Editor: Giovanni Stanga Co-editor: Gaia Lisi Journalists (in alphabetical order): Fazilet Çağlayan Emils Dombrovskis Karin Filkászová Leonie Friedrich Julia Hönnecke Sharmi Hauqe Michael Keith Lara Kühnle Gaia Lisi Gaby Muhlberg Steff Nagel Leander Nielbock Belle Prinsen Simon Pompé Samantha Scarpa Sophia Seeber Leonardo Sena Giovanni Stanga Wiebke Stimming Giulia Tempo Maria Thon Cover: Steff Nagel Layout and design: Steff Nagel
Meet The Team
As editors of the 2017-2018 UNSA Journal Committee, we are extremely proud to present you our first Printed Edition of the year! 21 writers, 21 different backgrounds, 21 points of view. Can a Dutch and a foreign student have the same feelings about integration in Maastricht? Is the gender-gap felt differently from a man’s point of view? How can the Catalonian events be judged from a non-European perspective? These are the questions that our motley “Squad”, coming from all corners of the world and contributing with our different experiences and visions to the Journal, was facing since the first meeting. We soon realised, however, how our diversity is the key of the amazement, enthusiasm and engagement behind our product. Enjoy our articles and stay tuned!
Note from the Editior
During one of our meetings, we observed the wide range of political, socio-economic and cultural fractures that divide our society at any level and decided to choose disunity as a topic for this Printed Edition. They say that people define themselves by who they are not rather by who they are. As a result, our identity in essence comes down to who are not, rather than who we are. It is indeed much easier for human beings to understand themselves in opposition to other groups of people, ethnic groups, associations, nation-states, faculties, to which they belong but more often feel alienated from. The demarcation of differences which clearly distinguish two entities, however, can often result to be problematic. In our current globalized and ever more connected world, we all find ourselves to be each other’s neighbours but often lack the appropriate means to coexist peacefully with each other. On the other hand, the distinction between ‘us’ and ‘them’, which nowadays politicians portray too easily, makes us walk a thin and blurry line. So if you ask a Catalan calling for independence from Spain to define his culture, he will most likely answer you “I’m not Spanish”, and similarly it may well be that an economics or business student in Maastricht will respond “We are not FASoS people” when posed the question to describe the people at his/her faculty and viceversa. In the same scenario, a hard-core activist of the third wave of feminism could define herself solely in sharp opposition to the male gender, while the over 130 ethnic groups in Myanmar could feel united and stand together against the common enemy to get rid of, namely the Muslim Rohingyas. Moreover, the United States and its overly aggressive foreign policy in the world, justified by the need to promote liberal values has been criticised for being largely divisive especially in the Middle East and nowadays in Europe after Trump’s elections, creating a fracture within the Western civilization. The bottom line is that due to human nature, sources of disunity can be found way more easily than unity, a much more difficult process.
I hope that these articles will be food for thought during breaks from studying and on behalf of the whole Journal Committee and the UNSA, I wish you a Merry Christmas and pleasing holidays. Enjoy reading!
U.NSA Agony Aunt: Miss U.NSA aswers some familiar public figures.
Unity in Diversity: Living in a multi- cultural society.
16 Myamar & Kurdistan: An in-depth analysis on cultural and political disunity.
In the back: Robert Frank’s divided America.
Disunited faculties: An analysis on the stereotypes of faculties.
20 Eat, drink, study repeat: The best places in Maastricht to hang out before exams.
The United States
The end of an era: The shift of powers in international politics.
Alcoholics united: On the different types of alcoholics in Maastricht.
Points of interest
The Gender Gap: An analysis on the disunity between the genders.
Multi-speed Europe: Three articles on disunity within the European Union.
Catalonia v. Spain: How the disunity within one country reflects upon the the entire EU.
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THe gender gap
and the veil of postmodernism
By Steff Nagel O boy, by writing down the title I can already envision all the people that will jump out of their chair and get their third wave feminism flags out of the closet. A man is going to explain the gender gap, and heâ€™s going to debunk it?! What a misogynistic, sexist piece of shit. Heâ€™s probably white and straight too. I cannot defend myself unfortunately, I am a straight white guy that will argue against the gender gap. However, I have to say that fruitful debate is necessary, and sometimes demonstrating the opposite of popular discourse is vital to keep us sharp in our rhetoric. So here we go, I will demonstrate the problem with the gender gap anno 2017.
To be clear, I will not argue that the gender gap, the phenomenon which states that women are less favoured than their male counterparts in jobs or in society, is a myth. Enough data shows us that in the world there are countries which do hold men on a higher pedestal than women. Even some Western countries belong to that group. Is the gender gap exaggerated? Most definitely. The elephant in the room is the wages women earn compared to men. The data mostly thrown around is that for every dollar a man makes, a woman earns around 77 cents. The biggest problem here, is that some factors are not taken into consideration. Men work more hours than women, for one: while a woman may do a 9 to 5 job, a man will go beyond that, make
longer days, thus earning more money. Competitiveness is the next; men are more likely to ask for a raise than women, again resulting in a disparity between the wages. Furthermore, to a lesser account, women who get children systematically earn less than their childless counterparts. A study in 2017 has shown that woman do earn the same as men in their early twenties, but with the arrival of children their wages start to go down. This has nothing to do with the employer discriminating, but more with the amount of days a woman works. Even if, in the rare case that a woman is actually paid less than a man for the same job in the same field, set aside the legality of the matter, would it not be more beneficial for an employer to hire more women? As it would create a cheaper labour force? Reality shows this is not the case. Then there are the professions. It is said that a woman working in the medicine world earns less than a man, yet, as a counterargument, it has been shown that women chose the lesser paid
jobs within the field of medicine, becoming general practitioners instead of heart surgeons; on average lowering the wages women make in that field. Does this mean women are withheld from doing the jobs men do? No! In the western world women are more free than ever before when it comes to the choices they make, as can be seen in their studies, for a starter. A woman is not withheld from any field of study, having shed the social stigmas of the past that a woman should stay at home and improve her cooking skills or learn how to knit. Those days are gone, and female rocket scientists, biologists and engineers are just as valued as their male counterparts.
In 2017, (Western) women are more free than every consecqutive year that has gone before it.
and are more likely to go to university. I want to make clear that this is not an argument that women already have a privileged position, but rather to show that it would be rather one-sided to say there is only a gender gap for women. In 2017, (western) women are more free than It may be surprising then, that we do find a gen- every consecutive year before it. We tend to forder gap in education. However, this time for get this, but if we were to build a time machine, men. From primary school all the way to univer- go back to any year before this one, women sity, women have the school system in their fa- would be less equal. We’ve come a long way alvour. This is because women can learn easier ready. What remains is ironing out the creases. from textbooks than boys, do not need much visual aids and have an easier time understand- Which brings me to the bigger debate, and the ing the bulk of courses from the get-go. Women disunity of our modern world. Because, what has are also taken as the ideal standard in school: happened in the last few years, is the rise of the paying attention, organised, punctual, engaged. constructed gender. So far, we talked about the Psychologist Michael Thompson describes that two genders: male and female. What started to boys are being treated as ‘defective girls’ in class change in the these last few years, is the rise of because they have less of the aforementioned transgender people and other constructed gentraits. There is an argument here that says ed- ders (around 63, but this number may change ucation is rigid and not suited for everyone, but with the day). Thus posing the question: is there that would be a whole new article. Women score a gender gap between the traditional genders, higher grades, get in more honour programs and those that are constructed? Is there active oppression of transgender people? I would like to argue that to even ask this question, is scraping the bottom of the barrel. It is actively searching for disparities within society. An example would be the gendered pronouns. Traditionally, we only say ‘he’ and ‘she’, but these new genders demand the addition of ‘they’ used in the singular, to describe them. Go a step further and some ask to be called ‘ze’ or ‘xe’. To me, demanding to use invented words is something dictatorships would do, something an Orwellian society would pose on the people. Thus, should we close the gap between those genders too by giving in to their demands? Would that be enough? How big does a problem have to become before we should instigate change? Modern society wants to include as many people as possible, out of fear that someone were to complain. The argument has been made that changing certain gendered words into words for
SOCIETY every gender is not a big deal, but it asks us to jarringly change something as fundamental as language. Should a municipality write ‘dear citizens’ rather than ‘dear ladies and gentlemen’ because a handful of people are hurt by a gendered word? A divisive question maybe. Society praises the individual and that every person is different from one another; yet we simply cannot include all. We may take care of transgender people, but when we give them what they want, we leave an open door for other people that feel left out. Modern society shows its disunity through its unity. Those that complain always win the argument, as long as they keep shouting, no matter how few people are backing them, because modern society and governments fear to be intolerant towards those select few. So we throw a veil over our society by saying we are united in our differences; you can be a gay, non-binary, black Muslim without being criticised or without any backlash because opposing views can be labelled as racist, sexist or discriminating. And exactly this creates disunity; the inclusion of the minority creates unrest within established norms and identities, it’s not the transgender people who are at fault here, it’s the concept they bring: that we need to change the way we speak and behave to include everyone. This makes people uncertain about their own existence. Being chastised by society is something no one wants, especially since society has a tendency to label people that oppose the general narrative with quite negative terms. If you don’t like immigrants, you’re a Nazi. If you don’t like quota in the workplace because it’s unfair someone can get a position just because they have a different gender, you’re sexist. If you support Trump, you’re a misogynist. Let’s not dive into a Trump debate and stick to disunity and the gender gap, because we need to discuss why this pantheon of genders has come into existence.
“straight, white men do not fit the postmodernist bill.”
This inclusive, diverse and ever-expanding plethora of genders has roots in something called postmodernism, a stream of thought that most people don’t know the name of, but most certainly adhere to - especially within the academic sphere of the social sciences. Postmodernism desires the group identity above that of the individual. Postmodernists make these groups through the belief of the Oppressed versus the Oppressor, a remnant thought of Marxism (the working class versus the bourgeoisie). An example of this would be a company and its diversity quota; there has to be an amount of women, an amount of people of colour, transgender people, gays, etc. etc. These quota are made to represent all group identities, as not to create ‘oppressed’ people. While quota themselves are already bad – putting diversity above quality – the postmodernists will never be happy, even if a company is as inclusive as can be, because they will try to find ways to redraw the group identities and thus find new ways to state there are oppressed people. It’s a vicious cycle in which the employer may actually try to represent all groups in society, but he never will, because some people, somewhere in the country are not represented as they don’t identify with any of the people in the quota. This constructed, never fixed identity is the fuel for the ever-changing gender game. Be what you want to be, be as free as possible in how you identify yourself: the credo of postmodernism. Yet it’s a double-edged sword, as postmodernism is ultimately a game of power. Linking back to the Oppressed and the Oppressor, to promise those that are oppressed they will have the power if they keep on fighting against the Oppressor, accidents occur for example on University campuses where the minorities (violently) attack the establishment because they feel misrepresented in university, or because their identity is not identified as real. The main problem of Postmodernism is that eventually everyone can find a way to redraw the borders of their identity. It does not end with the colour of your skin or the gender you have. Everyone has been or is oppressed in some way or another, so who do we defend against the Oppressor when we all have our individual one? Is everyone oppressed? In reality, postmodernism does not delve into this and only looks at those that are in the minority or have less power than the establishment, and unfortunately, straight, white men do not fit
the postmodernist bill. As you may have noticed, reason and in general the entire Enlightenment, are not highly regarded on the postmodernist list. Thatâ€™s why this philosophy keeps the gender gap thriving; reality shows that women are not systemically paid less, yet gender politics say that the Oppressor (the male gender in this case) is still in a powerful position and needs to be replaced with what is desired. Itâ€™s no longer the goal to close the gender gap, but to flip it and in the process creating more disunity than there was before. This of course, does not apply to all feminists or social justice warriors, but what has happened is that social justice has taken on more radical forms in the past few years. What has been discussed applies more to the third wave feminist movement, while a lot of people still believe in second wave feminism; a movement that solely seeks more equal treatment. Nonetheless, data shows that this aggressive feminism is rising, and we should not shove it under the carpet.
I will end on a lighter note. To step away from the postmodern doctrine we need to look harder into the facts and be critical, have dialogues. The same goes for this article; donâ€™t take for granted what is written down. Disprove, reinvent, debate and talk. In a world in which facts have become an afterthought because of fake news, emotions rather than reason, and group mentality, we can only find unity in striving to better ourselves as humans through working together, to not see the world through the lens of the Oppressed versus the Oppressor. We may not always agree with each other, but as long as we have constructive debates, concrete solutions, and respect for each other, we can come much further as a species, something that may make our future just a bit brighter.
By Belle Prinsen At some point during one of our meetings, we decided the topic of this printed edition would be (dis)unity. Naturally, I felt the need to contribute and speak up for my people. Although they’re everywhere, they are often ignored and underappreciated. They come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe you know one, maybe you are one yourself. They are people like you and I, and we need to combine our strength to unite them. So here is to the alcoholics of Maastricht, an ode to the interesting dynamics your squad takes on after one too many drinks. I present to you: 10 types of drunk people. 1. The Mama The Mama (or Papa) comes first, because she is the core of the group and the only thing that can keep a pack of 20-something toddlers together. “Don’t eat that, Louise”, “Let me get you some water” and “Tom, you can’t sleep in the middle of the street!” are a few lines you may hear from her on an average night out. She is the most stressed out, but also the most respected. Don’t get her confused with a “sober person” though: she might be just as drunk as the rest of them, but somehow has the power to remain sensible. For that, we salute you. 2. The Rollercoaster Rollercoasters are fun, but they never last long. They go fast, but before you know it it’s over and they puke. Although their natural habitat is the toilet, every now and then you may spot an adventurous one in front of Shamrock, in someone’s garden, or hanging out of the window. The curious thing about them is that immediately after recovery, they’ll be dying to go on another ride. 3. The Job Hopper The Job Hopper is the epitome of efficiency and doesn’t like slow introductions. Very often, the handshake, “what’s your name” and boring polite talk is skipped and next thing you know, you turn around and see her making out with a newly met love bird. When the job is done, she hops over to the next one to “introduce herself”. Although in that moment you might be left dancing to Single Ladies alone, at the end of the night she will have some spare phone numbers for you. None of which either of you is ever going to text, but hey, it feels good to have them. 4. The Fratboy There are three characteristics that will help you recognize the Fratboy. For one, he has been drinking beer and only beer, and tons of it. Preferably the cheapest beer he could find, which he brought home with his mates in a shopping cart he stole from Aldi. Furthermore, the Fratboy travels in groups at all times. If you think you spotted one on his own, he is probably lost and confused and will definitely need some help to safely return to his friends again. These are not hard to find, as you’ll hear them from about 200 meters away. That’s the third and final characteristic: they are loud. And with loud I mean louder than a group of Italians whose local team just won a football match. Bring your earplugs.
“On top of that, her goldfish Snooki died and she ruined her favourite sweater by spilling coffee on it.”
STUDENT LIFE 5. The Magician You swear you arrived at Complex together, but you can’t find them anywhere now. The Magician has a talent for disappearing acts and is wrapped in mystery. One moment they’re there and then -poof!- they’re gone. Don’t worry though, you’ll usually find them back at the end of the night when you’re about to go home. They will tell you some vague story about where they’ve been which will make absolutely no sense. You’ll never know for sure how they spent the night. Chances are, they don’t know either. 6. The Toddler You’ve come a long way since you where born: you learned how to walk, to count, to swear and maybe even how to roll a proper cigarette. You still don’t know how taxes work and what a “balanced meal” actually consists of, but you’re getting there. The Toddler knew all these things too, before he decided to mix gin with vodka. Now he has somehow lost even the very basics needed to function as a human being. Walking? No. Talking? No. Peeing on the toilet? Let’s hope so for the Mama of the group. 7. The Dirty Dancer There are dancers and there are dirty dancers. Dirty dancers are the ones standing on the bar or turning around anything that could go through as a strip pole. They will twerk to YMCA and possibly give some unwanted lap dances. They might even have a stripper name. It can be a bit awkward for the more timid dancers, but you have got to respect their passion. 8. The Dr. Phil Somewhere after their fifth glass of wine, every sentence they speak will start with “If I were you…”. This is usually followed with the most blatantly stupid, unfitted advice that could have been given that is in no way relevant to your situation. They just turned Take 5 into a TV studio, and you’re in it. So, what do you do? You nod, smile and wait till you get out of your talk show seat to roll your eyes at them. Then you remind yourself it’s all with good intentions and soon enough you’ll find yourself listening to more advice from Dr. Phil. 9. The Stage The Stage is a drama queen at heart. One moment you’re dancing to Despacito, the next moment she’s crying in the corner because that song reminded her of her ex, which, by the way, she has to text now, even though they broke up two years ago and he has a new girlfriend. On top of that, her goldfish Snooki died and she ruined her favourite sweater by spilling coffee on it. All of this should of course be announced to the world in the most theatrical way possible. She’ll have people look around wondering when she will get her Oscar. At least now you know that next birthday you’ll get her some hardcore waterproof mascara. 10. The Grandpa Back in his days, he could do forty shots and had parties that went on for two days straight. Now, he still believes he’s young and a rebel, but his idea of a wild night is having three drinks, intentions to go to the Alla and then realizing that it’s way past his bedtime. So he’ll wobble his way home, water the plants, brush his teeth and have a solid eight hours of sleep. In a month he’ll try again. Bonus: The Responsible Drinker The Responsible Drinker is more of a myth than an actual person. Scientists are still debating over whether such a thing as a “Responsible Drinker” really exists. They’re like UFO’s: some people claim they’ve seen one, but it might have been an illusion. Further studies will have to be conducted, because so far evidence is weak. The Diplomat will try to keep you updated on this sensation.
Warning: Being a student doesn’t mean you can’t be susceptible to alcohol abuse. Be sure to know the signs and don’t try to romanticise alcoholism. It doesn’t make you a tortured artist, it makes you a hot mess.
Agony aunt Dear Miss. U. NSA My life is falling apart. I’ve spent the last 37 years at the top of my game, and I’m now left with nothing (okay, I did get immunity and millions of dollars). It has been getting increasingly lonely as my fellow dictators have fallen – I sometimes felt like I was completely alone in the world (although a phone call or Christmas card from Assad or Kim Jong Un always cheered me up, made me realise that there were some other crazed autocrats left.). But now it looks like I’m one of them! Me! My supposedly loyal army came and took over in what was SO VERY DEFINITELY a coup whether they admit to it or not! I mean have they not seen what I’ve done for the country? Almost single-handedly, I made the country trillions and trillions and trillions (in Zimbabwean dollars of course), destroyed agriculture, created mass unemployment, reduced the average life expectancy by about three decades, crushed all political opposition and dissent, and was responsible for murder and torture of thousands upon thousands. I mean not everyone can pull that sort of stuff off, it takes talent! And, on top of the humiliation of being forced to resign, it looks like my legacy won’t even be carried on by my wife becoming president (about that, they call her Gucci Grace, is that supposed to be a bad thing? There’s nothing wrong with having good taste! Even when she’s first lady of one of the poorest countries in the world). Ugh, it’s just all too much and I don’t know what to do anymore. From Mr. No-longer-president-of-Zimbabwe Dear Mr. No-longer-president-of-Zimbabwe That sounds rough. 37 years though, that’s quite some service! I think that you’re due your retirement. Have you ever thought about retiring to The Hague? It’s a great city! Beautiful buildings, museums, a great atmosphere and loads of nice shops (I’m sure Gucci Grace would love it!). The Hague has the International Criminal Court as well (you know, never too late to find out about the consequences of atrocious human rights abuses!), that might be worth a visit. The problems with dictators, is that most of the time their reigns are only cut short by only one thing… (natural or otherwise), so there isn’t too much of precedent for how you should spend your time now. I guess that you could follow other world leaders and take up the corporate motivational speech track – you should talk to Blair and Bush, they’ve made a goldmine (or should I say oil mine?). There’s always charity work, although I’m not really sure who would let you volunteer… You could do that whole ‘Be the change you want to see in the world thing’ and set up a Deposed Despot Support Group? Give the world a chance to see the real you. In no time, all those silly, self-righteous, sanction-imposing, democrats will be lining up to join. Good luck with retirement! From Miss U. NSA
Dear Miss U.NSA I’m pretty sure that everyone in my country hates me. I’m in the process of leading a country into the light, away from pesky Eurocentric bureaucrats in Brussels, and yet the headlines always seem to be something like “Cabinet in crisis” (for goodness sake, can the press just give me a break, I am trying here). I called an election earlier this year and instead of the landslide victory I was expecting, that bloody socialist Corbyn got in the way, and I only scraped a majority by forming a coalition with a Northern Irish party with policies more at home in a history book. Of course, that coalition came with a price so hefty I’m still avoiding opening the mounting pile of bills outside No. 10. Even my own party can’t stand me, there’s so much plotting going on that I feel like I’ve fallen into a Shakespearean tragedy. What should I do? From Mrs. T. Dismay
Dear Mrs. T. Dismay Firstly, I need to congratulate you on your stroke of genius with the royal engagement! Clever move getting Prince Harry to announce his engagement on the day that the £50 Billion Brexit bill was announced. Surprise surprise, the media was far more interested in an engagement ring than a divorce bill. Although, by then going right ahead and telling the country that they won’t get a day off for the wedding, you did sort of kill the good vibes. See this is your problem, you find ways to ruin the good news. Although probably the main reason that no one likes you, is that you’re just not a likeable person. You’re more easily associated with evil headmistress than leader of the nation. And on top of that you’re boring. I mean try and find a hobby that isn’t running through fields of wheat (who even does that…?). My advice, do something cool – ride a motorbike, get some piercings, visit Glastonbury, or if that’s all too extreme for you, how about just get a puppy? That also guarantees positive attention. On another note, we do need to talk about your Foreign Secretary, good old Boris Johnson. You do realise that he is an international joke, right? And that’s me being polite about it. To this day, Europeans are still cracking up about him and that damn bus. I mean the only person in world politics who makes Boris look politically correct is Donal Trump… Now that is a very scary state of affairs. Just fire the guy for goodness sake. Just find a personality and fire half of your cabinet and you’ll be everyone’s favourite Prime Minister (well, maybe second… Justin Trudeau is just too damn cool not to claim first prize). Anyways, I hope that helps. From Miss U.NSA
Dear Miss U.NSA You know how Beyoncé naively thinks in her song that girls run the world? She’s wrong! It’s men like me. We’re rich and powerful and used to getting what we want. Whatever we want. Now recently there has been some bad press, with some rather unfavourable allegations being made. And the absurd thing is, people are actually taking them seriously. My golf buddies and whiskey partners are falling like dominoes at the moment – one CEO, cabinet minister or actor at a time. Do you know what I think, I think that this is discrimination! I feel oppressed. The powerful, rich, old white man is being persecuted I tell you. I know that over time there have been these equal rights movements, maybe we need one of those? Equal does mean that men like me stay on top, right? You know how bad things must be getting for me to be desperate enough to ask a woman for help, god forbid, what would they say at the golf club? Ah well, desperate times call for desperate measures. What should I do? From Mr. H. Weinstein & Co.
Dear Mr. H. Weinstein & Co. Hmm, you might have slightly misunderstood the term of equal rights. But you are right, it’s a tough old world out for you. What is up with these attention-seeking drama queens making these outlandish accusations against you? It’s almost as if they feel that they shouldn’t be treated like objects to be used and abused at your pleasure. It’s almost as if they feel like they should be judged on their talent, intelligence and hard work instead of their ‘willingness’ to give in to men like you. It’s almost as if they feel entitled to be treated like human beings with respect. And most shockingly of all, it’s almost as if they’re sick of the world being run by disgusting scumbags like you. I can’t imagine where they’re getting these OUTRAGEOUS ideas from. My column receives desperate cries for help from all corners of the planet and from all sorts – from divas to dictators, world leaders to world losers, and everything in between. Of course, I try to read and respond to each letter with impartiality, common sense and a good dose of humour, but of course even I have my limits. Therefore what is my advice? HA HA HA. Karma is a bitch. Lots of love Miss. U.NSA
By Gaby Muhlberg
Myanmar & Kurdistan By Samantha Scarpa and Giulia Tempo
In the days of political, cultural and social disunity within the Western society, it is of paramount importance to investigate the similar challenges that the rest of the world is facing. By analysing two key examples of non-Western disunity such as the Rohingya and the Kurds cases, we acquire a deeper insight into European dynamics and mechanisms. We will discover, in the end, that the Eastern and Western conception of “disunity” is nothing less than two sides of the same coin.
Cultural unity, political disunity: the case of Kurdistan
In the Middle East, a culturally unified population struggles to achieve a political unity: the Kurds. In the so-called “Kurdish question” the concepts of nation and state do not overlap in practice; this has led to heartfelt awareness campaigns throughout the Western world as well as, more often, to violent bloodsheds within the area. In order to better understand the regional relevance of Kurdistan, however, it is fundamental to analyse its peculiarities. Kurdistan, first of all, has uncertain borders. While some scholars - more attached to the Western tradition - define it as a region of 190.000 square kilometres, Islamist studies consider it as stretching out for more than 390.000 square kilometres, a plateau bigger than Germany. Such difficulties in establishing its actual width are due to the different perceptions of Kurdish cultural supremacy in those borderline zones. As a matter of fact, Kurds speak Kurdish - a mixture or Arabic and Farsi, respect the same calendar and share very
similar ritual, yet they practice different religions: while the majority of them are either Sunnis or Shias, Christendom is nevertheless the third religion, followed by several minorities such as Yazidis and Jews. However, lacking political recognition, this large territory has been historically divided among the regional powers and thus split between South-Eastern Turkey, Western Iran and, in smaller part, Northern Iraq and Syria. It is worth noting that even the claim for political and administrative autonomy has been tackled in motley manners: the most remarkable success in this case is the creation of the Iraqi Kurdistan, where the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) takes advantage of the federal structure of Iraq to concretely enhance the independence demand. In Iraq, the KRG is directly voted by its citizens and has to cooperate regularly with the main national body - also through its representatives in the Parliament. Still, the KRG enjoys a wide autonomy concerning education, the military and, above all, trade, which has allowed it to make
diversified. If on one side the Iraqi KRG can rely on a well-organised and well-equipped militia, the Peshmerga, swarms of smaller armed factions fight over the borders of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria – sometimes through ambushes or terrorist actions. Often combating each other and surely equipped by different actors, the path towards their military unification has been seriously hindered by the burst of both Iraqi and Syrian wars: solely during the latter, more than 40 different Kurdish factions have joined the battlefield, most of the time on opposite fronts. Using the power vacuum that inevitably emerges during conflicts, these forces were nevertheless able to expand the Kurdish influence, conquering key cities such as Kirkuk and Mosul and their oil refineries. On the spur of the moment, the KRG was able to become the political leader and spokesperson of the whole Kurdistan, requesting a referendum for the independence from Iraq in September 2017. Notwithstanding the common strife towards unity, This referendum, firstly attempted in 2005, has the outcomes of such a quest remain extremely also been held in those disputed areas that have separate deals with Western companies for the selling of oil and the hiring of wells and facilities. As a matter of fact, the sole KRG as an independent state would be the 10th world oil seller. The presence of this energy resource - together with gas - in the region is one of the core elements explaining the reluctance of states such as Turkey to grant them the creation of Kurdistan. The Turkish context, indeed, is extremely delicate; the Kurds there represent the biggest minority, tantamount 15-20% of the whole population, yet the political Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) has been listed as “terrorist organisation” both by Ankara and several Western countries. The heavy discriminations and violences against Kurds have increased under the Presidency of Mr. Erdogan and more than once have resulted in direct attacks against Kurdish armed groups in Iraq or Syria.
REPORT been conquered by Kurdish forces against the group Islamic State. The outcome counted 93% of votes in favour of independence, with a total of more than 3 million voters who celebrated the results throughout the whole Kurdistan. The international reactions have been varied, from a strong condemnation by Iran and Turkey - the latter called it “a grave mistake” - to the support, on the opposite side, by Israel. In a general view, however, regional and Western countries have tended to keep a neutral position, referring to the referendum as an “internal Iraqi affair”. Instead of proclaiming a sudden independence, the President of the KRG Barzani opted for negotiations with the federal government, trying to institutionalise the secession process and to get international recognition. Nevertheless, the diplomatic talks quickly worsened and turned into an internal conflict: last month, Iraqi forces and Peshmerga fought for the control of important cities like Kirkuk, which has been eventually captured by the regular army with the support of Turkish and Iranian militias. Such an important loss forced Barzani to resign and the KRG to temporarily halt, once again, the independence process.
Political unity, cultural disunity: the case of Myanmar Different from the Kurds, the Rohingya are an ethnic minority which counts around 1.2 million people, mostly located in the western region of Rakhine; mainly Muslim and of Bangladeshi descent, the Rohingya clash with Buddhist Myanmar from a cultural and religious perspective. As stated by Human Rights Watch (HRW), nationalist Buddhists reject the term ‘Rohingya’, rather labelling the people as ‘Bengali’ and thus referring to their status of immigrants from India and - more often - Bangladesh. As a nation, Myanmar is far from homogeneous and encompasses over 130 different ethnic groups - but the Rohingya are not considered one of these. In fact, despite having lived for centuries in those areas, this ethnic group has been denied official citizenship in the 1980s and is currently displaced and stateless. The division is even more deep-rooted. Prior to the 1962 military coup, given the less strict and formal citizenship norms, members of the Rohingya community could apply for identity cards and even serve within the bureaucratic and political apparatus of Myanmar. Following the coup,
acquisition of formal documents became a fundamental prerequisite for citizenship. However, many Rohingya did not possess official papers testifying their life in Rakhine prior to 1948: as a result of a failed recognition, Rohingya saw their political and civil rights heavily restricted and limited. HRW has remarked and grouped in four categories the violations which have taken place during the past decades and still occur today with undiminished gravity: - restrictions on movement; - Limitations on access to health care, livelihood, shelter, and education; - arbitrary arrests and detention; - forced labour. In 2016, HRW called for an intensification of the international response to the ‘systemic human rights violations’ (HRW, 2016) taking place in Myanmar. In the meantime, restricted in movement and personal freedom, Rohingya face displacement and neglection. From this point onwards, since 2012, ‘neglection’ has turned into ‘eviction’ and ‘torture’ - with military crackdowns on Rohingya officially depicted as a response to grass-root protests and attacks. Since then, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have had to flee their homes - most of the time set on fire or destroyed - and have moved to refugee camps, often in Bangladesh. Moreover, Myanmar’s State Counsellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Aung San Suu Kyi has failed to protect Rohingya. For years, the Oxford laureate and Nobel Peace Prize winner has embodied the country’s aspiration to democratisation. As she took over the military junta in the 2015 elections, expectations for Suu Kyi to put an end to the massacre in the Rakhine state were high. Today the expectations are even higher. While some point out the leader’s difficult position and plea for patience, others start questioning Suu Kyi’s effective opposition to the military. Overall, the main aspect that stands out is that the government is not concretely tackling the massacre. Despite the calls from HRW and other non-governmental organisations to strengthen international action and protect human rights in the Ra-
khine state, the global reaction has been weak and uneven. In 2009, a UN spokesperson defined the Rohingya people as the most ‘friendless [people] in the world’. Many claim that, amid this dramatic ethnic cleansing, the country’s neighbouring states should be the first to act, opening their borders and granting Rohingya the refugee status. However, also among local players, responses have been highly diversified. On the one hand, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has circumvented the issue. During the latest ASEAN meeting, on November 15th the Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte briefly acknowledged the acceptance on Suu Kyi’s part of foreign humanitarian aid - but no further attention was given to the persisting military crackdowns on the population, nor to the current situation of displacement of many Rohingya. On the other hand, many Muslim countries are increasingly pressuring Myanmar to address the humanitarian issue of this minority. Bangladesh, while calling for an increased international intervention, cannot afford Rohingya migrants draining its scarce resources. The Bangladeshi government, however, has decided to intervene by raising awareness on birth-control issues, since Rohingya severely lag behind other ethnic communities concerning this issue. In fact, many believe that having numerous children - some have up to 19 - can enable the family to acquire more land and that pregnancy might protect women from violence and rape. We might, nevertheless, question whether voluntary family planning or sterilisation of women is the solution - or whether the response should be more radical and aim at tackling the root of the problem: Burmese disunity.
“. . .expectations for Suu Kyi to put an end to the massacre in the Rakhine state were high. Today the expectations are even higher.”
POINTS OF INTEREST
EAT, DRINK, STUDY, AND REPEAT MAASTRICHT's BEST PLACES TO HANG OUT BEFORE EXAMS
By Gaia Lisi
Nothing brings Maastricht students together as much as the library. Be it the Inner City Library or Randwyck Library, any student in Maastricht can be easily found sitting there one week before exams desperately trying to cram seven weeks’ worth of work into seven days (or even less). At that point, the time to hang out with your friends is long gone, and organising a group study session at the library would mean waking up at the crack of dawn and facing the German run. However, your lonely library days shall soon be over. Enough floppy sandwiches and cut the German run, it’s time for you, dear reader, to change your routine and get adventurous with your friends. What stops you to meet up the week before exams to hang out and do some studying in between? In this article, The Diplomat will present the best places in Maastricht to do exactly that: eat, drink, have a chat, study, and repeat.
For the coffee addicts KOFFIE bij Joost en Maartje Where? Maastrichter Heidenstraat 8 When? From Tuesday to Sunday, 08:00-18:00. What to order? Get a cappuccino and pair it with a brownie (yummy!). Have you ever watched the TV-series Friends and dreamt about getting a cup of coffee at Central Perk with your friends? Well, this is your best shot. The coffee is amazingly good, easily one of the best in Maastricht, which is further complemented by a nice selection of salty snacks and home-made bakery products that you cannot say not to, from brownies to cheesecakes, apple tarts and carrot cakes. This coffee-lover heaven is also a relaxing place to get your fair share of working and studying done with laptop plugs available.
For the I-have-too-much-to-study-to-hang-outwith-my-friends CAFÉ TRIBUNAL Where? Tongersestraat 1 When? From Monday to Sunday, 08:00-24:00. Sunday, 09:0020:00. What to order? Get a Tosti Tribunal (and you will not regret it!). Your study buddies are cancelling all their plans because they are stressing out too much about exams and you have no idea how to convince them to have a last study session together. Café Tribunal is the solution for you. Literally 5 metres from the Faculty of Law and the SSC and 10 metres from SBE, this very traditional café and pub is the best place to eat a tasty lunch, get some group work done and drink a pint of beer in the evening without having to leave the place. Bring all your summaries, a couple of study buddies and you’ll have the best cramming session, guaranteed!
For the tea lovers TEAZONE Where? Koestraat 9 When? From Tuesday to Saturday, 11:00-18:00. Sunday, 12:00-18:00. What to order? Get an Earl Grey Tea and pair it with a piece of chocolate cake. Perfect spot to get your afternoon tea, Teazone is a fantastic café to enjoy a good ol’ cup of tea. Reward yourself for getting out of bed this morning with one of their ridiculously delicious homemade pastries and cool down after a particularly long lecture or an intense study session at the library. The sweet-tooth and the tea lover will most definitely find what their tummy desires most.
For the foodies SAP BAGEL AND JUICE BAR Where? Stationsstraat 8 (now also in Markt 15) When? From Monday to Sunday, 09:00-17:00. What to order? Get a chicken cheese melt bagel with multigrain bread and pair with the Tropical Yellow juice. Crossing the river is oh so worth it for these bagels. SAP is the epitome of fresh and healthy food with a variety of salads, bagels and freshly made juices. The bagels remain their undisputable pièce de résistence: they have them in all different combinations, with a wide variety of options for the vegans and non-vegan options for the carnivores, and from Nutella strawberry banana bagel to Triple Meat BBQ bagel there is something for everyone! Their hipster-like atmosphere shall be the perfect background for your next study session – long stays are possible and big groups are always welcomed.
For the last-minute crammers CENTRE CERAMIQUE Where? Avenue Ceramique 50 When? From Tuesday to Friday, 09:00-18:00. From Saturday to Sunday, 13:00-17:00. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. In the weeks before exams, do not succumb to the desperation. Rather, succumb to a cappuccino from Coffeelovers and the peace and quiet of the Centre Ceramique. The view of the river Maas and the smell of coffee brewing will accompany your last cramming session. No more worrying about finding a spot in the Inner City Library and no more machine-made coffee. After a study session there, you and your friends will immediately feel like you can really ace those exams!
"Unity in diversity" in multicultural societies
By Fazilet Merve Çağlayan Today, every citizen of the globe lives in a multicultural society. How? Let me explain. We all know global metropole cities across the world like New York, London, Delhi, Moscow, Tokyo, Shanghai, Istanbul, Jakarta. Metropoles host millions of people, hold significant place in their countries economically, politically, and culturally. In other words, they are “mother cities” of their regions as in their Ancient Greek definition. Different cultures, religions, races, colours, faiths, and languages co-exist in these big cities. Habitants of these cities, therefore, live in a multicultural society. But, what about people in other small cities? Does multicultural society only exist when there are millions of people? The answer is no: nowadays even a person living in very small and homogeneous city is part of a multicultural society, thanks to globalization and social media. The reason is that, even though she lives in a very homogeneous society and has no chance of meeting different people and cultures, everything changes when she gets online. She steps into a multicultural society where she meets people coming from diverse backgrounds; she watches YouTube vlogs about other cultures, follows bloggers from there, learns the dynamics and trends of those countries. At the end, she becomes influenced by this multicultural internet society, now she lives in an “internet metropole”. Therefore, the art of living in a multicultural society becomes important for every citizen of the
globe. I have defined it an “art” because it is an art of having unity in diversity. The motto unity in diversity stands for oneness in the varieties, having numerous differences but being together at the same time. As we see every day in social life, each person in the society has a different ethnical background, culture, colour, religion, and values. The art here is preserving our own values and respecting others’ values, providing a peaceful place open to every culture. In other words, creating unity without uniformity and diversity without fragmentation. Actually, it is not as difficult or utopic as it sounds. Yes, we are diverse, and yes sometimes we cannot understand other people’s beliefs or culture, but the mistake we do a lot is: we do not need to understand or believe each other’s values. If we think diversities as our strength and wealth, we will see a more colourful world. Each of us is unique, and this uniqueness adds to our common heritage. At the same time, we share so many common things. We teach and learn from each other a lot, we share the same cities, schools, jobs, we are all humans at the end. We share the same sky, isn’t it beautiful? I believe that we can have a more peaceful world by overcoming our prejudices. Now, I invite you all -and myself- to think our diversities as our richness and see the world in an updated version. I invite you to respect and care about people around you in huge and crowded metropoles, in classrooms, in meeting rooms, on social media, literally everywhere we communicate. I invite you to really communicate with each other, overcome prejudices, meet new people, taste different cultures, spread love and respect. In the end, we are stronger when we are together. I would like to conclude my invitation with Gandhi’s precious words: “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.” I hope we will be able to see that amazing beauty of our world one day. But wait, why not make that “one day” today? Don`t forget, it all starts with overcoming prejudices!
Maastricht: disunited faculties?!
By Wiebke Stimming and Julia Hönnecke When you are at a party and meet new people, a question that is commonly asked is: what faculty are you in? When you name your study, their response will often be influenced by generalized stereotypes of your faculty. You might think that this stereotype does not suit you at all, suits you in some way or might even be completely true. That depends on how you reflect on your faculty and your studies. But why do these clichés develop in Maastricht? Do they lead to disunity between faculties of the same university? When thinking of the student community here in Maastricht, it seems only natural to think of two camps: either the eastern side of the Maas with medicine, health science and psychology students or the western side of the Maas where you have the success-driven, rich Germans studying at SBE, the hippies that will never find a job, studying at FASOS, and the law students who are somewhat in-between, always stressed out about some deadline or exam coming up. The favourite hobby of the law students seems to be complaining about how much they have to study, and they especially like to point out on a daily basis how much harder they have to work compared to the workload of FASOS students. Some of these clichés come from simple exaggerations, like FASOS students only doing craft projects in class. Some of them are more realistic, like law students loving law-related TV-series. Regardless of whether you agree with them or not, they are the main source of inspiration for countless memes on social media and they always steal a smile from you when you find a new one on your Facebook wall. Being a student on the western camp, I often think of the Randwyck students as being part of a rare species since the majority of them live on the eastern side of the Maas, while the majority of law, business and FASOS students live on the western side. Stereotypes generally develop because people like to and have the need to categorize anything and everything, anyone and everyone. Once they have managed to categorize you and put you in one specific group, it is no longer necessary to consider you individually. This can make one feel better about themselves because students tend to think that their group is better than the other. For example, SBE and FASOS
UNIVERSITY not only study completely different subjects, but the way they study, their views on the world and what they want to achieve in the future differ considerably. This leads some students to think that they are in a way better than the others, even though they are just simply different.
“An SBE student told me that drawing a flower in my FASOS exam will be enough to pass” The danger with looking at a group of people through the lenses of generalization is that it blinds us to the individual characteristics of the individual members of the group. People, most especially young students, have a tendency to want to be individualistic. Stereotypes take this individualism away from them. However, this does not lead to disunity between students of different faculties. As a matter of fact, even if stereotypes can mostly be considered as a serious issue when dealing with gender and race, the stereotypes occurring in Maastricht, on the other hand, are so hideous in their way of portraying the students from different faculties that students generally do not feel personally attacked. An example is a post that I shared on Jodel about an upcoming exam for second-years from European Studies. Totally in line with the stereotypes of the typical FASOS students, an SBE student commented that drawing a flower as an answer of the question will be enough to pass. I personally found the comment quite hilarious because it was not aimed at me personally and certainly does not reflect my study program, but rather it quickly managed to make me forget about my concerns for the upcoming exam and bring a smile to my face. In conclusion, the fact is that in every faculty one will find all kinds of students. From the typical student who talks about how the lectures are always boring, the one who has one too many gapyear memories, the party animal, the forgetful one, the obnoxiously loud one, the one who stresses himself so much that manages to stress everyone out, to the one who chills more than anyone else. But let’s also face the reality of it all: if you go back to your hometown or you go to a party and meet people not from Maastricht, it doesn’t matter which faculty you are in anymore.
Multi-speed europe Three articles by three different authors
By Leonardo Sena, Leonie Friedrich and Leander Nielbock
An Integration Race Leonardo Sena
immigrants and asylum seekers can be better integrated into society, in other Member States the same process has become a social aberration.
While “United in Diversity” is the goal of the European Union (EU), the concepts of diversity, assimilation, and integration have become a taboo in Europe. Since 2014, Europe has strived to establish a well-managed migration policy that would effectively contribute to the ‘Europe 2020 strategy.’ The 2020 strategy is the EU agenda set to overcome the structural weakness aiming to achieve a “smart, sustainable, and inclusive” growth. The EU has gone far and beyond to tackle the challenge at a supranational level, encouraging each Member State to integrate its incoming asylum seekers and immigrants. However, much of the EU’s competence in the field of integration belongs to the Member States. Hence, without further regulations, Members States have formed a “multi-speed European integration” process. But what does multi-speed Europe mean? According to the European Glossary “multi-speed Europe’ is the term used to describe the idea of a European differentiated integration whereby common objectives are pursued by a group of EU countries both able and willing to advance, it being implied that the others will follow later.” In this scenario, the ‘multi-speed’ term refers to the fact that provisions and manners to integrate asylum seekers and immigrants should be considered as part of each Member State’s home affairs. That is to say that while in some countries
Cultural differences within the EU itself varies immensely. Cultural integration in each Member State varies even more. According to the INTERACT Research Report conducted by Elena Caneva in 2015, “around 25 million persons born in a third country are currently living in the European Union (EU), representing 5% of its total population.” To this event, the integration of this 5% population without a proper settlement could become an exponential dilemma. In a country such as Poland, researches have shown that the lack of knowledge of the Polish language is one of the main barriers for integration. In the EU as a whole, according to a first evaluation based on the 2014 EU Labor Force Survey ad hoc module, “less than half [45%] of refugees have an advanced knowledge of the host-country language”. In Poland, nevertheless, the struggle for assimilation could be even more pragmatic considering the lack of acceptance of the Polish population. The 2013 study by the Centre for Research on Prejudice at Warsaw University, has found that “69 percent of Poles do not want non-white people living in their country.” Moreover, according to Renata Stefańska, a researcher for the Centre of Migration Research at the University of Warsaw, although Poland is in the top seven of EU countries receiving immigrants, there is no particular Polish governing legislation or a particular body regarding integration.
MULTI-SPEED EUROPE Italy has attempted to integrate its immigrants providing legislations that guarantee immigrants social aids such as language courses, healthcare, and other social benefits. Most recently the Italian Interior Minister, Marco Minniti, explains that the “Integration of migrants, beyond the socio-humanitarian aspects, is at the basis of a more secure society. Even in the face of Islamic terrorism.” Though this might shape the future of Italy, it is worth mentioning that many of these immigrants coming into Italy do not have an education and they come to fill in low-skilled jobs. This could aggravate Italy’s economic situation, considering that Italy has already a high percentage rate of unemployment. Moreover, according to Elena Cavena’s INTERACT Report, certain groups in Italy are considered to be “difficult to integrate” due to cultural and religious diversity.
In the multi-speed integration in Europe, Germany has endeavored to win the race by opening [its] doors for the asylum seekers. Yet, the ‘open door’ concept has required certain limits. Asylum seekers are currently required to not only take courses, but show up to those courses in order to receive financial aid. When it comes to German legislation, there is no single integration policy. Instead, there is a National Integration Plan in which the government seeks to develop comprehensive initiatives to foster integration at multiple governmental levels. However, with an influx of not only immigrants, but also asylum seekers, there is a huge demand for further improvements in this integration programmes. Improving the integration programmes could possibly prevent tragedies such as the “Berlin truck attack” and a rape-murder of a German student, should not happen again. These tragedies should be taken
seriously, proving that integration is a complex on-going process that deserves a lot of attention. As it was mentioned by the several EU leaders in the 60th anniversary of the European Union, “Europe is our common future.” Whether integrated or not, EU citizens, immigrants, and asylum seekers are part of this future. As different Member States aim to achieve a better future, it is relevant to note that the more we strive to improve our present, the better the future will be. Diversity is part of the core of the EU and integration demands, therefore, respect, and understanding.
GOing Against the stream By Leonie Friedrich
The so-called “multi-speed Europe” or “twospeed Europe” has been a permanent topic in the world of politics. But what is actually the idea behind this concept? Briefly speaking, this term is used to characterise the differentiation of several integration paces in several fields. Since every Member State of the EU is provided with certain starting conditions and has to handle different circumstances, each country can follow the integration procedure only in its own way. What does this mean? The more countries join the EU, the more difficult it is to reach consensus and to come to an agreement, hence it is unlikely that each Member State would develop mutually. How does it work in reality? Different visions on widening the EU become clear for instance through Juncker, Macron and Merkel, who have a distinct point of view about this idea and are trying to promote their opinion.
“Every country should have the chance to advance equally” Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission and most likely one of the greatest Europeanist, spreads his pro-European attitude and is a strong opponent of a multi-speed Europe. On the contrary, he is even willing to invite
countries outside the Eurozone to join the common currency and to profit from it. Juncker wants to encourage more countries to finally be able to meet the criteria for introducing the euro and to “speed up”. According to him, every country should have the chance to advance equally as long as it is interested and motivated. Juncker opposes Macron’s idea of a new Finance Minister at EU level and suggests, instead, Finance Minsters’ meeting of the Eurogroup chaired by the Vice-President of the European Commission. The French President Emmanuel Macron calls for a more flexible Europe. If the EU wants to preserve its unique character, it has to carefully think about its future. The EU suffers from heavy crisis and has to find the right way to survive them as unscathed as possible. Macron’s vision: Give strong Member States the chance to move on and - even though it does not sound fair at a first glance - leave weaker Member States behind. It might seem selfish but being realistic, this is, according to Macron, the only possible option the EU is left with. The EU has to face its problems proactively rather than simply ride them out. Furthermore, Macron stresses out that leading countries should take over and guide the way for a better integration and should not waste time by waiting for others. It is up to the Member States whether they want to progress or not and should not be hindered by slower countries. To make his idea more concrete, Macron suggests to introduce a new budget for the 19 Eurozone members which will be monitored by a new Finance Minister and a new Parliament. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel is not only a strong supporter of the concept of a multispeed Europe, but also of Macron’s plan and backs up his proposal. She has trust in Macron’s idea and she merely offers the remark that the distinct role of the Finance Minister has to be stipulated more precisely. Being the Chancellor of Germany, she is also undoubtedly aware of the increasing fragmentation within Germany. This development is not only frightening, but it also must be tackled as early as possible since this problem will not right itself. Recently, we already had to experience the consequence of the increasing populism and anti-Europeanism movements in the past federal elections in Germany. There was a clear mismatch between East and West Germany noticeable which has already be-
come more drastic. For instance, while the city of Münster in North Rhine-Westphalia was the only constituency where the Afd (Alternative für Deutschland, eng. Alternative for Germany), a right-wing political party, remained below 5%, it achieved almost 30% in Saxony, in the East of Germany. It is debatably where this movement finds it reasoning. However, this phenomenon of movements against the EU occurs not only in Germany but was also a noteworthy issue during the previous elections in France.
The advantages of disunity Leander Nielbock
Throughout the previous articles, we have seen that disunity can be found everywhere. It is not only the problem of certain groups within society or certain countries as a whole, but rather a scheme that can, in one form or another, be found anywhere at any time. Still, when we look at disunity, don’t we try to avoid it at all costs? Unity is seen as the only way to progress as a group. While Unity is what keeps society strong and intact. Disunity represents everything we try to avoid: conflicts, disagreement and weakness. The former is of such political importance that the EU in 2000 adopted “Unity in Diversity” as its official motto identifying itself with the idea of agreement, cooperation and partnership. But here we also see the first problem with our perception. We celebrate diversity, the fact that we have different heritages, beliefs and opinions and stand up for them. All in all, we consider diversity as something that makes society richer and yet, none of these glorifying ideas are applied to disunity.
“It is disunity that allows us to fundamentally progress.” So why are we so afraid of disunity? In our heads, disunity represents the end of cooperation. It is a sign that a group failed to communicate and got stuck, leaving no room to progress.
Disunity is considered the ultimate falling-out between individuals. And while disunity means that, in the short run, there is no cooperation, its true implications go much further. Disunited groups continue developing independently; both sides of a previous falling-out act upon their ideas. In doing so they take opposing paths for the future. However, this does not prevent these paths from meeting again. In such a case, dialogue will be possible again as both sides have settled on their solutions and are no longer bound to find compromises. Disunity therefore opens up the opportunity for individual development and problem solving outside of the previously existing â€˜frameworkâ€™ of required agreement. As a result, reunification after a period of disunity can spark a new dialogue between the groups letting them profit from each-others experiences. But disunity does not have to be rooted in a true falling-out. A great example for the constructiveness of disunity are revolutions. In essence, a revolution is caused by a group of people acting against an established system, thereby disrupting the public unity and creating disunity within society. Now history has shown that revolutions are not always a success story, many of them have miserably failed in the course of history, but what they leave behind are sparks of public disunity. Over time, this idea can grow, mobilize more people and make the disunity all the more evident. Now once the disunity is overly present, the country is forced to change fundamentally in order to bring the people back together.
Essentially, we tend to see disunity as the end of something. The proof that whatever we had in place failed. And while in many cases this might be true, this perception does not always fit. In fact, quite often disunity is rather the start. It forces us to rethink, change our attitude and maybe pushes us out of our comfort zone but ultimately reignites progress in areas that have come to a halt. Therefore, while unity causes us to develop as a society, it is disunity that allows us to fundamentally progress. But what does all of this mean for Europe or the EU? Throughout recent years the frustration about the EUâ€™s bureaucratic overload and, as a result, a sluggish progress has grown within the population. So, what if we push the previous idea of the advantages of disunity to the extreme? Imagine a European Union, where countries that are in disagreement can undertake different and independent ways. Where the Union solely provides a basic framework and countries build up on it in different configurations with respect to their interests. At first glance, this would complicate the situation and might even cause confusion for observers. However, if the Member States could split and follow individual goals within respective splinter groups wouldnâ€™t that allow the Union to progress a lot faster and on a deeper level without the need for complicated compromises? And if so, isnâ€™t that what we aspire to?
In 1955, the famed photographer Robert Frank roadtripped through 30 states for 9 months capturing the Land of the Free in a shocking way. He depicted an America that was drenched in racism, sexism and many other things. When his work, aptly named The Americans, was published it was not received well. Possibly because the mirror image Frank helt up to the public was an ugly one. Out of the entire catalogue, this specific
picture was chosen as it shows disunity in such a clear way: whites in the front, blacks in the back. While this image is no longer something out of our daily lives, it does not mean we have transcended beyond all devisions in society. Perhaps we need another Robert Frank to show us that anno 2017.
Trolley - New Orleans Robert Frank 1955
The Leader(s) of the (Free) World and the Next World Order. A polemic. By Emils Dombrovskis and Simon PompĂŠ
o you think in the future there should be less American influence on the world? Do you hate it when the EU bases its actions on American foreign policy? Do you feel Schadenfreude when reading about the misadventures of United States diplomacy, such as when Kim Jong-Un called Trump a senile old man (which was hilarious)? We occasionally do, and occasionally it fills us with dread.
Whether you like it or not, we live in a world whose norms are formed and policed by the United States as the most powerful state ever. International law, economic interdependency and accountability are values we have come to accept, but rarely appreciate. To go back in history for a bit; this has roots in the end of the Second World War. During the Cold War era, the United States presented itself as an anti-Imperialist, liberal and progressive force of democracy who will bring about peace and prosperity. And there is an argument to be made that in 1945, they genuinely believed that image of themselves. The Fall
UNITED STATES of the Berlin Wall seemed to prove them right; two decades of growth and diplomatic relaxation followed as the Soviet Union ceased to counter American doctrines. The Pax Americana created a space for new democracies to spring up, global economic interdependency evolved, and the power of the US grew and grew. Hopes were high when the Arab Spring ignited the Islamic world in 2011. All the while, NATO continued to act as an insurance company for all those accepting its supremacy. Many will know Fukuyama’s famous thesis of “the end of history”; he believes that once all states are democracies, the global market and international organisations like the UN would guarantee a just, sustainable world peace. Liberal World Order, championed by the United States, would be complete. There are obvious reasons to be sceptical: The White House is not exactly a beacon of morality. Which is absolutely, unequivocally true. This is the root cause for the ill symptoms that the Liberal World Order is showing today. It was erected through highly illiberal means. Especially during the Cold War, democratically elected leaders in South America and the Middle East were replaced with dictators loyal to the US with frightening regularity. To name give notable examples: In 1953, the CIA’s and MI6’s Operation Ajax removed the legitimate democratic president of Iran Mossadegh to lift a dictator to power; in 1973 the CIA helped overthrow a democratically elected leftist government in Chile to install a cooperating, autocratic one under Augusto Pinochet; and Cuba had to struggle with US invasions and assassinations all throughout the sixties. The criminality of the United States during the Cold War cannot be denied and had been widely protested in Western countries. To quote Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state: “The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.” And yet: the ideals that these means served were liberal ones. There is an international law all nations adhere to. There is the United Nations Security Council. There is an International Court of Justice. Most importantly, there is outrage, condemnation and punishment, when states disregard the international community’s norms. Just recently, Ratko Mladic was imprisoned for crimes he committed in the Bosnian war of 1992 that the world had collectively intervened in.
Globalisation made China and the US reconcile over territorial conflicts, conflicts that in any other century would signify war. Like it or not, there is a Liberal world order maintained by the American hegemony. It may serve utilitarian, economic or political gains, but it is there. Or at least it was. If it has not ended yet, its ending does appear on the horizon. Instead, there will be new poles of global power independent and wary of America. Although the United States’ military spending cannot be equalled anytime soon by any power, China has at least professed its aspirations to do so. In this very moment, Chinese engineers draw islands from the depths of the ocean for its navy bases, much to the dismay of Oceanic states. But there is nothing anyone can really do to stop China from proceeding. Similarly, the North Korean nuclear threat is alive and well, because of China’s protecting hand over Kim Jong-Un. Then there is Russia. The very first sign of the Next World Order was the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 by Russia. International condemnation and sanctions had been imposed, but not quite with the intensity that was arguably warranted. After all, the EU, and mostly Germany, depends on Russian energy resources. The global market that was so desired by American Liberals became a disadvantage in the world’s play of power. Now, many European and even American politicians call for a de-escalating policy towards Russia, in other words; letting Russia get away with it. Unthinkable a decade prior to today, but the rule of strength appears legitimate once again since 1990. This is also exemplified in Russia’s support of the Syrian Assad regime, which is not as controversial to some as it is to others. To some commentators, an unjust, stable peace is to be preferred over the chaos of democratic and Islamist revolts. Never mind Assad’s torture prisons and chemical attacks against his own civilian population. There are countless other examples of states refusing the messianic message of Pax Americana. South Africa tried retreating from the International Court of Justice in March, President Duterte of the Philippines called Obama a “son of a bitch” in 2016 (also hilarious), and Erdogan has been busy flipping the West off for a while now. The birth rate of new democratic states has
UNITED STATES turned to zero. Instead, considering the processes happening in Turkey or Poland, their number decreases. Indeed, a multi-polar world order will be next. The US may remain militarily superior for quite a while, but economically? Politically? That seems doubtful. In light of what China is doing in the Pacific, Russia in Georgia, Ukraine or Syria, and other big economies seeking to turn away from American domination, a central question becomes apparent: Who will ensure the liberal values we are used to? Allow me to be direct: No one will. People will learn that the international organisations are only as good as the people working them and that its rules are much more optional than we’d like them to be. Machiavellian doctrine of realpolitik will become prevalent. Not because that “is just how the world works”, like self-proclaimed realists often like to argue, but because all actors just agree that it is this way. By reasoning and explaining state policy in realist terms, they commit a political act already.
“Who will ensure the liberal values we are used to? [...] No one will.” The recent developments in US and EU relations are yet another signal that it is not business as usual anymore. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) was intended to dramatically deepen the cooperation between the EU and US. Being drafted and discussed behind closed doors, in criticised secrecy, for around five years, TTIP was seemingly reaching the final agreement phase. However, with Trump winning the 2016 US elections, TTIP has been shelved for an undecided time. Regardless of being a supporter or critic, scrapping not only TTIP, but also the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) and renegotiating NAFTA is illustrating the characteristics of a protectionist economy. Nevertheless, it would be a crucial mistake to assume that the US will cut all its ties with the outside. Despite what Trump’s tweets say, in the contemporary globalized system, the presidency is as much dependent on global affairs as the rest of the world is relying on predictable and calculated policies coming from Washington. Just to illustrate the magnitude of the EU-US relations – both economies account together for half the total world GDP and for almost a third of world trade flows. Annually US goods and services trade with the EU totals for more than $ trillion, and the EU is its largest goods trade partner. Still, Trump has not been afraid to express his rather critical stands towards the EU. He had complained about Germany being “very bad” for selling too many cars to the United States, condemning NATO members for not redirecting enough resources to the common budget, and before being elected into office, Trump even predicted that the EU will eventually break up. Most of the European leaders have also expressed their attitude, some more critical than others, towards Trump’s policies or comments. Mostly however, the criticism is still delivered in a diplomatic tone.
The harshest criticism was noted when Trump and his administration significantly damaged the US’ image as a global leader in the fight against climate change by deciding to withdraw America from the Paris Agreement – the only state in the world to do so. Next to Macron’s invitation to US scientists to consider further research in France, Merkel also expressed her summary of the current political situation: “The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I’ve experienced that in the last few days. We Europeans have to take our destiny into our own hands - of course in friendship with the US... but we have to know that we have to fight for our own future”. Acknowledging that the EU might take a more independent role, slowly drifting away from the guidance of the US, is the necessary first step to cope with the idea of a new or at least revised world order. There are, however, different paths the reconstruction of the world order could take. Shifting to Liberalism 3.0 may include more a regionalised global governance approach, where the US will be mainly concerned about the prosperity and security of the North American continent, EU will be busy with internal European affairs, and China will be the voice of Asia on the international stage. Another possibility is the attempt to return to some of the more classical liberal conception of international affairs with a rather universal approach and no hegemonic super-states. The latter seems less likely, because of its failure to orchestrate global peace in the first half of the 20th century. So, what then should the US do in face of all this? The Pentagon could revive efforts to contain Russian aggression. It could escalate the Syrian conflict by bringing “boots on the ground”. It could crush the civil war in Yemen. It may seek confrontation with China over the Pacific and trade, as Trump had boasted to do during his campaigns. It chooses not to, however, because of lessons from past interventions. They would run contrary to its allies’ interests – allies, whose regimes are illiberal as well, such as Saudi Arabia. This dilemma the White House finds itself in is as old as the notions of Liberalism and democracy themselves. In a society where the liberal right to self-determination is given to all, some will use it to establish illiberal, undemocratic rule. This is as true on a national level, see Russia or Hungary, as it is for the international order. Even the French Revolution had to struggle with this. For in the sustenance and perseverance of liberal and democratic systems, its members must be virtuous, meaning supportive towards its ideals. Liberal rights, however, simultaneously give them the power not to be. The United States must realise they cannot establish a Terror à la Robespierre to preserve its hegemony, because
that will be the end of Liberalism all by itself. America is aware of this and therefore, the world is taking the direction it is heading. The current Leader of the Free World does not seem too eager to spread democracy or Liberalism himself. To him, Saudi Arabia’s, Russia’s and China’s domestic policies do not matter. The only thing that does is America’s interest in their respective spheres of influence. If we accept the premise of other states’ sovereignty, we must accept the new multi-polar world and brace ourselves. The only moral way is to further the independence of liberal actors such as the EU has the potential to be, and halt cooperation with criminal regimes. There is hope, though. The hope that universal issues such as climate change and nuclear threats will unite liberal and realist states under common goals. Just without an American leadership. The decision to not support the Paris Climate Agreement does not bode well for the future of the multi-polar world, for example. To quote the poetry of Bob Dylan – ‘the times they are a-changing’.
The state of Catalonia By Michael William Keith
urope is a complex beast. With dozens has been known as a pro-independence politician upon dozens of cultures thrown in upon and has an active voice in this regard. The referE one another, existing side by side for hundreds endum,illegalbyMadridruleduetonoaffirmation andeventhousandsofyears,theEuropeanUnion issimplein contextyetinrealityitisa nythingbut. Take for instance the situation surrounding Barcelonaand theCatalancountry.Hereisaregionthat haslegallyexistedinoneformatoranothersince about 798CE, with various treaties and alliances over the ensuing centuries changing the political landscape eventually culminating in where it standstoday,asaregionoftheKingdomofSpain. However, it has always retained a proud Catalonian character and this juxtaposition of a Spanish or Catalan identity has created rather a delicate situation.
Madrid and Barcelona have long had a tense relationship.Aftercenturiesofautonomousrule, Barcelona was defeated in the Secessionist Wars of the 1700s and absorbed under the rule of Madrid, whereithasstayedtothisday.In1982,post-Franco, Catalonia was granted autonomy under the new constitution as a region in Spain; which has allowed for much greater freedom for the area in all sectors while still remaining under the rule of Madrid. Not exactly what a lot of Catalonians would have wished for, but it was still far more attractive than where they had come from. Poco a poco.Bitbybit.Ifindependencewasnotimmediately possible, it might come eventually. Various actors have all pushed for full independence in the past three decades, with the fair share of the weight behind movements of recent years, perhaps as the people have enjoyed a greater freedom in having their opinions heard.
from the central government, turned out to be a decisive moment in contemporary Spanish history.Themajority ofCataloniansdidnotputintheir vote, with a turnout of less than 50%; however, morethan 90%ofthosewhodidgototheballots votedYes.Althoughthiswasaimportantfactorin what happened next in the fast escalating crisis, what created the greatest furor was the Madrid response. La Guardia Civil, the Spanish military force tasked with civil policing, enacted an immediate and often violent crackdown on polling stations and the Catalan voters themselves. These movesfromMadridbroughtoutmanystrongopinions and reactions from those all over the region, as well as the country, due to the memory of the daysundertheFrancodictatorship.
Puigdemont, in a canny display of politics, was quick to announce independence of the region due to the overwhelming vote response, but then was equally quick to retract the statement and call for dialogue between Barcelona and Madrid. It was a move that simultaneously recognised the will of a portion of the people§, as well as the clear opposition to the independence movement from inside Catalonia. Spanish Prime Minister,MarianoRajoy,wasnotasquickto cometo the table. His administration stuck by their guns and refused to both acknowledge the call for independence as well as a calls for dialogue from Puigdemont; threatening the invocation ofArticle 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which allows for the return of power solely to Madrid. To this end, Puigdemont and his government were accused of Ithascometothemosttenseperiodinmanyyears treasonandPuigdemont fledtoBrussels,seeking onOctober1 st,2017,whenCatalonian President political asylum, while a large portion of his govCarles Puigdemont called an independence ref- ernmentwerejailedin theirnativecountry.Madrid erendum. By all accounts a proud Catalonian, he has since claimed rule and set the date on a vote
for a new Catalonian government for December horizon.Thinkoftherisein Nationalismacrossthe orld, where long standing politicians are 21,2017.Alongandconvolutedstorythathasno Western w struggling to gauge the new wave of uncertainty. endin sight. EvenAngelaMerkel,oneofthemostreliableand And this is where we find ourselves today, with stoic of world leaders, is facing concerns in her Madrid rule over Barcelona and one half of the owngovernment.Almostunthinkableaftertwelve pro-independence Puigdemont government in years of solid and stable leadership in the most exile and the other jailed. This is the state of Eu- powerfuleconomyofEurope.IsRajoygoingtobe ropein2017.Asoberingthoughtfortheso-called another victim of conservative politics misreading European bastion of democratic and enlightened thecontemporarypoliticalsituation? thinking.As someone recently pointed out to me, wehaveacountryinWestern Europethatiscare- On the other hand, there is Puigdemont. No one fultofollowtheruleoflaw,especiallyconsidering really seems quite sure of his game, but he has the recent dictatorship-flavoured history, and yet played the situation rather well it would seem. A there is an election scheduled where the stron- proudly Catalan man, with qualifications in Catalgest parties (according to recent polls) are either on philology, he has worn his heart on his sleeve inexileorinjail.Thishardlysoundsfreeandfair, and despite the controversies surrounding the enor following the will of the people. tire regional crisis, he has ridden the wave well. With a strong pro-independence rhetoric since his PrimeMinisterRajoyhaslongbeenknownforhis inception as Catalan President in early 2016, he approach of “Esperar a que escampe” or “Wait has created strong public opinion on the matter. until the weather clears up”, and this conserva- Slowly but surely Mr Puigdemont has created a tivehasservedhimimmenselywellin bringinghis campaign scenario where, by the time the refercountrybackfromthebrinkofeconomicruinand endum was announced, because of the strength has helped cement his place as leader of Spain; of public opinion, Madrid was drawn into a trap. butwillitservehiminthisvastlydifferentscenar- They could allow the referendum and thereby io? Is this indicative of what is happening all over create a space for pro-independence talks, which Europe, and arguably the world, at the moment? theyopposed,ortheycouldcallitillegalandmake Hisstrategyofallowingtime tohealallwounds,so a move. Which they did, to disastrous effect. By to speak, can be argued for as a reliable philoso- denying the basic Catalan right to vote on an phy of life; but more and more the contemporary issue, a long held source of pride in the region, political landscape is calling for fast moving politi- Madrid antagonised the region. To add insult to cians. Think of the meteoric rise of Donald Trump injury,theviolentcrackdown inapplicationofrule and the messy scramble of the Democrats, who oflawonlyfurtheralienatedtheunitycause.Here failedtocreatean effectivegrassrootsopposition. it came down to conflicting political strategies. NowthesituationinAmericaismovingfasterthan Puigdemont read the emotions of the people and most politicians can keep up with. Think of Brexit, played his hand, whereas Rajoy followed rule of where public opinion has had a pendulum effect law.Thishasleadtoastand-off,andafurthering moving faster than both the Tories and Labour in the divide between those that call themselves could predict, leading to one of the most uncertain SpanishandthosethatcallthemselvesCatalan. andundoubtedlyinfluentialeventsonthepolitical
By denying that most basic of democratic rights,therighttov ote,R ajoyhaspolarised his nation when, in the light of greater global political turmoil, he should have pushed for unity.Ofcourse, hisplatformhasbeenunity allalongbutitismybeliefthathehasgone aboutthisthewrong way.Yes,ruleoflawis essential. This cannot be denied, because withoutthisessentiallyhuman constructwe are not much more than savages. However, there is more to the rule of law than what is simply written down in a constitution. Do not forget that slavery and Apartheid were once legal. What Rajoy misread and it would seem, so far, Puigdemont has not; is that we are human after all. We suffer from a terrible case of emotions. Rule of law is rationality exemplified but in nature we are irrational and emotional. Enforcing Madrid ruleisallwellandfine,forthe sakeofpeace and order, but to do so with force is to throw the rulebook out the window.As many governments have found out before, the people do not enjoy being told what to do when a weapon is pointed at them. Far from uniting his people, there is now fast becoming a potentially inseparablep artition.
Isthisasymptomofbeingapartoftheoldguard,agenerationofpoliticiansformedoutof politically conservativemid-20thCideologies?Remember,Rajoyisoneofthefewpoliticians todaywhoisold enough to have voted in the post-Franco elections. His are ideas formed from an era to which the generationsoftodayhavenorealreferencepoint.Thiscanbeseenagaininthe Brexit,thefailureof HillaryClintontomobilisetheDemocraticyouth,thedisillusionmentofthe GermanyouthinMerkel, theriseofnationalismacrossEasternEurope.ThecurrentStateof Cataloniaismerelyasymptom of both a conflict older than Spain itself and a symptom of the greater state of Europe that is happening around us. The Union is changing faster than ever before and leaders have to keep up or theyrisklosingeverything,theEuropeanunity,thatthey haveworkedtowardsforsolong.Nolonger canunityb eenforcedthroughruleoflaw. Politiciansneedtorememberthosethattheypreachto.