Can Europe make it? https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/9711/all en The great Greek wildfires https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/alexandros-alexandropoulos/great-greek-wildfires <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>With incentives for property speculators being as high as ever and budgets shrunk to a bare minimum, the Greek fire brigade might not have faced its hardest test yet. </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-37914965.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37914965.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'>Greek PM Alexis Tsipras pledges demolition of 3,200 illegal constructions in Attica region in wake of deadly wildfires, Lavrio, Aug. 7, 2018. Marios Lolos/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>Like the Grenfell Tower fire that shook London in 2017, the Greek wildfires of 2018 cost the lives of dozens of people. This too is a story of austerity cuts prioritised over human safety. Unlike, the 2017 fire that shook London, the Greek wildfires were fuelled by a property speculation raging out of control. </p> <p>Dozens of people died in heart-breaking circumstances. In one case 26 people – including children – were trying to head to the sea, escaping the raging fires. They were able to come close to the shore, only to find the only access to the beach, down a cliff, was blocked by the fence of a private property. There shouldn’t be private property there, in a forested area, a few metres from the shore. But firemen found that the 26 perished embracing each other.</p> <p>The Athens fire made international headlines, as one of the most extreme <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2018/aug/01/the-heat-is-on-record-48c-temperature-on-the-way-for-spain-and-portugal">manifestations of the changing climate</a> and the unusually high temperatures that are observed across the Mediterranean this summer. In Greece the debate has shifted towards the government’s poor management of the crisis. All existing evidence is pointing towards a gross mismanagement of the fire by the Syriza government. Like their conservative predecessors in the New Democracy party who badly managed the wildfires of 2007, which also resulted in several dead, Syriza’s cabinet seems to have wildly underestimated the extent of the catastrophe. </p> <p>The exact conditions that led to fire consuming a good part of eastern Attica and the deaths of so many have not yet been established. Investigations, however, have established that the fire started as a result of <a href="http://www.kathimerini.gr/979078/article/epikairothta/ellada/emprhsmos-apo-ameleia-h-fwtia-poy-stoixise-th-zwh-se-92-an8rwpoys">a person starting a fire using a pile of wood and then proceeding to hide his traces.</a> Whether the fire was placed intentionally or not is undoubtedly hard for the authorities to establish, but Greeks have strong reasons to be suspicious. </p> <p>Fires have been intentionally lit in such forested areas on several past occasions, especially close to Athens. Greece has a painful history of property developers setting fire on purpose to forest areas in order to clear land for building. Whereas Greek law doesn’t permit construction in forested areas, a wildfire can blur the lines between forested and non-forested land. Property speculators can purchase property titles inside forest zones literally for pennies. If they succeed in destroying the evidence of the presence of forest on their property, the price of their formerly valueless land will increase sharply, as they gain permission to build in an area of natural beauty. <a href="https://www.fireservice.gr/dynamic/c235982/news.file/0/stat_daee_el_GR.pdf">Between 2009-2013 the Greek Fire Brigade arrested 110 people on these charges of purposefully causing forest fires</a>. </p> <p>Some forest fires, however, raging out of control, are far more lethal than property speculators might have originally calculated. Individuals who commit arson take every conceivable measure to ensure that the fire is not easily extinguishable. Usually they choose days that are particularly hot, dry and with strong winds. In many cases, multiple fires are set at various vantage points in order to make it as hard as possible for the fire brigade to bring the fire under control. Fires are often in mountainous areas or areas with no road access. It is for that reason that the Greek fire brigade relies so heavily on fire-fighting planes and helicopters to be able to keep fires under control. This equipment is costly, however, and Greece is undergoing the biggest austerity program of its recent history. </p> <p>There has been speculation about what impact the prolonged programme of austerity that has been implemented in Greece has had on the efficiency of the country’s fire brigade. In early May, just two months before the disaster, the Chiefs of the fire-fighting force warned that <a href="https://www.newsit.gr/ellada/katastasi-dialysis-stin-pyrosvestiki-en-opsei-kalokairiou-ektos-leitourgias-2-sta-3-kananter/2505856/">only one third of the country’s fire-fighting planes were operational</a> due to austerity cuts in maintenance and investment. Cuts have gone so deep that at the beginning of the summer firemen were still waiting for new boots and helmets. <a href="http://www.kathimerini.gr/940510/article/epikairothta/ellada/kyrw8hke-3139-twn-dasikwn-xartwn">Precise forest maps that could help deter property speculators are, also, long overdue</a> with only one 32% of Greek forests having being mapped. In a case where vested interests and austerity combine, the relevant authorities are struggling to complete the maps, due to the lack of the necessary public service personnel and a series of legal challenges brought by property developers. &nbsp;</p> <p>At the same time property speculation has been emboldened in austerity Greece. Post-crisis Greek governments are consistently deprived of cash and large debt repayments suck up the country’s liquidity every year. Athens has been desperate for new sources of income. The Greek parliament has voted through a series of laws that allow owners of homes built without permission to get permission post-construction, with the payment of a small fine. From the beginning of the crisis in 2009, one and a half million homeowners have made use of these provisions. For property speculators who have managed to destroy all evidence of the presence of a forest on their property, it’s a golden opportunity to see the value of their assets rising. On the eve of the wild-fire this July, <a href="http://www.tovima.gr/politics/article/?aid=1009334">the government was planning to announce a law that would allow even homes that are undeniably built on forested land to acquire permission, </a>post-construction, with the payment of a fine. <a href="http://www.kathimerini.gr/946785/article/epikairothta/ellada/taktopoihsh-ay8airetwn-me-kerdh-24-dis-eyrw">The Greek government has been able to raise 2.4 billion euros as a result of these measure</a>s. <a href="https://graphics.wsj.com/greece-debt-timeline/">On July 20, 2018, the Greek treasury paid 1.8 billion to the European Central Bank</a>, as part of the country’s debt repayment program. That was only one of numerous repayments that Athens had to fulfil in 2018 alone. </p> <p>The situation on the ground speaks volumes. <a href="http://www.kathimerini.gr/940510/article/epikairothta/ellada/kyrw8hke-3139-twn-dasikwn-xartwn">Greek investigators have only managed to map 32% of the country’s forests and so far they have discovered 75 million square metres of illegal structures within these forests</a><span>.</span> With record-breaking high temperatures affecting the whole of the Mediterranean, the risks for a new wildfire in Greece are high. With incentives for property speculators being as high as ever and budgets shrunk to a bare minimum, the Greek fire brigade might not have faced its hardest test yet. </p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Greece </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Greece Democracy and government Economics International politics Alexandros Alexandropoulos Wed, 15 Aug 2018 07:45:46 +0000 Alexandros Alexandropoulos 119268 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Multicultural Nationalism https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/tariq-modood/multicultural-nationalism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Does multicultural nationalism represent the political idea and tendency most likely to offer a feasible alternative rallying point to monocultural nationalism?</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/500209/13963019603_c4d03bd9d6_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/13963019603_c4d03bd9d6_z.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Bristol, 2014. Flickr/ Evgeni. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span><em>Tariq Modood, Bhikhu Parekh, Nasar Meer and Varun Uberoi and other scholars associated with the University of Bristol’s Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship represent a distinctive and important school of multicultural political thought. Thanks go to Sage Journal </em>‘Ethnicities’<em> for giving us three months’ access to this background account of the </em><em><a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/eprint/XQ3U8EdXRsH7uaerTPuf/full">‘Bristol school of multiculturalism’</a></em><em> by Geoffrey Brahm Levey, which situates the Bristol school in the British context in which it arose, outlines its distinctive approach and principles and critically assesses its positions on liberalism and national identity. Levey explains how the school challenges the liberal biases of much of the corpus of multicultural political thinking and the nostrums of British and other western democracies regarding the status of the majority culture as well as of cultural minorities. </em></p><p>There is a lot of nationalism about today. So, Rosemary Bechler is doing us an important service in raising the question of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-one-introduction">monocultural nationalism</a> in the openDemocracy&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/europe">debate</a> about the rise of the hard right in liberal democracies. </p> <p>Yet, what is often described as ‘a new nationalism’ arguably looks like the old nationalism. What is emerging as genuinely new are the identity-based nationalisms of the centre-left, sometimes called ‘liberal nationalism’ or ‘progressive patriotism’. I want to tell you about one such progressive view, what I call multicultural nationalism.</p> <p>To get there, not only do I need to get you to think of nationalism in a new way but also multiculturalism.</p> <h2><strong>Multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism</strong></h2> <p>You may think that multiculturalism is about persons valuing their personal diversity, having multiple identities – like Londoner, young, woman, with parents who are Indian and Scottish – and mixing freely with others who are equally mixed and who together produce ever changing further mixes. On this view group identities – forcing you to choose one over all others, e.g., having to be a good Indian girl or being Scottish but not British – can be stifling. And the worst kind are those that demand a singular loyalty to the nation. </p> <p>On this view of multiculturalism, we should think of ourselves as citizens of the world and we should be free to live and work and travel to wherever we want to and so our policy goal should be to eliminate national borders. That is one version of multiculturalism. Let’s call it cosmopolitanism. It’s not the version of multiculturalism that I hold.&nbsp; </p><p>Multiculturalism, as I understand it, is the idea that equality in the context of ‘difference’ cannot be achieved by individual rights or equality as sameness but has to be extended to include the positive inclusion of marginalised groups marked by race and their own sense of ethnocultural identities. It is not opposed to integration but emphasizes the importance of&nbsp; respecting diverse identities. It should be understood as a mode of integration, just as assimilation is another mode of integration.</p> <p>No state, including liberal democracies, is<strong> </strong>culturally neutral – all states support a certain language(s), a religious calendar in respect of national holidays, the teaching of religion(s) in schools and/or the funding of faith schools, certain arts, sports and leisure activities and so on. Naturally enough this language, religion, arts, sport and so on will be that of the majority population. For multiculturalism, it is a matter of extending this valued condition – of creating a society based on one’s cultural identity ­– to include minorities; minimally, the predominance that the cultural majority enjoys in the shaping of the national culture, symbols and institutions should not be exercised in a non-minority accommodating way. The distinctive goal of what we might call ‘multicultural nationalism’ is to allow people to hold, adapt, hyphenate, fuse and create identities important to them in the context of their being not just unique individuals but members of socio-cultural, ethnoracial and ethnoreligious groups, as well as national co-citizens. </p> <p>So, note that I have now brought in two things that were missing from cosmopolitanism: firstly, the idea of a group identity, of belonging to an ethnoracial or ethnocultural or ethnoreligious group, of not just being a free-floating individual, mixing and matching elements of other people’s cultures. I have introduced the idea of having some rooted identity of your own, an identity that has to be shared because it is part of a group heritage or group membership, and which matters to people and which they want to pass on to the next generation and see it survive and flourish into the future.</p> <p>Secondly, I have brought in the idea of national co-citizens: people who share a country, people who belong here and who care about their country. That country is not just another place on the map or workplace opportunity: it is where they belong, it is their country. So, on the version of multiculturalism I am now presenting, people can have group identities and they have attachments to specific countries – they are not just citizens of the world.</p> <p>But of course that country – Britain – may not allow all its citizens to feel British, to be accepted as British; some may be treated as foreigners, or the wrong colour, second-class citizens. Multiculturalism is about changing that – it is, amongst other things, about ‘Rethinking the national story’. This was the most important – yet the most misunderstood – message of the report of the Commission on Multi-Ethnic Britain in 2000; chaired by Lord Professor Bhikhu Parekh. It argued that the post-immigration challenge was not simply eliminating racial discrimination or alleviating racial disadvantage, important as these were to an equality strategy. Rather, the deeper challenge was to find inspiring visions of Britain – which showed us where we were coming from and where we were going, how history had brought us together and what we could make of our shared future. </p> <p>No one should be rejected as culturally alien and not sufficiently British because of their ethnicity or religion but rather we had to reimagine Britain so that, for example, Muslims could see that Islam was part of Britain; and equally importantly, so that non-Muslims, especially secularists and Christians could see Muslims were part of the new, evolving Britishness.</p> <p>Given that majoritarian nationalism seems to be the dominant politics in so many parts of the world today (in Russia, China, India, many Muslim-majority countries as well as the USA and across Europe) we have to come up with a better nationalism. I suggest that multicultural nationalism unites the concerns of some of those currently sympathetic to majoritarian nationalism <em>and</em> those who are pro-diversity and minority accommodationist in the way that liberalism (with its emphasis on individualism and national majorities) nor cosmopolitanism (with its disavowal of national belonging and championing of global open borders) does not. Multicultural nationalism therefore represents the political idea and tendency most likely to offer a feasible alternative rallying point to monocultural nationalism.</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 the <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2018/07/25/4874965.htm">full version </a>of this argument, see: <em>Remaking the Nation: Immigration, integration and mutilcutural nationalism</em></p><p>Also <a href="http://radio.abc.net.au/programitem/perQmoRj0D?play=true">radio discussion</a>, <em>Does multiculturalism pose a threat to national identity?</em></p><p>See also Geoffrey Brahm Levey on <a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/eprint/XQ3U8EdXRsH7uaerTPuf/full">The Bristol school of multiculturalism</a>.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-one-introduction">The lethal logic of the Monocultural National Us: Part One – an introduction</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU UK Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality Ideas International politics Tariq Modood Mon, 13 Aug 2018 07:11:43 +0000 Tariq Modood 119236 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The neo-fascist moment of neoliberalism https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/ric-fassin/neo-fascist-moment-of-neoliberalism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How can we understand the simultaneous rise of the far right and the authoritarian evolution of neoliberalism? We need an antifascism that can highlight the latter’s role in this “neo-fascist moment.”</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-34484053.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34484053.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'>President Macron visits s migrant center, Croisilles, with French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb (right),January 2018. Pool/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/22/hello-dictator-hungarian-prime-minister-faces-barbs-at-eu-summit">«&nbsp;Hello, dictator!&nbsp;»</a> The president of the European commission thus welcomed the Hungarian Prime Minister to the Riga summit in 2015. If Senator John McCain had caused a diplomatic incident earlier when he called Viktor Orbán a <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-hungary-usa/hungary-summons-u-s-envoy-over-mccains-neo-fascist-comment-idUSKCN0JH1EW20141203">“neo-fascist dictator”</a>, this was just friendly banter for Jean-Claude Juncker. The contrast in tone of the diktats imposed upon Greece at the very same time by the Eurogroup was striking: austerity is no joking matter. Just before Syriza came to power, German Foreign Minister <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30629269">Wolfgang Schaüble warned</a> that “new elections change nothing about the agreements that the Greek government has entered into.” For the EU, there is nothing funny about neoliberalism: economics is too important to be left to the people. Democracy, however, is worth a good laugh. The burlesque scene in Latvia recalls another instance of slapstick: in <em>The Great Dictator</em>, Mussolini slaps Charlie Chaplin’s Hitler on the back: “my brother dictator!” <span class="mag-quote-center">There is nothing funny about neoliberalism: economics is too important to be left to the people. Democracy, however, is worth a good laugh.</span></p> <p>How can we make sense jointly of these two simultaneous phenomena – the rise of the far right, in Europe and elsewhere, and the authoritarian evolution of neoliberal regimes? On the one hand, we have white supremacy and political xenophobia, from Donald Trump to Viktor Orbán or Matteo Salvini. On the other, what can be called <a href="https://blogs.mediapart.fr/eric-fassin/blog/110516/un-coup-d-etat-democratique-du-49-3-nuit-debout">“democratic coups”.</a> Remember Greece? #ThisIsACoup: the “democratic” variation of the coup requires “banks, not tanks.” The same applies to Brazil, from Dilma to Lula: a military coup was not needed; parliamentary votes and judicial decisions do the job. Of course, police violence can still play an important role in the repression of the social movements that resist neoliberal reforms: France is a case in point. On both sides, public liberties are thereby losing ground. </p> <p>Moreover, there is nothing incompatible between neoliberal policies and far right politics: the EU has now accepted far-right governments. Compare 2000, with the sanctions against Jorg Haider’s Austria, to 2018, with Sebastian Kurz presiding over the Council of the European Union. Democracy is not a political criterion any longer. The EU thus subcontracts the handling of the refugee crisis to Erdoğan’s Turkey and to Libya’s mafia-like coastguards. Again, France is no exception, especially when it comes to migrants. It is true that Macron applauded when Trump, under pressure from all sides, decided to drop his policy of separating undocumented aliens from their children; but the consequence is that the US will follow the example of France: children sent with their parents to detention centers. </p> <p>Sure, after the far-right Lega came to power in Italy, Macron warned against the contagious populist <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-macron/frances-macron-warns-of-populism-leprosy-italy-hits-back-idUSKBN1JH1NM">“leprosy”</a> spreading throughout Europe. But while both actions were illegal when Génération Identitaire, the same alt-right group that <a href="https://www.lemonde.fr/les-decodeurs/article/2017/08/09/navire-antimigrants-c-star-une-mission-inutile-voire-illegale_5170650_4355770.html">patrolled the Mediterranean</a> to hunt down humanitarian NGOs during the previous summer, decided in April 2018 to <a href="http://www.leparisien.fr/faits-divers/alpes-enquete-preliminaire-ouverte-autour-de-l-action-de-militants-identitaires-27-04-2018-7687341.php">take control of the French-Italian border</a> to send back refugees, the authorities (whether French, Italian, or European) condoned both. Not only were they not prosecuted, but <a href="https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/france/010618/au-proces-des-trois-de-briancon-c-est-delit-de-solidarite-contre-bien-pensance">those who demonstrated against them in Briançon</a> were – just as <a href="https://blogs.mediapart.fr/eric-fassin/blog/170817/le-proces-politique-de-la-solidarite-34-les-ong-en-mediterranee">NGOs rescuing migrants</a> at sea had been a year earlier in Sicily. In France, activists supporting migrant rights like <a href="https://blogs.mediapart.fr/eric-fassin/blog/120817/le-proces-politique-de-la-solidarite-14-cedric-herrou-et-la-vallee-de-la-roya">Cédric Herrou</a> are exposed to judicial harassment – though the July 6 decision of the Constitutional Council might finally put an end to this so-called “crime of solidarity” in the name of the <a href="https://abonnes.lemonde.fr/immigration-et-diversite/article/2018/07/06/aide-aux-migrants-le-conseil-constitutionnel-consacre-le-principe-de-fraternite_5326929_1654200.html">Republican principle of “fraternity.”</a></p> <p>Macron may have denounced Italian politicians who “betray asylum”; but <a href="https://www.pscp.tv/w/1YqKDQvvgwDGV">his speech</a> was delivered just as the French Senate was debating his Interior Minister Gérard Collomb’s bill restricting asylum rights. Indeed, he also raged against those who “lecture self-righteously” about solidarity with migrants: “look abroad!” That is the true meaning of the Italian reference in Macron’s discourse: French immigration policies could be so much worse – think of Salvini! In solidarity with the new Spanish Premier, Pedro Sanchez, Macron went so far as to propose sanctions against European States who lack European solidarity. But France had just refused to open its ports to the Aquarius rejected by Italy, and finally welcomed in Spain. Never mind contradictions: Macron soon went on to borrow Salvini’s words, accusing NGOs of <a href="https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/981052/emmanuel-macron-latest-immigration-migrant-crisis-eu-summit-ship">“playing into the hands”</a> of human traffickers. The French president ostensibly rejects the temptation of <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/eu-france-macron/frances-macron-slams-temptation-of-illiberal-democracy-in-europe-idUSP6N1HS00S">“illiberal democracies”</a> such as Poland and Hungary – but Europhobes no longer have a monopoly on political xenophobia. These days, Europhiles often follow suit. The French president is the perfect embodiment of what can be called <a href="https://blogs.mediapart.fr/eric-fassin/blog/110917/macron-neoliberal-illiberal">“neoliberal illiberalism”</a>. <span class="mag-quote-center">Europhobes no longer have a monopoly on political xenophobia. These days, Europhiles often follow suit.</span></p> <h2><strong>“Leprosy” and neo-fascism</strong></h2> <p>How are we to define today’s “leprosy”? Chantal Mouffe’s <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/chantal-mouffe/populist-moment">“populist moment”</a> won’t do if we are to take into account both sides of the coin. The philosopher <a href="https://www.versobooks.com/books/2748-for-a-left-populism">advocates left-wing populism</a> in response to right-wing populism: according to her, both have a “democratic nucleus” since they are both responses to “the demands of the popular sectors,” “from the groups who are the main losers of neoliberal globalization.” One could argue (as I have) about the <a href="https://blogs.mediapart.fr/eric-fassin/blog/121116/c-est-l-abstention-imbecile-les-lecons-de-lelection-de-donald-trump">“popular” vote for Trump</a>. But in any case, today, not only can we see that neoliberal leaders like Macron have no qualms about mobilizing xenophobia, but conversely, populist leaders such as Trump, Orbán, or Erdoğan, promote neoliberal policies. This is why it seems misleading to argue that voting for right-wing populists is “the expression of resistances against the post-democratic condition brought about by thirty years of neoliberal hegemony.”</p> <p>Contrary to Mouffe who refuses “classifying right-wing populist parties as ‘extreme-right’ or ‘neo-fascist’,” I argue that it makes sense to speak of a “neo-fascist moment” of neoliberalism. Today, we encounter familiar features of historical fascism – such as racism and xenophobia, of course, but also the blurring of boundaries between right and left, the fascination for charismatic leaders and the celebration of the nation, the rejection of elites and the glorification of the masses, contempt for the rule of law and a taste for violence, to name but a few. <span class="mag-quote-center">Contrary to Mouffe who refuses “classifying right-wing populist parties as ‘extreme-right’ or ‘neo-fascist’,” I argue that it makes sense to speak of a “neo-fascist moment” of neoliberalism.</span></p> <p>It is interesting to read in this light <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/17/american-neoliberalism-cornel-west-2016-election">Cornel West’s immediate reaction</a> after Trump’s election. To explain this neo-fascist resurgence, the philosopher pointed out the responsibility of neoliberal economic policies, from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama, that Hillary Clinton was about to continue: who could disagree? But he also writes: “The neoliberal era in the United States ended with a neo-fascist bang.” Who can believe that Trump’s neo-fascism put an end to neoliberal policies? Certainly not Wall Street.</p> <p>Contrary to West, <a href="https://www.lwbooks.co.uk/sites/default/files/s68_02brown_littler.pdf">Wendy Brown</a> rejects the historical comparison with fascism, and continues favouring an interpretation in the light of the “stealth revolution” of neoliberalism that she has powerfully analyzed as an <a href="https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/undoing-demos">“undoing of the demos”</a>. According to this political scientist, “despite some resonances with 1930s fascism, this libertarian authoritarianism is a novel political formation, one that is an inadvertent effect of neoliberal rationality.” Such a formation “should not just be reduced to the idea of fascism or populism.” </p> <p>This argument complements <a href="https://harpers.org/archive/2017/05/american-duce/">Robert Paxton’s</a>: according to the great historian of Vichy, while “it is powerfully tempting to call the new president of the United States a fascist,” given all the “fascist staples” of the new regime, if one takes into account his economic libertarianism, it makes more sense to call him a “plutocrat.”</p> <h2><strong>Umbrella terms</strong></h2> <p>These are serious objections, because there are indeed real differences between historical fascism and today’s neo-fascism. But is this not the very definition of Weberian ideal-types, such as feudalism or bureaucracy? The terms we use to think about the social world are umbrella terms regrouping empirical realities from diverse historical contexts – because of their similarities, and despite their differences. That is how concepts work. </p> <p>This is true of fascism or populism, as it is of capitalism or neoliberalism itself. As Wendy Brown rightly points out, Trump’s protectionism is but a neoliberal variation, just like German ordoliberalism can be approached as <a href="http://richmedia.lse.ac.uk/government/20180510_10MayEventPodcast.mp3">“the other neoliberalism”</a>, despite differences with IMF ideology. In the same way as there are different forms of neoliberalism, distinct from but related to traditional economic liberalism, neo-fascism can be approached in its contemporary specificity with historical echoes. And instead of opposing the two readings (either neoliberalism or neo-fascism ?) – why not then think of a neo-fascist moment of neoliberalism?</p> <p>An approach in terms of “moment” is a way to insist on the historical logic of such concepts. In other words, there is no necessary link between capitalism (today neoliberalism) and fascism (here neo-fascism) – any more than there is with democracy, of course, contrary to the dominant discourse after the fall of the Berlin Wall. One need only remember that Tony Blair and José Luis Zapatero, when they converted social democracy to neoliberalism, far from riding the xenophobic wave, advocated opening the borders to economic migrants. More recently, the <a href="http://nearfuturesonline.org/the-german-dream-neoliberalism-and-fortress-europe/">German Chancellor</a> was both “Kaiser Merkel” in the spring of 2015 (when imposing ordoliberal austerity on the Syriza government in Greece), and “Mutti Angela” in the fall (when she opened the borders to over a million Syrian refugees). Neoliberalism can go both ways. But these moments of liberal illiberalism seem to belong to the past. <span class="mag-quote-center">The German Chancellor was both “Kaiser Merkel” in the spring of 2015 ... and “Mutti Angela” in the fall.</span></p> <h2><strong>Calling a spade a spade</strong></h2> <p>Why speak of neo-fascism? The answer is pragmatic: because today we need to call a spade a spade. Refusing to name neo-fascism is a way to refuse acting against it. The theoretical scruples of a few can be used as a political pretext of inertia by the many. Euphemizing the harsh reality of contemporary neo-fascism can become an obstacle when we need to mobilize a kind of anti-fascism that, far from serving as a democratic alibi for current economic policies, clearly points out the responsibility of neoliberalism for the rise of neo-fascism. As a consequence, there is no need to entertain the illusion that populism, which is a symptom of neoliberalism, might be the cure against it. Conversely, we have to accept that neoliberals like Macron are no antidotes to the far right: his immigration policies are not fundamentally different from Salvini’s. Both defend “Fortress Europe”. </p> <p>In a word, there is nothing anachronistic about singing “Bella Ciao” today – providing that we update its meaning: we should not reserve this anti-fascist treatment to the current Italian Minister of the Interior, head of the Lega. It equally applies to his predecessor, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/07/italian-minister-migrants-libya-marco-minniti">Marco Minniti,</a> from the Democratic Party, and to his French colleague who left the Socialist Party for Macron’s movement, En Marche – although <a href="https://www.rtl.fr/actu/politique/migrants-gerard-collomb-agace-de-passer-pour-le-facho-de-service-7791591498">Gérard Collomb apparently complains</a> that he is sick and tired of playing the role of a fascist. </p> <p>Maybe these politicians need to be told what they are doing in so many words, in the hope, if not that their weariness might induce some seachange on their part, but that ideological clarity will help us develop alternative strategies.</p><p><em>A <a href="https://mobile.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2018/06/29/le-moment-neofasciste-du-neoliberalisme_5323080_3232.html">shorter version of this piece </a>in French was published in Le Monde a month ago.</em></p><p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/300px-Dictator_charlie6.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/300px-Dictator_charlie6.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 Great Dictator.</span></span></span><br /></em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 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 Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Éric Fassin Fri, 10 Aug 2018 13:05:26 +0000 Éric Fassin 119222 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The lethal logic of the Monocultural National Us: Part Four – suggestions for a deeper democracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-four-suggestions-for-deeper-democracy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>If democracy is to survive, there must be a step change to an empowerment which comes from government by the people. </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_9077_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/IMG_9077_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'>Citizens Assembly on Brexit, 2017. Cade Hannan. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>“<em>He who desires but acts not breeds pestilence.</em>” William Blake’s Proverbs from Hell.</p><p>“<em>To hold different opinions and to be aware that other people think differently on the same issue shields us from Godlike certainty…</em>” <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/ashoka-amody/recovering-human-dignity-richard-bernstein-on-relevance-of-hannah-ar">Why Read Hannah Arendt Now?</a></p><p>So what could work? In all these cases, left out of the equation as ever is that ‘other people’ that Giorgio Agamben refers to, the excluded and underprivileged, waiting in the wings for even the slightest acknowledgement that we exist. Is there a way that we can fight back? To take one of my running threads, who and what could unify Brexit Britain?</p> <h2><strong>Leavers and remainers – come together</strong></h2> <p>Some citizens have tried. An enterprising group of young people in Wolverhampton who decided that it was unacceptable that no one had invited them to discuss their future under Brexit conditions, since the future is theirs, set up their own process of debate for mutual understanding, Q&amp;A’s with politicians, opinion surveys, radio show etc. Venandah Madanhi and her fellow activists have an upbeat and ingenious approach to youth organizing. Check them out at <a href="https://wecanwin.co.uk/campaign/our-brexit/">OurBrexit.</a> </p> <p>Or spotted recently in <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/15/stratford-brexit-balance-leave-remain">the Guardian</a>, Stratford4Europe’s public effort to bring both sides together is ‘Brexit Café’, a coffee-morning forum that’s been held twice at the Townhouse Cafe for Remainers and Leavers to air their views and bridge the divide “one cup at a time”. </p> <p>Then there was a valiant group in Cambridge, which not only brought together Leavers and Remainers, but also town and gown, producing a report over a year ago now, the <a href="https://issuu.com/cambridgebrexitreport">Cambridge Brexit report</a>. </p><p> In the useful summary of their findings they threw down the following gauntlet:</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 17.15.19_1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 17.15.19_1.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>We must ask ourselves why none of our main political parties, and neither side in the Brexit debate have ever thought to propose and enable this. If you raise the issue of Leaver and Remainer discussion groups in your local party branch, you are likely to be told, as I have been, that the relationship is too toxic. But isn’t the reverse the case? That it is the absence of contact coupled with the mounting enemy images that creates the toxicity? For political parties in particular, another factor must be the stranglehold on our political class of the first past the post, winner-take-all electoral system, and the seductions of the Monocultural National Us. But one day soon they will surely have to choose between this rusty management tool and the empowerment of people.</p> <p>Then last September, in Manchester, thanks to a team put together by Anand Menon’s ‘UK in a Changing EU’, a <a href="https://citizensassembly.co.uk/brexit/about/">Citizen’s Assembly</a> brought Leavers and Remainers together by sortition from all over the UK, selected to reflect the Brexit vote, alongside social class, region, age, gender and ethnicity. For a few days, they were invited to engage in in-depth discussions on everything from the Single Market to migration policy and these citizens jumped at the chance. The more technical results are noted here:</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 16.35.43.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 16.35.43.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>A <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/oliver-norgrove/interesting-brexit-experiment-worthy-of-analysis">brief and compelling discussion of the event</a> in openDemocracy touched on some more general results. Participants were delighted to have been chosen; glad to have access to careful, thoughtful discussion of the arguments for and against different options; and gladdest of all and relieved to realise that they could engage in discussion with fellow-Brits of an opposite persuasion without the ceiling falling in. It simply showed that, well away from the hyperboles and given a chance, people of very differing viewpoints can coexist and work towards constructive solutions to complex problems. </p> <p>The exercise necessarily combined three of the lessons learned from conflict resolvers by the solutions journalist, Amanda Ripley; first, complicate the narrative; then, widen the lens: “TV news segments are dominated by a narrow focus... The narrow-lens nudges the public to hold individuals accountable for the ills of society rather than corporate leaders or government officials. We don’t connect the dots… By contrast, people who saw the wider-lens stories were more likely to blame government and society for the problems of poverty.” And lastly, encourage contact: ”The most powerful way to get people to stop demonizing each other, as decades of research into racial prejudice have shown, is to introduce them to one another.”</p> <p>Freed from the solitary confinement of ideology, from the enemy images, bubbles burst. People may indeed cut each other down to size, but they listen to each other’s hopes and fears in the process. They change their minds. They compromise. They reach a liveable solution. For the duration, to steal Yanis Varoufakis’ profound phrase, they become ‘adults in the room’. You can read more about this Citizens’ Assembly <a href="http://citizensassembly.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Citizens-Assembly-on-Brexit-Report.pdf">here</a>. </p> <h2><strong>A deeper democracy</strong></h2> <p>We are wrestling with a paradox when we try to identify the role of the Monocultural National Us in our societies today. We cannot quite believe in the spiralling authoritarianism that marks the apogee of market ‘liberalism’. Yet, paradoxically, 'free' markets require 'strong' states to suppress their socially anomic consequences. </p> <p>The danger of the Monocultural National Us was clearer when war was more popular. It is noteworthy that two of the greatest recent challenges to the democratic status quo were launched from anti-war movements, anti-Vietnam and anti-Iraq. What we have failed to appreciate since then is the way that state coercion has taken over the field of governance that used to work through consent and filled it with enemy images on all sides – a major reason for the febrile selfishnesses and emotionalisms of our cultures. So much so that one could argue that ‘reason’ in our times, rather than moving from the particular to the general – doing as we would be done by and so forth – has now to include a good dose of conflict resolution before it can go ahead.</p> <p>So bearing in mind our <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-three-two-case-stu">two case studies</a>, I want to return to the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-one-introduction">debates with which I began</a>, to draw a tentative conclusion. In particular I want to return to Edmund Fawcett’s acknowledgement that the “<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/edmund-fawcett/daunting-task-of-repair">task of repair is daunting</a>” for our liberal democracies, and his invitation to liberals and leftists alike to clarify our disagreements so that we may join forces to fight back. I take it that Andrew Gamble is accepting this invitation with this week's outline for us of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/andrew-gamble/hard-right-and-open-left">an Open Left</a>. What seems even more hopeful to me is that in Fawcett’s lucid account of the four things a liberal has to stand for, each of his four clauses appear indispensible in the task of repair that this debate has so far brought to the surface. All of them, if some more obviously than others, are threatened however, by the rise of the Monocultural National Us with which I have been concerned. Fawcett writes:</p> <blockquote><p>To be a liberal you have to stand for four things: resisting undue power whether the power of the state, wealth or oppressive social majorities; commitment to the improvability of human life; legal and social respect for everyone, whoever they are. You have also to accept that society is inevitably in conflict, materially and morally. Past unity or future brotherhood are, for liberals, fantasies. In today’s terms, you have to believe in diversity. Liberals don’t, as Barnett suggested, believe in “singular cohesion”. Theirs is a diverse, inclusive tent.</p></blockquote> <p>To this Edmund adds a fifth consideration for anyone who considers themselves to be a democrat. These are the commitments which have to be defended if democracy is going to survive. </p> <blockquote><p>“Democracy’s about who gets the protections and permissions liberalism offers, few or all. Democratic liberalism is liberalism for everyone. It’s an ideal, not a fantasy.”</p></blockquote> <p>And here we return to the problem of “decades of rising inequality” which <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/michael-j-sandel/populism-trump-and-future-of-democracy">Michael Sandel</a> singles out as a prime failure of technocratic liberalism. If democracy is going to survive, this “democratic ideal” has to become more of a reality. But if current&nbsp; conditions require a much more in depth response, what might this newly persuasive politics look like that could start by winning the support of democratic liberals and open leftists and then go on to the much harder task of winning over those who are currently profoundly unconvinced? I think there is a clue in the example Fawcett recommends to our attention of a moment after 1945 when western societies took “measurable steps towards the ideal.’ He cites the abortion referendum in Ireland that was taking place as he wrote this May – an astonishing success, much of which can be attributed to the formidable <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2DgyetL9aUTMry_F9B9yUw">Citizens’ Assembly of Ireland</a> which <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/rosemary-bechler/wherever-people-meet">some of us</a> on openDemocracy have been following with particular interest. Here was an inclusive process that empowered the many not the few.</p> <p>I have cited a lot of rows in the course of this discussion: a great deal of rowing online and off is going on – much uncivil and generating far more heat than light. But perhaps even in this process, Agamben’s other people are finally becoming savvy. </p> <p>This at least is the argument of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/phil-burton-cartledge/democratic-politics-beyond-liberal-democracy">Paul Burton-Cartledge</a>, responding to Michael Sandel. He argues that only a deeper democracy – with everything we must suppose this means for our uncodified constitution, our institutions, education systems, our media and of course for power itself – can ultimately rise to this challenge: </p> <blockquote><p>“If empowering people to take charge of their lives is more than a feel-good phrase, or a strap line for corporate social responsibility, we need a politics that is serious about it… Never before in history are so many people educated, skilled, competent, tolerant, and connected... Treating people as voters, as passive consumers of politics, is a recipe for turning them off, deactivating them… The rejuvenation of democratic politics can only pass through more democracy, of loosening politics up so it becomes less about manoeuvring and position, of ending its exalted position as something separate to and apart from an increasingly connected and savvy populace, and letting them – us – take control. Only then can politics proper begin.”</p></blockquote> <p>Burton-Cartledge seems to me a little complacent about how this ‘politics proper’ will come about. Pointing to the service sector, as well as socialised and networked lives outside work, he argues that people in liberal democracies have been empowered by the increased opportunities for sociality, networking and cooperation that immaterial labour depends on. However, now that the “social commons is a strategic vector of capital accumulation”, capital cannot help but undermine the cooperation, critical thinking, soft skills and collaborative working that it needs, by “individuating and atomising its employees, denying them rights and expecting them to get by on episodic and insecure work.” </p> <p>With capitalism in this latest bind, Burton-Cartledge seems to think that economic determinants will somehow bring about a more tolerant world, regardless of the “rise of authoritarian capitalisms, the threats to democracy in eastern Europe, and the challenge populist politics pose to the so-called mature democracies” that he earlier identifies. </p> <p>What I see in this clash between cooperation and atomisation that he locates at the core of capital accumulation is yet another facet of the contradiction between community and conflict with which I opened this discussion. So my view of the world is more of a race to the finishing line between the forces of incivility and civility, incitement and empowerment, the proliferation of enemy images, and the cultivation of a mutually assured vulnerability which is the precondition for listening and changing our minds. </p> <p>In this battle, the rapid rise of the Nationalist International seems much better prepared than the rest of us. Dominic Cummings’ warning to Tory MPs and donors on the “Brexit shambles” is chilling: “If revolution there is to be, better to undertake it than undergo it… Best wishes”. </p> <p>The psychomachia I envisage may be the politics that I miss from Burton-Cartledge’s account. However, I cannot but agree with him on the end-result. If democracy is to survive, there must be a step change from élites no longer convincingly equipped with the ancient arts of ensuring consent, to an empowerment which comes from government by the people. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-one-introduction">The lethal logic of the Monocultural National Us: Part One – an introduction</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-two-good-nationalism-and-bad-national">The lethal logic of the Monocultural National Us: Part Two – good nationalism and bad nationalism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-three-two-case-stu"> The lethal logic of the Monocultural National Us: Part Three – two case studies </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/oliver-norgrove/interesting-brexit-experiment-worthy-of-analysis">An interesting Brexit experiment worthy of analysis</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/edmund-fawcett/daunting-task-of-repair">The daunting task of repair</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/michael-j-sandel/populism-trump-and-future-of-democracy">Populism, Trump, and the future of democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/phil-burton-cartledge/democratic-politics-beyond-liberal-democracy">Democratic politics beyond liberal democracy</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? Rosemary Bechler Thu, 09 Aug 2018 08:29:35 +0000 Rosemary Bechler 119138 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The lethal logic of the Monocultural National Us: Part Three – two case studies https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-three-two-case-stu <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Monocultural National Us wreaks havoc all over the world. How do we loosen its grip on our imaginations, and what might this mean for the defence of our democracies?</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-37543473.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37543473.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'>Donald Trump and Theresa May hold a joint press conference at Chequers, July 2018. Stefan Rousseau/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>I want to apply the criteria for a ‘healthy nationalism’ <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-two-good-nationalism-and-bad-national">sketched in part two</a> to two cases of the Monocultural National Us that have been causing havoc in our midst: the use of the word Zionism as a pejorative; and the two warring versions of ‘Us’ in Brexit Britain.</p> <h2><strong>Talking about Zionism</strong></h2> <p>Here it is an altercation between two Facebook posters. It strikes me as mild but typical in the long-gathering process of accusation that has accompanied any enlightenment the<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/david-rosenberg/uk-government-new-anti-semitism-definition-conflates-racism-with-valid-criticism"> IHRA definition (plus examples)</a> of “anti-semitism” has afforded since it reappeared over the horizon, despite noble attempts since the <a href="https://www.oscepa.org/documents/all-documents/annual-sessions/2002-berlin/declaration-13/220-2002-berlin-declaration-eng/file">OSCE Berlin Declaration</a> of 2002 kick-started this process, to point out its inherent flaws. Here, GLG and RE are discussing "a thoughtful and thought-provoking piece on this thorny topic."</p> <blockquote><p>“GLG When I claim to be anti-zionist, what I mean is I am opposed to the colonialist actions of a succession of Israeli governments - especially the current one under Netanyahu, and the Settler Movement. Who, aided and protected by the IDF, are blatantly evicting Palestinians and taking their land and property for themselves. I also hold the strong conviction that Israel should withdraw to its pre-1967 borders and that all sequestered lands should be returned to their rightful owners. I do NOT mean reversing the historical fact of Israel's creation, even though I do believe that the way that it was done in the first place was grossly mishandled - for which the UK is most to blame.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>RE Best not to define that as anti Zionist then - your position is clear when you define it the way you do here, but will be understood differently if you call yourself an anti Zionist.”</p></blockquote> <p>What is interesting about RE’s response is that it contains no criticism of GLG’s analysis, but warns against the offence that may nevertheless be given attached to the role of the ‘anti-Zionist.’ This is meant to be a helpful warning. But it is a confused one, and repeated in many places, has led to a chilling effect on debate around the relationship of Israel and Palestine, when that debate is surely crucial for progress in the world. </p><p>It is a confusion at many levels, beginning with the fundamental problem shared by definitions of antisemitism with hate speech legislation generally, the minute it moved beyond the relative clarity of&nbsp; ‘incitement to violence’, which is that the meaning of language is crucially determined by context, and that exactly the same phrase can mean completely different things uttered by different people in different situations. Even statements calling for the destruction of the state of Israel mean something very different when yelled by a young Palestinian, trapped in the Occupied Territories and humiliated by the experience of occupation, from, say, the opinion of a Middle East military man with influence over the development of a nuclear arsenal in his country.</p> <p>But setting aside this comprehensive dilemma, and all the uncertainty around who is qualified as a result to judge the use of certain formulations and expressions, let alone an appropriate response… the concept of Zionism has a <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/jonathan-shamir/zionism-history-of-contested-word">particularly vexed history</a> thought-provokingly described in openDemocracy by Jonathan Shamir, who also concludes, though with more clarity than RE, that “ these polarising terms should be shelved, and taken out only when we are discussing political philosophy, which most of the time we are not.”</p> <p>I hope I may be forgiven by him for what follows, on the grounds that it is Zionism as a term of political philosophy that concerns me. In the accusations and counter-accusations around the term Zionist, I want to argue that what those who are avowedly anti-Zionist often fail to articulate is the Monocultural National Us which lurks implicitly in its definition, with all the results in terms of violence that concern us most about bad nationalism. When they spell out what they criticise about Zionist support for the Israeli state, there are controversial analogies with apartheid, disputes about the precise nature of a colonial-settler state, all sorts of ways of trying to pin down what is uniquely appalling to them about Israeli policies with regard to Palestinians. All versions of course are furiously pushed back, and accompanied by the statement that has been given new topicality by Trump’s decision to pull out of the ‘cesspool of political bias’ which he alleges is the UN Human Rights Council, on the grounds that Israel is being singled out for special opprobrium in a way that can only be antisemitic, when there are many other – the implication is far worse – transgressors who are even members of that Council. </p> <p>Trump doesn’t attempt to explain, of course, why the US singles out Israel for its special protection, considerable support and military alliance, one reason for the dismay in what used to be thought of as the free or civilised world at the impunity with which Israel acts towards the Palestinians.</p> <p>The Zionist state claims to be especially for Jewish people: in fact it goes out of its way to offer Jewish people everywhere a special access to its citizenship. In this regard, and because Jewishness is linked to race and religion, it is very easy to make the mistake of seeming to criticise Jewishness when criticising the actions of the Israeli nation state. And it is not quite so simple as following the advice that one should always differentiate between criticism of the state and criticism of the Israeli people, in a situation in which so many Israeli citizens seem to have bought into the Monocultural National Us. </p> <p>However it is not surprising that they have. Given the history of antisemitism, fear and violence in which the state was born, it is actually almost obvious that in this context the ‘Never again’ of World War II should with very little encouragement become, let us always have the upper hand and never be weak or frightened again. And as we have seen, that is not a million miles away from the basic building bricks of the Monocultural National Us, which always in the end requires a Them. So it is not at all surprising that internally in Israel, the exclusion and discrimination against its Palestinian minority (around 20 per cent of the population) has become entrenched over the years in <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ben-white/land-citizenship-and-exclusion-in-israel">laws that are deemed</a> to “preserve the ability to realize the Zionist dream in practice”. It is not surprising that <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/dahlia-scheindlin/human-rights-and-public-opinion-in-israel-anger-vs-pragmatism">human rights</a>, particularly minority and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/alexandra-embiricos/israel-s-invisible-refugees">migrant rights</a> are on the run in Israel, or that the Knesset Presidency <a href="http://www.other-news.info/2018/06/the-knesset-officially-declares-that-israeli-democracy-is-for-jews-only/">recently disqualified a bill</a> named: “Basic Law: Israel [is a] State for All its Citizens”. And it is not at all surprising that the projected external enemy that always returns to threaten one’s peace has been steadily turning the Occupied Territories into a large open air prison that is a reproach and scandal to us all. Because this is the logic and inevitable destiny of the Monocultural National Us, and it is precise to criticise Zionism as the political philosophy which underpins the Israeli state, because it is (or has become) this type of National Us, backed by the violence of the state that Zionism is committed to, and it is in the nature of that same economy of desire that, unless it is recognised for what it is and stopped, it must lead to all this violence.</p> <p>But doesn’t Trump have a point? There is something extremely normal, even mundane, about what is wrong with the Israeli nation state in its response to Palestinians, and it is not very different at all from the European nation-state that was its model, only differing recently in the degree of violence internal and external that it has been willing to undertake in perpetuation of that model.</p> <p>This is precisely where three of the examples of what could be considered antisemitism “taking into account the overall context”, given the then new EUMC definition of antisemitism which was the precursor to the IHRA definition – take their aim:</p> <p><em>‘Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.’</em></p> <p><em>‘Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.’</em></p> <p><em>‘Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.’</em></p> <p>By these definitions, Jacqueline Rose’s <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/conflict-debate_97/zionism_2766.jsp">thoughtful book</a> <em>The Question of Zion (</em>2005<em>)</em>, could be said to have transgressed on all three counts, when it argued that, “Zionism …imported into the Middle East a Central European concept of …organic nationhood, founded on ethnicity and blood (or “land, descent and the dead”)… the very version of nationhood from which the Jewish people had had to flee.”</p> <p>What we are meant to conclude from these warning definitions is that an Israeli democracy so constituted has as much right to pursue such policies as any other democracy similarly constituted. But Rose’s point is the opposite one: that the rigour with which Israel pursues the defence of a state based on racial and religious unity makes it a stark and leading example of the inevitably racist and self-defeating outcome of ‘organic nationhood’. </p><p>And not only ‘organic nationhood’. At a time when most European countries are engaged in a decisive worldwide swing towards the defence of various monocultural constructions of the ‘National Us’ – for example, not just Hungary or Poland, but the re-Christianisation of Italy, the re-laicising of France, Brexit Britain – and what’s next, a central European “axis of the willing against illegal immigration” ? – not to mention Trump’s United States, the Russian version including its “<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/nicu-popescu/elixir-of-life-or-toxic-poison-russias-liberal-nationalist-cocktail">liberal-nationalist cocktail</a>”, and the staggeringly violent <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/umut-ozkirimli/uncanny-communitarianism-key-to-understanding-pre-and-post-referendum-turkey">Turkey</a>, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/l-k-sharma">India </a>– we could go on – there are timely and important conclusions we might indeed draw from the Israeli experience that these formulations, like the Facebook poster RE, are instead aimed at removing from contestation. </p> <p>So I hope we will continue to debate the nature and effects of Zionism, as we consider the banality of evil taking place all around us. Because this is one way to show solidarity with the predicament in which the Israeli people find themselves, and do more than bear agonised witness to the violence that results. Meanwhile, if this argument is to be taken seriously, popular movements like <a href="https://www.standing-together.org/standingtogether">Standing Together</a>, pioneers in the social change that can liberate Israelis from this lethal logic, are an avant-garde from whom we all have much to learn.</p> <h2><strong>Brexit means civil war</strong></h2> <p>In investigating nationalisms we have been talking about fictions that seem to amplify the power of the individual at the same time as they enrich our lives in their lived reality. These fictional realities are essentially ideological formations, and ideologies always have exactly the dual character that we have been exploring here. Are they false? Not at all. The nineteenth century novel can tell us more about life then than many a drier document of fact. At the same time, we recognise that the fiction has other intentions. It is designed to produce pleasure, promise a happy ending and perform other functions not strictly to do with reflecting reality. The same is true of ideologies.</p> <p>These visions of what we have in common can really unite people, and they can exact enormous sacrifices. They can be rich and revealing in their vocabularies and their assumptions about the world. Moreover, there is no form of lived reality which can detach itself from ideology to know the world directly, without any vocabulary or assumptions. </p> <p>At the same time, in having the function of making sense of our world, ideologies necessarily aim for closure. They do this in many different ways, all summed up in the classic Marxist reading in the function of repressing contradiction by producing a smooth surface over reality – hence the unitary or monocultural compunction. This smooth surface holds for a while, making us feel whole, until history and the world moves on, and then, as with the NHS or the BBC, the contradictions in the narratives we use to explain our experience begin once again to disturb and fragment that surface. </p> <p>For this reason, ideologies are simultaneously our only way of knowing about the world, and a way of knowing the world which always and increasingly contains an element of not wishing to know. Bertolt Brecht, that canny baiter of dominant ideologies in his time, surely put his finger on one key aspect of what nationalism didn't want to know when he wrote: “Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes”. </p> <p>To grapple with Brexit, however, I need to return to the work of Giorgio Agamben, and his ideological deconstruction of a key Brexit category in <a href="https://people.ucsc.edu/~stamp/200a/FILM_200A/Readings_files/Agamben,%20Means%20w:out%20End.pdf">“What is a People?”</a>. The essay opens with him pointing to the deeply ambivalent nature of “the people” in modern European languages, beginning with its use in the French Revolution at the very moment in which the people’s sovereignty was proclaimed as a principle. At one and the same time, he points out, “the people” represents the body politic as a whole, and a dispossessed subgroup of the poor, the excluded and underprivileged: </p> <p>“Even the English <em>people – </em>whose sense is more undifferentiated – does retain the meaning of <em>ordinary people </em>as opposed to the rich and the aristocracy. In the American Constitution one thus reads without any sort of distinction: ‘We, the people of the United States…’; but when Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address invokes a ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people,’ the repetition implicitly sets another people against the first.”</p> <p>What is fascinating about this opening move in an essay which gathers increasingly devastating analytical force as it unravels this conundrum, is how similar it is to an account of how ideologies fundamentally work. In the 1970’s, when wordplay was fashionable, Ros Coward and John Ellis in ‘<em>Language and Materialism: developments in semiology and the theory of the subject</em>’, gave us a definition which I believe has stood the test of time, “the function of ideology is to fix the individual in place as subject for a certain meaning. This is simultaneously to provide the individual with a certain subject-ivity… and to subject them to the social structure with its existing contradictory relations and powers.” This subjectivity simultaneously involves a recognition that enables the subject to act, and a misrecognition, since, “The individual lives his subject-ion to social structures as a consistent subject-ivity, an imaginary wholeness… a reflection of himself as the author of his actions.”&nbsp; </p> <p>By these accounts, the identification of the individual with the Monocultural National Us is an ideological move which represses the contradictions in which we live, in order to be able to assert our own importance and agency, in this case against the evidence of our subjection. We know who we are, is the statement. And we know if you are one of us. </p> <p>This very certainty about what ‘we know’ which dismisses any challenge and refuses any elaboration is the regular mark of ideology. We can hear it when <a href="https://rts.org.uk/article/public-service-broadcasting-house-cards-lord-dobbs-gives-rts-huw-wheldon-lecture">Michael Dobbs</a> defines what the BBC brings to the nation in 2015, “The House of Lords Communications Committee… decided there was no clear definition of what&nbsp;Public Service Broadcasting&nbsp;is – but it didn't matter. It's the sort of thing we all recognise. When it hits you… one of the essential characteristics of&nbsp;Public Service Broadcasting, it seems to me, is that it must be a window into the nation's soul. Our ways, our values, our qualities. What makes us different.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Dobbs is following in a noble British tradition of uncodified non-explanation, as we read in Paddy Scannel’s history of the BBC: </p> <p>"It is well known that broadcasting in Britain is based on the principle of public service, though what exactly that means can prove elusive. The most recent Parliamentary committee to report on broadcasting, the Peacock Committee, noted in 1986 that it has experienced some difficulty in obtaining a definition of the principle from the broadcasters themselves. A quarter of a century earlier, the members of the Pilkington Committee on Broadcasting were told by the Chairman of the BBC’s Board of Governors that it was no use trying to define good broadcasting – one recognised it. With the passing of time the concept has become more and more obscure. Most commentators rightly attribute a central role in the definition to John Reith but few have attempted to go much further…. Briggs summarises Reith’s concept of public service as… There is no mention of its political significance.”</p> <p>And we hear it again in recent times, in the brazen circularity and withholding of meaning which is Theresa May’s counter-intuitive claim that ‘Brexit means Brexit’. Here, the very circularity announces a deep contract with the people. “Join me in knowing who we are – the people of Britain taking back control, and in the very process giving up any questions you may ask, shedding all the conflicting interests, ignoring all the contradictions, and asserting, with me, the <em>people’s will</em> …. You will be delivered from the servitude, the exclusion and humiliation of Agamben’s ordinary people. You will take back control and in one stroke, be in possession once again of what makes us different, and that which, unquestioned, makes us whole.”</p> <p>Theresa May knew exactly what her job was when the Brexit referendum delivered its surprise result, if never so clearly since then. Here she is setting out her vision for running Britain in her Birmingham speech to delegates on Oct 5, 2016, and talking revolution:</p> <blockquote><p>“But change has got to come too because of the quiet revolution that took place in our country just three months ago — a revolution in which millions of our fellow citizens stood up and said they were not prepared to be ignored any more. Because this is a turning point for our country. A once-in-a-generation chance to change the direction of our nation for good. To step back and ask ourselves what kind of country we want to be…</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>It was about a sense — deep, profound and let’s face it often justified — that many people have today that the world works well for a privileged few, but not for them… And the roots of the revolution run deep. Because it wasn’t the wealthy who made the biggest sacrifices after the financial crash, but ordinary, working class families…</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>But today, too many people in positions of power behave as though they have more in common with international elites than with the people down the road, the people they employ, the people they pass in the street. But if you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word “citizenship” means. </p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>So if you’re a boss who earns a fortune but doesn’t look after your staff . . .  An international company that treats tax laws as an optional extra . . .  A household name that refuses to work with the authorities even to fight terrorism . . .  A director who takes out massive dividends while knowing that the company pension is about to go bust . . . I’m putting you on warning. This can’t go on any more…</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>That means tackling unfairness and injustice, and shifting the balance of Britain decisively in favour of ordinary working class people… Because too often that isn’t how it works today. Just listen to the way a lot of politicians and commentators talk about the public. They find your patriotism distasteful, your concerns about immigration parochial, your views about crime illiberal, your attachment to your job security inconvenient. They find the fact that more than 17 million voters decided to leave the European Union simply bewildering…”</p></blockquote> <p>For an Establishment appreciation for the centrality of this key rhetorical intervention, and the huge problem presented by its remaining just that – rhetoric – see Sebastian Payne's <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/ef83b896-9950-11e8-ab77-f854c65a4465">FT column for August 7</a>, 2018, <em>Forget Brexit, Britain is failing to tackle its 'burning injustices'.</em> The brazen cheek of it is breathtaking. And more or less exactly the same message was uttered by her American counterpart in his inaugural speech: again, brazen, and breathtaking:</p> <blockquote><p>“Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital, has reaped the rewards of government while people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered period, but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs and while they celebrated in our nation's capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.”</p></blockquote> <p>These are leaders of the people tapping into archaic managerial wisdoms, perhaps planned long before the financial crisis of 2008, but anticipating the fall-out of such an inevitable occurrence and knowing in those circumstances what they have to do. </p> <p>But I don’t want to concentrate on the very obvious Monocultural National Us that has arisen in our midst to Ukipise Britain’s Conservative party. You can easily fill in all the gaps for yourself, from what has been said so far, brought up to date by Adam Ramsay on <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/trumps-visit-marks-start-of-shock-doctrine-brexit">the no-deal Brexit th</a>at Britain’s hard Brexiters never mention but actually want. Chillingly, this scenario is made more likely because of the impossibility of assembling positive majorities for any single Brexit option, since it is the only option that doesn't require one. So much for ensuring consent.</p> <p>Instead, I would like to point to a second Monocultural National Us that has been in formation since the referendum in 2016, and whose recent emergence in our midst leads to similar dangers.</p> <p>Anthony Barnett has written better than anybody on the two warring factions that have emerged from this toxic debate and polarised the country, in his ‘<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/anthony-barnett/how-to-win-brexit-civil-war-open-letter-to-my-fellow-remainers">How to win the Brexit Civil War. An open letter to my fellow Remainers</a>’. He is surely right to warn us against the violence lurking in the gathering confrontation, and implicit in the enemy images that he summarises. What he calls this “civil war” has already tragically claimed the life of one young and dedicated MP. </p> <p>Yet the winner take-all-character of the contest he describes continues in both camps. Neither ‘Us’ is sharing useable plans for the country’s future. They are too busy projecting their people as the whole people, either on the grounds of the scanty advantage of the referendum result, which is declared to be the ‘people’s will’, or on the thin grounds that Leavers must see that they couldn’t have been more stupid. The Remainers whom Barnett tries to chastise into a more respectful stance, have been calculating what it would take to reverse the referendum, 52%: 48% in their favour, given for example the demise of enough older Leave voters. They too have a certainty, a vision, of a quite different ‘people’s will’, better informed maybe – this is surely where Michael Sandel’s <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/michael-j-sandel/populism-trump-and-future-of-democracy">‘meritocratic hubris’</a> has its provocative part to play? – but which still shows no real interest in the diversity of the permanently absent people whom they claim to represent. </p> <p>Whether we are promised a return to the centre ground, delivery from right and left extremists alike, or a government <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/diane-abbott/national-government-would-be-government-for-rich">for the nation</a> with an extra dash of Cold War thrown in &nbsp;– isn’t a ‘People’s Vote’ billed as designed to ‘Stop Brexit’ only a mirror reflection of the ‘people’s will’ behind little global Britain ‘taking back control’? Like the latter, it admits of no relationship except hostility to the many Leaver worlds outside it, and no awareness of the many different Remainer strands within its ranks. Nick Inman is surely correct when he says in his recent openDemocracy contribution on ‘<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/nick-inman/6-comforting-lies-about-brexit-and-why-hard-brexiteers-are-being-un-british">6 Un-British Brexit myths’</a>: “I have never heard anyone speak up for those who think the EU is a terrible thing but on balance, the UK should stay in for a little while longer and figure out the best course of action calmly.”</p> <p>These two warring Us’s, taken together, mark the radical decline, if not the end of the élite manufacture of consent. And this is without even mentioning the illicit forces behind Cambridge Analytica, Aggregate IQ and the Vote Leave campaign, working very effectively for the élite manufacture of civil wars they intend to win. Yet this development marks an extraordinary moment in human affairs, when for the first time the future defence of democracy may depend not only on the ‘democratic media’ Adam Ramsay would <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/cambridge-analytica-is-what-happens-when-you-privatise-military-propaganda">bring to the rescue</a>, but on giving internet users the rights of opting in (or not) to any dominant ideology with which they may be targeted.</p><p><em>Part Four – a suggestion</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-one-introduction">The lethal logic of the Monocultural National Us: Part One – an introduction</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-two-good-nationalism-and-bad-national">The lethal logic of the Monocultural National Us: Part Two – good nationalism and bad nationalism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-four-suggestions-for-deeper-democracy">The lethal logic of the Monocultural National Us: Part Four – suggestions for a deeper democracy </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/jonathan-shamir/zionism-history-of-contested-word">Zionism: the history of a contested word </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/how-to-win-brexit-civil-war-open-letter-to-my-fellow-remainers">How to win the Brexit Civil War. An open letter to my fellow Remainers</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item even"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? UK Israel Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality Ideas International politics Rosemary Bechler Thu, 09 Aug 2018 08:27:29 +0000 Rosemary Bechler 119136 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Stealing a dream: young migrants living through anti-immigrant times https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/les-back-and-shamser-sinha/stealing-dream-young-migrants-living-through-anti-immigrant <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the cacophony of opinion surrounding the ‘migrant crisis’ those least heard are young migrants themselves. Les Back and Shamser Sinha have spent ten years listening to those voices in London, which they’ve now collected into the book <em>Migrant City</em>.</p> </div> </div> </div> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/12674767973_3275a59fcd_k.jpg" width="100%" /> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;"> Lena Vasiljeva/Flickr. <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/94150506@N08/12674767973/in/photolist-kj2uWi-qjWzRp-9RhMDx-Nv4wVJ-dgf9xL-arnpjF-nr8RuF-u3kzjJ-RnHA5y-39td2p-EA1j6u-5VbujW-e8aD78-99WK9X-ojQ9HZ-QGAvJS-ihjYnM-nSfiHq-nHmXXV-JjyfcG-fQkxPz-VYopA3-scsF8U-mMc9ai-S9opq9-QbCyki-EC5iV3-ibsbjy-8bNSbx-JhFyHD-24z5j6C-22K6Ccm-bT2Svr-bpGSh6-zhaxxH-xSzJU5-f8sCp4-amgr3P-o3yj6K-EZoGPu-vfFdSy-qR8e63-HiMLsH-e3fzmJ-27BQbNj-sXpLgT-HBKBxY-UDJ4Mw-jEmKUg-hLPhsZ">CC (by-nc)</a></p> <p>London is a city of migration and this is not only because the person you walk past in the street, or who is standing at the bus stop, has journeyed here from somewhere else. It is much more than both this and the superficial idea that the capital has breached a particular threshold, or measure, of cultural diversity. The language of ‘diversity’ – be it in academic circles or economic city branding or political slogans – renders the experiences we are concerned with in this book into a succession of surface clichés or flat travesties.&nbsp; Rather, we argue, migrant experiences – if you really listen to them – tell us something defining about the global co-ordinates and historical composition of the city itself. In the biographies of the lives described in this book the traces can be found of the relationship between London and the wider world, historically, economically and politically. We have not only tried to portray London through the eyes and ears of young migrants, we contend that their story – migrant’s stories – are themselves London’s story. </p> <p>Vlad, who came to Britain from Albania as a child refugee and crossed the channel smuggled underneath a lorry, watched the reporting of the ‘migration crisis’ during the summer of 2015 with dismay. Sitting in a pub in Barking he commented: “I am not very happy with the way the media treats refugees because I can promise you one thing, if all these refugees… if you sent all the foreigners ‘back home’ London would be a graveyard because there are so many refugees and foreigners which keep London moving forward. And when I hear it on the news say ‘oh refugees this and foreigners that’ I think ‘you bloody bastards’. I am sorry to say [it] but that’s how I feel because all these people here have struggled for many years.” </p> <p class="mag-quote-center">If you sent all the foreigners ‘back home’ London would be a graveyard.</p> <p>By contrast the terms of the public debate about immigration are shaped by the self-interested terms of the ‘host society’, where <em>national selfishness</em> shapes its parameters. Hard working ‘ordinary people’ are counter posed with migrants as though migrants are not hard working. This divides the ‘them’ and the ‘us’. The presumption being that our hard work means we are more deserving of for example welfare or NHS care. These notes of national selfishness can be equally true on the Left and Right of the political spectrum; it is particularly evident in the aftermath of the referendum result and the decision to leave the European Union. Across the political spectrum getting the ‘best deal for Britain,’ means limiting migrant privilege in favour of ours.</p> <p>We argue for a re-scaling of the migration debate, to show that the co-ordinates of the relationship between here and there have shifted. In many respects Vlad’s life shows us the importance of understanding how he moves all the time between different geographical scales, from Barking to Has in Albania and back again. It is also true that the map of London’s migrant city is infinitely connected on a global scale. </p> <p>So, whose crisis is being referred to in the headlines that Vlad mentions about the ‘migration crisis’? &nbsp;The circumstances where Syrian refugees are being forced out of their homes under conditions of civil war are only one dimension of this. &nbsp;We argue that to answer this question requires an understanding of the continued power of racism in the age of human mobility. Racism is a lens through which the world can be comprehended: it filters what is visible and amplifies what is heard. It is not a sober sense but an intoxicated one. The ‘migrant crisis’ provides a single cause for every political problem within the toxic culture of blame. &nbsp;Someone, it seemed, needed to be liable for all that is wrong and the migrant is so often a convenient container for all the blame, the bearers of all society’s bad news. There are not enough houses because there are too many of them, that why there are not enough jobs too. Too many migrants means there isn’t a bed for my relative in the hospital; because the nurses are not like us we don’t get the ‘right kind’ of care on the wards. Here the itinerant stranger absorbs all the blame for these real or exaggerated, yet intensely felt, woes. From this point of view the migrant is both a symptom of the crisis and the cause of all its multiple associated problems. &nbsp;</p> <p>In the aftermath of Brexit a widely proliferating sense of uncertainty has taken hold. Brexit has made almost every mobile citizen – from university lecturers to workers in Costa coffee bars – think twice about their future in the UK and whether or not a life here is imaginable. Les met Charlynne in Westfield shopping centre to catch up and, whilst they avoided the topic initially, the conversation turned inevitably to the EU referendum. With her usual good-natured irreverence Charlynne commented: “I was wondering when you was going to mention Brexit?” &nbsp;Her personal life has seen many changes through the duration of the project. She travelled to London from Dominica to study but has made a home and life in London. What did she think the vote meant for her? “Well actually I am part of the EU… If you were part of the EU you weren’t eligible to vote, if you were part of the Commonwealth you could. Guess what – I don’t know where my Dominican passport is! So I couldn’t vote. I have a French passport through my Dad. It was a tough time and it is still an uncertain time for me because here I am in the UK!”</p> <p>In many respects Charlynne’s biography reveals the complex interconnection between European integration and London’s colonial past and current postcolonial reality. She continued: “I came here because it was part of the EU and it was a safe place for me to come to and obviously I wasn’t an asylum seeker because there was nothing happening at home, where I was being killed or any of those things. I don’t want it to seem graver than it was. But Britain was a safe haven for me because it was better than what I had left behind at the time, and a place where I could build and make something better for myself.” Charlynne did a degree, trained as a teacher and now she’s working as teacher educating the children of Plaistow. This contribution is not recognized in the way the debate unfolded about the EU referendum and the issue of immigration. </p> <p>For Charlynne this comes back to the legacy of empire. “I mean everything comes back down to the fact that Britain went out and colonized everybody and now they are trying to shut everybody out” she said. “You know it feels so unfair, that’s what it is and I have been thinking that for the last… how long and actually we didn’t asked to be colonized. We didn’t asked to be asked to come here but now that we are you are telling us that, even though you took over what was ours and you gave us something else that you wanted us to aspire to, now that we are aspiring you are saying: ‘well, no we can’t’? It’s like you are stealing a dream that you’ve tried to implant in us in the first place. I am sure lots of people might be feeling that way. It’s just really hard to voice it into words.” &nbsp;What Charlynne gives us is a deep insight into the paradox of what we call a world of divided connectedness in which divisions and hierarchies coexist with linkages across time and place. What she names so eloquently is the dream of modernity itself and its promise of economic, experiential and technological progress. While that dream is dangled in a variety of forms – be it educational opportunity or a possibility of lucrative work – the limits, borders and controls of an increasingly severe and exclusionary immigration system place it beyond reach. </p> <p class="mag-quote-center">Even though you took over what was ours and you gave us something else that you wanted us to aspire to, now that we are aspiring you are saying: ‘well, no we can’t’? It’s like you are stealing a dream that you’ve tried to implant in us in the first place.</p> <p>While the geopolitical hinterlands of London remain shaped by its history as an Imperial metropolis, other contemporary economic and political links extend beyond this. &nbsp;In this sense the late Ambalavaner Sivanandan’s postcolonial slogan “we are here because you were there” needs to be updated. It is perhaps better to say that migrants are here because Britain’s geopolitical and economic interests remain active in the world. Jessielyn from the Philippines told us how mining by the Australian-UK company Billiton had ruined the land where she was from as well as causing her father who was a miner to contract bronchial pneumonia. She said, “you can’t work on that land anymore, you don’t know, there’s a hole”. This pre-empted her being here. The great conceit of the contemporary migration debate is the predominant atmosphere of national selfishness, historical amnesia and disavowal of any responsibility for Britain’s external economic and political involvements.</p> <p><em>This piece is extracted from Les Back and Shamser Sinha’s new book</em> Migrant City, <em><a href="https://www.routledge.com/Migrant-City/Back-Sinha/p/book/9780415715416">available now</a> from Routledge.</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="/beyondslavery/bridget-anderson/migrants-before-permanent-people-s-tribunal-in-barcelona">Migrants before the Permanent People’s Tribunal in Barcelona</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/martina-tazzioli/open-cities-open-harbours">Open the cities, open the harbours</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/ahmad-almouhmad/reflections-on-world-refugee-day">Reflections on World Refugee Day</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/ottavia-ampuero-villagran/nameless-and-un-mourned-identifying-migrant-bodies-in-medite">Nameless and un-mourned: identifying migrant bodies in the Mediterranean</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? Les Back and Shamser Sinha Wed, 08 Aug 2018 07:55:59 +0000 Les Back and Shamser Sinha 119174 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Everything that is wrong is the fault of '68: regaining cultural hegemony by trashing the left https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/hans-georg-betz/everything-that-is-wrong-is-fault-of-68-regaining-cultural-hegemony-by-trashing-left <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the burgeoning literature on the populist right, smouldering resentment has so far not been sufficiently appreciated and expressed.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/1024px-Bundesrat_Conseil_Consglio_Cussegl_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/1024px-Bundesrat_Conseil_Consglio_Cussegl_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'>The Swiss Federal Council, 2007. (SVP) Christoph Blocher is second from the left. Wikicommons. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>The SVP (Swiss People's Party) is Switzerland's largest political party. This was not always the case. Until the 1990s, the SVP garnered around 10 percent of the popular vote. As the traditional representative of Switzerland's farming interests, it was the junior partner in Switzerland's consociational government where it held one seat. Although a national party, the SVP had its strongholds primarily in the cantons of Zurich and Berne, plus a number of smaller, predominantly German-speaking cantons.&nbsp; </p> <p>All this changed once Christoph Blocher (SVP Zürich), one of Switzerland's richest entrepreneurs, established himself as Switzerland's leading – and most controversial – politician. Under his leadership, the SVP morphed into a right-wing populist party, promoting itself as a the defender of Swiss sovereignty (against the EU) and national pride (against foreign and domestic detractors questioning Switzerland's less than stellar role during the Second World War). But above all, the party made its mark as a staunch critic of Switzerland's migration policy. Charging that the country had lost control over immigration, the SVP called for "measured immigration" by severely curtailing the influx of migrants of all provenance, but particularly Muslim countries. Claiming that Islam was incompatible with Switzerland's constitution and <em>Rechtsstaat</em>, the party made it its avowed goal to strictly limit Islam's impact on Swiss society and culture.&nbsp; It was in this spirit that the party – initially rather reluctantly -– supported the anti-minaret initiative, which Swiss voters passed by a slim majority in 2009. <span class="mag-quote-center">All this changed once Christoph Blocher (SVP Zürich), one of Switzerland's richest entrepreneurs, established himself as Switzerland's leading – and most controversial – politician.&nbsp; </span></p><p>The SVP's populist turn and particularly its radicalization on the questions of migration and national cultural identity not only led to a substantial surge in electoral support; it also engendered a revitalization of existing local cantonal party organizations and the formation of new organizations (particularly in parts of <em>Suisse romande</em>, i.e., the French speaking-region of Switzerland). By the end of the first decade of the new century, the SVP successfully contested elections throughout the country (one notable exception has been the Italian speaking canton of Ticino, where the party has had to deal with an overpowering "indigenous" populist rival – the <em>Lega dei ticinesi</em>). </p><p>Switzerland is a relatively small country, its political system quite arcane for outside observers. The Swiss take great pride in their version of direct democracy – even if (often abysmally low) participation rates in local, cantonal and national initiatives and referenda might create a different impression. This has not prevented radical right-wing populist parties such as the Front National (under Marine Le Pen) and Germany's AfD, from touting Switzerland around as a model of "genuine" democracy.&nbsp; And yet, this seemingly exemplary model of direct democracy – where even the construction of a new road bypassing a small town is subject to a local referendum – boasts one of western Europe's most successful right-wing populist parties. Populism is all about "returning voice to the people," or so the Front National has famously charged.&nbsp; What, then, explains the success of populism in the land of direct democracy – and, one might add for good measure, one of the richest countries in the world?</p> <p>The Swiss case suggests that the right-wing populist insurgency that has occurred throughout western liberal democracies over the past several decades has little to do with promoting "more democracy" – a legitimate demand given the pervasiveness of technocracy and TINA; rather, it has a lot to do with reversing, once and for all, what the right considers the nefarious influence of 1968, which in their view has undermined traditions and poisoned the moral fabric of western democracies. The objective is once and for all to defeat the post-68 left and regain the strategic heights with respect to the production of meaning – what the Italian Marxist intellectual Antonio Gramsci (persecuted and imprisoned under Mussolini) once referred to as "cultural hegemony" and what in German is known as <em>Deutungshoheit</em> (power of interpretation).&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>Cultural hegemony</strong></h2> <p>In recent years, it has become blatantly obvious that meaning is subject to profound struggles and conflicts. The spectacular career of the notion of "fake news" as a major new field of contestation is perhaps the clearest reflection of the central importance of interpretation in contemporary politics. Recent studies on the latest wave of the right-wing populist upsurge suggest that culture rather than economics is at the center of contemporary right-wing populist mobilizations. Right-wing populist voters are less concerned about unemployment, cheap imports from emerging economies such as China or having to compete with low-wage workers than about the dissolution of familiar life-worlds and a shared identity. What gets them riled up are not so much T-shirts made in Vietnam and hawked in neighborhood shopping malls as mosques and minarets disturbing the idyllic skyline of small-town Switzerland, Austria, and elsewhere. <span class="mag-quote-center">In the 1980s, "new-right" intellectuals such as Alain de Benoist in France, Karlheinz Weissmann in Germany and Marco Tarchi in Italy were instrumental in appropriating Gramscian thought and disseminating key terms such as&nbsp; "metapolitics" among right-wing circles.</span></p> <p>Astute right-wing intellectuals were quick to understand the strategic importance of culture. In the 1980s, "new-right" intellectuals such as Alain de Benoist in France, Karlheinz Weissmann in Germany and Marco Tarchi in Italy were instrumental in appropriating Gramscian thought and disseminating key terms such as&nbsp; "metapolitics" among right-wing circles. Karlheinz Weissmann, for instance, insisted as early as 1988 that in pluralist societies, the influence of political groups is as much determined by holding actual political power (if not more so) than by occupying the "pre-political space"(i.e., the realm of ideas and meaning) – a feat, Weissmann held, that the left in Germany had accomplished in the years following '68.&nbsp; </p> <p>Two years earlier, at the height of the <em>Historikerstreit</em> (pitting German intellectuals against each other over the question of how to deal with the Nazi past) one of the main protagonists, the historian Michael Stürmer, pithily put into words what this implied:&nbsp; in a country (like Germany) where the people were searching for orientation and identity, Stürmer maintained, only those who "fill the memory, define the terms and interpret the past" are in a position to take charge of the future.</p> <h2><strong>The heritage of ‘68</strong></h2> <p>Alain de Benoist and his acolytes on the intellectual right were more than skeptical about the chances of success of electoral politics as pursued, for instance, by the Front National. Instead, they advocated a "cultural revolution from the right" conceived as a process of value change best advanced through protracted right-wing metapolitical indoctrination. The cultural revolution never came even close to materializing, largely because the new right never managed to disseminate their ideas to a broader audience.&nbsp; New-right magazines, such as Benoist's <em>Eléments </em>(which is still around) and the German magazine <em>Mut</em> (which ceased publication in 2017) were too intellectually challenging to appeal to ordinary people. <em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p>Ironically, however, their ideas were picked up by political parties of the populist right. Jörg Haider, for instance, stated as early as 1993 that it was his main political priority to effect "an Austrian cultural revolution with democratic means" designed to "depose both the ruling political class and the intellectual caste (<em>Kaste</em>)." Some twenty years later, the objective on the populist right is still the same – to achieve cultural hegemony by demolishing the heritage of '68. As Jörg Meuthen, a leading official of the German AfD put it at the AfD party congress in 2016:&nbsp; "We want to get away from this left-wing-red-green contaminated '68-Germany."&nbsp; The response from the audience was roaring applause.&nbsp; <span class="mag-quote-center">"We want to get away from this left-wing-red-green contaminated '68-Germany."</span></p> <p>This led <a href="https://www.stern.de/politik/deutschland/die-afd-will-eine-kulturrevolution-von-rechts-6830818.html">one outside observer</a> to note that the AfD was to a significant extent an expression of the attempt on the German nationalist right "to take revenge for '68" by reversing the "humiliating historical defeat" at the hand of the '68 generation. Their greatest crime in the eyes of the nationalist right: to have instilled a political culture informed by guilt over the past. Hardly surprising, leading AfD politicians have made statements intent on playing down and trivializing the Nazi period, arguing, among other things, that it was a small speck in an otherwise glorious history. The choice of words reminds us of Jean-Marie Le Pen's infamous characterization of the Holocaust as a "detail of history." </p> <h2><strong><em>Ressentiment </em></strong></h2> <p>That German politicians would go to those lengths suggests that right-wing populism is to a significant degree driven by long-smouldering resentment – that obsessive emotion grounded in a profound sense of powerlessness, injury and injustice. In the burgeoning literature on the populist right, this aspect has so far not been sufficiently appreciated and explored. Yet its importance for understanding the motivational impetus for contemporary right-wing populist mobilization is indisputable.</p> <p>This takes us back to the SVP.&nbsp; The SVP's dramatic upsurge in the 1990s came in the wake of the party's embarking on a large-scale course of populist mobilization, which directly morphed into a frontal assault on '68 and its pernicious legacy. For the SVP, as one leading party official put it, the'68 movement was a "destructive brew" which made "its own laziness into a program" resulting in the decay of traditional virtues such as reliability, hard work and discipline. </p> <p>It <a href="https://www.beobachter.ch/geld-sicherheit/artikel/streitgespraech_die-68er-fuehren-sich-auf-wie-kerkermeister">changed</a> Swiss society in so fundamental a way as "the SVP would like to do, but luckily has not managed to do as yet." It <a href="http://www.blochersilvia.ch/antiautoritare-erziehung-ihre-auswirkungen-heute/">created a society</a> devoid of "moral and cultural values, role models, myths and religious content" where egotism and narcissism run rampant. The SVP has clearly set itself the task of reversing these developments and returning the country to an age where order, discipline and hard work were the order of the day.</p> <h2><strong>Order, discipline and hard work</strong></h2> <p>This program has a certain appeal in small towns hit hard by the construction boom of the past two decades which has transformed them beyond recognition and left in its wake congested streets, the disappearance of free parking, and the replacement of traditional businesses by fast food chains; but also in larger cities such as Lausanne and Geneva, which have major drug and security problems.&nbsp; </p> <p>A growing number of Swiss citizens are tired of the proliferation of American-style factory outlets along the major highways and large supermarkets where you are more likely to hear English spoken than French or German; and of the fact that the country's train system no longer runs as smoothly as it once did.&nbsp; </p> <p>None of these developments has anything to do with the ‘68 generation. They are rather the result of local governments and administrations eager to attract companies and international organizations in order to increase their revenue base by offering them all kinds of tax incentives. SVP politicians have been as complicit in promoting excessive development with all of its negative consequences as have been the politicians of other parties. The frustration, anger, indignation and resentment provoked by the results, however, have primarily benefited the SVP, which in turn has used its electoral capital not to address the country's real problems, largely linked to excessive development, but to promoting anti-‘68 nostalgia for a world that seems irretrievably lost.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Visit the <a href="https://www.radicalrightanalysis.com">Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right</a> (#CARR)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/giorgos-charalambous/left-radicalism-fifty-years-after-1968-capitalist-state-and-political-science">Left radicalism fifty years after 1968: the capitalist state and political science </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/hans-georg-betz/endgames-in-germany-bringing-down-merkel">Endgames in Germany: bringing down Merkel</a> </div> </div> </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"> Switzerland </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 Switzerland Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics 1968 Hans-Georg Betz Sat, 04 Aug 2018 21:06:23 +0000 Hans-Georg Betz 119134 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The hard right and the open left https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/andrew-gamble/hard-right-and-open-left <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>One of the main reasons liberal democracy appears to be imploding is that the liberal international capitalist order on which it has been based for the last seventy years is imploding.</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-35464933.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35464933.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>France's Front National president Marine Le Pen and former US President advisor Steve Bannon at the FN annual congress. March, 2018, Lille. Sylvian Lefevre/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>The decade that has elapsed since the financial crash in 2008 has not been an easy one for progressive politics. As contributors to this series have pointed out, the fortunes of liberal centrist politics have collapsed in many western democracies, and new illiberal democracies and authoritarian regimes are on the rise across the world. Since the end of the cold war the number of democracies has been steadily rising according to the Economist Intelligence Unit index, but in recent years it has rapidly gone into reverse. Only 19 states still qualified as full liberal democracies in 2017. Both the United States and France were classed in the flawed democracy category. After the high hopes at the beginning of the 1990s of a new era of democratic advance following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of apartheid we have entered a period of democratic retreat. </p> <p>What is especially alarming, as <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/edmund-fawcett/daunting-task-of-repair">Edmund Fawcett</a> makes plain, is not just the declining fortunes of democracy and fears about the stability of the ones we have in the face of the severe challenges they face, but also the growing support for new parties and movements of the hard right. They see themselves as insurgents against the established order, and are explicitly against liberalism, against the rule of law, against the rules based multilateral international order, and against science and objectivity. Many questions which were thought to have been settled have been reopened. </p> <h2><strong>Populist nationalists</strong></h2> <p>There is a lot of dispute about what the new insurgent movements should be called. Fawcett is right that these are not Fascist parties, although they share some of the same roots. They are a strange coalition as he puts it of economic libertarians and socially conservative nativists. The term that best captures them is populist nationalists. They are primarily nationalists, seeking to take back control of their countries with slogans like America First, reversing decades as they see it of decline and humiliation. They are against multilateralism of all kinds and want to tear down the institutions of the liberal world order and reverse the trend towards ever greater interdependence. They are part of a wider anti-globalisation movement. They also use the rhetoric of populism, pitching the people against the elites, claiming that only they represent the people against the remote liberal cosmopolitan elites, which includes all the mainstream parties of the Centre Right and the Centre Left which have governed western democracies for the last seventy years. Fawcett is right to note that this populism is a style of political self-justification. <span class="mag-quote-center">The leaders of these new movements are an elite contesting established elites.&nbsp; </span></p> <p>The leaders of these new movements are an elite contesting established elites. They are now a presence in almost every established western democracy, and their recent successes include the election of Trump, the Brexit vote in the UK and the formation of a government in Italy between the Five Star Movement and the League. </p> <p>Who is responsible for the global rise of this new hard right insurgency? Much attention has been focused in contributions on this site on the failure of progressive politics. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/michael-j-sandel/populism-trump-and-future-of-democracy">Michael Sandel</a> has argued that Trump tapped a well-spring of anxieties, frustrations and legitimate grievances to which the mainstream parties had no compelling answers. The Centre-Left embraced a technocratic liberalism which did not challenge the assumptions of the reshaped international market order which emerged from the battles of the 1970s and 1980s, and which led to a sharp rise in inequality and the internal fracturing of societies into winners and losers from globalisation. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/francesco-ronchi/liberals-year-zero">Francesco Ronchi</a> thinks that what we face is not primarily an attack on liberal democracy from without but the implosion of liberal democracy from within. Liberals have been so entranced by technocratic administration that they readily embraced the depoliticization and marketisation of huge swathes of public policy. Democracy was hollowed out and progressives forgot how to articulate a vision of community. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/jon-cruddas-response-to-michael-sandel">Jon Cruddas</a> speaks of a loss of ethical grip, and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/michael-j-sandel/populism-trump-and-future-of-democracy">Michael Sandel</a> of the unwillingness of liberals to engage in substantive moral argument.</p> <h2><strong>Financial crash</strong></h2> <p>All these criticisms have some validity but we need to remember the wider context. Many of these hard right insurgencies, although not all, were active in the early 2000s and the 1990s. What has given them such traction is the events which followed the financial crash in 2008. The puncturing of the boom ushered in a period without parallel in the western capitalist economy since 1945. The failure of the economy to bounce back as it had done after every earlier recession meant a period of very slow recovery and grinding austerity, accompanied by exceptional policy interventions, including quantitative easing and zero interest rates to preserve liquidity and prevent a meltdown. In 2018 the western economies showed some signs at last of a real recovery, but there have been warnings from many quarters that with a continuing savings glut, huge imbalances, high levels of unsecured debt, and continuing reckless behaviour in the financial markets, the possibilities of another major financial crisis and global depression are very real. There could be any number of triggers for it, including the growing risk of an all-out trade war between the US and China.</p> <p>One of the main reasons liberal democracy appears to be imploding is that the liberal international capitalist order on which it has been based for the last seventy years is imploding. No parties of the liberal centre, whether Centre-Left or Centre-Right have yet developed policies which can resist the storm which is engulfing them. These parties were once so good at delivering prosperity and security. Their failure to do so in the last ten years has created the opportunity for the new insurgencies, both of the right and of the left. Another major financial crisis would be devastating for the stability of many liberal democracies. The new hard right international which Steve Bannon and his associates are seeking to organise is well aware of this. It thrives on chaos and collapse.</p> <h2><strong>Open Left</strong></h2> <p>How can any of this be countered? We certainly need a new moral vision and a new readiness to engage in moral argument and political persuasion. But we also need a new political economy, and most important of all we need to find a new way of doing politics, we need to build an Open Left. Such a project can be advanced by many different political parties and movements – liberal, green, social democratic and socialist. We need to abandon the idea that one tradition of progressive thought has all the answers. <span class="mag-quote-center">We need to abandon the idea that one tradition of progressive thought has all the answers.</span> </p> <p>We need openness to new policy ideas and openness to learning from past mistakes and the experience of others. We should be prepared to listen to very different voices and draw from very different intellectual traditions, engaging with people from a wide range of communities and backgrounds and from many different countries learning from their experience in putting progressive ideas into action. We need to reject false polarisations between economic nationalists and economic globalists, nativists and cosmopolitans. We can be citizens of the world and at the same time citizens of particular nations, cities and communities. We have to be concerned with issues of place and identity as well as international cooperation and global networks, and that means giving greater priority to relationships and to communities, families and households than to the profit and loss calculations of faceless state and corporate bureaucracies.</p> <h2><strong>Multicultural societies</strong></h2> <p>We live in complex post-industrial economies and multicultural societies. Many old certainties and landmarks have disappeared and are doing so at an increasing pace. We have to live with deep divides in opinion, interests, and knowledge. There are many values and perspectives and no single right way. But there are also certain principles which any progressive politics must uphold. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/edmund-fawcett/hard-right-and-its-threats-to-democratic-liberalism">Edmund Fawcett</a> puts it well when he says that after 1945 a frame of politics was established in which the gap between avowed aims and actual achievements became measurable, discussable in practical terms and to a degree closeable. It is that frame which the insurgents most want to tear down. </p> <h2><strong>An open multilateral international order</strong></h2> <p>There are also clear policy priorities for an Open Left. The first is an open multilateral international order. The current one is broken, and what replaces it must go beyond the western-centric order of the past and fully involve the rising powers in Asia, Africa and South America in determining the rules which should govern this order. If we fail to maintain multilateral institutions, imperfect although all of them are, we risk a return to economic nationalism and military adventurism. </p> <p>The second priority is an inclusive and sustainable economy. We have to abandon the pursuit of economic growth at any cost and the maximisation of shareholder value. Instead we need a political economy which safeguards the biosphere and maximises value for all stakeholders, particularly domestic households and local economies. We cannot do any of this without strengthening state capacities to make possible a more decentralised, egalitarian and sharing economy. </p> <p>The third priority is a remodelled welfare state, based on policies that can provide both security and autonomy for all citizens,so that no citizen is left behind, reviving and reformulating the idea of democratic citizenship that lay at the heart of the universal welfare states which were one of the great progressive achievements of the last century. There are many creative ideas for doing this. <span class="mag-quote-center">The quest for equal citizenship targeting the many forms of discrimination, disadvantage and abuse remains a central progressive aim.</span></p> <p>The fourth priority is a renewed democracy. Much has been achieved in the last hundred years since women won the vote, but much remains to be done. The quest for equal citizenship targeting the many forms of discrimination, disadvantage and abuse remains a central progressive aim. We also need to find ways to decentralise power to get real local accountability and participation, and to be constantly vigilant about the many threats, some old some new, to the rule of law, media plurality, freedom of association and freedom of speech.</p> <h2><strong>A politics from below</strong></h2> <p>Liberals and progressives have to recover their voice and their moral compass. It carries risks, as <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/benjamin-tallis/offensive-liberalism-emmanuel-macron-and-new-european-politics">Benjamin Tallis</a> observes about Emmanuel Macron and his offensive liberalism. That is because democracy carries risks. But we no longer live in a time when technocracy suffices. There has to be a new politics of passion and commitment and belief, and there is no guarantee of success. But to refuse to engage in the debate and the struggle against the hard right would be a guarantee of failure. One key task is to develop the kind of policies which make sense to citizens in their everyday lives. Progressives have huge resources on which to draw, but they need to rediscover the energy that comes from a politics from below. They need to become insurgents too. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/anthony-barnett/i-am-not-liberal-but-if-i-have-to-get-into-bed-with-them-i-will">Anthony Barnett</a> is right to say that the old order is broken and cannot just be patched up. We do not all have to unite under the same banner, but we do need to co-operate and to learn from one another. An Open Left is not an impossible dream. It is something we urgently need to combat the dangers we face. </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="/can-europe-make-it/edmund-fawcett/daunting-task-of-repair">The daunting task of repair</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/michael-j-sandel/populism-trump-and-future-of-democracy">Populism, Trump, and the future of democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/francesco-ronchi/liberals-year-zero">Liberals, Year Zero</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/jon-cruddas-response-to-michael-sandel">Progressive politics must rediscover its moral purpose: a response to Michael Sandel</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/benjamin-tallis/offensive-liberalism-emmanuel-macron-and-new-european-politics">Offensive liberalism: Emmanuel Macron and the New European Politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <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 even"> <a href="/anthony-barnett/i-am-not-liberal-but-if-i-have-to-get-into-bed-with-them-i-will">Why I am not a Liberal and how we need to fight bin Trump and Brexit</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </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? United States EU Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics Equality Ideas International politics Andrew Gamble Thu, 02 Aug 2018 12:20:14 +0000 Andrew Gamble 119102 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The lessons of the World Cup for our victim culture https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/samir-gandesha/lessons-of-world-cup-for-our-victim-culture <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>If these rebels hadn’t somehow found the courage to strike out in bold, new and, frankly, dangerous directions, we would all be the poorer for it.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37612103.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37612103.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'>Kylian Mbappe at the Elysee Presidential Palace, July 16, 2018, Paris. Blondet Eliot/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>That we are living in an age of victim culture is well-exemplified by an article recently published by the CBC suggesting that minorities “feel apprehensive about heading into the wild because they don’t see themselves represented in the outdoor media and industry.” The underlying premise is that a paucity of representations of members of these groups constructs the outdoors as a kind of “unsafe space” of which people from these communities ask, according to the African-American author of a book called The Adventure Gap, James Mills, “‘Do I belong here? And if somebody believes that I don’t belong here, will they do something to harm me?’”</p> <p>Now, evidence provided in the article is scant, relying mainly on anecdotes. I could easily provide many to the contrary. But, surely, even if the evidence did support the claim, the important question is to what extent does the article not simply reproduce a certain Catch-22 rather than pointing beyond it. </p> <p>The paradox is the following: There are no people who look like me engaging in activity X, so I don’t feel comfortable engaging in that activity. Because I don’t feel comfortable engaging in activity X, there will be no people who look like me engaging in that activity. What journalism such as this fails to address is how people from marginalized communities, historically, were able to take chances and strike out in new directions and, occasionally, placed themselves in real danger, but also experienced real satisfactions from breaking through barriers (real or perceived) preventing them from participating in certain activities or fields. Such a possibility seems to be ruled out by this kind of writing.</p> <h2><strong>“Victim culture”</strong></h2> <p>By “victim culture” I mean a constellation of assumptions, values and norms that suggest oppressed groups need to be sheltered in particular ways from prejudice, bias or worse. This has already been an increasingly common refrain in many institutions of higher education, although, happily, it’s one that doesn’t particularly resonate at my own, at least not yet. </p> <p>Such a refrain holds that students require protection from dangerously “triggering” literature or art works, where “safe spaces” need to be constructed exclusively for female or minority students where they won’t have to interact with menacing white men. And where students are increasingly shielded from having to actually make arguments in response to perspectives they may disagree with. Victim culture is a form of infantilization as feminist cultural critic Laura Kipnis has argued.</p> <p>This kind of rhetoric has spilled over into the public sphere. Not too long ago, for example, trans activists demanded that certain books be taken off the shelves of the now-defunct Vancouver Women’s Library because they made the space “unsafe.” A local bookstore that had the temerity to supply the VWL with books was threatened with a city-wide boycott. This was far from the worst of it.</p> <p>As the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre argued, rather than being determined by a pre-given essence, we first exist in the world and then decide what sort of person to become. While there are clearly social and historical limits to such freedom, Sartre was on to something important. We are human to the extent that we take up freedom as kind of a project.&nbsp;<span class="mag-quote-center">We are human to the extent that we take up freedom as kind of a project.&nbsp;</span></p> <h2><strong>The heir of Camus</strong></h2> <p>Before their estrangement, Sartre was close to writer Albert Camus. Camus contended that human existence was “absurd,” that it entailed a Sisyphean search&nbsp;for order in a disordered world. The only defensible response was a perpetual act of rebellion at this condition.&nbsp;Significantly, Camus, one time the goalkeeper for the University of Algiers, famously stated that, “What I know most surely about morality and the duty of man, I owe to football.” As a keeper he was the quintessential outsider.</p> <p>While it’s possible to point to any number of courageous acts of rebellion from Spartacus, to Rosa Parks to “Tank Man” in Tiananmen Square to Pussy Riot, in the immediate aftermath of the World Cup football might just hold some further moral lessons for us today. A French squad boasting some 18 players of African descent beat a feisty Croatia 4-2. One of their goals was scored by teenage sensation of Algerian-Cameroonian descent Kylian Mbappé.</p> <p>Mbappé is the heir of Camus. While Trump hailed the victory shortly after the game’s conclusion, he was oblivious of its irony coming only a couple of days after his statement that “immigration was destroying the fabric of European culture.” The chant resonating on the Avenue Camps-Élysées was equalité, fraternité and Mbappé!</p> <h2><strong>England, remarkable case</strong></h2> <p>France isn’t the only side to prominently feature immigrants in its squad, the same is true of teams like top-ranked Germany and semifinalists Belgium and England. England is an especially remarkable case insofar as, historically, its game has been particularly riven by virulent post-colonial racism and exclusion. It’s easy to think that black players — the so-called Windrush generation arriving in the UK from the Caribbean between 1948-1971 — have always dominated the English Premier League, but this is simply not the case. Only a short four decades ago did players like Laurie Cunningham, Viv Anderson and John Barnes break into the game against massive odds.</p> <p>The brutalities of football and race, I know intimately and first-hand. I first visited London in 1973 to meet my grandfather who had been expelled from Idi Amin’s Uganda and now lay dying. I recall quite vividly watching the FA Cup Final on the telly (Sunderland beat Leeds United 1-0), but also the fearful tones in which my relatives spoke of the very dangers posed to Asians around football stadiums. They lived close to the storied Wembley Stadium, the site of England’s first and only World Cup victory some seven years earlier.</p> <p>Despite my family’s emphatic warning, I fell in love with the beautiful game and would return less than a decade later on trials for Aberdeen and Leicester City Football Club. There certainly was no one who looked like me in British football, but I was oblivious. When I entered the dressing room I felt like a “brother from another planet;” Scotland great Gordon Strachan asked me point blank, “What are you doing here?” On the pitch I was targeted with racial epithets and intimidation and I recall vividly the way a Leicester City coach kept referring to me in training as “Abdullah.” I nearly didn’t survive the journey by night train from Aberdeen with a mob of “Paki-bashing” Arsenal supporters.</p> <h2><strong>Heroes and rebels</strong></h2> <p>Despite the racism of the early 1970s, black players persisted in England as elsewhere and the genuinely anti-racist effects of their heroic strides can hardly be overstated. When the racists of the English Defence League or the French Front National today seek to hold up their national team as the model of ethno-nationalist virtue they come up against what is for them embarrassing multicultural, civic representation of their respective nations.</p> <p>Black players endured brutal fouls from other players on the pitch, as well as verbal and other forms of abuse from the fans in the stands, and made names for themselves playing for the national team and, perhaps more importantly, opening doors for generations of players that followed in their footsteps. What if these players, in keeping with “victim culture,” had said to themselves: “I don’t see anyone out on the pitch like me, it’s not a ‘safe space,’ so I won’t play?” If these rebels hadn’t somehow found the courage to strike out in bold, new and, frankly, dangerous directions, the football world and, more importantly, anti-racist struggles around the globe would be all the poorer for it.</p><p><em>This article was <a href="https://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/samir-gandesha-the-lessons-of-the-world-cup-for-our-victim-culture">originally published </a>in the Vancouver Sun on July 27, 2018.</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="/samir-gandesha/in-defense-of-free-speech"> In defense of free speech </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/samir-gandesha/is-symbolic-politics-impediment-to-economic-equality">Is symbolic politics an impediment to economic equality?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/samir-gandesha/understanding-right-and-left-populisms">Understanding right and left populisms </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> France </div> <div class="field-item even"> England </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Germany </div> <div class="field-item even"> Belgium </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? Belgium Germany England France Samir Gandesha Thu, 02 Aug 2018 08:51:49 +0000 Samir Gandesha 119098 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The lethal logic of the Monocultural National Us: Part Two – good nationalism and bad nationalism https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-two-good-nationalism-and-bad-national <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Why it is so difficult to differentiate between good and bad nationalisms, and why the World Cup might help us.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37509209.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37509209.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'>Marcus Rashford and English manager Gareth Southgate after England's FIFA semi-final against Croatia. Aaron Chown/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>Anthony Barnett wrote <em><a href="https://unbound.com/books/brexit/">The Lure of Greatness</a>; England’s Brexit and America’s Trump</em> having long feared that England’s loss of faith in the once-glorious British project could become an enormously disruptive force, if the UK’s “long drawn-out constitutional and political impasse” was not resolved in a progressive way. </p> <p>Underpinning the constitutional question, the book is full of rich anatomies of nationhood and the yearning for nationhood, from Barnett’s recognition of Mark Rylance’s Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron in Jez Butterworth’s play, <em>Jerusalem,</em> as an English hero for our times, to his uniquely sympathetic treatment (despite his own Remainer convictions) of the anger and frustration of those who voted to leave the EU. In these detailed descriptions of what it is in the modern world to want to be whole and free, he challenges his readers to recognise what is credible in the ‘take back control’ slogan of Brexit, leading us towards a vision of pluralist, networked nationalism that surely ranks among the ‘new forms of cooperation’ sought by <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/francesco-ronchi/liberals-year-zero">Francesco Ronchi</a>.</p> <p>Part of <em>The Lure </em>argument is predicated on a quest to draw a clearer distinction between ‘positive nationalism’, which qualifies us for joining the world, and ‘negative nationalism’ which is about being belligerent and exclusive. In this day and age of burgeoning nationalisms in most western democracies, there can be few lines that are more important to draw. </p> <p>Yet it is in the nature of these identity-formations that they are resistant to any clear breakdown of the interests at stake. Driven by desire, identity and emotions in ways that defy logic, they also have a capacity for mutation in either direction. What at one moment is considered a benign confidence-boost to enable us to look outwards with equanimity, might at the next be unpleasantly enjoyable as a punitive source of power and exclusion, or desperately needed to shore us up against fear of the Other. </p> <p>Take the many faces of nationalism recently on show during the World Cup weeks, from the uplifting everyday loyalties that connect people all over the world, to <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/73b55b52-8b6d-11e8-bf9e-8771d5404543">uglier varieties,</a> or the <a href="https://metro.co.uk/2018/06/18/domestic-violence-cases-set-spike-around-englands-world-cup-matches-7640772/">domestic violence</a> that spikes when England wins or loses, especially during a World Cup. How for instance, might we draw the line between the good and bad nationalisms of UK media coverage of the English win against Panama? Here are a few examples:</p> <blockquote><p>- "<em>We believe in miracles... you sixy things,</em>" <em>The Sun</em> declared, paying homage to a Hot Chocolate hit from the 1970s, on its front page over an image of players celebrating Sunday's 6-1 win over Panama, England's biggest ever at a World Cup…</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>- The Times</em>, meanwhile, wrote on their front page that ‘<em>Harry heroics</em>’ have allowed England fans to ‘<em>dream the improbable dream’</em>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>- Daily Telegraph</em>: ‘<em>Dare to dream</em>.’</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>- Daily Express</em>:&nbsp; ‘<em>Skipper Kane is convinced England can conquer the world. “We Believe”</em>.’</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>- The <em>Daily Mail</em>’s front page declared: ‘<em>Didn’t they make our lionhearts ROAR!</em>’ with a picture of captain Kane and young England fans celebrating the goals.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>- Harry Kane on the fans in the <em>Express</em>: <strong><em>“</em></strong><em>The fans have been brilliant, both sets of fans to be fair, that is what the World Cup is about.”</em></p><p><em><br /></em></p><p>- David Beckham on <em>Instagram</em> on Panama fans: <em>"Fantastic, that's why we love this sport, they lost 6-1 and look at this happiness".</em></p><p><em><br /></em></p><p>- &nbsp;The <em>BBC</em> has received a barrage of criticism in wake of England’s 6-1 win over Panama in the World Cup for “biased” commentary. In particular, UK viewers from outside England were disappointed by Danny Murphy’s use of “we” when referring to England. “<em>We, we, we…</em>” “<em>BBC could do something about it. Bill McLaren never said “we” in 50 years commentating on Scotland."</em></p></blockquote> <p>Clearly this is all about confidence, and not just that of the national team. Taking Barnett’s lead, we can distinguish between two different types of confidence at work here: the type that promises us in a hostile environment that we are at the centre of the only universe that matters; and the rather different type that gives us enough confidence to go out and be part of the world. </p><p>This, I suggest, might be a more <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/jon-bloomfield/dangerous-road-to-divisive-places">useful distinction</a> than the one recently made popular by <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/david-goodhart/nation-state-is-in-rude-health-solving-british-puzzle">David Goodhart,</a> between the rooted Somewhere people and the rootless Anywhere people, coopted into Theresa May’s famous nationalist goad that, “ If you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere.”</p> <p>Given what is at stake, one of the great moments of drama for the English this season has been to watch Gareth Southgate, the England manager, as he negotiated the arc of national aspiration from its almost impossibly fragile and precious bubble of euphoria to the cold ashes of defeat. </p> <blockquote><p>- The Sun, July 9: “ARISE, SIR GARETH England manager Gareth Southgate tipped for knighthood… with some Twitter jokers even backing him to sort out Brexit mess.” </p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>-&nbsp; Inews, July 10: “Well, there is arguably only one person who’s managed to unite the country since Brexit. Only one man who’s been able to fill us with collective joy, to make us feel part of something. </p><p>Yeah, that’s right. Gareth Southgate for Prime Minister. It’s an idea that’s certainly catching on…” </p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>- Gareth Southgate as reported in the Evening Standard, July 11, 2018 : “Our country’s been through some difficult moments recently in terms of its unity and sport has the power to do that ( unite people)” he said. “Football in particular has the power to do that. And so for us we can feel the energy and we can feel the support from home and that’s a very special feeling. It’s a privilege for us.”</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>- BBC, July 14, 2018: Gareth Southgate says England are 'not a top-four team yet'… “It has been nice to receive a lot of praise but, balanced with that, we have had a lot of reality as well."</p></blockquote> <p>He seems to have accomplished this difficult task with compassion and integrity, but the largesse of a winning trajectory can so easily be lost altogether. For once the bubble bursts, there is a danger that like the packed audiences of “Tory anarchists, romantic urbanites and frustrated suburbanites” who gave Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron his many standing ovations, we will awaken as from a Midsummer Night’s Dream and ask ourselves where we have been.</p> <p>Here is openDemocracy’s Sunny Hundal engaged in <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/sunny-hundal/england-may-have-lost-but-it-gave-us-sense-of-unity-our-political-leaders-have-faile">an important salvaging job</a>, advancing the “corny” thesis that “We won something bigger than a game: a sense of pride and connection we hadn’t felt for a long time.” That England is “crying out for leaders to bring it together not tear it apart” and that “Football may not be loved by everyone but it did a better job of unifying us than our politicians have been doing lately.” Hundal’s claim is more modest than the suggestion that this could unify Brexit Britain. It is that crafting a promising English team of equals from the multiple identities that make it up has given us an image of what we can be together. In particular, that whereas “our political leaders” have berated immigrants to the UK and their children, urging them to “‘sign up to British values’ (code for: be more patriotic)”, it took “one man in a sharp blue waistcoat to show that nationalism needs to be inspired not lectured out of people… For once we got carried away with a sense of national pride without bitterness or division.”</p> <p>In hanging onto that experience, Hundal is tapping into a wisdom that unfortunately tends to be far too confined in our societies to professionals skilled in conflict resolution. This is how <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/louisa-weinstein/negotiating-brexit-from-ground-up">Louise Weinstein</a> defined the mood,&nbsp; “What it demonstrated more than anything was a desire to pull together, that we prefer to work as a team than to be at odds.” One major insight discovered by US journalist turned conflict resolver, <a href="https://thewholestory.solutionsjournalism.org/complicating-the-narratives-b91ea06ddf63">Amanda Ripley</a>, is that people very much want to be part of a conversation that is bigger than themselves and that “Generally, it’s a relief to people to be pulled out of deadlock.” It’s an experience that was memorably summed up in 2009 by the writer <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/article/we-are-a-better-people">Philip Pullman</a>, when he told the Convention on Modern Liberty, “We are a better people than our government believes we are; we are a better nation.”</p> <p>Sunny writes, confident in the knowledge that “you have felt this too”, only to be confronted by naysayers:</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-07-20 at 08.38.32.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-07-20 at 08.38.32.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. Twitter. July 18, 2018.</span></span></span></p><p>France meanwhile, provides us with a reverse mirror image of Southgate’s rollercoaster ride, this time on the upward arc:</p> <blockquote><p><em>- FT: “The display of collective joy echoed the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xemll_qAo-g">1998 win</a>, when the country celebrated its “black blanc beur” ethnically diverse football team that crushed Brazil 3-0, heralding a period of national unity. Twenty years later, for an evening and maybe longer, France set aside the threat of Islamist terror attacks, the remnants of fraught presidential elections last year and contentious economic reforms to enjoy a moment of national pride.”</em></p><p><em><br /></em></p><p><em>- Straitstimes: ‘With success on the pitch, a country riven by tensions and still shaken by a string of attacks that have killed nearly 250 people since 2015 has been able to revel in a newfound feeling of togetherness. "We must be proud to be French! We don't say it enough," star striker Antoine Griezmann reminded his compatriots on Friday. Despite France's enviable lifestyle, it has lacked "joie de vivre" for years, with numerous surveys finding the French some of the most pessimistic people on Earth.’</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p></blockquote> <p>But already in France, the commentators are asking how long the effect will last, and whether Emmanuel Macron overplayed his hand when in the heat of the moment he told journalists, as relayed by RTL: "I had asked them (the players) only one thing, bring back the World Cup home. They did it, I am very proud of them, of all the players". </p> <p>What does it matter? Football, you may say, is just a game. Yet the titillating sense of a dress rehearsal for life-and-death choices and realities is an essential part of the dynamic. Nobody can deny the sheer investment in the ‘beautiful game’, economic and emotional – personal, corporate, national and collective. These glimpses of the better nation that we are give millions of us the meaning and the bonding that we crave in our lives, if inevitably, some of the enemy images too. </p> <p>But for how long? What happens to the losing teams, or when the expectations don’t work? What I want to take from these World Cup examples, apart from the sheer emotional investment, is the mobility and brittleness in these identifications today, which makes what is to be gained by them so horribly close to what there is to lose. We are on a carousel which is gathering speed. We so nearly believe and then we don’t believe. We believe one minute and not the next. And each time we lose in a myriad of everyday aspirations, both the need to win and the difficulty of believing may be just that much more acute. As societies, we need to understand these everyday building bricks and dress rehearsals for nationalisms good and bad. If we rely on the eruptions of violence to signal the dividing line, won't we always arrive on the scene too late? </p> <p>The hold that these switchback operations have over us comes from deep within. To see them at work, we need to drill down through the building bricks of the nation-state, to two basic individual processes of identity-formation, identification and projection. <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_Language_of_Psycho_analysis.html?id=DCpokE8C2WgC&amp;redir_esc=y">Laplanche and Pontalis </a>give us a neat dictionary definition for the crucial psychoanalytic term, projection. This is the operation whereby “qualities, feelings, [or] wishes, . . . which the subject refuses to recognize or rejects in himself, are expelled from the self and located in another person or thing.” You can see it clearly at work in misogyny, albeit complicated by desire, where the weakness of the woman within oneself is projected onto the woman who then appears as a threat. (It is surely this deep-seated misogyny, and not just the combination of “alcohol and tension” offered in some of the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jun/08/police-fear-rise-domestic-violence-world-cup">reports </a>citing the <a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0022427813494843">Lancashire research findings</a>, that plays its part in World-Cup-related domestic violence, as the <a href="https://www.thedrum.com/news/2018/06/28/if-england-get-beaten-so-will-she-posters-bleed-world-cup-fever-domestic-violence">powerful poster</a> designed by the National Campaign against Domestic Violence memorably acknowledged.)</p> <p>There are other ways of enjoying football of course that are a bringing together of strengths, including the great strength which lies in vulnerability to the other. But this is the distinction I am making when I say that the Monocultural National Us is a clubbing together in strength of a great many potential weaknesses. It is this process that sets up the categories of Us and Them in the first place – ready for exploitation by national ideologies. </p> <p>Take the impulse to link foreigners to losers when it comes to attitudes towards Europe or migrants. The deep-seated fear of the loser within is projected onto a series of enemy images in the world at large, who are then deemed to threaten our wellbeing by claiming some kind of kinship. This refutation of the other, alongside more straightforward identifications – these are the natural building blocks that play an important part in the development of the distinction between the ego and the outside world. Literally they are what makes me, me. If I am confident in my identifications, then the world is likely to feel far less inimical: if I am feeling humiliated or powerless, this may well have me turning for consolation towards the amplification of my status on offer in the Monocultural National Us.</p> <p>Now look again at the impact on a whole society of decades of rising inequality leading to the kind of “political failure of historic proportions” that <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/michael-j-sandel/populism-trump-and-future-of-democracy">Sandel describes</a>. In our relatively immobile winner-take-all societies, yes, people want to belong to a winning side. But behind this, there is the accompanying drama in which the stakes get exponentially higher as we become more desperate to believe in ourselves. Faith and despair, cynicism and gambling are equally rife in societies where there is nothing to be done. We can see this in the everyday logic of participation in elections, especially in first past the post systems. Voters of course think about the party political manifestos, the character of the leadership, behaviour of their representatives and the policies. But there is also a gambling circularity in any election, fed by polls and media commentaries, whereby people vote for the likely winner or out of a fear of who the losers are. They vote to find out whether they are losers or winners, and whenever people experience political impotence or personal humiliation, these stakes too rise that little bit more. </p> <p>My argument is that we dwell in an era unprecedented for its incomplete projections, its unbelief and dashed hopes. In our societies majority reassurance never works for long: wars don’t ‘work’ as they once did despite ever more lavish commemorations; peace never arrives. Enemies proliferate without any sense that we are secure in our own fortifications or united in our self-defence. You may well ask if this isn’t less dangerous than full-blown and self-satisfied completed projection. But both conditions have their dangers. The most complete projection, I suspect, is never entirely complacent. While in the incomplete version, a stubborn devotion to the worst elements can linger on, regardless of the gradual hollowing out of everything that enriched it, until we have zombie world views and deeply frustrated and insecure subjectivities.</p> <p>Neoliberalism, as we know, places the burden of shame and defeat as well as the fear of precarity ever more firmly on our own individual shoulders. With increasing desperation we turn to another strong leader, another collective show of force, even another World Cup. But with the best will in the world, unifying Brexit Britain through football is far less likely to work even than the act of voting. <strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><h2><strong>OurNHS</strong></h2> <p>I hope my colleagues at openDemocracy will forgive my further unsuspected scrutiny of their views on good and bad nationalisms. But I would like to close this section with an informal clash of opinion that took place in our ‘comments’ space between oDUK editor Caroline Molloy and founding editor Anthony Barnett. </p> <p>Caroline Molloy had written another <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ournhs/caroline-molloy/dont-invoke-nhs-to-sell-false-idea-of-good-nationalism">splendid article</a> about the NHS, and more particularly, the utterly cynical way in which Tory anti-NHS legislation and May’s announcements of her ‘hostile environment’ – both of which consciously undermine the NHS, were the backdrop to Danny Boyle’s 2012 Olympics NHS montage – invoked by Zoe Williams in <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/may/08/nationalism-positive-case-immigration-counter-narrative-nhs">this Guardian article</a> as an icon of ‘good nationalism’. </p> <p>Molloy begged to differ. “The Tories genuflect to the NHS as a ‘national religion’ almost as much as Labour” she pointed out, “but that hasn’t stopped them disestablishing it and excommunicating large numbers of people from it.” Moreover Williams had failed to acknowledge who contributed to the making of the NHS: “Those Caribbean nurses who came here to build the NHS, now finding themselves or their children denied healthcare, and worse? The Commonwealth doctors, routinely discriminated against? The slaves who were forced to help ‘this nation’ establish its wealth?”</p> <p>Barnett was in turn incensed: “You could not be more wrong, Caroline… Surely all countries have good and bad forms of nationalism. All are also contested. … On the NHS, this is now intrinsic to our uncodified constitution. It is integral to what it means to be English / British (also Scottish, Welsh). That is why it certainly should be an expression of the positive nationalism of what you term 'ordinary people' and I'd call citizens. So you are wrong to reject nationalism as such…. To claim as you do there is no such thing as good nationalism whether for England or anyone else, and there is "just nationalism" and that this is to be rejected is dangerously wrong, will undermine the NHS and much else… Millions have died, conscripted into national causes. They were not just suffering from 'false consciousness'. We have to understand the grip and nature of these forces as material belief systems.”</p> <p>The exchange goes on: Molloy is willing to back post-colonial nationalism but not English nationalism which for her leaves out most of the salient facts. She concedes that the Tories have to marketise and destroy the NHS in a particularly sneaky way because “of the centrality of healthcare to us”, but is not comfortable with Barnett’s respect for these belief systems, even if millions have died for them. Molloy cannot believe that Barnett doesn’t see the motives and exclusions served by the fiction of a good English nationalism; and Barnett cannot understand that Molloy should have so little respect for the profound shaping impact in our lives of these imagined communities, answering as they do to the deepest economies of desire.</p> <p>So here we have a curious stand-off. Anthony Barnett has devoted so much of his working life as a campaigner and educator, to codifying the uncodified constitution, equipping our nations and nationalisms with the institutions, constitutions, governing principles, not to mention media, they will need. Who knows better the many nefarious purposes that might be concealed within the uncodified variety? Yet despite and indeed perhaps because of this comprehensive work of deconstruction – I am using the word although I know Barnett will hate it – he clearly remains and wishes to remain susceptible to the siren call of a ‘good nationalism’. At the time of the 2012 Olympics, there were plenty of critical voices of&nbsp; ‘Danny Boyle nationalism’ among all the plaudits. One neighbour of mine thought it strangely repugnant that the image of sick children should be so central to it. Others pointed to the absence of any reference to British imperialism in Boyle’s selective history – precisely to the absence of things that divide in Molloy’s account. But here centuries of sacrifice that people have made for their country prevents Barnett from seeing how this imagined community also represses major contradictions in the way we live. More than a contested belief, it is a fiction that glosses over the conflicts that are going on, and that also make us what we are. </p> <p>For her part, Caroline Molloy, openDemocracy’s OurNHS editor over many dedicated years has done more to fight for the survival, nay flourishing, of our national health service than anyone else I know. Yet she turns her back on the elements of this belief system that contain hugely important and still potentially subversive potential for change. After all, if we are to imagine our community in one way or another, surely the “core principle that people got <em>comprehensive</em> healthcare on the basis that they lived here, and needed it, that had endured since 1948” – the image that Molloy tells us May is out to destroy and that unsurprisingly raised Tory qualms when it was first proposed as a centrepiece by Danny Boyle – is as good a self-image to fight for as any. </p> <p>So in this small but heartfelt encounter we have an example of the elusive power of the Monocultural National Us, and its ability to turn us upside down and inside out, even in these febrile times when it is becoming increasingly obvious that on their own, these collective identifications are simply not enough. We cannot live with them or without them? What then do we do with them? </p> <p>There is no accident that the NHS shares with the BBC, that other icon of Britishness, the intention to provide universal and equal access across the huge diversity of a nation. Here is Tony Ageh, former Controller of Archive Development at the BBC and before that of BBC internet, on Auntie’s early promise, “ to Inform, Educate and Entertain EVERYONE, equally and without systemic privilege or favour. No matter who you were, or where you lived, or how rich you were.” Now, both institutions are in crisis. In the case of the BBC, universal relevance has become an etiolated impartiality that is gradually foundering on the rocks of Us and Them. For the NHS, a fundamental economic solidarity is being hived off by privatisation. But doesn’t the principle remain a living challenge to the powers that be, a worthy national aspiration, turned by the times we live in into a subversive if half-submerged vision of what, in all our differences, we still could be together? </p> <p>In this case, admitting much of Caroline Molloy’s case that we could never have built the NHS on our own, and her warning that English nationalism is too often about “forgetting”, can we begin to draw the line? Could we say that a healthy nationalism, if it is to avoid the violence at the beck and call of bad nationalism, must be generous, curious and open to the outside world from which it cannot be detached, while also responsive to the huge diversity, including the contradictions, within its own domain? Might we add that the deceptively innocent manoeuvre of turning away from diversity for the sake of ‘cohesion’ which we saw when multiculturalism was rejected, runs the danger of crossing the line? All of which gets particularly pressing when you are trying to defend, as Zoe Williams is for example, a “bordered civic identity”. </p> <p>In short, we need to be extremely vigilant about cultivating an authoritarian “left patriotism” not very different from that of the right. We should resist the seductions of a “national unity government”, until we can be convinced that this is not just the latest managerial design of the nation state on our emotions, but that it will <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/diane-abbott/national-government-would-be-government-for-rich">genuinely serve our diverse interests</a>. We should cling to the challenge of a unity that can embrace “EVERYONE, equally and without systemic privilege or favour” and face the contradictions and conflicts that this creates for all of us.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-08-01 at 16.35.22.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-08-01 at 16.35.22.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: YouTube. Britain's national healthcare system at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.</span></span></span></p> <p><em>Part 3. Next week, Parts Three and Four.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-one-introduction">The lethal logic of the Monocultural National Us: Part One – an introduction</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/sunny-hundal/england-may-have-lost-but-it-gave-us-sense-of-unity-our-political-leaders-have-faile">England may have lost but it gave us a sense of unity our political leaders have failed to do</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ournhs/caroline-molloy/dont-invoke-nhs-to-sell-false-idea-of-good-nationalism">Don&#039;t invoke the NHS to sell a false idea of &#039;good nationalism&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/anthony-barnett/i-am-not-liberal-but-if-i-have-to-get-into-bed-with-them-i-will">Why I am not a Liberal and how we need to fight bin Trump and Brexit</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/michael-j-sandel/populism-trump-and-future-of-democracy">Populism, Trump, and the future of democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/samir-gandesha/lessons-of-world-cup-for-our-victim-culture">The lessons of the World Cup for our victim culture</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-three-two-case-stu"> The lethal logic of the Monocultural National Us: Part Three – two case studies </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-four-suggestions-for-deeper-democracy">The lethal logic of the Monocultural National Us: Part Four – suggestions for a deeper democracy </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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU UK Rosemary Bechler Wed, 01 Aug 2018 18:27:54 +0000 Rosemary Bechler 119092 at https://www.opendemocracy.net On the wrong side of history: the dangers facing Brexitland https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/tahir-abbas/on-wrong-side-of-history-dangers-facing-brexitland <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>"Britain is sadly leading the way in a regressive, narrow-minded and divisive politics... I am leaving behind a Brexit Britain that is rudderless, leaderless and completely hollow within."</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-32401490.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-32401490.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'>Big Ben, at the House of Commons in Westminster, London. Victoria Jones/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>A few days ago, I packed my bags and left. After two years of living and working in London, I took the decision to leave the UK and take up an academic appointment at Leiden University in The Hague. Not only am I now able to teach in the area of sociology of terrorism that fascinates me but I can also continue my research and writing in what is a specialist field of study that combines different social science interests, including the important area of social policy. However, the timings of my movements could not have been more prescient. I arrived in London ten days after the Brexit vote. I had followed this issue closely from Istanbul, where I was living and working, and believed there would be no way that a discerning British population would ever accept this useless Tory ruse. To say that I was flabbergasted when the result emerged would be an understatement of immense proportions.</p> <p>Before returning to London, I was living in Istanbul for nearly six years. I moved to Turkey at a time when it was ‘the model’; balancing the forces of Islam, democracy and capitalism; becoming a beacon to all. However, this changed in recent years as the country headed towards authoritarianism, nationalism and populism – diseases affecting many Muslim majority countries led by strongmen seen in mythical terms. </p> <p>After many years of teaching and living in a country with so much richness, history and character, the politics began to change and I ended up on the wrong side of history. Less than ten days after I left the country, Turkey endured a failed military coup that resulted in the loss of 250 lives and the introduction of emergency rule. It ultimately led to hundreds of thousands of people purged, arrested or incarcerated for their affiliation (alleged or otherwise) with the movement alleged to be at the centre of this dramatic political event. </p> <p>Suffice to say, my former University disappeared from the face of the earth, students were scattered all over the public sector and academic staff, both foreign and Turkish, had their contracts cancelled with immediate effect. Existing divisions in Turkish society heightened because of this event, leading to the emergence of an executive presidential system that effectively places one man at the helm but with few internal checks and balances.</p> <h2><strong>A climate of fear </strong></h2> <p>Populism, nationalism and a form of fascism and the deeply flawed inward-looking myths about the greatness of the nation have engulfed many western European nations, with Britain sadly leading the way in a regressive, narrow-minded and divisive politics led by the uber-elite and ultra-nationalists. This manufactured climate of fear, hate and indifference has seeped into all aspects of social, cultural, economic and political life. It is a disdain towards the poor, the old and the infirm. It is racism, snobbery and cronyism of the highest order. It is a sad state of affairs reflecting a decline in thinking, lack of new ideas of any sort and the desire to hold onto the existing but repeatedly-proven-to-be-failing neoliberal globalisation economic model at all cost. </p> <p>The British ‘Brexiteers’ have come to dominate the debate on Britain leaving the EU – a decision made upon a referendum that was not legally binding. This uber-elite, with their tentacles in politics and government, could not muster the idea of the EU legislation against offshore tax havens that London has become famous for over the last five decades. For this they are willing to overhaul forty years of integration with the continent on all matters of trade, movement of labour and the exchange of intellectual, political and cultural ideas. This exclusive sub-set of the population felt that external agents hell-bent on undermining the ‘will of the people’ were controlling ‘their country’ and used all the dark and dubious methods at their disposal to whip up an already beleaguered and battered Britain.</p> <p>Because of the selfish perspectives of individuals with limited outlooks that promulgate this whole endeavour, I am leaving behind a Brexit Britain that is rudderless, leaderless and completely hollow within. From the initial campaign to today, the British people have endured a hoodwinking of immense proportions. Since the introduction of austerity in 2010, a completely avoidable policy that was always going to create more problems, divisions in society have continued to grow. The superrich are becoming an even greater subset of the population that has more wealth relative to others but is also distancing itself from the ordinary people more than ever. Austerity led to resentment towards immigrants, minorities and the ‘undeserving’ poor. These sentiments were ratcheted up further by carefully targeted online and off-line messages to appeal to the disaffected, disillusioned and disagreeable who were directed to blame those closest to them geographically but presented as seemingly the most distanced culturally. </p> <p>The refugee crisis that arose because of interventions in Syria affected populations across Europe as groups made their way through the Balkan route into western Europe. Islamophobia and racism went hand-in-hand, with Brexit permitting self-selecting elites to reproduce but also legitimise this animosity and intolerance towards others. These are dangerous times globally, with populism affecting the US, Italy, Hungary, Germany, Turkey, India and potentially Pakistan. I could see it bubbling away in Turkey, especially towards the end of my time there, when ISIS had come to the fore and terrorism was increasingly becoming the new normal in Turkey. When I lived on Fifth Avenue during my NYU Fall Semester stay, I also saw it in New York after the 2015 San Bernardino attacks. These led one neighbour on my street, Donald Trump, to state on record his desire for a ‘Muslim ban’ if he got elected as President. In the UK, there were five terrorist attacks in 2017. Now the UK is in an unprecedented time of uncertainty, affecting every part of society, public and private, open and closed. As the Brexit campaign revelations increasingly reveal foul play, this further sullies the already shadowy waters that surround this redundant escapade.</p> <h2><strong>Fresh outlook</strong></h2> <p>In moving to The Hague to research and teach in areas deemed too sensitive in the UK – namely, the sociological parameters of what drives extremism and radicalism – I take on a fresh outlook. Ever since the ‘war on terror’, the UK has focused on a narrow perspective on the causes and the solutions. Prevent is a focus into communities based on the view that by de-radicalising Muslims through top-down measures, terrorism can be prevented. It is also an attempt to connect UK internal issues with those leading to the movement of foreign fighters into theatres of conflict. The net outcome is to pathologise communities by taking attention away from local-structural issues and global-geopolitical matters. In the Dutch context, where concern exists on matters of radicalisation and terrorism among diaspora Muslim groups, analysis, engagement and policy development have nuance. The norm is less alarmism in general and more sensitivity concerning the delivery of effective solutions while working with an array of partners. </p> <p>Stark differences between the academy, government and civil society lead to gaping holes in the UK. Left-leaning academics regard all ‘Prevent’ as necessarily bad in the main. The UK government is paralysed by Brexit, but the internal departments working in the area of countering violent extremism are too numerous and are spread across Whitehall, with a lack of clarity on what each is doing and to what end. Civil society organisations are active, vociferous and confident of expressing their reservations about policy and practice. However, all of these UK constituents talk past each other, such is the intensity with which individuals and groups are entrenched in their positions.</p> <p>Fortunately, options are on the table. This includes abandoning the whole idea altogether; carrying out a second referendum where the people will get to vote on the ‘deal’; and the possibility of a Tory government collapse in the autumn with another election on the horizon. However, various Blairites and other right-leaning politicians within the Labour Party may push for another attempt to unseat Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the party. It is easy to feel disempowered. </p> <p>However, it is important to remember that the people, not the politicians who rule over them, often define history. A great deal of momentum is shifting attitudes and changing political behaviour around Brexit. This is emerging from all sides of the political divide. With this in mind, I remain optimistic that the British people will do the right thing in the end. Meanwhile, I continue my work and my ongoing engagements with colleagues in the EU, the UK, North America and across the Middle East.</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="/conflicts/democracy_terror/islamist_journey_around_faith_nation">&quot;The Islamist&quot;: a radical journey</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/conflict-terrorism/muslims_3120.jsp">Muslims in Britain after 7/7: the problem of the few</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> 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? uk EU UK Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics International politics Brexit2016 Tahir Abbas Wed, 01 Aug 2018 07:32:06 +0000 Tahir Abbas 119085 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The lethal logic of the Monocultural National Us: Part One – an introduction https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-one-introduction <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Outlining a couple of debates, and the concept of the Monocultural National Us. Why should we be on the look out for its presence in our lives?</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-29888048_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-29888048_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'>Theresa May meeting Donald Trump in the Oval Office, Washington DC, USA. January 27, 2017. Stefan Rousseau/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>In openDemocracy’s <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/europe"><em>Can Europe make it</em></a><em>?</em> section, we have been engaged in two debates which are gradually merging together: the latest round of our many discussions on <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/spyros-sofos/turkish-election-as-warning-against-irresistible-charms-of-populism">the nature of populism</a>; and a debate on the rise of the hard right, started by <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/edmund-fawcett/hard-right-and-its-threats-to-democratic-liberalism">Edmund Fawcett</a> and taken up by <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/anthony-barnett/to-beat-hard-right-we-ll-need-to-change-too-response-to-edmund-fawcett">Anthony Barnett</a>, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/jan-zielonka/how-to-contain-hard-right">Jan Zielonka</a>, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/michael-j-sandel/populism-trump-and-future-of-democracy">Michael Sandel</a> and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/europe">others</a> willing to attempt an unblinking look at the political failures of liberal democracy that have led to this profound crisis in the body politic. Michael Sandel unlocked a rich seam in this enquiry when he <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/michael-j-sandel/populism-trump-and-future-of-democracy">insisted that</a>: “it is a mistake to see only the bigotry in populist protest, or to view it only as an economic complaint… For those left behind by three decades of market-driven globalization, the problem is not only wage stagnation and the loss of jobs; it is also the loss of social esteem. It is not only about unfairness; it is also about humiliation…”. </p> <p>He goes on to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/michael-j-sandel/populism-trump-and-future-of-democracy">explore</a> how ‘liberal neutrality’ by avoiding rather than engaging with our moral disagreements, “flattens questions of meaning, identity, and purpose into questions of fairness. It therefore misses the anger and resentment that animate the populist revolt… the cultural estrangement, even humiliation, that many working class and middle class voters feel; and it ignores the meritocratic hubris of elites.” It is this hollowing out of democratic public discourse and disempowering of ordinary citizens which has paved the way for “a populist backlash that seeks to clothe the naked public square with an intolerant, vengeful nationalism”, he argues, reminding us that “Donald Trump is keenly alive to the politics of humiliation.” And the only way out for our democracies is to better understand “the discontent that is roiling politics in the US and in democracies around the world”, and create a politics that can respond. Above all, “it is necessary to engage in a politics of persuasion”.</p> <p>This struck an immediate chord with several discussants. For <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/francesco-ronchi/liberals-year-zero">Francesco Ronchi</a>, it leads to a two-pronged challenge. We must fundamentally overhaul a depoliticised and technocratised liberal democracy for an age of great global change and “new solitudes”. Citing the extraordinary statistic that “by 2060 in countries like Belgium 60 per cent of families will be made up of only one individual”, Ronchi says that there are no easy answers to the question, “What is the liberals’ vision of community?” But that the answer must be sought if we are to “reinvent new forms of cooperation in societies torn apart by decades of neoliberal individualism.”</p> <p>At the same time, he picks up Sandel’s criticism of ‘liberal neutrality’ and pushes it in a direction which will be familiar to followers of the Laclau and Mouffe ‘left populism’ debate – reminding us of the “importance of conflict in democracy.” For Ronchi, “A dynamic of collusion has replaced the classic competition between right and left”, fostering rather than undermining extreme left and right forces. He concludes, “Polarisation between left and right is on the contrary crucial to save liberalism.”</p> <p>An apparent contradiction at this point in Ronchi’s argument invites some closer attention. Only a sentence or two after calling for new forms of cooperation, and announcing the “implosion of liberal democracy” in societies “torn apart by decades of neoliberalism”, he is urging more “conflict” and “polarisation”. How are we to judge which conflicts serve in the interests of a liberal democracy, and which tear their fabrics apart? What solidarities enhance and which undermine? As Ronchi so pertinently asks: “Is [it] possible for liberals to re-appropriate for themselves the theme of community without giving in to the nationalists, or worse still to the nativists”?</p> <p>Viewed from a media perspective, in a context where incivility, fear and rage seem to have gripped our ‘mature democracies’ as never before, the call for more conflict is a strange one. Admittedly, the structure and dynamics of social media, feeding into polarised and chaotic political scenarios everything from predictive algorithms, to psychometric messaging, to liking, trolling and filter bubbles, are a particularly acute angle on this. But outside social media too the assiduous cultivation of ‘Them’ and ‘Us’, the annihilation of empathy and the erosion of the public sphere, is under way in country after country. </p> <p>Michael Sandel calls for engagement in a politics of persuasion, but who is to persuade whom? Are the despised elites really going to begin to listen and then persuade in a different way, just when no one seems capable any longer of persuading anyone of anything, except the imminent threat of a Hobbesian “war of all against all”?</p> <p>Interestingly Ronchi is not alone in being torn between the need to restore belonging and revive contestation. Our discussions, which have successively reviewed liberalism, democracy, technocracy and populism as candidates for our Achilles heel, are coming up with similarly bifurcated formulations in each. Here is openDemocracy partner <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/spyros-sofos/turkish-election-as-warning-against-irresistible-charms-of-populism">Spyros Sofos</a> on the challenge to theoretical clarity for those involved in the populism debate: “At the end of the day the question is where does ‘the progressive’ lie? – in a unified progressive.. subject, or in a diverse solidaristic ‘coming together’ of movements and other political actors respecting difference and internal dialogue.” Sofos is eager to point out to his colleagues in the field that if there is one feature that can be depended on to characterise populist behaviour more markedly than its discourse-shaping ‘anti-élitism’, it is its “anti-institutional, anti-particularistic aspects… and its inherent ‘aversion’ towards assertions of social diversity.” And here is <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/alfred-moore/pre-history-of-post-democracy">Alfred Moore</a> on two different conceptions of what democratic reform can realistically mean today: “On the one hand, revitalizing democracy means demanding sharper and clearer party competition and a concentration of sovereign power such that electoral politics really can make a difference (this is the view held by some left-wing supporters of the UK leaving the EU). On the other hand, it involves the dispersal of power through rights-based empowerments, enhanced transparency, localism and the expansion of opportunities for participation. The real question is whether, and if so how, these different democratic practices might work together.” </p> <p>In my contribution to this discussion, I will argue that our ills begin with the lack of mechanisms, institutions and fora in which citizens can persuade each other. It is this that is driving the multi-valent polarisation currently tearing our societies apart, and creating an anti-politics much more quickly than we can hope to defend existing democracies, let alone create the empowering politics that we know that we need. </p> <p>When I ask myself how a new politics of empowerment could overcome the humiliation and the grievances, let alone the inequality that Sandel has identified, it is the toxic climate for decision-making that is at the forefront of my calculation. How do we prevent the marginalisation of dissent and defend the presence of an open pluralist public square at the centre of our democracies? How do we hang onto the civilisational skills of listening and changing one’s mind that belong to the dying art of conversation? Where indeed do we draw the line between democratic and undemocratic subject formation in the media, in education, in governance, and in law? </p> <p>It is surely no coincidence that this profound challenge to our democracies coincides with the reappearance of a phenomenon that I call the ‘Monocultural National Us.’&nbsp; </p><h2><strong>‘We, we, we”</strong></h2> <p>There are two premises about democracy that we are losing sight of today, even in the most liberal and advanced democracies. The first is the recognition, recently echoed by <a href="https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062802187/fascism-a-warning/">Madeleine Albright</a> in her critique of the Trump presidency, <em>Fascism: A Warning</em>, that the best litmus test for the health of a democracy is the way that its minorities are treated. She writes about Trump's disdain for minorities, and instincts that are "not democratic" ones. But the second premise that concerns us here is a warning levelled at democracy itself – the reminder that "Democracy makes the power of the state especially dangerous" as I shall elaborate below.</p> <p>In Europe, in the decade after 9/11, a gathering chorus of commentators pronounced top down multiculturalism (admittedly a flawed beast) dysfunctional, a view subsequently endorsed by a series of western leaders. In the UK, the ensuing swing towards ‘social cohesion’ was accompanied by the creeping resurgence of an often vague nationalism, invoked in such phrases as “British jobs for British workers”, or “what makes the BBC and we British just that little bit different from everybody else”. This was understood to characterise the majority view in some ill-defined, yet cohering way, while simultaneously reassuring Us about our difference from Them. In various western democracies, for example, questions began to be raised about whether or not their Muslim communities belonged to the 'Us'.</p> <p>A more inclusive approach was still perfectly imagineable. You might go around any room, or community, or society, explaining the very different criteria that makes everyone in that set a precious contributor. Surely this approach would be much closer to serving the general interest? Instead we heard more and more about a unitary ‘national interest’. </p> <p>What is lost in democracies that have ceased to be evaluated according to the treatment that they mete out to their minorities, is this important capacity for inclusion. A democracy should be a society where other points of view are weighed in any process of judgment, where the complicating factors these represent are nevertheless taken into account in the final decision, where people are open to changing their minds about what they once thought was the right or the winning side. But our societies are ones where people are readily convinced that they can only win if someone else loses out, and there we have a building brick for the Monocultural National Us, that can only be reassured about Us, if it has located an inferior Them.</p> <p>We don’t really hear much about people changing their minds as a great, maybe the greatest characteristic of a democratic politics in a complex society. But we should hear much more. Nowadays far too many people are far too certain about what they think, and who the winners and losers are, than can possibly be good for most of us, let alone for a peaceful, thriving, co-creative society. </p> <p>What those governing liberal democracies might stand to gain from such an ‘Us’ is a particular tool for majority reassurance in times of trouble. Reassured that it is at the centre of the ’national interest’ each individual interest identifying with the larger entity is empowered by what we might call an amplifying or hyperbolic effect, one that allows them to feel without having to negotiate anything with anyone, that together they have the upper hand.</p> <p>The Monocultural National Us feeds off many of the building bricks of our liberal democratic societies. A society with a first past the post system of elections – winner take all – is always a candidate for the formation of a Monocultural National Us. A society where bullying is prevalent has a similar capacity to rehearse this outcome, since in a bullying scenario there are always three players – the bully, the victim, and the community that allows the bullying to take place, essentially in its name. The Monocultural National Us is a clubbing together in strength of a great many potential weaknesses. </p> <p>You could argue that more generally, highly competitive systems, where people skill themselves to compete for scarce resources, are also always preparing their contestants to ignore the other, losing point of view, and to defend their privileges on the basis of the efforts they have made to win. The Monocultural National Us succeeds when it can combine enough people in its favour, people who benefit from the existing inequalities, with a substantial number of those who don’t, but who hope to be rewarded for their loyalty, or that their children will be so rewarded, if they side with the winning side. Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett's much talked about book,&nbsp;<em>The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone</em> (2010), gave us a useful key to understanding the ensuing deterioration in solidarity, by providing the evidence to show that “when the gap between rich and poor increases, so does the tendency to define and value ourselves and others in terms of superiority and inferiority”.(See their latest <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/transformation/kate-pickett-richard-wilkinson/enemy-between-us-how-inequality-erodes-our-mental-heal">on openDemocacy here</a>.)</p> <p>This is where the second important premise regarding democracies comes into the equation. It is well summed up by openDemocracy’s early mentor, the sociologist Paul Hirst, who wrote in 2000 that due to the legislative primacy and highly centralised and powerful administration of modern states, “Democracy makes the power of the state especially dangerous” <em>– </em>since its rulers can claim that their policy is derived from the will of the people, and therefore in the general interest. (“<em>J.N.Figgis, Churches and the State”, Political Quarterly, 2000 p.111).</em> </p> <p>We are accustomed to thinking of democracy as the least dangerous of systems, so Hirst’s formulation here is striking. Here again, what is involved is the replacement of a calculation about what different citizens in an internally diverse category might need and might settle for together, along with all the compromises that this must entail, with a slide from those living, breathing negotiations to a winning majority stance which stands in symbolically for the whole, endowing the modern state with a highly deceptive authority in the process. </p> <p>In the decade since the financial crisis, the ‘omnicompetent state’ that concerned Paul Hirst has been struggling for both plausibility and competence. It is all too easy to see how such symbolic identifications and the authority they confer might be increasingly attractive. Defending the ‘sovereignty’ of the people’s will from external and internal threats is a far easier manoeuvre than actually dealing with all the conflicting interests around any given issue which the proper pursuit of the general interest of a complex, diverse society must involve. </p> <p>An aggravated majoritarianism is the result of turning our backs on both these dangers, and it paves the way to a range of scenarios: war-mongering decisions which permit the state to use the ‘will of the people’ to mobilise its coercive powers without just cause; reductive decisions which reduce a complex range of reasons for support to one single ‘will of the people’ prescription; divisive decisions which take a bare majority as the singular, unchanging, ‘will of the people’, neglecting all other points of view or needs; a proliferation of enemy images internally and externally that gradually replaces the élite manufacture of consent; and decisions taken against the background mobilisation of emotions always necessary for the promotion of a Monocultural National Us against Them – particularly those emotions that give people who fear that they might be losers at any given historic moment, a much easier way of joining forces.</p> <p>We have seen all of these in recent years, and the reason for concern is that all are ways of using force that ultimately lead directly or indirectly to violence. There is a rise in aggrieved majoritarianism in Europe and elsewhere, whereby national majorities, seldom even a numerical majority of all the relevant people, are nevertheless encouraged by their political representatives to perceive themselves as a National Us victim to some Other. The most tragic example is how “the frail bodies of a few thousand migrants arriving on European shores” as <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/charles-heller/for-open-migration-policy-to-end-deaths-and-crises-in-mediterranea">Charles Heller</a> puts it, “are triggering a major political crisis throughout the EU.” The drive towards closure and the politicisation of migration is so strong after years of tension that a 95 per cent drop in numbers since the peak in 2015 has not registered on the debate. European citizens, sure that their states have lost control, increasingly wish that migrants would simply disappear. Meanwhile, according to the UN migration agency, a thousand have died crossing the Mediterranean so far in 2018. </p><p>Giorgio Agamben, Italian philosopher and radical political theorist, with his study of the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giorgio_Agamben#State_of_Exception_(2005)">state of exception</a> which has become a permanent state of affairs in many countries in Europe and beyond, remains the outstanding theoretician of this aspect of the democratic state. His work elaborates on and engages with Walter Benjamin’s “Critique of Violence” as well as the thinking of Carl Schmitt. Indeed it is the state capacity for violence and for endorsing violence which makes it urgent for us to recognise the ways in which we can be coopted as citizens into this kind of identification with the National Us.&nbsp; </p> <p>Take the supposedly ‘lone wolf’ killer who attacks multiculturalism as the enemy. He will amplify his power in his own eyes by saying that he alone is setting out to save the nation from itself. Another more normal everyday version familiar to students of populism is the identifiation with a "strong leader" who can fend off our own vulnerability to the Other. Someone who never seems to have to apologise, and who can enforce an outcome we think we we want. One essential feature of the identification is the amplifying or hyperbolic function. A second component is the unitary nature of the identification. For people who like the world to be clear cut and binary, right or wrong – violence is one way of putting paid to a multiculturalism that is a constant source of humiliation. Both types of enlargement of our status – that of the individual who successfully identifies him or herself with the nation, and the sleight of hand in which the majority somehow stands in for the complex nation-as-a-whole, rely on our belief in the unitary nature of the Us that makes us different from Them. </p> <p>But is this really credible in either case? The unitary nature of a nationalist identification can only exist at the level of a fiction, wilfully adhered to by those with most to gain from the exercise. It must disappear the minute a concrete interest is spelled out, because inevitably there is so much divergence in such large categories. One of the few ways to experience ourselves as united is to concentrate in binary terms on what and who we are not. So a third identifiable feature is the unitary nature of the projected enemy image, turned into a notoriously homogeneous, undifferentiated Other. Anything beyond the binary is an undermining presence, and openness to the other an early victim to this compulsion.</p> <p>As we watch the seemingly inexorable rise of the Monocultural National Us in countries including but not at all confined to Europe and the United States, it is a clear and present danger that the capture, model and preempt cycle of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/dan-mcquillan/manifesto-on-algorithmic-humanitarianism">machine learning</a> will amplify this tendency. We can be aware of the signs, but maybe we need to cultivate a much deeper critical acumen, comparable to decolonial or feminist standpoint approaches to assertions of objectivity, neutrality and universality.</p><p>Part two follows: <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-two-good-nationalism-and-bad-national"><em>Why it is so difficult to differentiate between good and bad nationalisms, and why the World Cup might help.</em></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/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-two-good-nationalism-and-bad-national">The lethal logic of the Monocultural National Us: Part Two – good nationalism and bad nationalism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-three-two-case-stu"> The lethal logic of the Monocultural National Us: Part Three – two case studies </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/lethal-logic-of-monocultural-national-us-part-four-suggestions-for-deeper-democracy">The lethal logic of the Monocultural National Us: Part Four – suggestions for a deeper democracy </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/michael-j-sandel/populism-trump-and-future-of-democracy">Populism, Trump, and the future of democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/francesco-ronchi/liberals-year-zero">Liberals, Year Zero</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/spyros-sofos/turkish-election-as-warning-against-irresistible-charms-of-populism">The Turkish election as a warning against the irresistible charms of populism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/charles-heller/for-open-migration-policy-to-end-deaths-and-crises-in-mediterranea">For an open migration policy to end the deaths and crises in the Mediterranean</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/transformation/kate-pickett-richard-wilkinson/enemy-between-us-how-inequality-erodes-our-mental-heal">The enemy between us: how inequality erodes our mental health</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Rosemary Bechler Tue, 31 Jul 2018 19:28:47 +0000 Rosemary Bechler 119080 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Revealed: how the UK’s powerful right-wing think tanks and Conservative MPs work together https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/revealed-how-uk-s-powerful-right-wing-think-tanks-and-conse <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Institute of Economic Affairs, accused of offering US donors access to government ministers, is among right-wing think tanks meeting monthly. Conservative MPs have attended, too.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/IMG_3385.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/IMG_3385.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>55 Tufton Street, where many of the meetings take place. Image, Adam Ramsay, CC2.0.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">The UK’s leading right-wing think tanks discuss strategy and tactics at regular monthly meetings that have been attended by Conservative MPs, openDemocracy has learned. Among those in attendance are the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA), which has been accused of offering donors access to government ministers and civil servants.</p><p dir="ltr">Politicians and campaigners say the meetings raise concerns about transparency in British politics. Separately, openDemocracy can reveal today that the IEA also receives regular funding from British American Tobacco. The IEA does <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan/revealed-charity-watchdog-probes-pro-brexit-anti-nhs-think-tank">not declare its funders</a>,</p><p dir="ltr">The regular think tank meetings are chaired jointly by staff from the pro-Brexit website Brexit Central and low-tax campaigners the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA). Conservative MP Chris Skidmore, chair of the Tories’ policy commission, recently tweeted his thanks to both Brexit Central editor Jonathan Isaby and TPA campaign manager James Price “for their invitation to speak at Tuesday meeting of think tanks”. </p><p><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 2018-07-31 at 18.05.02.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-07-31 at 18.05.02.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="120" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">The think tank meetings have taken place at 55 Tufton Street, home to numerous think tanks and lobbying outfits. Among them are the TPA, until 2015 the pro-Brexit group Business for Britain, and the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which denies the overwhelming scientific consensus around humans causing climate change. </p><p dir="ltr">Monthly meetings are regularly attended by at least 30 people including representatives from free-market think tanks the Adam Smith Institute and the Centre for Policy Studies, and news site Brexit Central, as well as the IEA and the TPA. A source familiar with the meetings said that it was an opportunity “for everyone to convene together and align their messaging towards the same goal” on everything from Brexit to Labour party policy announcements.</p><p dir="ltr">Meetings are said to include a number of guest speakers and updates from each think tank, as well as planning of future activities. “You would divvy things up, sometimes might say, ‘The IEA would do that,’ or, ‘The TPA should so this,’” the source added. </p><h2 dir="ltr">Ministerial access</h2><p dir="ltr">The TPA, Brexit Central and the IEA have all confirmed to openDemocracy that they participate in the monthly meeting. Some of these groups had <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/18/vote-leave-whistleblower-sues-taxpayers-alliance-for-unfair-dismissal">previously dismissed</a> reports that they attended fortnightly meetings involving various right-wing think tanks. </p><p dir="ltr">The IEA’s access to government ministers and senior officials have been in the spotlight this week after an investigation by Greenpeace and The Guardian secretly filmed the think tank’s director Mark Littlewood telling <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/30/brexit-influencing-game-iea-us-rancher-tucker-link">undercover reporters</a> that his organisation was “in the Brexit-influencing game” and that US donors could get to know ministers on “first name terms”. </p><p dir="ltr">The IEA is a registered charity. The Charity Commission is currently investigating the think tank over <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/30/labour-calls-for-inquiry-into-iea-thinktank-over-cash-for-access-claims">concerns about its political independence</a>. Separately, questions have been raised over whether the IEA should be registered as a lobbyist. The IEA said that the Guardian story was “incorrect”, adding, “We have put in a complaint calling for a retraction.”</p><p dir="ltr">Earlier this year, the think tank hired Shanker Singham, whose work on trade for another think tank, Legatum, proved controversial. The Charity Commission later <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/peter-geoghegan/legatum-breached-charity-regulations-with-brexit-work-charity-commission-finds">concluded a report he had co-written</a> on the benefits of Brexit had “failed to met the required standards of balance and neutrality”.</p><p dir="ltr">Singham has been said to enjoy “<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/peter-geoghegan-jenna-corderoy/mapped-shanker-singhams-unparalleled-access-to-government-ministers-a">unparalleled access</a>” to the Brexit process, including regular meetings with a host of ministers. Singham’s contact with Steve Baker, a former minister at the Department for Exiting the European Union, came under particular scrutiny after <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/alexspence/steve-baker-brexit-meetings-shanker-singham?utm_term=.tskv2xp0V#.pc1bznqBj">BuzzFeed reported</a> that Baker had failed to declare frequent meetings with the adviser. Baker told BuzzFeed that they had not discussed government business and so there was no requirement to register the meetings. </p><p dir="ltr">Dominic Raab, the new Brexit secretary, is also one of the IEA’s most vocal supporters, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay-peter-geoghegan/dominic-raab-is-he-iea-s-man-in-government">crediting its founders</a> with inspiring deregulations, union reforms and business tax cuts that “saved Britain”.</p><h2 dir="ltr">‘Revolving door’</h2><p dir="ltr">Commenting on openDemocracy’s revelations about the regular think tank meetings, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said: “This raises further concerns about the role and influence of the IEA and other shady, non-transparent lobby groups.</p><p dir="ltr">“It seems as if there is a revolving door between right-wing lobbyists, undisclosed donors and senior hard Brexiters expressing undue and unaccountable influence on this extremely important area of public policy.”</p><p dir="ltr">Till Bruckner, advocacy manager for transparency advocates Transparify, said: “Politically influential nonprofits that take money from hidden hands behind closed doors raise red flags because it is completely unclear who funds their operations, and for what purposes. Democracy is undermined when political agendas and discourse are influenced by dark money groups. For this reason, elected representatives and the media should steer clear of them."</p><p dir="ltr">After responding to openDemocracy’s queries earlier today, James Price of the TPA published some of his responses on the campaign group’s <a href="https://www.taxpayersalliance.com/tpa_confirms_that_people_can_meet_in_room_and_disagree_in_good_faith">blog</a> confirming that the meetings take place. </p><p dir="ltr">“The meeting is an opportunity for people to let others know what research they are working on; what public events they are holding—which is useful information to avoid diary clashes, as I’m sure you can understand; and to hear from interesting speakers from the worlds of politics and the media (shocker, given that we work in the worlds of politics and the media),” Price told openDemocracy.</p><p dir="ltr">IEA communications officer Nerissa Chesterfield said that the regular meetings “involve like-minded groups, the purpose of which is to update each other on the reports and research they have published or are currently working on. Yes, the IEA is among the regular attendees and we attend to outline and explain our latest research.”</p><p dir="ltr">Brexit Central editor Jonathan Isaby said: “In a personal capacity I chair a monthly meeting of individuals on the broad centre-right with an interest in public policy.” </p><h2 dir="ltr">Tobacco cash and ‘astroturfing’</h2><p dir="ltr">The Greenpeace/Guardian investigation revealed for the first time that the IEA has long received funding from the oil company BP. openDemocracy can reveal today that the group also receives regular funding from British American Tobacco. In a letter to the campaign group Action on Smoking and Health, which holds shares in the company, BAT confirmed that it contributed “circa £40,000” to the think tank in each of 2015, 2016 and 2017, and expected to do so again in 2018. </p><p dir="ltr">The website <a href="http://www.tobaccotactics.org/index.php/Institute_of_Economic_Affairs#2016_.22Broadly_Similar_to_2015.22_and_.22Likely_be_the_Same_in_2017.22">Tobacco Tactics </a>has previously revealed donations from British American Tobacco up to 2016, and that the think tank has worked with Phillip Morris, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International within the last five years. The current status of these relationships is unknown.</p><p dir="ltr">Asked about these donations, Chesterfield commented: “We respect the privacy of our donors and don’t place a list of them in the public domain; a cornerstone of a free society is being able to associate freely and we want to uphold that. However, our donors are free to make their donations known if they wish to.”</p><p dir="ltr">openDemocracy has <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay-peter-geoghegan/dominic-raab-is-he-iea-s-man-in-government">previously revealed</a> that in 2014, the IEA received a grant of $155,000 from the US-based Templeton Foundation to “<a href="https://templeton.org/grant/encouraging-independence-and-enterprise-for-a-healthy-old-age">seek alternatives</a>” to “public, pay-as-you-go financed systems of pensions, disability insurance, healthcare and long-term care”, and to promote privatisation of each of these areas. </p><p dir="ltr">Chesterfield rejected allegations that funders influenced IEA publications. “We make independent editorial decisions and then seek funding. The work we undertake is work we will do regardless of whether it raises donations,” she said.</p><p dir="ltr">The extent to which the TPA, the IEA and others appear in the media has also attracted attention. A <a href="https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/The_DirectorGeneral_of_the_BBC_Tony_Hall_BBC_Stop_giving_airtime_to_organisations_whose_funding_is_not_transparent/?aglhIab">campaign has been launched</a> by South West England Green MEP Molly Scott Cato calling on the BBC not to invite guests who do not divulge their organisation’s funders. </p><p dir="ltr">Speaking to openDemocracy, Scottish National Party MP Martin Doherty-Hughes said: “The more we understand about the activities of these groups, the more it becomes apparent that we’re dealing with ‘astroturfing’ on an industrial basis, with big-money donors hiding behind a veneer of legitimacy to push their own narrow agenda. We need a clear and unambiguous picture of who is behind this model, and a ban on them appearing in the media until we have this transparency.”</p><p dir="ltr">Many of the groups involved in the monthly think tank meetings had strong links with the Leave campaign during the Brexit referendum. Former Vote Leave boss Matthew Elliott founded the TPA and is ‘editor at large’ at Brexit Central.</p><p dir="ltr">Vote Leave's treasurer <a href="https://iea.org.uk/media/institute-of-economic-affairs-appoints-jon-moynihan-obe-to-its-board-of-trustees/">Jon Moynihan</a> was appointed to the IEA’s board earlier this year. The think tank also hired <a href="https://iea.org.uk/media/institute-of-economic-affairs-appoints-new-digital-manger-darren-grimes/">Darren Grimes</a> as its digital manager. Grimes, whose BeLeave campaign received more than £600,000 from Vote Leave in the final weeks of the referendum, had previously worked for Brexit Central. Grimes was recently <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/17/darren-grimes-the-student-pro-brexit-activist-fined-22k-vote-leave">fined £20,000</a> by the Electoral Commission for breaking electoral law over donations to BeLeave, the campaign that he headed.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>On August 1 this piece was amended to reflect that Business for Britain is no longer based at 55 Tufton Street and that James Price corresponded with openDemocracy as well as publishing portions of this correspondence on the TPA website.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay-peter-geoghegan/dominic-raab-is-he-iea-s-man-in-government">Dominic Raab: is he the IEA’s man in government?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay-peter-geoghegan/liam-fox-caught-in-fresh-lobbyists-as-advisors-scandal">Liam Fox caught in fresh “lobbyists as advisers” scandal</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk DUP Dark money Brexit Inc. Adam Ramsay Peter Geoghegan Tue, 31 Jul 2018 17:26:36 +0000 Peter Geoghegan and Adam Ramsay 119082 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Recovering human dignity: Richard Bernstein on the relevance of Hannah Arendt today https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/ashoka-amody/recovering-human-dignity-richard-bernstein-on-relevance-of-hannah-ar <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Arendt’s fundamental insight was that humans are not born equal; rather, a political construction is needed to create equality of public voice. Review.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-17036247_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-17036247_0.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'>Hannah Arendt in 1944. Portrait by photographer Fred Stein (1909-1967) who emigrated 1933 from Nazi Germany to France and finally to the USA. Fred Stein/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>In 1933, Hannah Arendt, a 27-year-old German Jew, was held by Nazi interrogators. Mysteriously, she was among the few who were released. She left Germany illegally and found her way to Paris. In 1940, as German troops appeared set to occupy France, French authorities placed Arendt and other Germans in internment camps as “enemy aliens.” Arendt escaped that internment. She needed another miracle, which appeared in the form of a chance friendship, through which she obtained a visa for the United States. She then managed to secure passage through Portugal, arriving in New York in 1941.</p> <p>Arendt’s experience as a Jew in Nazi Germany and her status in the United States as a refugee shaped her political philosophy. As she wrote, “Thought itself arises out of the actuality of incidents, and incidents of living experience must remain its guideposts.” She explained: “incidents and stories behind them contain in a nutshell the full meaning of whatever we have to say.” </p> <p>Hannah Arendt chose from the incidents and stories in her life to write, among other things, about the Jewish state, the rights of refugees, and the fragility of democracy. She died in 1975. But as the political philosopher Richard Bernstein reminds us in his elegant new book, <em>Why Read Hannah Arendt Now, </em>by Richard Bernstein, (Polity Press), Arendt gives us humane guideposts through some of today’s most difficult political dilemmas. Bernstein, an 86-year-old professor at the New School of Social Research in New York, has been drawn repeatedly to political activism. Few are better placed to explain why we must read Hannah Arendt today.</p> <p>Arendt championed the cause of the “Jewish pariah.” “The emancipated Jew,” she wrote, “must awake to an awareness of his position. … His fight for freedom is part and parcel of that which all the downtrodden of Europe must wage to achieve national and social liberation.” For this reason, she was alarmed by Zionists who in 1942 visualized a Jewish state that would give minority rights to Arabs even though they formed a majority of the population. She was alarmed by the emerging historical narrative of the superiority of “victorious” causes. She appealed for dialogue. “To hold different opinions and to be aware that other people think differently on the same issue shields us from Godlike certainty which stops all discussion and reduces social relationships to an ant heap.” <span class="mag-quote-center">“To hold different opinions and to be aware that other people think differently on the same issue shields us from Godlike certainty which stops all discussion and reduces social relationships to an ant heap.” </span></p> <p>Arendt’s own solution appears politically quaint today but reflects her broader philosophy of productive coexistence in a democracy. Rather than two states, she called for a federated state of Jews and Arabs, within which Jewish-Arab councils would manage local communities. The alternative, she warned, was that “The ‘victorious’ Jews would live surrounded by an entirely hostile Arab population, secluded inside ever-threatened borders, absorbed with physical self-defense to a degree that would submerge all other interests and activities.”</p> <h2><strong>Refugees</strong></h2> <p>Even as she was reflecting on a future Jewish state, Arendt was dealing with her own status as a refugee. In her escape to America, she had received help from refugee organizations at crucial moments. Many of her friends were refugees. Thus, Bernstein comments, Arendt “wrote about refugees with insight, wit, irony, and a deep sense of melancholy.” Soon after her arrival in the United States, she wrote the essay “We Refugees.” Its opening sentence carries a disturbing echo into the present: “In the first place, we don’t like to be called ‘refugees.’ We ourselves call each other ‘newcomers’ or ‘immigrants.’” <span class="mag-quote-center">Today, the concept of “newcomer” does not exist and the entire debate about migration pivots on a stark distinction between “refugee” and “immigrant.”</span></p> <p>Today, the concept of “newcomer” does not exist and the entire debate about migration pivots on a stark distinction between “refugee” and “immigrant.” Refugees are, in principle, welcome as long as they are not really economic migrants. Under the UN Refugee Convention, signatory countries accept an obligation to admit those who have a well-founded fear of persecution and, therefore, qualify for asylum. Where once, asylum seekers were routinely granted entry as refugees, today such applicants are increasingly often rejected as economic migrants. This distinction between refugees and migrants has become steadily sharper since around the time of Arendt’s death. Didier Fassin, the anthropologist and sociologist, writes that in his native France, <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/from-right-to-favor/">refugees from Chile and Vietnam were welcomed up until the 1970s</a>. But as the postwar economic momentum faded, there was less need for foreign workers to boost the domestic labor force. The potential numbers of refugees and migrants swelled, and the sense that they were an economic and cultural threat grew. &nbsp;</p> <p>Fassin adds that the moral obligation to refugees has also eroded. <a href="http://www.liberation.fr/debats/2018/02/02/didier-fassin-sauver-des-vies-est-devenu-illegitime-et-condamnable_1627053">All lives do not have the same price</a>, he says. In France, the notorious Calais “Jungle,” housed, at its peak, nearly 10,000 asylum seekers and migrants living in inhumane conditions. Although the Jungle was dismantled in 2016, several hundred, hoping to smuggle themselves onto trains or trucks crossing the channel, have reassembled there and live <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/calais-refugees-living-conditions-france-dunkirk-un-warning-jungle-migrant-crisis-latest-a8288516.html">without proper access to emergency shelter, water, and sanitation</a>. Even more so than in France, asylum seekers who risk their lives to reach Greece and Italy end up in camps plagued by violence, human trafficking, and the criminalization of aid workers.&nbsp; <span class="mag-quote-center">Her principle was that everyone has the “right to have rights.”</span></p> <p>The world faces a hard problem. The sheer numbers of asylum seekers is large and increasing, and most of them are desperately poor. Such potential refugees buy, in effect, lottery tickets from well-organized smugglers, with the downside risk that they could lose their lives. Moreover, the asylum seekers and migrants are coming from far-flung countries such as Mali, Bangladesh, and Guatemala, places very different from the countries of reception, making integration costly.</p> <p>Meanwhile, what evidence there is strongly suggests that harsh policies by host country authorities do discourage illegal flows—although they discourage legitimate economic migration as well. Bernstein is therefore right that the refugee question, about which Arendt worried greatly, has strong echoes today. Her principle was that everyone has the “right to have rights.” Unfortunately, with the vast income and cultural differences across which human beings are moving today, this is one of those issues where giving rights to refugees and migrants in advanced nations will not solve the problem. Oxford University’s Paul Collier has <a href="https://www.socialeurope.eu/the-migration-challenge-and-reform-capitalism-through-mutual-solidarity">passionately called</a> for improving the lot of refugees not only in their home countries but also in the many neighboring countries to which they flee. Arendt surely would have reinforced this call.</p> <h2><strong>Dialogue</strong></h2> <p>A final theme that I take up here is Arendt’s passionate advocacy of public spaces for dialogue. In this, her views were shaped by her narrow escape from totalitarianism. For that reason, perhaps, she was deeply concerned about the fragility of democracy.</p> <p>In one of her most famous essays, “Truth and Politics,” she opened with a dramatic statement:&nbsp; “Truth and politics are on rather bad terms with each other, and no one, as far as I know, has ever counted truthfulness among the political virtues.” She emphasized that not just the demagogue but even the statesman regards lies as “justifiable tools” of the trade. As a result, “The chances of factual truth surviving the onslaught of power are very slim indeed; not only for a time but, potentially, forever.” She asked, poignantly and rhetorically, “What kind of reality does truth possess if it is powerless in the public realm?” <span class="mag-quote-center">“What kind of reality does truth possess if it is powerless in the public realm?”</span></p> <p>For Arendt, the antagonism between truth and politics always lies latent in public discourse. If facts “oppose a given group’s profit or pleasure,” it is all too easy to disdain the facts or regard them with “hostility.” Even well-established facts can be dismissed as merely “opinions.” Skilled politicians can exploit “rhetorical” devices to promote their favored opinion and thus garner ever-larger numbers of supporters. “Mass manipulation of fact and opinion” then lead to “rewriting of history” and “image-making,” a phenomenon that the cognitive linguist George Lakoff would call “framing.” In psychologist Irving Janis’s terminology, discourse and decision-making fall under the spell of “groupthink.”</p> <p>This antagonism between truth and politics, Arendt warned, can degenerate into tyranny. Truth, she explained, is “hated by tyrants.” To oppose the “infuriating stubbornness” – indeed, the “coercive power” – of truth, authoritarian rulers hold on to their power by propagating “plain lies.” </p> <p>The echoes into the present are all too evident. Lies are justified as plausible opinions, “alternative facts,” by authoritarian populists and by their followers who are in search of saviors to better their lot. Donald Trump’s ascent to the American presidency and his hold on a core group of supporters fits the pattern exactly. In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has placed Mahatma Gandhi on a pedestal while his supporters engage in wanton violence against Muslims and other minorities. Modi’s surrogates continue to portray his demonetization initiative – which outlawed bank notes worth 500 rupees or more – as a great success, while all evidence points to severe human and economic distress with little gain in rooting out ill-gotten wealth held in cash. </p> <p>Because her analysis led her to this inherent conflict between truth and politics, Arendt was deeply suspicious of large nation-states, in which, she feared, authoritarian leaders could manipulate facts to sway large numbers of people. Seeking to “recover the dignity of politics,” Bernstein writes, Arendt was guided by the same vision that led her to advocate “local Arab-Jewish councils organized in a federated state.” </p> <p>She believed that such dignity had been achieved at “privileged moments” in history, such as during the American and French revolutions, and also during the Budapest uprising in 1956. The Indian freedom movement would have fitted that pattern. Arendt was drawn to such movements because, as Bernstein explains, they fostered “debate, deliberation, contesting, and sharing of opinions.” </p> <p>Bernstein adds that such fruitful moments are not easy to sustain. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson, one of the authors of the American constitution that Arendt so admired as embodying the spirit of the American Revolution, worried that a constructive “revolutionary spirit” could easily fade. False saviors can also hijack legitimate causes. Nevertheless, with the overwhelming power of nation-states, Arendt’s message of the importance of direct democracy as a counterweight to aloof and self-interest-ridden representative democracy surely deserves close attention. <span class="mag-quote-center">Arendt’s message of the importance of direct democracy as a counterweight to aloof and self-interest-ridden representative democracy surely deserves close attention.</span></p> <p>Arendt’s fundamental insight was that humans are not born equal; rather, a political construction is needed to create equality of public voice. Hence, as Bernstein elaborates, she was led to the notion of “public spaces where individuals can act, deliberate, and be judged by their actions and opinions.” Only then can a political system be based on “rational persuasion” rather than on coercion and violence. The role of “rational persuasion” becomes all the more important when we recognize, as the political theorist Robert Dahl emphasized in his magisterial <em>Preface to Democratic Theory</em>, that often a policy question does not have a “right” technical answer. </p> <h2><strong>European Union</strong></h2> <p>Arendt died in 1975 and so did not witness the steady expansion of the European Union. She would, I believe, have been dismayed, as economic historian Alan Milward was, by the fact that democracy in Europe was “falling through the interstices of the nation-state and the supranation.” With her emphasis on local councils and public spaces, Arendt cautioned against the extension of the “representative state,” where decision makers are further and further removed from the voice of the people. Such distant decision-making accounts, in part, for <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Age-Anger-History-Pankaj-Mishra/dp/0374274789">a phenomenon described by the author Pankaj Mishra</a>: “a severely diminished respect for the political process itself.” The European Union carries the concept of representative state to its extreme, causing extraordinary fuzziness in accountability and responsibility, and hence necessarily breeds citizens’ frustration and anger.&nbsp; </p> <p>Joachim Gauck, former German president and winner of the Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought, was one of those rare European insiders who have bemoaned the loss of democracy in Europe. In a <a href="http://www.bundespraesident.de/SharedDocs/Reden/EN/JoachimGauck/Reden/2013/130222-Europe.html">speech</a> in February 2013, with the prolonged eurozone crisis still taking its toll, Gauck said, “In some member states, people are afraid they are the ones footing the bill in this crisis. In others, there is growing fear of facing ever harsher austerity and falling into poverty. For many ordinary people in Europe, the balance between giving and receiving, between debt and liability, responsibility and a place at the table no longer seems fair.” Gauck said pointedly, “the European Union leaves too many people feeling powerless and without a voice.” And he added, “it is still hard to pinpoint what it is that makes us European, what it means to have a European identity.”</p> <p>Gauck’s speech tried to puncture the image of a Europe with a clear identity and sense of purpose. But few paid attention to his message. The image remains intact. The language evolves but the underlying rhetoric remains unchanged: “an ever-closer union,” “unity in diversity,” or in French president Emmanuel Macron’s latest formulation, “European sovereignty.” Such words acquire a coercive cynicism because they lack any operational content while corrosive differences fester among member states. <span class="mag-quote-center">The... underlying rhetoric remains unchanged: “an ever-closer union,” “unity in diversity,” or in French president Emmanuel Macron’s latest formulation, “European sovereignty.”</span></p> <p>Gauck appealed for a common language of human dignity and values rather than technical and administrative centralization to unify Europeans. Such a common language, he said, in Hannah Arendt’s spirit, would need to be fostered in “a European agora, a common forum for discussion to enable us to live together in a democratic order.” Like Arendt’s conception of Arab-Jew councils, Gauck’s vision of a modern agora remains politically quaint. But his prognosis, as was Arendt’s on the future of the Jewish state, remains a warning.</p> <p>Bernstein ends his beautiful little book by reminding the reader that Hannah Arendt “rejected both reckless optimism and reckless despair.” Arendt’s optimism, Bernstein says, lay in her belief that human beings had “the capacity to act in concert, to initiate, to strive, to make freedom a worldly reality.” But to achieve that freedom, she wrote, it was necessary to begin the urgent task before it “becomes a historical event.”</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><a href="https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/Why-Read-Hannah-Arendt-Now-by-Richard-J-Bernstein-author/9781509528608">Why Read Hannah Arendt Now</a>, </em>by Richard Bernstein, Polity Press, Cambridge U.K., 2018.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/etienne-balibar/europe-in-crisis-which-new-foundation">Europe in crisis: which ‘new foundation’?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/wfd/can-europe-make-it/thomas-weyn/arendtian-approach-to-post-truth-politics">An Arendtian approach to post-truth politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/samantha-rose-hill/what-does-it-mean-to-love-world-hannah-arendt-and-amor-mundi">What does it mean to love the world? Hannah Arendt and Amor Mundi</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"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> 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? United States Palestine Israel EU Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics Equality Ideas International politics Ashoka Mody Tue, 31 Jul 2018 08:25:36 +0000 Ashoka Mody 119075 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Subverting democracy without vote-rigging https://www.opendemocracy.net/openindia/l-k-sharma/subverting-democracy-without-vote-rigging <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Recent events in some prominent democratic nations have highlighted the internal threats that are hard to see and even harder to counter. A military dictator can be identified.</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-37755345.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37755345.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'>Lahore,Punjab,Pakistan. Polling officers with army soldiers,deployed to polling stations. July 26, 2018. Rana Sajid Hussain/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Democracy is in the news in a Pakistan that has held controversial elections and an India that is gripped by hectic preparations for the elections next year. True democrats are wary of the role of Pakistan’s Army that has directly ruled the country for half the period during 70 years of the nation’s history. And they are also getting alarm signals from India, a well-established democracy.</p> <p>India has become an area of their concern because of the outbreak of hyper-nationalism, mobocracy, sectarian hatred, religious violence, bigotry and suppression of dissent. These are not natural disasters but man-made election-linked events and hence critical for the health of democracy. Multi-disciplinary experts will be needed to study the voting behaviour in new India, the cultural war started by the Modi Government and religious conflict unleashed by the ruling party’s associates.</p> <p>The polarisation of voters along sectarian lines and the use of religion for political mobilisation have been incorporated into electoral battle plans. Identity politics has come to play a more and more significant role in Indian elections.</p> <h2><strong>Degrading the political culture</strong></h2> <p>India’s democratically elected Government has created conditions in which democracy or the lack of it has become the topic of a dismal discourse. Writer and commentator Gopal Gandhi asks the question: “Is India being manipulated by the religious bigot, the political bully and the techno-commercial behemoth?” The answer is implied in the question.</p> <p>India does not face any danger of a military coup. However, democracy can be subverted by degrading the political culture and manipulating the democratic process. Communication technologies facilitate the manufacture of consent and dissent. Fake news and vicious propaganda can be used to create mass upsurges. </p> <p>This new subversive capability has made ballot-rigging unnecessary. Booth-capturing seems to be an outdated technique for ensuring favourable election outcomes. However, reports of the recent village council elections in the state of West Bengal suggest that it is still in use.</p> <p>The Modi Government is being blamed for subjecting the country to an “undeclared Emergency”. Suppression of dissent by using informal actors has become a standard technique. Freedom of expression gets curtailed not by the police but by violent groups who feel empowered by the state. In political, judicial and intellectual circles, daily references crop up to self-censorship and mobocracy and to an “undeclared Emergency”. </p> <h2><strong>Undeclared emergency</strong></h2> <p>The reference is to the state of emergency imposed constitutionally by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975. That was the time when she became politically vulnerable and her opponents &nbsp;caused country-wide chaos. A respected non-politician leading the protest called on the army and the police to revolt! The Emergency, involving the arrest of the opposition leaders and curtailment of civil liberties, brought the situation under control, but the dark period continued for 22 months. It ended only when Indira Gandhi announced fresh elections and her party got defeated.</p> <p>Barring that blemish, India’s record has been outstanding. Democracy was always taken for granted. Not anymore. The words that sum up the present situation are “undeclared emergency”. </p> <p>This government cannot declare an Emergency since that enabling law was repealed. So, it depends on informal actors to restrain dissidence and punish dissenters. Violent groups spreading sectarian hatred and killing defenceless people feel empowered by the state. Muslims are politically marginalised and demonised. Intellectuals get threatened openly by the ruling party functionaries. Journalists critical of the Prime Minister are abused on social media. Women journalists face threats.</p> <p>&nbsp;Most media moguls have turned their journals and TV channels into the Prime Minister’s PR outfits. Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a noted academic, writes that “a shockingly large section of the private media is now the ideological vanguard of the state, its rhetorical stormtroopers in a politics of communalism, polarisation and distraction, anti-intellectualism, mendacity and hate”.</p> <h2><strong>Economic growth?</strong></h2> <p>The social democrats have always maintained that capitalism is essentially anti-democratic. In a rational world, capitalism and communalism would not go together. The establishment of the London Stock Exchange is known to have dampened the religious violence in Great Britain. Sectarian strife is not in the interests of business and industry. </p> <p>Experts with tunnel vision urge others to ignore the sectarian strife and applaud the government for economic growth. Just like some economists want the people to put up with growing inequalities. Some may even argue that growing corruption is a manifestation of economic growth! &nbsp;</p> <p>In India an extraordinary nexus of capitalism and communalism has developed because of the inducements and threats given by the government. Promoting crony capitalism is one of the charges that the Prime Minister faces. Pratap Bhanu Mehta points out that private capital has been enlisted in a project of unprecedented alignment with state goals and policies. He can’t think of “any liberal democracy where so much private capital has been enlisted in not just supporting the government, but also its whole ideological agenda”.</p> <h2><strong>Mass hysteria and adoration</strong></h2> <p>Democracy finds a favourable climate in some countries and faces adverse social and cultural conditions in others. People’s behaviour impacts political culture. Those given to mass hysteria tend to overlook rational choices. India has characteristics that promote and sustain democracy, but one cultural factor is not conducive. Indians generally revere charismatic leaders and many prostrate before such men as they do before Gods. This tempts politicians to be populist and dictatorial. A strong leader thus finds his going easy.</p> <p>This internal threat to democracy was understood by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. He saw the danger of mass adoration encouraging him to act undemocratically. As a great democrat, Nehru adopted a pen name to write about this danger and even directed criticism against himself. He never strayed from the democratic path and respected his critics and the cartoonists lampooning him. </p> <p>A strong leader tinkers with social engineering. The people may think they change the government but at times it is the government that changes the people. Prime Minister Modi’s project to “transform” India is producing a new breed of people. Through a major social engineering project, the Prime Minister is trying to limit the influence of secularism and make his version of Hinduism respectable and more acceptable. </p> <p>Many academics see it as a conspiracy to demolish the very “idea of India” against which a certain political force has been campaigning since the first national elections. Historian-politician Sugata Bose says “the next election is not about who will be the Prime Minister; it is about what kind of India we want.”</p> <p>Some leaders the world over tried social engineering. Margaret Thatcher, the iron lady, made the people greedier, less compassionate and more self-centred. Tony Blair of Labour sold the slogan “Cool Britannia” to make Britain a cultural power house. (V S Naipaul criticised him for turning Britain into a nation of philistines!) Harold Wilson wanted his countrymen to be friendlier to technology. </p> <p>Prime Minister Nehru tried to lessen the hold of orthodoxy and superstitions. In mass meetings, he talked about science and technology and of democracy. He called mega projects new temples of India! He was applauded. Today a leader calling a multi-purpose irrigation project a “temple” will hurt the religious feelings of a community and will be punished politically.</p> <p>Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi popularised computerisation in a bid to push India into the 21st century. Prime Minister Narsimha ushered in economic liberalisation that in turn led to social changes. Consumerism can be fuelled or kept under check through official policies. The introduction of the modern Suzuki car in an India that was still grinding out the old Morris parts led to more aggressive behaviour by its new young owners.</p> <p>A charismatic leader can bring out the best in the people or encourage them to attack the “others”. The latter kind fuel divisiveness. A decent democratic leader checks ugly public behaviour by setting a noble example and preaching brotherhood. He provides a just and fair administration that acts promptly to avert sectarian violence. The leader’s statements send the right signals to the district administration. The day Indira Gandhi was defeated, several Dalit homes in a Gujarat district were burnt down, with the oppressors shouting: “We will show you, now that your mother has gone!” </p> <h2><strong>Sectarian conflict</strong></h2> <p>While an elected western leader set a world record in getting the minority people killed, some dictators have kept sectarian conflict under control by inculcating fear. Saddam Hussein ensured that in his Iraq, the Shias and Sunnis lived in harmony. When the communist German Democratic Republic collapsed, the African immigrants in East Berlin running shops on the footpaths were attacked.</p> <p>In some democracies, sectarian conflict is used for political mobilisation. Inter-religious violence is perpetrated to win votes for the majority community. Subservient bureaucrats let the law-and-order machinery collapse in deference to the ruling party. Most of the people keep mum because of fear or due to indifference towards human suffering. Many are brainwashed to justify mob violence caused by identity politics or “hurt religious feelings”.</p> <p>In the Indian context, commentator Monobina Gupta raises a critical question. “Why has this continuing bloodshed and mayhem not caused public outrage?” She then refers to “deeper psychological disorders within a society”. </p> <p>She points out that the “every-day violence directed towards Muslims, Dalits or any and everybody who doesn’t fit the mob’s notion of ‘mainstream’ has not suddenly appeared. Rather, the Narendra Modi government has merely dipped into the reservoir of prejudice waiting to come to the surface and take on a life of its own. These clearly are not aberrant tendencies. What can be counted as an aberration perhaps is the audacious official legitimacy offered from the very top of the chain of political command”.</p> <h2><strong>Reservoir of prejudice</strong></h2> <p>This a frightful scenario. The poison once injected into society cannot be sucked out. The genie cannot be pushed back into the bottle. If polarisation becomes part of the electoral strategy, sectarian strife becomes an essential element of a grand victory plan.</p> <p>&nbsp;A clever and cynical politician knows how to tap the hidden reservoir of ill-feeling and prejudices. Only today’s America could have produced Trump. So, it becomes clear that the democratic process alone cannot ensure democracy. It can throw up as the leader a scoundrel, a bigot, a stooge of the sponsoring business house, a nincompoop, a shallow public entertainer or a wise public-spirited activist! </p> <p>Democracy dies when even sponsored violence fails to outrage the public. Of course, newspaper articles are written and drawing room discussions take place. These do not threaten the regime that remains assured of public support. It can afford to ignore the voices of sanity and gets busy silencing these. </p> <p>The post-independent India has rarely seen a spontaneous mass upsurge. The huge political rallies include hired participants transported free in buses provided to the parties by businessmen. Public outrage is generated if economic interests are hit and not due to humanitarian concerns or because of atrocities against an unprivileged section.</p> <p>A street-smart politician conjures up a “mass upsurge” and “public outrage” with the help of money, and muscle power. He can manufacture moral panic and raise a disruptive force to serve his party’s political ends. All political parties are not all that ‘competent’ to do so. Hence a small scandal causes a political earthquake while a bigger scandal merely creates a ripple. </p> <p>Even a mature electorate can be trapped in a situation created by an unholy coalition of a few capitalists, media moguls, serving or retired intelligence officers, hired political consultants, ad agencies, co-opted goons and social media. Such ventures can create an atmosphere hostile for the political enemy and favourable for the operator.</p> <p>Volumes have been written on Facebook and WhatsApp targeting voters and an Indian political party deploying an army of trollers. Cyber warfare will figure prominently in the next Indian elections. The electorate will have to cope with massive information and misinformation campaigns.</p> <h2><strong>Democratic dystopia</strong></h2> <p>As this article is being written, a minor British political party is transmitting a social media message that some malicious force has hijacked its website and it may get the contact addresses of those subscribing to the newsletter! </p> <p>The democratic dystopia will gradually feature in poems, plays and novels by Indian writers who along with intellectuals face an unprecedented threat to freedom of expression and to their personal safety. But cartoonists, music bands and stand-up comedians react promptly. One can hear on social media protest songs under the label <em>Aisi, Taisi Democracy</em>, roughly translated as Down with Democracy. </p> <p>At some stage all this will lead to total popular disenchantment with democracy. The people’s indifference to voting reduces elections to a sham exercise. This is not a healthy development.</p> <p>In the olden days, a party’s ideology and election manifesto mattered. All that has become more or less irrelevant. The voters hand victory to one political party but get ruled by a different coalition. Some critical editorials appear on horse-trading of the elected legislators ready to switch loyalties for power or money. The end of ideology has hit even the leftist parties in India. They also lose their cadres and leaders to the rival party that comes to power. </p> <p>Bihar’s chief minister assumed office with the support of his electoral allies and ditched them later to continue in power in coalition with the party of the Indian Prime Minster whom he had condemned relentlessly during the election campaign!</p> <p>Electable candidates are in great demand by all parties. They are imported and fielded by a party that ignores their past hostile campaign and the claims for the ticket by its own original members. Some candidates move to an electable party before the polls. Some switch over to the ruling party after elections and that is how a party defeated in the polls forms the government. That too may be called “stealing the elections”.</p> <p>Democratic India is seething with anger and hatred. One does not need a sophisticated sensor to measure the hate index. Enough is revealed daily by the newspaper headlines. Incidents of lynching get reported quite regularly. </p> <p>The ruling party functionaries respond with preposterous, heartless and violent statements. Those making inflammatory speeches go unpunished and unreprimanded by the police and the party. One said that had he been the home minister, he would have shot the intellectuals, seculars and liberals! Any one condemning such statements gets attacked by the army of trollers.</p> <p>Government leaders resort to whataboutry and keep recalling the violent incidents of the past when Narendra Modi was not Prime Minister! It may be interesting to study the ongoing sectarian violence and the Gujarat killings of 2002 in the context of the partition riots, even though in terms of the scale of violence the past was a million times more horrendous. However, one may note Ayesha Jalal’s analysis of the partition riots. She says the killings then were carried out not by communities at large but only by bands of individuals. They had no public support but were able to hold the public hostage with the help of weapons they carried. Was it the same during the Ahmedabad riots and during the recent mob violence?</p> <p>Politics starts out as a type of public service and as a forum for dialogue and the conciliation of conflicting interests. It becomes a playing-field for opportunists, careerists and those seeking quick money or protection from law. Logical arguments in parliamentary debates are replaced by senseless noise and chaotic confrontation.</p> <p>Recent events in some prominent democratic nations have highlighted the internal threats that are hard to see and even harder to counter. A military dictator can be identified. But an elected leader can assume the mantle of a dictator or act like a stooge of the military that ensured his electoral success.</p> <p>The spirit of democracy is demolished by populist leaders with authoritarian instincts making false promises and by the purveyors of fake news through social media. Those commanding the media, money, muscle power, mobs, intelligence and advertising resources are always ready to provide a helping hand for a bargain. And then there is the domestic dark deep state ever ready to run a “controlled democracy”.</p> <p>The proverbial foreign hand can export a democratic “spring” in an unfriendly country. It now commands the remotely-controlled weapon of social media about which extensive reporting has been done in relation to the US presidential elections and the Brexit referendum. </p> <p>Democracy appears besieged by multiple challenges. In many cases, the form survives but the spirit has vanished. The stench of democracy’s decay emanates from different parts of the world. Reports of the impending death of democracy are coming from America and some other countries. All of whom have held elections and are now ruled by a dictator. Like America – Turkey, Hungary and Russia have not set examples worthy of emulation.</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="/openindia/l-k-sharma/god-votes-in-india-abstains-in-britain-part-1">God votes in India, abstains in Britain. Part 1</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openindia/l-k-sharma/god-votes-in-india-abstains-in-britain-part-ii">God votes in India, abstains in Britain, Part II</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openIndia/l-k-sharma/silence-and-din-define-indian-journalism">Silence and din define Indian journalism</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"> India </div> <div class="field-item even"> UK </div> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> <div class="field-item even"> Hungary </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Turkey </div> <div class="field-item even"> Russia </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Pakistan </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> openIndia Can Europe make it? openIndia Pakistan Russia Turkey Hungary United States UK India Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government International politics Internet L K Sharma Mon, 30 Jul 2018 17:06:10 +0000 L K Sharma 119071 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How Montenegro could start World War III https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/tom-junes-vera-epanovi/how-montenegro-could-start-world-war-iii <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Balkans did not start World War I. It was started in Vienna, Berlin, St Petersburg, Paris and London…</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-37521154.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37521154.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Trump leaves after second day of the NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 12, 2018. Ye Pingfan/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Reading the news following US president Donald Trump’s latest passage through Europe the message was clear: it had been a bad week for the international order. First Trump poured scorn on America’s allies for not contributing enough to NATO, allegedly even threatening to pull the US out of the alliance. This was followed by his much-too-chummy meeting with Russia’s president Putin prompting both liberal and conservative commentators to sound alarm bells at this bizarre spectacle. </p> <p>To top it off, Trump gave an interview to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson in which he used the unlikely example of Montenegro to claim that NATO is not only a flimsy excuse for a military alliance, but downright dangerous to the US. “Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people,” Trump stated, adding that “They’re very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations you’re in World War III.” <span class="mag-quote-center">All of Montenegro’s neighbours and potential adversaries are either NATO members, NATO protectorates, or participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace.</span> </p> <p>The international commentariat exploded in outrage not so much at Trump’s casual racism but at his apparently successive attempts to undermine NATO, either out of ignorance or at Putin’s behest. </p> <p>Yet instead of underlining the absurdity of the idea that a country with just over 600,000 inhabitants and an army of 2,000 could possibly start a world war many commentators chose to drum up the emotional charge with orientalising clichés. An assembly line of opinionated pieces warned the broader public of the chilling prospect of a renewal of the conflicts and wars of the 1990s should Trump withdraw NATO’s protective wing from a region that has been “prone to violence” and where, coincidentally, “World War I started”. </p> <p>What it boiled down to was Trump trying to scare an American audience out of an alliance with the bottled evil spirits of the Balkans, while his opponents tried to scare it into keeping those spirits bottled by the same alliance. What was missing though was any substantive reflection on the question of how Montenegro could possibly start World War III. In what follows we would like to offer a tentative answer to this question by exploring two scenarios based on historical analogy.</p> <h2><strong>1. Montenegrins get aggressive “and congratulations you’ve got ‘The Balkan War’ scenario”</strong></h2> <p>While Montenegro’s government responded to Trump’s comments with prompt assurances of peacefulness and friendship towards the US, Trump unwittingly was right about one thing. As any fiscal inspector of the Ottoman Empire’s western borderlands would have told you, Montenegro is not an easy vassal to have. Not only was it nearly impossible to get it to pay up its share of the common budget, but for centuries it suffered bad press for launching cattle raids into the neighbouring lands. </p> <p>Today’s Montenegro has done a lot to clean up its act since it last raided Dubrovnik in Croatia in 1991. Yet the messy extrication from the carcass of former Yugoslavia left it with somewhat fuzzy borders. Neighbouring Kosovo still bristles at the agreement that conceded to Montenegro some 8000 hectares of prime uninhabitable mountain ridge, while the temporary settlement with Croatia over about one square kilometre of a peninsula that may or may not lay in the vicinity of some underwater gas reserves could blow up at any moment. </p> <p>The trouble with these potential adversaries is that one is a NATO member, while the other hosts a NATO contingent that outnumbers Montenegro’s army 2 to 1. In fact, all of Montenegro’s neighbours and potential adversaries are either NATO members, NATO protectorates, or participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace. </p> <p>Does this stop the new and potential members from attacking one another? And should this happen, could such skirmishes blow up NATO? Not likely. The NATO Treaty provides no clue as to what the alliance should do in case of conflict among its members, but historical record does. Basically, make them negotiate. At least, that is what Greece and Turkey have been doing since the 1974 stand-off in Cyprus – with remarkably little involvement from NATO.</p> <p>NATO’s commitment to collective defence does not mean that any hot-headed action on the part of one member forces all others to rush headlong into it. Article 5 must be formally invoked and then consensually confirmed. More so, even then individual member states are free to decide the extent to which they wish to be involved. </p> <h2><strong>2. Montenegrins get aggressive “and congratulations you’ve got the ‘Gavrilo Princip’ scenario”</strong></h2> <p>The closest any of the commentators had come to describing what Montenegro could actually do to stir up world-wide trouble is to darkly invoke World War I. A replay of that scenario in the NATO context would require the following three steps: first Montenegro upsets Russia in some way that the latter deems unforgivable, then all attempts at diplomatic mediation fail, and finally Russia retaliates in such a way that NATO feels obliged to go to war to protect its tiny but aggressive member. </p> <p>Muddying this scenario is the fact that for most of its history Montenegro has had stellar relations with Russia. And though official relations have cooled down due to Montenegro moving closer to the EU, this has not gone down too well with its population. NATO membership was hotly contested, and if the ratification bill weren’t frog-marched through the parliament amidst protests and a boycott by the opposition, it is not clear that it would have won the public vote. <span class="mag-quote-center">NATO membership was hotly contested, and if the ratification bill weren’t frog-marched through the parliament amidst protests and a boycott by the opposition, it is not clear that it would have won the public vote. </span></p> <p>Also, no one in Montenegro is crazy enough to risk open confrontation because in the big geopolitical battles small countries are small change, Article 5 or no Article 5. If a pro-Euro-Atlantic terrorist grouping were to arise and assassinate the heir-apparent to Gazprom during a brawl on the top-floor restaurant of a freshly docked cruise ship in Kotor, the perpetrators would probably be promptly served to Putin on a silver platter. If then Moscow still decided that it wants war, it would matter very little whether the young Russian Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in a Montenegrin marina or in West London. </p> <p>World wars take scale and scale takes the involvement of Great Powers. Princip’s assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo is seen as the event that triggered the First World War. But the Balkans did not start World War I. It was started in Vienna, Berlin, St Petersburg, Paris and London as the governments and military staffs in the capitals of the Great Powers decided to act upon a set of alliances and treaties that led to mass mobilisation and declarations of war following Austria-Hungary’s instrumental use of the assassination as a pretext for war against Serbia.</p> <p>Does this mean&nbsp;a debate about&nbsp;the&nbsp;nature&nbsp;and workings of NATO&nbsp;should be off&nbsp;limits? Absolutely&nbsp;not. The purpose of the alliance is long overdue for a refresher.&nbsp;But&nbsp;instead of herding the small Balkan states into an&nbsp;alliance with&nbsp;an ambiguous potential to mediate regional conflicts&nbsp;and&nbsp;seen&nbsp;as a threat by Russia, it makes all the sense in the world to&nbsp;take stock of&nbsp;the complex historical legacies and geopolitical relations and figure out what kind of&nbsp;security system would work best.&nbsp;What doesn’t make sense is to&nbsp;invoke&nbsp;threats&nbsp;of&nbsp;World War III if or unless NATO stays exactly as it is.</p> <p>If we are to draw any lessons from history then yes, perhaps Montenegro – or a lone very aggressive Montenegrin – could potentially trigger World War III. But only on the condition that the leaders and governments of the United States, Europe, and Russia would be simultaneously completely ignorant in political, economic and military affairs, or worse. If that were indeed the case, they might also get aggressive, and then,“congratulations you’re in World War III!”</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Montenegro </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"> 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 Montenegro Conflict International politics Tom Junes Vera Šćepanović Mon, 30 Jul 2018 12:08:16 +0000 Vera Šćepanović and Tom Junes 119062 at https://www.opendemocracy.net This ultra-conservative institute has infiltrated the Polish state, on a relentless quest to ban abortion https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lidia-kurasinska/ultra-conservative-institute-has-infiltrated-polish-state-to-ban-abortion <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Ordo luris is an extreme anti-choice group whose founders were ‘inspired’ by a controversial Catholic fundamentalist network. How has it gained so much political power?</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/565074/image4_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/image4_0.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'>Pro-choice ‘Black Monday’ protester in Krakow, October 2016. Photo: Artur Widak/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>On 3 October 2016, despite pouring rain, tens of thousands of women joined ‘Black Monday’ street <a href="http://www.newsweek.pl/polska/spoleczenstwo/czarny-protest-ogolnopolski-strajk-kobiet-relacja-na-zywo,artykuly,398044,1.html">protests</a> across Poland, demonstrating against a proposed near-total ban on abortion.</p><p dir="ltr">The proposal that triggered these protests would have criminalised abortion in almost all cases (including rape and incest). The only exception would have been if the woman’s life was at risk.</p><p dir="ltr">Ultimately, this proposal did not pass. But the publicity it generated helped to shed light on the organisation behind it: the <a href="http://en.ordoiuris.pl/">Ordo Iuris Institute for Legal Culture</a>, which has not given up its anti-abortion fight.</p><p dir="ltr">Earlier this year, Błażej Kmieciak, at its bioethics centre, <a href="http://prawy.pl/69149-dr-blazej-kmieciak-o-psychiatrycznej-przeslance-aborcyjnej/">said</a> that women planning to have abortions should be forcibly placed in mental health units.</p><p dir="ltr">This organisation was established just five years ago by founders who say they were inspired by a controversial, transnational Catholic fundamentalist movement called Tradition, Family and Property (TFP).</p><p dir="ltr">Since then, Ordo luris has rapidly infiltrated the Polish state, on a seemingly relentless quest to ban abortion under all circumstances. It has also lobbied against anti-discrimination education in schools.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Several Ordo luris proposals have been picked up by public offices, and at least three of its board members have held political positions in Poland.</p><p dir="ltr">There are signs that the group plans to lobby internationally too, at the United Nations. Its allies include the global branch of a US ‘<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/claire-provost-ella-milburn/christian-legal-army-court-battles-worldwide">Christian legal army</a>,’ with whom it’s advocated against <a href="https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=INT/CCPR/NGS/POL/29939&amp;Lang=en">abortion</a> and <a href="https://www.ordoiuris.pl/rodzina-i-malzenstwo/ordo-iuris-znowu-skutecznie-wspiera-obroncow-malzenstwa-w-rumunii">same-sex unions</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">“Ordo luris is a group of well-educated but conservative lawyers,” said Polish women’s rights activist Katarzyna Ueberhan, “trying to influence the current, conservative government… [with] a sort of ‘moral blackmail.’”</p><p dir="ltr">At the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development, Neil Datta said it’s an example of “an anti-human rights organisation using democratic processes to undermine human rights.” </p><p class="mag-quote-center">“An anti-human rights organisation using democratic processes to undermine human rights.”</p><p dir="ltr">Since 1993, abortion has been <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12222281">restricted</a> in Poland to cases of rape or incest (as confirmed by a public prosecutor), when a woman’s health or life is at risk, or where there are severe and irreversible foetal disorders.</p><p dir="ltr">Amid these restrictions, 100,000 to 150,000 Polish women <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/15/abortions-poland-demonstrators-call-near-total-ban">travel abroad every year</a> to access abortion services, in particular to private clinics in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany.</p><p dir="ltr">Ordo luris’s <a href="http://www.ordoiuris.pl/sites/default/files/pliki/OI%20broszura%20Stop%20aborcji_final_rozkladowki.pdf">proposed reform</a>, submitted to parliament in 2016, would have tightened the law even further. Unless the woman’s life was in danger, it called for abortions to be punishable with prison sentences.</p><p dir="ltr">The group’s proposal was submitted to parliament as a ‘popular initiative’ after it collected more than <a href="https://www.tvn24.pl/wiadomosci-z-kraju,3/komitet-stop-aborcji-zlozyl-projekt-ustawy-w-sejmie,658703.html">450,000 signatures</a> in its favour. The Catholic Church supported it along with the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS).</p><p>The PiS chairman <a href="https://www.tvn24.pl/wiadomosci-z-kraju,3/porod-nawet-gdy-dziecko-jest-skazane-na-smierc-zdeformowane,683398.html">said</a> the reform would ensure that, even in “very difficult pregnancies, where the child has no chance of surviving,” women give birth so that “the child can be christened and buried and have a name.”</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/565074/image2_3.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/image2_3.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jaroslaw Kaczynski, PiS party chairman, November 2017 in Krakow, Poland. Photo: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Ordo luris did not give up when this reform failed to pass in 2016.</p><p dir="ltr">The next year, it <a href="http://federa.org.pl/bezprecedensowe-dzialanie-ordo-iuris/">called</a> for increased prosecutions of people who assist women to access abortions outside of the law’s restricted provisions, saying that they should be punished with up to three years in prison.</p><p>The national prosecutor’s office <a href="https://siedlecka.blog.polityka.pl/2017/11/08/outsourcing-czyli-aborcja-scigana-wedle-ordo-iuris/">marked the group’s recommendations</a> “for information and use” and forwarded them to regional prosecutors – though it later clarified that they did not constitute official guidelines.</p><p dir="ltr">Ordo luris has also encouraged pharmacists with <a href="https://ordoiuris.pl/sites/default/files/inline-files/Klauzula_sumienia_farmaceuci_podstawy_prawne_0.pdf">leaflets</a> and free legal aid to claim ‘conscientious objection’ rights and refuse to sell contraception.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">This year, Ordo luris submitted a <a href="http://www.ordoiuris.pl/sites/default/files/inline-files/PROJEKT%20NOWELIZACJI%20USTAWY%20O%20PRAWACH%20PACJENTA%20I%20RPP%20-%20PROJEKT%20ORDO%20IURIS.pdf">proposal</a> to explicitly grant foetuses independent rights to medical treatment – widely <a href="https://oko.press/plod-jako-pacjent-ordo-iuris-toruje-droge-calkowitego-zakazu-aborcji/">interpreted</a> as another attempt to introduce a total ban on abortion.</p><p>Though this has not been taken forward by the government, Kmieciak at Ordo Iuris’s bioethics centre told 50.50 that it would remind the health ministry and patients rights officials about this point “on a regular basis.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center">It called for increased prosecutions of people who assist women to access abortions… saying that they should be punished with up to three years in prison.</p><p>Ordo luris has further targeted education in schools related to women’s and LGBTIQ rights, hate speech, and what it calls the World Health Organisation’s “highly controversial” recommended sex education.</p><p dir="ltr">After a meeting with the institute in March, an education ministry spokesperson <a href="http://wyborcza.pl/7,75398,23143492,ordo-iuris-imen-beda-chronic-dzieci.html">said</a> it “would like to remind headmasters… to obtain positive feedback from parents” on such activities in schools.</p><p dir="ltr">This caused <a href="http://wyborcza.pl/7,75398,23078836,organizacje-wspolpracujace-ze-szkolami-na-indeksie-ordo-iuris.html">uproar</a> among some education workers. "Ordo Iuris is invigilating schools and intimidating headmasters,” said Iwona Chmura-Rutkowska, at the University of Adam Mickiewicz.</p><p dir="ltr">Last year, the education ministry <a href="http://wyborcza.pl/7,75398,23078836,organizacje-wspolpracujace-ze-szkolami-na-indeksie-ordo-iuris.html">scrapped</a> obligations on schools, introduced in 2015, to conduct anti-discrimination education. Ordo luris claimed this as “<a href="https://www.ordoiuris.pl/rodzina-i-malzenstwo/pierwszy-sukces-akcji-chronmy-dzieci-men-likwiduje-obowiazek-zajec-genderowych">the first success</a>” of their ‘Protect the children’ campaign.</p><p dir="ltr">Such requirements didn’t reflect the primary role of families (and the “supporting role of schools”) in children’s upbringing, the group argued, and <a href="https://ordoiuris.pl/edukacja/opinia-prawna-dotyczaca-przekroczenia-zakresu-upowaznienia-ustawowego-w-okresleniu-wymogu#_ftnref2">challenged</a> their “freedom of conscience, religion and conviction.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center">"Ordo Iuris is invigilating schools and intimidating headmasters.”</p><p dir="ltr">“After 45 years of communism, there were no conservative think tanks, in particular legal organisations, operating in Poland – except for a few,” said Tymoteusz Zych from Ordo Iuris. “We filled this gap.”</p><p dir="ltr">Zych is one of several Ordo luris board members that have also received significant political appointments. He was <a href="http://wiadomosci.ngo.pl/wiadomosc/2153892.html">appointed</a> in January to a new, state body overseeing support for civil society groups.</p><p dir="ltr">Previously, in 2015 Aleksander Stępkowski was <a href="https://www.msz.gov.pl/en/news/aleksander_stepkowski_appointed_mfa_undersecretary_of_state">appointed</a> as an under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For three months, he was simultaneously president of Ordo Iuris’s board.</p><p dir="ltr">Jerzy Kwaśniewski, the current board president, is on the government’s Monitoring Team for Prevention of Domestic Violence. He previously <a href="http://www.tokfm.pl/Tokfm/1,130517,20932712,swiatowym-standardem-jest-karanie-kobiet-za-aborcje-szef.html">claimed</a> that punishing women for having abortions is a “global standard.”</p><p dir="ltr">Ordo luris also <a href="https://www.ordoiuris.pl/rodzina-i-malzenstwo/ustawa-o-przeciwdzialaniu-przemocy-w-rodzinie-zaskarzona-do-trybunalu">helped</a> the (then opposition) PiS party to draft a complaint in 2014 claiming that Polish anti-domestic violence law is unconstitutional as it allows “excessive involvement of the government” in family life.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“The institute’s political influence has grown dramatically since its founding just five years ago.”</p><p>The institute’s political influence has grown dramatically since its founding just five years ago – and despite its links to controversial international and transnational ultra-conservative movements.</p><p dir="ltr">Ordo Iuris was <a href="http://www.ordoiuris.pl/sites/default/files/inline-files/Statut%20Ordo%20Iuris.pdf">established</a> in 2013 by the Father Piotr Skarga Foundation which provided it with <a href="http://www.ordoiuris.pl/sites/default/files/inline-files/Statut%20Ordo%20Iuris.pdf">initial funding</a> of 50,000 Polish zloty (£10,000).</p><p dir="ltr">This foundation was in turn established by the <a href="http://www.piotrskarga.pl/">Father&nbsp;Piotr Skarga Association&nbsp;for&nbsp;Christian Culture</a>, known for its emotionally-charged <a href="http://natemat.pl/204683,zaczeli-od-majatku-zdobytego-na-naciaganiu-staruszkow-a-kosciol-sie-od-nich-odcina-oto-bojownicy-o-zakaz-aborcji">campaigns</a> for donations to fight ‘evil forces’ in Poland.</p><p dir="ltr">The association’s fundraising letters have often featured religious, Catholic references. But it has had a fraught relationship with church institutions; in 2008, the Krakow Diocese <a href="https://diecezja.waw.pl/1094">ruled out any links with the group.</a></p><p>On its <a href="https://www.piotrskarga.pl/o-nas,10223,1.html">website</a>, it says it was “inspired” by the Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) network of Catholic fundamentalists, founded in the 1960s in Brazil by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, a “<a href="http://www.tfp.org/the-founder/">crusader of the twentieth century</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/565074/image1_9.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/image1_9.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'>Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira (centre) at a TFP event in São Paulo. Photo: P.P.Pyres/Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>In the 1980s, TFP was allegedly <a href="http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6abee60.html">involved</a> in an assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II (allegations that it has denied). A 1985 report from Brazilian bishops <a href="https://efosm.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/cnbb-doc-35-e28093-pronunciamentos-da-cnbb-1984-coletc3a2nea-1985.pdf">described</a> its “esoteric character” and “fanaticism.”</p><p dir="ltr">After de Oliviera’s death in 1995, the group appears to have split into two. One, a vocal critic of Pope Francis, kept the TFP name.</p><p dir="ltr">The other, Heralds of the Gospel, has been <a href="http://www.lastampa.it/2017/06/13/vaticaninsider/eng/inquiries-and-interviews/heralds-of-the-gospel-the-founder-leaves-while-the-vatican-investigates-V8amQiCVIP9mJ3hwRa3F2I/pagina.html">under Vatican investigation</a> since 2017 over <a href="http://www.lastampa.it/2017/06/13/vaticaninsider/heralds-of-the-gospel-the-founder-leaves-while-the-vatican-investigates-V8amQiCVIP9mJ3hwRa3F2I/pagina.html">alleged cult worship</a> and rouge exorcism practices. “These are outdated accusations,” <a href="http://heralds.ca/what-is-the-intention-of-mr-andrea-tornielli-in-attacking-the-heralds-of-the-gospel-to-create-a-schism-in-the-church/">the Heralds said</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Zych from Ordo Iuris said there is “no connection” between the Heralds and TFP, “an important conservative social movement” with supporters in countries including Chile, the Philippines and Mozambique.</p><p>Notably, the Father Piotr Skarga Association, TFP, and Ordo luris have almost identical branding – the logos of all three feature a golden lion.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">“Crusaders of the twentieth century.”</p><p dir="ltr">Ordo Iuris is also an allied organisation of ADF International, the global arm of the US ‘<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/claire-provost-ella-milburn/christian-legal-army-court-battles-worldwide">Christian legal army</a>,’ Alliance Defending Freedom, which supports opponents of sexual and reproductive rights around the world.</p><p dir="ltr">Together, the groups intervened in 2015 against a proposal for Romanian courts to <a href="http://www.fronda.pl/a/rumunia-nie-bedzie-uznawac-zwiazkow-partnerskich-zawartych-za-granica,63568.html">recognise same-sex unions concluded abroad</a>. They have also <a href="https://www.ordoiuris.pl/dzialalnosc-miedzynarodowa/wieden-wolnosc-religijna-i-wolnosc-sumienia-chrzescijan-w-europie-coraz">worked together</a> on advocacy for religious freedom protections.</p><p dir="ltr">In early 2018, they and other conservative groups <a href="https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=INT/CCPR/NGS/POL/29939&amp;Lang=en">wrote</a> to the UN’s Human Rights Committee and, among other things, claimed that “limited access to abortion has a positive effect on lower maternal mortality rates.”</p><p dir="ltr">ADF International representatives have <a href="http://tozsamosc.ordoiuris.pl/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=79&amp;Itemid=595&amp;lang=en">spoken</a> at Ordo luris conferences, including a recent <a href="http://fpiw.pl/en/">forum </a>co-organised by the institute on “fundamental constitutional issues" including legal protections for families.</p><p dir="ltr">At the event were also high-ranking judicial, science and education officials. Andrzej Duda, Poland’s president, said he hoped the conference would support "legal order and a fair social order in Poland and the world."</p><p dir="ltr">In 2017, Ordo luris further <a href="https://www.un.org/press/en/2017/ecosoc6810.doc.htm">obtained</a> “special consultative status” at the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Other ultra-conservative organisations have used this accreditation to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/observatory-on-universality-of-rights/fundamentalism-united-nations">lobby internationally</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Though the profile and reach of Ordo luris have undoubtedly grown, in Poland women are fighting back against its ultra-conservative ideas.</p><p dir="ltr">Tens of thousands of people protested in March 2018 as another Ordo luris <a href="http://wyborcza.pl/7,75398,23178103,dzis-czarny-piatek-kobiety-wychodza-na-ulice-by-walczyc-o.html">proposal</a>, to prevent women from terminating pregnancies due to severe and irreversible foetal anomalies, was discussed in parliament.</p><p dir="ltr">It’s unlikely to be the last time they take to the streets.</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"> 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> 50.50 Can Europe make it? Poland Equality International politics Women and the far right Tracking the backlash women's movements women's human rights women's health women and power fundamentalisms bodily autonomy Lidia Kurasinska Mon, 30 Jul 2018 06:56:37 +0000 Lidia Kurasinska 118884 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The deadly ripple effect of harsh immigration policies https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/felix-bender/deadly-ripple-effect-of-harsh-immigration-policies <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="caret-color: #000000; color: #000000; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif; font-size: 14.666666984558105px; font-style: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: auto; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-size-adjust: auto; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; text-decoration: none; display: inline !important; float: none;">The lives of thousands of refugees are at risk for the sake of a political dive to the bottom.</span></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-34200494.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-34200494.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'>Adbulrahman Idris from Darfour, Sudan, crossed the Sahara to arrive in Libya. November, 2017. SOPA/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>In an attempt to save her government and placate German interior minister and leader of the conservative party of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, Angela Merkel has agreed to plans to erect extrajudicial spaces called “transit zones” at the border to Austria. In accordance with Seehofer’s demands for unilateral actions, the measure seeks to reject refugees that have already registered for an asylum application in other EU countries.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Learning from experience</strong></h2> <p>Yet, we know from experience that unilateral actions seldom have unilateral consequences. We have learned this lesson when Hungary sealed its borders in September 2015 by erecting razor wire fences, deploying special police forces to patrol the borders to Serbia and established just those transit zones that the German government now seeks to emulate. </p> <p>These decisions had immediate knock-on effects on the treatment of refugees not only in Hungary but all throughout the so called “Balkan Route”. Seeing border fences going up and the Balkan Route’s bottleneck being closed, other countries copied the Hungarian solution: none wanted to host those refugees that could no longer go on to seek protection in the country of their destination. The unilateral decision of the Hungarian government had, at the time, created a ripple effect of border controls and abuses of refugee rights that reached far back into Turkey. </p> <p>Slovenia and Croatia soon began adopting similar measures. In March 2016, both these countries effectively sealed their borders to refugees after Sweden had begun controlling the borders to Denmark, Denmark to Germany, Germany to Austria and Austria to Slovenia. Macedonia followed suit shortly after by erecting barbed wire fences and deploying army troops at their borders themselves. Those unfortunate refugees that were violently pushed back from Hungary to Serbia subsequently ran the risk of being caught up in a chain of push backs: from Serbia to Macedonia and from Macedonia back to Greece, often suffering beatings, humiliation and theft of their belongings by private vigilante groups or police forces along the way.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>The knock-on effect of the German decision</strong></h2> <p>Today, we witness the same ripple effect emanating from the German decision to close down its borders with Austria, arguably with worse consequences to refugees themselves. Just one day after the German decision, the Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced that Austria would react to it by closing down its own borders, beginning with border controls at the Brenner Pass. </p> <p>In a speech before the European Parliament he subsequently argued for a “paradigm shift in migration”, that would allow for a Europe without internal borders only in the long term. The message by the German and Austrian governments was heard by other European leaders in countries further south. Italy had already begun adopting harsher policies towards refugees by calling back its rescue missions, obstructing rescue operations by civil society actors and denying other rescue ships access to its harbours. Malta has adopted similar measures. On July 4, it seized the “Moonbird”, an aircraft operated by the Swiss Humanitarian Pilots Initiative (HPI) that has participated in saving over 20,000 people in the Mediterranean last year alone.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>What effects must we anticipate?</strong></h2> <p>The ripple effect of harsh immigration policies that emanated from Hungary’s unilateral decision to close down its borders gives us a pretty good idea of what is about to happen next. Refugees already en route to Germany will be detained in transit centres and consequently pushed back to Austria. Just as in the Hungarian case, this will cause a chain of pushbacks from Austria to Italy or all the way back to Greece. These countries themselves will adopt even stricter immigration policies – a taste of which we were already given with their decisions to let refugees drown in the Mediterranean rather than to have to host them themselves. </p> <p>Indeed, they seem to be ready to give up on their international legal obligations and every inch of their moral conscience if that is what it takes not to be left as one of the few countries to host refugees. The ripple effect of harsh immigration policies will not only be felt by those refugees floating in the Mediterranean with no place to go. It has also started to affect countries south of the Mediterranean such as Algeria. </p> <p>With an eye to harsher immigration policies being enforced by EU states, these countries seem equally unwilling to be the state that ‘loses out’, having to host those refugees that EU states reject. Algeria has already begun with the pushback of refugees, packing them into trucks and abandoning them in the Saharan Desert. Last year alone approximately 13,000 refugees were abandoned in the Saharan Desert to wander off by foot in the direction of Niger and towards likely death in temperatures reaching 48°C. Their unwillingness to take over the international legal obligations that EU states intend to force upon them was manifested by their clear rejections of proposals from EU officials to create holding centres in northern African states to process asylum claims from there. None of the states concerned agreed to such plans.&nbsp;</p> <p>This should give us pause. The unfortunate lesson that we can draw from the effects of unilateral actions by EU states is that we have to prepare for more of the same: the ripples will spread, there will be harsher immigration policies ranging far into Africa, putting at risk the lives of thousands of refugees for the sake of political stubbornness and leaders' unwillingness to assume their legal and moral obligations towards the lives of others.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/charles-heller/for-open-migration-policy-to-end-deaths-and-crises-in-mediterranea">For an open migration policy to end the deaths and crises in the Mediterranean</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/bridget-anderson/migrants-before-permanent-people-s-tribunal-in-barcelona">Migrants before the Permanent People’s Tribunal in Barcelona</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Equality International politics Felix Bender Sun, 29 Jul 2018 19:30:39 +0000 Felix Bender 119054 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Migrants before the Permanent People’s Tribunal in Barcelona https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/bridget-anderson/migrants-before-permanent-people-s-tribunal-in-barcelona <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The harrowing stories of migrants sorted and separated by walls and racism finally get a hearing in Barcelona.</p> </div> </div> </div> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/PA-37380215.jpg" width="100%" /> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;">A life jacket on the arm of the Christopher Columbus monument in Barcelona. Paco Freire/Zuma Press/Press Association. All rights reserved.</p> <p>I recently had the privilege of serving as a juror at the hearings of the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) in Barcelona. The PPT is a grassroots initiative that searches for truth and moral reparation in the service of liberation and justice and is a direct continuation of the Russell Tribunal. In the last year it has held a series of hearings on the treatment of migrants and refugees within and at the borders of the European Union. The most recent one focussed on the gender dimension. People gave angry and moving testimonies. There is no space to discuss them all here, but you can find more on the <a href="https://transnationalmigrantplatform.net/migrantppt/ppt-hearing-barcelona/">PPT’s website</a>. </p> <p>One of the witnesses reported on the forced separation of children from their mothers by the Spanish state. We’ve heard a lot in recent weeks about the atrocity of the Trump administration’s cruel removal of children from their parents. Yet the forced separation of children from their mothers is perpetrated by European states too.</p> <p>‘Anti-trafficking’ is being mobilised to excuse and explain this. The children of women who are considered as potential victims of trafficking can be identified as ‘in distress’ because the mothers are not qualified to care for them. Children in distress come under the guardianship of the region’s child protection services. Supervised visits can be permitted for one hour a week. If the mother identifies as a victim of trafficking she can be reunited with her child and both are moved to a specialised centre. As one Nigerian woman caught up in this system put it: “It is a centre for victims of trafficking, but I am not a victim, I am not, I have to pay for my trip, it is normal. I have really agreed to go because I needed to get my daughter back, I will not lie about that.&quot; </p> <p>Those who refuse to accept that they are victims of trafficking are considered ‘at risk’. Once children enter these protection systems it can be extremely difficult to extract them, and their ‘best interests’ come to be seen as staying in the foster care system. Yet while moving into a specialised centre facilitates being reunited with children, most women refuse to do so. For example, of the 736 offers of a reflection period made to women presumed to be victims of trafficking in 2013, 603 were rejected by the women. Women do not want to enter the centres because to do so means losing all opportunity to earn the money to repay their debt. Those who work in sex work can also be subject to fines of up to €3,000, making the repayment even more difficult.</p> <p>This was only one of the multiple injustices that were described. Witnesses described vicious racism, connecting it to the violence and expropriation of colonialism. One member of the street vendors’ association contrasted the treatment of European entrepreneurs, who come to Africa to plunder natural resources, with the treatment of African people in search of sustainable lives, who are excluded, detained and deported. We heard about the disposability of Black and Brown people, how their labour is exploited, and how they themselves are turned into objects to be profited from, their bodies being warehoused in internment centres, deported or killed. This is systemic and institutionalised racism and stigmatisation. It materialises in the institutionalised violence of the fences, walls, beatings and rubber bullets.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">We heard about the disposability of Black and Brown people, how their labour is exploited, and how they themselves are turned into objects to be profited from, their bodies being warehoused in internment centres, deported or killed.</p> <p>“It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and to draw conclusions”, wrote Sven Lindqvist in his book <em>Exterminate All the Brutes</em>. There certainly are some people who have the courage to understand and to draw conclusions. We heard from many of the people inhabiting the borderlands – non-rights spaces that stretch between the border to the heart of Europe – who are turning these borderlands into sites of politics.</p> <p>These are small but important interventions. Here I am thinking about the work of organisations like Melissa in Athens, where women of many different nationalities come together to support each other with onward journeys or settlement in Greece. I’m also thinking of Women in Exile in Germany, which campaigns, among other things, against the payment of one euro an hour for work in reception centres.</p> <p>Some people, excluded from citizenship, are nevertheless taking roles as political subjects. There is much to be learned from them about how to connect the struggles of undocumented migrants with those of excluded citizens, and how to make new kinds of politics and political subjectivities. There is also much to be done.</p> <p>The next PPT hearing is in London in October. You should come. </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/ahmad-almouhmad/reflections-on-world-refugee-day">Reflections on World Refugee Day</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/dorte-thorsen/is-global-compact-for-migration-truly-doing-justice-to-gender">Is the Global Compact for Migration truly doing justice to gender?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/ottavia-ampuero-villagran/nameless-and-un-mourned-identifying-migrant-bodies-in-medite">Nameless and un-mourned: identifying migrant bodies in the Mediterranean</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/martina-tazzioli/crossed-boundaries-migrants-and-police-on-french-italian-border">Crossed boundaries? Migrants and police on the French-Italian border </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? Bridget Anderson Fri, 27 Jul 2018 07:00:00 +0000 Bridget Anderson 118959 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Liberals against nationalism in Central Europe? It would have been a nice idea https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/james-dawson-se-n-hanley/liberals-against-nationalism-in-central-europe-it-would- <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The problem with Central European liberal anti-nationalism is not that it went too far, but that it never really existed.</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-36435081.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-36435081.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'>Meeting of Visegrad-4 plus Balkan-4 plus in Sounion Greece, May 11,2018. Marios Lolos/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>In the Guardian on July 11&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/11/central-europe-lesson-liberals-anti-nationalist-yugoslavia-poland-hungary">Ivan Krastev</a>&nbsp;argued that Central Europe’s liberals had made the error of taking an anti-nationalist stance from some point in the late 1990s. This, argued Krastev, occurred when the region’s liberals drew the lesson from the wars in the former Yugoslavia that all nationalism leads inevitably to bloodshed and violence.&nbsp;</p><p>By following the German example of avoiding public displays of flag-waving and treating nationalism as a creed that ‘dare not speak its name’, he claims, these liberals unwittingly forced moderate nationalists into the ‘illiberal camp’, opening the door for the illiberal backsliding that blights the region today.&nbsp;</p><p>It would be a compelling story if it bore any resemblance at all to the actual behaviour of Central European liberals in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But it doesn’t.</p><p>Anti-nationalism hasn’t been tried and failed in Central Europe: it has never been tried.&nbsp;</p><p>In the 1990s, much as today, the most significant barrier to the realisation of an inclusive, pluralistic vision of liberal democracy was the taken-for-granted idea that the national state is the property of and instrument for titular national majorities. Both the EU and their liberal partners in Central and Eastern knew this, yet both opted to accommodate ethnic nationalism at the time rather than oppose it.&nbsp;</p><h2><strong>Copenhagen Criteria</strong></h2><p>The EU’s fear that strong ethnically-exclusive nationalism in the region might lead to Yugoslavia-style violence is clear from the document that first laid out the conditions under which the countries of post-Communist Europe would be allowed to join the EU, the Copenhagen Criteria of 1993. This gave top-of-the-page prominence&nbsp;<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copenhagen_criteria">to protecting national minorities</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>However, as the possibility of actual violence became remote as the 1990s wore on, the European Commission increasingly focused on post-communist applicants meeting economic criteria while turning a blind eye to any remaining democratic deficiencies. New democracies with half-built institutions were routinely declared to be ‘on course’ to meet the political criteria as soon as self-styled reformers squeaked into office promising to work towards the satisfaction of European standards.&nbsp;<span class="mag-quote-center">Although anti-nationalist ideas had once been audible among many dissident intellectuals, a historic opportunity to challenge ethnic nationalist assumptions was missed.</span></p><p>Liberal governments were obliged to enact laws of non-discrimination and to sign up to the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities. However, although anti-nationalist ideas had once been audible among many dissident intellectuals, a historic opportunity to challenge ethnic nationalist assumptions was missed. Instead, alignment with European standards on minority rights was treated as a necessary evil to be smuggled through legislatures as quietly as possible along with fast track legislation to meet the formal criteria of EU membership.&nbsp;</p><h2><strong>Bulgaria, Hungary and the Czech Republic</strong></h2><p>Krastev’s native Bulgaria is a case in point. Under the pro-EU government of Ivan Kostov from 1997-2001 laws were changed and the Convention (on National Minorities) was –&nbsp;<a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00905990801934389?src=recsys&amp;journalCode=cnap20">after some resistance in parliament</a>&nbsp;– ratified in July 1999. However, the government went to some lengths to ensure that the Convention could not actually be implemented,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bghelsinki.org/media/uploads/annual_reports/1999-en.pdf">sacking the salaried staff</a>&nbsp;at the only national agency capable of doing so. On the campaign trail, Kostov skilfully used&nbsp;<a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00905992.2011.565317">plausibly liberal language</a>&nbsp;to paint the country’s Turkish minority and their ‘oriental’ ways as obstacles to the national project of ‘rejoining Europe’.&nbsp;</p><p>In relative terms, Kostov’s Bulgarian government was not at all a problem case. Elsewhere in Central Europe, liberal mainstream parties have actually morphed into explicitly anti-liberal political projects that reject the European norms that got their countries into the EU. The Hungarian Fidesz is a one-time liberal party turned faux Christian Democrat, which is now&nbsp;<a href="https://www.journalofdemocracy.org/article/hungary%E2%80%99s-illiberal-turn-disabling-constitution">dismantling the country’s liberal-democratic institutions</a>. The Czech Republic’s one-time Social Democrat prime minister has returned as president to become the region’s&nbsp;<a href="https://news.expats.cz/weekly-czech-news/milos-zeman-endorses-trump-slams-obama/">leading cheerleader for Donald Trump</a>. But the main point is that the Central European liberal cohort contained not a single party that pursued anything even approaching the German-style liberal anti-nationalism Krastev imagines.&nbsp;</p><p>A more reasonable analogy to West European politics that captures the central tendency of Central European liberalism at that time might be David Cameron’s conservatism:&nbsp;&nbsp;in favour of civil society in theory, but technocratic in practice; ready to endorse liberal norms and to decry far-right nationalist excess, but appealing to the electorate as it finds it, moderately nationalist when it must be. Not illiberal enough to damage liberalism where it existed, not liberal enough to instil it where it didn’t.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;The problem with Central European liberal anti-nationalism is not that it went too far, but that it never really existed. Pretending anything else risks blunting the efforts of&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/21/tens-of-thousands-protest-against-corruption-in-romania">emerging movements</a>&nbsp;in the region, comprised mainly of&nbsp;<a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-poland-politics-protests-idUSKBN1A10S3">younger</a>&nbsp;people, now challenging illiberal assumptions that have defined the parameters of practically all political competition since 1989.</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/anna-krasteva/facts-will-not-save-youth-from-fake-citizenship-will">Facts will not save (the youth) from Fake. Citizenship will</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/michal-simecka/babi-czech-republic-too-thin-gruel">Babiš’ Czech Republic: too thin a gruel?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/karl-pfeifer/orban-regime-takes-horthy-s-hungary-as-example">The Orban regime takes Horthy’s Hungary as an example</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Czech Republic </div> <div class="field-item even"> Hungary </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Bulgaria </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"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Bulgaria Hungary Czech Republic Civil society Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Seán Hanley James Dawson Thu, 26 Jul 2018 14:25:19 +0000 James Dawson and Seán Hanley 119032 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The unsettling denialism in Poland’s ‘National Remembrance’ Law https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/dan-davison/unsettling-denialism-in-poland-s-national-remembrance-law <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>There is a growing climate of suspicion and hostility towards those viewed as outsiders to the predominantly white and Catholic nation.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-030-0780-13,_Krakau,_Razzia,_deutsche_und_polnische_Polizei.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-030-0780-13,_Krakau,_Razzia,_deutsche_und_polnische_Polizei.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>German Order Police and Blue Police at Kraków in 1941. Wikicommons/ Bundesarchiv, Bild. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>In January 2018, the right-wing Law and Justice government in Poland passed an amendment to the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance. The law prohibits any attribution of responsibility for Nazi atrocities, including the Holocaust, to either ‘the Polish state or the Polish nation’. Violators can face up to three years’ imprisonment for offenders, though following changes adopted in the lower house of the Polish Parliament in June, the criminal element might be removed in favour of merely civil proceedings and remedies.&nbsp;</p><p>The prohibition is most commonly justified as a step to protect Poland’s reputation from misplaced blame for the Nazi extermination camps and to preserve the memory of the many non-Jewish Poles killed in the Holocaust. Within Poland, one often hears these justifications as part of an outcry against ‘Polish death camps’, a phrase used in, for example, a 2012 speech by Barack Obama, which many Poles take as reflecting a wider perception that Poland was responsible for the Holocaust.</p><p>Whilst any serious references to ‘Polish death camps’ are demonstrably wrong, the prohibition serves to mask a much more morally complicated history of the relationship between civil society, the German occupation, and anti-Semitism in Poland. Put bluntly, the prohibition serves to reinforce the notion that no sections of either the Polish state or nation collaborated with the Nazis, or that if any Poles did collaborate, they were numerically insignificant and do not reflect the ‘true’ Poland. This dangerous simplification of history is key to understanding why the new prohibition is widely criticised as anti-Semitic.</p><h2>Anti-semitic oppression and the ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ in Poland</h2><p>During World War II, the ‘Blue Police’ – essentially the pre-war Polish state police with German leadership – helped carry out the tasks of the Nazi administration, including such roundups of Jews as that in Działoszyce in 1942. In July 1941, at least 340 Jews were massacred in Jedwabne. As with similar pogroms in Radziłów and Stawiski that same summer, even when directed or encouraged by German occupying forces, local gentile Poles conducted much of the massacre.</p><p>Anti-Semitic oppression in Poland continued after the end of the war and the establishment of Soviet rule in 1945. Most infamously, on 4 July 1946 in Kielce, where Jewish refugees were gathered, a mob killed at least 42 Jews and injured over 40. Polish troops and police officers carried out much of this violence. Decades later in 1968, General Mieczysław Moczar waged a state-sponsored ‘anti-Zionist’ campaign that led to some 20,000 Jews being expelled.</p><p>These brutal manifestations of anti-Semitism during and after the Second World War occurred simultaneously with courageous acts by gentile Poles against the occupying forces and in solidarity with Jews. As well as waging partisan warfare against German forces, Polish resistance fighters often helped Jews hide and escape. For this reason, there are more Poles than any other national group in the ‘Righteous Among the Nations’, the list of people who rescued Jews from the Nazis. In other words, as in virtually every successful occupation in history, some sections of the state apparatus and the wider civil society consciously collaborated with the occupying forces, while other sections actively resisted.</p><p>Moreover, it is not sufficient simply to attribute these events in Polish history to foreign control from Berlin or Moscow. As well as the obvious point that anti-Semitic and other ethno-nationalist beliefs existed in Poland prior to World War II, such an attribution fails to ask why sections of the Polish state and civil society were willing to collaborate with occupying powers in the first place. In other words, the Polish officers and civilians who took part in these horrific deeds were more than just the inanimate puppets of the Nazis or the Stalinists. One has to consider the broader socio-political and cultural processes that made a significant number of Poles receptive to German and Soviet calls for lethal violence against the Jewish population.</p><h2><strong>Selective history and current nationalism</strong></h2><p>The prohibition against attributing any responsibility for the Holocaust to the Polish state or nation seeks to revere the many genuinely heroic acts that Poles committed during the occupation and to valorise the modern Polish nation by way of shared heritage. It aims to represent the courageous aspects of Polish history as the ‘true’ account and to shield this mythologised image of Poland’s past against the darker elements, including those that surfaced during the Holocaust. In other words, the Polish government seeks to legitimise current nationalism through selective history. It is a battle for Poland’s present on the terrain of Poland’s past.&nbsp;<span class="mag-quote-center">It is a battle for Poland’s present on the terrain of Poland’s past.</span></p><p>Today in Poland, xenophobic suspicion towards refugees has manifested in mass, far-right demonstrations, such as the 60,000-strong march through Warsaw last November, which heavily featured the slogan ‘Pure Poland, White Poland’. Similarly, anti-Semitism has risen, with the Centre for Research on Prejudice estimating that 25% of Poles believe that Jews kidnap Christian children and that 43% of Poles believe that Jews ‘strive to the rule the world’. In Gdańsk and other major Polish cities, there are shops where one can readily purchase t-shirts emblazoned with such disturbingly nationalist imagery as a hammer and sickle over a Star of David.&nbsp;</p><p>Naturally, none of this should be taken as an indication that all or even most Poles are raging ultra-nationalists, and it remains true that xenophobic and anti-Semitic views are difficult to gauge, even with survey data. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that there is a growing climate of suspicion and hostility towards those viewed as outsiders to the predominantly white and Catholic nation, which has helped the most fervent strains of nationalism become more acceptable in the political mainstream. In other words, the rise of ultra-nationalists who openly display their bigotry cannot be divorced from the much broader current of reactionary beliefs in Polish society.</p><p>Here lies the true danger in the new prohibition. By refusing to confront and understand the social and political conditions that allowed ethno-nationalist sentiments to manifest horrifically in the past, including as collusion with the Nazi occupation, Poland risks permitting such ethno-nationalist sentiments to flourish today in similarly ghastly ways. In short, it is a danger of failing to learn from history when we need those lessons most.&nbsp;</p><h2><strong>Tragic amnesia</strong></h2><p>The great tragedy in all this is that Poland can easily claim an authentically rich tradition of brave and inspirational opposition to authoritarian rule without airbrushing the less savoury aspects of its past. From the Warsaw Uprising against the German occupying forces in 1944, to the Poznań protests against the Moscow-aligned government in June 1956. From the student revolts of March 1968, inspired in part by the revolutionary writings of Jacek Kuroń and Karol Modzelewski, to the Gdańsk shipyard strike of 1980, where&nbsp;Solidarność&nbsp;demonstrated the true power of independent trade union organising in the face of Stalinist repression. By passing the 2018 amendment to the National Remembrance Act, the Polish government has blown a chilling dog-whistle to the nationalists and we have only begun to see its consequences.</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="/can-europe-make-it/adam-chmielewski/unsympathetic-people-and-overwhelming-success-of-polands-exclusi">Unsympathetic people: the overwhelming success of Poland&#039;s exclusionary agenda</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Poland </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Poland Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality Ideas International politics Dan Davison Thu, 26 Jul 2018 13:38:26 +0000 Dan Davison 119030 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Is Spain going to be the last test case for social democracy in the EU? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/giacomo-riccio/is-spain-going-to-be-last-test-case-for-social-democracy-in-eu <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p style="text-align: left;">All in all, the future of the EU social democratic parties very likely depends on how the PSOE will address the migration issue. <em><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/giacomo-riccio/espa-ltimo-campo-de-pruebas-de-la-socialdemocracia-europea">Español</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37191435.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37191435.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Pedro Sanchez, Prime Minister of Spain talking to the press after an informal migration summit at the EU Commission in Brussels, Belgium on June 24, 2018. NurPhoto/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>European social democratic parties of the most populated EU countries have been trudging through stagnant water for the last ten years and will certainly keep struggling in the next decades too, unless a game change occurs. That game changer could go by the name of Pedro Sanchez, currently Spain’s prime minister, and his attempt to revolutionize Spain’s approach towards migration.</p><p>Since the end of the 1990s, the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla have been surrounded by fences to protect Spain’s territorial integrity and expressly to keep migrants out. During the last 7 years of the Rajoy government the attitude towards the issue was not exactly an example of light touch regulation and Spain became infamously known for its firm-handed migration policy, which has led to frequent riots and consistent skirmishes between the Spanish patrol police and the migrants trying to breach the fences</p><p>But now things are about to change. Recently, Spain’s new Prime Minister pledged, during an&nbsp;<em>Onda Cero</em>&nbsp;radio broadcast, that his government is willing to remove the razor wire fences from both Ceuta and Melilla, thus sensibly shifting the political approach of Madrid towards the migration phenomenon. This could be a turning point for Sanchez’s Party, the PSOE, and ultimately for the future of social democracy in the European Union.&nbsp;</p><p>However, the impact could go either way.</p><p>According to the political scientist Ernst Hillebrand, alongside with terrorism and the economic crisis, migration is one of the main political issues of the second millennium and the stumbling block against which the flimsy waves of European centre-left parties have crashed themselves during recent electoral campaigns.&nbsp;</p><p>The inability of traditional centre-left forces to address the migration issue and offer an alternative proposal to the far-right narrative on this trend topic has been the iceberg that has led to the sinking of left-wing and moderate left vessels all across the EU. Two vivid examples of this powerlessness are the trajectories of both the&nbsp;<em>Italian Democratic Party</em>&nbsp;and the&nbsp;<em>French Socialist Party</em>&nbsp;during the most recent elections (2018 in Italy, 2017 in France). The former obtained a dispiriting result (18.8% of the votes), losing almost 8% from previous elections and 185 seats at the Chambers of Deputies, while the latter had even a worse nightmare totalling 7.44% of the votes at the legislative elections and 6.36% at the presidential ones, moving from the 10 million votes obtained by Francois Hollande in 2012 to the 2 million votes of Benoît Hamon in 2017. Both parties were bearing the brunt of the&nbsp;<em>outgoing government,&nbsp;</em>but paid even a higher price due to their incapacity to structurally address the migration phenomenon in a more concrete fashion, thus losing votes in favour of the far-right and/or populist forces.</p><p>Compared to these two parties, the PSOE and Pedro Sanchez have a major advantage: they know where the iceberg is and what it is made of. Nonetheless they will still need to identify the proper route to circumnavigate it with little or no damage, if they wish to bring the ship safely back to harbour (possibly for another glorious journey). Metaphors aside, this means that&nbsp;<em>Pedro el Guapo</em>&nbsp;and his socialist crew will have to find an alternative proposal to solving the issue which must go beyond the leftist “everybody is welcome” and, at the same time, must reject the usual far-right storytelling. A proposal that calls at the same time for burden sharing, EU solidarity mechanisms and refugees quotas on a mandatory (not voluntary) basis, as well as long-term solutions, flows control, development aid and EU political efforts towards the stability of both the Mediterranean and the Sub-Saharan regions.&nbsp;</p><p>All in all, the future of the EU social democratic parties very likely depends on how the PSOE will address the migration issue and on the cascade effect it could possibly trigger. In the next European elections, scheduled for May 2019, the Spanish Socialist Party will only aspire to the 59 Spanish seats at the European Parliament. Nonetheless, should they be able to find by that time an innovative compromise proposal on migration, the other European centre-left forces might well replicate the inspiring PSOE model and benefit from an encouraging spill-over effect, thus reversing the negative trend they have experienced so far. Should the Spanish socialists fail at finding such a compromise, they will gradually disappear from the political map, as it is happening to other socialist and centre-left parties, thus wasting the very last chance of survival for social democracy in the EU.</p><p><em>Suerte</em>&nbsp;Pedro, you are going to need it.</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="/iker-barbero/legitimating-immigration-regimes-in-european-union">Legitimating immigration regimes in the European Union </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/charles-heller/for-open-migration-policy-to-end-deaths-and-crises-in-mediterranea">For an open migration policy to end the deaths and crises in the Mediterranean</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/gonzalo-fanjul-and-virginia-rodr-guez/business-of-migration-control-in-spain">The business of migration control in Spain</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/conflict-madridprevention/article_1919.jsp">Dreaming of Spain: migration and Morocco</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Spain </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Spain Civil society Conflict Democracy and government International politics Giacomo Riccio Thu, 26 Jul 2018 13:02:01 +0000 Giacomo Riccio 119026 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The obsessive use of English in Italian politics and media https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/alessio-colonnelli/obsessive-use-of-english-in-italian-politics-and-media <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The words some of these media folks pick are not even remotely funny.</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-37738386.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37738386.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'>Angela - prime minister of Britain? Matthias Balk/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>“Question time”, “spending review”, “moral suasion” are among the countless English locutions used by Italian politicians and journalists alike. It makes them sound important; and Italian sound inadequate.</p> <p>“<em>Tassa piatta,</em>” the editor-in-chief of&nbsp;<em>Lettera43&nbsp;</em><a href="https://www.raiplayradio.it/audio/2018/07/PRIMA-PAGINA-dell11-luglio-2018-abad8b96-d8cc-40f1-b7f5-381ede4cb548.html">Paolo Madron said on national radio</a>&nbsp;this month, “sounds a bit ugly.” He prefers saying “flat tax”. A useful translation was dismissed by someone who could help make it relevant – because it's not nice.</p> <p>Madron is not the only one with such views.&nbsp;The constant and wholly arbitrary undermining – by professionals – of viable new Italian words has spawned a national fear of sounding provincial. It seems as if&nbsp;<a href="https://www.internazionale.it/opinione/tullio-de-mauro/2016/07/14/irresistibile-l-ascesa-degli-anglismi">the media casually drop English terms</a>&nbsp;into their Italian to look cool –&nbsp;to make their analyses appear at the forefront&nbsp;– which is really the most provincial thing you can do.</p> <p>What's the point in using so much English when speaking to an Italian audience about Italian matters? If only pronunciations were more precise, at least you could learn how to say 'th' properly; or make 'uncle' and 'ankle' sound different. (Mind you, even the&nbsp;<em>New Statesman</em>&nbsp;made an epochal mistake not long ago with “Who sunk Brexit?” on the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.newstatesman.com/2018-06-15">15 June cover</a>.)&nbsp;</p> <p>If you are desperate to use your English when reporting in Italian, then show me the relevant stuff, not the egocentric fluffy bits. There's hope, in fact. Consider: Italian cultural critics and curators made repeated efforts in the past to introduce their audiences to “serendipity”, highlighting artistic and literary qualities beyond the usual scientific meaning.&nbsp;<em>Serendipità&nbsp;</em>can finally be about art, poetry and prose as well, just as in English.&nbsp;This is&nbsp;pushing the potential within a language; unlocking instead of curtailing; adopting without aping.<span class="mag-quote-center"> This is&nbsp;pushing the potential within a language; unlocking instead of curtailing; adopting without aping.</span></p> <p>But what about the last&nbsp;government's calamitous expression “step-child adoption” which referred to children adopted by gay couples? Alarmingly, this also sounded like&nbsp;ministers&nbsp;wanted to sanitise an issue many would describe as 'dirty' in that bastion of patriarchy and conservatism Italy still is.</p> <p>Yet, there&nbsp;<em>was</em>&nbsp;a stigma around the sycophantic and hypocritical approach to English.&nbsp;<a href="https://dizionario.internazionale.it/parola/italiese">People used to call this mess&nbsp;</a><a href="https://dizionario.internazionale.it/parola/italiese"><em>Italiese</em></a>, a mockery of Italian by business executives wanting to make their products sound more cutting-edge. The sobering term –&nbsp;<em>Italiano</em>&nbsp;plus&nbsp;<em>Inglese</em>&nbsp;– was coined in the 1960s and is still a dictionary entry. (Interesting variant:&nbsp;<em>Itangliano</em>.)&nbsp;</p> <p>I haven't heard of&nbsp;<em>Italiese</em>&nbsp;in a long time.&nbsp;</p> <p>But then I think: of course I don't hear it any more. When a majority of Italian journalists and politicians does&nbsp;<em>Italiese</em>, they're not going to collectively take the mickey out of themselves:&nbsp;<em>Italiese</em>&nbsp;and self-irony don't go together. What's more, they don't write about this issue at all; they've killed off any possible debate around it. Also, it wouldn't be in their interest: advertisers could complain.&nbsp;</p> <p>The words some of these media folks pick are not even remotely funny. Germans suffer from a similar problem (<em>Denglisch</em>), but they also use playful words like “small talk” and “shit storm”. And anyway, it's always those which are morphologically similar – like 'sentiment' – that find an easy way into Italian.&nbsp;</p> <p>This issue is ingrained.&nbsp;How many millions of times has Merkel been called Angela with the wrong 'g' we'll never know;&nbsp;as&nbsp;if she were the prime minister of Britain,&nbsp;of all countries.</p> <p>The whole exercise cannot but sound pointless,&nbsp;ridiculous,&nbsp;unimaginative&nbsp;and... let's face it –&nbsp;very&nbsp;lazy too.</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> </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? Italy Alessio Colonnelli Thu, 26 Jul 2018 05:43:36 +0000 Alessio Colonnelli 119016 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Let the best worldview win: using reason to maintain dignity and fend off the Religious Right https://www.opendemocracy.net/c-s-herrman/let-best-worldview-win-using-reason-to-maintain-dignity-and-fend-off-religious-right <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A review of <em>The Righteous Mind:&nbsp;Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion </em>by Jonathan Haidt, (Blackwell's 2012).<br /><em></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37177974.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37177974.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'>Bill Clinton on stage to discuss his forthcoming novel, The President is Missing, in Toronto, Canada, June 22, 2018. Dominic Chan/Press Association. </span></span></span>Jonathan Haidt is a lifelong Democrat whose objective is to employ what is&nbsp;<em>actual</em>&nbsp;about human behavior to the liberal advantage, with a method tailored, like Dale Carnegie’s, to entice a civil conversation with Republicans. </p> <p>His 2012 publication is getting another romp into popularity, what with the polarization of our contemporary culture. The outcome presupposes that mutual understanding will win concessions from Republicans at the polls. Haidt almost seems to imply that liberals might best sink to the Republican level (the Karl Rove method?) in the conduct of a war we call electioneering. “I didn’t blame the Republicans for trickery. I blamed the Democrats for psychological naiveté.”&nbsp;</p> <p>At the very least, he seems to advise liberals to phrase their positions so as to just enough misrepresent the liberal creed to make it satisfactory and relatively more harmless to Republican voters. Haidt acknowledges the mystery and success of Bill Clinton, who “knew how to charm elephants” – the subconscious intuitive aspect of our being. In reality, Clinton had made it a policy to be a clean cut boy to the moneyed interests, which has been the norm, and with&nbsp;<em>Citizen’s United</em>, a part of the problem negatively influencing fair and open elections.</p> <h2><strong>A Religious Right future</strong></h2> <p>What the arguments of the book in fact proclaim are two counter-intuitive realities: first, the promise of a Republican future, in particular a Religious Right future. Haidt paints Republicans as what could also be termed Honor-based. I wrote in a recent book that the Dignity-based competitor would ultimately win. The present book gives the argument that the Honor-based faction will actually win. Dignity-based folks must now rephrase core values (human justice, governmental accountability, the normative influence of money, and a moderate Supreme Court) and in addition adopt some Honor-based criteria (disproportionately low taxation of the wealthy). Ultimately, it all devolves either to social justice or to whatever titillates the Republican palate. This to me is the 30,000 foot view.&nbsp;</p> <p>Second, the bulk of the first two-thirds of the book is an argument that our judgements are engendered and recalled intuitively; reason has far less to do with the assessing of judgements than we might ordinarily suppose. So to approach the conservatives one must go for the intuitionist approach which focuses on presenting yourself as a friendly inquirer. Make friends, (then apologize for past liberal intransigence?). “If you want to change people’s minds, you’ve got to talk to their elephants.” Do not suppose that reasoning with them will work (Haidt maintains a knee-jerk reaction against rationalists), and certainly not argumentation. I am sure Haidt didn’t mean it this way, but one could be forgiven for wondering if liberals shouldn’t just apologize for being liberals. <span class="mag-quote-center">I am sure Haidt didn’t mean it this way, but one could be forgiven for wondering if liberals shouldn’t just apologize for being liberals.</span></p> <p>His chief evidence that the Republicans have a built-in advantage comes from a six-tiered accounting of “foundational” ideas: “Until Democrats understand…the difference between a six-foundation morality and a three-foundation morality, they will not understand what makes people vote Republican.” Here are the six: Care/Harm; Fairness/Cheating; Loyalty/Betrayal; Authority/Subversion; Sanctity/Degradation, and Liberty/Oppression. Haidt has evaluated conservative and liberal trends and maintains that liberals pay attention to but three of these foundational categories, whereas the conservatives encompass the whole range.</p> <p>“If you want to understand another group,” he says, “follow the&nbsp;<em>sacredness</em>”. The difference between liberals and conservatives is how the idea of “sacredness” is applied to these foundational categories. This Haidt does not do. My take, for what it’s worth, is very different from Haidt: the Christian Right considers the last four foundations to be truly sacred (<em>loyalty</em>&nbsp;to country and flag,&nbsp;<em>authority</em>&nbsp;of parents, teachers and conservative courts,&nbsp;<em>sanctity</em>&nbsp;of family values and&nbsp;<em>liberty</em>&nbsp;from taxation and regulation); the liberals are widely considered to value as sacred&nbsp;<em>only</em>&nbsp;the first category (the Care/harm dichotomy, translated simply as “justice”). Haidt’s point, well taken, is that conservatives capture the surface of the entire ocean, whereas liberals suck dry a major lake. His advice is that liberals stretch out a bit. Well taken, but for this…</p> <p><em>In reality, however, liberals consider all six foundations to be sacred on principle</em>, to the extent that they all revolve around and are a barometer for matters of&nbsp;<em>social justice</em>&nbsp;and all that the term encompasses, which is rather a lot. Thus, liberals could with reason say that&nbsp;<em>care is sacred</em>, for this is on-the-ground evidence for the presence or absence of social justice;&nbsp;<em>fairness is sacred</em>, for this goes to equity and equality before the law, without which there can be no justice;&nbsp;<em>loyalty is sacred</em>&nbsp;because loyalty to the principles of human dignity is the barometer of concern for justice;&nbsp;<em>authority is sacred</em>&nbsp;in the sense that it implies legitimacy of power in the prosecution of offices necessary to justice;&nbsp;<em>sanctity is sacred</em>&nbsp;if by this we mean that the right of every person to social justice is the core of the socio-political religion of America (liberty and justice for all…);&nbsp;<em>liberty is sacred </em>because it designates the constitutional ground for all that speaks to social justice. In short, make a world safe for justice&nbsp;<em>and you improve the overall machinery</em>&nbsp;<em>at the same time</em>. Hallowed traditions remain what they have always been. Despite this, it remains only natural, and broadly correct, to see the concern of liberals as holding only the care category (and secondarily the fairness foundation) as truly valued. Liberals need to sell their track record on the other five, and the dearth of such a record for the Republicans.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>One-way street</strong></h2> <p>In the process of teaching liberals about these categories, Haidt fails to mention what Republicans and the Christian Right could do to meet liberals half-way. But this book was never about a two-way street; it was tailored to a specific argument:&nbsp;<em>liberals must learn how to wage war successfully</em>; and if adopting Republican strategies in the Rovian sense is merely my impression, Haidt does redouble the need for consistent and sustained efforts to show how much we can empathize with the Republican culture. Presumably, goes the trend of his thought, we can present political advertising and speeches that reduce the fear-impact on Republicans if we would only better understand their culture and apply ourselves to all six foundations.</p> <p>This last point, however, can actually, reasonably, be accomplished, since liberals more than any other political group in America value the rights of Republicans to live peaceably with their culture intact (even like those immigrants who in part refuse to assimilate). We welcome everybody on their own terms, including the Christian Right, which sincerely believes that liberal values are destructive to the Republican culture. They are parochial; they seem as if desiring to stay by themselves. But it is this fact of “groupishness” that finds Republicans concerned to curry their favor. “Conservatives…are more parochial – concerned about their groups, rather than all of humanity.” Don’t tread on me, my business or my country. It sounds vaguely like the “me-me-me” version of society.</p> <p>Haidt apparently takes the view that we change Republicans one person at a time with comely, uncontroversial chatter. We return with Spinoza (Pt.IV,Appx, no.17), whom Haidt also quotes: “Men are won over by generosity…. Yet it is far beyond the power and resources of a private person to come to the assistance of everyone in need. It is also impossible for one man to establish friendship with all. Therefore the care of the poor devolves upon society as a whole, and looks only to the common good.” Liberals are the realists in this storybook fairy tale in which the Christian Right solves the nation’s problems through their charity. It is nearly as fatuous as John Mackey (of Whole Foods) selling us on the idea that corporations can solve&nbsp;<em>every</em>&nbsp;problem in the world – if only they would try. <span class="mag-quote-center">Speaking as a liberal, the real challenge is to sell our own view with assurances that we have no interest in reducing any of the rights the Right holds dear.</span></p> <p>Speaking as a liberal, the real challenge is to sell our own view with assurances that we have no interest in reducing any of the rights the Right holds dear. This Haidt does not mention. Let the best worldview win. Bernie Sanders ran substantially on this core set of values from an outcomes-based vantage, and performed admirably. Time ran out; though time was never on Sander’s side when it came to the super delegates who ultimately held the cards that counted. These rules are actually being redrawn somewhat. It may well be time for another Sanders approach, one so simple and direct that the stump speech need never be varied. This Haidt does not mention. The polls and the courts, with some notable exceptions, have been increasingly in favor of the Dignity-based worldview. We can take stock in that reality; it is a trend twelve hundred years in the making – from at least the ninth century revival of learning.</p> <h2><strong>Time for reason</strong></h2> <p>I finish where I began, with Haidt’s commitment to present “actual” human behavior and how to take better advantage of it. From Plato’s&nbsp;<em>Timaeus</em>, “Glaucon’s thought experiment implies that people are only virtuous because they fear the consequences of getting caught – especially the damage done to their reputations. Glaucon says that he will not be satisfied until Socrates can prove that a just man with a bad reputation is happier than an unjust man who is widely thought to be good.” This sounds as if it is expedience that rules: “We are descended from a long string of winners in the game of social life. This is why we are Gauconians, usually more concerned about the appearance of virtue rather than the reality….”</p> <p>Honor-based societies are known by three catchwords: respectability, trustworthiness and merited worth. But the Western world, including America, has become far more Dignity-based over time (known by the catchwords acceptance, faith and inherent worth). We only rarely speak of honor and more and more we speak to dignity. We no longer live in a society where one can expect Honor-based norms to influence our conduct as it did in traditional societies, for example.&nbsp;</p> <p>Thus the application of the same principle to corporate behavior is sadly beside the point. But here is Haidt: “I am not anticorporate, I am simply Glauconian. When corporations operate in full view of the public, with a free press that is willing and able to report on the externalities being foisted on the public, they are likely to behave well, as most corporations do.” In today’s press, people believe what they want, not what facts are available. The companies that harm the public are usually found to be beyond shame; they react only to a damaged brand or to threats to business via boycotts; they curry favor with Congress, reducing their responsiveness to public opinion. Only when loss of reputation hits their pocketbook do they listen. This devolves less to ethics than to a form of moral warfare. Later, we get a reprise…</p> <p>&nbsp;“So far in this book I’ve painted a portrait of human nature that is somewhat cynical. I’ve argued that Glaucon was right and that we care more about&nbsp;<em>looking</em>&nbsp;good than about truly&nbsp;<em>being</em>&nbsp;good. I’m going to show why that portrait is incomplete. I don’t think we can understand morality, politics, or religion until we have a good picture of human groupishness and its origins. Do we have groupish minds today because groupish individuals long ago outcompeted less groupish individuals&nbsp;<em>within the same group</em>? If so…then this is Glauconian groupishness – we should expect to find that people care about the&nbsp;<em>appearance</em>&nbsp;of loyalty, not the reality. Or do we have groupish mechanisms…because groups that succeeded in coalescing and cooperating outcompeted groups that couldn’t get it together?” This is the so-called “collectivist” argument, straight from the Honor-based cookbook.</p> <p>In this case we expect parochialism and tribalism as the bywords of this newly minted “reality” of human existence. It values the Honor-based over the Dignity-based, the parochial over broadly national interests, and etc. Reason comes on board to investigate whether and to what extent we can actually be “just” and still sell justice in a viable way to the American electorate. We are well aware that politicians do double-speak; desirous of repute before mysteriously backsliding once in office.&nbsp;<em>Looking</em>&nbsp;respectable,&nbsp;<em>looking</em>&nbsp;honorable is so easy…what our elected representatives do in Congress is neither respectable nor honorable.</p> <p>It is well-nigh time for a bit of good old-fashioned&nbsp;<em>reason</em>. Is it, then, a matter of comparatively straightforward “reason” to argue against the Republican policies even as we admit friendship to the folks&nbsp;<em>who very purposefully elect them</em>&nbsp;– as if to be just as purposefully oblivious to those responsible? Perhaps so. If Haidt would accept the use of reason, this is what he would doubtless say. I think we can provisionally agree with him. Above all, however, reason dictates that we sell our mission without let or hindrance.</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"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> 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? United States Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Ideas International politics C. S. Herrman Wed, 25 Jul 2018 10:30:38 +0000 C. S. Herrman 119002 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Democratic distress in Europe and the USA: a transatlantic malaise? https://www.opendemocracy.net/transformation/saskia-brechenmacher/democratic-distress-in-europe-and-usa-transatlantic-malaise <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What could Americans and Europeans learn from each other about the looming crisis of democracy?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/SaskiaBrechenmacher.jpg" alt="" width="460" /></p><p class="image-caption">Protest March, Trump not Welcome, 24 May 2017, Brussels North Station. Credit: <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Trump_2017-05-24_19-37-31_ILCE-6500_DSC01538_(34043775294).jpg">Flickr/miguel_discart_photos via Wikimedia Commons</a>. <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">CC BY-SA 2.0</a>.</p> <p>Liberal democracy is floundering in places where it was long thought to be most securely established. In both Western Europe and the United States, polls suggest that <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/03/03/americans-have-lost-faith-in-institutions-thats-not-because-of-trump-or-fake-news/?utm_term=.5301119058b6">many</a> <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/09/22/europeans-have-lost-faith-in-their-governments-and-institutions-why-we-did-the-research/?utm_term=.b376b0fc527e">voters</a> have lost confidence in democratic institutions, while political polarization and illiberal parties appear to be on the rise. </p> <p>A striking feature of this crisis is the perception that many of the most pressing political challenges are shared between the US and Europe. This represents a significant change from earlier decades, when most observers saw America’s democratic shortcomings as rooted in uniquely American political syndromes distinct from Europe’s own political troubles. </p> <p>But is this new sense of a shared democratic malaise accurate? To what extent are current democratic challenges in Europe similar to those facing the USA? </p> <p>Neither Europe nor the US are homogenous political entities: democratic problems vary widely from region to region and country to country. Yet at the macro-level some crucial challenges are clearly shared. A crisis of trust in political institutions is one of them.</p> <p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/SaskiaFigure 1 (old 1).jpg" alt="" width="460" /></p> <p>In 2017, for example, only 12 percent of Americans <a href="https://news.gallup.com/poll/195716/americans-trust-political-leaders-public-new-lows.aspx">expressed</a> a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of trust in Congress, down from 30 percent in 2004. In Europe, the 2017 Pew Global Attitudes Survey <a href="http://www.pewglobal.org/2017/10/16/globally-broad-support-for-representative-and-direct-democracy/">showed</a> alarmingly low levels of satisfaction with the functioning of democracy in France, Greece, Italy and Spain, as well as a large gap in trust in government between those who think the economy is doing well and those who don’t.</p> <p>On both sides of the Atlantic, political parties have borne the brunt of this discontent. Parties have long been one of the <a href="https://www.government.nl/documents/reports/2016/01/18/public-integrity-and-trust-in-europe">most disliked</a> political institutions, but recent economic crises and tensions over immigration have worsened this disconnect. In France, Greece, Italy, and Spain, for example, fewer than ten percent of people expressed trust in their country’s political parties in 2014. </p> <p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/SaskiaFigure 2 (old 3).jpg" alt="" width="460" /></p> <p>The most striking consequence of this decline in trust has been a well-documented <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01402382.2016.1181871?src=recsys&amp;journalCode=fwep20">surge</a> in support for self-proclaimed outsider movements and candidates. Not all of these anti-establishment forces are antidemocratic, and some have added new vitality to democratic competition. Yet others—like France’s <em>Front National</em> or Germany’s <em>Alternative für Deutschland</em>—clearly exhibit illiberal and xenophobic strands. And while European parliamentary systems are in some ways better suited to adapt to these changes than the US two-party system, greater party system fragmentation has also made it more difficult to form stable governments, thus causing more dysfunctional governance. Most recently, Germany was left without a government for six months as Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-43276732">struggled</a> to form a viable governing coalition. </p> <p>Both the US and Europe are also grappling with an increasingly fragmented public sphere. Across many European democracies and in the United States, trust in traditional media outlets is already <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/09/why-do-americans-distrust-the-media/500252/">quite</a> <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/Survey/getSurveyDetail/instruments/SPECIAL/surveyKy/2173">low</a>. In the US, this trend is <a href="https://kf-site-production.s3.amazonaws.com/publications/pdfs/000/000/242/original/KnightFoundation_AmericansViews_Client_Report_010917_Final_Updated.pdf">exacerbated</a> by heightened partisanship, with Republicans especially likely to have unfavorable views of mainstream news organizations.</p> <p>As more and more political discourse shifts online, domestic and foreign actors are also exploiting new platforms to sow distrust and undermine fact-based debate. For example, <a href="http://ide.mit.edu/sites/default/files/publications/2017%20IDE%20Research%20Brief%20False%20News.pdf">new research</a> confirms that false political news spreads more rapidly online than verified information, though the full implications for people’s political views remain poorly understood. And while Russian efforts to interfere in US and European elections and key referenda such as Brexit have received much attention, <a href="https://carnegieendowment.org/2018/05/23/russian-election-interference-europe-s-counter-to-fake-news-and-cyber-attacks-pub-76435">policy responses</a> remain fragmented. </p> <p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/SaskiaFigure 3 (old 6).jpg" alt="" width="460" /></p> <p>Despite these areas of convergence, the US faces some challenges that are more pressing than in Europe. Perhaps the most visible of these is partisan polarization. Polarization in today’s Congress is <a href="https://www.vox.com/cards/congressional-dysfunction/what-is-political-polarization">higher</a> than at any time since the late 1800s, and the share of Americans with highly negative views of the opposing party has <a href="http://www.people-press.org/2014/06/12/political-polarization-in-the-american-public/">more than doubled</a> since 1994. The causes of this trend are complex, harking back to sociopolitical changes that began in the 1960s. In practice, the result has been persistent legislative gridlock, as well as a greater <a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/562246/how-democracies-die-by-steven-levitsky-and-daniel-ziblatt/9781524762933/">willingness</a> on both sides to disregard democratic norms, neglect congressional oversight, and play constitutional hardball for political gain. </p> <p>In addition to <em>horizontal </em>polarization between left and right, the US also struggles with exceptionally high levels of <em>vertical</em> polarization caused by <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/pikettys-inequality-story-in-six-charts">deepening</a> socioeconomic inequality. Weak institutional safeguards—particularly lax campaign finance and lobbying regulations—enable the highly privileged to exert disproportionate political influence. For example, <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/cycle_tots.php">outside spending</a> on presidential elections has skyrocketed from approximately $339.5 million in 2008 to $1.3 billion in 2016. Costly campaigns perpetuate the <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/news/hawkings/">overrepresentation</a> of wealthy politicians and corporate interests, while low-income citizens participate in politics at much <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/soc4.12390">lower rates</a>. While socioeconomic divides have also deepened in some European countries, the trend is most pronounced in the USA. </p> <p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/SaskiaFigure 4 (old 9).jpg" alt="" width="460" /></p> <p>Lastly, the US electoral system suffers from intense partisan disagreements over voting and redistricting rules. Since 2010, 23 US states have <a href="https://www.brennancenter.org/new-voting-restrictions-america">enacted</a> new laws that make it harder to vote, particularly for low-income voters. Not surprisingly, voter registration rates and election turnout in the US are consistently <a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/05/21/u-s-voter-turnout-trails-most-developed-countries/">lower</a> than in Western Europe—despite declining <a href="https://www.idea.int/sites/default/files/publications/voter-turnout-trends-around-the-world.pdf">turnout trends</a> across many European democracies. Partisan gerrymandering has become another hotly contested issue, with critics arguing that allowing legislative majorities to redraw districts in their favor has undermined democratic competition and fair representation.</p> <p>However, European democracies also face some challenges that are more acute than in the USA. For example, European multiparty parliamentary systems—while more responsive to changes in political alignments—also provide more room for extremist and anti-pluralist political forces to gain political representation. In Hungary and Poland, democratically elected illiberal governments have already taken major steps to undermine independent civil society and the rule of law. While US President Donald Trump has displayed similarly illiberal instincts, he does not command control over an organized political movement, and at least to date, the US judiciary, civil society and much of the media have managed to exert a strong countervailing force.</p> <p>In addition, European democracies still struggle with the consequences of supranational integration: as more decision-making has moved from the national to the European level, efforts to boost citizen participation have not kept pace. Many voters <a href="https://www.euractiv.com/section/elections/news/record-60-of-europeans-tend-not-to-trust-eu/">feel disconnected</a> &nbsp;from political debates in Brussels, which provides ample room for Euroskeptic politicians to mobilize support.</p> <p>In sum, both Europe and the US are grappling with heightened levels of distrust in democratic institutions, alienation from establishment political actors, and unease about an increasingly fragmented public sphere that is vulnerable to polarization. Yet they are also contending with specific patterns of political dysfunction. </p> <p>Identifying such areas of political convergence and divergence opens the door to a bigger question: can American and European actors striving for democratic reform learn from each other, and if so, what would be the most fertile areas for such learning? To date, linkages between US and European activists, reformers and experts are still underdeveloped; there are few networks through which to share lessons about effective responses to democratic challenges. But since people on both sides of the Atlantic are looking for innovative ideas, a transatlantic lens could open the door to more productive partnerships and more effective action.</p> <p><em>This article is based on a longer report from the Carnegie Endowment which is <a href="https://carnegieendowment.org/2018/06/21/comparing-democratic-distress-in-united-states-and-europe-pub-76646">available here</a>.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/richard-youngs/can-non-western-democracy-help-to-foster-political-transformation">Can non-Western democracy help to foster political transformation? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/transformation/ian-hughes/does-donald-trump-s-foreign-policy-actually-make-sense">Does Donald Trump’s foreign policy actually make sense?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/byung-chul-han/who-is-refugee">Who is a refugee?</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> Transformation Can Europe make it? Transformation Democracy Saskia Brechenmacher Trans-partisan politics Tue, 24 Jul 2018 20:02:21 +0000 Saskia Brechenmacher 118901 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Open the cities, open the harbours https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/martina-tazzioli/open-cities-open-harbours <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Opposing the Italian state’s shipwrecks and the kidnapping of migrants in the Mediterranean.</p> </div> </div> </div> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/PA-37524427.jpg" width="100%" /> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;">Stay Human' activists stage a protest outside the Ministry of Transport in Rome, on 11 July 2018. hristian Minelli/NurPhoto/Sipa USA/Press Association. All rights reserved.</p> <p>After being by far the dominant topic of the last Italian electoral campaign, migration continues to be at the core of Italian politics. Under the coalition between the populist Five Star Movement and the racist party The League, migration has become a byword for economic and social problems and a justification for exceptional security measures. The political debate has shifted from the (misleading) claim of “rescuing refugees, fighting illegal migrants” towards an even more worrying position, one which openly pushes for keeping migrants in Libya in order to prevent them from dying. Thus, the humanitarian discourse has been fully hijacked by a politics of containment.</p> <p>Migration is also at the forefront of the current scenario of struggles and protests.&nbsp; On 11 July dozens of citizens protested in front of the Ministry of Transports in Rome. They chained themselves to the building, wore life jackets, and held banners emblazoned with “<a href="http://www.meltingpot.org/Naufragi-di-Stato-la-rete-Restiamo-Umani-si-incatena.html">state’s shipwrecks</a>”. Their motto flips the standard social and political understanding of the situation – that the Mediterranean is a deadly frontier – on its head, pointing instead to the direct responsibility of state authorities for migrants deaths at sea.</p> <p>Indeed, it is fundamental to de-naturalise the dangerousness of the Mediterranean sea and the related high rate of migrant deaths: it is not the Mediterranean per se, as a natural deadly frontier, that is the main cause of migrant death but the racialised bordering mechanisms that hamper some people in the world from exercising the right to mobility and the right to choose where they want to live. In this sense, even saying that migrants are let to die in the Mediterranean does not fully capture the politics of containment practiced by the Italian government, under pressure from the European Commission and abetted by the Libyan authorities and Libyan militias. What does ‘letting die’ consist of in the context of migration in the Mediterranean? And how it is proactively enforced? Far from being an exclusive Italian deal, the politics of closing the Mediterranean is the outcome of states on the northern shore continuing to tighten their grip with the help of the Libyan coast guard. </p> <h2>Containment through kidnapping</h2> <p>Let’s recall the most recent and salient steps that have characterised the politics of containment in the Mediterranean. Between 10 and 11 June, Matteo Salvini, the Italian minister of the interior, forbade the Aquarius, a vessel belonging to the NGO SOS Mediteranée, to disembark rescued migrants in Italy. One day later Spain let the vessel disembark the migrants on its shores.</p> <p class="mag-quote-right">The ongoing politics of containment in the Mediterranean has been further ramped up through the kidnapping of shipwrecked migrants.</p> <p>On 12 July, a merchant vessel rescued 67 migrants and transferred them to the Italian Coast Guard. The coast guard entered the port of Trapani, in Sicily, one day later, but the government did not allow the shipwrecked migrants to disembark. The migrants were in effect kidnapped by the Italian Coast Guard and held against their will until an intervention by the Italian president Sergio Matterella secured their release at the end of the day.</p> <p>Two days after this incident, the Maltese government forbade the NGO LifeLine from disembarking 450 migrants onto its territory and Italy declared the harbour of Lampedusa closed. After hours of diplomatic impasse, France, Malta and Germany agreed to take 50 migrants each, provided that Italy will let them enter Italy first. After being held capture on the Italian vessels for a day outside the port of Pozzallo, the 450 migrants disembarked and, at the moment of writing, were waiting to be sorted and distributed across the various member states. </p> <p>Therefore, the ongoing politics of containment in the Mediterranean has been further ramped up through the kidnapping of shipwrecked migrants, who are kept hostage on vessels while politicians bargain over their fate on shore. The motto “state’s shipwreck” foregrounds the fact that what befalls migrants, in the Mediterranean Sea as well as at the internal borders of Europe, does not just happen, but are produced through a panoply of legal, political and logistical operations. Directed by EU member states, these operations are abetted by Libyan vessels made available under the Italian-Libyan Deal. These intercept migrants at sea and return them to Libya. Furthermore, these exceptional measures, <em>inter alia</em>, hamper vessels carrying rescued migrants from disembarking in violation of international law, and criminalise the NGOs involved in search and rescue operations. </p> <h2>Black bodies (not) to be saved</h2> <p>The debate on social media and in the Italian press is centred around questions such as ‘should we save migrants?’ and ‘should we let all migrants enter?’. Many from the Catholic world as well as NGOs and activist networks have responded that we must ‘stay human’ and put human beings before all. As part of this, they highlight the state’s duty to rescue migrants at sea. In fact, European citizens of all stripes and occupations must take a stand in this moment to delegitimate and defuse the politics of containment and migrant kidnapping that is underway in the Mediterranean. Such a capillary mobilisation has, until now, taken the form of an active refusal, denying to back the Italian and the European politics of containment, in an explicitly or silent way.</p> <p>However, by responding to questions such as ‘should we rescue migrants? we dampen the political claims of migrants and the struggle for equal freedom of movement, and continue to depict migrants as black bodies (not) to be saved. This is because such a debate –&nbsp;even if only to re-affirm a principle of humanity –&nbsp;requires us to accept the terms of the current discourse on migration. The current political and ethical dilemma consists in the need to oppose the politics of containment in the Mediterranean on the one hand, and the need to refuse the very terms of the discussion on the other.</p> <p>The focus should not be on the let die/let live opposition but, rather, on the racialised politics of mobility that underpins the functioning and the legitimacy of the visa system and of the European borders governance. The banal reality of unequal access as established through visa politics, and the hierarchies of lives that result from them, should be the starting point and core reason for disobedience against European government</p> <h2>Open the cities, open the harbours</h2> <p>While the debate in the political arena appears saturated by discourses around rescuing or not rescuing migrants, and by security-based logics that see migrants as threats, fractures are starting to emerge. Indeed, in response to the politics of closure put into place by Europe, with Italy at the forefront, some Italian municipalities such as Naples, Livorno and Palermo have opposed the closure of the ports. They have declared themselves keen on hosting migrants and opening their harbours.</p> <p class="mag-quote-left">“Fraternity and rescuing are not enough; we need to fight for social justice and for free mobility”.</p> <p>The widespread slogan ‘open the harbours’ has pushed individual and collective refusal of the politics of containment beyond the let live/let die narrative, and opened up space to rethink solidarity with migrants beyond humanitarian support. Simultaneously, in Spain, the major of Barcelona, Ada Colau, has notably engaged in an ‘open the city’ politics and declared Barcelona a safe harbour for migrants. </p> <p>Not all local authorities are, however, challenging their national governments. Many municipalities have enforced decrees and police measures to chase migrants away and to criminalise acts of solidarity. Ventimiglia, an Italian city located a few kilometres from the French-Italian border, has dismantled migrants’ informal camps and increasingly criminalised citizens’ solidarity practices. In response, a network of locals and activists from other cities have been supporting the migrants in transit since 2015. On 14 July, <a href="https://www.dinamopress.it/news/ventimiglia-citta-aperta-10mila-corteo-frontiere/">a huge demonstration</a> of almost 10,000 people called “Ventimiglia, Open City” took place in the streets of the small Italian city.</p> <p>“Fraternity and rescuing are not enough; we need to fight for social justice and for free mobility”. This, according to the demo’s organisers, is the main message of a mobilisation that has refused to stay within the parameters of the letting die/letting live narrative. Along the same lines, the political demand of the demonstration in Ventimiglia was a permit to stay and circulate across Europe for the migrants who arrive.</p> <p>This is something that, ultimately, can appear as an utopian claim in the current political scenario. However, it is precisely by supporting such a political demand that issues like freedom of movement and the possibility to choose where to live are posited as non-deferrable goals. In a less public way, a similar opening-up politics is enacted by locals and activists that support migrants’ struggles for movement at the internal frontiers of Europe, as it is the case on the French and Italian Alps. There, in the cities of Briancon and Claviere, French and Italian citizens have been accused of “crimes of solidarity” for helping migrants, on a logistical and legal level, in crossing the border.</p> <p>De-securitising the cities and producing fractures within the politics of containment means not narrowing political interventions to the topic of rescuing migrants or letting them die. In contrast, opening spaces of liveability, refuge, movement and safe arrival – as the “open the harbours” campaign highlights – shifts attention from the black bodies to be rescued towards the unequal access to mobility.</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/ahmad-almouhmad/reflections-on-world-refugee-day">Reflections on World Refugee Day</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/ottavia-ampuero-villagran/nameless-and-un-mourned-identifying-migrant-bodies-in-medite">Nameless and un-mourned: identifying migrant bodies in the Mediterranean</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/martina-tazzioli/crossed-boundaries-migrants-and-police-on-french-italian-border">Crossed boundaries? Migrants and police on the French-Italian border </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/jenny-kali/waves-of-suffocation-two-years-of-eu-turkey-deal">Waves of suffocation: two years of the EU-Turkey deal</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 Mon, 23 Jul 2018 07:00:00 +0000 Martina Tazzioli 118966 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Negotiating Brexit from the ground up https://www.opendemocracy.net/louisa-weinstein/negotiating-brexit-from-ground-up <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Having a national conversation is no small task.&nbsp; However the principles are simple and their implementation is absolutely possible.&nbsp; <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/Screen Shot 2018-07-19 at 13.04.07.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-07-19 at 13.04.07.png" 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'>Screenshot of the OurBrexit website. </span></span></span></p><p>Brexit is increasingly being treated as a national crisis on one level which challenges party lines and has even led to proposals of the formation of a Unity government. There is no doubt that it is complex with multiple moving parts and has cut to the heart of families and communities. However, it is crucial to realise that in order for it to be successful or for it not to “take us over a cliff edge” we the British public, will need to be prepared to undergo a change in culture.&nbsp; </p> <p>This will involve our becoming more sophisticated in our <a href="https://thewholestory.solutionsjournalism.org/complicating-the-narratives-b91ea06ddf63">approach</a> to negotiation and conflict resolution as individuals and communities. If we do this, we can start building workable solutions to Brexit and, potentially, build stronger, more cohesive communities that speak <a href="https://www.hopenothate.org.uk/updates/news/">less of hate</a> and more of tolerance.</p> <h2><strong>The challenge</strong></h2> <p>The Brexit referendum required us, as a nation, to take polarised views and to shore up our arguments against each other in order to win. We were forced to decide whether we were “in” or “out” even if we did not all fully understand what either choice meant. Once we had made that decision we had to commit to it and, to some degree entrench ourselves in our positions against our neighbours. colleagues and friends. These are positions that our MPs have then gone on to fight and defend. At the same time, we, the electorate are still not necessarily clear on what we think the right thing to do is on the minutiae of some of the issues.</p> <p>This starting point was always going to be a tricky one. Trump has been very successful in adopting this kind of binary negotiation strategy.&nbsp; He takes his position and he pursues it aggressively.&nbsp; He also is not afraid of doing an about face on his position if it means him getting what he wants. But this also carries high risks of alienation. However, to achieve a solution that rises to the complexities of the financial, social and interpersonal challenges, the in/out, right/wrong binary approach carries with it a risk that a complex solution addressing the multiplicity of needs will never be reached.</p> <p>As Trump has shown, negotiating hard-line agreements may achieve financial results but does not guarantee harmony or indeed popularity. It may also require us to be ruthless and dishonest which, in the long term is divisive and destructive. A dictatorial or bullish approach often gets the negotiator what they want but risks alienation and divisiveness amongst communities. This is the approach we need to employ if we are pursuing a binary position. At the same time, when we compromise we can be seen as weak, woolly and caving-in to others. Having said that, the only way through negotiations is through compromise and collaboration which will necessarily create periods of uncertainty and even seeming lack of direction or weakness. <span class="mag-quote-center">The only way through negotiations is through compromise and collaboration which will necessarily create periods of uncertainty and even seeming lack of direction or weakness. </span></p> <h2><strong>The opportunity</strong></h2> <p>On the other hand, the World Cup showed quite clearly the capacity of the British people to come together behind a common goal, even if we didn’t achieve quite as many goals as we may have liked. Although it was England playing, many of us witnessed people, up and down the country, coming together in unity and community. Beyond that, the multicultural nature of our communities was celebrated. What it demonstrated more than anything was a desire to pull together, that we prefer to work as a team than to be at odds. <span class="mag-quote-center">What it demonstrated more than anything was a desire to pull together, that we prefer to work as a team than to be at odds.</span></p> <p>So, how does this apply to Brexit?&nbsp; In order for the Brexit process to result in a successful outcome for the UK, individuals and communities will need to move away from positions (in or out) and start to focus on what our common interests and needs are.&nbsp; Common interests may focus on:</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; A soft border in Ireland</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Workable trade arrangements</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Agreement on security issues</p> <p>Common needs may focus on:</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Feeling safe in our communities</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Keeping people in work</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Ensuring a good standard of living for all</p> <p>If we focus less on who is right and who is wrong, who is good and who is bad, then we will have more time to focus on these crucial questions.</p> <h2><strong>The way forward</strong></h2> <p>Implementing this kind of national conversation is not a small task even on a borough by borough basis.&nbsp; It would require a movement away from debate and winning arguments towards working together to build a common solution or at least common priorities and aims.&nbsp; It is not necessarily an easy task but could be made simpler using the following simple steps. </p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <strong>Identify and engage community leaders</strong></p> <p>This means bringing together local politicians and council leaders, primary care and community groups, religious and spiritual groups, school leaders and even gang leaders to engage in a process of building agreement.&nbsp; On the face of it this may seem controversial and would be contingent on the safe space described below.&nbsp; However, bringing together different groups including those who do not usually have a voice is key to garnering the big picture of what the country as a whole wants and needs.&nbsp; It is also crucial to building mutual understanding and recognition which again moves away from the binary position of good and bad, right and wrong which is so often a matter of perception<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp; <strong>Create a safe space</strong></p> <p>In order to have these challenging conversations, a safe space to express opinions and work through issues or conflicts will be key.&nbsp; This would mean that any of these conversations were closely managed by appropriately trained negotiators, facilitators or mediators to ensure that:</p> <ul><li>Conversations were focused around common interests and needs</li><li>Negotiations around those interests and needs were carefully managed</li><li>Circumstances are conducive to people being able to honestly express their opinion including confidentiality and the impartiality of the facilitator</li><li>Each individual had the time and space to express their opinion</li><li>Individuals have the tools to communicate and through the process learn to build agreement</li><li>Follow up support allowed for conflict situations arising as offshoots from the core conversation to be addressed safely</li></ul> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <strong>Negotiate common interests and needs</strong></p> <p>Identifying and agreeing common interests and needs would go a long way to backing up the government’s negotiating position.&nbsp; This is because, as I have already mentioned, negotiations necessarily require compromise.&nbsp; In order to compromise, a negotiator needs to know what the guiding priorities are and then aim to achieve them through the deal.&nbsp; In this way, the conversation moves away from customs union or no customs union towards job security, cost of living, ability to grow businesses and ability to trade with others in the short, medium and long term.</p> <p>Common interests and needs will diverge particularly if this were rolled out nationwide. We would, as a country, also need to acknowledge that we are not all going to get what we want and there may be more lose-lose than win-win.&nbsp; However, key themes will emerge and with them, as with any negotiation, the opportunity for new solutions, creative thought and a new capacity within communities to build agreement. Key themes will emerge and with them, as with any negotiation, the opportunity for new solutions, creative thought and a new capacity within communities to build agreement.</p> <p>To do this we need to ask our community groups the following questions:</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; What do you want generally and specifically?</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; How do you see that working out?</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; What do you think other people want?</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; What are your top and bottom lines or best and worst case scenarios?</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Where do you feel you could/could not compromise around those issues?</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Where do you think the other parties could/could not compromise around those issues</p> <p>Not only do these questions help flush out and clarify for others but also themselves what they want. They also start to address the misconceptions that create and build arguments that may not be there in the first place.</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <strong>Identify individual, group and common risks</strong></p> <p>Any negotiating position needs to be balanced by the risks of not getting what we want.&nbsp; If we do not acknowledge the risks associated with pursuing our position, we cannot negotiate effectively or realistically.&nbsp; <span class="mag-quote-center">Any negotiating position has associated risks and that is why we choose to compromise realising that sometimes we are in a position where we have to accept the lesser of two evils.&nbsp; </span></p> <p>The type of questions we would need to ask would be:</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; What happens if you don’t get what you want</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; How would this impact you?</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; How would this impact your community?</p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; What other options might be available?</p> <p>Having a national conversation is no small task.&nbsp; However the principles are simple and their implementation is absolutely possible.&nbsp; There is an opportunity to start having a conversation with respect and dignity notwithstanding the fact that we have divergent views.&nbsp; Polarised positions might get us what we want and even what we think is right, they also feed the drama we enjoy when we open our daily newspaper.&nbsp; However, they prohibit the development of creative workable solutions that are potentially more directed towards the common good and successful outcomes. Brexit provides the opportunity for deep cultural change away from hate and towards collaboration. For this to happen, we will have to compromise and, at times, lose. If we are prepared to do this, we can, as communities and a country win big.</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="/transformation/peroline-ainsworth-kiran-nihalani-hannah-rollins/three-more-ways-to-build-solidarity-">Three more ways to build solidarity across our differences</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/transformation/toby-ealden/it-s-communication-isn-t-it-using-theatre-to-bring-people-together">It’s communication isn’t it? Using theatre to bring people together</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/paul-walsh/brexit-corbyn-and-us-what-disappointment-can-teach-us-about-politics-and-o">Brexit, Corbyn and us: what disappointment can teach us about politics and ourselves</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? uk UK Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Brexit2016 Louisa Weinstein Thu, 19 Jul 2018 12:04:25 +0000 Louisa Weinstein 118937 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Is there a role for the EU in the Moroccan Rif crisis? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/mohammed-ben-jelloun/is-there-role-for-eu-in-moroccan-rif-crisis <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="normal">For Rabat, the challenge will be to access the EU funds and more while getting away from any significant EU impact. That is, even if it means faking Europeanization.<strong><em></em></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="normal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35935309.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35935309.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'>Emmanuel Macron receives the King of Morocco Mohammed VI on 10 April 2018 in Paris. Christian Liewig/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p class="normal">Experts say EU-Morocco mutual stabilization strategy mostly benefits the regime in Morocco. Rabat is using its political relationship with Brussels as a strategy to credit and stabilize its regime, rather than as an opportunity to progress along the democratization path. And up to now Brussels has fully backed Morocco’s game of security and migration. </p> <p class="normal">That is, at the expense of top priorities such as Europeanization of the Mediterranean southern shore and establishing a supranational power over member-states, including a protected non-member state such as Morocco. The EU, therefore, ought to review its policy. It ought to strike a balance between backing Moroccan top-down regionalization and supporting bottom-up Rifian regionalism. In particular, it ought to condition any likely Moroccan eligibility for European Structural Funds on the granting of autonomous rule to the Rif-region.</p> <p class="normal">“Advanced regionalization” is the latest development in Rabat’s enduring EU solicitation strategy. Beyond security and migration cooperation, Rabat has always (and not unsuccessfully) sought maximal cooptation into the EU. By self-styling as a regionalized democracy, it obviously wishes for access to the European internal market, to diverse EU funds, and it ultimately wishes for political recognition of its autocratic regime and its autonomy proposal for Western Sahara. <span class="mag-quote-center">Rabat has always (and not unsuccessfully) sought maximal cooptation into the EU.</span></p> <h2 class="normal"><strong>Liberalized autocracy</strong></h2> <p class="normal">I remember Autumn 1984 in Bruges (Belgium) when professor Raymond Rifflet, half amused and half surprised, informed our class: “Le sultan du Maroc vient de déposer une demande d’adhésion à la Communauté Européenne”. (King Hassan’s application has been officially rejected in 1987, which did not dissuade the then crown prince Mohamed from studying at the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels in the late 1980s.) Indeed, in default of full EU membership in the 1980s, Rabat sought a quasi-membership. As the world of the 1990s obviously required liberalization, it sought to adapt by inaugurating a political liberalization process. In order for their regime to survive, king Hassan II, and then his son Mohammed VI set out to manufacture what D. Brumberg dubbed ‘liberalized autocracy’. In particular, Mohammed VI needed to accomplish some visible progress in order to officially present himself in a reassuring light to the international community, hence Regionalization touted as the great political project of his coming reign.</p> <p class="normal">Morocco is the first country in the southern Mediterranean region to be granted advanced status (‘more than association, less than membership’). This quasi-membership allows the regime to benefit both materially and mediatically. It allows it to maximally benefit from EU aid, trade, and mobility, while getting away from the conditionality policy of full EU accession. </p> <p class="normal">The partnership also promotes the regime’s international reputation, amplifying its ‘liberalization’ discourse and its rhetoric of Moroccan ‘exceptionalism’ in the MENA region. Granted on October 13, 2008, the status was like a gift from heaven. What, on November 6, 2008, was officially designated as Advanced Regionalization was thought to capitalize on the opportunity to ‘further advance the Advanced Status’.</p> <h2 class="normal"><strong>Advanced Regionalization</strong></h2> <p class="normal">The joint EU-Morocco Advanced Status document invites the parties to a "joint reflection ... with a view to taking a new step towards access to Community financial resources from 2013 onwards, to accompany Morocco in a logic of EU regional and cohesion policy and adoption of new implementation procedures." This prompted a collaborative research programme exploring the possibilities of extending the methodology of structural funds to Morocco. The team, including L. Jaïdi, a previously Advisor to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Economy and Finance, found that a full extension of regional policy in Morocco could have a financial impact amounting to multiplying the current cooperation by 14. Moroccan decision-makers were consequently advised “not to miss the opportunity” of such a “qualitative leap in financial cooperation with Morocco.”</p> <p class="normal">As with the creation of Europe’s Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) in the UK, Sweden, or the candidate member-state Turkey, the Moroccan <em>Agences régionales d’exécution de projets</em> (AREPs) may have been expressly set up to anticipate the reception of EU’s regional policies. By regionalizing their countries, <em>member-states</em> <em>de facto </em>do allow EU’s regional policies to have more impact in their territories. It is doubtful, however, that the AREPs will serve Brussels’ objectives of Europeanization whether from inside or outside the EU. One guess is that Rabat will not submit to any <em>acquis communautaire</em> or any EU liberal-democratic constraints. </p> <p class="normal">For Rabat, the challenge will be to access the EU funds and so much more while getting away from any significant EU impact. That is, even if it means faking Europeanization. It would be a different case if Rabat were to Europeanize from ‘outside’ the EU, having no claims whatsoever on the so attractive funds, particularly if it proceeds out of political decency and not out of autocratic benevolence or for the sake of neo-liberal adaptation.</p> <h2 class="normal"><strong>Beyond fake Europeanization?</strong></h2> <p class="normal">The European approach has been cautious and willing to praise Moroccan progress rather than sanction its failures. In fact, Morocco has succeeded in silencing the EU on human rights, democracy and self-determination. Experts say “Indicators for Morocco clearly show that the country has not progressed much in its democratic record, this picture has not changed since the ‘Arab Spring’... Despite the failures in Moroccan democratisation processes, as well as a lack of improvement in the Western Sahara dossier... despite its worsening human rights record… the EU has welcomed Moroccan democratic progress and stability, and deepened commercial and trade relationships with the country.” <span class="mag-quote-center">Will Brussels now equally speak out about the human rights and suffering of the Rif population?</span></p> <p class="normal">The EU <em>declaration</em> that adopted the Advanced Status does “welcome Morocco's intention to strengthen decentralization and promote regional development." Will Brussels now equally speak out about the human rights and suffering of the Rif population? As a student of EU politics I believe there is now a role for Brussels to play in Morocco. I believe the Rif crisis gives it an opportunity to create counterbalances: Alhoceima’s rising bottom-up regionalism against Rabat’s failing top-down regionalization and the severely neglected Rifian non-member region against the spoiled Moroccan non-member state.</p> <p class="normal">Will Brussels put the necessary pressure on the Moroccan regime and its European protectors; the French and Spanish former colonial powers? So far it did not instrumentalize trade and the access to the internal European market, nor did it apply any sort of conditionality towards Rabat. It remains to be seen whether, in the event of a Moroccan request, Brussels will simply authorize EU-Morocco cohesion funds and renounce any kind of domestic impact in return. Or whether it will choose to trade the coveted European Structural Funds for the autonomy of the Rif-region.</p><p class="normal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/22502CF453E548B0B2A459E73CCDB287.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/22502CF453E548B0B2A459E73CCDB287.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'>Flags at last Sunday's demonstration in Rabat. DR. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/john-weeks/free-markets-and-decline-of-democracy">Free markets and the decline of democracy</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"> Morocco </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia EU Morocco Democracy and government Economics International politics Mohammed Ben Jelloun Wed, 18 Jul 2018 09:09:13 +0000 Mohammed Ben Jelloun 118915 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Free markets and the decline of democracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/john-weeks/free-markets-and-decline-of-democracy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What is the source of the 21st century tendency to authoritarianism? The central purpose of neoliberal re-regulation is to remove economic policy from control by representative democracy.</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/500209/721px-AdamSmith1790.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/721px-AdamSmith1790.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'>"Adam Smith's ahistoric view": John Kay engraving, 1790. Wikicommons/United States Library of Congress. Public domain.</span></span></span></p><p>It is difficult to find a major country in which democratic institutions are not under stress, in many cases under aggressive attack. The United States has a profoundly anti-democratic regime. In Europe long-standing authoritarian tendencies have enjoyed a quantum leap under the neoliberal austerity regime fostered by the German government under cover of the European Commission.&nbsp; </p> <p>The draconian austerity measures that were imposed on Greek citizens represent an obvious and shocking example of the mainstream authoritarian trend in Europe.&nbsp; &nbsp;Authoritarian movements and political parties hold power in Austria, Italy, Poland and Hungary. Outside the EU, efforts of the government of Europe’s most populous country, Russia, to undermine democracy domestically and in the rest of Europe are well-documented. &nbsp;The few developments in major countries supportive of democracy come in Spain where the Socialists hold government and the progressive and participatory Podemos is a strong political force; and the shift of the British Labour Party to social democracy with the imminent possibility of an election victory.&nbsp; </p> <p>Beyond North America and Europe no major country counters the authoritarian trend, not China, where the government oversees a transition from socialist to market authoritarianism. Superficial flowering of democratic participation in Brazil and India proved short-lived, with a rightwing semi-legal coup undermining representative institutions in the former, and the ruling government in India fostering ethnic-religious intolerance. &nbsp;In VietNam where I have worked for 25 years, an authoritarian government has completed a transition from central planning to capitalism only slightly less repressive than in China. The Philippines’ democratic institutions, dubious in the past, now suffer under the most brutal regime in Asia.</p><h2>"Bourgeois democracy"</h2> <p>What is the source of this twenty first century tendency to authoritarianism? &nbsp;The end of WWI, now 100 years past, ushered in authoritarian regimes provoked by the excesses of capitalism. The Great War, as my parents named it, was the most catastrophic conflict in human history. Ten years later came the most devastating economic crisis the world had known. The excesses of capitalism and the apparent incapacity of representative governments to contain those excesses induced many, especially in Europe, to dismiss “bourgeois democracy” as degenerate and dysfunctional. As the Great War ended, revolutionaries in Russia overthrew capitalism and pledged a governance system in the interests of the working-class and peasantry. The promise and hope for popular democracy went unfulfilled as the workers’ state transformed into thinly disguised authoritarian rule. </p> <p>In Italy, Germany and Japan discrediting of “bourgeois democracy” led to unabashed dictatorships that celebrated their authoritarian nature. The regimes proved appallingly successful not only in crushing labor movements but also in rolling back the principles of the Enlightenment. Destruction of these savage regimes required a war even more catastrophic than the 1914-1918 conflict.</p> <h2><strong>The "inner nature of capital"</strong></h2> <p>In the wake of economic depression, fascism, war and the consolidation of the Soviet Union, whose military had borne the major burden of the war against fascism, there developed a near-consensus among mainstream political parties in the United States and Europe. Over thirty years of economic catastrophe, dictatorship and war demonstrated even to major elements of the capitalist class the need to manage capitalism. During its brief life this consensus maintained that stability and consolidation of capitalism required control mechanisms to prevent the excesses of the economic system, excesses generated by competition, what Marx called “the inner nature of capital”. </p> <p>In the immediate aftermath of WWII this recognition of the excesses of capitalism appeared even in the foremost economics journal of the time,&nbsp;<cite>The Economic Journal</cite>.&nbsp; In 1947 the British economist K. W. Rothschild wrote an article that should be on the reading list of every progressive course in microeconomics,</p> <blockquote><p class="quote">…[W]hen we enter the field of rivalry between [corporate] giants, the traditional separation of the political from the economic can no longer be maintained… Fascism…has been largely brought into power by this very struggle in an attempt of the most powerful oligopolists to strengthen, through political action, their position in the labour market and vis-à-vis their smaller competitors, and finally to strike out in order to change the world market situation in their favour...</p><p class="quote">&nbsp;</p><p>…The imperialistic aspects of modern wars or armed interventions must be seen as part of a dynamic market theory just as the more traditional ‘economic’ activities like cut-throat pricing…For there is no fundamental difference between the two. (Rothschild 1947, 319)</p></blockquote> <p>The rise of financial capital since the 1970s has returned us to the capitalist authoritarianism that flourished in the 1920s and 1930s. Market competition is the source of authoritarian rule, and by its nature competition among oligopolies extends to social and political conflict.&nbsp; </p> <p>The current authoritarian tide in European and the United States comes from the excesses generated by capitalist competition, unleashed and justified now not by fascism but by neoliberalism.&nbsp; Neoliberalism pretentiously claims to be the guarantor of freedom – “free markets, free men” was the title of Milton Friedman’s infamous lecture to London businessmen in 1974. Reality is quite the contrary. Neoliberal market re-regulation over the last thirty years has destroyed freedom.&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>“Re-regulation”</strong></h2> <p>I am careful to use the term “re-regulation” not “de-regulation”.&nbsp; During the New Deal period, and during the European post-war social democratic and Christian Democratic consensus, governments regulated capital in the specific sense of limiting its freedom of movement. Tariffs and “non-tariff barriers”, limitations on conversion of national currencies and strict oversight of financial institutions constrained the form and intensity of competition. The explicit purpose of these policies was to prevent the “free flow of goods”, to restrict capital’s cross-border mobility, and narrowly contain financial speculation.</p> <p>The neoliberal re-regulation does not merely reverse regulation of capital. Neoliberal re-regulation replaces progressive containment of capital with legal rules that actively facilitate the collective power of capital and undermine the collective power of labour. &nbsp;Neoliberal re-regulation is not the negation of restrictions on capital. Rather, it is the implementation of active policies to limit the scope for governments to act and intervene in economic, social and political spheres. <span class="mag-quote-center">Neoliberal re-regulation… is the implementation of active policies to limit the scope for governments to act and intervene in economic, social and political spheres.&nbsp; </span></p> <p>During the New Deal and social democracy in Europe governments regulated capital. In the neoliberal era capital regulates government. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>The central purpose of neoliberal re-regulation is to remove economic policy from control by representative democracy. This requires not only economic re-regulation but also social and political re-regulation. </p> <h2><strong>“Ordoliberalism”</strong></h2> <p>Perhaps the clearest example of enforcing limits on representative government is the right-wing German economic ideology “ordoliberalism”.&nbsp; The term combines two words, “order” and “liberalism”.&nbsp; This is not a philosophy of de-regulation; rather it is a philosophy of restricted democracy that advocates strict rules – “order” – to limit governments from enacting legislation that deviates from neoliberal principles.&nbsp; </p> <p>Ordoliberalism’s combination of neoclassical economics and emphasis on the state establishing rules to enforce that ideology yields an explicitly anti-democratic system of governance that is now deeply embedded in the two major treaties that serve as the constitution of the European Union. The current German government has spent over a decade successfully inducing other EU governments to legislate limits on their legal scope to design and implement economic policy. Examples of the ordoliberalism approach in the United States are the legislation setting the public debt ceiling and central bank inflation targeting.</p> <h2><strong>Media control</strong></h2> <p>The most odious re-regulation in the interests of capital has been legal measures to weaken trade unions and other popular organizations and movements.&nbsp; Central to that weakening has been the consolidation of financial capital’s control of the media, itself facilitated by legal changes. This control of the means of communication is central to the re-regulation process that liberates capital. Media control facilitates the propaganda to minimize and deflect criticism, even recognition, of the criminal excesses of capitalism. <span class="mag-quote-center">Imposing legal and extra-legal limits to personal freedom in the neoliberal era derives both ideologically and in practice from the dogma of market freedom.</span></p> <h2><strong>Democratic facade</strong></h2> <p>Imposing legal and extra-legal limits to personal freedom in the neoliberal era derives both ideologically and in practice from the dogma of market freedom. Adam Smith’s ahistoric view that markets arise as a “consequence of a certain propensity in human nature... to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another” could not be further from the reality of capitalism. So-called free markets must be enforced, enforcement achieved by re-regulation by capital. Over the last forty years this re-regulation involved a decommissioning of representative government while maintaining it as a rhetorical facade.</p> <p>The active regulation of market processes in the United States in the 1930s and Western Europe after WWII suppressed the authoritarian tendency inherent in capitalism.&nbsp; The re-regulation by capital, especially financial capital, unleashed that authoritarianism.&nbsp; The emergence of finance capital, so-called financialization, brings to full expression the anti-democratic nature of market processes.&nbsp; </p> <p>At the outset of the twenty first century the great oligopolies and powerful industrial corporations about which Rothschild wrote no longer drive the destructive force of capitalist competition. Finance capital not the huge industrial predators of the twentieth century drive competition in this the globalized twenty-first century. The hegemony of finance capital brings forth overtly authoritarian political dictatorship undisguised by democratic trappings.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/edmund-fawcett/daunting-task-of-repair">The daunting task of repair</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/anthony-barnett/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="/phil-burton-cartledge/democratic-politics-beyond-liberal-democracy">Democratic politics beyond liberal democracy</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? John Weeks Wed, 18 Jul 2018 08:23:46 +0000 John Weeks 118914 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Code of Conduct for Antisemitism: a tale of two texts https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brian-klug/code-of-conduct-for-antisemitism-tale-of-two-texts <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Ironically, it is the drafters of the Labour party’s NEC Code, not their critics, who have grasped the meaning of ‘working definition’.</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-Jennie_Formby,_2016_Labour_Party_Conference.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-Jennie_Formby,_2016_Labour_Party_Conference.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'>Jennie Formby, Labour NEC member and South East Regional Secretary of Unite the Union, at the 2016 Labour Party Conference in Liverpool.Wikicommons/Rwendland. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>How to deal with antisemitism while at the same time protecting free speech in the political debate over Israel and Palestine? This conundrum lies at the heart of the argument (to use a polite word) in the public square over a new <a href="https://www.thejc.com/comment/analysis/jeremy-corbyn-labour-definition-antisemitism-1.466626">Code of Conduct for Antisemitism</a> proposed by the Equalities Committee, a sub-committee of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Labour Party. The proposal is due to be formally endorsed by the NEC on 17 July. I shall refer to it as ‘the NEC Code’.</p> <p>The argument revolves around the relationship between the NEC Code and a document that was issued in May 2016 by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), an intergovernmental body to which thirty-one countries, including the UK, belong. One edition of the document on the IHRA website has the title ‘<a href="https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/working-definition-antisemitism">The Working Definition of Antisemitism’</a> and this is the name by which it is widely cited. (Another edition <a href="https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/sites/default/files/press_release_document_antisemitism.pdf">does not</a>.) This title, as we shall see, has given rise to confusion, so I shall refer to the text as ‘the IHRA document’. The IHRA working definition has been widely adopted by national governments (UK included) and other public authorities.</p> <p>According to Jennie Formby, General Secretary of the Labour Party, the NEC Code takes the IHRA Working Definition and supplements it “<a href="https://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/opinion-ihra-doesnt-go-far-enough-labours-new-anti-semitism-guidelines-are-more-comprehensive/">with additional examples and guidance</a>”, thus creating “the most thorough and expansive Code of Conduct on anti-Semitism introduced by any political party in the UK”. Similarly, Jon Lansman, a fellow member of the NEC, calls the Code “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/12/labour-antisemitism-code-gold-standard-political-parties">the new gold standard</a>” for political parties, “stronger than anything of its kind adopted by any political party in this country”. The Code, he says, “fully adopts the IHRA definition, and covers the same ground as the IHRA examples” but goes further, making it more workable. That is the view from the inside.</p> <h2><strong>Wholesale indictment</strong></h2> <p>Those who oppose this view tend to dismiss the NEC Code out of hand rather than seeking to amend it. This itself tells you something about the nature of the ‘argument’ in the public square: it is not exactly amenable to nuance. While there are specific points of criticism, critics typically take the position that Labour should simply adopt the IHRA document in its entirety. This is usually accompanied by a wholesale indictment of the NEC’s initiative or of the entire Labour Party or of the party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, as this sample of comments from the week following the Code’s appearance illustrates:</p> <p>“Labour’s new guidelines show it is <a href="https://www.thejc.com/comment/comment/labour-s-new-guidelines-show-it-is-institutionally-antisemitic-1.466685">institutionally antisemitic</a>”. The NEC Code is a “<a href="https://news.sky.com/story/labours-new-anti-semitism-code-of-conduct-slammed-as-toothless-11426879">toothless document</a> that will only encourage Jew-hate in the Labour Party to flourish further, unchallenged and unpunished”. “It seems Labour found [the IHRA] definition too stringent – it prohibited anti-Jewish expression that Labour <a href="https://twitter.com/freedland/status/1014876712411254784?lang=en">wants to allow</a>.” This is an “attempt to <a href="https://www.thejc.com/comment/analysis/jeremy-corbyn-labour-definition-antisemitism-1.466626">weaken the guidelines</a> around how and when criticism of Israel can stray into territory that is obviously antisemitic”. Labour’s “IHRA rejection … represents and repeats the same far left ideological, emotional and <a href="https://www.thejc.com/comment/analysis/what-is-the-international-holocaust-remembrance-alliance-definition-of-antisemitism-1.466841">systematic rejection of our concerns</a> that we have faced for decades.”</p> <p>These comments were all made by people who, either in their own right or in the context of Labour’s approach to dealing with antisemitism, are prominent figures. Their comments might strike some readers the same way as they strike me: over the top. But in two cases – no purpose is served in identifying them by name here – the person is someone I have known and respected for many years. I cannot simply dismiss what they say as false or wrongheaded, even though I believe it is.</p> <p>There is a complex historical and political background to the current debate. In part, this lies in conflation of antisemitism with anti-Zionism. Partly it consists in hostility to Labour from the outside or opposition to its left wing from within. But there is another piece: the sense that some of us have who are Jewish (I include myself) that something has been awry in the discourse about Zionism – and even about Jews in general – in certain sections of the left for many years (<a href="https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/blog/zionism-antisemitism-left-today/">as I argued last year</a>). This grievance has festered, as grievances do when they go unheeded. I detect the effects of this unheeded grievance under the surface of some (though by no means all) of the cynicism about Labour and the NEC Code. Which is why I cannot simply dismiss it.</p> <p>By the same token, cynicism, even when it is well-founded, can become a habit. It is liable to impair our ability to make rational, measured judgments and to recognise when the very thing we want comes about. How ironic if, just at the moment when Labour wakes up to the need to deal with antisemitism in its midst, it is shouted down because of its failure to deal with it in the past! This is, I believe, part of the explanation for the hostility to the NEC Code. A legitimate grievance has sunk in so deep that it is impossible to accept that possibly – just possibly – this grievance has at last been taken on board by the party and that it is being dealt with responsibly. For those readers of this article for whom the cap fits, I urge you to try to keep an open mind about this possibility – which I believe is the reality – as you read on.</p> <h2><strong>‘People of goodwill’</strong></h2> <p>I shall come to specific objections to the NEC Code in due course. I think these objections are largely (if not wholly) misplaced. In a short piece, however, it is not possible to take up each and every criticism and to give a point-by-point refutation. My concern in this article is not primarily with the validity of particular criticisms but with the general stance taken by critics who, on the one hand, reject outright the NEC Code and, on the other hand, embrace unconditionally the IHRA document – as if the one were anathema and the other sacred. I shall seek to show that this stance is an impediment to what people of goodwill want to achieve. By ‘people of goodwill’ I mean people who are sincere in wanting to solve the conundrum I mentioned at the outset: how to deal with antisemitism while at the same time protecting free speech in the political debate over Israel and Palestine. These people are my intended audience. I have nothing to say to those who pretend to be concerned about both desiderata but actually are interested only in grinding a political axe.</p> <p>Since the current argument revolves around the relationship between the NEC Code and the IHRA document, the first hurdle that critics have to clear is knowing what each text says. I am not convinced that everyone who takes the stance that I am critiquing – treating the IHRA text as sacred and the NEC Code as anathema – has cleared that hurdle. The analysis that I am about to give is based on comparing the texts in relevant respects. My comparison will not be exhaustive. I urge readers to go back to the two primary sources so as to check my analysis and to judge for themselves whether the NEC Code is an advance on the IHRA document in solving the conundrum or not.</p> <p>A word about the structure of the two documents. There are three parts to the IHRA text: a preamble, a “working definition of antisemitism”, and a discursive explanation that includes, inter alia, a bullet list of eleven “examples”. The NEC Code comprises sixteen numbered paragraphs divided into three sections: Introduction (pars. 1 to 4), principles (par. 5 to 8), and guidelines (par. 9 to 16). Par. 9 contains a list of seven “examples”, (a) to (g).</p> <p>Perhaps the most insistent criticism of the NEC Code is that Labour has <em>rejected</em> the IHRA definition, replacing it with something new. So, for example: “The IHRA definition of anti-semitism is the only globally accepted one, and it truly beggars belief that the Labour Party thinks it can or should try to cook up its own. <a href="https://twitter.com/skinnock/status/1014981351118987264?lang=en">What the hell is going on?</a>” Sometimes the words “in full” are added after “definition”, which, as we shall see, is a clue to the confusion underlying this criticism.</p> <h2><strong>The “working definition”</strong></h2> <p>Has Labour tried to “cook up its own” definition? Here is an extract from par. 5 of the NEC Code: “To assist in understanding what constitutes antisemitism, the NEC has endorsed the definition produced by the [IHRA] in 2016”. There follows the definition, reproduced from the IHRA document: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” In the IHRA document, this form of words, described as&nbsp; a “non-legally binding working definition”, is set off from the rest of the text by appearing in bold and being placed in a box – thus leaving no doubt that <em>this </em>– these two sentences – constitutes the “working definition”. Likewise, in the NEC Code the (identical) definition is set apart by appearing in bold, though indented rather than boxed. No cooking of the books here. The NEC takes the IHRA “working definition”, in its entirety and without altering it one iota, using it as the foundation on which the Code is built: that is “what the hell is going on”.</p> <p>As definitions go, this one is, to say the least, somewhat vague. Accordingly, the drafters of the IHRA text provide “examples” which, they say, “may serve as illustrations” to “guide” IHRA in its work. Similarly, the NEC Code includes “guidelines” to assist Labour in <em>its </em>work, including a set of seven “examples”. Here is where there is a degree of variation from the IHRA text; and this is where the confusion arises. For, when critics say that the NEC has not adopted the IHRA definition (“in full”), they allude to these variations. </p> <p>They thus confuse the <em>definition</em> and the <em>examples </em>that are meant as illustrations only. The examples are precisely <em>not</em> intended to be definitive. The definition itself might be vague, but nothing could be clearer than this distinction – between the definition proper and ancillary examples – in the body<em> </em>of the IHRA text.</p> <p>This confusion is compounded by the fact that (as I mentioned earlier) the IHRA document <em>as a whole</em> is often referred as ‘The Working Definition of Antisemitism’. It is not unusual for the title of an article or a position paper (which effectively this is) to be taken from a part of the text that it names. In this case, however, the title helps sow confusion. Nonetheless, no title has the magical power to obliterate an analytical distinction. To repeat: the definition is one thing, the examples another.</p> <p>To sum up so far: it is not true to say that the NEC rejects the IHRA “working definition”. On the contrary, it endorses it and incorporates it – prominently – in its Code. It does, however, depart from the IHRA document in certain other respects, including the “examples” it gives. In order to evaluate the Code, we need to take stock of these differences. </p> <h2><strong>Two sets of examples</strong></h2> <p>Let us begin with the two sets of examples. Five of the eleven IHRA examples are taken over bodily – word for word – into the NEC code where they reappear as examples (a), (b), (c), (e) and (g). Example (d) in the NEC Code is identical to the corresponding IHRA example except for substituting ‘Nazi’ for ‘National Socialist’ (a difference without a distinction). One of the IHRA examples is “Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis”. The NEC Code incorporates this as example (f) and expands on it: “Classic antisemitism also includes the use of derogatory terms for Jewish people (such as ‘kike’ or ’yid’); stereotypical and negative physical depictions/ descriptions or character traits, such as references to wealth or avarice and – in the political arena – equating Jews with capitalists or the ruling class”. Not only is this a valid addition, not only does it plug a hole in the examples given by IHRA, but it picks out discourse that, in the British context, Labour needs to be cognizant of for the purpose of conducting its educational and disciplinary work.</p> <p>This is not the only respect in which, in terms of dealing with antisemitism, the NEC Code improves upon the IHRA document. Thus, par. 10 says: “To those examples [in par. 9] the Party would add the making of unjustified reference to the protected characteristics of being Jewish”; in other words, the equivalent of referring to a ‘black mugger’ when the racial or ethnic identity of the mugger is irrelevant or would not be mentioned if the mugger were white. (An example that springs to mind: ‘Jewish banker’.) There is a further addition in par. 14, which says “it is wrong to apply double standards by requiring more vociferous condemnation of such actions from Jewish people or organisations than from others …”. This speaks to the actual experience of some Jewish people on the left, as I know from the testimonies of people close to me.</p> <p>All these points significantly enhance the IHRA text. But I have not yet come across a critic of the NEC Code – I mean a critic who places a premium on combating antisemitism – who acknowledges them, let alone welcomes them as the enhancements that they are. They are passed over in silence, as if the IHRA document were a sacred text whose words may not be tampered with – not even if the text can be improved. (This implies a fundamental failure to understand the <em>status </em>of the IHRA document, a point to which I shall return at the end.)</p> <h2><strong>Strengthened guidelines</strong></h2> <p>Four examples from the IHRA list do not figure in the NEC list in par. 9. They are as follows: “Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.” “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.” “Applying double standards by requiring of it [Israel] a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” Critics point to the fact that these examples are absent from the list in the NEC Code. </p> <p>They are not, however, absent from the Code altogether. Clearly, the drafters of the Code saw these four examples as potentially problematic, partly with an eye to the second part of the conundrum: how to protect free speech in the political debate over Israel and Palestine. Accordingly, in subsequent paragraphs they discuss these examples, along with other tricky issues, and recommend what they see as appropriate guidelines to assist people who have to apply the IHRA working definition. Whether they have ‘got it right’ or not is a question on which people of goodwill might disagree. But the drafters of the Code are surely right to see the need to discuss the complexities with these four examples; and I have yet to see a single critic acknowledge this or wrestle with these complexities themselves.</p> <p>Furthermore, the NEC Code actually <em>strengthens</em> the role the examples play. This point has been overlooked in the public debate, but it makes a significant logical difference. Consider, first, the IHRA document. When the text introduces the list of examples that “may serve as illustrations”, it says: “Manifestations <em>might </em>include the targeting of the state of Israel …” (emphasis added). In a similar vein, we are told: “Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere <em>could, taking into account the overall context,</em> include …” (emphasis added). Thus, the IHRA examples are not intended to be examples of <em>actual </em>antisemitism but only of <em>possible</em> antisemitism. Mere <em>possibility</em> has limited value as a guide to making judgments. In contrast, the NEC Code says (in par. 9) that its examples “are <em>likely</em> to be regarded as antisemitic” (emphasis added). This renders them more serviceable as guidelines. By the same token, the criterion of <em>likelihood</em> raises the bar for determining which examples qualify for inclusion in the list and which call for discussion separately. </p> <p>The four IHRA examples that do not make it into the list in par. 9 of the NEC Code are not simply waved away. Take the ‘loyalty’ example (the first of the four). This reappears in par. 14&nbsp; of the NEC Code in the following form: “it is also wrong to accuse Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.” This goes beyond mere possibility (IHRA list of examples) and even probability (NEC list of examples). This is a <em>categorical</em> assertion. No ifs and buts; not even the stipulation that such accusations are inadmissible if and only if they are deemed to be antisemitic. This affords a greater degree of protection than any of the examples in the IHRA document. With equal finality, par. 15 says: “it is not permissible to use ‘Zionist’ (and still less any pejorative abbreviation such as ‘zio’ which the <a href="https://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Chakrabarti-Inquiry-Report-30June16.pdf">Chakrabarti report</a> said should have no place in Labour party discourse) as a code word for ‘Jew’.” Not permissible, full-stop. Once again this provision gives important guidance that is missing in the IHRA text.</p> <h2><strong>The IHRA Working Definition</strong></h2> <p>Which brings me to the question of the <em>status </em>of that text. Even as they refer to the IHRA document as a ‘Working Definition’, critics seem to forget the adjective ‘working’, as if it did not qualify the noun. But it does. A <em>working </em>definition is, by definition, a work in progress; it is not the last word. And if this applies to the definition proper it applies all the more to the “examples” that are meant to serve as <em>illustrations</em> of that definition. In short, the IHRA text is a ‘living document’, a document that is subject to revision, continually in the process of being developed. This is the spirit in which the drafters of the NEC Code have approached the document. They keep it alive precisely by altering it and adding to it where they see a need to do so. Their critics, in contrast, treat the text as frozen in time and immune from all&nbsp; change. Ironically, it is the drafters of the NEC Code, not their critics, who have grasped the meaning of ‘working definition’.</p> <p>This is not to say that all the changes they have made are necessarily for the better. But, as I have demonstrated, some of them certainly are significant improvements. The way forward for people of goodwill who genuinely want to solve the conundrum with which this article opens – combating antisemitism while protecting free political speech – is to welcome the NEC Code as the latest incarnation of a living document that constantly requires work. As making this case has been my primary aim, I shall refrain from taking up other criticisms of the Code, though they deserve to be addressed and, in my view, can, for the most part, be answered.</p> <h2><strong>Sacred text</strong></h2> <p>But, even in making the case, a part of me feels the hopelessness of appealing to reason, a sense of swimming against a mighty and unmindful current of opinion. Just now I have had sight of a letter in <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/16/labour-party-must-listen-to-the-jewish-community-on-defining-antisemitism">the <em>Guardian</em></a><em> </em>signed by sixty-eight British rabbis, including individuals for whom I have the highest regard (not to say affection), rallying around the IHRA text, “full and unamended … including its examples”, as if it were the eternal word of God. But in the Judaism in which I was nurtured and educated, there is only one text whose status is sacred; and it was not written by a committee of the IHRA.</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="/antony-lerman/why-turning-to-jewish-exceptionalism-to-fight-antisemitism-is-failing-project">Why turning to Jewish exceptionalism to fight antisemitism is a failing project</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/moran-mandelbaum/do-we-need-legal-definition-of-anti-semitism">Do we need a (legal) definition of anti-Semitism?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> 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 UK Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Anti-Semitism and the left Brian Klug Tue, 17 Jul 2018 17:32:23 +0000 Brian Klug 118906 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Trumpism in Europe's mainstream https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/federico-finchelstein-andrea-mammone/trumpism-in-europes-mainstream <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>European elites criticise Trump yet echo his extremist agenda. As well as hypocritical, this is perilous to democracy.</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-36995330.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-36995330.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'>'Axis of the willing': Seehofer and Kurz in a press conference at the Interior Ministry in Berlin, Germany on June 13, 2018. NurPhoto/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Donald Trump’s first visit to the United Kingdom since he became United States president was met with a wave of protests whose sights, across the weekend of 13-15 July, included a six-metre tall "Trump baby" floating high above central London and a hand-glider flying close to the president's entourage as he surveyed one of his Scottish golf courses. <br /><br />Trump's comments in an interview with the tabloid Sun on the eve of his arrival – harshly criticising his host, prime minister Theresa May, attacking her policy over Brexit, and denouncing the European Union itself&nbsp; – fuelled domestic political divisions. A fair number of British MPs, such as <a href="https://twitter.com/sarahwollaston">Sarah Wollaston</a> of the governing Conservative Party, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jul/13/mps-voice-outrage-at-repulsive-donald-trump-broadside-against-theresa-may">described</a> his rhetoric as "divisive, "repulsive", and “determined to insult". “If signing up to the Trump world view is the price of a [free trade] deal, it’s not worth paying”, she said.)<br /><br />This was but the latest of many disruptive episodes, both domestic and foreign, in Trump's presidency. But the two parts are linked by the way that Trump embodies the current expansion of racist and nationalist policies on a global scale precisely by presenting himself as the antithesis of Europe. In fact, his separation of immigrant children from their parents and then their caging, while talking of “infestation”, were presented in tandem with his ominous warning about the threatening example of European “openness” towards migrants coming to America.<br /><br />Such instances of racism in the age of Trumpism are clearly a real threat to democracy. Yet the further problem is that even in reacting to them, hypocrisy has become a guiding principle. Thus some European politicians criticise Trump and implicitly project a sense of their moral superiority even as they too get tougher on border controls and migrants' conditions. Britain's official "hostile environment", for example, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jul/12/ucl-row-email-immigration-check-fine-draconian-discriminatory">requires</a> landlords,&nbsp; doctors, public servants, and even universities to act as border guards and ID checkers. <br /><br />This is not an isolated case. Interior ministers of Austria, Germany and Italy – a self-described “axis of the willing” – met <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-europe-migrants-austria-germany/germany-and-austria-plan-talks-with-italy-to-shut-southern-migrant-route-idUKKBN1JV1WN">ahead</a> of an EU ministerial summit on 12-13 July to reinforce their anti-immigrant bloc. Their radical proposals to the EU, under Austria's aegis as current holder of its council <a href="http://www.austria.org/eupresidency-2018/">presidency</a>, did not find favour, leading the EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos to <a href="https://twitter.com/EU2018AT">say</a> that “unity, solidarity, wisdom, responsibility and common sense have prevailed.” <br /><br />But in truth, solidarity is losing its meaning, not only on the Mexican border but across the Atlantic. Many EU member-states refuse any relocation of refugees from outside Europe, an approach <span></span><a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/viktor-orban-migration-eu-has-won-the-argument/">pioneered</a> by Hungary's prime minister, Viktor Orbán. Even Germany's government, leaning more to the right since the September election, has been virulently <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/german-government-agrees-on-migration-compromise/a-44546969">divided</a> on the issue. Italy's interior minister in its new government, Matteo Salvini, has banned charity rescue boats from docking in Italian ports, leaving migrants (including those with children) stranded in vessels for days in the Mediterranean Sea. Most recently, Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš has refused a <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-europe-migrants-italy-germany/italy-to-take-some-migrants-after-eu-countries-offer-to-help-idUKKBN1K50K0">request</a> from Italy's prime minister Giuseppe Conte to accept some of a group of asylum-seekers in Italian waters; only five EU member-states out of twenty-seven have responded positively to Conte’s appeal. <span class="mag-quote-center">The reality is that the establishment critique of anti-system forces, including the far right and populism, has become full of selective double standards.</span>The reality is that the establishment critique of anti-system forces, including the far right and populism, has become full of selective double standards. Many European governments and and neo-liberal pundits embrace a tough immigration stance even as they scorn the harsh treatment and extreme rhetoric of Italy's new coalition government. At the same time, many from these elites are almost silent about the far-right nationalism of leaders such as Orbán, whom alt-right champion Steve Bannon has <a href="https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/orban-is-the-original-trump-says-bannon-in-budapest-1.733756">hailed</a> as the "Trump before Trump”. <br /><br />Why is this? An easy answer is that populists and far-right leaders are more acceptable when and if they belong to the same party family or political group. Many EU conservative politicians who are critical of the Italian government are members of the centre-right European People’s Party (<a href="http://www.epp.eu/about-us/history/">EPP</a>) which, born of post-1945 strands of Christian democracy and allied forces, has long exerted strong influence over the main EU institutions. But in practice the boundaries between such moderate conservatives and the far right are often porous. </p><p>For example, when former neo-fascists of the <em>Movimento Sociale Italiano</em>/<em>Alleanza Nazionale</em> merged with Silvio Berlusconi’s EPP-affiliated <em>Forza Italia</em> in the tycoon’s new party movement, <em>Il Popolo della Libertà</em> (PdL), they were accepted among centre-right moderates in the European parliament. Some are still there. Orbán’s own party, <em>Fidesz</em> (Hungarian Civic Alliance) is an <a href="http://www.epp.eu/about-us/leaders/">affiliate</a> of the EPP, as is the <a href="https://www.oevp.at/English">ÖVP</a> (Austrian People’s Party) of Austria’s chancellor Sebastian Kurz.<br /><br />In the US too, fellow centre-right politicians support Hungary's right-wing government. In January, the Republican congressman Andy Harris urged his colleagues to sign a <a href="http://dearcolleague.us/2018/01/sign-letter-to-support-hungarian-american-relations/) ">letter</a> to “Overturn Obama Era Policy to Fund Media to Interfere in Hungarian Elections”, on the basis that Orbán is “an outspoken defender of Western civilization … against mass immigration and the hegemony of Brussels. … [and] a vocal supporter of President Trump.” <br /><br />In fact, there is an important overlap between the US and the selective European legitimation of populist and extreme right-wingers. A notable case is Venezuela, whose turn to incipient dictatorship has been condemned across the political spectrum in the US, including by the Republican Party. At the same time, most Republicans have in essence tolerated and even supported the repressive, racist nature of Trumpism. After Nicolás Maduro’s triumph, the Trump administration was <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-administration-moves-to-tighten-squeeze-on-venezuelan-government/2018/05/21/174930e8-5d26-11e8-b2b8-08a538d9dbd6_story.html?utm_term=.7836caab5608">unable</a> to explain why it considered Venezuela's election undemocratic, when the president had congratulated “other elected authoritarian presidents, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan.” <br /><br />The Italian coalition government of <em>Lega</em> and<em> Movimento 5 Stelle</em> (5 Star) is, like Maduro, close to Putin; but unlike the Venezuelan dictator, Italy’s anti-system movements are also becoming closer to Trumpism and its close partners. They back each other, as when Salvini met Raymond Burke, a powerful Trump-supporting US cardinal. Just as Trump's slogan is "America First", so the Italian interior minister states his guiding principle to be “Italians First”. Hungary's foreign minister Peter Szijjártó, referring to the migration emergency, similarly <a href="http://fidesz-eu.hu/en/migration-neither-human-right-desirable-process">declares</a> that "the security of our own citizens must come first.” Like Trump, these European politicians use the idea of being anti-political as a camouflage for their racism.<br /><br />Within governmental institutions and moderate parties, in other words, there has been a gradual legitimising and accepting of ultra-right wing culture. In the process, the pervasive impact of this culture on western constitutional democracies has been overlooked. The result is less democracy and more extremist policies.</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>Federico Finchelstein, <a href="https://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520295193"><em>From Fascism to Populism in History</em></a> (University of California Press, 2017)</p><p>Andrea Mammone, <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/transnational-neofascism-in-france-and-italy/B31418CB9C7068E94E78E1DA1F117ECD"><em>Transnational Neofascism in France and Italy</em></a> (Cambridge University Press, 2015)</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="/pablo-piccato-federico-finchelstein/resisting-trumpism">Resisting Trumpism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/westminster/andrea-mammone/european-democracies-and-far-right">Does calling far-right parties &#039;populist&#039; legitimise them?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/cas-mudde/as-europe-looks-fearfully-outside-its-liberal-democracy-is-under-attack">As Europe looks fearfully outside, its liberal democracy is under attack from within</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? american power & the world Andrea Mammone Federico Finchelstein Mon, 16 Jul 2018 08:12:24 +0000 Federico Finchelstein and Andrea Mammone 118888 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Video: Trump's anti-immigrant policies aren’t all that different from our own https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nandini-archer/video-trump-anti-immigrant-policies-arent-that-different-from-our-own <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The state-sanctioned backlash against migrant rights is transatlantic. At a protest against Trump in London, we asked people about the parallels between US and UK policies.</p> </div> </div> </div> <iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fopendemocracy5050%2Fvideos%2F1972910316074431%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=476" width="460" height="460" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allowfullscreen="true"></iframe> <p>On Friday 13 July, 250,000 people with vibrant banners and costumes marched through central London to send a message to Donald Trump: that the US President, currently on an official visit to the UK, is not welcome here.</p><p dir="ltr">Among other targets, many marched against racism, xenophobia, and the anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies that have marked Trump’s presidency. We asked some about the parallels with anti-immigrant politics in UK.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The worst thing is that every time you look to America smugly and think, shaking your head, that’s just terrible, the same stuff is going on here,” said one of the demonstrators.</p> <p dir="ltr">Trump’s 2016 election campaign included the promise to build a wall along the border with Mexico. His 2017 ‘Muslim ban,’ barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, led to the immediate detention of<a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1536504218766549#_i3"> 700 travellers and the withdrawal of 60,000 visas</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Recently, it surfaced that more than <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/20/us/politics/trump-immigration-children-executive-order.html">2,300 parents and children</a> have been separated from each other by US authorities at the US-Mexico border. Heartbreaking images of families torn apart and migrant children detained have been seen around the world.</p><p dir="ltr">These measures have sparked global outrage. But the UK government’s own track-record for brutal anti-immigrant policies is not so different – and it predates Trump’s presidency.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">"The UK government’s own track-record for brutal anti-immigrant policies is not so different – and it predates Trump’s presidency."</p><p dir="ltr">In 2010, then Home Secretary (and current Prime Minister) Theresa May said the goal was “to create, here in Britain, a really hostile environment for illegal immigrants.”</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/26/theresa-may-go-home-vans-operation-vaken-ukip">Home Office vans</a> have driven around neighbourhoods carrying the intimidating message: 'Go home or face arrest’. The 2014 Immigration Act required the NHS, charities, banks and landlords to<a href="https://www.globaljustice.org.uk/sites/default/files/files/resources/hostile_environment_briefing_feb_2018.pdf"> carry-out ID checks</a>, turning ordinary people into proxy border patrol.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/image2_1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/image2_1.png" alt="Protesters outside Yarl’s Wood detention centre, Bedfordshire 2015." title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protesters outside Yarl’s Wood detention centre, Bedfordshire 2015. Photo: Flickr/iDJ Photography. Some rights reserved. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.</span></span></span>Like the<a href="http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/491/"> US</a>, the<a href="https://fullfact.org/immigration/uk-refugees/"> UK denies around half</a> of all asylum applications. The UK is also the only country in the EU that detains migrants indefinitely. Earlier this year, prison inspectors found that <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/13/home-office-keeping-torture-victims-in-detention-inspectors-report">torture survivors</a> are among those being held in a privately-run detention centre near Heathrow.</p> <p dir="ltr">Around<a href="http://www.thebromleytrust.org.uk/files/wrw_iamhuman.pdf"> 70% of women</a> in the Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre have experienced sexual violence in their home country, while<a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/yarls-wood-banner-alleging-sexual-impropriety-by-guards-hung-from-inside-centre-a6929071.html"> countless cases have emerged of sexual abuse</a> within the detention centre at the hands of private security guards.</p><p dir="ltr">“The UK government also separates parents from their children for the purpose of immigration control by sending the parent into immigration detention,” said Celia Clarke, director of the charity <a href="https://metro.co.uk/2018/06/21/children-separated-parents-uk-just-like-trumps-america-7649416/?ito=cbshare">Bail for Immigration Detainees</a>, which advises parents in around 170 such cases a year.</p><p dir="ltr">This state-sanctioned backlash against migrant rights is transatlantic. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/sian-norris/why-women-march-sees-trump-uk-visit-as-glorious-opportunity">Why the Women’s March sees Trump’s UK visit as ‘a glorious opportunity’</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 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> 50.50 50.50 Can Europe make it? Equality International politics Video gendered migration young feminists Adam Bychawski Rocío Ros Rebollo Nandini Archer Sun, 15 Jul 2018 11:55:17 +0000 Nandini Archer, Rocío Ros Rebollo and Adam Bychawski 118868 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Greece & Macedonia: negotiating history doesn’t make it true https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/augustine-zenakos/greece-macedonia-negotiating-history-doesn-t-make-it-true <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Geopolitical expediency has forced a people to bargain with the only name history has left them. Reflect on this, before again dismissing them as mere instruments of NATO policy.&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-37482870.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37482870.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'>Zoran Zaev, Theresa May and Alexis Tsipras on second day of Western Balkans summit at Lancaster House, London, July 10, 2018.</span></span></span></p><p>“When you are having a hard time, you call your friends.” The statement belongs to Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister of the (former Yugoslav) Republic of Macedonia – soon to be renamed Republic of North Macedonia, if the deal just concluded with Greece is ratified. The fact that Mr Zaev made this statement during a press conference, a few months ago, alongside Wess Mitchell, the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, leaves no doubt who he believes his friends to be.</p> <p>Admission into NATO and the EU has been a staple of FYROM’s foreign policy for years – despite the good relationship that the previous government, headed by Nikola Gruevski, enjoyed with Russia. The current government intensified efforts to be admitted into the Euro-Atlantic system, making quite a few concessions in the long-running naming dispute with Greece, so that Greek objections to FYROM’s NATO and EU memberships could at last be lifted. </p> <p>The rapprochement would hardly have taken off if US officials had not made it as clear as possible that they supported FYROM’s Euro-Atlantic integration path, as part of NATO’s grand consolidation project in the Western Balkans. Starting with Slovenia in the mid 00s, this project continued with Albania and Croatia and 2009, and went on with Montenegro in 2017. FYROM is the next step in a course that presumably leads to Serbia, a country traumatized by NATO intervention and friendly with Russia, which still adheres to neutrality. </p> <p>The completion of this project will create a solid NATO-bound Europe right up to the Russian border – a very different strategic situation to the one that existed during the Cold War. The EU is on board with all this, of course, according to the European Commission’s plan to integrate the Western Balkans into the Union by 2025. </p> <p>The speedily deteriorating relations between NATO and the EU, on the one side, and Russia, on the other, are evidently a source of urgency for all these designs, and also the reason why FYROM’s Prime Minister was so confident his “friends” were willing to help. </p> <h2><strong>Greek decision-making</strong></h2> <p>If FYROM’s government considers the US to be its “friends”, then the Greek government’s relationship is positively cordial. Through its policy in the South Mediterranean, in particular, it has touted its determination to be a player in the geostrategic arc that includes Israel, Cyprus, and Egypt. It is obvious that, with an eye to its policies vis-à-vis Syria, Iran and Russia, the US is resuming a more direct patronage of Greek decision-making. </p> <p>The Greek government, for its part, expects to reap multiple rewards: support against the hard-liners in Berlin; economic benefits in the energy game in the South Mediterranean; and protection against Turkey. It made sense therefore to go the extra mile in implementing US policy at its northern borders, too. And, if truth be told, the SYRIZA-led government was in a unique position to attempt a compromise in the naming dispute with FYROM: as a left-wing party, SYRIZA is not as dependent on the hard nationalist vote as its right-wing rivals, so it could handle the political pressure better than just about anyone else. Indeed, polls show that it has weathered the storm as well as could be expected.</p> <p>So, a deal was reached between FYROM and Greece because ending the decades-long dispute became important for NATO and the EU. Criticism of this fact ranges from chastising a party of the radical left for turning pro-NATO in government, to pointing out that NATO militarisation in the Balkans is not necessarily a guaranty of stability and peace. Both these points are obviously valid.</p> <h2><strong>Macedonia</strong></h2> <p>However, opposing NATO and EU designs, particularly in view of the possibility of new international conflicts, should not mean disregarding the substance of the deal as a long-delayed –albeit partial– remedy to a grave injustice. </p> <p>Greece has long maintained that Macedonians, meaning the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia, are not a “true” nation, and that their language is not a “true” language. Both these assertions are false.</p> <p>It is difficult to know exactly when people started self-identifying as “Macedonians” in an ethnic sense. But there is evidence that at least by the end of the 19th&nbsp;century some did. The records of Ellis Island show that in 1897 there were immigrants to the US, who stated their ethnicity as Macedonian. In all, about nine thousand people arriving at Ellis Island between 1897 and 1924 declared their ethnicity to be Macedonian. </p> <p>Naturally, there were varied and often contradictory aims and loyalties within the Macedonian national movement. Some participants were loyal to Bulgaria while others supported independence for the region. There were Slavic-speakers who sided with Greek interests (often highly mythologised in Greek historiography). There appeared, also, a sort of Balkan “liberal federalism”, advocating a Macedonia for all Macedonians, regardless of ethnicity or religion. In the spirit created by the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, which promised liberalisation in subject territories of the Ottoman Empire, a movement for a republican, multi-ethnic Macedonia appeared, with some participants inspired by socialist and anarchist ideas. <span class="mag-quote-center">Every national narrative is, in the final analysis, a “construct”. The same is true of the status of a language. There is a famous quip, which pretty much sums it up: “a language is a dialect with an army and navy”.</span></p> <p>Macedonian nationalism is perhaps the youngest in the Balkans, but it does exist. To say it is a “construct” is a moot point. Every national narrative is, in the final analysis, a “construct”. The same is true of the status of a language. There is a famous quip, which pretty much sums it up: “a language is a dialect with an army and navy”. The “decision” on whether something is a language or a dialect is never a purely historical or linguistic matter, but mainly a political one. It is, therefore, quite a distortion to maintain –as many in Greece, in Bulgaria and in Serbia do to this day – that the Macedonian national consciousness was “invented” by Tito’s Yugoslavia. On the contrary, Federal Yugoslavia’s policy in the region was an acknowledgement of a nationalism that already existed for at least five decades. So, though the process was protracted and incongruous – which is hardly surprising – what emerged between the end of the nineteenth century and the break-up of Yugoslavia was in no uncertain terms a Macedonian nation.</p> <p>Macedonian nationhood is not a fiction – any more than any other “national history” is. It is as legitimate as the next. Being against all nationalisms, in the sense of disapproving nationalist hatred and opposing conflict, is one thing; summarily dismissing a people’s lived perception of themselves as a kind of historical fraud is quite another. </p> <h2><strong>Fascism and irredentism …</strong></h2> <p>Why did the Greek state, as well as a great number of Greeks, treat their northern neighbours like pariahs of history? One reason is indeed the way that the nationalism of the Greek state has been conceived – as a huge, direct leap to ancient glory. Macedonia, in the Greek narrative, can only refer to ancient Macedon – which is what was “liberated” in twentieth century wars. The “antiquization” programme pursued by the political party VMRO-DPMNE and its leader Nikola Gruevski, who was in power in the Republic of Macedonia between 2006 and 2016, did not help matters. Partly invented as a response to Greek recalcitrance, this programme was organised around the claim that contemporary ethnic Macedonians are descendants of ancient Macedonians, who therefore were not Greek. “Antiquization”, however, met with considerable resistance. According to historian Athena Skoulariki, “in the 2015 protests, they were throwing paint on the archaistic monuments and statues. Under the mounted Alexander the Great statue, they wrote: ‘This is fascism’”. </p> <p>Another – far more spurious – reason was FYROM’s “irredentism”. Supposedly, the country that declared its independence in 1991 preserved the historical demand of the Macedonian national movement to liberate the entire region from Ottoman rule, and therefore now coveted Greek territory. Of course, a country that has only 20% of the population of Greece and virtually no military forces cannot reasonably be considered a security concern. And, to add irony to injury, Greece never accepted that Macedonians had had a national movement anyway, preferring instead to think of them as Bulgarians, Serbs or generally “Slavs”, except when discussing them as a threat to its sovereignty. Then, suddenly, they became extremely menacing, always as the brunt of an anti-Greek conspiracy that involved the West and invariably its most willing pawn: Turkey.</p> <h2><strong>… and those who didn’t fit in</strong></h2> <p>The darkest reason, though, for dismissing FYROM as a historical joke was avoiding the question: what will become of those who do not fall into the neat categories of negotiated history? What will happen with the ethnic Macedonian minority in Greece? What will happen with the Greek Slavic-Macedonian speakers and their descendants that were deprived of all rights in their country, after they fled as political refugees to Yugoslavia in the late 1940s?</p> <p>Greece has maintained that an ethnic Macedonian minority does not exist in its territory. This was ostensibly a strategy directed against Macedonian "irredentism", which might have sought a pretext in the protection of this minority in order to claim Greek territory. Though there is historical precedent in Europe for such an irredentist manipulation of minorities, in reality Greece has been masking its own policies of forced Hellenization in the region: ethnic Macedonian communities in Greece have been suppressed, from the 1920s to the present day. For decades they lived under police surveillance, and their language was forbidden. Even their songs were banned, and for years they were played as instrumentals, without the lyrics. Statistical recording of this population was stopped (since the state considered the minority non-existent), so there is very little concrete information on its scale or its evolution. <span class="mag-quote-center">Even their songs were banned, and for years they were played as instrumentals, without the lyrics.</span></p> <p>After the Greek Civil War of 1946-49, there was also a large number of Greek citizens that were ethnic Macedonians, or in any case Slavic-Macedonian speakers, who fought on the losing side and fled to Yugoslav Macedonia. These people were deprived of citizenship and property. They and their descendants have been excluded from all subsequent laws that provided for a right of return for political refugees.</p> <p>These issues are not simply a matter of historical acknowledgment – though that is not in itself insignificant. They are also very much of the present: there is still an ethnic Macedonian minority in northern Greece, and there are still descendants of refugees with no right to return or to claim property. Both these groups are continually deprived not just of the right to have the historical injustices against them officially acknowledged, but also of basic freedoms.</p> <h2><strong>Rejoice!</strong></h2> <p>It is, therefore, a reason to rejoice that the recent deal at long last acknowledges the Macedonian nationality and the Macedonian language. The Greek government, of course, in an effort to placate nationalist reaction, has stressed that nationality is not the same as ethnicity, and that what the deal acknowledges is not “ethnic Macedonians”, but only “Macedonian citizens”. </p> <p>Also, it has made quite a lot of the fact that in the text of the agreement the Macedonian language is described as having Slavic origin, attempting to appease those who think that Macedonian should only describe the language spoken by Alexander the Great. But both these points, though technically correct, do not change the fact that no acknowledgement of nationality or language could have been achieved without at least an implicit acceptance that the staunch denial of Macedonian nationhood has to be dropped.</p> <p>Still, the deal is hardly fair. Although a “composite name” (meaning to affix some additional designation in front of “Macedonia”, such as “North” which was finally the preferred choice) has been considered the basis of an eventual solution since the beginning, it is far from self-evident that this is the reasonable and just compromise it is purported to be. On the contrary, agreeing to rename their country Republic of North Macedonia is the price Macedonians are paying so that they can be allowed to call themselves what they have been calling themselves for almost a century and a half – without their economy being strangled and their country blocked from participating in international organisations. We should not flinch from saying it: in this dispute, Greece was the aggressor.</p> <p>To put it another way, the only Macedonians that in fact did not need a "composite name" are the citizens of the Republic of (North) Macedonia. The reason should be obvious: they are the only Macedonians for whom "Macedonian" is the primary designation of ethnic identity. Every other Macedonian around is something else first – Greek, Serb, Bulgarian and so on. But no such person, if asked where they are from on a trip abroad, would reply that they are from Macedonia instead of Greece, Serbia or Bulgaria. De facto, all Macedonians in neighbouring countries already have “composite names”.</p> <p>Geopolitical expediency has forced a people to bargain with the only name history has left them. We should perhaps try to reflect on this, before dismissing them once again – this time as mere instruments of NATO policy.&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/costas-douzinas/macedonia-and-post-ideology"> Macedonia and ideology</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/vassilis-k-fouskas/what-s-in-name-macedonian-question-and-social-question">What’s in a name: the Macedonian question and the social question</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Macedonia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Greece </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"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Greece Macedonia Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government International politics Augustine Zenakos Sat, 14 Jul 2018 10:40:01 +0000 Augustine Zenakos 118861 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Nato, and a thinking gap https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/nato-and-thinking-gap <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>If the west's military alliance is adrift, it's not because of Putin or Trump.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37521292.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37521292.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'>Donald Trump leaves after second day of the NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium, on July 12, 2018. Ye Pingfan/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>A summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) is not usually an occasion for drama. That became different when Donald Trump became United States president. At the gathering in Brussels on <a href="https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_155276.htm">11-12 July</a>, his presence was bound to overshadow all else, an expectation confirmed when he openly <a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/donald-trump-nato-summit-rips-into-germany/">lambasted</a> European partners (especially Germany) over their supposed freeriding on the US, dependency on Russian gas, and general unreliability. </p><p>But to understand the real challenges facing Nato, it is best to put most of Trump's <a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/trump-threatens-to-pull-out-of-nato/">impact </a>to one side on the grounds that it has more to do with his narcissistic need to be always the <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/trump-belittles-nato-in-the-run-up-to-the-putin-summit">centre</a> of attention than anything else.&nbsp; </p><p>It's also the case that many of the headlines he generated will prove to be passing frenzies, for example on Germany's links with Russia and the fantasy <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-nato-summit/trump-claims-nato-victory-after-ultimatum-to-go-it-alone-idUSKBN1K135H">goal</a> of members spending 4% of GDP on defence. Moreover, an assessment of the summit will be on hold until Trump's one-to-one confab with Vladimir Putin in <a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/donald-trump-vladimir-putin-helsinki-summit/">Helsinki</a> is over. That too is certain to produce headlines, though a likely <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-russia-summit/for-putin-helsinki-talks-with-trump-a-win-before-he-even-sits-down-idUKKBN1K12FJ">prognosis</a> is that the great dealmaker will be steamrollered as much as he was by North Korea's Kim Jong-un in Singapore.&nbsp; </p><p>The result of the latter encounter confirmed Trump's belief that he deserves a Nobel peace prize. In a curious way this is good news. Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, is now <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-07-08/one-night-in-pyongyang-inside-pompeo-s-fraught-north-korea-trip">engaged</a> in the convoluted task of wresting enough progress (or its appearance) from North Korea to present the Singapore summit as a real start to containing the regime's nuclear ambitions. </p><p>At present, it looks highly likely that when Trump seeks re-election in 2020 the regime will still possess the warheads and missiles it needs. That would ordinarily mean a renewed crisis – but in these extraordinary times, Trump would then be required to do a personal volte-face and admit that he had been deceived, if not <a href="https://www.nknews.org/2018/07/almost-a-month-on-what-did-the-singapore-summit-achieve/">outplayed</a>. This would be extremely hard for him, which serves as one more reason why Kim Jong-un will be so <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/kim-vs-don-singapore-sting">content</a> with the way things are going.</p><p><strong>The Russia matrix</strong></p><p>Nato is little more than a worried bystander with regard to the US-DPRK <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-usa-un/u-s-accuses-north-korea-of-u-n-sanctions-breach-demands-end-to-fuel-sales-idUSKBN1K22GL">process</a>, and now to a Helsinki meeting whose outcome is near impossible to predict. On its own account the alliance <a href="https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/nato-s-glistening-new-headquarters-is-home-to-an-alliance-with-old-problems-1.749007">faces</a> three tough problems: Russia, Afghanistan, and the changing context of global security. </p><p>First, current tensions between Nato and Russia are often seen in the light of Moscow's new military spending programmes, its retention of substantial nuclear forces, and its attempts to <a href="https://apnews.com/8678eeb991f34b12948122ebf02eddb3">develop</a> a range of innovative technologies. The strategic advances made in Syria and Crimea also show that Vladimir Putin is managing his resources with great skill (and can almost certainly get the better of Trump in strategic gaming). </p><p>Yet it's also true that the new "Russian threat", a welcome narrative for the military-industrial <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/war-promoting-hydra">complex</a> that underpins Nato, is greatly overplayed. Russia's <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/where-is-the-russian-economy-headed/a-42994677">economy</a> is about the size of Italy’s and much smaller than the United Kingdom’s, and while it spends a larger proportion of its GDP on the military its budget is only marginally bigger than the UK's and only a tenth of Nato's as a whole. In most fields the US is ahead and China frequently on a par: while Russia's elite special forces are competent, most conventional <a href="https://russianmilitaryanalysis.wordpress.com/2018/05/25/the-durability-of-russian-military-power-moscows-prospects-for-sustaining-direct-competition/">forces</a> are underfunded, undertrained and underequipped, and some <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/moscows-armourers-and-british-tabloids">parts</a> (such as the Pacific fleet) are a shadow of their former power. In addition there are cost pressures in many areas, in the context of public opposition to tax increases. </p><p>None of this will stop Nato and western politicians using the “Russian threat” to demand greater military <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/arms-bazaar-needing-wars-eating-lives">spending</a> and a more abrasive stance towards Moscow. A few thoughtful studies of Russia’s actual military power, such as Bettina Renz’s <a href="http://politybooks.com/bookdetail/?isbn=9781509516148"><em>Russia’s Military Revival</em></a>,&nbsp; present a much more nuanced analysis of the challenge, but they are in a minority. What many miss is that a hawkish line within Nato enables Putin to promote an equivalent “threat from the west” to help shore up his domestic position. </p><p><strong>The great evasion</strong></p><p>The second problem for Nato is Afghanistan, although again there is an element of evasion or self-deception about it. Nato's inner circles hardly <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-nato-summit/after-trumps-spending-demands-nato-summit-turns-to-afghanistan-idUSKBN1K135H?il=0">talk </a>about the alliance's continuing failure in the country, and display a great reluctance to do anything but order yet another review. By one of those well (or cynically) timed political announcements, Britain's prime minister Theresa May announced just ahead of the Brussels summit that her government would <a href="https://www.rferl.org/a/taliban-attacks-kill-dozens-in-northern-afghanistan/29359644.html">deploy</a> another 440 troops (almost half the current number) to Nato’s forces in Afghanistan. This comes at a time when both the Taliban and ISIS are expanding their own activities. The Taliban is now <a href="https://www.rferl.org/a/taliban-attacks-kill-dozens-in-northern-afghanistan/29359644.html">active </a>in around 70% of the country and even dominates some regions, including much of Helmand province and its lucrative opium-production industry.</p><p>In short, Nato continues to drift in Afghanistan, and its hostility to Russia effectively strengthens Putin’s position. This leads to the third problem, global security – and here the alliance is particularly sclerotic.</p><p>Nato, as an essentially defensive alliance, focuses primarily on the traditional approach of enhancing military systems, with very little attention paid to the greatest challenges of the age, in particular the overriding one of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/climate-disruption-new-reality">climate disruption</a>. The prevailing culture inside Nato scarcely ever sees conflict-prevention as a core part of its role. As a result, barely understands, and devotes few resources to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/article/a-new-security-paradigm-the-military-climate-link">solving</a>, the key 21st-century security problems. If Nato grasped the gravity of the climate crisis, it would embrace an unremitting commitment to rapid transition towards zero-carbon economies. That would make an agenda-setting difference (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/world-in-trouble-war-drought-food-flight">A world in trouble: drought, war, food, flight</a>", 6 July 2017). </p><p>If some in Nato evolved in this direction, it would put them in direct opposition to Trump.&nbsp; But that only underlines the need for those in Nato who do see the scale of the challenge to highlight it, using every means available. This single issue should have been the principal item on the agenda for the Brussels summit. Until Nato has the imagination to face "the threat of climate disruption", it will remain – Trump or no Trump – stuck in the past.</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="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st">&nbsp;</span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/about">Oxford Research Group</a></p><p><a href="https://rethinkingsecurity.org.uk/">Rethinking Security</a> </p><p><a href="https://www.saferworld.org.uk/">Saferworld</a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="https://www.plutobooks.com/9780745324326/a-war-too-far/">A War Too Far: Iraq, Iran, and the New American Century </a></em>(Pluto Press,&nbsp;2006) </p><p><a href="https://www.forumarmstrade.org/">Forum on the Arms Trade</a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="https://www.plutobooks.com/9781783718467/losing-control/"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</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="/paul-rogers/kim-vs-don-singapore-sting">Kim vs Don: the Singapore sting</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/arms-bazaar-needing-wars-eating-lives">Arms bazaar: needs wars, eats lives</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/a_global_threat_multiplier">A global threat multiplier</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/afghanistan-despairthen-imagine">Afghanistan: despair...then imagine</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/trumps-gift-talibans-gain">Trump&#039;s gift, Taliban&#039;s gain</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/new-military-paradigm">A new military paradigm</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/beyond-%E2%80%9Cliddism%E2%80%9D-towards-real-global-security">Beyond &quot;liddism&quot;: towards real global security</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/a-new-security-paradigm-the-military-climate-link">A new security paradigm: the military-climate link </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? global security Paul Rogers Sat, 14 Jul 2018 09:31:55 +0000 Paul Rogers 118846 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Turkish election as a warning against the irresistible charms of populism https://www.opendemocracy.net/spyros-sofos/turkish-election-as-warning-against-irresistible-charms-of-populism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We urgently need a constructive and open dialogue between different strands of thought within the <em>populism</em> theoretical oeuvre, if we are to develop progressive political strategies.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/PA-37521330.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/PA-37521330.jpg" alt="Donald J. Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a meeting of NATO Heads of State" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Donald J. Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government in Brussels. Robin Utrecht/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><em>RETHINKING POPULISM<strong>.</strong></em><em>; At a time when new political actors are mounting electoral and increasingly systemic challenges to contemporary democracies in the name of the people, there is little consensus in what the phenomenon is among academics, political activists and citizens alike. openDemocracy has been featuring articles on populist phenomena for some years (Mudde, Rovira Kaltwasser, Mouffe, Marlière, Pappas, Skodo, Sofos, Stavrakakis and Katsambekis, Gerbaudo, Gandesha, Tamás to name but a few) and has been successful in stimulating a recurring interest. But despite or perhaps because of the extensive and thought-provoking research on populism, the term has come to denote a range of widely diverse phenomena.</em></p> <p><em>Our aim is to bring together voices that don’t often interact, either because they belong to different fields of work, or as a result of geographical distance, to contribute to a vigorous and constructive debate and the cross-fertilization of different strands within the populism theoretical oeuvre. This is not only in pursuit of theoretical and conceptual clarity, but it is also an issue of practical urgency if we are to develop effective, progressive political strategies.</em><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>In his <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/omer-tekdemir/turkey-s-three-dimensional-populism-three-leaders-and-three-blocs">article</a> discussing the Turkish presidential and parliamentary election of 24 June, Omer Tekdemir provides an interesting evaluation of the positions and discourse of the three major contenders; the ‘left-leaning populist’ – as he characterizes it – ‘Peoples’ Democracy Party’ (HDP), the Kemalist secular populist ‘Republican Peoples’ Party’ (CHP) and the right-wing conservative populist, ‘Justice and Development Party’ (AKP). Identifying a number of qualitative differences between the contenders, Tekdemir does not hesitate to call them all populist.</p> <p>This constitutes a thought-provoking contribution to the relevant debate, worth engaging with for a number of reasons. First, it prompts us to think the very complex case of Turkey, a society with a long tradition of extraparliamentary governance (i.e. army interventions, tutelary restrictions to democratic governance), usually legitimized through appeals to a transcendental national will and unity, using the lens of the theory(ies) of populism, at a critical juncture when so-called populist parties and leaders seem to be setting the tune of political developments worldwide. </p> <p>Second, it implicitly, yet clearly, suggests that in such a society an effective challenge to the hegemony of the ‘conservative populist’ AKP and its leader can be mounted through a progressive populist response. And – although in passing – it recognizes in the attempt of Jeremy Corbyn to reconfigure Labour and progressive politics in the UK a similar radical democratic populist agenda, a potential blueprint for a democratizing populism of the left. </p> <p>Drawing on a rich theoretical tradition, namely the work of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe on <a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0191453702028004530">radical democracy</a>, Tekdemir adopts a version of ‘[t]he <a href="https://books.google.se/books/about/Politics_and_ideology_in_Marxist_theory.html?id=HLIEAQAAIAAJ&amp;redir_esc=y">discursive hegemonic approach of Laclau</a> [that] identifies populism as something that constructs the political in terms of the people (the underdog) versus elites (the establishment)’, hastening to add that, of course, populism ‘can either further or frustrate democratic ends’. However, as my own understanding of populism largely draws (eclectically) on the same theoretical tradition, I believe we can go further in doing justice to the richness and complexity of Laclau’s argument in its application to the example of Turkey. Moreover, my aim in this discussion is to take up the challenge of Tekdemir’s argument as an opportunity to think aloud about the state of our engagement with populism not only as academics, but also as activists and citizens. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>Tekdemir’s argument</strong></h2> <p>Premised on a discussion of the contenders’ discursive strategies, Tekdemir is not alone in suggesting that all three have adopted a populist discourse. Emre Erdoğan, Tuğçe Erçetin and Jan Philipp Thomeczek also point out the <a href="http://bianet.org/english/politics/198440-how-populist-zeitgeist-controls-turkish-electoral-campaign-2018">prevalence of a populist rhetoric</a> as far as the aforementioned parties and their leaderships are concerned. And like them, Tekdemir argues that the AKP discourse displays exclusionary themes, as opposed to the discourses of its rivals, and identifies a number of interesting qualitative differences between the contenders. </p> <p>Drawing on the work of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, he argues, for example, that the HDP’s populist discourse is qualitatively different from that of its political adversaries as it ‘established a chain of equivalence between its diverse components without essentialising Kurdish identity over other alliances, using radical democracy as a common point of affiliation’, expressing ‘the demands of diverse groups … in an inclusive left-wing populism’. He contrasts this sub-genre of populism, to the more conservative and authoritarian one of the AKP that employed the discourse of ‘the People’ against the Kemalist status quo, before giving it later a more religious, and recently a nationalist emphasis. Tekdemir juxtaposes this brand of populism to what he intriguingly calls ‘the humanitarian populist leadership’ of CHP candidate, Muharrem İnce that, in his opinion, represents a ‘successful social democratic populism’ although, unfortunately, he does not elaborate on this ‘populist’ current. </p> <p>Complicating the situation, to his distinction between the populisms of the AKP, CHP and HDP, Tekdemir adds a further example, that of the Gezi protest movement which he paradoxically defines as ‘an irregular, populist social movement [that] rejected the existing representative democracy … as the mass of ordinary people … were not represented by the elitist centre-right and centre-left parties’.</p> <p>Despite the nuanced character of these interventions, Tekdemir’s, as well as, to a lesser extent, Erdoğan, Erçetin and Thomeczek’s discussion referred to above, seem to identify virtually every expression of collective action in Turkish politics as populist. Why is that? Is populism endemic in Turkish politics? Does it constitute a dominant trope of articulating interests, demands, fears and aspirations? One would argue both yes and no depending on one’s definition of populism and, indeed, <a href="https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/gidron_bonikowski_populismlitreview_2013.pdf">there are many available</a> to choose from.</p> <p>To be fair, Tekdemir hints at more elements of a definition that are worth considering – and these provide very interesting signposts for a debate on populism. He identifies the centrality of the notion of equivalence, a notion that is often used rather descriptively without consideration of its implications for the way political identities work; he interestingly implies that Erdoğan, İnce and Demirtaş, the imprisoned co-chair of the HDP, are all ‘in some sense’ unequivocally charismatic, or at least ‘charming’, although he leaves the reader in suspense as to the location and role, if any at all, of charisma in his theoretical toolkit. In this respect, his fourth example, Gezi, must fail to qualify, given the lack of a clearly identifiable leadership that could display such charms. So again, we need to refine our terms. Finally, the article points out the indeed interesting ambiguity between the CHP’s institutional/vertical politics and the ‘individual/horizontal populist’ style of leadership of its presidential candidate, Muharrem İnce – a discrepancy that also begs for further discussion on the relationship of organizations and leaderships and their respective discursive logics, as well as the roles of mediation and representation in populist politics.</p> <p>Turkey is indeed a challenging case that can lure researchers to the appeal of a minimal (<a href="https://doi.org/10.1017/gov.2012.11">as proposed by Cas Mudde</a>) understanding of populism, but also to the comfort of a conceptual/terminological laxity, I would argue, that deprives the concept of the critical edge and the political utility that it should, in my opinion, have. If, following <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13569310701822289?journalCode=cjpi20">Ben Stanley</a> as well as Mudde, we accept that populism is in practice a complementary ideology, one that 'does not so much overlap with, as diffuse itself throughout full [sic] ideologies’, we may end up with a theoretical framework that renders any reference to the people as part of a binary understanding of <em>the political</em> sufficient to qualify as populist. But what would happen if we were to probe a little more rigorously into the <em>modalities</em> of the construction of ‘the people’ and then discuss which of these may justifiably make sense being labeled ‘populist’ ? </p> <p>What is more, in a system where the election of an executive president relies on securing the support of an absolute majority of the electorate, candidates are compelled to forge coalitions that will bring together diverse political constituencies and to develop a language and a logic that will ensure the coherence and durability of the latter. This can be a populist language that will reproduce antagonistic understandings of the political field, where adversaries are seen as enemies with irreconcilable and mutually incompatible interests, and that will privilege, as <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/cas-mudde/populism-in-europe-primer">Mudde</a> argues ‘the people’ as the incarnation of a general will – and, I would add, a concomitant notion of collective, as opposed to particularistic or individual, rights and interests. </p> <p>On the other hand, alternative popular, yet not populist discourses can deploy a language that recognizes ‘the popular’ as diverse, compatible with the existence of particularistic interests, the product of continual processes of construction of shared horizons and solidarities where the ‘other’ is a mere adversary. In this case, I would argue – and of course this is open to debate, thin definitions of populism like the one identified above, in the first case, serve as labels with insufficient conceptual depth or political utility.</p> <p>To return to the examples used by Tekdemir, whereas the AKP/MHP ‘People’s Coalition’ advocates without any inhibition a host of punitive administrative, judicial and extra-institutional measures to effectively destroy, symbolically and/or physically, anyone who contradicts the ‘national will’ and brands ‘others’ as terrorists and enemies (purges and vilification already intensifying a few days after the election), I have difficulty considering as similarly populist the more pluralistic discourse of the HDP. Indeed the latter is largely devoid of the conspiratorial, phobic elements of the discourse of the ‘People’s Coalition’ that prioritizes and validates national unity and homogeneity (premised on ethnicity or religion) at the expense of particularistic and individual rights. </p> <p>The same can be argued about the unity, or rather solidarity, encapsulated in the so-called Gezi spirit. Indeed, the latter was definitely not perceived in timeless and transcendental terms but was understood and experienced as something akin to what Ernest Renan called <a href="http://www.nationalismproject.org/what/renan.htm">a daily plebiscite</a>, a tense yet creative coexistence continually tested and reaffirmed and premised on respect for difference. As I have argued <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/johs.12193">elsewhere</a>, Gezi was a fluid and multifaceted movement/moment characterized by a multicentric culture of contestation, a shared and constantly and openly negotiated universe of discourse and action. </p> <p>This does not of course deny the thread that provided some degree of coherence through this polyphonic universe, the interaction and formation of shared frameworks that make the diversity of the experiences of protesting participants intelligible and relevant to individuals and groups that would otherwise be ‘relative strangers’. Indeed, the symbolic and material violence exercised by the government largely shaped the attitudes, perceptions and actions of those protestors and provided the raw material for the construction of shared <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470674871.wbespm110">injustice frames</a> and a clear divide between the protesters and the regime. </p> <p>But, having said that, the distinctive quality of this – momentary – achieved togetherness cannot justify subsuming Gezi in the same political subspecies of populism as the AKP/MHP coalition or even that of the CHP/İYİ/Saadet Parti. My skepticism regarding such a line of argumentation extends considerably beyond the actual case of Gezi. It relates to the need to develop theoretically and historically informed definitions that can allow us to explore critically the phenomenon of populism in an array of societies beyond Turkey. Tekdemir himself points out that Gezi has been compared to the anti-austerity mobilizations, the Arab Spring and the Occupy movements, all different instances of collective action, in different contexts but bearing some similarities worth considering.</p> <p>The Turkish case with its prolonged transition from Kemalism to a post-Kemalist era, with multiple elections <a href="https://doi-org.ludwig.lub.lu.se/10.1177/0191453718755207">impacting on political discourse</a>, with the frequent recourse of political actors to extra-institutional legitimation, with a cult of messianic leadership and the primacy of the collective rights of the nation embedded in its political culture provides a fertile ground both for the study but also for the misrecognition of populism. Tekdemir’s approach, in my opinion, therefore opens up an interesting discussion on the utility of our current theoretical toolkit, its utility and its limitations. </p> <h2><strong>Re-thinking populism: a tentative agenda</strong></h2> <p>We are clearly at an important juncture, both theoretically and politically. There is broad consensus on some of the characteristics of populism as most theorists understand it nowadays. This relates to the minimal definition as proposed by key contributors in the debate such as <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/cas-mudde/populism-in-europe-primer">Mudde</a> who see populism as more or less a ‘thin ideology that considers society to be essentially divided between two antagonistic and homogeneous groups, the pure people and the corrupt elite, and wants politics to reflect the general will of the people’. </p> <p>This allows the researcher to recognize populist traits in diverse movements and types of mobilization, and even potentially classify grassroots (or square) movements such as Gezi as populist. Such an approach recognizes a political Zeitgeist increasingly characteristic of the current conjuncture. It also implies that the success story of populist mobilizations need not be exclusively a property of authoritarian or conservative leaderships but can be emulated by the left as long as the popular is defined in progressive, democratic terms. This is something implicit in another important current in the study of populism epitomized in the work of Chantal Mouffe whose latest book, <a href="https://www.versobooks.com/books/2748-for-a-left-populism">For a Left Populism</a> has just been released. Drawing on Laclau’s earlier work on populism as well as their work on radical democracy, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/chantal-mouffe/populist-moment">Mouffe</a> argues in favour of a qualitatively different populism that will be best placed to counter and challenge reactionary, xenophobic versions of populism as well as inherently undemocratic, neoliberal technocratic political modes of governance, suggesting that populism ‘is not an ideology or a political regime, and cannot be attributed to a specific programmatic content. It is compatible with different forms of government. It is a way of doing politics which can take various forms, depending on the periods and the places. It emerges when one aims at building a new subject of collective action – the people – capable of reconfiguring a social order lived as unfair’.</p> <p>My own skepticism lies in the fact that both dominant trends in the current discussion on populism, despite their distinct significant contributions, privilege form over content. It is sufficient for any of those adhering to their definitions to ‘cry populism’ as soon as a political actor adopts a rhetoric that distinguishes the pure people (incarnating a general will) from the corrupt elites. Yet, one could wonder, is this ‘thin ideology’ trope sufficient to make sense of populism? Is populism just an aggregate of beliefs in the goodness of the people, the corruption of the elites and the sanctity of the general will? Is it only tantamount to the deployment of a rhetoric that reflects that? Mudde himself is clear. Different populists and different populisms adopt different styles of government and different policies, so there is no use looking further afield from whatever fulfils his minimal definition. And Mouffe’s point about the centrality of discursively ‘reconfiguring a social order lived as unfair’ does not do justice to the different ways in which subjects of collective action can be imagined and constructed.</p> <p>A similar understanding of ‘populism as discourse’ or ‘rhetoric’ is also suggested by <a href="https://theconversation.com/right-wing-populism-is-surging-on-both-sides-of-the-atlantic-heres-why-47876">Ruth Wodak</a>. However she hastens to stress that the term, as she uses it, refers to a rhetoric of exclusion and what I would call the discursive construction of fear, mainly characteristic of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ruth-wodak/old-and-new-demagoguery-rhetoric-of-exclusion">the politics of right-wing populist parties</a> that endorse nationalistic, nativist, and chauvinistic beliefs, embedded – explicitly or coded – in common sense appeals to a presupposed shared knowledge of ‘the people’. Despite certain reservations which I will outline in the remainder of this note, I tend to find more mileage in this latter approach as it allows us to construct a more rigorous definition of populism that does not exhaust itself in the realm of rhetoric but probes into the material dimensions of discourse – exclusion and the processes of construction of societal insecurity. </p> <p>Taking my cue from Tekdemir’s attempt to make sense of the complex terrain of Turkish politics at a period of intense polarization, and from the different theoretical propositions sketched above, I am suggesting that despite the fact that we are witnessing the emergence of a populist Zeitgeist worldwide, we run the danger of developing conceptual and operational definitions of populism that do not meet the theoretical challenges of the phenomenon or the political exigencies of our time. </p> <p>Yet there are sufficient commonalities in what appears to be a cacophonic universe made up by exclusivist movements and parties that construct definitions of the situation along phobic lines, to compel us to develop a deeper theory and a more clearly demarcated concept of populism. This would allow us to draw a clear line between populist politics and a ‘skin-deep’ rhetoric that is inspired by the emergence and relative success of populist movements as in the case of the adoption of some aspects of populist discourse by mainstream political parties as I have suggested <a href="https://www.goethe.de/ins/se/sv/kul/sup/nnm/21257746.html">elsewhere</a>.</p> <p>There is no doubt of the utility of the existing theoretical frameworks. What we need however is a rigorous and constructive debate on how we can develop an understanding of populism that has a critical edge and a conceptual definition that adequately situates the latter vis a vis other concepts and conceptual frameworks.</p> <p>As already mentioned, the binary modality of constructing the people v its ‘Other’ is more or less universally accepted within the debate. Where there is no clarity however, is regarding the type of this binary divide running through the political. Would such a divide reproduce understandings whereby political adversaries are seen as effective foes (to use <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Political-Theology-Chapters-Concept-Sovereignty/dp/0226738892">Carl Schmitt’s</a> terminology) with irreconcilable and mutually incompatible interests that need to be silenced rather than engaged with? Would ‘the people’ be identified in this context as the incarnation of a <em>general will</em>, a vehicle for reifying and naturalizing collective, as opposed to particularistic or individual, rights and interests? Would such modalities make citizenship dependent on belonging in a collectivity incarnating the <em>general will</em> such as, say, the national community, as in the interesting Turkish case but also in that of <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1467-9477.12024">Nordic welfare chauvinism</a>, to bring two, at first sight distinct examples, together? Or are other less acute juxtapositions of the people and its ‘others’ (I use lower case this time on purpose), that can still allow room for the expression of social diversity, also populist?&nbsp; </p> <p>Another area for exploration is the identification of populism’s polar opposites that Mudde has rightly introduced into the research agenda. Indeed, his identification of <em>elitism</em> and <em>pluralism</em> at the antipodes of populism is very useful. Yet, I would argue, it does not entertain the possibility that anti-elitism might be the opposite of populism at the level of rhetoric, but anti-pluralism and anti-particularism might be its opposite at the level of tangible, material political action and of governance – the terrain where actual opponents are excluded, silenced or repressed. In fact, I would go as far as to suggest that anti-elitism might often obscure the anti-institutional, anti-particularistic aspects of populism and its inherent ‘aversion’ towards assertions of social diversity. </p> <p>Another area of potential disagreement relates to the prioritization of a thin definition of populism as an ideology (as opposed to <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/422412?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents">Kurt Weyland’s preference for ‘political strategy’</a>) proposed by <a href="https://doi.org/10.1017/gov.2012.11">Mudde and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser</a> (although similar alternatives include Rogers Brubaker’s ‘populism as a <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11186-017-9301-7">discursive and stylistic repertoire</a>’). First, I would argue that a thin definition runs the danger of reducing the concept to a mere catch-all term. The emphasis on ideology on the grounds that the endurance of populism is linked to both supply-side and demand side factors, although not unreasonable, is convincing only if our understanding of politics is structured on the basis of a strict division between governing elites (suppliers) and governed constituencies or masses (those who articulate demand), something that underestimates the complexity of the political process where populist discourse is articulated both at grassroots and elite levels and takes shape as a result of complex processes of social construction, involving numerous actors and multiple modalities of translation and negotiation (I refer to these briefly a little later on). </p> <p>Second, a thin definition does not allow us to establish and test at the level of operational definitions populism’s correlation – noted by Wodak – with anti-liberal but, I would argue, also anti-institutional and extra-institutional politics. Research on Turkey is once more relevant here as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1477-7053.2012.01377.x">Şakir Dinçşahin</a> examines the anti- and extra- institutional discourse of the AKP. But examples come also from <a href="https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9781134805815/chapters/10.4324%2F9780203208915-22">further afield</a>. </p> <p>As again suggested by the case of Turkey, as well as that of Latin American populist movements in the second half of the twentieth century, or even the postcommunist nationalist movements of the late 1980s and 90s – we may need to be more attentive to the frequent, although not unavoidable coupling of populism with charismatic (and I would add ‘unitary’) types of political leadership and, at the level of governance, preference for executive presidential systems or systems where a unitary leadership is seen as preferable to the more ‘corrupt’ and ‘divisive’ representative character of parliamentary systems. </p> <p><a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1467-9248.00184">Margaret Canovan</a> also notes the overwhelming dependence of ‘new populist movements’ on personal leadership rather than institutional party structures and I would argue that there is at least a symbolic logic in this preferred leadership modality given the effective redundancy of institutions representing social diversity in a political imaginary where the people possesses one will and demands to exercise ‘its’ sovereignty. Some theorists will however argue that there is not sufficient evidence to warrant such a concern as contemporary populist parties are accepting the rules of parliamentary democracy and leaders depend on their party organizations. I would retort that most ‘populist’ actors are still relative newcomers in established parliamentary systems and, it is only in their consolidation phase (as the cases of <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/04/world/europe/poland-court-protests.html">Poland</a> and <a href="https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-06-21/anti-migrant-push-stop-soros-laws-passed-hungary">Hungary</a> seems to suggest) that they are able to act as outright systemic challengers. </p><p>Similar conclusions can be drawn from the <a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/9781137277121_4">trajectory of the AKP</a> in Turkey which, prior to its consolidation, was an ardent supporter of the country’s fragile parliamentary system, only to slide rapidly and violently towards a personalized, presidential leadership model. Debates on the potential extra-institutional dimension of populist politics should also encompass legitimation avenues free of the mediation of parliamentary procedural ‘niceties’ as in cases of <a href="https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9781134805815/chapters/10.4324%2F9780203208915-22">street democracy </a>in Milosevic’s Serbia or the appeals of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the <a href="http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/top-court-ruling-on-journalists-was-against-the-nation-president---96338">national will against supreme court decisions</a>, or to <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/spyros-sofos/turkey-of-coups-and-popular-resistance">the people</a> in the recent past, to mention just a few examples.</p> <p>Another important terrain that needs to be explored is that of the genealogy of populism. Several scholars have attempted to pinpoint the moment populist movements emerge or ideologies are articulated and/or the symbolic and cultural archives upon which they are built. Some have identified as necessary conditions the unfolding of crises. <a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0263395718770579">Andrea Pirro and Paul Taggart</a> unproblematically see what they call the Great Recession, the migrant crisis, and Brexit as necessary preconditions for the ascendance of Eurosceptic, populist forces in Europe over the past few years, while <a href="http://press.ecpr.eu/book_details.asp?bookTitleID=372">Hanspeter Kriesi and Takis Pappas</a> advance a similar argument. Indeed the very notion of crisis as a precondition for the emergence of populism, as well as the rigid supply v demand distinction is in urgent need of reconsideration. As I mentioned above, literature on collective action and mobilization has made considerable advances in the study of the social construction of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470674871.wbespm110">injustice, agency and identity</a>, and on the production of <a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1354066107080128?journalCode=ejta">societal insecurity</a> and the securitization of <a href="http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199652433.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199652433-e-033">migration flows</a>, as well as in <a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0305829812463655?journalCode=mila">cultural alterity</a> in Europe. The theoretical discussion on populism and the notions of injustice and crisis have largely remained untouched by this literature and its potentially radical implications in terms of integrating into our understanding of populism (i) the construction and making sense of crises, (ii) the role of the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ruth-wodak/old-and-new-demagoguery-rhetoric-of-exclusion">discursive construction of fear</a> and insecurity, (iii) the role <a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/9780230627895_7">of emotions</a> as well as the (iv) impact of established cultural and discursive archives and repertoires in this process. </p> <p>There are many more issues that could be added to any agenda comprehensively reconsidering the concept of populism in the current moment, but I will restrict myself to one final question that I have touched upon throughout this discussion; can there be a progressive populism? </p> <p>I have argued that such latitude risks undermining the explanatory capacity of the concept of populism as this has developed over the past couple of decades, or even longer. My concern is not of a normative nature but one of conceptual efficacy. It is true that, underlying the work of Laclau and of Mouffe, has always been the question of how the Left could articulate a viable and progressive populism. Mouffe’s <em>For a Left Populism</em> can be read as such a theoretically informed programmatic text. What distinguishes left populism, says Mouffe, is ‘that “the people” is constructed democratically rather than on the basis of nation or race. With good strategic leadership, a radically democratic and egalitarian movement can be a match for nativism’. Tekdemir himself recognizes in HDP, Gezi and Corbyn’s Labour party Left populist experiments along these lines and suggests that even İnce’s discourse represents a potentially progressive form of Social Democratic populism. </p> <p>Depending on the definition of populism one adopts, one can debate if a left variant is possible, and if it is useful to call attempts to construct a popular subject of collective action, or to develop politics of solidarity, populist. At the end of the day the question is where does ‘the progressive’ lie? – in a unified progressive, or revolutionary subject, or in a diverse solidaristic ‘coming together’ of movements and other political actors respecting difference and internal dialogue? </p> <p>So, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1467-9248.00184">Canovan’s</a> argument that central to populism in our democracies is an intricate balancing act between on the one hand pragmatism – manifesting itself in their institutional frameworks and their complex rulebooks and practices of negotiation and compromise – and on the other the redemptive impatience inherent in the wish to be sovereign (important in revitalizing political systems that can otherwise become ossified) is, in my opinion, a deeply problematic one. Although I cannot disregard the prevailing argument that the appeal to a sovereign ‘people’ in populism is in essence a democratic one, I would say that populism shares with democratic politics the demand for sovereignty of the citizenry but imagines this citizenry in a fundamentally different way. </p> <p>I therefore disagree with her implication that the most privileged locus for the revitalization of our democracies lies in redemptive politics – notably, in a dose of populism. A redemptive politics characterized by frustration at the rigidities of political institutions and the painstaking character of negotiating and building solidarities, a politics of sovereignty marked by the yearning for the excitement of unmediated spontaneity and the warmth of social homogeneity is not necessarily, in my opinion, an element of democratic politics, but at best, to paraphrase Lenin, an infantile disorder of democracy. This is surely especially the case if its underlying political imaginary supports understanding citizenship in exclusivist terms and as dependent on belonging to an undifferentiated ‘people’. </p> <p>Instead of talking about progressive populism, perhaps progressive forces need to engage in more complex visions of developing solidarities, dialogue and of renewing democracies through a multitude of public spaces where power would be rendered visible and negotiable as <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Nomads-Present-Movements-Individual-Contemporary/dp/0877225990">Alberto Melucci</a> has argued.</p> <p>But, at the end of the day this is precisely why we urgently need a constructive and open dialogue between different strands of thought within the <em>populism</em> theoretical ouevre. The theoretical and political dilemmas the Turkish case presents serve as a valuable warning of the seductiveness of populism and of construing any attempt to construct a sense of popular unity or front as populism at a time when it is imperative for us as academics, activists and citizens alike to make sense of the spectre of populism, if we are to develop progressive political strategies.</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/omer-tekdemir/turkey-s-three-dimensional-populism-three-leaders-and-three-blocs">Turkey’s three-dimensional populism, three leaders and three blocs </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Turkey </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Turkey Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics Ideas International politics Turkish Dawn Spyros A. Sofos Fri, 13 Jul 2018 12:03:19 +0000 Spyros A. Sofos 118844 at https://www.opendemocracy.net