Can Europe make it? https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/9711/all cached version 20/04/2018 14:57:56 en Whose human rights? The marginalisation of dissent in France and spreading https://www.opendemocracy.net/marco-perolini/whose-human-rights-marginalisation-of-dissent-in-france-and-spreading <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The use of human rights to criminalize the French Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) campaign sends out a warning alert.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmovements"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/openmovements-banner.jpg" alt="open Movements" width="460px" /></a><br /><b>The <i><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmovements">openMovements</a></i> series invites leading social scientists to share their research results and perspectives on contemporary social struggles.</b></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/BDS1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/BDS1.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'>BDS France.</span></span></span></p><p>Human rights’ ideals have inspired the mobilization of many people worldwide. Human rights defenders conceive human rights as a tool to oppose unfair policies and to hold political leaders accountable for their decisions. However, as they are politically ambivalent and socially constructed, human rights can also be a tool for governments to oppress social movements. </p> <p>Human rights can indeed serve the purpose of either emancipating the powerless or maintaining structural inequalities. The latter happens for example in areas where international human rights law is restrictive. For example, governments often resort to the exclusive definition of “<a href="https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/what-is-a-refugee/">refugee</a>” provided by international law to deny rights to people who do not fit it and to return them to their countries.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>The ambivalence of human rights is a slap in the face when authorities criminalize, prosecute and silence peaceful activists by applying laws whose aim is, on the contrary, to protect human rights. </p> <p>The prosecutions against the peaceful activists involved in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) campaign in France are glaring in that respect. These campaigners engage in peaceful actions to put pressure on the state of Israel to respect the human rights of Palestinians. French authorities prosecute them, arguing that they discriminate against a group of people, i.e. Israeli producers, on the basis of their nationality. </p> <p>The ambivalence of human rights strikingly manifests here. Both BDS campaigners and authorities frame their actions by referring to human rights. One can argue that it is just a matter of perspective and that prosecuting BDS activists is a genuine attempt to combat discrimination. However, a closer look into these cases raises several concerns regarding the instrumental use of anti-discrimination laws to prosecute peaceful activists. &nbsp;</p> <h2><b>The BDS campaign in France</b></h2> <p>In July 2005, the Palestinian civil society launched the campaign <a href="https://bdsmovement.net/call">Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)</a> calling on international civil society organizations and individuals to put in place boycott and divestment initiatives. The campaign aims to put pressure on Israel to end the occupation of Palestine, to ensure the equality of Palestinians living in Israel and to respect the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. One year earlier, the <a href="http://www.icj-cij.org/files/case-related/131/131-20040709-PRE-01-00-EN.pdf">International Court of Justice</a> (ICJ) had advised that the wall built by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories was against international law. </p> <p>In June 2009, the BDS campaign was launched in <a href="https://www.bdsfrance.org/qui-sommes-nous/appel-de-la-campagne-bds-france/">France</a>. Imen, one of the coordinators of the French campaign, refers to it as a human rights initiative, “because its objectives are in line with international law and because it is an anti-racist campaign that rejects any form of racism. It is inspired by the struggle against the apartheid regime in South Africa”. BDS activists in France and abroad see the campaign as a necessary tool to end a “<a href="http://www.badil.org/en/resources/documents/human-rights-organizations.html?download=820:unis-contre-l-apartheid-le-colonialisme-et-l-occupation-dignite-justice-pour-le-peuple-palestinien&amp;start=60">regime of apartheid</a>” enforced by Israel and resulting in the racial segregation of Palestinians. &nbsp;</p> <p>BDS activists often call on people not to buy Israeli products by organizing peaceful actions in front of retailers. They also call on companies to divest from Israel and on artists not to stage concerts or performances in Israel. </p> <p>The BDS campaign is far from being the only campaign promoting commercial boycotts targeting a specific country or company. In recent years, campaigners have for instance launched boycott actions targeting China because of its poor human rights record in Tibet or Burma for the atrocities committed by the military junta. </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/BDS3.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/BDS3.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'>Grafitti prompted by BDS campaign against Veolia.</span></span></span><a href="http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/boycotts/boycottslist.aspx">Boycott campaigns</a> against specific companies deemed responsible for facilitating human rights violations have also been promoted. These included for example the campaign against the French company <a href="https://bdsmovement.net/news/bds-marks-another-victory-veolia-sells-all-israeli-operations">Veolia</a> that sold off all its Israeli operations in 2015, after having been a target of the BDS campaign. </p><p>The BDS campaign is a powerful tool to exercise pressure insofar as it results in substantial economic losses. The Israeli Minister of Finance has estimated that these amount to USD 3.2 billion a year, or 1% of Israel’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The policy think-tank <a href="https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR740-1.html">RAND Corporation</a> has found that the economic losses inflicted by the campaign comprise between 1% and 2% of the Israel’s annual GDP. </p> <h2><b>Legal anomalies</b></h2> <p>Since 2009, dozens of BDS activists in France have been prosecuted for their involvement in peaceful boycott campaigns, authorities resorting to anti-discrimination laws for that purpose. <span class="mag-quote-center">Since 2009, dozens of BDS activists in France have been prosecuted for their involvement in peaceful boycott campaigns.</span></p> <p>In February 2010, a few months after the launch of the BDS campaigns in France, Michèle Alliot-Marie, the then Minister of Justice, adopted a document containing instructions addressed to prosecutors (a Circular). </p> <p>The Circular exclusively tackled the calls for boycott formulated within the BDS campaign. The document took stock of the several prosecutions launched against BDS campaigners for incitement to discrimination. It reiterated the need to ensure a “coordinated and strong response” against BDS-inspired actions. In 2012, Michel Mercier, the then Minister of Justice, adopted a new Circular specifying that BDS calls for boycott discriminated against Israeli producers because they hindered their economic activity on the basis of their nationality. </p> <p>The prosecutions against BDS activists are based on two laws. The first one is the 1881 <a href="https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=LEGITEXT000006070722">Law on the Freedom of the Press</a>. Article 24.8 of the law punishes incitement to discrimination, hatred and violence on grounds of origin, race, ethnicity, religion or nationality. This article was included into the Criminal Code in 1972 with the aim of complying with the1965 UN International Convention against all Forms of Racial Discrimination. </p> <p>The second provision is article <a href="https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichCodeArticle.do?cidTexte=LEGITEXT000006070719&amp;idArticle=LEGIARTI000026268210">225.2 of the Criminal Code</a>, which punishes discrimination in specific instances, including when it results in hindering the normal exercise of an economic activity. In 1977, the French legislator introduced the reference to the hindrance of an economic activity into the Criminal Code to overcome the boycott of Israel adopted by the Arab League. The provision provided a legal tool for those French companies that maintained business ties with Israel when trading with countries of the Arab League. </p> <p>However, resorting to those two laws to prosecute BDS activists clashes with the aims for which they were adopted. It is also at odds with the existing interpretation of the notion of discrimination in international human rights law. In particular, some differences of treatment may be justified and thus do not constitute discrimination. This is for instance the case when it comes to differences of treatment that protect safety and security, public health or the human rights of other people. The calls for boycott framed within the BDS campaign have the purpose of exercising pressure on Israel with the view to improving the rights of Palestinians. </p> <p>Moreover, any incitement to discrimination, hatred and violence must reach quite a high threshold to become punishable. In particular, judicial authorities should consider the intent to incite and the likelihood that this incitement causes actual hatred, violence or discrimination as constitutive elements of the offence. For example, the French provision punishing incitement to discrimination has been used to prosecute leaders of the French far-right, in particular the founder of the National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen. In <a href="https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng-press#{&quot;itemid&quot;:[&quot;003-3114698-3454415&quot;]}">2005</a>, he was convicted and fined for his statement about Muslims in an interview with the daily Le Monde. He said “When the day comes that we will have 25 million Muslims instead of 5 million in France, they will rule”. The conviction was subsequently confirmed by a second instance Court and then by the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Court_of_Cassation_(France)">Court of Cassation.</a> BDS calls for boycott are promoted by activists without exercising any coercion on clients or those retailers selling goods imported from Israel. Campaigners limit themselves to calling on consumers to exercise their conscious and informed choices. It is a stretch to consider those calls as constituting incitement to discrimination. <span class="mag-quote-center">None of the activists whose boycott actions target either other countries than Israel or specific companies have been the target of such criminal prosecutions.</span></p> <p>French authorities have specifically instructed prosecutors to use those laws against BDS campaigners. None of the activists whose boycott actions target either other countries than Israel or specific companies have been the target of such criminal prosecutions. The prosecutions against BDS activists are often initiated in the aftermath of legal actions launched by civil society organizations opposing anti-Semitism. They include, for example, the National Board for Vigilance against anti-Semitism (<a href="https://www.bnvca.org/">BNVCA</a>), which considers the combat against the BDS campaign and against the “delegitimization of Israel” an “absolute priority”. None of the retailers targeted by the actions mentioned earlier has filed a complaint against the activists. </p> <p>In sum, laws adopted with the aim of punishing discriminatory speech or actions are being used to prosecute peaceful human rights defenders. </p> <h2><b>Cases against BDS activists</b></h2> <p>A <a href="https://www.doctrine.fr/d/CEDH/HFCOM/COMMUNICATEDCASES/2017/CEDH001-173336">case</a> concerning the conviction of BDS activists for inciting discrimination is currently pending before the European Court of Human Rights. Seven activists brought the case to court following the rulings of the French Court of Cassation confirming their convictions. </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/BDS2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/BDS2.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'>BDS Campaigning outside supermarkets.</span></span></span>On 22 May, 2010, they organized a peaceful action in front of a supermarket in the town of Illzach, near Mulhouse (Eastern France). They distributed flyers aimed at raising public awareness on the BDS campaigns and calling on clients not to buy Israeli products. The flyers argued that boycotting Israeli products was an effective strategy to contribute to ending human rights violations committed by Israel. For example, one of the flyers stated: “You can constrain Israel to respect human rights. Boycott products imported from Israel”. Another flyer referred to a citation of Archbishop Desmond Tutu regarding the BDS campaign. It read: “If apartheid in South Africa came to an end, then this occupation [of the OPT] can also be stopped. However, international and moral pressures should be fair and strict. Divesting is the first step towards that direction”. </p><p>In 2013, a <a href="http://www.aurdip.fr/CA-Colmar-12-304C.pdf;%20http:/www.aurdip.fr/CA-Colmar-12-305C.pdf">second instance Court</a> convicted the activists to a fine for inciting discrimination on the basis of nationality and disconfirmed the ruling of the first instance Court, which had acquitted them. The Court argued that calling on clients to boycott the products imported from Israel constituted incitement to discrimination against a group of people, i.e. Israeli producers, because of their nationality. In November 2015, the <a href="https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichJuriJudi.do?oldAction=rechJuriJudi&amp;idTexte=JURITEXT000031374097&amp;fastReqId=434382946&amp;fastPos=1">Court of Cassation</a> confirmed the convictions. The Court argued that the right to freedom of expression can be restricted in a democratic society to protect public order and the rights of others, i.e. the rights of Israeli producers. The Court did not mention any specific elements demonstrating that the peaceful actions organized by the activists may have endangered public order. Nor, did it take into account the objective of the BDS action, i.e. the improvement of human rights in Israel and the OPT. </p> <p>On 14 November 2016, a Court in Toulouse (Southern France) convicted four BDS activists to a suspended fine. In December 2014 and February 2015, they had organized similar peaceful actions. By drawing on articles <a href="https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichCodeArticle.do?cidTexte=LEGITEXT000006070719&amp;idArticle=LEGIARTI000006417828">225.1</a> and 225.2 of the Criminal Code, the Court ruled that they had committed a discriminatory offence aimed at hindering an economic activity. The Court also warned the activists against committing another similar offence as this may entail a new conviction. </p> <p>Jean-Pierre, one of the activists convicted in Toulouse, believes that the prosecutions and convictions against the BDS campaign, which are often extensively covered by mainstream media, are designed to spread the idea that the campaign is illegal in France, which refrains new activists from mobilizing. <span class="mag-quote-center">Both Palestinian rights’ groups and Jewish settlers’ organizations in Israel and the OPT frame their diametrically opposed discourses through human rights.</span></p> <p>BDS activists consider France as a laboratory for the criminalization of the campaign and are concerned about the chilling effect of these prosecutions as well as the “internationalization” of this criminalizing trend. France is indeed one of the first countries in Europe where prosecutions against BDS campaigners have been launched. Similar efforts are currently flourishing in the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel, which had already passed a <a href="https://www.acri.org.il/en/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Boycott-Law-Final-Version-ENG-120711.pdf">law</a> against the BDS campaign in 2011. </p> <p><a href="http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199365012.001.0001/acprof-9780199365012">Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon</a> convincingly argue that both dominant and oppressed groups can rely on human rights either to challenge oppression or to justify it. They point out that both Palestinian rights’ groups and Jewish settlers’ organizations in Israel and the OPT frame their diametrically opposed discourses through human rights. </p> <p>Several parallels can be observed between that context and the battle for human rights around the BDS campaign in France. As described above, BDS campaigners refer to, and frame their calls and actions within, human rights. French authorities equally resort to human rights, and the principle of non-discrimination protected by domestic law, to prosecute those campaigners. By doing so, they hijack the purpose of anti-discrimination laws, using them to contain a human rights campaign rather than to protect the rights of oppressed groups. </p> <div class="partnership-in-article-banner-infobox-inner" style="margin-bottom: 8px; padding: 14px;"><span style="font-size: 1.2em; margin-bottom: 8px;"><b>How to cite:</b></span><br /> Perolini M.(2018) Whose human rights? The marginalisation of dissent in France and spreading, Open Democracy / ISA RC-47: Open Movements, 20 April. https://opendemocracy.net/marco-perolini/whose-human-rights-marginalisation-of-dissent-in-france-and-spreading</div><p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmovements"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/openmovements-banner.jpg" style="width: 460px;" /></a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-partnerships/openmovements"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/openmovements-banner-small_1.jpg" alt="" /></a></p><p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-partnerships/openmovements">openMovements</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> France </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? France Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Ideas International politics openmovements anti-semitism Marco Perolini Fri, 20 Apr 2018 10:35:42 +0000 Marco Perolini 117413 at https://www.opendemocracy.net No appetite for a deregulatory post-Brexit Britain: new findings on public attitudes https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/marley-morris/no-appetite-for-deregulatory-post-brexit-britain-new-finding-on-public-attitudes <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The transformation of the aims of Brexit emerged during the early days of the referendum campaign, when the cross-party campaign for leave realised where the route to broad-based success lay.</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-36063780.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-36063780.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'>April 18, 2018. Peers in the House of Lords, London, as the Government suffers its first defeat over the EU (Withdrawal) Bill when peers voted in favour of a customs union amendment.PA/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In January 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron made a long-awaited <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/eu-speech-at-bloomberg">speech</a> at the Bloomberg offices on the UK’s future in the European Union. Cameron’s pitch that day was clear: the EU needed to adapt to the modern age; it needed to become more competitive and less bureaucratic; and it needed to embrace global trade. </p> <p>As he argued for an in-out referendum, setting in train the series of events leading to the UK’s impending withdrawal, he claimed that Euroscepticism was rooted in a feeling that the EU had turned out very differently to the institution the UK public had originally voted for in 1975. </p> <p>The EU had become increasingly bloated, inefficient, and meddlesome – the public wanted a return to a “common market” free of unnecessary rules and regulations. The single market, he exhorted, was incomplete; more had to be done to break down barriers in services, energy, and digital. At the same time, he railed against “complex rules restricting our labour markets” and “excessive regulation” holding businesses back and called for small firms to be exempted from more EU directives. He didn’t once mention immigration.</p> <h2><strong>May’s implausible reversal </strong></h2> <p>Five years later, Prime Minister Theresa May gave a rather different <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-speech-on-our-future-economic-partnership-with-the-european-union">speech</a> in London as the UK prepared for EU withdrawal. Rather than expounding the single market’s advantages, she argued that the UK would have to leave it, because to do otherwise would mean continued free movement. Rather than calling for deeper links in services, she acknowledged that trade post-Brexit would be less free. And rather than embracing deregulation, she said that UK and EU regulatory standards would remain “substantially similar” in future.</p> <p>This lays bare the bizarre reversal of the political economy of Brexit. A movement that began in essence as a means of casting off EU regulations while retaining economic links has morphed into a government agenda resolved to cutting trade ties while keeping – even strengthening – those very regulations that Eurosceptics once so derided.</p> <p>The reasons for this about-turn are complex. On one level, the Eurosceptics’ original plan for delivering Brexit was never a plausible one: it is not possible to retain the advantages of the “common market” while at the same time jettisoning the rules and regulations that bind it together. </p> <p>For the other member states, the EU’s employment, environmental and consumer legislation are not superfluous appendages to the single market but core pillars that allow member states to compete on a level playing field. This perspective could therefore never have survived collision with the reality of the Brexit negotiations.</p> <h2><strong>No deregulatory appetite</strong></h2> <p>But more fundamentally than this, the transformation of the aims and principles of Brexit emerged during the early days of the referendum campaign itself. Before 2015, Eurosceptics regularly <a href="http://www.daviddavismp.com/david-davis-mp-delivers-speech-on-the-opportunities-for-a-referendum-on-europe/">referred</a> to the Working Time Directive – or more broadly to social and employment legislation – in their fulminations on the perils of EU bureaucracy. But as the cross-party campaign for leave was formed in the run-up to the referendum, it realised that the route to success lay in a broad-based message that dutifully avoided many leavers’ libertarian instincts, and that sought to allay concerns of post-Brexit disaster. Claims that EU withdrawal would enable the UK to strip away worker and consumer rights were now confidently dismissed as another hyperbolic strategy of “Project Fear”. <span class="mag-quote-center">The root cause of this shift was simply that there was – and indeed still is – no public appetite for a deregulatory agenda.</span></p> <p>The root cause of this shift was simply that there was – and indeed still is – no public appetite for a deregulatory agenda. Our own <a href="https://www.ippr.org/research/publications/leaving-the-eu-not-the-european-model">polling</a> with Opinium has found widespread public support for some of the most controversial EU-derived employment, environmental and financial legislation. The Working Time Directive – the prime example Cameron gave in his Bloomberg speech of interfering EU legislation – is either supported or considered insufficient by 73 per cent of the public. </p> <p>Renewable energy targets – another bugbear of earlier Eurosceptics – are endorsed or considered too low by 74 per cent. And the bankers’ bonuses cap – opposed at the time of its introduction by the coalition government – is found either adequate or too generous by 79 per cent, with a majority backing tighter rules. </p> <p>Even when traded off against a US trade deal, more than 80 per cent of the public are <a href="https://www.ippr.org/research/publications/have-your-cake-or-eat-it">opposed</a> to lowering food safety standards. When confronted with this wall of public opinion, it is no surprise that leave campaigners adapted their position as the referendum date neared.</p> <h2><strong>The protective state</strong></h2> <p>In the aftermath of the referendum, the narrative of protecting EU regulatory standards gathered increased force with Theresa May’s arrival in Downing Street. </p> <p>Under Cameron, the drive for deregulation was not confined to the EU debate: the coalition introduced a range of domestic initiatives aimed at reducing regulations for businesses, from the ‘Red Tape Challenge’, targeted at identifying 3000 regulations to be amended or scrapped, to the ‘one in, two out’ rule, which ensured that, for any new regulation, departments would have to make savings equivalent to double the cost of the new rule by removing or modifying previous regulations. <span class="mag-quote-center">Under May – and particularly in light of the Grenfell Tower tragedy – the cutting red tape agenda was quietly shelved in favour of embracing an openly interventionist role for the state.</span></p><p>But under May – and particularly in light of the Grenfell Tower tragedy – the cutting red tape agenda was quietly shelved in favour of embracing an openly interventionist role for the state. Indeed, May’s approach in part came out of the EU referendum vote: she (rightly) interpreted the result as a call for a larger, more protective state, rather than a smaller, more liberal one. </p><p>In this context, the government’s commitment to maintaining employment, consumer and environmental standards post-Brexit is a natural extension of its domestic programme.</p> <h2><strong>Doing things differently in some unspecified way</strong></h2> <p>What this ideological transformation means for the forthcoming negotiations on the UK-EU future partnership is unclear. The debate until now has been between those who want a model of close alignment with the EU post-Brexit and those who want the maximum flexibility to diverge once we leave. </p> <p>But the political fluctuations over the past five years have rendered the question of divergence devoid of any substantive meaning. If divergence is about deregulation, then this flies in the face of public opinion and, indeed, much of the current Cabinet. It would be interpreted by many as a betrayal of those leave voters who were in large part fundamentally opposed to a shrinking of the state and unaware that their vote could be interpreted as such. </p> <p>But if divergence is about strengthening regulations and expanding the role of the state, then it is largely pointless, since in most cases the EU sets minimum standards for harmonisation and does not restrict, for instance, stronger working time rules (see France) or tighter caps on bankers’ bonuses (see the Netherlands). Even EU state aid rules are largely <a href="http://renewal.org.uk/blog/eu-law-is-no-barrier-to-labours-economic-programme">compatible</a> with an active industrial policy and the nationalisation of strategic industries. <span class="mag-quote-center">Even EU state aid rules are largely <a href="http://renewal.org.uk/blog/eu-law-is-no-barrier-to-labours-economic-programme">compatible</a> with an active industrial policy and the nationalisation of strategic industries. </span></p> <p>Divergence therefore comes down to a matter of ‘doing things differently’ in some unspecified way. Yet such a move would almost certainly face widespread opposition from <a href="http://www.cbi.org.uk/news/greater-costs-than-opportunities-if-uk-moves-away-from-eu-rules-and-regulations/">business</a> – who, all things being equal, find it easier to work with similar cross-border regulations rather than different ones. Divorced of a ‘cutting red tape’ agenda, divergence would therefore do little other than frustrate the very people it was originally designed to help.</p> <h2><strong>We can leave the EU, but not Europe…</strong></h2> <p>As a result, the shift in the underlying ideology of Brexit strengthens the case for a high-alignment relationship between the UK and the EU. Indeed, the European Council <a href="http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2018/03/23/european-council-art-50-guidelines-on-the-framework-for-the-future-eu-uk-relationship-23-march-2018/">guidelines</a> require a ‘level playing field’ – including aligned rules on tax, state aid, and social, environmental and regulatory measures – even for a limited UK-EU FTA. </p> <p>This means that even a future partnership that prioritises divergence would still require considerable alignment in practice – hence the UK’s concerns about a deal that offers “the rights of Canada and the obligations of Norway”. On the other hand, a high-alignment model – along the lines of IPPR’s <a href="https://www.ippr.org/publications/the-shared-market">‘Shared Market’</a> proposal – would ensure closely aligned regulations alongside a concomitant level of access.</p> <p>An agreement of this type would help to guarantee the high level of access we need while acknowledging UK and EU regulations will remain closely aligned in future. </p> <p>Given the weak political case for divergence, and given the EU’s geographical proximity and importance as a trading partner, the alternative would simply be unilateral alignment without a corresponding right of market access. </p> <p>As David Cameron said in his Bloomberg speech, “if we leave the EU, we cannot of course leave Europe. It will remain for many years our biggest market, and forever our geographical neighbourhood.” This part of the speech, at least, has stood the test of time. </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>IPPR's <a href="https://www.ippr.org/research/publications/have-your-cake-or-eat-it">latest briefing on Brexit</a>: ‘Have your cake or eat it? New findings on public attitudes to Brexit' explores public attitudes to a series of trade-offs on post-Brexit trade policy, following on from our <a href="https://www.ippr.org/research/publications/leaving-the-eu-not-the-european-model">earlier briefing</a> on attitudes to EU-derived regulations.</p><p>See also IPPR's ‘<a href="https://www.ippr.org/publications/the-shared-market">Shared Market’</a> proposal, published in December, setting out proposals for a future partnership between the UK and the EU.</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"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Democracy and government Economics International politics Brexit2016 Marley Morris Thu, 19 Apr 2018 11:42:47 +0000 Marley Morris 117397 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The ‘refugee crisis’ in the Mediterranean: the role of EU states, civil society and art https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/anna-morvern/refugee-crisis-in-mediterranean-role-of-eu-states-civil-society-and-art <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As the EU turns away from international human rights commitments, asserting border controls at almost any cost including that to humanitarian activists, what role can art play?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-32054347.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-32054347.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'>Italian rescue ship Vos Prudence run by NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres arrives in July, 2017, in the port of Salerno carrying 935 migrants, including 16 children and 7 pregnant women rescued from the Mediterranean sea.NurPhoto/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In the context of the ‘refugee crisis’</em><a href="#_ftn1"><em>[1]</em></a><em> in and around the Mediterranean, the European Union is devoting its resources to the exclusion of refugees and migrants using increased surveillance and militarization of its borders, by affiliation with entities and States for whom human rights are not a priority. With an enormous death toll at sea and huge numbers arriving, civil society across Europe has mobilized to manifest alternative values of hospitality to welcome refugees and solidarity towards those at the borders. This paper will survey human rights reports and activist materials to consider these two phenomena, before asking questions about the scope for artists to respond to the refugee crisis.</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p>Four years ago, in October 2014, Operation Mare Nostrum, the Italian government’s humanitarian mission in the Mediterranean to rescue people in boats in peril on journeys from Libya, was terminated. The replacement Frontex (EU) mission, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Triton">Operation Triton</a>, part-funded by voluntary contributions from the Irish state, has a <a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/migrant-lives-should-not-be-the-priority-eu-border-chief-says-1.2185420">markedly lesser focus</a> on search-and-rescue and an increased focus on surveillance and “border security”. </p><p>The International Organization for Migration (IOM) <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants/hundreds-drown-off-libya-eu-leaders-forced-to-reconsider-migrant-crisis-idUSKBN0NA07020150419">says</a> that deaths at sea have risen nine times since the ending of Operation Mare Nostrum.<a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a> Its ‘<a href="https://missingmigrants.iom.int/region/mediterranean">Missing Migrants Project</a>’ documents minimum estimated deaths in the Mediterranean: 401 at the time of writing for the first weeks of 2018. The organization, “<a href="https://deathbyrescue.org/">Death by Rescue</a>”, has analysed migrant shipwrecks which have led to the deaths of many in the Mediterranean. It documents that, to fill the void left by the substantial withdrawal of state-led search-and-rescue activities, commercial ships became the primary search-and-rescue actors in the central Mediterranean, rescuing 11,954 people between 1 January and 20 May 2015 alone but also apparently playing a major role in deaths because of their lack of specialist capacity to provide such missions (thus, “death by rescue”). </p><p>The organization <a href="https://deathbyrescue.org/">concludes</a>: “[…] ending Mare Nostrum did not lead to less crossings, only to more deaths at sea and a higher rate of mortality.” As of last month, Operation Triton is being morphed into Operation Themis – I comment on this name below – due to have an “<a href="http://frontex.europa.eu/news/frontex-launching-new-operation-in-central-med-OESzij">enhanced law enforcement focus</a>”, continuing the metamorphosis of EU search-and-rescue operations into militarized surveillance and border control missions.</p><h2>Big business</h2> <p>Such militarized surveillance and border control is big business, with the EU working in partnership with the global arms and defence industry in this context. The EU has a proliferation of working groups and partners developing “defensive” technologies to control human movement at the borders. Just a few examples of these entities are as follows: <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/border-crossing/eurosur_en">EUROSUR</a>, the European border surveillance system with a stated aim of “prevent[ing] illegal migration”; the <a href="http://www.eos-eu.com/border-security">European Organization for Security Integrated Border and Security Working Group</a>, with a stated aim of “development and uptake of better technology solutions for border security [including] along maritime and land borders”; <a href="http://roborder.eu/">ROBORDER</a>, with a stated aim of “developing and demonstrating a fully-functional autonomous border surveillance system with unmanned mobile robots […] in order to provide accurate decision support services to the corresponding authorities for border controlling”; <a href="https://www.eda.europa.eu/info-hub/press-centre/latest-news/2018/04/10/ocean2020-kick-off-meeting-at-eda">OCEAN2020</a>, which focuses on naval defence by means of unmanned systems. The plethora of institutions and the size of the budgets assigned to these projects demonstrate EU plans to contract giants of the defence industry to patrol and police its sea borders using state-of-the-art technology: the EU fund launched in 2016 to build the Union’s military capabilities “<a href="https://www.defensenews.com/industry/2018/01/12/leonardo-to-head-eu-research-program-on-unmanned-naval-systems/">foresees a pooled €5 billion […] procurement budget</a>.” </p><p>Ireland’s decision to participate in PESCO, the EU defence co-operation plan, was approved by a Dáil majority of 75-42 last year – against the backdrop of the State apparently wishing to affirm its position within the EU alongside negotiations around the impact of Brexit – and will entail <a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/eu-defence-co-operation-is-no-threat-to-irish-neutrality-1.3343293">substantial financial contributions</a> by the State.</p> <p>Since 2016, the NGO Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders has taken the principled decision no longer to accept finance from EU funds and institutions, <a href="https://www.msf.org.uk/article/msf-no-longer-take-funds-eu-member-states-and-institutions">stating</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>“Europe’s main focus is not on how well people will be protected, but on how efficiently they are kept away… There is nothing remotely humanitarian about these policies. It cannot become the norm and must be challenged… MSF will not receive funding from institutions and governments whose policies do so much harm.”</p></blockquote> <p>The myriad national-level and European-level immigration laws, imposing entry requirements, and the lack of safe passage initiatives have caused refugees and other migrants to risk unsafe, illegal routes at sea. There, EU policy is operating to prevent many fleeing war and poverty from reaching our shores.</p><h2><strong>Outsourcing EU responsibilities</strong></h2> <p>The EU is also abandoning its supposed humanitarian values by outsourcing its responsibilities for refugees to non-EU countries. A major step in that direction was the EU-Turkey deal (“the Statement”) of two years ago whereby migrants and asylum-seekers arriving in Greece would be returned to Turkey, a country with a history of human rights abuses, not least against its large Kurdish minority<a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a> and where over <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/europe-and-central-asia/turkey/report-turkey/">50,000 people were detained</a> following a coup in July 2016. </p><p>Turkey would be paid €6 billion in return for its cooperation. Amnesty International noted that this deal meant EU leaders “<a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/03/the-eu-turkey-deal-europes-year-of-shame/">blithely disregarding their international obligations</a>” towards refugees. Meanwhile, Greece, “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/26/world/europe/greece-china-piraeus-alexis-tsipras.html">the eurozone's delinquent</a><em>”, </em>was effectively abandoned in terms of European cooperation in accommodating refugees, becoming, as the Greek prime minister described it, a “<a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/europe-has-10-days-to-save-schengen-area-official-warns-1.2548825">warehouse of souls</a>”. Humanitarians and activists in Greece have protested the terrible human rights abuses occurring on EU territory since the EU-Turkey deal, including overcrowding of the Greek islands, the very poor situation in the camps with inadequate accommodation, facilities and protections.<a href="#_ftn4">[4]</a> International non-governmental organizations with refugee protection and human rights at the heart of their missions were <a href="https://newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2015/07/21/greece-aid-lesvos">criticized</a> for their initial failure to act and later mismanagement of the situation. Amnesty International has also reported another all too predictable implication of the Statement – it has resulted “<a href="https://www.amnesty.org.uk/human-rights-turkey">in muting EU criticism of human rights abuses in Turkey</a>.”</p> <p>The EU’s strategic response to the human movement towards Europe has been to intensify its border security operations beyond the EU border and deep into Africa, for example, by providing funding to Sudan, in its words, “<a href="https://eeas.europa.eu/sites/eeas/files/factsheet_eu-sudan_0.pdf">to tackle root causes of instability, irregular migration and forced displacement</a>”. The EU <a href="https://eeas.europa.eu/sites/eeas/files/factsheet_eu-sudan_0.pdf">insists</a> that, in providing funding, it is not giving money directly to the Sudanese Government, whose President Omar Al-Bashir is subject to an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, stating that “all activities are carried out by agencies of EU Member States, international organisations, private sector entities and NGOs”. Major concerns are already being voiced about the involvement of the Janjaweed – implicated in Darfur war crimes – as border guards, with IRIN news <a href="http://www.irinnews.org/special-report/2018/01/30/inside-eu-s-flawed-200-million-migration-deal-sudan">documenting</a> “endemic” abuses and asking whether “[the] pattern of corruption and rights violations uncovered feeds into broader concerns over whether the EU’s migration policies are making a difficult situation worse.”</p> <p>The EU is also replicating such outsourcing or “<a href="https://www.amnesty.ie/eu-refugee-crisis-human-rights-violations-migrant-deaths-ignored/">externalization</a>” policies in Libya, where the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (also known as Frontex) is working with the Libyan Coast Guard. Human Rights Watch has <a href="https://www.hrw.org/middle-east/n-africa/libya">commented</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>“Hundreds of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers, including children, who flock to Libya mostly en route to Europe, experience torture, sexual assault and forced labor at the hands of prison guards, members of the coast guard forces<a href="#_ftn5">[5]</a> and smugglers.”</p></blockquote> <p>Claims by the EU that its training activities would have a “substantial focus on human rights and international law” and would “enhance protection of and respect for human rights” must be seen as <a href="http://www.statewatch.org/news/2017/dec/eu-frontex-libya-cg.htm">frankly insincere</a>. Other EU <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/05/european-commission-third-country-immigrant-processing-centres">initiatives</a> include ‘processing centres’ in key transit countries such as Niger.</p> <p>Last month, the EU issued a <a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEX-18-581_en.htm">press release</a> celebrating the fact that asylum applications in the EU were “down by 43% in 2017”. 2017 did not see the end of war or poverty; people still want to flee to Europe. This reduction is the result of the EU effectively pushing its borders back and back. Migrant rights activist, Philippe Wannesson, quotes the EU Commissioner’s statement in its press release<strong>: </strong></p><blockquote><p><strong>“</strong><em>The EU will continue to be the continent of solidarity, of openness and tolerance”</em> and <a href="https://blogs.mediapart.fr/philippe-wannesson/blog/060218/lunion-europeenne-est-contre-la-solidarite">responds</a>: “Yes, it’s by paying Libyan coastguards to intercept at sea those people who want to ask us for hospitality and asylum and sending them back into slavery and torture that we will continue to be “the continent of solidarity, openness and tolerance”.<a href="#_ftn6">[6]</a></p></blockquote> <h2>&nbsp;Humanitarian volunteers</h2> <p>Against the failure of the EU and its Member States to respond to the refugee crisis with an emphasis on the value of human life and shared humanity, civil society across Europe has sought to uphold these values and act upon them. Humanitarian volunteers were already well at work when the image of three-year old refugee, Alan Kurdi, drowned along with his mother and five-year old brother and washed up on a beach near Bodrum – and following images of young children drowned off the Libyan coast near Zuwarah<a href="#_ftn7">[7]</a> – put the media spotlight on the crisis at the borders. Eric Kempson and his family had been helping people from boats on the shores of Lesvos before the later proliferation of voluntary humanitarian groups in the area.<a href="#_ftn8">[8]</a></p> <p>It is impossible to give a full list of civil society humanitarian actions. A few examples follow. During a temporary suspension of normal immigration control arrangements between Hungary, Austria and Germany, people lined the routes where Syrians and others were arriving to hand out food and drink.<a href="#_ftn9">[9]</a> All across Europe – in Ireland through Cork-Calais Refugee Solidarity – voluntary groups collected and shipped donations of tents, clothes and medical supplies to migrants stopped by borders from Calais to Lesbos. Voluntary doctors and, to give some dignity to the dead, <a href="https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/xd73xa/how-i-became-a-volunteer-refugee-gravedigger">grave-diggers</a>, temporarily gave up their normal life to work in these makeshift, transit camps. </p><p>People also opened up their homes to refugees who had managed to make it to Europe: in the UK, this was largely organized by the civil society group, “<a href="https://www.facebook.com/refugeesathome/">Refugees At Home</a>”, who documented last month having hosted 544 guests across 1,006 placements from 54 countries in total. In Ireland, similar work matching voluntary host accommodation providers with refugees and asylum-seekers is being carried out by the group “<a href="https://www.facebook.com/groups/603866309784027/">Home from Home – Ireland</a>”. Refugees Welcome and community groups, such as, locally, <a href="http://themodel.ie/music/sligo-global-kitchen">Sligo Global Kitchen</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/welcometoroscommon/">Welcome to Roscommon</a>, were set up opposing barriers between “them” and “us”, providing hospitality.</p> <p>Remarkable among all these efforts has been the provision of search-and-rescue services in the Mediterranean by ordinary people who saw the loss of human life and decided to intervene. Only a few miles from here, West Belfast musician, Joby Fox, went to Lesbos to volunteer offering humanitarian assistance and <a href="http://www.refugeerescue.co.uk/who-we-are/">realized</a> that, to prevent deaths at sea, a boat was needed. The boat came in the form of a <a href="https://news.artnet.com/art-world/jake-chapman-refugee-rescue-814736">€32,000 lifeboat</a> donated by British artist Jake Chapman. Joby has <a href="https://news.artnet.com/art-world/jake-chapman-refugee-rescue-814736">testified</a> that lives were saved literally metres from the shore, in the dark, amidst panic and rocks, stating at that time:</p> <blockquote><p>“We’ve been using a human chain to reach the people who fall in the water, but it’s treacherous for everyone. It’s freezing, frightening and very dangerous. So having this boat will make all the difference.”</p></blockquote> <p>Since February 2016, Refugee Rescue, using their boat, “Mo Chara”, have rescued over 6,000 individuals risking their lives in the short stretch between Turkey and Lesbos where there are dangerous rocks, shallows and the people who make it to land are often deserted in inaccessible locations. They continue to <a href="http://www.refugeerescue.co.uk/">call for volunteers</a>.</p><h2>Culture of criminalisation</h2> <p>It is well-documented by now that the EU response to such civil society actions has not been positive. Those acting in solidarity with migrants have been faced with criminalization, with the Institute of Race Relations reviewing such cases in its <a href="http://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/wpmedia.outlandish.com/irr/2017/11/10092853/Humanitarianism_the_unacceptable_face_of_solidarity.pdf">report</a>, “Humanitarianism: the unacceptable face of solidarity”. </p><p>These range from <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/01/ngos-decry-arrests-volunteer-lifeguards-greece-160116193522648.html">prosecution of Danish and Spanish lifeguards</a> who rescue refugees through to a former children’s ombudsman and her spouse being charged under anti-trafficking provisions for the assistance they provided to a Syrian family, through to the criminalization of a French olive farmer for the help he has offered to migrants on the Italian-French border.<a href="#_ftn10">[10]</a> Combined with bulldozing of migrant encampments in Calais, documented by South African artist, Gideon Mendel, in his forensic art work, ‘<a href="http://gideonmendel.com/art-historian-text/">Dzhangal</a>’, and Ventimiglia, the mayors in those locations sought to introduce orders criminalizing unauthorized distribution of food and drink to refugees. In some cases, such laws were overturned, however, the developing pattern <a href="http://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/wpmedia.outlandish.com/irr/2017/11/10092853/Humanitarianism_the_unacceptable_face_of_solidarity.pdf">remains clear</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>“a wider political culture of criminalisation whereby volunteers attempting to fill the gaps in state provision are stigmatised and criminalised for providing food, shelter and clean water to migrants in informal encampments”.</p></blockquote> <p>With those assisting the “sans papiers” facing harassment by the authorities and criminalization, the <a href="http://hmd.org.uk/resources/poetry/first-they-came-pastor-martin-niemoller">words</a> of Pastor Niemoller should surely be ringing in our ears.</p><h2>'The Agency'</h2> <p>Such prevention of solidarity and humanitarianism has been targeted, in particular, at search-and-rescue volunteers: there have been “<a href="http://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/wpmedia.outlandish.com/irr/2017/11/10092853/Humanitarianism_the_unacceptable_face_of_solidarity.pdf">extraordinary attempts to bully and de-legitimise NGO search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean</a>”. Such bullying has been carried out by the EU entity, “Frontex” or “the Agency”. Again, in the case of Frontex, despite many human rights concerns voiced against it,<a href="#_ftn11">[11]</a> the EU has decided to <a href="http://www.agenziagiornalisticaopinione.it/lancio-dagenzia/frontex-the-european-border-and-coast-guard-agency-after-one-year/">beef-up the Agency</a>, its staff having grown by a third and likely to double again by 2020. Civil society group Frontexit <a href="http://statewatch.org/news/2016/jul/eu-border-guard-vote.htm">notes</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>“Such reinforcement of capacities of an EU agency is unprecedented and turns a complete blind eye to a number of human rights violations, although [these have] been largely documented by non-governmental organisations as well as by official bodies”. </p></blockquote> <p>Unprecedented, too, are the new legal powers of the EU Agency to assess the “vulnerability” of Member States’ borders and to introduce punitive measures where such States are non-compliant with Agency recommendations to secure their borders.<a href="#_ftn12">[12]</a> This astonishing legal move is in the detail of one of hundreds of EU Regulations. Through this regulation, Member States are substantially giving away the power of their people to determine national borders to an EU body, and each Member State is consenting to increased EU control of its border arrangements if it allows its borders to be too “vulnerable” to migrants. It provides for the <a href="https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32016R1624">use of force</a> with “service weapons, ammunition and equipment” and provides detailed provisions on “forced return” operations, including the forced return of children. The effects of this law, now in force, are certain to be less humanitarian, more coercive – it is the kind of law far right-wing groups would clamour for.</p><h2>Artists respond</h2> <p>What, finally, is the scope for artists to respond to the refugee crisis? How does art act as a catalyst to encourage hope for the future and the use of our imagination to change conditions for humans at the border, for all of us?</p> <p>Chinese artist and activist, Ai Weiwei, conjectures that the flow of human migration ultimately may not be held back. He <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/02/refugee-crisis-human-flow-ai-weiwei-china?CMP=fb_gu">says</a>, </p> <blockquote><p>“Building a dam does not address the source of the flow – it would need to be built higher and higher, eventually holding back a massive volume. If a powerful flood were to occur, it could wipe out everything in its path.” </p></blockquote> <p>In Europe, we saw a glimpse of the dam bursting when border control arrangements were, exceptionally, suspended by Austria and Germany in September 2015, as the number of refugees could not be contained outside. </p><p>However, this situation did not lead to any lasting, positive change in the relationship between humans and borders. People remained stuck in temporary transit camps, in worsening conditions, all over Europe. There was quickly a return to border controls and these were controlled more aggressively, for example, by the <a href="http://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/wpmedia.outlandish.com/irr/2017/11/10092853/Humanitarianism_the_unacceptable_face_of_solidarity.pdf">detention</a> of over 700 “border crossing helpers” around the German-Austrian border in October of the same year. Many refugees also find themselves in camps across Europe. As Italian philosopher, Giorgio Agamben, looking back to the Holocaust, <a href="http://novact.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Beyond-Human-Rights-by-Giorgio-Agamben.pdf">comments</a>: </p> <blockquote><p>“We should not forget that the first camps were built in Europe as spaces for controlling refugees, and that the succession of internment camps-concentration camps-extermination camps represents a perfectly real filiation.”</p></blockquote> <p>But at a time when the EU is turning away from international human rights commitments and restricting humanitarianism to assert border controls at almost any cost, what scope is there for art to be engaged with the struggle for human rights and more humane values?</p> <p>How can artists show their solidarity with those at the borders? How can art assist us to affirm hospitality, solidarity with migrants and shared humanity? What difficulties does art encounter when doing these things?</p><p>Technologies are used both to restrict and to enable human movement. How important are technology and technological advances in the making of art?</p> <p>Human life is more connected and governed by technology than ever before. British artist, James Bridle, discussing his digital installation mapping the sentiment of news stories on the refugee crisis, “Wayfinding”, <a href="http://booktwo.org/notebook/climate-of-opinion/">writes</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>“On the ferries, those in transit share information about which border points are open, which countries are (relatively) friendly, where to buy bus tickets – information often passed back from those who have already gone ahead, via Whatsapp messages and Facebook groups.” </p></blockquote> <p>When supported by real-life solidarities, such technology can be life-saving: recall the seven-year old boy smuggled in a sealed lorry from Calais to the UK whose text to a Calais Jungle volunteer who was in New York at the time saying “<a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-35998273">no oksijan</a>” enabled her to act to save his life. Many others have died because being linked up to Whatsapp or Facebook cannot prevent a shipwreck when there is no human assistance at sea, but instead multi-million-euro state-operated border control machinery.</p> <p>The EU, then, has named its latest maritime border control mission Themis, after the goddess personifying fairness, law, natural law. For the EU to use this name for the entity it uses to deter, repress and exclude refugees at sea, seems utterly cynical. Yet it is the case that the existence of this entity and its powers are conditional on the “social contract” between EU Member States and their consent to participating in the EU’s project to fortify its borders. </p><p>Some committed humanitarians raise valid concerns that the outburst of humanitarianism by civil society has been ignorant of, or incapable of changing, the political structures in which the disregard of human life at borders is embedded. Documentary photographer, Roman Kutzowitz, <a href="http://roman-kutzowitz.com/">says of volunteer SAR missions in the Mediterranean</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>“Humanitarian intervention here is an IT-nerd from Cologne fixing the wiring onboard <em>Sea Watch 3</em>, 12 miles off the coast of Libya […] the lifeguard from Euskal Herria who tends to torture wounds onboard the <em>Lifeline</em>. But too few exercise civil disobedience, too few recognize the interconnectedness of the privileged western life and the plight of the subaltern […] Human Rights now merely serve the EU image-politics. Because cycles of capital, weapons, and vegetables must keep spinning! […] The flows of weapons, the extraction of resources abroad, and extortive IMF contracts are connected to migratory <em>crises,</em> yet we continue to externalize and shrug off responsibility.” </p></blockquote> <p>Can art help us to see more clearly the political structures which lead to inhumanity, including violence towards those at the borders and human rights defenders?</p> <p>Natasha Walter, founder of the UK solidarity organization, <a href="http://www.refugeewomen.co.uk/">Women for Refugee Women</a>, draws her own conclusion:</p> <blockquote><p>“while it is so tempting – and often so necessary – to keep within the limits of the real in our politics, to keep plugging away at what will make things a tiny bit better here and now, we also need to keep flexing that muscle called hope. In times when inspiration seems to be running dry, we need to dip into the reservoir of the imagination.”<a href="#_ftn13">[13]</a></p></blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p><em>This paper was originally presented at the Turbulence symposium on March 8, 2018, as part of the education&nbsp;programme for&nbsp;the contemporary&nbsp;exhibition Turbulence, December 2017 - April 2018&nbsp;at The Model, Sligo, Ireland.</em></p> <p><em>The author wishes to thank Syd Bolton, Lawyer, Co-Convener of the Last Rights Project (www.lastrights.net), for reading and commenting on an initial draft of this paper.</em></p><p><strong> Notes and references</strong></p> <p><a href="#_ftnref1"><em>[1]</em></a><em> </em><em>This is the term the media has often used to describe the arrivals of the last few years, however, it would better be called the crisis at the borders or the crisis of human rights. Since presentation of this paper but before its publication, the Refugee Law Initiative has published a </em><a href="https://rli.blogs.sas.ac.uk/2018/04/16/refugee-crisis-three-perspectives-on-the-makings-of-a-crisis/"><em>blog article</em></a><em> discussing Europe's so-called 'refugee crisis' and asking questions as to the meaning of words and the makings of a crisis.</em></p> <p><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> <cite>For minimum estimates of monthly deaths since 2014, see ‘</cite><a href="https://missingmigrants.iom.int/region/mediterranean">Missing Migrants’</a><cite>, IOM.</cite><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p><a href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a><em> Amnesty International noted in its </em><a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/europe-and-central-asia/turkey/report-turkey/"><em>most recent country human rights report on Turkey</em></a><em> “violations of human rights by security forces continued with impunity, especially in the predominantly Kurdish southeast”.</em></p> <p><a href="#_ftnref4"><em>[4]</em></a><em>A Syrian family housed, at the time of writing, in Mosney direct provision centre in County Meath told the author of this paper that they had spent several months in a tent in a makeshift camp in Greece and the young children recalled with horror trying to keep rats out of their tent.</em></p> <p><a href="#_ftnref5"><em><strong>[</strong>5]</em></a><em>Dearden, L., ‘</em><a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/refugee-crisis-deaths-mediterranean-libya-coastguard-opens-fire-drowned-gunshots-ngos-rescue-boat-a7754176.html"><em>Libyan coast guard ‘opens fire’ during refugee rescue as deaths in Mediterranean Sea pass record 1,500’</em></a><em>, The Independent, 24 May 2017.</em></p> <p><a href="#_ftnref6">[6]</a> <em>Author’s translation.</em></p> <p><a href="#_ftnref7"><em>[7]</em></a><strong><em> </em></strong><em>Author’s poem on this atrocity, originally read aloud at a public protest outside the European Commission offices in Belfast: ‘To Europe’, </em><a href="https://writersforcalaisrefugees.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/anna-morvern/"><em>Writers For Calais Refugees</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p><a href="#_ftnref8"><em>[8]</em></a><em> </em><em>See: ‘</em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UWa9u-W6eU"><em>The British family helping thousands of refugees on Lesbos</em></a><em>’, Channel 4 News, 17 September 2015.</em></p> <p><a href="#_ftnref9"><em>[9]</em></a><em> See, for example: MEE Staff, ‘</em><a href="http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/austrians-hand-out-food-and-water-refugees-packed-train-germany-1957610377"><em>Video shows Austrians offering food and water to refugees on a packed train</em></a><em>’, Middle East Eye, 1 September 2015.</em></p> <p><a href="#_ftnref10">[10]</a> <em>See: Fekete, L., Webber, F. and Edmond-Pettitt, A., ‘</em><a href="http://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/wpmedia.outlandish.com/irr/2017/11/10092853/Humanitarianism_the_unacceptable_face_of_solidarity.pdf"><em>Humanitarianism: the unacceptable face of solidarity’</em></a><em>, Institute of Race Relations, 2017.</em> <em>This report gives more details on these cases and many others, with analysis. See also: Marlowe, L., ‘</em><a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/french-farmer-convicted-of-helping-migrants-to-cross-border-1.2971511"><em>French farmer convicted of helping migrants to cross border’</em></a><em>, The Irish Times, 10 February 2017.</em></p> <p><a href="#_ftnref11"><em>[11]</em></a><em> See Statewatch online for documentation of some of these concerns. Available: www.statewatch.org</em></p> <p><a href="#_ftnref12"><em>[12]</em></a><em> Regulation (EU) 2016/1624 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 September 2016</em></p> <p><a href="#_ftnref13"><em>[13]</em></a><em> Quoted in The Guardian newspaper on 3 February 2018.</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="/mediterranean-journeys-in-hope/maurice-stierl-john-akomfrah/video-john-akomfrah-on-sea-migration-bor">Video: John Akomfrah on sea-migration, borders, and art</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/iain-chambers/art-and-refugee-crisis-mediterranean-blues">Art and the refugee ‘crisis’: Mediterranean blues</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tate-exchange-team/art-and-migration-who-are-we">Art and migration: who are &#039;we&#039;?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? People Flow Anna Morvern Wed, 18 Apr 2018 11:09:26 +0000 Anna Morvern 117349 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The ‘Europeanization’ of schooling: what is a European education? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/paola-pietrandrea-francesca-lacaita-rossella-latempa/europeanization-of-schooling <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In an ambitious future, education as a common good means an education enjoyed by the whole community, built by citizens culturally capable of influencing, acting and imagining alternatives.</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-30577421.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-30577421.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'>March 17, 2017 Students and teachers protest in Palermo, Italy. A nationwide strike called by unions against implementation of the Law 107, better known as the “good school” law. Antonio Melita/ Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Whether we are specialist or not, we all know more or less where the education system of our countries stands. We are all aware that our school systems are coordinated, monitored and assessed according to some vague “European” standards or criteria.</p> <p>In general we don’t object to that: we consider the Europeanization of our education systems as a guarantee of quality, of good functioning and also as a sign of that international cooperation, of European integration, which we increasingly need to fend off provincialism and nationalism. </p> <p>Everything fine, then? No, not exactly. Unfortunately, things are more complicated than they appear. Let us see why.</p> <p>The Europeanisation of education systems is a recent development. Theoretically, education should be the responsibility of member states: education in European countries has always been a national affair, functional to the consolidation of the identity and culture of a community. Each educational system has had its own history, linked to the evolution of its policy, geography, traditions, language and society.&nbsp; </p> <p>As it happens, however, although education formally remains a national competence, since the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, a new 'orthodoxy', based on the comparison of education systems, has been gradually introduced into the educational policies of the whole continent. </p> <p>This new orthodoxy brings two problems.&nbsp; </p> <p>First of all, it has been imposed as a matter of fact rather than a concerted policy.&nbsp; Some refer to "government without government" to characterize the process which, from the Lisbon Strategy of 2000 to the Rethinking Education Communication of 2012, up to the current ET2020 strategy, has always moved along the same line: education must be "reshaped" in terms of skills that generate employment (employability), productivity and competitiveness. </p> <p>Secondly, it is evident that the new orthodoxy has been guided by extremely clear and powerful ideological assumptions. Education policies are often formulated on the urging and with the significant contribution of such international organization as the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) – which isn’t European only – the <a href="https://www.coe.int/it/web/portal">Council of Europe</a>, and the EU. These organizations pursue education policies in accordance with their goals, which are for the most part in support of market economies and the principle of competition between societies and in all aspects of society. </p> <p>This is true in particular for the OECD (which has the highest media profile, as it is the organisation that issues the PISA reports) and for the European Commission, albeit in a more ancillary role compared to the OECD. As for the Council of Europe, its remit is the promotion of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, but its power in implementation is not comparable to that of the EU or of “the markets”.</p> <p>To sum up, today we can speak of a real <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Michele_Schmidt5/publication/298215368_Fabricating_Europe_The_formation_of_an_education_space_Review_of_Antonio_Novoa_and_Martin_Lawn/links/56e73a8b08ae85e780cfe73b/Fabricating-Europe-The-formation-of-an-education-space-Review-of-Antonio-Novoa-and-Martin-Lawn.pdf">European education space</a>, built by different social actors: political decision-makers, technocrats, lobbies, academics, private agencies, associations. This international area of development and decision-making in the field of education and scientific research has to be placed in an even broader framework, as we have recently been reminded by the OECD report "Strategy for skills": this place of decision is characterized by an inevitable reference to neo-liberal ideology. </p> <h2><strong>Neo-liberal education and ‘gigantic laboratories’ </strong></h2> <p>In this perspective, education does not have as its objective the development of human beings and citizens of a community (whether national, European, global or intercultural) with an objective of emancipation, nor the autonomy of teaching from any other economic and political power as established in our Constitutions. In this perspective, education serves to improve human capital at the service of the economy and to make it internationally competitive. At best, in this perspective, education is functional to finding one’s place in existing structures thus avoiding discrepancies and inefficiencies.</p> <p>As <a href="https://www.roars.it/online/destrutturare-le-sinapsi-cerebrali-le-emozioni-e-il-giudizio-su-di-se-dei-docenti-ce-lo-chiede-leuropeanization-dellistruzione/">Rossella Latempa</a> has shown, this ideological position underlying educational policies is imposed by the Ministries on schools through two powerful means: an economic blackmail and the spread of storytelling celebrating “pedagogical innovations”, often contemptuous of traditional approaches.</p> <p>Let's take the Italian example: the granting of European funding, which is supposed to be an entitlement and is in fact indispensable, has been subordinated since 2014 to the implementation in school of a series of extracurricular activities, the so-called PON projects. These <a href="http://www.istruzione.it/alfresco/d/d/workspace/SpacesStore/172146aa-ecd0-44b5-8f2e-6f356b246c55/prot950_17.pdf">PON projects</a> are aimed at a limited number of students and they are to be carried out necessarily through what the Ministry calls "innovative approaches". These innovative approaches are defined as "experiential dimensions [characterized by a] recomposition between the language of the school and that of socio-economic reality". Teachers and trainers – it is clarified in the various actions – must structure "learning situations" aiming to solve concrete problems and "working methods useful for life and professional development". In other words, an innovative approach is defined as an approach that orients education towards professional learning.</p> <p>In this perspective, the dominant discourse in school is dotted with words inherited in an approximate and uncritical way from the pedagogical sciences.&nbsp; Methodological and didactic choices which are often functional to the dominant model and logic are often passed off as stable scientific acquisitions: metacognition, project based-learning, cooperative learning, learning by doing, flipped classroom, formal and informal learning, digital storytelling, brain-storming, outdoor training, enterprise theatre, e-learning". In this perspective, highly ideology-driven concepts are presented as inescapable educational discourses in an overused narrative about the need for innovation for the "salvation" of our schooling.</p> <p>To aggravate the manipulation of the dominant discourse, there is, at least in Italy, the self-celebratory, redundant and arrogant rhetoric of the Ministry.</p> <p>In an independent <a href="http://hubmiur.pubblica.istruzione.it/alfresco/d/d/workspace/SpacesStore/9f124f9d-1423-484b-bfdd-88dd4ecc367a/rapporto_deloitte_Rapporto_di_Valutazione_Complessiva_del_PON_15-02-16.pdf">evaluation report</a> (2007-2013), which the Italian Ministry of Education entrusted to the private consultancy firm Deloitte Consulting srl, it is written, with the typical pomposity of those proud to have contributed to a turning point for the country, that the PON projects have paved the way for what "aims to be a substantial change in collective behaviour which we consider restrictive and harmful to a modern education system" and that they (the PON projects) "transformed the South into a gigantic territorial laboratory" where "innovation has been made". </p> <p>Although the programme's contribution to the development of human capital in schools is still in the making, the report stresses the "driving force for change" and the need to sediment results, to give "a coherent direction [...] and govern it". With little prudence, in this document, they speak of "Schumpeterian creative destruction", of "revolution of the scientific paradigm à la Khun" (!):&nbsp; in short, we are assisting in the profound deconstruction of ‘the School’ in terms of formation and organization. In clear terms, they recommend "less emphasis on discipline-specific content training" and new care in the construction of the right "cognitive maps" of the actors involved in the renewal process: that is, teachers. </p> <p>The document defines them as "old-school professionals" still convinced "that not only educational certificates are useful, but are of value" who find themselves facing "a change in the same brain synapses that govern their routine behaviour", to meet the training needs of "digital natives".</p> <p>The combination of financial blackmail and contemptuous rhetoric humiliates the institutional sovereignty of the school and humiliates the professional sovereignty of teachers. The perception that this dominant discourse comes from the European institutions creates, as we are used to seeing in every area, suspicion, irritation and annoyance with the restrictions imposed by the Eurocrats.&nbsp; </p> <p>Quite interestingly, Rossella Latempa shows&nbsp; that the irritation and annoyance due to the restrictions imposed by the "Eurocrats" lead the professionals of Education to claim their sovereignty by referring to a (re)nationalisation of their institutions.&nbsp; </p><h2><strong>Multidimensional education and national sovereignty</strong></h2> <p>It is now clear, though, that institutional sovereignty and national sovereignty are two separate things that do not coincide. If education cannot be separated from the former, the latter no longer makes sense today.&nbsp; </p><p>Indeed, as Rossella Latempa points out, a new and more ambitious European identity could be released precisely by reformulating the ideas of education, research and development in the sense of an&nbsp; ideal and subversive cultural potential. </p> <p>Let us think for a moment about what European citizen we might want schools to help create. Thinking about what kind of education we want means thinking about what kind of European citizen we want in our future: a transnational citizen, not just an individual who lives in constant mobility. We want a European citizen who is not required to develop one work project after another, to continuously renew her or his skills in a process of continuous choices and decisions. We want a person, with her own wishes and fears: not just a problem solver, flexible and ready to represent Europe in the World Championship of progress and innovation. </p> <p>If, as in the utopia that the DiEM25 movement is outlining, the Europe to be formed is to be a federal Europe, but also a Europe of states, regions and cities, a multidimensional and networked Europe, in which the memberships and identities of each one are necessarily multiple, why not imagine a multidimensional education, in which certain issues and methods remain European: those which serve to strengthen the awareness of a European citizenship; others focused nationally, others regionally and so on? </p> <p>In this perspective, with respect for the various sovereignties – and first of all with respect for the freedom of teaching, which should be built into any plan, we repeat, starting with our Constitutions – we could redesign a school where the concept of innovation is not crushed by that of profit. </p> <h2><strong>Education as a common good</strong></h2> <p>Let us now stop and think about what model we want for education. Education, we believe, should be conceived as a European common good: a "collective enterprise"; a form of "citizenship", a space for action and definition of political objectives that do not renounce the cultural, social and civic dimensions of education.&nbsp; </p> <p>Thinking of education as a common good does not mean to imagine – as some ministerial and European documents seem to suggest - a "civic-centred" school, possibly open all year round, for projects meant to make up for structural and political shortcomings. </p> <p>On the contrary, it means thinking of education as a good that the whole of society must be ready to feed and protect: in this way schools would play their part (and only their part) at the centre of a complex civic fabric, composed of libraries, cultural and sports centres, places dedicated to continuous education, or entirely dedicated to education and culture.</p> <p>But thinking of education as a common good also means imagining that this good can be enjoyed by the whole community in a future designed with a long and ambitious gaze. We think that this design can be built by citizens who are culturally capable of influencing, acting and imagining alternatives.</p> <p>That is why we propose that DiEM25 members and to anyone who cares about these issues discuss the school we want for Europe, in a perspective that is already transnational. Operationally, this means that we propose to create a transnational thematic DiEM spontaneous collective (DSC), in which at least the following issues are addressed:&nbsp; </p> <p><strong>1. An assessment of the current situation </strong></p><ul><li>-&nbsp; Which reforms of the Educational system have been introduced into your country in recent years?</li><li>-&nbsp; To what extent has the introduction of these measures been agreed with stakeholders, students, teachers, families? </li><li>-&nbsp; To what extent is your country's education system capable of removing the economic, social and personal obstacles to the full intellectual and cultural development of students?</li><li>- Has any form of “education to work” (i.e. something more general than “practical training” in technical education) been introduced lately? </li><li>- Do you think education has become more performance-driven and focused on competition by results?</li><li>- Have you noticed a change in public perception of the role of teachers? More specifically, do you share the impression that teachers are increasingly being given the role of instructors and transmitters of knowledge rather than educators?&nbsp; </li><li>- Do you think spaces for critical thought and practices are opening or closing in the education system of your country?</li><li>- To what extent do industries “own” education?</li></ul> <p><strong>2. Proposals for an education model as a common good</strong></p> <p><em>2a. What role for schools in the overall education system</em></p> <ul><li>-&nbsp; Should schools be the only place where knowledge is formed and passed on? </li><li>-&nbsp; If not, which other instances should be involved in the education system?</li><li>-&nbsp; What should the specific character of the school system be? </li><li>-&nbsp; Who should be responsible for adult education? </li></ul> <p><em>2b What interaction between school and pedagogical research</em></p> <ul><li>-&nbsp; How can the interaction between school and pedagogical research be harmonised? Is the school system a test bench? A field of experimentation? A place of elaboration? A forum for discussion of educational proposals? </li><li>-&nbsp; Which instruments would allow a more harmonious transition? </li></ul> <p><em>2c School and innovation</em></p> <ul><li>-&nbsp; How can schools cope with the disruptive force of the technological revolution? What reflection is needed? How can this reflection be agreed on? How soon? With which instances? To do what?</li></ul> <p><strong>3. Proposals for school governance</strong> </p> <p><em>3a What is the role of different traditions in the creation of educational policies? </em></p> <ul><li>-&nbsp; Do you think it is right to integrate and coordinate the different European education systems? </li><li>-&nbsp; How can the European perspective be integrated with more local perspectives?</li><li>-&nbsp; Do you think that one of the tasks of education is to develop European citizenship? And if so, how? </li></ul> <p><strong>More in general,</strong></p> <ul><li>-&nbsp; What should be the timeframe for the implementation, verification and discussion of any school renovation?</li><li>-&nbsp; How to avoid a key element of our society becoming a fertile ground for the launch of empty propaganda messages in the eternal election campaign we live in?</li></ul> <p>Anyone who wants to answer these questions, or propose others, anyone who wants to contribute to creating a transnational sphere of public discussion on education, can contact us at this address:&nbsp; i<strong>nfo@fr.diem25.org </strong></p><p>Let’s keep in touch. Let’s keep this ball rolling. Let’s stick together. We need this.</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/layeux-audren/myth-of-swedish-education-miracle">The myth of the «Swedish education miracle»</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/wfd/rosemary-bechler-siamak-ahmadi-hassan-asfour/dialog-macht-schule-taking-dialogue-into-schools">Dialog macht Schule: taking dialogue into schools</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/yaacov-hecht/notes-from-opening-plenary-towards-teachers-and-students-deciding-on-20-of-curriculum-t">Notes from the opening plenary: towards teachers and students deciding on 20% of the curriculum together</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/wfd/graham-brown-martin/uberfication-of-teaching">The Uberfication of teaching</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wfd/graham-brown-martin/our-crisis-of-democracy-is-crisis-of-education">Our crisis of democracy is a crisis of education</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"> Italy </div> <div class="field-item odd"> France </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? France Italy EU Rossella Latempa Francesca Lacaita Paola Pietrandrea DiEM25 Wed, 18 Apr 2018 09:53:16 +0000 Paola Pietrandrea, Francesca Lacaita and Rossella Latempa 117363 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Facebook, privacy, and the use of data https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/joren-de-wachter/facebook-privacy-and-use-of-data <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How to think about this, what to call for, and some links to help.</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-35936182.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35936182.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'>Apr 10, 2018; Washington, DC, USA; Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint hearing of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. USA Today/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Would you give up your firstborn child for free WiFi?</p><p>Of course not – if you knew these terms and conditions. Except that is exactly what&nbsp;<strong><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/sep/29/londoners-wi-fi-security-herod-clause" target="_blank">scores of people did</a></strong>&nbsp;when they were asked if they wanted free WiFi at Picadilly Circus, London. Nobody bothered to read the terms – which contained a clause that forces you to give up your firstborn child.</p><p>The same level of unknowing vulnerability applies to&nbsp;<strong><a href="https://www.facebook.com/policies" target="_blank">Facebook’s terms and conditions</a></strong>. You “freely” enter into a contract that is nonnegotiable and impossible to read, and yet carries implications far beyond the platform.</p><p>We now know that Facebook not only took our data, but also&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/19/technology/facebook-cambridge-analytica-explained.html"><strong>gave them to Cambridge Analytica</strong>,</a>&nbsp;among many others. But which others? We don’t know.</p><p>Why not? The answer to that question breaks up into three pieces:</p><p>The first is that Facebook is a&nbsp;<strong><a href="https://www.foxbusiness.com/features/facebook-is-a-monopoly-break-it-up-nyu-professor" target="_blank"><em>de facto</em>&nbsp;monopoly</a></strong>. Its business model is based on avoiding competition at all cost. Buying Instagram was a perfect example.</p><p>The second is that the authorities by and large ignore Facebook’s monopoly position. They seem to think that, just because a monopoly is&nbsp;<em>de facto</em>, it can be left alone.</p><p>Of course, European law is quite clear on the question of monopolies:&nbsp;<strong><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly" target="_blank">they are bad</a></strong>. The&nbsp;<strong><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competition_law" target="_blank">law</a></strong>&nbsp;offers both the authorities and private parties, such as customers or the competition, many tools to challenge monopoly actors. But European authorities have yet to adopt such a bold approach.</p><p>The third is that the law offers Facebook additional monopoly power in the form of “<strong><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_property" target="_blank">Intellectual Property</a></strong>” and “<strong><a href="http://www.wipo.int/sme/en/ip_business/trade_secrets/trade_secrets.htm" target="_blank">Trade Secrets</a></strong>.” Because of these monopoly rights, Facebook can shield, from you, the way it uses your data — e.g. the algorithms that decide which news is fake enough for you. In return, the governments get, oh, nothing. Neither do you.</p><p>The common element of these three pieces is monopoly. And here lies the solution: to break down Facebook’s monopolies.</p><p>Is that hard?</p><p>Yes and no. It can be done today, within the framework of existing law and policies. The only thing you need is common understanding of the issue, and political will to push through an effective solution.</p><p>One example would be to deny Facebook “protection” of the&nbsp;<strong><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algorithm" target="_blank">algorithms</a></strong>, code and&nbsp;<strong><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Application_programming_interface" target="_blank">APIs</a></strong>&nbsp;it uses to harvest your data. A practical way to do that would be to force Facebook to open up to anyone the terms on which data can be obtained and publish who does it and how much they pay for it. Logistically, that’s easy for Facebook to do: it’s basically opening part of their financial reporting with all the details.</p><p>And then you apply a couple of very simple principles:</p><p>First, Facebook may not use its monopolies to discriminate between anyone who uses the data. It must offer Fair, Reasonable, Open and Non-Discriminatory (FROND) licensing terms on the data it holds.</p><p>Second, Facebook needs to publish its algorithms and how they are used to select things such as your newsfeed.</p><p>Third, Facebook APIs to third parties may not be closed or materially altered by Facebook without the approval of the third parties who use them, and Facebook may not discriminate between third parties who use its APIs.</p><p>A second example would be to set up unionization of Facebook users. The terms and conditions of using the platform would then no longer be imposed by Facebook, but by its users, who negotiate those terms on their own behalf.</p><p>How do you enforce that? Again, by applying the law that forbids cartels and monopolies. Those laws already exist, and, when used properly, can be very effective.</p><p>The only problem is, of course, that any politician who would propose such rules might suddenly find themselves unelectable, because of some fake news stories selected by some secret algorithm, shown to the very people who could vote her out of office.</p><p><em>This article was <a href="https://diem25.org/facebook-privacy-and-the-use-of-data/">first published</a> on DiEM25 on April 16, 2018.</em></p><p><em><br /></em></p><blockquote><div><p><strong>Facebook Liberation Army Link List (April 12, 2018)</strong><br />Compiled and edited by Geert Lovink &amp; Patricia de Vries (Institute of Network Cultures)*</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><br /><strong>Facebook Delete Manuals</strong><br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://pageflows.com/blog/delete-facebook/" target="_blank">https://pageflows.com/blog/delete-facebook/</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://www.ghostery.com/blog/ghostery-news/after-cambridge-analytica-scandal-how-to-delete-your-facebook-account/" target="_blank">https://www.ghostery.com/blog/ghostery-news/after-cambridge-analytica-scandal-how-to-delete-your-facebook-account/</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2018/03/28/people-really-deleting-their-facebook-accounts-its-complicated/464109002/" target="_blank">https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2018/03/28/people-really-deleting-their-facebook-accounts-its-complicated/464109002/</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://androidreader.com/how-to-delete-your-facebook-account-step-by-step/" target="_blank">https://androidreader.com/how-to-delete-your-facebook-account-step-by-step/</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://beat.10ztalk.com/2018/03/26/why-deletefacebook-is-a-bad-idea-unless-you-have-these-4-questions-answered/" target="_blank">https://beat.10ztalk.com/2018/03/26/why-deletefacebook-is-a-bad-idea-unless-you-have-these-4-questions-answered/</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://ourdataourselves.tacticaltech.org/posts/21_delete_facebook/" target="_blank">https://ourdataourselves.tacticaltech.org/posts/21_delete_facebook/</a>&nbsp;<br /><br /><strong>Divorce Tools</strong><br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://www.fastcodesign.com/90164935/want-to-fight-back-against-facebooks-algorithm-check-out-these-tools" target="_blank">https://www.fastcodesign.com/90164935/want-to-fight-back-against-facebooks-algorithm-check-out-these-tools</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://blog.mozilla.org/firefox/facebook-container-extension/" target="_blank">https://blog.mozilla.org/firefox/facebook-container-extension/</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://ourdataourselves.tacticaltech.org/posts/21_delete_facebook/" target="_blank">https://ourdataourselves.tacticaltech.org/posts/21_delete_facebook/</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://degooglisons-internet.org/" target="_blank">https://degooglisons-internet.org/</a>&nbsp;<br /><br /><strong>Departure &amp; Alternatives</strong></p><p><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://medium.com/we-distribute/a-quick-guide-to-the-free-network-c069309f334" target="_blank">https://medium.com/we-distribute/a-quick-guide-to-the-free-network-c069309f334</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/11/facebook-competition/" target="_blank">https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/11/facebook-competition/</a>&nbsp;</p><p><a href="https://diasporafoundation.org">https://diasporafoundation.org</a></p><p><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://www.tippereconomy.io/" target="_blank">https://www.tippereconomy.io</a><br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://mastodon.social/about" target="_blank">https://mastodon.social/about</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="http://www.orkut.com/index.html" target="_blank">http://www.orkut.com/index.html</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://peepeth.com/about" target="_blank">https://peepeth.com/about</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPSbNdBmWKE" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPSbNdBmWKE</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://degooglisons-internet.org/" target="_blank">https://degooglisons-internet.org/</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/prevaat-the-privacy-focused-social-network#/" target="_blank">https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/prevaat-the-privacy-focused-social-network#/</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-alternatives/" target="_blank">https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-alternatives/</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://ourdataourselves.tacticaltech.org/posts/21_delete_facebook/#decide" target="_blank">https://ourdataourselves.tacticaltech.org/posts/21_delete_facebook/#decide</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="http://threatbrief.com/deletefacebook-5-best-facebook-alternatives-focus-privacy/" target="_blank">http://threatbrief.com/deletefacebook-5-best-facebook-alternatives-focus-privacy/</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://mashable.com/2018/03/20/facebook-replacement-openbook-competition/#frm9x3CADZqZ" target="_blank">https://mashable.com/2018/03/20/facebook-replacement-openbook-competition/#frm9x3CADZqZ</a>&nbsp;<br /><br /><strong>The RSS Alternative</strong><br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/07/rss-is-undead/" target="_blank">https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/07/rss-is-undead/</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://www.wired.com/story/rss-readers-feedly-inoreader-old-reader/" target="_blank">https://www.wired.com/story/rss-readers-feedly-inoreader-old-reader/</a>&nbsp;<br /><br /><strong>To Regulate or Not to Regulate</strong><br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="http://www.ctrl-verlust.net/cambridge-analytica-the-kontrollverlust-and-the-post-privacy-approach-to-data-regulation/" target="_blank">http://www.ctrl-verlust.net/cambridge-analytica-the-kontrollverlust-and-the-post-privacy-approach-to-data-regulation/</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://stratechery.com/2018/the-facebook-current/" target="_blank">https://stratechery.com/2018/the-facebook-current/</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://medium.com/@YESHICAN/an-open-letter-to-facebook-from-the-data-for-black-lives-movement-81e693c6b46c" target="_blank">https://medium.com/@YESHICAN/an-open-letter-to-facebook-from-the-data-for-black-lives-movement-81e693c6b46c</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/04/algorithms-powerful-europe-response-social-media" target="_blank">https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/04/algorithms-powerful-europe-response-social-media</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://www.republik.ch/2018/03/27/menschen-wuerden-ihre-daten-verkaufen-wenn-sie-koennten" target="_blank">https://www.republik.ch/2018/03/27/menschen-wuerden-ihre-daten-verkaufen-wenn-sie-koennten</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://ourdataourselves.tacticaltech.org/posts/21_delete_facebook/" target="_blank">https://ourdataourselves.tacticaltech.org/posts/21_delete_facebook/</a>&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;<br /><strong>Long Reads &amp; Analysis &amp; Opinion</strong><br /><br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://cyberwanderlustblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/06/why-feminists-should-abandon-social-networks-ideology/" target="_blank">https://cyberwanderlustblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/06/why-feminists-should-abandon-social-networks-ideology/</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://thebaffler.com/latest/cambridge-analytica-con-levine" target="_blank">https://thebaffler.com/latest/cambridge-analytica-con-levine</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://aeon.co/essays/why-its-as-hard-to-escape-an-echo-chamber-as-it-is-to-flee-a-cult" target="_blank">https://aeon.co/essays/why-its-as-hard-to-escape-an-echo-chamber-as-it-is-to-flee-a-cult</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://labs.rs/en/the-human-fabric-of-the-facebook-pyramid/" target="_blank">https://labs.rs/en/the-human-fabric-of-the-facebook-pyramid/</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/cambridge-analytica-and-our-lives-inside-the-surveillance-machine" target="_blank">https://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/cambridge-analytica-and-our-lives-inside-the-surveillance-machine</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2018/03/26/Quit-Facebook/" target="_blank">https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2018/03/26/Quit-Facebook/</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/business/facebook-zuckerberg-apologies/?utm_term=.156887e60e4b" target="_blank">https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/business/facebook-zuckerberg-apologies/?utm_term=.156887e60e4b</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-a-history-of-mark-zuckerberg-apologizing/" target="_blank">https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-a-history-of-mark-zuckerberg-apologizing/</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/10/technology/zuckerberg-elections-russia-data-privacy.html" target="_blank">https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/10/technology/zuckerberg-elections-russia-data-privacy.html</a>&nbsp;<br /><br /><strong>(Tech) Facts &amp; Threads</strong><br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://mashable.com/2013/06/26/facebook-shadow-profiles/#b9irCKx_MZqz" target="_blank">https://mashable.com/2013/06/26/facebook-shadow-profiles/#b9irCKx_MZqz</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://medium.com/tow-center/the-graph-api-key-points-in-the-facebook-and-cambridge-analytica-debacle-b69fe692d747" target="_blank">https://medium.com/tow-center/the-graph-api-key-points-in-the-facebook-and-cambridge-analytica-debacle-b69fe692d747</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-03-28/fakebook-its-way-zero" target="_blank">https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-03-28/fakebook-its-way-zero</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://twitter.com/therealjpk/status/976484505035751424" target="_blank">https://twitter.com/therealjpk/status/976484505035751424</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://twitter.com/ashk4n/status/983725115903852544" target="_blank">https://twitter.com/ashk4n/status/983725115903852544</a>&nbsp;<br /><a class="m_-3725242377798895653moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2_fUqaHGe8" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2_fUqaHGe8</a></p></div></blockquote><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>For useful links see at the end of the article:&nbsp;<strong>Facebook Liberation Army Link List (April 12, 2018)</strong><br />Compiled and edited by Geert Lovink &amp; Patricia de Vries (<a href="http://networkcultures.org">Institute of Network Cultures)</a>*</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Joren De Wachter DiEM25 Tue, 17 Apr 2018 13:10:50 +0000 Joren De Wachter 117326 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘Orbán, get lost to the tulipy cunt.’ Hungary threatens the European Union – a photo essay from Budapest https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/anthony-barnett/orb-n-get-lost-to-tulipy-cunt-hungary-threatens-european-union-photo-essay-from-buda <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>"I joined a massive demonstration against the Orbán supremacy a week after the election, on Saturday afternoon 14 March. It completely filled Budapest’s wide avenues between the Opera and Parliament."</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4907.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4907.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'>‘Orbán, get lost to the tulipy cunt.’ A famous Hungarian curse put to a new use. All photographs the author's own.</span></span></span>The election victory of Viktor Orbán – his third in a row – in Hungary last week is a much greater danger to the European Union than Brexit. A clearly undemocratic Premier now threatens to overturn the rule of law and install himself as an effective dictator based on popular mobilisation, stirred by noxious racist and xenophobic strobes. </p> <p>The menace follows his overwhelming election victory last week on Sunday 8th March. The recipient of billions of euros in EU support, much of which is apparently misappropriated by regime corruption, and benefiting from German permission, Orbán is arguably now coming to represent actually existing Europe. </p> <p>Hungary’s capital city voted against him and his party, Fidesz. The town is still covered in election posters. Idealistic images of the leaders of the fragmented opposition parties stare out from lampposts. From Jobbik, the rightist party that came second, to centrist and leftist movements – like Momentum, founded last year, that gained just 3% of the vote and failed to enter parliament. A <a href="https://dailynewshungary.com/election-2018-result-fidesz-secures-sweeping-victory-third-successive-term/">brief post-election report</a> is filled with their now gloomy faces in defeat and resignation. </p> <p>The thought that together they had 51% of the total was little consolation. The electoral system introduced by Orbán loaded the votes in his favour and gave him a two-thirds parliamentary majority, enough to do as he wishes with the constitution. </p> <p>The countryside of this modest, 10 million strong people, backed Orbán to the hilt, after two terms in power and outrageous examples of corruption, support for Fidesz <i>grew</i>. “Basically a significant part of Hungarian society wanted this type of governance to continue. This is not because these people are stupid, tunnel-visioned, or unprincipled”. The words are those of <a href="https://budapestbeacon.com/marton-gulyas-hungary-belongs-to-viktor-orban/">Márton Gulyás,</a> a brilliant, 32 year-old opposition leader, whose Country for All movement did not run in the election but attempted and failed to persuade opposition parties to cooperate and ally against Orbán, to prevent his gaining the two-thirds parliamentary supremacy that now offers him unlimited power.</p> <p>Behind the alarm and disappointment there hangs an overwhelming reality. Orbán’s campaign was one of unmitigated fear and loathing. He had no programme and offered no manifesto, against which his achievements could be held to account over the coming four years. Instead, he set out his strategy <a href="https://visegradpost.com/en/2017/07/24/full-speech-of-v-orban-will-europe-belong-to-europeans/">in a speech</a> on 22 June last year, and proposed to defend Hungary from a campaign organised by George Soros and the European Union to dissolve Hungary and Christian Europe in a tide of Muslim migrants. </p> <p>I knew things were grim in Hungary but until going there did not understand how bad they are, or how it feels. It was like going to the USA after Trump has won a third term. If you can, imagine Trump being in office for eight years, building his southern wall and amending the constitution so he could run again. Then, winning. Not only that, third-term Trump has increased his popular support, has two-thirds majorities in the Senate and House made up of his hand-picked candidates, looks forward to filling a majority of seats in the Supreme Court. While, immediately after the election, the New York Times and Washington Post announce their immediate closure as no longer commercially viable. </p> <p>It is not the likelihood of such a scenario that is concerning, although this year white rural America support for Trump <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/04/15/trumps-approval-rating-is-back-near-first-100-day-levels/?noredirect=on&amp;utm_term=.036d797a6484">has grown</a> from 50 to 65 per cent since January. It is what it would mean – and what has happened in Hungary. It is no ordinary election that can be reversed at the end of a four-year term. It promises a transition from law-based elections to plebiscitary Bonapartism, arbitrary dictatorship and a chauvinist crushing of liberty and free-thinking.</p> <h2><b>Goodbye reality</b></h2><p> One of the many election posters filling the Budapest bus-stops is a fake. It is a photo-shopped picture of Soros embracing four of the opposition party leaders. Proclaiming “Let’s Stop Soros’s Candidates”.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4865.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4865.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'>“Let’s Stop Soros’s Candidates”. </span></span></span>This image has no basis in what used to be called reality. The four parties attempted to take its deployment to court and failed, it was ruled to be free speech. Apparently across much of the countryside the picture was taken to be of an actual get-together.</p><p> Along with it are other posters claiming that the opposition wanted to dismantle the wall built by Orbán on Hungary’s southern frontier. Another, taken from the same image of young male refugees made infamous by Nigel Farage in the Brexit referendum, proclaimed STOP about something that is not happening.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4844.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4844.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'>Proclaiming STOP to something not happening.</span></span></span>To use Miklos Haraszti’s description, a propaganda state has been created in Hungary. It combines post-truth anti-Semitism, such as the anti-Soros mantra in which the ‘J’ word is not mentioned, with explicitly anti-Muslim bigotry. Using this vile propaganda Fidesz has mobilised support across a countryside weakened and threatened not by immigration but by the scale of emigration, as the best of the younger generation flee the country for opportunities abroad. </p><p> With the opposition parties reeling from the devastating scale of their political annihilation, a civil-society network came together to call for a rally of protest via Facebook. For a spontaneous demonstration the turnout was astounding.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4948_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4948_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'>To our left.</span></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4949.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4949.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'>To our right.</span></span></span>These two photos are taken from the same spot as we gathered in the avenue leading to the Opera House before marching on parliament.</p> <p>The demonstrators were very mixed. The red striped flag of Jobbik supporters joined the Momentum generation. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_5046.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_5046.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'>There were the young.</span></span></span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_5019.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_5019.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 serious</span></span></span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_5009.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_5009.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'>And the patriots</span></span></span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_5117.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_5117.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'>Some demonstrators came in peace and carried daffodils that were handed out</span></span></span></p><p>The posters were often witty and intelligent.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4910_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4910_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'>‘Dictators of the world, unite?’ A pertinent question.</span></span></span></p><p>Two placards were especially visible by the screens in front of the parliament building as we listened to the speeches.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_5205.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_5205.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'>This shows Chancellor Merkel saying ‘We cannot give you as much as you steal’.</span></span></span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_5199.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_5199.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'>Warning finger: ‘Don’t Cheat Don’t Steal Don’t Lie Because the government cannot tolerate competition’. </span></span></span></p><p>Others were more scholarly.</p><p class="MsoNormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_5098.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_5098.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'>‘Rights are not what they give but what they cannot take away.’</span></span></span>The regime’s destruction of the opposition press was highlighted.</p><p class="MsoNormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_5082_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_5082_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'>Propaganda machine is no media. </span></span></span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4981.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4981.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 press is squeezed. </span></span></span>At the end of the speeches, in the huge space in front of the parliament, the organisers declared they would sing the Hungarian national anthem followed by the European Union’s. In clear, firm tones the great crowd sung their national anthem. Then the speakers blasted out Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. Its words were not familiar and as the glorious choir began, spontaneously people began to turn on their phone searchlights. </p> <p>This 35 seconds gives you an idea of the size and the presence of the people of Hungary that the EU ought to be supporting.</p><p> <iframe allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_rr5_GuH2cQ" width="460" height="259" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>The speeches at the end of a great rally are usually symbolic not substantive. But inspired by the force of the mobilisation one of the organisers declared that they will gather ‘next week’. </p> <p>There were loud protests next to me. Rightly so. It can hardly be bigger. A numbers game will be played. Some organisers will disagree leading to negative publicity.&nbsp; </p> <h2><b>European solidarity</b></h2> <p>This problem is a familiar one of recent years for the spontaneous, open-minded opposition to the well-funded organisation of closure and narrowness. Without clearly achievable demands, a civil society movement cannot grow into an immediately effective force. </p> <p>Any attempt to simply defy the authorities will be ground down, by techniques now quite well established and shared by security forces around the world; who are only too happy to crush the diehards when support peels away. The only time such protest has been completely successful in its own terms was the indignados in Spain in 2011. They occupied the main squares of Spain, starting in Madrid and then in 81 towns and cities. </p> <p>They generated an intense learning experience and almost immediately debated when to disperse, doing so within three weeks. Unlike the Occupy movements in Wall Street and London, they didn’t try to hang on indefinitely. Instead, they pivoted to engage with the poorer areas of Spain to challenge the way the economy was being run. Out of this came not only a new and relatively successful political party but also municipal victories in Barcelona and Madrid. </p> <p>No such opportunity to defy the authority of Viktor Orbán was on offer in Budapest or could be. After all, he had just won an election with a significant increase in support. He felt the force was with him <a href="https://visegradpost.com/en/2017/07/24/full-speech-of-v-orban-will-europe-belong-to-europeans/">last July</a>, when Orbán declared, ‘Twenty-seven years ago here in Central Europe we believed that Europe was our future; today we feel that we are the future of Europe’.</p> <p>The task that confronts the urban demonstrators is to prove this wrong – which they cannot do without Europe itself refusing Orbanism as its future. </p><p> <i>Anthony Barnett is currently a visiting fellow at the IWM Vienna<i>&nbsp;</i> </i></p><p style="background-color: #f7f9fd; padding: 20px 30px; border-left: solid 2px #aaa;"><i><b><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lure-Greatness-Englands-Brexit-Americas/dp/1783524537">The Lure of Greatness, England’s Brexit &amp; America’s Trump</a> </b><b>–&nbsp;</b>Anthony Barnett<br /><br />“Brilliant”, <i>Suzanne Moore</i>, “Blistering”, <i>Zadie Smith</i><br />“A dazzling, all-encompassing, big picture analysis of the Brexit vote, easily the best of its kind in print, brilliantly written and endlessly thought-provoking. Do read it.” <i>Andrew Sparrow, Editor, Guardian Politics Live</i><br />“Responding to momentous events with deep and passionate arguments… for his verve, range and insatiable urge to take on vast themes, Barnett deserves loud applause… this is a very good book.” <i>John Harris, New Statesman</i><br />“The best book about Brexit so far… brilliantly caustic, there is some comfort in that Barnett has been right about so much before.” <i>Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times</i><br />“One of the most important political books of 2017”, <i>The Guardian Editorial on Renewing the United Kingdom, 1 January 2018</i><br />“Essential reading for students of politics, constitutional law and international relations.” <i>Professor David Marquand</i><br />“A wonderful and compelling page turner that artfully weaves together debates on freedom, security, liberty, sovereignty and nationalism. Cutting across a range of themes from the power of the press to the problems with the political establishment and manipulative corporate populism, this is a book that deserves to be read.” <i>Natalie Fenton, Goldsmiths Professor of Media and Communications</i><br /><br /><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/7Cvqas8-b28" width="460" height="259" frameborder="0"></iframe></i></p><p></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="/beatriz-p%C3%A9rez-anthony-barnett/we-have-broken-silence-fresh-from-madrid-member-of-communications-team">We have broken the silence: Fresh from Madrid, a member of the Communications team of the 15 May Movement </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/miklos-haraszti/shared-sense-of-media-freedom-is-alive-and-ready-to-strike-back">A shared sense of media freedom is alive and ready to strike back</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/gabor-scheiring/hungary-s-regime-is-proof-that-capitalism-can-be-deeply-authorita">Hungary’s regime is proof that capitalism can be deeply authoritarian</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democracy-newright/article_358.jsp">The &quot;real&quot; Viktor Orbán</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/anthony-barnett/battle-for-taksim-square-and-gezi-park-commune">The Battle for Taksim Square and the Gezi Park Commune</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Hungary </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Hungary Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government International politics Internet Anthony Barnett Tue, 17 Apr 2018 08:18:14 +0000 Anthony Barnett 117316 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The myth of the «Swedish education miracle» https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/layeux-audren/myth-of-swedish-education-miracle <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Swedish model is not especially efficient or good, but it is the one that has pushed as far as possible the&nbsp;<em>post-authoritarian&nbsp;</em>logic in modern European education.</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/500209/659px-Saint-Just-French_anon-MBA_Lyon_1955-2-IMG_0450.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/659px-Saint-Just-French_anon-MBA_Lyon_1955-2-IMG_0450.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A portrait painting of Louis Antoine de Saint-Just, by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, 1793. Wikicommons/Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon. Public domain.</span></span></span>When it comes to education, the public debate in France, as in Germany, seems to have taken a very cartoonish shape. It’s reached the point where we can predict almost exactly how the debate will go. The discussion will start with someone from the left wing highlighting Sweden as being&nbsp;<em>the</em>&nbsp;model to follow. A country which supposedly achieved high results while giving more room to creativity, imagination and free-time. The debate will unavoidably end with some right-winger replying that Sweden has a very high suicide rate, that the Swedish are not really happy in general – even slightly neurotic – and that this so-called model would damage the French “<em>art de vivre”</em>. On top of that, the new Swedish generation is said to be ill-mannered.</p> <p>The problem I have with this debate is simply that all of the above is wrong. Firstly, Sweden's performance in terms of education, as measured by <a href="http://www.oecd.org/pisa/">the PISA test</a>, is very low.&nbsp;As an example, the country only ranked 27th in science, behind.... France. Secondly, the suicide rate in Sweden is absolutely not as high as claimed. With a suicide rate of 12 in every100,000, the country is about the European norm, even better, their rate is lower than France’s.&nbsp;Thirdly, when it comes to ill-mannered kids, anybody who has been to France recently knows that Frenchman really have no right to say anything about this.</p> <p>In other words, in 10 years, and despite everything that has been written and said on the matter, nobody has taken 5 minutes to check <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/products-eurostat-news/-/DDN-20170517-1">the facts</a> on Google....</p> <p>But this debate says something extremely interesting about French society. The irrelevance of facts in the ongoing discussion is no longer surprising once it gets clearer that the “<em>Swedish miracle”</em>&nbsp;is a strawman allowing a topic that nobody would otherwise dare to speak about.&nbsp;</p> <p>The first thing to understand is that the education system's efficiency is not the real problem. If that was the case, then right-wingers could very easily use Japan, Hong-Kong and Singapore as powerful counter-examples. These countries have been, and still are, performing very well education-wise and yet are completely absent from the debate. </p> <p>The reason is simple: Asian countries’ view of authority epitomizes everything Europe currently rejects, especially when it comes to the education system. During the Meiji revolution, Japan sent emissaries to Prussia, which they considered the best education system at the time, in order to copy and implement Prussia’s example back home. They did just this and have never felt the need to overhaul their school system since its implementation in the nineteenth century.</p> <p>And here lies the core of this debate. The reason why Asian countries are not invoked in the French debate is that anybody quoting them as a source would be immediately disqualified. These countries' education systems are still based on an&nbsp;<em>authoritarian model</em>, the relation between the teacher and the student, the way the class is taught, etc, everything still reminds us of the<em>&nbsp;old European way</em>. This is precisely what Europeans do not want any more and why Sweden is showcased as being&nbsp;<em>the&nbsp;</em>model to follow. The Swedish model is not especially efficient or good, but it is the one that has pushed as far as possible the&nbsp;<em>post-authoritarian&nbsp;</em>logic in modern European education.</p> <p>To fully understand what it means for the debate about education systems, a detour through the modern history of Europe is necessary. Alleging that the aversion towards authority leads us to prefer some forms of education over some others is no doubt a thesis that requires justification.</p> <p>It is common sense that Europe was traumatized by the Second World War and Nazism, but the consequences are not always fully understood. One of the consequences is that, and this is something unique in history, authority is now condemned&nbsp;<em>as a concept</em>. Critics are no longer focused on criticizing the excesses of authority, but rather on condemning authority in its entirety, as such.</p> <p>During the French revolution, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Antoine_de_Saint-Just">Saint-Just</a> condemned both monarchy and the King as inherent criminals. Both, as he saw it, were stripping away from the people their most precious treasure and right: sovereignty.</p> <p>Stanley Milgram drew similar conclusions from WWII, and even if his work is often quoted, the importance of his theory is often underestimated.&nbsp;Previous critics of authority were focused on criticizing abuses and finding ways to justify “fair” rebellions against oppressive power. But Milgram broke with this tradition and theorized authority as being intrinsically toxic and dangerous. The conclusions from his work are that any form of authority puts us in the position of obeying orders we do not want to follow. To the point that many people were ready to kill an innocent simply because they received the order to do so. <a href="#_edn1">[i]</a>In other words, authority is no longer being experienced and described as a way<em>&nbsp;to structure collective action in order to reach a goal that we would not be able to reach alone</em>. Instead it is seen as a mental structure that degrades both the leader and the follower.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>This does not mean of course that authority will always lead to crime and murder. Nor does it say that authority is never necessary in social interactions. However, Milgram demonstrates that the very existence of authority is sufficient to turn us all<em>&nbsp;</em>into potential criminals. Milgram’s experiment completely changes the way we view the excesses of authority. They are no longer abuses but a clear revelation of authority’s true nature. At its core, according to a “<em>milgramian”</em>&nbsp;perspective, authority is rotten.</p> <p>This unspoken condemnation of any form of authority is the reality of European culture, and it explains the shape taken by the French debate about overhauling the education system.&nbsp;While education has traditionally been perceived as intrinsically linked to authority and hierarchy, Sweden shines as a beacon in the north. A country where education and authority have been completely disconnected.</p> <p>With the available space we have, it was of course not possible to go into the full details of European culture’s relationship with authority. This short detour was only meant to highlight the reality of the&nbsp;<em>crisis of authority</em>&nbsp;behind the smoke and mirrors of the current education debate.</p> <p>Once we realize that this debate has been fed by the subconscious hopes and fears of an entire society, it is no longer shocking to observe the complete disconnect between facts and words in today’s French debate. Conservatives can no longer publicly defend authority, and the left faces a similar challenge, as radically condemning authority would mean being labelled as utopian or even worst: communist. This is yet another European trauma that works against the quality of public debates.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>There is a real debate to be had regarding this “<em>projet de société”. <a href="#_edn2">[ii]</a></em></p> <p>Some might be against and some might be in favor. But by starting out on such a basis, we can at least start to discern the possibility of a genuine dialogue replacing this sterile opposition of two antagonized camps refusing any form of compromise and discussion.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Notes</strong></p> <p><a href="#_ednref1">[i]</a> <em>The Milgram experience was a test of how authority works. The experience was the following: subjects were ordered to give electric shocks to a victim (in reality an actor) whenever he was giving a wrong answer to a test. Each time, the strength of the electric shock was increased. The shocks were not real but the goal was simply to test how far where the subject was ready to go. The majority of the subjects went as far as to administer lethal shocks just because they were ordered to do so.</em></p> <p><a href="#_ednref2">[ii]</a>&nbsp; See Hannah Arendt,&nbsp;<em>What is authority?</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Sweden </div> <div class="field-item even"> France </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? France Sweden Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Layeux Audren Mon, 16 Apr 2018 18:54:40 +0000 Layeux Audren 117323 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Commonwealth gets extra attention https://www.opendemocracy.net/openindia/l-k-sharma/commonwealth-gets-extra-attention <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Some 5,000 participants from government, business and civil society have arrived for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). The central theme of the deliberations is ‘Towards a Common Future’.</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-34976995.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34976995.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'>Queen Elizabeth hosts Commonwealth Diaspora community at Buckingham Palace, in the lead up to CHOGM this April in London. Jonathan Brady/ Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Great Britain is known for its grand events and theatre. Magnificent pomp and pageantry awaits the leaders of 53 Commonwealth nations arriving here for their summit. The masters of ornamentalism have pulled out all the stops and a prominent role is being played by the Queen as the head of the Commonwealth, and other royals.</p> <p>Some 5,000 participants from government, business and civil society have arrived for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). The central theme of the deliberations is ‘Towards a Common Future’. Their vision is to promote peace, prosperity and democracy.</p> <h2><strong>Providing relief</strong></h2> <p>The Commonwealth has been playing a constructive role over the years by highlighting the problems of the developing countries and small island nations and by providing aid. Concerned British leaders and groups see it as an effective instrument for helping the helpless of the world through aid programmes. It fights malaria, malnutrition and other maladies in the member-countries. It provides relief in the face of natural calamities. <span class="mag-quote-center">Concerned British leaders and groups see it as an effective instrument for helping the helpless of the world through aid programmes.</span></p> <p>Some want the Commonwealth to promote democracy and free speech by enforcing these virtues and punishing the offenders – even throwing out a member-country straying from the democratic path. Some others feel that the institution’s extra emphasis on human rights was driven by cold war considerations.</p> <p>The business leaders expect every institution to promote commercial interests. So, the Business Forum will have a busy schedule during the summit. </p> <h2><strong>A valued talking shop</strong></h2> <p>Since the present British Government is tasked with implementing the result of the referendum favouring exit from Europe, popularly known as Brexit, it has come to value the Commonwealth even more.</p> <p>It has drawn an elaborate programme for the summit and the supplementary events involving business leaders, youth, women and civil society. The institution is often derided as a “talking shop” but the flow of ideas at various fora will be quite interesting. Only a Commonwealth Literature Festival is missing from the long list. The Declaration will, of course, present a concrete plan for marching towards a common future.</p> <p>The substantive part of the proceedings apart, the summit will provide plenty of grist to the sketch-writers’ mill, generating any number of colour stories. Odd Republicans may criticise the intense involvement of the Queen and the royals and the selection of Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Palace and Windsor Castle as the venues for the Summit. </p> <p>Some of the giant portraits on the regal walls may cause an allergic reaction in those who refuse to believe that the British Empire was a benevolent enterprise. Mercifully, Shashi Tharoor, an Indian MP, who called the period of the British rule in India an era of darkness, will not be part of the Indian delegation.</p> <h2><strong>Relocating to India?</strong></h2> <p>Most leaders of the Commonwealth countries are not that sensitive. The hosts know that the current masters of their old colonies value photo opportunities as much as concrete benefits. India’s Prime Minister, who will simultaneously address his domestic audience, is expected to find the splendorous Buckingham Palace quite impressive. <span class="mag-quote-center">The hosts know that the current masters of their old colonies value photo opportunities as much as concrete benefits.</span></p> <p>Modi will have to refrain from criticising dynasties since the event involves the Queen, her son, the grandsons and other royals. Also, the Queen is accustomed to being greeted in exotic ways when she visits some Commonwealth countries, but she will not be amused if any leader tries to hug her!</p> <p>A non-substantive issue that is causing waves here is the reported proposal that Prince Charles should be the next Head of the Commonwealth. The post is not hereditary. It appears that the Queen, while not ready to abdicate, may be willing to let the Prince be given a consolation prize. Amid secret lobbying about succession, a British Labour MP has come out against the move, even criticising the Prince. India’s stand on the British <em>shahzada</em> inheriting the office is not known as yet.</p> <p>If this move faces any hurdle a deal-maker summiteer may suggest that the next Head should be a democratically elected leader. Some British commentators have also proposed that the Commonwealth Secretariat be shifted from London to the capital of another member-country. New Delhi could be a strong contender. Such a relocation will bring a few low-level jobs to India and a windfall of votes for the Prime Minister! India has become a bit more enthusiastic about the Commonwealth which was not always the case in the recent past.</p> <h2><strong>Amazing diversity</strong></h2> <p>Next to the UN, the Commonwealth is one forum that showcases amazing diversity at a time when diversity is under attack. It signifies the importance of multi-culturalism and multilateralism when both have entered a phase of decline. So, the forum itself is the message!</p> <p>Britain is hosting the summit at a time when the Commonwealth has acquired a special significance in its contentious domestic politics. So, while the British Government has become more enthusiastic about it, more critics have emerged to devalue the Commonwealth.</p> <p>For this reason, this summit’s outcome will come under closer scrutiny. Those expecting concrete results will not be satisfied only with colourful stories about the fanfare marking the occasion. <span class="mag-quote-center">The Commonwealth is used to indifference by the people of the member-countries and by the leaders of the emerging powers that were powerless earlier.</span></p> <p>The Commonwealth is used to indifference by the people of the member-countries and by the leaders of the emerging powers that were powerless earlier. This time an external factor has spawned a new breed of critics painting a pessimistic scenario about the Commonwealth’s present and its future. </p> <p>This is because the institution has been dragged into the ongoing battle over Britain’s relationship with Europe that has polarised the country. In a 2016 referendum, Britons wanting to leave the European Union won a narrow victory. In their vigorous campaign, they used the Commonwealth to allay the nation’s fear of isolation in the event of severing the official link with the European Union. They assured the voters that there was a world beyond Europe, the world of former colonies with people long accustomed to treating Britain as their mother country.</p> <h2><strong>Oxygen of publicity</strong></h2> <p>This angered the pro-European commentators who jumped into the fray to demolish the myth that the loss caused by leaving the European Union will be met by the Commonwealth family. The Commonwealth-sceptics say that the former colonies are still problem-ridden. They present a strong case because the trade and investments within the Commonwealth do not amount to much. They represent the realistic school of foreign policy. </p> <p>However, their efforts to pull down the Commonwealth have given it the oxygen of publicity. And that is one thing that this institution lacked even during its hey-day.</p> <p>The Commonwealth-sceptics strengthen their case by pointing out that the former colonies were not enthusiastic about Britain leaving Europe. They feared that Brexit would adversely affect their foreign trade and aid.</p> <p>These nations wanting to promote free movement of manpower noted that the Brexiteers ran an anti-immigration campaign with a trace of racism. So, if a country turns its back on the Poles and Hungarians, why would it welcome Indians or Pakistanis, they wondered. <span class="mag-quote-center">If a country turns its back on the Poles and Hungarians, why would it welcome Indians or Pakistanis, they wondered.</span></p> <p>The pro-European commentators say that the UK-India talks on free trade failed since New Delhi wanted more Indians to be allowed to come and work in Britain. The British Prime Minister was in no position to entertain such a request because migration has become a hot subject in British politics. The summiteers from the rest of the Commonwealth should not expect a grand gesture in this regard from the host nation.</p> <h2><strong>Contrasting styles past and future </strong></h2> <p>The debate on the relative importance of the Commonwealth is suffused with images and words used in personal relationships. So, Britain is painted as a divorcee on the rebound wooing an old flame. In the imagination conditioned by the British Empire, the composite of the rest of the Commonwealth is a female. As it happens, this female is no longer a supplicant. It has become somewhat empowered and is not quite dying to embrace the old lord and master. </p> <p>The pro-Europeans keep pointing out the futility of courting the old flame and kneading nostalgia into international relations. Commonwealth links were liked by some of these critics only for their entertainment value. The Prince of Wales being ceremonially welcomed by some Australian or African tribe is funny stuff, a reminder of an exotic encounter of the past and the glory of the Empire.</p> <p>An essay on the Commonwealth is illustrated with a photo of the sari-clad British Prime Minister with a bright yellow garland around her neck standing with a bare-chested Hindu temple priest in Bangalore. One sees in newspapers a visiting British royal wearing a funny traditional wig or dancing with the rural hosts with semi-exposed bottoms. In contrast, the European Union headquarters in Brussels enact a civilised scene with the pin-striped suits from Britain conducting hard business negotiations.</p> <p>Of course, the Commonwealth has always had sections of supporters who valued it for different reasons. Its origins lay in Britain searching for its identity after it lost its Empire. The search still continues amid a great deal of confusion. At times, Britain wishes to return to its glorious past as an imperial power and at times it wants to be an equal partner with the neighbouring European nations. <span class="mag-quote-center">Some British thinkers and politicians envision the Commonwealth as Empire 2.0, but now voices are heard about the sins of the British Empire.</span></p> <p>Some British thinkers and politicians envision the Commonwealth as Empire 2.0, but now voices are heard about the sins of the British Empire. This reaction was provoked by the academic-salesmen who used fiction to list the benefits of the British Empire. This debate is sullying the image of the Commonwealth, even leading to the suggestion that the Queen may be replaced by an elected Head of the Commonwealth!</p> <h2><strong>More equal partners</strong></h2> <p>The imperial Britain’s misdeeds may be an old story, but the Shadow Foreign Secretary wants the British Prime Minister to tender an apology at the Commonwealth Summit for other historic wrongs including what Thatcher’s Government did during the apartheid struggle in South Africa. Margaret Thatcher ignored in the eighties the Commonwealth’s effort to end the apartheid regime in South Africa. </p> <p>Labour MP Emily Thornberry dug up a 30-year-old story and said that Margaret Thatcher nearly destroyed the Commonwealth by not listening to the member-nations who wanted unified sanctions imposed against South Africa’s apartheid regime. She writes: “We should see our commonwealth cousins not just as trading partners but as full and equal partners.”</p> <p>The old demand for an apology by the host nation is unlikely to generate any heat but the one contentious issue that the leaders may face is about the rights of the gays and lesbians. It puts Britain in a somewhat awkward position as a large number of member-nations are not ready to decriminalise the conduct of these minorities. </p> <p>The hosts know it only too well and thus notwithstanding the pressure from the human rights activists, Britain will go slow in promoting gay rights.</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"> India </div> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> openIndia Can Europe make it? openIndia uk EU India UK L K Sharma Mon, 16 Apr 2018 12:35:49 +0000 L K Sharma 117308 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Goodbye WTO? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/goodbye-wto <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The WTO has to be reformed and updated, not discarded. And the EU should play its part, while at the same time promoting its own industrial growth.</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-35960737.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35960737.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'>World Trade Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, April 12,2018. The WTO says that global trade is expected to remain strong, merchandise trade volume growing 4.4 percent in 2018, 4.0 percent in 2019. Xu Jinquan/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>‘The WTO is unfair to US’. So tweeted Donald Trump on Friday, 6 April. The tweet followed his launch of a number of tariffs to protect US steel and aluminum, more or less direct threats to the EU, and further tariffs specifically targeting China. Is a global trade war about to begin? Has the WTO (founded in 1995, a true child of the global age) become pointless?</p> <p>In 1995 the EU had been one of the WTO’s main promoters, and not without reason. Even now, in spite of the protracted Eurozone crisis, the European Union remains <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/eu-position-in-world-trade/index_en.htm">the world’s biggest trade power (ahead of the USA and China)</a>, also because of its ‘single voice’ within the WTO, where it is represented by its member countries and as a single bloc. Foreign trade is a key asset of Germany (let us just think about cars, electronics and pharmaceuticals), the Netherlands, Italy, <a href="https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2187rank.html">all in the world top ten of the countries with the biggest foreign surplus</a>. </p> <p>In contrast, the US has the world’s biggest trade deficit. No wonder that Mr Trump wants to impose tariffs on foreign goods. For now, the EU has been exempted, but will this ‘privilege’ last?</p> <p>After all, Trump’s proposed duties have a rationale: the USA wants to re-build its own industry. Why doesn’t Europe think in similar terms? Industry creates high added value and the EU has lost a lot of industrial capacity and jobs, especially in the wake of the Eurozone debt crisis. </p> <p>Even in a former industrial power like France the share of employment in the secondary sector is now <a href="https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/fr.html">a meagre 24%</a>. As of 2016, France produces about <a href="http://www.oica.net/category/production-statistics/2016-statistics/">2 million vehicles per year</a>, slightly more than Thailand and almost twice the output of Italy, which lags behind the Czech Republic, Indonesia, and Iran, among others. In 1990 Italy was the world’s vehicle producer number five; now it struggles to stay in the top twenty. </p> <p>In technologically more ‘advanced’ sectors (e.g. software or IT) Europe is even less competitive. There is no European Facebook; no Amazon; none of the world’s leading search engines (Google, Baidu, Bing, Yandex, Yahoo!) is European. Why shouldn’t the EU then promote its own IT industry and maybe impose tariffs on the US one? </p> <p>Wouldn’t it be more interesting and rewarding to have a European (and maybe public) Facebook or Google? Otherwise, Europe will remain overly dependent on the USA. More autonomy is necessary, also in the relations with Russia or Iran, with which the EU has been too dependent on questionable US choices. </p> <p>Nevertheless, the world’s most important trade relationship is that between the USA and China. President Trump has imposed a first round of tariffs of $50 billion; China has retaliated (rather moderately) and the USA has threatened more tariffs. Is this the start of a real trade war or just a ‘performance’, an American attempt to start negotiations from a vantage point, in a typical Trumpesque style? </p> <p>After all, <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-04-06/trump-s-tariffs-overlook-how-much-u-s-needs-china">the USA needs China more than China needs the USA</a>. China has massive trade relations with all continents, leads the BRICS group with its Development Bank and is the largest buyer of US public debt. Washington is not really in a position to unleash a trade war, while there can be some room for negotiation on more balanced trade relationships and sensitive topics such as intellectual property rights. Otherwise, a trade war could have a surprising twist, and help China and the EU become closer. </p> <p>More than China or the USA, the real loser of the dispute could be the WTO itself. Is the USA willing and ready to dispose of an organisation it contributed to funding? Perhaps. But China and the EU have benefited from freer trade and should continue, whatever Mr Trump’s new initiatives. Other emerging powers (including the BRICS) would probably follow. </p> <p>For all its flaws, the WTO did introduce elements of an ‘international rule of law’, which is embodied by that Dispute Settlement Body Mr Trump is currently boycotting <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-trade-wto/wto-chief-reacts-coolly-to-trumps-criticism-of-trade-judges-idUKKCN1GB2IQ">by blocking the appointment of new judges</a>. Destroying the WTO in the name of American nationalism is a road to nowhere. If anything, the WTO needs profound reforms, better rules on issues such as intellectual property and agricultural subsidies, and an update to a world in which distinctions between ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ countries are becoming blurred. After all, the US-China dispute is a strong sign that the age of US hegemony has ended. </p> <p>The international organisations promoted by the old ‘hegemon’ (the UN, NATO, the World Bank, etc.) are all being challenged and their very existence is questioned. China has put in place its own versions of the World Bank (the AIIB and the BRICS Development Bank) while Washington DC threatens to dispose of the WTO. </p> <p>All of this is particularly dangerous for a divided and export-dependent EU. The latter is an international body itself and should defend the cause of international organisations, while contributing to their improvement. EU agricultural subsidies, for example, represent a rent for EU farmers and a damage for poorer countries’ agriculture; it should be time to get rid of them. </p> <p>At the same time, the EU should reverse its process of de-industrialisation. Productive capitalism, if it is supported by innovation and a highly-skilled workforce, is an engine of growth and employment, and a guarantee of stability against the uncertainties of an uncontrolled financial capitalism. The EU needs a strong and shared industrial policy, which should also re-balance Germany’s dominant position. <a href="https://www.destatis.de/EN/FactsFigures/NationalEconomyEnvironment/ForeignTrade/Tables/OrderRankGermanyTradingPartners.pdf?__blob=publicationFile">In fact Germany trades more with the Visegrad-4 countries, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary, than with France</a> – and mainly because of German companies’ delocalisations in those countries. </p> <p>In short, the WTO has to be reformed and updated, not discarded. And the EU should play its part, while at the same time promoting its own industrial growth. Shame that once more European politicians seem to be more focused on petty national issues than on the common European house. </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/nick-dearden/why-wto-still-matters-and-what-it-s-up-to-this-weekend">The WTO matters more than ever - here&#039;s what you need to know about its summit</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/burcu-kilic-renata-avila/wto-in-buenos-aires-or-how-digital-giants-are-trading-our">Trading away our Privacy; the WTO Ministerial in Buenos Aires</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ernesto-gallo-giovanni-biava/america-first-trump-s-foreign-policy">America first! Trump’s foreign policy </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> <div class="field-item odd"> China </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? China United States EU Democracy and government Economics International politics Giovanni Biava Ernesto Gallo Sun, 15 Apr 2018 13:19:58 +0000 Ernesto Gallo and Giovanni Biava 117287 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Precariat spring: Spanish social movements get ready for a new cycle of mobilisation https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/felipe-g-santos/precariat-spring-spanish-social-movements-get-ready-for-new-cycle <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>During the last month pensioners, women and housing activists suffering from precarious conditions have taken to the streets with one key demand: an end to the precarity of their lives.<strong>&nbsp;<em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/felipe-gonz-les-santos/la-primavera-del-precariado-los-movimientos-sociales-espa-o">Español</a></em></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Las_Kellys_pregonan_mañana_las_fiestas_de_San_Cayetano_(01).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Las_Kellys_pregonan_mañana_las_fiestas_de_San_Cayetano_(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'>Las Kellys pregonan mañana las fiestas de San Cayetano, August 2017. Wikicommons/ Diario de Madrid. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>After the enormous demonstrations led both by Catalan and Spanish nationalists some people feared that social issues would be removed from the Spanish political agenda. Despite the great increase in income inequality, the government has proudly presented the last macroeconomic figures as the end of the crisis, and it sometimes seemed that those who had not felt this recovery were more focused on the territorial dispute than on confronting these claims. </p> <p>These impressions were misguided. During the last month pensioners, women and housing activists suffering from precarious conditions have taken to the streets with one key message: they want an end to the precarity of their lives and to recover the rights some of them had before the economic crisis.</p> <p>Even if these collectives seem to be very different, their protests should not be viewed as independent events. Rather, they represent the seed of a cycle of mobilization of the precariat that will continue during the months to come. </p> <p>The&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/guy-standing/why-precariat-is-not-%22bogus-concept%22">precariat</a>&nbsp;refers to a new social class formed by people who, having the material conditions that provided stability to previous generations, live unpredictable and insecure lives. Pensioners are precarious because, despite having worked their whole lives and earned their right to their retirement funds, their pensions are not enough to make ends meet. Women live precarious lives because they are underpaid in comparison with their male counterparts, and after their workday they have to do the unpaid labor of caring in the household. Other groups are precarious because despite having a house, they experience utility cuts because they cannot afford paying their bills, or they just simply fear losing their shelter because they expect that they will be unable to pay for their mortgage or cover a rent rise. All these groups represent a key feature of the precariat, a social class that has grown in numbers during the economic crisis. </p> <p>Despite them receiving pensions, having jobs, or housing, they do not live with the dignity that those conditions are expected to provide. Now, they have taken to the streets to reclaim their rights and demand stability, turning this season into the spring of the precariat.</p> <p>During the last week of February, thousands of pensioners surrounded the Spanish Congress to protest against the 0.25% yearly raise in their pensions for the fifth consecutive time. As in the previous four years, this raise would result in a loss of their purchasing power, given that prices rose more than that percentage. According to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ugt.cat/la-pensio-mitjana-anual-ha-perdut-432-euros-des-del-2010-per-la-no-revaloritzacio-segons-lipc/">trade union UGT</a>, the average senior citizen has lost 3.368 EUR in purchasing power since the beginning of the crisis – a considerable sum if we consider that it is equal to&nbsp;<a href="https://elpais.com/economia/2017/11/23/actualidad/1511442393_435019.html">3.6 months of average pension</a>. The consistent yearly raise below inflation during the last five years is especially unjust because pensioners have been key contributors to Spanish social stability during the crisis. Many households have relied on the retirement funds of their grandparents as the only income while the rest of the family members were unemployed.</p> <p>This demonstration outnumbered the expectations that most people had, including the Spanish government, which would not otherwise have allowed the protest to take place in front of the Parliament. Since then, pensioner protests have taken place every week, showing a considerable capacity for sustained mobilization. They promise that they will not stop protesting until the government passes a law that assures stability in their purchasing capacity, and that links the rise in their pensions to inflation, as was the case before the crisis.</p> <p>Two weeks after the first demonstration of pensioners, on March 8, International Women’s Day,&nbsp;<a href="https://elpais.com/elpais/2018/03/08/inenglish/1520498047_423763.html">5.3 million women stopped work during the first feminist strike in the history of Spain</a>. Reasons for the mobilization of March 8 went well beyond precarity, but this issue was a central part of the strike and the other demonstrations. Women stopped working that day because their jobs are even more precarious than those of their male colleagues and they demanded to be paid equally. Beyond the work strike, they also organized a care strike, because they are fed-up with the unpaid labor they do every day in most households.</p> <p>One social movement organization of precarious women that made it into the news in recent weeks is ‘<a href="https://laskellys.wordpress.com/">Las Kellys</a>’ a collective of chambermaids that mobilize against their precarious working conditions. After two years of mobilizations, they managed to force the Spanish premier Mariano Rajoy to listen to their demands during a meeting. They are calling for respect for the collective consensus of the hospitality sector and the end of externalizations, further facilitated by the labor reform of 2012. Many hotel companies have used this labor reform to pay their chambermaids for each room they clean, instead of per hour. Many of them are payed 2.15 euros per room, while the average price of a hotel room in Spain is 78 euros per night.</p> <p>Finally, housing has been another field where people have mobilized against precariousness. The&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/carlos-delcl%C3%B3s/victims-no-longer-spain&#039;s-anti-eviction-movement">Platform of Those Affected by Mortgages</a>&nbsp;(PAH by its Spanish acronym), the biggest housing movement in Spain, presented a draft bill to Congress in January to tackle what they identify as a housing emergency. However, the government has vetoed the bill, which could not even be debated at the Parliament. The ruling party and its allies held that the bill violated congress regulations that prohibit debating proposals affecting the current budget, something that the activists claim is not the case of their bill. </p> <p>Thousands of people gathered to protest against the veto. Now, more mobilizations are expected, including PAH’s famous ‘<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/elliott-goat/performing-popular-justice-from-disappeared-to-outraged">Escraches</a>’. These actions consist of non-violent gatherings of people following one specific political representative each time to show them that their unwillingness to represent those that elected them does not pass unnoticed.</p> <p>For the social agenda to regain its importance, other progressive groups who enjoy more secure lives should join these mobilizations. The Hungarian political economist&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/fred-block/karl-polanyi-and-twenty-first-century-socialism">Karl Polanyi</a>&nbsp;conceptualized countermovements as spontaneous reactions that appear against pushes towards the free market, defending a moral economy that serves the needs of society.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="https://books.google.com/books?id=nC7OCQAAQBAJ&amp;printsec=frontcover&amp;hl=es&amp;redir_esc=y#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false">The precariat was already the dominant social class during the 15M/Indignados mobilization cycle</a>, which appeared at the beginning of the crisis of neoliberalism under the slogan that society should not be “merchandise in the hands of bankers and politicians”. Seven years later, the same social class is initiating another cycle of mobilization aimed at protecting society from the instability brought about by market liberalization policies. Now is the moment for all progressive forces to build a successful countermovement that will put the social agenda back at the centre of political life.</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/laura-p-rez-pablo-casta-o/we-need-feminist-constitution">&quot;We need a feminist constitution&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/laia-bertran/rising-tide-for-democratic-control-of-water-in-barcelona">The rising tide for the democratic control of water in Barcelona</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/pablo-casta-o/free-speech-under-siege-in-spain">Free speech under siege 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> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Spain Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Economics Equality International politics Felipe G. Santos Sun, 15 Apr 2018 12:35:45 +0000 Felipe G. Santos 117284 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why the EU condones human rights violations of refugees in Hungary https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/felix-bender/why-eu-condones-human-rights-violations-of-refugees-in-hungary <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>While politicians such as Merkel polish their shining armour, the dirty job done at Europe’s periphery shelters them from actually having to apply their principles on their own territory.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-30669907.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-30669907.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'>March, 2017. Kelebija, Serbia. Newly-built Hungarian detention camp for migrants at the Serbian-Hungarian border. Krystian Maj/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>On May 23, 2016 Abdullah, a 26 year old man from Afghanistan crossed the border from Serbia to Hungary. He managed to break through the razor wire reinforced border fence Hungary had just erected in the fall of the year before and was apprehended by uniformed men near a Hungarian village. </p> <p>He and the eight other people who were caught with him were forced to return back to the border fence where 30 policemen waited for them. They were told to keep their heads down, not to catch a glimpse of what was about to happen. Yet, Abdullah raised his head, and saw the policemen approaching. They carried a big canister of pepper spray. Then the beating began. </p> <p>After a while, the refugees were handcuffed and led to a little hole the police had opened in the fence. Suddenly, a police man approached Abdullah and sprayed his face with pepper spray. He could not see. The police men forced him to crawl through the little hole in the razor wire fence. As he was crawling, the policemen kicked his butt and laughed. By the time he had made it to the Serbian side of the border, he had suffered severe cuts.&nbsp;</p> <p>Abdullah’s story is not unique. In 2017 alone, approximately 10,000 refugees were apprehended, and forcefully pushed back to the Serbian side of the border fence. The Hungarian border is now patrolled by a specially formed police unit that bears the official name of “border hunters” and by uniformed private vigilante groups. They go on the hunt for refugees. </p> <p>A recently adopted law allows for these hunts. A refugee may be apprehended anywhere in the country and be pushed back to Serbia without being able to launch an asylum procedure. </p> <p>Those that enter Hungary in one of the two transit zones may apply for asylum. Yet, their chances are slim. Only two persons are allowed to enter every day – one per zone. This means that families must remain on the other side of the border. Back in the days, we would have called these zones concentration camps. Now, the barbed-wire-surrounded container camps that are guarded by men with guns are not referred to as such. </p> <p>The government of Hungary makes sure to emphasize that they do not detain refugees. After all, the imprisoned refugees may leave the zone any time – through a door that leads back to Serbia.</p> <h2><strong>EU and EPP silence</strong></h2> <p>These scenes occur daily at the periphery of the European Union. It is not met with resistance. The EU institutions remain quiet. So do individual member states such as Germany, France and the UK. Why?</p> <p>The answer is as simple as it is hard to bear. Core EU member states profit from Hungary’s policies towards refugees. Sure, the EU commission has launched two infringement procedures against Hungary. Yet, none of them condemned the treatment of refugees at its borders. None concern the fact that it has become virtually impossible for men like Abdullah to apply for asylum.&nbsp;</p> <p>Viktor Orban, prime minister of Hungary, is still a welcome guest of politicians of the likes of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, or leading German conservative politician Horst Seehofer. Likewise, Orban’s party remains a member of the European People’s Party group (EPP) in the European Parliament, and thus remains a partner to other conservative parties such as Merkel’s CDU and Rajoy’s People’s Party in Spain. The EPP has repeatedly and openly supported Orban’s election campaign that was focused solely on the promise to keep the borders closed and refugees out, even at the cost of a political regime that seems to slide into autocracy.&nbsp;Even though liberal circles have moaned at Orban’s policies towards refugees, their politicians have not taken action. </p> <h2><strong>Core and periphery</strong></h2> <p>The fact is that Hungary’s cruel policy towards refugees plays into the hands of other EU member states. They turn their eyes from the violation of human rights and the violation of the right to seek asylum, as long as Hungary’s policies keep away the refugees from their doorstep. While the dirty job is being done by countries at Europe’s periphery, core EU member states can prove to their electorates that the refugee crisis is over, that they must not be afraid from more people entering their country.&nbsp;</p> <p>It is a sad “win-win” situation. Orban is allowed to prove that he is the sole protector of Europe’s “homelands and Christian culture”, as he has proudly said in his latest address to the nation, while politicians such as Angela Merkel may simultaneously proclaim that in their countries, the right to seek asylum represents a fundamental principle that allows for no compromise. At the same time that politicians such as Merkel polish their shining armour, the dirty job done at Europe’s periphery shelters them from actually having to apply their principles on their own territory.&nbsp;</p> <p>Who has to bear the costs are people such as Abdullah. As long as other EU member states condone what is happening at the EU’s periphery, all principles of human rights and of the right to seek asylum remain nothing more than a promise in a far distant land – a land they may not enter.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/mediterranean-journeys-in-hope/alessandra-sciurba/serbia-waiting-between-trapped-migrants-and-eu-enc">Serbia waiting: between trapped migrants and EU enclosures</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/vassilis-petsinis/enter-serbias-orb-n-aleksandar-vu-i-and-his-catch-all-politics">Enter Serbia&#039;s ‘Orbán’? Aleksandar Vučić and his catch-all politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/tam%C3%A1s-ibolya/hungary%E2%80%99s-refugee-policy-fencing-off-country">Hungary’s refugee policy: fencing off the country</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Hungary </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Hungary Civil society Conflict Democracy and government International politics Felix Bender Sun, 15 Apr 2018 12:00:45 +0000 Felix Bender 117282 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The misuse of abuse: fears of potentially abusive litigation are overriding the reality of abusive companies in Europe https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/christopher-patz/misuse-of-abuse-fears-of-potentially-abusive-litigation-are-over <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>It’s time to look to the future of collective redress in the EU on the basis of the evidence, for victims of corporate abuse in all member states and for all types of harm.</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-24640277.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-24640277.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A Volkswagen car model 'VW Tiguan' next to handcuffs. The photo was taken on 15 October 2015. Sascha Steinach/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Dieselgate held up a mirror to the notion of an EU Single Market where the rights of consumers are respected and enforceable, humiliating European consumers and regulators alike on their own continent. </p> <p>Whilst US VW owners successfully extract billions in compensation&nbsp;with class-actions (and VW management is also put&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theverge.com/2017/12/6/16743308/volkswagen-oliver-schmidt-sentence-emissions-scandal-prison">behind bars</a>), in the EU, where the majority of VW consumers actually are, the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/european-commission-strikes-dieselgate-deal-with-volkswagen/">struggle</a>&nbsp;to obtain even meagre redress for consumers continues (with VW management avoiding jail time as well). </p> <p>It’s just one example of an EU mass harm situation where victims have been left without effective remedy. When we consider other areas of harm such as environmental (e.g.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/oct/07/hungary-sludge-spill-reaches-danube">toxic chemical spills</a>, man-made earthquakes) or&nbsp;discrimination&nbsp;(e.g. firing or mistreatment on grounds of race, religion or gender), the number of people without the means to compel effective remedy from abusive EU-based companies continues to grow.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Whilst Dieselgate finally sparked legislative movement on collective redress from the European Commission, the proposal remains restricted to consumer harm, contrary to previous recommendations for a general, horizontal scope from the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, the European Parliament and Council of Europe. </p> <p>Now this limited proposal must survive eleven months of intense lobbying to pass through the Brussels machinery. It is therefore crucial to get the facts and arguments concerning collective redress straight, in order that the proposal survives intact, and to ensure future developments of collective redress in the EU do not continue to be plagued and delayed by fears of “abusive litigation” that harms businesses.&nbsp;</p> <p>When uttered in Europe, the term “class-action” has the potential to cause policy-makers to shiver in their boots. It’s a scary word – synonymous with the litigation excesses of wild-west North America where the financial stakes are alarmingly high and collective claims come easy – meaning large, ill-founded and frivolous lawsuits. </p> <p>This narrative is the result of committed work by groups such as the so-called&nbsp;<a href="http://europeanjusticeforum.org/">European Justice Forum</a>&nbsp;(“the only European organisation solely focused on promoting a balanced system of Justice”), whose corporate membership includes Big Tobacco, Big Pharma and&nbsp;<a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/bhopal-disaster-victims-dow-dupont-merger-un-india-official-gas-leak-chemical-industrial-a7946346.html">Big Chemical</a>. Alongside the Chamber Institute for Law Reform (an affiliate of the US Chamber of Commerce, whose campaign against collective redress is global) they have had impressive successes in conflating the mere existence of class-actions with litigation abuse (the probable reason why Europeans tend to favour the term “collective redress”).&nbsp;</p> <p>Their influence includes the watering-down of a 2013 legislative proposal for “horizontal” compensatory collective redress from the European Commission that covered all types of harm (consumer, environmental, labour, discrimination, digital privacy etc.) to make it a non-binding recommendation. Ironically the non-binding nature of the recommendation was probably a good thing for victims of corporate malpractice, because such was the influence of the business lobby on the final drafting of the recommendation text, that it basically reads as a wish-list of restrictions imposed on plaintiffs, styled as “safeguards against abusive litigation” and sold as saving Europe from the abuses&nbsp;<em>to&nbsp;</em>corporations taking place across the Atlantic. </p> <p>The restrictions were multiple and varied and included a preference for opt-in over opt-out (victims aren’t automatically in a lawsuit when harmed but must sign up); a prohibition on contingency fees (disallowing claimants from funding cases with their potential winnings): limitations on standing (favouring government certified representative bodies over ordinary citizens); a prohibition on punitive damages (designed to punish guilty corporate defendants): a prohibition on third-party litigation funding (helpful for victims that cannot get legal aid or otherwise fund their cases); and an insistence on the loser pays principle (meaning the losing party pays all the legal fees of the winning side).&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Setting aside the question of the true extent of the abusive litigation phenomenon in the US – and to what extent it is a story perpetuated by Hollywood-produced legal drama and scandal-hungry tabloids – the somewhat hysterical narrative completely ignores the key difference between US and European legal systems. That is the pre-existing loser-pays principle – a long-time staple of the European legal tradition that requires the losing party to cover not only its own costs, but also those of the winning party. </p> <p>Under the loser-pays principle, absent in the US, no sensible plaintiff or lawyer would bring a big and costly case that has a limited chance of winning, ensuring frivolous claims become effectively dis-incentivised. That is, unless the plaintiff is a powerful corporation whose objective isn’t actually winning a case, but rather draining the time and resources of a weaker, critical plaintiff in a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/slapp_suit">SLAPP</a>&nbsp;suit.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>In January 2018 the Commission reviewed the impact of the 2013 collective redress recommendation, basically admitting that it was a flop. In over four years just three Member States had enacted new collective redress legislation. The study (the most comprehensive empirical investigation into collective redress in the EU to-date) found one third of Member States still without any form of collective redress at all; and, where it is available it is typically limited to injunctions not enabling compensation for victims; furthermore its availability is often restricted to just a certain sector (for financial investors in the case of Germany, for instance). </p> <p>Interesting is that more than three quarters of the study respondents (which included judges, plaintiffs, defendants and their lawyers, as well as academics) did not report any instances of abusive litigation in the EU, and the 14 respondents who did refer to the risk of abusive litigation pointed to&nbsp;<em>potential risks</em>&nbsp;rather than actual instances. </p> <p>Yet even more interesting is that many Member States with collective redress actually disregarded the Commission recommendation “safeguards to abusive litigation” (by for example permitting opt-out, contingency fees and third-party funding for plaintiffs) preferring instead a design that would enhance the ability of victims to enforce their rights vis-à-vis well-resourced corporate defendants. </p> <p>The common result in those countries (such as Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands): enhanced access to justice for victims and not one single cited instance of abusive litigation against companies. By way of comparison, corporations in the EU often bring vexatious, abusive lawsuits against NGOs and journalists who report on their malpractice in the public interest, wasting the precious time and resources of said organisations, as well as those of the EU courts (leading to calls for&nbsp;<a href="https://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20180112/local/protect-media-against-slapp-suits-meps-tell-commission.667783">legislation</a>). </p> <p>Finally, numerous respondents to the study also explained that the potential of collective actions to generate abusive litigation is rather limited in Europe, due to the aforementioned fundamental differences, meaning the situation is in its whole incomparable to the US. One respondent summarised that, “there is more of a risk of inadequate collective redress mechanisms and a lack of litigation than a risk of abusive litigation.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In comparison to the United States, where&nbsp;litigation procedure may well have developed in a manner too encouraging for claimants and unfavourable for business, in Europe the problem is exactly the opposite. The reality in Europe is that it is exceedingly difficult, commonly impossible, for victims to bring a collective redress claim for mass harm situations and often go without remedy. </p> <p>VW is just the most recent example, there are, and will continue to be, many others involving different forms of harm other than consumer, such as environmental. Whilst homeowners in the Netherlands are able to seek compensation through&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/oct/10/shell-exxon-gas-drilling-sets-off-earthquakes-wrecks-homes">collective redress</a>&nbsp;from Shell and Exxon mobile for shale gas drilling (the cause of over 1000 man-made earthquakes damaging over 50,000 properties since the 1990s) residents in Romania and Ireland, where such companies also reap profits from the use of the destructive technology, would not be able to, because compensatory collective redress is not available (and will not be under the current Commission’s consumer proposal). In the EU Single Market access to effective remedy for victims of corporate harm is a lottery.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>So, on the one hand are abusive companies who cannot be compelled to remedy, and on the other is abusive litigation. What European policy makers need to realise and remember is that presently Europe has an actual problem with the former and only a hypothetical problem with the latter. Sadly, this important point will struggle for oxygen in the face of intense lobbying from powerful corporations and their lobby groups. </p> <p>The so-called European Justice Forum and U.S Chamber institute for Law Reform have been very effective in making the case against allowing victims to efficiently join their cases together in litigation (which would economise judicial procedure in the process), and have been promoting instead “Alternative Dispute Resolution”. The contradiction in their position is, however, that Alternative Dispute Resolution is by definition meant as a practical&nbsp;<em>alternative</em>&nbsp;to effective litigation. Alternative Dispute Resolution did not begin as a parallel system of justice to the courts; it emerged to complement effective litigation procedures. </p> <p>One cannot have alternative dispute resolution unless the possibility of effective litigation concurrently exists; otherwise this is just non-judicial “dispute resolution”. Naturally it is not in the interests of either party to a dispute to spend time, money and resources going through the courts. Yet without the possibility of going to court to effectively assert one’s legal right to a proper remedy (a fundamental democratic right in and of itself), there is no real or meaningful impetus for corporations to even arrive, let alone properly negotiate, at the alternative dispute resolution table. Once again, VW is just the most recent example of that fact.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>It’s time to look to the future of collective redress in the EU on the basis of the evidence. Victims of corporate abuse – in all member states and for all types of harm – need enhanced collective redress in order to be able to obtain effective remedy and compensation. This concerns society as a whole, whereas in the absence of fines from government agencies, abusive corporations will continue to retain their&nbsp;<a href="https://www.ft.com/content/08b97d56-2b78-11e8-a34a-7e7563b0b0f4">ill-gotten profits</a>, further emboldening and empowering them; encouraged and undeterred. The victims of corporate abuse must be helped to gain justice and remedy, instead of being pre-emptively blamed for litigation abuse against big corporations.</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="/openjustice/christopher-patz/consumer-is-king-of-class-actions-and-who-matters-in-eu-law">Consumer is King? Of class actions and who matters in EU law</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/harry-blain/what-now-for-car-industry">What now for the car industry?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opencitydocs/rosemary-bechler/democracy-call-to-arms">Democracy – a call to arms</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 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 NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? United States EU Conflict Democracy and government Economics International politics Christopher Patz Sun, 15 Apr 2018 10:48:00 +0000 Christopher Patz 117281 at https://www.opendemocracy.net In the bad guys’ lair - AKS Zły and their alternative football https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/lorenzo-berardi-salvatore-greco/in-bad-guys-lair-aks-z-y-and-their-alternative-fo <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Players, managers and supporters of AKS Zły in Poland take their sport seriously and know that winning is the best way to show that an alternative way of playing football is possible.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/AAAAAA-sklad-wyjsciowy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/AAAAAA-sklad-wyjsciowy.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The 'Bad Girls' of AKS Zły are also doing well this season, 2018. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>It's a sunny Saturday afternoon in mid-August and fans crowd the Don Pedro Arena of&nbsp;Kawęczyńska street. Thirty minutes ahead of the preliminary round of the Polish Cup, the 200 tickets printed for the first match of the season of the home team have already sold out. On the proudly uncovered stands of the little stadium sit a heterogeneous mix of people. We're in Warsaw in the former working district of Praga by the eastern bank of the Vistula River. It's on this peripheral football pitch, nestled between social housing blocks and an abandoned factory, that AKS&nbsp;Zły play.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Don Pedro Arena sits one and a half miles from Warsaw's National Stadium as the bird flies. It's in the parking lot of this stadium that on November 11, 2017, up to 60,000 Poles gathered to celebrate Poland's National Independence Day. Thousands among them did so by marching behind banners and flags of far-right European movements (from Poland's ONR to Hungary's Jobbik and Italy's Forza Nuova) as well as chanting anti-Islam slogans. It was a show of force of local nationalists believing in an all-white, catholic, no-LGBT, migrant-free country.</p> <h2><strong>First half</strong></h2> <p>The 'Alternative Sport Club&nbsp;Zły’ (meaning 'Bad') is miles away from such discourses. “Our history began in August 2015 with twenty football enthusiasts who wanted to create their own independent club,” Dominik – known as 'Ariel' and among the founders of Zły – says: “In doing so we took inspiration from supporters-managed clubs such as AFC Wimbledon in England and HFC Falke in Germany. We met with the founders of the latter, saw how they ran it and came back to Warsaw to try the same.” </p> <p>At the call-up for the two teams 60 men and 30 women showed up. First the founders of Zły checked the financial sustainability of the club, then they registered both teams to the Polish Football Association. “We started from nothing,” Ariel says, “and now our club works, displays good football and generates interesting social processes.”</p> <p>The district of Praga was chosen as the two major football teams in Warsaw – Legia and Polonia – play on the other side of the Vistula, but also because some of&nbsp;Zły founders live here. “We wanted our club to be a local team and Praga was its perfect home due to its social structure,” Ariel says, stressing how: “About one hundred people joined the club and forty of them manage it all together by looking after the teams and handling marketing, communication, financial plans and so on.”</p> <p>The economic part is paramount for a self-financed club with a budget of 8000 PLN (1700 £) per month.&nbsp;Zły has three financial pillars: a £1 monthly fee paid by the club members, match tickets selling – “but children and those who can't afford it enter for free,” Ariel explains – and sponsors. The club wishes to get eleven of the latter, just like the players on the pitch, and has got six or seven so far. Crowdfunding and events help paying the bills. <span class="mag-quote-center">The atmosphere on the Don Pedro Arena stands is unlike other stadiums and one of the rules of the club forbids swearing when you are older than four.</span></p> <p>The atmosphere on the Don Pedro Arena stands is unlike other stadiums and one of the rules of the club forbids swearing when you are older than four. This helps in attracting kids, families, and grandparents. The noisiest fans are a group of supporters singing football anthems and waving the team's black and white flags. As one of them, Mariusz, puts it: “Zły has a local identity that makes it likeable for those living in this district, but it belongs to the whole city. I cheer for a big football club, but I've been supporting this eighth league team since its inception for I share its same values.”</p> <p>Michał and his wife Agnieszka with their 18-month-old son sit nearby: “We live in Warsaw's outskirts and are here for the first time,” they say: “Some friends told us about this club and the values it represents. We were curious to come and see. We like football, but not the hatred that is often around it. We'd never take our son to another Polish stadium. Here is different and we like it. We'll definitely be back.”</p> <p>AKS Zły appeals to people who live far from the Praga district due to the message it promotes, but also thanks to its effective way of communicating its values and initiatives. “I love this sport, but unfortunately football in Poland is far-right territory with most of the fans supporting our big teams who identify themselves with that ideology,” Janek, press officer and player of the male team explains. “Zły is open to everyone. We don't have an owner, but there's an assembly running the club. We believe in democracy, multiculturalism, gender equality. We want to play in a district of Warsaw that is often left behind and houses many have-nots, because this club can mean something important for them.”</p> <h2><strong>Half time</strong></h2> <p>Antonio Shehadee coaches the male team and is a thirty years old Israeli of Christian faith who recently got married and works for the corporates. Leukaemia stopped his football playing career, but he has overcome it. Antonio arrived in Poland in 2008 holding a UEFA B coaching licence that he had gained in his home country. In the capital he started coaching Makabi Warszawa, a team inheriting the tradition of a huge pre-war Jewish sports club. Then in October 2015 he heard about Zły and liked it so much that he joined them. “Here it doesn't matter where you come from, nor what your religious beliefs or political ideas are,” he says.</p> <p>To him football is a family thing. His brother Elias was&nbsp;Zły's top scorer last season but left the team and now plays two leagues up. Antonio's parents run a football academy in their Israeli hometown of Ma'alot-Tarshiha. Zły plays 4-1-4-1 and his manager want them to get promoted after coming 3 points short of that goal in 2016-2017. “We may be kind, decent people but we aren't little lambs and we always get some yellow cards. However, what happens on the pitch must stay there.” Antonio makes clear. <span class="mag-quote-center">“We may be kind, decent people but we aren't little lambs and we always get some yellow cards. However, what happens on the pitch must stay there.”</span></p> <p>Danuta 'Ruda' (Red)&nbsp;Wojciechowska agrees with this. She owns a small grocer's shop and is the player-manager of the z<em>łe dziewczyny</em>&nbsp;(bad girls), the female football team. “My role on the pitch is flexible. Whenever one of my players is missing, I take her place,” she laughs, “but I enjoy playing as a defender.”&nbsp;Zły' is the second team in Danuta's career and before joining them she played two leagues up. However, she says: “when I was offered the manager position here, I accepted it.” She's aware of the gap between men's and women's football but “in this club the male and female teams count the same and this friendly yet professional atmosphere makes it great playing here.”</p> <h2><strong>Second half</strong></h2> <p>At AKS&nbsp;Zły they believe in fair play and disapprove of the hysterical attitude of most football clubs, but their sport is still made of the same socks and studs.&nbsp;“Our team is in the eighth tier, but I treat it seriously and I want my players to be committed. To me they have to be like a pack of hungry wolves on the pitch,” Antonio insists.</p> <p>It's alternative football, but still football after all, and the final result is important for players who lead most of their lives outside the pitch. It's the football of men like Giorgi Komoshvili, who is Georgian, works as a translator and plays right winger, but also of employees, orchestra musicians, and typographers. Among the players hailing from abroad, there are also two Germans and full-back Henryk Nguyen who is second generation Vietnamese. The women coached by Danuta are university students, mothers, shop owners, even a young grandmother. They speak Polish, Belarusian, Italian, even sign language. <span class="mag-quote-center">It's alternative football, but still football after all, and the final result is important for players who lead most of their lives outside the pitch.</span></p> <p>“It’s good if you speak Polish, but if not we speak English. If you want to join us, you're always welcome whether you're religious or not or a mother or not. Football comes first here as we want to play and win all together,” Magda who's 25 years old and plays goalkeeper says. “I love it when we have away matches. The team travels with a glitzy golden minibus, with a Mother Mary printed on its back; it's very funny to see and it shows how diverse we are,” she adds.</p> <p>The goal set by AKS Zły this season is to have its teams promoted. It's a reasonable expectation given that both of them didn't make it to the seventh tier by just a few points in 2016-2017. Halfway through the current season, the women's team ranks second in the league with seven wins out of nine matches and is on track to get promoted. Things are a bit harder for the men's team. They are seventh in their league, with a 13 points gap between them and promotion.</p> <p>“Football comes first here” is what people running Zły or wearing their jerseys often repeat. And it's more than a mere catchphrase. Those believing in this club that encourages diversity, gender equality, fair play, and a democratic management, want to be more than mascots of a better football. Players, managers and supporters of AKS Zły take their sport seriously and know that winning is the best way to show that an alternative way of making football is possible. Winning for themselves and for their team, but also to send a strong message out to the far-right world of Polish football: participating is not enough, the time is ripe to win on the pitch. To be bad for a good cause.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Poland </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Poland Culture International politics Salvatore Greco Lorenzo Berardi Fri, 13 Apr 2018 10:06:20 +0000 Lorenzo Berardi and Salvatore Greco 117250 at https://www.opendemocracy.net In Poland and Ukraine, history conflicts reveal the limits of the “nationalist international” https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/agnieszka-pikulicka-wilczewska/history-conflicts-reveal-the-limits-of-the-nationalist-international <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Historical issues have once again divided far-right groups in Poland and Ukraine.&nbsp;</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/c7cbaaecf0328e4e0a2c43ed835edc38_1467997400_extra_large_1.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="297" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>July 2016: President Petro Poroshenko kneels before the monument to the victims of the <a href=https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/andrii-portnov/clash-of-victimhood-1943-volhynian-massacre-in-polish-and-ukrainian-culture>Volhynia tragedy</a>. Source: President of Ukraine.</span></span></span>In Poland and Ukraine, conflicting historical narratives have long been used and abused by political forces on both sides. While Ukraine’s Euromaidan brought some fresh air to the relations between the two countries, with Poland supporting Ukraine’s struggle on the diplomatic, political and people-to-people levels, contentious history is once again coming to the fore.</p><p dir="ltr">This time, mainstream narratives in both countries are increasingly being influenced by far right groups. Once allies aiming to form an international nationalist movement, far right groups on both sides have returned to historical misunderstandings. The increasing tensions may have a detrimental effect on the relations between the two societies. More importantly, however, they suggest how international nationalism could fail.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Mutual respect and animosity</h2><p dir="ltr">On 4 March, the centre of the west Ukrainian city of Lviv was full of men in military outfits and dark blue jackets bearing yellow tridents. Hundreds of people carrying torches marched through the city’s streets amid flags with the emblems of the National Corps, Svoboda and Right Sector – Ukraine’s main far-right groups – as well as a large black and red flag of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).</p><p dir="ltr">The front row was made of men hidden behind balaclavas. Their banner displayed the image of the legendary Ukrainian Insurgent Army commander, Roman Shukhevych, and a message: “The city of Lviv: No to Polish masters”. Crowds chanted “Our land – Our heroes”, and “Remember foreigner that the host here is a Ukrainian”.</p><p dir="ltr">It was not long before a response arrived. On 19 March, Polish far-right groups <a href="https://112.international/ukraine-top-news/ukraines-embassy-in-warsaw-condemns-polish-nationalists-manifestation-26744.html">organised a retaliatory picket</a> at the Ukrainian Embassy in Warsaw. Their banners read: “Stop anti-Polonism, defend the truth”, “A Banderite is not my brother” and “Banderites are Nazis”. The rally ended with the burning of portraits of Shukhevych and Stepan Bandera, the historical leader of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564053/28616702_1563231110459748_3116816455439592966_o.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564053/28616702_1563231110459748_3116816455439592966_o.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'>4 March: Ukrainian far-right groups gather in Lviv to commemorate UPA commander Roman Shukhevych. Source: National Corps.</span></span></span>This escalation of mutual animosity came after the Polish Sejm <a href="https://www.unian.info/politics/2376632-polish-senate-passes-draft-law-banning-bandera-ideology.html">passed legislation</a> in February proposing fines and up to three years of imprisonment for those who deny crimes committed by the OUN and UPA against Poles during the Second World War. Most notably, the law refers to a series of massacres in 1943-1944 in Volynia and eastern Galicia, which claimed the lives of around 100,000 people – a crime that Poland considers genocide.</p><p dir="ltr">In 2015, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/21/ukraine-bans-soviet-symbols-criminalises-sympathy-for-communism">passed</a> a law recognising OUN and UPA as fighters for Ukraine’s independence. For the Ukrainian far right, including the National Corps – the political wing of the Azov regiment, known for its role on the Donbas frontline – Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych have become role models in what they see as a continuation of Ukraine’s struggle for independence.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Beyond divisions</h2><p dir="ltr">Historical memory hasn’t always divided Polish and Ukrainian nationalists. The National Corps, which claims a membership of 10,000, has sought cooperation with Polish far right since the party’s creation in 2016. Nationalists from both countries have met at conferences organised in Ukraine and Poland, as well as attending numerous informal meetings. By March 2018, National Corps had established contacts with Polish groups Szturmowcy, Niklot, Autonomous Nationalists, Trzecia Droga (Third Way) and Roman Rybarski’s Institute.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Szturmowcy are inspired by various streams of far-right or neo-fascist ideology, with a strong national socialist element, highlighting the fusion of racism with socialist or anti-capitalist slogans”</p><p dir="ltr">These groups are among the most radical on the Polish far right. As Rafał Pankowski, a sociologist from Collegium Civitas and co-founder of the Polish anti-racism <a href="http://www.nigdywiecej.org/en/">Never Again association</a>, explains: “Szturmowcy are inspired by various streams of far-right or neo-fascist ideology, with a strong national socialist element, highlighting the fusion of racism with socialist or anti-capitalist slogans.”</p><p dir="ltr">They are also relatively marginal in contrast to the large membership base and political connections of the National Radical Camp and All-Polish Youth. During the <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/11/60000-nationalists-fascists-joined-warsaw-march-171112140646393.html">now infamous November 2017 Independence March in Warsaw</a>, Szturmowcy were part of the Black Block, which back in November terrified the world. That day, a marching crowd of around 400 people dressed in black and balaclavas with white skulls covering their faces made for an ominous scene. Their banners displayed some of the most radical slogans present at the march: “Europe will be white or deserted”, “White Europe of brotherly nations”, “Pure blood, sober mind” – a reference to straight edge ideology.</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/IMG_4921.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'> Black Bloc at the 2017 Warsaw Independence March. Image: Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska. </span></span></span>The Black Bloc was joined by individuals from Italy, Bulgaria, Germany, Russia, Serbia, Estonia, Latvia and other countries. A representative of the National Corps was one of them. The day before, she attended a conference organised by Szturmowcy and their allies under a telling title: “Europe of the future”.</p><h2 dir="ltr">International nationalism</h2><p dir="ltr">“The internationalisation of nationalism is a process we have been observing for a while, especially recently,” Rafał Pankowski explains. “It is also something which in history manifested itself with the creation of international formations of Waffen SS.” </p><p dir="ltr">According to Jean-Yves Camus, a French journalist and political scientist <a href="http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674971530">focusing on the far right</a>, while the transnational nationalist movement is building a network all over Europe, they do not wish to replace nation states. “The basic idea is that although nation states sometimes have conflicting interests, border disputes or ethnic and religious conflicts, nationalists from all over the continent should work together towards the common goal of preserving European culture and ethnic and religious identity.” </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564053/tumblr_inline_p550mhP7YG1tdj2wa_500.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564053/tumblr_inline_p550mhP7YG1tdj2wa_500.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="263" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>2016: Polish and Ukrainian far right groups pay their respects at the grave sites of Poles and Ukrainian killed during the events of 1943-1944. Source: Reconquista.</span></span></span>Held in Warsaw, in a small hall full of young men and a much smaller number of women, the Europe of the Future conference before the November 2017 Independence March aimed to set the basis for the pan-European cooperation of radical nationalist forces. Speakers included representatives of the National Corps, Estonian Sinine Äratus, the Kyiv-based Russian Centre, Russian White Rex and American alt-right groups. Richard Spencer, a white supremacist from the US, was scheduled to attend, but the Polish government blocked his visit.</p><p dir="ltr">“Our enemy is becoming global, and we have to think in similar terms,” said Miłosz Jezierski from Szturmowcy. “Our version of pan-Europeanism is not (…) anti-national. (…) We want Europe of nations cooperating with each other,” Jezierski spoke with a firm voice. Here, he made no secret of his group’s main goal – to preserve white Europe. “Left-wing humanitarianism does not recognise cultural, ethnic, civilisational and racial differences. It puts everyone into one pot of citizens. What we propose is a healthy ethno-nationalism.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“White racialism is now at least as important as purely national identity. And metapolitics and politics of the street are on the rise to undermine the ‘system’ of liberal democracy”</p><p dir="ltr">Under the label of third way or new nationalism, this unofficial pan-European alliance of far-right groups calls for racial separatism and anti-capitalism. It also rejects “chauvinism against other whites” and all forms of imperialism, be it American, Russian or what they call <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/19/cultural-marxism-a-uniting-theory-for-rightwingers-who-love-to-play-the-victim">cultural Marxism</a> imposed by Brussels. As such, these groups are unequivocally anti-Putinist, although not anti-Russian, and frequently involve in violent street actions against LGBTQ and other minority groups.</p><p dir="ltr">“Most of these groups are united by their white European nationalism, where the identitarian movement’s repackaging of the neo-fascism of the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nouvelle_Droite">Nouvelle Droite</a> for the internet youth plays an important mobilising role,” explains Matthew Kott from Uppsala University. “White racialism is now at least as important as purely national identity. And metapolitics and politics of the street are on the rise to undermine the ‘system’ of liberal democracy,” he added.</p><h2 dir="ltr">The promise of Intermarium</h2><p dir="ltr">With a rise in scepticism among far-right groups towards NATO in the wake of Crimea, both Polish and Ukrainian far-right groups found common ground in the idea of the “Intermarium”, which became the main theme of several National Corps-organised conferences. The idea was first coined by the Polish interwar strongman Józef Piłsudski. In the early 1920s, states emerging from the ashes of the First World War were looking for a way to counter the rising threat from Germany and the Soviet Union, and the Intermarium is what Poland came up with. It proposes a creation of a regional military alliance of states between the Baltic and Black seas, with Poland as its natural leader. </p><p dir="ltr">Back in the day, the grandiose plan never materialised. Yet, the Intermarium was <a href="http://visegradplus.org/intermarium-the-story-of-the-pipe-dream-coming-from-warsaw/">recently resurrected by Poland’s Law and Justice government</a> and later adopted by the Polish and Ukrainian far right, which, as Matthew Kott explains, has seen it as an alternative to the growing impotence of NATO and “decadence” of the European Union. For far-right groups, the annexation of Crimea and outbreak of war in Ukraine’s Donbas, in particular, have demonstrated the need for an alternative regional structure.</p><p dir="ltr">“We consider ourselves a part of European civilisation, not part of European bureaucracy,” National Corps’ international secretary Olena Semenyaka said at the Europe of the Future conference. “That is why we strive for the building of a commonwealth of eastern European nations, the Intermarium.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“We plan to create a kind of free university for all activists of these movements, in order to promote this pan-European ideology, not only in the ranks of National Corps”</p><p dir="ltr">Semenyaka acknowledged the importance of Polish-Ukrainian cooperation. “It goes without saying that reconciliation between the two biggest countries of the region, Poland and Ukraine, plays a crucial role in the accomplishment of this goal, and the new nationalist solidarity is our priority and strategy.” She also added that the National Corps will not compromise their position regarding cooperation with Poland, even if this would mean the end of their year-long alliance with fellow Ukrainian far-right groups Svoboda and Right Sector&nbsp;–&nbsp;groups traditionally more skeptical towards Poland. </p><p dir="ltr">“We plan to create a kind of free university for all activists of these movements, in order to promote this pan-European ideology, not only in the ranks of National Corps,” Semenyaka said. “You can’t expect that all of them will be sophisticated ideologically." Referring to ethno-nationalist tendencies among many sympathisers of the far right in Ukraine as “old nationalism,” she assured that educating youth on the Polish-Ukrainian issue will be high on the agenda of National Corps. </p><p dir="ltr">Given the relative ethnic and cultural homogeneity of central and eastern Europe, according to Semenyaka, the region is uniquely positioned to create this alternative axis of European integration. “So, from Intermarium to pan-Europa and to the new dawn of the West!” she ended her speech.</p><p dir="ltr">The conference, however, was not the first attempt to create a lasting alliance. Since 2016, the National Corps has regularly held international Intermarium conferences, attended by the Polish far right. Moreover, in 2016, delegates of the National Corps and Polish nationalists laid wreaths at the graves of victims of the Volhynia massacre to commemorate the lives lost on both sides.</p><h2 dir="ltr">The split</h2><p dir="ltr">This kind of symbolic event, however, was not easy to organise. According to an article published recently on the National Corps-run website, Reconquista, for the Volhynia branch of the group the “memory of their grandfathers’ struggle against the oppressors was still fresh, and the locals did not understand what they should regret for.”</p><p dir="ltr">At the same time, the article argued, the National Corps and their allies are still open to cooperation with Poles and deeply committed to the idea of Intermarium, as long as history is not used as a weapon against the other side. “History can never be a starting point for international relations, but every nation has the right to glorify its heroes in its own land,” the article read. The Lviv 2018 march was meant to be a radical demonstration of this position and a way to oppose the new Polish law that criminalises the denial of crimes committed by Ukrainian nationalists during the Second World War.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“History can never be a starting point for international relations, but every nation has the right to glorify its heroes in its own land”</p><p dir="ltr">Following the introduction of the Polish memory law, the National Corps expected that their Polish allies would condemn it. This, however, did not happen. “It was obvious to Ukrainians that this amendment would give a green light to the chauvinistic tensions between our nations, the fear that is shared by many of our friends in Poland,” Semenyaka explained via email. “We expected our Polish allies to make a joint public statement on the dangerous consequences of this law, but it was initiated by the Polish liberal intelligentsia instead.”</p><p dir="ltr">Semenyaka also does not see the Polish law as mirroring the Ukrainian 2015 legislation. “We still consider this situation non-symmetrical, mainly because Ukraine has to withstand the ongoing hybrid warfare by Russia, and the revival of the UPA legacy in Ukraine is caused exclusively by decommunisation,” Semenyaka said. “No ‘anti-Polish’ amendments were part of the latter. That's why Ukrainians view this step by the Polish government as almost a stab in the back in the moment of Ukraine's vulnerability.” </p><p dir="ltr">The Polish side, however, saw the Shukhevych march as an unprovoked manifestation of anti-Polish sentiment. While Szturmowcy and Niklot did not take part in the anti-Ukrainian action at the Warsaw Embassy, both groups issued statements condemning the march. “We view the behaviour of the National Corps not only as openly anti-Polish and an outrageous defamation of our Polish national pride. It is also a blow to the past several years of our common work and fight,” Szturmowcy wrote. “In light of such a conduct and anti-Polish actions of the National Corps, further dialogue and cooperation are unfortunately impossible”.</p><p dir="ltr">According to Jevgenij Bilonozhko, a lecturer in philosophy at the Kyiv University of Economics and editor of Polonews, after the recent events, past gestures of goodwill are unlikely to be repeated in the near future. “The Intermarium cooperation is, in fact, a secondary issue, as the main postulate of Ukrainian nationalists is defence of the country’s sovereignty,” he explains.</p><p dir="ltr">At the same time, Bilonozhko notes, the National Corps remain deeply divided, with anti-Polish positions currently dominating the narrative. According to Bilonozhko, such views are seen as electorally attractive. While he admits that informal cooperation between Polish and Ukrainian nationalists will certainly continue, there will be no more joint photographs.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Dead end</h2><p dir="ltr">Marek Wojnar from the Polish Academy of Sciences is also skeptical about the perspectives for further nationalist partnership in the current context. “There are several factors that hinder the cooperation. One of them is Ukraine’s memory policy glorifying OUN-UPA and the Polish martyrisation of the Volhynia massacre,” he explains.</p><p dir="ltr">Divergent views on the common past and differences in historical memory may prove to be decisive in the failure of internationalist nationalism. For far-right groups, the nation remains the highest value and core identity, and this means that contentious stories and unhealed wounds from the past are even more likely to further divisions.</p><p dir="ltr">This is nothing new. As Jean-Yves Camus explained, back in the 1930s, fascists backed by Mussolini tried to unite, but in the end the cooperation failed, as national interests prevailed over common goals. Similarly, Wojnar points out that close relations between Hungary’s far-right Jobbik party and Svoboda in Ukraine ended when, in 2011, the latter set fire to a monument in Ukraine’s Verecke Pass, which they saw as a symbol of Hungarian imperial power. The relations turned into open hostility and have remained so ever since.</p><p dir="ltr">It is yet unclear how the new Polish memory law will affect the relations between the majority of Poles and Ukrainians outside the far-right bubble. For years, Poles have been the most-liked nation among Ukrainian citizens, many of whom live in Poland.</p><p dir="ltr">Tensions on the diplomatic level and within the far-right are likely to continue. However, it is far too early to announce the end of the international nationalist cooperation. “As the saying of Polish and Ukrainian nationalists goes, ‘one’s own to one’s own for one’s own’”, Bilonozhko remarks. “It is hard to imagine that people with similar views won’t engage with each other.”</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="/can-europe-make-it/nanor-kebranian/poland-s-holocaust-law-redefines-hate-speech">Poland’s ‘holocaust law’ redefines hate speech</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/andrii-portnov/clash-of-victimhood-1943-volhynian-massacre-in-polish-and-ukrainian-culture">Clash of victimhoods: the Volhynia Massacre in Polish and Ukrainian memory</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/mikhail-kaluzhsky/christian-hermann-makes-a-vanished-world-visible">&quot;Activists can move a tombstone, but they cannot restore it&quot;: How photographer Christian Herrmann makes a vanished world visible </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/denys-gorbach-oles-petik/rise-of-azov">The rise of Azov</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/denys-gorbach-ilya-budraitskis/dreams-of-europe-refugees-and-xenophobia-in-russia-and-ukra">Dreams of Europe: refugees and xenophobia in Russia and Ukraine</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> oD Russia Can Europe make it? oD Russia Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska Ukraine Wed, 11 Apr 2018 21:58:35 +0000 Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska 117160 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Re-thinking EU-Turkey co-operation over migration https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/sinem-adar/re-thinking-eu-turkey-co-operation-over-migration <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Turkey’s military offensive in Afrin is also an example of how refugees are instrumentalized to gain domestic support for foreign policy ambitions.<strong></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34501952.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34501952.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'>German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz upon his arrival at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany on January 17, 2018. NurPhoto/Press Associations. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>From integration policies to electoral politics, migration is often discussed as a domestic policy issue. Yet rarely does its possible connection with foreign policy attract attention (see <a href="https://www.theglobalist.com/iran-trump-migration-policy-bannon-middle-east/">a&nbsp;few</a>&nbsp;<a href="https://www.academia.edu/22678042/_Türk_Göç_Politikasında_Yeni_Bir_Devir_Bir_Dış_Politika_Enstrümanı_Olarak_Suriyeli_Mülteciler_HYD_Saha_Dergisi_No.2_ss.6-12">exceptions)</a>. </p> <p>One recent example is <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/megan-barlow/long-way-to-afrin-turkey-s-strategic-refugee-policy-aimed-at-ele">Megan Barlow’s latest openDemocracy article </a>where she argues that the Turkish government employs refugees not only as political tools for foreign ambitions, but also for reinforcing a conservative and Islamist ideology. My argument follows the same line of thought by situating Turkey’s instrumentalization of refugees in the context of its co-operation with the EU over migration.</p> <p>Hosting the highest number of refugees from Syria, around 3.5 million, Turkey’s refugee and foreign policy have been increasingly intertwined in recent years, especially since 2015 which was a year of crisis for both the EU and Turkey. By providing a chronology of the domestic and regional events occurring since then, I suggest that the EU-Turkey Statement on refugees, and the preceding Joint Action Plan unintentionally but inextricably intertwined Turkey’s national security concerns on its Syrian border with EU border control management policies.&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>2015: a year of political </strong><strong>crisis for the EU</strong></h2> <p>An unprecedented and rapid refugee movement via the Aegean Sea hit Europe in the fall of 2015. The lack of internal agreement among EU Member States over a common asylum policy, on the one hand, and the upcoming elections in 2016 in several Member States in which the refugees featured prominently on the other hand, turned this unprecedented movement into a political crisis. The EU-Turkey Statement, issued in March 2016, and the preceding Joint Action Plan in November 2015 came as a pragmatic, and supposedly, short-term response to this crisis.</p> <p>According to the Statement, Turkey agreed to prevent irregular migration to Europe: migrants and asylum-seekers arriving in Greece whose applications had been declared inadmissible or unfounded would be returned to Turkey; and for every Syrian refugee returned from Greece to Turkey, a Syrian would be resettled in Europe – up to a total limit of 72,000. </p> <p>In return, the EU agreed to grant visa liberalization for Turkish citizens under a number of preconditions including complying with the EU’s data protection and antiterrorism laws; renewing accession talks; new negotiations on the customs union; and financial aid amounting to 3+3 billion euros to support refugees. </p> <h2><strong>2015: a year of political crisis for Turkey </strong></h2> <p>For Turkey, as well, 2015 was a year of turmoil. Turkey, by then, had already reached its institutional capacity to accommodate a high number of refugees. In <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/30/world/europe/turkey-moves-to-close-all-gates-at-border-with-syria.html">March 2015</a>, it partially closed the Syrian border, moving away from the open door policy that had been adopted since the eruption of the Syrian war in 2011, and launched a project to build a border wall in September 2016. </p> <p>Domestically, the parliamentary elections in June 2015 made the continuation of single party rule under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government impossible as the Kurdish-based People’s Democratic Party (HDP) passed the ten per cent electoral threshold. In July 2015, the ceasefire between the Kurdistan Workers‘ Army (PKK) and the Turkish army <a href="http://country.eiu.com/article.aspx?articleid=473390031&amp;Country=Turkey&amp;topic=Politics">came to an end</a>. An urban war erupted in the Kurdish towns and cities, leading to the <a href="http://www.crisisgroup.be/interactives/turkey/">death of 3,386 people</a> and to the <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/europe-and-central-asia/turkey/report-turkey/">displacement of an estimated 500,000 people</a> from their homes under the curfews that were implemented across the southeast of Turkey. The AKP subsequently won enough votes in snap elections called for November 2015, and continued as a single party government.&nbsp; </p> <p>Turkey was also further constrained at the time in regional politics, especially following the involvement of the US and Russia in the Syrian War. The US ground intervention in 2014, aimed at curbing the rise of ISIS in Syria, and its alliance with the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the military wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union (PYD) – allegedly an offshoot of the PKK – in the fight against ISIS ran counter to Turkey’s anti-Kurdish position in Syria. The involvement of Russia in September 2015 in support of Bashar Al Assad simultaneously posed a threat to Turkey’s anti-Assad ambitions. &nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Refugees: a bargaining chip in foreign policy aims</strong></h2> <p>Institutionally, domestically and regionally constrained, Turkey since 2015 have been aggressively pushing for the establishment of safety zones in Northern Syria, allegedly to settle refugees.</p> <p>On September 4, 2015, in the wake of the death of three-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi in an Aegean Sea crossing, Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoglu <a href="https://www.ntv.com.tr/turkiye/davutoglu-3-yasindaki-aylanin-olumu-uyari-sinyali-olmali,yv3FJe_K1UeBrrjholYM-Q">said</a> that “Turkey tried to convince the international community to establish a safety zone in Syria. They thought that we were pursuing our own national security concerns. So who will protect the Syrians? Today is the day to cooperate and act together.” </p> <p>In November 2015, Turkey put forward a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.orsam.org.tr/files/Degerlendirmeler/33/33ing.pdf">proposal</a>&nbsp;for safe zones after the YPG captured Tel Abyad in June 2015 and ISIS made gains towards Azaz. In February 2016, the Turkish government&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/16/turkey-safe-zone-syria-refugees-russian-airstrikes">revived the proposal</a>&nbsp;with the argument that it could be extended as far as 10 km into Syria in order to help prevent hundreds of refugees from crossing the border as they fled a Russian-backed advance.&nbsp;</p> <p>As the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), of which the YPG is a member, advanced towards the West of Euphrates and captured Manbij in August 2016, Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield. In February 2017, Turkey, in cooperation with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) gained control of Al Bab.&nbsp; </p> <p>Prime Minister Binali&nbsp;Yıldırım during his visit to London in November 2017 <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/27/turkey-threatens-to-scrap-refugee-deal-over-syrian-peace-talks">suggested </a>that Turkey could renege on the EU-Turkey Statement over refugees if Kurdish forces in Syria were given a role in UN-sponsored peace talks.</p> <h2><strong>Afrin &nbsp;</strong></h2> <p>The most recent example of Turkey’s instrumentalization of refugees towards the realisation of its foreign policy ambitions is its recent military offensive called “Operation Olive Branch,” which started on January 20, 2018, in the towns and villages around the Kurdish enclave known as Afrin. The military offensive in Afrin came following the US’s announcement that it would build a “border security force” inside Syria that would include the YPG as a key component. </p> <p>In a <a href="http://t24.com.tr/video/cumhurbaskani-erdogan-35-milyon-suriyeliyi-topraklarina-gonderecegiz,11637">speech he delivered in Turkey</a> on January 20, President Erdoğan said that the aim of the operation is “to give Afrin back to its real owners, [..], and to return three and a half million Syrians currently living in Turkey back to their home.” On 23 January, the Presidential Spokesperson&nbsp;İbrahim Kalın <a href="http://www.diken.com.tr/kalin-citayi-yukseltti-ulkemizdeki-suriyeliler-donene-kadar-operasyonlar-surecek/">similarly noted</a> that “the operation would continue until the three and a half million Syrians currently living in Turkey would go back home.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Turkish Armed Forces moved into the city centre of Afrin on 17 March and captured the city on 18 March. <a href="http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/dunya/abd-kongresinden-turkiyeye-aba-altindan-sopa-s-400-alirsaniz-f-35-vermeyiz-40785010">In a recent interview</a>, former ambassador Volkan Bozkir stated that the Turkish army would remain in Afrin until there was no more PYD presence in the city; and local councils composed of the local population were founded. “After this,” he noted, “500,000 refugees whom we are currently hosting in Turkey will be replaced in Afrin as we did in Al Bab.”&nbsp; The pro-government national broadcaster TRT <a href="http://www.trthaber.com/haber/gundem/suriyeliler-terorden-arindirilan-afrine-geri-donuyor-357391.html">published on March 27</a> photos of three families who returned to Afrin. </p> <h2><strong>Instrumentalization of refugees to gain domestic support for foreign policy ambitions</strong></h2> <p>Turkey’s military offensive in Afrin is also an example of how refugees are instrumentalized to gain domestic support for foreign policy ambitions. <a href="http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/nearly-90-percent-of-turkish-citizens-support-cross-border-military-operation-in-syria-survey-127594">According to a recent survey</a>, some 89 per cent of those who were surveyed supported the country’s military offensive in Afrin.&nbsp; </p> <p>A strong <a href="http://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/34310">anti-Kurdish nationalism that unites otherwise politically opposed actors</a> is the primary precondition for this high level of domestic support. This may include an increasingly visible anti-refugee sentiment that should not be underestimated. </p> <p><a href="http://konda.com.tr/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/1602_Barometre62_SURIYELI_SIGINMACILAR.pdf">According to a survey conducted by KONDA in 2016</a>, 70 per cent of those who were surveyed stated that it was fine to share the same city with Syrians but the percentages decline to 41 per cent when asked whether they would like to live in the same neighborhood or in the same apartment building. A <a href="http://fs.hacettepe.edu.tr/hugo/dosyalar/Suriyeliler%20Barometresi%20Y%9Anetici%20%85zeti.pdf">more recent survey</a> conducted in January 2017 demonstrates that almost 70 per cent of those who were surveyed were worried that Syrians would harm the sociocultural fabric of Turkish society.</p> <p>This increasing discomfort, and even resentment, among the majority Turkish population towards Syrian refugees also manifests itself in accelerating violence especially in urban centers such as Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. According to a <a href="https://www.crisisgroup.org/europe-central-asia/western-europemediterranean/turkey/248-turkeys-syrian-refugees-defusing-metropolitan-tensions">report published in January 2018 by the International Crisis Group</a>, incidents of intercommunal violence increased threefold in the second half of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. &nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Migration management or border management? </strong></h2> <p>Turkey remains a crucial partner for the EU when it comes to border management and the control of refugee movements despite the fact that EU-Turkey relations have increasingly soured since the coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016. </p> <p>In a recent meeting in Berlin with her Austrian counterpart Sebastian Kurz on January 18, 2018, Chancellor Angela Merkel <a href="https://www.bundeskanzlerin.de/Content/DE/Artikel/2018/01/2018-01-17-antrittsbesuch-kurz.html">noted that </a>the “EU-Turkey Statement is exactly the formula that helps protect maritime borders.”&nbsp;In <a href="http://www.ekathimerini.com/221451/article/ekathimerini/comment/speaking-to-kathimerini-french-president-appears-optimistic-about-greeces-prospects">an interview&nbsp;in September 2017</a> with the Greek daily&nbsp;<em>Kathimerini</em>, French President Emmanuel Macron similarly said that even though Turkey “may have strayed from democracy”, he “wants to avoid a split because Turkey is a vital partner especially in immigration and counter-terrorism.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Co-operation with Turkey over migration arguably remains to a pragmatic necessity for the EU, given that <a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/migration-reopens-eu-political-divide/">the EU is still divided</a> concerning relocation and resettlement of the refugees, on the one hand; and that immigration continues to be a hugely controversial factor in political life, on the other. </p> <p>Yet, this pragmatic necessity puts interests and values in head-on collision. The militarization of Turkey’s domestic Kurdish policy in the summer of 2015, the increasing strength and salience of Kurdish actors in the Syrian war; and EU-Turkey co-operation over migration contingently come together, turning migration management into a first class problem for border management. In this context, the EU-Turkey Statement, and the preceding Joint Action Plan, given their timing, unintentionally intertwined Turkey’s anti-Kurdish security concerns over its Syrian border with the EU‘s wider concerns over border control, to curb refugee movements.&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Turkey </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </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"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia EU Syria Turkey Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Equality International politics Turkish Dawn Sinem Adar Wed, 11 Apr 2018 09:40:50 +0000 Sinem Adar 117168 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Hungary’s regime is proof that capitalism can be deeply authoritarian https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/gabor-scheiring/hungary-s-regime-is-proof-that-capitalism-can-be-deeply-authorita <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Blaming citizens for their alleged populist or anti-democratic turn is misleading. Without the active involvement of the economic elite, both foreign and domestic, authoritarian capitalism could not have emerged in Hungary.</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-35909763.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35909763.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'>Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers a speech after his ruling Fidesz-KDNP coalition won the general elections in Budapest, Hungary, on April 8, 2018. He thanked Hungarians for having "saved the country." Attila Volgyi/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Viktor Orbán secured his third definitive victory on April 8 in Hungary’s parliamentary elections. Although Hungary was praised a decade ago for being a prime case of successful democratisation and free market reform, now it is another example of liberal institutions sliding towards autocracy. </p> <p>The fierce anti-migrant hate campaign was the most visible sign of the length to which Orbán was prepared to go to ensure his majority. Since 2010 Orbán has been using the momentum created by popular anger at the failures of liberal policies to build up his own system: <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/peter-bloom/authoritarian-capitalism-in-modern-times-when-economic-discipline-rea">authoritarian capitalism</a>. A system that is deeply illiberal but capitalist: private property and the profit logic still dominate, but the state bureaucracy and its institutions are subdued to the enrichment of the preferred national economic elite. </p> <p>Borrowing from <a href="http://www.variant.org.uk/32texts/bourdieu32.html">Bourdieu</a>, it abolishes the left hand of the state and uses its right hand to repress dissent and discipline citizens. Understanding the success of the authoritarian turn in Hungary offers lessons for the future of democracy and liberal, tolerant, open politics worldwide.</p> <h2><strong>The rise of economic anger</strong></h2> <p>We can start by traveling back to the 1990s and 2000s to witness the social and economic impact of liberal economic reforms. Chronically <a href="https://data.oecd.org/emp/employment-rate.htm">low employment</a> and substantial deindustrialisation were the defining characteristics of the Hungarian economy after the fall of socialism. A large segment of society, the early victims of the transition – the elderly, the young with little education and those living outside the biggest towns of the country – could not take part in the new growth centres of the economy dominated by technology-intensive transnational companies. Those outside the local hubs of the global economy felt increasingly left behind. </p> <p>Hungary has also been characterised by painfully low wage levels that lagged behind Central and Eastern European wages throughout the last thirty years. Low wages, lost jobs, and high indebtedness made the Hungarian working middle class extremely <a href="http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=ilc_mdes04&amp;lang=en">fragile</a>. As a result, social tensions grew and the <a href="http://www.pewglobal.org/2009/11/02/end-of-communism-cheered-but-now-with-more-reservations/">approval rates for post-socialist liberal capitalism dropped</a> dramatically in the first twenty years. These tensions and disillusionment swept the working middle class to the Right.</p> <h2><strong>The revolt of the national capitalist class</strong></h2> <p>Blaming citizens for their alleged populist or anti-democratic turn, however, is misleading. Without the consent and even active involvement of the economic elite, authoritarian capitalism could not have emerged in Hungary. Throughout the 1990s, post-socialist governments attracted high foreign investment into the country, luring transnational companies with low corporate tax and generous tax allowances. As a result, <a href="http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/bueros/budapest/14212.pdf">the economy became divided</a> into two parts: an effective, export-oriented and capital-intensive transnational sector creating only a handful of jobs, and a stagnant national business sector, with little connection between the two. </p> <p>This highly dualistic economy created a polarisation within the economic elite leading to divergent political interests and preferences. Orbán’s authoritarian capitalism was built on securing the support of the national capitalist class by positioning the state against the coalition of transnational companies and their centrist-liberal political allies. </p> <p>These national capitalists consider Orbán’s state as a new opportunity to redefine the terms of the game set during the 1990s. The state directly enriches the national capitalist class by intruding into the existing property rights of international capitalists, creating new lucrative opportunities from the top and securing the supply of cheap and flexible labour. However, Orbán also knows that he cannot fundamentally challenge major international investors, so he attempts to pacify them through strategic partnerships and a record-low 9 per cent corporate tax. As a result, Orbán’s authoritarian capitalism enjoys the support of the majority of the economic elite, both <a href="https://global.handelsblatt.com/companies/for-german-business-eastern-europe-autocracy-pays-dividends-881082">foreign</a> and <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-03/investors-root-for-slim-orban-victory-in-hungary-vote-scenarios">domestic</a>.</p> <h2><strong>Authoritarian capitalism as a new political economic model</strong></h2> <p>To satisfy the needs of the economic elite, Orbán not only dismantled crucial democratic institutions, but also silenced those who could get in the way, such as trade unions and NGOs, as enriching this new elite necessarily creates losers. Although Orbán won in 2010 with the support of the working middle class, his neoconservative authoritarian policies favour the upper middle class and the economic elite. </p> <p>Between 2014 and 2018, real incomes and the employment rate have risen somewhat, but the bottom forty per cent has remained on the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2018/04/02/world/europe/02reuters-hungary-election-economy.html">losing side</a> of Orbán’s economic policies. To prevent a backlash from those who have lost out, Orbán uses the authoritarian state as a disciplining tool. He controls the economically vulnerable population from above, by using their fears of losing access to public works and other public services and benefits. </p> <p>Another way the authoritarian state secures the consent of the economically vulnerable is redirecting distributional conflicts along cultural lines. He attacks the unworthy, undeserving poor and immigrants with hate campaigns to pose as the saviour of the nation. <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/albertonardelli/george-soros-hungary-election">Targeting George Soros</a> in the most recent parliamentary election was a strategic move to connect the enemy images of the reckless global investor and the fearful migrant, portraying both as threats to the vulnerable working class. Orbán’s authoritarianism cannot be separated from the model of capitalism he builds.</p> <h2><strong>Tips to make democracy great again</strong></h2> <p>The authoritarian counter-reaction to the failures of post-socialist liberal reform shows that there is nothing inherently democratic in capitalist arrangements. Fidesz is able to use voters’ economic anger and exploit the divisions in the capitalist elite to ensure the stability of the regime. Yet, Hungary is not an outlier, but a frontrunner of a global tendency that <a href="https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2016-11-15/global-trumpism">Mark Blyth describes as “global Trumpism”</a>, which utilises the anger and psychological insecurity of the rural working class to revolt against the liberal status quo. Orbán’s regime is at the endpoint of this revolt, showing that authoritarian capitalism can be installed even in a formerly democratic state.</p> <p>The only way out is a new progressive political identity that offers security against market imbalances and psychological insecurities. This identity will not gain a foothold without political organisations that are deeply embedded socially. Progressives therefore need to refocus on community organising as opposed to the technocratic management of society. Implementing new policies that will lead to a democratic developmental state is certainly part of the solution. But reinventing progressive analysis and political organising is the most important first step against the spread of authoritarian capitalism throughout the world.</p> <p><em>A much <a href="https://www.tni.org/en/publication/lessons-from-the-political-economy-of-authoritarian-capitalism-in-hungary">fuller version of this article</a> is published on TNI’s website. </em><em></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/edmund-fawcett/hard-right-and-its-threats-to-democratic-liberalism">The hard right and its threats to democratic liberalism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/anthony-barnett/to-beat-hard-right-we-ll-need-to-change-too-response-to-edmund-fawcett">To beat the hard right we’ll need to change too – a response to Edmund Fawcett</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/agnieszka-pikulicka-wilczewska/history-conflicts-reveal-the-limits-of-the-nationalist-international">In Poland and Ukraine, history conflicts reveal the limits of the “nationalist international” </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/nanor-kebranian/poland-s-holocaust-law-redefines-hate-speech">Poland’s ‘holocaust law’ redefines hate speech</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"> 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 NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Hungary Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics International politics Gabor Scheiring Tue, 10 Apr 2018 13:34:00 +0000 Gabor Scheiring 117155 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Lights in the distance https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/vitalii-atanasov/lights-in-the-distance <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A new book on migration processes in the European Union foregrounds human stories, militarising borders and Europe’s new racism. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/vitaliy-atanasov/ogni-vdaleke" target="_self"><em><strong>RU</strong></em></a></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-30004563_0.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'>People walk through the centre of Lesbos, Greece. (c) Owen Humphreys PA Wire/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>British journalist Daniel Trilling, who won the <a href="http://www.migration-media-award.eu/en/winners/94-english/winners-en/print/148-daniel-trilling">2017 Migration Media award</a>, is known for his work on refugees, European borders and migration systems. Trilling’s new book <a href="https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/daniel-trilling/lights-in-the-distance"><em>Lights in the Distance: Exile and Refuge at the Borders of Europe</em></a> is devoted to stories of people searching for asylum and shelter in the European Union.</p><p dir="ltr">I spoke to him about his new book, media coverage and a changing Europe via email.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>In 2015, the topic of refugees became one of the key issues for European media and politicians. You, as far as I know, have been writing about refugees long before that. When did you first take up this topic and what was your first material about the stories of asylum seekers?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">In 2012, I visited Athens to research a piece about the growth of the far-right – which was my main interest at the time. During my visit I went to interview a group of Afghan refugees who had been targeted by neo-Nazi violence and I was really shocked by what I found. In theory they were free, living in private accommodation in a city neighbourhood, but in reality they were completely trapped: not only by the threat of attack by Golden Dawn, but also by police violence, a dysfunctional Greek asylum process, and an EU border system that tries to control the movement of refugees. I became interested in how this wider system operated, and the effect it had on the lives of the people who encountered it, so I started travelling to different parts of the EU – or to neighbouring countries such as Ukraine and Turkey – to meet refugees and other migrants, then following their journeys. </p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The EU spends a lot of money in order to fence its borders from refugees in the last decade. What the recent so-called “refugee crisis” has changed – what obstacles do asylum seekers face now?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">After a period of political hesitation in 2015 – roughly speaking, between the two shipwrecks off the coast of Libya in April, which provoked panic among European leaders, and the Paris attacks of November, which shifted the focus of debate from humanitarian to security concerns – the EU has sought to restore the old system, in which as many asylum-seekers as possible are prevented from reaching its borders, and as many as possible of those who do are contained in the southern and eastern European member states. </p><p dir="ltr">This involves a further militarisation of the old system: since 2012, border fences and surveillance networks have been built or extended in Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary and elsewhere, while security patrols have been extended in the Mediterranean. Inside the EU there has been a growth in the use of remote camps and detention centres (particularly in Greece and Hungary), the introduction of racialised police controls at internal Schengen borders (for instance, on the border between France and Italy) and the criminalisation of European citizens who help asylum-seekers continue their journeys. The EU has also been outsourcing border control to states further afield: a deal with Turkey that lowered the number of Syrians and other refugees crossing the Aegean Sea in early 2016 has been followed by attempts to strike similar deals, or invest in border control, or pressure countries to accept deported failed asylum seekers, in various parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564053/30662554684_421efdece3_z_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564053/30662554684_421efdece3_z_0.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>It is pointless to put fences in order to separate from refugees. Photo: CC BY 2.0: Meabh Smith/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>This is having three important effects. First, it's undermining the principles of international refugee protection established by the UN convention of 1951, which are that refugees should not be punished for trying to cross a border without permission, that they should not be pushed back to unsafe countries and that people should be treated as individuals. Second, it's creating further violence and instability in countries outside the EU, most of all Libya, where a European effort to discourage sea rescues and to turn back smuggler boats has trapped thousands of migrants in detention centres where they are abused, tortured and in some cases enslaved. A a recent Italian attempt to pay Libyan smuggler gangs to stop sending migrants to sea has also fuelled fighting between rival militias. Third, it has reinforced divisions within Europe: between migrants and parts of the population who fear their arrival; between the state and people who form migrant solidarity networks. </p><p dir="ltr">I've written about this, and what it tells us about how borders work globally, at greater length <a href="https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n14/daniel-trilling/should-we-build-a-wall-around-north-wales">here</a>.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Migrants and refugees have always been the subject of speculation and the fomenting of fears by the tabloids and yellow press. During the last crisis, it just happened again, or did something new appear in how conservative media react to the refugee issue?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">You’ll have to forgive me for talking in very general terms, because I can’t follow media coverage in every European country, in every European language – but I think the media coverage of the refugee crisis was, above all, fragmented. You had a single crisis of European border policy, with flashpoints in different places at different times: the central Mediterranean, the Aegean Sea, the Greek Islands, southern Italy, the Balkans, Germany, France etc. </p><p dir="ltr">Each time a new situation arose you saw the news media rushing towards it, producing material that was very immediate and vivid. If a media outlet wanted to evoke sympathy, then it would convey human need and desperation. If an outlet wanted to evoke hostility, it would convey chaos and anger or violence. Often we saw both at once.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">A well-meaning stereotype of the refugee as innocent child – although of course, there are vulnerable children who do need help – can cause damage too</p><p dir="ltr">But the coverage often failed to join up the dots; to show that refugees were being forced onto one route because of the closure of another. For example, one reason people crossed from Turkey to Greece by sea in 2015, and not across the land border, is that the land border had been sealed in 2012. There was also a longer-term pattern of EU countries shutting off legal and safe routes to asylum, such as claiming asylum at overseas embassies. Without this kind of context, a lot of the media coverage – even well-meaning coverage – gave the impression of a unstoppable and unprecedented tide of refugees, seemingly coming out of nowhere. In my opinion, the way out of this is for journalists not only to provide adequate context, but to think of people on the move as individuals with political agency, who are trying to take control of their own lives. A well-meaning stereotype of the refugee as innocent child – although of course, there are vulnerable children who do need help – can cause damage too. </p><p dir="ltr">You’re right that migrants and refugees have always been a focus of racist media coverage, and this has certainly been present in the last few years. This involves the familiar tropes of invasion by foreigners, a “clash of civilisations” between Islam and the west, and the allegedly savage or sexually deviant or uncultured behaviour of migrants. What’s new I think is how these have joined up to form a new, specifically European racism, which sits above its various national forms. Benedict Anderson described nations as “imagined communities”; the European Union is another kind of imagined community – both shaping and shaped by realities on the ground. </p><p dir="ltr">The EU has created this external border that divides it from the rest of the world; and so the people who cross that border without permission are cast by some as a threat to the EU project, and to pan-European identity. </p><p dir="ltr"><strong>How big is the difference in how the media in different countries covered the topic of refugees?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Some of the broad themes I described above have been similar across Europe, from what I’ve seen. But what interests me is how they are put to different political ends. Take, for example, this <a href="http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2015/10/23/15/2DB32A3B00000578-3286365-image-m-99_1445611105381.jpg">famous photo of refugees being led through Slovenia</a> by police in October 2015.</p><p dir="ltr">To a Merkel-supporting outlet in Germany, this might be evidence that Europe needed to act together to help accommodate refugees (or at least, the Syrians among them). To a pro-Orban outlet in Hungary, it might show why “Christian” Europe needed to build fences to defend its civilisation from Muslim outsiders. In Britain, the image was <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36570759">used</a> by the far-right UK Independence Party for a pro-Brexit poster during the 2016 referendum campaign, suggesting that the ultimate problem was not refugees but the EU itself. In the context of the UKIP poster, people <a href="https://www.newstatesman.com/2016/06/nigel-farage-s-anti-eu-poster-depicting-migrants-resembles-nazi-propaganda">noted the similarity of the image to a Nazi propaganda film</a> about Jewish refugees before the Second World War – but that was probably the opposite of what the original photographer intended. </p><p dir="ltr">Media will use the same basic ingredients for very different ends, which is why it’s important to pay attention to how stories are constructed and what context they are presented in. </p><p dir="ltr">For further reading, the Ethical Journalism Network <a href="http://ethicaljournalismnetwork.org/press-release-migration-global-report-on-journalism-s-biggest-test-in-2015">published a study</a> of how European and international media covered the 2015 refugee crisis and identified some of the main problems. </p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Your new book will be released in the spring of 2018. What is the main focus of this work?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The book is a portrait of the EU's border system, seen through the eyes of asylum-seekers who encountered it. I followed a dozen or so different people, from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, over several years and the book tells their stories in detail. It also has a chapter on Ukraine, briefly comparing the journey some of my family took in 1920 – they left Kiev for Berlin during the civil war, and then Berlin for London in 1939 – with journeys taken by Somali refugees and Ukrainian IDPs today.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Do you think that the “refugee crisis”" was used by the Russian ruling class and the media under its control in order to weaken Europe and help strengthen the nationalists and right-wing radicals? Or is this just another conspiracy?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Some of the commentary has been pure conspiracy theory. The claim by a Nato chief in 2016 that Putin was “weaponising” the refugee crisis to “break” Europe – a claim echoed elsewhere – I thought was nonsense. This gives Russia a kind of power it doesn’t possess: Russia is relatively weak, which is why it has covertly provoked and participated in a war to destabilise Ukraine, and why it brutally reinforces a shell of a regime in Syria. This analysis also misses the role of European border policy, which forces refugees to take increasingly dangerous and chaotic routes, in creating the refugee crisis. And it misses the role of western powers in other conflicts: Syrians make up about half the asylum-seekers who have come to Europe in recent years but there have also been significant numbers from Iraq and Afghanistan, and many people from different parts of Africa who have come to Europe via the chaos in Libya. </p><p dir="ltr">Nonetheless it is clear that groups within Russia, at least some of them linked to the Kremlin, have sought to exacerbate social tensions and give support to far-right, anti-immigrant movements in a number of European countries. One recent example is this <a href="http://www.lse.ac.uk/iga/assets/documents/arena/2017/Press-Release-September-2017-%E2%80%93-Initial-Analysis-of-Influence-Operations-in-German-Elections.pdf">study</a> by the London School of Economics, which shows that pro-Russian groups sought to promote the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) in the run-up to this years German parliamentary elections. Last year it was revealed that France’s Front National received a loan from a Russian bank. Russian media has at times spread rumours about the threatening behaviour of refugees in Europe, such as this claim of rape by a Russian-German girl in Berlin, which <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/nikolai-klimeniouk/how-operation-liza-failed">subsequently turned out to be untrue</a>. And more broadly, the international network Russia Today offers a platform to European far-right voices, as well as some from the left, in such a way that it makes Europe seem as if it’s riven by intractable social conflict. (Spoiler: it’s not, and it’s within our power to overcome our divisions.)</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564053/27196808296_cdea7072f2_z_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564053/27196808296_cdea7072f2_z_0.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Often refugees have to choose the most dangerous sea routes, because the way overland for them is closed. Photo CC BY-NC 2.0: Brainbitch/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>But racism and nationalism begin at home. Russia's ruling class may well see its interests in promoting reactionary nationalist views to stir up hostility towards migrants in Europe. But it cannot create these things out of nothing. The growth of European far-right parties stems from a crisis in political representation, where the mainstream left and right have, to varying degrees, accepted neoliberal ideology – market values are the values by which we run society; the state is not there to build, only to clean up the mess – and have tried to shut out the alternatives. </p><p dir="ltr">When far-right movements have challenged this by appealing to nationalist or racist sentiment, their flames often fanned by reactionary media coverage, the mainstream parties have tended to try and co-opt this message rather than stand firm against it. Nationalism is the glue that elites use to try and keep deeply unequal and unfair societies stuck together. That's a problem we all have to face and we can't blame it all on Russia.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>How did Europe change after these events? Do the media keep interest in asylum seekers?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Asylum and migration is a constant topic of interest for European media, but it's largely returned to a background hum for now. As for how Europe has changed? Well, it's too early to tell... the number of refugees who arrived in 2015 is relatively small – less than a million, in an EU of 508 million people – but the manner of their arrival was chaotic and there are big questions about how we can provide for one another, live together, make stronger societies. </p><p dir="ltr">These aren't just questions about refugees and "natives"; they also apply to communities hurt by austerity policies, or by long-term economic inequality and deindustrialisation. Can we build on the networks that form in response to a crisis? Can we convince people who are sceptical, or actively hostile, that we have shared interests? A healthy media would help us discuss these questions. </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/denys-gorbach-ilya-budraitskis/dreams-of-europe-refugees-and-xenophobia-in-russia-and-ukra">Dreams of Europe: refugees and xenophobia in Russia and Ukraine</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/marina-starodubtseva/the-chechen-watcher%20">The Chechen watcher</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/ekaterina-fomina/syrian-refugees-in-russia">Syrian refugees in Russia have to fight for their rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/nikolai-klimeniouk/how-operation-liza-failed">How “Operation Liza” failed</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/odr-editors-tatiana-golova/russian-germans-and-surprising-rise-of-afd-germany">Russian-Germans and the surprising rise of the AfD</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/kaja-puto/second-hand-europe-ukrainian-immigrants-in-poland">Second-hand Europe: Ukrainian immigrants in Poland</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> oD Russia Can Europe make it? oD Russia Vitalii Atanasov Migration matters Human rights Tue, 10 Apr 2018 10:59:41 +0000 Vitalii Atanasov 117153 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Poland’s ‘holocaust law’ redefines hate speech https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/nanor-kebranian/poland-s-holocaust-law-redefines-hate-speech <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This new law exploits the spirit of such legislation in order to bolster the ruling majority’s authority and to further intimidate vulnerable groups.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34614000.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34614000.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'>Poland's PM Mateusz Morawiecki at a press conference at Chancellery of the Prime Minister in Warsaw, Poland on 23 January 2018. NurPhoto/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Poland’s new so-called “Holocaust law” sends a menacing message to its minority groups by turning the criminalization of hate speech on its head. Hate speech laws are normally enacted as a protection against marginalized populations. But this new law exploits the spirit of such legislation in order to bolster the ruling majority’s authority and to further intimidate vulnerable groups.&nbsp;</p> <p>At first glance, and despite the international furor it has ignited, there is nothing surprising about Poland’s new so-called “Holocaust law”, the Amendment to the Act on the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN). Like many such laws, it too offers an official reading of history. Poland’s constitution, like many modern counterparts, achieves a similar aim in its preamble with reference to the country’s histories of foreign repression – as does its 2017 de-communization law, which calls for the dismantling of Soviet-era monuments, much to Russia’s disapproval. </p> <p>Poland has joined the perennial efforts to legally institute and disseminate official – read flattering – discourses of national history. Memorial structures, national museums, public curricula, repatriation and citizenship schemes the world over serve similar objectives, even if more indirectly than explicitly targeted ‘memory laws’.</p> <p>What have been termed memory laws emerged in the past several decades in response to threats of revisionist Holocaust historiography and have proliferated throughout the post-Cold War era with reference to other histories of mass atrocity. They pronounce official versions of traumatic pasts, often criminalizing these events’ public denial, denigration, or diminution. And in their consensus to obstruct Holocaust revisionism, they reflect a certain degree of international cooperation. </p> <p>They also express a shared value of inclusivity and a commitment to a unified European ethos or identity. The Council of Europe formalized that commitment in 2008 by adopting the Framework Decision on racism and xenophobia to combat “particularly serious forms of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law,”&nbsp;especially in the face of resurging anti-Semitic expressions throughout new EU member states from Eastern and Central Europe. </p> <p>The law criminalized hate speech, considering it a violation of the fundamental principles – including liberty and democracy – of the European Union and its Member States. Along with the recognized offense of&nbsp;publicly inciting to violence or hatred through, among other acts, the public dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures, or other material, it also made it a punishable crime to publicly condone, deny or grossly trivialise crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes as defined by the International Criminal Court concerning events occurring during and after the Second World War.&nbsp;</p> <p>Importantly, when it came to Polish law, the Framework Decision equated ‘hate speech’ with ‘historical revisionism’, which, as legal scholars have noted, are not equivalent, and in many legislations are treated as separate offenses. The targets of ‘hate speech’ and ‘historical revisionism’ remain fundamentally different, since ‘hate speech’ aims at discursively threatening and injuring an individual, usually from an already marginalized group. Historical revisionists, in the interests of maintaining their legitimacy and mainstreaming their cause, instead prefer using objective language about groups, rather than individuals so as to circumvent charges of incitement to hatred and violence.&nbsp;</p> <p>The EU-wide equivalencing of historical revisionism with hate speech, as advanced by the Council of Europe, unwittingly fosters political redefinitions of the crime of denialism and, more importantly, of hate speech. The Framework Decision provides nationalist historical revisionists – or, in current parlance, neo-authoritarian populists – with grounds for a repressive mechanism to empower xenophobic majorities by further marginalizing vulnerable minorities. </p> <p>The Law and Justice Party (PiS)-endorsed “Holocaust law” achieves just such a cynical manoeuver, consistent with the party’s legal hijacking of Poland’s constitutional system, by inverting the purpose of the IPN denial ban passed in 1998. </p> <p>That existing law had already made punishable, by a fine or imprisonment of up to three years, the public contradiction of facts established as Nazi and communist crimes perpetrated against Polish nationals and citizens between 1939 and 1989. Furthermore, and emulating the German Criminal Code (Section 130), Poland’s constitution (Article 13) also regulates references to the country’s fascist and totalitarian past, citing the endorsement of authoritarian activities as an act congruent with incitement to racial or national hatred. </p> <p>In other words, like the Framework Decision, the existing Polish law reflects a hate speech approach to Holocaust revisionism. This leaves room, as evinced by the new amendment, for its perverse reinterpretation.&nbsp;</p> <p>The currently “frozen” 2018 PiS-endorsed amendment (Article 55.a.1) – pending the Constitutional Tribunal’s review – introduces a new punishable crime to the 1998 IPN law, namely the attribution of any Polish co-responsibility for the Third German Reich’s Nazi crimes or for other crimes against humanity. </p> <p>The rationale is that such attribution diminishes the responsibility of the actual perpetrators. This component allows the amendment to be misrepresented or misinterpreted as an additional law against Holocaust denial. Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, explains the logic behind this initiative in an official government video, stating, “Similar laws operate in other countries across Europe and the world. Holocaust denial is not only a denial of German crimes but also other ways of falsifying history. One of the worst types of this lie occurs when someone diminishes the responsibility of real perpetrators and attributes that responsibility to their victims.”&nbsp;</p> <p>This contorted logic constitutes an extraordinary example of Holocaust denialism in anti-denialist sheep’s clothing. </p> <p>As numerous commentators have noted, this aspect of the law actually suppresses open and factual discourse about Polish WWII crimes. And it therefore effectively exercises repressive Holocaust denial, while pretending to staunch it. </p> <p>But the amendment and its underlying intentions actually proceed even further than this paradox in cynically subverting and redefining the purpose and meaning of hate speech legislation. If laws curbing injurious discourse serve to protect minorities and the marginalized against a potentially or actually hostile majority, Article 55.a.1 now inverts the objective of such laws. </p> <p>It prioritizes the alleged vulnerability of the majority – the Polish Nation – against the minuscule and inflated threat of historical inaccuracy. It therefore redefines hate speech as an insult against the ruling majority and its myth of national unity and innocence, rather than as a threat to plural democracy. </p> <p>Punishing hate speech is intended to protect those excluded from this myth – those who do not conform to the religious, ethnic, national or racial moulds it upholds. But in reinterpreting this crime as a victimization of the majority, Poland’s “Holocaust law” expresses an openly hostile stance against its minorities, both past and present.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Poland </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Poland Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Nanor Kebranian Mon, 09 Apr 2018 16:06:48 +0000 Nanor Kebranian 117138 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Honourable deceptions in the choreography of the Northern Ireland Peace Process https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/paul-dixon/honourable-deceptions-in-choreography-of-northern-ireland-peace-process <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In some situations, the end does justify the means. In these anti-political times isn't it useful to remember the positive role political actors can play in making the world a better place?<strong></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35914818.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35914818.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" width="460" height="344" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams reflects on the Good Friday peace negotiations in his office in Leinster House, Dublin, April 8, 2018. Niall Carson/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>The war in Northern Ireland claimed approximately 3,700 lives and, by some estimates, injured 40-50,000 people. The Belfast or Good Friday Agreement, 10 April 1998, is the foundation on which an uneasy peace was established. This peace was achieved using ‘honourable’ deceptions, both large and small. This is the ‘inconvenient truth’ of the peace process.&nbsp;</p> <p>Populists argue that ‘a straight talking honest politics’ is possible. Realists claim that deception and hypocrisy is an inevitable part of politics. What is important is to be able to judge between honourable and dishonourable deceptions.&nbsp;</p> <p>In Northern Ireland, the polarisation of the electorate between nationalists, who favoured Irish unity, and unionists who wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom, made the use of deception particularly important in achieving an accommodation.</p> <p>Labour’s Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mo Mowlam, pointed out that the Good Friday Agreement was deliberately written to be ‘open to multiple interpretations’. This meant that unionists could argue that it ‘secured the Union’ while for Gerry Adams ‘it severely weakened it’.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Belfast Agreement was designed to climax on Good Friday, 10 April 1998. The symbolism of Easter was used to win support for the deal. The final week of negotiations had been carefully choreographed to give ‘wins’ to all the parties supporting the deal to maximise public support.</p> <p>The US Senator, George Mitchell, had been given a position paper by the British and Irish governments. He was asked by the two governments to present this to the Northern Irish parties as his, rather than their, best estimate of where agreement might be achieved.&nbsp;</p> <p>Mitchell realised the paper was too pro-nationalist because of its emphasis on a strong all-Ireland dimension. ‘As I read the document I knew instantly that it would not be acceptable to the unionists.’ But he went ahead with the charade and presented the ‘Mitchell document’ as his own work.</p> <p>The purpose of the paper was, most likely, to create a drama at the beginning of the final week of talks. John Taylor MP, a leading figure in the more moderate Ulster Unionist Party, declared that he would not touch the proposals with a ‘forty-foot bargepole’. Even the centrist Alliance party rejected the proposals.&nbsp;</p> <p>This ‘crisis’ was the cue for the Labour Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and the Irish Taoiseach, (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern to fly in and take the stage for the final days of negotiation. Blair rejected soundbites but nonetheless ‘felt the hand of history on his shoulder’.</p> <h2><strong>The hand of history and decommissioning</strong></h2> <p>The British Prime Minister’s role was to ‘rescue’ the process and reassure unionists that the Union was safe. He rejected ‘Mitchell’s paper’ as too pro-nationalist. The Ulster Unionist Party leader, David Trimble, was handed a unionist victory.&nbsp;</p> <p>Unionists claimed that Blair ‘humiliated’ the Irish Prime Minister. The Irish government claimed Ahern had ‘reached out’ to unionists.</p> <p>Several participants in the talks suspected choreography. Seamus Mallon, of the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party, was ‘confident’ that changes to the Mitchell document ‘had been anticipated’. The republican newspaper&nbsp;<em>An Phoblacht</em>&nbsp;reported, ‘The suspicion is that the UUP’s speedy rejection was pre-planned’.</p> <p>The Ulster Unionist Party won their ‘victory’ on the all-Ireland dimension on the Tuesday of Easter week. Negotiations continued, and at 3am on Good Friday morning the nationalist SDLP then won their victory by securing a strong, power-sharing executive.&nbsp;</p> <p>Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, and loyalist paramilitaries secured a ‘victory’ on the release of paramilitary prisoners. Gerry Kelly, from Sinn Fein, approached the loyalists arguing that they should adopt a common front on prisoners, demanding their release within a year.</p> <p>Remarkably, the loyalists argued against one year and insisted on two years. They did so out of concern for the UUP because they believed that David Trimble would not be able to sell an Agreement to the unionist electorate that released all prisoners within a year.</p> <p>Decommissioning had already become they key bone of contention in the peace process. Unionists argued that the IRA should at least start decommissioning to demonstrate their sincerity in entering the democratic process. It was undemocratic, they argued, for republicans to use the threat of violence to extort concessions from the other non-violent parties. The IRA claimed that decommissioning was a humiliating demand for surrender.</p> <p>The UUP rejected the Agreement’s wording on decommissioning because it did not provide strong enough assurances. At the last moment Tony Blair provided a ‘side letter’ to the UUP on decommissioning. John Taylor MP, the Unionist deputy leader, was seen as a unionist hardliner. When he declared that he was now satisfied on decommissioning, this was thought to have reassured some wavering UUP sceptics.</p> <p>Close observers of the peace process have suggested that Taylor played the role of a ‘shill’ or plant. Taylor plays the role of a sceptic who, after the side-letter, ‘buys into’ the deal and this encourages others to overcome their scepticism. This is a charade because all along Taylor was going to endorse the deal because he was allied to David Trimble, the UUP leader.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Theatrical skills</strong></h2> <p>Not all in the UUP were sold on the Agreement. Jeffrey Donaldson MP walked out of the negotiations because he did not believe that the wording on decommissioning was strong enough. He later joined the DUP, which opposed the GFA in 1998, but signed up to a similar deal at St Andrews in 2006.</p> <p>David Trimble later accepted that he had not got strong enough wording in the Agreement on decommissioning. But the alternative to accepting the GFA was for him to walk away from a deal that stood the best chance of bringing peace to Northern Ireland since the violence began in the late sixties.&nbsp;</p> <p>In the Referendum campaign to endorse the Agreement, when it looked like decommissioning was not required, unionist opinion shifted towards a ‘No’ vote. Tony Blair used ‘hand written’ pledges and implied that the GFA required more than decommissioning. This was an ‘honourable deception’. The Prime Minister had good reason to believe that without this deceit the Referendum would fail, and this risked a return to a war.</p> <p>On 22 May 1998 ‘Yes’ won the Referendum on the Agreement. A few weeks later legislation was introduced at Westminster that resulted in the first release of paramilitary prisoners in September 1998. In December 1999, Sinn Fein took their seats in the powersharing executive. The IRA did not begin decommissioning until 23 October 2001, in the wake of 9/11.&nbsp;</p> <p>Political actors used their ‘theatrical skills’ to achieve peace in Northern Ireland. Deceptions both large and small were perpetrated. Hypocrisy was used by actors to present different faces to different audiences. Many of these deceptions were ‘honourable’ because, in some situations, the end does justify the means. In these anti-political times it is useful to remember the positive role political actors can play in making the world a better place.</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-35914817.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35914817.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="587" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gerry Adam's copy of the Good Friday peace accord. Niall Carson/Press Association. 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="/uk/brexitinc/robin-wilson/left-should-think-more-carefully-before-defending-good-friday-agreement">The left should think more carefully before defending the Good Friday Agreement</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"> Ireland </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Northern Ireland </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk EU Northern Ireland Ireland UK Conflict Democracy and government Ideas International politics Northern Ireland Paul Dixon Mon, 09 Apr 2018 14:52:13 +0000 Paul Dixon 117134 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Crossed boundaries? Migrants and police on the French-Italian border https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/martina-tazzioli/crossed-boundaries-migrants-and-police-on-french-italian-border <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An eyewitness account and analysis of what it means for French customs officials to force a Nigerian man to urinate in Italy.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u563152/PA-34488242.jpg" alt="PA-34488242.jpg" width="100%" /><span class="image-caption">Migrants try to cross the border between Italy and France passing through the mountains and Passo della Scala, near Bardonecchia, Italy, in January 2018. Danilo Balducci/Zuma Press/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></p><p class="BodyA">BARDONECCHIA, ITALY – The strengthening of migration controls at the internal frontiers of Europe is not a smooth affair. Far from only trying to gain control over migrant crossings, EU member states are reshaping border policies to project sovereign power and support state prerogatives, such as anti-terrorism. This work has included the implementation of bilateral agreements between national police forces, as well as measures aimed at intimidating solidarity networks that support migrants. The forced entry into a room of the Bardonecchia railway station, located a few kilometres inside Italy, and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/01/italy-france-cross-border-urine-test-drugs">the diplomatic row that followed</a> glaringly shows the political stakes that are behind inter-state border cooperation.</p> <p class="BodyA">I was there, conducting interviews with the NGO Rainbow for Africa for my research project on migrant solidarity networks, when the police burst in. It is a small room that Rainbow for Africa uses, with the authorisation of the municipality of Bardonecchia, to host migrants at night as they try to cross into France. The French customs officers arrived around 8 pm. They had guns and Tasers, and they were holding<strong> </strong>a Nigerian citizen that they arrested on the train. Their right to enter, they said, was based on a bilateral agreement signed with the Italians in the sixties.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">They had guns and Tasers, and they were holding<strong> </strong>a Nigerian citizen that they arrested on the train.</p> <p class="BodyA">A cultural-linguistic mediator of the Italian NGO, a non-white person, tried to dissuade them. “No weapons here”, he said. “Nobody is authorised to do arbitrary anti-drugs tests in this room”. One of the customs officers shouted “shut up, this is none of your business”, and proceeded with the Nigerian gentleman towards the toilet, at the back of the room. The Nigerian citizen was travelling from Paris to Naples, with a regular train ticket and a permit to stay in Italy, and he could not understand what the French officers were shouting. They spoke in French only.</p> <p class="BodyA">He tested negative so they released him, throwing his stuff on the floor and leaving before the Italian police arrived. A diplomatic crisis has since erupted. The Italian Home Office demanded an explanation from the French ambassador to Rome, who cited a bilateral trans-border agreement signed with Italy in 1990 <a href="http://torino.repubblica.it/cronaca/2018/03/31/news/coro_di_proteste_contro_l_irruzione_dei_francesi_non_siamo_la_toilette_di_macron-192649605/">according to which</a> "French customs officers are allowed to intervene in the Italian territory”. Italy replied that the room can no longer be used by the French, as it is now reserved for hosting migrants. Moreover, as the Italian Association of Juridical Studies (ASGI) <a href="https://www.asgi.it/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/2018_4_1_Bardonecchia_parere_giuridico_ASGI.pdf">explains</a>, the bilateral agreements between France and Italy establish that “the French police can act in the Italian territory but on the basis of specific and detailed conditions […] and always through a collaboration with the Italian police”. Therefore, the arbitrary stop and search of the Nigerian citizen, and a forced urine test on the basis of racial profiling (a black man spotted by the French police on a high speed train), also reveal the broader political stakes that go beyond migration. </p> <h2>Sovereignty over what?</h2> <p class="BodyA">What does this event tell us? How should it be analysed in light of the current French-Italian border police cooperation? The day after the event, Italian politicians claimed the need to regain control over national frontiers. “We should kick the French diplomats out of Italy”, declared Matteo Salvini, the leader of the populist right party the League. His and others’ reactions put national sovereignty at the forefront, shifting the whole debate from the arbitrary intervention made <strong>on</strong> the migrant to the French armed intrusion <strong>on</strong> Italy. </p> <p class="BodyA">Trans-border police cooperation between the two countries has a long history, including the 1997 Chambery agreement that establishes rules for police cooperation. Most recently, on 15 March, the prefectures of Turin and Gap signed a new, bilateral trans-border agreement aimed at controlling migration movements and arresting suspected terrorists. Political tension at the border has visibly increased over the past three years, in particular due to two main political issues: France’s suspension of Schengen in May 2015, and the increasing number of migrants risking their lives to evade French border controls by crossing through the Alps.</p> <p class="BodyA">&nbsp;“You should not dare crossing here. Crossing the Alps it is too dangerous now. With this amount of snow, you will die for sure”, an Italian policeman told four Somali migrants who arrived in Bardonecchia by regional train from Turin. “If you want to be alive tomorrow, don’t try to cross. And also, if you manage now, the French will take you back here, in Italy”. In part a well-intended warning, in part an illustration of the deterrence tactics being deployed along the border, these words demonstrate the different attitudes on the two sides of the borders.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">The Italians have little interest in tracking the migrants nor in blocking them – it’s the French who incessantly patrol the frontier.</p> <p class="BodyA">The Italians have little interest in tracking the migrants nor in blocking them – it’s the French who incessantly patrol the frontier and actively push migrants back into Italy when they find them. For this reason both local NGOs and the Italian police try to discourage migrants from crossing. They know that the chance of dying is very high, and those who succeed initially are very likely sent back. When migrants are detected by the French police, they are returned by van to the town of Bardonecchia and dropped in the main square next to the rail station.</p> <p class="BodyA">“Sometimes they give a paper to the migrants, some other they do not officially register the push-back”, an activist of the NoTav movement said. “Migrants know that it is extremely hard to cross. Only about 10% manage to reach France at the first attempt, the others try again and again. For their part, the police counts on the fact that, also due to the extreme weather conditions and the difficulty of crossing high mountains, migrants are exhausted after few attempts and give up, claiming asylum in Italy.”</p> <h2>"The problem is not the snow, the problem is the border”</h2> <p class="BodyA">Behind the struggle over border cooperation and national sovereignty, the question of the implementation of the Dublin Regulation comes to the fore. Both states try not to take in potential asylum seekers, with France actively confining migrants in Italy. These repeated pushbacks have severe impacts on the migrants, who are forced to repeatedly undertake the same journey and to constantly divert their routes.</p> <p class="BodyA">Furthermore, when French customs officers pushed their way past the NGO workers in the Bardonecchia train station they not only intimidated them, but also – I would ague – sent a message to all migrant solidarity networks that are mobilised in the Susa Valley. Alongside Rainbow for Africa, which is authorised by the municipality to manage this temporary medical clinic and hosting space, activists and citizens in the village of Claviere are running a solidarity space without the support of local authorities.</p><p> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u563152/20180330_165529.jpg" alt="20180330_165529.jpg" width="100%" /><span class="image-caption">Photo provided by author.</span></p><p class="BodyA">Claviere, which is located just two kilometres from the French border, is the other main crossing point for the migrants. Unlike in Bardonecchia, the municipality did not open any space for them, and therefore a group of citizens decided on 24 March to occupy a room inside the church. The priest took position against the occupation, but in the end the local authorities could not evict the people inside, due to the extra-territorial status of the church. Moreover, the occupation has received quite a lot of support from many citizens in the area and beyond.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">The mountains are not the problem, the snow is not an emergency. The problem is the border.</p> <p class="BodyA">The occupied church is not merely a place for the migrants to stay and rest before trying to cross to France. Its existence as a place of solidarity is an active challenge to the state logics of “managing migration”. In the face of the repeated pushback operations at the border and the risky journeys that migrants undertake on the Alps, the occupants of the church refuse the humanitarian emergency discourse that considers migrants as desperate people to save from the snow. As one said, “the mountains are not the problem, the snow is not an emergency. The problem is the border, that forces these migrants to cross from here and in these conditions”.</p> <p class="BodyA">The French-Italian frontier is marked by border cooperation activities as well as disputes over arbitrary police interventions, yet at the same time it is a place of growing trans-border solidarity infrastructures. These are under attack due to their support of migrants’ struggles for movement, support which goes beyond the humanitarian gesture of giving something to the migrants. Against inter-state police cooperation, and beyond disputes over border sovereignty, trans-border cooperation is multiplying as citizens defy their own governments to become “criminals of solidarity”. </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="/beyondslavery/alessandra-sciurba-martina-tazzioli/migration-make-or-break-election-topic-across-euro">Migration: the make or break election topic across Europe</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/martina-tazzioli/calais-after-jungle-migrant-dispersal-and-expulsion-of-humanitarianis">Calais after the jungle: migrant dispersal and the expulsion of humanitarianism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/leonie-ansems-de-vries-glenda-garelli-and-martina-tazzioli/mediterranean-migration-crisis-transit-po"> Mediterranean migration crisis: transit points, enduring struggles</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Can Europe make it? Martina Tazzioli Tue, 03 Apr 2018 07:00:00 +0000 Martina Tazzioli 116997 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The rising precariat and left-transformation: an examination of the Five Star Movement and Corbyn’s Labour Party https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/alphan-telek-seren-selvin-korkmaz/rising-precariat-and-left-transformation-examin <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Corbyn’s Labour like the Five Star Movement has adopted a policy agenda based on political and social justice.</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-34955097.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34955097.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'>Luigi Di Maio, leader of the Five Star Movement, speaks in the Sports Hall in Pomigliano, Italy on February 12, 2018 during the March 4, 2018 election tour. NurPhoto/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In the post-1980 period, the unbounded commodification and dominance of plutocracy has been deepened by neoliberalism, creating deeply insecure relations throughout our economies, while identity politics has polarized our societies. </p> <p>Both have precipitated the collapse of social solidarity. Now, people are more vulnerable in their daily lives and they are fearful about their prospects. We believe this is a life-style that many people from different geographies spontaneously experience, a common sense whose main motto is “we do not have a future”.&nbsp; </p> <p>In this vacuum, populist leaders and the radical right fill the political gap by manipulating and pumping up the racism, hatred and anger in the society. Given the lack of a systemic solution, the source of inequality and poverty is invariably attributed by populist demagogues to the “Other” such as migrants, religious and ethnic minorities or intellectuals. </p> <p>However, this same world has given birth to counter movements, which we may call left-transformative movements, based on a politics of hope and justice and bringing class politics back into the political arena to expose the real origin of these inequalities and injustices.</p> <p>These left-transformative movements in terms of their agendas and political strategies propose structural transformations that could change the everyday lives of people and strengthen them in the political, economic and social spheres. They also use new political campaigning and participation methods rather than standard, old-fashioned techniques. </p> <p>We compare two rising left-transformative movements, Five Star Movement in Italy and Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership in the UK Labour Party, to explore this combination of new techniques with a progressive political agenda and the potential it creates for left-transformation. However, there are more than these two movements: Podemos in Spain, Syriza in Greece, Bernie Sanders in USA, radical youth in German Social Democrat Party, Razem in Poland, La France Insoumise in France, Diem25 as led by Yanis Varoufakis in the EU, recent social explosions in Tunisia and Iran ­– all indicate an opening for the theory of left-transformation. </p> <h2><strong>An agenda for a new class with new methods</strong></h2> <p>The theory of left-transformation depends on a politics that promises political and social justice. It does not separate political participation and freedoms from social equality and economic securities. It should be underlined that this ‘justice politics’ does not depend on a pre-determined pecking order between political and social justice. The priority will shift according to contextual necessities. </p> <p>Sometimes, as in China or Turkey, the contextual situation of a country requires that political justice is a priority. However, social justice is a more acute priority for the French or Spanish precariat, since they have fewer problems with the issues of political justice. </p> <p>The precariat, who have experienced social suffering due to these common phenomena, gives birth to a new political idea: left-transformation. These movements arise and make their claims on political justice by demanding political participation in decision-making processes, to render the process accountable, and at the same time to protect it from corrupt relations with the plutocracy and financial institutions. </p> <p>Furthermore, these movements by emphasizing social justice demand decent economic livelihoods and promise people socio-economic security. Of course this requires a global transformation of market structures as well as a whole overhaul of political structures. That is why we argue for left-transformation, meaning not piecemeal change but a total change of the social, political and economic landscape. </p> <p>It may sound utopian, actually it is. However, the current conditions of the world prepare the ground for this political idea. Like every other progressive thought and action, it needs solidarity both at national and the international level. The common life-style of the precariat crosses the borders among different races, religions, nations and cultures. We will elaborate two of them here: the Five Star Movement and Corbyn’s Labour Party. </p> <h2><strong>Five Star Movement</strong></h2> <p>The Five Star Movement was founded by comedian Beppe Grillo in 2009. In a short period of time, it won support among large segments of the Italian precariat, mainly made up of young people working without secure and stable lives. The movement got 26% of the votes in the 2013 Italian general elections. In the recent elections held in this month, it got 32% of the votes and it is now the strongest party negotiating the governing coalition. Though the movement asserts that it is neither left nor right in the political spectrum, its political programme is based on anti-austerity measures, support for socio-economic security and the demand for political participation in decision-making processes through new methods. </p> <p>As explained above, the Five Star Movement displays the basic characteristics of left-transformation movements: promising social and political justice for an Italian precariat and using hope as the milestone of its political programme and actions. In terms of political justice, the movement totally rejects the exclusionary mechanisms of bogus-democracies that exclude people from decision-making processes affecting their whole daily lives. By the same gesture, it rejects the establishment parties and its political elites because the Five Star Movement and its supporters do not think these represent the people. </p> <p>Moreover, rather than representation, the movement underlines the importance of participatory democracy. However, by this it does not mean that the idea of representation is left to the establishment parties. Rather, the movement foresees a hybrid adoption of both representative and participatory democracy. To that end, the Five Star Movement has for a long time been using both cyber-space and urban space (city squares) to create a new political agency. This point is significant, since a transformative movement needs to take advantage of cyber-space to spread its programme, ideas, and promises to those parts of the &nbsp;precariat who live in different and remote parts of the country. </p> <p>However, cyber-space activism is not enough for a transformative movement to increase its power: it needs real spaces like city squares to establish and shape solidarity among the precariat. City squares increase the class-consciousness of the precariat because they open up access to long discussions of the problems they have in common and a common life-style that they share: they start to know each other in these spaces. </p> <p>The Five Star Movement uses this hybrid model. They have enlarged their support among Italian people by using cyber-space tools such as viral videos, blogs, social media activism, using apps to consult their supporters about local and national issues, launching referendums through apps. They have complemented this with V-days (<em>vaffakulo </em>days) by regularly holding assemblies in city squares. The fusion of cyber and real spaces launches these transformative movements.</p> <p>The new participatory logic and its mechanisms creates its own forms of &nbsp;political justice. However, the issues of social justice matter more for transformative movements, since their supporters demands social justice: more socio-economic security, more social rights, democracy at the workplace, a secure and honorable life that permit the precariat to take breath in their lives without obsessing about their futures. </p> <p>This is the imperative behind the Five Star Movement’s anti-austerity economic programme, constructed around these demands. It especially promises to stand up against those EU reforms that cut social rights and social spending in a way that badly affects the Italian people. The movement has also put forward the concept of <em>degrowth</em> instead of economic growth. One of the main promises of neoliberalism and liberal democracies has been high growth rates along with new jobs and social relief. However, these undertakings remain unfulfilled. </p> <p>Meanwhile, the Five Star Movement promises a universal basic income to every citizen of Italy. Given the unfair relations of distribution, the precariat depends solely on money-wages. It cannot perceive any exit strategy from this dependency, any future alternative plan, and is forced to bow its head in front of the bosses in the workplace. That is why it has to behave like a beggar as Guy Standing put it.<a href="#_edn1">[i]</a> But a basic income promises a new socio-economic tool that can sustain the sphere for social justice. This makes the Five Star Movement a real star among the younger members of Italian society. When examined, it can be seen that <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2018/mar/05/italian-elections-2018-full-results-renzi-berlusconi">the movement gets much of its votes</a> from the regions where most of Italy’s under-30’s live. </p> <h2><strong>Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party</strong></h2> <p>Does left-transformation need totally new political organizations, or is it possible to create change from within existing parties or movements. While the left-transformative Five Star Movement refuses to become involved with established parties and tried to adopt a new form, Corbyn pursues a transformative agenda within the British Labour Party. </p> <p>Either scenario is possible, depending on the economic, political and social conditions of specific countries. Corbyn’s leadership in the Labour Party mobilized the party by ensuring huge participation to the party and empowering its grassroots organizations. The Labour Party under Corbyn’s leadership has caught the imagination of the precariat. This is because Corbyn’s left-transformative agenda promises a just society at the same time that it uses new methods and a new style of organization in his campaign.</p> <p>Corbyn’s Labour like the Five Star Movement has adopted a policy agenda based on political and social justice. This leftist agenda and Corbyn’s charisma makes the Labour Party a vanguard for change in the UK rather than a party preserving the status quo. Corbyn’s leadership has mutually complementary relations with Momentum, which emerged after Corbyn’s candidacy to support his leadership as an independent grassroots movement and later joined the party. </p> <p>Momentum created a political space for people who were not interested in mainstream politics and specifically young people. They use cyberspace very actively by creating viral videos, graphics, and social media messages. In addition they ensure active participation and easy communication by deploying special mobile apps. Volunteer software developers and graphic designers have worked for the movement. </p> <p>Momentum also uses new types of political event. For instance, “<a href="http://theworldtransformed.org/aboutus">The World Transformed</a>” has created an arts, music and design festival to attract people outside the political bubble. The Labour Party has also begun to organize festivals as a form of political event rather than classic party meetings. Corbyn himself is actively using cyberspace and coming together with ordinary people by knocking on their doors or organizing meetings with them specifically to listen to their everyday problems. </p> <p>Corbyn has set up <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/corbyn-labour-community-campaign-unit-transform-the-labour-party-again-a8149886.html">a community campaign unit</a>, which will work with communities and groups of employees to support them in campaigning on local and workplace issues.<a href="#_edn4">[iv]</a> Corbyn believes that working with community groups can make it easier for ordinary people to engage in grassroots politics and that this will strengthen the left in the UK. </p> <p>In the UK social justice is the main concern of the precariat. Although social justice is a dominant part of Corbyn’s programme, there are certain suggestions that will increase the participation of citizens in the decision-making process in local governance, and he suggests the elimination of rent-seeking urbanization at the local level. His programme is based on the ideal of an inclusive society that promises to combat anti-semitism, Islamophobia and hatred towards migrants. Corbyn as a left-transformative leader seeks a just society. </p> <p>According to Corbyn, the United Kingdom as one of the wealthiest countries in the world should not have such a problem with poverty and homelessness. His programme offers housing support and tuition-free higher education. In addition Corbyn highlights the low-paid insecure jobs and advocates financial reform to benefit the public sphere and create secure employment opportunities. He also suggests tax reform. He also suggests state control in the production and redistribution of basic needs such as energy, transportation and water.</p> <p>To sum up, the world is in a systemic crisis, the kind that necessitates a profound &nbsp;transformation. This period of time has given birth to both populists and left-transformation movements. The first, using the fear and anger of the people directs these means to provoking more racism and more polarization in society as well as deepening economic inequalities and insecurities. On the other hand, a new idea is haunting the world, which promises a quite different future, a new solidarity that can provide the much desired sense of future and hope: the theory of left-transformation. Today, we have emerging left-transformative movements around the world that bring a new kind of class politics onto the political agenda. Their programmes might be mistakenly deemed utopian and populist. But we believe that left-transformation can be achieved through national and international solidarity.</p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ednref1">[i]</a> Guy Standing, <a href="http://www.guystanding.com/files/documents/Precariat_and_Class_Struggle_final_English.pdf">The Precariat and Class Struggle</a> </p> <p><a href="#_ednref2"></a>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="#_ednref3"></a> </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/seren-selvin-korkmaz-alphan-telek/left-transformation-versus-left-populism-why-it">Left-transformation versus left-populism: why it matters</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/seren-selvin-korkmaz-alphan-telek/origins-of-populism-bogus-democracy-and-capital">The origins of populism: bogus-democracy and capitalism </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/alphan-telek/return-of-class-and-social-justice-in-iran-and-tunisia">The return of ‘class and social justice’ in Iran and Tunisia</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"> UK </div> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU UK Italy Seren Selvin Korkmaz Alphan Telek Mon, 02 Apr 2018 08:14:14 +0000 Alphan Telek and Seren Selvin Korkmaz 116992 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Restore Julian Assange’s access to visitors and to the outside world https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/yanis-varoufakis-brian-eno/restore-julian-assange-s-access-to-visitors-and-to-out <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We call upon all citizens of good conscience to ask the Ecuadorian authorities to restore Assange’s access to the outside world, and demand that the British authorities end his detention.</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-31370924.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-31370924.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'>Julian Assange speaks from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London after a seven-year investigation in Sweden against the WikiLeaks founder was dropped in May, 2017. Lauren Hurley/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>It is with great concern that we heard that Julian Assange has lost access to the internet and the right to receive visitors at the Ecuadorian London Embassy. Only extraordinary pressure from the US and the Spanish governments can explain why Ecuador’s authorities should have taken such appalling steps in isolating Julian.</p> <p>Only recently the government of Ecuador granted Julian citizenship and a diplomatic passport, in a bid to allow him safe passage from London. The UK government, under heavy pressure from the US government, refused to exploit this opportunity to end Julian’s detention – even after the Swedish authorities announced that no charges were, or would be, laid against him. </p> <p>Now, it&nbsp;seems that&nbsp;the Ecuadorian government has been ‘leaned’ on mercilessly not only to stop attempting to provide Julian with a diplomatic route to safety but to drive him out of their London Embassy as well. In addition to US pressure, the Spanish government is also using its leverage over Ecuador to silence Julian’s criticisms of Madrid’s imprisonment of Catalan politicians and, in particular, of the arrest of Catalonia’s former premier in Germany.</p> <p>Clearly, Ecuador’s government has been subjected to bullying over its decision to grant Julian asylum, support and, ultimately, diplomatic status. Naturally, Quito cannot admit that it is buckling under that pressure and it argues, in public, that Julian’s tweets over Catalonia are responsible for the decision to isolate him. Of course this is utterly unbelievable. Julian is now a citizen of Ecuador and as such enjoys the full protection of his freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution of Ecuador. </p> <p>Additionally, the only reason Julian is holed up in Ecuador’s London Embassy – and why Ecuador gave him asylum in the first place – is precisely because he empowered whistleblowers’ freedom of expression and defended our right to know the truth about practices of the US and other western powers that the latter found ‘inconvenient’, once exposed to the light of day.</p> <p>A world in which whistleblowers are hounded, small countries are forced to violate their cherished principles, and politicians are jailed for pursuing peacefully their political agenda is a deeply troubled world – a world at odds with the one the liberal establishment in Europe and the United States proclaimed as its core creation since the end of the Cold War.</p> <p>With these thoughts in mind we call upon all citizens of good conscience to send a message to the Ecuadorian authorities asking that Julian’s access to the outside world be restored and another, more pertinent one, to the British authorities to end Julian’s detention.</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>Change.org petition to <strong><a href="https://www.change.org/p/the-government-of-ecuador-end-julian-assange-s-isolation">End Julian Assange’s isolation</a></strong></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/pablo-casta-o/free-speech-under-siege-in-spain">Free speech under siege in Spain</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/digitaliberties/xnet/whistleblowing-platform-against-corruption-for-city-council-of-barcelona">A whistleblowing platform against corruption for the City Council of Barcelona </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitaLiberties/geoffroy-de-lagasnerie/why-progressives-should-support-wikileaks"> Why progressives should support wikileaks</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/rebecca-sentance/why-whistleblowers-are-essential-to-democracy">Why whistleblowers are essential to democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wfd/mary-fitzgerald-thomas-drake/after-paris-be-careful-what-you-ask-for-interview-with-thomas-drake">After Paris, be careful what you ask for: an interview with Thomas Drake</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"> Ecuador </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Spain </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? United States Spain Ecuador UK Brian Eno Yanis Varoufakis DiEM25 Sat, 31 Mar 2018 10:55:19 +0000 Yanis Varoufakis and Brian Eno 116980 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Free speech under siege in Spain https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/pablo-casta-o/free-speech-under-siege-in-spain <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The situation has become darker in recent months. The monarchy, which has traditionally enjoyed a good image among Spaniards, is now at the heart of the controversy on free 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/PA-35241225.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35241225.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'>King Felipe VI of Spain seated opposite Ada Colau at the Mobile World Congress Official Dinner Inauguration on February 25, 2018 in Barcelona. NurPhoto/Press Association. all rights reserved.</span></span></span>Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has been detained by the German police while the Spanish Supreme Court has ordered imprisonment without bail for five other pro-independence leaders. </p> <p>They are only the most recent victims of a wave of repression of free speech unlashed by the Spanish government and judiciary in recent months. Indeed, an increase in judicial rulings and police actions that challenge fundamental freedoms has been taking place. The most serious manifestations of this trend have occurred in Catalonia, where the Spanish police violently repressed the self-determination referendum convoked by the Catalan government last October 1 (declared illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court), and courts decided to prosecute&nbsp; several pro-independence politicians and social leaders.</p> <p>While the latest detentions of pro-independence politicians have prompted the mass media to focus on Catalonia again, free speech seems now to be threatened throughout Spain. The environment of exalted Spanish nationalism promoted by Mariano Rajoy's government in response to the Catalan pro-independence movement has encouraged conservative judges to clamp down with increasing severity on crimes of opinion. </p> <p>However, highly questionable rulings had already been handed down before October 1, such as the <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/spain-arrest-terrorism-twitter-joke-peoples-party-podemos-basque-eta-assassination-a7687186.html">condemnation</a> of a 21-year-old university student for jokingly referring on Twitter to the murder of Francisco Franco's PM Luis Carrero Blanco in 1973 — Cassandra Vera was sentenced to one suspended year of prison, but the Supreme Court eventually absolved her. </p> <p>More generally, Amnesty International has condemned in its 2017 <a href="https://elpais.com/elpais/2018/02/22/inenglish/1519292044_500937.html">Annual Report</a> the prosecution by the judiciary of “dozens of individuals” for the glorification of terrorism and humiliation of its victims on social media — according to the human rights NGO, many of the prosecuted “had expressed opinions that did not constitute incitement to a terrorism-related offence and fell within permissible forms of expression under international human rights law”. </p> <p>The Spanish Supreme Court provided a good example of this worrying trend in November 2017, when it issued a <a href="https://politica.elpais.com/politica/2017/11/16/actualidad/1510837728_855610.html">ruling</a> specifying that retweeting a message that glorifies terrorism is sufficient for sentencing. Condemnation of the glorification of terrorism has skyrocketed since 2011, after the Basque terrorist group ETA laid down its arms. It looks as if the special anti-terrorist court Audiencia Nacional has decided to justify its existence by intensifying the prosecution crimes of opinion allegedly related to terrorism.</p> <p>But the situation has become much darker in recent months. Last February, three blows to free speech took place in the space of 24 hours: rapper Valtonyc was <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/rapper-jailed-lyrics-spanish-royal-family-valtonyc-josep-miquel-arenas-beltran-a8226421.html">condemned</a> to three and a half years in prison for the lyrics of his songs, Santiago Serra's work 'Political Prisoners in Contemporary Spain' was <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/22/madrid-mayor-boycotts-arco-art-fair-opening-censorship-row-political-prisoners">excluded</a> from the Arco contemporary art fair in Madrid, and the book <em>Fariña </em>was <a href="https://www.ara.cat/en/Artwork-imprisoned-Spains-questionable-expression_0_1966003485.html">seized</a> by a judge because it points out alleged links between a Galician Popular Party leader and drug trafficking. Serra, whose censored work has denounced the situation of Catalan political prisoners, duly protested: “If Spain isn't a dictatorship, it surely looks a lot like one”. </p> <p>The monarchy, which has traditionally enjoyed a good image among Spaniards, is now at the heart of the controversy on free speech. King Felipe VI has been accused by Catalan leaders of legitimating the violent response of the Spanish government to the pro-independence movement, which led Barcelona leader Ada Colau to <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-43193481">boycott</a> the welcoming ceremony for the king, who travelled to the Catalan capital on February to attend the Mobile World Congress. </p> <p>Instead, street protestors greeted Felipe VI. In addition, 24-year-old rapper Valtonyc will be imprisoned on charges of 'serious slander against the Crown', together with incitement to terrorism and threats. Other rappers have been condemned during recent years in Spain for similar reasons, but Valtonyc will be the first musician in decades effectively to serve a prison sentence for his songs.</p> <p>Two of the last victims in the long list of attacks on free speech and freedom of demonstration have been a 24-year-old Andalusian day labourer and Ermengol Gassiot, regional secretary general of the CGT union in Catalonia. The former has been <a href="https://politica.elpais.com/politica/2018/02/07/diario_de_espana/1518019966_395726.html">condemned</a> to a 480-euros fine because he published on Instagram a image of Christ with his own face, which constituted an 'offense to religious feelings', according to the judge. </p> <p>The case of Ermengol Grassiot is more serious: he has been <a href="https://www.elperiodico.com/es/sociedad/20180227/detenido-el-lider-de-la-cgt-en-catalunya-por-la-ocupacion-de-la-uab-en-el-2013-6654095">arrested</a> for his participation in the occupation of the rectory of the Autonomous University of Barcelona in 2013, an action of protest against the fee increase decided by the Catalan government at that time. </p> <p>According to the <a href="https://www.elperiodico.com/es/sociedad/20180227/detenido-el-lider-de-la-cgt-en-catalunya-por-la-ocupacion-de-la-uab-en-el-2013-6654095">prosecutor</a>, the occupation of the rectory had “the hidden end of destabilizing the institution”, allowing him to sentence Gassiot to more than 11 years in prison sentences along with other university workers and students who took part in the protest.</p> <p>As president of the Spanish section of Amnesty International recently said, “2017 has been a bad year for free speech” in Spain. And so far, 2018 looks no better.</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-35241213.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35241213.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'>People protesting against the King outside the Palau de la Musica de Barcelona on February 25, 2018. NurPhoto/ Press Association. 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="/opensecurity/jezerca-tigani/spain-how-democratic-country-can-silence-its-citizens">Spain: how a democratic country can silence its citizens</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/cristina-flesher-fominaya/spain-shall-we-talk"> Spain: shall we talk?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/joan-pedro-cara-ana-santiago-alba-rico/i-wouldn-t-talk-about-nationalism-but-comm">“I wouldn’t talk about nationalism, but communitarianism”</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Pablo Castaño Fri, 30 Mar 2018 10:22:06 +0000 Pablo Castaño 116973 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How to democratise Brexit and take back control of our future: an appeal to Jeremy Corbyn https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/how-to-democratise-brexit-and-take-back-control-of-our-future-appeal-to-jeremy-co <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A paradox of our time: EU elections in Britain could trigger a genuine debate about Brexit, healing some of the divisions that the referendum has created.</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-31895528.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-31895528.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'>Protestors with banners, London, UK, July 1, 2016. Ik Aldama/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>One year ago, the government of Theresa May notified the European Council of its intention to leave the European Union. As a European citizen living in this country it was a sad time. As a person who believes in democracy, triggering article 50 had to be the necessary consequence of the outcome of the referendum.<br /><br />Since then, the clock has been ticking. Article 50 requires that in one year’s time, that is before March 29, 2019, the UK government must sign a deal with the EU about their future relationship, or roll out of it without. </p><p>Despite May’s reassurances that “no deal is better than a bad deal”, it is clear that the inability to reach a deal would be a catastrophe for most of us. From one day to the next, almost 3 million EU citizens in the UK and more than 1 million UK citizens in the EU will effectively become ‘outlaws’. About £554 billion in trade between the UK and the EU would suddenly be subject to customs and levies under WTO rules. All EU grants supporting UK institutions and other EU-funded activities would be suspended. Most worryingly, a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would come into force, endangering the Good Friday agreement which put an end to 40 years of Troubles.<br /><br />In her Lancaster speech in January 2017, May considered such a scenario, suggesting that she would feel “free to change the basis of Britain’s economic model” in what Jeremy Corbyn has rightly described as a “bargain basement tax haven on the shores of Europe”. Everyone needs to face up to the outcome of a Tory-led no-deal Brexit: a bonfire of rights, where working conditions and living standards would be traded for tax exemptions to "attract the world’s best companies and biggest investors”, as May put it.<br /><br />In the same Lancaster speech, Theresa May outlined a plan where Britain is set to quit both the single market and the custom union, pulling the UK out of any form of common jurisdiction with the other 27 EU nations. What will come then is not clear. In her Florence speech, May called for a “creative solution” for a “comprehensive and ambitious” economic partnership. But the time for such a “creative solution” is running out. It took the government six months to agree on the divorce settlements, and another three months to agree the terms of the transition period (in short: most things stay as they are until December 2020). All of which would be useless without some agreement on the terms of the future relationship according to the EU negotiating principle that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”. <br /><br />When and if such an agreement is signed, it would require proper scrutiny by the EU Parliament and importantly, also by the UK one. This is because Labour first traded a parliamentary vote on the deal before deciding to vote in favour of triggering article 50 and then defeated the Government with an amendment to secure this “meaningful” vote. This parliamentary process requires time, and in order to be completed before the deadline of 29 March 2019, it implies starting it by latest October.<br />&nbsp;<br />While May tried to detail some aspects of this comprehensive deal in her Mansion House speech earlier this month, there are no signs the EU is willing to commit to a sector by sector agreement, whose inherent complexity makes it impossible to strike in less than a few years. Moreover, no solution for Northern Ireland has been provided by the government, which has effectively agreed with the EU to allow custom checks across the Irish sea as a last resort given the lack of alternatives. Should they fail to materialise in these 6 months, the vote on the Brexit deal would become a choice between breaking apart the common market of the Irish island or that of the United Kingdom, with enormous political implications in both cases.<br /><br />Brexit shadow secretary Keir Starmer has intelligently put forward six key tests to decide Labour’s vote on the deal. In the absence&nbsp; of a significant policy shift of the Government, those tests are bound to fail, and Labour would hopefully be joined by enough Tory rebels to bring down the deal. What would happen then is impossible to predict, but surely negotiations with the EU should resume to avoid a cliff-edge before the deadline.<br /><br />Labour’s ingenious proposal to negotiate a new custom union with the EU could be a sensible solution, both for Northern Ireland and to limit friction on trade. However, there is simply no way it can be negotiated in the six months that would follow a vote against whatever Brexit deal May might strike. Disentangling the custom union from the single market is an extremely complex task which requires careful reflection on both sides, and patience doesn’t run high in Brussels, after what appears to be a never-ending indecisiveness from the British side. Besides, Labour could only come to negotiate a deal after getting into government through a general election, which would steal a few more months from the total. There simply isn’t enough time to change May’s Brexit course.<br /><br />One year on, we need to refresh our minds. Why is the most ancient democracy on earth deploying an enormous amount of resources running round the clock to deliver a seemingly impossible task? Why March 29, 2019? Theresa May is the only person equipped to answer this question, but there is one puzzling explanation which is worth considering. On May 2019 all European citizens will vote to elect the new European Parliament, and if Brexit isn’t “accomplished” before that date, UK citizens should also be allowed to vote in that election. What they would vote for is a matter of opinion but one could easily imagine that a EU election in Britain might trigger a national discussion about the complex implications of the referendum result. </p><p>It’s easy then to see one reason why May chose that particular date. May’s decision to trigger article 50 on March 2017 didn’t reflect the clarity of her Brexit strategy (which isn’t clear to anyone one year later). But It might well reflect her determination to prevent any EU election happening in Britain. It is easy to imagine her motive. The referendum campaign was a time of bitter divisions across the country, divisions which have hardly begun to heal two years on. The country was effectively split in two along generational, geographical, economic and national lines.<br /><br />Could the EU elections be any different, and what would be the use of electing MEPs from a state which has chosen to leave the EU? While it’s difficult to answer these questions, there are at least three good reasons for believing that an EU election could heal some of the divisions that the referendum has created.<br /><br />First, it would be a discussion involving clear proposals and not vague ideological alternatives such as Remain or Leave, one in which nothing was to change and the other in which nobody knew what exactly was to change. Lists of candidates put forward for such an election would need to be explicit about which specific aspect of the relationship with the EU should be retained or abandoned.<br /><br />Second, there is no upper limit to the number of lists of candidates that could be put forward in a EU election. Contrary to a referendum which has just two options, people could express their voting preference for those who advocate for a no-deal Brexit, or choose between those who prefer a hard or a soft Brexit (for instance retaining a custom union with the EU or not), or no Brexit at all, for that matter. </p><p>Interestingly, it’s not just political parties that could have lists of candidates standing: independent citizens could organise themselves to collect signatures to offer their own vision for Brexit. In fact, political parties could take the chance to skip a turn and let the people self-organise to determine their future relationship with Europe. Whichever government is in charge would get a much clearer picture of the much debated 'will of the people' regarding Brexit, effectively democratizing the whole process. <br /><br />Third, an EU election would also allow UK citizens to participate in a continental campaign about the future of the European Union, where, together with the other 500 million people, they could choose the Parliament which would vote for the next European Commission. Even if Britain is set to leave the EU, it makes sense that it should be allowed to participate in choices that will shape its future during the time it takes to understand how to leave it.<br /><br />What to do then? The most sensible Brexit strategy anyone can put forward at this point is asking the European Council to extend the article 50 negotiation window and allow EU elections to happen in Britain too. If the European Council were to agree, as is allowed under the treaty, this would not only grant more time to come up with a sensible solution for the complex decisions linked to the Brexit process, it would also be a refreshing opportunity to democratise Brexit and collectively take back control of our future.<br /><br />There is only one person in Britain with the sense and the power to make such a call. Brexit is what we make of it, Jezza, but we gotta ask for enough time to figure it out!</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="/oliver-norgrove/interesting-brexit-experiment-worthy-of-analysis">An interesting Brexit experiment worthy of analysis</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/transformation/peroline-ainsworth-kiran-nihalani/five-ways-to-build-solidarity-across-our-difference">Five ways to build solidarity across our differences</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/looking-at-lexit/julian-sayarer-xavier-buxton/looking-at-lexit-mission-statement">Looking at Lexit: mission statement</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Andrea Pisauro Fri, 30 Mar 2018 09:00:08 +0000 Andrea Pisauro 116961 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Commercial interference in the European media https://www.opendemocracy.net/jean-paul-marthoz/commercial-interference-in-european-media <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Many people feel journalists “are not really able to resist pressures from financial interests”.&nbsp;Jean-Paul Marthoz considers the problem.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Commercial pressures on the media? Anti-establishment critics have a ready-made answer: of course, journalists are hostage to the whims of corporate owners, advertisers and sponsors. Of course, they cannot independently cover issues which these powers consider “inconvenient”. Actually such suspicion is widely shared: In France, according to the 2017&nbsp;<a href="https://www.la-croix.com/Economie/Medias/Barometre-medias-linteret-Francais-pour-lactualite-plus-depuis-2002-2017-02-02-1200821913">La Croix barometer on media credibility</a>, 58% of public opinion consider that journalists “are not really able to resist pressures from financial interests”.</p><p>The issue is not new. In 1944 when he founded the French “newspaper of record”, Le Monde, Hubert Beuve-Méry fought to guarantee its independence from political parties but also from what he called “the wall of money”. “Freedom of the press belongs to the one who owns one”, New Yorker media critic A.J. Liebling famously said. However, “while media academics have long looked at the question of commercial pressure, ownership (…) in shaping coverage”, writes Anya Schiffrin in a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cima.ned.org/publication/media-capture-in-the-service-of-power/">2017 CIMA report</a>&nbsp;on “captured media” press freedom groups’ focus had been mostly on the governments’ responsibilities and on criminal non-state actors.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555700/Media-freedom_journalism.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555700/Media-freedom_journalism.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>In June 2016 Reporters Without Boarders made a splash with its&nbsp;<a href="https://rsf.org/en/reports/media-when-oligarchs-go-shopping-rsfs-latest-report">report on oligarchs in the media</a>. Proprietors’ interventions may have indeed a very negative impact on journalism’s proclaimed commitment to report the news without fear or favour. Pressures are particularly acute when the media are owned by conglomerates who dabble in other economic sectors. In France, for instance, a military aircraft manufacturer (Dassault), the luxury industry leader (LVMH), telecoms giants (SFR, Free), a powerful public works and telecoms company (Bouygues) directly own key media companies.</p><p>Ownership provides a powerful lever to influence media contents. Cases of direct intervention or of journalists’ self-censorship are not exceptional, even if they are often difficult to prove. In France, Vincent Bolloré, owner, among others, of TV channel Canal+, has been regularly accused of using his powers to determine content. It led the French Senate’s culture commission to invite him to a hearing in June 2016, but&nbsp;<a href="https://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/medias/vincent-bollore-fait-bondir-ses-detracteurs-au-senat_1805008.html">he firmly denied</a>&nbsp;all allegations of censorship.</p><p>In other European countries, the landscape is much clearer. In Turkey, during the June 2013 Gezi Park events, major TV stations failed to report police repression live. They chose instead to broadcast animal documentaries, for which they were rewarded with the nickname of “penguin media”. In fact, they turned into “proxy censors” for Erdogan’s government who had the power to determine their economic fate by rewarding them -or not- with public works contracts or financial favors. The worst of the worst flourishes in some former communist eastern European countries where major media outlets have been snatched by oligarchs allied with political parties or even, allegedly, with criminal organisations.</p><p>Big companies may be ruthless. Advertising budgets can be cut when a media covers “inconvenient&nbsp;news”. In November 2017, according to satirical weekly Le Canard enchainé, Bernard Arnault, the boss of LVMH (luxury products, owner of Le Parisien and Les Echos),&nbsp;<a href="https://www.arretsurimages.net/breves/2017-11-15/Paradise-Papers-Arnault-sucre-600000-euros-de-pub-au-Monde-Canard-id20957">canceled his advertising budget</a>&nbsp;in Le Monde until the end of the year after his name appeared in the Paradise Papers global investigation, which named people who had offshore accounts in tax havens. LVMH denied it was cutting all advertising in the paper, adding that it was currently “<a href="https://www.francetvinfo.fr/monde/paradise-papers/le-groupe-lvmh-dement-un-retrait-total-de-ses-publicites-dans-le-monde-en-raison-des-paradise-papers_2469578.html">reflecting on its advertisement policy</a>&nbsp;in classical media”.</p><p>The unraveling of the legacy media’s business model has increased their vulnerability to outside pressures. Advertising money is shrinking, therefore increasing the temptation to dismantle what was presented as an impassable wall between “church and state”. Differences between advertising and the news are also being diluted into ambiguous advertorials, sponsored content and “native advertising”. &nbsp;</p><p>Such pressures however are not automatic. “<a href="http://www.inaglobal.fr/presse/article/les-medias-face-une-crise-de-confiance-generalisee-9531">Suffering pressures does not mean ceding</a>&nbsp;to them”, says Hervé Béroud, director general of leading all-news TV channel BFMTV. Due to the way journalism actually works, the freedom to report, even against the owners’ interests, cannot be systematically crushed. In fact, as a former editor in chief of Belgian newspapers and magazines I was confronted with radically different forms of “advice” from my successive owners. While some were very protective of editorial independence others were blunter and ready to compromise with advertisers’ “wishes”. The existence of journalists’ societies, co-owners of the so-called “ethical capital” of the paper, provided some protection, but much was left to individual wrestling between the editor and the proprietor.</p><p>At the end, this issue comes down to defining who “owns freedom of information”. In 1993 the&nbsp;<a href="http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/Xref-XML2HTML-en.asp?fileid=16414">Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe stated that</a>&nbsp;“the owner of the right is the citizen, who also has the related right to demand that the information supplied by journalists be conveyed truthfully, in the case of news, and honestly, in the case of opinions, without outside interference by either the public authorities or the private sector”. A far cry from A.J. Liebling’s sentence…</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? openMedia Jean-Paul Marthoz Thu, 29 Mar 2018 15:15:29 +0000 Jean-Paul Marthoz 116966 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Will MeRA25 bring the bright day that Greece has been waiting for? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/nicola-bertoldi/will-mera25-bring-bright-day-that-greece-has-been-waiting-for <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Why should Europeans care, more than vicariously, about a new Greek political party this time around? A French perspective.</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/500209/11_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/11_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'>Stage set for the Inaugural Convention of MeRA25, DiEM25 electoral wing, in the Ilisia Theatre, Athens, Greece. March 26, 2018.</span></span></span>Last Monday (26/3) marked the birth of a new political party in Greece, MeRA25. Why should non-Greek Europeans care about yet another political party being launched in a peripheral country of the Union? </p> <p>The first reason is that MeRA25, which in Greek means “Day25”, is the first national electoral wing of the pan-European movement DiEM25 (“Democracy in Europe Movement 2025”), founded two years ago in order to reclaim democracy in the EU, thereby beginning the process of calling a halt to its ongoing disintegration. MeRA25 is more than just another political party, since it is rooted in this experience of a horizontal and self-organized political movement.</p> <p>Since MeRA25 is fully committed to establishing a large pan-European front, capable of withstanding the technocratic and oligarchic drift that constitutes the main cause of Europe’s current “constitutional crisis”, its horizon is broader than Greece itself. </p> <p>The second reason lies in the very name of MeRA, which stands for “European Realist Disobedience Front”. This new political association aims to build a new kind of politics, based on the principle of “realist” and “constructive” disobedience. The only way to restore full democratic sovereignty in both Greece and the EU is to disobey policies that are condemning the former to “debt bondage”, while advancing a realistic, constructive and responsible alternative policy agenda. But, where does MeRA25 come from and what does its experience mean for other European countries? </p> <h2><strong>OXI</strong></h2> <p>When in January 2015, the Coalition of Radical Left (SYRIZA) rose to power in Greece, a semester-long battle began between the Mediterranean state and its creditors – the infamous troika of the EU Commission, the ECB and the IMF. In what Yanis Varoufakis has named the “Greek Spring”, Greek citizens reclaimed their streets. Only this time, it was not to protest the government, but to support it. While Tsipras and Varoufakis were negotiating for a “viable” and “mutually-beneficial” solution with the country's creditors, the Constitution square of central Athens was full of people demonstrating against austerity. This movement reached its peak during the days before the referendum on austerity that took place on 5 July 2015. All around Greece, but even in other European countries like Italy and Spain, citizens rushed to squares in order to support the Greek demand against austerity. </p> <p>When the results of the referendum emerged, some were overtaken by joy and others by fear. A big majority (62%) of Greeks voted against the creditors' demands. But Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was told that the referendum changed nothing for the creditors and that he should decide between capitulating to their demands or pushing Greece out of the Eurozone. Tsipras decided to capitulate and the dreams of an austerity-free Greece were gone. The morning after the referendum, Varoufakis submitted his resignation, arguing that he could not betray the Greek people's emphatic “NO” to austerity. Ever since, he has been preaching the rejection of austerity and the EU's democratisation all around Europe. Three years later, Varoufakis is now back in Greece with MeRA25 to give expression to that silent majority, the 62% “NO” vote.</p> <h2><strong>Greeks R Us</strong></h2> <p>The implications of MeRA25 for other European countries are therefore paramount. As recorded by Yanis Varoufakis, in his poignant memoir <em>Adults in the Room</em>, European progressive elites have constantly failed to stop “reinforcing the surplus countries’ domination of fiscally stressed ones”. This inability to act has brought the continent to a stalemate, where TINA (There Is No Alternative) prevails. The only alternative to rising xenophobia and nationalism is to accept the status quo. The result is a pervasive feeling that the European social and political model, based on liberal constitutionalism and welfare protection, is broken beyond repair. The current French political landscape appears to be a perfect example of this predicament. </p> <p>Almost a year ago, President Emmanuel Macron was elected in a landslide after facing far right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen in a runoff election. Great expectations notwithstanding, his promise in the opinion polls has already sunk to a record low of 40%. Such a downfall can at least be partly ascribed to Macron’s “bitter chalice” strategy: although policies aiming to restore the competitiveness of EU countries should go hand in hand with continent-wide macroeconomic stabilisation and investments, the former are to be considered as the prerequisite for the latter, in order to gain the confidence of both the financial markets and the “European partners”, i.e. the hegemonic bloc constituted by German Christian democrats. </p> <p>That is why the government led by President Macron and by his Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, has not shied away from implementing neo-liberal reforms that range from labour market flexibilization to recent attempts to abolish the special status of railway workers, which many see as the first step towards the privatization of the French public railway company (SNCF). </p> <p>At the same time, President Macron’s government is pursuing the strict border control policies already enforced by its predecessors and the Ministry of Interiors is about to present a reform of immigration and asylum laws that might well constitute a breach of basic human rights. Moreover, individual citizens giving aid to migrants trying to cross the French border in the Alps, even under the most critical weather conditions, are being prosecuted as criminals. </p> <p>This neo-liberal “law and order” turn is destroying the unarticulated majority that backed Emmanuel Macron in the last elections, thus fuelling the sentiment that not only European institutions, but also the French Fifth Republic can no longer ensure true democratic governance, based on the balance of power and the possibility of adopting alternative policy options. </p> <p>As Hannah Arendt puts it, “a significant number of citizens”, in France just as in Greece or elsewhere in Europe, “have become convinced either that the normal channels of change no longer function, and grievances will not be heard or acted upon, or that, on the contrary, the government is about to change and has embarked upon and persists in modes of action whose legality and constitutionality are open to grave doubt”. (Hannah Arendt, <em>Crises of the Republic </em>1972). </p> <p>Is this a sign that democracy, both at the national and at the continental level, is doomed to wither away?</p> <h2><strong>Constructive disobedience</strong></h2> <p>Those are precisely the conditions under which civil disobedience, as defined by Hannah Arendt, can arise. Civil disobedience differs from a mere breach of the law in the sense that it constitutes a conscious political practice. The civil disobedient, “though he is usually dissenting from the majority, acts in the name and for the sake of a group; he defies the law and the established authorities on the ground of basic dissent, and not because he, as an individual, wishes to make an exception for himself and to get away with it”. (Hannah Arendt, <em>Crises of the Republic</em> 1972). </p> <p>As a political practice, civil disobedience transcends the traditional divide between reform and revolution: whereas reformers seek change within the boundaries of the existing legal and political framework and revolutionaries aim to forcefully break this very framework, the disobedient wish to substantially modify the <em>status quo</em> by hacking the mechanisms that help stabilize it, turning them against their own goals.</p> <p>MeRA25 and DiEM25’s constructive disobedience approach takes traditional civil disobedience one step further. Disobeying policies and directives, whether they are directly enforced by national governments or by European institutions, the consequences of which are contrary to <a href="https://diem25.org/constructive-disobedience/">“the basic principles that a defensible and sustainable EU should espouse”</a> is no longer enough. </p> <p>Political dissent, rather than the will to “make an exception for oneself”, on which civil disobedience relies, needs to translate into counter-proposals outlining policies that are not only alternative to those that are disobeyed, but also “universalisable” in the Kantian sense of the term: they must be the policies that one should want to see implemented everywhere throughout Europe, in order to ensure a truly democratic and supportive union. </p> <p>It is precisely for those reasons that MeRA25 is not just another Greek political party, but a beacon of hope for the whole continent: their struggle is our struggle, their success will be our success. </p> <h2><strong>An end to never-ending deadlock </strong></h2> <p>But what new does MeRA25 propose for Greece? In the country hit hardest by the Euro crisis, governments have been mere accessories since 2010. Despite ideological and political differences between the parties in power, the governments of the past eight years have been following the recipe of austerity. On one hand, the coalition governments of right-wing New Democracy and centre-left PASOK defended the austerity programmes dictated by the creditors, “adopting” the policies of the troika. </p> <p>The SYRIZA-Independent Greeks government, on the other hand, has been implementing the same austerity that its predecessors introduced to Greece, but presenting the policies as a “necessary evil”. In effect, though, despite a few differences in the management of the state, the policy-making process has virtually been the same. </p> <p>MeRA25 was created to provide Greeks with an alternative to this never-ending deadlock. MeRA25 is, as of this Monday, the only pro-European party in Greece that is proposing the end of austerity. There are some measures that Varoufakis urges us to consider essential if the conditions are to be created for Greece to be released from its bonds. The newly founded party proposes the immediate implementation of seven specific measures, irrespective of the creditors' opinion of them. These are:</p> <p>1) Public debt restructuring with a repayment rate equal to the rate of growth of the Greek economy.</p> <p>2) Re-adjustment of the primary surplus goals for the next five years to 1.5% maximum (from 3.5% today).</p> <p>3) Restructuring of unsolvable private loans with the creation of a “bad bank” and direct halt to all auctions of primary residencies and SME (small-medium entreprises) for five years.</p> <p>4) Reduction of the VAT to 15-18% (from 23% today), reduction of SME tax to 15-18%, abolition of the law that demands payment of taxation in advance and of the “solidarity tax” for households with less than 30.000€ income.</p> <p>5) Creation of an online parallel system of peer-to-peer payments without the participation of banks.</p> <p>6) Reinstatement of collective bargaining in enterprises, five-year-long exemption of new entreprises from insurance contributions, maximum insurance contributions at 50% of enterprises' profits.</p> <p>7) Transformation of TAIPED (the agency created to privatise public property) to a development bank, using public property as collateral. The development bank's assets will be used to support social security.</p> <p>According to Varoufakis, the above policy package is the minimum a Greek government is required to pass into law if it is to move forward and reinstate hope for the future. </p> <p>But what if the country's creditors reject these policies and cut the funding? MeRA25 is prepared to finish the battle that Varoufakis began in 2015 as Finance Minister. In the eventuality of such a rejection from the creditors, the government of MeRA25 will adopt Charles de Gaulle's “empty seat” policy: Greek officials and representatives of the government will be absent from EuroWorking Group, Eurogroup and EU Council meetings. At the same time, all payments to the country's creditors will be suspended, until the seven measures that MeRA25 proposes are accepted. </p> <p>Critics say that such a move will lead to a forced Grexit. However, Varoufakis suggests that, even if it takes time, Greece's creditors will finally accept his party's proposals, as the cost of Grexit will be too big – both financially and politically. And if they don't, Greece will have to deal with the multifaceted problems of a Grexit, but the necessary measures will have been taken to rebuild the country.</p> <p>Will the rockstar economist's adventure in this national political arena be a success? No one can tell for sure. But the prospects for MeRA25 are looking gloomy enough. In Greece, Varoufakis has been stigmatised by the whole of the political spectrum as “the narcissistic academic who was willing to put the country at risk to experiment with his nostrums.” His former comrades at SYRIZA see him as a force for disequilibrium that put this government of the left in danger. Centrists and right-wingers see him as a national traitor. The Greek Communist Party has him down as a capitalist dressed up as a leftist. At the same time, the media are not friendly to Varoufakis and treat him as a pariah. If MeRA25 managed to overcome all these obstacles, it would be a miracle. But it might be exactly that miracle that Greece is in need of right now.</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/rsz_112_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/rsz_112_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'>Yanis Varoufakis on stage to launch Greece's new political party.</span></span></span></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Greece </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Greece Petros Konstantinidis Nicola Bertoldi DiEM25 Thu, 29 Mar 2018 14:03:31 +0000 Nicola Bertoldi and Petros Konstantinidis 116962 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Cambridge Analytica: the outrage is the real story https://www.opendemocracy.net/marcus-gilroy-ware/cambridge-analytica-outrage-is-real-story <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The bitter pill many refuse to swallow shows the difference between the world we think we’re in, and the one we really inhabit.</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-Edward_Christopher_„Ed“_Sheeran_at_Southside_Festival_2014_in_Neuhausen_ob_Eck.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-Edward_Christopher_„Ed“_Sheeran_at_Southside_Festival_2014_in_Neuhausen_ob_Eck.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'>Ed Sheeran on stage at the Southside Festival in Germany, June 2014. Wikicommons/ Markus Hillgärtner. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Every so often, moments come along when what seemed like a tinfoil-hat conspiracy theory is confirmed as true, and people are forced to say goodbye to the world they thought they lived in and adjust to the one they really lived in all along. </p> <p>Widespread outrage in response to recent disclosure of new details about Cambridge Analytica has all the appearance of such a moment. These types of events have become more common recently: whether it is a new wave of terrorist attacks on European soil, preventable tragedies such as the Grenfell Tower disaster, major electoral outcomes such as the British vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump’s victory, or technology whistleblowing events such as this one, the pace at which we are continually having to re-adjust to the world we actually live in seems alarmingly high, and yet all were predictable. </p> <p>No doubt, it is a dismaying picture that confronts us: British company SCL Group, operating under the brand name Cambridge Analytica with the supervision of Steve Bannon, obtained data collected from Facebook by Cambridge University academic Alexandr Kogan, and used systems built by data scientist and whistleblower-to-be Chris Wylie to train its microtargeting algorithms to nudge scores of already-angry voters towards electing Donald Trump and leaving the European Union – a set of experiments largely bankrolled by US hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, 90% owner of Cambridge Analytica.</p> <p>Public reaction to this complex picture has been reminiscent of the last time there was widespread outrage about social media in political life – the revelations made by Edward Snowden in June 2013. And it’s almost uncanny timing that just as that social media-related whistleblowing scandal was made public and the world was meeting Snowden for the first time, Chris Wylie was beginning his employment with SCL Group and the next outrage was being quietly set in motion.</p> <p>What many people came face to face with in that moment was that social media were not the innocent frivolity we thought they were, lest Facebook’s more-than-$100bn initial public offering on the NASDAQ hadn’t already told us this.</p> <p>It turned out that some of the very same powerful entities that have long structured the world – in this case the state security agencies that underpin some of the world’s governments – were intimately connected to our innocuous social media tomfoolery. When you told Facebook you liked Ed Sheeran, or checked in to let your friends know that you were at the London Zoo penguin enclosure, GCHQ and the NSA will know as well, if they are interested. In the minds of populations across the world, social media has changed irrevocably. <span class="mag-quote-center">We are always resistant in these moments of readjustment, and this time will be no exception.</span></p> <p>Or did it? We carried on using social media <em>en masse</em> – in fact our use of them increased. Writing in London Review of Books in August 2017, shortly after Facebook crossed its 2 billion user threshold, <a href="https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n16/john-lanchester/you-are-the-product">John Lanchester observed</a> that it was not only the number of users that was increasing, but the degree of engagement: “In the far distant days of October 2012, when Facebook hit one billion users, 55 per cent of them were using it every day. At two billion, 66 per cent are.” We are always resistant in these moments of readjustment, and this time will be no exception.</p> <h2><strong>The limits of consent</strong></h2> <p>A common, if contrary, response from some quarters when Snowden’s leak was in the news was: why is it that we are happy for Facebook to know our whereabouts, but freak out when governments have the same information? One answer might be consent: it’s ok for Facebook to have our data precisely because we choose to give it to them, unlike with the security services. And that’s a question and answer that we might apply directly to the present case of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook data.</p> <p>But there’s a serious flaw in this logic. Our relationship with Facebook was never a straightforward one in which we simply entrust them with our data, and they keep it safe like some kindly uncle taking care of a bag of sweeties. If Facebook was ever that way, it was a long time ago when only a few Harvard students knew what it was, but even then <a href="https://www.esquire.com/uk/latest-news/a19490586/mark-zuckerberg-called-people-who-handed-over-their-data-dumb-f/">Mark Zuckerberg was referring</a> to fellow-students as “dumb fucks” for being so naïve. It is helpful to remember this naïveté now, because it is a persistent feature of social media’s power.</p> <p>The Cambridge Analytica story isn’t only about social media. It’s got bribery, honey traps, corruption and many other concerning elements that long precede the anthropomorphised bunny rabbit gifs and food porn of social media. Once again, besides the shock revelation that seemingly democratic votes are vulnerable to well-organised propaganda efforts, the surprise seems to be that these more recognisable elements of white-collar deviancy have turned out to be in cahoots with the digital technologies we have come to trust, and intimately integrate into our own lives. </p> <p>But what did we really think would happen when the worst aspects of Silicon Valley, a cynical Etonian establishment, reactionary Anglo-American nationalism and hedge-fund capital found each other? As Mark Fisher once said, “Many of what we call ‘conspiracies’ are the ruling class showing class solidarity.” <span class="mag-quote-center">“Many of what we call ‘conspiracies’ are the ruling class showing class solidarity.”</span></p> <p>Perhaps a more important question to ask is: why do we carry on being shocked when social media’s centrality in our attention and emotional lives doesn’t go well for us? </p> <p>For some reason, technology companies and their products are treated differently to other corporations and their products. When we deal with Coca-Cola Company, Phillip Morris or MacDonalds, we have an idea of whom we’re dealing with. At least when you’re buying a Coca-Cola you know it can melt your teeth (never mind all the other things sugar does to the body), and when you buy cigarettes that they are likely to give you lung cancer. Nobody thinks Big Macs are good for them. </p> <p>The last few decades show a clear story of how we prized these facts out of the grasp of the corporations that wanted them concealed or de-emphasised, and adjusted our expectations accordingly. But somehow large numbers of people have continued to think that when they use Facebook their situation as a consumer is materially better. As Aral Balkan, Shoshanna Zuboff and others have highlighted, it isn’t better – it’s actually worse.</p> <p>Facebook’s entire product is manipulation; the exploitation of its users’ emotional reactions by those with something to push. That is how it makes nearly $200k profit per quarter <em>per employee</em>, more than any other technology company. </p> <p>When Facebook’s customers were the Coca-Colas, MacDonalds and Unilevers of the world, nobody appeared to mind as long as they could carry on mindlessly scrolling through a stream of emotionally stimulating media as a means of distracting themselves from the hopeless emptiness of Anglo-American late capitalism. </p> <p>But when the inevitable happened and the same system was used to influence political change by people who had already been doing so by other means for 25 years, suddenly #DeleteFacebook is such a mainstream idea that BBC Radio 4 is asking people ­– ironically via its Facebook page&nbsp;– whether they intend carrying it out.</p> <p>The Cambridge Analytica story is no more a shock than Facebook <a href="https://www.propublica.org/article/facebook-advertising-discrimination-housing-race-sex-national-origin">allowing its advertisers</a> to sell things – including housing – only to white people is a shock. It’s no more a shock than the fact that according to the UN, Facebook had a “determining role” in <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-rohingya-facebook/u-n-investigators-cite-facebook-role-in-myanmar-crisis-idUSKCN1GO2PN">spreading hatred</a> against the heavily persecuted Rohingya people of Rakhine state in Myanmar either. These things are only a shock if you’re unaware of what technology, capital, and a complete lack of ethics produce when, inevitably, they combine.</p> <h2><strong>When the majority isn’t right</strong></h2> <p>There is one person however, who should rightly be congratulated in this moment, for whom the only shock is probably that the world finally listened: Observer reporter Carole Cadwalladr. Again and again her tenacious reporting has been the bitter pill many refused to swallow that showed the difference between the world we think we’re in, and the one we really inhabit. It is in this space that genuine democracy is most vulnerable, and yet ironically, the lesson from her reporting is that a majority of wishful thinkers are not always right.</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="/mary-fitzgerald-peter-york-carole-cadwalladr-james-patrick/dark-money-deep-data-voicing-dissent">Dark Money Deep Data</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/digitaliberties/people-before-party-having-actual-conversations-in-digital-era">From Obama to Cambridge Analytica: how did we get here? (Podcast)</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/antonis-vradis/don-t-call-it-echo-chamber-it-s-spatial-contract">Don’t call it an echo chamber – it’s a spatial contract</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> digitaLiberties Can Europe make it? Marcus J. Gilroy-Ware Thu, 29 Mar 2018 06:57:37 +0000 Marcus J. Gilroy-Ware 116935 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Cambridge Analytica is what happens when you privatise military propaganda https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/cambridge-analytica-is-what-happens-when-you-privatise-military-propaganda <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>You can't understand the Cambridge Analytica scandal until you understand what its parent company does.</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/553846/640px-UStanks_baghdad_2003.JPEG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/640px-UStanks_baghdad_2003.JPEG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>US tanks arriving in Baghdad in 2003, by Technical Sergeant John L. Houghton, Jr., United States Air Force, public domain.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">"The Gulf War Did Not Take Place". This audacious claim was made by the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard in March 1991, only two months after NATO forces had rained explosives on Iraq, shedding the blood of more than a hundred thousand people.</p><p dir="ltr">To understand Cambridge Analytica and its parent firm, Strategic Communication Laboratories, we need to get our heads round what Baudrillard meant, and what has happened since: how military propaganda has changed with technology, how war has been privatised, and how imperialism is coming home.</p><p dir="ltr">Baudrillard's argument centred on the fact that NATO's action in the Gulf was the first time audiences in Western countries had been able to watch a war live, on rolling TV news – CNN had become the first 24-hour news channel in 1980. Because camera crews were embedded with American troops, by whom they were effectively censored, the coverage had little resemblance to the reality of the bombardment of Iraq and Kuwait. The events known to Western audiences as "The Gulf War"&nbsp;–&nbsp;symbolised by camera footage from 'precision' missiles and footage of military hardware&nbsp;–&nbsp;are more accurately understood as a movie directed from the Pentagon. They were so removed from the gore-splattered reality that it's an abuse of language to call them the same thing. Hence, the "Gulf War" did not take place.</p><p dir="ltr"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="315" width="560" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RhpgCaPoBaE"></iframe> <i>(You can see a classic example of this footage courtesy of the Smithsonian Channel)</i></p><p dir="ltr">Not long after Baudrillard’s iconic essay was published, Strategic Communications Laboratories was founded. "SCL Group provides data, analytics and strategy to governments and military organisations worldwide" reads the first line of its website. "For over 25 years, we have conducted behavioural change programmes in over 60 countries &amp; have been formally recognised for our work in defence and social change.”</p><p dir="ltr">Of course, military propaganda was nothing new. And nor is the extent to which it has evolved alongside changes in media technology and economics. The film Citizen Kane tells a fictionalised version of the first tabloid (or, as Americans call it, 'yellow journalism') war: how the circulation battle between William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer's New York World arguably drove the US into the 1889 Spanish American War. It was during this affair that Hearst reportedly told his correspondent, "You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war", as parodied in Evelyn Waugh's <i>Scoop</i>. But after the propaganda disaster of the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tet_Offensive">Tet Offensive</a> in Vietnam softened domestic support for the war, the military planners began to devise new ways to control media reporting.</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/553846/640px-Cholon_after_Tet_Offensive_operations_1968.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/640px-Cholon_after_Tet_Offensive_operations_1968.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="302" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Civilians sort through the ruins of their homes in Cholon, the heavily damaged Chinese section of Saigon. By Meyerson, Joel D, Wikimedia</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">As a result, when Britain went to war with Argentina over the Falklands in 1982, they pioneered a new technique for media control: embedding journalists with troops. And, as former BBC war reporter Caroline Wyatt <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/collegeofjournalism/entries/36887f1a-a3a8-3005-a642-1ce7dcccf60b">blogged</a>, "The lessons from embedding journalists with the Royal Navy during the Falklands war were taken up enthusiastically by military planners in both Washington and London for the First Gulf War in 1991."</p><p dir="ltr">The UK defence secretary during the Falklands War when the use of embedded journalists was pioneered was John Nott (who backed Brexit). As my colleague Caroline Molloy pointed out to me, his son-in-law is Tory MP Hugo Swire, former minister in both the Northern Ireland Office and the Foreign Office. Swire's <a href="http://www.thepeerage.com/p49322.htm" title="http://www.thepeerage.com/p49322.htm">cousin</a>&nbsp;–&nbsp;with whom he would have overlapped at Eton&nbsp;–&nbsp;is Nigel Oakes, founder of Strategic Communications Laboratories. It's not a conspiracy, just that the ruling class are all related.</p><p dir="ltr">But back to our history: by the time of the 2003 Iraq War, communications technology had moved on again. As the BBC's Caroline Wyatt explains in the same blog, "satellite communications are now much more sophisticated, meaning we almost always have our own means of communicating with London. That offers a crucial measure of independence, even if reports still have to be cleared for 'op sec' [operational security]. The almost total control by the military of the means of reporting in the Falklands would be unthinkable in most warzones today."</p><p dir="ltr">In February 2004, another major disruption in communications technology began: Facebook was founded. And with it came a whole new propaganda nightmare.</p><p dir="ltr">At the same time as this history was unfolding, though, something else vital was happening: neoliberalism.</p><p dir="ltr">Looked at one way, neoliberalism is the successor to geographical imperialism as the "most extreme form of capitalism". It used to be that someone with a small fortune to invest could secure the biggest return by paying someone else to sail overseas, subjugate or kill people (usually people of colour) and steal them and/or their stuff. But they couldn't keep expanding forever&nbsp;–&nbsp;the world is only so big. And so eventually, wealthy Western investors started to shift much of their focus from opening new markets in 'far off lands' to marketising new parts of life at home. Neoliberalism is also therefore this process of marketisation: of shifting decisions from one person one vote, to one pound (or dollar or Yen or Euro) one vote. Or, as Will Davies puts it: "<a href="http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2017/04/30/essay-populism-and-the-limits-of-neoliberalism-by-william-davies/">the disenchantment of politics by economics</a>”.</p><p dir="ltr">The first Iraq War&nbsp;–&nbsp;the one that “did not take place”&nbsp;–&nbsp;coincided with a key stage in this process: the rapid marketisation (read 'asset stripping') of the collapsing Soviet Union, and so the successful encirclement of the globe by Western capital. The second Iraq War was notable for the acceleration of another key stage: the encroachment of market forces into the deepest corner of the state. During the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the campaign group War on Want, private military companies "burst onto the scene".</p><h2 dir="ltr">The privatisation of war</h2><p dir="ltr">In a 2016 report,&nbsp;<a href="https://waronwant.org/Mercenaries-Unleashed">War on Want</a> describes how the UK became the world centre for this mercenary industry. You might know G4S as the company which checks your gas meter, but they are primarily the world's largest mercenary firm, involved in providing 'security' in war zones across the planet (don’t miss my colleagues Clare Sambrook and Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi’s <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/g4s-securing-whose-world">excellent investigations</a> of their work in the UK).</p><p dir="ltr">In Hereford alone, near the SAS headquarters, there are 14 mercenary firms, according to War on Want's report. At the height of the Iraq war, around 80 private companies were involved in the occupation. In 2003, when UK and US forces unleashed "shock and awe" both on the Iraqi people and on their own populations down cable TV wires, the Foreign Office spent £12.6m on British private security firms, according to official figures highlighted <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/feb/03/britain-g4s-at-centre-of-global-mercenary-industry-says-charity">by the Guardian</a>. By 2012, that figure had risen to £48.9m. In 2015, G4S alone secured a £100m contract to provide security for the British embassy in Afghanistan.</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/553846/Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 16.34.46.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 16.34.46.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="165" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">And just as the fighting was privatised, so too was the propaganda. In 2016,<a href="https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2016-10-02/fake-news-and-false-flags-how-the-pentagon-paid-a-british-pr-firm-500m-for-top-secret-iraq-propaganda"> the Bureau of Investigative Journalism</a> revealed that the Pentagon had paid around half a billion dollars to the British PR firm Bell Pottinger to deliver propaganda during the Iraq war. Bell Pottinger, famous for shaping Thatcher’s image, included among its clients Asma Al Assad, wife of the Syrian president. Part of their work was making fake Al Qaeda propaganda films. (The firm was <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/sep/12/bell-pottinger-goes-into-administration">forced to close last year</a> because they made the mistake of deploying their tactics against white people).</p><p dir="ltr">Journalist Liam O’Hare<a href="http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2018/03/20/scl-a-very-british-coup/"> has revealed</a> that Mark Turnbull, the SCL and Cambridge Analytica director who was filmed alongside Alexander Nix in the Channel4 sting, was employed by Bell Pottinger in Iraq in this period.</p><p class="mag-quote-left" dir="ltr">The psychological operations wing of our privatised military: a mercenary propaganda agency.</p><p dir="ltr">Like Bell Pottinger, SCL saw the opportunity of the increasing privatisation of war. In his 2006 book “<a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=K1oiAQAAMAAJ&amp;q=%22strategic+communications+laboratories%22&amp;dq=%22strategic+communications+laboratories%22&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0ahUKEwjThLW06o7aAhUkJ8AKHdSyBiAQ6AEINDAC">Britain’s Power Elites: The Rebirth of the Ruling Class</a>”, Hywel Williams wrote “It therefore seems only natural that a political communications consultancy, Strategic Communications Laboratories, should have now launched itself as the first private company to provide 'psyops' to the military.” &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">While much of what SCL has done for the military is secret, we do know (thanks, again, to<a href="http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2018/03/20/scl-a-very-british-coup/"> O’Hare</a>) that it’s had contracts from the UK and US departments of defence amounting to (at the very least) hundreds of thousands of dollars. And a document from the National Defence Academy of Latvia that I<a href="http://www.naa.mil.lv/~/media/NAA/AZPC/Publikacijas/DSPC%20PP%201%20-%20NATO%20StratCom.ashx"> managed to dig out</a>, entitled “NATO strategic communication: more to be done?” tells us that they were operating in Afghanistan in 2010, and gives some clues about what they were up to:</p><p dir="ltr">“more detailed qualitative data gathering operation was being conducted in Maiwand Province by a British company, Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) is almost unique in the international contractor community in that it has a dedicated, and funded, behavioural research arm located in the prestigious home of British Science and research, The Royal Institute, London.”</p><p dir="ltr">In simple terms, the SCL Group – Cambridge Analytica’s parent firm – is the psychological operations wing of our privatised military: a mercenary propaganda agency.</p><p dir="ltr">The skills they developed in the context of warzones shouldn’t be overplayed, but nor should they be underplayed. As far as we can tell, just as the Pentagon used simple tools like choosing where to embed journalists during the Gulf War to spin its version of events, so they mastered the tools of modern communication: Facebook, online videos, data gathering and microtargeting. Such tools aren’t magic (and Anthony Barnett <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/anthony-barnett/how-should-we-think-about-roles-cambridge-analytica-facebook-russia-and-shady-billio">writes well</a> about the risks of implying that they are). They don’t on their own explain either Brexit or Trump (I wrote <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/remainers-dont-use-our-investigations-as-excuse">a plea</a> last year that Remainers in the UK don’t use our investigations as an excuse for failing to engage with the real reasons for the Leave vote). I wouldn’t even use the word “rigging” to describe the impact of these propaganda firms. But they are important.</p><p dir="ltr">As the<a href="https://www.channel4.com/news/data-democracy-and-dirty-tricks-cambridge-analytica-uncovered-investigation-expose"> Channel 4 undercover investigation</a> revealed, this work has often been carried out alongside more traditional smear tactics, and&nbsp;–&nbsp;as Chris Wylie explained&nbsp;–&nbsp;in partnership with another nexus in this world: Israel’s conurbation of private intelligence firms, a part of a burgeoning military industrial complex in the country which Israeli activist and writer<a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt183pct7"> Jeff Halper argues</a> is a key part of the country’s “parallel diplomacy” drive.</p><p dir="ltr">(Of course, this isn't unique to the UK and Israel. Until Cambridge Analytica achieved global infamy last week, the most prominent mercenary propaganda firm in the world was Peter Theil's company<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palantir_Technologies"> Palantir</a> (named after the all-seeing eye in Lord of the Rings). Theil, founder of PayPal (with Elon Musk) and an executive of Facebook, wrote a notorious<a href="https://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/04/13/peter-thiel/education-libertarian"> essay in 2009</a> arguing that female enfranchisement had made democracy untenable and that someone should therefore invent the technology to destroy it. Palantir’s most prominent clients are the United States Intelligence Community, and the US Department of Defence. Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Chris Wylie claimed this week that his firm had worked with Palantir. It’s also noteworthy that one of Palantir's shareholders is Field Marshal Lord Guthrie, former head of the British Army, and adviser to<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/who-are-veterans-for-britain"> Veterans for Britain, one of the groups which funnelled money to AggregateIQ</a> ahead of the European referendum. Guthrie also works for Acanum, one of the leading private intelligence agencies, who, in common with Cambridge Analytica's partners<a href="https://www.blackcube.com/board/"> Black Cube</a>,<a href="https://www.timesofisrael.com/meir-dagan-corporate-spy/"> listed</a> Meyer Dagam, the former head of Mossad, as one of their advisers, until he died in 2016. Again, it's not a conspiracy, it's just that these guys all know each other. But I digress.)</p><p dir="ltr">Back to SCL: why are NATO's mercenary propagandists getting involved in the US presidential election and&nbsp;–&nbsp;if the growing body of evidence about the link between Cambridge Analytica and AggregateIQ is to be believed&nbsp;–&nbsp;Brexit?</p><p dir="ltr">The obvious answer is surely partly true. They could make money doing so, and so they did. If you privatise war, don't be surprised if military firms start using the tools of war on 'their own' side. When Eisenhower warned of the Military Industrial Complex, he was thinking about physical weapons. But, just as unregulated semi-automatics invented for soldiers end up going off in American schools, it shouldn't be any kind of surprise that the weapons of information war are going off in Anglo-American votes.</p><p dir="ltr">But in a more general sense, this whole history is exactly what Brexit was about for many of the powerful people who pushed for it. As we’ve been investigating the secret donation which paid for the DUP Brexit campaign, we keep coming across this web of connections. Priti Patel worked for Bell Pottinger in Bahrain. Richard Cook, the front man for the secret donation to the DUP, set up a business in 2013 with the former head of Saudi intelligence and a Danish man involved in running guns to Hindu radicals who told us he was a spy. David Banks, who ran Veterans for Britain, worked in PR in the Middle East for four years – and Veterans for Britain more generally is full of these contacts.</p><p dir="ltr">I could go on. My suspicion is that this isn’t because there’s some kind of conspiracy revolving around a group of ex-spooks. It’s about the fact that power comes from networks of people, and the wing of the British ruling class which was in and around the military is moving rapidly into the world of privatised war. And those people have a strong ideological and material interest in radical right politics.</p><h2 dir="ltr">"The most corrupt country on Earth"</h2><p dir="ltr">Another way to see it is like this: Britain has lost most of its geographical empire. And most of our modern politics is about the ways in which different groups struggle to come to terms with that fact. For a large portion of the ruling establishment, this involves attempting to reprise the glory days by placing the country at the centre of two of the nexuses which define the modern era. </p><p dir="ltr">The UK and its Overseas Territories have already become by far the most significant network of tax havens and secrecy areas in the world, making us the global centre for money laundering and therefore, as Roberto Saviano, the leading expert on the mafia argues, the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/may/29/roberto-saviano-london-is-heart-of-global-financial-corruption">most corrupt country on earth</a>. And just as countries with major oil industries have major oil lobbies, the UK has a major money laundry-lobby.</p><p dir="ltr">Pesky EU regulations have long frustrated the dreams of these people, who wish our island nation to move even further offshore and become even more of a tax haven. And so for some Brexiteers&nbsp;–&nbsp;this money laundry lobby&nbsp;–&nbsp;there was always strong incentive to back a Leave vote: European Research Group statements going back 25 years show as much.</p><p dir="ltr">But what the Cambridge Analytica affair reminds us of is that this is not just about the money laundry lobby (nor the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/adam-ramsay/big-agriculture-s-brexiteers-are-pulling-wool-over-our-eyes">agrochemical lobby</a>). Another group with a strong interest in pushing such deregulation, dimming transparency, hyping Islamophobia in America and turning peoples against each other is our flourishing mercenary complex – one of the only other industries in which Britain leads the world. And so it's no surprise that its propaganda wing has turned the skills it's learned in war towards its desired political outcomes.</p><p dir="ltr">In his essay, Baudrillard argued that his observations about the changes in military propaganda told us something about the then new post-Cold War era. Only two years after Tim Berners Lee invented the World Wide Web, he wrote a sentence which, for me, teaches us more about the Cambridge Analytica story than much of the punditry that we've seen since: "just as wealth is no longer measured by the ostentation of wealth but by the secret circulation of capital, so war is not measured by being unleashed but by its speculative unfolding in an abstract, electronic and informational space."</p><p dir="ltr">Cambridge Analytica is what happens when you privatise your military propaganda operation. It walked into the space created when social media killed journalism. It is yet another example of tools developed to subjugate people elsewhere in the world being used on the domestic populations of the Western countries in which they were built. It marks the point at which neoliberal capitalism reaches its zenith, and ascends to<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/jennifer-cobbe/problem-isn-t-just-cambridge-analytica-or-even-facebook-it-s-surveillance-capitali"> surveillance capitalism</a>. And the best possible response is to create a democratic media which can’t be bought by propagandists.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/anthony-barnett/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 class="field-item even"> <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 odd"> <a href="/David-Burnside-Putin-Russia-DUP-Brexit-Donaldson-Vincent-Tchenguiz">Is there a link between Cambridge Analytica and the DUP’s secret Brexit donors?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/edward-wilson/from-falklands-to-brexit-cut-price-jingoism">From the Falklands to Brexit: cut-price Jingoism</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk digitaLiberties Can Europe make it? uk Brexit Inc. DUP Dark money Adam Ramsay Wed, 28 Mar 2018 16:44:30 +0000 Adam Ramsay 116936 at https://www.opendemocracy.net “I wouldn’t talk about nationalism, but communitarianism” https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/joan-pedro-cara-ana-santiago-alba-rico/i-wouldn-t-talk-about-nationalism-but-comm <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Interview with the Spanish philosopher and Podemos Senate candidate, on the nation-state, nationalisms, populism left and right, conservatism, reformism and revolution, television and digital media. <em>Long - 8,500 words.</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 13.22.30.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 13.22.30.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: Santiaga Alba Rico discussing “¿Podemos seguir siendo de izquierdas?” (“Can we Still be Leftwing?”) in Barcelona,2014. Vimeo. </span></span></span>This interview took place at the </em><a href="https://transeuropafestival.eu/"><em>Transeuropa</em></a><em> Festival organized by </em><a href="https://euroalter.com/"><em>European Alternatives</em></a><em> from October 25 to 29, 2017 in Matadero, Madrid, with the objective of promoting pan-European solidarity and establishing collaborations between different activists involved in social, cultural and political transformation. </em></p> <p><strong><em>Joan Pedro-Carañana (JPC)</em></strong><em>: I wanted to start by asking you about the Transeuropa Festival. How relevant are its aims, themes and visions for the future in the current context?</em></p> <p><strong>Santiago Alba Rico (SAR)</strong>: I have to admit that I’m not that familiar with this initiative, but from what I’ve read, I don’t think there has ever been a more relevant moment, at a time of clear adversity, for seeking common horizontal connections between Europeans; connections that aren’t just political, but also cultural, aesthetic, and so forth. So, very relevant.</p> <p><strong><em>JPC</em></strong><em>: In a few hours you’ll be on a panel discussing the central topic of the festival. Specifically, the intention is to look simultaneously above and below the level of the nation-state, to promote joint governance at the European level and at the municipal level. What role does this leave for the nation-state? And what will you be saying?</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p><strong>SAR</strong>: It’s a debate that troubles me, especially at this time. It also perplexes me a little. I’m not very sure that the opening premise for the debate is entirely true. It’s saying that nation-states have failed to handle the big challenges and big civilizing crises confronting humankind. It’s true that if we think in terms of the satisfaction of the basic needs of citizenry and the welfare of populations, what we call the nation-state has not only been revealed to be incapable of solving common problems, but has exacerbated them. However, if we think of the nation-state as an instrument for clearing the way without resistance to the only revolution taking place at present, which is the neoliberal revolution and a selfish and inequitable capitalist globalization, we must say it has fulfilled its role very well. </p> <p>It has fulfilled it <em>so</em> well that the time has come to begin analyzing the nation-state binary and explain what in it has become problematic. It has fulfilled it so well that what we are witnessing, I believe, is a resistance by the nation to States that don’t protect their citizens and that limit themselves to very efficiently facilitating the private interests of the victors of neoliberal globalization. The problem that Europe is facing right now is a disconnect between the State and the nation, in which the nation is resisting in various ways.</p> <p>So I wouldn’t talk about nationalism, but communitarianism. There is a general revival at the grassroots level, among social movements, but also among the identity-based right, of short distances; of everything that has to do with containment, security, and care. Short distances are very dangerous but they can also be very liberating, and I think what we’re seeing in Europe is, in a reaction against the neoliberal revolution, communitarian resistance on the right, exclusionary and xenophobic, which is winning, and other forms of resistance that are potentially democratizing, emancipating, and certainly not racist, but that are losing.</p> <p>I don’t think we can speak of States and nations as if they responded to the same pattern in every case. In this difficult connection between two concepts that only occasionally overlap, we can distinguish different combinations: completely failed States with complex nations, failed States with simple nations, and very solid States with complex nations. I’m thinking of the Middle East, especially in Syria, where there seems to be a need, with all its challenges, for a proposal like the Kurdish one, for democratic confederalism and libertarian municipalism, to crystallize into a pact of non-violent coexistence between all the different nations in the region. </p> <p>I don’t think there is room at this moment to imagine a return to the authoritarian Syrian nation-state, not even after Russia and Iran’s military victory. A more just and reasonable Syria – unattainable at present – should combine the complexity of the nation, democratic confederalism, and an increasing municipalist decentralization, in which the State is limited to managing critical resources or healthcare.</p> <p>We also have the case of a failed State after a revolution in a non-complex nation, as in the case of Tunisia. Dictatorships always identify the State with the nation. They internalize the nation within the State in such a way that most citizens don’t feel represented by the State; they don’t feel like “nationals” of anywhere, which partly explains the retreat into religious identities. </p> <p>When the Tunisian revolution broke out in 2011 and overthrew the dictator Ben Ali, it did it with the same flag behind which Ben Ali had hidden to rob and torture. It is the flag of national independence – that moment of national construction – and thus the uprising against the dictatorial State can be interpreted as a re-appropriation of the nation by the people. It is an appropriation that is much more inclusive than the authoritarian State and in a nation that is not complex because it is homogeneous in religious and ethnic terms. That revolution has attempted to rebuild a democratic State. </p> <p>This reminds us that there are still many places in the world, places marked by gaping inequality, as is the case in a recently decolonized northern Africa, where the concept of nation is still very “modern”, not at all post-modern, in the sense used to refer to the original uprising against absolutism here in Europe. </p> <p>The nation that was born in late 18th-century and 19th-century Europe was a reaction against the absolute power of monarchs, against the patrimonialist concept of territory: that is, the nation is that which represents the Third Estate, the commoners, the <em>sans-culotte</em>. Nation and homeland are clearly revolutionary terms of re-appropriation of a territory from absolute monarchs who consider it their exclusive property. </p> <p>The processes of globalization have now greatly complicated the relationship of liberation from the absolutist State with nationhood and the people, posing new legal and political problems. Borders establish that the rights of a French citizen are not the same as those of a Tunisian citizen, but we cannot ignore the historical emancipatory value associated with the concept of nation, which is always there.</p> <p>In Spain, Ferdinand VII’s followers insisted that he should make no concessions to the “patriots”. In the “Liberal Triennium” of the 1820s, following Riego’s insurrection, the supporters of Ferdinand VII and the absolute monarchy cried out “Death to the nation, long live chains!” The nation has always had a liberating potential in relation to the <em>ancien régime</em> that we must not forget and that in Tunisia, for example, has been very prominent.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <h2>Reasserting the ideas of nation and homeland</h2> <p><strong><em>JPC</em></strong><em>: If you believe that, strategically, it is still important to focus on the nation-state and to try to transform it in order to meet the demands and needs of the population, how should we approach its functions, both as a very important player in supporting globalization and, potentially, in defending the interests of citizens? We are currently debating this issue in Spain and Catalonia.&nbsp; What is your analysis?</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p><strong>SAR</strong>: Spain is a strong State, for centuries an imperial State, which has only been democratized recently and incompletely, given that it is a complex nation. What the Spanish State has done, and this is its particular historical hallmark, is to manage the denial or repression of that complexity. </p> <p>At this time what is happening is that, in different ways, the complex nation that we call “plurinational” is resisting a State that no longer protects its citizens, that has dismantled the welfare state and that has only reformed the Constitution through a consensus internal to the regime, for the purposes of ceding to an economic model imposed from the outside. </p> <p>In a Europe governed by the European Bank and in reality by the German banking sector, governments are losing their sovereignty. But it is possible ­– and this is why Podemos has played a fundamental role – to resignify the concept of nation and homeland in modern terms.</p> <p>Modern and, at the same time, post-modern. Modern, because there is precisely a reassertion of the ideas of nation and the homeland that were emptied of meaning by the leaders of Spain’s Popular Party, who abandoned the nation for the brand. Spain was no longer “a unity of destiny in the universal order” as in the imperial tradition, but the “Spain brand”, a commercial, neoliberal concept. They put Spain up for sale. This is where Podemos was able to try to resignify the concept of nation or homeland in modern terms as a collective form of resistance against a State that had abandoned its people.</p> <p>Spain is a complex nation, a plurinational nation. In Catalonia, the resistance against a State that has left its people defenseless takes a different form. We are seeing two parallel processes of resistance against the State. One, embodied by Podemos and its coalitions, aims to re-establish Spain democratically, or even to establish it, because Spain has always been more of a State than a nation. </p> <p>The other is the ongoing process in Catalonia based on a highly anomalous coalition of fundamentally opposed parties: a coalescence around a clearly libertarian, transformative project, with its internal squabbles and differences but clearly anti-capitalist, anti-globalization and libertarian (the Popular Unity Candidacy), a social democratic party that has upheld the Spanish Constitution of 1978 (Esquerra), and a force clearly affiliated with the neoliberal right and one of the pillars of the Spanish regime that it is now in defiance (Catalan Democratic Party, previously Convergència). This coalition, which is basically a justified response to the policies of the State, has launched a process which, in my view, has fatally closed the window of opportunity opened 4 or 5 years ago, first with the 15-M anti-austerity movement and then with Podemos. </p> <p>It’s true that that was an opportunity which, with the existing power ratio and the vast resources for restructuring that the regime has at its disposal, was too complicated to make a reality, also due partly to mistakes made by the left itself. In any case, what we are now seeing in Catalonia is not a conflict between democracy and nationalism or between two equivalent nationalisms, as is often claimed, and of course it is not a conflict between left and right, or between legality and illegality. </p> <p>It is rather part of a conflict between two legalities, that of the central State and that of the regional Autonomous Communities and their institutions, but above all it is a conflict between two illegitimacies. </p> <p>The illegitimacy of a State that is applying the law quite arbitrarily according to a version of Article 155 that was thrown out in the draft of the 1978 Constitution. (NB. Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution gives the Spanish government the right to intervene if a regional government (Autonomous Community) fails to comply with the Constitution or takes action that would seriously undermine Spain’s national interests. It is the statute that the Madrid government have used to justify intervention in Catalonia following its October referendum on separation.)</p> <p>It is also acting through an Attorney General who has been censured by Congress, with two censured ministers and with a severely undermined legitimacy since the decision of the Constitutional Court in 2010 overturning the statutory reform that had been supported by an overwhelming majority of Catalans. </p> <p>There is legality but no legitimacy. And on the other side it is the same: there is no legitimacy. Not because it is not legitimate to claim the right to self-determination. I believe that the Catalan people should choose how and in what way they want to form part of the complex nation that would be the re-established, or finally established Spain. </p> <p>What cannot be done is to establish a country with half the population against it. A country can be governed very comfortably with 48% of the vote. The Popular Party governs comfortably with much less support. But a country cannot be established with 48% support, or in reality, twenty-something percent of the general population. </p> <p>In this sense, what you have are two opposing illegitimacies in a situation in which it is not objectively possible to take a clear position, I would even say that it would be dishonest to take a clear position. At the same time, if you are not dishonest, if you don’t have a clear position, it is impossible to have any effect on the situation. And as in so many other occasions in history, we are faced with what Kant said: that history is made by the devils, by the misguided, by the most convinced or the most irrational.</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-JEAN_LOUIS_THÉODORE_GÉRICAULT_-_La_Balsa_de_la_Medusa_(Museo_del_Louvre,_1818-19).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-JEAN_LOUIS_THÉODORE_GÉRICAULT_-_La_Balsa_de_la_Medusa_(Museo_del_Louvre,_1818-19).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'>Cover picture of “¿Podemos seguir siendo de izquierdas?” (“Can we Still be Leftwing?”). The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault, 1818.Louvre Museum. Wikicommons. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span></p> <h2>Podemos, Catalonia and populism</h2><p><strong><em>JPC</em></strong><em>: Bertrand Russell said that it’s easier to win when you have an army of dogmatic followers who are easily mobilized. You’ve spoken about how Podemos was born out of a hope to reform the State, not only for Catalonia but for the whole of Spain, and that, obviously, it had little chance of success because of the correlation of forces and power on the right in the country. You’ve also mentioned that on the left there were some major mistakes.</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p><strong>SAR</strong>: I think Podemos was clearly born out of the 15-M movement and out of the awareness that there is a Spain with no memory of its past, a young, well-educated, middle-class Spain for whom the original sins of the transition, a legitimate obsession of the traditional left, mean nothing: the memory of the victims of the dictatorship, of the succession of King Juan Carlos as Franco’s heir, the consensus of elites that swept all of the demands of the left aside. </p> <p>All those things that to the more educated people on the left were so important, to most of the Spanish population no longer mattered. We can see this as something negative, of course, and it is; but the positive, liberating difference of Spain compared to Europe (until the regressive mess of Catalonia) has been just this: its lack of memory, the fact that a Spain that has an imperial, National Catholic history, of successive dictatorships, of a series of coups d’état, in which attempts at democratization have always been thwarted, has forgotten its whole past. First, a dictatorship that lasted longer than any of the 19th century and which, for that very reason, gave Spain a bleak stability, erased the memory of freedom. Then, Spain’s integration into the European consumerist economy erased the memory of that first erasure. </p> <p>I like to tell it this way. There was a Tunisian historian of the 14th-15th century, perhaps you know of him, Ibn Khaldun, an Arabic precursor to Machiavelli and Marx, who in the introduction of more than a thousand pages to his World History ponders the reason why God kept the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years before allowing them to enter the promised land. His answer is very good. Ibn Khaldun says that 40 years is the length of a generation, and everyone who had memories of their slavery in Egypt had to die so that a new people with no memory of their subjugation could enter the new land. </p> <p>In Spain, the opposite happened. There were 40 years in which Franco erased the memory of freedom. Then, in another 40 years, the regime of the 1978 Constitution, with the admission of Spain to the European Union and an anthropology of accelerated consumerism, erased the other half of the memory. </p> <p>And we Spaniards came to 15-M with no memory. That is what 15-M really revealed. For the 15-M movement, where we’d come from didn’t matter; what mattered was the painful discovery contained in the slogans “they call it democracy and it’s not” and “they don't represent us.” </p> <p>But it was a discovery; not a traditional leftist discourse based on the memory of a history that needed to be turned around in our favor. The battle between two sides, between Antonio Machado’s two Spains, was over; after all, the 19th century, which in our country began in 1812 and lasted until 1875, was over. That could be seen as very sad. </p> <p>(NB: The Spanish poet Antonio Machado (1875-1939) makes reference to “two Spains” in a short, untitled poem in his Proverbios y Cantares. The image in the poem is often invoked by Spaniards to refer to the polarization between conservative traditionalists and forward-looking progressives that has marked the country’s history over the past century.)</p> <p>For people of my generation, having to give up certain flags and certain songs could have been very hard, but at the same time it was an unprecedented opportunity to democratize Spain once and for all. Democratizing it meant re-establishing that nation that had never been, taking into account its plurinational complexity. In this sense, not only did Podemos manage to resignify the concept of the nation, but for the first time in this country the taboo subject of the national question was raised openly and debated in the parliaments and in the cafés. </p> <p>It managed to connect with millions of people who had perceived the limitations of the “they call it democracy but it’s not” slogan in their everyday lives, in their difficulties in making it to the end of the month, in their children’s need to leave the country to find work, in the decline of education or healthcare. It managed to connect with a potential majority by disconnecting from that memory that is nothing but a dead weight now.</p> <p>What mistakes did Podemos make? By abandoning its original project, it has turned into a traditional party of the left. Since the party’s Second Citizen Assembly in 2017, Podemos isn’t relaunching the United Left anymore; it’s relaunching the Communist Party. In fact, if you look at who has taken over the direction of Podemos, all of them joined later and all of them came from the Communist Youth Union. </p> <p>This is having very serious effects both at the level of discourse and at the level of organization and strategy. It is already an antiquated organization, outdated, caught in the trap of a highly personality-driven party apparatus, like the traditional political parties, very vertical, with a very small group at the top, with a discourse based increasingly on accusations and less on proposals. </p> <p>In the case of Catalonia, which is certainly a very difficult issue to manage, we have seen how, in the view of Spanish public opinion, Podemos appeared as a party that denounced the Spanish government and sided with the separatists. </p> <p>It has not succeeded in introducing its own vocabulary. Of course, because it was hard to do so, but also because it had no proposal for an inclusive project for the whole country, in the context of a polarization fed by the two sides that made it seem that you could only either be Spanish according to the Popular Party model or support a secession process that didn’t have the sufficient support of the Catalan population. </p> <p>In this sense, I think Podemos is going to lose a lot of votes in the elections to come. And I regret that. I think it’s a party that I will vote for anyway, but that in a certain sense I no longer support. It was my party. I was one of the people who signed its Foundational Statement and I’ve been there from the beginning. I was a Senate candidate for Podemos. And yet, at this point, I think Podemos is at risk of turning into a minor pillar, a grumbling protest party in a restored regime under the 1978 Constitution, but a chaotic version due to the crisis in Catalonia.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>JPC</em></strong><em>: All this is very much linked to so-called populism. In Europe there is a lot of discussion about the populism of the right. In Spain, it’s a progressive or leftist populism that Podemos is offering. What’s your analysis of this brand of populism?</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p><strong>SAR</strong>: It’s a question that is both theoretical and political, and also somewhat complex. To define it or describe it briefly, I think that populism is the attempt to turn the symbolic and emotional level into a political project. </p> <p>It is the recognition that the symbolic, discursive level is just as substantial, just as performative and just as decisive as the actual material level. In contrast with an orthodox Marxist left that would consider that only pure and transparent consciousness of the class struggle will have liberating effects, populism insists that there never has been and never will be transparency, that transparency is the worst form of alienation, that instead there are identity aggregation mechanisms that construct collective subjects that may be liberating or, conversely, reactionary and regressive. </p> <p>Therefore, there could indeed be a populism of the left and a populism of the right. This means we need to accept that we are moving on two levels that should never be completely separated: a symbolic-discursive level and an axiological level of principles that must always be kept in view, because if we lose sight of it, our movements would become purely pragmatic and self-satisfying, with a communitarianism that is self-absorbed or excluding and therefore not emancipating. </p> <p>The 15-M movement made it clear that there is a need to resignify a whole series of terms that have been “set loose”, like homeland or nation, concepts that act as an emotional catalyst for defenceless and neglected populations. </p> <p>One clear example is the formation of “security”. Right-wing populist discourse invokes security against the alien threat, the refugee crisis or terrorism, and thus demands responses linked to identity and also to law enforcement. What we need to understand – and I think that 15-M understands it clearly – is that security is having a home, that security is making it to the end of the month, it’s knowing that someone is going to look after your children and it’s being able to be treated for cancer if you contract it. That is security. </p> <p>Populism means, in my view, that the battle is waged not only in unions or at factories – at least where they still exist – but also on the symbolic level, and consequently, that it is just as necessary to fight for words as it is to fight for territories or property or wealth.</p> <p><strong><em>JPC</em></strong><em>: The traditional left has failed for decades in the symbolic struggle, while populism by contrast, both on the right and the left, has demonstrated that it does in fact have a great capacity for mobilization. But in Spain, Laclausian populism has been criticized precisely because of the emphasis on the discursive, which has led to a gap between what they say and what they actually do.</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p><strong>SAR</strong>: I don’t think this is a question that has to do with populism, even less with Laclau’s version of populism. It has more to do with the mechanisms of institutional politics themselves and with what we call electoralism, which you’re inevitably trapped in from the moment you agree to fight for power in electoral terms. </p> <p>The boundary between electoralism and populism is really very small, and the proof is that the same people who have accused Podemos of populism, even comparing it to the French National Front, are the ones who have been making scurrilous use of electoralism for 40 years by breaking their electoral promises. </p> <p>No, I think it’s a problem that has less to do with the fight on the symbolic level than with the fight on the institutional level through elections. </p> <p>Precisely what many people in the 15-M movement perceived and expressed was the obvious remoteness of a political class that they didn’t feel represented by, because they saw a disparity between what they said and what they did.&nbsp; </p> <p>Podemos has often made the mistake of substituting populist discourse for electoralist and even opportunist discourse. As a result, many people have perceived that the difference they attributed to Podemos and the reason that many had joined it – its originality, inventiveness and authority in fighting on the discursive level – was turning into a tactical ploy with a highly variable structure, with erratic changes of discourse that reflected a lot of internal disputes that would later come to light and that ended up undermining voter support for Podemos. </p> <p>This dissonance led a lot of people to begin identifying Podemos with the old political forces that it had been created to oppose, and to conclude that “they don’t represent me either.” And then there was the internal division which suddenly, in the eyes of many people, turned Podemos into a typical left-wing movement that cannot be relied on to govern because they can’t even agree among themselves.</p> <p><strong><em>JPC</em></strong><em>: I am thinking about the iron law of the oligarchy (Michels) that has affected Podemos, that creates a dissonance in desiring and promising a democracy which you are then unable to practice internally. When people realize this they think, “if you’re not capable of solving your own problems, how are you going to solve the country’s?” </em></p> <p><em>But moving onto a somewhat more technical question about populism, who are the people? You? Me? The right-wing guy in the bar? Populist discourse can lead to a silencing of alternative voices that are pluralistic – social movements, feminism. If you refer to “the people” in general terms, don’t you effect a discursive homogenization of what in reality is heterogeneous, those multiple different voices? Mightn’t this generate difficulties in organizing movements for social and political change?</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p><strong>SAR</strong>: What we need to do is to accept that it is only possible to intervene politically through a subject, that any collective subject, when it intervenes, presupposes a certain homogeneity, a functional and entirely abstract homogeneity. This is, in effect, the problem today, because what has substantially fallen apart is precisely that homogeneity. </p> <p>In fact, it doesn’t exist any more. Before, you could have a proletariat that worked more or less under the same conditions everywhere in the world and could recognize one another as part of the same collective body. </p> <p>Homogeneity has substantially disintegrated and fragmented. This makes it hard to build narratives, and we mustn’t forget that a subject is above all a narrative. The experience of the last few years (with 15-M as a model) is revealing. Highly voluble subjects are constructed that are recognized as such at the moment of their intervention, with narrative outbursts, but at the same reserving a heterogeneity that is simply a fact. It is no longer a case of invoking alliances between workers, peasants and students, as it once was. Now the students are also unemployed workers, many of them outside the country; the workers are, in a few cases, civil servants, while others are in precarious employment and others are long-term unemployed; and the rural sector is practically nonexistent. </p> <p>Thus, what we have is a heterogeneity that experiences a chemical precipitation at the moment it intervenes to create de facto collective subjects, sometimes functional, that have an impact on history, as we have seen in the demonstrations in Catalonia, or in 15-M. </p> <p>The 15-M movement, which was very heterogeneous, united around it a phantasmal collective: the 80% of the Spanish population that supported it. Is that a collective subject? It is. That 80% in that moment constituted a fulminating, explosive and disruptive subject, which is the new form adopted by historical intervention (from terrorism to transformative mobilization) in a post-revolutionary world in which the (Christian or Enlightenment) age of progress has been replaced by the gnostic age of instant revelation. </p> <p>Now only what isn’t expected is what always happens; and what isn’t expected is repeated in outbursts or hatchet blows, sometimes liberating and sometimes destructive. The collective subject is not a construction but a convergence.</p> <p>I would like to continue with a little more about Podemos, because I’ve finished on a defeatist note and it’s important to remember that Podemos is associated with a whole series of forces for change that have in fact introduced transformations in this country. </p> <p>They’ve done it, furthermore, in Spain’s big cities. In these moments of regression, when the crack that opened up six years ago is hurriedly being sewn up, it is very important to stress the need to preserve these tentative conquests. </p> <p>The real challenge for the left is <em>to last</em>; and lasting, in the eyes of the more radical sectors, always becomes suspicious: whenever something lasts a while it veers to the right. We need to break with this logic and the municipalities are a good platform. Only on the municipal level, and perhaps on the regional level of the autonomous communities, do e have the possibility to reverse the power ratio, not only between the forces for change and those of the regime but also within the forces of change, in favor of sectors that really believe in the need to offer the Spanish a different political model. </p> <p>Because we human beings are very empirical and try to measure everything with our own bodies, the fight on the symbolic level becomes decisive: you have to have tangible foundations that you can hold up as models and as examples. We need something we can hold in our hands. Examples of good management, examples of clearer and more liberating discourse, examples of the defence of the most vulnerable, all discursively effective and technically functional.</p> <p><strong><em>JPC</em></strong><em>: I was struck by your own answer to the question of whether we can continue to last as leftists. Your answer was a yes but: only if we are revolutionaries in the economic sphere, reformists in the institutional sphere, and conservatives in the anthropological sphere. Could you explain further?</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p><strong>SAR</strong>: It’s true that, from the outset, the dividing line of history is the class struggle, the history of multiple struggles, but above all the class struggle. There is a division between the powerful and the weak, between the economic elite and the subjugated commoners, between, as is rhetorically declaimed these days, the 1% and the 99%, figures that are a little manipulative and abusive, but that underline this division in economic terms. </p> <p>We mustn’t forget that it has only been since 1789 and the rise of what we call modernity that this division has been expressed through a spatial, anatomical opposition between the right and the left. We human beings have nothing but our bodies to express symbolic polarities. Above and below, right and left, big and small. We always use bodily metaphors to express social differences, cultural differences. The left-right difference arose somewhat by chance and on the symbolic level it negatively marks the possibilities of victory for the left. </p> <p>As you must know, this division emerged in the context of the French Revolution: in the National Assembly, to the left of the king sat those who were against the monarchy, while those who supported it sat on the right. This very recent historical circumstance means that, from that moment, we have used left and right to describe two politically opposed world views. It is true that the right-left difference is a culturally loaded concept in all world traditions. “Left” is a marked term that is viewed with suspicion in nearly all languages and cultures of the world. </p> <p>In a brilliant book, Chris McManus notes the right-leaning nature of world culture: all the peoples of the Earth, in effect, have always identified the left with clumsiness, with darkness, with femininity, with insufficiency, with death, while they have identified the right with goodness, light and justice (even to the point that the regulation of justice is referred to in Spanish as “<em>derecho</em>” [“right”]). We should also remember that in Latin, the opposite of the right is <em>sinister</em>. In pre-political cultural terms, this opposition is clearly unfavorable to the left. </p> <p>But it is a difference that has served us for years to express a political difference in space; that is, in the visible realm of relations. This argument was used by Kant against Leibniz to defend the absolute nature of space: that the right and left hands are symmetrical, equal, but, if you cut them off, they cannot be superimposed and are therefore not interchangeable. They are symmetrical but at the same time opposite. What did Kant argue this for? To explain that there were differences in space that no reasoning can resolve. That logic cannot resolve. The differences of the body provide very useful visible metaphors because they signal differences or divisions that cannot be resolved through a logical reconciliation. This is why politics is left-right. </p> <p>Could we replace this metaphor with another one? If we were to accept that the left is completely loaded with pre-political cultural baggage, but also with political crimes (consider, for example, Stalinism, etc.… half propaganda but half an undeniable reality), I think it would be wise to put this opposition to one side and look for other oppositions in our own bodies, such as above and below; to look for them in any case in space, because symbolically we cannot step outside of space. That’s why we should not strive to keep being leftist if we want to keep defending the values which I at least associate with the left, and which have to do with social justice but also with political democracy.</p><h2>Capitalism, in itself revolutionary, prevents us from being reformist...</h2> <p><strong><em>JPC</em></strong><em>: Regarding being conservative in the anthropological sphere, maybe as I’m a little younger than you are, but this sounded to me a little like anthropological pessimism.</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p><strong>SAR</strong>: I think it is quite the opposite. I know that the idea of being conservative in the anthropological sphere always generates controversies or misunderstandings. But let’s start with the need to be revolutionaries in the economic sphere. Why? Because it’s pretty obvious that capitalism, with its intrinsic quest for infinity, is unreformable. </p> <p>It is not only incompatible with democracy and with institutional stability, but it is radically incompatible with the survival of the planet, with the capacity for renewing the planet and its limited material resources and, therefore, I think we need to transform the economic foundations. </p> <p>How to do that is a different question. We need to be very careful for two reasons. The first is that capitalism, which exploits territories but also streams of consciousness, is not just an economic system; it is a civilization and it is enmeshed in our souls while it distorts our bodies. The second is that, when it has been attempted, it has been done based on the utopianism of transparency, trying to eliminate all mediations (money, State, market) that need to play some kind of role in any fairer and more reasonable complex economic system. </p> <p>What is obvious is that land, energy, education, and health cannot be in the hands of capital. And it is going to hold onto those spaces with all the brutal inertia of its quest for infinity. Therefore, capitalism, as an economic structure, is not reformable.</p> <p>As far as the reformist nature of the institutions is concerned, this should be obvious. If it is not obvious among the left, this is the consequence of a certain classical Marxist tradition that has identified the right with the “bourgeois right” and, therefore, with an instrument of class domination. </p> <p>We overlook the fact that in any other possible world, the division of powers is a good thing, habeas corpus is a good thing, the prohibition of torture is a good thing. In short, that the rule of law is as favorable an invention for humanity as the wheel. And that we have to keep the wheel and the rule of law. </p> <p>What we do want is a rule of law that is real, conceived to protect the most vulnerable and not the most privileged, and that can also be reformed, two things that are quite incompatible with the “free market”. A rule of law in which it would be possible to reform the constitution, either because new things have happened, or because all living things and all human products, including institutions, tend to age and break down. </p> <p>Precisely that which capitalism, in itself revolutionary, prevents us from being is reformist. I don’t want to be a revolutionary; it’s very tiring. I want to establish a reformable order, and this entails accepting the whole institutional legacy of the Enlightenment, and adding other legacies and traditions of resistance to it: the indigenous tradition with its attention to Mother Earth, or the feminist tradition as the bearer of a true universal humanism. So it’s about trying to establish a socioeconomic order in which this whole institutional legacy can finally be effective and, moreover, susceptible to reform.</p> <p>Finally, we need to be conservatives in the anthropological sphere. Firstly because, obviously, we need to conserve the condition of all common goods, which means the Earth itself, threatened now at the height of the Anthropocene by human intervention. Thus, as Günther Anders said, we are compelled to be ontological conservatives. It is essential to be conservative on the anthropological level because I believe that what has harmed capitalism most are social ties. </p> <p>If you remember what Marx said in the Communist Manifesto in 1848 (“all that is solid melts into the air”), it is impossible to ignore this aspect that Polanyi would later explore so lucidly. It is true that in Marx, as opposed to Polanyi, there was a certain cosmopolitan delectation, because he was an Enlightenment progressive, but there was also outraged condemnation in his accusation of the “bourgeoisie” as the real cause of the destruction of the family through the manufacturing industry. I do think that it’s very important, in this sense, to speak of conservatism, to defend social ties, short distances. </p> <p>It’s true that short distances are dangerous because social ties can be asphyxiating. But what we need to do is to divest the ties of unequal power relations that have leeched onto them. For example, take the case of the patriarchy. It is very obvious that the ties have been exploited by the patriarchy to such an extent that historically the woman has been the one responsible for care. There is no historical necessity that requires women to hold exclusive responsibility for care. Indeed, at this time we believe that care is in a sense the basis not only of the social revolution but also of the political welfare of most of the public. Thus, to conserve the ties that have been eroded or damaged by a capitalism that generates single consumers is more than a necessity: it’s a priority.</p><h2><em>We</em> need to be conservative</h2> <p><strong><em>JPC</em></strong><em>: You’ve developed many of these ideas with Carlos Fernández Liria, and the critique the two of you make of the left for having renounced the Enlightenment, as if it achieved nothing, as if it was all darkness and no light, seems very useful to me. You explain that the problem is that the emancipating capacity of the Enlightenment has not been fulfilled by capitalism, that capitalism hasn’t allowed it. The same is true of the term conservatism, associated with the right, when most people want to preserve certain values that the neoliberal revolution is destroying: family ties, stability, security, even romantic relationships.</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p><strong>SAR</strong>: Effectively, that’s it. This is what the majority need to be made to understand. What is really destroying the emotional, affective ties, the most basic commitments, is precisely neoliberalism.</p> <p><strong><em>JPC</em></strong><em>: Thatcher wasn’t a conservative, she was a revolutionary.</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p><strong>SAR</strong>: An absolute revolutionary. And faced with the erosion of social ties that her policies caused – from class solidarity to the ethics of care – the reactionary temptation is strong. </p> <p>That’s why the left needs to take up the defence of the family, on the condition of recognizing that the patriarchal nuclear family is not the only family model. What is important is to understand that the value of bodies, like the value of any object, is derived from the work invested in them, from the work and the time invested in caring for them. From how much I’ve been looked at, from how much I’ve been touched. That’s what gives a body value. </p> <p>Looking and touching are tasks that for centuries the patriarchy has entrusted to women, but we can all touch and look. In this sense, I think it’s very important to conceive of very different families, homosexual or single-parent families, that ensure that there will always be “parents” touching and looking and children touched and looked at. Because in the end what consumer capitalism has achieved is that the only thing we look at are images spread on social networks at unattainable speeds. </p> <p>Today, nothing has a body; nothing lasts long enough before our eyes to take shape and become valuable and interesting.&nbsp; So we need to be conservative. Conservative with things, mountains, bodies, and ties.</p> <p><strong><em>JPC</em></strong><em>: The origins of conservatism in the US lie with Abraham Lincoln, and a Republican Party that was very different to the one today, close to the farmers and the working class. </em></p> <p><em>Thinking about this division you propose between revolutionaries, reformists and conservatives, I’ve reached a conclusion and I’d like to know your opinion. </em></p> <p><em>In each of these dimensions: the economy, institutions and the anthropological sphere, we could try to combine the three dimensions of social change, that is, to be conservative, reformist and revolutionary in each. For example, in the economic sphere, reforms that help accumulate power and eventually to achieve a revolution. In the anthropological sphere, to conserve a lot but also to reform things, even without the fantasy of the New Man. But as we create or change the social circumstances, those circumstances also change the way people are. And by changing those circumstances we could have a way of being and relating that is much more emancipatory, even revolutionary.</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p><strong>SAR</strong>: I agree completely. The division I propose is, like all divisions, conventional and rhetorical and aims to provide a basic blueprint for explanation and action, but it’s important to understand that the boundaries are very porous. What you’re saying seems very sensible to me and, in the case of the anthropological sphere, we can think, for example, of Spain, the least homophobic country in the world, according to international reports. </p> <p>The other day a friend told me that she went to the wedding of her homosexual brother and that the father of the groom, a conservative and traditional man, was crying with emotion, unable to contain it. Being conservative means you have to celebrate “marriages”, that you have to commemorate, mark events and dates; celebration is essential, and how could you not be excited if your son or daughter is getting married? </p> <p>It doesn’t matter to whom. In this sense I do think that we’ve advanced and that we mustn’t stop; there’s no need to conserve everything, what we need to conserve are the forms, the festivities, the ceremonies, and the ties. Bodies can change but ties have to be conserved. If they’re not we will end up accepting conservatism on the terms proposed by the patriarchy, the Catholic Church, or reactionary thinking.</p><h2>The erosion of the credibility of mainstream media</h2> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/averia.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/averia.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'>Avería Witch taking control of TV. Corporación de Radio y Televisión Española. </span></span></span><strong><em>JPC</em></strong><em>: A couple more questions in conclusion. The first could be interesting for the international readership of openDemocracy. In the 1980s you were a scriptwriter on a legendary programme on TVE, La Bola de Cristal [Crystal Ball], which propounded statements like “Long live evil, long live capital !”. For a public outside Spain, could you tell us about that experience and what diabolical commie scriptwriters like you were doing there...</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p><strong>SAR</strong>: This was a programme whose approach was never really repeated, born at a very particular moment in Spanish history when there was perhaps more freedom than at any moment before or since, when we representatives of the <em>La Movida</em> movement – a movement of aesthetic, cultural and sexual renewal – coincided with the remnants of militant Marxism passed down by the Spanish transition to democracy. </p> <p>In that unexpected window of freedom, we simply made a programme in which we said whatever came into our heads. In theory, it was a programme aimed at children, but it ended up being watched by older people. </p> <p>I, for example, who was in charge of the first half hour, which was for the youngest viewers, and which featured puppets, ended up telling viewers about primitive accumulation or colonialism.&nbsp; To do this, I used fables and stories, but greatly inspired by Marx, Brecht and Jonathan Swift. I ended up talking about contemporary politics, criticizing the Socialist Party in government at the time a lot, but also criticizing the consumer society, junk food, US cultural imperialism, and above all, alerting people even then, when Spanish TV was still finding its feet, against the dangers of television. </p> <p>I should point out that the cancellation of the program in 1988 coincided with the approval of the law that approved and regulated private TV networks in Spain. <em>La Bola de Cristal</em> invited people to turn off the TV and open a book; and to collectivize our problems. That’s why on every episode, with different visual content, appeared the well-known slogan: “<em>Solo no puedes, con amigos sí</em>” [“Alone you can’t, with friends you can”].</p> <p><strong><em>JPC</em></strong><em>: Today we are in a very different context, where the new digital media and social networks have become so important. What’s your opinion of their use in emancipatory projects on the one hand, but also to control, monitor, spread propaganda, reinforce authoritarianism?</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p><strong>SAR</strong>: I have two observations on this question. Although they are not a tool, digital media offer possibilities that have two uses, and the predominance of one over the other depends on the ratio of dominant forces. </p> <p>I think it would be very disingenuous to believe that the new technologies, social networks and alternative media constitute an immediate victory for the emancipatory forces, for the simple reason that the same power relations that exist in the world have been transferred to the web. </p> <p>This makes it another disputed territory rather than an instrument of liberation. We have to fight for analog territory but also for digital territory, where the big corporations and governments also run the show. You need only compare the number of pornographic websites or e-commerce websites, or even of big mainstream newspapers with the number of alternative news sites.</p> <p>I’m also very worried about another aspect of these new technologies. We always think about what they enable us to do, but never about what they force us to do. In this respect, the so-called new technologies – unlike in previous technological revolutions – have introduced extremely hybrid gadgets, so that we don’t know whether they are tools, territories or vital organs. </p> <p>Probably they are all three at once. If you have a hammer, but you don’t have a nail, you don’t take it out of the toolbox. It would be absurd to say: “seeing as how I have a hammer, I’m going to use it.” A computer connected to the web or a cell phone connected to the web is not exactly a tool; it’s more like a vital organ, and that’s where things start to get complicated. Because although you can say that you’re not going to use the hammer because you don’t have a nail, you can’t say that today you’re going to leave home without your right kidney or your liver. </p> <p>In a way our relationship with new technologies is already an organic relationship. And it’s so organic that it’s the only vital organ we have to which our bodies are somehow residual, an impediment or an obstacle that keep us from moving as fast as the networks demand of us, in a context dominated by technology in which we’ve substituted succession for simultaneity. </p> <p>The networks have imposed a regime of simultaneity which, from the outset, is quite incompatible in physical terms with a finite brain and which at the same time inserts us into a biological network that is always alive, that while I’m sleeping is still on; this generates a great deal of anxiety, because it means that we’re outside of life while we’re sleeping, I’m outside of life while I’m talking to you in a café unless someone is recording the moment. </p> <p>What is happening in your body and around it is no longer important and the “event” with a capital “E” is always somewhere else, and accessible using the new technologies. In this sense, I think the new technologies force us to bow our heads (literally) while Neolithic dignity forced us instead to stand up tall. </p> <p>They force our truly free decisions to be violent. I always explain it this way, hyperbolically and gruesomely but quite realistically: to disconnect your computer from the web is like committing euthanasia on a relative. If the only freedom you have involves committing euthanasia on a loved one (“pulling the plug on life”), the new technologies don’t seem to make us very free. Their very convenience turns into a tyranny.</p> <p>Having said this, there is no doubt that at a time when there was a clear erosion of the credibility of mainstream media ­– I would say this began in the Gulf War in 2003 – having access to alternative media or networks where you can exchange information has had a positive effect. </p> <p>There is a constantly increasing (but still insufficient) sector of the population that is turning off the TV to get their news online. This has huge dangers too, because if you haven’t been previously informed or previously educated, you could end up accepting the authority of the most ludicrous sources. Conspiracy theorists, for example, have found extremely fertile ground on social networks and this is very dangerous because in switching off a news source you don’t trust, you could end up with sources just as fake or worse than the ones you left behind. </p> <p>What I mean is that social networks are not spaces of unspoilt nature that we rely on to find the transparent truth; instead, just like newspapers, they require prior education that the networks themselves don’t give, but which they contribute to eroding or in a way impeding.</p> <p><strong><em>JPC</em></strong><em>: Your explanation has reminded me of McLuhan’s axiom that technologies and the media are extensions of the human body and that this could have an emancipating logic; the potential is there. But that the reverse could also happen where we human beings become extensions of the technology, such as in the case of enslavement to the iPhone. </em><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p><strong>SAR</strong>: Exactly, like the Matrix… our bodies are terminals, they are the massive reservoir on which machinery that we don’t control can feed. I always doubt my analysis of technology because I have the conviction that if anything determines our approach to reality, it is precisely the fact that we are extensions of technological contexts. </p> <p>I was born in a technological context very different from the one I live in now, so I no longer know when I’m thinking in a technological context that is on the verge of disappearing, when I’m thinking in the technological context in which I’m living, and when I’m thinking (and I’d like to give this hypothesis a chance as well) outside both: when I’m thinking from something like a precarious standpoint (a Kantian perspective) that introduces arguments that cannot be entirely settled in any context.</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/Understanding_Media_(1964_edition).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Understanding_Media_(1964_edition).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'>Understanding Media. The Extensions of Man (1964). Wikimedia Commons. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Spain </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Spain Joan Pedro-Carañana Santiago Alba Rico Sat, 24 Mar 2018 13:12:29 +0000 Santiago Alba Rico and Joan Pedro-Carañana 116860 at https://www.opendemocracy.net From Obama to Cambridge Analytica: how did we get here? (Podcast) https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/people-before-party-having-actual-conversations-in-digital-era <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Where did the controversial 'influence campaigns' come from? Two Obama volunteers look back at the revolution they started in 2008 – and how a grassroots effort in Virginia could be key to vanquishing Trump.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="120" width="100%" src="https://www.mixcloud.com/widget/iframe/?hide_cover=1&amp;feed=%2FopenDemocracy%2Fpeople-before-party-having-actual-conversations-in-the-digital-era-opendemocracy%2F"></iframe></p> <p>Intro music:&nbsp;<a href="http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Kuso/Sursu_and_Tabriz/03-KUSO-Dinoavion">Dinoavion -&nbsp;Kuso </a>-&nbsp;<a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0">CC A-NC 3.0</a></p><p><i>Kellen Squire was a blue collar disillusioned Republican and a new Dad. Chris Blask had just sold a cyber-security company and was similarly impressed with what Obama had to say. The Hillary Clinton/ Obama wars is where Kellen and Christopher first came into contact with each other... Podcast - 53 minutes.</i></p><p>“I ended up spending 15 hours a day, seven days a week focusing on this Obama Rapid Response (ORR) thing. On the Obama website you could just join, create blogs and get involved with the ORR, whose core group had 200 members, but there were hundreds maybe thousands of state, regional, local, municipal rapid response teams who were all connected and could all communicate with each other.”</p> <p>How much was there innovation tech-wise? "In short, little, but important. The best comparison was between the Hillary Clinton campaign website and the Obama campaign website at that time. They were both using existing technologies that could have been used by anybody, but the Obama campaign had adopted it in a very open fashion. Volunteers could do little things, large things, big things, whatever they wanted." </p><p>"The Clinton campaign was much more traditional. You would request access to something and someone would maybe approve to let you do something. But from the technology perspective, it was just a point along the continuing evolutionary line that we are on. By that point, some savvy folks early in the Obama campaign would have found existing platforms they could tweak, where they could have large memberships doing the kinds of things we are used to in social media now that weren’t generally done at the time.”</p> <p>“Part of what drove me, because I was so taken by the message that Senator Obama had, was that I was trying to understand where the breakdown was and why Democrats were so acrimonious with each other. We’d go into it with Clinton supporters because we were such unapologetic Obama supporters, and we were trying to bridge the divide and find out what was separating us …"</p> <p>"When Chris was talking about influence campaigns – well that can be influence by both sides. I think 2008 was probably the first time we saw the start of what in 2016 is a science – using trolls and botts and sock-puppet accounts to try and create a false consensus to drive the conversation any way you want. I think Chris and I were fighting against that as well…"</p> <p>"There was a lady who was ostensibly a Hillary Clinton supporter but was always framing her arguments and trying to organise it in such a way as to cause as much strife as possible. Like, 'By God if you don’t support Hillary Clinton, burn the whole thing down!' A lot of us were fighting very diplomatically, and at some point a lot of us were thinking, “How much of this is real and organic, and how much of it is being astroturfed in!?” It led to the PUMA movement&nbsp; – Party Unity My A***! …."</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-32026879.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-32026879.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="339" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Democratic Senator Barack Obama makes a campaign stop at the Marriott while campaigning for the Iowa Caucus in Coralville, Iowa on January 2, 2008. Laura Cavanaugh/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>“Already then you could see the subtle trolls. Concerned trolls, like “Oh I’m really signed up, but I’m just concerned that” … some nuance, right? But there was a huge range. A troll could be some friend of yours who is a bit of a jerk, who is always posting something to get people riled up… &nbsp;Or it could be someone who has a nefarious intent and is listening to the conversation you are having to inject other issues, and you wouldn’t commonly think they were trolling… Influence campaigns – can I yell “fire!” in this theatre? – as a way of dealing that achieves an adversarial goal, these go way back in history. In those days we were seeing this evolve for the first time in a largescale political environment ….”.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> digitaLiberties Can Europe make it? Mary Fitzgerald Christopher Blask Kellen Squire Fri, 23 Mar 2018 09:54:28 +0000 Kellen Squire, Christopher Blask and Mary Fitzgerald 116819 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The madness and conflict of Shakespeare's characters can humanise economics https://www.opendemocracy.net/Can-europe-make-it/yanis-varoufakis/madness-and-conflict-of-shakespeares-characters-can-humanise-economics <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Why former Greek finance minister and co-founder of DiEM25 – a pan-European movement for democratising the EU – accepted the invitation to give Kingston University’s sixth annual Shakespeare lecture at the Rose Theatre. </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/Yanis Varoufakis at Kingston University Shakespeare lecture 2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Yanis Varoufakis at Kingston University Shakespeare lecture 2.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'>Yanis Varoufakis gives Kingston University's 6th annual Shakespeare lecture at the Rose Theatre. Kingston University. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>This March, a committed Europeanist but outspoken critic of the European Union, Varoufakis rose to explore how the complexities and contradictions of the Bard's characters have shaped his own take on economics, as he delivered the sixth annual lecture for Kingston Shakespeare Seminar, a partnership between the university and the Rose Theatre.<br /><br />Deriving key concepts from 'praxis' to 'indeterminacy' from the Bard's characters and plots, "To a very large extent my own understanding of economics has been influenced by the inability of economists to capture what matters in human nature," Varoufakis said.<br /><br />"The language and mindset of economists is so dry. Every individual is depicted as an automaton, robot-like and lacking in emotion. And then you turn to Shakespeare – and every single character is like a republic of madness and conflict." &nbsp;<br /><br />Varoufakis served as Minister of Finance in the Greek government from January to July 2015, at the height of the country's economic crisis. Famous for his negotiations with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund during bailout talks, he described what unfolded in Greece as a Shakespearean tragedy. Having failed to secure what he felt was a fair deal for his country, he fell on his sword, resigning from the government the morning after a national referendum supported his position but was ultimately ignored as the Greek Government accepted the bailout.<br /><br />Speaking to a packed audience at the Rose Theatre, Varoufakis explained how the Bard's work had much to teach us about politics on the international stage.<br /><br />"Shakespeare's plays shine a brilliant light on the established powers' desperate attempts to avoid ethical accountability. They insist that ethics is for wimps: the strong do as they will and the weak suffer as they must."<br /><br />A mathematically trained economist and thinker with a deep appreciation of arts and culture, Varoufakis peppers references to the works of Shakespeare throughout his writing and speeches. He reported that observing the European Union was like watching Othello, compared German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Macbeth and enlivens his writing with Shakespearean quotations like King Lear's cry to 'shake the superflux' of wealth – the title of his lecture at the Rose Theatre. Speaking ahead of the event, he hinted at the strong influence the artistic world has had on him throughout his life.</p><p>"I grew up in a country that has its own drama tradition – the ancient Greek tradition – but where Shakespeare was always appreciated as an extension of this tradition. The first time I read Shakespeare was in Greek, the first time I saw his plays was in Greece as a young teenager," Varoufakis said. </p><p>"Yet training as an economist I felt I was straddling two worlds – my career was in economics, but my heart was with the Shakespearean depiction of humanity. I became fascinated by this juxtaposition – on the one hand the simpletons inhabiting the works of formative economic thinkers such as Adam Smith and on the other the extremely complex model of men and women in Shakespeare."<br /><br />Born in Athens in 1961, Varoufakis moved to England at 17 to study economics. After arriving in the country he bought himself a copy of the complete works of William Shakespeare to improve his English and began to enjoy trips to see the Royal Shakepeare Company. During this time he became a fan of the work of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Hall_(director)">Sir Peter Hall </a>– former director of the RSC and founding director of Kingston's Rose Theatre.</p><p>Kingston University's Peter Hall Professor of Shakespeare Studies Richard Wilson said it was this connection that persuaded Varoufakis to deliver the institution's annual Shakespeare lecture at the Rose.</p><p>"Peter Hall was one of the world's greatest directors. He believed in the concept of bringing the arts to the people – something that very much chimes with the way Yanis works," Professor Wilson said. "Yanis has a popstar following and is very charismatic – he brings economics and politics to new audiences. He's also an example to young people of how ideas can shape the world – a true model of what a public intellectual should be."<br /><br />With a note of self-deprecation, Varoufakis said he did warn Professor Wilson that he was perhaps not the most qualified person to deliver a lecture on Shakespeare.<br /><br />"Richard assured me that was what he wanted – somebody who is not a Shakespeare scholar to come and explain how the Bard's work has affected his thinking. Well, the blame is entirely on Richard for the result – but it is such a splendid invitation, I couldn't possibly refuse."</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4871.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_4871.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'>Some of the audience at the Rose Theatre.</span></span></span></p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Culture Economics International politics 'Kingston University Communications' DiEM25 Thu, 22 Mar 2018 14:12:42 +0000 'Kingston University Communications' 116821 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Not just a job: supporting refugees into sustainable employment https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/rachel-marangozov-erica-consterdine-chiara-manzoni/not-just-job-supporting-refugees-into-sustaina <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Persistent barriers to work are creating brain waste, serving as a loss for employers, society and refugees themselves.</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-25884785.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-25884785.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'>Syrian refugees (who cannot be identified for legal reasons) at a charity in London after they arrived from Calais to the UK via the Safe Passage legal route. Jonathan Brady/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>More must be done to help refugees into work. That was the verdict of the recent <a href="http://www.unhcr.org/uk/news/press/2017/11/5a0074234/unhcr-study-integration-efforts-advancing-in-uk-syria-refugee-resettlement.html">UNHCR study</a> into the UK’s efforts to integrate Syrian refugees.</p> <p>No one feels this more than ‘Rahim.’ He worked for 20 years as a mechanical engineer in Sudan only to find himself rummaging through bins in London for food. He often wonders how he’ll rebuild his life after arriving on the shores of Europe with nothing but his life spared and his family thousands of miles away.</p> <p>‘I am trying to forget it’, he tells us, quietly.</p> <p>We are there to ask Rahim about his job prospects and the support he’s getting from a flagship programme run by Renaisi, <a href="http://www.renaisi.com/rise/">RISE (Refugees Into Sustainable Employment)</a>, but this now appears trivial given how much he’s already overcome just to be here, sat in front of us, and articulating his story with quiet dignity and calm. <span class="mag-quote-center">Like so many other refugees in London, Rahim is highly skilled yet struggling to find work.</span></p> <p>Like so many other refugees in London, Rahim is highly skilled yet struggling to find work. It’s a familiar tale of unemployment, of underemployment, of tacit experience which Rahim has yet to master, and of untapped skills and potential. </p> <p>Employment is the <a href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2016/578956/IPOL_STU(2016)578956_EN.pdf">most significant factor</a> favouring long-term integration of refugees and critical for the journey towards belonging, and yet significant barriers remain. A lack of clarity over <a href="https://www.oecd.org/els/mig/migration-policy-debates-10.pdf">working rights and a lack of recognition</a> of refugees’ qualifications can deter employers from hiring refugees. </p> <p>As well as this, many refugees have fled for their life, and are likely to be traumatised from what they have seen and been through. They may not speak English and usually have to navigate an entirely different culture and labour market from their homeland, often facing discrimination along the way. </p> <p>‘Ruth’ (another RISE participant) tells us that she needs ‘jobs for mothers’ that can fit around her childcare responsibilities. With an average cost of <a href="https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/childcare-costs">£222.36 per week</a> for childcare in Britain, we can empathise with Ruth when she asks, ‘why would I pay someone else to look after my kids for double the money I can earn?’ </p> <p>RISE sources some great jobs from innovative initiatives such as the <a href="http://breaking-barriers.co.uk/">Breaking Barriers programme</a> but as we continue to talk to these refugees about their circumstances, it strikes us that the challenge is much more than just finding jobs; it is also about providing language support, building confidence, sourcing affordable childcare and dealing with mental health issues associated with trauma. RISE offers support for all these issues but more often than not, the programme also has to overcome issues of homelessness and destitution before any refugee can even consider discussing employment and training. In short, what is required is a holistic package of support to meet refugees’ needs, of which employment support is just one element. <span class="mag-quote-center">More often than not, the programme also has to overcome issues of homelessness and destitution before any refugee can even consider discussing employment and training.</span></p> <h2><strong>Giving back</strong></h2> <p>For refugees, too, employment represents much more than just finding a job – something that’s arguably much easier to do these days thanks to the likes of <em>Uber</em> and <em>Deliveroo</em>. Refugees want to work to become self-sufficient and to re-build their lives. In this sense, finding employment is about more than just financial security; it also provides a sense of self-worth, the opportunity to deploy hard-earned skills and qualifications, and to widen one’s social connections. </p> <p>While headlines of bogus asylum seekers and welfare tourism could lead you to believe that refugees want a free ride, nothing could be further from the truth. Rahim wants nothing more than to apply his skills and work as mechanical engineer, but he’s had little luck with employers who don’t value his Sudanese experience. </p> <p>Despite this, Rahim doesn’t give up. Instead he gives back; volunteering at a Synagogue interpreting Arabic to English, and at a Sudanese school where he volunteers as an assistant teacher teaching Arabic and Islamic studies. For him, being able to meaningfully participate and contribute to his local community is as important to his well-being and self-worth as finding paid work. ‘It’s good for me’, he tells us, ‘Before volunteering, I knew nobody here.’ </p> <p>Employers also have much to gain from hiring refugees beyond that of just filling vacancies. Aside from the diverse experience and skills that refugees bring, they are also highly motivated and have a strong work ethic. In a recent survey of over <a href="https://www.oecd.org/els/mig/Finding-their-Way-Germany.pdf">2,000 employers in Germany</a>, more than three out of four employers who had hired refugees reported few or no difficulties with them in daily work, and 80% were broadly or fully satisfied with their work. <span class="mag-quote-center">For him, being able to meaningfully participate and contribute to his local community is as important to his well-being and self-worth as finding paid work.</span></p> <p>Persistent barriers to work are creating brain waste, serving as a loss for employers, society and refugees themselves. From Lord Dubs to Sigmund Freud, people who are given the opportunity to rebuild their lives, often from terrible circumstances, grab the opportunity with both hands and go on to make huge contributions to their country. </p> <p>Sir Mo Farah arrived in the UK with almost no English; we have recently seen him knighted for his services to athletics. With these examples in mind, and with the threat of post-Brexit skill and labour shortages looming, shouldn’t we be asking what more this country could be doing to help newcomers realise their potential? </p> <p>Indeed, shouldn’t we be asking what more can be done to help all British communities who are struggling to access the employment opportunities that they deserve? The <a href="https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/final_social_integration_strategy.pdf">Mayor of London</a> is the latest person to call for us to redefine integration policy as one that concerns the economic success of ‘All of Us’ and not just particular racial, ethnic or migrant groups, who then tend to be ‘problematised’ in popular debates. <span class="mag-quote-center">Indeed, shouldn’t we be asking what more can be done to help all British communities who are struggling to access the employment opportunities that they deserve?</span></p> <p>Conceptualising integration in this way is not incompatible with a recognition that refugees face particularly entrenched barriers to work.</p> <p>Initiatives such as RISE are vital in addressing some of these barriers because refugees often require a much broader package of joined-up and coordinated support which go beyond employment and training. Mental health services, housing and childcare provision (to name just a few) are all critical in underpinning and enabling sustainable work for refugees. </p> <p>And while recent cuts to many of these services may have undermined the prospects for a more coordinated response to refugee integration in the UK, there is promising work, gaining momentum in Europe, which offers plenty of inspiration.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.oecd.org/els/mig/migration-policy-debates-10.pdf">Danish, Swedish and German governments</a> are all working closely with social partners and employers to proactively improve the labour market integration of refugees. Meanwhile, the European Commission has launched <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/legal-migration/european-dialogue-skills-and-migration/integration-pact_en"><em>Employers together for integration</em></a>, a high-profile initiative designed to give visibility to the work that employers are doing to support the integration of refugees and other migrants into the labour market. </p> <p>The initiative is supported by the likes of Cisco, The Adecco Group and Deutsche Telekom AG. Underlying all of this, is the growing recognition that the successful integration of refugees into work could not just benefit refugees but also solve some of Europe’s skill and labour shortages. Two years ago, German state governments declared ‘Every Euro we spend on training migrants is a Euro to avoid a shortage of skilled labour.’ <span class="mag-quote-center">Two years ago, German state governments declared ‘Every Euro we spend on training migrants is a Euro to avoid a shortage of skilled labour.’</span></p> <p>What would it mean for the UK to follow suit? It would mean acknowledging that refugees have a right to be here and the right to fully participate in our society to support themselves and their families. It would mean supporting their right to be employed and use their skills and experience because that investment will be repaid many times over. </p> <p>It would also mean recognition of the fact that, for many refugees, employment is about more than just having a job; it is an opportunity to rebuild a life. </p> <p>Rahim perhaps sums it up best: ‘I would be able to dream.’</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>RISE (Refugees into Sustainable Employment) is supported through the Building Better Opportunities (BBO) programme, which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and European Social Fund (ESF).</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><em>RISE (<a href="https://gallery.mailchimp.com/9f019b785080dbe9c16ee5c00/files/1eeff1d1-0629-4520-9235-15ab2548c220/Rise_Free_service_for_refugees_Flyer_.pdf">Refugees into Sustainable Employment</a>) is supported through the Building Better Opportunities (BBO) programme, which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and European Social Fund (ESF).</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-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Chiara Manzoni Erica Consterdine Rachel Marangozov Wed, 21 Mar 2018 14:39:56 +0000 Rachel Marangozov, Erica Consterdine and Chiara Manzoni 116793 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Another dangerous ‘National Us’: you can’t have a more integrated society in a hostile environment https://www.opendemocracy.net/nando-sigona/another-dangerous-national-us-you-can-t-have-more-integrated-society-in-hostile-environ <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The UK Government’s strategy is not for an integrated society, focusing on what government and society could and should do, but for integrated 'communities', code word for everyone else. </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-19990057.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-19990057.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'>Tony Blair delivers a speech about Europe during a CBI event at the London Business School in central London, in June 2014. Philip Toscano/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>After a bit of fanfare, a couple of catchy soundbites and a few top-line proposals leaked a day or two before the release, the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (DHCLG)&nbsp;<em>Integrated Communities Strategy</em>&nbsp;Green Paper was released on March 14.&nbsp; </p> <p>The Green Paper places much emphasis on the importance of social integration which is referred to as “meaningfully” mixing with people from different backgrounds.&nbsp;Although the remit for both the review and the Green Paper was wide and intended to address the whole population, the emphasis in both has tended to be new migrant and minority communities. </p> <p>The title —&nbsp;<em>Integrated Communities Strategy</em> —&nbsp;gives a hint to the direction the report is taking. The paper sets out the Government’s strategy to create not a more integrated <em>society</em>, which would put the focus on what the government and society at large could and should do together, but integrated <em>communities</em>, code word for everyone else. </p> <h2><strong>Barnum circus specimens</strong></h2> <p>The paper is the official response to the so-called Casey Review of 2016 whose focus in turn was on “our most isolated and deprived communities”. It is not only that the others need to be made to integrate more and better, but that they are also constructed as isolated from mainstream society, some kind of Barnum circus specimen interesting, even fascinating but totally alien to <em>us</em>, always and by definition from somewhere else. </p> <p>In this narrative, isolation, deprivation, lack of participation are always constructed as having little to do with the conditions of one’s stay in Britain and factors such as structural discrimination and huge wealth inequality. Instead, the onus of integrating is always and inexorably on ‘them’. </p> <p>Thousands of pages have been spent defining and trying to capture and measure ‘integration’ (and germane concepts such as ‘assimilation’, ‘incorporation’, ‘multiculturalism’, ‘pluralism’, ‘diversity’, ‘super-diversity’). The concept is analytically slippery and elusive, hard to pin down. The main reason for this is that it is inherently ideological, in that it is there as a post-holding term for whatever ideal of a good society a particular government envisages (often as a short-cut to shoring up the ruling assemblage of forces in any particular time and place). </p> <p>Using an example from across the Atlantic, we can imagine that what may have counted as an <em>integrated</em> society for someone like Barack Obama, may not appear as such to someone like Donald Trump. <span class="mag-quote-center">What may have counted as an <em>integrated</em> society for someone like Barack Obama, may not appear as such to someone like Donald Trump. </span></p> <p>In the UK, there is little doubt that Tony Blair’s integrated society hardly resembled that of Theresa May. The former was built on the idea of Britain being fully part and playing a leading role in the EU and its enlargement towards central, northern and eastern Europe. </p> <p>As such, Blair’s Britain included new and old EU nationals in the British national fabric – an inclusion well illustrated also by the use of the term ‘migrants’ only for ‘the others’ – those coming from outside the EU. </p> <p>The power assemblage emerging from the EU referendum in June 2016 that supports PM Theresa May envisions a very different (if as yet contradictory) idea of Britain and its place in the world – oscillating between ‘Global/Empire Britain’ to ‘Little England’, but certainly excluding ‘European Britain’. </p> <h2><strong>Dehumanising foreign-born UK residents</strong></h2> <p>This shift of vision for Britain translates in society in several ways, including directly and indirectly legitimising anti-European xenophobia. But this is, luckily, an extreme manifestation of this shift. A wider implication of this is that it has become politically acceptable to use over 3 million EU nationals living in the UK as a bargaining chip in the EU negotiations, keeping them in limbo as far as their future in Britain is concerned for what is now over 600 days. Don’t be under any illusion that the December agreement between the UK and the EU solved much: the principle that underpins the agreement ‘nothing is agreed, until everything is agreed’ leaves everything pending until the end of the negotiation.</p> <p>But the dehumanisation of foreign-born residents started earlier and become state policy when Theresa May championed the creation of a ‘hostile environment’ for ‘illegal’ migrants in Britain as a key policy goal. Far from being a targeted intervention, hostile environment initiatives have been affecting regular and irregular migrants alike and often also BME citizens. Foreign born residents and visible minorities have been increasingly asked to prove their right to stay in Britain in the context of a continuous shifting of goal posts for lawful migration. <span class="mag-quote-center">Foreign born residents and visible minorities have been increasingly asked to prove their right to stay in Britain in the context of a continuous shifting of goal posts for lawful migration. </span></p> <p>This latest threat to remove or force to leave international academics, elderly people who have lived in the UK for four decades, parents in mixed-status families with young children, gives a good indication of the lengths to which the British Government is willing to go in pursuit of its agenda. </p> <h2><strong>The ‘hostile environment’</strong></h2> <p>What the ‘hostile environment’ does is to make everyone feel precarious, including individuals and families who have resided in Britain for decades. </p> <p>It constructs all migrants, including EU citizens, as potentially ‘illegal’. To all these people, it is obvious that the proposals included in the DHCLG Integrated Communities Strategy herald another round of the British government asking yet more from them, yet another exam to prove their worth to Britain, rather than a genuine concern for making their lives in Britain better and more fulfilling for all of us together. </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/nando-sigona/can-fabric-of-diverse-society-be-undone-diary-of-eu-citizen-in-uk">Can the fabric of a diverse society be undone? Diary of an EU citizen in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/Can-europe-make-it/nando-sigona-rosemary-bechler/on-superdiversity-in-crisis-mood">On superdiversity in a ‘crisis mood’</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? EU UK Brexit2016 Nando Sigona Wed, 21 Mar 2018 12:24:58 +0000 Nando Sigona 116789 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Anything can still happen in Europe https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/alessio-colonnelli/anything-can-still-happen-in-europe <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Old and new international dynamics are simultaneously at play in Europe. Many voters don't know what to make of this chaos.</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-35439855.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35439855.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'>Toni Iwobi, Italy's first black senator elected from The League, arrives at an event at Palazzo delle Stelline, in Milan, Italy, on March 9, 2018. NurPhoto/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>A tidal wave of Euroscepticism has swept the continent. Online platforms have helped. No doubt. Social media as well, quite naturally. Prominent old media are certainly behind it, supported by billionaires whose interests are in marked contrast with those of Brussels, especially over anti-money-laundering policy.</p> <p>Even so, you can't escape the impression that Euroscepticism is rising from below, from masses of individuals with no hidden agendas. The losers of an eleven-year global crisis triggered by unfettered international markets and unregulated banking speculations the EU had hardly anything to do with.</p> <p>Their lives are on hold. They see many more foreigners in their neighbourhoods today, speaking unfathomable languages, allowed in by EU-made porous borders. The former can't find work and when they do it is badly paid; the latter stoically endure, take up to three jobs and get blamed by right-wing politicians for diluting the national blood and left-wing opinion makers for <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/20/brexit-fake-revolt-eu-working-class-culture-hijacked-help-elite">not voting and supinely accepting low pay</a>.</p> <p>Albanian, Romanian and Polish couldn't be any more different from one another, yet they all sound the same to the vast majority in western Europe. This unfortunate perception can produce the political effect of compact, hungry hordes invading. With more joining in from Africa and the war-torn Middle East. Agitators say the EU invites them in, despite evidence to the contrary, like the billions spent on a deal with Turkey to stem the flow of incomers.</p> <h2><strong>The ever more agile far right</strong></h2> <p>Stirring up xenophobic feelings is some politicians' favourite tool; but it's not as if they know nothing else. They're strategically rather astute. The far right – the most Eurosceptic across any nation's respective spectrum – has become rhetorically very agile.</p> <p>Whereas Italy's first black minister Cécile Kyenge had bananas thrown at her and was likened to a monkey by a Northern League party leading figure, this very same outfit – now rebranded The League to whitewash abusive language against southern Italians accused of being benefit scroungers – has now had one of its 4 March general election candidates, 62-year-old Nigerian-born Toni Iwobi, elected as no less than Italy's first black senator.&nbsp; </p><p>The party, in a bombastic effort to normalize its image and get votes from the centre, is now claiming it's not a racist organization, it is only against illegal immigration. The far right is upping their game: the language is suddenly a notch or two less crude and the tactics shrewder. “Our policies are intended to bring peace and order to the nation,” <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/08/italys-first-black-senator-my-election-shows-far-right-is-not-anti-immigration">Iwobi told the Guardian the day after being elected</a>.</p> <h2><strong>Controversial EU funds</strong></h2> <p>That being said, it is hard to ignore how the EU has actually worked to improve “left behind” areas all over the continent, from Ireland to Cyprus, puzzlingly causing nonetheless very mixed reactions. Wales, one of the regions to benefit the most from EU subsidies to boost infrastructure, unexpectedly voted to leave in the 2016 referendum.</p> <p>The list of contradictory examples is long indeed. Rzeszów (Poland) and Crotone (Italy) represent <a href="http://espresso.repubblica.it/attualita/2015/09/03/news/l-impietoso-confronto-trapolonia-e-calabria-1.227644">two very divergent cases</a> of how well or badly you can manage EU funds. The former has had its airport completely redone and a very depressed area – south-east Poland – has been put back on its feet; it's indeed performing better than ever having become an aeronautical hub. The latter had to give back 600 million euro to the EU in 2015 for not having spent it on time.</p> <p>In between 2007 and 2013 Poland received and invested 67.3 billion euro, becoming the biggest user of EU funds. Yet, its government's gag laws openly contravene commonly agreed EU treaties. Understandable warnings from Brussels were acrimoniously thrown back by Warsaw to the sender.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Italy's organised crime now enjoys business opportunities in Slovakia and elsewhere in eastern Europe by successfully attracting EU funds with bogus agricultural projects, which <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/28/slovakian-journalist-was-investigating-political-links-to-italian-mafia">a Bratislava-based investigative young journalist was trying to expose</a>. The very brave Ján Kuciak recently paid for the affront with his life.</p> <h2><strong>Turning chaos into opportunity</strong></h2> <p>Old and new international dynamics are simultaneously at play in Europe. Many voters don't know what to make of this chaos and tend to revert to more reassuring domestic matters. Others stick to the idea of Europe as a post-war – post-totalitarianism – project for the common good (a United States of Europe sort of thing), and their insistence has forced up-and-coming extremist parties to change their tack slightly.</p> <p>Not just The League, but also Five Star – Italy's recent election winners – have pledged to withdraw their proposal for a referendum on the euro. Unthinkable a few months ago. Further evidence that anything can still happen in Europe, and not necessarily for the worse.</p><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-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Italy Alessio Colonnelli Tue, 20 Mar 2018 20:32:49 +0000 Alessio Colonnelli 116779 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Salisbury attack: establishing responsibilities – war paradigm vs. crime paradigm https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/mary-kaldor/salisbury-attack-establishing-responsibilities-war-paradigm-vs-crime-paradigm <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What difference would it make to describe what happened as an international crime, the approach taken by Jeremy Corbyn, rather than in the language of military force?</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-28538652.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-28538652.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'>Prime Minister Theresa May holds a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin before the start of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, 2016.</span></span></span>Theresa May described the Salisbury attack as ‘an unlawful use of force against the UK’. This is the language of military force. It is less strong than ‘armed attack’, a descriptive that would have triggered a NATO Article V response, but nevertheless it is couched in the language of war and thereby implies that proportionate counter measures can be taken. Yet we could also describe what happened in Salisbury as a heinous crime and, if we are assuming that Russia was responsible, a crime committed against its own citizens – indeed a massive violation of human rights. </p> <p>What difference does the wording make? The military framing implies a geo-political response against the Russian state, which is the approach adopted by Theresa May, starting with the expulsion of Russian diplomats. It is an expression of disapproval but what does it achieve? It is already being countered by tit-for-tat expulsions of British diplomats and indeed by escalating the conflict through the closure of the Consulate-general and the British Council. </p> <p>Effectively what it does is to create an imaginary war, in which both Theresa May and Vladimir Putin can claim to be strong in facing their enemies. Indeed, this was perhaps the motivation. It strengthened President Putin a few days before the Presidential elections in which turn-out seems to be have been around 60% – lower than the 70% Putin was aiming for. And it offers a kind of Falklands moment to Theresa May at a moment when opinion on Brexit is shifting against her; Russian interference in the referendum and implicit support for Brexit is all about weakening the European Union. If indeed this was the motivation, then May’s response just plays into Putin’s hands.<span class="mag-quote-center"> If indeed this was the motivation, then May’s response just plays into Putin’s hands.</span></p> <p>A further problem with the geo-political approach is that it presupposes collective responsibility with collective counter-measures like sanctions directed against the Russian state and hurting ordinary Russians as well as or perhaps even more than the regime. It is exactly the kind of people that those who favour democracy and human rights might want to support who are most likely to be affected by, for example, the closure of the British Council. Typically, where sanctions are introduced, regimes are able to blame the external enemy and further underpin their own positions. </p> <p>So what difference would it make to describe what happened as an international crime, the approach taken by Jeremy Corbyn? Rather than state-to-state measures, the focus would be on investigation, as happened in the Litvinenko case, and on individual criminal responsibility. Before taking counter-measures, there would need to be a ‘requirement of legal proof’. </p> <p>This might mean requesting an investigation of the type of agent used or a challenge inspection of Russian sites by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OCPW); the latter is something which has never been done before. While the Novichok nerve agents were developed in the Soviet Union, it would be possible for any skilled chemist who knows the structure and has access to the ingredients to synthesise a sufficient amount for an attack like Salisbury. Because the structure is secret and the ingredients not easy to obtain this is likely to mean a state chemical warfare establishment, although weak control might mean that a non-state actor could acquire a small amount. </p> <p>By analysing the impurities, side products and by-products, it is possible to identify where the agent is produced although this would take time. Meanwhile, the most likely suspect for this gigantic calling card appears to be Russia if only for circumstantial reasons. </p> <p>Assuming Russia is responsible, treating what has happened as a crime would focus attention on two aspects of Russian criminality. One is the way Russia is violating both human rights law and international weapons law, notably being in breach of the Chemical Weapons Convention both because of the use of chemical weapons and because of failure to declare Novichok to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. </p> <p>The other aspect is, of course, the criminal nature of the Russian regime, both in stealing wealth and killing enemies, and the way in which Russian criminality has played out in the UK through money laundering in the City and the London property market. </p> <p>It is estimated that there have been 14 suspicious deaths of individuals somehow linked to the Russian state in Britain and this does not include the recent Glushkov case. The UK government was very slow to investigate the poisoning of Litvinenko and has failed to investigate other possible murders – all this while Theresa May was home secretary. </p> <p>One explanation was the concern that this might lead to Russian retaliation and a new cold war; the other explanation is the way in which the Conservative Party and the Brexit camp may have indirectly benefited from Russian money. The UK government does now have a tool for investigating criminal Russian oligarchs – something called Unexplained Wealth Orders and this might be the most appropriate tool even before criminal responsibility has been established – as well as the Magnitsky amendments to the Criminal Finances bill, which provides a mechanism for dealing with foreign persons known to be criminal and/or corrupt. <span class="mag-quote-center">The other explanation is the way in which the Conservative Party and the Brexit camp may have indirectly benefited from Russian money.</span></p> <p>In other words, addressing the problem within a crime paradigm rather than war paradigm would facilitate a focus on the criminality of the Russian regime and of Putin himself and how to address it. Treating the Salisbury attack as a military issue merely reproduces traditional great power conflict to the satisfaction of both Theresa May and Vladimir Putin.</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/david-morrison/conclusive-evidence-of-russia-s-guilt-in-skripal-case-is-lacking">Conclusive evidence of the Russian state’s guilt in the Skripal case is lacking — and that&#039;s important</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"> Russia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk Russia UK Conflict Democracy and government International politics Mary Kaldor Tue, 20 Mar 2018 11:37:44 +0000 Mary Kaldor 116767 at https://www.opendemocracy.net