic system. </p> <p>Those overseeing these transformations claimed that there was no alternative. This was purportedly no longer about politics, but about expert (economic) knowledge determining what was both necessary and logical. The “21st Century” – the former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/460009.stm">informed us</a> – would “not be about the battle between capitalism and socialism but between the forces of progress and the forces of conservatism... within us”. This apolitical acquiescence to the ‘rules of the game’ was the supposed limit to our reality – <a href="http://www.zero-books.net/books/capitalist-realism">capitalist realism</a>, as our late comrade <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/adam-harper/negativity-not-pessimism-remembering-mark-fisher-1968-2017">Mark Fisher</a> would call it. </p> <p>When the 2008 financial crisis hit, the ‘expert’ solution was to underwrite the financial system, and convert it into a sovereign debt crisis. Suddenly, the toxicity of obscure financial assets – riddled with subprime mortgage IOUs that weren’t worth the paper they were written on – had become the toxicity of public spending. Rather than an opportunity for the re-emergence of politics, the response was to apply more of the same ‘expert’ and ‘apolitical’ (of course!) adjustments to our economy. The raising of university tuition fees, the slashing of the Education Maintenance Allowance, the freeze on NHS wages and the restructuring of junior doctor contracts, the closure of Sure Start centres, the recurring huge cuts to local council funding, the sell-off of public assets, the increase to VAT, and so on and so on. </p> <p>So we reach June 3, 2016, when the then UK Justice Secretary and Brexiteer Michael Gove was widely ridiculed for declaring that “people in this country had had enough of experts”. Yet the otherwise fat-tongued simpleton had got this one correct – people were sick of a political elite that had for decades proclaimed themselves as ‘experts’ presiding over a system that had left the majority of people poorer, sicker, more depressed, more scared, and less certain that the future was worth living, No clearer was this demonstrated than in the widespread rejection of the Clinton dynasty, whose failure in the 2016 US election campaign occurred despite being opposed by a misogynistic racist chauvinist fool that would soon earn the accolade of having the worst Presidential approval rating in history. </p> <p>And so we reach today’s potent and almost incomprehensible mix. The nation has become mobilized as both the answer and a symbolic rejection of thirty years of ‘experts’ imposing their doctrines of structural readjustments both at home and abroad. It is underpinned by an almost romantic, yet fundamentally reactionary belief, that we can somehow return to a milieu of sovereign ‘nation-states’ in charge of their own affairs, like an archipelago of little floating islands existing irrespective and without heed to the material reality of the globally interdependent economy. <span class="mag-quote-center">This supposedly new Glorious Nation will pride itself on lowering its corporate tax rates even further – despite the fact the UK already has the lowest corporate tax in the G20… </span></p> <p>Yet the fallacy in all this is that there is no new political-economic model. Those ‘anti-experts’ arguing that we need to ‘take back control’ and reassert our national will are often, quite literally, the same people with the same ideas that came before. This supposedly new Glorious Nation will pride itself on lowering its corporate tax rates even further – despite the fact the UK already has the lowest corporate tax in the G20 – further enmeshing daily life into the whims of global capital. Rather than being tied through the EU into destructive trade deals such as CETA, the UK is instead desperately trying to forge its own ‘deals’ that will dismantle ecological legislation, open up the NHS to US venture capital, and sell of vast swathes of our cities to foreign investment. </p> <p>In short, whilst nationalist rhetoric has a very real impact in fuelling xenophobia and racism, both on the streets and in government policy, the economic policy remains one of ‘ensuring global competiveness’ – in other words, more of exactly the same political-economic approach that has defined the past three decades. </p> <p>Whilst some left-learning parties and politicians – such as the UK’s Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, or the former Democrat presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders – promise to try and reclaim the nation-state as a more ‘humane’ institution, their strategies ultimately remain grounded in Keynesian-inspired redistributive economic logic. Whilst the rhetoric suggests these parties are part of a new leftist-strategy, the underpinning analysis remains that we can somehow return to a ‘strong’ nation-state presiding over a healthy (and controlled) capitalism that works for “the many, and not just the few”. </p> <p>It is without question that we’d rather see the election of national politicians that are genuinely committed to equality and social betterment, rather than neo-fascist demagogues bent on further exacerbating inequality and hate. Yet it is not contradictory to suggest that the prospect of an archipelago of strong nation-states presiding over a ‘better’ and more equal capitalism is a fallacy. Not only is this a dream that belongs to a previous century – to a particular moment in the development of the capitalist economy – it was a dream that could only be (temporarily) fulfilled for a small minority of the worlds population, nominally a white-male population residing in former colonial states that continued to benefit from the expropriation of people and resources on a global scale. </p> <p>The left ­– especially in the UK – remains without a coherent vision or a set of strategies to drive a real movement towards a world after capitalism. We need to think of a different scale for our politics, of different ways to build and exercise leverage, and of a different understanding of who can become a ‘revolutionary subject’ – those people who, through the virtue of the position they occupy in society, are in a privileged position to change how we organize our everyday lives. This doesn’t mean rejecting all that has come before, but it means recognising the need for us to generate political strategies that make sense in a world that is organized very differently to 40, 60 or 100 years before. <span class="mag-quote-center">It means recognising the need for us to generate political strategies that make sense in a world that is organized very differently to 40, 60 or 100 years before. </span></p> <p>We are hopeful that there are already new places to look in trying to answer these questions. To help us in our search, Plan C has established a working group on Radical Municipalism and Directional Demands, to help us explore the following hypotheses: </p> <p>1. That the ‘municipal’ – whether we’re talking about towns, cities or city-regions – might be a fundamentally important scale at which, and through which, to generate progressive movements towards post-capitalism; 
</p> <p>2. That certain types of political demands might be crucial in organising powerful social movements, helping us both improve material conditions whilst orientating us towards new understandings of what is possible. 
</p> <p>We’ve kept these two themes together for an important reason – different types of political strategy may be possible at different scales. We’re not excited by urban-scale politics because it’s an urban scale, just as we’re not excited about directional demands in an abstract sense. Rather, we’re interested in exploring whether the municipal scale is a unique scale through which to organize a truly internationalist – a post nationalist – revolutionary politics, and whether certain types of political demand are fundamental to realizing the potential of this scale. </p> <p>In what follows, we will briefly introduce what we mean by these two tendencies, and establish some of our misgivings and questions. We’re not undertaking this with a certainty that we’re correct, nor that any strategies that emerge are mutually exclusive of other political strategies. However, we’re also aware that we can’t look to anyone but ourselves to start generating forms of political activity that both overcome the unwelcome return of nationalism, and that genuinely increase the prospects for just, ecologically sound and equitable ways of organising our societies. These will necessarily be aimed at the end of capitalism and the nation-state, and towards democratically organized societies held in common. </p> <h2><strong>Why/What is radical municipalism? </strong></h2> <p>‘Municipalism’ is both the practices of self-government by towns, cities, and city-regions – municipalities of different sizes – and any perspective that advocates for such forms of government. Taken on its own, municipalism appears as a politically neutral concept. It’s just as possible to advocate a municipalist strategy as a way of fuelling capitalist accumulation – which is what partially underpins the logic of the UK’s current devolution policy – as it is to advocate a municipal strategy that is based upon promoting the expansion of commons and social solidarity. </p> <p>At its most basic, a radical municipal strategy is thus one that recognizes the municipal scale – both in terms of the way that people's lives are organized in these spaces, and the institutions that govern them – as a space of contestation. Rather than a depoliticized administrative unit ‘nestled’ under the nation-state, and thus of relatively ‘less’ political importance, a radical municipalist perspective asks whether there is unique revolutionary potential in organising at the municipal level. </p> <p>Various radical intellectuals have previously made the case for the municipal scale being a privileged site for revolutionary organising. Perhaps most famously, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_municipalism">Murray Bookchin</a> – whose ideas have become influential in <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/evangelos-aretaios/rojava-revolution">Rojava</a> – argued that ‘libertarian municipalism’ was the ‘ “red button” that must be pushed if a radical movement is to open the door to the public sphere’. The Marxist geographer <a href="http://abahlali.org/files/Harvey_Rebel_cities.pdf">David Harvey</a> has also argued that ‘rebel cities’ will become a privileged site for revolutionary movements, <a href="https://newleftreview.org/II/53/david-harvey-the-right-to-the-city">sharing a perspective</a> that the ‘right to the city’ would become a clarion call for progressive communist movements. Whilst we are interested and influenced by some of these perspectives, we are not interested in this simply as a theoretical undertaking, and do not take these perspectives as ideological programmes. <span class="mag-quote-center">We take our starting point as the actually existing practices emerging at the municipal scale.</span></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/the cities are ours_Amy Clancy-01.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/the cities are ours_Amy Clancy-01.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 cities are ours. Amy Clancy (@amyclancyuk). Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Rather, we take our starting point as the actually existing practices emerging at the municipal scale. Whilst far from a comprehensive list, we are interested in a number of different strategies emerging at the municipal scale:</p> <ul><li>-&nbsp;&nbsp; Riace, Italy – the small Italian town that has received global recognition for its successful open door policy towards refugees</li><li>&nbsp;
</li><li>-&nbsp;&nbsp; Jackson, MI – the American city where predominantly black working-class communities are looking to create a cooperative solidarity economy through a combination of direct action and electoral strategies under the banner of Cooperation Jackson</li><li>&nbsp;
</li><li>-&nbsp;&nbsp; Naples, Italy – where in 2016 the radicalized mayor De Magistris established a “Department of the Commons”, part of a process of protecting seven properties that had been reclaimed by social initiatives 
</li><li>&nbsp;
</li><li>-&nbsp;&nbsp; Rosario, Argentina – where the social movement <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/kate-shea-baird/how-to-build-movement-party-lessons-from-rosario-s-future-city">Ciudad Futura</a>, which has its roots in a network of different types of social reproduction, have also successfully listed a number of candidates for election to the city council</li><li>&nbsp;
</li><li>-&nbsp;&nbsp; Barcelona, Spain – alongside a number of Spanish cities with similar projects, Barcelona is seen as a ‘flagship’ of this new radical municipalist strategy, where the citizens platform <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/oscar-reyes-bertie-russell/eight-lessons-from-barcelona-en-com-on-how-to-take-bac">Barcelona en Comú</a> has implemented a number of progressive policies, not least promoting direct citizen involvement in policy development, and a participatory budgeting system to redistribute the excessive politicians wages to activist and community groups. </li></ul> <p>In no case is this simply a return to an electoral strategy, only conducted on a municipal rather than a national level. Rather, it’s an openness to the idea of occupying both the squares and the institutions – of exploring how best to generate power and exercise leverage to achieve social change. Each of these examples – and others – are unique, and we don’t yet know what lessons can be drawn from these for organising a post-nationalist movement towards post-capitalism. </p> <h2>Why/What are directional demands? </h2> <p>The idea of the ‘demand’ has long been at the heart of political organising. Some demands are framed as an opposition – an end to a war, the privatization of water services, the rule of a dictator, or against the closure of a local library. Other demands are framed as a demand for something – the right to vote, the 8-hour day, equal access to healthcare, a wage-increase, or for national secession. These demands are evidently different in terms of what they immediately want to achieve, yet there are also fundamental differences in the very nature of the demands themselves. <span class="mag-quote-center">Directional-ism is the premise that we must develop and evaluate practices and processes according to… their ‘beyond-capitalism dynamics’.</span></p> <p>Some schools of socialist organising – most notably laid out in Trotsky’s Transitional Program – recognised certain types of ‘transitional’ demands as central to any revolutionary strategy. Premised on the idea of an intellectually immature working class and the need to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat, these demands were theorized to ‘help the masses... to find the bridge between present demand and the socialist program of the revolution’ (Trotsky 1938). As such, the ultimate aim wasn’t so much to fulfill the demands, but rather to reveal the impossibility of seemingly reasonable demands being fulfilled within capitalist society. In helping to clear the ‘false consciousness of the masses’, these demands would thus hasten the capturing of the nation-state and implementing the revolutionary plan. </p> <p>We agree neither with the necessity of capturing of the nation-state, nor the narrow conception of demands as simply tools for aiding the ‘transition’ to socialist rule. However, we share (at the most basic level) an understanding that ‘demands’ have concrete political effects – they help ‘create’ political identities, give expression to otherwise ‘latent’ anger, frame visions of how things could be different, and name enemies (whether that be people, processes, laws or systems). In other words, demands are interesting not only because of what’s being demanded, but because of the effects they have on the composition of social movements, the people that compose them, and what that means for making the seemingly impossible become possible. </p> <p>We are only introducing the idea here – and so won’t go into much depth – but we suggest instead that we need to start thinking about political demands in terms of their direction. Directional-ism is the premise that we must develop and evaluate ‘practices and processes according not to their pro- or anti-capitalist ‘essence’ but according to their ‘beyond-capitalism dynamics’. <a href="#_edn1">[1]</a> A directional demand must therefore ‘be capable of cognitively reorienting us far enough out of the present organization of social relations that some kind of critical distance is achieved and the political imagination of a different future is called to work’.<a href="#_edn2">[2]</a> These are demands that, in their fulfilment and/or the struggle for their fulfilment, have a concrete effect on how we think about what is possible. </p> <h2><strong>Our questions </strong></h2> <p>Our starting point is that these two themes – of radical municipalism and directional demands – may be fundamentally linked. The question of “what makes municipalism radical?” might find its answer in the where, how and who of directional demands. In bringing these together, we’re suggesting that it’s at the municipal scale that we may find our best chance in producing ‘practices and processes’ that can really be considered as contributing to ‘beyond-capitalist dynamics’. </p> <p>This hypothesis immediately poses a series of questions about the challenges and/or limits of what we are suggesting. Whilst some of these may have a ‘theoretical’ response – and we’ve got some ideas – we’re more interested in seeing how these challenges are addressed in practice:</p><p><br />-&nbsp; If the ‘municipal’ scale is where directional demands should be made, then who are demands made to? And who makes these demands? 
</p><p>-&nbsp; Where and how do those who don’t live in towns or cities fit into a political strategy that focuses on the municipal? 
</p><ul><li>-&nbsp; If we accept there is a huge danger in fetishizing ‘the local’, then how does a municipal strategy resist falling into localism? How does a municipal strategy go beyond the nation-state? 
</li></ul><p>-&nbsp; Are municipal institutions just an extension of the nation-state, or is it possible that they are qualitatively different in terms of what they can do and how they are positioned? Can we make qualitatively different institutions at these scales? 
</p><p>-&nbsp; How does ‘occupying the squares’ and ‘occupying the institutions’ work in tandem? Can we take institutions without being institutionalized? Do we even need to take the institutions? 
</p><p>-&nbsp; Given the ways municipal institutions are currently limited by nation-states – both financially and legally – can we produce new ways of building our capacity to act? How can we develop resources and the ability to use them without and irrespective of the nation-state? Can we build degrees of autonomy from the nation-state? 
</p><p>-&nbsp; How could it be possible for municipalities to seriously disobey the nation-state without being crushed? </p> <p>We don’t plan to answer these in the short-term, or to answer them on our own. We hope that through organising and working with other municipalist movements we can begin to develop our understanding of what works – and what doesn’t – meaning new problems and questions will continue to emerge. </p> <h2><strong>What we’re going to do </strong></h2> <p>Here’s what we're thinking of doing over the next 18 months. If you’d like to be kept in the loop, or join us in organising some events, get in touch at info@weareplanc.org </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/Opening Plenary.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Opening Plenary.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ada Colau and Manuela Carmena open the Fearless Cities conference in Barcelona on June 9, 2017. Bertie Russell.</span></span></span></p> <ul><blockquote><li>-&nbsp;&nbsp; Some of our members are attending the Fearless Cities meeting organized by <em>Barcelona en Comú </em>on June 9-11. We’ll be organising feedback meetings on whom we’ve met, and what we’ve learned. 
(For a taste of this event, see openDemocracy vid below.)</li><li>-&nbsp;&nbsp; We’ll be hosting a series of discussions and workshops at the <a href="https://www.weareplanc.org/festival/">Plan C Festival,</a> held 1-3 September 2017. We intend to invite those working on radical municipalist strategies to join us. 
</li><li>-&nbsp;&nbsp; We’ll look to host a UK-wide speaking tour, visiting cities across the UK to discuss what it would mean to build a radical municipal movement. 
</li><li>-&nbsp;&nbsp; We're thinking of conducting a series of Power Structural Analyses of our cities, helping us to understand how decisions really get made in our cities, and where we can look to exercise leverage. 
</li><li>-&nbsp; Through these activities, we're looking to actively network together organisations interested in developing radical municipal strategies, learning from groups that already exist, and helping share lessons across cities. 
</li><li>-&nbsp; We’re hoping to organize a major gathering in 2018, which we hope will contribute to fomenting a radical municipalist strategy within UK cities. If our friends agree, we hope this will include participants from across Europe and beyond. 
</li></blockquote></ul> <p>Writing in 1967 Robert Dahl, the then professor of political science at Yale University, <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/american-political-science-review/article/div-classtitlethe-city-in-the-future-of-democracya-hreffn01-ref-typefnadiv/247B40D5887B604CBADCC1EB295E7E18">suggested</a> that ‘with each passing day it grows more reasonable to see the nation-state as a transitory historic form, to foresee that the nation-state will some day cease to exist as an autonomous unit... [However,] it will be generations before peoples have defined themselves and have arrived at that state of confident nation-hood where it becomes possible to imagine, without panic, the decline and supercession of the nation’. Fifty years on, we can no longer wait for this moment – we must develop means and methods of organising our societies that hastens the decline and the supercession of both capitalism and the nation-state. 
</p> <p><iframe width="460" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wjOFgTbvXXs" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ednref1">[1]</a> Stavros Stavrides (2017) The City as Commons. Zed Books</p> <p><a href="#_ednref2">[2]</a> Kathi Weeks (2011) The Problem With Work. Duke University Press
</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>For Plan C Fast Forward festival <a href="https://www.weareplanc.org/festival/">see here</a>.</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"> 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"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Economics Ideas International politics latin america Bertie Russell Plan C Mon, 26 Jun 2017 12:13:50 +0000 Plan C and Bertie Russell 111871 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘It only needs all’: re-reading Dialectic of Enlightenment at 70 https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/marcel-stoetzler/it-only-needs-all-re-reading-dialectic-of-enlightenment-at-70 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Seventy years ago, Querido Verlag published a densely written book that has become a key title of modern social philosophy. Underneath its pessimistic granite surface a strangely sanguine message awaits us.</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/AdornoHorkheimerHabermasbyJeremyJShapiro2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/AdornoHorkheimerHabermasbyJeremyJShapiro2.png" 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'>Horkheimer left, Adorno right, Habermas background right, running hand through hair. Max Weber-Soziologentag, Heidelberg,April,1964. Wikicommons/Jeremy J.Shapiro. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>How do you make an argument against social domination when the very terms, concepts and languages at your disposal are shaped by, and in turn serve that same social domination? Probably in the way you would light a fire in a wooden stove. How would you write a book about the impossibility of writing just that book? Like a poem about the pointlessness of poems. What if your enemies’ enemies are your own worst enemies? Can you defend liberal society from its fascist enemies when you know it is the wrong state of things? You must, but dialectics may well ‘make cowards of us all’ and spoil our ‘native hue of resolution’.</p> <p><em>Dialectic of Enlightenment<a href="#_edn1"><strong>[1]</strong></a></em> is a very strange book, and although it was published, in 1947, by the leading publishing house for exiled, German-language anti-fascist literature, the Querido Verlag in Amsterdam, alongside many of the biggest literary names of the time, no-one will have expected that it gradually became one of the classics of modern social philosophy. </p> <p>It is a book that commits all the sins editors tend to warn against: its chapters are about wildly differing subject matters; the writing is repetitive, circular and fragmented; no argument ever seems exhausted or final and there are no explicitly stated conclusions, and certainly no trace of a policy impact trajectory. Arguments start somewhere, suddenly come to a halt and then move on to something else. If this sounds like the script for a Soviet film from the revolutionary period, then that is not totally coincidental: it<em> is</em> an avant-garde montage film, transcribed into philosophy. <span class="mag-quote-center">It<em> is</em> an avant-garde montage film, transcribed into philosophy.</span></p> <p>Unsurprisingly, given that it was written during WW2 in American exile and published at the beginning of the Cold War, it does not carry its Marxism on its sleeves, but it gives clear enough hints: in the preface, Horkheimer and Adorno state that the aim of the book is ‘to explain why humanity, instead of entering a truly human state, is sinking into a new kind of barbarism’. This addresses the dialectic referenced in the title of the book. The important bit here is the ‘instead of’: the reality of barbarism was undeniable and clearly visible, but the originality of the formulation lies in its implication that humanity could have been expected to enter ‘a truly human state’ sometime earlier in the twentieth century, leaving behind its not so human state. </p> <p>The promise of progress towards humanity, held by socialists (and some liberals), blew up in their faces. It would have been easy and straightforward then to write a book arguing against the holding of such hope, but this would not have been a dialectical book; <em>Dialectic of Enlightenment</em> undertakes to rescue this hope by looking at why progress tipped over into its opposite.</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/500209/604px-Sergei_Eisenstein_03.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/604px-Sergei_Eisenstein_03.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'>Sergei Eisenstein, the “Father of Montage” in his silent films Strike (1924), Battleship Potemkin (1925) and October (1927), and historical epics Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ivan the Terrible (1944, 1958). St.Petersburg 1910, Wikicommons/Source unknown. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><h2><strong>Whose barbarism? </strong></h2> <p>A number of propositions have been made, at the time and later, as to who or what is to be blamed for the barbarism. Capitalism was an obvious answer, but then, capitalism does not typically and all the time produce Holocausts (and capitalists could be found among the victims). Others pointed at ‘the Germans’ and their peculiar intellectual and social history; this, too, is neither an entirely wrong nor a quite satisfying answer. Again others pointed at ‘the bureaucracy’ and modern statecraft. These surely played a role but there are plenty of state bureaucracies that do not engage in genocides and world wars, most of the time. Horkheimer and Adorno made a much stranger, more abstract and strangely radical proposition: the barbarism that destroyed civilization was a product of civilization <em>as such</em>. It is civilization’s self-destruction. </p> <p>The attempt to formulate a theory of barbarism as the product of civilization creates a very thorny problem, though: theorizing, the attempt to bring about enlightenment, is very much the stuff of civilization, as it involves thinking, language, perceptions, concepts, images, ideas, judgements, ‘spirit’ (which in the philosophical tradition Horkheimer and Adorno came from means as much as ‘culture’). <em>Dialectic of Enlightenment</em> blames the destruction of enlightenment on enlightenment, i.e. on itself. The philosopher Jürgen Habermas some decades later cleverly pointed out that this is a bit of a contradiction. That was exactly the point, though: the hint is in the title, in the word ‘Dialectic’.</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/500209/325px-Phänomenologie_des_Geistes.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/325px-Phänomenologie_des_Geistes.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'>Title-page of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, 1807. Wikicommons. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The book’s painful starting point is described in the preface: Horkheimer and Adorno looked for a position from which to confront fascism and found that ‘in reflecting on its own guilt’, thought finds that it lacks a language. </p><p>In the name of what exactly is it possible to challenge fascism effectively? In the languages of sociology, psychology, history, philosophy? The discourses of truth, freedom, human rights? <span class="mag-quote-center">Barbarism… is civilization’s self-destruction.</span></p><p>Here is the rub: in the period in which fascism took power these sounded hollow as they had been stripped of their authority. If this sounds familiar, it is because, almost a century later, we are in a not so different situation. Horkheimer and Adorno state – still in the preface – that fascist demagogues and liberal intellectuals feed off the same (positivist) zeitgeist, marked by the ‘self-destruction of the enlightenment’. Science and scholarship are not potent weapons against fascism anymore, and this even affects tendencies that are opposed to ‘official’, positivistic science. </p><p>The basic point here is that scientific, materialist, technological rationality is a force for good only when it is linked to the idealistic notion of general human emancipation, the goal of full rich lives for all, without suffering, exploitation and oppression. (Using a word they had good reasons to avoid, this is what Marx would have called ‘communism’). Only this link gives empirical and rationalist science its truth and significance: enlightenment needs to be ‘transcendental’, i.e. something that points beyond the actually existing reality, not unlike metaphysics in traditional philosophy. It needs to be critical, that is, in opposition to reality as it is. </p> <p>The principal thesis of the book is that enlightenment purged itself of this connection to society-transcending, non-empirical, critical truth, and as early as on the second page of the preface Horkheimer and Adorno are happy to name the thinker who exemplifies for them this fatal development: Auguste Comte, the founder of positivist philosophy. They assert that in the hostile and brutal conditions of the eighteenth century – the period often described as that of ‘the Enlightenment’ – philosophy had dared to challenge the ‘infamy’ (as Voltaire called it) of the church and the society it helped maintain, while in the aftermath of the French Revolution philosophy switched sides and put itself at the service of the state. This was of course, by now, the modernising state, but still the same state. They write that the Comtean school of positivism – ‘apologists’ of the modern, capitalist society that emerged in the nineteenth century – ‘usurped’ the succession to the genuine Enlighteners, and reconciled philosophy with the forces it previously had opposed, such as the Catholic church. </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/500209/512px-Défilé_Jeanne_d&#039;Arc_Action_française.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/512px-Défilé_Jeanne_d&#039;Arc_Action_française.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'>Leaders of the Action Française at their national Festival de Jeanne d'Arc, May 8, 1927. Charles Maurras second from left. Wikicommons/Bibliotheque nationale de France. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Horkheimer and Adorno mention in this context the ultra-nationalist organisation Action Française, whose chief ideologist Charles Maurras had been an ardent admirer of Comte. This hint helps understand what kind of historical developments they had on their minds: while Comte himself surely saw himself in good faith as a protagonist of social reform meant to overcome-but-preserve the achievements of the Revolution, and his translation of enlightenment empiricism into the system of ‘positivist philosophy’ as a contribution to the process of modernization, his followers in many ways contributed to the development of the modern authoritarian state and, as in the case of Maurras, proto-fascism. </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/Waterloo_(caricature_du_6_février_1934).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Waterloo_(caricature_du_6_février_1934).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'>R. Fuzier cartoon depicting Daudet and Maurras on the nationalist demonstrations of 1934, among the league members of Action Francaise. Wikicommons/ Le Populaire, organe du Parti socialiste. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The elements of these subsequent developments can be found in Comte’s own writings, which makes his ambiguities a suitable illustration of the dialectic of enlightenment. (The Action Française is mentioned only in a version of the text published in 1944 that was mostly circulated informally; it was not included in the definitive publication of 1947. The authors might have assumed few people would understand the connection to Comte without further explanation.) </p><h2><strong>Reason, data,&nbsp;and the rejection of metaphysics</strong></h2> <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 2017-06-24 at 12.49.02.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 12.49.02.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'>The two potentials of reason...</span></span></span>As elsewhere in Horkheimer and Adorno’s writings, there is a lot of polemic against ‘positivism’ in <em>Dialectic of Enlightenment</em>. Mostly the target of their critique is the ‘logical positivism’ of their own time, but they seem to see the latter as a logical extension or modification of the older Comtean positivism that was a much more ambitious and comprehensive proposition. </p><p>There is no detailed engagement with Comte but it is clear that the principal point of attack is Comte’s rejection of metaphysics: when the eighteenth-century enlightenment was a combination, or perhaps more often an assemblage, of empiricism and rationalism, Comte aimed to boil it down to strictly positivist empiricism that observes the ‘positively’ givens (in Latin: <em>data</em>) and derives ‘laws’ from them that can be used to predict and adapt to, perchance slightly tweak, whatever reality has in store for us. And that is that. </p> <p>The metaphysical ideas that had been useful in bringing down feudalism and the old regime – the likes of freedom, individualism, emancipation – need to be abandoned as they are the playthings of troublemakers, irritants that could endanger the consolidation of the post-revolutionary new order. Positivism in Comte’s sense is essentially the scientific basis of governance by experts, while twentieth-century ‘logical positivism’ is its epistemological complement. When Horkheimer and Adorno attack the latter, they see it as continuous with the former. <span class="mag-quote-center">They wanted to be the troublemakers…</span></p> <p>The attack on metaphysics was a central theme of German philosophy in the 1920s, and helped weaken the defences against fascism across the political spectrum. Horkheimer and Adorno argue that the cult of facts and probabilities has flushed out conceptual thinking, and as humans generally have a need to explain to themselves conceptually why they should be bothered to do anything, or resist doing something that society expects them to do, the denunciation and elimination of concepts as ‘metaphysical’ promotes a passive and fatalistic going-with-the-flow. The ‘blocking of the theoretical imagination has paved the way for political delusion’, which in the context meant fascism.</p> <p>Again, many contemporaries were happy back then to argue for the reconstruction of some kind of metaphysical system – theological, neo-Platonic, neo-Aristotelian or whatever else. They had a relatively easy task of this in the context of WWII as such philosophical or theological systems are something one can hold on to: they can help one to weather the brute modernizing nihilism of the fascist barbarians, and after their defeat provide a handy identity narrative. </p> <p>The easy option of a return to traditional metaphysics was not open, though, to the Frankfurt School theorists who saw themselves <em>within</em> the tradition of the radical strand of the Enlightenment. &nbsp;Their main thrust was to attack its domesticated version, the ‘positivism’ that puts itself and its expertise at the service of domination. Far from writing <em>against</em> the Enlightenment, they wanted to restore it to its complex form that contained traces of the transcendental that Comte – quite correctly – saw as trouble. They wanted to be the troublemakers whom Comte thought he had exorcised from the Enlightenment.</p> <h2><strong>Nursing unacted desires</strong></h2> <p>As Horkheimer and Adorno state, the ‘self-destruction of enlightenment’ that frustrated the writing of the book they initially had in mind – probably a fine scholarly tome on the role of dialectical logic in a variety of academic disciplines – came to provide the principal subject matter of the book they did write. The second line of the title, ‘Philosophical Fragments’, indicated that they were then still thinking of it as a halfway house on the way towards writing the real thing. This never happened, so it is what it is: an assertion that ‘thinking that aims at enlightenment’ is inseparably linked to freedom in society, but the admission that enlightenment also ‘already contains the germ of the regression which is taking place everywhere today’. This is the project of an enlightenment mindful of the antagonisms that drive it, as opposed to a smug and arrogant one that feels good about itself lecturing the unenlightened.</p> <p>If this sounds a bit hippy-ish, then this is because there is in fact a sort of romantic aspect to all this. It is most evident on the very last pages of the book, in the last of the twenty-four short pieces that make up the sixth chapter (‘Notes and Sketches’), titled ‘On the genesis of stupidity’. This, the final statement, begins with a very striking image: ‘The emblem of intelligence is the antenna of the snail’. <span class="mag-quote-center">‘The emblem of intelligence is the antenna of the snail’.</span> </p> <p>Horkheimer and Adorno do not provide any reference in support of this claim, but one could think for example of a famous letter by Keats that <a href="http://keats-poems.com/to-benjamin-robert-haydon-teignmouth-april-8-1818/">mentions</a> the ‘trembling and delicate snail-horn perception of beauty’. The antenna, or horn, of the snail represents the good kind of enlightenment we should aspire to: trembling and delicate, as in Keats. &nbsp;(See <a href="https://englishhistory.net/keats/letters/j-h-reynolds-22-november-1817/">also here</a>.) </p> <p>Horkheimer and Adorno use the image, though, to make an anthropological argument about the emergence of intelligence: ‘Meeting an obstacle, the antenna is immediately withdrawn into the protection of the body, it becomes one with the whole until it ventures forth again only timidly as an independent organ. If the danger is still present, it disappears once more, and the intervals between the attempts grow longer’. </p> <p>They argue here that the development of human mental life is precariously physical and depends on the freedom to exercise the organs of perception. Evolution only takes place when ‘antennae were once stretched out in new directions and not repulsed’. Stupidity, by contrast, ‘is a scar’: ‘Every partial stupidity in a human being marks a spot where the awakening play of muscles has been inhibited instead of fostered’. </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 2017-06-24 at 13.02.33.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 13.02.33.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 detail from William Blake's engraving for Gay's Fable 24,'The Butterfly and the Snail.' British Museum.</span></span></span>Switching to a psychoanalytical argument, Horkheimer and Adorno write that the inhibition leads to automatized repetitions of the aborted attempt, such as in neurotic repetitions of a ‘defence reaction which has already proved futile’, and ultimately produces a numb spot where the scar is, a deformation. All the deformations we accumulate during individual and species evolution translate into well-adapted, functioning ‘characters’, stupidity, impotence or spiteful fanaticism, or any combination thereof. They are so many monuments to arrested hope. </p><p>This is how the book ends: it is implied that the answer to stupidity, including those of fascism and antisemitism, but also their contemporary second cousins such as ‘post-truth’, resentment-driven politics from Hindutva to Brexit, those myriads of irrational particularisms that gang up on particulars and individuals, ultimately can be defeated only by more freedom of movement for our antennas and other muscles, and the production of fewer scars on our various tissues.</p> <h2><strong>Marxism and anthropology</strong></h2> <p>One of the stupidest things is antisemitism. The fifth chapter of <em>Dialectic of Enlightenment</em>, ‘Elements of antisemitism. Limits of Enlightenment’, is easily the most complex, ambitious and challenging text ever written on this particular subject. </p> <p>The same peculiarity that characterises the entire book is what makes reading ‘Elements’ rather hard work: the intermeshing of the critique of the present – capitalist modernity – with the much grander theme of the critique of human civilization. </p> <p>Most of what Horkheimer and Adorno have to say on antisemitism in the perspective of the capitalist present is contained in the first few pages of the chapter and must have felt like a slap in the face by unsuspecting liberal readers: the argument emphasizes the continuity between liberal and fascist governance and the responsibility of the bourgeoisie. First of all, liberals and the representatives of the ‘democratic-popular movements’ had always been lukewarm at best about the equality of Jews who seemed less than totally assimilated. Fascism is then described as the modern bourgeoisie’s move towards ‘regression to naked domination’, whereby the liberal notion of the ‘harmony of society’ (the harmonious give-and-take of a market-based society) has morphed into a <em>Volksgemeinschaft</em>, i.e. the nation that declares itself to be ‘race’. </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/500209/640px-Camp_ArbeitMachtFrei.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-Camp_ArbeitMachtFrei.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'>Arbeit Macht Frei gate, KZ Sachsenhausen, Berlin. Wikicommons/Sachsenhausen Archive. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span>Fascism openly reveals and celebrates what had been the essence of society anyway: a violence that distorts human beings. Those who had embraced the more idealistic aspects of liberalism only made themselves more helpless when they had to face up to its unvarnished reality: nice ideals to have, but potentially self-defeating in practice. </p><p>This analysis was seriously out of step with the emergent intellectual life of a post-fascist Germany that hoped simply to return to its previous liberal and democratic better self, as if the latter’s total collapse had just been an unfortunate accident. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The critique of liberalism and the bourgeoisie is only a minor point here, though: for Marxists it is hardly shocking news that liberalism can morph into fascism, usually fails to put up much of a defence against it, and that the ruling class will encourage the subalterns to embrace any kind of vicious and violent ideology if they deem it useful to maintain their grip on power. <span class="mag-quote-center">The necessary but not sufficient preconditions for the emergence of the exterminatory antisemitism of the Nazis.</span></p> <p>These were part of the necessary but not sufficient preconditions for the emergence of the exterminatory antisemitism of the Nazis; they are not enough to explain a pogrom, and certainly not the Holocaust. This is the point at which Horkheimer and Adorno shift from ‘modern bourgeois society’ to ‘human civilization’ as the framework of explanation: the antisemitic pogrom is described as ‘a luxury’ (given that the material gain for the immediate perpetrators usually was slim) and ‘a ritual of civilization’. With ‘ritual’ and ‘civilization’ we enter the territory of anthropology. </p> <p>The point here is that the dynamic of contemporary capitalist society mobilizes forces that can be described and understood only with the help of categories of more historical depth than those of capitalist society itself. This does not, though, mean a turning away from the language of Marxism: ‘civilization’ and ‘society’ are not alternative objects of study – the point is that either dimension can be understood only through the other. Human civilization exists in the present only <em>in the form of</em> capitalist society; capitalist society is nothing other than human civilization in its current form. (The relationship between these two concepts is similar to that between capitalism and patriarchy in some forms of feminist theory: they are not different ‘things’ but the former is the contemporary form of appearance of the latter, and the latter is undergirding the former. Here, too, the strategic hope of progressives is that capitalist modernity impacts and transforms its substratum, patriarchal civilization, so thoroughly that it allows for the emergence of the post-capitalist non-patriarchy we would like to see.)</p> <h2><strong>Social inequality</strong></h2> <p>The best known part of the argument, though, relates to modern society and is derived straight from Marx’s critique of political economy: capitalist society maintains the ‘socially necessary illusion’ that the wage-relationship is (in principle, or potentially) ‘fair’, i.e. an exchange of equivalent values: <em>this much</em> labour-power for <em>this much</em> money. </p> <p>Nevertheless, social inequality is an only too obvious reality. To the untrained eye inequality seems to be brought about in the sphere of circulation (as opposed to the sphere of production), say, at the supermarket till where it becomes manifest how much produce one’s wages will buy. </p> <p>Marx argues that the apparent fairness of the wage relationship itself presupposes exploitation that is expressed as the difference between the ‘exchange value’ of labour power (represented by the wage) and its ‘use-value’ (represented by the product that it produced): the product produced by X amount of labour power must be higher than the wage paid for it because this is where the profit for the capitalist comes from. </p> <p>Admittedly this explanation – one of the centrepieces of Marxist theory – flies in the face of ‘common sense’ everyday consciousness where the notion of ‘a fair wage’ reigns supreme – not least because we tend to invoke the ideology of ‘fairness’ when we engage in a wage struggle. (When we ask for more than what is deemed ‘fair’ we are called ‘greedy’ and forfeit the sympathy of ‘the public’.) <span class="mag-quote-center">(When we ask for more than what is deemed ‘fair’ we are called ‘greedy’ and forfeit the sympathy of ‘the public’.)</span></p> <p>Capitalist common sense, including the ideology of ‘fairness’, thus produces the need for another explanation for inequality and exploitation; and helpfully the capitalist exploiters, ‘masquerading as producers’, shout ‘thief!’ and point at ‘the merchants’ and other representatives of the sphere of circulation. This line of argument, up to this point, has of course nothing in itself to do with antisemitism: in developed capitalism, the exploitative character of the mode of production tends to be deflected onto (real or imagined) agents of circulation, and many forms of (supposed) ‘anti-capitalism’ reflect this. </p> <p>As Horkheimer and Adorno put it, ‘the merchant is the bailiff of the whole system and takes the hatred for the other [exploiters] upon himself’. Which category of people is cast as this particular type of scapegoat is entirely dependent on historical context; in Christian Europe, this mechanism of capitalist-anticapitalist ideology found in ‘the Jews’ an ideal object and thus revived and reinvented, as modern antisemitism, pre-existing traditions of Jew-hatred. (Modern antisemitism was exported elsewhere, then, in the hand luggage of imperialism and on arrival sometimes became an element of the ‘anti-imperialism of fools’, but that is another story.)</p> <h2><strong>Antisemitism and self-hatred</strong></h2> <p>This, the Marxist theory of antisemitism, is contained in very condensed form on some of the first pages of ‘Elements of antisemitism’. Taken on its own, this theory only explains antisemitism as a set of ideas, a particular misguided way of thinking about capitalism. Insofar as these ideas are quite fixed, they form an attitude, a mental pattern or a ‘habitus’. Ideas and attitudes alone do not make anyone act, though, and the monstrous antisemitic acts of the Holocaust need several more layers of explanation. </p> <p>Nazi antisemitism mobilized a deep-seated force that turned this antisemitism into an irrational obsession, even though often executed with a rational deliberation that far surpassed the misguided social protest as which it may have started in most individuals: the delusion of a moral duty to save the world by identifying, chasing and killing Jews wherever they are, at whatever price. </p> <p>One of the ideas with which Horkheimer and Adorno respond to this theoretical need is that of the pogrom as a ‘ritual of civilization’. It is as if antisemitism as described above gave form and direction to the murderous obsession – it pointed to who the victims should be and why they deserved what they got – but it did not in fact cause it. Ideas can trigger, guide and justify, but do not cause actions. Correspondingly, even the smartest rational explanations do not usually help much with antisemites ‘because rationality as entangled with domination is itself at the root of the malady’. If antisemitism and other maladies are in fact phobias against rationality, rationality will not wash. Only reflection on the entanglement itself would help: is there perhaps good reason to be suspicious of reason? This is how ‘Elements of antisemitism’ feeds back into the general theme of <em>Dialectic of Enlightenment</em>.</p> <p>In the philosophical tradition that Horkheimer and Adorno come from and that includes Hegel and Marx, ‘reason’ is not a value-neutral concept. What is reasonable is not simply ‘whatever works’ (efficiently, instrumentally) but whatever serves human emancipation and autonomy. Rationality understood in this way has an element of transcendence – some kind of going-beyond the bad reality as it exists – that is not entirely different from that found in religion. </p> <p>Indeed they write that before it was reduced to being a cultural artefact – an aspect of a society’s way of life, something that is considered useful for holding society together – religion contained both truth and deception. The truth of religion was the longing for redemption, and this truth lived on in philosophical idealism. Positivism, in turn, exorcized the longing from philosophy and reduced truth one-dimensionally to the depiction of the world as it actually is. (Clever positivists noticed of course that this is never quite possible and concluded that there is no such thing as truth, then, which is consistent with their own definition of it.) Spirit, enlightenment, civilization became dispirited. Enlightenment minus the spirit of longing – utopia, the ability to imagine something better – is a self-hating enlightenment. <span class="mag-quote-center">Spirit, enlightenment, civilization became dispirited.</span></p> <p>Whereas civilization and enlightenment are defined as the continuous effort of humanity to <em>escape</em> the dull circularity of reproduction and self-preservation, in reality its efforts increasingly went into <em>perfecting</em> humanity’s means of reproduction and self-preservation (in other words: labour; the economy). In order to free ourselves from having to work a lot, humanity had to work a lot in order to develop the means of production (knowledge, experience, science, technology, social organisation) which are indeed an important part of what we commonly call ‘civilization’. </p> <p>Horkheimer and Adorno’s basic point is quite simple: far from rejecting civilization, we have to rebalance it as it has become an end in itself. We have developed civilization, productivity, technology, society in order to spend more time lazing about on the beach, and after all we went through, humanity is more than entitled now to cash in the chips. The reality of the <em>dialectic</em> of enlightenment is, though, that the closer we actually come to leading the life of Riley the further it seems out of our reach, and chances are that by the time we sort this out beaches may be no more.</p> <h2><strong><em>Apocalypse Now</em></strong></h2> <p>In ‘Elements of antisemitism’, Horkheimer and Adorno focus on one particular aspect of this dialectic: the idea that modern civilization develops a destructive fury against the ‘anachronistic’ remnants of its own initial stages, including mimesis and magic. Mimesis is the effort of a living creature to mimic its natural environment as a survival strategy and is discussed by anthropologists as one of the oldest aspects of human civilization: humans try to pacify a dangerous animal by ‘being’ that animal in a ritual dance, for example. Horkheimer and Adorno discuss this as the beginning of the process of enlightenment: we mimic nature to escape its domination. Similarly, sacrificing an animal in order to make the gods grant rainfall or success in warfare is a form of barter, i.e. an early form of rationality, especially as the clever humans hope the deal will have them receive something much more valuable than what they sacrifice. </p> <p>It is not difficult to recognize some of our own supposedly ‘modern’ behaviour in those supposedly ‘primitive’ practices. One of the key arguments in ‘Elements of antisemitism’ is that every time civilization progresses from one stage to the next, it comes to hate everything that reminds it of the previous stage: in a very general sense, the ‘civilized’ hate (and exterminate) the ‘savages’ because they remind us that we are just one step ahead of them (in our own judgment, that is), and it would not take very much to regress into the more ‘primitive’ state (witness Marlon Brando in <em>Apocalypse Now</em>). </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/Apocalypse_Now_poster.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Apocalypse_Now_poster.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'>Poster for Apocalypse Now. Wikicommons. Fair use.</span></span></span>Perhaps we even have a secret desire to go back to being ‘savages’: after all, the life of a hunter-gatherer might well be preferable to your average office job. Because the civilized paid a high price to get this far, they fortify themselves against the threat of regression. Many aspects of racism can be related to this. </p><p>Antisemites like to shudder in fear of supposed Jewish superiority and secret world domination, but at the same time antisemitism shares with other forms of racism the projection of aspects of ‘savagery’ onto ‘the Jews’. The most obvious case is their accusation of ritual murder, but there are other things that antisemites assert they find unpleasant or disgusting about ‘the Jews’, and many of these are, in a sense, ‘primitive’: energetic gesticulating, which is often seen as somehow ‘typically Jewish’, is a form of mimetic behaviour as the physical movement paints a picture of an emotional state. The big noses ‘the Jews’ supposedly have point to a more primitive stage of development where the sense of smell was still more important than the other senses (whereas in modernity smell, as well as being smelly, is tabooed; those backward garlic-eaters still have to learn this). Horkheimer and Adorno point to a bitter irony here: not only was the religion of Judaism in fact very much driven by the overcoming of magic and mimesis (such as in the ban on images), it is the antisemites who indulge in bringing back echoes of magic and mimesis in their love of rituals, sacrifices, formulas and uniforms. The prosecution and destruction of those accused of mimetic, primitive behaviour provides the supposedly civilized with a splendid opportunity to indulge in lots of mimetic and primitive behaviour.</p> <h2><strong>Beyond <em>Gewalt</em></strong></h2> <p>The principal argument, though, is that the latest stage of the process of civilization is marked by the destruction of the capability of thinking itself: highly advanced stupidity. In prehistory, people’s encounters with animals not noted for spending much time pondering the pros and cons of eating humans required equally unhesitating decisions: shoot the poisoned arrow or run fast. No time for dialectics here. Civilization decimated inconvenient animals and other immediate threats and was thus free to create institutions of mediation that slowed things down and made space for the new activities of judging and reasoning. Late-industrial society, though, has brought about ‘a regression to judgment without judging’: legal process is made short work of in kangaroo courts, cognition is emptied of active reflection and likes to jump to conclusions, and thinking as a specialized profession becomes a luxury that ‘must not be tempted … to draw any awkward conclusions’.</p> <p>Nevertheless, the very last sentence of ‘Elements of antisemitism’ is guardedly optimistic: ‘Enlightenment itself, having come into its own and thereby turning into a force, could break through the limits of Enlightenment.’ </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/Adorno2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Adorno2.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'>Adorno Memorial in Frankfurt. Wikicommons/ Der Nähe der Goethe-Universität. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><span class="mag-quote-center">Late-industrial society has brought about ‘a regression to judgment without judging’.</span></p> <p>The grounds for this surprisingly hopeful turn are laid out in the concluding sections of the first chapter, ‘The concept of enlightenment’. Here, Horkheimer and Adorno assert in the purest spirit of the Enlightenment that thinking is ‘the servant whom the master cannot control at will’. Even though enlightenment serves domination, it is bound to turn <em>against</em> domination sooner or later. The bringer of hope is here, rather unexpectedly, the very thing that tends to figure as the devil incarnate in most forms of ‘critique of civilization’ on the left as on the right: <em>reification</em>.</p> <p>Domination has ‘reified’ itself (which means, made itself into a thing) by taking on the forms of law and organisation, and in the process limited itself. These instruments ‘mediate’ domination, that is, they moderate the immediacy of exploitation: ‘The moment of rationality in domination also asserts itself as something different from [domination].’ The object-like quality of the means of domination – language, weapons, machines, thought – makes these means universally available for everyone, including those resisting or fighting domination. </p> <p>Also this is, in Horkheimer and Adorno’s argument, part of the dialectic of enlightenment: although in the capitalist present, thought may become mechanical, and today’s machines mutilate their operators, ‘in the form of machines … alienated reason moves toward a society which reconciles thought … with the liberated living beings’. <em>Dialectic of Enlightenment</em> appears here, on closer reading, to have anticipated some of the revolutionary optimism that decades later accompanied the discussions of the internet as somehow intrinsically communistic – think of shareware and all that – and current discussions that the latest ongoing round of technological innovation will abolish most capitalist labour and force humanity either to advance to a truly human society or regress to some kind of neo-feudal or neo-caste system.</p> <p>In the last paragraph of ‘The concept of Enlightenment’ Horkheimer and Adorno are quite explicit about the source of their optimism: they state that ‘the bourgeois economy’ has multiplied <em>Gewalt</em> (a German word that means violence, power, force and/or domination) ‘through the mediation of the market’, but in the same process has also ‘multiplied its things and forces to such an extent that their administration no longer requires kings, nor even the bourgeois themselves: it only needs all. They learn from the power of things finally to forgo domination.’ </p> <p>This sentence, written in the midst of WWII and the Holocaust, is nothing less than astonishing, and has been largely overlooked in the reception of <em>Dialectic of Enlightenment</em>: in spite of their seemingly overwhelming darkness, we can learn from the reified forms of enlightenment – the stuff of civilization: knowledge, science, technology, social-organisational forms – that we can abolish the domination to which the enlightenment has been wedded for several tens of thousands of years. This optimism does not come with any guarantees, obviously: the learning remains for us to do, and the obstacles are enormous.</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/FFM_Max-Horkheimer-Gedenktafel.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/FFM_Max-Horkheimer-Gedenktafel.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'>Gedenktafel für Max Horkheimer an seinem Wohnhaus im Stadtteil Westend-Süd in Frankfurt am Main. February 1990. Wikicommons/ Bronzetafel mit Portrait, Edwin Hüller. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span></p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ednref1">[1]</a>&nbsp; Horkheimer, Max; Theodor W. Adorno, 2002, <em>Dialectic of Enlightenment, Philosophical Fragments, edited by Gunzelin Schmid Noerr, translated by Edmund Jephcott</em>, Stanford: Stanford University Press.</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 also <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/europe-the-very-idea">Europe - the very idea</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/etienne-balibar/out-of-interregnum">Out of the interregnum</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/marcel-stoetzler/my-350-on-brexit-liberal-nationalism-gives-advance-notice-of-its-fascist-form">My 350 on BREXIT: Liberal nationalism gives advance notice of its fascist form</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/andreas-hess/j-rgen-habermas-our-european-hegel">Jürgen Habermas: our European Hegel?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/dagmar-wilhelm/defending-political-autonomy-%E2%80%93-or-habermas-on-europe"> Defending political autonomy – or: Habermas on Europe </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/g-m-tam%C3%A1s/on-solidarity">On Solidarity</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/michael-hauser/europe-in-labyrinth-and-material-power-of-ideas">Europe in a labyrinth and the material power of ideas</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/marcel-stoetzler/reflections-antisemitism-anti-imperialism-and-liberal-communitar">Reflections: antisemitism, anti-imperialism and liberal communitarianism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/etienne-balibar/our-european-incapacity">Our European incapacity</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Germany </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-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? EU Germany Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics Ideas International politics Internet Marcel Stoetzler Sat, 24 Jun 2017 12:45:42 +0000 Marcel Stoetzler 111866 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Macron and absolute responsibility https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/patrice-de-beer/macron-and-absolute-responsibility <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>If there were one word to characterise these elections, it was crafted by Melenchon and is “dégagisme”, or cleaning-out.</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-31793183.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-31793183.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'>France-Paris-Macron's New Cabinet, June 22, 2017. Jack Chan/Xinhua News Agency/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>French President Emmanuel Macron has won his ambitious and unlikely bet. After having been elected president last May at the age of 39, he now holds an absolute majority in the National Assembly, with 350 seats out of 577 – his own movement, La République En Marche (<a href="https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_R%C3%A9publique_en_marche_!">LREM</a>), having 308 MPs, the rest being held by his centrist <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Movement_%28France%29">MoDem</a> allies. </p> <p>For a movement created only14 months ago and long considered by pundits and politicians alike as a “bubble”, this is an incredible success. Even if it is less than what the most recent opinion polls had predicted (up to 470 seats),&nbsp; and even though the 57% abstention rate has reached an apex in the history of the Fifth Republic.</p> <p>Now that he has turned the French party system upside down, he holds all the cards to implement his promised in-depth reform of a paralysed political, economic and social system. This is what most French voters elected him for. He will marginally revamp his government, which includes ministers from left, right and centre alongside personalities from civil society, serving under the conservative 46-year-old Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, before Parliament is due to convene on June 27. Yet he has to move fast on his reforms – first of the labour market, a very divisive one, on which negotiations with unions and employers have already started – knowing by experience as the former adviser and economic minister of the last Socialist president, François Hollande, that delaying crucial decisions means having their positive effects delayed till the end of his five year tenure, if not later. He knows this so well that some of his new bills are already in the pipeline, having even been partly drafted before he took office.</p> <p>If his predicted triumph has been downsized to an historical success in presiding over the demise of the two parties who ruled France in the last 60 years, it is mostly because of a massive abstention rate. Already noted during the first round, when other parties lost up to 60% of the votes obtained during the April-May presidential election, this conviction on the part of many voters that this is the only election that matters, also afflicted the Macron vote last Sunday. Some of his voters thought there was no point voting again as the dice were cast, others were not so keen to give him too big a majority. At the same time, it looks as if tactical voting from opposition voters, starting with the left and right extremes – France Insoumise (FI or Unsubdued Left) and National Front (FN) – helped defeat some LREM candidates who were ahead on the first round.</p> <p>Faced by these 350 seats, conservative Républicains and their centrist allies had their worse ever score with 130 seats (against 229 in the last Parliament). Socialists slumped to 30, 10% of their previous score. They are in total disarray, having lost their historical strongholds and some MPs only having survived thanks to Macron's support for those considered “Macron compatible”, after they voiced support in public for some of his reforms and their willingness to support his government in its first vote of confidence. A split between such recruits and the hard-liners has already occurred in the Republicains, with the same expected to ensue any moment now within the Socialists, all of which should benefit the new President.</p> <p>Together for the first time, the far left and the far right will play an albeit minor role within a split opposition. FN has now 8 MPs instead of 2, including the election of its leader Ms Marine Le Pen. This is far less than they had hoped for and not enough to form a parliamentary group (a minimum of 15 MPs). The FI, the new populist party led by Jean-Luc Melenchon, has 17 MPs when it previously had none. This will give him a basis to pursue his war against Macron whom he considers as the devil incarnate of the worst type of capitalist and financial system. This is a huge disappointment for a man who still hoped a few weeks ago for a majority in Parliament and who considers Macron's power as illegitimate because, he says, overlooking the fact that less than 2.5 millions voted for him, that it only represents 7.3 million registered voters out of 47.6 million. The Communists, rejecting fealty to the FI, cling to their 10 MPs. As for the Greens, bitterly torn among themselves, they have gone from 17 to one MP while French ecology icon, Nicolas Hulot, is now number 3 in the Philippe government, in charge of energy transition.</p> <p>If there were one word to characterise these elections, it was crafted by Melenchon and is “dégagisme”, or cleaning-out. “Dégagisme” of old politicians, old parties, of the old world, to build a new one made up of several bold promises regularly repeated like mantras by this gifted orator who can hold the attention of large audiences for hours, while sporting his Mao-like jacket. “Dégagisme” for him began with his rivals on the left, starting with the PS whom he vowed to destroy and replace, and with whom he rejected any alliance, even choosing to stand against the local head of the party in Marseilles, and winning.</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-29997926.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-29997926.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'>Jean-Luc Melenchon rally in Lyon live-streamed in Paris via hologram for the first time, February 5, 2017. NurPhoto/SIPA USA/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>But it is also clear that a large majority of those who left the PS were from its moderate wing and disillusioned by Hollande as well as by his vociferous minority of hard-liners who took control of a rump party in the presidential primaries – their candidate came out fifth with only 6% of the vote at the presidential election – the rest siding with France Insoumise. So, the main beneficiary of this “dégagisme” against politicians who had been in charge for decades and were held responsible by so many of the French voters, left and right, has been Macron himself. It was they who helped him build his following before he received support from the centre and from part of the right in his “neither left nor right” or “and left and right” strategy. </p><p><strong>Absolute majority, absolute responsibility</strong></p> <p>So the easy part of his job has now been done and a hard task lies ahead. Initially, few people believed he could be elected. Now all of a sudden they expect him to deliver. And fast. To balance his job-creating reforms by loosening up the French labour system with social reforms. To make it easier to lay-off but also to recruit. To improve the living of the less-well-off&nbsp; by simplifying taxes and financing health and unemployment benefits, not from wages but through a higher tax on all income, financial and corporate included, and by removing an obsolete and unjust housing tax for 80% of taxpayers.</p> <p>The French want things to change for the better but are at the same time afraid of the future. And they are also reluctant to see these changes affect them directly. Difficult people to deal with! But by promoting a more benevolent type of politics, by refusing to countenance verbal abuse against his opponents, asking people in rallies to stop booing them, he has tried to promote a more peaceful atmosphere. This might pacify the political arena for a time but there will be no honeymoon: he will have to deliver.</p> <p>He has started by building an image of himself as a leader. At home, by not ducking out of talking face to face with strikers fighting against the outsourcing of their jobs; booed at first, he managed at least twice to have a frank discussion with them without making, as he said, promises everyone knew he could not fulfil. Then he did the same in the international world where so many pundits said that he was too young and lacked the international exposure and guts to talk face to face with world leaders, starting with Trump and Putin. But now he will have to dirty his hands with day to day politics.</p> <p>He will do this with the help of his new majority in an Assembly profoundly &nbsp;affected by another brand of institutional ”dégagisme”. Thanks to a recent bill, no politician can be elected for more than three terms or hold more than one position of responsibility (deputy or senator, mayor, regional counsellor). Macron has also decided to implement strict parity between women and men in his government as among his candidates for Parliament. So the new Assembly will accommodate 432 (75%) new MPs, 223 of them women (160 from LREM) instead of 155. With an average age of 48 years instead of 54 years as before, they are elected under Macron's name. New in politics but active in business, start-ups, social services, various jobs and professions who will have to learn the tricks of the trade while remaining close to people outside Parliament. Loyal? yes, but hopefully bringing new blood, new ideas, new experience to a political world far too long endogamous and male orientated.</p> <p>Will they all be up to the task? The fact is that they represent the first revolution – the title of Macron's last book – to occur in fossilised French politics and a timely chance to bring France back as a European, and world power, thanks to his promised reforms and his pro-European stand at a moment when the EU is not that popular in the Old Continent. Just at the &nbsp;time when the EU's future is at stake and Britain is starting her long, complex and, probably, bitter divorce proceedings.</p> <p>As the conservative Le Figaro, criticised by readers for being too accommodating with Macron wrote on Monday, “Absolute majority, absolute responsibility”. And Le Monde's publisher added, “Rebuild confidence”. A tough programme indeed.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> France </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU France Democracy and government Economics Ideas International politics Patrice de Beer Fri, 23 Jun 2017 16:29:19 +0000 Patrice de Beer 111859 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Political disillusionment in Greece: toward a post-political state? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/ioannis-kampourakis/political-disillusionment-in-greece-toward-post-political-state <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Following disappointment in SYRIZA's rule, passionate idealism has ended up paving a way for apathy and individualism.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563365/andreas papandreou gecropt.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563365/andreas papandreou gecropt.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="545" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Former PASOK leader Andreas Papandreou, as he appeared on Old PASOK - the Orthodox's Facebook page, with the caption: "The Movement forged in the factories and the soul of labour does not forget the leader... old PASOK - by the people - for the people - with the people". Credit: [Παλιό ΠΑΣΟΚ - Tο Ορθόδοξο / Facebook]. Fair use</span></span></span>The longstanding economic and political crisis in Greece has led to political disillusionment, a lack of trust in institutions, and a sense of collective powerlessness. Political antagonisms have subsided, suggesting Greece’s immersion into a post-ideological phase that is characterized by apathy, individualism, and a rise of counter-politics in the form of trolling.</p><p dir="ltr">It is possible to divide up the recent events in Greece into three periods. First, the rather ‘militant’ years of 2008-2012, characterized by high levels of societal conflict, protest, but also by belief in the possibility of political change. These years were followed by a period of more moderate struggle, canalized in the field of political representation, where massive protests gave their place to expectations from voting, and which resulted in the rise of SYRIZA to power in 2015. The period of intense re-negotiation with the institutions in charge of the bailout program culminated in the referendum of July 2015, where the bailout conditions were rejected by a majority of 61% of Greek citizens. This result was effectively ignored by SYRIZA, who nevertheless accepted a bailout package of further austerity measures. Thus a new, third period of Greek politics dawned: a period of disappointment and political disillusionment.</p><p class="mag-quote-right" dir="ltr">Almost half of all Greeks believe that Greece has a democracy in name only</p><p dir="ltr">Empirical findings support this conclusion: almost half of all Greeks believe that Greece has a democracy in name only, and the trust in democratic and societal institutions is strikingly low. The trust Greek citizens have in political parties (5% trust rate), labour unions (5%), the media (from 5 to 10%), and the banking system (7,5%) is miniscule. The level of trust for the institution of the Prime Minister fell from 71% in 2015 to 44% in 2017, as did that for the government from 62,5% to 39%. Perhaps unsurprisingly, only family (75%), the military (44%), and the police (33%) seem to retain relatively high levels of acceptance, as traditional institutions apparently blameless for the current situation.</p><p dir="ltr">This precipitous fall in trust is, on a surface level, connected with SYRIZA’s failure to bring about the promised changes and their compromise with the politics of austerity. In addition to their post-referendum agreement with lending institutions, SYRIZA proceeded with policies that it had previously opposed. Most emblematically, SYRIZA sold the 67% of the largest Greek Port, in Piraeus, to the Chinese shipping group COSCO, when it was in government, despite running a fierce election campaign against such privatisation. </p><h2>The rise of apathy</h2><p dir="ltr">The debasement of the democratic mandate did not, however, spark the kind of reaction it would have perhaps done in the first, ‘militant’, phase of Greek crisis politics. The reason behind this lack of mobilisation is the embeddedness of a sense of powerlessness and fatalism over the field of political contestation. With no alternative plan in sight, individuals and movements that had previously been engaged in the anti-austerity struggle are scattered and appear to have internalized defeat after SYRIZA’s policy turn. Not only is there no faith in the possibility of citizens or collectives working together and having an effect on public policy, but there is also no agency willing or capable to articulate something more than sectorial demands. Political groups disassembled over disagreements regarding their stance toward SYRIZA, while the left lost the ‘moral high ground’ that it supposedly occupied. </p><p dir="ltr">This defeatism fits into a longer trend in Greece, tracing back to the defeat of the communist left after the post-WWII Civil War, of nostalgia and glorification of a “struggle fought, even if lost”, which has aestheticized the contemporary apathy as a form of political pessimism and melancholy.On a deeper level, there is a disappointment in Greek democratic institutions in general. The lack of economic autonomy and the continuous supervision over Greece’s internal affairs has supported the idea that internal developments of Greece are not the responsibility of SYRIZA or any specific government, but the reality of global politics. The acceptance of the TINA (“There Is No Alternative”) renders SYRIZA’s moves and inadequacies trivial in the face of the general incapacity of the Greek state to effectively steer the economy and the society autonomously. </p><p dir="ltr">This train of thought fatalistically accepts that sovereignty and democracy have withered away. In the legislative election of September 2015, after the signing of the new bailout package, the voter turnout (56,6%) was the lowest it has ever been since the restoration of democracy in 1974. Insofar as acquiring political power is not about effectuating changes but rather about administrating, political antagonisms wear off. Greece is becoming the example of a post-political state.</p><p class="mag-quote-left" dir="ltr">The post-political climate has disarmed radical thinking from both sides of the political spectrum.</p><p dir="ltr">The weakening of political antagonisms also has an effect on right-wing radicalism. Greece was in the spotlight during the first two periods of the crisis (2008-2012, 2012-2015) for the rise of right-wing radicalism in the form of the neo-Nazi party of Golden Dawn. Although most of the reasons that prompted its steep increase have all but disappeared (unemployment, economic hardships, increased immigration and cultural anxieties), the party seems to have stabilized, even if to a rather significant percentage (7%). For the time being, the post-political climate has disarmed radical thinking from both sides of the political spectrum. </p><p dir="ltr">However, right-wing extremism retains a dangerous potential. With the disintegration of the left after SYRIZA’s administration, a potential collectivist, grassroots movement against austerity politics could be more easily captured by the far-right. Therefore, in the event of a deepening of the crisis or of a major trauma to the social fabric, the far-right may still emerge as the political agency to articulate the corresponding demands, with the grave dangers for democracy that this entails. Post-politics maintains social peace as long as it lasts; what lurks beneath the future is yet to be discovered.</p><h2>Trolling politics</h2><p dir="ltr">Is apathy then the sole characteristic of this political period? In fact, there seems to be another phenomenon that, starting from the social media, has assumed a political, or rather “counter-political” character: trolling. By trolling I don’t mean online harassment and ad hominem attacks, but a way of ridiculing political discourse by mockery, exaggeration, and extraneous remarks. </p><p dir="ltr">One example that lies at the intersection of humour, nihilism, and political significance is the appearance of a Facebook group called “The old, orthodox PASOK”, mocking to an extreme degree the legacy of the Socialist Party (PASOK), while at the same time supposedly glorifying it, as the ultimate standard of welfare of the Greek society. This project is now well-established as a humorous locus (its page has more “likes” than that of the real PASOK) and it hosts occasional extravagances, such as parties with green lights (the colours of PASOK), fake Drachmas flying over the dancefloor, and self-ridiculed performances of working class songs PASOK used to play during its campaigns. The ambiguity of such a project is exemplified by the counter-intuitive workings of its nihilism: PASOK becomes the constant object of mockery and jokes, while its popularity rises as the use of hyperbole triggers nostalgia for the financially secure or even prodigal 90’s and mid 00’s. </p><p class="mag-quote-right" dir="ltr">Satire and ridicule thrive in a climate of political disillusionment, where nothing appears to be worth taking seriously.</p><p dir="ltr">Satire and ridicule thrive in a climate of political disillusionment, where nothing appears to be worth taking seriously. This form of counter-politics appears on one hand to be deconstructive and critical, and on the other hand, precisely because of its ultimate deconstruction, anti-emancipatory and subversive of any efforts to articulate ambitious political speech.</p><h2>New politics and identities</h2><p dir="ltr">Any political order is the expression of a specific form of power relations. <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hegemony_and_Socialist_Strategy">Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau</a> are correct in pointing out that political practice has to be conceived not in representing pre-constituted identities, but rather in constituting those identities. In a progressively depoliticized public sphere that fosters the spread of individualism and engenders new forms of counter-politics, collective identities will be formed in precarious terrains and around contingent centripetal forces. The example of the appearance of a saviour-like figure that claimed to possess incredible amounts of wealth, enough to bail out Greece, and his creation of a paganist, overly conservative, conspiracist political movement that seems to already have gathered some support is elucidating. There is a growing gap of political representation or, more correctly, there is a gap in the formation of collective identities around common understandings of social welfare.</p><p dir="ltr">A bottom-down approach would step in exactly at this point to suggest the reinvigoration of forms of political engagement on local levels, the creation of smaller movements around particular questions, and the emphasis on common goods and on the amelioration of the function of institutions. This form of identity-formation through processes of democratic decentralization could eventually reverse the current decline in political trust and lead to the formation of new political movements and parties. This seems, however, far-fetched for the current situation in Greece, where the question of economic survival seems to be hanging mid-air like Damocles’ sword.</p><p dir="ltr">Greece represents more than an interesting case in theory. In the globalised world, the diffusion of social trends, economic “solutions”, and political models may eventually play a role in shaping world politics. In this sense, the quest for democracy in Greece is important not just for Greek society, but for all those opposing the post-politics of supposed consensus, expertise, and exclusion from decision-making process.</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/paolo-gerbaudo-antonis-galanopoulos/populism-with-no-leaders-rise-of-citizenism-a">Populism with no leaders: the rise of &#039;citizenism&#039; and how to understand it</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/vassilis-petsinis/syriza-and-anel-match-made-in-greece">Syriza and ANEL: a match made in Greece</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/austerity-media/giota-alevizou/austerity-and-mediated-networks-of-solidarity-in-greece">Austerity and the mediated networks of solidarity in Greece</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/dimitris-christopoulos/greece-has-still-political-life-beyond-austerity-but-what-">Greece still has political life beyond austerity. But what kind of life is it?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Ioannis Kampourakis Fri, 16 Jun 2017 12:12:44 +0000 Ioannis Kampourakis 111719 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Inside DiEM25 & the European New Deal https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/diem25/inside-diem25-european-new-deal <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>On their return to the Volksbühne Berlin, we take a look inside DiEM25 and the socio-economic plan called the European New Deal. <em>(Video, 4m30s)</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><iframe width="460" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/s00Xw-nwTnY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> Video by <a href="http://www.actvism.org/">AcTVism.</a><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? DiEM25 Wed, 14 Jun 2017 14:15:59 +0000 DiEM25 111672 at https://www.opendemocracy.net What role is Germany playing in the European Union and what is meant by “Multi-Speed Europe”? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/yanis-varoufakis/what-role-is-germany-playing-in-european-union-and-what-is-meant <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Yanis Varoufakis explains Germany's role in the European Union and what we should take into account when we hear the term "multi-speed" Europe. <em>(Video, 4 mins)</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><iframe width="460" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_8vgyW-BB8A" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> Video by <a href="http://www.actvism.org/">AcTVism.</a><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Germany </div> </div> </div> <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? Germany Yanis Varoufakis DiEM25 Wed, 14 Jun 2017 13:48:44 +0000 Yanis Varoufakis 111671 at https://www.opendemocracy.net