Can Europe make it? https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/9711/all cached version 18/10/2018 13:17:30 en More and more Swedes reading misleading anti-immigrant news sites https://www.opendemocracy.net/sweden-anti-immigrant-misleading-alternative-media <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Nativist, Islamophobic websites are flourishing in Sweden as politics takes a hard right.</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/565030/newspapers.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/newspapers.png" alt="Headlines from the four leading Swedish anti-immigration right-wing sites." title="" width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Headlines from the four leading Swedish anti-immigration right-wing sites.</span></span></span>Barbro Sjöstrand, a 77-year-old psychiatrist working at a child and adolescent psychiatry centre in Stockholm, was searching for opinions on immigration online when she found Ledarsidorna. The right-wing populist website, read by 8% of Swedish internet users each week, gave her exactly was she was looking for: a stream of news stories and op-eds vehemently opposed to Sweden’s famously welcoming attitude towards refugees and progressive immigration laws.</p><p>Despite voting for the centre-right Moderate Party at last month’s general election, Sjöstrand believes that the Sweden Democrats (SD) are more trustworthy than any of the mainstream parties and expressed an interest in their hardline anti-immigration policy. The anti-EU, nationalist, socially conservative party won 17% of the vote: less than was expected but enough to cement their place as the third-largest party in parliament. Sjöstrand believes that websites like Ledarsidorna, which are supportive of the SD, are more “open-minded” than legacy media outlets. “If I say something controversial at work, most people around me become silent,” said Sjöstrand over Skype one Sunday, but “if we don’t talk with each other, we have no democracy.”</p><p dir="ltr">Sjöstrand is part of a growing number of Swedes now visiting hard-right websites for news and opinions. According to <a href="https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/digital-news-report-2018.pdf">a 2018 report from Reuters Institute</a>, the four most popular – Fria Tider, Nyheter Idag, Ledarsidorna and Samhällsnytt – each reach around a tenth of Swedish internet users every week; by comparison, the online news sites of national newspapers and public service broadcasters are read by between 15% to 46% of Swedes. These sites tap into anti-immigrant sentiment with stories focusing on crime committed by immigrants and refugees and their perceived damaging impact on Swedish culture.</p><p class="mag-quote-left" dir="ltr">Despite claims of impartiality, Nyheter Idag focuses almost exclusively on stories about crime committed by immigrants</p><p dir="ltr">Sweden is known for its “open-heart” immigration policy <a href="https://www.thelocal.se/20140816/reinfeldt-calls-for-tolerance-to-refugees">promulgated</a> by its prime minister in 2014. At the height of the European refugee crisis in 2015, the country accepted the highest per capita number of refugees in the EU. Sweden was heralded as the best country to be an immigrant in 2017, according to a US News <a href="https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/best-immigrant">analysis</a>, judged partially by the level of state support provided to immigrants, such as language training and transfers of job certifications.</p><p dir="ltr">The migration crisis has provided an opportunity that Swedish far-right groups have seized to push nativist and xenophobic narratives. The Sweden Democrats, who campaigned for stricter immigration laws, tougher penalties for crime and a referendum on leaving the EU, were among the chief beneficiaries, shifting the balance of Sweden’s government towards the right.</p><p dir="ltr">Along with Ledarsidorna, one of the largest anti-immigrant news sites is Nyheter Idag (News Today). Asked about the purpose of Nyheter Idag, Pelle Zaricksson, the site’s managing editor and a former journalist at the more traditional Mittmedia organisation, told me: “If you don’t like how the news is covered, then go and do something about it.” According to a <a href="https://www.unhcr.org/56bb369c9.pdf" target="_blank">2015 report by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees</a>, Sweden’s press coverage of the migration crisis has been among the most “empathetic and welcoming towards refugees”. However, the authors also noted that “coverage also featured substantial space for the views of Swedish Democrats and some citizens who questioned whether Sweden was taking too many refugees”.</p><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/565030/Screenshot 2018-10-17 at 12.44.50.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/Screenshot 2018-10-17 at 12.44.50.png" alt="A Nyheter Idag headline, it reads: "Muslim woman refused to shake hands at job interview: now the company has to pay"." title="" width="460" height="546" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A Nyheter Idag headline, it reads: "Muslim woman refused to shake hands at job interview – now the company has to pay: 'I think it's a huge step'".</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Zaricksson says his site isn’t biased. “I do news,” he told me over the phone, “we don’t have an agenda.” But despite Zaricksson’s claims of impartiality, Nyheter Idag focuses almost exclusively on stories about crime committed by immigrants, Sweden Democrats supporters being attacked, and the erosion of Swedish national identity by multiculturalism. Headlines on its homepage recently included: “Arrested arsonist sentenced to prison last month - then set free”, "Muslim woman refused to shake hands during job interview", and “People hanging Sweden Democrats posters attacked by stone throwers”. While playing up the image of the Sweden Democrats as victims, the site is highly critical of other parties and traditional media, which it views as a mouthpiece of the establishment. But Zaricksson rejects any suggestion the outfit is far right: “Our readers are liberal conservative, critical of the government”.</p><p dir="ltr">Although <a href="https://www.government.se/articles/2017/02/facts-about-migration-and-crime-in-sweden/">the crime rate has remained steady since 2005</a>, right-wing politicians have played up the online narrative of threats to law and order in Sweden to backup their claims and gain momentum in the polls. Gustav Kasselstrand, chairman of the far-right party Alternative for Sweden, a close ally of the Sweden Democrats, recently said in an interview with Voice of Europe, “What you read on alternative media is true,” a quote turned into a Nyheter Idag headline.</p><p dir="ltr">Other alternative sites vary in their alignment with the Sweden Democrats. Some are critical of the party. Several of the most prominent are either owned by the Sweden Democrats (like Samtiden, a site used by 6% of Swedish internet users weekly), or openly support the party (like Samhällsnytt, which has an 8% of Swedish internet users weekly).</p><p class="mag-quote-right" dir="ltr">&nbsp;“It’s not like they’re making up stories, but they’re definitely twisting them around.”</p><p>Ulrika Andersson, a media professor at the University of Gothenburg, said she wouldn’t consider these sites “fake news” in the sense that they don’t invent stories. Unlike a Russian-backed effort to spread false news with<a href="https://www.thelocal.se/20170107/swedish-think-tank-details-russian-disinformation-in-new-study"> fake letters sent from ministries</a> or the <a href="https://www.thelocal.se/20180829/twitter-bots-amplify-anti-immigration-sentiment-ahead-of-swedish-election">recent outburst of Twitter bots</a> building on the Sweden Democrats’ popularity, these sites have journalists, some of which are accredited by the Swedish Press Council. But while the news stories might not be false, they are misleading in the way they distort or cherrypick information to further an agenda. “It’s not like they’re making up stories,” said Andersson, but “they’re definitely twisting them around.”&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">As for the potential influence of foreign powers in the traction of these sites, monitoring has been weak, despite a government task force to fight foreign influence and misinformation in the elections. The reason for it: the task force doesn’t look at domestic websites as it could impeach on the country’s freedom of the press, explains Mikael Tofvesson, head of the task force. He said he hasn’t investigated funding of Nyheter Idag or similar sites and couldn’t comment on the possibility that foreign powers could be funding them.</p><p dir="ltr">Steve Bannon, the former Trump advisor and founder of the alt-right website Breitbart, earlier this year called for the formation of a right-wing “supergroup” in Europe, suggesting far-rights efforts might be more coordinated than Swedish alternative media care to admit. Websites have been skittish to disclose their funders, Zaricksson himself saying his business model relies on subscribers, unwilling to say more.</p><p dir="ltr">Andersson said these sites attract groups on the far right, those who distrust mainstream media. But she added, in general, that Swedes are wary of these sites:“I think they’re not very influential. I wouldn’t worry for the Swedish people.”</p><p dir="ltr">For youth psychiatrist Sjöstrand, these sites and the parallel success of the Sweden Democrats have been game-changing. “They’ve started a fire in traditional politics, now people have to talk about them.”</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/admir-skodo/populist-myth-about-immigration-courts-and-public-opinion-evidence-from-us-and-sweden">A populist myth about immigration courts and public opinion: evidence from the US and Sweden</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/mats-engstr-m/swedish-model-is-still-alive">The Swedish model is still alive</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/aurelien-mondon-aaron-winter/understanding-mainstreaming-of-far-right">Understanding the mainstreaming of the far right</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"> Sweden </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Sweden International politics far right media Alice Kantor Wed, 17 Oct 2018 12:08:51 +0000 Alice Kantor 120137 at https://www.opendemocracy.net PEGIDA turns 4 – will AfD be among the well-wishers? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/man-s-weisskircher/pegida-turns-4-will-afd-be-among-well-wishers <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Some have spoken out against a rapprochement between the AfD and PEGIDA. The AfD leader in Saxony <ins datetime="2018-10-16T08:51" cite="mailto:Manes%20Weisskircher"></ins>insists: 'The AfD is the political arm of all non-violent, liberal-democratic citizen movements.' <ins datetime="2018-10-16T08:52" cite="mailto:Manes%20Weisskircher"></ins></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-38311507.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-38311507.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'>01.09.2018, Saxony, Chemnitz: Lutz Bachmann, founder of PEGIDA, makes a selfie in front of a photo of the murdered Iulia from Viersen during AfD demonstration. Ralf Hirschberger/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Four years ago on February 20, 2014, 'Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident' (PEGIDA) staged their first-ever demonstration in the city of Dresden. About <a href="http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/chronik-von-pegida-vom-facebook-protest-zur-feindseligen-bewegung-13862975.html">350 people</a> attended. Soon, the weekly PEGIDA protests turned into the most talked about issue in German politics. In the winter of 2014 and 2015, <a href="https://durchgezaehlt.org/pegida-dresden-statistik/">up to 20,000 people</a> joined the 'evening walks' in Dresden. While since then a political party, the AfD (Alternative for Germany), has become the key radical right player in German politics, PEGIDA still regularly mobilizes <a href="https://twitter.com/durchgezaehlt/status/1021459031297273857">more than 1,000 individuals</a>. By now, their Monday gatherings have become a '<a href="https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-319-67495-7">protest ritual</a>'. </p><p>Every now and then, PEGIDA re-enters the spotlight, most recently this summer. In Chemnitz, another Saxon city about 50 miles away from the region's capital Dresden, a German-Cuban man was killed on August 26, with two individuals from Middle Eastern countries as suspects. What followed was mobilization by various far-right activists from in and outside Chemnitz, who entered the scene and exploited the death for their own mobilization purposes. Some protests involved <a href="https://www.raa-sachsen.de/newsbeitrag/hemnitz-eine-erste-bilanz.html">violence against immigrants</a> and the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/chemnitz-protester-convicted-over-hitler-salute/a-45475528">showing of the Nazi salute</a>.&nbsp; </p><h2><strong>PEGIDA-AfD relations</strong></h2> <p>While initially, PEGIDA organizers were unrelated to the emerging Chemnitz protests, its founder, Lutz Bachmann, and others soon got involved. Key figures of the AfD, Germany's biggest opposition party, staged a '<a href="http://www.afdsachsen.de/files/afd/kreisverband-meissen/presse/2018_08/Schweigemarsch%20Chemnitz%20010918.jpg">silent march</a>' together with PEGIDA, with various other far-right activists present. This was the latest peak in a longterm public rapprochement between PEGIDA and parts of the AfD.</p> <p>The relationship between PEGIDA and the AfD has always been difficult, for the most part because of different views within the AfD on how to deal with the far-right protest group. Many AfD politicians from the west of Germany have been critical of close relations, fearing that they would endanger the party's legitimacy. But Dresden-born Frauke Petry, former AfD leader and the key figure of the party's radical right turn in summer 2015, remained distant. </p> <p>At the beginning of 2015, Petry, then regional leader of her party's branch in Saxony, rejected further cooperation with PEGIDA after having personally met with Bachmann, <a href="https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article136686553/Naehert-sich-Pegida-Frau-Oertel-der-AfD-an.html">whom she did not find trustworthy</a>. Over the following year, the AfD's national executive stressed their desire to keep their distance on several occasions. However, many within the party were not convinced of this official line. An event in 2017 underlines this point: on May 8, PEGIDA and AfD kept as little distance as possible; in Dresden, both organized two 'separate' demonstrations at the same square, registering their events for two different consecutive time-spots and using different stages.</p><h2><strong>Pros and cons</strong></h2> <p>In March 2018, reflecting the close relations between some AfD politicians and PEGIDA, the AfD national executive clarified that any member is free to appear at PEGIDA protests in Dresden. Most prominently, Björn Höcke, AfD leader in Thuringia, seized this chance. Höcke is well known for his far-right stances. In January 2017, for example, he denounced Berlin's Holocaust memorial, or at least its central location, thus demanding a '<a href="https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article161286915/Was-Hoecke-mit-der-Denkmal-der-Schande-Rede-bezweckt.html">180 degree turn</a>' in the country's politics of memory. In May 2018, he gave a speech at PEGIDA in Dresden – an event widely covered in German media. The AfD leaders of Brandenburg (Andreas Kalbitz) and Saxony (Jörg Urban) were also present. Together, all three <a href="https://www.zeit.de/gesellschaft/zeitgeschehen/2018-09/chemnitz-afd-pegida-kundgebung-rechtsextremismus">joined</a> the 'silent march' in Chemnitz</p> <p>In recent weeks, some within the AfD have spoken out against a rapprochement between the party and PEGIDA. Chemnitz-born Alexander Gauland, both co-leader of the national party and of the Bundestag parliamentary group, has made several positive remarks about PEGIDA in the past, but spoke out against close relations with Bachmann. Georg Pazderski, AfD leader in Berlin, supports this position, hinting at Bachmann’s criminal record: '<em>Solange bei Pegida ein Gewohnheitsverbrecher eine führende Rolle spielt, erübrigt sich jedes Nachdenken über eine wie auch immer geartete Verbindung</em>' ('<a href="http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/afd-und-pegida-streit-in-der-afd-ueber-den-trauermarsch-mit-pegida-a-1226454.html">As long as a habitual criminal plays a leading role at Pegida, any reflection on any type of link is unnecessary</a>'). And also in Saxony, after long debates at a party conference in September, a spokesperson emphasized: 'Es gibt keinen Schulterschluss - mit keiner Bewegung' ('<a href="https://www.sz-online.de/sachsen/afd-will-keinen-schulterschluss-mit-pegida-4014491.html">there is no closing of ranks – with no movement</a>'), with the practical implications of this statement remaining unclear. At the same event, Urban, AfD leader in Saxony, still stressed that '<em>die</em> <em>AfD ist der politische Arm aller gewaltfreien, freiheitlich-demokratischen Bürgerbewegungen</em>' ('<a href="https://www.sz-online.de/sachsen/afd-will-keinen-schulterschluss-mit-pegida-4014491.html">The AfD is the political arm of all non-violent, liberal-democratic citizen movements</a>').</p><h2><strong>This Sunday</strong></h2> <p>Next year, Saxony will hold regional elections. At last year’s federal election, the AfD became Saxony's most popular party, causing an upset by ending up 0.1 percent ahead of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Now the party also wants to challenge the longterm dominance of the Christian Democrats in the regional legislature. </p><p>The response of AfD Saxony's top figures to PEGIDA's fourth anniversary – scheduled to take place this Sunday, October 21, at the central <em>Neumarkt</em> in Dresden – may provide an indication as to whether they will regard emphasizing friendly relations with PEGIDA as beneficial or detrimental to that aim.</p> <p><em>This blog is based on the forthcoming chapter 'Remaining on the Streets: Anti-Islamic PEGIDA Mobilization and its Relationship to Far-Right Party Politics' (co-authored with Lars Erik Berntzen) in </em>Radical Right 'Movement Parties' in Europe<em> (Routledge), edited by Manuela Caiani and Ondřej Císař.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Visit the <a href="https://www.radicalrightanalysis.com">Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right</a> (#CARR).</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/maik-fielitz/truth-lies-in-chemnitz"> The truth lies in Chemnitz?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/cynthia-miller-idriss-daniel-k-hler/united-german-extreme-right">The united German extreme right </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/barbara-manthe/scenes-of-civil-war-radical-right-narratives-on-chemnitz">Scenes of ‘civil war’? Radical right narratives on Chemnitz</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Germany </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Germany Manès Weisskircher Tue, 16 Oct 2018 17:43:42 +0000 Manès Weisskircher 120128 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Brexit is showing the urban middle classes the real Britain https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/brexit-is-showing-urban-middle-classes-real-britain <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>And they don’t like it.</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/Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 14.02.51.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 14.02.51.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="303" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Five Met police officers restraining and pepper spraying a black man in London this month. Image, Twitter, fair use.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Back in July, I rang the Met. Britain’s elections watchdog had just <a href="https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/journalist/electoral-commission-media-centre/party-and-election-finance-to-keep/vote-leave-fined-and-referred-to-the-police-for-breaking-electoral-law">referred another major Leave campaign</a> to the cops, for suspected crimes committed during the knife-edge Brexit campaign. This was the second referral in three months (the first related to Arron Banks's controversial pro-Brexit outfit, Leave.EU). I assumed the Metropolitan Police had done nothing about either case. After all, if Britain’s police forces took the crimes of rich white people seriously, London wouldn’t be the <a href="https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/economics-and-finance/london-the-money-laundering-capital-of-the-world">world centre for money laundering</a>. But it’s always important to check your assumptions.</p><p dir="ltr">When the police finally got back to me, they confirmed my suspicions. They hadn’t opened an investigation into any of the cases referred to them by the Electoral Commission. I mentioned this in<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/laws-protecting-britains-democracy-from-big-money-are-broken"> a broader story</a> about regulators (noting “you can be fined more for touting football tickets than you can for subverting Britain's democratic process”). And then I popped a reminder in my diary for a fairly random date a few months thence, saying “check whether Met still haven’t opened investigation”.</p><p dir="ltr">Last week, we <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick-adam-ramsay/met-police-stall-brexit-campaign-investigations-claiming-polit">published the result</a> of that diary entry. No, the Met still hadn’t opened an official investigation, citing “political sensitivities”. When I tweeted the piece, it was carried across the internet on a wave of<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/jan/17/fbpe-what-is-pro-eu-hashtag-spreading-across-social-media"> FBPE</a> fury. Some said they were angry, but not surprised. But the reaction from most seemed to be shock. Shock that politics might interfere with policing; astonishment that London’s police force might not be policing the laws of our democracy as vigorously as they do many other rules of our society.</p><p dir="ltr">And for me, that reaction is an example of something fascinating.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Welcome to reality</h2><p dir="ltr">If you speak to any black person in London, they will tell you their stories of living in a metropolis with an institutionally racist police force. If you look at money laundering in the UK – so common that the world’s leading mafia expert has called it “<a href="https://www.euronews.com/2017/04/03/the-uk-is-the-most-corrupt-country-in-the-world-anti-mafia-journalists-saviano">the most corrupt country on earth</a>” – or if you consider the failure to arrest any major player in the financial crisis of 2008, then it should be obvious how the British police internalise, reproduce and reinforce the larger power structures in the country.</p><p dir="ltr">Read, for example, the detailed coverage of the death of Rashan Charles as reported by my colleagues<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/clare-sambrook-rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-explainer"> Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi and Clare Sambrook</a>. It should come as no surprise that the institution at whose hands this young man died has been somewhat lax in investigating powerful, well-funded, predominantly white and right-wing groups led by people like Arron Banks. </p><p dir="ltr">Why would we imagine that a law enforcement system which is <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/sep/01/young-black-people-jailed-moj-report-david-lammy">nine times more likely</a> to jail young black men than young white men would want to pour resources into investigating the leaders of campaigns that smeared the internet with <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/martin-shaw/truly-project-hate-third-scandal-of-official-vote-leave-campaign-headed-by-">racist messages</a>?</p><p dir="ltr">But here’s the thing. Many people in the country haven’t had the misfortune of examining our national institutions up close in recent years. If you’re urban, white and doing all right, the Met aren’t hassling your son for being black and in possession of a pair of shoes. What’s more, you aren’t brutalised every week by the reality of universal credit. And – normally – neither you nor your near relatives spent your late teens in the deserts of Iraq realising you’d been sent off to kill and die for a lie.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Safeties off</h2><p dir="ltr">For much of this urban middle-class demographic, Brexit has revealed what many – including many who voted for it – already knew. The institutions of the British state are broken. As our investigations (along with those of many others) have shown, the Electoral Commission is <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-jenna-corderoy/electoral-commission-turned-blind-eye-to-dups-shady-brex">practically powerless</a>, the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/peter-geoghegan/legatum-breached-charity-regulations-with-brexit-work-charity-commission-finds">Charity Commission</a> is is hugely under-resourced, the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/sunny-hundal/investigation-finally-launched-into-dark-arts-of-using-facebook-and-other-data-for-p">Information Commission</a> can’t keep up and our parliamentary watchdog is in need of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick/mps-demand-full-investigation-of-hard-brexit-backing-tory-party-within-par">serious veterinary attention</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">More and more, Remain voters are <a href="https://twitter.com/Andrew_Adonis/status/1036196466279309312">chastising the BBC</a>, until recently the sacred temple of the British bourgeoisie. More and more are starting to understand that the civil service has been hollowed out by years of outsourcing, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/caroline-molloy/milburn-nhs-and-britains-revolving-door">revolving doors</a> and austerity, and is struggling to deliver something <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/nov/22/civil-service-unable-to-cope-with-brexit-bob-kerslake">as vast as Brexit</a>. Tens of thousands of people in Britain have thought about Northern Ireland for the first time since Good Friday 1998, and realised why it matters.</p><p dir="ltr">For many of my friends on the left, watching this process can be frustrating. Passionate Remainers describing the crimes of the Brexit campaign as “the biggest scandal in British history” should probably be taught about the Tasmanian genocide or the plunder of India or the castration and rape of the Mau Mau. Regular claims that Brexit is the biggest crisis we face should be met with calm explanations of the implications of climate science and soil erosion and the Yemen famine. But these people should also be treated gently.</p><p dir="ltr">Ever since Cromwell, the success of the British ruling class has been that it has managed to placate and buy off much of the bourgeoisie with the plunder of empire. With violence externally, they were able to produce calm internally. For the last few decades, they have swapped this loot for lending as they allowed middle class lifestyles to continue on credit. But in the decade after the financial crisis, this relationship has started to strain. And it increasingly looks like Brexit is encouraging large chunks of middle class Anglo-Britain to look once more at the whole arrangement and realise that their country isn’t as rosy as they thought.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rod-charles/death-rashan-charles-CCTV">What is the truth about the death of Rashan Charles?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/laws-protecting-britains-democracy-from-big-money-are-broken">The laws protecting Britain&#039;s democracy from big money are broken</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick-adam-ramsay/met-police-stall-brexit-campaign-investigations-claiming-polit">Police still not investigating Leave campaigns, citing ‘political sensitivities’</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk UK Democracy and government Equality Brexit police DUP Dark Money Brexit Inc. Adam Ramsay Tue, 16 Oct 2018 13:17:40 +0000 Adam Ramsay 120122 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Catalonia: two half-truths don't make one truth https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/manuel-serrano/catalonia-two-half-truths-dont-make-one-truth <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Journalists and opinion-makers have a responsibility to inform and explain, not to divide and contribute to the escalation of conflict.</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-39094906.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-39094906.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'>Thousands of anti-separatists from across Spain march in Barcelona on Spain's National Day, October 12, 2018. NurPhoto/Press Association. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>The problem runs deeper than fake news. As George Monbiot argues in his column in <em>The Guardian</em>, the problem is that the media <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/03/cult-personality-politics-boris-trump-corbyn-george-monbiot">frequently offers news about a fake world</a>. In an insightful and courageous article, he warns that symbols and sensations have replaced substance and analysis. We struggle to understand because critical issues remain in the darkness. We see the “world as it is portrayed, and not as it is”. </p> <p>Fifty-four years ago, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/09/opinion/sunday/the-uninhibited-press-50-years-later.html">Justice Willian Brennan Jr</a>, wrote: “public discussion is a political duty, and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government”. Brennan reasoned that “erroneous statements <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/09/opinion/sunday/the-uninhibited-press-50-years-later.html">are inevitable</a> in free debate” and that public discussion must be “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/09/opinion/sunday/the-uninhibited-press-50-years-later.html">uninhibited</a>, robust, and wide-open”.</p> <p>Our understanding of freedom of the press, and our work as journalists, changed the day he wrote <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/03/today-is-the-50th-anniversary-of-the-re-birth-of-the-first-amendment/284311/">his decision</a>. It follows from this that the purpose of public discussion is to have well-informed citizens capable of discerning what is right and wrong. Citizens must be informed to hold their leaders accountable.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">We struggle to understand because critical issues remain in the darkness.</p> <p>I want to argue that an article published at openDemocracy a couple of weeks ago, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/david-whyte-ignasi-bernat/catalonia-and-postfascism">Catalonia and post-fascism</a>, reflects how easy it has become to replace serious debate with misapprehensions of reality. Vindicating nationalism and identity politics in detriment of the rule of law and individual rights, the authors bend the truth and use public debate as a disinformation tool, reproving an entire class and a democratic system for the mistakes of a few. </p> <p>Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte are not journalists. Nevertheless, they have published the piece in a public discussion forum that goes beyond ideologies, and values accurate and intelligent debate. Their piece might succeed in corroborating their facts and grievances perfectly, but fails to account for reality. </p> <h2><strong>A biased narrative</strong></h2> <p>Catalan secessionists marked the first anniversary of last year´s independence <em>referendum</em> by taking to the streets of Barcelona and neighbouring cities. Rallies started after the Committees for the Defense of the Republic, <a href="https://s.libertaddigital.com/doc/informe-sobre-los-comites-de-defensa-de-la-republica-41913603.pdf">a radical grassroots movement</a>, blocked roads, motorways, and train tracks across the region. In Girona, at the north, protesters trespassed a government office and replaced the Spanish flag with the Estelada. In Barcelona, protesters surrounded the headquarters of Spain´s national police and tried to break into the Catalan Parliament by the end of the day, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/01/world/europe/spain-catalonia-independence.html">forcing the regional police to charge and protect the premises</a>.</p> <p>The Catalan president, Quim Torra, addressed Catalans the same morning. And urged them to “<a href="http://www.europapress.es/nacional/noticia-torra-anima-cdr-apretad-haceis-bien-apretar-20181001101603.html">keep up the pressure</a>”. Many of them did keep the pressure on, as they created unrest across the Catalan capital. The images taken during the assault on the Parliament <a href="https://s.libertaddigital.com/doc/informe-sobre-los-comites-de-defensa-de-la-republica-41913603.pdf">portray a different movement</a> from the one advertised worldwide by the Catalan authorities: the movement has both peaceful and violent members, and the former seem unable to control the latter.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The Catalan&nbsp;<em>republic</em>&nbsp;is not an avenue for a more inclusive and more democratic political community.&nbsp;</p> <p>Carles Puigdemont was <a href="https://www.elconfidencial.com/espana/cataluna/2018-10-01/puigdemont-junqueras-1-o-parlament_1623964/">quick to denounce the attackers</a>, accusing them of not belonging to the secessionist movement that participated in last year´s <em>referendum</em>. He failed to make a convincing case: if the few radicals waving fascist flags in support of Spain unity <em>represent</em> the unionists, why aren’t those that use violence and burn Spanish flags part of the secessionist movement?&nbsp; </p><p>Contrary to the narrative constructed by their leaders, the Catalan <em>republic</em> is not an avenue for a more inclusive and more democratic political community. During his presidency, Carles Puigdemont denied the opposition their fundamental rights of participation by unfairly approving the <a href="https://euobserver.com/beyond-brussels/138923">referendum act and the legal transition act</a> and calling for an <a href="https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2017/09/26/why-the-referendum-on-catalan-independence-is-illegal">illegal referendum</a>, which failed to respect the basic standards laid down in the <a href="http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/default.aspx?pdffile=cdl-ad(2007)008-e">Venice Commission of the Council of Europe</a>. Finally, he <a href="https://elpais.com/elpais/2017/10/10/inenglish/1507620922_401849.html">unilaterally declared independence</a>.</p> <p>Unable to change the law and without the popular support needed to attain independence through legitimate means, the secessionist movement came up with a plan: to provoke a disproportionate reaction from Madrid. Unable to understand that <a href="https://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_and_rebecca_newberger_goldstein_the_long_reach_of_reason?language=es">laws can change</a>, Mariano Rajoy, the former prime minister, refused to treat the situation as a political problem and <a href="https://www.economist.com/leaders/2017/11/02/time-for-mariano-rajoy-to-think-about-a-new-deal-for-catalonia">took the bait</a>.&nbsp; </p> <p>The <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-41457238">crackdown on voters</a> and protesters <a href="https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2017/09/26/why-the-referendum-on-catalan-independence-is-illegal">during the <em>referendum</em></a> confirmed that neither the government nor the security forces understood what was happening. Confusing voters for rioters was an appalling mistake and strengthened the narrative that Spain is an authoritarian state. It <a href="https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2018/spain">is not</a>. Spanish security forces did use excessive force. Nonetheless, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/08/catalonia-demo-injuries-fact-checking"><em>only</em> four people were seriously injured</a>. Politicians have been detained not because of their political ideas, but because they <a href="https://elpais.com/elpais/2017/11/09/inenglish/1510230412_527483.html">violated several legal provisions</a>. </p> <p>There is <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/10/19/how-fake-news-helped-shape-the-catalonia-independence-vote/?utm_term=.6f53f91f9bfd">no systematic violation of the rule of law in Spain</a>. That doesn’t mean sedition charges are not disproportionate preventing former members of the Catalan cabinet from awaiting trial in liberty. Josep Borrell, Spain´s minister of foreign affairs, <a href="https://www.eldiario.es/politica/Borrell-Comision-Venecia-independentismo-Catalunya_0_813318916.html">made the case last month</a>, while Meritxell Batet, Spain´s minister of regional policy, argued that <a href="https://www.europapress.es/nacional/noticia-batet-afirma-seria-mejor-no-hubiera-presos-poder-hacer-politica-cataluna-20180916110041.html">it would be more comfortable for Madrid</a> if there weren’t prisoners. The decision, however, belongs to the judiciary, and not to the Spanish government.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Confusing voters for rioters was an appalling mistake and strengthened the narrative that Spain is an authoritarian state.</p> <h2><strong>Turning the tide</strong></h2> <p>The new government in Madrid seems to have been able to establish <a href="https://www.eltiempo.com/mundo/europa/espana-y-cataluna-comienzan-a-acercarse-de-nuevo-con-pedro-sanchez-241118">better relations</a> with the Generalitat than the previous executive did. Future negotiations between both parties will demand compromise: this means that nothing should be <em>off or on</em> the table. Still, it´s increasingly difficult to know who will be leading the negotiations from the Generalitat. Quim Torra’s position <a href="https://www.economiadigital.es/politica-y-sociedad/la-cup-coloca-a-quim-torra-en-la-puerta-de-salida_581702_102.html">is fragile</a>, and the secessionist movement <a href="https://elpais.com/politica/2018/10/09/actualidad/1539101272_838858.html">is splitting in two</a>. Clashes with the Committees for the Defense of the Republic and the fact that he receives is orders from <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-44071796">a former President</a> in self-imposed exile have both weakened his authority. </p> <p><a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-44340879">Pedro Sanchez</a>, Spain´s new prime minister, inherits a thorny political problem that prevents more than seven million Catalans from living in harmony. And the situation has implications at the national level too, as Spanish nationalism <a href="https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/spain/2018-02-05/why-spanish-nationalism-rise">is making a comeback</a>. If it <a href="http://www.elmundo.es/espana/2018/10/09/5bbba1e7ca4741f1318b45f4.html">rises to challenge</a> secession claims in Catalonia, the outcome could be disastrous for everyone. </p> <p>It was Albert Camus who admonished us about the perils of abstraction, which he described as the “<a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/04/09/facing-history">tendency to dehumanise</a>” those who stand in the way of history. Journalists and opinion-makers have a responsibility to inform and explain, not to divide and contribute to the escalation of conflict. They shouldn’t manipulate their audiences into agreeing with an argument or a political agenda. “<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/david-whyte-ignasi-bernat/catalonia-and-postfascism">Catalonia and post-fascism</a>” portrays a Spain that doesn’t exist. We must go further than criticise it: we must engage with it and remind people that two half-truths don’t make one truth.</p> <h2><strong>Don’t discredit Spanish democracy</strong></h2><p>The purpose of the article is to discredit Spain <a href="https://infographics.economist.com/2018/DemocracyIndex/">as a democracy</a>. </p><p>Certainly, the authors are right to point that there are <em>residues</em> of fascist behaviour in the Spanish state, as it <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/why-are-so-many-fascist-monuments-still-standing-in-italy">exists in other countries</a>. Citizens are often suspicious about politics. Cross-party pacts are uncommon. And some politicians have trouble dealing with <a href="https://elpais.com/elpais/2018/03/13/inenglish/1520936326_639973.html">freedom of speech and peaceful assembly</a>. </p> <p>It´s true that Spain has failed to investigate the crimes committed by Franco´s dictatorial regime. One hundred and twenty thousand victims <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/12/spain-to-establish-truth-commission-for-franco-era-crimes">have been identified</a> from almost two 2,591 mass graves around the country. And those responsible have not been held accountable due to an amnesty law passed in 1977, which postponed the rights of victims <a href="https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=14220&amp;LangID=E">to justice, truth, and reparation</a>.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Journalists and opinion-makers have a responsibility to inform and explain, not to divide and contribute to the escalation of conflict.&nbsp;</p> <p>The authors rely on these circumstances to justify the argument that Spain is a <em>post fascist state</em>. They fail, however, to contextualise what happened then, who ruled when it happened and what happened since. </p> <p>In 2007, for example, the socialist government passed the <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/spanish-memory-law-reopens-deep-wounds-of-franco-era-394552.html">Historical Memory Law</a> condemning Franco´s dictatorship and honouring its victims, seeking to recover the remains of those buried mass graves. And recently, the <a href="https://www.elespanol.com/cultura/20180423/supremo-permite-carmena-cambiar-calles-franquistas-madrid/301970823_0.html">mayors of Madrid and Barcelona</a> have decided to change street names marking the dictatorial regime. </p> <p>They fail to mention that the new executive passed a decree to dig up the <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/franco-spain-remains-move-civil-war-body-exhumed-relocate-valley-fallen-a8536186.html">remains of the dictator</a> from a monument to the victims of the Spanish Civil War, amending the previous law. The proposition was <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-spain-politics-franco/spanish-parliament-votes-to-exhume-remains-of-dictator-franco-idUSKCN1LT2C9">approved by the Parliament</a> and aims to establish a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/12/spain-to-establish-truth-commission-for-franco-era-crimes">truth commission</a> to identify victims, allow courts to open investigations about mass graves and grant reparations to the heirs of those who died in defence of freedom and democratic rights.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">As nationalism and populism spread across Europe, maybe it´s time to clarify what we understand as fascist, post-fascist and democratic.</p> <p>The authors also conveniently forget to mention that constitutional norms have always been upheld during elections. And incorrectly imply that it was Franco who chose the <a href="https://www.britannica.com/topic/flag-of-Spain">current Spanish flag</a> or established the <a href="http://zedillo.presidencia.gob.mx/welcome/PAGES/culture/note_12oct.html">Day of the Race</a>. </p> <p>They are free to believe that <a href="https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2018/spain">Spanish</a> and <a href="https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2018/turkey">Turkish</a> citizens enjoy the same political and civil rights. But why single Spain out for designation as <em>post-fascist</em>?</p> <p>As nationalism and populism spread across Europe, maybe it´s time to clarify what we understand as fascist, post-fascist and democratic. The state of affairs in Hungary and Poland should encourage us to run away from populists, not towards them. The tribalisation of the conflict in Catalonia has gone far enough, and it´s time to reach a compromise: political problems should have political solutions. Repression, manipulation, and exclusion are not the answer. </p> <p>As <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-eu-juncker-highlights/junckers-state-of-the-union-speech-to-european-parliament-idUKKCN1LS0VP">Jean-Claude Juncker</a>, the President of the European Commission said during the State of the Union address in Strasbourg, it was “sunny, optimistic and peaceful in 1913”. He couldn’t have been clearer.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/david-whyte-ignasi-bernat/catalonia-and-postfascism">Catalonia and postfascism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/andrew-davis/catalan-national-day-free-speech-under-threat">Catalan National Day: free speech under threat</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/patrice-de-beer/catalan-elections-all-that-for-that">Catalan elections: all that for that?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/piers-purdy/is-it-time-we-had-international-framework-for-unilateral-secession">Is it time we had an international framework for unilateral secession?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Spain </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> 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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Spain Civil society Conflict Democracy and government International politics Catalonia Manuel Nunes Ramires Serrano Mon, 15 Oct 2018 16:46:12 +0000 Manuel Nunes Ramires Serrano 120087 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The appeal of populist nationalism in the age of accelerated change https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/cathrine-thorleifsson/appeal-of-populist-nationalism-in-age-of-accelerated-change <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What drives support for the populist, radical right and what do the actors offer their voters? &nbsp;The endangered nation is a key trope.</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-24236172.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-24236172.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="316" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>UKIP party supporters take their seats during the UKIP Annual Conference at Doncaster Racecourse, 2015. Anna Gowthorpe/Press Association. All rights reserved,</span></span></span></p><p>In my <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nationalist-Responses-Crises-Europe-Migration/dp/1472466470">new book</a> <em>Nationalist Responses to the Crises in Europe: old and new hatreds</em> I explore the emergence of populist nationalism in contemporary Europe. Drawing on multi-sited fieldwork carried out in 2015 in England, Hungary and Norway amongst the voters and supporters of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), Fidesz and Jobbik, and the Progress Party, I examine the emerging resistance towards migrants and diversity. </p> <p>The rise and appeal of populist nationalism must be analyzed in relation to the increasing economic, culture and political competition linked to globalization. These affect countries and regions unevenly. But in all, the insecurities and societal ruptures associated with rapid, accelerated change have enabled the heating of populist nationalisms in local struggles over resources and recognition. </p> <p>In Norway, characterized by prosperity and a robust welfare state, the anti-immigration discourses propagated by the neoliberal Progress Party focused on cultural accounts of difference rather than on economic grievance. In Hungary and England, resistance towards immigration did unite the voters, but in addition discourses of economic insecurity and the uncertainty of work were also propagated by Eurosceptic PRR parties and their supporters.</p> <p>While the divide between cultural and economic insecurity has value when applied to macro contexts, I challenge it´s applicability at the level of everyday life. Through an anthropological in-depth study of local lifeworlds I show how cultural identity cannot be separated from economic conditions. </p> <h2><strong>Doncaster</strong></h2> <p>In 2015 I did ethnographic fieldwork in the post-industrial, working-class town of Doncaster, where UKIP obtained its electoral breakthrough. </p> <p>In the 1980s, a mining life gave rise to a particular kind of identity and pride in the very insecurities associated with industrial work and the community, not just in the mines, but more generally. With the closing of the coal mines, the Doncastrians I met associated a sense of painful loss, of feeling, identity, meaning and community. Their common working experiences in the past were key in shaping their culture and<em> </em>in constituting a sense of dignity and recognition. </p> <p>Particularly my interlocutors from the older generation, compared life today with the life they experienced before the decline started three decades ago. They expressed anxieties over being made redundant in a precarious labour market. They were anxious about the fast processes of change that they felt had affected their town and lives largely negatively. </p> <p>They were anxious about the speed of demographic change, and about the impact of European integration and migration on their welfare, jobs and way of life. In Doncaster, the figure marked out as ‘the threatening other’ was that of the Polish migrant looking for work, who, they claimed, stole jobs and resources rightfully belonging to British nationals. They did not distinguish between cultural and economic grievances, in short. However, they felt strongly that their grievances and uncertainties were ignored by Labour and the political establishment. </p> <h2><strong>A nationalist solution</strong></h2> <p>While the local material and cultural specificities for the heating of populist nationalism might be very local, there are clear common themes that emerge in their proposed solutions. The populist nationalists offer economic and cultural protectionism against ideas, forces and people considered threatening to an imagined “us”. The parties claim to provide better futures modelled around a romanticized past and “good old days”. They pledge to reinforce territorial boundaries, to stand up for morally virtuous “little people” against the elites, and to protect them against others often defined in religious or racial terms.</p> <p>While the populist nationalist parties vary in legacy, ideology and orientation, they converge in their grammars of exclusion. The stylistic repertoire of radical right parties, as expressed both online and offline, continue to use age-old rhetoric and social imaginaries of ethno-religious difference. Historically, Jews and Roma have faced racist tropes and persecution. In present day Europe, the figure of the migrant Muslim stranger is used in political mobilisation, partly as a way of projecting the pure insiders by contrast – ie. those who rightfully belong to the nation.</p> <p>While local supporters of UKIP primarily expressed concern about the impact of European integration upon their jobs, welfare and way of life, the party was quick to translate these grievances into a politics of fear, demarcating Muslim migrants as ethno-religious threats to ‘our’ imagined sameness. The racialization of convenient scapegoats proved a powerful formula for supporters who already felt battered by forces outside their control. </p> <h2><strong>Endangered nations</strong></h2> <p>In particular the so-called refugee crisis in 2015 in combination with jihadi terrorist attacks in Europe provided a structural opportunity for radical right actors who could present themselves as protectors of endangered nations. In state campaigns propagated by the increasingly authoritarian Viktor Orbán, asylum seekers from Muslim majority lands were framed as existential threats to the white nation and Christian civilization. Old antisemitic tropes, talking of Soros’ wealth and power, were fused together with Islamophobic warnings that the Jews want to Islamise Europe. Such conspiratorial thinking about a Jewish masterplan to take over Christian European with uncontrolled migration from Muslim lands illustrates how antisemitism and Islamophobia are reconfigured by globalization, with the explicit purpose of reinforcing the racialised boundaries of the nation. </p> <h2><strong>A challenge for democracy</strong></h2> <p>The surge in support for PRR parties poses increasingly strong challenges to political establishments across Europe and North America. PRR parties have demonstrated that they now can win key electoral battles. Authoritarian populists in power are already dismantling the checks and balances of democracy. In Hungary, the governing PRR parties who openly embrace ethnic nationalism pose a challenge to liberal democracy and the conventions, freedoms and values that sustain it. &nbsp;&nbsp;Orbán is praised in other countries in the region, in particular in Poland where the leader of PiS- the Law and Justice Party-Jaroslaw Kaczynski has hailed the illiberal democracy as a model state. Another worrying effect of the electoral gains of the radical right is that conventional parties can draw their policy agenda and rhetoric further to the right in the intensified competition over volatile voters.</p> <h2><strong>This isn’t going away</strong></h2> <p>The grievances that have enabled the rise of populist nationalism –&nbsp;a sense of cultural dislocation and feelings of relative economic deprivation are likely to persist. The increased salience of accelerated migration, the growing public anxiety over the role and perceived integration of Muslim communities, and dissatisfaction with the mainstream parties and European institutions will continue to cultivate opportunities for the populist radical right. </p> <p>Europe is experiencing increasing stress as it struggles to find unified solutions to the crises of migration, the economy and security. Mainstream politicians need to better address the concerns of the citizens who feel left behind or unrepresented by conventional parties. At the same time, they need to challenge conspiratorial thinking and myths about migrants and minorities. Conventional parties, rather than adopting the divisive rhetoric and slogans of PRR parties, should challenge them on their policy proposals. If conventional parties fail to seize the opportunity to reconnect with disillusioned voters, the radical right will surely continue to do so. </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>Visit the <a href="https://www.radicalrightanalysis.com">Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right</a> (#CARR).</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="/uk/anthony-barnett/referendum-in-doncaster-and-labours-disappearing-trick">The referendum in Doncaster, and Labour&#039;s disappearing trick</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU UK Civil society Culture Economics populism Cathrine Thorleifsson Mon, 15 Oct 2018 07:16:12 +0000 Cathrine Thorleifsson 120089 at https://www.opendemocracy.net We have the answers to Brexit’s causes https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/caroline-lucas/we-have-answers-to-brexit-s-causes <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>British voters were right to demand radical change – those in power owe them action to rebalance our unequal society.</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/565030/PA-28021010.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/PA-28021010.jpg" alt="An anti-EU Leave campaign sticker affixed to a car in Canvey Island, Essex. The seaside town had one of the highest leave votes " title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>An anti-EU Leave campaign sticker affixed to a car in Castle Point, Essex. The seaside town had one of the highest leave votes in the country. Image: Teresa Dapp/DPA/PA Images</span></span></span>We should have seen the referendum result coming. For millions the status quo isn’t working. Life is unstable, unfulfilling and unfair. And given the option to send a message to Westminster – or, as Russell Brand would have it, to press a bright red button that said “F off establishment” – it’s not surprising that so many people took it.</p> <p>Too many people spend too many hours working in insecure jobs to pay rocketing rents. The cost of living&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/aug/15/rising-fuel-prices-push-up-uk-inflation-for-first-time-in-2018" target="_blank">continues to rise</a>,&nbsp;while average earnings remain almost&nbsp;<a href="https://www.resolutionfoundation.org/media/press-releases/britains-12-month-pay-squeeze-ends-as-jobs-market-breaks-new-records/" target="_blank">£800 a year lower</a>&nbsp;than they were ten years ago. As a nation, we are&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/aug/21/uk-households-face-hidden-debt-of-almost-19bn-citizens-advice" target="_blank">£19 billion in debt</a>&nbsp;on our everyday bills. </p> <p>Successive governments have neglected remote parts of Britain and former industrial areas, where it’s&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2017/nov/28/social-mobility-stark-postcode-lottery-too-many-britain-left-behind-alan-milburn-commission-report" target="_blank">harder</a>&nbsp;to get a good education, to get a good job – or even to get around, thanks to inadequate transport links. </p> <p>In the six years before the EU referendum, growth in<a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/lifeexpectancies/articles/changingtrendsinmortalityaninternationalcomparison/2000to2016."> life expectancy – which had been rising for a century – saw a “notable slowdown</a>”, worse for&nbsp;women than for men.<a href="https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#m_7753672460260699508__ftn5">[5]</a>This is the human cost of government policies driven by individualism, corporate profit and contempt for the public sector – implemented by politicians elected under a system where most votes don’t count.</p> <p>But not everyone has suffered in the same way. The truth is that the UK today is host to grotesque levels of inequality. As the <a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/662744/State_of_the_Nation_2017_-_Social_Mobility_in_Great_Britain.pdf">Social Mobility Commission’s 2017 report</a> observes: “There is a fracture line running deep through our labour and housing markets and our education system. Those on the wrong side of this divide are losing out and falling behind.” </p> <p>It’s no accident, then, that the 30 regions identified by the Commission as the worst “coldspots”’ for social mobility – from Weymouth to Carlisle – all voted Leave. Nor indeed that seven of the poorest ten regions in northern Europe are in the UK – and that all had substantial majorities voting for Brexit in the referendum.</p> <p>A poisonous cocktail of de-industrialisation, the financial crisis and an ideological assault on public services came together in the Brexit vote, and the genius of the Eurosceptic right was to blame the EU and immigration. When the Brexit campaign offered people an opportunity to “take back control”, it’s no wonder so many jumped at the chance.</p> <p>Yet those driving the government’s agenda are using Brexit to accelerate the very ideology that got us into this mess. They support policies that would make us more like the United States where, without the safety net of social security benefits, falling ill or being made redundant can quickly lead to homelessness.</p> <p>The American Dream promises a better life, if only you work even harder. It tells you poverty is a personal failure – or encourages you to point the finger of blame. When there’s no voice or a hope for the future the emergence of Donald Trump is inevitable.</p> <p>British voters were right to demand radical change – those in power owe them action to rebalance our unequal society.</p> <p>There are some core policies that would begin to make a difference. Workplaces, where some staff are valued more than others, are a good place to start. Chief executives received&nbsp;<a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45183881" target="_blank">pay rises</a>&nbsp;of 11% last year, while everyone else was granted just 2%.</p> <p>The biggest employers will soon be forced to publish pay ratios, but ministers must go further – imposing policies to ensure the highest paid receive no more than ten times the salary of those at the bottom of the pay scale. If corporations want to spend millions on board members, they’ll have to pay cleaners six figure sums.</p> <p>As well as making it harder for firms to justify poverty wages, fairer pay ratios could create more equitable workplace cultures, where bosses value and listen to their employees.</p> <p>As a bare minimum, everyone should earn enough to cover the basics. The Living Wage Foundation puts the cost of a decent standard of living at £8.75 an hour – or £10.20 in London. Over time, a basic income scheme would guarantee a core of economic security for everyone, a land value tax would help prevent the accumulation and speculation of capital in properties in the south, and a wealth tax would start to redistribute resources more fairly.</p> <p>But we don’t only need a new social contract – we need a new constitutional settlement that will reinvigorate our democratic institutions and genuinely give power back to people. The UK is one of the most centralised countries in Europe, with swathes of England – with no parliament of its own – remote in distance and attention from London, chronically poor, isolated and disempowered. This needs to be reversed, with a serious devolution of power to city regions and counties.</p> <p>A constitutional convention would see our archaic House of Lords replaced by an elected second chamber – perhaps based in the north as a symbol of the dispersal of power – and would replace our rotten first past the post electoral system, in which the majority of votes cast simply don’t count, with a proportional system.</p> <p>People understood that in the EU referendum every vote mattered, and turnout was huge as a result. That needs to be the case every time we go to the polls.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal"><em><span>This is one essay of over twenty in a &nbsp;new publication by Compass on <a href="http://www.compassonline.org.uk/publications/the-causes-and-cures-of-brexit/">The Causes and Cures for Brexit</a>, that brings together progressive politicians, thinkers and activists to address issues of identity, democracy and economy that helped lead to Brexit</span>.</em></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="/can-europe-make-it/ashoka-mody-rachel-lurie/brexit-is-consequence-of-low-upward-mobility">Brexit is a consequence of low upward mobility</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/adam-ramsay-anthony-barnett/video-referendum-in-labours-hearlands">Video: the referendum in Labour&#039;s heartlands</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/frances-northrop/as-brexit-dominates-its-causes-are-being-forgotten">As Brexit dominates, its causes are being forgotten</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk UK Democracy and government Green Party Brexit Caroline Lucas DiEM25 Mon, 15 Oct 2018 05:00:00 +0000 Caroline Lucas 120062 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Creativity must operate across borders https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/creativity-must-operate-across-borders <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>DiEMVoice took to the stage at Central Saint Martins in London this October, to share its creative vision for Europe in a time of culture war. Short speech.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-10-13 at 08.22.42.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-10-13 at 08.22.42.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'>Screenshot: Delegate from Northumberland at Labour Party Conference. </span></span></span></p><p>It’s great that <a href="https://diem25.org/">DiEM25</a> and <a href="https://www.yanisvaroufakis.eu/2018/10/04/diem-voice-presents-here-now-a-creative-vision-of-europe-with-brian-eno-srecko-horvat-danae-stratou-bobby-gillespie-rosemary-bechler-yanis-varoufakis-wednesday-10th-october-2018-7pm-plat/">DiEMVoice, our arts platform</a>, are here at Central Saint Martins tonight. I’ve been looking at your <em><a href="https://www.arts.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/42219/CSM-UAL-Creative-Unions-A-Call-To-Action-300317-PR.pdf">Creative Unions response</a></em> to the triggering of Article 50. And I think this call to demonstrate that creativity must operate across borders and boundaries couldn’t be a better starting point for us. </p> <p>I say this because I want to talk&nbsp; – not so much about the direct threat posed to our beleagured democracies by what Yanis rightly calls the nationalist neofascist international – as about its challenge to a cultural politics of self and other that I believe is all around us.</p> <p>Operating across boundaries is at the heart of this challenge. As <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/moana-genevey/divisive-populists-obstacle-womens-rights">Inna Shevchenko</a>, the exiled Ukrainian leader of FEMEN says, “Democracy is not only about counting silent hands… it is about allowing the confrontation of different opinions; many, many voices; about public debates, discussions and disagreements too.”&nbsp; These are ‘discussions and disagreements’ where people listen to each other, and may change their minds about what is the right or the winning position, because, as Shevchenko says, “We all have multiple identities and we also have multiple answers.”</p> <p>She contrasts this with the way that rightwing populists and extreme nationalists aim instead to divide society “by reducing people to only one identity, only one adjective; by creating clashes between groups, groups that live in the same way, think in the same way, practise their religion in the same way. Then, they claim to represent these groups, manipulating societies by playing on the fear and insecurity of individuals.”</p> <p>The truth is that the Bannonite leaders of Europe cannot thrive in societies that are confident about crossing borders. &nbsp;If “Brexit means Brexit”, it is because the ‘people’s will’, this unitary sovereign will they are so fond of invoking, must be beyond question or change. The Bannonites only thrive in a profoundly unequal Us and Them society, secured from its enemies without and within by the strong man who can act with impunity, breaking all the rules on behalf of the ‘real people’, people who are only readily convinced that they are winning if someone else is losing out.</p> <p>Take a recent classic example <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/sara-garbagnoli/matteo-salvini-renaturalizing-racial-and-sexual-boundaries-of-dem">from Italy</a>. This August, using his loudspeaker, a train conductor ordered “gypsies and molesters” to get off the train on the grounds that they were “pissing off” the other passengers, presumably the ‘real passengers’. &nbsp;As a public official he was picking up on the wishes of Deputy Prime Minister Salvini, who had recently announced his intention of opening a file on the Roma people, regretting having “to keep” ones holding Italian citizenship, as he put it. Matteo Salvini now promptly returns the compliment on his Facebook page, by publicly naming the passenger who had reported this discriminatory act, and calling instead for support for the official. As a result, the passenger received <em>more than 50,000</em> messages – the usual mixture of sarcastic, intimidating and menacing.</p> <p>For DiEM25, the passenger operating across boundaries is the imaginative democrat here, a victory in itself against the Nationalist International. But what of the 50,000, a force proliferating enemy images and <em>en route</em> to violence? If we are to reinvent our democratic cultures, we need the skills to be able to reach out across those boundaries and change people’s minds. And for that, my premise is that we need a culture of “openness and generosity” that acknowledges vulnerability as a strength. </p> <p>This is why I am concerned at the shift in the meaning of the ‘safe space’ that has taken place in my lifetime. During the euphemistically-called ‘Irish troubles’, a ‘safe space’ was the place where brave Catholic and Protestant individuals, and the very brave people who brought them together, would meet to work out a better way forward than violent conflict. In these conflict resolution spaces, whatever the power imbalances between the parties, and regardless of the conflict raging outside, for the duration those present were equal. They were mutually vulnerable, face to face and crossing boundaries to overcome the enemy images and change each others’ minds. &nbsp;How different is the ‘safe space of today’? – an identity politics that demands recognition and state protection for socio-economic groups unjustly marginalised, by securing them <em>from the Other</em>, in a borderless space free from threatening conflict, criticism, or too unsettling debate.</p> <p>Of course inequality creates far too many victims in our societies today, but this victim culture worries me. Because the nationalists and the xenophobes are all too quick to capitalise on the worst aspects of a securitising relationship to the Other, with its repertoire of anger, authenticity, truth-speaking and public presence and its retreat to ‘people like us’. Writ large, under their leadership, we can see in country after country the emergence of <em>aggrieved majorities</em>, encouraged by their political representatives to perceive themselves as the real people, the ‘<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/danger-of-nationalisms-today-four-part-essay-on-lethal-logic-of-">National Us’</a>, unfairly victimised by some Other – let us say a few thousand migrants destitute on European shores whose arrival has triggered a major political crisis throughout the European Union.</p> <p>In renewing our democratic culture, our strength will never rely on force, whether the force of numbers or the strong man with his warlike qualities, but in sharing time and time again the creativity, and yes the pleasure and joy that is released in that moment when we are not frightened of the multiple identities and multiple answers in each of us. Theatre people surely know this in their core, because theatre happens in those spaces between the different worlds that people are. “Even in political theatre”, as Harold Pinter said in his famous <a href="https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/2005/pinter/25621-harold-pinter-nobel-lecture-2005/">Nobel lecture</a>: </p> <p>“The characters must be allowed to breathe their own air. The author cannot confine and constrict them to satisfy his own taste or disposition or prejudice. He must be prepared to approach them from a variety of angles, from a full and uninhibited range of perspectives, take them by surprise, perhaps, occasionally, but nevertheless give them the freedom to go which way they will.”</p> <p>That is why I urge you tonight, in your Call to Action, don’t move too swiftly to what binds us together in the Creative Union. Let us instead freezeframe the previous precious moment, which is the crossing of geographical borders, social borders, borders of all kinds – that openness to what is different when the outcome hangs in the balance for all, when – as I believe creatives know – whole new worlds can appear.</p> <p>That is a pluralist democratic culture, one sorely needed back here in Brexit Britain, where two aggrieved majoritarian National Us’s have been so busy tearing our political fabric apart.&nbsp; </p> <p>&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> <p>I end with a suggestion. I don’t know if any of you saw that interesting moment at Labour Party conference when a young delegate from Northumberland, confronting a sea of enthusiastic Remainer activists fresh from an impressive demonstration on the Liverpool seafront, was the first speaker to come out clearly against the People’s Vote. He said: </p> <p>“Delegates should remember what people feel about a ‘people’s vote’ in places like my constituency in Blyth Valley <em>where we voted overwhelmingly to leave</em><em>.</em> I am not against Europe. I myself am a European, from a third generation Polish refugee family expelled after the war. But now I believe the European Union to be a capitalist club that is for the few, not the many.</p> <p>“I implore you all, come to Blyth Valley, go to Bowes Court where the buildings are crumbling behind St. Wilfrid’s Catholic church. Go to Cowpen ward. Tell <em>them</em> why you want us to remain, and go to Kitty Brewster, where for too long they’ve felt marginalised <em>like they have not had their voices heard</em>.” (my italics)</p> <p>Here’s my idea. Why can’t we say, yes? Let us cross the boundaries between Us and Them, geographical, class, age barriers and so many other borders. Let’s bring the metropolitan Remainers to Bowes Court, St Wilfrid’s Catholic church, Cowpen ward, so that we can all get to know each other better. </p> <p>Let’s ask ourselves why neither side in the Brexit debate and none of the main political parties, have ever thought to propose and enable this – why they incite us, scare us or maybe just manage us – but never invite us onto the stage of history to meet each other and change each others’ minds, confident that our differences can be mutually revealing and that we Leavers and Remainers can build a better future together? </p> <p>It is my belief that we will never renew our democracies until we the people, in all<strong> </strong>our diversity, come onto that stage of history in our own right, once and for all. I’m hoping that you will agree that this is a job worthy of the best creative minds. And thank you for listening.</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/rosemary-bechler/danger-of-nationalisms-today-four-part-essay-on-lethal-logic-of-">The danger of nationalisms today: a four-part essay on the lethal logic of the Monocultural National Us</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/chantal-mouffe-rosemary-bechler/left-populism-over-years-chantal-mouffe-in-conversation-with-rosemar">Left populism over the years</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/rosemary-bechler/dangers-of-illiberalism-call-for-pluralist-state">The dangers of illiberalism call for a pluralist state</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"> 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 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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU UK Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Internet Rosemary Bechler DiEM25 Sat, 13 Oct 2018 07:24:47 +0000 Rosemary Bechler 120079 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Scenes of ‘civil war’? Radical right narratives on Chemnitz https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/barbara-manthe/scenes-of-civil-war-radical-right-narratives-on-chemnitz <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Chemnitz case shows a Saxon city where the radical right has tried to establish itself for years, with some very concrete fantasies about a violent ‘overthrow’. </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-38670485.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-38670485.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'>21 September 2018, Saxony, Chemnitz: Right-wing populist movement 'Pro Chemnitz' marching through the city. Press Association images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>In late August, the east German city of Chemnitz startled observers from all over the world. On 26 August 2018, 35 yr.old German Daniel H. was <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45328477">stabbed to death</a> after a quarrel had escalated at a city festival in Chemnitz (Saxony). Shortly afterwards, the police arrested two asylum seekers from Syria and Iraq as the presumed perpetrators of this crime.&nbsp; </p> <p>Tremendous repercussions ensued. </p> <p>Although the victim was neither a member of the radical right scene nor known as a sympathizer to any radical right organisation, neo-Nazis and hooligans misappropriated the crime to instigate violent mass demonstrations and riots in the following days and weeks. They were joined by the radical right party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). The events brought to the surface what the radical right in Germany is capable of, once operating jointly, while police forces were visibly overchallenged. <span class="mag-quote-center">The events brought to the surface what the radical right in Germany is capable of, once operating jointly.</span></p> <p>Furthermore, the radical right mobilization of Chemnitz affected the ruling coalition of the SPD and CDU/CSU in Berlin. The appraisal of the events caused a governmental crisis among this already beleaguered coalition. It eventually led to the removal of the domestic intelligence chief, <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2018/09/18/europe/germany-spy-chief-removed-from-post-grm-intl/index.html">Hans-Georg Maaßen</a> from his post, after he incorrectly labelled the coverage of the racist assaults, “fake news”.</p> <p>For well-versed observers, the radical right marches of Chemnitz did not come as a surprise. <a href="https://www.radicalrightanalysis.com/2018/06/21/whats-the-matter-withsaxony/">Saxony</a> has been the site of numerous far-right mobilizations over recent years. To understand the dynamics of these events, it is important to analyse the radical right narratives that came into effect in Chemnitz. Furthermore, it is crucial to embed these neo-Nazi actions into their historical context.</p> <h2><strong>Taking the historical context of racist mobilizations in Germany into account</strong></h2> <p>Journalists and eye witnesses have documented how participants in the neo-Nazi demonstrations <a href="https://twitter.com/heutejournal/status/1038177756763156480/video/1">hunted down</a> and assaulted <a href="https://www.zeit.de/gesellschaft/zeitgeschehen/2018-08/chemnitz-sachsen-roland-woellner-innenminister-ausschreitungen-pressekonferenz">immigrants and left-wing activists</a>, attacked a <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/chemnitz-attack-on-jewish-restaurant-it-is-five-past-midnight/a-45421920">Jewish restaurant</a> and publicly called for murder. The instrumentalization of a real or a supposed capital crime, committed by a ‘foreigner’ is a popular resource within the radical right scene as it works well to inflame racist sentiments and fuel fears. As the Chemnitz case shows, the concerns of the victims or their relatives meanwhile do not matter. </p> <p>Racist rioting has an almost 30-year history in Germany: In August 1992, rioters attacked an asylum hostel in <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/lichtenhagen-riots-continue-to-haunt-many/a-16194604">Rostock-Lichtenhagen</a> (Mecklenburg Hither-Pomerania), while several thousand bystanders applauded them. As in these assaults, neo-Nazis and local residents attacked refugee hostels in <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/1991/10/01/world/a-wave-of-attacks-on-foreigners-stirs-shock-in-germany.html">Hoyerswerda</a> (Saxony) in 1991 and <a href="http://www.nrhz.de/flyer/beitrag.php?id=1582">Mannheim-Schönau</a> (Baden-Wuerttemberg) in 1992. More than twenty years later, in August 2015, hundreds of violent rioters besieged a recently-opened refugee hostel in <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-germany-asylum-idUSKCN0QR0JP20150822">Heidenau</a> (Saxony). These sieges also lasted for several days or night in a row, with the police only hesitantly putting an end to them. <span class="mag-quote-center">These sieges also lasted for several days or night in a row, with the police only hesitantly putting an end to them. </span></p> <p>Given the fact that similar mass violence has occurred in the past, the radical right movement can be characterised by cyclical recurring mobilizations, David <a href="http://telegraph.cc/liebe-westdeutsche-freund-innen/">Begrich</a> says, who is an expert on the radical right in Eastern Germany. He and other scholars stress the relevance of the “<a href="https://www.bebraverlag.de/vzgesamt/titel/703-generation-hoyerswerda.html">Generation Hoyerswerda</a>” generation of neo-Nazis who experienced the early 1990s’ racist riots as an expression of significant political potency. That narrative not only had its impact on activists who were politicised 25 years ago, but it underwent a mutation that also allowed it to appeal to later generations. </p> <h2><strong>Chemnitz as the outcome of longterm developments in Saxony</strong></h2> <p>Alarmingly, more than 6.000 far-right protesters marched through the city of Chemnitz only one day after the murder incident. The radical right’s capability to react so quickly has astonished many observers. Credit for this can be laid at the door of social media and advanced communication technologies. But it was also the further consequence of a certain ”permanent propaganda from the far right” Saxony has been seeing for years, as sociologist and <em>head of the Institute for Democracy and Civil Society (IDZ) in Jena,</em> <a href="http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/gesellschaft/chemnitz-wie-rechtsextreme-mobilisieren-interview-mit-experte-matthias-quent-a-1225391.html">Matthias Quent</a> put it. Saxony is the homeland of the radical right <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/german-issues-in-a-nutshell-pegida/a-39124630">Pegida demonstrations</a> that have frequently been able to convene thousands of participants since 2014. Additionally, between 2000 and 2010, the capital city of Saxony, Dresden, was the site of one of the largest far-right demonstrations in Germany with up to 7,000 participants remembering the bombing of Dresden by the Allies on February 13, 1945. </p> <p>Since 2013, the radical right in Eastern Germany has significantly extended its regional and political range. In addition, the rise of the AfD has made far-right positions widely socially acceptable. <span class="mag-quote-center">The rise of the AfD has made far-right positions widely socially acceptable.</span></p> <p>Saxony is a region in eastern Germany that combines a well-connected and experienced neo-Nazi scene on the one hand and a high approval rate for radical right parties on the other hand. At the federal elections in September 2017, the AfD reached <a href="https://www.bundeswahlleiter.de/bundestagswahlen/2017/ergebnisse/bund-99/land-14.html">27 percent</a> of all votes in Saxony and became the strongest party, even ahead of the Conservative Party.</p> <h2><strong>The radical right narrative of a ‘people’s uprising’ in eastern Germany</strong></h2> <p>For the different factions of the radical right scene, the violent demonstrations in Chemnitz were a cause for rejoicing. Their comments and statements told us much about current far-right self-conceptions. Many activists consider themselves to be in a civil war fuelled by “(Muslim) foreigners” and approved by the government as the far-right blog “journalistenwatch” put it. But also the notion of a ‘revolution’ was widespread, even including positive invocations of the Nazi period. For example, an AfD county council faction in Hesse wrote on its <a href="https://www.hessenschau.de/politik/afd-hochtaunus-nach-entgleisung-auf-facebook-offline,afd-hochtaunuskreis-djv-100.html">Facebook page</a>: “During revolutions known to us the broadcasting studios and the publishing houses were stormed at some point and the employees were dragged into the streets. This is what media representatives should once reflect here in this country since when the mood is changing eventually it is too late.” This post related to the violent suppression of the free press in 1933 after the National Socialists had taken over power. <span class="mag-quote-center">This post related to the violent suppression of the free press in 1933 after the National Socialists had taken over power.</span></p> <p>The imagination of a ‘people’s uprising’ can also be traced to the popular narrative that eastern Germans had won out over the GDR government in 1989 and that the people in eastern Germany are in a similar situation today. In eastern Germany, the radical right milieu shares the collective storyline of overthrowing a political system – a regime change that can be repeated again, as <a href="https://www.freitag.de/autoren/sebastianpuschner/das-hat-die-in-einen-rausch-versetzt">Begrich</a> says. A chorusing of “Wir sind das Volk” (“We are the people”), adopted from the 1989 Monday demonstrations, is frequently heard on <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/german-issues-in-a-nutshell-pegida/a-39124630">Pegida and other radical right demonstrations</a> for example. These narratives can be revived whenever the occasion seems convenient.</p> <p>The Chemnitz case serves as an example of a Saxon city where the radical right has tried to establish itself and to maintain hegemony for years. With the demonstrations in late August and early September, the scene that opened up was not only well organised and spontaneous at the same time, but it has also brought to light the fact that many far-right activists and sympathizers have some very concrete fantasies about a violent ‘overthrow’. </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>Visit the <a href="https://www.radicalrightanalysis.com">Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right</a> (#CARR).</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/cynthia-miller-idriss-daniel-k-hler/united-german-extreme-right">The united German extreme right </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"> 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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Germany Civil society Conflict Democracy and government International politics Barbara Manthe Fri, 12 Oct 2018 12:07:59 +0000 Barbara Manthe 120067 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The truth lies in Chemnitz? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/maik-fielitz/truth-lies-in-chemnitz <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We might see parallels between Rostock ’92 and Chemnitz ’18, but the impact and the political context today are fundamentally different – though not at all less dangerous.</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-14383095.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-14383095.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="304" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>German President Joachim Gauck and Premier of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Erwin Sellering at the 2012 event commemorating the pogrom against immigrants that took place in Rostock in 1992. Jens Büttner/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>“Germany to the Germans! Foreigners out” was the central slogan of the racist riots in the city of Rostock in 1992. For around three days, neo-Nazis controlled the streets in the <em>plattenbau</em> district of Lichtenhagen where the central registration for asylum-seekers (as well as a housing block of Vietnamese contract workers) were situated. </p> <p>With stones and Molotov cocktails they attacked the accommodation and hunted down those they marked out as foreigners. Local residents joined in the violent excesses and cheered when the house – with dozens of Vietnamese people inside – was set ablaze. It was serendipitous that there were no deaths recorded. </p> <p>The violent images and testimonies of politicians, perpetrators and victims were captured in the outstanding documentary, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mkop8UFIzs"><em>The truth lies in Rostock</em></a>. It reconstructs the normalization of neo-Nazism in the post-unification era in east Germany – but also in the west – and the absence of&nbsp; any strategy to push back against radical right influences. On the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the riots in 2017, the documentary received renewed attention and opened up discussion: could similar events happen today? <span class="mag-quote-center">The most infamous slogans of Rostock were again shouted by a radical right mob in the east German city of Chemnitz. </span></p> <p>The answer seemed to come one year later when the most infamous slogans of Rostock were again shouted by a radical right mob in the east German city of Chemnitz after the fatal stabbing of a local citizen. In just a few hours, radical-right hooligans and militants were able to mobilize hundreds of people in the attempt of making the centre of Chemnitz a ‘no-go’ area for people with different coloured skin and a different shade of political opinion. They were joined by the anti-migrant initiative <em>Pro Chemnitz</em>, the PEGIDA movement, and the frontrunners of the völkisch wing of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) – in a dress rehearsal for a <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/cynthia-miller-idriss-daniel-k-hler/united-german-extreme-right">closing of ranks of the various currents of the radical right movement in Germany</a>. </p> <p>The beacon of Rostock was hovering over Chemnitz among radical-right groups. As in the early 90’s, the happenings in this east German city again had ramifications at the top, political level and In public discourse and debates. But even though we might see parallels, the impact and the political context today are fundamentally different – which does not make it less dangerous.</p> <h2><strong>From Hoyerswerda to Chemnitz</strong></h2> <p>Growing up in east German cities in 1990s, the prospect of radical-right violence was the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAVrEgzXaVM">norm rather than the exception</a>. Neo-Nazis dominated various districts, took over youth clubs, opened their own meeting points and were constantly seeking confrontation with supposed ‘foreigners’ and political opponents. What propelled their confidence were the “successes” of Lichtenhagen and above all <a href="https://www.hoyerswerda-1991.de/">the events of the Hoyerswerda in 1991</a>, considered the starting point for racist mass rioting in the 1990s. In the small town of Brandenburg, radical-right extremists over several days physically attacked the accommodations of contract workers and asylum-seekers, leaving 32 people wounded. As the German police could not secure the safety of the migrants, they organized the evacuation of all the inhabitants with migrant background, making Hoyerswerda – in the jargon of the neo-Nazis – “foreigner-free” (<em>ausländerfrei</em>), a reference to the Nazi practice of “cleansing” the cities from Jews (<em>judenfrei</em>). <span class="mag-quote-center">The state of exception achieved and the mobilisation of local inhabitants joining their cause served them as a blueprint – and was repeatedly re-invoked. </span></p> <p>According to <a href="https://www.bebraverlag.de/vzgesamt/titel/703-generation-hoyerswerda.html">Heike Kleffner and Anna Spangenberg</a>, a whole ‘Generation Hoyerswerda’ of radical-right militants emerged from these events and pursued the same spirit in their daily activism and the underground movement. The state of exception achieved and the mobilisation of local inhabitants joining their cause served them as a blueprint – and was repeatedly re-invoked. </p> <p>In the context of Chemnitz, radical-right groups were consciously referring to the potential of ‘the good old days’ &nbsp;– reminiscent of the shows of force that coined the history of whole communities after unification. Already in 2015/16, attempts at a remake of racist riots by radical-right grassroots groups were directed against refugee shelters – catalysed by social media mobilisation. The small towns of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/taking-a-stand-against-neo-nazis/av-18681802">Heidenau</a>, <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/neo-nazis-lay-siege-to-asylum-seekers-hostel-in-freital-as-race-hate-rears-its-ugly-head-once-again-10383943.html">Freital</a>, <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/05/clausnitz-mob-awaited-refugees-german-town-170530133408437.html">Claußnitz</a> and <a href="https://www.thelocal.de/20161103/refugees-hunted-through-notorious-east-german-town">Bautzen</a> are cases in point and are often forgotten in discussion of Chemnitz. Yet, we see a new dynamic in Chemnitz characterized by the AfD deliberately losing its distance from the militant neo-Nazis who have co-opted the ‘rage’ of these protest events.</p> <h2><strong>Manufacturing radical-right politics based on lies</strong></h2> <p>This rage is broadly manufactured and triggered through radical-right social media outlets. Before any evidence had been published by the authorities, these outlets presented the well-known narrative that Dennis H., the initial victim of the fatal stabbing, was allegedly defending German women from the sexual assaults of abusive foreigners. This ‘fake news’ catalysed the mobilisation in Chemnitz and resumed one central issue in the German radical-right campaigning in 2017/18: the protection of German women. This very same narrative was re-evoked in the city of Köthen a few days later when the death of an individual was again used <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/death-of-german-national-sparks-renewed-protests/av-45424389">as a mobilisation opportunity for radical-right forces</a>. </p> <p>In the same vein, the AfD took up this toxic narrative and attributed it to the failure of migration policy in Germany. The term “knife migration” (<em>Messermigration</em>) went viral, deliberately trying to portray all <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45324804">migrant men as violent perpetrators</a>. Standing demonstratively at the side of those who protested in Chemnitz, the AfD strategically polarised the debate to present itself as the only true alternative to the political establishment. </p> <p>They received some unexpected support from <a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/german-domestic-intelligence-chief-hans-georg-maassen-removed-from-post/https:/www.politico.eu/article/german-domestic-intelligence-chief-hans-georg-maassen-removed-from-post/">Hans-Georg Maaßen</a>, the President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany's domestic security agency. He said that uploaded videos showing the attacks on migrants <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45546012">were probably fake</a> and that, contrary to what the media had reported, there had been no manhunt. <span class="mag-quote-center">Parallel media investigations revealed that Maaßen was in steady contact with AfD cadres.</span>This in turn again fed into the radical-right ‘lying press’ narrative – another reference to Nazi propaganda (<em>Lügenpresse</em>). Parallel media investigations revealed that Maaßen was in steady contact with AfD cadres, explaining to them how to avoid legal persecution. Maaßen’s departure therefore duly caused a <a href="https://www.euronews.com/2018/09/23/german-coalition-hangs-in-balance-as-ex-spy-chief-saga-drags-on">political crisis</a> within the Grand Coalition, whose Minister of Interior had backed his expertise.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><h2><strong>Where the deep reasons lie…</strong></h2> <p>Racist riots have the capacity to stage a crisis of the state. And indeed, both the pogrom in Rostock-Lichtenhagen and the riots of Chemnitz had significant political consequences. Like today, the riots of Hoyerswerda and Rostock-Lichtenhagen initiated a toxic debate on migration and citizenship in Germany that drew on generalizations, prejudice and resentment. And like today, we see that the increasingly polarized debate on migration changed the political trajectory of the German state. </p> <p>One direct material consequence in the 1990s was the curtailing of the right to Asylum in 1993 through the so-called “<a href="http://www.bpb.de/gesellschaft/migration/kurzdossiers/207671/asylum-law-refugee-policy-humanitarian-migration?p=all">asylum compromise</a>”. Today, we see that the radical-right interpretation of events in Chemnitz and beyond are being spread through public discourse. <a href="https://www.erklaerung2018.de/">The Declaration 2018</a> – a petition invoked by a coalition of public right-wing intellectuals to speak out against “uncontrolled migration” and the alleged “opening of the borders in 2015” – is a key to understanding how these racist mobilisations speak to widespread racist sentiments in the broader society. <span class="mag-quote-center">The real reasons for a radical-right surge lie in the crumbling distance between radical-right ideologies and key political figures.</span></p> <p>Hence, as in the 1990s, the real reasons for a radical-right surge lie in the crumbling distinction between radical-right ideologies and key political figures. As long as state and mainstream politicians remain ambivalent about racist mobilisations, the radical-right has an easy time implanting their ideas at the very centre of society. While the riots of the 1990s were much more violent, today these demonstrations have parliamentary backing from the AfD, which makes their demands more legitimate and presentable. This coalition of party politics and street activism shows a long-existing potential of radical-right ideas in Germany that are far from being marginal. And, in this regard: the truth lies in Chemnitz. </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>Visit the <a href="https://www.radicalrightanalysis.com">Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right</a> (#CARR).</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/johannes-filous/hashtag-analysis-clausnitz-and-bautzen">Hashtag analysis: #Clausnitz and #Bautzen</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/hans-georg-betz/endgames-in-germany-bringing-down-merkel">Endgames in Germany: bringing down Merkel</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/barbara-manthe/scenes-of-civil-war-radical-right-narratives-on-chemnitz">Scenes of ‘civil war’? Radical right narratives on Chemnitz</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/cynthia-miller-idriss-daniel-k-hler/united-german-extreme-right">The united German extreme right </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> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Germany Civil society Conflict Maik Fielitz Fri, 12 Oct 2018 12:00:01 +0000 Maik Fielitz 120069 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Immigration and the impact of a no-preference post-Brexit deal https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/stephen-darwin/immigration-ans-impact-of-no-preference-post-brexit-deal <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="normal">In theory, a skill-based immigration system could work to reduce skill shortages in certain UK industry sectors but there are some key implications that remain unresolved. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="normal"><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-38459715.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-38459715.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'>Dusseldorf International Airport in Germany. The signs are separating lines between All Passports, EU, Schengen passports or Other Nationalities.NurPhoto/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p class="normal">A shadow of the unknown has been cast over Britain since the announcement of Brexit in 2016. On the lead up to Britain’s exit in March 2019, Theresa May has been tirelessly invoking what the future will hold in terms of immigration, the free movement and trade. </p> <p class="normal">Immigration has been at the forefront of the debate since the announcement of Brexit; and with no clear resolution, business owners, international students, non-UK residents have all been in the dark regarding the matter. </p> <p class="normal">Whatever the government decide, will shape the future of the country in terms of trade, industry, overseas relations and how other countries will, in turn, choose to treat UK nationals. After extensive delays and disagreements, the cabinet have unanimously decided that the UK should have a skill-based immigration system and that EU residents will not be accorded preferential treatment in terms of immigration.</p> <p class="normal">May has stated that this works in the best interests of the United Kingdom, as this will help to boost productivity and shape the future of the nation. </p> <p class="normal">In theory, a skill-based immigration system could work to reduce the skill shortages in industry sectors such as the NHS, engineering and IT. However, there are some implications that remain unresolved. </p> <h2 class="normal"><strong>Understanding the system as it stands</strong></h2> <p class="normal">As it stands, the UK immigration system is based on a threshold as opposed to merit or skill. Which means that many non-UK residents, including doctors and nurses have had their visa applications rejected previously. </p> <p class="normal">In addition to this, the UK and the EU currently uphold a “free movement” agreement, meaning that EU nationals can live and work in the UK, and vice versa. However, the cabinet have unanimously agreed to end this after Britain takes its leave from the European Union in March 2019.</p> <p class="normal">In order for the entire immigration focus to shift towards a skilled workers, it was necessary for the government to remove the priority status for EU nationals. However, this could have an adverse effect on trade, EU relations and overseas opportunities for UK citizens. </p> <p class="normal">Within the terms of the new immigration system proposal, it’s been outlined that in order to qualify for a Tier-2 skilled worker visa, the applicant will need to earn £30,000. </p> <p class="normal">Although this will ensure a certain level of capability for the skilled migrants that enter the UK to live and work, this could also be restrictive for those who possess the capabilities, but do not yet meet the salary requirements.</p> <p class="normal">Over the span of three months, NHS vacancies have risen by almost 10%, meaning that there are around 108,000 jobs that have been unfilled. </p> <p class="normal">In theory, the new policy could bridge the employee shortages in the future: however, this could also mean that some of the “lower-skilled” sectors could struggle to fill their roles. </p> <p class="normal">Although overseas doctors and nurses could be accounted for in the new post-Brexit immigration system, this could prevent vital administrative, management and clerical roles in the healthcare sector from being filled also. </p> <p class="normal">These limitations will benefit the healthcare sector by assisting with the key roles, but in the same heartbeat, could also be a hindrance in so far as scheduling, managing and all of the crucial behind the scenes work could be overlooked.&nbsp; </p> <p class="normal">In addition to this, industries such as the care and hospitality sectors that rely on so-called “low skilled workers” could suffer in the long term. </p> <h2 class="normal"><strong>The political ramifications</strong></h2> <p class="normal">This announcement risks antagonising EU leaders in the final months leading up to Brexit and will be likely to face criticism from those who argue that the UK should use the immigration system to negotiate preferential trade deals once it has left the EU.</p> <p class="normal">It has been announced that the UK will also introduce new “e-gate visa checks” for tourists and business travellers coming to the country for short-stay trips from “low risk countries”.</p> <p class="normal">This could work as leverage in the ongoing negotiations and can prevent any delays that UK nationals may face when entering the EU for a business trip or a holiday in the future. </p> <p class="normal">However, in terms of working overseas, UK citizens will most likely be placed under the same scrutiny as non-UK residents looking to move into the UK. </p> <p class="normal">Japan said that they would welcome the UK with open arms into TPP after Brexit. Which means that if any EU-UK trade relations become jaded after Britain takes its leave from the European Union, this could be a mitigating factor and much less detrimental than if Britain had no trade deals settled. </p> <p class="normal">However the Prime Minister of Japan has warned both the EU and UK parties that exiting with no deal could have extremely negative ramifications for global business. Which means that the government need to tread carefully in the final months leading up to Brexit.</p> <p class="normal">Despite the fact that UK immigration policy is a completely different matter to the post-Brexit deal, any immigration policy that can be deemed a hindrance to EU citizens could result in EU leaders revoking or changing the deal. In essence this could make a no-deal Brexit much more possible.&nbsp; </p> <h2 class="normal"><strong>Looking towards the future</strong></h2> <p class="normal">Overall, the no-preference post-Brexit system would be a positive for failing sectors such as the IT and healthcare sector. This is a much better policy than the current immigration cap. However the lower level jobs are becoming much more difficult to fill.</p> <p class="normal">The government need to find a balance between appeasing the EU leaders, by agreeing to a level of leniency for EU nationals, whilst remaining true to the initial proposal. </p> <p class="normal">Additionally, many agree that the existing immigration proposal also needs to be reassessed because as it stands currently, the £30,000 minimum earning to qualify for a Tier-2 visa may be much too high and could prevent medium-skilled workers from moving to the UK and fulfilling the role. </p> <p class="normal">The Home Secretary Sajid Javid has agreed to assess the wage cap for skilled workers on the run-up to Brexit in relation to this. Although the premise is there with regards to the no-preference system, it is clear that the government need to do much more in order to create a more salient and appeasing immigration system before the UK leaves the EU in March 2019. </p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Economics Equality International politics Brexit Stephen Darwin Tue, 09 Oct 2018 17:45:15 +0000 Stephen Darwin 120015 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘Go Home?’ – five years on https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/william-davies-sukhwant-dhaliwal-kirsten-forkert-yasmin-gunaratnam-gargi-bhattacharrya-emma-jacks <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>On bordering, the referendum and Windrush: "It might be a dangerous moment but it is a moment when the old tricks of government cannot be repeated." Chain letter between UK researchers, June – September, 2018. </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-36045801_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-36045801_0.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Theresa May hosts a meeting in relation to the Windrush generation, with Commonwealth leaders, Foreign Ministers and High Commissioners at 10 Downing Street, London in April, 2018. Daniel Leal-Olivas/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>It is five years this summer since the Home Office commissioned a poster van reading ‘In the country illegally? Go Home or Face arrest’ to drive through the streets of diverse areas of London, between 22 July and 22 August 2013. The vans episode was part of a wider campaign <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/operation-vaken-evaluation-report">Operation Vaken</a>. Responding to this as researchers, we kick-started a group research project that culminated in the publication of the book <a href="http://www.manchesteruniversitypress.co.uk/9781526113221"><em>Go Home: The Politics of Immigration Controversies</em></a>.<em> </em></p> <p>As we wrote the final revisions to the ‘Go Home?’ <a href="http://www.oapen.org/search?identifier=625583;keyword=go%20home">book</a> manuscript in June 2016, the UK really did seem at ‘<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/16/nigel-farage-defends-ukip-breaking-point-poster-queue-of-migrants">breaking point</a>’, but not in the way that MEP Nigel Farage’s Leave poster was intended to suggest. The Brexit referendum campaign still raged, and a remain-campaigning MP was murdered in the street by a man shouting ‘<a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/vote-ukip-say-far-right-group-britain-first-10126389.html">Britain First</a>’. </p> <p>Meeting up in the wake of the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/windrush-scandal">Windrush</a> scandal and the ongoing Brexit dramas in June 2018, and looking back on the moment of the vans in 2013, we realised we had more questions than we had answers. </p> <blockquote><p><em>Were we really ‘shocked’ by the phrasing of the vans at the time, or merely curious and irritated that the longstanding violence of state racism had become so shameless and so crass? </em><em>Has the Home Office backed off from such theatrical tactics since then? If yes, do we know why? The vans have played an iconic role in discussions of the Windrush scandal. Why? What do we think the overall approach to Home Office communications has been since the vans? What do we think is going on ‘on the ground’ with immigration raids? If we were doing the project from now, what would be our focus? What, if anything, might we revise in the light of later events?</em><em></em></p></blockquote> <p>We decided to carry on our conversation through the medium of a chain letter over the summer to reflect on these questions. The ensuing exchange also reflects the news events of the summer; the ongoing Brexit shambles, the World Cup, Boris Johnson’s resignation and Theresa May’s dancing. </p> <h2><strong>Letter 1: June 6, 2018 </strong></h2> <p>The vans marked a ramping-up of anti-immigration rhetorics; as many noted, ‘go home’ was a common far-right slogan in the 1970s. The vans also represent a clear example of what Shirin Rai calls ‘performance politics’: whereby policies are implemented less for their effectiveness (<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/oct/31/go-home-vans-11-leave-britain">the vans only led 11 people to leave the UK voluntarily</a> according to the official evaluation), than for demonstrating ‘toughness’ to citizens who are concerned about immigration and wanted to see something being done, and generating splashy media headlines. </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 2018-10-09 at 10.22.24.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-10-09 at 10.22.24.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: Go home or face arrest vans. Evening Standard, September 4, 2013</span></span></span></p><p>In using such theatrical communication tactics, the government is <a href="https://migrantsrights.org.uk/blog/2018/05/08/whats-behind-the-hostile-environment/">creating a show for narrow audiences</a>. They are thereby defining whose concerns matter, and whose do not, and by extension who is included within or excluded from the body politic. The interviews, focus groups and street survey we carried out revealed widespread concerns within communities about how the Go Home Vans and more generally the ‘hostile environment’ sowed hatred and division, and made many people, including British citizens, feel they did not have the right to be in the UK. </p><p>Five years later, the vans are back in the news again. But this time, they’re being <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/18/theresa-may-thuggish-windrush-scandal-home-office">mentioned</a> in relation to the ongoing Windrush scandal. The vans have become symbols of the cruelty and the <a href="https://www.hopenothate.org.uk/2018/05/21/windrush-hostile-environment-policies-shifting-attitudes-immigration/">whipping up of anti-immigrant sentiment</a> which mark the hostile environment. The newspapers are filling up with the heart-breaking stories of <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/15/why-the-children-of-windrush-demand-an-immigration-amnesty">Paulette Wilson, Anthony Bryan, Michael Braithwaite and others</a>. They came to the UK as British citizens many years ago and have now found themselves on the wrong side of a system in which NHS staff, landlords, teachers and others are acting as proxy border agents. The term ‘hostile environment’ itself has now become toxic; the newly appointed Home Secretary Sajid Javid has replaced it with the euphemistic ‘<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/may/03/compliant-environment-is-this-really-what-the-windrush-generation-needs">compliant environment</a>’. &nbsp;<span class="mag-quote-center">So why has it suddenly become unacceptable to treat people in this way, when for a long time it was not only acceptable, but also seen as an easy win.</span></p> <p>So why has it suddenly become unacceptable to treat people in this way, when for a long time it was not only acceptable, but also seen as an easy win for governments wanting to demonstrate toughness to voters who felt that something needed to be done? </p> <p>This shift happened very quickly; even as the news was breaking, PM Theresa May <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/15/no-10-refuses-caribbean-request-to-discuss-children-of-windrush">initially refused to discuss the situation of the Windrush generation with Caribbean diplomats</a>. &nbsp;Is it because the hostile environment now touches a generation which was integral to the building of Britain’s post-war welfare state (and therefore more difficult to scapegoat as scroungers or job-stealers)? Is it because (to a limited extent) the Windrush has become memorialised as part of Britain’s official history – and related to this, Britain’s self-perception as fair and decent? Is it because taking away the rights of British citizens is unacceptable but taking away the rights of migrant workers, international students or refugees is perceived as a necessary evil to keep immigration under control? What is crucial is how much the shift in attitudes will be limited to compensation for the Windrush generation, or how much it will involve a wider critique of the hostile environment. </p> <h2><strong>Letter 2: June 19, 2018 </strong></h2> <p>Five years ago, we found when surveying attitudes to theatrical performances of immigration control, that <a href="https://mappingimmigrationcontroversy.com/2015/01/07/290/">attitudes were altered when actions were framed as overtly racist</a>. While bordering, including quite violent forms, could be assessed as tolerable or even desirable, overt racism in the form of ‘racial profiling’ in immigration spot-checks was not endorsed. </p> <p>We might read this as indicative of the complex and contradictory processes of bordering, race-making and contested nationalism running through recent British histories. Whereas not so long ago the appeal of authoritarian populism could be bolstered by the racist call for stronger borders, because people ‘felt a bit swamped’, recent years have seen a concerted campaign to separate discussion of immigration from that of racism. As we found, this could <a href="https://www.lwbooks.co.uk/soundings/61/deserving-and-undeserving-migrants">enable racially minoritised groups to echo anti-migrant rhetoric</a>, despite the recent histories of migration among their own communities. </p> <p>Yet something about the Windrush scandal has upset this demarcation. Everyone can see the racism. The realisation that these particular racist outcomes are a result of the intended and carefully planned impact of immigration policy has unsettled the terms of public debate, something we must see as an opportunity.</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-37136959.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37136959.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'>Jamaican immigrants welcomed by RAF officials from the Colonial Office after the ex-troopship HMT 'Empire Windrush' landed them at Tilbury,22/06/48. Press Association filephoto. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In retrospect, the ‘Go Home’ vans have become a symbol of poor judgement. The revelations of the Windrush case have led to a rapidly increasing awareness of the hostile environment and its workings. Yet it is those vans that are referenced repeatedly, an iconic example of Theresa May’s political signature, at once cruel and awkward, miscalculating audience response. So it is the vans that have become, retrospectively, the symbol of the hostile environment and also of its failures. Not indefinite detention, including of pregnant women and children. Not the making destitute of those with irregular status, as a deterrent to other would-be arrivals. Not the barriers to healthcare. Not the imposition of the role of border guarding on hauliers, lecturers, landlords, everyone. Instead it is the crass call to ‘go home’ that has stuck itself in our collective memories. <span class="mag-quote-center">Post-Windrush, debate has returned to the question of who is and who is not ‘illegal’. </span></p><p>In our earlier work we found that participants were eager to demonstrate that they were ‘deserving’, unlike those undeserving illegals. Post-Windrush, debate has returned to the question of who is and who is not ‘illegal’ – with disappointing references to the necessity of detaining/dispossessing/deporting ‘illegals’, while respecting the rights of those who have ‘contributed’ to this country. However, as we know, the experience of the Windrush generation reveals how easily people can become ‘illegal’, despite their entitlement to citizenship.</p> <p>Instead of assuming a stable terrain of status, value, empathy – with clear demarcations between the allegedly deserving and undeserving – it might be helpful to consider the fragility of bordering endeavours. Despite decades of increasingly rabid anti-migrant rhetoric from both mainstream and far-right parties and sections of the popular media, the Windrush scandal reveals the fragility of the consensus around bordering practices. </p> <p>The failures that led to the abandonment of the children of Windrush link to other narratives underlying popular distrust of public institutions – unwieldy and opaque bureaucracies, unaccountable elites or experts who mess up the lives of ordinary people with their meddling, contradictory or meaningless instructions, impossible and incomprehensible paperwork. </p> <p>Sympathy for children of Windrush could be seen as the human face of Brexit consciousness. Could this become one trigger, among others such as Grenfell, for an alternative progressive populism? Or does the authoritarian under-belly of populism make this too risky? </p> <h2><strong>Letter 3: June 27, 2018</strong></h2> <p>The Windrush scandal is one rooted in decades of the repositioning of this group of people from natural citizens to not only undeserving but deportable. This started shortly after they arrived, with the <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-24463873">1971 Immigration Act</a> stripping away any natural claims as British Commonwealth citizens, redefining the Windrush generation as immigrants with the right to remain indefinitely but with this only officially granted to those who could pay the then high price of completing the application process. In terms of daily life, this was largely unproblematic. </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-37142931.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37142931.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'>Andria Marsh holding a photo of her parents, who arrived on the Windrush, after the service of thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey, London to mark the 70th anniversary,June 2018. Victoria Jones/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>However, with the hardening of Home Office policy over the last six years, and legal changes to immigration law that occurred around the same time and since then, all that has changed. The Windrush Generation became subject to the long arm of border control. With bodies such as the Department of Work and Pensions, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/apr/20/crackdown-migrants-nhs-doctors-border-guards-immigration-undocumented-migrants">the NHS</a>, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/mar/02/universities-border-police-academics">educational institutions</a>, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/sep/21/uk-banks-to-check-70m-bank-accounts-in-search-for-illegal-immigrants">banks</a> as well as employers and<a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/government-right-to-rent-landlord-immigration-checks-housing-policy-high-court-windrush-a8385506.html"> landlords</a> now charged with carrying out checks on people’s citizenship and right to live in the UK, now aged Caribbean men and women are being repositioned as undeserving of the privileges and opportunities afforded to British citizens – if they cannot provide documentation for every year that they’ve lived in the UK as proof of their long-term residency. As invited citizens from the Caribbean, the Windrush scandal revealed the coming to life of the fascist slogan that was a common microaggression many generations of people have faced for decades: ‘Go Home. Go back to where you belong’. <span class="mag-quote-center">A common microaggression many generations of people have faced for decades: ‘Go Home. Go back to where you belong’. </span></p> <p>This raises a number of issues in terms of the study we conducted five years ago.</p> <p>Did we get it wrong when we said that there had been a notable hardening of Home Office policy? Has not the immigration policy, practice and legal framing in the UK of those from once colonised spaces always been at best tolerant? </p> <p>Or is it the theatrics, the performance and modes of control that have become more notable, not least in the context of what <a href="http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/125439/1/Tyler_JSBC_GS_CP.pdf">Imogen Tyler</a> refers to as the ‘authoritarian turn’ taking place in contemporary Europe? Was the slogan used in the government-sponsored campaign from which the study was based, the rallying cry of this resurgent form of social control? </p> <p>Tyler’s work speaks of deportation as a mode of control that has been increasingly used to remove those deemed deportable. Our study revealed fears among some of the children of those who came from the Caribbean (as well as from Africa and Asia) about how the increasing hostile environment would impact other groups. </p> <p>This has indeed become the case. What the Windrush scandal reveals is both the normalising of the hostile environment, and the flexibility of its desirability testing and deportation regimes in at once being seen as acceptable (for some groups) and deplorable (for others). The Windrush scandal is one instance when such regimes were deemed deplorable. The inability to separate these regimes from their racialised anchoring was something that – <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/17/uk-still-uncertain-about-windrush-era-deportations">as we saw from the UK Government very fast back-tracking</a> – could not be sustained. </p> <p>The fact that this was also the year of the seventieth anniversary of both the Empire Windrush arrival and the NHS added to both the need to protest on behalf of, and celebrate the contributions made by this group – which made the UK Government’s original tough stance even more untenable. The disquiet also reveals the ways such dominant power regimes constantly work to include and exclude, using those who are included to justify in multiple ways the exclusion of others. </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 2018-10-09 at 11.01.53.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-10-09 at 11.01.53.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: Facebook.</span></span></span>Finally, <a href="https://mappingimmigrationcontroversy.com/findings/">the study we conducted revealed re/newed forms of community activism at play</a>. People who had never been political or never marched, took to the streets and protested against the vans, the raids and the profiling being done both in London and throughout the UK. Such community-driven activism was a key element of the action against the Windrush scandal (for example, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/walesweare1/">Wales Solidarity with the Windrush Generation and their Families</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/179074649417770/">Bristol Solidarity with the Windrush Generation and their Families</a>) and a UK <a href="https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/216539">Government petition for amnesty</a> for anyone who was a minor that arrived in Britain between 1948 and 1971. The petition garnered 179,952 signatures, and the outcome of the subsequent debate was that “the Government is clear that an amnesty for this group is not required because these people do not require amnesty: they already have the right to remain here”.&nbsp; </p><h2><strong>Letter 4: July 12, 2018</strong></h2> <p>Last night the English football team lost a semi-final game in the World Cup. Apparently, this was the <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-44804428">most-watched</a> television event in the UK since the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympic Games in 2012. In the days preceding the game, national media seemed to be entirely taken over by it – almost every guest on Radio 4’s Today programme was asked about the game, from the Colombian ambassador to (many) childhood friends of Gareth Southgate, the team’s manager. <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b85m5n">Three times</a> in just <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06cyh2f">over a week</a>, <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b90pr8">I heard the BBC’s</a> lead political journalists interviewing English guests with partners from other countries about which team they or their children would support in the World Cup as they watched it at home (‘will you need to be in separate rooms?’). Each time it was treated jovially and amicably but why was this reminder of the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2004/jan/08/britishidentity.race">Tebbit Test</a> even relevant in what <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/07/gareth-southgate-england-team-optismism-diversity">Southgate himself described</a> as a diverse ‘modern England’ represented by his team?</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-37518156.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37518156.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'>Gareth Southgate and Ashley Young after the FIFA World Cup semi-final, July 12, 2018. Elmar Kremser/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Stuart Hall wrote of a<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2012/feb/11/saturday-interview-stuart-hall"> ‘multicultural drift’</a> in Britain. Rather than a deliberate policy of ‘multiculturalism’ (such policies incidentally never having existed in the UK at a national level, despite the frequent announcement of their failure), multicultural drift describes how it simply became normal, boring even, to live with people who looked different or came from different parts of the world. And this was represented nowhere more prominently than in the London 2012 Olympics <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4As0e4de-rI">Opening Ceremony</a>, that televisual event even bigger than the World Cup semi-final, which featured, among other things, workers’ political resistance, suffragettes, the NHS – and Empire Windrush representing the arrival of Commonwealth citizens from the Caribbean as central to British history and identity. </p><p>This triumph of spectacular conviviality and an alternative set of ‘British values’ (of struggle, change, and interconnection) to those announced by government as under threat, was followed only a year later by the wake-up call of the <a href="https://mappingimmigrationcontroversy.com/about/">Go Home van</a>. </p> <p>Outside the level of spectacular communications, entrenchment of immigration controls in law and institutional practice and indefinite detention for administrative infractions continued. While Britain had become increasingly cosmopolitan – in its dictionary definition of ‘familiar with and at ease in many different countries and cultures’, it had simultaneously become more fearful, and this was embodied nowhere more clearly than in the performance of Home Secretary/Prime Minister <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-mein-kampf-adolf-hitler-nazi-vince-cable-liberal-democrat-conservatives-a7825381.html">Theresa May</a>.</p> <p>This July 2018 week’s news seems emblematic of where we are, five years on from the Go Home van, two years from the Brexit vote. In Westminster and in the media establishment there is a consensus that ‘the people’ voted for Brexit – and in doing so, rejected both internationalism and migrants – though the result was in fact a very slender majority of what was basically a 50/50 split, and was followed by the 2017 general election which resulted in a minority government, now dependent on Northern Irish DUP votes while the Northern Irish border has emerged as one of the most intractable – and for some reason, completely unanticipated – questions about how Brexit could work. </p> <p>Scotland did not vote in a majority for Brexit, and the First Minister continues to press for a <a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/nicola-sturgeon-scotland-independence-vote-brexit-clarity/">further independence referendum</a> in the light of Brexit negotiations. There is less than a year until the UK leaves the EU and apparent constitutional chaos, as only this week did ‘a plan’ emerge, immediately followed by the resignation of both the Brexit Secretary and the Foreign Secretary. But never mind, perhaps football would be ‘<a href="https://www.thesun.co.uk/world-cup-2018/6750454/its-coming-home-mean-three-lions-released-baddiel-skinner-the-lightning-seeds-song-about/">coming home</a>’ (to England, whose media often forgets it is only part of the Britain being riven by Brexit). <span class="mag-quote-center">What seems to be ‘coming home,’ aside from the defeated team, are the reverberations of Britain’s colonial history.</span></p> <p>What seems to be ‘coming home,’ aside from the defeated team, are the reverberations of Britain’s colonial history. This can be understood as what Paul Gilroy has termed ‘<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/jan/18/britishidentity.monarchy">postcolonial melancholia</a>,’ the failure to properly contemplate the real history of empire’s cruelties and loss. The result is a persistent illusion that ‘greatness’ is a birthright of ‘the British’ – and when this greatness is not delivered for the majority of the population, a feeling of being cheated which tends to be directed at the ‘un-British’. In recent politics, this has been channelled into the problems of capitalist scarcity and competition, re-enforced by austerity policies, being blamed on the shadowy figure of ‘immigration’. This is also a gendered melancholia, one expression of it exploding after World Cup defeats in increased <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/shocking-domestic-violence-campaign-warns-incidences-rise-during-the-world-cup_uk_5b45c3bee4b07aea7545ac0a?guccounter=1">domestic violence</a>.</p> <p>It is notable that in his resignation letter, the Foreign Secretary claimed that the current Brexit ‘plan’ means the UK is ‘truly <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-44772804">headed for the status of colony</a> – and many will struggle to see the economic or political advantages of that particular arrangement’. No irony was signalled from this man whose own plans for post-Brexit Britain apparently included an ‘Empire 2.0’ in which Britain would be ‘<a href="https://www.voanews.com/a/britain-africa-trade/3834549.html">re-entering the Commonwealth</a>’. There is no recognition from this self-styled ‘<a href="https://www.newstatesman.com/books/2014/11/one-man-who-made-history-another-who-seems-just-make-it-boris-churchill">historian’</a> that Britain’s prosperity has been entwined with that of Commonwealth countries and their populations since British forces invaded and colonised swathes of the world. Britain (not just the English football team) would not exist in its current form without the violent histories of colonisation and resistance to it. But the British Empire is no more – and it is not for the former Foreign Secretary to grant permission to ‘enter’ or ‘leave’ those territories; Britain has to get used to asking for permission to enter others’ homes, rather than simply taking away others’ permission to enter Britain.</p> <p>The failure to re-imagine the various meanings of ‘home’ and how home might be shared rather than owned or controlled, lie at the heart of the politics of contradictory nationalism which are now playing out. </p> <p>Today, the ubiquitous white flag crossed with blood-red is being forlornly removed from cars, shops, houses and bodies; the over-excited news anchors might remember that there is more to Britain than England (never mind football); the replacement Brexit and Foreign Secretaries will have to resume negotiating a reality in which ‘the public’ apparently want to control where non-Brits call home but maintain their own rights to free movement and trade. The World Cup will remain out in The World. And the idea of Britain as home seems increasingly narrow for all of us who live here and make it home, including those many of us who thought that being part of the world was a good thing, that it was possible to make a home without bricking up all the doors, and that part of doing so might lie in recognising and understanding both the mistakes and triumphs of the past.</p> <h2><strong>Letter 5: September 5, 2018</strong></h2> <p>Picking up this chain letter at the end of the summer, the World Cup feels like a long time ago. A brief moment of national euphoria (for some) before a return to the realities of pre-Brexit Britain. </p> <p>I am struck by the comment at the end of the last entry that ‘the idea of Britain as home seems increasingly narrow for all of us who live here and make it home’. The Go Home vans were both a symbol and a mechanism of this contraction. This has made me think about the question, if we were doing the project now, what would be our focus? <span class="mag-quote-center">‘The idea of Britain as home seems increasingly narrow for all of us who live here and make it home’</span></p> <p>It does seem that there has been a move away from the spectacular performance politics of the vans and the #immigrationoffender Home Office tweets, but the heightened visibility of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/nira-yuval-davis-georgie-wemyss-kathryn-cassidy/changing-racialized-common-sense-of-everyday-bord">everyday bordering</a> continues. </p> <p>I have seen signs in hospital waiting rooms this summer about NHS treatment not being available for everyone. The creeping normality of these kinds of signs in public and the interactions that go with them between doctor and patient, landlord and potential tenant, university administrator and student continue to unfold. The hostile environment becoming everyday is different to the jolt produced by the vans. As an earlier post on this chain letter pointed out, in our research we found that people were largely accepting of these everyday forms of bordering (as opposed to those they saw as being based on racial profiling). Given the shift in the centre ground of politics highlighted in the last entry on this letter, perhaps the Home Office are just running with this seemingly more palatable bordering and the theatrics encapsulated by the vans are no longer necessary or useful for them? </p> <p>Whether the Windrush scandal and the exposure of the violence of this more ‘quiet’ bordering means a rupture in public consent remains to be seen, but public anger certainly seems to have lessened over the summer since we began this exchange. It would be interesting to repeat our survey and find out how people feel about these various forms of bordering, five years on, after the referendum and Windrush. Meanwhile, the language of ‘go home’ continues to feature in many reports of <a href="https://www.lbc.co.uk/radio/audio-video/cambridge-student-told-brexit-go-home-racist-row/">racist</a> and <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/eastern-europe-brexit_uk_5accc2f5e4b0152082fdd6c8?guccounter=1&amp;guce_referrer_us=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&amp;guce_referrer_cs=ToNJmTyfUw5TaIY3woMANg">xenophobic</a> abuse, post-referendum. And, Theresa May, who was the face of the hostile environment for so long, now appears to be trying to soften her image through displays of awkward dancing on overseas visits. Where to even start?</p> <p>If we were to pick up the project, reviving the local approach that we used would be vital. One of the strengths of our research was the ability to move from the national scale, through the survey, to close-up local case studies, through the interviews and focus groups that we conducted. So many pronouncements have been made on the level of the nation about living in these anti-immigration and post-referendum times, but to know how this impacts on people living in particular places, their sense of who belongs, their stability or precarity, taking a finely grained qualitative approach would be valuable. We formed partnerships with organisations working with those most impacted by the hostile environment. How have five more years of anti-immigration messaging impacted on the people they work with and indeed how are those groups faring after five more years of austerity? What do the policy makers that we spoke to think about the changing tactics of the Home Office over this five-year period?&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Letter 6: September 7, 2018</strong></h2> <p>The <a href="https://mappingimmigrationcontroversy.com/film/">film</a> that we commissioned for our project in March 2015 opens with a group of energetic and noisy women with megaphones. The women, facilitated by Southall Black Sisters (one of our civil society partners in the research), are disrupting an immigration raid in Southall in August 2013. What has always struck us about this clip is the chant, ‘Here to stay. Here to fight’. The same chant was used in pro-migrant campaigns in the 1970s and 80s and its use to challenge an Operation Vaken raid condenses over four decades of anti-racist feminist activism. Something about the recursive nature of racism, as well as anti-racist activism, is uncanny about this part of the film. Are we stuck in a political groundhog day? Have things got any better? Well, yes and no.</p> <p>In the beginning of 2018, we have started to see a more clandestine leaching of the hostile environment culture that we began to track five years ago, this time, through the illegalising of Britain’s cohort of post-war Caribbean labour migrants. An insidious feature of the diffuse violence of contemporary border regimes is that border strategies, tactics and devices are not simply <a href="https://www.dukeupress.edu/the-borders-of-europe">anticipatory and proactive</a>. As the public are now seeing, borders can also unfurl backwards in time. To put it another way, you can stay in place and through the on-going recalibration and whittling away of citizenship and residency rights, the border can move underneath you. In this case, through what <a href="https://www.lrb.co.uk/v40/n09/william-davies/weaponising-paperwork">Will Davies</a> has called the ‘weaponising of paperwork’. As we saw in 2013, some of complex border affects of hostile environment policies manifest in a creeping domesticated insecuritisation that can affect different minoritised groups. In an interview that <a href="https://mappingimmigrationcontroversy.com/2018/04/20/windrush-and-go-home-the-whittling-away-of-both-rights-and-responsibility/">Hannah Jones</a> did with a community worker in Bradford, she was told that third generation citizens of migrant heritage were asking ‘Are we going to be allowed to stay here?’ </p> <p>Although it is relatively easy to feel pessimistic about the normalisation of hostile environment policies, the recent Windrush cases have made visible the debilitating and slow-moving effects of British border regimes and their entanglement with racism. Dexter Bristol, who came to the UK aged eight in 1968 to join his mother, collapsed and died in the street from heart failure in March 2018. His mother <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/18/mother-of-windrush-citizen-blames-passport-problems-for-his-death">believed</a> his death was caused by the extreme stress he had been under for more than a year in trying to prove his immigration status. Bristol was sacked from his cleaning job in 2017 because he did not have a passport.&nbsp; He was not able to claim the benefits that he was entitled to because officials did not believe he was in the UK legally. He did not go to the NHS when his health started to deteriorate because he believed he had no right to health care. <span class="mag-quote-center">He did not go to the NHS when his health started to deteriorate because he believed he had no right to health care. </span></p> <p>The <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/aug/28/family-windrush-citizen-dexter-bristol-walk-out-inquest-death">coroner’s inquest</a> into Bristol’s death in August 2018 refused to make the Home Office an ‘interested party’ in the hearing, recording a verdict of death by natural causes. ‘He was prepared to fight but as the months went on and he was required to find more evidence it became very difficult’ immigration lawyer Jacqueline McKenzie said, ‘and we saw him just decline into a shadow of himself.’ For Sentina Bristol, Dexter’s mother, there was little doubt about the causes of her son’s death, ‘This is racism. He was the victim of their policies, and it is a tragedy. I’m hoping no one will go through what I’m going though now’. </p> <p>As we have pointed out, a key tenet of the political debate surrounding Operation Vaken included attempts by the government to separate out its hostile environment approach from racism. ‘It is not racist to ask people who are here illegally to leave Britain. It is merely telling them to comply with the law.’&nbsp; <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2381051/MARK-HARPER-Racism-It-racist-ask-people-illegally-leave-Britain.html">Mark Harper</a>, then immigration minister wrote in the Daily Mail, in reference to Vaken. ‘By no stretch of the rational imagination can it be described as “racist”.’ As <a href="https://www.libertyhumanrights.org.uk/news/blog/go-home-vans-nasty-racist-and-likely-unlawful">Bella Sankey</a> has countered, ‘When today’s Government barks “go home”, the phrase is not an abstract one… it’s rooted in the popular fascism of a darker period we hoped was behind us.’</p> <p>The legacy of this ‘darker period’ of British history has become more visible with the increase in anti-migrant feelings and racism following the June 2016 Brexit vote. In the month after Brexit, there was <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/brexit-hate-crimes-racism-eu-referendum-vote-attacks-increase-police-figures-official-a7358866.html">sharp rise</a> in ‘racially or religiously aggravated’ hate crime. As events have unfolded in the past five years there has been more dialogue about the relationships between xenophobia and racism and longer histories of British colonialism, English nationalism and the racialisation of distinctions between the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor. </p> <p>It is significant that much of the hostility whipped up by Vaken and Brexit has been on the terrain of health and welfare, with migrants being seen as a drain on national resources and a particular threat to the white working class. <a href="https://www.thepolicyspace.com.au/2017/11/182-beware-of-those-who-use-the-people-to-drive-through-brexit">Robbie Shilliam</a> has named these discursive associations as a ‘nationalisation of entitlement sentiment’, connected to ‘the historic dissolution, via the 1948 National Assistance Act, of the formal distinction between the deserving and underserving poor.’ He goes on to suggest that, ‘at the same time this distinction was informally racialized so as to place the homogenised deserving “<a href="http://wildcatdispatches.org/2016/11/28/lisa-tilley-the-making-of-the-white-working-class-where-fascist-resurgence-meets-leftist-white-anxiety/">white working class</a>” in opposition to undeserving “immigrants” from the “new” (i.e. majority coloured) Commonwealth countries.’ <span class="mag-quote-center">‘We are here because you were there…. We are the sugar at the bottom of the English cup of tea.’</span></p> <p>As well as challenging longstanding omissions in thinking race and class together, these types of analysis are reinvigorating discussions of migration. And in a variety of settings. Labour MP David Lammy’s fiery speeches on the devastating impact of the hostile environment on Windrush residents, mobilised Stuart Hall’s wide-ranging contributions on the connections between Caribbean migration and colonialism. ‘We are here because you were there…. We are the sugar at the bottom of the English cup of tea’, Lammy <a href="https://twitter.com/davidlammy/status/991375610093232131?lang=en">tweeted</a>.</p> <p>Perhaps the recursive is a vital and necessary part of political process of moving forward. </p> <h2><strong>Letter 7: September 11, 2018</strong></h2> <p>One rarely discussed aspect of response to the vans is the suggestion that they aped emotions and experiences unknown to the poster’s authors. Everything we learned about the escapade seems to confirm this view – it was most of all an attempt to both anticipate and echo a particular popular racist voice. To speak as if the elite is one with a racist populace. And in this, it was as convincing as Dick Van Dyke’s Disney cockneyisms and read as such, a mockingly disrespectful ventriloquism. </p> <p>Many British people may have wished that their neighbours would ‘go home’ and the aftermath of the EU referendum confirms this, including in the various attacks on Britons of colour. But that is another thing from having the rich and powerful put on their common voice to affirm ‘we ‘ate jonny foreigner, just like you oiks’. </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-38919996.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-38919996.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'>Theresa May dances as she arrives on stage to make her keynote speech at the Conservative Party annual conference, October, 2018. Stefan Rousseau/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Farage might have got away with this, just, as a marginal figure able to laugh at his own gaffes in the pub, but the instruments of the state cannot. If we accept that Brexit reveals not only the entrenched xenophobia of half of the electorate but also the exasperation with and distrust of big government, bureaucratic mechanisms and the accountability of supposedly democratic institutions, then the vans carry out their ill-fated local tours in the moment just before this and the response to them anticipates popular distrust in all and any pronouncements of the state. </p><p>We might consider the vans as one of the last moments when centrists believed that the rhetoric of the far right could be tamed and repurposed for their own electoral advantage. What has come since then is undoubtedly uncertain and potentially dangerous – giving greater space and attention to ‘real’ fascists – but it is also a crumbling of the practices and habits of violent and violating state racism that were shared by centre-left and centre-right. Since the Windrush scandal, this has not been sustainable. Tory ministers have appeared on television to decry the terrible tragedy of these events, as if their government played no role in manufacturing these outcomes. Former ministers from the Blair era have become scathing critics of indefinite detention, as if such practices were not introduced under their watch. Suddenly, everyone wants to say how much they value Britain’s black communities and their contribution, much to the amusement of older members of the black community. <span class="mag-quote-center">Former ministers from the Blair era have become scathing critics of indefinite detention, as if such practices were not introduced under their watch.</span> The events of the last five years have whipped back the curtain, revealing the mechanisms and impacts of state racism for all to see. The consequence is to open political opportunities for both racists and anti-racists and to make the disguised racisms of the time just past appear opportunistic or inauthentic or just plain racist or, equally, perhaps not racist enough. It might be a dangerous moment but it is a moment when the old tricks of government cannot be repeated. And the undecidedness and uncertainty of now this minute demands that we adjust our responses and stretch to see the opportunities and also the extent of the new dangers. </p><h2><strong>Letter 8: September 11, 2018</strong></h2> <p>With the clock ticking on Britain’s membership of the European Union, Boris Johnson hurling out Islamophobic metaphors on a weekly basis in pursuit of Theresa May’s job, Tommy Robinson’s profile resurgent and constant news of nationalist successes from the continent, there are plenty of reasons to fear that the ‘Go Home’ vans of summer 2013 presaged a darker political future. </p> <p>The letters above make for largely sombre reading, eloquently articulating the fears and anxieties of the present juncture. But there remains Raymond Williams’s famous question of how we ‘make hope possible, rather than despair convincing.’ The answer may lie largely in the activism that the previous letters describe, and with which our project engaged. But what about the public and political mood more broadly? What signs are there that the fixation on immigration and ‘illegals’ is waning? </p> <p>While none of this is cause for complacency or rejoicing, there are glimmering signs that the explosive force of the Brexit referendum (which might yet result in economic depression and the break-up of the United Kingdom) represented a peak of nationalist resentment, rather than an accelerator of it. </p> <p>As Rob Ford has explored in <a href="https://medium.com/@robfordmancs/how-have-attitudes-to-immigration-changed-since-brexit-e37881f55530">numerous</a> <a href="https://medium.com/@robfordmancs/taking-back-control-fcd9f209c7ff">blogposts</a>, there is evidence in the British Social Attitudes surveys and elsewhere that the British public has become more sympathetic to immigration since June 2016, and that this isn’t simply because they believe there will be less of it or more control over it. The demographic trends are also pointing in this direction in the long-term, as younger generations favour a more open and tolerant society, not to mention a far more left-wing political economy. </p> <p>While Leave’s referendum victory may be the most decisive event of Britain’s post-war history, it was not (at least in terms of probability) the most surprising one of the past five years. Between March and June 2017, the Labour Party rose from around 28% in the opinion polls to achieve 40% - an unprecedented turn around, that <a href="https://theconversation.com/broadcast-impartiality-rule-has-helped-labour-to-achieve-biggest-poll-shift-since-1945-78949">may well have been facilitated by</a> regulations on broadcasting impartiality during election seasons. Crucially, this involved turning around strongly pro-Leave regions (such as the Welsh Valleys), who had been drifting towards Tories, but without having to ‘talk tough’ on immigration in the process. Astonishingly, Corbyn publicly linked the two terror attacks during the election campaign season to Britain’s foreign policy (a kind of truth that was presumed politically suicidal), only for polls to show considerable public support for his analysis. </p> <p>The second letter in this chain asks if the Windrush scandal, combined with the Grenfell Tower tragedy, might become ‘one trigger… for an alternative progressive populism’. Certainly, these harrowing news stories have created the personalised biographies, family stories and affective communities that are so powerful in shaping public sympathies. The risk remains that by particularising ‘immigration’ as an issue, the division between the ‘deserving’ and the ‘undeserving’ immigrant becomes entrenched, as if Windrush families and recent Syrian refugees are completely different political issues. </p> <p>But I think we can at least say that if some equivalent to the ‘Go Home’ vans was being discussed in a Home Office communications meeting tomorrow, that the risk of offending public sensibilities would now be too great for the idea to go any further. I agree with the diagnosis above that the vans have become a ’symbol of poor judgement’. This is marginal progress, but we should appreciate the fact that the state has lost confidence in a resolutely anti-immigration rhetoric. Meanwhile, Paul Dacre will step down as editor of <em>The Daily Mail</em> in November, and who knows what political and cultural possibilities might be opened up as a result? <span class="mag-quote-center">Paul Dacre will step down as editor of <em>The Daily Mail</em> in November, and who knows what political and cultural possibilities might be opened up as a result?</span></p> <p>When we began the project five years ago, we did so out of horror that a Whitehall department had signed off on an experiment that repeated the rhetoric of the far right. As we looked more closely at that department, signs emerged of a bureaucratic culture that was more concerned with fire-fighting, reputation management and tracking public attitudes than it was in dealing in facts. In that sense, we caught a glimmer of a style of politics that has spread rapidly in the years since. </p> <p>But to some extent, the upheavals of Brexit and Windrush serve as a reality check, and the quest to <em>appear</em> tough, <em>perform</em> toughness cannot carry on being ratcheted up indefinitely, especially as the real injuries of the ‘hostile environment’ become plain. </p> <p>The anxiety is that, <em>beyond</em> the limits of the state and newspapers, via online communication channels that have been too often overlooked, the actual far right has been thriving these past five years. Hope may lie in a nation that comes to terms with itself at long last – the ‘coming home’ of Britain’s colonial history that is mentioned in the fourth letter. The threat will then lie with those who are enraged by that home-coming, and insist that others should sooner ‘go home’ before <em>Britain</em> accepts any guilt. The slogan ‘go home!’ will have migrated back to its original context of brick walls, toilet doors and bus-shelters. </p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality Ideas International politics William Davies Kirsten Forkert Hannah Jones Roiyah Saltus Emma Jackson Sukhwant Dhaliwal Yasmin Gunaratnam Gargi Bhattacharyya Tue, 09 Oct 2018 13:11:00 +0000 Gargi Bhattacharyya, William Davies, Sukhwant Dhaliwal, Kirsten Forkert, Yasmin Gunaratnam, Emma Jackson, Hannah Jones and Roiyah Saltus 119996 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Our governments share responsibility for the Cambridge Analytica crisis… and here’s how they should fix it https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/emma-briant/our-governments-share-responsibility-for-cambridge-analytica-crisis-and-her <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Government must regulate before privatised military propaganda firms interfere with any more elections</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/Nix_2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Nix_2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="314" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Cambridge Analytica/SCL's Alexander Nix. Image, Sam Barnes. CC2.0</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">A series of whistleblowers, journalistic investigations and public inquiries this year have reinforced concerns academics like me have had for some time about the rapid development of highly manipulative communication technologies. As our online activities are increasingly monitored and monetized, and we are being made more vulnerable to powerful actors abusing data for propaganda targeting. </p><p dir="ltr">This is enabled by digital platforms and influence industry applications that consumers trust, and which obscure their central purpose as part of their business model. Following questions of manipulation during Brexit and Trump campaigns inquiries interrogated the respective roles of: the campaigns themselves; foreign actors such as Russia; digital media platforms; influence industry companies and their business models and methodologies. Now US Senator <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/385137394/MRW-Social-Media-Regulation-Proposals-Developed">Mark Warner</a> and the <a href="https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmcumeds/363/36302.htm">Fake News Inquiry</a> in the UK have come up with some helpful solutions for the problem of ‘fake news’ and digital campaign practices that may undermine democracy… how well do these address the problem at hand? Well, these proposals largely focus on: Information Operations (IO) and coordinated responses to Russia; privacy and transparency measures largely focused on encouraging better behavior from digital platforms like Facebook; and providing public media education. </p><p dir="ltr">The extent to which platforms like Facebook are complicit has been central to media debates, to the neglect of other aspects of the problem. Scholarly proposals rightly emphasize a need to address the monopoly of these platforms. Some (Baron et al 2017; Freedman, 2018; Tambini, 2017, for example) say forcing data portability, whereby users are able to take their data to competitors, might reduce the monopoly power enjoyed by Facebook. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Privacy measures like GDPR and other measures aimed at platforms would certainly be helpful. However, a central question has been neglected by media and reports and yet is all the more urgent as we plan for upcoming elections in the UK and US – this concerns the influence industry and how government contracting helped create Cambridge Analytica and its parent company SCL. If UK and US responses are likely to include more propaganda or ‘information operations’ (IO), to counter Russia, it is unfortunate that both reports fail to address the fact the company central to the scandal emerged out of this kind of contracting work for US and UK governments and NATO. My <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/digital-culture-media-and-sport-committee/fake-news/written/84032.html">submission to the Fake News Inquiry</a> from my academic research helped expose this link and indicated problems which seem to be largely unaddressed by recent proposals. </p><p dir="ltr">Policymakers must consider whether oversight and intelligence mechanisms were adequate as they failed to identify or prevent a developing problem. We must write to them demanding they make these necessary changes to ensure there can be no recurring issues with another contractor. </p><h2 dir="ltr">Addressing Facebook’s Monopoly Power</h2><p dir="ltr">Many of those who best anticipated how powerfully ‘big data’ would transform ‘influence’, were those who saw it as an opportunity to be exploited for profit. The opaque and monopolistic business models of digital platforms have recently been scrutinized, highlighting the implications of data harvesting and misuse as well as consent and privacy issues. Solving this is vital to <a href="https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2018/07/facing-facebook-data-portability-and-interoperability-are-anti-monopoly-medicine">enabling data portability</a>, something unlikely to be successfully achieved if left to the goodwill of profit-orientated companies<a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0267323118790156?journalCode=ejca&amp;"> like Facebook</a>. Yet if we enable consumers to ‘be in control of’ their data and take it to competitors, we need to protect them too, to ensure we are not making them vulnerable to other companies like Cambridge Analytica, who may be keen to obtain and exploit their data in further unethical ways. And digital ‘whack-a-mole’ banning of particular techniques, or dropping of companies as they are exposed in the media would leave us falling short of responding to complex multi-layered adaptive manipulation and or preventing problems as a fast-moving industry develops. We must address a problem not just of social media companies, but of an influence industry with deeply concerning norms. </p><h2 dir="ltr">Unaddressed problems in the influence industry</h2><p dir="ltr">These companies grew not just from political campaigning and commercial advertising, but some emerged through our own governments’ information warfare. There has long been a revolving door between military and intelligence and private influence industries. PR companies, and wider cultural industries have frequently been involved in wartime propaganda which raises problems itself. Particularly as defense and intelligence methodologies increase in sophistication, we must take more seriously the risk of knowledge migrating the other way, into commercial and electoral campaigning.</p><p dir="ltr">Specific training and/or knowledge formally or informally acquired in a military or intelligence context could include: disinformation and deception techniques; methods used to demoralize an enemy; methods of harnessing psychological weaknesses or violent tendencies within a population or group; methods for influencing extremists, or increasing or decreasing inter- and intra-group tensions; techniques and specialist knowledge about surveillance and hacking; all of which many would recognize would be inappropriate knowledge to risk having among teams handling election campaigns if we wish to prioritize the protection of democracy. </p><p dir="ltr">The inquiries and journalistic investigations have raised concerns about relationships between a defense contractor, SCL, and Cambridge Analytica, who ran political campaigns; concerns included possible data, financial and staffing overlaps with some staff on defense projects working on political campaigns, and questions of whether defense-derived methodologies or possible hacking may have been used in political campaigns. It cannot be left to individuals’ personal integrity, it raises too great a level of risk. And it can be hard for people to speak out, particularly in the light of silencing and monitoring strategies of governments within national security.</p><p dir="ltr">It is vital governments not shy away from considering how companies seek to adapt services developed for defense beyond that domain, for example by adapting a business model or company structure to obscure what they do in lucrative political campaigns. SCL were a government contractor who developed their methodology through their own research facility, the ‘Behavioural Dynamics Institute’ (BDI), including through collaboration with US government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) (<a href="https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/digital-culture-media-and-sport-committee/news/fake-news-briant-evidence-17-19/">Briant, 2018</a>; <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/digital-culture-media-and-sport-committee/fake-news/written/81874.html">Wylie, 2018a</a>). All SCL Group companies could draw on the methodologies developed. If these may have been able to inform tactics deployed in democratic elections this is very serious. </p><p dir="ltr">In <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/digital-culture-media-and-sport-committee/fake-news/oral/81592.pdf">her Fake News Inquiry testimony</a> Brittany Kaiser, former Development Manager for Cambridge Analytica revealed that: </p><p dir="ltr">“I found documents from Nigel Oakes, the co-founder of the SCL Group, who was in charge of our defence division, stating that the target audience analysis methodology, TAA, used to be export controlled by the British government. That would mean that the methodology was considered a weapon — weapons grade communications tactics — which means that we had to tell the British government if that was going to be deployed in another country outside the United Kingdom. I understand that designation was removed in 2015.” The potential for defense-derived methods and knowledge to be commercially sold in other industries raises further risks to national security, as techniques could migrate abroad. Concern was raised by whistleblowers over Cambridge Analytica’s pitches to Lukoil, a Russian FSB-connected oil company, while SCL Group were delivering counter-Russian propaganda training for NATO, that methods for both might be based on a similar methodological core and could be utilized by Russia. My own evidence indicates around the same time, Alexander Nix from CA contacted Julian Assange at Wikileaks about amplifying the release of damaging emails; the Russian government has been accused of the hacking of these, which it denies.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Oversight of defense</h2><p dir="ltr">CA and many SCL Group companies may have gone bankrupt now, but SCL Insight appears to remain and new companies are growing from their ashes (Auspex International, Emerdata and Datapropria for example – Datapropria, 2018; Murdock, 2018; Siegelman, 2018b). These companies are part of a wider industry we mustn’t lose sight of. </p><p dir="ltr">Proposals from politicians and media demand information warfare responses to Russia, but do not fully consider how to address the problems SCL highlighted in how this is overseen by government, or how intelligence and oversight might be strengthened to prevent future recurrence. It is important to ensure potential vulnerabilities that might have contributed to the crisis are addressed. Nigel Oakes, the CEO of defense contractor SCL Group <a href="https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/digital-culture-media-and-sport-committee/news/fake-news-briant-evidence-17-19/">said to me in interview</a>, “the defense people can't be seen to be getting involved in politics, and the State Department, they get very upset-” and stated that they imposed “strong lines” between the companies as a result. If the State Department had expressed concern, one might wonder if this could be due to the troublingly anti-democratic and potentially destabilizing roles CA played in international elections in Nigeria, Kenya and beyond. Oakes’ comments imply that the State Department may have been concerned that there was something to be ‘upset’ about in the conduct of, or relationships between, the companies. Oakes, the defense contractor, <a href="https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/digital-culture-media-and-sport-committee/news/fake-news-briant-evidence-17-19/">in interview with me</a>, stressed his importance to the methods underpinning what CA did in politics, saying that if Alexander Nix was “the Steve Jobs, I’m the Steve Wozniak. I’m sort of the guy who wants to get the engineering right and he’s the guy who wants to sell the flashy box. And he’s very good at it. And I admire him enormously for doing it. But I’m the guy who say, yeh, but without this you couldn’t do any of that!”. It is vital that US and UK governments, including research entities like DARPA who worked with BDI, build into private contracts more control over tools and weapons they help to create for information warfare.</p><p dir="ltr">The public also to know that networks of companies cannot obscure unethical practices, flows of data, financial interests or possible conflicts of interest with foreign powers – all concerns raised in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. On the question of related companies the UK Fake News Inquiry’s recent interim <a href="https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmcumeds/363/36302.htm">report states</a>:</p><p dir="ltr"> “We do not have the&nbsp;remit or the capacity to investigate these claims ourselves, but&nbsp;we urge the Government to ensure that the National Crime&nbsp;Agency thoroughly investigates these allegations.”&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">This sadly is beyond the current scope of the UK National Crime Agency and a UK Defence Select Committee Inquiry is needed to review this and why UK export control restrictions were removed. </p><h2 dir="ltr">What to do</h2><p dir="ltr">We need government to take action to address it. Investigations in both countries should ensure oversight is fully reviewed, particularly in relation to oversight of groups of companies, protection against commercial exposure of IO practices and migration into elections. Transparency in government contracting, stronger oversight and reporting mechanisms, and reforms in the industry such as licensing that could be revoked or fines set at a deterrent level that can prevent future scandals are essential in both countries. Transparency in the US could be improved by a reporting system for private companies equivalent to Companies House in the UK. There could also be penalties for defense contractors in each country found obscuring overlaps and company relationships. Strict regulation of the influence industry, or perhaps professional licensing that can be revoked on evidence of abuse, would not only protect citizens, it would give substance to a truthful narrative that would undermine Russian and other hostile narratives directed at democracies. And it would commercially protect the industry itself, creating a resulting ‘soft power’ economic benefit for industry and Western governments.</p><p dir="ltr">While Damian Collins MP of the UK Fake News Inquiry and Sen. Mark Warner are rightly cautious about government interventions regulating the media, improved oversight in the national security realm, electoral protections and licensing in the influence industry provide little threat to free speech, indeed unethical conduct in the influence industry could be argued to threaten free speech and democratic debate. Policymakers should ensure a) competition is enabled via data portability and b) influence industries are properly regulated, with enforced codes of conduct, professional licensing we see in other professions, and robust monitoring of companies and individuals beyond their contracts to ensure defense technologies are restricted and elections are protected. Preconditions for resolving this are of course greater transparency in the industry and may include dedicated monitoring by expert-led independent regulators and industry licensing bodies. This would actually strengthen an industry in which the absence of regulation has become unsustainable, threatening democracy and national security in this case. Current unethical practices can also be exploited by those wishing to spread narratives about the ‘corrupt West’ and weakness of democracy. The measures proposed above will together ensure that data portability produces competition and therefore innovation, and concurrently ensure that media consumers are not vulnerable to the actions of unethical companies. Democratic controls would strengthen public trust in democracy, help to protect and secure our elections and have a long term ‘soft power’ benefit for both countries. </p><p dir="ltr"><em>Bibliography</em></p><p dir="ltr">Baron, S; Crootof, R &amp; Gonzalez, A. (2017) <a href="https://law.yale.edu/system/files/area/center/isp/documents/fighting_fake_news_-_workshop_report.pdf">Fighting Fake News Workshop Report</a>, <a href="https://law.yale.edu/system/files/area/center/isp/documents/fighting_fake_news_-_workshop_report.pdf">Yale University</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">Datapropria (2018) ‘Data and Behavioral Science Experts’ Datapropria.com </p><p dir="ltr">Kaiser, Brittany (2018) <a href="blank">Oral Evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee: Fake News, HC363</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Freedman, D (2018) <a href="blank">'Populism and media policy failure'</a> in European Journal of Communication: journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0267323118790156?journalCode=ejca&amp;</p><p dir="ltr">Murdock, Jason (2018) What is Emerdata? As Cambridge Analytica Shuts, Directors Surface in New Firm <a href="https://www.newsweek.com/what-emerdata-scl-group-executives-flee-new-firm-and-its-registered-office-909334">in Newsweek</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Siegelman, W (2018b) '<a href="https://medium.com/@wsiegelman/theyre-back-ex-cambridge-analytica-employees-launch-auspex-international-to-focus-on-social-and-aa51a0ab6fca">They’re Back: Ex-Cambridge Analytica employees launch Auspex International to focus on social and political campaigns in the Middle East and Africa'</a> in <a href="https://medium.com/@wsiegelman/theyre-back-ex-cambridge-analytica-employees-launch-auspex-international-to-focus-on-social-and-aa51a0ab6fca">Medium</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Tambini, D (2017) <a href="blank">Media Policy Brief 20 Fake News: Public Policy Responses</a>, LSE Media Policy Project: &nbsp;&nbsp;eprints.lse.ac.uk/73015/1/LSE%20MPP%20Policy%20Brief%2020%20-%20Fake%20news_final.pdf</p><p dir="ltr">Wylie, C (2018a) ‘<a href="blank">A response to Misstatements in relation to Cambridge Analytica’</a>, <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/digital-culture-media-and-sport-committee/fake-news/written/81874.html">Supplementary written evidence published by Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee</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="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/cambridge-analytica-is-what-happens-when-you-privatise-military-propaganda">Cambridge Analytica is what happens when you privatise military propaganda</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/nathan-oxle/cambridge-analytica-hacked-our-social-lives-to-win-elections-but-more-is-at-stake-than-v">Cambridge Analytica hacked our social lives to win elections - but more is at stake than votes</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/marcus-gilroy-ware/cambridge-analytica-outrage-is-real-story">Cambridge Analytica: the outrage is the real story</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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk digitaLiberties Can Europe make it? uk DUP Dark Money Brexit Inc. Emma L Briant Tue, 09 Oct 2018 07:16:24 +0000 Emma L Briant 119983 at https://www.opendemocracy.net On the failures of western-Russia policies and what to do about them https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/torgeir-e-fj-rtoft/on-failures-of-western-russia-policies-and-what-to-do-about-th <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Europe must disengage from US policy, initiating a comprehensive political process patterned on the common security tenets agreed at the 1975 Helsinki Summit, comprising the protection of individuals as citizens. </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-Finlandia-talo_ulkisivu_itapuolelta_east_side_facade_Photo_Rauno_Traskelin.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/1024px-Finlandia-talo_ulkisivu_itapuolelta_east_side_facade_Photo_Rauno_Traskelin.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'>Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, the venue for the Helsinki Accords conference, 1975. Wikicommons/Finlandia-talo. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>The analyses of international relations need to understand cause and effect between as well as within countries. Out of the political polarization and looming chaos of current domestic politics in the US and in some European countries grows a dangerous distortion of foreign policy. Western-Russia policy now primarily revolves around western, especially US, domestic politics, not a tough look at security and what it actually takes to become more secure. The consequence is deteriorating security for all states. How is this so and how could it change? </p> <p>The following analysis I base on conversations with researchers and officials from Russia, but also Iran, Turkey Saudi Arabia, Israel and other countries – people whose voices rarely reach the ear of western policy makers. For their protection, I apply Chatham House rules. What they say may be quoted, but their identity not revealed. I therefore offer no more details.</p> <p>Their voices are important not because they are right. In my view, they are mostly not. They are important for the obvious reason that they offer us insight into how “the other side” sees the world. This we need to understand, because Russia and other states follow their own set of assumptions, their mental model of the world, not ours.<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> In our domestic politics, their views may not matter much, but in the complex reality of international relations that affects our security, their views are decisive. </p> <p>To understand how we can affect our future by our current choices, the past is all we have got. In <a href="https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/soren_kierkegaard_105030">the words</a> of the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, “life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”.</p> <p>This insight by the vintage Danish existentialist philosopher came to mind when, on the plane returning form a seminar at the university in Minsk, Belarus, I realized what the matter with current western policy is<em>.</em> The West is ‘<em>sleepwalking’,</em> the term denoting a failure of policies similar to the situation prior to World War 1.</p> <p>Christopher Clark coined this phrase and made it the title of his book on how all powers stumbled inadvertently into World War 1, through a series of mutually reinforcing misjudgments and misunderstandings. One source of misunderstanding, Clark points out, was precisely that apparent foreign policy statements were actually a domestic discourse,<a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a> &nbsp;as is the case today. </p> <h2><strong>Avoiding ‘sleepwalking’ in the Cuban Missile Crisis</strong></h2> <p>In other words, their real problem was not the adversaries’ intentions and political projects, but that all states lost control over events. This realization was to bear decisively on preventing nuclear war forty-eight years later. During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, President Kennedy read the bestseller, Barbara Tuchman’s book<a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a> on the same topic as Clark’s. She made him a lot more cautious in the dangerous brinksmanship of the US strategy to contain Soviet advances in the western hemisphere.<a href="#_ftn4">[4]</a> Her point was that as the European political crisis escalated in 1914, military strategies took precedence over diplomatic efforts to prevent war. The fears of war therefore became self-fulfilling.</p> <h2><strong>Problem Russia</strong></h2> <p>The confrontation now emerging over Syria, and Iraq, after the territorial elimination of the IS Caliphate is serious cause for concern for much the same reasons. The current situation bears some ominous resemblance to the Europe described by Clark and Tuchman. </p> <p>Then as now, Russian moves set events in motion. In 1914, the ill-advised and internally disputed Russian mobilization, intended as a response to perceived threats, ignited a chain reaction among other states’ mobilization plans that inexorably led to all-out war. These plans all had the purpose to deter and if need be defeat attack; in other words, they were defensive.&nbsp; Then, as now in the current confrontation, the risk is being overlooked that fear of war can lead to war through just two wholly <em>defensive</em> measures: <em>preemptive strike</em>, destroying a threat before it can destroy you,<a href="#_ftn5">[5]</a> and <em>strategic depth,</em> if you have to fight, you do it on somebody else’s territory to spare your own.<a href="#_ftn6">[6]</a> </p> <p>In the Middle East now, the effects of the current Russian military posture are contradictory. On the one hand, Russia has combined its military support of Assad’s regime with a regional diplomacy to establish working relationships with all the regional powers now in volatile confrontation over Syria.<a href="#_ftn7">[7]</a> In this sense, Russia’s policies in the Middle East stand in stark contrast to the confrontational policies in Europe. </p> <p>In stark contrast to the European scenario, in the Middle East Russia is now the power in the best position to broker a new regional political order. On the other hand, by teaming up with Iran to prop up a universally despised dictator in defiance of all the western and regional powers, Russia isolates itself while its military power projection entails serious risks, with Russian and western forces operating on different sides in a chaotic war. In the absence of a climate of political dialogue<a href="#_ftn8">[8]</a> over crisis management, violent incidents in Syria could conceivably escalate into Europe, exposing to grave danger people caught in the middle. Could the current political fault line in Europe turn into a front line? </p> <p>My friends in Belarus come to mind. They now watch how Russia’s political confrontation with the west affects them by limiting their space for cooperative relations with the rest of Europe, thanks to EU reactions the Belarusians find unjustified. They even fear what further aggravation of tensions could bring. With their soil drenched in the blood of millions of victims of war and political violence, they formed part of what Timothy Snyder has termed <em>the killing fields </em>of the 1930s and ’40s.<a href="#_ftn9">[9]</a> With about 27 % of their territory affected by radioactive fall-out from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in 1986, they are involuntary experts on the unacceptable risks of any nuclear arms strategy, now brought ominously close by new short-range Russian missiles presumably under the control of frontline commanders.<a href="#_ftn10">[10]</a></p> <h2><strong>‘Sleepwalking’ West</strong></h2> <p>In response to these Russian policies, the west is ‘sleepwalking’. Western policy goals are invariably regional political arrangements accommodating western security interests and ideas of democracy and human rights. So far, this has invariably failed; hence, western strategy should change. Political decisions are applied analyses. Therefore, when decisions fail to produce the intended result, the reason is that the analyses are wrong, or at least inadequate. &nbsp;</p> <p>To explain Russia’s seemingly expansive foreign policy in the Ukraine and Syria, there are two predominant western narratives about Russia’s military projection, one now largely forgotten: </p> <ul><li>- Putin needs the west, and especially NATO, as an external enemy to deflect the seething rage of his constituents suffering the dire effects of his domestic political failures. </li><li>- Putin is obsessed by rivalry with the United States to heal the blows to Russian identity after the humiliations following the end of the Cold War. He now even wants to overtake both in overall military posture, in the ability to affect domestic political processes in other countries, and in the regional conflicts.</li></ul> <p>These narratives now drive western policies of rhetorical confrontation, sanctions and budding rearmament. Since its inherent disposition drives Russian policies, there is no room for political engagement through dialogue. In fact, any western attempt to show good will may make matters worse by feeding Russian illusions that their power projection works. In these narratives, Putin is a sinister figure. In the KGB during the Cold War, he honed his skills as a cunning manipulator of gullible westerners, like me, who now find political dialogue more important than ever. </p> <p>There are two serious problems with these now predominant narratives. First, they offer no solution to either side, at best a tenuous balance via a stalemate. Second, the last time similar narratives led to almost identical responses, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, they proved extremely dangerous, in 1983 unwittingly bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war through misunderstanding and misjudgment.<a href="#_ftn11">[11]</a>&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>The alternative narrative regarding Russia</strong></h2> <p>The third western narrative about Russian polices is that their current anti-western strategies are a predictable response to western policy misjudgments, especially the expansion of NATO in blatant contravention of assurances to the contrary. This expansion of NATO, in the Russian perception, is aggravated by US and NATO persistence in pursuing ballistic missile defense in defiance of Russian concerns about the implications for nuclear deterrence,<a href="#_ftn12">[12]</a>and their abhorrence of the western idea of forced regime change because of the ensuing chaos in Iraq and Libya, a trajectory they intervened in to prevent in Syria.<a href="#_ftn13">[13]</a></p> <p>This is the narrative of a shrinking pool of professionals, like myself, whose formative experience was the unexpected end of the Cold War and its sadly mismanaged aftermath. Former US Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, in his book<em> My Journey on the Nuclear Brink,</em> sets out a thorough argument for this view, analyzing his own experiences in various policy-making capacities.<a href="#_ftn14">[14]</a></p> <p>In this narrative, Russian military projection may appear more understandable, but certainly no less dangerous. The smart response, however, is to engage in a political dialogue. The goal of this dialogue is political partnership, a return to the immediate post-Cold War sense of joint interest, a promising development derailed by political misjudgment. The most pressing issue for such a political dialogue is now over a post-conflict political order in the Middle East, especially to prevent possible inadvertent clashes in Syria from spilling over to Europe. The last significant case of Russian US partnership was the cooperation in 2013 to remove Syrian chemical arms, which President Obama <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/04/the-obama-doctrine/471525/">rightly claims</a> as a major foreign policy achievement. &nbsp;<span class="mag-quote-center">The last significant case of Russian US partnership was the cooperation in 2013 to remove Syrian chemical arms, which President Obama rightly claims as a major foreign policy achievement. </span></p> <h2><strong>Europe must disengage from dangerous US policy </strong></h2> <p>Unfortunately, current western strategy, as set out most authoritatively and exhaustively in the <a href="http://www.centcom.mil/ABOUT-US/POSTURE-STATEMENT/">Posture Statement</a> by the US Central Command, if taken at face value, seems to accept the risk of new military confrontations. This strategy foresees changing by projecting military force the policies of three other major powers, not only Russia but also Iran and Turkey. </p> <p>In this strategy, local allies, for all practical purposes Kurds, shall muster the necessary military force. Pursuant to this strategy, the NATO ally Turkey becomes an adversary imperative to contain in its deeply rooted threat perception of the current US main ally in military operations. The source of this Turkish animosity is of course the internal rifts with the Kurds in Turkey that Turkish authorities have gravely mismanaged. To make matters worse seen from the Turkish perspective, the Kurdish forces that the Posture Statement sees as allies are aligned with the Syrian offspring of the vintage militant resistance movement against Turkish rule over Kurds, the PKK. Turkey argues that up until the point US strategy found their Syrian branch useful, the PKK was universally considered a terrorist organization, albeit with a recent record of political dialogue with President Erdogan until he broke it off.<a href="#_ftn15">[15]</a> </p> <p>Iran, the Posture Statement portrays as the omnipresent adversary necessary to contain by force to solve the regional conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. This description ignores the complex internal factionalized power struggle in Iran in which the faction behind Iran’s operations in regional conflicts, the Revolutionary Guard’s arm for foreign operations, the Quds force, is but one among several. As a case in point, the Revolutionary Guard supported a different candidate for President than the incumbent. </p> <p>A relevant analogy to understand how an internal factionalized power struggle affects the foreign policy of a state like Iran is Ian Kershaw’s analyses of Japan on the eve of World War II. He designates the political system of Japan a <em>factionalized authoritarianism.</em><a href="#_ftn16">[16]</a> The leadership was unable to overcome strong internal pressure groups, which led to fateful policy mistakes to counter crippling sanctions that had the unintended consequences of precipitating territorial expansion for alternative sources of supply, and preemptive attack on US forces in Pearl Harbor. In Iran, the Revolutionary Guard has a similar role as the nationalistic officers in an Imperial Japan.&nbsp;</p> <p>A rule of thumb is that confrontation strengthens the internal position of such forces while dialogue and cooperation increases the internal advantage of their domestic rivals more amenable to cooperation across fault lines in joint interest. By implication, a more effective US strategy than the confrontational approach set out in the Posture Statement would be to deliver on the Iranian expectations. They thought their compromise in the agreement to eliminate the option of nuclear arms in their nuclear program should ease trade and foreign investment.</p> <p>The Posture Statement also ignores the complexities of Iranian motives. Their foreign operations may not be a revolutionary project as much as self-defense against anti-Shia Sunni extremism and terrorism as well as a fear of the imposed regime change they most recently saw in Libya.&nbsp; The “Shia Crescent” from Iraq to Lebanon can also be a “strategic depth” to keep imagined and real enemies away from their borders.<a href="#_ftn17">[17]</a> This is a misjudgment, of course, and self-defeating, a course of action that by provoking fear precipitates countermoves that in their turn Iranians perceive as a threat. By way of example, the Posture Statement is, for all its misjudgments and distortions, a serious problem for Iranians, regardless of faction.</p> <p>However, whatever the Posture Statement’s reservations about Turkey and Iran, a regional political solution, including Kurdish polities in Syria and Iraq, is not feasible without their cooperation. Put differently, under the constraints imposed by the current circumstances, the regional political solution that is the goal of the Posture Statement is what Turkey and Iran can agree, Saudi Arabia and Israel can accept, and Russia can facilitate. <span class="mag-quote-center">The regional political solution that is the goal of the Posture Statement is what Turkey and Iran can agree, Saudi Arabia and Israel can accept, and Russia can facilitate. </span></p> <h2><strong>Projected binaries. With us or against us.</strong></h2> <p>As of now, US and western strategy in the Middle East, as set out in the Posture Statement, is far from this realism. Its upbeat tenor cannot change the fact that it that it undermines the only feasible option, to invite dialogue across the faultlines with the goal of partnership in spite of differences. </p> <p>To the contrary, the Posture Statement simplifies and distorts complex and dynamic political conflicts to maintain a clear-cut division of friend and adversary, right or wrong. This works well as domestic political discourse, but invites disaster as a foreign policy strategy. For these reasons, the Posture Statement, taken at face value, is both unrealistic and dangerous. With Clark’s and Tuchman’s analyses of the ‘sleepwalking’ prelude to World War 1 in mind, it reminds me of the infamous strategies and entanglements of European countries that worked only until implemented, when they failed their purpose and instead produced a disaster. </p> <p>Therefore, a pressing European agenda is to disengage from the US Middle East policy as set out in the Posture Statement and initiate a much more effective political process towards a post-conflict political order in the Middle East with Russia, along with the regional powers now engaged in proxy wars, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel. </p> <h2><strong>Idealism, realism, optimism</strong></h2> <p>Such an engagement with Russia will not be easy, as relationships have evolved away from the nascent partnership. It takes a rare combination of idealism, realism and optimism. The German statesman and Social Democratic leader Willy Brandt comes to mind. The combination of idealism, realism and optimism was a hallmark of his personality. His most recent biographer, the veteran German journalist Peter Merseberger, tells the story of his dramatic, at times dangerous life and herculean political effort that only succeeded after years of persistent effort.<a href="#_ftn18">[18]</a> He fled Nazi Germany as a leftist revolutionary for Norway and then Sweden, an experience that turned him into a modern Social Democrat. With his close advisor and operative Egon Bahr he managed to change first the unrealistic irredentist German foreign policy and then Soviet foreign policy to make Europe a more secure place and people’s lives easier. </p><p>Their persistent long-term strategy led eventually to the Helsinki Summit in 1975. There all European states with the Soviet Union, the US and Canada agreed on principles that may be summed up, in the words of the Palme Commission in 1982, in which Egon Bahr was a member, as <em><a href="https://www.foreignaffairs.com/reviews/capsule-review/1982-09-01/common-security-blueprint-survival">common security</a></em> in the sense that, for all its shortcomings and imperfections, all states felt more secure thanks to the agreement. </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-17308669.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-17308669.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'>Chancellor Willy Brandt talks to Egon Bahr, in June, 1972.SVEN SIMON/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>This was not to last. Only four years after the Helsinki Summit in 1975, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 provoked the west to resort to much the same reactions as today against Russia’s irredentist policies in the Ukraine. Not only are these cases of Russian territorial expansion unacceptable by universally agreed standards for state behavior: they are grave policy mistakes for their unintended consequences. The costs of confrontation with the west, sanctions, boycotts, and countervailing rearmament, come on top of the strong resentment generated by the appearance of scheming, interference, manipulation of social media, conniving with European anti-democratic populists, and overt violence in Eastern Ukraine. As a result of such Russian blunders, domestic political discourse in western countries too easily taints with suspicion any attempt, such as mine here, to enter into a dialogue in the current climate. <span class="mag-quote-center">As a result of such Russian blunders, domestic political discourse in western countries too easily taints with suspicion any attempt to enter into a dialogue in the current climate.</span></p> <p>The full implication of this Russian error is now evident in northern Norway, in the border region to Russia, Finmark. A strong local affinity for their Russian neighbors after the Red Army liberated them from Nazi Rule and then withdrew, has been reinforced by current cross-border contacts and cooperation. As a result, politicians in the region now pressure the Norwegian Government to maintain friendly relations and defy calls for political confrontation. They have invited Germany’s Chancellor Merkel and Russia’s President Putin to join them in their celebration of the anniversary of the Red Army’s liberation during World War II. Had Russia conducted a policy in the Ukraine, the Baltic countries and Georgia that produced similar pressure groups for good neighborly relations in the regions bordering Russia, both Russia and the rest of Europe would have been much better off. Unfortunately, this is not so.</p> <p>The question is what to do about the current escalating political and military tensions? All parties now need a way out. A rule of thumb is that overt coercion is counterproductive because it makes compromises less feasible. Put differently, the only thing Putin cannot do about sanctions is to give in to them. He can appear conciliatory and reasonable, but not weak. On the other hand, unacceptable policies must not appear to succeed for lack of reaction, thus reinforcing a dysfunctional pattern. Neither confrontation nor accommodation work for us with Russia. With the obvious options unfeasible, for the third option we should revisit Willy Brandt’s and Egon Bahr’s successful policies for common security in the early 1970s. They followed certain superintendent policies that would work today with Russia: </p> <p>*&nbsp;&nbsp; Dialogue with Russia is not an alternative to a strong alliance between western democracies. It is the other way around. Dialogue will not work without the alliance, and the alliance will not provide security unless we balance force with political dialogue.<a href="#_ftn19">[19]</a></p><p>*&nbsp;&nbsp; Proposals will only work if all parties see they enhance their own security.<a href="#_ftn20">[20]</a></p><ul><li>*&nbsp;&nbsp; In discussing security, stick strictly to the issues. Do not raise other issues to try to persuade the other side that you are right and they are wrong.<a href="#_ftn21">[21]</a> </li></ul> <p>Many will reject these principles out hand for being either unrealistic in their optimism or naïve in expecting that they will not make the political climate more oppressive. The recent historical record does not bear these reservations out. </p> <p>While the recent confrontations may lead to a new round of nuclear rearmament, the climate of cooperation that persisted for some time following the end of the Cold War enabled the removal of Soviet nuclear arms from the new independent states, among them Belarus and, most significantly, the Ukraine.<a href="#_ftn22">[22]</a> It is also doubtful if confrontations as in 1979 and today are the most effective strategy to reverse the effects of unacceptable territorial expansion. To the contrary, with lower political tensions, the border issues may become more resolvable. The principle I have heard argued by a representative of the EU is that if borders are undisputed they can become permeable and thus lose their significance. </p> <h2><strong>The 1975 Helsinki Summit</strong></h2> <p>For the political process to become more effective than currently in the Middle East by competing western and Russian conveners, European conveners should model a comprehensive political initiative on the 1975 Helsinki Summit, the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe, comprising all concerned states. Now as then the political process should have interconnected sub-agendas of common security, economic cooperation and human rights. In fact, the older President Bush in the Middle East in the window-of-opportunity after the end of the Cold War initiated a multilateral process modelled on the European conference.<a href="#_ftn23">[23]</a> The reason this process soon foundered was that parties did not follow Willy Brandt’s and Egon Bahr’s principle of only putting forth proposals that all parties would see enhanced their security. Instead, the process became a lever for the parties to the conflicts to force the other side to accept their view. This does not work. </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-Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-P0801-026,_Helsinki,_KSZE-Konferenz,_Schlussakte.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-P0801-026,_Helsinki,_KSZE-Konferenz,_Schlussakte.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'>Helmut Schmidt, Erich Honecker, Gerald Ford and Bruno Kreisky at the Helsinki Summit, 1975. Wikicommons/ Horst Sturm, German federal Archives. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><span class="mag-quote-center">Instead, the process became a lever for the parties to the conflicts to force the other side to accept their view. This does not work. </span></p><h2><strong>Realistic political process </strong></h2> <p>A political process is realistic if based on the principles of Willy Brandt and Egon Bahr. Fortunately, the two predominant western narratives of Russia’s intentions, deflection of internal failure and superpower rivalry, is not born out by a recent joint report by a Russian and an Iranian think tank.<a href="#_ftn24">[24]</a> Quite the contrary. </p> <p>In this report, Russia and Iran share the western perception of the main threats: political chaos, extremism and terrorism. Even if they hold the US and the West responsible for the current threats, by expansion of military force and regime change, they agree that Washington is a necessary partner in establishing the new political order. They see the US as weakened, but still the most powerful state in the world.</p> <p>Significantly, the report also explicitly addresses the issues where Russia and Iran diverge. Specifically, Russia wants good relations with Iran’s defined enemies in the region: Israel, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States. In Syria Russia wants a secular state accommodating all religions and groups, not the current minority regime of Alevites supported by Iran. This shows that Russia positions itself as a broker of regional political agreements.</p> <h2><strong>The imperative, but difficult human rights agenda</strong></h2> <p>Unfortunately, in the Russian Iranian report the human rights agenda is missing, in particular the protection of the individual. In the polarization generated by conflict, confrontation and war, women and minorities have become especially vulnerable. We urgently need to develop a human rights discourse that will have as its effect to improve the protection of individuals. This takes some critical reconsidering of predominant assumptions.</p> <p>In the predominant post-Cold War narrative, the west managed to undermine its Eastern adversaries by imposing human rights on them. This narrative would, if applied to the current Middle East, effectively block an all-embracing political process. By contrast, the tenet of Willy Brandt and Egon Bahr not to challenge adversaries led to the actual improvement of human rights, if incrementally and gradually. </p> <p>In his analyses of European ethnic removal and genocide under Hitler and Stalin, Timothy Snyder shows that the most dangerous circumstances were caused by state destruction in areas in which Nazi and Soviet rule alternated in the course of conflict and war.<a href="#_ftn25">[25]</a> Snyder maintains that it was in areas where state authority disappeared that most people were forcefully removed or killed. He calls these especially vulnerable areas the <em>killing fields</em>.<a href="#_ftn26">[26]</a> </p> <p>Therefore, from these observations he infers that the state with the inherent individual status of <em>citizenship</em> provided the most effective protection for the individual against the risk of ethnic removal and genocide. Citizenship he defines as a <em>relationship between an individual and a sheltering polity.<a href="#_ftn27"><strong>[27]</strong></a> </em>He argues that even literally murderous dictatorships, such as Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, were better for the individual when the alternative was destruction of the state. </p> <p>Today, a critical look at some of the states that need to inform the political process that I now discuss shows that they all offer individuals a varying degree of protection as citizens. This protection, for all its obvious and very serious shortcomings, still by far exceeds the level of protection that Snyder found saved lives in Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet regime. Therefore, the protection of individuals as citizens by the various regimes should form the basis for the regional human rights agenda with the purpose to improve the actual situations towards democracy and human rights. </p> <h2><strong>Vintage conference diplomacy the solution</strong></h2> <p>This Russian-Iranian report shows that the west can engage adversarial states in a vintage process of negotiation to agree on a post-conflict political order, a tradition starting with the Westphalian Peace following the Thirty Years War,<a href="#_ftn28">[28]</a> to the Congress of Vienna following the Napoleonic Wars<a href="#_ftn29">[29]</a> to the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe during the Cold War.<a href="#_ftn30">[30]</a> </p> <p>The discourse of such negotiations persuades on two levels: the specific <em>denotation </em>of the words we employ, and their subtext of <em>connotation</em>, tapping into cultural, relational and emotional contexts, which construct identity. </p> <h2><strong>Conclusion</strong></h2> <p><em>Unrealistic,</em> this is the predictable argument against substituting military power for a vintage conference diplomacy.&nbsp; However, holding a policy to be unrealistic is a self-fulfilling assumption because it blocks the first step in making a course of action feasible, the effort to make it possible. In fact, their European political project of transformation appeared no less impossible in the initial phase when Willy Brandt and Egon Bahr defied seemingly overwhelming resistance. </p> <p>None of the current western policies is more realistic as strategy than a conference diplomacy. The conference discourse is complementary to a more feasible military strategy than currently set out by the US Central Command by combining deterrence with limited security enforcement; in fact, such a military strategy may prove an indispensable backing. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Bibliography</strong></p> <p class="EndNoteBibliography">Axworthy, M. , and P. Milton. "A Westphalian Peace for the Middle East. Why an Old Framework Could Work." <em>Foreign&nbsp; Affairs</em>, no. Oct. (2016).</p> <p class="EndNoteBibliography">Bahr, E. <em>»Das Musst Du Erzählen«: Erinnerungen an Willy Brandt</em>. Propyläen Verlag, 2013.</p> <p class="EndNoteBibliography">—. "Ostwärts Und Nichts Vergessen! Kooperation Statt Konfrontation." Hamburg: VSA: Verlag Hamburg, 2012.</p> <p class="EndNoteBibliography">Brandt, W. <em>Erinnerungen</em>. 1 ed.&nbsp; Berlin: List, Ullstein Buchverlage GmbH. Berlin, 2013 (1989).</p> <p class="EndNoteBibliography">Clark, C.M. <em>The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914</em>. Allen Lane, 2012.</p> <p class="EndNoteBibliography">Fischer, Benjamin B. "A Cold War Conundrum: The 1983 Soviet War Scare." CIA.</p> <p class="EndNoteBibliography">Heuer, R.J., and C.S. Intelligence. <em>Psychology of Intelligence Analysis</em>. Center for the Study of Intelligence, 1999.</p> <p class="EndNoteBibliography">Kaye, D.D. <em>Beyond the Handshake: Multilateral Cooperation in the Arab-Israeli Peace Process, 1991-1996</em>. Columbia University Press, 2012.</p> <p class="EndNoteBibliography">Kennedy, R.F., and A.M. Schlesinger. <em>Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis</em>. W. W. Norton, 2011.</p> <p class="EndNoteBibliography">Kershaw, I. <em>Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World 1940-1941</em>. Penguin Books, Limited, 2008.</p> <p class="EndNoteBibliography">Kissinger, H. <em>A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh, and the Problems of Peace, 1812-22</em>. Houghton Mifflin, 1973.</p> <p class="EndNoteBibliography">Koch, Christian, Gulf Research Center Foundation, and Christian-Peter Hanelt, Bertelsmann Stiftung. "A Gulf Conference for Security and Cooperation Could Bring Peace and Greater&nbsp; Security to the Middle East." In <em>Gulf Paper</em>: Gulf Research Center, 2015.</p> <p class="EndNoteBibliography">Lyttelton, Adrian. "Mad Men?". <em>Survival </em>53, no. 1 (February-March 2011 2011): 153-66.</p> <p class="EndNoteBibliography">Merseburger, P. <em>Willy Brandt: 1913-1992. Visionär Und Realist</em>. Pantheon, 2013.</p> <p class="EndNoteBibliography">Perry, W. <em>My Journey at the Nuclear Brink</em>. Stanford University Press, 2015.</p> <p class="EndNoteBibliography">Snyder, T. <em>Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning</em>. Random House Incorporated, 2015.</p> <p class="EndNoteBibliography">—. <em>Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin</em>. Basic Books, 2013.</p> <p class="EndNoteBibliography">Talbott, S. <em>The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy</em>. Random House Publishing Group, 2007.</p> <p class="EndNoteBibliography">Tuchman, B.W. <em>The Guns of August: The Outbreak of World War I; Barbara W. Tuchman's Great War Series</em>. Random House Publishing Group, 2009 (1962).</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> For an analysis of how mental models affect decisions R.J. Heuer and C.S. Intelligence, <em>Psychology of Intelligence Analysis</em> (Center for the Study of Intelligence, 1999).</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> C.M. Clark, <em>The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914</em> (Allen Lane, 2012). P. 226 - 235</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a> B.W. Tuchman, <em>The Guns of August: The Outbreak of World War I; Barbara W. Tuchman's Great War Series</em> (Random House Publishing Group, 2009 (1962)).</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref4">[4]</a> R.F. Kennedy and A.M. Schlesinger, <em>Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis</em> (W. W. Norton, 2011). Kindle loc. 126</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref5">[5]</a> This was the dangerous logic behind the crisis in 1983 Benjamin B. Fischer, "A Cold War Conundrum: The 1983 Soviet War Scare," (CIA). Most succinctly, this logic was presented to Egon Bahr by the Soviet nuclear arms negotiator Kwizinski:&nbsp; <em>You can have as many Pershing missiles as you want (new controversial nuclear missile), we are prepared to circumvent them. </em><em>Whoever pushes the button first has an advantage. </em><em>E. Bahr, »Das Musst Du Erzählen«: Erinnerungen an Willy Brandt (Propyläen Verlag, 2013).</em><em> </em>P. 187.<em> </em>The Soviet War Scare of 1983 has also been confirmed to me in conversations with a staff member of the US National Security Council under President Reagan and a close advisor to the German Federal Chancellor Helmuth Kohl </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref6">[6]</a> This is the assumed goal of offensive Soviet and then Russian strategies. In the Middle East, I have heard the same argument by both Iranian and Israeli representatives.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref7">[7]</a> &nbsp;http://russiancouncil.ru/common/upload/RIAC-IRAS-Russia-Iran-Report29-en.pdf Conversations with Russian and Iranian researchers.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref8">[8]</a> Current US military operations have an operational coordination with Russian forces&nbsp; http://www.centcom.mil/ABOUT-US/POSTURE-STATEMENT/</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref9">[9]</a> T. Snyder, <em>Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin</em> (Basic Books, 2013).</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref10">[10]</a> Conversations in Minsk, 2018</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref11">[11]</a> Fischer.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref12">[12]</a> W. Perry, <em>My Journey at the Nuclear Brink</em> (Stanford University Press, 2015). Kindle Loc. 2936</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref13">[13]</a> Conversations with Russian researchers.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref14">[14]</a> Perry. Chapter 20. See also the memoirs of President Clinton’s close Russia advisor, Strobe Talbott S. Talbott, <em>The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy</em> (Random House Publishing Group, 2007).</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref15">[15]</a> Conversation with Turkish researchers</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref16">[16]</a> I. Kershaw, <em>Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World 1940-1941</em> (Penguin Books, Limited, 2008). P. 302. For a brief presentation of Kershaw’s argument see Adrian Lyttleton’s review Adrian Lyttelton, "Mad Men?," <em>Survival</em> 53, no. 1 (2011).</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref17">[17]</a> Conversations in Teheran</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref18">[18]</a> P. Merseburger, <em>Willy Brandt: 1913-1992. Visionär Und Realist</em> (Pantheon, 2013). </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref19">[19]</a> W. Brandt, <em>Erinnerungen</em>, 1 ed. (Berlin: List, Ullstein Buchverlage GmbH. Berlin, 2013 (1989)). P. 187&nbsp; E. Bahr, "Ostwärts Und Nichts Vergessen! Kooperation Statt Konfrontation," (Hamburg: VSA: Verlag Hamburg, 2012). P. 88-90</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref20">[20]</a> Close advisor to Egon Bahr</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref21">[21]</a> Close advisor to Egon Bahr</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref22">[22]</a> Perry. Chapter 13</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref23">[23]</a> D.D. Kaye, <em>Beyond the Handshake: Multilateral Cooperation in the Arab-Israeli Peace Process, 1991-1996</em> (Columbia University Press, 2012). On the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe as model p. 86</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref24">[24]</a> http://russiancouncil.ru/common/upload/RIAC-IRAS-Russia-Iran-Report29-en.pdf</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref25">[25]</a> T. Snyder, <em>Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning</em> (Random House Incorporated, 2015). Kindle location 3623 For a short version, this interview in Der Spiegel http://www.spiegel.de/einestages/timothy-snyder-ueber-babi-jar-und-den-holocaust-interview-a-1113924.html</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref26">[26]</a> <em>Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin</em>. Kindle location 96, 129, 232</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref27">[27]</a> <em>Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning</em>. Kindle Location 3788</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref28">[28]</a> M.&nbsp; Axworthy and P. Milton, "A Westphalian Peace for the Middle East. Why an Old Framework Could Work," <em>Foreign&nbsp; Affairs</em>, no. Oct. (2016).</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref29">[29]</a> H. Kissinger, <em>A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh, and the Problems of Peace, 1812-22</em> (Houghton Mifflin, 1973).</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref30">[30]</a> Christian Koch, Gulf Research Center Foundation and Christian-Peter Hanelt, Bertelsmann Stiftung, "A Gulf Conference for Security and Cooperation Could Bring Peace and Greater&nbsp; Security to the Middle East," in <em>Gulf Paper</em> (Gulf Research Center, 2015)</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/tom-junes/russian-interference-in-virtual-world-is-not-problem">Russian interference in the virtual world is not the problem</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"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Conflict International politics Torgeir E. Fjærtoft Sat, 06 Oct 2018 16:38:16 +0000 Torgeir E. Fjærtoft 119942 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Russia, the internet and "political technologists" - is this the future of democracy? https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/nick-inman/monument-to-last-democrat <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As more revelations emerge about Russian interference in Western democracies, Nick Inman reviews a BBC broadcast that asks if Russia is merely where 21st century ideas of democracy died first.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/russia facebook.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/russia facebook.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: Jaap Arriens/PA Images, all rights reserved</em></p><p>Democracy used to be defined as a system in which a society debates the issues that confront it. Two or more teams compete with each other to persuade a majority of voters that they have the most workable and cogent solutions to the problems. They put forward evidence and reasons as to why they should be trusted. A vote is held. And then the winning team implements its policies over the following few years with the full and conscious consent of the electorate.</p> <p>This description may be more fantasy and nostalgia than reality in today’s democracies, according to Peter Pomerantsev of the London School of Economics, as he explains in a recent radio broadcast, <em><a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b91w19">British Politics: A Russian View</a></em>. The programme is public broadcasting at its best. It should be required listening for anyone trying to make sense of the last presidential election in the US, the Brexit referendum result, the collapse of traditional political parties in France and the success of populists everywhere.</p> <p>As the title suggests, the programme begins by looking at British politics through Russian eyes; but Peter Pomerantsev has something much more important to offer us. “Russia could well be the country where the future arrived first,” he says in his introduction, “where 21st century ideas died earliest; and another type of political logic emerged.” </p> <p>Democracy as described above is hard work. All that campaigning and rallying, debating, interviewing and sound-biting, posturing and questioning of candidates consumes a lot of time and energy. It is far too hit and miss for today’s political aspirants, reared on the Silicon Valley mantra of “move fast, break things.” In all western democracies our worried eyes should not be on the candidates but the invisible people working on their behalf who go under a new job title, “political technologists”. </p> <p>The tools and materials of the technologist are not speeches, rosettes, walkabouts and mass meetings but big data and social media. He/she (usually the former) goes for the jugular of democracy. Who cares which policy is right or wrong, better or worse; the object of an election or referendum is to win and nothing else. The political technologist’s only concern is to deliver a majority for the candidate or cause that is paying for his services. Every election is just another gig. Success requires a hyper-rationalist, asset-stripping, technological approach to the mechanics of democracy. </p> <p>To win an election, it is not necessary to build a majority in the sense of a mass of like-thinking people who share common interest and a vision for the future. The technologist seeks a majority in number only: 50.01% or more. It’s maths, not politics.</p> <p>“The electorate, unlike well-defined social groups, is a very plastic thing,” says one contributor to the BBC programme. “You just draw up a map of the electorate and gather a majority on the side you need.”</p> <p>This flash majority doesn’t need to endure into the morning after the election. Like a furtive subatomic particle, it only needs to exist at the moment the count is taken. After that it can happily dissipate. The technologist’s client has by then assumed power. </p> <p>The creation of ephemeral majorities is possible because our addiction to social media delivers vast amounts of data into the technologist’s hands and allows precisely targeted communications.</p> <p>The first step of a contemporary electoral campaign is to establish a narrative or “fairy story” to be used in all its communications. This needs to be emotive rather than rational. It must be summed up in merely a memorable slogan. It must not suggest an uncertain future or difficult choices, let alone the need for nuance and compromise. A phrase like “take back control” can mean whatever the hearer wants to believe it means. </p> <p>It is far easier for the technologist to mobilise the voter against some clearly identifiable demon rather than the uninspiring but functioning status quo. To get the voter’s attention, the technologist must promise radical action from a baggage-free outsider who will eject elites and corrupt incumbents from office and sweep the Augean stables clean. Fear and anger have to be harnessed and directed towards a nominated bogeyman. According to one estimate, made by a participant in the programme, identifying a villain can immediately add 20% of votes to a campaign. </p> <p>Terminology is carefully controlled because words propagate rapidly online. “The people”, “the few”, “the have nots” and even “us” all make the voter feel part of a just cause. </p> <p>The technologist borrows tactics from the world of marketing. His or her real task is to segment the “market” using the data that social media users willingly feed into the system. The electorate is seen as different “communities” built around single interests or obsessions. Each of these needs to be fed a particular message, preferably one that can be taken to heart and shared promiscuously. If this sounds to you as if the election of politicians and the direction of international relations is being treated with the same level of seriousness as the “liking” of videos showing the antics of talented cats, you are getting the right idea.</p> <p>In fact, animals provide a good example of what the technologist can achieve. Convince a critical mass of animal-lovers that the EU is more cruel in its farming regulations than a future re-sovereignised UK government will be and you have viral videos of calves crowded into lorries doing the rounds of kind-hearted people, generating emotional support for the Leave campaign.</p> <p>Hold on, though, because it gets more alarming. If the political technologist can target “communities” using the tools of social media why shouldn’t he target each individual in the way in which he will be most susceptible to instruction? As another contributor to the programme puts it: “I can shout into one person’s ear one message and shout into another person’s ear – who is right beside them – another message and neither of them understands that I am shouting different messages to different people”. </p> <p>Each person in the ephemeral majority that flickers across election night may have voted for an entirely personal reason, like passengers sitting next to each other on a cut price airline who have paid different ticket prices for the same service. You really can fool all the people all of the time as long as you fool each person in a customised way.</p> <p>There are many useful conclusions to draw from this abuse of democracy by technology. One is that no one who claims to speak for the “will of the people” should be taken seriously. That should be “the wills of people.”</p> <p>Another lesson is that we should stop looking the wrong way. All those commentators who talk about seismic shifts in society may be talking nonsense to justify their jobs. What we are seeing may not be anything to do with how the people do or do not think and feel. It might all be dictated by the choices they are fed by unscrupulous operators.</p> <p>What is certain is that post-post-modern elections and referendums have nothing to do with informed debate and rational, independent decisions taken by marginal voters. One speaker on the programme illustrated this with an image: “If there were a monument to the democratic citizen it should be a person who is ready to change his position on the basis of an argument. We’re living in a democracy in which this person doesn’t exist anymore because nobody is trying to change his mind, everyone is playing on his feelings”.</p> <p><em>British Politics: A Russian View Analysis BBC Radio 4. 30 minutes. Presented by Peter Pomerantsev, senior visiting fellow at the LSE, produced by Ant Adeane. First broadcast on 9 July 2018. To listen or download go to: </em><em><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b91w19">www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b91w19</a></em><em>&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="/uk/jennifer-cobbe/problem-isn-t-just-cambridge-analytica-or-even-facebook-it-s-surveillance-capitali">The problem isn’t just Cambridge Analytica or Facebook – it’s “surveillance capitalism”</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/tom-junes/russian-interference-in-virtual-world-is-not-problem">Russian interference in the virtual world is not the problem</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/anthony-barnett/how-should-we-think-about-roles-cambridge-analytica-facebook-russia-and-shady-billio">How should we think about Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, Russia and shady billionaires</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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk digitaLiberties Can Europe make it? uk Nick Inman Fri, 05 Oct 2018 09:35:45 +0000 Nick Inman 119800 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Feminism gone bad? Women’s organisations and the hard right in Germany https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/zg-r-zvatan-g-kce-yurdakul-anna-korteweg/feminism-gone-bad-women-s-organisations-and-hard-right-in-g <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What kind of campaigning could outweigh the increasing power of implicit and explicit alliances by far-right actors and certain anti-Muslim German feminists? </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--rpTEN_-_Tag_2_(26188178593).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px--rpTEN_-_Tag_2_(26188178593).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'>Kübra Gümüşay (2016).Wikicommons/re:publica/Gregor Fischer. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span>The populist radical right party, Alternative for Germany (AfD) has been working to get to the top of the party polls since its foundation in 2013. Currently, it is the second strongest party in Germany, with polls which estimate that if elections were held today, the AfD would receive 18 % of the vote (ARD, 21 September 2018). In its climb in the popularity stakes, AfD is forming a curious range alliances with political leaders. In the traditional political spectrum, feminists are often placed at the left end of the continuum. However, contradicting this, feminists and women’s organizations in Germany have of late been entering into implicit or unintended alliances with the AfD as they make common cause against the so-called “Islamization of Germany”. We have identified three strategies of feminist and far-right political actors that result in the articulation of overlapping goals. </p> <h2><strong>Strategy one: public defamation as a strategy of both the far right and German Muslim women </strong></h2> <p>Seyran Ateş is a self-defined female imam, the founder of a liberal mosque, and as a lawyer a long-standing fighter for women’s rights in Germany. She appears frequently in the media, and in public debates, and is well-known for her statements which aim to undermine what she sees as the regressive, anti-women, anti-gay stance of German Muslims. </p><p>Based on the well-known proverb: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”, the German far right is showing its solidarity with women like Ms. Ateş in the fight against so-called radicalization and political Islam in Germany – or, against the ‘Islamization of Germany’. &nbsp;Ironically, in supporting Ms. Ateş’s political stance in an open letter on its party website, the AfD aims to attract “native” Germans who fear Islam, using a strategy earlier adopted by public intellectuals as well as the Pegida movement (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident/West). </p><p>As the far right shows solidarity with certain women’s rights supporters to counter the so-called ‘Islamization of Germany’, one common strategy is to work to prevent the public engagement of specific Muslim women who are wearing headscarves by publicly defaming them. One of their targets has been young journalist and self-defined “intersectional feminist” Kübra Gümüşay, a German Muslim who wears a headscarf while being politically active. </p> <p>In a recent digital <a href="https://www.change.org/p/prof-klaus-vogel-gegen-rechts-ohne-den-politischen-islam-8352f001-2c24-4457-a636-2855287ff77e">petition platform</a>, Necla Kelek, from the women’s organization <em>terre des femmes</em> and Seyran Ateş announced that they wrote a petition together in order to remove Kübra Gümüşay from a public panel on <em>The New Mainstream – Far Right Ideologies and Movements in Europe</em> (17-19 September 2018) that was part of the German Hygiene Museum’s exhibition on racism in Dresden. They claimed that Gümüşay allegedly supported political Islam (in their words, “orthodox-conservative Islam”) (Note that the organizers announced that the accusations were unsupported in a public statement. They rejected this claim, and included Gümüşay in the panel.) </p> <h2><strong>Strategy two: “Saving Muslim women from Muslim men”</strong></h2> <p>Gender equality stands as a litmus test for immigrant inclusion in Germany. It has become an almost universally-held liberal value, central to current human rights concerns and dominant in policy-making language. However, gender equality is actually difficult to define, often deriving its meaning from the context within which it is used. <span class="mag-quote-center">Gender equality is actually difficult to define, often deriving its meaning from the context within which it is used.</span></p> <p>It is exactly this open-endedness of the concept that makes it seem so useful in political contestations: it signals a desire for liberation and freedom while it can be used in exclusionary ways. <em>Terre des femmes</em> (women’s earth), a non-governmental women’s organization in Germany, is deploying exactly this ambivalence between liberation and exclusion, in order to support an old-fashioned, homogeneous feminist agenda. <em>Terre des femmes</em> is the major women’s organization campaigning against violence against women in Germany, as well as sex-work and human trafficking. They represent a feminist voice that is attracting increasing representation from immigrant women or men who promote anti-Muslim politics, such as Seyran Ateş who we discussed above and sociologist Necla Kelek, who is on the executive committee of <em>terre des femmes</em>. Author of several books condemning the religious practices of Turkish immigrants in Germany, Kelek openly supported politician Thilo Sarrazin, who wrote two books on how Germany is ‘abolishing itself’ via the (alleged) threat of Muslim immigration and Islamization. (Both books became best sellers).</p> <p>On 6 March 2018, <em>terre des femmes</em> organized a film-viewing for Women’s Day whose main theme was to teach refugees about gender equality. Around five hundred people were in the audience, filling a cinema in central Berlin. During the panel discussion, the vice director, Inge Bell, was moderating four speakers, one of whom was an elderly Iraqi man who spoke only in Arabic. The Iraqi man said that the biggest problem in his country was that women are treated as slaves and that he did not want his daughter to be a slave. He concluded his speech with the declaration, “We need to be liberated.” </p> <p>The discussion finished with applause from the audience. Inge Bell the moderator, turned to the Iraqi man with a question on whether the film they had just viewed helped to transfer “our values” to immigrants – <em>our values</em> standing in for gender equality. Christa Stolle, the federal leader of <em>terre des femmes</em><em>,</em> then presented each of the participants with a copy of Brochmann and Dahl’s book on women’s anatomy <em>Viva la Vagina</em> (2018), including the Iraqi man who smiled shyly at the audience. </p> <p>Feminists engaged with <em>terre des femmes</em> in previous years have made tremendous inroads into formal politics, positioning themselves as the guardians of gender equality. But they are also coopted into a colonial language of “saving Muslim women from Muslim men”, which aligns them with the far right and denies agency to women who do not agree with their kind of feminism. Thanks to this current political stance, some of their members and supporters have left <em>terre des femmes</em> <a href="https://www.taz.de/Streit-bei-Terre-des-Femmes/!5420070/">in protest</a>. We see a further iteration of this “saviour” discourse, in the last decade, which is accusing Muslim women as being “perpetrators” of ‘Islamization in Germany’, as shown in the first strategy, above. </p> <h2><strong>Strategy three: evoking German nativism by creating moral panic</strong></h2> <p>This strategy is the most explicit alliance between feminism and far-right politics, as it appeals directly to a large voter base of both the radical and extremist right. In January 2018, a group of self-defined feminists founded the120 Dezibel (120 Decibels) campaign, which they introduced as a “genuine outcry” (wahre Aufschrei). In the summer of 2017, its leading actor, Paula Winterfeldt, stated at a rally held by the extremist right <em>Identitäre Bewegung</em> (Identity Movement) in Berlin that <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WaiH6XA5VU&amp;frags=pl%2Cwn">she yearned</a> for a return to the “good old days” when German women carried “deodorant spray instead of pepper spray in their bags”. The group’s founding members now invoke this increase in everyday sexism against German women by calling themselves 120 Dezibel, the volume level of pocket alarms. For them, both pepper spray and 120-decibel pocket alarms symbolize the alarming risks of everyday sexism to German women since Northern African and Muslim refugees crossed the German border. German chancellor Angela Merkel’s inauguration of a German ‘welcome culture’ in late summer 2015 triggered the rumour that white German women are at an increased risk of violence. For instance, the far-right monthly Compact magazine headed its February 2016 issue, “Fair game woman: The bad ending of welcome culture”. </p> <p>The radical right AfD and other extremist right actors have subsequently spread the 120 Dezibel campaign via their online channels. The AfD politician Leyla Bilge, a convert from Islam to Christianity, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=we8CL2GPZyU&amp;t=308s7frags%3Dpl%2Cwn">claims to have emigrated</a> from Idil (Turkey) in 1974 because Muslims were violently chasing Christians (in the pre-election period of the 1974 local elections the Aramean mayor of Idil was killed, allegedly by supporters of the Muslim contender). </p> <p>Reflecting the alliance strategy of coopting women who can claim first-hand experience as Muslims (even when converted or atheist), Bilge organized a Women’s March on February 17, 2018 in Berlin. She states that ‘the German’ has to be shaken into a rage against “the deluded elites” (media and politics) if the German nation (read: women) is to be protected from Muslim men. In this way, the 120 Dezibel campaign speaks to and very much reflects an overlapping populist discourse from the German far right, about the need to counter morally inferior elites in the name of the general national will. For them: German borders need to be sealed against any further entry of Muslim or North African immigrants and the internal ‘invasion by Islam’ halted immediately, if German women are to be safeguarded from Muslim men who pose a serious pollution threat to the pure German <em>Volkskörper </em>(the pure German body).</p> <p>Calling themselves, “The daughters of Europe”, the 120 Dezibel campaigns speak to an anti-Muslim discourse by creating public fear of Muslim men as criminals, while simultaneously promoting a victimized Muslim women stereotype. Their supporters tweet #No Hijab Day in German social media: “(there)…are still imprisoned in Iran women who defend themselves against forced veiling. Real solidarity would mean taking off the headscarf for a day.”</p> <p>While 120 Dezibel is appealing to German young women who connect to the world through social media, <em>Ring Nationaler Frauen</em> (the National Women’s Circle), the extremist right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD)’s women organization, try to bring back German nativism by referring to <em>Trümmerfrauen</em>, women who worked in the rebuilding of Germany after WWII. A number of the AfD’s 2017 federal election posters reduce women’s task to the topoi of reproduction, sexuality (as channeled via the liberal freedom of nudity as opposed to illiberal Islam), and nativist diversity (German regional folklore and history). Indeed, a look at the AfD party programme finds women’s issues associated with opposition to the headscarf, gender ideology and quotas, and reproduction framed as activism against ‘misled feminists’ who value working women, yet devalue the traditional family, i.e. women who deliberately chose to care for their family as housewives. </p> <p>On the extremist right end of the spectrum, we find accounts that essentialize women even further, by referencing their Germanic roots. This includes a romantic remembrance of Germanic times before Christianization, entering from ‘the Orient’, invaded the Occident (middle and northern Europe). Allegedly, Christianization infiltrated an Oriental women’s silencing culture into Germania. Such a view postulates that native women are images of the Germanic (female) god <em>Frauja</em>, powerful though loving wives and mothers who defend Germania “with shields and swords”. As such, it is unsurprising that the far right’s recent invocations of German women’s past largely circle around the myth of <em>the Valkyrie </em>– Germanic (Nordic) women generally portrayed as powerful, white, blonde and tall. </p> <p>Interestingly, radical and extremist streams of the German far right unite in an exclusionary oscillating between civic (liberal values-based) and nativist (ethnically-based) nationalism when addressing feminist politics, while the extremist right tends to revert to nativism more frequently. The third strategy focuses on the perceived victimization of white German women but then returns to anti-feminist tropes of women as carers of the nation, while asking them to recall their actual power as ethnic descendants of <em>Frauja</em>. If they accepted their Germanic roots, white German women would care for their ‘traditional family’ as loving mothers and wives, while defending the nation’s survival as their husbands’ comrades. </p> <p>Together, the sense of&nbsp; Muslim ‘pollution’ as a social threat combined with a female power exclusive to ‘us natives’, facilitates intense feelings of the need to act now, based on a ‘German’ value system or ethnic culture that&nbsp; celebrates Germany’s (and German children’s) festive rebirth. </p> <h2><strong>German Muslim women reclaim feminism</strong></h2> <p>German Muslim women have initiated a number of ways of countering these strategies. Journalist Kübra Gümüşay, the subject of the petition that aimed to prevent her from speaking out against the far-right, is an example of a new generation of young German Muslim women who disrupt the connections made throughout anti-headscarf arguments, in which feminism provides both a clear-cut analysis of the headscarf as oppressing women and a clear-cut solution, namely that it should be banned. She is not the only German Muslim woman who combines her religiosity with a new understanding of Germanness, a feeling of being at home in Germany, that is not based on blood or ancestry but based on civic participation to German society. </p> <p>Young German Muslim women like Gümüşay publicly confront feminists who claim a homogeneous understanding of feminism for themselves, without paying attention to other forms of feminism. For example, the high-brow German weekly newspaper, <em>Die Zeit</em> reported in 2011 that Saliha Kubilay, a young Muslim woman, asked veteran German feminist Alice Schwarzer during a public discussion at a university: “Where in the feminist movement did you stop progressing so as to fail to grasp to this day that Islamic feminism has been long present in Germany?”. Kubilay argued that Schwarzer’s brand of feminism ignored the diversity of feminist perspectives in Germany. In doing so, Kubilay showed how postcoloniality inflects Germany’s feminist debates. By claiming the feminist frame as her own, Kubilay suggests that feminism is not in the gift of white western women, but that there is a synergy between immigration, postcolonialism and feminism in Germany. People of color, Muslim women and others are claiming feminism for themselves. But they are often confronted with public defaming, as well as active protectionist and exclusionist strategies to prevent Muslim women from public participation in democratic events. <span class="mag-quote-center">People of color, Muslim women and others are claiming feminism for themselves.</span></p> <p>In her public struggle as the first woman to bring the headscarf debate before the German Constitutional Court in 2004, a history teacher Fereshta Ludin, offers yet another take on feminism, <a href="https://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/fereshta-ludin-im-gespraech-ich-habe-nicht-fuer-das-kopftuch-gekaempft/8606454.html">arguing that</a> she did not fight to wear her headscarf, but for self-determination over her own body. She claimed her own liberation, refusing to be emancipated through a governance feminism that equates uncovering with freedom. Such varied articulations of feminism, postcoloniality and wearing headscarves do not resonate with an anti-Muslim or anti-Islamization feminism. See the veteran feminist <a href="https://www.emma.de/ausgabe/emma-juliaugust-2018-335899">Alice Schwarzer’s magazine <em>Emma</em></a>, which publishes articles associating headscarf-wearing women with radicalization and political Islam and ridiculing their feminism. In fact, Übermedien, a media-watch magazine, <a href="https://uebermedien.de/29269/emma-und-der-beifall-von-rechts/">reported</a> that this magazine’s readership had become increasingly far-right. </p> <h2><strong>Headscarves</strong></h2> <p>The headscarf continues to be the piece of cloth over which ‘whose feminism is right?’ battles are fought. Betül Ulusoy, a legal scholar who was denied an internship at the reception desk of a Berlin municipality because of her headscarf, is frequently asked why she still wears it. She denies doing so because she is a true-believer, or because her family is pressuring her to wear it. She frames her argument instead in the classic terms of feminist liberation: "This means that a woman must decide for herself, whether she wears a mini skirt or a scarf. This decision is then neither negotiable nor evaluated by outsiders. It is her freedom alone." (Ulusoy’s Blog). Contrary to the common media hype in Germany that Muslim women are wearing headscarves because they are pressured by their families to do so, Betül shows us that wearing the headscarf means her self-determination over her body as a woman. This controversy, denying employment to Betül Ulusoy in a municipality in Berlin state because of her headscarf, does not only appear from the outset as a controversy between religion and secularity, but also reverberates with the fundamental question of whether women have self-determination over their bodies in Europe.</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/500209/1024px-Re-publica_2015_-_Tag_3_(17223920299).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/1024px-Re-publica_2015_-_Tag_3_(17223920299).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'>Betül Ulusoy und Riem Spielhaus diskutieren, 2015. Wikicommons/re:publica/Gregor Fischer. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>This controversy reverberates with the fundamental question of whether women have self-determination over their bodies in Europe. </p><h2><strong>The colonial gaze</strong></h2> <p>Women’s embodiment continues to be hotly contested in these struggles over feminism, liberation, and who get to stand for being German. Long-standing colonial tropes of unveiling women as liberation are clearly powerful in German debates. Many have argued that the nudity of colonialized women served as a spectacle for the European public during the colonial era; currently, in the German media, uncovering women is celebrated as a sign of Muslim women’s integration into a gender-equal European society. <span class="mag-quote-center">Women’s embodiment continues to be hotly contested in these struggles over feminism, liberation, and who get to stand for being German.</span></p> <p>As Michigan anthropologist Damani Partridge argues, in the German context, wearing headscarves is placed in sharp contrast with female nudity and sexual accessibility in public.&nbsp; Such a contrast is displayed in advertisements (the nude model ads in the subway stations that Partridge analyzes) and election campaigns in 2017, where the AfD posted gigantic posters of young slender women with tiny bikinis walking on the beach throughout the country with the slogan: “Burkas? We stand for Bikinis!”&nbsp; </p> <p>In May 2011, Sıla Şahin became the first Turkish-German film actress to pose nude in Playboy. Deutsche Welle (2011), Germany’s international broadcaster, asked whether this was the ultimate act of integration, and Şahin responded that she was, indeed, liberated by posing nude (“Breasts with Migration Background” Die Zeit, April 19, 2011). Playing on this desire to witness women’s unveiling, Fereshta Ludin’s autobiography was entitled “Enthüllung der Fereshta Ludin” (The Unveiling of Fereshta Ludin, 2015). On the cover, she pretends to take off her headscarf. Şahin’s appearance in Playboy and Ludin’s cynical book cover bring home to us how the colonial gaze on Muslim women remains a dominant trope that resonates well with the general public. </p> <p>Women’s organizations in Germany play a very important intermediary role in strengthening the far right’s strategies in the unveiling regime. In some ways, they play the role of mediating between two worlds; those who argue for strengthening a nativist German public understanding of women’s rights, such as the radical right politics of the AfD and those who are arguing for a diverse German feminism, which includes Muslim women with and without headscarves. </p> <h2><strong>Breaking down the cooptation – Inclusion and #No Excuses</strong></h2> <p>The perverse alliance of feminism and the far right clearly fails to address major ongoing relevant issues: 1) the historical colonial and exploitative relations between the global North and the global South – the destruction, appropriation in colonial and neocolonial contexts, the political support by the global north of corrupt political regimes in the global south, as well as the export of weapons that sustain highly destructive, never-ending wars; and 2) the ongoing, unaddressed, racialized sexism and sexual violence perpetrated by immigrant and nonimmigrant alike across European societies – violence against women, children, members of LGBTQI communities, heteronormativity, sexism, and gender inequalities. </p> <p>Following Deniz Kandiyoti’s (2016) plea in openDemocracy for <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/fateful-marriage-political-violence-and-violence-against-women">understanding violence against women</a> in its larger political context, feminism’s cooptation by the far right must be situated within the critical historical moment that finds us caught up in the debates on immigrant and refugee integration in Europe. A further question to ask is how anti-Muslim racism must be linked historically to other forms of racism and colonialism if we are to make sense of the alliance between feminism and the far right. Only through such a political framework will we be able to fully grasp the relations between contemporary racism and sexism and then to challenge them.</p> <h2><strong>Alternative feminisms</strong></h2> <p>Alternative forms of feminism should be strengthened, and encouraged to create spaces of equity and inclusion in Germany. A good example of this is the Internet campaign <em>#aufschrei</em> (outcry) started by a young feminist, Anne Wizorek and her friends in 2013.&nbsp; Similar to #metoo, the campaign started as a response to the everyday sexism they experienced in German society, calling on women to break their silence against sexist comments in Germany. </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/500209/1024px-Anne_Wizorek_-_re-publica_2014_(13945132697).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/1024px-Anne_Wizorek_-_re-publica_2014_(13945132697).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'>Anne Wizorek, 2014. Wikicommons/re:publica/Sandra Schink. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span>But their public statements were downplayed by German men, including the previous German president, Joachim Gauck, who labeled their campaign against sexism “<em>Tugendfuror</em>” (literally, “virtue furore”), an obscure word which may be interpreted as <em>hysteria</em>, thus downplaying sexism and violence against women in German society, and playing up women’s over-emotionality. </p><p>Building on Wizorek’s 2013 <em>#aufschrei </em>campaign, journalist Kübra Gümüşay, along with several other prominent intersectional feminists from various fields, started a new internet campaign, <em>#</em><em>ausnahmslos</em> (without exception)<em>. </em>Gümüşay pointed out that while there is violence against women in Muslim communities, German society should be able to discuss this violence against women without resorting to the racializing discourse of the far right. </p> <p>Such a racializing discourse commonly stereotypes Muslim men as violent criminals and Muslim women as submissive victims, and more recently, portrays Muslim women as the agents of Islamization of Germany. What Gümüşay suggests is that everyone should be treated as though they are already full members of German society, including being punished for sexual violence and including having the right to protection from such violence, regardless of ethnic or immigrant background. </p> <p>The <em>#ausnahmslos </em>campaign thus called for full participation, with the rights and obligations of native citizens being extended to immigrants and refugees. The question is whether these campaigns and strategies will outweigh the increasing power of the implicit and explicit alliances by far-right actors and certain anti-Muslim German feminists.&nbsp; </p> <p><em>Note: This paper was previously presented at the Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs Conference on “Populism and Democracy” &nbsp;at Tuft University’s European Center in Talloires, France, 15-17 June 2018. We thank the conference organizers and participants for their feedback. </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/provost-whyte/women-far-right-movements-why-are-we-surprised">Why are women joining far-right movements, and why are we so surprised?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/angela-mcrobbie/anti-feminism-and-anti-gender-far-right-politics-in-europe-and-be">Anti-feminism and anti-gender far right politics in Europe and beyond</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/heike-radvan-carmen-altmeyer/overlooked-and-underrated-women-in-rightwing-extremi">Overlooked and underrated: women in right-wing extremist groups in Germany</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/sara-garbagnoli/matteo-salvini-renaturalizing-racial-and-sexual-boundaries-of-dem">Matteo Salvini, renaturalizing the racial and sexual boundaries of democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/hans-georg-betz/everything-that-is-wrong-is-fault-of-68-regaining-cultural-hegemony-by-trashing-left">Everything that is wrong is the fault of &#039;68: regaining cultural hegemony by trashing the left</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-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Germany Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality Ideas International politics Anna Korteweg Özgür Özvatan Gökce Yurdakul Wed, 03 Oct 2018 07:19:53 +0000 Gökce Yurdakul, Özgür Özvatan and Anna Korteweg 119907 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Investigate the Birmingham Trojan Horse affair https://www.opendemocracy.net/john-holmwood/investigate-birmingham-trojan-horse-affair <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Birmingham Trojan Horse affair has had serious consequences for public policy, but now the parliamentary standards committee is being asked to investigate possible governmental misconduct in its handling.</p> </div> </div> </div> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/PA-19584985.jpg" width="100%" /> <p><em>The Birmingham Trojan Horse affair involved claims that there was a plot by hardline Islamist governors and teachers to takeover schools in Birmingham. Slowly, however, a different truth is emerging. A successful school, Park View, was sacrificed against the evidence to a Prevent agenda that promotes anxiety, pathologises British Muslims, and undermines the civil liberties of everyone. <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/john-holmwood/birmingham-trojan-horse-affair-very-british-injustice">Justice now requires a proper examination of the evidence</a> independently of its distorted presentation by the government and its allies. To summarise all that has happened so far:</em></p> <div style="margin-left:25px;text-indent:-8px;"> <p>• <em>The affair was subject to scrutiny in the Houses of Parliament, including by the Education Select Committee. Yet there are grounds to believe that the evidence presented to the house in the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/birmingham-schools-education-commissioners-report">Clarke Report</a> – presented by Nicky Morgan MP, the former secretary of state for education – was incomplete and misleading. </em></p> <p>• <em>Evidence that would have supported a different conclusion, namely that the takeover of schools was part of an improvement programme supported by Birmingham City Council and the Department for Education, was withheld. </em></p> <p>• <em>The nature of this evidence has come to light following the collapse in May 2017 of professional misconduct cases brought against teachers associated with Park View Educational Trust. </em></p> <p>• <em>The cases collapsed because of <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/teacher-misconduct-panel-outcome-mr-monzoor-hussain-mr-hardeep-saini-mr-arshad-hussain-mr-razwan-faraz-ms-lyndsey-clark">serious improprieties on the part of lawyers acting for the National College of Teaching and Leadership</a> (the agency then responsible for teacher standards), including the non-disclosure of relevant evidence. </em></p> <p>• <em>Nonetheless, sources close to the government and journalists involved in the affair have continued to assert that there was serious evidence of a plot and that the cases collapsed on a ‘technicality’. For example, the co-head of the security and extremism unit at Policy Exchange (the conservative think tank that had advised Michael Gove’s schools programme), Hannah Stuart, and its head of education, John David Blake,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/trojan-horse-if-anyone-still-any-doubt-practices-uncovered-were?platform=hootsuite.">proposed</a>&nbsp;that “non-disclosure of anonymous witness statements from the Clarke inquiry was described as an ‘abuse of process’, and that is deeply unfortunate, but this falls short of an exoneration. The decision to discontinue disciplinary proceedings was based on procedural grounds – not on a shortage of evidence.” </em></p> <p>• <em>In fact, the cases were the first opportunity for that evidence to be challenged, as most of it was, just as exculpatory non-disclosed evidence was put forward and not reported on as a consequence of the collapse of the cases. The teachers were, in fact, denied the exoneration that was their due.</em></p> </div> <p><em>In the light of this, a request for an investigation is being brought to the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. This alleges that Nicky Morgan misled parliament and in doing so breached the ministerial code as well as her duties as a member of parliament. The full text of the request is available for <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/109h3CFUuMl0Mz0TJBbptGV689BLCuzoZ/view?usp=sharing">download</a>.</em></p> <p><em>The request is brought by Professor John Holmwood, an expert witness for the defence in cases brought by the National College of Teaching and Leadership. The affair represents a serious injustice visited upon teachers and governors, as well as parents and pupils linked with the schools. It has also had a profound effect on public policies that have created anxieties about the integration of British Muslims and have diminished our civil liberties. </em></p> <p><em>The request is supported by Caroline Lucas MP, who writes that, “I welcome John Holmwood’s initiative in bringing his complaint to the Committee on Standards in Public Life. The Ministerial Code requires ministers to give accurate and truthful information to Parliament and the evidence he has painstakingly collated suggests there may well have been a breach of the Code by Nicky Morgan MP when she was Secretary of State. In 2014, Nicky Morgan and her then Department presented the Clarke Report to Parliament when they knew – or should have known – that the Report was incomplete. As a result, not only were a group of teachers potentially subjected to an injustice, but Parliament may also have been misled and subsequent government policy distorted.”</em></p> <hr /> <p>Claims of a ‘plot to Islamicise’ schools in Birmingham became a major media story in early 2014. Dubbed the Birmingham Trojan Horse plot, it sparked rapid interventions first by the government and subsequently by Birmingham City Council (BCC). These included investigations of 21 schools by Ofsted; a report commissioned by the former secretary of state for education, Michael Gove (the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/birmingham-schools-education-commissioners-report">Clarke Report</a>); and a report for Birmingham City Council (the <a href="https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/downloads/file/1579/investigation_report_trojan_horse_letter_the_kershaw_report">Kershaw Report</a>). The findings of these investigations were accompanied by vigorous statements by Michael Wilshaw, then the chief inspector for schools, as well by Michael Gove and Nicky Morgan. </p> <p>The Trojan Horse affair has had great significance for public policies associated both with education and the government’s Prevent agenda. For example, a duty on schools “<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/guidance-on-promoting-british-values-in-schools-published">to promote fundamental British values</a>” was adopted in November 2014, and the affair was used the following year as the primary example of “extremist entryism” that would be guarded against by a new&nbsp;<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/counter-extremism-strategy">counter extremism strategy</a>. These initiatives have gathered apace with the creation of a new counter extremism unit in 2017 and a counter terrorism and border security bill currently on its way through parliament. The government has now moved from a concern with ‘safeguarding’ vulnerable children and individuals to criminalising extremist speech. </p> <p>These developments have been widely criticised for the lack of evidence that there is a “pre-criminal space” of extremist ideologies, which supposedly act as a conveyor belt toward violent extremism. There is also a lack of clarity in the very definition of ‘extremism’. <a href="https://www.libertyhumanrights.org.uk/sites/default/files/Liberty%27s%20Committee%20Stage%20Evidence%20on%20the%20Counter-Terrorism%20and%20Border%20Security%25">According to Liberty</a>, among other problems, the proposed bill involves “the criminalisation of expression or inquiry divorced from any act in pursuit of actual terrorism … and an extension of Prevent together with a failure to reflect on long-standing concerns about the strategy.”</p> <p>The government’s concern with extremism is presented in terms of a failure of some communities to integrate and support British values. They have presented the Birmingham Trojan Horse case as exemplifying this failure. </p> <p>However, part of the non-disclosed evidence involved exculpatory evidence given to the Clarke Report (and, by association, to the Kershaw Report) by school improvement officials in the Department for Education (DfE) and BCC, as well as by a representative of the Birmingham Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE). The fact that Park View school had been a failing school in 1996, but by 2012 was in the top 14% of schools in the country was absent from nearly all media reports and official investigations. Instead, the dominant narrative was that good head teachers were beset and bullied by parents and governors seeking improvement.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">At the heart of the affair was a successful school that was attacked by government and media.</p> <p>At the heart of the affair was a successful school that was attacked by government and media. This success occurred in the context of 98.9% of its pupils coming from Muslim heritage backgrounds, with 74% in receipt of free school meals and just 7.4% with English as a first language. It is precisely this achievement that made it the focus of the schools improvement strategies of both the local council and the DfE. The ‘takeover’ of other schools and the formation of the Park View Education Trust, then, was at the behest of Michael Gove.</p> <p>The trust was accused of having a religious ethos which would have been appropriate in a faith-designated school, but not in a “secular state school”, as the Clarke Report put it. Nowhere was it stated that <em>all</em> schools in England are legally required to teach religious education and provide daily acts of collective worship (even if many do not do so). Normally this is of Christian character, but it can be varied by a ‘determination’.</p> <p>Although Park View school had become an academy in 2012, it continued to teach the local SACRE-approved religious education curriculum and had been granted a determination for Islamic collective worship as early as 1996. Since then Ofsted inspection reports had commented approvingly of its management of the spiritual needs of its pupils and the atmosphere of tolerance in the school. This evidence was presented to the Clarke inquiry, but was not commented upon in the subsequent report.</p> <p>A play by LUNG theatre company based on interviews with those involved, official reports, and transcripts from the cases was recently put on to great acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it won Amnesty International’s Freedom of Expression Award. It was attacked by Nick Timothy, <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/09/fiction-suggest-no-plot-islamist-hardliners-take-state-schools/">who declared</a> that those who continue to challenge the Trojan Horse ‘findings’ risk “playing the Trojan Horse extremists’ game”, and by Andrew Gilligan, <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/trojan-horse-reviewed-by-andrew-gilligan-the-man-who-helped-report-the-scandal-sh966t2sw">who claimed it</a> “distorts the truth of how Muslim hardliners took over Birmingham schools”. The charge of extremism is visited upon those who question the government’s narrative and it is one that, should the government’s proposed counter terrorism and border security bill be passed, will invite scrutiny as itself a criminal activity.</p> <p>It is time for an investigation into the misrepresentations associated with the Birmingham Trojan Horse affair, which have damaged community relations and led to the introduction of legislation with chilling consequences for civil liberties.</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="/john-holmwood/birmingham-trojan-horse-affair-very-british-injustice">The Birmingham Trojan Horse affair: a very British injustice</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/john-holmwood/schooling-%E2%80%98british-values%E2%80%99-threatening-civil-liberties-and-equal-opportunit">Schooling ‘British values’: threatening civil liberties and equal opportunities</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wfd/francesco-ragazzi-rosemary-bechler/policed-multiculturalism-and-predicting-disaster">‘Policed multiculturalism’ and predicting disaster</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/digitaliberties/francesco-ragazzi/trust-and-suspicion-under-policed-multiculturalism">Trust and suspicion under ‘policed multiculturalism’</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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? uk John Holmwood Tue, 02 Oct 2018 11:50:12 +0000 John Holmwood 119898 at https://www.opendemocracy.net It is liberalism that has helped sow the seeds of illiberalism https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/mike-wayne/it-is-liberalism-that-has-helped-sow-seeds-of-illiberalism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Liberalism has lost its way because it has forgotten its own history, and the left seems similarly blindsided.</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/Joseph_chamberlain.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Joseph_chamberlain.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'>Joseph Chamberlian, British politician and businessman at his desk in the Colonial Office. Wikicommons/Harry Whates. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Today the values which liberalism holds dear are under the deepest threat.&nbsp; Open markets, tolerance of cultural differences, multi-national trading and security arrangements, to say nothing of Enlightenment values such as the importance of facts, truth and expertise. </p> <p>All are assailed by the threat of trade wars, Brexit, resurgent nationalism and growing hostility to cultural plurality. The source of these threats to liberalism is a fragmentation of what Gramsci would have called the ‘historic bloc’ of political, cultural and class alliances that operationalise the political economy of capitalism in any given era. With this bloc fragmenting, a right-wing conservatism has broken away from the conservative-liberal consensus which has dominated politics in Europe, the UK and the US since the 1990s. </p> <p>But rather than an honest assessment of its own complicity in the current crisis, liberalism risks doubling down on its commitment to an economic model that generates illiberalism. &nbsp;We can learn a lot about liberalism by looking at its historical development in order to understand where it is today and the possibilities and indeed the necessity in trying to pull liberalism to the left. For liberalism itself, the ability to learn from its own historical experiences, is a first priority if tragedy or farce is to be avoided.</p> <h2><strong>Economic violence</strong></h2> <p>Liberalism pretty well began life as the political culture of economic liberalism in the late eighteenth century. Richard Arkwright and his partners and commercial backers developed the water-powered cotton spinning mills that massively enhanced productivity around the same time that Adam Smith was writing <em>The Wealth of Nations</em> (1776). The market, capital, technology, science, progress, rationality – all this seemed to knit seamlessly together in the language of liberalism. Its main antagonist was the state, the power base of conservatism, with its corrupt patronage networks and hereditary wealth. </p> <p>In <em>The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation</em> (1819) Ricardo could acknowledge that when the market price for labour falls beneath the value it needs in wages to survive, great hardship ensues. Yet human misery could not trump the rational laws of the market. ‘Like all other contracts’ he wrote, ‘wages should be left to the fair and free competition of the market and should never be controlled by the interference of the legislature.’ Ricardo recommended that what the poor needed was to learn the values of ‘independence’ and ‘prudence’. This brutal indifference to economic violence meant that there could be no substantive alliance between the working class and liberalism.</p> <p>As late as the 1840s progressive reform and the market seemed to liberalism to be naturally allied.&nbsp; At this time the cotton mill owners were advocating for the demise of the tariffs on foreign corn that protected landowners but pushed up the wages industrialists had to pay to their workers. The Chartist press was unimpressed by appeals from the liberals to join forces with them. <em>The Northern Star</em> called Richard Cobden and John Bright, who had set up the Anti-Corn Law League on behalf of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, ‘cheap-bread brawlers and cheap-labour seekers’. <span class="mag-quote-center">Liberalism risks doubling down on its commitment to an economic model that generates illiberalism.</span></p><p>Yet ‘cheap labour’ was not necessarily hard-wired into classical liberalism. Adam Smith appreciated that workers had a rather significant part to play in the production of wealth, and this left open a philosophical bridge between liberalism and the growing labour movement of the late nineteenth century, with the idea that labour’s contribution should be ‘fairly’ rewarded (not something that today’s Adam Smith Institute is likely to recommend). </p><h2><strong>Positive freedom and collective wellbeing</strong></h2> <p>By the last quarter of that century, in both philosophy and practice, liberalism was parting company with its origins in economic liberalism. As Mayor of Birmingham, Joseph Chamberlain, former manufacturer and now a key figure in the Liberal Party, nationalised gas and water. The state was gradually being rehabilitated in Liberal thought as the essential guarantor of the common good and universal services. Liberalism had learned that the social reforms it desired did not spring from the market.</p> <p>The liberal philosopher T.H. Green (1836-1882) distinguished between negative freedom and positive freedom. The former meant freedom from constraint (e.g. from the state) but positive freedom he defined as ‘the liberation of the powers of all men equally for contributions to the common good.’&nbsp; The market was no longer seen as able to secure this positive freedom on its own. </p> <p>While liberalism did not abandon its investment in the individual’s moral autonomy, this was now combined with a more realistic assessment of the social conditions that made moral autonomy feasible. Gradually other liberal philosophers such as L.T. Hobhouse (1864-1929) rehabilitated the role of the state in liberal thinking and political practice.</p> <p>The late-nineteenth century and early decades of the twentieth century was a period when liberalism had the courage to recognise that some of its previously most cherished values and assumptions were inadequate, that means and desired social ends, did not connect up. Liberalism discovered that the capitalist market in labour power and goods was in many ways, profoundly irrational and dangerous to collective wellbeing. <span class="mag-quote-center">Liberalism discovered that the capitalist market in labour power and goods was in many ways, profoundly irrational and dangerous to collective wellbeing.</span></p> <p>Where is that capacity today to reflect on historical experiences and change course? Where is the political imagination to do more than tinker with economic liberalism? In the wake of Brexit, merely blaming its conservative and leftist antagonists for the current crisis, as in the decrying of ‘populism’, falls well short of the critical introspection and change liberalism needs. </p> <p>Ten years after the crash, the political economy of capitalism demonstrates daily that it cannot meet the needs of the majority. Liberalism has still to understand the basic lesson that cultural plurality and tolerance cannot be sustained when ontological material security for the majority is absent. Nor does it seem to notice that across the conservative-liberal spectrum, there is a willingness on the part of political leaders to stoke fears of migration at home and espouse the merits of war abroad, neither of which are particularly good for ‘tolerance’.</p> <h2><strong>Changing course and the redistribution of wealth </strong></h2> <p>Liberalism is not however fixed in stone, as its own previous oscillation away from economic liberalism shows. Nor is it even fixed in a right-wing paternalistic (Fabian) version which renders people passive recipients of social reform from above. </p> <p>The liberal philosopher J.A. Hobson, whose 1902 book <em>Imperialism, A Study</em> was influential on Lenin, broadly welcomed the industrial working class turning economic muscle into political power. Hobson ended up in the Independent Labour Party as part of a wider shift amongst the British middle class in the 1930s. It would be helpful if we could have a similar sea-change again. </p> <p>But if the left are to exert pressure on liberalism to that end, it must first critically interrogate the extent to which a liberalism badly deformed by economic liberalism has actually been internalised by the left. </p> <p>Take for example the question of the EU. Large swathes of people who think of themselves as on the left do not seem to have a political analysis of their object of desire (it really <em>is</em> an undemocratic neo-liberal organisation), the tactical nous to understand what a vote to overturn the result of the 2016 Referendum is aimed to do (sunder a section of the working class from the Labour Party and give the ‘centre’ a way back) or the prioritisation of the key strategic goal (redistribution of wealth, irrespective of our future relationship with the EU). It seems that the fate of the left and liberalism are tied together and that the reconstruction of the latter is part of making the former a more robust challenger to the status quo.</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/edmund-fawcett/daunting-task-of-repair">The daunting task of repair</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/anthony-barnett/i-am-not-liberal-but-if-i-have-to-get-into-bed-with-them-i-will">Why I am not a Liberal and how we need to fight bin Trump and Brexit</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/jon-cruddas-response-to-michael-sandel">Progressive politics must rediscover its moral purpose: a response to Michael Sandel</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU UK CEMI brexit box Brexit Mike Wayne Mon, 01 Oct 2018 16:07:02 +0000 Mike Wayne 119892 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Catalonia and postfascism https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/david-whyte-ignasi-bernat/catalonia-and-postfascism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A legacy that never went away has risen to the surface in Catalonia. And it explains why the independence movement in Catalonia will not be broken easily. <a href="https://comunicats.cat/catalunya-i-el-post-feixisme-opendemocracy/">Catalana.</a></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-38880194.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-38880194.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'>Striking Catalan pro-independence students march through Barcelona on the Catalan Secession referendum anniversary, October 1, 2018. Matthias Oesterle/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>There is a lack of understanding about what has really been happening in Catalonia over the past year. Some left commentators have been quick to label this the ‘return of Franco.’ Others have dismissed the police violence, the political prisoners and the shutting down of a democratically elected government as a reasonable reaction by a vulnerable state trying to prevent a damaging split.</p> <p>In reality neither are true. And at the same time both are true. It is the deep-lying institutional legacy of the dictatorship – a legacy that never went away – that has risen to the surface in Catalonia. And the reaction has been particularly extreme because this is the most vulnerable the Spanish state has been since Franco’s time.</p> <h2><strong>Over-reaction?</strong></h2> <p>To outside observers, the mode of arrival of 10,000 Spanish national police and Guardia civil in Autumn last year, accompanied by threats to ‘cut off’ Barcelona’s power supply and place the city under siege, did look like the response of a dictatorship. Well, it looked somewhat like a comedy dictatorship. Spain commissioned three ships to transport and accommodate officers, and the most visible one, moored in the port of Barcelona, inexplicably came emblazoned with gargantuan images of the ‘Looney Tunes’ cartoon characters Wile E Coyote, Tweety-Pie and Daffy Duck.</p> <p>Perhaps this is one reason why linking Franco to this ‘Looney Tunes’ invasion seems hugely overblown; it is a connection that – outside Catalonia – people find difficult to take seriously.</p> <p>In order to fully understand the Spanish government’s over-reaction, we need to grasp precisely what happened following the transition from the dictatorship. The Spanish transition was in many ways unique to Europe. Of the countries that were under the iron heel of fascism in the twentieth century (Germany, Italy, Greece and Portugal and Spain) only Spain deserves the description ‘postfascist.’ Italy and Germany passed through different processes of cleansing fascism from government in the post-war settlement; Greece and Portugal were exposed to processes of reparation, memory and indeed criminal trials that helped expel fascism from the establishment. This was not the case in Spain.</p> <h2><strong>State and monarch</strong></h2> <p>It is Franco’s nationalist flag, not the republican tricolour that remains the Spanish flag. Spain’s national day is October 12, the anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas. This is Franco’s “day of the race” that explicitly celebrates the conquistador traditions of Spain and remains closely bound to a colonial, anti-republican nationalism. The ongoing public funding of the Franco Foundation, the preservation of the Duchy of Franco (a hereditary title gifted to the Franco family by King Juan Carlos), the statues of the Dictator in public places and the streets named after him, are all examples of the cultural endurance of the emblems of fascism at the heart of the Spanish aristocracy and the Spanish state.</p> <p>Juan Carlos’ generosity to Franco is not difficult to explain. As part of the 1978 constitutional settlement, the position of the monarchy was re-established and Juan Carlos was crowned the first Spanish monarch for four decades. In exchange for this appointment, Juan Carlos swore allegiance to Franco’s ‘Principles of the National Movement.’</p> <p>When Juan Carlos’ son Felipe made an unprecedented TV address on October 3 last year, his explicit condemnation of Catalonia and its institutions for their disloyalty opened the political space for the constitutional suspension of the Catalonia government. The Spanish government’s tough clampdown in Catalonia is justified exclusively on its opposition to Spanish statehood and the monarchy.</p> <p>And this explains the dramatic punitive turn against any insubordination shown to the monarchy in Spain. The rapper Valtonyc was forced to flee into exile to Brussels to avoid a possible three years of imprisonment for his anti-royalist lyrics. Another hip hop singer, Pablo Hasel, is currently facing trial for ‘hate speech’ against the monarchy.</p> <h2><strong>Banning yellow</strong></h2> <p>The intolerance of insubordination has significantly intensified since the October 1 referendum. A major art exhibition on “Contemporary Spanish Political Prisoners” by the artist Santiago Sierra was banned and removed by the authorities in Madrid earlier this year. The spectacle of police confiscating yellow banners, ribbons and balloons from football fans and the banning of the use of the colour yellow by human rights activists is perhaps one of the most extreme and preposterous manifestations of the state’s complete pulverisation of any discussion of the political prisoners.</p> <p>And yet, the ‘banning’ of the colour yellow in public places mirrors precisely the logic of the ’78 regime which has officially erased the public memory of political repression. The 1978 post-Franco settlement ensured that the new Spanish state would not officially recognise Franco’s treatment of political prisoners, or even his mass graves. Even now, the Spanish state actively works to oppose any efforts to record and recognise the bodies.</p> <p>Indeed, because the ’78 regime enabled Franco’s elites to consolidate their power and then expand through a combination of post-Franco privatisation and the preservation of close links to the ruling parties, particularly the PP, corruption can be said to be integral to the postfascist oligarchy. Moreover, it was the unavoidable fact that corruption is integral to the regime that eventually brought down the Rajoy government on May 31, 2018.</p> <p>The 1977 ‘Amnesty Law’ gave an official amnesty to Franco’s political prisoners at the same time as granting impunity for crimes related to the regime. Civil servants who played a key role in the Franco dictatorship, judges and police officers – including those who had tortured countless civilians – quietly remained in place under the terms of the post-Franco amnesty. This continuity of personnel, coupled to the institutional amnesia about Franco’s mass graves – Spain had the second largest number of ‘dissappeared’ in the twentieth century after Cambodia – ensured that the institutional culture of fascism went unchallenged inside the state.</p> <h2><strong>Crime of rebellion</strong></h2> <p>The ease with which Spain convicts political prisoners and forces politicians into exile is a mark of the endurance of the culture of the dictatorship in which the judiciary were politically motivated and politically compromised. The crime of rebellion used by Rajoy, and the current government to detain political prisoners was a nineteenth century offence, brought back by Franco in the 1940s to prosecute and execute thousands of opponents using his military courts.</p> <p>We are not claiming that the practice of imprisoning political opponents and forcing people into exile remotely resembles the scale of violence experienced in the Franco period. But it is crystal clear that this practice reflects the modus operandi of the dictatorship very precisely. </p> <p>This is certainly not fascism either in its official guise, or in practice. But it is post-fascism. And it is the post-fascist structure of power that explains why the independence movement in Catalonia is not going to be broken easily.</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="/people-newright/article_306.jsp">What is Post-fascism?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/j-lia-monta/catalonia-cry-for-understanding-and-recognition">Catalonia: a cry for understanding and recognition</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/krystyna-schreiber/two-kinds-of-justice-in-spain">Two kinds of justice in Spain</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Spain </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Spain Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government International politics Catalonia David Whyte Ignasi Bernat Mon, 01 Oct 2018 12:01:16 +0000 Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte 119886 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Matteo Salvini, renaturalizing the racial and sexual boundaries of democracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/sara-garbagnoli/matteo-salvini-renaturalizing-racial-and-sexual-boundaries-of-dem <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="Standard">In Italy, Salvini has set out to expand the independentist and regionalist dimension that formerly characterized his party, turning it into a xenophobic force with a national calling.<strong></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Footnote"><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-36801503.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-36801503.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'>Family and the Disabled Minister Lorenzo Fontana arrives for the oath before the President of the Republic, June 1, 2018. NurPhoto/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p class="Footnote">This August in Italy, using his loudspeaker, a train conductor ordered “gypsies and molesters” to get off the train on the grounds that they had been “pissing off” the passengers. His voice – that of a public official – was an echo, the direct and clear-cut implementation, of Minister Salvini’s voice, who a few weeks before, had announced his intention of opening up a file on the Roma people, regretting having “to keep” the ones holding Italian citizenship. On this occasion, Matteo Salvini promptly returned the favour on his Facebook page, publicly naming the passenger who had reported the discriminatory actions of the train conducter and calling for support for the official. As a result, the passenger received more than 50,000 sarcastic, scathing and menacing messages.</p> <p class="Standard">Matteo Salvini has been flooding the Peninsula with an onrush of increasingly violent utterances since his establishment at the head of the Department of the Interior. The proliferation and violence that characterize these statements of the “captain” – as Salvini is fond of being called in the spirit of other “<em>duces</em>” – already played a crucial role in his electoral campaign. But today, they have become the calculated programmatic escalation of a statesman, a feature that transforms his speeches into a weapon to weaken democracy. This phenomenon we might understand better thanks to the exceptional work of the Algerian scholar and close friend of the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, Abdelmalek Sayad, who showed us that “to think about immigration is to think about the State”, by unveiling the unconscious categories lodged in state structures. </p> <p class="Standard">What is in the making in Italy we might call a form of shrunken democracy. The words that Salvini uses as a Minister of the Republic and Deputy Prime Minister of the Italian government are weapons that destroy the physical and moral integrity of those racialized subjects who are already, for the most part, burdened by cruel living and work conditions. Insofar as as they have a performative power, these words of the State are designed to strike and wound, leaving their mark on bodies and consciousness: they contribute to having us believe in a reality full of the “dangers of invasion”, “illegal immigrants on a cruise”, putting an “end to their fun”, “anti-Italian racism”, the “totalitarianism of the politically correct”, not to mention defending the “Catholic roots of Europe”. Day by day, hour after hour, those words dislocate the boundaries of the very speakable within a democracy. They demarcate what can be done under the name of democracy. Such phrases are permissions, forms of legitimization, and when they convey racist violence they become laissez-passers for more racist violence to happen with total impunity. </p> <p class="Standard">One example, as the journalist <a href="https://www.vice.com/it/article/7xqmda/le-ronde-di-casapound-in-spiaggia-a-ostia">Leonardo Bianchi</a> points out, is the “patrols” that have been carried out by the activists of Casa Pound on an Ostia (Rome) beach over the last two years. These have now acquired a totally new meaning, becoming part of a consistent state policy, the “safe beaches operation”, promoted and subsidized by the Ministry of the Interior against “molesting smugglers”. The surge of racist acts and speeches that has flooded Italy since the beginning of the summer is the effect of cumulative state slogans and practices as well as the consequence of three political shifts brought about by Salvini himself since his rise to leader of the League party in 2012. These shifts help to account for his success – the League jumped from 17.4% to 30% in voting intentions, beguiling the vast majority of the Catholic population, despite the protests of a segment of the clergy. They provide a framework for examining the wider political moment, for which Italy might be in the process of providing a control experiment.</p> <h2 class="Standard"><strong>The “patriotic” turn</strong></h2> <p class="Standard">Salvini successfully set out to expand the independentist and regionalist dimension that formerly characterized his party – and its ideological equivalent, “anti-southerner” hate – to turn it into a xenophobic force with a national calling. Hence the choice of his campaign slogan “Italians first”, recalling Trump's electoral banner, “America First”,<em> </em>which in turn was a Ku Klux Klan slogan. Salvini's government knew exactly how to combine and revive different forms of “hatred of the other” already structurally lodged in the national social fabric, and to capitalize on the tremendous social inequalities stemmed from those neoliberal reforms carried out by former governments to deal with the 2008 economic crisis. <strong><em>&nbsp;</em></strong></p> <p class="Standard">Of course, the boundaries that these “patriots” are ready to “protect” are geographical, through the closure policies of ports and their consequences in terms of deaths, slavery, rape and all the other atrocities committed against thousands of men, women and children. But what Salvini and his acolytes safeguard the most are the “boundaries” that white supremacists fantasise about, built on the symbolism of “blood purity” or the “right skin” – <em>la pelle giusta,</em> to recall the title of Paola Tabet's study on Italian racism – or such cultural nightmares as Renaud Camus' “big replacement of European people” or Alain de Benoist's “big transformation”. So, the first ideological discontinuity is racism. For Salvini and his supporters, a Roma person's Italian citizenship does not make him/her a “real Italian”, and the same holds true for people of African origin. These Italians remains “illegals”, incarnations of an utter “cultural otherness”, strange and dangerous bodies to be expelled from the body politic, “non-human” existences against which we can unleash all kinds of verbal or physical violence without feeling any pain or guilt. </p> <p class="Standard">In her book <em>Racism, Sexism, Power and Ideology</em> Colette Guillaumin shows how the articulation between the otherization and the dehumanization of social groups hit by racism is the grease that makes the machinery of racist violence spread and reactivate so easily. In 1946, contemplating the rise of Nazism, Ernst Cassirer wrote in his book <em>The Myth of the State</em> that the racist myth is “never really defeated or overcome, but it lives on, lurking in the shadow, waiting for its moment, a favourable occasion.” Where are we today? Who are our “non-humans”?</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-37118898.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37118898.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'>Italy's Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini on TV show Porta a Porta, Rai 1, Rome, June 20, 2018. Zucchi/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The second political shift performed by Salvini is the ideological erasure of every form of antifascism, a move also claimed at the time by the founder of the League at its inception, Umberto Bossi. This attack on antifascism soon evolved into a proximity to the far-right, its spokespersons, ideologues and activists – Marine Le Pen in France, Alexander Dugin in Russia, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Steve Bannon in the US, and, in Italy, the neofascists of Casa Pound and Forza Nuova as well as the neo-nazis of the Veneto Fronte Skinheads. </p><p class="Standard">These groups acknowledge Salvini as an ally, or at least a person to dialogue with. Adopting the garb of two European identitarian and neo-nazi clothing brands, as Salvini recently did, is no coincidence and goes far beyond a simple wink to a potential constituency. As other “<em>duces”</em> did before him, Salvini uses his body as a political instrument. Through ubiquitous <em>mise-en-scènes</em>, he has become the incarnation, both accessible and charismatic, intimate and thaumaturgical, of his populist, suprematist, anti-intellectualist, but also heteronormative and masculinist ideology. In fact, Salvini speaks the language not only of racialization – that is of non-white people's essentialization and inferiorization – but that of sex and sexuality as well. On July 1, his opening ministerial speech announced two political priorities in one: fighting against immigration and protecting the family “made up of a mom and a dad”.</p> <h2 class="Standard"><strong>The spectre of “gender ideology”</strong></h2> <p class="Standard">Making the defence of the so-called ‘natural family’ a crucial element in his governmental agenda represents the third shift in Salvini's politics. Since 2013, “gender ideology” has become the enemy image announcing a new fight joined by a large and multifaceted coalition of actors, composed of anti-abortion and pro-family associations, identitarian Catholic and far-right groups. The Italian <a href="http://feministesentousgenres.blogs.nouvelobs.com/archive/2017/10/03/la-croisade-anti-genre-du-vatican-aux-manifs-pour-tous-entre-607259.html">“anti-gender” movement</a> joins a transnational hodgepodge of campaigns and mobilizations that involve an ever-increasing number of countries and continents, from Europe to Central and Latin America. </p> <p class="Standard">These actors aim at blocking all political, legal and cultural initiatives that advocate the <a href="https://www.rowmaninternational.com/book/antigender_campaigns_in_europe/3-156-7734fc12-00e3-47fc-8478-05897740ac19">denaturalization of the sexual order</a>. From granting to same-sex couples the right to marry (as in France, for example) to the adoption of the Istanbul Convention (as in Bulgaria or Slovakia), from the implementation of gender studies (as in Brazil or Hungary), to the fight against homophobia and transphobia (as in Italy), these “anti-gender” groups oppose policies perceived as the consequences of an “ideology” promoted by “feminist and homosexualist lobbies” and taken up by the political supranational instances of a “globalist élite”, an “ideology” which is “colonizing” the entire world in order to destroy the “human basics”. </p> <p class="Standard">These groups adopt and adapt at their national level a rhetoric created by the Vatican in the mid-1990s. To fight against the feminist concept of gender, to deform and demonize it, making it a metonym for the political and theoretical revolution advanced by the feminist and LGBTQ+ movements has different goals, all of them giving a voice, concealed beneath a new rhetoric and new practices of protest, to an essentialist, sexist, anti-feminist, homophobic and transphobic vision of the world. The aim is to create a new battlefront of mobilization which can unite various and different actors under the same banner – “the war against gender ideology” – but also foster a populist wave of moral panic around the trope “save our children”. </p> <p class="Standard">To be sure, sexism and homophobia are not new ingredients in the party's ideology. The “celodurismo” (having a permanent hard-on) that the League claims for its leaders: the “filthy gesture” that Umberto Bossi addressed to the Minister Margherita Boniver in 1993 and the inflatable doll that Salvini waved during a meeting and compared to the former Speaker of the House, Laura Boldrini, are among its more revolting examples. But as for sexual politics, the rhetoric, the alliances and the ambitions have changed. In five years, thanks to a feverish activism supported by the communities of the Neocatechumenal Way, the most radical anti-abortion militant groups (Jurists for Life and Pro-Life Onlus, close to the neofascist party Forza Nuova) and the traditionalists of Alleanza Cattolica (Catholic Alliance), the “anti-gender” movement has become an inescapable feature in the Italian political landscape. </p> <p class="Standard">As its leaders triumphantly claim, this movement was able to “impregnate” the new government's agenda to the point of making its vocabulary and words (“gender ideology”, “human ecology”, “human anthropology”) contemporary reference points in a political grammar. In July, in an interview given to the identitarian Catholic newspaper <em>La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana</em>, Salvini waged a stubborn war against the children of same-sex families and all forms of legal recognition of same-sex parenting – a recognition not supported by Italian law which stems from judicial decisions or from the registrations signed by local mayors. </p> <p class="Standard">In this fight, Salvini has been supported, or let us say, anticipated, by Lorenzo Fontana, the Minister of Family and Disability (formerly known as Minister of “Family Affairs”). Fontana, who calls himself a “patriot” and a “crusader”, is a Catholic close to the fundamentalist and identitarian religious front. He is a fervent anti-abortion activist, homophobic and antifeminist and, as <a href="https://playingthegendercard.wordpress.com/">Yàdad de Guerre</a> points out in his study of the connections between the far-right and “anti-gender” groups, he is at the height of his career in the League. Fontana is responsible for the party's alliances with the Russian government, the European far-right or neofascist groups, the European party “Movement for a Europe of Nations and Freedom”, and the World Congress of Families. This latter is a US think tank founded in 1997 by Catholics and Evangelicals with strong ramifications in Russia. Nowadays it gathers together the main actors of the “anti-gender” crusade and works to promote, harmonize and globally spread the militant strategies of these groups, which aim at “restoring” a supposed “natural order”, as the report by the secretary of the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development <a href="https://www.epfweb.org/node/690">Neil Datta</a> details.</p> <h2 class="Standard"><strong>A racist, sexist and homophobic counterrevolution</strong></h2> <p class="Standard">As for its racial and sexual dimension, Salvini's “common sense revolution” is a return to an imaginary order composed of “native people” that must not mingle, and “ontologically” different and complementary sexes. Such a “revolution” aims at renaturalizing a hierarchical order of assigned sexual and racial roles, and at restoring the integrity of a system of thought that envisions race and sex as “natural facts” – a system of thought that Monique Wittig called “the straight mind”. This “common sense revolution” is at the same time a restoration and a counterrevolution, because it targets the revolution brought about by minority movements. It aims at challenging their struggles, claims and theories, which have troubled intellectual and political practises by affirming that race, sex and sexuality are not a matter of “nature”, but of a naturalization of social hierarchization. </p> <p class="Standard">To reinforce and renaturalize the racial and sexual boundaries of the “nation” is to further shrink the spectrum of democracy. Is Italian democracy being progressively emptied of its substance without being formally abolished? In <a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/fintan-o-toole-trial-runs-for-fascism-are-in-full-flow-1.3543375">his article for <em>The Irish Times</em></a>, Fintan O'Toole speaks of “trial runs for fascism”, or “pre-fascism”: in which we progressively dislocate the moral and political limits of what is acceptable within a democratic system until we transform it into something else. Is Italy an archetypal example of what Wendy Brown calls a “de-democratization” of democracy? Avoiding the ambiguities of the notion of “populism”, Éric Fassin speaks of a “<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/ric-fassin/neo-fascist-moment-of-neoliberalism">neofascist moment of neoliberalism</a>” in order to mobilize a new antifascism to confront it. </p> <p class="Standard">Meawnhile, Aboubakar Soumahoro is an Italian-Ivorian trade unionist deeply engaged in the defence of migrant farm workers’ rights. After the murder of his friend, activist and colleague, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/hsiao-hung-pai/salvini-and-racist-immigration-policy-of-italy-s-new-government-is-giving-green-light">Soumaila Sacko</a>, gunned down in Calabria (Italy) in a racist attack last June, Souhmahoro argued that “we cannot talk about social justice without talking about anti-sexism, anti-racism and antifascism”. </p> <p class="Standard">Soumahoro's words can be read conjointly with Fassin’s analysis. Salvini's counterrevolution targets women, homosexuals, trans people, racialized subjects and minorities altogether, as well as our liberation movements. We must think and act starting from this convergence of oppressions. Today neofascism and its friends speak the language of the renaturalization of the sexual and racial order. We need a neo-antifascim that defends its denaturalization, an anti-sexist and anti-racist moment of antifascism.</p> <p class="Standard"><em>A version of this article <a href="https://aoc.media/analyse/2018/09/10/italie-contre-revolution-raciste-sexiste-homophobe/">was first published</a> in the French newspaper “AOC” on September 10, 2018.</em></p> <p class="Standard"><em>Translation by Laura Scarmoncin.</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/ric-fassin/neo-fascist-moment-of-neoliberalism">The neo-fascist moment of neoliberalism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/hsiao-hung-pai/salvini-and-racist-immigration-policy-of-italy-s-new-government-is-giving-green-light">Salvini and the racist immigration policy of Italy’s new government is giving a green light to racial violence </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/judith-sunderland/italy-s-dangerous-direction-on-migration">Italy’s dangerous direction on migration</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/mario-pianta/lib-pop-politics-italy-s-new-government-is-more-neoliberal-than-popu">Lib-pop politics: Italy’s new government is more neoliberal than populist </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/jan-zielonka/harakiri-italian-style">Harakiri, Italian style</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"> Italy </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> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Italy Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics Ideas International politics Sara Garbagnoli Mon, 01 Oct 2018 06:38:32 +0000 Sara Garbagnoli 119880 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Democratic Socialism beyond the New Deal https://www.opendemocracy.net/cihan-tugal/democratic-socialism-beyond-new-deal <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We can lead better lives in an inhabitable world (for more than just a few decades) only if we chart a less governmental, less voting-based path.</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-Barricade_Voltaire_Lenoir_Commune_Paris_1871.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-Barricade_Voltaire_Lenoir_Commune_Paris_1871.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'>Paris Commune of 1871: barricade after capture by the regular army, where Boulevard Voltaire meets Richard Lenoir. Wikicommons/Bruno Braquehais. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>The financial and housing devastation of 2008, youth underemployment, and ultimately the victory of the radical right at the polls has resulted in talk of socialism in America. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/sep/02/socialism-young-americans-bernie-sanders">Then the talk turned to growing organization</a>, culminating in serious challenges to the democratic establishment. What many mean by “democratic socialism” is <a href="http://inthesetimes.com/article/18623/bernie_sanders_democratic_socialism_georgetown_speech">an inclusive version of the New Deal</a> (though <a href="https://www.vox.com/first-person/2018/8/1/17637028/bernie-sanders-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-cynthia-nixon-democratic-socialism-jacobin-dsa">there are some who disagree</a>). The original New Deal was white and male. LBJ’s attempts to break that mould remained ineffective and led to incurable divisions within the Democratic Party. <a href="https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/09/05/socialism-democratic-dsa-america-219604">Today, a revised New Deal</a> can only rise on the shoulders of women, LGBTQ, minorities, and immigrants, who now lead the anti-establishment challenge. They perhaps can <a href="https://jacobinmag.com/2017/08/socialist-left-democratic-socialists-america-dsa">become the left faction of the Democratic Party and build a new country</a>.</p> <p>But is this really the way to go? Was the New Deal that ideal? What were its costs? The New Deal delivered stable jobs, homes, roads, cars, and education to an increasing number of Americans over the decades. If not derailed, it would probably have delivered more effective healthcare too. </p> <p>However, the New Deal spelled the end of spontaneity, organizational creativeness, and (more broadly) self-reliance and power for workers and activists. It taught them to look up to the government, parties, union bureaucrats, and corporations for the resolution of their problems. <a href="https://newleftreview.org/I/124/mike-davis-the-barren-marriage-of-american-labour-and-the-democratic-party">Many of the major actions of the 1920s and 1930s had focused not on wages and benefits, but control and autonomy (which factory rationalizations undermined)</a>. Freedom, that watchword of conservatives and libertarians, was at the heart of the protest. These concerns were mostly dropped from the labor agenda afterwards. The “deal” struck with business interests cost the movement its soul. </p> <h2><strong>Well-meaning people</strong></h2> <p>A similar expectation haunts the talk of socialism in our day. We expect to vote well-meaning people into office. Once safely there, they will deliver us education, healthcare, and other rights. Yet, this (seemingly) realistic hope misses a crucial part of the picture: <a href="http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.730.8563&amp;rep=rep1&amp;type=pdf">if it were not for factory occupations, general strikes, and other disruptive action, politicians (let alone business families) would never be willing to shake our hands and reach a “deal.”</a> More broadly, they (apparently) gave in because the international threat of communism was looming on the horizon. As they do not face severe internal and external pressures, today’s businesses (and other elites) will surely sabotage any kind of legislative action (even if socialists are elected in large numbers, which is itself unlikely in the absence of extra-parliamentary organization).</p> <p>The actions and organizations of the 1930s and 1940s could have (hypothetically) gone in a much more participatory direction, had only political organizations acted as better leaders. Due to the international balance of forces, however, that was impossible. To the left of the Democrats, a professionally organized Communist Party crowded out all organizations willing to shoulder that task. Despite its earlier (more action-oriented) role, the CP in turn came to be content with entrenched unionization, welfare policies, and (the false promise of) sharing power in Washington DC.</p> <h2><strong>What does a revolutionary threat look like?</strong></h2> <p>Since “free market” capitalism has failed Americans for a second time now, we are likely to see a (perhaps technologically more advanced, but also more dispersed and directionless) repetition of the 1930s and 1940s. Occupy Wall Street (and its fleeting “assemblies”) was an early sign of what is to come. A new society and economy can only emerge through the maturation of such action and self-organization – <a href="http://berkeleyjournal.org/2014/10/end-of-the-leaderless-revolution/">a maturation that requires much more professional leadership than the dominant tendencies in Occupy were willing to admit</a>. </p> <p>Compared to a self-organization-based socialism, a revised New Deal is 1) less than desirable: an autonomy-based socialism might be more chaotic in its initial stages (in regards to delivering goods and services), but it would ensure that the goods and services of socialism are never perceived simply as “entitlements” (as free market conservatives and liberals always worry) and are rather seen as fruits of <em>collective achievement</em>; 2) unlikely: today’s elites are much more resourceful than those of the twentieth century and will not descend from their thrones to make a deal (without a fight). If there is no revolutionary threat, there can be no social democracy; 3) unsustainable. </p> <p>Actually, unsustainability was (and is) the biggest curse of the New Deal<strong> </strong>(and social democracy in general). It cannot last for more than a few decades, due to two (related) reasons. Social democracy, in all its forms, leaves real power in the hands of the elite (businesses and bureaucrats). The latter grabs more than its fair share of the pie gradually and (whenever it can) abruptly.</p> <p>I am not simply repeating a dogma here. Raising suspicions about a New Deal is not identical to stating “we shall settle for nothing less than pure socialism!” To the contrary, <a href="https://newleftreview.org/II/41/erik-olin-wright-compass-points">an autonomist socialism should learn to live with <em>some </em>businesses, markets, and bureaucrats</a> (contrary to anarchist, left-wing communist, Stalinist, etc. dreams of abolishing the “enemy” overnight). The question is one of power; and my observation is historical (see below). It is practicality, not just principle, that requires us to look beyond the New Deal.</p> <h2><strong>In the long run?</strong></h2> <p>The second factor that renders social democracy problematic is more technical. Those who call for a revised New Deal <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/ng-interactive/2018/sep/13/our-new-international-movement-will-fight-rising-fascism-and-globalists">still base their vision<strong> </strong>on Keynes</a>. It is indeed true that Keynesian policy tools delivered the great and (relatively more equitable) wealth of the twentieth century (in America and elsewhere). However, as orthodox economists are wont to point out immediately whenever someone brings up the New Deal, Keynesianism inevitably leads to stagflation (in the long run) and other dead ends. What they forget to note, however, is that Keynes was also right: we are all dead in the long run. To tweak Keynes, we could say the following (in the spirit of Karl Polanyi): if we applied orthodox economics persistently enough, it would not end in stagflation, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Transformation_(book)">but the death (of civilization and of nature)</a>. So, the choice between Keynesianism and orthodoxy is not something to be settled in the classroom (here is where my technical objection differs from that of the orthodox). </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/Place-vendame-bbraquehais.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Place-vendame-bbraquehais.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'>Communards pose with the toppled statue of Napoleon following the destruction of the Vendôme Column on May 8, 1871. Wikicommons/Bruno Braquehais. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Orthodox and unorthodox tools need to be mixed and matched for effective solutions. We should have learned that lesson after world-powers disastrously implemented orthodox theory from the 1830s to the 1920s (although, as circumstances dictated, less coherently toward the end). <a href="http://inctpped.ie.ufrj.br/spiderweb/pdf_4/For_a_Sociological_Marxism.pdf">The world repeated the insanity of approaching economic orthodoxy once again after the 1970s, not because it was “theoretically” the right thing to do</a>, but <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Constructions-Neoliberal-Reason-Jamie-Peck/dp/0199662088">because free market liberals and conservatives (empowered by a business counteroffensive) pushed us in that direction</a>. The New Deal had left power in the hands of elites; and they used that power when conditions (the frustrations caused by stagflation) allowed them to do so. </p><p>Even if socialists controlled policy-making for a few decades, they would run into technical problems (stagflation and more). Since even a revised New Deal would leave the fundamentals of power and property untouched, the elites would again take back all the benefits that would accrue to us during those decades. Only an autonomy-based socialism can prevent such counteroffensives.</p> <h2><strong>Autonomy-based socialism</strong></h2> <p>Examples of such socialism abound in history, but they have always been tried out in less than ideal circumstances (famine, underdeveloped/non-industrialized economies, isolation, and the like). The Paris Commune is the “purest” example, but its vulnerability and brevity taught activists that some (unfortunately hierarchical) organization was necessary to sustain and expand egalitarian practices. </p> <p>The Bolsheviks took that lesson to heart rather more dogmatically than they should have, sowing the seeds of the authoritarianism that would (literally) finish them off only two decades after they came to power. Still, the first decade of the Russian Revolution is rich in self-organizational experiences such as <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Workers-Control-Socialist-Democracy-Experience/dp/0860910547">councils</a>, <a href="http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?products_id=84783">communes</a>, and <a href="https://www.berghahnbooks.com/title/MurphyRevolution">factory committees</a> (and the Bolsheviks were decisive in both bolstering and repressing them). </p> <p>Chinese, Yugoslavian, <a href="http://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/31955/Those-Who-Want-To-Build,-Those-Who-Want-To-Fight-The-World-Social-Forum-with-a-North-African-Twist">North African</a>, and South European histories, among others, are also full of experiments we can learn from. In today’s world, many small and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jun/24/alternative-capitalism-mondragon">large cooperatives practice the same principles</a>, but lack (political) tents, which prevents them from turning into global projects. Moreover, in a different way, they face the “isolation” problem that the Russian councils suffered from, making it hard for them to stick to egalitarianism. You can’t build socialism on an island (whether that island is Cuba or a single company). </p> <p>The loose talk of socialism in America creates the possibility that we can learn from the past; unite the existing experiments; and create more political and economic venues for a truly democratic socialism.</p> <p>Yes, defeating right-wing radicalism is the most immediate task, and voting for New Dealers (or even free market Democrats) might be a reasonable way to do that in the midterm elections of November 2018. </p><p>But we can lead better lives in an inhabitable world (for more than just a few decades) only if we chart a less governmental, less voting-based path. Without that counter-balance, even <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/20/democratic-party-awol-2016">protecting whatever remains of liberal democracy</a> is an empty dream.</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="/phil-burton-cartledge/democratic-politics-beyond-liberal-democracy">Democratic politics beyond liberal democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/jeremy-gilbert-rahel-sophia-s-alessio-kaolioulis/radical-democracy-and-municipal-movements">Radical democracy and municipal movements</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/chantal-mouffe-rosemary-bechler/left-populism-over-years-chantal-mouffe-in-conversation-with-rosemar">Left populism over the years</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/rahel-sophia-s-alessio-kolioulis/circularity-new-strategic-horizon">Circularity. A new strategic horizon </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/rosemary-bechler/commons-sense-you-either-see-it-or-you-don-t-0">&#039;Commons sense’: you either see it or you don’t</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> <div 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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU United States Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Economics Ideas International politics Cihan Tugal Tue, 25 Sep 2018 06:54:18 +0000 Cihan Tugal 119809 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A “People’s Vote” on Brexit – be careful what you wish for https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/neal-lawson/people-s-vote-on-brexit-be-careful-what-you-wish-for <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We will never build a progressive internationalism on the basis of a democratic fix. We need democratic renewal at both UK and European level.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/people&#039;s vote.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/people&#039;s vote.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="316" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: People's Vote march at 2018 Labour Party conference. Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Images, all rights reserved.</em></p><p>When thinking about Brexit and Europe, we should remember the words of Hans Magnus Enzensberger: <em>short term hopes are futile - long term resignation is suicidal.</em></p> <p>Over two years on from the vote, and now heading fast for the Brexit door, progressives are still in a mess when it comes to Europe and are in danger of turning a crisis into a terminal democratic and political catastrophe. How did we get here – and what do we need to consider before we make any future moves, in particular a second referendum?</p> <p>A second referendum – and let’s call it what it is, rather than pretend it’s something else – could be the right move. I remain open. But more than anything the process that gets us there has to:</p> <ol><li>Examine fully the deep causes of the Brexit vote</li><li>Understand the deep and probably abiding cost of a second referendum</li><li>Build a deeper democratic path to that vote </li><li>Construct a reform agenda for the EU and not just press the rewind button</li><li>Put in place a domestic reform agenda which speaks to the causes of the explosive Brexit vote.</li></ol> <h2>Brexit cannot be fixed by Remainers beating Brexiteers</h2> <p>Let’s start by being clear: there is no good society (socialism) in one country as some on the left naively hope, without capitalism being tamed through democracy and regulation at a regional (European) and global level. The only way to achieve a good society is through democratic participation of citizens at every level in which institutions impact on their lives. From this perspective, we can start to build an argument that could start to reunite our polarised country and heal the wounds that were revealed by the Brexit vote. </p> <p>In all this I have felt terribly torn. I believe utterly in the need for international solidarity and through Compass have worked to achieve that across Europe for the last decade or more. Brexit feels like a sharp step away from this goal and towards despair about a future in which the UK tries to ‘go it alone’. And yet we need to respect the people in so many communities who voted to Leave and provide a way forward with them that’s doesn’t rely on Johnson, Rees-Mogg, Farage or worse. Brexit cannot be fixed by Remainers beating Brexiteers. There has to be a ‘win-win solution’, and the only way to secure that is through the deepest possible democratic processes. </p> <p>Democracy can’t have full stops, but needs commas</p> <p>The Brexit vote, like it or not, was a big democratic revolution. The turnout was enormous compared to general elections and over three million of our fellow citizens voted who never do. More than 17 million people voted for the UK to leave the EU. Both sides can make a case for what was fair and what wasn’t: the £350m bus figures versus predictions of a recession and huge job losses. Stupidly, all agreed on the nature and terms of the referendum. The government was clear in its intention to interpret the referendum result as a binding vote and sent letters to every household saying as much. If Britain voted to Leave, then – it was commonly accepted though not expected – leave we would. </p> <p>Sadly, the Remain camp ran a poor campaign and the vote was lost. At the 2017 general election over 82 per cent of votes were cast for parties supporting Brexit. Of course, voters had little choice and everyone knows what a warped democratic political system we have, but that’s the system and no-one can say the government does not have a mandate to implement Brexit. I recount this only to illustrate how complex and cloudy the democratic terrain for any second referendum is. </p> <p>Brexit won. But this, just like the ongoing Scottish debate about independence, was no settled will of the people. Indeed, voting was incredibly polarised: 80 percent of women under 25 voted to Remain, while England outside of London saw a majority of 11 percent for Leave. Some argue that ‘a win is a win’. And the truthful answer is that it is – and it isn’t. Brexit did win – but only just. Nigel Farage told the Daily Mirror in May 2016 that a 52/48 Remain victory would be “unfinished business by a long way”. He went on to tell the BBC that “there could be an unstoppable demand for a re-run of the EU referendum if Remain wins by a narrow margin”. “Win or lose this battle,” he concluded, “we will win this war.”</p> <p>He was right. But how and when any second referendum is pushed matters enormously. Democracy can’t have full stops, but it should allow for punctuation marks – time to breathe and reconsider. We have never been give this time. </p> <p>There were two early and disastrous mistakes. First, Theresa May decided to weaponise the vote to attack Labour, by trying to drive a wedge between the party and its majority of Brexit-supporting constituents. Instead of a parliament that could build a consensus around the nature of Brexit, she made the debate toxic – surely she must now regret this move? But the Labour leadership was also deeply at fault by insisting on hastily invoking Article 50, when what the country needed was time to explore the complex nature of a 52/48-result. It is a considered democratic space we need to open. </p> <p>If progress were a piece of Brighton (Remain) or Blackpool (Leave) rock, then the word running through the length of them must be ‘democracy’. Democracy is the only means by which we build the good society. That isn’t just democracy as rule of the majority but the plural search for shared assumptions, meaning and purpose – in a better future for all of us precisely because it is negotiated and not imposed. We need a consistent and principled approach to democracy – or we are nothing. </p> <h2>A “People’s Vote” – and the toxic space the far-right are waiting to exploit</h2> <p>It’s why the alarm bells started ringing in my head when at anti-Brexit strategy meetings campaigners kept reminding themselves not to call it a second referendum and instead call it a ratification vote and more recently a People’s Vote. If the argument is that a vote against any deal automatically means we revert to remaining in the EU, then this is disingenuous to stay the least. Surely the rejection of the deal means the government should go away and construct a better deal; not a reversal of the whole thing without a clear and unambiguous vote on doing so – a second referendum? There can be no democratic sleight of hand; only a clear and unambiguous vote to reverse Brexit.</p> <p>So we have to get the democratic process right, but we also have to dig deep into the causes of Brexit. Some showed interest for a while and visited Leave-voting communities, but it soon waned. A few stuck at it: Caroline Lucas did, and Anthony Barnett made an early and strong intervention with The <a href="https://unbound.com/books/brexit/">Lure of Greatness</a>.</p> <p>If there is a second referendum, I fear that a pro-EU view might win simply because a large swathe of people just won’t bother voting a second time, because they are resigned to the fact that the ‘elite’ will always win and will keep coming back until they do. They will give up on democracy. And who could blame them? </p> <p>Just as I hate the thought of the social and economic damage Brexit could bring, I can’t bear to think what a second vote would do to the hearts and hopes of the people who voted for Brexit, who for once trusted the system, who had a democratic outlet for once in their life – only to find that they didn’t. Politics and democracy has already failed them, closed their industries, marginalised and humiliated them – and then offered them a huge scream button to hit in the shape of the referendum, which they duly pressed. Could they now have even that last bit of power taken away?</p> <p>A second vote could turn them away from any residual belief in democracy. It will confirm to them the suspicion they have always had: that the elite, the establishment, London always win – and they never do. They will feel more marginalised and humiliated than ever. Of course, Remainers may argue that Brexit will make these Leave-voters’ lives immeasurably worse, but that is a long conversation we need to have. </p> <p>Many Leave-voters were from affluent homes in the South, but talk to Labour MPs in the North and they know this is the toxic space the far-right are waiting to exploit. Banks, Johnson, Rees-Mogg and Robinson don’t want a messy soft Brexit compromise. They want either want a no-deal Brexit or for Brexit to be stopped, so that out of the sense of betrayal, resentment and rejection they can build a populist hard-right movement. It could well be the case that a ‘street first’ strategy would then really take hold, with immigrants and asylum seekers targeted, windows smashed and faces spat at, and a drift to heaven knows what form of politics. Britain will never have experienced such political poison. </p> <p>Robert Peston, in his <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pg/pestonitv/posts/?ref=page_internal">letter to his Father</a>, has a reasonable take on this aspect of the Brexit vote:</p><p>"But poor people who voted for Brexit were not wrong, in that it was probably the best opportunity they would ever have to give the establishment a proper kicking, for ignoring them, for forgetting they exist. During most of the previous thirty-odd years, Britain and most of the rich West had been run on a deceitful prospectus. Labour and Tories had argued, and even for the most part believed, that they were governing for the whole nation. But that was tosh. They were governing for themselves and for those who work in the City and the service sector in London and the South-East. They were governing for property owners. They were governing for a highly skilled, internationally mobile elite of corporate executives, bankers and entrepreneurs. This is not revolutionary rhetoric, it is observable fact, which cannot be ignored by left or right."</p> <p>Those who helped pave the road to the Brexit vote – Clegg, Cable and Blair – saying ‘have another go’ only diminishes the case for a second referendum. New Labour in its smug dismissal of all things Old Labour, its lack of concern for pay or houses, its failure to confront Murdoch, the Daily Mail or the bankers, its calling for British jobs for British workers, helped get it to this point. They had little good to say about the EU and no interest in democratising it. </p> <p>Of course, I fear the shock doctrine of the right given any hard Brexit or no deal, but the festering venom of a society in which a large section of it give up totally on democracy is equally if not more awful. As things stand, any second referendum is likely to be more polarising than first, ‘project fear’ on stilts. And because of the complex nature of the possible questions being bandied about, it could be more chaotic. </p> <p>We are witness to a deeper democratic malaise and a politics that hasn’t worked for so many people for so many years. Domestically, we have no written constitution, no proportional representation, a broken and bankrupt system of local government and no rules for referendums – we simply don’t have the structures or culture for proper democratic deliberation. We live in a world where power and politics have been separated. Brexit certainly won’t fix this, but will a second referendum create the conditions for deep democratic renewal? </p> <p>Dominic Grieve, a politician who I <a href="https://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/if-we-can-t-work-together-on-a-deal-we-must-rethink-the-whole-idea-of-brexit-a3888121.html">usually</a> have huge regard for, recently asked whether we should “accept Brexit cannot be implemented and think again about what we are doing”. Let me be clear, I didn’t want the UK to leave the EU but it can’t be akin to Hotel California – somewhere you can check out from, but that you can never leave. Grieve simply highlights the democratic deficit of an organisation that feels itself to be beyond democracy. It has echoes of Tony Blair’s ‘sink or swim’ speech to the Labour conference in 2005 when he (in)famously said: “I hear people say we have to stop and debate globalisation. You might as well debate whether autumn should follow summer.” Is it any wonder the people voted to stop it when they had the chance?</p> <h2>What does a good Europe look like – and why is the UK ignoring the debate?</h2> <p>If our relationship to democracy needs to be thought through, so does our relationship to Europe. If a second referendum is simply just about a return to the status quo, then the underlying social, economic and democratic problems will simply return.</p> <p>I didn’t want Brexit to happen, but I can’t say I’ve never wobbled in my commitment to the EU. A Europe that breaks the economy and hearts of the Greeks is not a Europe I felt very at home in. But I know the good society I want can only be built through European and global forms of solidarity and democracy, that climate change, finance, investment, our hearts and hopes are all now borderless. </p> <p>This autumn marks the tenth anniversary of a publication called <em><a href="http://www.compassonline.org.uk/publications/europe-the-good-society-after-the-crash/">Europe - the Good Society</a></em>. It was authored by the now leader of the German SPD, Andrea Nahles, and UK Labour MP Jon Cruddas. It set out the case for a social and democratic Europe in the 21st century and sparked a debate across the continent. The only place where it didn’t really ignite debate was here in the UK – because most progressives have had little or no interest in what a progressive Europe looks like. To the Blairites, Europe was a place to be mildly ridiculed because of its failure to be New Labour enough, to see it only as a space for market-based reforms, while working time directives and the rest were all rejected or wriggled around. The more traditional left, who opposed the UK entering the European Community in 1975, still held out for socialism in one country. Compass ploughed a deep furrow, <a href="mailto:https://socialeurope.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/OccPap1.pdf">publishing work</a> and promoting networks across the continent about what a good Europe could look like. With the help of the <a href="https://www.fes-london.org/">Friedrich Ebert S</a>tiftung (FES), and <a href="https://www.socialeurope.eu/">Social Europe</a>, from Berlin to Stockholm, Budapest, Rome, Lisbon and beyond, the debate flourished. But it continued to fall on deaf ears here. Europe was either about free markets or it was a place to leave, with more progressive elements in the unions, the Greens and the Labour left squeezed. </p> <p>Today, others have admirably continued this debate, <a href="https://diem25.org/">DiEM 25</a>, <a href="https://euroalter.com/">European Alternatives</a> and <a href="https://www.anothereurope.org/new-report-the-corbyn-moment-and-european-socialism">Another Europe is Possible</a> have set out the policy agenda for a good Europe. Other than Yanis Varoufakis, no one in the UK has made a convincing case about how the EU can be transformed to make this desirable agenda feasible. How do we get a constellation of 27 countries to agree to a very different type of Europe? We need answers to have any credibility arguing for a better future. </p> <h2>Labour’s dilemma</h2> <p>This isn’t just about the Labour party, but Labour is now by far the biggest tent on the progressive campsite. We have to start by recognising the huge electoral dilemma the party faces when 70 percent of its members and supporters want to Remain, but 70 percent of its seats voted in majority to Leave. Shift too far to Brexit and it could lose cosmopolitan seats, move too far to Remain and it loses heartland seats. Labour’s big majorities are now in and around the Remain cities. This is a genuine political dilemma. Add in the looming threat of a new centrist party, likely to be turbo-charged by Brexit happening, and the threat of a revamped UKIP if it doesn’t, and Labour’s Brexit problem grows exponentially. Still, watching some in Labour rejoice at the recent rise in the polls of UKIP at the expense of the Tories shows how little some have learnt from the last ten years: as long as our party does better, it doesn’t matter that the country shifts to the right! </p> <p>Because of these dilemmas, Labour’s strategy to date has largely been to keep quiet and hope the Tories would implode under Brexit contradictions before the Labour party would. But whatever happens, it’s hard to imagine the Tories and the DUP calling a general election any sooner than strictly required. It looks like Labour will vote against whatever Brexit deal the government presents, even if that opens up the chances of an exit from the EU without a deal. The Tories might change leader, but why would they call an election before 2022 they could well lose? And even if they do, would Labour be better placed to handle Brexit and deal with its consequences?</p> <p>Labour’s problem is that it is not thinking or acting deeply or long-term enough. In or out, what Europe does it want and what are the wider alliances that can make its vision possible? Why aren’t stronger links being forged with radical social democratic governments like that of Portugal? Where is its analysis of the causes of Brexit and the democratic crisis that enabled it? And what are the strategy, narrative and policies that help unite our polarised cosmopolitan and communitarian society? </p> <h2>What is to be done?</h2> <p>If a second referendum is a risk worth taking, then how should it be pursued? Any response to the tumultuous Brexit vote needs to be equally as bold. It requires a rigorous and coherent plan that deals with domestic and European realities of the Brexit debacle. Here is the start of a plan that tries to combine reality, a commitment to democracy and a progressive internationalism.</p><p><strong>1.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>A Citizens Assembly on Brexit</strong></p> <p>Learning from the Irish abortion vote and other successful conventions and assemblies, the government should task 100 randomly selected and representative citizens to discuss all aspects of Brexit and come back to the country with a plan for what should be done – accept a deal, no deal or a referendum to reverse the original decision. This would take approximately one year. There has already been an informal, although professionally delivered, mini <a href="https://citizensassembly.co.uk/brexit/about/">Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit</a>, run by a consortium of universities and civil society organizations, backed by prominent Remainers and Leavers. Its remit was on the narrower issues of how the UK should leave and it came out with sensible approaches that would deliver in effect the softest of Brexits. Such an Assembly should include the voices and views of EU citizens living in the UK.</p><p><strong>2.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>Develop a systemic domestic policy response to the causes of Brexit</strong></p> <p>Brexit was at least in part about jobs, pay, housing, health care, schools, transport, immigration and more. All of us, but mostly those who voted Leave, need to see a sustained and coherent political response to the call for change.</p><p><strong>3.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>Develop an agenda and a change process for a Good Europe</strong></p> <p>This cannot just be about a return to Europe as was; we need a new policy agenda for a Europe that is much more equal, sustainable and democratic. In addition, a theory of change has to be developed to show how a different EU could be actually delivered. This will require much deeper dialogue and relations with parties and movements across Europe than most in the UK have thus far been interested in.</p><p><strong>4.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>A Constitutional Convention for a New Democracy</strong></p> <p>If Brexit exposes the hollow democratic nature of our society, then one of the most urgent tasks is to make our political system fit for the 21st century. This could be a really expansive rights-based approach that doesn’t just renew older democratic structures like the Commons and the Lords, but extends democratic rights to all aspects of our lives. In short, how do we really take back democratic control in the 21st century?</p> <p>Of course, the issue with all this is time and at the moment we don’t have it. But what would happen if the Labour leadership got the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and Plaid Cymru on side around such a coherent process – and got voices across Europe to back this move? It would at least put huge pressure on the Tories to shift and send a signal to the rest of Europe that the UK was serious about reconsidering Brexit. That could be the spark to extend Article 50 for two years while a different response to the causes of Brexit was put in place. This process might, despite obvious Tory reluctance, open up the ground for a general election. </p> <p>This approach won’t be easy or quick but it has the benefit of being based around defendable democratic principles and practices and it could unite a progressive alliance around a programme and approach to Europe and a new Britain. </p> <p>Perhaps such an agenda would not appease hard Brexiteers or hard Remainers. But it would ignite a process that would allow democracy to take its course. The country is in a mess and there is no easy or painless way out. I totally get that the priority for some is just to stop the ‘Brexit madness at any cost’. But I fear those costs as much as, if not more than, I fear Brexit. We will never build a progressive internationalism on the basis of a democratic fix. As the Chinese warned us: ‘be careful of what you wish for’. </p> <p><strong>Neal Lawson</strong> is Chair of Compass. He would like to thank Francesca Klug and Anthony Barnett in particular for comments on an earlier draft.</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="/sunny-hundal/labour-won-t-support-brexit-their-critics-are-ignoring-all-clues">Labour won’t support Brexit, their critics are ignoring all the clues</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/how-campaign-for-people-s-vote-is-changing-politics-again">How the campaign for a People’s Vote is changing politics (again)</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/gerry-hassan/as-brexit-britain-heads-for-rocks-what-does-corbyn-s-labour-stand-for">As Brexit Britain heads for the rocks what does Corbyn’s Labour stand for?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk UK Brexit Neal Lawson Mon, 24 Sep 2018 10:36:58 +0000 Neal Lawson 119789 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Britain’s warfare state https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/matt-kennard-mark-curtis/britain-s-warfare-state <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Britain needs an industrial strategy. At the same time, Britain needs to move away from its imperial pretensions to police the world's oceans. The two factors are ever more interlinked.</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-34279223.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34279223.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>House destroyed in airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition in Sanaa, Yemen, on Dec. 29, 2017. Mohammed Mohammed/ Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>In September 2017, London hosted the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair, the biggest in the world. Delegations of military officials and politicians from across the globe descended on the ExCel Centre in London’s Docklands to play pick ‘n mix with the world’s most deadly technology.</p> <p>We were granted a press pass to the DSEI the day before it opened, despite applying several months earlier and repeatedly checking up. The pass came through only after we threatened to publicise the case. The opaque arms industry and the governments that support it do not like journalists or civil society dampening the buying mood.</p> <h2><strong>Docklands, London</strong></h2> <p>Once inside we saw delegations from nearly every oppressive state in the world walking the air-conditioned halls. At the flagship BAE exhibition, we took a few photos of the Egyptian delegation talking to a stocky BAE official. All the Egyptian military men had obscured their identity badges, but they could not stop us taking photos.</p> <p>In the middle of this, what looked like a British military official, moustachioed and in full officer garb, told us to stop, that we weren’t allowed to take photos. We protested that we had never heard that. He said it didn’t matter. We asked him whom he worked for. “The Defence and Security Organisation,” he replied. We saw that there were other officials with the DSO badge on their breast. Who were they? Why were they working for BAE Systems?</p> <p>The Defence Sales Organisation (DSO) – the predecessor to the current Defence and Security Organisation – was set up in 1966 under Harold Wilson’s Labour government and was part of a significant reform of the Ministry of Defence. There was no great fanfare about its advent but the internal reasoning was that Britain had effectively lost its Empire and was looking for ways to retain “clout” on the international stage. Becoming a major arms dealer was one of the ways to do that.</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 2018-09-23 at 18.45.50.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-09-23 at 18.45.50.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="243" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot: Stop DSEI 2019. Campaign Against the Arms Trade. YouTube.</span></span></span>As the Cold War raged, the UK was also losing business to its rivals. The UK share of the world aircraft market fell more than half in the five years to 1964 to just 14%. In this context, a report commissioned by Defence Secretary Dennis Healey recommended the creation of “a small but very high powered central arms sales organisation in the MoD”. </p><p>It also recommended that the DSO be headed by an arms industry executive, and this has been the case ever since. Essentially the DSO joins arms industry executives and government trade officials in a concerted effort to sell British weapons of war around the world.</p> <p>Despite its controversial position in the UK’s export ecosystem, in 2007, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was scrapping the DSO as part of the MOD. The decision was apparently made without the knowledge of BAE - a rare thing in the industry. Gerald Howarth, a shadow defence minister, said at the time: "This is outrageous. DESO [as it was then called] has been responsible for £5bn of British defence exports." But, as Robin Cook said in his memoirs, "I came to learn that the chairman of BAE appeared to have the key to the garden door to No 10.” He added, "Certainly I never knew No 10 to come up with any decision that would be incommoding to BAE."</p> <p>True to this maxim, the body was salvaged and repurposed as part of the Department for International Trade.</p> <h2><strong>Impartial advice</strong></h2> <p>Nowadays DSO is very visible at arms shows, helping visiting buyers and delegations understand the latest technology offered by BAE Systems and its smaller competitors. It says it offers exporters free support by “company visits ... to [headquarters] in Salisbury to discuss how [we] ... can support you in export opportunities and campaigns,” alongside “impartial military advice ... on products and capabilities to enhance and exploit opportunities in overseas defence and security markets”.</p> <p>The DSO has around 105 staff in London and another 27 members in its export support team. It also has 20 diplomatic posts overseas with the title ‘First Secretary, Defence and Security’. </p> <p>Through the Freedom of Information Act, we gleaned information on where DSO has people stationed throughout the world. It said it had 57 officials, including three people in Japan, Mexico, Canada, South Korea, Turkey, and the largest number, four, in the US. The UK taxpayer pays for three fulltime staff in Mexico City to sell British weapons to a country ravaged by violence. The UK has exported small weapons ammunition, weapon sights and components for rifles, among other things, to the Mexican military.</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-32013670.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-32013670.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="346" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Greeting Louis Taylor, CEO of UK Export Finance, at a reception for winners of The Queen's Awards for Enterprise.Yui Mok/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Half of the private sector individuals seconded to the DIT have “strong links” to the arms industry. But the government’s help to the arms industry doesn’t end there. When buyers cannot afford British weapons, the government subsidises loans to them through export credit guarantees. UK Export Finance, which is supposed to back all British exports, says 50% of the support it provides (in the form of loans or guarantees) is given to military exports. <span class="mag-quote-center">UK Export Finance, which is supposed to back all British exports, says 50% of the support it provides (in the form of loans or guarantees) is given to military exports.</span></p> <p>The British state is set up to deal arms, and its mission has been successful.</p> <h2><strong>Thatcher and the arms industry</strong></h2> <p>Britain is a country of 65 million people, and the 21st most populous nation in the world, with the 9th largest economy in the world based on GDP (PPP). But this small island, with very little in the way of an industrial base, has become the second largest exporter of arms in the world. Britain is the go-to country for despots around the world who want to ‘tool up’.</p> <p>Aside from the establishment of the DSO, the key to this is a little-known element of the Thatcher Revolution in the 1980s. The story of Thatcher’s confrontation with the unions and the industries they represented is well known. Thatcher's government emerged victorious and replaced a manufacturing base with the “Big Bang” in the City of London, which drew capital looking for a liberal regulatory environment from around the world. London and the country as a whole is still living with the consequences of this revolution.</p> <p>But Thatcher wasn’t a total industrial arsonist. There was one industry that she promoted to unprecedented levels: the arms industry. During her tenure, the British economy was given a massive boost from the sale of military hardware, and Thatcher spent a large portion of her overseas trips trying to sell British arms to foreign governments.</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-4727263.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-4727263.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="311" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>King Khalid of Saudi Arabia with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at 10 Downing Street,June,1981. PA/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In 1985, for instance, Thatcher negotiated what is still the largest ever British arms deal. The Al-Yamamah agreement would see Britain sell fighter jets, missiles and ships to Saudi Arabia worth £42bn. The deal was, though, riven with accusations of corruption and bribery, the extent of which may be never fully known: two National Audit Office reports on the Al-Yamamah have been suppressed because of &nbsp;“national interest” concerns. Mark Thatcher, Margaret Thatcher’s son, also stands accused of making millions of pounds in “commissions” from the sales. </p><p>The deal led to Britain pushing ahead of France and Russia as an exporter of arms, behind only the US. Over the past 10 years, the UK has sold over £122 billion worth of arms around the world, 20 per cent of the global total. Thatcher would regard this as an industrial success story.</p> <p>Since the Thatcher era, however, warfare has changed markedly. Technology has changed how wars are fought, while many adversaries have splintered and become uncoupled from states. But Britain has maintained its pre-eminence in the industry, nimbly moving on to dominate the cyber sector and private military sector in turn, thanks both to the relationships and capacities offered by the conventional arms industry and to the light-touch regulatory environment fostered during the Thatcher era. No subsequent government since she stepped down as Prime Minister in 1990 has wanted to restrict Britain’s industries of war and repression from having maximum power on the world stage.</p> <h2><strong>Cyber warfare and mercenaries</strong></h2> <p>But the arms industry and the government’s willingness to champion it has also enabled the UK to become a global hub for companies working on the cutting edge of the new cyber warfare. According to Privacy International, the UK has 104 surveillance companies producing technology for export – to foreign governments and corporations – headquartered in the country. That number is more than double the number of companies of the next European country, France, which has 45 companies headquartered in country.</p> <p>Privacy International, the NGO working on privacy rights, has written: “The UK government … promotes exports abroad through the UK Trade and Investment Defence and Security Organisation, for example, proactively assisting surveillance company Hidden Technologies to access markets abroad by providing advice and introducing the company to potential customers.”</p> <p>The UK has significantly more surveillance technology companies registered in its borders than anywhere in the world outside the US. This technology is being exported, with government approval, to some of the most repressive regimes in the world.</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-29379825.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-29379825.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'>Theresa May meets King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud of Saudi Arabia on visit to Gulf Cooperation Council summit. Stefan Rousseau/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The UK’s role in the US War on Terror since 2001 has given the war industries another fillip. Many of the private military and security companies (PMSCs) in the UK were set up by former soldiers in the British military who left service after fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq and wanted to make significantly more money in mercenary work. As Dave Allison, chief executive and founder of Octaga, a Hereford-based PMSC, says: “I left the forces after serving time with the parachute regiment and the Special Forces. I saw a distinct gap in providing security to corporate and private clientele, the various big companies out there that were doing it, it was all basically being driven on price, and we wanted to offer them something a little bit different, something bespoke. We cater for various clientele, from television and film industry, to corporate, government, and private high net worth (HNT) individuals, so it’s really broad spectrum of services we do, we do the physical side, the consultation side, and we do the technical side.” He says business has been roaring since they set up in 2001. </p><p>But like the conventional arms industry, these companies are shrouded in secrecy, something the government has no interest in ending. A large reason for the attractiveness of the UK as a destination is that these companies – and those producing conventional arms and surveillance technology – are left alone by government and the media. Sam Raphael, a senior lecturer in International Relations at Westminster University and author of a report on PMSCs in the UK, says that “this is a world where very little is known about what’s going on, no-one is publishing data on this. The government is not publishing lists of PMSCs which are operating, PMSCs themselves if you look on their websites… it (is) just corporate rubbish.”</p> <p>This combination of learned skills in warfare, liberal regulation, the lucrativeness of mercenary work, and Britain’s global-facing heritage has meant that, today, the UK is the world’s leading centre for PMCS. According to the SiéChéou-Kang Center at the University of Denver, the UK has by far the largest number of PMSCs headquartered in country (199 companies).</p> <p>So this is twenty-first century Britain. Surveillance system producers, mercenary groups, arms industries are flourishing in the dark. As well as being the financial capital of the world, the UK is right at the centre of the world’s war industry. The latter crown is more embarrassing, so we don’t hear about it, but it has been steadily fostered by successive governments for seventy years. </p> <h2><strong>Livelihoods</strong></h2> <p>Ground zero for the British arms industry – and all the issues it raises in the country -– is Barrow-in-Furness.</p> <p>While there, we met Norman Hill who has been agitating against nuclear weapons for nearly half a century but it hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm one bit. As we walk along the empty road that runs alongside BAE Systems’ imposing shipyard at the edge of Barrow, the veteran anti-nuclear activist speaks at a hundred miles an hour, wanting to get all the arguments against the industry that sustains his town out as fast as possible.</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-9664056.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-9664056.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'>A general view of BAE Systems in Barrow-in Furness, 2010. Owen Humphreys/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Hill was born in the town in 1941 and has lived most of his life in the town. “I came from a solid working class family. My dad was an engineer in the shipyard,” he tells us. The Barrow shipyard occupies a central place in the production of what is called Britain’s ‘nuclear deterrent’, producing the submarines which carry the missiles and nuclear warheads. </p><p>The previous class of nuclear submarines was produced here, as will be the new submarines that will carry Trident. Hill first became involved in the anti-nuclear movement in Barrow in the mid 1970s. There was talk of cruise missiles being deployed in the UK in response to a Soviet build-up the US claimed was a threat to Europe. He thought the idea was madness. Hill’s father worked in the shipyard, but was supportive of his son’s activism. “At that time there were a lot of people in the shipyard who agreed with that position,” he says. Much has changed since then.</p> <p>“The nest of the dragon is here, pure evil,” he says, pointing towards the shipyard. “The fact that people are dependent on living for manufacturing this obscenity. The submarines themselves are not an obscenity; it’s what they are going to carry. That’s the obscenity.”</p> <p>The current Trident renewal proposal aims to replace four Vanguard class nuclear submarines with four new submarines of the so-called Dreadnought class. They will have a 30-year life cycle. Each one costs over £8bn. Government policy is to have an ‘active stockpile’ of 160 nuclear weapons, 40 nuclear warheads on each submarine, with up to eight missiles, each of which is longer than Nelson’s Column. They are hydrogen bombs - weapons that have never been dropped outside of tests and have 100 kilotonnes of explosive power, about seven times the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. “We could have 160 of those,” said Stuart Parkinson, executive director of Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR), an organisation of scientists and engineers concerned about the misuse of science and technology in the UK. “You could literally destroy civilisation with that, basically.”</p> <p>Crossing the bridge over the Devonshire Dock where the shipyard sits, we see one of the nuclear submarines poking out from under the water. It is hard to fathom that little Barrow, population 69,087, is the central node in the production of a nuclear arsenal capable of wiping out civilisation. “No one really thinks about it like this,” Hill tells us as we take in the scene.</p> <p>Barrow, the biggest town in Cumbria, sits on the outer edge of the Furness peninsula which juts into to the Irish Sea. Half an hour drive north takes you into the tourist hotspot of the Lake District, but Barrow is a world away from there. The shipyard has dominated the town since its inception in the 1870s. 70 miles up the coast is Sellafield, where nuclear waste disposal is a divisive political issue.</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-Atomic_Weapons_Establishment_at_Aldermaston.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-Atomic_Weapons_Establishment_at_Aldermaston.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'>Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston, 2009. Wikicommons/ Ivaneol. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The nuclear warheads are produced and maintained at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston, a town of just over a thousand people near Reading. The site was the end point for anti-nuclear weapons demonstrators who did an annual walk from London in the 1950s and 1960s. The government owns the site, but private sector contractors operate it. The AWE&nbsp;is run by a consortium of three companies (two of them American) – Lockheed Martin, Serco and Jacobs Engineering. The missiles are made in the US and then rented to the UK. Britain does not own the missiles on which its nuclear warheads sit. Nonetheless, it is considered an ‘independent nuclear deterrent’, though it is arguable that only one of the words in the phrase – nuclear – is true. </p><h2><strong>Barrow shipyard</strong></h2> <p>The Barrow shipyard became part of BAE when Marconi Electronic Systems and British Aerospace merged in 1999. The company dominates the town physically: the shipyard is the first thing you see as you come into the town, eclipsing the rows of one up, one down terraces that line the roads. The company’s logo is all over the town. On one of the main streets in the centre we come across a slab of pavement with BAE’s logo spray-painted on Banksy-style. Up the pedestrianised Dalton Street, which runs to the shipyard from the centre of town, sits a brass monument (paid for by BAE Systems) of workers in heroic poses. ‘LABOUR. WIDE AS THE EARTH’ says one engraving. ‘COURAGE. THE READINESS IS ALL’ reads another.</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-1128276.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-1128276.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="301" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The fourth British Trident submarine, the 16,000-tonne HMS Vengeance, rolled out at the VSEL shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, 1998. Ian Kershaw/Press Associaition. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>BAE has essential leverage over every aspect of Barrow because of the jobs the shipyard provides. If anyone proposes something the company doesn’t like, it can say it will shut down the shipyard. But they do not like visitors. After nearly a year of back and forth, BAE Systems refused us a tour of the shipyard or an interview. Meanwhile Unite and GMB unions, both representing workers in the shipyard, said they could not provide any workers or shop stewards to be interviewed. The secrecy of the arms industry is one its most striking features: the companies and these workers are employed on government contracts, paid for by the public. Unite and GMB were big supporters of Corbyn’s leadership bid while being in favour of Trident renewal to save jobs. <span class="mag-quote-center">Meanwhile Unite and GMB unions, both representing workers in the shipyard, said they could not provide any workers or shop stewards to be interviewed.</span></p> <p>In the Furness Railway, a buzzing Wetherspoons pub a stone’s throw from the Labour party’s headquarters in the town, locals eat and drink from early in the morning to late in the night. It’s a regular hangout for young lads who work at the shipyard. We sit down with two who are getting in their evening beers. Jack Burns is a 31 year old steelworker at the shipyard, a place it was always his dream to work in. “I always wanted to work in there but I’ve only been working there for the last year. I’ve had a career in office work and computer work but I like to work with my hands plus my grandparents always worked in the yard. In fact, my great granddad died on one of the boats when he worked in there, before - was born.” Everyone in Barrow has a multi-generational connection of some sort to the shipyard.</p> <h2><strong>Jeremy Corbyn</strong></h2> <p>Has he been worried about Corbyn’s position on Trident renewal? “I don’t care too much about it to be honest with you. It’s just another contract. We just go in. We just do our job. You know? I mean, not many people ask about it and it doesn’t really come up.”</p> <p>Barrow, a working class town built on manufacturing, is a natural Labour heartland. “But the Labour manifesto actually supported the renewal with Trident. It’s just Corbyn himself that didn’t support it. So, I don’t know. There is worry. I’m certainly worried because I’m only a year deep in my work. I’d like to think that I’ve got a career for life.”</p> <p>His friend, Josh Crawford, 18, and also a steelworker at the shipyard, chimes in, “Now they’ve passed the Dreadnought and I don’t think they’d get rid of it. But I think it could halt future buildings.”</p> <p>Corbyn has promised to replace any jobs lost, in the event of not renewing Trident, with high skilled employment in other industries. Doesn’t that assuage their fears? “Actually, no,” says Jack. “If we get rid of the Trident renewal, then they’re not gonna give us any jobs. I think Barrow is only as well known as it is because of the shipyard. I think if you got rid of the shipyard, in Barrow a lot of people would move out. Barrow would become a deserted town. The only reason Barrow is a thriving town is because of the shipyard.”</p> <p>The fear that promises of alternative employment might not be met is understandable. The Thatcher government made similar promises as it destroyed the mining industry, but never replaced the jobs, leaving subsequent generations deprived and destitute. But to many in the anti-nuclear community, Corbyn is valued because he believes in both nuclear disarmament and in protecting workers.</p> <p>Jack continues: “I believe him when he says that he doesn’t support Trident, which is actually the missile system. It’s not the submarine. I remember hearing him say that. Just because he doesn’t support Trident doesn’t mean that the submarines can’t still be built. They still have other functions so there is that. I don’t fully understand if he was saying that just to keep some people happy. He doesn’t sort of strike us as the sort of person to keep people happy.”</p> <p>We ask them if they would consider themselves Corbyn supporters. “I don’t really like the guy personally, but then I don’t necessarily like Theresa May either,” says Jack. “I’m leaning towards Theresa May, but I think that’s because of the fact that I want to keep my job.” Josh adds: “If I had to vote, I’d definitely vote for Theresa May. She wants to renew Trident.”</p> <p>“So you’d vote on a single issue on this one?” we ask.</p> <p>“When our job’s put in jeopardy, yes, because this is probably the best paying job I’ll ever have,” says Jack. “And I’ve got a five year old son to support, so if I ended up losing my job simply because Jeremy Corbyn didn’t like it, then that’s probably enough for me to not like him.”</p> <p>This is the sentiment Hill is up against, and it’s pervasive and understandable.</p> <h2><strong>The behemoth</strong></h2> <p>British governments have long viewed the arms industry as a key mechanism to boost the British economy. Brexit looks set to be the next stage – after the creation of DSO under Labour and the Thatcherite Revolution – in the arms industry's occupation of the British state. </p> <p>The government claims it has a rigorous export licensing system for its arms exports. Britain has had a defined export licensing process to approve arms sales since 1997, when recommendations in the Scott Report into arms sales to Saddam Hussein were enacted.</p> <p>Arms companies require licences from the DTI to sell “goods, technology, software or components designed or modified for military use” as well as &nbsp;“‘dual use’ goods, technology, software, documents or diagrams which meet certain technical standards and could be used for military or civilian purposes”.</p> <p>But the export licensing system is shrouded in secrecy, with information very difficult to get. In the case of an information request made to the government about surveillance technology sold to Egypt by the UK, further requests were declined because it would “likely prejudice the commercial interests of any companies that may have applied for a licence,” and “would reveal details of the markets that companies are operating in and possibly details of commercial opportunities that are still available.” With this proviso many information requests are turned down.</p> <p>British arms export 'controls' seem more about facilitating exports than restricting them. The licensing system still allows half of all UK’s arms sales to go to the dictatorship of Saudi Arabia, currently undertaking a brutal bombing campaign in Yemen, using British-supplied warplanes and missiles. Since 2008, the UK has sold £10.8bn of weapons to the Saudis, by far the biggest market for UK companies. The British government has rejected repeated calls to halt arms sales to Riyadh. </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-25861035_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-25861035_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Amnesty International protesters carrying five giant dummy missiles to Downing Street, March 2016. Yui Mok/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In some conflicts, the government just does not know if its weapons are being used. Earlier this year, Turkish military forces intervened in the mainly Kurdish-controlled province of Afrin in northern Syria, in an operation widely criticised by human rights groups. In answer to a parliamentary question, the <a href="https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2018-03-20/133558/">British government stated</a>: “We cannot categorically state that UK weapons are not in use in Turkish military operations in Afrin”. </p><h2><strong>‘Responsible’ arms exports</strong></h2> <p>Another major problem is that, as <a href="https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2018-04-30/139368/">the government admits</a>, “We do not collect data on the use of equipment after sale.” It is hard to see how this is consistent with government claims that it operates a 'responsible' arms export policy.</p> <p>The same government department set up to promote and facilitate arms exports is meant to regulate them, too. Licences are provided by the Export Control Organisation (ECO), which is part of the DIT. And it shows.</p> <p>Levels of sales of British arms to countries around the world often correlate with an uptick in violations of human rights norms in those countries. The majority of British arms go to the Middle East, particularly the Gulf region. In the aftermath of the Arab Spring when authoritarian governments cracked down on protest movements and dissent, the British government did not blink. Arms continued to flow, in fact, in nearly all cases the increased demand was met by more British arms. Countries where repression has deepened in recent years, such as Egypt, Israel and Bahrain, remain significant recipients of British weapons and military equipment.</p> <p>The problem is not just that British equipment might be used to crush legitimate dissent; it is that the supply of weapons to security forces sends an overall message of support for what they are doing. It can also enhance the international legitimacy of repressive states and reduce the political space for opposition forces to challenge them. &nbsp;</p> <p>BAE Systems is the jewel in the crown of the British arms industry. Other significant companies in the country include Rolls Royce, Babcock, Serco, Cobham, QinetiQ, Meggitt, but BAE is in a class of its own. A large majority of UK arms procurement goes straight into the coffers of BAE. Through an FOI we submitted, we discovered that the UK consistently awards contracts worth over $3bn a year to BAE Systems - around 10% of its total outlay. BAE, actively involved in the Yemen war as a supplier of aircraft and technical military assistance to the Saudis, <a href="https://www.baesystems.com/en/article/announcement-of-2018-half-year-results">made profits of £792m</a> in the first half of 2018. </p> <h2><strong>BAE profits</strong></h2> <p>BAE's profits are very important to the UK government, which is a key reason it maintains such a close relationship with Saudi Arabia, which has 6,000 BAE staffers in the country, according to the Labour MP, Graham Jones, who we met in Portcullis House. Jones was recently appointed chair of the Committee on Arms Export Controls in Parliament. In our hour-long meeting, he spent considerable time defending Saudi Arabia’s record in Yemen, and insisted there was no evidence British weapons had been used in atrocities. He said he had a very strong aversion to the reporting of NGOs on the situation in Yemen.</p> <p>It is hard to know the extent of lobbying by BAE in the UK, but in the US things are more transparent. In trying to drum up business in the US, BAE has put a lot of money into its lobbying operation in Washington DC. According to records, Podesta Group, which is now under investigation in the Russia-Trump inquiry, received most money from BAE in 2017.</p> <p>Through the FOI, we obtained recognition that it had been “established from the records ... that BAE Systems did once form a part of a business delegation that accompanied the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for International Trade on a visit to India in November 2016.” This was Theresa May’s first bilateral meeting since becoming Prime Minister. May said: “The UK and India are natural partners – the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy – and together I believe we can achieve great things – delivering jobs and skills, developing new technologies and improving our cities, tackling terrorism and climate change.” Securing contracts for BAE Systems was obviously a large part of this.</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-29115513.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-29115513.jpg" alt="" 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'>Theresa May watches a flypast by the Indian Air Force in Bangalore on a trade mission paving the way for close commercial links with India after Brexit. Stefan Rousseau/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>We also requested the FCO briefing notes for Theresa May's April 2017 visit to Saudi Arabia. After being kept waiting for eight months, we were told they came under a national security exemption. A lengthy discussion had obviously taken place inside the department. </p><p>There is a revolving door between the MOD and DTI and the arms industry. Through another FOI request, it was revealed that in one year, from 2006 to 2007, 36 former employees of the MOD applied to join BAE Systems. These employees use the knowledge gained from MOD to earn bigger sums in the private sector, and may end up back at DSO. <span class="mag-quote-center">BAE is heavily involved in many centres of learning in the UK, making it indispensable to young engineers getting an education.</span></p> <p>BAE is heavily involved in many centres of learning in the UK, making it indispensable to young engineers getting an education. The company has partnered with Cranfield University to boost Britain’s engineering skills through a new post-graduate engineering apprenticeship programme, which will provide learners with a valuable Masters-level qualification. Richard Hamer, director of education and skills at BAE Systems, said it was part of the company's "on going commitment to nurture talent and high-end skills.” Britain’s top universities have received at least £83m worth of funds during 2014-17 from firms involved in the arms trade. </p> <p>Unions are also a very powerful lobby for the arms industry. By making the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft and Britain’s nuclear submarines, BAE employs 34,600 people in the UK, out of 83,100 worldwide. Workers from BAE Systems recently travelled from across England to the Houses of Parliament to lobby MPs and demand that the government “takes back control of Britain’s defence capability and spends the UK’s defence budget to support jobs in Britain rather than in factories overseas”. The lobby was organised by Unite, the UK’s largest defence union, following plans by BAE Systems to cut nearly 2,000 jobs. The cuts, which will see significant job losses in Typhoon and Hawk aircraft production as well as RAF base support and at BAE’s marine division, came amid warnings that nearly 25 per cent of the UK’s military spending will benefit US factories and firms such as Boeing by 2020.</p> <h2><strong>Is there an alternative?</strong></h2> <p>Military industry in the UK is made up of close to 2,500 companies, generates £33.5bn in turnover and employs 128,000 people, <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/britain-set-to-launch-combat-air-strategy-defence-secretary-announces">according to the government.</a> Yet even from this high base, the government is currently seeking, in effect, to further militarise the British economy and society. The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review was the first time the UK officially recognised promoting prosperity as a national security task. <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/promoting-our-prosperity">Ministers have said</a> that "Strategic exports are now a core activity for the Ministry of Defence so we are calling on companies to play their part in increasing defence export sales and attracting inward investment into the UK". </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 2018-09-23 at 18.47.11_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-09-23 at 18.47.11_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="265" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot: Stop DSEI 2019. Campaign Against the Arms Trade. YouTube.</span></span></span></p><p><span class="mag-quote-center">The government's new Defence Industrial Strategy, announced last December, and its new Combat Air Strategy, announced earlier this year, both envisage deepening UK industry's reliance on the military sector for jobs and growth.</span></p> <p>The government's new Defence Industrial Strategy, announced last December, and its new Combat Air Strategy, announced earlier this year, both envisage deepening UK industry's reliance on the military sector for jobs and growth. Indeed, the government has recently come to a stunning but little-noticed conclusion about <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/british-prosperity-relies-on-defence-according-to-independent-review">its industrial strategy</a>, saying that "British prosperity relies on defence". &nbsp;A government-commissioned review of defence’s contribution to national economic and social value, released last month, concludes that " defence and the defence industry reaches every corner of the UK and is central to employment in so many cities and towns" but that <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/british-prosperity-relies-on-defence-according-to-independent-review">more can be done to promote its role</a> in promoting the UK's technological future. </p> <p>But is Britain's military-industrial complex truly in the public interest? Could the 26,000 highly skilled researchers, designers and engineers currently working in the military sector be better deployed elsewhere?</p> <h2><strong>A defence diversification strategy</strong></h2> <p>Jeremy Corbyn has called for a Defence Diversification Agency and has said in the event of non-renewal of Trident that investment would save all the jobs and put people to work in other high-skilled socially-useful industries such as renewable power. Research shows that when evaluated on a cost-per-job basis, jobs in the arms industry are more costly than nearly every other sector. &nbsp;A <a href="http://www.nucleareducationtrust.org/sites/default/files/NET%20Defence%20Diversification%20Report.pdf">University of Massachusetts study concluded</a> that, if the US government invested $1 billion in alternative civilian sectors rather than on military production, it would generate up to 140% more jobs; $1 billion military spending was found to create 11,200 jobs whereas education spending creates 26,700 jobs and health spending 17,200 jobs. </p> <p>A <a href="http://www.nucleareducationtrust.org/sites/default/files/NET%20Defence%20Diversification%20Report.pdf">recent report by the Nuclear Education Trust</a> in the UK calls for the development of a defence diversification strategy, something that UK governments have never formally championed. The report does not pretend diversification will come without costs in terms of some jobs losses. But it notes that employment in military manufacturing is anyway falling. The number of jobs in the arms industry is less than a third of the level in 1980 (then over 400,000) - <a href="http://www.nucleareducationtrust.org/sites/default/files/NET%20Defence%20Diversification%20Report.pdf">a long-term decline</a> substantially due to the increasingly capital-intensive nature of the work carried out in the UK, automation and globalised supply chains. </p> <p>By contrast, employment in 'new' industrial sectors is rising and could benefit from a broad arms conversion programme. For example, the <a href="http://www.lessnet.co.uk/docs/arms-conversion.pdf">German renewable energy industry</a> already employs 380,000 people and this is expected to rise to 600,000 by 2030 as the country increases the proportion of electricity generated from renewable sources. Unite, which has persistently called for defence diversification and backs Corbyn's support for defence diversification, notes that legislation is needed to create a statutory duty on the Ministry of Defence and its suppliers to consider diversification. "Without legislation, history tells us that voluntary mechanisms do not work, as defence companies are unwilling to take the risk of entering new or adjacent markets", <a href="http://www.unitetheunion.org/uploaded/documents/0041-Defence%20Diversification%20Revisited%20Brochure11-26072.pdf">Unite says</a>. </p> <h2><strong>The UK’s military role in the world and Brexit</strong></h2> <p>If the case for diversification is strong, why have successive UK governments not taken it up? One reason is certainly due to the short-term upheaval in some areas where military industry is important. But there is a more generic issue: the British military-industrial complex is seen by senior military and political figures as an essential part of the UK's military role in the world.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>The UK's two new aircraft carriers, being built at a cost of over £6 billion, don't just create British jobs, they will “transform the Royal Navy’s ability to project our influence overseas”, <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mod-single-departmental-plan-2015-to-2020/single-departmental-plan-2015-to-2020">the government has said</a>. Indeed, <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/sea-change-ships-the-sea-and-innovation">the plan</a> is for these carriers to deploy “in every ocean around the world over the next five decades”. The new platforms are appearing to take Ministers back to the glory of days of empire in what the Head of the Royal Navy, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/dsei-maritime-conference-2017">has called</a> a "new era of British maritime power". To add to their new bases in the Gulf, military chiefs are now also <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/dsei-maritime-conference-2017">talking about projecting power</a> beyond the Middle East to the Indian Ocean and beyond and considering setting up new bases in South East Asia. <span class="mag-quote-center">Does this enhanced global military strategy have public support? It is hard to say because it has been so little debated.</span></p> <p>Here is where we come back to promoting UK commercial interests – with the addition of a small matter called Brexit. In <a href="https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/news/2016/october/22/161022-first-sea-lord-trafalgar-night-speech-in-washington">a speech to an audience in Washington</a> in 2016, Admiral Jones said: "Now that our Government seeks to extend the UK’s economic partnerships post-Brexit, the Royal Navy stands ready once again to be melded and aligned for best effect with our nation’s growing global ambition". Jones says that to promote UK commercial interests, <a href="https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/what-we-do/providing-security-at-sea">the Royal Navy</a> must have a "formidable presence on the global stage" especially given Britain's dependence on the sea for imports and exports. </p> <p>So Brexit is driving UK leaders' new military ambitions. Or perhaps providing an easy cover for their ambitions. Either way, the whole strategy raises concerns. Does this enhanced global military strategy have public support? It is hard to say because it has been so little debated. The public is surely even less likely to support future entanglement in wars in Asia than it does Britain's current wars in the Middle East.</p> <p>What is clearer is that Britain needs an industrial strategy that makes the economy less dependent on the military and arms exports and which articulates a transition towards creating new, civilian jobs for large numbers of people. But at the same time, Britain surely needs to move away from its imperial pretensions to police the world's oceans. The two factors are likely to be become ever more interlinked in post-Brexit Britain.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Support for this article was provided by Action on Armed Violence and the Pulitzer Centre for Crisis Reporting.</em><em>&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="/uk/andrew-smith/even-saudi-arabia-accepts-that-saudi-forces-are-killing-civilians-in-yemen-so-why-is">Saudi forces are killing civilians in Yemen, so why is the UK still arming the regime?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/war-promoting-hydra">A war-promoting hydra </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/cambridge-analytica-is-what-happens-when-you-privatise-military-propaganda">Cambridge Analytica is what happens when you privatise military propaganda</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/chris-jones/ongoing-march-of-eu-s-security-industrial-complex">The ongoing march of the EU’s security-industrial complex</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/arms-bazaar-needing-wars-eating-lives">Arms bazaar: needs wars, eats lives</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"> Saudi Arabia </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"> Economics </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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk Saudi Arabia UK Conflict Democracy and government Economics International politics Mark Curtis Matt Kennard Mon, 24 Sep 2018 07:02:20 +0000 Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis 119784 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Radical democracy and municipal movements https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/jeremy-gilbert-rahel-sophia-s-alessio-kaolioulis/radical-democracy-and-municipal-movements <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Can politics in cities and in Corbyn’s Labour Party come together to facilitate potent collectivities through an explicit commitment to radical democracy? Jeremy Gilbert in conversation.</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/500209/9266540527_dcdd856a3a_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/9266540527_dcdd856a3a_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'>Ada Colau as spokesperson of the PAH, the Spanish movement to stop evictions and campaign for housing rights, two years before becoming Mayor of Barcelona, in 2013. Flickr/ Andrea Ciambra. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><strong><em>engag</em>ée<em> </em>“Radical Cities”(eRC):</strong> <em>In the last two decades, western democracies have been witnessing a steady rise of anti-democratic trends and disappointment with politics. Faced with these challenges, contemporary democracies appear vulnerable and unable to defend themselves. At the same time, a radical change is taking place. Movements in cities around the world – through platforms and transnational networks – are experimenting with new forms of democratic practices and political institutions. This reminds us that the radical history of the last two centuries brought about new theoretical toolboxes which activists have used to overturn and change those concepts that undermine key political notions. To what extent do current political movements challenge traditional notions of democracy, power, and social change?</em></p> <p><strong>Jeremy Gilbert (JG):</strong>&nbsp;That’s a good question and arguably it depends on what you mean by ‘traditional notion’. If by this we really mean ‘mainstream liberal-democratic notions’ then obviously, these are being challenged. But in many ways, the demands of these movements, and the basic desires and assumptions informing them are nor particularly new. There isn’t much in the ‘new’ radical municipal politics that the Barcelona anarchists of the 1930s, or the Paris Communards, would not have recognised. Internationalism was always a part of their ideology as well.</p> <p>Even in the UK, we have traditions that have been suppressed for decades but which have roots going back to the 19th century, such as the tradition of the Independent Labour Party (the single most important component of the new federal organisation that became the Labour Party in 1900), that was always committed to ideas such as the democratic management of the economy by workers, and was always hostile to all forms of militarism. The details of the demands and the challenges, the range of power relations under discussion, and the necessary theoretical frameworks continue to evolve, but the basic demands and organisational ideals are the same; partly to the extent that the basic problems and obstacles to real democracy (plutocracy, liberalism, capitalism, patriarchy, nationalism) remain the same.</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/500209/623px-Hardie_elect.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/623px-Hardie_elect.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'>Election poster for Keir Hardie, about 1895. Wikicommons. Public Domain.</span></span></span></p> <p><strong><em>eRC:</em></strong><em>&nbsp;The new transnational and municipalist networks such as the network of fearless cities, sanctuary cities, and rebel cities seem to respond to the consequences of the 2008 financial crisis, of austerity politics and of European asylum and migration policies. Through alliances, platforms and international networks, they experiment with new forms of democratic practices and political institutions. In which way do these movements lay the foundation for new visions and practices in developing a real democracy? How do they expand or even enhance a radical democracy through their visions and practices?</em></p> <p><strong>JG:</strong>&nbsp;Well, this is a huge question so I can only offer a very sketchy and mainly conceptual answer. Broadly speaking, any form of democracy must enable the emergence, on any scale at all, of what I call ‘potent collectivities’: which is to say any kind of group that is actually capable of making collective decisions and enacting them in some way. This sounds banal – and to some extent it is. But it is also the case that neoliberal society (like all hierarchical societies, to some extent) works very hard to deprive most people of any such experience in any area of their lives. So, to the extent that any of these institutions or movements enable potent collectivities to emerge at all, they have positive effects in promoting the development of democracy.</p> <p>At the same time, I think that these municipalist movements contribute in a particularly important way simply by asserting the status of the city as a key site for democratic energy and invention.</p> <p>It’s no accident that the Left almost always has its bases in the cities. Hardt and Negri say that the metropolis is the home of the multitude, and in this, they have a very important point. One of the key cultural operations of bourgeois and anti-democratic ideology since the late 19th century has been to denigrate the city, to present the city as fearful, as somewhere to escape from, as somewhere that most people should not want to be. In simply making the city a beacon of hope rather than an object of fear, these movements are playing an important role in counteracting that ideology.</p> <p><strong><em>eRC:</em></strong><em>&nbsp;What challenges do you think these movements face? What are the potentials and limits of their approaches and what are the obstacles that prevent the full realization of a new and more radical democratic order?</em></p> <p><strong>JG:</strong>&nbsp;The answer here is pretty simple. We don’t live in city-states. Even in the most urbanised country in Europe, the UK, more people live in small-to-medium-sized towns than in large towns and cities. We live in essentially suburban societies. How to scale up and extend practices of radical democracy beyond specific urban locations is a key question. In the age of instant horizontal communication, it ought to be easier to resolve this question than ever before, at least technically and organisationally. Ideologically, culturally and politically, it may be more difficult.</p> <p>A key issue is the fact that the proudly cosmopolitan culture of the cities is often not shared by suburban and rural communities, and those communities can often feel that the cities are imposing their culture on them – a real challenge is to find ways to make that culture feel welcoming, accessible and attractive to those outside the urban centres, and to bring forms of democratic politics into those places that can make people there feel able to participate in them and in decision-making over the nature of their own localities.</p> <p><strong><em>eRC:</em></strong><em>&nbsp;Radical democracy is a heterogeneous field. How do you use this term in your work? And which concrete examples do you refer to?</em></p> <p><strong>JG:</strong>&nbsp;I use the term to refer to politics or practices that seek to facilitate or enable the emergence of potent collectivities, and that understand the potency of those collectivities always to be at least partly dependent on their capacity to express their constitutive complexity and multiplicity. This is different from how some others use the term partly because I think my use of it implies a positive conception of democracy rather than a merely negative one – i.e., that would only really talk about what democracy is not, or how it institutionalises the absence of sovereignty, rather than what it is and what it positively enables.</p> <p>In terms of concrete examples, this just depends on what is current at the time I am speaking or writing, but right now, the attempts by Barcelona en Comu to institutionalise forms of participatory democracy in their city must stand as a key example in practice, as well as some of the experiments in constituent assemblies that have taken place in places like Bolivia.</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/500209/7658945_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/7658945_0.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ada Colau, campaigning in Barcelona, 2015. Demotix/Lino De Vallier. All rights reserved.</span></span></span><strong><em>eRC:</em></strong><em>&nbsp;In an article that you wrote for The Guardian on which Corbynism we need, you distinguished between two terms: “Radical Democracy” and “Retro Social-Democracy”. Can you elaborate on the core characteristics of the division between radical decentralisation and centralising social democracy?&nbsp;</em></p> <p><strong>JG:</strong>&nbsp;From the early 1960s onwards, at the latest, there is quite a widespread critique being made of the institutions of the post-war welfare states in Europe and the New Deal institutions in the US, the nationalised industries of those countries, and the Fordist enterprises that dominated the corporate world. That critique focused on their tendencies to paternalism, technocracy and hierarchy, on the fact that they left certain social relations fundamentally unchanged by never challenging the worker-boss-relationship and by having a mode of public service in which experts did things to or for service users, but did not enable most citizens or workers to participate in decision-making about their workplaces or the services that they relied on.</p> <p>The idea of radical democracy partly comes out of that moment of critique and the movements that it resonated with – such as the women’s movement, which was always sympathetic to the argument that the welfare state was organised in a patriarchal way, assuming women’s subordination to men. The objective of any such politics now must be to overcome the centralised and hierarchical nature of such institutions in order to democratise them.</p> <p>I am very happy to say that at the present time, the Labour Party leadership in the UK is moving strongly in the direction of advocating forms of collective ownership of businesses and services that are distributed, democratic and co-operative in nature rather than being centralised, technocratic, bureaucratic or paternalistic. They have recently promoted a ground-breaking document on&nbsp;<span>‘<a href="https://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Alternative-Models-of-Ownership.pdf">Alternative Models of Ownership</a>’</span>, as well as calling a national conference to discuss it, which is quite inspirational in its vision.</p> <p>In the present historical context, I’m always wary of the term ‘decentralisation’. This tends to imply that central governments have accumulated power that they will be able to disperse if they are occupied by progressive forces. At least in places like the UK and the US, the situation is far more intractable than that. Governments have not taken power away from localities and accrued it to themselves. They have colluded in breaking down local sources of collective power and handing power to private agencies: outsourcing firms, international corporations, huge accountancy firms, etc.</p> <p>In many cases, these agencies are too large and too powerful for municipal authorities to challenge fully, however strong a popular base they may have. In such cases, we will need national governments, and even, ideally, sympathetic supra-national institutions, that are committed to weakening those powerful agencies and building up local sites of collective power.</p> <p>To the extent that this must be done in a way which enables multiple and distributed sites of collective power to develop (city councils, democratic schools, co-operatives of many kinds, autonomous media institutions, etc.), then we can speak of ‘decentralised’ power. But it is important to understand that this will not simply be a matter of power being dispersed by central government. Central government does not currently possess that power. Local and democratic power will have to be constituted from the ground-up; although the role of central government in assisting this process will be indispensable.</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/Preston.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Preston.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'>Image: The Democracy Collaborative, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0</span></span></span></p> <p><strong><em>eRC:</em></strong><em>&nbsp;In their latest book, </em>Assembly,<em> Hardt and Negri argue that leaderless movements are not able to offer the solutions we are looking for. Would you say that we need something more than pure horizontality? And if so, what exactly do we need?</em></p> <p><strong>JG:</strong>&nbsp;Of course, we need more than pure horizontality to the extent that there can be no such thing as pure horizontality – any set of social relations or form of social organisation will have at least a minimally ‘vertical’ dimension. This is why forms of anarchism that attempt to implement pure horizontalities inevitably descend into libertarian, individualist nihilism. This is why I think that all of those theories of radical democracy that are primarily concerned with the ‘vertical’ dimension, with questions of sovereignty etc., most notably the theory of Chantal Mouffe, remain immensely valuable and important.</p> <p>It is necessary to recognise the indispensability of this vertical dimension – and to work to institutionalise pluralism and non-finality within it, by ensuring that those representative and governmental structures that all organisations need are as open and accountable as possible to those they purport to represent – even while continuing to attend to the primary and constitutive nature of ‘horizontal’ relations.</p> <p>At the same time, in that book, Hardt &amp; Negri are addressing a crucial set of questions – the questions of strategy and leadership. They make, I think, an excellent suggestion: that we certainly need political strategy in these movements. Thankfully we are now a long way from the period of the ‘alterglobalisation’ movement when many anarchists regarded the mere use of the word ‘strategy’ as some kind of Stalinist heresy. We even need leadership at times, but we should reverse the traditional vanguardist conceptions in order to promote an ideal of collective strategy and tactical leadership.</p> <p>According to this conception, the role of leadership is not to determine overall strategic objectives and the means of achieving them, but to manage short-term situations and problems, to act tactically, in line with strategic objectives and methods determined and agreed-upon by the whole movement. This is an excellent model and I believe that to some extent, in a situation like the contemporary Labour Party, we are seeing some positive moves towards such a conception of leadership and collective politics.</p> <p><strong><em>eRC:</em></strong><em>&nbsp;In your experience as a theorist and an activist, how can we bridge the gap between radical democratic theory and practices</em>?</p> <p><strong>JG:</strong>&nbsp;There’s no way of answering that question in a general way – it always depends on the context and the specific situation. I can make some observations but they amount to little more than banal truisms. Firstly – it’s always necessary to allow practice and experience to inform theory. The difference between theory and philosophy is that theory is a set of generalisations based on experience and experimentation.</p> <p>Secondly, it’s often difficult to persuade people (organisational comrades, local communities or political constituencies, trade unionists, whoever) that radical democratic objectives are necessary or desirable, or are more than pleasant diversions from the ‘real’ business of protecting their material interests. I think it’s almost always crucial to make the case for radical democratic practices and demands by emphasizing how necessary they are to the realisation of many basic material objectives.</p> <p>We don’t just want radical democracy because it’s ethically or aesthetically desirable. We want it because history has shown time and again that social reforms or economic gains will only ever prove temporary unless they have a radical democratic dimension, enabling their main beneficiaries to have genuine democratic control over their administration.</p> <p>We have also seen many times that the erosion of such democratic control is a precursor to the final reversal of those gains – for example when local democratic control of services is weakened, privatisation is rarely far behind.</p> <p><strong><em>eRC:</em></strong><em>&nbsp;The self-description of being a radical democrat seems to be missing, especially when we think about being a socialist or a communist. What are the reasons behind this and why would you, or would not, call yourself a radical democrat?</em></p> <p><strong>JG:</strong>&nbsp;That’s a good question. I was thinking about this question just the other day. I think one reason for this is that most radical democratic theory is inherently suspicious of all forms of identity politics, and would implicitly recognise even political self-designations of that nature as often operating according to an identitarian logic that is ultimately unhelpful to the realisation of progressive objectives.</p> <p>The question for many activists in little radical groups becomes ‘are you really a good ‘communist’ or ‘revolutionary’?’… At that point, politics is already over. Such theory also tends to be acutely aware of the wholly relational character of all identities, as well as their composite and mobile tendencies. So, I’ve often said to communists ‘I’m an anarchist’; to social democrats ‘I’m a communist’; to anarchists ‘I’m a social democrat.’</p> <p>In my own case, it is true that I have often described myself as a ‘radical democrat’ but in recent years I’ve been more reluctant to do so. This is partly because people simply don’t understand what it means, but partly also because of my perception that a great deal of self-designated radical democratic theory and philosophy in recent years has essentially amounted to nothing more than a kind of post-structuralist liberalism.</p> <p>To a large extent, I remain inspired by the classic founding text of post-Marxist radical democratic theory: Laclau &amp; Mouffe’s <em>Hegemony and Socialist Strategy</em>. For me, radical democracy must be a form of socialism, just as socialism must be a form of radical democracy, or else they are not worth much. At the moment, I’m happy enough just to call myself a ‘socialist’. Of course, this is largely because we are presently at a moment when, for the first time since the 1940s, the dominant form of socialism in Britain is one that is explicitly committed to certain kinds of radical democracy.</p> <p><strong><em>eRC:</em></strong><em>&nbsp;To what extent does the success of Corbyn in the UK represent a success story for radical democrats</em>?</p> <p><strong>JG:</strong>&nbsp;It certainly does represent such a success story, but radical democratic ideas are still only really embryonic and implicit in the programme and practice of much of the pro-Corbyn movement within the Labour Party. It’s a strange situation. The leadership of the party is clearly committed to such an agenda, while many of their followers would be content to see the restoration of post-war top-down social democratic models.</p> <p>There is very little campaigning on democratic issues as such, and the interest in co-operative models and workers’ self-management is largely coming from the top of the party and networks of intellectuals close to it, rather than from the grassroots. The June 2017 party manifesto has become an almost religious touchstone for Corbynites, but most of its proposals were really informed by a statist, centralising social-democratic set of assumptions.</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-33837894.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-33837894.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'>Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, November 2017. PA/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The extraordinary thing here is that it is the leadership itself (Corbyn, the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, and their closest advisors) who have been actively encouraging criticism of the manifesto from a radical democratic and libertarian socialist perspective, apparently seeing the manifesto itself as a limited compromise with traditionalist elements in the party that they would like to go beyond. But it remains to be seen whether we can convince the broader ‘mass’ of Corbyn-supporters that explicitly radical democratic demands must be a part of their agenda, rather than that being entirely dominated by an opposition to ‘austerity’, an opposition that in itself has not necessarily a democratic dimension. </p><p>The fantasy of a benign Corbyn-led government simply reversing austerity and restoring the generous, paternalistic, social-democratic state to its former glory remains a strong one with much of the Labour membership, I’m afraid. But it is very encouraging that the leadership itself is keen to overcome it.</p> <p><strong><em>eRC:</em></strong><em>&nbsp;Looking at how the Labour Party intervened to stop the action of some of its councils in implementing urban development plans opposed by local communities, do you see a potential municipal turn of the Labour Party in such actions?&nbsp;</em></p> <p><strong>JG:</strong>&nbsp;Labour has already had a very proud history of what is called ‘municipal socialism.’ The most famous example is the period during which the Bennite Left, under the leadership of Ken Livingstone, ran the Greater London Council in the early 1980s. Radical democratic ideas were already a direct influence on many of their policies, including the democratisation of cultural policy, the empowerment of women and minorities, the promotion of innovative forms of co-operative enterprise, etc.</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 2018-09-22 at 18.03.02.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-09-22 at 18.03.02.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'>Screenshot: Ken Livingston campaigning for London Mayor, with anti-war activists Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn in Islington in 2008. YouTube.</span></span></span>This programme was popular, and the entire GLC was abolished by Thatcher in 1985 because the Tories couldn’t beat the Labour left politically in London. Right now, the Corbynite city council of Preston is being seen as the beacon and exemplar for radical municipalities to follow, pursuing a bold regeneration plan through the development of collective resources and high levels of popular&nbsp;<span>participation</span>. So, it is not a question of any such radical municipalism being ‘potential’; it is part of our heritage and its revival is well under way. </p><p><strong><em>eRC:</em></strong><em>&nbsp;In a recent article called “<a href="https://jeremygilbertwriting.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/psychedelic-socialism2.pdf">Acid Corbynism</a>,” you argue that “technologies of the self” such as yoga or clubbing can raise political consciousness if collectivised. Should such instances be part of a new strategy for urban movements?</em></p> <p><strong>JG:&nbsp;</strong>Again, this all depends on the context. Where opportunities present themselves for such practices to be radicalised or to become vehicles of radicalisation, then those opportunities should be taken. But I think the issue is as much about trying to ensure that such technologies do not become wholly captured by neoliberal culture in the way that certain kinds of yoga and meditation practice clearly have been, as it is about finding ways to positively use them to our advantage – which might or might not be possible in different cases.</p> <p>As for dance music culture: again, I can only really speak with authority about the British context here. There certainly was a moment around 1993/4 when the burgeoning rave culture was widely perceived as constituting a form of popular resistance to both bourgeois individualism and patriarchal norms. The leadership of the Labour Party and broader labour movement had no interest whatsoever in collaborating positively with it however, and were more than happy to collude with the Tory government in suppressing it; or rather, suppressing those forms of it that could not be easily disciplined by the logic of commercialisation and capital accumulation – once those radical forms had been neutralised, governments were happy to tolerate the growth of a depoliticised commercial club scene.</p> <p>Now that we have a radical leadership that is genuinely open-minded about a whole range of social, political and cultural issues, there is finally a reason at least to start discussing the question of how far such cultural technologies and practices might be deployed for emancipatory purposes. Whether this applies in other national contexts, I can’t really say. But I would say that to some extent, the capture of the leadership of the institutional Left by the radical Left has been a necessary precondition for making those conversations possible at all.</p><blockquote><p>This interview first appeared in <em>engagée </em>“Radical Cities” #6/7. engagée is a collectively edited and self-published Journal for political theory, activism and art, promoting emancipatory practices and philosophical interventions. The aim of engagée is to foster and promote philosophical work that intends to make a constructive contribution to current political and social problems. https://twitter.com/engagee_journal</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>engagée will soon hold two release events to launch its latest international <a href="https://issuu.com/engagee/docs/engage_e_6_7_issuu">double issue </a>on “Radical Cities”: 28 September 2018 in <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/2095426584057703/">Rome</a> at ESC and 30 October 2018 in <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/391966404662790">London</a> at Goldsmiths University. </p></blockquote><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/jeremy-gilbert/epochal-election-welcome-to-era-of-platform-politics"> An epochal election: welcome to the era of platform politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/laurie-macfarlane/preston-model-and-modern-politics-of-municipal-socialism">The ‘Preston Model’ and the modern politics of municipal socialism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/rahel-sophia-s-alessio-kolioulis/circularity-new-strategic-horizon">Circularity. A new strategic horizon </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/chantal-mouffe-rosemary-bechler/left-populism-over-years-chantal-mouffe-in-conversation-with-rosemar">Left populism over the years</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/jeremy-gilbert/is-momentum-mob-no-this-is-what-democracy-looks-like">Is Momentum a mob? No – this is what democracy looks like</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"> Bolivia </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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk Bolivia United States EU UK Alessio Kolioulis Rahel Sophia Süß Jeremy Gilbert Sat, 22 Sep 2018 17:42:34 +0000 Jeremy Gilbert, Rahel Sophia Süß and Alessio Kolioulis 119779 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Poland vs. Azamat Baiduyev: how an EU member state deported a Chechen refugee back to face the Kadyrov regime https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/marcin-wyrwal-malgorzata-zmudka/poland-azamat-baiduyev-deportation-kadyrov <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Azamat Baiduyev is the latest person to be deported from Poland on the basis of “secret materials”.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/PA-32199834.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Akhmad Kadyrov's move to support Russian forces paved the way for a new "hard" peace in Chechnya. (c) Bai Xueqi/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><em>This article was originally published in Polish on <a href="https://wiadomosci.onet.pl/tylko-w-onecie/azamat-bajdujew-wydalony-z-polski-w-czeczeni-groza-mu-tortury-a-nawet-smierc/xhxpebt">Onet</a>. We publish a translation here.</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>On the last day of August, Poland <a href="https://www.rferl.org/a/chechen-refugee-forcibly-disappears-after-unlawful-deportation/29469009.html">deported</a> Azamat Baiduyev, a member of a family deeply involved in the struggle for Chechen independence. The next day in Chechnya, operatives of Ramzan Kadyrov’s regime detained him. Why did our country deport Baiduyev, knowing that, in the best case, his family history risked him facing torture in his homeland, and in the worst case, execution?</em></p><p dir="ltr">On the morning of 31 August, Polish Border Guard officers visited a detention centre in Przemyśl to collect Azamat Baiduyev. The officers put Baiduyev, 33, in a car and took him to Warsaw. In the car, it was unclear to Azamat what was happening — at first, he probably did not realise where he was being taken.</p><p dir="ltr">According to several sources, when Azamat realised that he was going to be deported to Chechnya, he tried to open his veins in the car. According to others, this happened at the airport. Wherever the attempted suicide took place, it is known that Azamat was taken to a hospital in central Warsaw, where his injuries were attended to.</p><p dir="ltr">That same day, Baiduyev was flown to Moscow. He then flew to Grozny, capital of Chechnya. Soon after, according to contacts of Akhmed Gisayev, head of the Human Rights Analysis Center, reported that “roughly a hundred people with weapons, portable radios and police vehicles” surrounded a house belonging to Baiduyev’s uncle.</p><p dir="ltr">According to witnesses, some of these men spoke Russian without a Chechen accent and had a Russian appearance, which indicates that the Russian FSB was involved in the operation alongside the Chechen Interior Ministry. Azamat was abducted by force. It is not known where he is currently located.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>1.</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The Polish authorities must have been aware that they were deporting a man who would be immediately threatened with torture and death in Russia. In 2008, Azamat received <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/content/subsidiary-protection_en">subsidiary protection</a> in Poland. The family required this kind of special protection because of Azamat’s father.</p><p dir="ltr">Ali Baiduyev, whose work today allows his family to barely make ends meet, is a serious figure in the struggle for Chechen independence. In the 1990s, Ali Baiduyev belonged to the personal protection team of Dzhokhar Dudayev, first president of independent Chechnya. As the First Chechen War went on, and Dudayev refused to submit to the Kremlin, he became number one on the list of Russian targets. He avoided assassination on at least two occasions in the 1990s.</p><p dir="ltr">As a bodyguard, Azamat's father was particularly fond of Dudayev. He was related to him, and blood ties are the strongest guarantee of trust in Chechnya. The Chechen president often hid in the Baiduyev family home.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-small'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_small/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/Djokhar_Douda_C3_AFev.jpg" alt="" title="" width="160" height="197" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-small imagecache imagecache-article_small" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Dzhokhar Dudayev. CC BY-SA 4.0 Dmitry Borko / Wikipedia. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">After 1996, the hunt for Dudayev became a priority for the Russians. And on 21 April 1996, Dudayev received a phone call from a Russian politicians. What he didn’t know was that a reconnaissance plane was tracking the phone's satellite signal. A laser-guided rocket killed Dudayev a few minutes later.</p><p dir="ltr">Six months later, Russian armed forces occupied Grozny, ending the First Chechen War. In 1999, the Second Chechen War began, only to be lost later. In 2003, when Russia finally took control of Chechnya, Ali Baiduyev became an enemy of the new regime, and had to flee with the whole family.</p><p dir="ltr">The security services of Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya’s new leader, soon began the hunt for Chechens involved in the struggle for independence. In 2016, Kadyrov addressed Chechens living abroad with a clear message on social media: sooner or later, the regime would get to each of them. “One day, maybe in ten or five years, when you’re smarter or when your parents tell you to come home or when they chase you out of Europe, you will not have anywhere to go. And then I will settle with you for all your words.”</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>2.</strong></p><p dir="ltr">After a few years of wandering, the Baiduyev family arrived in Poland. Fighters against Russian aggression, the Chechens were well received in our country. Since 2007, Azamat had a <a href="http://www.fmreview.org/young-and-out-of-place/pestana">tolerated stay</a> in Poland, and in 2008 he received subsidiary protection, granted to persons who may be in danger even on Polish territory.</p><p dir="ltr">According to Azamat’s mother, he was still under threat from Russian and Chechen security services which had penetrated Poland: “I was afraid of their cars that came to the centre during the day and at night,” Makka Baiduyeva. “Our family took part in the fight for independence. Now, for this reason, they take revenge on us, persecute us, want to destroy us. I asked Azamat to go to a safe place.”</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>3.</strong></p><p dir="ltr">This safe place turned out to be Belgium. “My son requested residency in Belgium 13 times and 13 times he was refused, which in our opinion was based on the lack of sufficient information,” says Makka Baiduyeva.</p><p dir="ltr">In 2017, the Belgian police detained Azamat on the basis of reports from France about “his possible involvement in the preparation of terrorist attacks in Belgium.” Although, according to Radio Svoboda, this information was not confirmed, Belgium deported Baiduyev to Poland.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/w92ktkpTURBXy9lMjJiMWRkZDMxMDAwMDU1YWE2Zjk4YmFlNGI4MzBmNy5qcGeSlQLNBOwAwsOVAgDNAvjCww.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>In 2008, Azamat Baiduyev received "subsidiary protection" from Poland. </span></span></span>There were no charges against Baiduyev in Poland. However, in April he was placed in the closed deportation centre in Przemyśl. On 29 August 2018, the Office for Foreigners removed Azamat’s subsidiary protection.</p><p dir="ltr">This decision was issued by the Polish Ministry of the Interior and Administration at the request of the Internal Security Agency. When questioned by Onet about the reason, the Ministry of Interior and Administration answered that Minister Joachim Brudzinski “issued a decision on the obligation to return to the country of origin of a foreigner who posed a threat to public safety and order in our country. The decision was issued on the basis of Article 329a of the Act on Foreigners. This provision was introduced by the <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/EUR3742632016ENGLISH.pdf">2016 Anti-Terrorist Activities Act</a>.”<br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" /><strong>4.</strong></p><p dir="ltr">In conversation with Onet, Azamat’s mother confirms that the family has not received any information about the reasons for his deportation. “Why did the Polish authorities not provide him with any evidence of a crime? Why was not he brought before the court in Poland and have his guilt proved? Let the Polish authorities prove him guilty and he will go to prison for up to 50 years to answer for his actions if he is guilty. Why did the Polish authorities send him back to Chechnya?” asks Makka Baiduyeva.<br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" />This final question is important because, according to Jacek Białas, a lawyer from the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, regardless of the fault of the individual, the case law of the European Court of Human Rights indicates that the decision to deport to a country where they are threatened with torture or death is a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as the Polish Law on Foreigners.</p><p dir="ltr">“I did not find any in-depth analysis of the potential threat to this gentleman after deportation in the decision on expulsion,” adds Jacek Białas. “There is no history there, no indication of whether there is a risk of torture or not. We do not know if such analysis was ever carried out. In the light of international standards, which are also in force in Poland, a man can not be deported to face torture, even if he is terrorist and criminal.”<br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" />Another issue here is Baiduyev’s lack of access to evidence of the alleged crime. Azamat Baiduyev thus becomes the latest in a growing group of people expelled from Poland on the basis of secret materials. The most prominent instance of this kind of deportation involves Ludmiła Kozłowska, the head of the Open Dialog Foundation who was <a href="https://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/polands-deportation-of-human-rights-activist-the-back-story/">deported from Poland</a> in August.</p><p dir="ltr">Białas has no doubt that Polish law does not meet the requirements of European Union law in this matter. “It follows from the case law of the European Union Court of Justice that a foreign national who is subject to proceedings on the basis of secret evidence should be informed about the essential reasons which motivate the decision and receive a summary of this evidence. They are thus given a chance to respond to the charges. Polish national law does not offer this opportunity.”</p><p dir="ltr">The Polish Commissioner for Citizens' Rights contacted Mariusz Błaszczak, Poland’s Minister of Interior and Administration, regarding this situation in August 2016. To no effect. <br class="kix-line-break" /></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>5.</strong></p><p dir="ltr">In the decision to deprive Azamat Baiduyev of international protection, Dr Andrzej Karpiak, the director of the department of refugee proceedings at Poland’s Office for Foreigners, refers to “a definite improvement in the general security situation in Chechnya in recent years”.<br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" />Karpiak’s opinion radically contrasts with the latest OSCE document on Chechnya. On the day before Azamat was deported, 15 OSCE countries <a href="https://osce.usmission.gov/human-rights-abuses-in-chechnya-15-osce-countries-invoke-vienna-mechanism/">implemented the so-called “Vienna Mechanism”</a>, expressing “deep concern over serious violations and violations of human rights in Chechnya”. Listing measures taken by the Chechen authorities against citizens, the document mentions “harassment and persecution, arbitrary or unlawful arrest or detention, torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.” Under the Vienna Mechanism, the OSCE has requested explanations from the Russian Federation regarding a number of abuses in the country.</p><p dir="ltr">Indeed, experts confirm the deteriorating human rights situation in Chechnya. “The conflict in Chechnya is intensifying,” says Ahmed Gisayev from the Human Rights Analysis Center. “Many people have been kidnapped and lost, completely disappeared. Criminal cases are made against others. For example, in January 2017, Russian authorities seized 200 civilians as hostages, of whom 27 were <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/dominik-k-cagara/chechnya-dead-europeans-are-only-news-sometimes">shot dead</a>. Russian state terror has suppressed Chechnya and the entire North Caucasus. And all this in recent years.”<br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" />“In Chechnya, even activists and human rights defenders are the object of fabricated accusations against which the world is powerless,” says Maria Książak, co-founder of the Polish Center for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims and expert in the National Prevention Mechanism of Torture. “Oyub Titiyev, the director of Memorial’s Chechnya branch, has <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/ekaterina-neroznikova/no-defence-in-chechnya">been imprisoned on drugs charges for nine months</a>. Earlier, Ruslan Kutayev was <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/07/08/russia-chechen-activist-leader-arrested-beaten">sentenced to three years and 10 months</a> in a similarly fabricated drug accusation. Despite the Chechen president’s ban, he dared to commemorate the 1944 Chechen deportation. Kutayev was subject to torture by electric shock, his ribs were broken. I think that only the publicity in this case has led to Azamat being found successfully in custody in Urus Martan.”</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/Kutaev_colour_20[from_20YouTube].png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="339" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>In 2014, Ruslan Kutayev was sentenced to four years in prison on drugs charges. Source: Youtube.</span></span></span>Anti-government blogger <a href="http://oc-media.org/fleeing-chechen-blogger-detained-in-poland/">Tumso Abdurakhmanov</a> has also experienced first-hand the dramatic situation in Chechnya today. He is currently hiding in Poland from people connected to Ramzan Kadyrov. “I would rather be killed in Poland by a killer paid by Kadyrov than wind up in their hands,” he says. “In one of the reports of Human Rights Watch there is a statement of a Chechen woman: ‘There used to be war, but there was no fear. Now there is no war, but there is fear.’ The regime’s people bring the body of a dead child to the family and make them bury it. The family buries the body and says nothing to anyone. This is what it’s like in Chechnya today.”</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>6.</strong></p><p dir="ltr">When Onet asked Poland’s Office for Foreigners what exactly motivated the statement concerning the “general improvement of the security situation in Chechnya”, spokesman Jakub Dudziak replied: “As for the situation in Chechnya, it should be remembered that the foreigner was covered by temporary protection in the form of consent for tolerated stay, which was issued only in connection with the ongoing armed conflict in Chechnya at that time — currently this premise does not exist. A foreigner was not covered by international protection in connection with, for example, the threat of persecution.”</p><p dir="ltr">Maria Książak believes that this response proves that the Office for Foreigners spokesman have no knowledge about the actual situation in Chechnya. “If anyone should be aware of the current situation in the Caucasus and threats to individual foreigners who were covered by the refugee procedure or international protection in Poland, it is the Department of Refugee Proceedings of the Office for Foreigners, whose director is Mr &nbsp;Karpiak. It’s his name on the decision depriving Azamat of protection. An office paid from taxpayer money should serve the persecuted and not act against them. Denying the facts, which include the persecution and torture happening in Chechnya today, does not change the situation in the Caucasus, it is only a manifestation of incompetence.”</p><p dir="ltr">We also sent several questions to the Polish Ministry of Interior and Administration: Did the Ministry of Interior and Administration know that Baiduyev was persecuted by the Russian authorities, who suspected him of participating in the Chechen resistance movement, as well as by the Chechen authorities? Did the Ministry of Interior and Administration know that Baiduyev’s life is in danger in Russia and Chechnya? How does the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration view the kidnapping or arrest of Baiduyev by Chechen security services the day after the deportation?<br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" />We have not received any answers from the ministry.<br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" /><strong>7.</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Although it has already been known for several days that Azamat tried to open his veins when he learned of the coming deportation to Chechnya, Jakub Dudziak, spokesperson of Poland’s Office for Foreigners, suggested in an email to Onet on 10 September that Azamat was not afraid of returning to Chechnya — moreover, he wanted to return to the country.<br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" />“The foreigner has a biometric foreign passport issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation,” Dudziak wrote. “If the foreigner decided to contact the Russian authorities knowing that his personal data will be subject to thorough verification after submitting the application, it means that he was not afraid of the authorities of the country of origin and decided to return to its protection.”</p><p dir="ltr">“This is a quote from the decision that revoked Azamat’s protection,” explains Maria Książak. “It seems that Azamat applied for a new passport at the Russian embassy. If a person who has protection or a tolerated stay in a given country and wants to travel to another country, he must have another travel document, that is, a current foreign passport. Perhaps Azamat wanted to visit his two children who had stayed behind in Belgium. This does not mean, however, that there was no threat to him in the Caucasus.”</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>8.</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Onet also asked the Ministry of Interior and Administration whether the ministry had obtained security guarantees from the Russian side for the expelled Azamat Baiduyev. We did not get the answer to this question either.<br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" />Akhmet Gisayev, who specialises in these issues, explains: “This is a common practice for deported political refugees. Otherwise, I do not understand how Poland could deport Azamat Baiduyev. International law establishes the direct responsibility of the state that deports a person threatened by torture or other degrading treatment. I also know that the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Poland and the domestic courts had enough evidence that Azamat Baiduyev was in danger of torture.”</p><p dir="ltr">If the Polish authorities did not ask Russia to guarantee the security of Azamat Baiduyev, this is a serious charge in light of international law. If they did, it shows the kind of importance Russia attaches to these guarantees.<br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" /><strong>9.</strong></p><p dir="ltr">When human rights activists and the media began to disseminate information about Baiduyev’s kidnapping in Chechnya, the Chechen Interior Ministry stated that Azamat had not been abducted but detained in connection with a terrorism investigation. This is how we found out that he is still alive.<br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" />Apparently, Azamat pleaded guilty to terrorism offences while in detention. “I am not surprised that Azamat pleaded guilty before anybody knew where he was or on which grounds he was being kept there,” Maria Książak comments. “It is hard to believe that this confession was honest and not preceded by torture, blackmail, threats.” Baiduyev is now located in a state prison in Grozny.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>10.</strong></p><p dir="ltr">On 14 September, when I finished writing this article, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights filed a formal complaint with the European Commission regarding the expulsion of foreigners from Poland on the basis of secret materials. One of the things the complaint referred to was the case of Azamat Baiduyev.<br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" /><strong>11.</strong></p><p dir="ltr">“My husband’s brother and his sister met him,” Makka Baiduyeva says “They brought a lawyer with them, but the authorities said that this lawyer is from the family, so they will not talk to him. A lawyer from the office was assigned to Azamat instead.”</p><p dir="ltr">“We want to assert our rights,” Makka Baiduyeva declares. “Poland gave us shelter, a permanent residence card. We were hoping for a bright future, we wanted to a good life for our children, take them to the first day of school. All this seemed to be in vain. Who will take care of Azamat’s eight children now? Who will care for them, take them to school, provide for them? What shall we do? Go back to Russia, Chechnya? We do not have anything to do here anymore. Poland deported him.”</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/ekaterina-neroznikova/no-defence-in-chechnya">No defence in Chechnya: Oyub Titiyev and the grim future of human rights in Russia’s North Caucasus</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/varvara-pakhomenko/russia-s-north-caucasus-lesson-in-history">Between dialogue and violence: the North Caucasus&#039;s bloody legacy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/agnieszka-pikulicka-wilczewska/women-of-brest-station">The women of Brest Station</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/dominik-k-cagara/chechnya-dead-europeans-are-only-news-sometimes">Chechnya: dead Europeans are only sometimes news</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/karena-avedissian/like-me-im-autocrat">Like me, I&#039;m an autocrat</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/abdul-itslaev/the-second-chechen-war">The Second Chechen War: Testimony of an Eyewitness</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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> oD Russia Can Europe make it? oD Russia Małgorzata Żmudka Marcin Wyrwał Migration matters Chechnya Fri, 21 Sep 2018 08:10:33 +0000 Marcin Wyrwał and Małgorzata Żmudka 119767 at https://www.opendemocracy.net European democracies and the responsibility to not protect? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/shoshana-fine-thomas-lindemann/european-democracies-and-responsibility-to-not-pro <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How can we understand the paradox whereby migrant deaths and increased resources develop concomitantly?</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-38180753.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-38180753.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'>August 25, 2018 Sea Rescue is NOT Negotiable say over 1000 who took to the streets of Munich to demand a stop to the criminalization of sea rescues in the Mediterranean Sea. Sachelle Babbar/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Although the number of migrants and refugees arriving in the European Union has decreased this year to numbers comparable to pre-2014, the probability of dying for migrants crossing the Mediterranean has increased. The International Organisation for Migration reports that more migrants are dying every year in their attempts to reach Europe: from 4 in 1000 in 2015 to 14 in 1000 in 2016 to 24 in 1000 in 2018.&nbsp;</p><p>This phenomenon seems even more surprising considering the growth of funds that European states and the Commission have accorded to migration management. Indeed, Frontex, the European border management agency, whose mission includes “saving lives at sea”, has seen its budget move from six million euros in 2005 to 320 million today. How can we understand such a paradox whereby migrant deaths and increased resources develop concomitantly?</p><p>A closer look at the framing of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean may provide some answers. Within this framing we can identify three dominant and interrelated problematisations of migrant deaths which allow European states to relativise or even deny their responsibility for these “casualties”.</p><p>The first frame presents itself as the unavoidable result of a legal rationality. Time and time again political leaders and international organisations alike argue that these deaths are the result of the criminal activities of smugglers who make profit out of human misery. Smugglers overcrowd makeshift boats and send migrants off on hazardous journeys towards European shores. The problem of migrant deaths is then due to this illegal, exploitative activity.&nbsp;</p><p>According to this narrative, if we want to reduce migrant deaths we must eradicate smuggling.&nbsp;This view is widely contested by academics and civil society actors as ignoring the structural conditions that encourage smuggling –&nbsp;that is to say the hardening border policies and the reduction of legal pathways, which render migrants increasingly dependent on smugglers if they wish to seek asylum in Europe. Accessing asylum structures in a European state almost always involves embarking on dangerous journeys and “breaking the law”. The legal mindset conforms to the belief that these fatalities are rooted in disorder and illegality. The phenomenon of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean, they say, could be resolved through the respect of law and order.&nbsp;</p><p>The second framing – bureaucratic rationality – removes the responsibility of European states from migration deaths through the delegation of competences. Since the 2000s, European states have been outsourcing migration management to private actors and non-European states, such as through the conclusion of agreements with states like Turkey and Morocco with poor human rights records. This process known as externalisation is justified by arguments for efficiency and humanitarianism.&nbsp;&nbsp;Indeed, it is held that it is risky for migrants to cross the Mediterranean, their wellbeing would be better served at “home” or in neighbouring countries. This delegation of competences also takes place inside the European Union notably through the Dublin regulation (1997, 2003, 2013). This regulation obliges asylum seekers to register in the first European country they enter. This renders only a small number of EU countries responsible for the vast majority of asylum claims, notably Italy and Greece. In reality, this policy shifts responsibility to peripheral countries forming a cordon sanitaire. The large majority of European states can now justify their non-intervention by referring to legal rules like Dublin. The pretended rational division of competencies and responsibilities conceals from view the way in which European leaders have designed their own irresponsibility.</p><p>The third framing – rationality of efficiency – is underpinned by the argument of a lack of resources. Some refer to the lack of jobs, others to the lack of appropriate reception structures. In 2015 Slovakian authorities even claimed that they were unable to receive Muslim migrants due to a lack of mosques. In Germany recently, an editorial in the center-left&nbsp;<em>Süddeutsche Zeitung</em>, evoked the humanitarian necessity to stop migrant flows from the Mediterranean in order to prevent their social degradation from middle class to a European underclass. As the argument goes, European countries only have a limited migration carrying capacity and cannot afford to host migrants with human decency. They refer to an imaginary tipping point in which European societies pass from social cohesion to economic, social, cultural and political chaos. Are migrant deaths at the border preferable to such chaos? While this thinking does not refer to legal rules per se, it refers to the law of&nbsp;<em>homo economicus</em>, that is an individual whose behavior is driven by a desire for profit maximisation.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>These three framings reflect a unidimensional understanding of law as if law is not a matter of interpretation and can be unproblematically applied to any given situation. They share a total reliance on a system of rules and laws which purport to be neutral and deny a role for political agency. The German chancellor’s decision in 2015 to temporarily open the borders to migrants was criticized for not respecting the rules of European migration management. Today’s “rulification” of migration policy would make such a decision ever more unlikely.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Problematising migrant deaths as collateral casualties caused by the necessary application of rules and laws enables European states to frame their role in this tragedy as a passive one. Has the perpetual reference of European states to laws enabled the creation of a responsibility to not protect?</p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Equality International politics Thomas Lindemann Shoshana Fine Thu, 20 Sep 2018 14:54:00 +0000 Shoshana Fine and Thomas Lindemann 119758 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The European Court of Justice as a bastion of democracy and rule of law https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/costantino-grasso/european-court-of-justice-as-bastion-of-democracy-and-rule-of-l <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The crucial role of the ECJ appears even more important in present times, when things taken forgranted, such as democracy, individual freedom and the rule of law, are in danger.</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-37411005.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37411005.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'>Head of Poland's Supreme Court Malgorzata Gersdorf and judge Jozef Iwulski after a meeting with President Andrzej Duda at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw on 3 July 2018, Gersdorf vowing to resist the government's steps to remove her from her post. NurPhoto/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>The express purpose of the European project is to assure peace, promote fundamental values and improve the well-being of nations. The&nbsp;painful&nbsp; lesson&nbsp; we&nbsp; have&nbsp; learned&nbsp; with&nbsp; the&nbsp; Brexit&nbsp; referendum&nbsp; is&nbsp; that&nbsp; we&nbsp; have&nbsp; lost&nbsp; track&nbsp; of such&nbsp; a&nbsp; fundamental&nbsp; objective. Public debate and discussion about the 2016 EU Referendum campaign was dominated by a single theme: the economic consequences of Brexit. Both leavers and remainers assessed whether or not the costs of leaving were greater than the likely benefits. A deeper discussion about the fundamental values on which the European Union is based was sadly missing.</p> <p>The misconception is common that the European project should only aim at integrating the economies of the member states, whereas any attempt to influence their socio-political sphere has to be regarded as an undue interference in the internal affairs of the various countries. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>For practical reasons, the European Economic Community started operating as a regional organization which merely aimed at integrating the economies of Europe, but the plan for a political integration was always an integral part of the European project, built into its DNA. Just to mention a few of the visionary leaders who inspired the formation of the EU, in 1946 <a href="https://europa.eu/european-union/sites/europaeu/files/docs/body/winston_churchill_en.pdf">Winston Churchill</a> advocated the establishment of the “United States of Europe,” urging Europeans to create a common family of justice, mercy, and freedom.&nbsp;The French political and economic adviser <a href="https://europa.eu/european-union/sites/europaeu/files/docs/body/jean_monnet_en.pdf">Jean Monnet</a> publicly declared, well before the advent of globalization, that: “The countries of Europe are too small to guarantee their peoples the necessary prosperity and social development. The European states must constitute themselves into a federation...”.</p> <h2><strong>Pluralist democracies</strong></h2> <p>There is an intimate connection between the European Union project and the ideas of democracy and the rule of law. Since the Second World War, European nations have worked to build constitutional and parliamentary systems which protect individuals and minorities from arbitrary power. <a href="https://www.britannica.com/topic/pluralism-politics">Pluralist democracies</a> are the bedrock of this system, not only because they should be characterized by a dispersion of power among a variety of economic and ideological pressure groups, but also because they give citizens the right to be different and to criticise authority. </p> <p>The very motto of the European Union, "<a href="https://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/symbols/motto_en">United in diversity</a>," which refers to the enrichment resulting from the continent's many different cultures, traditions, and languages, is emblematic of the close connection between the European Project and the concept of pluralist democracy.</p> <p>In order to safeguard such democratic rights, any democracy has to establish a legal framework based on the rule of law, which, <a href="http://assets.cambridge.org/97811071/36892/frontmatter/9781107136892_frontmatter.pdf">as ancient Greece and Republican Romans taught</a>, consists of the idea that laws should be applied equally to all citizens.</p> <p>It is not surprising that, under <a href="https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:12012M/TXT&amp;from=EN">Article 21(2) of the Treaty on European Union</a>, among the key objectives that define the Union's common policies and actions is included the aim of consolidating and support democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the principles of international law.</p> <p>On the European continent, two fundamental international organizations, the <a href="https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/home">Council of Europe</a> and the <a href="https://europa.eu/european-union/index_en">European Union</a>, aim at protecting human rights, pluralist democracy and the rule of law, as well as promoting awareness and encouraging the development of Europe’s cultural identity and diversity. </p> <h2><strong>Nationalism and xenophobia in Europe today</strong></h2> <p>This is a role which we need today more than ever. As the Council of Europe has highlighted in the <a href="https://edoc.coe.int/en/an-overview/7345-pdf-state-of-democracy-human-rights-and-the-rule-of-law.html">2017 report on the state of democracy in Europe</a>, nationalist and xenophobic parties have made gains in a growing number of countries, challenging elites and exploiting public anxieties over migration.</p> <p>In many European countries populist political parties are damaging democracy by limiting debate; delegitimizing dissent; dismantling the rule of law, parliamentary authority, free media and civil society; undermining individual human rights and minority protection; and challenging international checks on unrestrained state power. </p> <p>European Union institutions may serve as <a href="https://www.france24.com/en/20180912-european-parliament-calls-punitive-action-against-hungary-over-rule-law">a bastion of democracy and the rule of law</a>, when national institutions drift towards authoritarianism and national governments prove to be incapable of defending the very fundamental values on which our free societies are based.</p> <p>In particular, this crucial role may be played by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which is not bound by the political constraints that typically limit the action of the European Commission.</p> <h2><strong>European Court of Justice</strong></h2> <p>In a decision earlier this year – <a href="https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/PDF/?uri=uriserv%3AOJ.C_.2018.142.01.0002.01.ENG">Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 27 February 2018, Case C-64/16</a> – the ECJ has affirmed that judicial independence (i.e., judges’ responsibility to deliver justice independently, making impartial decisions based solely on fact and law) is a fundamental principle that has to be safeguarded all over the Union.</p> <p>The case concerned the potential infringement of the judicial independence of Portuguese judges through the enactment of Law No 75/2014, by which the Portuguese legislature temporarily reduced the remuneration of a series of employees of the public sector.</p> <p>Although the ECJ concluded that the salary-reduction measures at issue did not impair the independence of the Portuguese judges, its decision is potentially revolutionary in that it considers any attempt to undermine the independence of the judiciary of a member state as an attack on the entire Union. As a result, the ECJ is conferring upon itself the right to intervene against such attempts carried out at the national level.</p> <p>In order to reach such a judgment, the ECJ confirmed that the principle of judicial independence is enshrined in both <a href="https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:12012M/TXT&amp;from=EN">Article 19(1) of the Treaty on European Union</a> and <a href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/charter/pdf/text_en.pdf">Article 47 of the Charter</a>. It then affirmed Article 2 of the Treaty, to the effect that the European Union is founded on values, such as the rule of law, which are common to the member states in a society in which justice prevails; and national courts and tribunals, in collaboration with the Court of Justice, fulfil a duty entrusted to them jointly. In other words, from the ECJ perspective, the various national judicial authorities are part of a common European judicial network whose integrity is essential for the correct functioning of the European Union.</p> <p>In particular, according to the reasoning of the Court, the independence of national judicial authorities is vital to assure effective judicial protection of individuals’ rights all over the Union, which in turn represents the very essence of the rule of law.</p> <h2><strong>The case of Poland</strong></h2> <p>With this judgment the ECJ has prepared the ground to rule on the independence of national judiciaries in any other member states. The obvious candidate is Poland, where <a href="https://theconversation.com/polands-judges-forced-into-retirement-purgatory-another-blow-to-justice-99478">the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) government</a> has reduced the public broadcaster to a propaganda organ, packed the civil service with loyalists purging the public administration, and undermined the independence of the judiciary by stacking the Constitutional Tribunal with its cronies and enacting pieces of legislation <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/08/polish-mps-pass-supreme-court-bill-criticised-as-grave-threat">to put under its control judicial appointments</a>. In July 2018, the head of the Polish Supreme Court, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/04/poland-supreme-court-head-malgorzata-gersdorf-defies-retirement-law">Małgorzata Gersdorf</a>, was even forced to step down from her job through a retirement law passed by the ruling party. The senior judge described the law as “a purge of the supreme court, conducted under the guise of retirement reform.”</p> <p>The judgment taken by the ECJ is a glaring example of how the European Union institutions can give full force to the four freedoms — the movement of goods, services, capital, and people — that our national politicians struggle to deliver. This crucial role appears even more important in present times, a time where things taken for granted, such as democracy, individual freedom and the rule of law, appear to be in real danger. The following statement made by <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/17/world/africa/obama-speech-south-africa-transcript.html">Barack Obama in his inspiring speech Defending Democracy</a> is emblematic of such a situation: "I am not being alarmist, I am simply stating the facts. Strongman politics are ascendant suddenly, whereby while elections and some pretense of democracy are maintained, those in power seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning."</p> <p>Europeans have the privilege to live at a time where the European Union, established on the rubble of the European cities destroyed during the Second World War, watches over the application of the rule of law in their countries. </p> <p>But the European Union project does not have a God-given right to survive. Europeans must continually rediscover its fundamental importance and take on responsibility for ensuring that the European project is safeguarded. This is particularly important at the present time when <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b9zvtf">illiberal forces are advancing across the European continent</a>, and when the consequences of the Brexit referendum may potentially destabilize the very structure of the Union.</p> <p><em>This article draws upon material from my opening remarks to the international conference “</em><a href="https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.uel.ac.uk%2Fevents%2F2018%2F07%2Feuropean-union-in-the-light-of-brexit&amp;data=02%7C01%7C%7Cf09f96cdfa90497e6feb08d5effe99ce%7C4b18ab9a37654abeac7c0e0d398afd4f%7C0%7C0%7C636678799927342212&amp;sdata=OkXR5iBvVvh%2BTtHCJLS5J67boDvPK9YoyjEX%2FpByRcY%3D&amp;reserved=0"><em>Rediscovering the European Union Project in the Light of the Brexit Referendum</em></a><em>” held in London on July 20, 2018 and the paper presented during the same event.</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"> Portugal </div> <div class="field-item even"> Poland </div> <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"> 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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Poland Portugal Civil society Democracy and government Ideas International politics Costantino Grasso Thu, 20 Sep 2018 11:38:16 +0000 Costantino Grasso 119747 at https://www.opendemocracy.net On Brexit, there’s no doubt that UK negotiators have adopted a hard bargaining strategy https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/on-brexit-there-s-no-doubt-that-uk-negotiators-have-adopted-hard-bargaining-strat <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>But is this the best strategy for advancing British interests? Here is the argument based on the findings of a recent <a href="http://www.dahrendorf-forum.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Cultures-of-Negotiation-3.pdf"><em>Dahrendorf Forum working paper</em></a>. </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-35754065.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35754065.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="283" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>British PM Theresa May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker after their meeting on Brexit at EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Ye Pingfan/ Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>All eyes in British politics are on the negotiations between the UK and the EU over the terms of the forthcoming British withdrawal from the Union, or Brexit. Surprisingly, questions of bargaining strategy – once the preserve of diplomats and niche academic journals – have become some of the most defining issues in contemporary British politics.</p> <h2><strong>The new politics of bargaining</strong></h2> <p>Cabinet disagreements over the conduct of the negotiations led to the resignation of David Davis and Boris Johnson in early July 2018 and the issue continues to divide the ruling Conservative party. Theresa May’s most recent statements have all addressed the question of how hard she has pushed Brussels in the talks.</p> <p>But is the hard bargaining strategy appropriate, or will it ultimately harm the UK? The salience of this question should occasion deeper analysis of the fundamentals of international bargaining, given the extent to which the course of British politics will be determined by the government’s performance (or perceived performance) in the Brexit talks.</p> <h2><strong>Driving a hard bargain</strong></h2> <p>A hard-bargaining strategy isn’t necessarily a poor one. To the extent it is workable, it may even represent the sensible option for the UK.</p> <p>Hard bargaining is characterised by negative representations of negotiating partners, unwillingness to make concessions, issuance of unrealistic demands, threats to damage the partner or exit the negotiations, representations of the talks in zero-sum terms, failure to provide argumentation and evidence, and withholding of information. From diplomats’ portrayal of the EU as an uncooperative and bullying negotiating partner to a set of demands recognised as unrealistic in Brussels and Britain alike, the UK’s approach to the Brexit negotiations scores highly on each of these measures.</p> <p>The consensus in the academic literature is generally that <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1475-6765.12104">hard bargaining works only where a given party has a relative advantage</a>. Powerful states have an incentive to engage in hard bargaining, since by doing so they will be able to extract greater concessions from weaker partners and maximise the chance of achieving an agreement on beneficial terms.</p> <p>But weaker actors have less incentive to engage in hard bargaining, since they stand to lose more materially if talks break down and reputationally if they’re seen as not being backed by sufficient power,</p> <p>So which is Britain?</p> <h2><strong>Power distribution</strong></h2> <p>The success of hard bargaining depends on the balance of power. But even a cursory examination would seem to confirm that the UK does not hold the upper hand in the negotiations. Consider three <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1475-6765.12104">standard measures</a> of bargaining power: a country’s economic and military capabilities, the available alternatives to making a deal, and the degree of constraint emanating from the public.</p> <p>When it comes to capabilities, the UK is a powerful state with considerable economic clout and greater military resources than its size would typically warrant. It is the second-largest economy in the EU (behind Germany) and its GDP is equal to that of the smallest 19 member states. And yet in relative terms, the combined economic and military power of the EU27 dwarves that of the UK: the EU economy is five times the size of the UK’s.</p> <p>Next, consider the alternatives. A ‘no deal’ scenario would be damaging for both the UK and the EU, but the impact would be more diffuse for the EU member states. They would each lose one trading partner, whereas the UK would lose all of its regional trading partners. Moreover, the other powers and regional blocs often cited as alternative trading partners (the US, China, the Commonwealth, ASEAN) are not as open as the EU economy to participation by external parties, nor are they geographically proximate (the greatest determinant of trade flows), nor&nbsp; will any deal be able to replicate the common regulatory structure in place in the EU. This asymmetric interdependence strongly suggests that the UK is in greater need of a deal than the EU.</p> <p>Finally, consider the extent of domestic constraints. Constraint <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/2706785?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents">enhances power</a> by credibly preventing a leader from offering too generous a deal to the other side. On the EU side the constraints are clear: Barnier receives his mandate from the European Council (i.e. the member states) to whom he reports frequently. When asked to go off-piste in the negotiations, he has replied that he does not have the mandate to do so. On the UK side, by contrast, there is no such mandate. British negotiators continually cite Eurosceptic opposition to the EU’s proposals in the cabinet, the Conservative party, and the public, but they are unable to guarantee any agreement will receive legislative assent, and cannot cite any unified position.</p> <h2><strong>Perceptions of power</strong></h2> <p>But the real power distribution is not the only thing that matters. While the EU is the more powerful actor on objective criteria, a number of key assumptions and claims made by the Brexiteers have served to reinforce the perception that Britain has the upper hand.</p> <p>First, on the question of capabilities, the discourse of British greatness (often based on past notions of power and prestige) belies the UK’s status as a middle power (at best) and raises unrealistic expectations of what Britain’s economic and military resources amount to. Second, on the question of alternatives, the oft-repeated emphasis on ‘global Britain’ and the UK’s stated aim to build bridges with its friends and allies around the globe understates the UK’s reliance on Europe, the (low) demand for relations with an independent Britain abroad, and the value of free trade agreements or other such arrangements with third countries for the UK. Third, on the question of domestic constraint, the post-referendum discourse of an indivisible people whose wishes will be fulfilled only through the implementation of the Brexit mandate belies the lack of consensus in British politics and the absence of a stable majority for either of the potential Brexit options, including the ‘no deal’, ‘hard’, or ‘soft’ variants of Brexit. Invoking ‘the people’ as a constraint on international action, in such circumstances, is simply not credible.</p> <h2><strong>Conclusion</strong></h2> <p>Assumptions about Britain’s status as a global power, the myriad alternatives in the wider world, and the unity of the public mandate for Brexit, have contributed to the overstatement of the UK’s bargaining power and the (false) belief that hard bargaining will prove a winning strategy.</p> <p>Britain desperately needs to have an honest conversation about the limits of the UK’s bargaining power. This is not ‘treasonous’, as ardent Brexiteers have labelled similar nods to reality, but is rather the only way to ensure that strategies designed to protect the national interest actually serve this purpose. Power is a finite resource that cannot be talked into existence. Like a deflating puffer fish, the UK’s weakness will eventually become plain to see. The risk is that before this occurs, all bridges will be burned, all avenues exhausted, and all feathers ruffled.</p> <p><em>The arguments in this blog are based on the findings of a </em><a href="http://www.dahrendorf-forum.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Cultures-of-Negotiation-3.pdf"><em>Dahrendorf Forum working paper</em></a><em> by Benjamin Martill and Uta Staiger titled ‘</em><a href="http://www.dahrendorf-forum.eu/?post_type=publications&amp;p=5099&amp;preview=true"><em>Cultures of Negotiation: Explaining Britain’s Hard Bargaining in the Brexit Negotiations</em></a><em>‘.</em></p> <p><em>The opinions expressed in this blog contribution are entirely those of the author and do not represent the positions of the Dahrendorf Forum or its hosts Hertie School of Governance and London School of Economics and Political Science or its funder Stiftung Mercator.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Se the <em></em><a href="http://www.dahrendorf-forum.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Cultures-of-Negotiation-3.pdf"><em>Dahrendorf Forum working paper</em></a><em> by Benjamin Martill and Uta Staiger titled ‘</em><a href="http://www.dahrendorf-forum.eu/?post_type=publications&amp;p=5099&amp;preview=true"><em>Cultures of Negotiation: Explaining Britain’s Hard Bargaining in the Brexit Negotiations</em></a><em>‘.</em></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"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU UK Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics International politics Brexit Benjamin Martill Wed, 19 Sep 2018 15:33:51 +0000 Benjamin Martill 119731 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Refugees banned, tourists welcome: a journey through Hungary's rural west https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/james-burgess/refugees-banned-tourists-welcome-journey-through-hungarys-rural-wes <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Hungary’s hinterlands shed light on the rise of Orban's populist nationalism.</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/565030/PA-34117730.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/PA-34117730.jpg" alt="A barbed-wire fence at the Hungarian border" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A barbed-wire fence at the Hungarian border. Image: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images</span></span></span>Zala County in western Hungary is not usually the first stop on the map for tourists. Bordering Croatia and Slovenia, the county was once an agricultural powerhouse, with extensive fields that still cover the region’s plains. It also became an industrial centre during the area’s oil boom, which started in the 1930s and peaked in the 1980s before declining significantly. These days, visitors to the region are usually on their way to somewhere else, passing through what was once a significant crossroads between the Ottoman and Habsburg empires. The region has struggled to adjust in the post-communist era; many of the oil wells have dried up or are no longer economic to exploit, and abandoned storage facilities and production sites dot the countryside – monuments to an industrial past.</p><p dir="ltr">Last week, the EU parliament voted to trigger disciplinary proceedings against Hungary over the erosion of democratic checks and balances by prime minister Viktor Orban’s ruling right-wing Fidesz party. But beyond the political headlines, a trip through Hungary’s rural west illuminates the roots of Orban’s support, and the socio-economic conditions that he has both exploited to promote his party’s agenda and neglected in pursuit of his xenophobic, anti-immigrant campaign. It also explains why many Hungarians do not seem concerned with Orban’s increasingly authoritarian trajectory.</p><p dir="ltr">I visited Zala County on a cycling tour hosted by the regional tourist board, who along with the local government are keen to promote the region’s potential as a destination. In the 1960s, workers drilling for oil in Zalakaros struck a thermal spring deep in the ground, sending 96º Celsius water to the surface, which transformed this Hungarian backwater to a spa town almost overnight. Riding along the quiet roads outside Zalakaros, the contrast with the wealth of the spa resort is striking. Low, simple buildings line the road, and elderly people tend small patches of land by hand. A horse and cart trundles down the rough tarmac towards us, a reminder of the profound inequality present in much of rural central and eastern Europe.</p><p><iframe src="https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=14NMgYcbMzs-z4uuShs7sIt3QH0CAJNJR" width="460" height="460"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr">The declining rural industry has limited employment opportunities, leading young people to seek work abroad, leaving behind a shrinking and aging population and a shortage of skilled labour. Máté, an engineer in his 30s who is riding with the group, tells me that many of his friends have moved abroad – often to western European cities such as London and Vienna – because they cannot find a job with a good salary at home. He is fortunate that his company is a relatively large employer in the region, but laments that his peers do not have the same opportunities. Our tour guide Tamás, who lives in Budapest, says he struggles to find skilled tradesmen, even in the capital.</p><p dir="ltr">The regional tourist board and local government recognise these issues and are attempting to transform the area, taking advantage of the quiet roads and niche agriculture to attract visitors from abroad. They have identified the potential interest to cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts to the area, rebranding the region as “Muraland”, taking the name of the nearby river that defines the border between Hungary and Croatia. Vineyards and orchards cover the Zala hills, where farms are growing figs, blueberries and kiwis in place of the large-scale agriculture and oil fields that once dominated. The farmers require a large seasonal workforce to pick fruit, but a representative of the Muraland programme says they often can’t find enough workers in the region.</p><p dir="ltr">There have been some successes, though. Nestled in the Zala hills, sits the small village of Magyarszerdahely where Viktória makes artisan cheese in her back garden. She established the small business on her own, working by hand to make cheeses, yoghurt and cream from the small collection of goats she has in the field next to her house. It’s a family affair, and an elderly woman comes out of the house to offer a mid-morning shot of pálinka – a traditional fruit brandy – to welcome us. A few kilometres further on, a farm run by Krisztián Sabján, could almost pass for Provence. Sabján has diversified his crops to grow biofuels and lavender. So far it is a trial crop, but he plans to expand production, he tells us, as we sip lavender-infused cordial and taste the lavender biscuits he produces.</p><p dir="ltr">But signs of the disparate welcome Hungary offers visitors emerge when I visit an art studio. Zoltán, the friendly director of the centre that hosts international events, explains that an Ethiopian artist they had invited to deliver a course this year had been denied a visa – the first time this had happened to them.</p><p dir="ltr">Perhaps surprisingly, given the youth exodus and economic difficulties, unemployment in Hungary is relatively low, reaching 3.6% in the three months to July, with youth unemployment at 10.2%. But low salaries remain a barrier for young people seeking work in Hungary. Since 2010, 174,894 Hungarians have moved abroad, according to the Hungarian Central Statistical Office. The International Organisation for Migration says the 2008 international financial crisis had more of an impact than the country’s accession to the EU in 2004, and by 2013 7.4% of Hungarians aged 18-49 were living abroad. Since then, the number has significantly increased, with 29,400 emigrating in 2016 alone.</p><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/565030/IMG_7402.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/IMG_7402.JPG" alt="Zala county" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Zala county. Image: James Burgess.</span></span></span>The government has tried to encourage young Hungarians to return and work in Hungary, launching a programme of housing assistance and mobility grants in 2015 for those coming back from the UK. Hungary is also attempting to attract some immigrant workers to fill vacancies, targeting Ukrainian and Serbian citizens in particular, demonstrating that Orban’s anti-immigration stance is primarily anti-muslim and anti-multicultural. There were just over 151,000 foreign citizens living in Hungary in 2017, according to the Hungarian Central Statistical Office, with two-thirds of the total foreign population coming from European countries. The largest numbers come from Romania and Germany.</p><p dir="ltr">The economic situation lays bare the duplicity underpinning the government’s immigration stance, and highlights Orban’s increasingly authoritarian position. In shutting out refugees, Orban’s government is excluding a ready population of young, skilled migrant workers from the Middle East and Asia in the name of nationalism and on the pretext that they are part of the problem.</p><p dir="ltr">Asylum applications from Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis and Pakistanis surged in 2015 as the refugee crisis unfolded in Europe. Applications have fallen sharply in the years since as Hungary toughened its anti-refugee stance and erected border fences; the EU signed an agreement with Turkey limiting refugee arrivals in Greece; and the Balkans route became more difficult to navigate. New asylum applications fell from 177,135 in 2015 to 29,432 in 2016, and to just 3,397 in 2017. In 2016, the Hungarian authorities made 54,586 asylum decisions, suspending 49,479 of these and rejecting 4,675. Less than 1% of applications were accepted – among the lowest acceptance rate in the EU. This approach ignores the economic potential of immigration, not to mention a humanitarian obligation to help those fleeing persecution and war. And now Hungary has made it a criminal offence to assist people deemed to be illegal immigrants, and passed a constitutional amendment that states an “alien population” cannot be settled in the country.</p><p dir="ltr">The Fidesz government’s exploitation of the refugee crisis to stoke fear of immigrants and shore up its parliamentary majority does nothing to help the people of Hungary. Its anti-immigration stance only exacerbates the socio-economic challenges the country faces. But Orban’s weakening of democracy and xenophobic policies do not seem to concern Hungarians at home. Many Hungarians have been left behind or let down by the post-communist transition, integration into the EU and the 2008-9 financial crisis. Liberal democracy does not have a long history in many post-communist central and eastern European countries, helping to explain Hungarians’ ambivalence towards Orban’s creeping authoritarianism.</p><p dir="ltr">At a boating lake in Nagykanizsa, a former oil tower now serves as an observation platform for visitors to the park. In the city centre, vibrant cafes now line the main square where a Soviet monument once towered above passers-by under communist rule. The image of Orban as a strongman and champion of the people – once a committed liberal and staunch opponent of the communist regime – now holds sway over much of the country. “I can understand why people support him,” says a young British man, who moved to Hungary with his Hungarian wife, partly because of the anti-immigrant sentiment fuelled by the Brexit referendum. He explains that many Hungarians see Orban as an upholder of traditional values and national strength, a pillar of stability and security. And this is where the EU must shoulder its share of the blame. Its failure to deal adequately with the integration of peripheral states, the financial crisis and the European asylum crisis has left fertile ground for the seeds of Orban’s illiberalism.</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/samuel-salzborn/hungary-and-end-of-democracy">Hungary and the end of democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/marc-edelman-ian-scoones-saturnino-m-borras-jr-lyda-forero-ruth-hall-ben-white-and-wendy-wolford/con"> Confronting authoritarian populism: the rural dimension</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/mohamed-elmaazi/blatantly-xenophobic-and-shameful-anti-refugee-laws-are-passed-by">‘Blatantly xenophobic’ and ‘shameful’ anti-refugee laws are passed by new Hungarian government, says UN</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Hungary </div> </div> </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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Hungary Democracy and government Economics International politics James Burgess Wed, 19 Sep 2018 15:06:53 +0000 James Burgess 119727 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Catalan National Day: free speech under threat https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/andrew-davis/catalan-national-day-free-speech-under-threat <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Otherwise mainstream politicians have stacked the deck against any possibility of negotiating over legitimate political demands. The Spanish judiciary meanwhile turns the law on its head to quench dissent.</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-38492551.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-38492551.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Catalan National Day celebrations, September 11, 2018.Nr Photo?prss Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>In the United States, the protection of speech can be traced back to the foundation of the country, hence its prominent and purposeful inclusion as part of the first amendment to the Constitution. Over the course of two hundred plus years that freedom has been tested, and political and civil society leaders from different generations – from George Washington to Frederick Douglass to Cesar Chavez – worked to ensure the tradition of speaking truth to power remains a pillar of the American Republic.</p> <p>An opposite approach has been taken in Spain, where current law treats peaceful protest as a public security concern, assigns heavy fines for acts of civil disobedience and<a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/03/spain-counter-terror-law-used-to-crush-satire-and-creative-expression-online/"> </a><a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/03/spain-counter-terror-law-used-to-crush-satire-and-creative-expression-online/">criminalizes speech online</a>, giving security services extraordinary powers, while limiting citizen protections. </p> <p>Broadly condemned by the<a href="https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15597"> </a><a href="https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15597">UN special rapporteur</a> charged with protecting freedom of peaceful assembly, the New York Times’<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/23/opinion/spains-ominous-gag-law.html"> </a><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/23/opinion/spains-ominous-gag-law.html">Editorial Board</a> summed up the most infamous of recent laws restricting basic freedoms by saying it had ‘no place in a democratic nation, where Spaniards, as citizens of the European Union, have more than a virtual right to peaceful, collective protest.’</p> <p>As political tensions have risen between Madrid and Barcelona over last year’s independence referendum, the restrictions on free speech and assembly have gone into overdrive.<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/meet-the-two-jailed-activists-behind-catalonias-independence-movement/2017/10/20/a0a10e4a-b4e0-11e7-9b93-b97043e57a22_story.html"> </a><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/meet-the-two-jailed-activists-behind-catalonias-independence-movement/2017/10/20/a0a10e4a-b4e0-11e7-9b93-b97043e57a22_story.html">Leaders of two of Catalonia’s largest civil society organizations</a> have languished in preventative custody since October 2017 on charges of sedition, even though <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=do5KQV5Qgow">video evidence disproves the charges</a>, which have been<a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/02/spain-ongoing-detention-of-jordi-sanchez-is-excessive-and-disproportionate/"> </a><a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/02/spain-ongoing-detention-of-jordi-sanchez-is-excessive-and-disproportionate/">condemned internationally</a>. And nine former members of Catalonia’s government and parliament are also jailed, even while their colleagues who chose exile rather than arrest&nbsp; – including Catalonia’s former president Carles Puigdemont – live freely across Europe. <span class="mag-quote-center">But measures to quash basic freedoms in Catalonia have not been aimed solely at political and civil society leadership, rather they have targeted dissent more broadly. </span></p> <p>But measures to quash basic freedoms in Catalonia have not been aimed solely at political and civil society leadership, rather they have targeted dissent more broadly, including the right to<a href="http://www.catalannews.com/society-science/item/clown-taken-to-court-over-photo-with-spanish-police-officer"> </a><a href="http://www.catalannews.com/society-science/item/clown-taken-to-court-over-photo-with-spanish-police-officer">protest</a>,<a href="https://www.elnacional.cat/en/politics/court-catalan-teachers-debate-referendum_209664_102.html"> </a><a href="https://www.elnacional.cat/en/politics/court-catalan-teachers-debate-referendum_209664_102.html">debate</a>, and even artistic expression, with Spain recently assuming the dubious distinction of<a href="https://freemuse.org/resources/item/state-artistic-freedom-2018/"> </a><a href="https://freemuse.org/resources/item/state-artistic-freedom-2018/">incarcerating more artists than any country in the world</a>. In the same vein, Amnesty International released a report this year which details<a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur41/7924/2018/en/"> the abuse of counter-terrorism laws to restrict expression online</a>, most graphically symbolized by the unprecedented step of<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/democracy-post/wp/2017/10/18/the-great-catalonian-cyberwar-of-2017/?utm_term=.f50c42110e3d"> </a><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/democracy-post/wp/2017/10/18/the-great-catalonian-cyberwar-of-2017/?utm_term=.f50c42110e3d">shutting down websites and apps by authorities</a>, <a href="https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2017/10/no-justification-spanish-internet-censorship-during-catalonian-referendum">violating both</a> the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights in the process. </p> <p>Much of the justification of repression by Spanish authorities comes in the form of comparing pro-independence leaders and organizations to the Nazis, a spurious accusation which sadly serves as a<a href="https://www.elperiodico.com/es/amp/noticias/politica/todos-politicos-comparado-cataluna-alemania-nazi-5212509?__twitter_impression=true"> </a><a href="https://www.elperiodico.com/es/amp/noticias/politica/todos-politicos-comparado-cataluna-alemania-nazi-5212509?__twitter_impression=true">familiar bogeyman</a> for prominent former and current officials of both the<a href="http://elpais.com/elpais/2015/08/29/opinion/1440863481_811526.html"> </a><a href="http://elpais.com/elpais/2015/08/29/opinion/1440863481_811526.html">left</a> and the<a href="http://www.catalannews.com/politics/item/spanish-government-and-pp-insist-on-comparing-catalan-independence-movement-with-nazism"> </a><a href="http://www.catalannews.com/politics/item/spanish-government-and-pp-insist-on-comparing-catalan-independence-movement-with-nazism">right</a> in Spain. Astonishingly, the consensus extends to the far-right, where in a recent act of extraordinary irony, the far-right Spanish party Vox,<a href="http://www.europapress.es/nacional/noticia-vox-solicita-tribunal-aleman-entrega-puigdemont-compara-proces-condena-alta-traicion-hitl-20180510134035.html"> </a><a href="http://www.europapress.es/nacional/noticia-vox-solicita-tribunal-aleman-entrega-puigdemont-compara-proces-condena-alta-traicion-hitl-20180510134035.html">writing to a German court</a>, compared the Catalan president in exile to Hitler. </p> <p>By linking those who speak out or question the political status quo to Nazis and extremists, these otherwise mainstream politicians have stacked the deck against any possibility of negotiating over legitimate political demands. The Spanish judiciary meanwhile turns the law on its head to quench dissent, in a perverse and systematic abuse of legislative intent meant to protect speech, assembly, minorities and the vulnerable. <span class="mag-quote-center">By weaponizing hate speech legislation, a national minority is now cast as the extremist oppressor, and anything goes to silence and jail its political and civil leadership. </span></p> <p>By weaponizing hate speech legislation, a national minority is now cast as the extremist oppressor, and anything goes to silence and jail its political and civil leadership. </p> <p>In Spain, current legislation allows for the proscription and prosecution of dissent, which Spanish institutions have used to criminalize what is inherently a political question. Here in the United States, the first amendment protects speech, even speech we don’t like, precisely because it takes interpretation out of the hands of the state and forces it back into the public square. It encourages debate rather than litigating it. If applied in Catalonia, incarcerated and exiled political and civil society leaders would be able to participate openly and without fear of retribution in social and political life, free to seek democratic solutions to political questions. </p> <p>Catalonia’s national day, which falls in September, commemorates the loss of the War of Succession of 1714, after which Spain moved to quash Catalonia’s centuries-old institutions and liberties.&nbsp; This year, for the seventh consecutive year, a massive, peaceful <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-45492205">march of one million Catalans</a> commemorated that loss, conscious that the struggle to protect and defend those rights marks their present as much as their past.</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/krystyna-schreiber/two-kinds-of-justice-in-spain">Two kinds of justice in Spain</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/galv-o-debelle/exception-in-catalonia-one-year-after-referendum">Exception in Catalonia one year after the referendum</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Spain </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Spain Civil society Conflict Democracy and government International politics Catalonia Andrew Davis Tue, 18 Sep 2018 14:32:03 +0000 Andrew Davis 119705 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Two kinds of justice in Spain https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/krystyna-schreiber/two-kinds-of-justice-in-spain <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The recent conviction of several Basque youths with heavy sentences and the charges against Catalan politicians reveal the political nature of justice in Spain. </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/Aritz_Leoz_Altsasu_Basque_01.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Aritz_Leoz_Altsasu_Basque_01.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'>Justice for the Altsasu youth. Aritz Leoz. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>In the early hours of October 15, 2016, in an Alsasua bar (in Basque, Altsasu), in the Basque Country, in the north of Spain, a brawl broke out between a number of young people and a couple of Guardia Civil (Spain's paramilitary force). Damage assessment: a swollen lip and a broken carpal. This is nothing unusual in a country like Spain in which, in 2016 alone, there were 9,571 reported clashes between policemen and citizens, often described as resistance to public authority. In this Basque case a complaint was also filed before the local authorities.</p> <p>But then something out of the ordinary happened: "We got scared when we saw how the case our kids were involved in was being treated by certain Spanish newspapers and also on television. They said that our Alsasua town is divided, that Civil Guard officers cannot move freely without being insulted by the people. They spoke of a situation of extreme violence, which has nothing to do with the reality of the place. The press were preparing the ground for what came next," says Bel Bozueta, the mother of Adur. </p> <p>Adur, one of the eight people convicted in this case, has in the meantime turned 23. Adur's lawyer, Jaione Karrera, traces the course of events: "A few weeks after the brawl, an organization for the victims of terrorism filed a complaint before the National Court in Madrid. The competence of this national court extends to particularly serious crimes such as terrorism, and its judgments always issue heavy sentences." What is really being attempted here is the creation of a linkage of these Basque adolescents with a movement that calls for the removal of the civil guards from the Basque Country – and therefore indirectly, also with ETA.</p> <h2><strong>A case of terrorism</strong></h2> <p>"We have stated several times that there has never been any evidence that any of these kids belonged to such a movement. There are brawls like this every weekend throughout the country, some with weapons such as baseball bats, and the outcome is often quite serious injury. None of these cases has ever been brought before a special court," says the lawyer. The competent courts in the Basque Country also confirm in their statements that there is no indication of terrorism and that the case must be tried by local courts. </p><p>But Madrid insists. The conflict over the court’s authority is brought before the Supreme Court. This will not rule out the possibility that terrorism may be involved and the case is passed to Carmen Lamela of the National Court, the same judge that a year later was to rule in favour of the pre-trial imprisonment on charges of "rebellion" of the candidate for the presidency of the Catalan government Jordi Sànchez, and the chairman of the Catalan organization Omnium Cultural, Jordi Cuixart.</p> <p>The families of Altsasu can only watch these events unfold with amazement and with fear. “The civil guards really pull their weight and have a very dark history. We lived with this police force in the Basque Country during the ETA era: it was very bad. And from the beginning we saw that there was some political interest in making our case a very big affair", says Adur's mother. What most scared them was a tweet by the then Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, in which he assured the people that this attack on the civil guards would not go unpunished. Early in the morning of November 14, policemen knocked on their door and their son was taken away. Seven other friends were also detained.</p> <p>The accusation is terrorism. The chief public prosecutor called for prison sentences of between 50 and 61 years for seven of the defendants, and 12 years for a young girl. “There was a very short investigation phase. At the National Court, statements by our clients were taken and because of the putative risk of flight they were imprisoned near Madrid. Three of them stayed in prison until a sentence was issued, 19 months later, and under the special conditions that apply to terrorists," says Jaione Karrera. Adur's mother describes what this meant to the student teacher and musician, then 21 years old: “Each communication was supervised. They could not participate in activities within the prison grounds. They were subjected to severe controls by security personnel. We asked for a conversation with a psychologist, for the first months were very hard for our son. That was in August 2017, but the psychologist could not see him until June 2018."</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/Aritz_Leoz_Altsasu_Basque_02_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Aritz_Leoz_Altsasu_Basque_02_1.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Basque protest in soldarity with the accused. Aritz Leoz. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><h2><strong>No due process</strong></h2> <p>Adur's lawyer is convinced that justice is prejudiced against her clients. “Had the defendants not been from the Basque Country, these disproportionate charges would not have been made, nor would pre-trial prison have been stipulated. The whole process seemed to be an anachronism". ETA abandoned their weapons in 2011, and at that time the defendants were still under age. "All of our arguments were rejected. Only the report of the affected Guardia Civil agents was taken into account. We could not manage to file a single document, video, or even objective evidence such as a plan of the bar, to at least put forward a version other than that of the prosecution." Nor was any of the defence evidence heard that referred to the political situation in the town, although part of the prosecutor’s case was based precisely on that.</p> <p>But things got even worse. In February 2017 the defence learned that one of the judges was married to a Guardis Civil officer, and had a military police medal. In spite of this, the bias appeal was turned down.</p> <p>The June 1 judgment was consequently very tough. The National Court, fearing that the verdict might be subsequently annulled, withdrew the charges of terrorism. They were condemned, instead, for bodily harm, disruption of public order and an attack on the public authority. Three of the defendants got the maximum sentence of 13 years, the others got 9 years and the girl got 2 years. The defence asked for a review. In spite of this, a few days after the sentence they were jailed by the civil guard.</p> <p>Their families protested about the excessive convictions and the many irregularities. Thousands of people from all over Spain went to the Basque country to demonstrate alongside them. “There was no presumption of innocence. From the first moment there was only the version of the prosecution and not that of the defence", summarizes lawyer Karrera. Moreover, even during the pre-trial detention they were held almost 400 km. from their families. This dispersal tactic has been practised for decades with Basque prisoners and, since last autumn, also with jailed Catalan separatists. Bel Bozueta, Adur’s mother, above all sees political motives behind the verdict: "The Guardis Civil is an important element of national unity of Spain, it is regarded as a cornerstone of the Spanish nation. And although the accusation of terrorism could not be upheld, we continue to watch television commentary that argues in this direction, so that the ordinary citizen thinks that our kids must somehow be terrorists. There is a very clear reasoning behind the sentences, and it is revenge." Bel sees here a parallel with Catalan imprisoned activists and politicians. And in both cases she sees a clear sign that in Spain there is no effective separation of powers.</p> <h2><strong>Long pre-trial prison</strong></h2> <p>Catalan relatives and lawyers complain of irregularities as regards both pre-trial prison and procedural defects. The former foreign minister of the Puigdemont government, Raül Romeva, in the course of a few months has been imprisoned twice. In mid-June the Supreme Court confirmed the charges of rebellion and sedition against him and 14 other Catalan politicians. The corresponding sentences are 30 and 12 years. "Rebellion in Spain entails the use of violence, but my husband has not even had a stone in his hand," says Diana Riba, Romeva’s wife. She recalls that the charged members of the Catalan government have barely had enough time to speak properly with their lawyers. Txell Bonet, the partner of Jordi Cuixart who has been in prison for nine months, is convinced there will be no equitable process. "It's like the Alsasua case: they ask for the maximum sentences to keep them locked up. In the end they may not be condemned for rebellion, the conviction may be less than that of the Basque kids. But they will be condemned even though there was no violence".</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/Jordi_Borras_Encarcerated_activists_Sept_20_protests2017.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Jordi_Borras_Encarcerated_activists_Sept_20_protests2017.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'>Incarcerated activists. September 20 protests, 2017. Jordi Borras. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas is counsel for some of the exiled Catalan politicians, including Carles Puigdemont. Alonso-Cuevillas has been a lawyer for 35 years and is a full professor of procedural law at the University of Barcelona. "In Spain, pre-trial detention is improperly applied as a kind of prior punishment. In our cases it is quite clear that it is a matter of intimidation. No Basque, no Canary islander, is to have the idea of emulating the Catalans". </p><p>Like Basque lawyer Jaione Karrera, Alonso-Cuevillas is convinced that the fundamental rights of his clients have been violated. His defence was also constrained: "We were given very little forewarning that the defendants, due to a rebellion accusation that could lead to a sentence of 30 years in prison, had to show up the following day at 9 a.m. in Madrid, that is to say, 600 km away. I received an 150-pages’ thick document, but no documented evidence was included." The Catalan lawyer also complains about the abuse of criminal law: "One could say that this is about disobedience, not rebellion. Of course, breaching public order with armed violence is a crime everywhere. In Spain, this happened on February 23, 1981 with the civil guards’ coup d'etat, or Franco’s 1936 military revolt. Here, however, there was no violence, but just a democratic process. The problem is that both the prosecutor and the Supreme Court view themselves as victims. And that is why it is not being judged objectively", says Alonso-Cuevillas.</p> <h2><strong>Conservative judges</strong></h2> <p>Joaquín Urias, a former Spanish constitutional court judge, and a professor of constitutional law at the University of Seville, does not believe that these processes against Basques and Catalans are a problem of lack of separation of powers. But he does agree with the Catalan lawyer as regards the lack of objectivity: "In Spain it is not that the judges do what the government wants. The problem is that the judges themselves represent a particular ideology. It’s not a problem of judicial independence, but it is one of its neutrality". </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/Jordi_Borras_&quot;We Vote to be Free&quot;_Guardia Civil_2017_Barcelona.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Jordi_Borras_&quot;We Vote to be Free&quot;_Guardia Civil_2017_Barcelona.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'>"We vote to be free". Guardia Civil. Jordi Borras. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>This affects, above all, Spain’s high courts, whose judges are appointed by the State. Here conservative positions predominate. For Urias, the case of Altsasu is a typical example: "There is a conflict between a policeman and a citizen. The judge always, always, always agrees with the policeman. It’s enough to scare you". In his opinion, in a democratic state, the judge must protect the citizens against the state: but in Spain, judges defend the public power against the citizens. "Whenever there is a conflict between a citizen and a policeman, even if it is the policeman who committed the crime, the judges’ verdict agrees with the policeman." In one case of a group violation, the so-called "Manada", in Pamplona in July 2016, this led to nationwide protests, because the judges acknowledged "sexual abuse" but not rape, and left the defendants free for the duration of the trial. What was striking was that two of them were from the army and the police force respectively.</p> <p>What the constitutionalist sees in all this is first and foremost the "Transition", as the transition to democracy in Spain has been called since 1978 . "In contrast to Germany, after the dictatorship, in the courts no changes were made. After the death of Franco we voted in a new constitution, but the judges who, until 1975, had applied Franco's laws – that is to say directly Fascist laws – were those who had to apply this constitution. That is why it takes so long for the rights and values of the constitution to take root in Spanish justice". Another problem is training. "In other countries judge trainees spend time with real cases, they act as assistants, they face real life. In Spain, you have to study for at least five years and you have to be able to afford to pay for a very expensive tutor", explains Urias. The social background of the judges is very homogeneous. This also contributes greatly to the conservative majority trend of the Spanish judicial corps.</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/Jordi_Borras_20S_2017_protestsBarcelona_01.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Jordi_Borras_20S_2017_protestsBarcelona_01.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'>2017 Barcelona protests. Jordi Borras. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Urias sees another problem in the legislation itself. Spanish criminal law is increasingly ideological. "It is impossible to apply certain laws without the judge having to interpret them politically: there is no factual basis," he warns. An example is the "Citizens’ Security Act", for example in the case of "hate crime": "Recently there was a trial because journalist Antonio Maestre, on Twitter, had received a death threat from a police officer. This policeman had to pay a 200 euro fine. At the same time, the rapper Valtonyc, who in one of his songs threatened a businessman from Mallorca, was sentenced to two years in prison, on the basis of the same law. Here it is clear: if a policeman threatens a leftist person, the judge says: 'Well, it's not that serious...' but if a leftist person threatens a right-wing entrepreneur, there are prison sentences," Urias concludes. </p><h2><strong>A fascist as victim</strong></h2> <p>Another example is the case of Luis Carrero Blanco, Francisco Franco's appointed successor, who was killed in 1973 in an ETA attack. When student Cassandra Vera tweeted a joke about the death of Carrero Blanco, she was given a one-year jail sentence. "The judge decided on the basis of article 579 of the criminal code ("glorification of terrorism") that Carrero Blanco was a victim of terrorism. This is as if someone in Germany had killed Hermann Göring in an attack and he had later been recognized as a victim of terrorism", the jurist says. Surely it was out of fear that the "Cassandra case" would not have been upheld by the European Court that the Supreme Court overturned the ruling in March this year.</p> <p>In the opinion of Alonso-Cuevillas, these cases show that Spanish justice is unpredictable at best, and this has led to a loss of confidence in court rulings: "Justice must be predictable to a certain degree. But in Spain for absolutely identical cases the sentences can be completely different." Here is a problem in the same criminal code. "The vague definitions of some kinds of crime let small cases turn into big ones as in, for example, the case of sedition."</p> <h2><strong>Parallels with the ETA case</strong></h2> <p>Alonso-Cuevillas warns against a situation in which citizens are defenceless before the State. If the Catalan politicians who are accused of having held an independence referendum are found guilty, there would be a legal precedent and in the future any demonstration against an eviction in which the police cannot do their work could be interpreted as sedition. </p><p>He also finds it very worrying that Carlos Lesmes, President of the General Council of the Judiciary, the highest body of the judiciary, said that the maintenance of the territorial unity of the state is one of the most important tasks of Spanish justice. "This has been to try and justify the violation of many fundamental rights that we are witnessing. The lack of guarantees, the abuse of the pre-trial prison, the disproportionate application of criminal law. This is a scheme similar to the one followed in the Basque Country in the treatment of ETA in the past. Then the judges said that against ETA ‘anything went’, including the violation of fundamental rights. But in our case there has not been a single mortal victim," says the Catalan.</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/500209/11S_NationalDay_2018_Krystyna_Schreiber_01.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/11S_NationalDay_2018_Krystyna_Schreiber_01.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'>National Day demo. Krystyna Schreiber. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Joaquín Urias summarizes it very clearly: "Spanish courts always defend the authorities against the citizens, instead of defending the citizens. No serving judge will acknowledge this publicly. Judges should defend the law and the people, not the power of the state. But in Spain we do it exactly the other way around."</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/Krystyna_Schreiber_Support_Parliament Speaker_trial_03.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Krystyna_Schreiber_Support_Parliament Speaker_trial_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'>Krystyna Schreiber. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/donatella-della-porta-francis-oconnor-martin-portos-anna-subirats-ribas/streets-w">&quot;The streets will always be ours&quot; - Catalonia, a referendum from below</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/barbara-spinelli-et-al/upholding-rule-of-law-in-european-union">Upholding the Rule of Law in the European Union</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitaliberties/xnet/repression-and-digital-resistance-in-catalanreferendum">Repression and digital resistance in the #CATALANREFERENDUM</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/jezerca-tigani/spain-how-democratic-country-can-silence-its-citizens">Spain: how a democratic country can silence its citizens</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Spain </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Spain Civil society Conflict Democracy and government International politics Catalonia Krystyna Schreiber Tue, 18 Sep 2018 13:47:04 +0000 Krystyna Schreiber 119692 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Exception in Catalonia one year after the referendum https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/galv-o-debelle/exception-in-catalonia-one-year-after-referendum <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="Standard">What is Catalonian cooperativism’s contribution to independentism?&nbsp;Activists are promoting practical and concrete independence from all hegemonic powers, by building a parallel economic system.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PICTURE 1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PICTURE 1.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'>Spanish police charge protesters after removing the voting ballots located in Ramon Llull, a Barcelona school, October, 2017. El Diario. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>One year has passed since the Spanish police intervened on Catalan territory. People of all ages defending the voting ballots were dragged, beaten up and sometimes fined – not very differently from how other protesters are usually silenced in demonstrations. Yet, this time, the manifold symbolic impact of repression has unleashed very strong reactions all over Spain.&nbsp;</p><p>The historical conflicts between Spain and Catalonia, never solved or settled, have re-emerged. For those who have lived under the dictatorships of the past century, it was hard to look away. In fact, it’s hard to explain to non-locals the true dimension of this phenomenon and how it is making a re-appearance today. This piece can’t go in detail about this, but one anecdote may serve. Together, the two new parties that have emerged during recent years create the feeling that history is repeating itself. The leader of the left-wing party Podemos is called Pablo Iglesias, that is to say, the same name as the now decadent ex-left-wing socialist party PSOE. At the other end of the spectrum, the leader of the newly created right-wing party Ciudadanos is Albert Rivera, who’s last name is the same as that of the famous Spanish fascist Primo de Rivera.</p><p>Besides skipping over this complex history, my argument also maintains its distance from the ruling classes of both sides of the conflict. In previous investigations, I have argued consistently against the government of the PP, in particular against its decision to take on public debt to rescue banks and its implementation of repressive legislation known as the Gag Law. But it is just as necessary to insist on the fact that it was the right-wing Catalan nationalist party (CiU) that promoted the Gag Law in the first place.&nbsp;The Catalan right-wing then also proposed wideranging austerity policies and was bailed out by the central administration.&nbsp;</p><p>Still at the regional level, the Mossos d'Esquadra bluntly criminalized protests and applied anti-terrorist measures against social protest, in collaboration with the Spanish judicial authorities. On both levels, state and region, dissent is being punished through repressive techniques that bear a striking resemblance to what Agamben has described as a permanent state of exception. Exception manifests itself on both sides of the equation, although one side has much more power than the other.</p><p>The conflict between the scale of the exception on the part of the central state and that of the regional government has created a complex terrain for social struggles. In a study about the media coverage of squatting, I observed that newspapers instrumentalise social protest and use their coverage of conflicts to discredit the authorities of the opposing camp. In other words, the dissident posture taken by newspapers closely follows ideological criteria in line with the strengthening of enemy images between Spanish and Catalan institutions. Some Catalan newspapers were found to reject repressive state laws such as the Gag Law on nationalistic grounds, while the Madrid-based journal&nbsp;<i>El País</i> tended to present itself as an ally of Catalan movements in order to discredit the regional authorities. These developments fit the logic of exception, insofar as those in a subordinate position (Catalan regional government) clash with the dominant interests (of the Spanish state) over the issue of sovereignty. Meanwhile, a great and multifaceted movement is mobilizing across Catalonia.</p><p>Catalan resistance can be traced way back, but Franco’s dreadful dictatorship and his prohibition of the Catalan language is an important part of this story. It took about 50 years for independentism to become mainstream after that episode. At some point, the independendist discourse became a viable option for a few politicians, who took the lead on popular initiatives that have always surfaced&nbsp;&nbsp;throughout history. From the Catalan perspective, 2012 is the year when right-wing politicians won the elections by embracing the call for independence. Since 2012, Spanish and Catalan nationalist right-wing parties have managed to stay in power thanks to their stance on the issue of independence – the Spanish PP against it, and the Catalan CiU in favor of it. Although other specific reasons account for this change of heart towards “independence”, such as the reactionary nature of the PP’s policies, the mechanism of the subversion of popular struggles lies at the core of the reproduction of this system. Power always integrates partial aspects of the movements’ claims to reinvent itself, and includes certain sectors of movements in their dispensations to get their compliance.</p><p style="text-align: left;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PICTURE 2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PICTURE 2.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>"The will of one people", slogan of the catalan right-wing party CiU for its 2012 campaign led by the then President, Artur Mas. El Diario. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Whatever the outcome of this conflict, the stakes for both the Spanish and the Catalan authorities rose dramatically after October 2017. The high political relevance of the conflict between the Catalan and Spanish institutions generated huge amounts of media coverage, driving (almost) everyone’s attention to institutional politics. An unfortunate result of this trend was to lose sight of the movements that fuelled this conflict in the first place.&nbsp;Instead of getting into the nitty-gritties of institutional politics, I propose to look at movements that oppose the current exception-based regime of governance. We will&nbsp;explore the practices of the Catalan Integral Cooperative, a movement aiming to create grassroots cooperativism as a buffer&nbsp;against economic violence.</p><h2 style="text-align: left;"><b>Movements against the state of exception</b></h2><p class="Standard">Western liberal states are causing widespread insecurity, and generating the need to create defensive structures against state-market violence, manifested in daily life through economic deprivation.[1]The Catalan Integral Cooperative (CIC) promotes a sort of cooperativism across Catalonia that illustrates how popular movements’ practices can face up to exceptionalism. This movement defines itself through the term “integral” because it aims to act in all dimensions of life, and thus to develop tools for individual and collective autonomy to fulfill all sorts of different needs. In practice, it promotes several initiatives that provide individuals and communities with useful tools to oppose the misery and coercion caused by the statist-capitalist entity. Even if success is far from guaranteed, the tools of the CIC have become a precious resource against the state of exception. As argued below, the erosion of law is opposed through juridical and economic disobedience.</p><p class="Standard">Since 2010, the CIC has developed a myriad of initiatives that have combined with many other movements and projects rooted at the local level. Communities have grown, exchange networks have been reinforced, and collective infra-structures and tools have been set up. All of these coordinate their actions across the territory. The CIC’s presence vaguely corresponds to the administrative region of Catalonia, and is divided into three “bioregions”: North, East and South. Each bioregion holds monthly assemblies to see how the goals defined in the general assembly – that meets once a year – are being dealt with. It is striking to note that the CIC projects have very diverse identities, ways of doing things, practical priorities, etc. The principle of subsidiarity, that commits to taking decisions at the lowest level of the decision-making processes, has translated into communities that are very different in nature. Some opt for communal living, allowing for a drastic increase of the shared resources and exchanges with the network.</p><p class="Standard">Collective tools allow the movement to grow, something that then allows new community services to emerge, such as distribution networks. Others put their efforts into creating market places for social currencies, a space where non-profit oriented transactions are encouraged as a way to engage with the basic value of mutual support. In fact, a very significant effort on the part of the CIC has been invested in the creation of a community of exchange revolving around a social currency called the ECO. The internal exchange of products between members takes place in ECO’s, which allows them to bypass the taxation of transactions. Social currencies have a local nature that make the geographical expansion of the currency unproductive. These currencies function more effectively when each community manages their own transactions.</p><p class="Standard">Nonetheless, communities can expand the reach of their impact by collaborating with each other. The relationships of the eco-network are a good example of how decentralized decision-making can be reconciled with the goal of expanding geographical reach. Each eco-network can establish equivalence agreements with other communities, thus permitting it to use very localized social currencies in a broader geographic area.[2]After many years of hard work, the tools developed by the CIC are now available and ready to use to solve needs related to production, distribution and consumption.</p><p style="text-align: left;" 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/PICTURE 3.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PICTURE 3.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 user interface of the collective IntegraRevolució. </span></span></span>In terms of production, individuals and collectives are allowed to have legal coverage for their activity under the umbrella of the movement. By collectivizing the legal license to work, the CIC provides the vulnerable and the excluded with a network of solidarity that is crucial in times of need. In terms of consumption, members get goods and services using their social currencies. By providing technological tools for decentralized exchanges, the CIC encourages the collective self-management of the resources available to cover its members needs. And, to link production with consumption, a logistical structure was created to ship goods to their destination – the local nodes of the CIC all over Catalonia. It was also in 2012 that some members of the CIC started working on the Central d’Abastiment Catalana (CAC), which could be roughly translated as the Catalan Supply Center. George Dafermos describes the CAC in the following manner:</p><blockquote style="text-align: left;"><p class="Citaes" style="text-align: left;">The main infrastructure of the network are the so-called ‘rebosts’, that is, the self-managed pantries that the CIC has set up all over Catalonia – twenty of them, to be exact – which constitute the ‘cell’ of the organizational structure of the network. Each one of them is run autonomously by a local consumer group that wishes to have access to local products as well as products made (by producers associated with the CIC) in other parts of Catalonia through the list of products provided by the CAC (which currently includes more than a thousand products). The way in which the supply chain is organized is as follows: the products go from the seventy producers that currently supply the network to the two principal rebosts in L’Arn and Villafranca and then are distributed by the CAC vans to the local rebosts, where local consumer groups go to collect them.</p></blockquote><p class="Standard" style="text-align: left;">The CIC did not intend to create a centrally-controlled network of projects. On the contrary, its goal has always been the creation of an organizationally decentralized network of projects connected by the same principles, which support each other by sharing resources and capabilities. This implies a high operative complexity, entangled in broader networks of mutual support, not always tied to the CIC. Indeed, the eco-networks and the CIC are separate entities, with their own organization, assemblies, norms, etc. They collaborate insofar as different entities reach agreements that impact on both parts. The eco-networks are the local communities that make use of the CIC tools, thus benefiting from these collective resources. Yet, on the other hand, it is thanks to the eco-networks that the CIC became available at the local level, expanding the ties within the community.But while the needs and wants of the people are diverse, the CIC represents an attempt to provide&nbsp;a common framework for action. Below, the collective IntegraRevolució argues why this common ground is desirable:</p><blockquote style="text-align: left;"><p class="Standard">For some decades, accelerating in recent years due to the systemic crisis that currently prevails, different processes of social self-construction are being born and are gaining strength, as beacons of reality that illuminate hopes for a complete transformation of society.</p><p class="Standard">&nbsp;</p><p class="Citaes">Some of these initiatives are coordinated with one another, but in general we find that there is substantial disconnection and lack of shared work between different movements and affinity groups.</p><p class="Citaes">&nbsp;</p><p class="Citaes">[…] A vital step in this process of moving forward towards convergence and a common framework is to create meeting spaces to deliberate, reflect and work on the concrete forms that will develop this revolution. (IntegraRevolució, 2015)</p></blockquote><div><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/106382024" width="460" height="258" frameborder="0"></iframe></div><div><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/109479717" width="460" height="258" frameborder="0"></iframe></div><p class="Standard" style="text-align: left;">IntegraRevolució has contributed to reflection on the concept of an Integral Revolution (IR), in sync with the concern of the CIC to encompass all spheres of life. Collectives like these have been multiplying in Catalonia and influencing other projects. The basic principles, partially shaped by CIC’s practice and the IR’s reflexions, can since be found in a new initiative called Fair Coop – the&nbsp;“earth cooperative ecosystem for a fair economy”. In very reductive terms,&nbsp;<i>the CIC goes from local to global, while Fair Coop goes from global to local</i>. Like the CIC, Fair Coop is not a legally registered entity, and instead is more suitably described as a movement. Just like the CIC, Fair Coop is a movement revolving around cooperativist practices of economic disobedience. Both the CIC and Fair Coop develop tools that anyone can use if their values and actions are in line with the movements’ means and goals.</p><p class="Standard" style="text-align: left;">Of course, these two movements have several crucial differences that differentiate them. For instance, Fair Coop uses Fair Coin, an ethical crypto-currency that allows secure, anonymous, decentralized transactions to take place without the intervention or control of central banks and states. But both of them represent attempts to update the political meaning of the cooperativist struggles of the past century. At this point it becomes self-evident that the practices of disobedient territorial cooperativism are spreading to confront the widespread increase of misery and suffering caused by austerity and debt. What has been said so far provides some elements of response with regards to how movements oppose the state of exception: if the rich don’t respect the law, if the state doesn’t respect the law, then why should the people?</p><p class="Standard" style="text-align: left;">Yet, these sort of movements promoting large-scale mutualism face structural constrains due to their organizational complexity. The weight of structures makes organizations less capable of adapting to new difficulties. But at the same time, if cooperativist communities do not organize beyond the immediate need to produce to survive, what happens to them when economic decline sets in? Movements organizing against economic precariousness face the threat of being defeated by the market’s logic of productivism. In broader terms, the dynamics of collective organization can be self-destructive. With regards to this peril,Ruymán Rodríguez makes a brilliant argument against what he calls the “politics of the impossible”, and argues that the good functioning of any community must always rely on assemblies’ capacity to constrain themselves:</p><blockquote style="text-align: left;"><p class="Citaes">Una comunidad, si quiere subsistir, debe evitar enredarse en lo que yo llamo “la política de lo imposible”. Hay cosas que una comunidad puede votar en asamblea por mayoría, incluso consensuar, pero si lo aprobado escapa de lo posible no se cumplirá. Votar por mayoría absoluta que mañana vamos a levitar no nos levantará un centímetro del suelo. La comunidad no puede abordar asuntos que se escapan a su control. Si acuerda, por ejemplo, un horario de ruidos tendrá que ver la predisposición real de los comunados hacia dicho acuerdo, la capacidad comunitaria de hacerlo cumplir y las consecuencias de un posible incumplimiento. Si el análisis nos indica que no hay posibilidad real de hacer cumplir lo que se ha acordado, más vale ni proponerlo. Y esto entronca con tomar decisiones sobre ética y moral y la esfera privada del domicilio y las costumbres. Por mucho que determinados hábitos molesten y desagraden, hay cosas cuyo cumplimiento no puede constatarse. Y aunque se pudiera, ¿es deseable? Para conseguirlo habría que poner en marcha una repugnante y pesada maquinaria represiva semejante a la del Estado, o una labor de pedagogía y autoformación que con suerte, de funcionar, nos llevaría décadas. Hay elementos en los que la comunidad debe reconocerse, aunque sea temporalmente, incompetente. (Rodríguez, 2017 p.80)</p></blockquote><blockquote style="text-align: left;"><p>If a community wants to survive, it should avoid getting entangled in what I call the “politics of the impossible”. There are things that a community can vote on in an assembly by majority, or even by consensus, yet if what is approved goes beyond the bounds of what is possible, it won’t take place. Voting by absolute majority that tomorrow we will levitate will not raise us an inch from the floor.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;The community cannot go in for decisions that escape its control. If it agrees, for example, on a noise ban, it will need to assess the real predisposition of the members of the community towards this agreement, the community’s capacity to enforce this agreement and the consequences of disrespecting it. If the analysis indicates that there is no real possibility of making it happen, it is better to refrain from even proposing it to the assembly. And this leads us to the issue of taking decisions on ethics and morality, the domestic private sphere and traditional customs. Even if certain habits bother us, there are prescriptions that can’t be fulfilled. And even if they could, would it be desirable? To implement these&nbsp;&nbsp;would require deploying a repugnant and heavy repressive machinery similar to that of the State, or a pedagogical and auto-educational project that would take decades to apply, with uncertain results. There are elements in which the community should recognize itself as incompetent, even if only temporarily.&nbsp;(Rodríguez, 2017 p.80)</p></blockquote><p class="Standard" style="text-align: left;">It should perhaps be emphasised that any eventual sovereignty that could stem from the CIC projects is counter to state sovereignty. In the case of the state, enforcing its sovereignty is in line with the institution’s core value of domination. On the contrary, in the case of assemblies against domination, the reproduction of hegemonic values through coercive and manipulative acts over others completely contradicts the founding principles of the collective.&nbsp;</p><p class="Standard" style="text-align: left;">For movements, attempts to reproduce the logic of exception to gain power over others inevitably leads to the death of the community. It follow that even if the structures of the collective can be maintained artificially, they immediately lose their potential to enhance its members’ capacity for action. Only what people come to desire individually and free from coercion can eventually take place and become a means for collective autonomy. Conversely, any actor trying to impose its views or make profit out of collective endeavors should be discredited from the get go.</p><p class="Standard" style="text-align: left;">These ethical dilemmas are at the core of any social movement, and indeed define their chances of success. Of course, the external reality with which movements relate is just as relevant.&nbsp;One year after the referendum, the diversity of the aforementioned practices and the stark repressive situation endured in Catalonia should be enough to convince anyone that solidarity is an urgent matter.&nbsp;&nbsp;Beyond systemic trends making the poor poorer, blunt force is being used along cultural lines to defend dominant interests, while territorial cooperativists oppose economic deprivation and violence. All in all, with regards to the conflict over sovereignty between Catalonia and Spain,&nbsp;movement participants regard the creation of a new state as relatively irrelevant. What matters is that CIC activists are in fact promoting practical and concrete independence from hegemonic powers by building a parallel economic system.</p><p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: left;">[1]&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;This argument is provocatively developed in the concise and enlightening piece called “We are all very anxious” (Institute for Precarious Consciousness, 2014)&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: left;">[2]&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Per example, in Olot the eco-network uses a social currency called “Trok”, that has the same value as the ECO currency of the CIC (1 € = 1 Trok = 1 ECO). This allows people of the ECO network to use their social currency in Olot, and people from Olot to engage in exchange with members of the ECO currency. The Trok community has also reached an agreement with another currency called the “hour”. There, one monetary unit is worth ten Euros or Troks, but that hasn’t prevented people from reaching agreements that allow an exchange between currencies.</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="/emma-avil-s/intercommunication-past-and-future">Intercommunication in Barcelona, past and future</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/plan-c/radical-municipalism-demanding-future">Radical municipalism: demanding the future</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/bertie-russell/jackson-rising">Jackson Rising </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Spain </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Spain Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics Ideas International politics Galvão Debelle dos Santos Tue, 18 Sep 2018 11:34:44 +0000 Galvão Debelle dos Santos 119635 at https://www.opendemocracy.net We simply said ‘enough’: the story of Spain’s ‘Las Kellys’ hotel cleaners https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/roc-o-ros-rebollo/las-kellys-hotel-cleaners-spain-fight-back <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>From gruelling working conditions to more limited access to healthcare, austerity policies have hit women hardest. But they are fighting back.</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/563303/RRS1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Las Kellys in a demonstration in Canarias (Spain), 2017. Photo: Myriam Barros."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/RRS1.png" alt="Las Kellys in a demonstration in Canarias (Spain), 2017. Photo: Myriam Barros." title="Las Kellys in a demonstration in Canarias (Spain), 2017. Photo: Myriam Barros." width="460" height="263" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Las Kellys in a demonstration in Canarias (Spain), 2017. Photo: Myriam Barros. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>From eight to nine o’clock in the morning, she cleans the hotel’s common areas. Then, she’s assigned around 20 hotel rooms to clean in six and a half hours. If a client has finished their stay, she has to fully dress the room, which takes an hour. &nbsp;Often, she skips her lunch to be able to finish on time.</p><p dir="ltr">“A cleaner doesn’t know what it is to be paid for extra hours”, says Ana Nacher, who has worked as a cleaner for 17 years in Lanzarote (Canary Islands). Workers must finish cleaning their assigned rooms, however long it takes.</p><p dir="ltr">Working conditions worsened since the 2012&nbsp;<a href="https://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2012/02/11/pdfs/BOE-A-2012-2076.pdf">labour market reform</a>, Nacher added. This reform reduced penalties on employers for unfairly dismissing workers, enabling companies to fire and reinstate them through temporary employment agencies (TEAs) on short-term contracts.</p><p dir="ltr">The reform also loosened requirements on companies to abide by rights and wages collectively agreed across the country, granting individual companies the ability to decide on pay and conditions unilaterally.</p><p dir="ltr">Nacher has been directly affected by these changes. Now, TEA contracts in Spain’s hotel industry may have a base salary of just €800 (£710) a month, she said, whereas previously hotels paid her according to the sector’s national collective bargaining agreement; about €1,300 (£1,150) a month.</p><p dir="ltr">Amid greater insecurity and higher workloads, 96% of maids in Spain suffer from anxiety according to a <a href="https://www.ccoo-servicios.es/archivos/hosteleria/Estudio-Camareras-Espana-AUITA-CCOO.pdf">2015 study</a> by the CCOO labour union.</p><p dir="ltr">But anxiety is not officially recognised as a work-related illness under Spanish law, meaning that workers suffering from this can't access benefits while on sick leave. Nacher said this means many won’t take time off when they need it.</p><p dir="ltr">“We keep on going with antidepressants and muscle relaxants. We can’t get sick,” she told me, sure that taking time off for being ill can also result in being fired or not hired again, because workers on temporary contracts are more easily replaceable. “Where you are, there can be another one,” she said.</p><p dir="ltr">Fed up with their situation, some hotel cleaners started to share their complaints with each other in a Facebook group in 2016, marking the beginning of <a href="https://laskellys.wordpress.com/">Las Kellys</a> – a national association of women hotel cleaners who are fighting to reclaim their rights. Today, this group is increasingly on the national stage.</p><p dir="ltr">In April, Las Kellys <a href="http://www.rtve.es/noticias/20180405/rajoy-se-reune-kellys-moncloa/1709382.shtml">met with Mariano Rajoy</a>, the previous president of Spain; this month they expect to meet with Pedro Sánchez, the current president.</p><p dir="ltr">They've succeeded in obtaining official recognition of work-related hand and arm conditions, though they continue to fight for this recognition to be extended to also cover anxiety, back and spine injuries, and other health impacts of their jobs.</p><p dir="ltr">Now, Spain’s parliament is expected to <a href="https://www.eldiario.es/tenerifeahora/economia/Estatuto-Trabajadores-proteccion-Kellys-septiembre_0_805269749.html">change the workers’ statute </a>to require that TEAs apply collective bargaining agreements to wages and conditions. This change will be thanks to Las Kellys, but it will affect all workers.</p><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/563303/RRS2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Myriam Barros, Ana Nacher and others from Las Kellys when they met President Rajoy, 2018. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/RRS2.png" alt="Myriam Barros, Ana Nacher and others from Las Kellys when they met President Rajoy, 2018. " title="Myriam Barros, Ana Nacher and others from Las Kellys when they met President Rajoy, 2018. " width="460" height="316" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Myriam Barros, Ana Nacher and others from Las Kellys when they met President Rajoy, 2018. Photo: Ana Nacher. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The so-called ‘Kelly law’ compiles the group’s demands, including regulating their workloads; banning the outsourcing of their jobs via TEAs; an earlier retirement age due to physical exhaustion; and official recognition of all their work-related illnesses.</p><p dir="ltr">Myriam Barros, president of Las Kellys, was part of the first Facebook group. When they decided to highlight working conditions inside hotels, she said “it didn’t sit well” with managers, major labour unions and some right-wing parties.</p><p dir="ltr">“We were only seeking dignity as professionals,” she added. “These [TEA] companies exist to steal from us, not only money, but also fundamental rights. We were simply women that said ‘Enough!’.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">These companies steal from us, not only money, but also fundamental rights. We were simply women that said ‘Enough!’</p><p dir="ltr">Over the past two years, Las Kellys have met with political parties and labour inspectors and have <a href="http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/europa/kellys-piden-ayuda-parlamento-europeo/4345369/">reported their working conditions to the EU Petitions Commission</a>, where EU groups can report rights violations by member states.</p><p dir="ltr">At Christmas in 2016, they sent coal to the hotels they considered to have the worst working conditions, following the tradition of giving coal to poorly behaved children.</p><p dir="ltr">What’s happened to the labour conditions of hotel cleaners like Nacher is an example of wider precariousness for workers in Spain since the 2008 global financial crisis, said <a href="http://singenerodedudas.com/quien/" target="_blank">Carmen Castro</a>, economist and co-founder of the Gender, Economy, Politics &amp; Development Observatory (<a href="http://genderobservatory.com/">GEP&amp;DO</a>).&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">According to her analysis, Spain’s 2012 labour market reform has devalued salaries and encouraged companies to break up work into more short-term and part-time contracts. Women have been hit hardest by these changes; as in 2008, in 2018 they comprise the majority <a href="https://www.ine.es/jaxi/Datos.htm?path=/t22/p133/cno11/serie/l0/&amp;file=01004.px">of those with low salaries</a> and <a href="http://www.ine.es/jaxiT3/Datos.htm?t=4181">part-time contracts</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Spain’s 2011 <a href="https://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2011/08/02/pdfs/BOE-A-2011-13242.pdf">pensions reform</a> also increased the minimum number of hours that individuals must work in order to receive a public contributory pension, which is more difficult for women to reach, given that they are more likely to have part-time contracts – and when they do, they receive a lower pension.</p><p dir="ltr">According to Spain’s largest unions, <a href="http://www.ccoo.es/noticia:271271--Informe_La_brecha_de_genero_en_el_sistema_de_proteccion_social_desempleo_y_pensiones_">CCOO</a> and <a href="http://www.ugt.es/las-discriminaciones-laborales-de-la-mujer-penalizan-aun-mas-en-la-vejez">UGT</a>, the gap between the amount of money that men and women pensioners receive is now 37%. Ten years ago, that figure was very similar, at 40%. It hasn’t grown, but it hasn’t improved much either.</p><p dir="ltr">Austerity-driven budget cuts have also hit the 2006 <a href="https://www.boe.es/buscar/act.php?id=BOE-A-2006-21990">law of personal autonomy</a>. This was a “pioneering law,” said Castro, “because it considered caring as a right that must be provided by the state.” It called for the development of a public service of carers, and said that those caring for relatives should also receive public pensions.</p><p dir="ltr">Official data shows that <a href="http://www.dependencia.imserso.gob.es/InterPresent2/groups/imserso/documents/binario/im_062035.pdf">89%</a> of unpaid carers in Spain are women. Without the required budget for the public services proposed in the 2006 law, caring remains their responsibility – and they won’t receive public pensions for it.</p><p dir="ltr">Laura Martínez, an Argentinian woman who has lived in Spain for 15 years, has also been affected by public service cuts. Before 2012, immigrants like Martínez could access the public health system if they were officially resident in Spain.</p><p dir="ltr">A <a href="https://www.boe.es/buscar/act.php?id=BOE-A-2012-5403">2012 royal decree</a> denied primary care services to any adult who wasn’t registered as a worker in the National Social Assurance Institute (INSS). Those not registered can only be treated for free for emergency care.</p><p dir="ltr">Up to 68% of those excluded from public health services, as a result, are immigrants not legally resident in Spain (with almost two-thirds of them women), according to a <a href="https://www.medicosdelmundo.org/actualidad-y-publicaciones/publicaciones/informe-reder-radiografia-de-la-reforma-sanitaria-la">2015 report</a> from the REDER civil society coalition.</p><p dir="ltr">Martínez’s mother moved to Spain after the 2012 law was passed. She suffers a heart illness that requires regular examination, but says she has been denied the health service card needed to access primary care.</p><p dir="ltr">Martínez met others in the same situation as her mother through the campaign group <a href="http://yosisanidaduniversal.net/portada.php">Yo Sí, Sanidad Universal (YSSU)</a> – ‘Yes, Universal Healthcare’. When the 2012 reform was passed, YSSU campaigned to inform health centre staff of other ways in which they could legally provide healthcare to all patients.</p><p dir="ltr">In 2015, the region of <a href="https://elpais.com/ccaa/2017/01/18/madrid/1484768710_153582.html">Madrid</a> passed its own reform to provide healthcare to all those living there, with or without legal papers. This is a temporary and local solution, however; a person can still be denied care if they move from the region, for instance.</p><p>In July 2018, the government passed a <a href="https://www.boe.es/diario_boe/txt.php?id=BOE-A-2018-10752">new royal decree</a> that promises to restore universal healthcare. But Marta Pérez, from YSSU, says it doesn’t specify how to do this, so regions aren’t required to change their current systems.</p><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/563303/RRS3.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="The platform Yo Sí Sanidad Universal marches in Madrid."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/RRS3.png" alt="The platform Yo Sí Sanidad Universal marches in Madrid." title="The platform Yo Sí Sanidad Universal marches in Madrid." width="460" height="299" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The platform Yo Sí Sanidad Universal marches in Madrid. Photo: Marta Pérez. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The past decade of cuts and reforms in Spain reflects “a neoliberal turn of public policies” according to Castro, the feminist economist.</p><p dir="ltr">She says the government has used the excuse of saving money to send a message: equality is dispensable. It even <a href="https://elpais.com/elpais/2010/10/20/actualidad/1287562624_850215.html">eliminated the equality ministry</a> in 2010 that managed just 0.03% of the state budget. “Was that actually for economic reasons?” she asks. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">The past ten years of cuts and reforms in Spain reveals “a neoliberal turn of public policies.”</p><p>Against austerity policies which prioritise reducing public debt, Castro proposes feminist economic measures to guarantee “public services that look after people and ecosystems.” For instance, she says that equal, non-transferable and fully-paid parental leave “increases men’s participation in caring tasks.”</p><p dir="ltr">Society is on the verge of a profound change, says Castro, and so we must ask ourselves what our goals are. “Do we have the courage to move to a socioeconomic system that supports the sustainability of life,” she asks, “or are we, instead, going to reinforce even more neoliberal belligerence?” </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/brittney-ferreira/10-years-of-womens-resistance-to-austerity-across-europe-in-pictures">10 years of women&#039;s resistance to austerity across Europe – in pictures</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Spain </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Can Europe make it? Spain Economics Equality International politics Women's rights and economic justice women's movements gender women's work young feminists Rocío Ros Rebollo Tue, 18 Sep 2018 07:27:45 +0000 Rocío Ros Rebollo 119686 at https://www.opendemocracy.net When rescue at sea becomes a crime: who the Tunisian fishermen arrested in Italy really are https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/valentina-zagaria/when-rescue-at-sea-becomes-crime-who-tunisian-fishermen-arrested-in-italy-really-a <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Fishermen networks from Morocco and Mauritania have released statements of support, and the Tunisian State Secretary for Immigration, Adel Jarboui, urged Italian authorities to release the fishermen, considered heroes in Tunisia.</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/figure 5.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/figure 5.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'>Protest in front of the Italian Embassy in Tunis on 6 September 2018 calls for immediate release of fishermen held in prison in Italy since 29 August 2018 Photo: Paul Scheicher. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>On the night of Wednesday, August 29, 2018, six Tunisian fishermen were&nbsp;<a class="OWAAutoLink" href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/05/tunisian-fishermen-await-trial-after-saving-hundreds-of-migrants">arrested</a>&nbsp;in Italy. Earlier that day, they had set off from their hometown of Zarzis, the last important Tunisian port before Libya, to cast their nets in the open sea between North Africa and Sicily. The fishermen then sighted a small vessel whose engine had broken, and that had started taking in water. After giving the fourteen passengers water, milk and bread – which the fishermen carry in abundance, knowing they might encounter refugee boats in distress – they tried making contact with the Italian coastguard.</p><p>After hours of waiting for a response, though, the men decided to tow the smaller boat in the direction of Lampedusa – Italy’s southernmost island, to help Italian authorities in their rescue operations. At around 24 miles from Lampedusa, the Guardia di Finanza (customs police) took the fourteen people on board, and then proceeded to violently arrest the six fishermen. According to the precautionary custody order issued by the judge in Agrigento (Sicily), the men stand accused of smuggling, a crime that could get them up to fifteen years in jail if the case goes to trial. The fishermen have since been held in Agrigento prison, and their boat has been seized.</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/figure 1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/figure 1.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A map of where the fishermen of Zarzis work, in the open sea between Libya and Sicily. Valentina Zagaria. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>This arrest comes after a summer of Italian politicians <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-44668062">closing their ports</a> to NGO rescue boats, and only a week after far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> prevented for ten days the disembarkation of 177 Eritrean and Somali asylum seekers from the Italian coastguard ship <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/21/italy-refugees-salvini-refuses-coastguard-ship-docks-diciotti">Diciotti</a>. It is yet another step towards dissuading anyone – be it Italian or Tunisian citizens, NGO or coastguard ships – from coming to the aid of refugee boats in danger at sea. Criminalising rescue, a process that has been pushed by different Italian governments since 2016, will continue to have tragic consequences for people on the move in the Mediterranean Sea. </p><h2><strong>The fishermen of Zarzis</strong></h2> <p>Among those arrested is Chamseddine Bourassine, the president of the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/Association-le-pecheur-pour-le-d%C3%A9velopement-et-lenvironnement-268728009986768/"><em>Association “Le Pêcheur” pour le Développement et l’Environnement</em></a>, which was nominated for the <a href="http://www.nobel-righteous-mediterraneansea.info/it/">Nobel Peace Prize</a> this year for the Zarzis fishermen’s continuous engagement in saving lives in the Mediterranean. </p> <p>Chamseddine, a fishing boat captain in his mid-40s, was one of the first people I met in Zarzis when, in the summer of 2015, I moved to this southern Tunisian town to start fieldwork for my PhD. On a sleepy late-August afternoon, my interview with Foued Gammoudi, the then <em>Médecins Sans Frontières</em> (MSF) Head of Mission for Tunisia and Libya, was interrupted by an urgent phone call. “The fishermen have just returned, they saved 550 people, let’s go to the port to thank them.” Just a week earlier, Chamseddine Bourassine had been among the 116 fishermen from Zarzis to have received rescue at sea <a href="https://msf.exposure.co/zarzis-fishermen">training with MSF</a>. Gammoudi was proud that the fishermen had already started collaborating with the MSF <em>Bourbon Argos</em> ship to save hundreds of people. We hurried to the port to greet Chamseddine and his crew, as they returned from a three-day fishing expedition which involved, as it so often had done lately, a lives-saving operation.</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/figure 3.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/figure 3.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'>: Chamseddine Bourassine and Slaheddine Mcharek in the “Le Pecheur” Association headquarters in Zarzis. Valentina Zagaria. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The fishermen of Zarzis have been on the frontline of rescue in the Central Mediterranean for over fifteen years. Their fishing grounds lying between Libya – the place from which most people making their way undocumented to Europe leave – and Sicily, they were often the first to come to the aid of refugee boats in distress. “The fishermen have never really had a choice: they work here, they encounter refugee boats regularly, so over the years they learnt to do rescue at sea”, explained Gammoudi. For years, fishermen from both sides of the Mediterranean were virtually alone in this endeavour. </p><h2><strong>Rescue before and after the revolution</strong></h2> <p>Before the Tunisian revolution of 2011, Ben Ali threatened the fishermen with imprisonment for helping migrants in danger at sea – the regime having been a close collaborator of both Italy and the European Union in border control matters. During that time, Tunisian nationals attempting to do the <em>harga</em> – the North African Arabic dialect term for the crossing of the Sicilian Channel by boat – were also heavily sanctioned by their own government. </p><p>Everything changed though with the revolution. “It was chaos here in 2011. You cannot imagine what the word chaos means if you didn’t live it”, recalled Anis Souei, the secretary general of the <em>“Le Pêcheur”</em> association. In the months following the revolution, hundreds of boats left from Zarzis taking Tunisians from all over the country to Lampedusa. Several members of the fishermen’s association remember having to sleep on their fishing boats at night to prevent them from being stolen for the <em>harga</em>. Other fishermen instead, especially those who were indebted, decided to sell their boats, while some inhabitants of Zarzis took advantage of the power vacuum left by the revolution and made considerable profit by organising <em>harga</em> crossings. “At that time there was no police, no state, and even more misery. If you wanted Lampedusa, you could have it”, rationalised another fisherman. But Chamseddine Bourassine and his colleagues saw no future in moving to Europe, and made a moral pact not to sell their boats for migration.</p> <p>They instead remained in Zarzis, and in 2013 founded their association to create a network of support to ameliorate the working conditions of small and artisanal fisheries. The priority when they started organising was to try and secure basic social security – something they are still struggling to sustain today. With time, though, the association also got involved in alerting the youth to the dangers of boat migration, as they regularly witnessed the risks involved and felt compelled to do something for younger generations hit hard by staggering <a href="https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.UEM.1524.ZS">unemployment rates</a>. In this optic, they organised training for the local youth in boat mechanics, nets mending, and diving, and collaborated in different international projects, such as <a href="https://www.ciheam.org/en/cooperation/projects/one_programme?programme=cross-border-coastal-communities-development-in-libya-and-neighboring-countries&amp;id=86">NEMO</a>, organised by the <a href="http://www.iamb.it/en/cooperazione/projects/one_programme?programme=cross-border-coastal-communities-development-in-libya-and-neighboring-countries&amp;id=24">CIHEAM-Bari</a> and funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Directorate General for Cooperation Development. This project also helped the fishermen build a museum to explain traditional fishing methods, the first floor of which is dedicated to pictures and citations from the fishermen’s long-term voluntary involvement in coming to the rescue of refugees in danger at sea.</p> <p>This role was proving increasingly vital as the Libyan civil war dragged on, since refugees were being forced onto boats in Libya that were not fit for travel, making the journey even more hazardous. With little support from Tunisian coastguards, who were not allowed to operate beyond Tunisian waters, the fishermen juggled their responsibility to bring money home to their families and their commitment to rescuing people in distress at sea. Anis remembers that once in 2013, three fishermen boats were out and received an SOS from a vessel carrying roughly one hundred people. It was their first day out, and going back to Zarzis would have meant losing petrol money and precious days of work, which they simply couldn’t afford. After having ensured that nobody was ill, the three boats took twenty people on board each, and continued working for another two days, sharing food and water with their guests. </p> <p>Sometimes, though, the situation on board got tense with so many people, food wasn’t enough for everybody, and fights broke out. Some fishermen recall incidents during which they truly feared for their safety, when occasionally they came across boats with armed men from Libyan militias. It was hard for them to provide medical assistance as well. Once a woman gave birth on Chamseddine’s boat – that same boat that has now been seized in Italy – thankfully there had been no complications.</p> <h2><strong>NGO ships and the criminalisation of rescue</strong></h2> <p>During the summer of 2015, therefore, Chamseddine felt relieved that NGO search and rescue boats were starting to operate in the Mediterranean. The fishermen’s boats were not equipped to take hundreds of people on board, and the post-revolutionary Tunisian authorities didn’t have the means to support them. MSF had provided the association with first aid kits, life jackets, and rescue rafts to be able to better assist refugees at sea, and had given them a list of channels and numbers linked to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Rome for when they encountered boats in distress. </p> <p>They also offered training in dead body management, and provided the association with body bags, disinfectant and gloves. “When we see people at sea we rescue them. It’s not only because we follow the laws of the sea or of religion: we do it because it’s human”, said Chamseddine. But sometimes rescue came too late, and bringing the dead back to shore was all the fishermen could do.<a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a> During 2015 the fishermen at least felt that with more ships in the Mediterranean doing rescue, the duty dear to all seafarers of helping people in need at sea didn’t only fall on their shoulders, and they could go back to their fishing.</p> <p>The situation deteriorated again though in the summer of 2017, as Italian Interior Minister Minniti struck deals with Libyan militias and coastguards to bring back and detain refugees in detention centres in Libya, while simultaneously passing laws criminalising and restricting the activity of NGO rescue boats in Italy. </p> <p>Media smear campaigns directed against acts of solidarity with migrants and refugees and against the work of rescue vessels in the Mediterranean poured even more fuel on already inflamed anti-immigration sentiments in Europe. </p> <p>In the midst of this, on 6 August 2017, the fishermen of Zarzis came face to face with a far-right vessel rented by <em>Generazione Identitaria</em>, the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/07/fishermen-stop-anti-migrant-boat-from-docking-in-tunisian-port">C-Star</a>, cruising the Mediterranean allegedly on a “Defend Europe” mission to hamper rescue operations and bring migrants back to Africa. The C-Star was hovering in front of Zarzis port, and although it had not officially asked port authorities whether it could dock to refuel – which the port authorities assured locals it would refuse – the fishermen of Zarzis took the opportunity to let these alt-right groups know how they felt about their mission. </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/figure 4.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/figure 4.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protest in Zarzis against the docking of the alt-right ship C-Star, 6 August 2017. Valentina Zagaria. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Armed with red, black and blue felt tip pens, they wrote in a mixture of Arabic, Italian, French and English slogans such as “No Racists!”, “Dégage!” (Get our of here!), “C-Star: No gasoil? No acqua? No mangiato?” ?” (C-Star: No fuel? No water? Not eaten?), which they proceeded to hang on their boats, ready to take to sea were the C-Star to approach. Chamseddine Bourassine, who had returned just a couple of hours prior to the impending C-Star arrival from five days of work at sea, called other members of the fishermen association to come to the port and join in the peaceful protest.<a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a> He told the journalists present that the fishermen opposed wholeheartedly the racism propagated by the C-Star members, and that having seen the death of fellow Africans at sea, they couldn’t but condemn these politics. Their efforts were cheered on by anti-racist networks in Sicily, who had in turn prevented the C-Star from docking in Catania port just a couple of days earlier. </p><p>It is members from these same networks in Sicily together with friends of the fishermen in Tunisia and internationally that are now engaged in finding lawyers for Chamseddine and his five colleagues. </p> <p>Their counterparts in Tunisia joined the fishermen’s families and friends on Thursday morning to protest in front of the Italian embassy in Tunis. Three busloads arrived from Zarzis after an 8-hour night-time journey for the occasion, and many others had come from other Tunisian towns to show their solidarity. Gathered there too were members of <em>La Terre Pour Tous</em>, an association of families of missing Tunisian migrants, who joined in to demand the immediate release of the fishermen. A sister protest was organised by the Zarzis diaspora in front of the Italian embassy in Paris on Saturday afternoon. Fishermen networks from Morocco and Mauritania also released statements of support, and the Tunisian State Secretary for Immigration <a href="http://www.rtci.tn/adel-jarboui-tunisie-demande-litalie-liberation-immediate-six-marins-tunisiens/">Adel Jarboui</a> urged Italian authorities to release the fishermen, who are considered heroes in Tunisia.&nbsp; </p><p>The fishermen’s arrest is the latest in a chain of actions taken by the Italian Lega and Five Star government to further criminalise rescue in the Mediterranean Sea, and to dissuade people from all acts of solidarity and basic compliance with international norms. This has alarmingly resulted in the number of deaths in 2018 increasing exponentially despite a drop in arrivals to Italy’s southern shores. While Chamseddine’s lawyer hasn’t yet been able to visit him in prison, his brother and cousin managed to go see him on Saturday. As for telling them about what happened on August 29, Chamseddine simply says that he was assisting people in distress at sea: he’d do it again.</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/500209/41039232_424626621274696_975726216424194048_n.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/41039232_424626621274696_975726216424194048_n.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protest in front of the Italian Embassy in Tunis on 6 September 2018. Paul Scheicher. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has been <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/26/italys-interior-minister-faces-kidnap-charges-immigrants-held/">charged with kidnap</a> and abuse of power as a result of his actions during the Diciotti case.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> A couple of days before news of the six fishermen being arrested became public, on 1 September 2018, French media Konbini News created a <a href="https://www.gofundme.com/xdp4v-un-cimetiere-pour-les-migrants">crowd-funding</a> campaign to sustain the work of another member of the fishermen’s association “Le Pêcheur”. They launched an appeal to help <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/03/tunisian-volunteer-refugees-dignity-death-180313120206577.html">Chamseddine Marzoug</a> in upkeeping and buying new land for the cemetery of unknown persons, victims of the European Union’s Mediterranean border, buried in Zarzis.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a> Images from the protest against the C-Star and of the fishermen’s association’s work can be seen in Giulia Bertoluzzi’s documentary <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJYENPOMwos&amp;app=desktop">Strange Fish</a>, coming out on 15 September 2018.</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/500209/41000637_1813201348794569_7122073692607086592_n.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/41000637_1813201348794569_7122073692607086592_n.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protest in front of the Italian Embassy in Tunis on 6 September 2018. Paul Scheicher. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/hsiao-hung-pai/salvini-and-racist-immigration-policy-of-italy-s-new-government-is-giving-green-light">Salvini and the racist immigration policy of Italy’s new government is giving a green light to racial violence </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/charles-heller/for-open-migration-policy-to-end-deaths-and-crises-in-mediterranea">For an open migration policy to end the deaths and crises in the Mediterranean</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/etienne-balibar/call-for-international-right-of-hospitality"> A call for an international right of hospitality on World Humanitarian Day</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"> Tunisia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Libya </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia Libya Tunisia Civil society Conflict Culture International politics Valentina Zagaria Sat, 15 Sep 2018 19:38:40 +0000 Valentina Zagaria 119674 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Bernie Sanders and Yanis Varoufakis call on progressives to unite against Trump’s Nationalist International https://www.opendemocracy.net/luis-mart-n/bernie-sanders-and-yanis-varoufakis-call-on-progressives-to-unite-against-trump-s-nation <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Calling on progressives worldwide to form an international movement to combat the rise of authoritarianism represented by Donald Trump.</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/Copy-of-20-August-2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Copy-of-20-August-2.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'>DiEM25 flagging up the new series in The Guardian.DiEM25. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Senator Bernie Sanders, the former US presidential candidate, and Yanis Varoufakis, co-founder of&nbsp;<a rel="noopener" href="http://www.diem25.org/" target="_blank">DiEM25</a>, are today calling on progressives worldwide to form an international movement to combat the rise of authoritarianism represented by Donald Trump.</p><p>In the first of a series of exchanges published in The Guardian, the pair described the urgent need for a ‘Progressive International’ that can bring together people across the globe around a vision of shared prosperity, security and dignity for all.</p><p>“While the very rich get much richer, people all over the globe are working longer hours for stagnating wages, and fear for their children’s future,” said Sanders. “Authoritarians exploit these economic anxieties, creating scapegoats which pit one group against another.”</p><p>Varoufakis said: “Our era will be remembered for the triumphant march of a Nationalist International that sprang out of the cesspool of financialised capitalism. Whether it will also be remembered for a successful humanist challenge to this menace depends on the willingness of progressives in the US, the EU, the UK as well as countries like Mexico, India and South Africa, to forge a coherent Progressive International.”</p><p>As a first step, Varoufakis called for the creation of a common council that draws out a blueprint for an International New Deal, a “progressive New Bretton Woods”.</p><p>“Yanis Varoufakis is exactly right,” Sanders underscored in his reply. “At a time of massive global wealth and income inequality, oligarchy, rising authoritarianism and militarism, we need a progressive international movement to counter these threats.”</p><p>Sanders went on to argue that, “the solution, as Varoufakis points out, is an international progressive agenda that brings working people together around a vision of shared prosperity, security and dignity for all people. The fate of the world is at stake. Let us go forward together now!”</p><p>Read the complete exchange&nbsp;<a rel="noopener" href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/ng-interactive/2018/sep/13/bernie-sanders-international-progressive-front" target="_blank">here</a>&nbsp;(Bernie Sanders) and&nbsp;<a rel="noopener" href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/ng-interactive/2018/sep/13/our-new-international-movement-will-fight-rising-fascism-and-globalists" target="_blank">here</a>&nbsp;(Yanis Varoufakis)</p><hr /><p>At DiEM25 we have been working hard since 2016 to make our stand as the first pan-European grassroots movement, powered and funded by people like you. We have brought together tens of thousands of people around a humanist, progressive agenda that can take the fight to the failing Establishment and repair and rebuild our common European project. Earlier this year, we began assembling European Spring, a coalition of progressive political parties from across the continent to compete in the May 2019 European elections and stage a citizen take-over of the EU.</p><p>And now, we are playing a key role in bringing together the global progressive alliance that Varoufakis and Sanders are calling for and that is so desperately needed to counter the rise of the hard right. We invite all like-minded political forces in every corner of Europe and beyond to join in!</p><p>Together we must send an unmistakable message that the way to beat the Nationalist International agenda of the likes of Donald Trump, Viktor Orbán, Matteo Salvini and the other xenophobes around the world is by running on progressive policies and electing candidates who will represent all of us – as Bernie Sanders says, “on every continent and in every country”.</p><p>Ours is a struggle not just about human rights, care for our global environment, social justice and progressive values, but also about survival. Our struggle is about combating the rise of the toxic ideologies and horrors we faced less than a century ago.&nbsp;<strong>And it is a struggle we can win — together.</strong></p><p><strong>Carpe DiEM!</strong></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? EU United States Luis Martín DiEM25 Sat, 15 Sep 2018 15:56:02 +0000 Luis Martín 119670 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Uri Avnery in memoriam https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/ann-jungmann/uri-avnery-in-memoriam <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>He leaves behind a wealth of books, articles and emails, that will continue to inspire, representing hope and reconciliation through the dark decades, that alas, are still with 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/UriAvnery.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/UriAvnery.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'>Uri Avnery, June, 2006. Wikicommons/ Uri Avnery. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Some years ago I was asked to go and collect Uri Avnery from the airport. Although I had been reading his regular email reports from Israel, I wondered how I would recognise him. I needn’t have worried, the moment I saw a magnificent old man, complete with a head of impressive white hair and an equally impressive white beard, striding towards me, I knew I had found my quarry. Uri looked every inch the Old Testament prophet I hadn’t dared to expect.</p> <p>It was an appropriate reaction, Uri was a prophet, looking into the future that he saw for Israel and warning of the wrath to come, if the country he loved, did not change course.</p> <p>After leaving Germany aged fourteen, Uri joined an extremist nationalist group and fought in the War of Independence in 1948. Then, like so many other prophets, he had a Road to Damascus and saw that violence would not solve the problem of the displaced Palestinians. For the rest of his long life, he fought for a peaceful and fair settlement, one made by consulting with the Palestinians themselves. Until around 1970, this seemed possible and Uri put the case both through the journals he edited and wrote for and by becoming a member of the Knesset. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/120px-אורי_אבנרי_-_הפגישה_עם_ערפאת_בביירות_הנצורה,_1982_2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/120px-אורי_אבנרי_-_הפגישה_עם_ערפאת_בביירות_הנצורה,_1982_2.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="240" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Uri Avneri interviews Yasser Arafat for the Gush Shalom peace movement in 1982. Wikicommons/Uri Avnery. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p>It was always difficult to be a non-conformist voice in Israel but until the assassination of Rabin, not hopeless. As Israel drifted to the right, Uri never wavered from his purpose, no matter how unpopular he became. Meeting up with Arafat was seen as almost treasonous but Uri recognised that it was both wise and necessary to talk to “the enemy”. All this made him few friends at home, though many admirers abroad. If “no man is a prophet in his own country”, that was true of Uri. However he leaves behind a wealth of books, articles and emails, that will continue to inspire the peace efforts in the Middle East and he represented hope and reconciliation through the dark decades, that alas, are still with us. Like him we must hope and work towards better times, however unlikely any breakthrough seems.</p> <h2><strong>A capacity for rage</strong></h2> <p>Uri thought in both historical and internationalist terms, one was as likely to meet Julius Caesar, Churchill or Kant, in his writings as Trump or Netanyahu. The ability to see the world in such broad terms meant that Uri could envisage solutions that others looking at a narrower canvas could not. For instance the stance on the future of Jerusalem (always a major problem in any negotiations), “Keep the city untied on a municipal level but divide politically. The West as capital of the State of Israel, the East as capital of the State of Palestine”. Of course this eminently sensible solution has not been adopted and the State of Palestine has not happened. However, Uri understood the Israel/Palestine conflict as few others did, and felt a strong compassion for the Palestinians. Quoting Isaac Deutscher, “A man lives in a house that catches fire. To save his life he jumps out of the window. He lands on a passer-by in the street below and injures him grievously. Between the two a bitter enmity arises. Who is responsible?”</p> <p>Although Uri clung to the Two State Solution to the end, seeing the alternative as a Jewish-dominated entity trapped in endless racial and religious conflict ( this put him at odds with many progressive Israelis) – he never swerved from expressing unpopular views. Right at the end of his life he was outraged at the killing of unarmed civilians on the border with Gaza, his capacity for rage never dimmed:</p> <blockquote><p>“For me this is not a judicial question. It is a crime, not only against the unarmed protesters. It is also a crime against the State of Israel and against the Israeli army."</p></blockquote> <p>Avnery did not only criticise the situation, for forty years he battled to find a solution, showing a capacity for compromise that was rare in Israel. Unlike many, he had an affection and understanding for the Arab people and suggested a scenario, which though never acted upon, was wise and far sighted:</p> <blockquote><p>“How do we solve the problem by allowing a number of refugees to return to Israel, allowing a number of refugees to return to the Palestinian state, and allowing a number of refugees to settle, with general compensation, where they want to settle? It is not an abstract problem. It involves four million human beings, and more than fifty years of various sorts of misery. But it is not an insolvable problem. It involves some good will, and a readiness to give up historic myths on both sides.”</p></blockquote> <p>Avnery’s views were based on an unusual acceptance of Israel’s responsibility for the conflict:</p> <blockquote><p>“Israel must assume responsibility for what happened in 1948, and as far as we are to blame and we are to blame for the greater part, if not for all, we must recognise the right of return.”</p></blockquote> <p>Like all true prophets he went tragically unheard at home.</p> <p>Avnery never spared his opponents at home and abroad. On those he despised he poured undiluted scorn and opprobrium, most recently on Trump and the right wing leaders of Poland and Hungary and Netanyahu’s grovelling to them, in spite of their overt anti-semitism. Never afraid to tell truth to power, Israel has lost one of its most clear-sighted and indomitable warriors for peace.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia Israel Ann Jungmann Fri, 14 Sep 2018 17:59:33 +0000 Ann Jungmann 119666 at https://www.opendemocracy.net