eurovisie a publication of the study association for european studies
white fragility \'hwÄŤt fra-ji-le-tÄ“\ noun 1. the psychological inability of white people to deal with colour-related stress, triggering a range of defensive moves including the outward display of emotions such as discomfort, anger, and fear
Dear fellow white people, February 2018 / www.ses-uva.nl / firstname.lastname@example.org
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volume 13, issue 3 - Feb. 2018
Dear Fellow White People, Kat Bentley and Sjors Roeters
Dismantling Peace Mats Licht
Honey Trap Michelle Kooiman
Sister on Screen Joana Voss
The Female Body in Advertising Anna Boyce
One Month in a Kibbutz Alexandra Staudinger
An Ode to Hannah Arendt Joep Leerssen
New Media Subjectivities Krisztina Lajosi
Judgmental Programs and their Victims Hanna Blom
Interview met marxist Raoul Hedebouw Levente Vervoort Cover image: ??????????????
nother year, another semester, another issue of Eurovisie! Once more, we get to be excited about an arbitrarily-set timecycle renewal. For some of us, this semester marks the entry to the home stretch (as it does for me). Once more into the breech, my friends, towards diplomas and eternal glory! - or rather: towards existential angst and potential unemployment. It is somewhat annoying that pressure on the labour and education markets barely allow for a moment of rest in between way stations. It is not enough that one has to take care of finishing this degree amicably and, at least moderately, successfully; no, at the same time one already has to apply for the next leg of the journey, be it a Master's degree or an unpaid internship (thank you very much for hiring me, oh corporate overlords!). With this timing it is no wonder that kids leave universities with a burnout already. By the way, consider this your reminder to think about next year or to send out applications! You have been warned. How fitting is it, then, that Eurovisie takes this opportunity to deliver you some wholesome thoughts on the present and the future? It's not so bad to be alive right now, so we might as well rally behind some causes! Find and enjoy here some thoughts on privacy and ethnicity, the image of women in literature and advertising, an interview with a Belgian communist...there's something for everyone!
imprint Editorial office: Kloveniersburgwal 48, room E2.04/2.05, 1012 CX Amsterdam Editor-in-chief: Mats Licht Editors: Hanna Blom, Anna Boyce, Michelle Kooiman, Sjors Roeters, Alexandra Staudinger, Levente Vervoort, Joanna Voss Final editing: DaniĂŤl Adam, Levente Vervoort Design: Emiel Janssens With contributions by: Krisztina Lajosi-Moore, 3 Joep Leerssen
Dear fellow white people, KAT BENTLEY / SJORS ROETERS
id we get your attention there? It is not terribly often that white people are referenced by race. Why is that? Europe, the birthplace of racism, has left out one extremely relevant group in the debate on racism: white folks - and that’s what we are here to talk about. Do you balk at the vitriolic language of Mr Trump and Geert Wilders? Do you cringe when you hear a white person spout off racial epithets? Are you embarrassed by your grandmother/ father/mother/sister/brother who indignantly goes on about the “immigrant problem”? Then keep on reading. Before we lose you entirely to feelings of personal attack, and consequently, self-defensive tuning out, we’d like to make painfully clear that this article is written with the express intent of getting all white people, not just those who proudly wear the badge of overt racism like it ain’t no thang, to reflect on your whiteness. And in doing so, your white privilege. We, Kat and Sjors, as university educated, cisgender (a term for people whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth), Western white people from some of the richest countries in the world – the USA and the Netherlands – represent the pinnacle of privilege. That being said, intersectionality dictates a multitude of lived experiences. Yet there is no utility in responding to this awareness with what, in the parlance of our times, we refer to as white guilt. However, the fact that we are not guilty does not relieve us of responsibility to be not only conscientious, but deeply critical of those privileges. Privilege necessitates the presence of oppression, and this is where whiteness demands action to dismantle the very systems that
benefit us over others.
system is ours to dismantle.
We address you as fellow citizens and humans to implore you to take a close look at the system we live in; this system that, as Gloria Wekker – among many other great scholars like Brittney Cooper, Philomena Essed and Cornel West – has poignantly pointed out, is permeated by institutional racism. Racism and white supremacy are not constricted to Trump-country, confined to states where the Confederate flag continues to be hoisted and the KKK is still operational. In Europe, racism transcends the distasteful blackface celebrations, upheld by longstanding notions of cultural tradition, or the blatant racism of football fans who howl like monkeys and fling bananas at players of colour. First of all, as Wekker aptly stresses, the concept of race originated in Europe and has since been a primary export product. Yet, recognizing this is, as Fatima El-Tayeb argues, a serious violation of the powerful misapprehension of the “humanitarian”, “tolerant”, “progressive”, “colour-blind” Europe, which is both a self-perception as well as the way many nonEuropeans perceive the continent. This story, this myth - not only fallacious, but arguably dangerous for those who cannot excuse themselves from a racialized experience in the way those who don whiteness can - must be reckoned with. The ensuing discomfort of entering the racial discourses that historically white people are privileged enough to have the option to avoid and dismiss as ‘not their problem’, must be faced. The birthplace and presence of the ideologies of white supremacy and racism in Europe are real. It must be recognised and reconciled. It must be taken down by the peoples who have erected it in the first place: white people, the
That we have white privileges does not mean that we encounter no problems or struggles whatsoever in our lives - we understand that privilege does not preclude the possibility of hardship. To better explain the dynamics of privilege we refer to the straight, white, male blogger John Scalzi who formulated the analogy of different levels in a game. Heterosexual, white, cisgender, able-bodied males (forgive us if we are forgetting any facets of privilege, as there are many) simply enter the game on the lowest difficulty setting. That does not mean that they do not have to play the game without encountering any obstacles. It is just that this difficulty setting is lower than that of, for instance, a person of colour, a woman, a member of the LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer/ Questioning Intersex Asexual/Allies + others) community. As writer and activist Anousha Nzume further expands, ‘the fact that you have white privilege, does absolutely not mean that your life is not difficult, that your gender identity, your level of education or appearance can heavily impede your game setting. It just means that colour is not an extra factor!’ Now that you are thinking about whiteness and privilege (as we hope we have effectively encouraged you to do), you may wonder what on Earth is to be done. How do we reorganise a system so fixed, so pervasive and yet so seemingly invisible at the same time? First: simply listen. Take a moment to quiet yourself and really hear what the people around you are saying about the society you live in. Come to recognize that you will have to educate yourself. During Gloria Wekker's book presentation of the Dutch translation of White
Innocence, a white person asked Anousha Nzume how white people could contribute to the antiracist struggle, a seemingly innocuous and likely well-intentioned question. Nzume made an appeal to white people to start to talk to other white people about everyday racism. This is for a couple of reasons. For one, the burden of explaining racial injustices and the experience of oppression falls disproportionately on the shoulders of people of colour. As you can imagine, this can not only be deeply frustrating and painful, but it is undoubtedly fatiguing. A question you may posit to the people of colour in your social circles will likely be answerable by simply using Google and referencing the multitude of books, blogs, podcasts, etc (Son of Baldwin (follow on Facebook), The Inky Comet (Podcast), I Am Not Your Negro, Wit is ook een Kleur (Documentaries)). that are available without demanding someone’s emotional labour for the sake of your own education. Put simply, start doing your own research – Google is free. Furthermore, normalizing discourse around racial topics in white circles creates an opportunity for the information you, and perhaps your peers, encounter on these subjects to be more effectively communicated, or rather heard, by other white folks. Unfortunately, whiteness tends to grant speakers substantially greater credibility in the eyes of other white people. What could be dismissed as overly “emotional” or “angry” from the mouths of a person of colour (which happens disturbingly often, as for instance with Sylvana Simons here in the Netherlands), can be better received when delivered by a person who is also white, someone, colloquially, from your tribe (take the example of the white, cisgender male Arjen Lubach speaking up against Zwarte Piet in his popular satirical TV show Zondag met
Lubach, bringing about a significant shift in the debate in 20 minutes, after decades of people of colour trying to do so). Nzume expounds upon the subject of whiteness and daily racism in her book Hallo Witte Mensen (‘Hello white people’): White allies are greatly needed to combat both the more affronting manifestations of white supremacy as well as the multitude of microaggressions people of colour frequently confront, ‘in the classroom when lecturers glorify
“if you do not see skin colour, then you will definitely not see the power structures and implications of race” the colonial past, when people use the n-word’, or when people claim to be “colour-blind”. Paradoxically, “not seeing colour” is viewed as desirable, especially in progressive intellectual circles, because it implies that one is transcending racism by seeing all as equal. But if you do not see skin colour, then you will definitely not see the power structures that are built on the basis of colour, and the very real implications of race that permeate the lived experiences of both the de facto benefactors and exploited subjects of white supremacy. Institutional racism is a fact. Nzume sums up just a few of many studies that have proven that non-white people structurally ‘earn less money for the same work, get lower school advice, are more frequently stopped by the police, make less promotion, have fewer chances of getting an internship and are more often unemployed.’
In our humble opinion, it is time for white people to start putting in some work on this matter. We find it important to note that this is not merely a navel-gazing venture. As Jackson Katz astutely points out, feminist thought has sought to rearticulate the passivity with which we reference violence against women. We call upon you to do something similar with your conceptual and actionable relationship with racism. Just as “violence against women” fails to mention that men actively commit said violence, racism against people of colour is not a passive matter - there is indeed an actor: a system that reproduces these acts of institutional violence, and that depends wholeheartedly on the tacit endorsement and complicity of white citizens who do and say nothing. We hope you come to view yourself not as a “white saviour” and avoid becoming a “whitesplainer”. Instead work to become a white ally: use your position of power and privilege to make space for the voices of people of colour, be prepared to give up illegitimate power and the need to be central, and perhaps most importantly, share that space and actively amplify the voices of those who deserve to have their experiences heard. And even if you invest in these things, you will always have to check your perspective and presuppositions as a white person. Rather than viewing this as a teleological personal project - where you achieve allied enlightenment after doing enough reading, showing up at enough protests - see this as a never-ending undertaking in dismantling your own relationship with whiteness and your racist biases, for even the 'wokest' among us will still have blind spots.
Undermining Peace â€“ One buck at a time. MATS LICHT A visitor enjoying DSEi 2017, the world's biggest arms fair.
e live in a peaceful time. The 24-hour news cycle and its associated sensationalism is doing its best to make it seem otherwise, but that still does not negate the fact: overall, we are alive during the most peaceful time in human history. The early 2010s were ripe with images of gruelling violence and accounts of unfathomable misery at the hands of governments and insurgents alike, but perhaps it was just the first time that the
suffering of one people could gain so much exposure, just for lack of competition. It is not just Europe that is enjoying an extraordinarily peaceful turn of history. At the present moment, there are no symmetrical wars fought anywhere on the planet, and conflicts on the whole have become more drawn out, less concentrated and, on the whole, vastly less deadly. Global battle deaths have steadily declined since the late 1990s, a time when vast tracts of land across
all continents were devastated by continuous, persistent and ravenous warfare for the last time since. It might seem cynical to mention these facts at a time in which the plight of war refugees takes such a central stage in the mindscapes of the world, but it is hardly so. Now, more than ever, we need to remind ourselves that war is not self-evident or inevitable at all. The image of homo homini lupus, man as a wolf to man, the Stanford Prison Experiment-fuelled vision
of mankind as intrinsically evil and bound for destruction may finally break apart. But war consists not just of its human component, of the suffering, death and cynical notions of victory. It is also a business, or rather, it presents an intricate system of supply and demand in which high price, single-use commodities are traded against each other. It is a system that has been sustained through conscious and sustained efforts by governments, private citizens and interest groups, based on the image of war as an inevitability. As always in world affairs, one ought to ask ‘Cui bono?’ For while the overall impact of war on our lives diminishes, the profits of the military-industrial complex show no signs of stagnation. On the contrary, the amount of money to be earned in the arms industry has never been higher. 2016's global military spending reached $1.7 trillion. Even in the most heated years of the Cold War this would have been an impressive sum. But how can military spending increase while conflicts on the whole decrease? The answer lies in the nature of the arms industry. The times of the lone gun peddler, subverting UN embargoes through daring flights under the radar, landing on dusty West African country highways to sling his rusty AKs and worn-out RPGs to local militiamen clad in rags are over. The concept was memorably laid out in 2005's critically acclaimed Lord of War, a modern classic by all definitions. Nic Cage's Juri Orlov was a product of his times, a remnant of the Cold War who, paradoxically, profited most from its end. He was modelled after real-life, individual arms traders that worked outside of international law or simply broke it. But while people like him did their part in enabling some of the heavily
publicised atrocities of the 80s and 90s, particularly in Africa, this image is also shockingly reductionist. Orlov works alone, buying weapons from corrupt Soviet generals and flying them to Africa himself. In reality, his merchandise might just as well have been carried by regular air cargo or even government flight services. Orlov's most famous real-life counterpart was Adnan Khashoggi, a Saudi businessman-turnedarms dealer who was active throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s. He was famously implicated as a main culprit in the Iran-Contra affair, presumably a scapegoat for some higher-ranking offenders who were shielded by the offices they were holding. Far from a deceitful criminal perpetually on the run, Khashoggi conducted his businesses out in the open, through companies in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, the US and Saudi Arabia. Even though his activities were widely known and even sanctioned by the governments of the United States and Great Britain, Khashoggi was never convicted of any crime – because what he did was simply not illegal. In fact, he was an official representative of Lockheed and other American arms manufacturers, earning over $100 million in commissions between 1970 and 1975 alone. He owned the largest yacht in the world at the time and even provided it as a prop for the off-brand Bond film Never Say Never Again. The ship later passed through the hands of another famous businessman – Devastatedd Trump. The sustained publicity began to damage his business, however, and he soon faded into obscurity and relative bankruptcy. It seems that, while legal, governments were still reluctant to conduct their arms deals out in the open. So while Khashoggi's business has by no
means disappeared, its visibility and public exposure largely have. Nowadays governments have cut out the middle man, instead conducting their arms businesses directly between each other. For with the fading of civil wars in Africa and around the world, the arms industry has reverted to government actors as its main customer base. In most cases, governments do not even control arms deals at all – instead leaving a worrying degree of freedom to
‘there is a name for this sort of malicious collusion of political will and industrial interest: racketeering’ private actors in their respective arms industries. This makes keeping an overview of worldwide weapons transactions incredibly difficult, since most governments still keep a tight lid on public information on them, usually using national security or confidential technologies as arguments against disclosing information. An attentive observer thus has to look for information from countries that still keep a degree of public accountability in the matter – Germany, for instance. The country officially exercises restraint in international affairs and military engagements, for obvious historical reasons. But it is also home to a very competitive heavy arms industry. While parliamentary oversight is limited like anywhere else, the German government does retain approval rights for any export of heavy
weapons, and so its decisions are subject to public scrutiny. When German companies applied to export around 300 Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Turkey, some people raised an eyebrow, but the government approved the deal anyhow. With the recent Turkish invasion of Northern Syria, the issue has been revisited, particularly since the German tanks form the main line against the Kurdish YPG. To understand the madness of the current international arms industry, one only needs to look at the Kurdish counter-armament: bereft of heavy weapons and armoured vehicles, they use mainly handheld MILAN anti-tank missiles – conveniently also sourced from the same German companies that provided their targets. With the German government freezing an agreed upgrade of the tanks, its arms industry might soon be able to fill a completely new order of armoured vehicles, once their cheaper ammunitions do their job of destroying Turkey’s present arsenal. This remarkably pragmatic automatic business generation is not without precedent. One is reminded of the Falklands War: British arms manufacturers lost out to their French competitors in equipping the Argentine navy, which proceeded to sink a surprising amount of British ships using French planes and missiles. British losses were then – you guessed it – replenished by the domestic arms industry, which thus quickly recuperated its earlier losses. There is a name for this sort of malicious collusion of political will and industrial interest: racketeering. It is also known under a less moralising synonym: the militaryindustrial complex. The concept was first raised to attention by President Eisenhower, who, as Allied Supreme Commander in Europe, knew the conflagrations of politics and war
all too well. Eisenhower knew that industry did not necessarily follow war, but that the opposite was possible as well. He warned of the power of a protected monopoly of defence contractors continuing after the war, desperate to protect its profits and influence in the new peace. In lieu of influential politicians they could exert influence on the foreign policy course of the United States, even threatening the very peace they had helped to secure. Eisenhower's concerns hold much truth, especially today. Modern weapons are becoming more efficient, more autonomous and more expensive. It would only make sense that their proprietors would try to ensure the highest possible sales quantity. With the nominal decline of defence spending in traditionally “Western” countries, emerging markets become enticing goals. Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Iran, India and even Bahrain and Qatar are all willing and able to buy the security and stability they so desperately desire. Whether modern armaments actually deliver what they promise remains doubtful. The current Saudi intervention in Yemen raises the question: was it merely made possible by acquired weapons, or was it motivated in part to necessitate their acquisition? Thanks to the magic combination of deregulated markets and petrodollars, soon even the smallest of states will be able to operate impressive arsenals of nearautonomous heavy weaponry – and once there are weapons, the will to actually use them will follow. Khashoggi himself famously told of a meeting between himself and then-Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle when the invasion of Iraq was proposed: 'If there is no war,' he told me, 'why is there a need for security? If there is a war, of course, billions of dollars will have to be spent.'
The famous orb picture, taken on the occasion of President Trump signing a $108bn arms deal with Saudi Arabia.
image: the 2017 Netflix series Gleichen Himmel (The Same Sky) features a GDR honey spie.
A Bitter-sweet Trap An attractive young woman starts an affair with a married man who happens to be the British Secretary of State for War. At the same time she is involved in a romantic escapade with a military attaché of the Soviet Union. She might also be a spy of the KGB who lays honey traps.
f this sounds like a scenario for the next James Bond movie, the story was filmed, based on a true story. In the 1960s Christine Keeler was an IT-girl who got involved with two influential men. One was John Profumo, then the British Secretary of State for War and the other was Yevgeny Ivanov, a military attaché of the Soviet Union who was stationed in the UK. Because she saw both men at the same time, Keeler was suspected to be a spy. Even though there was no proof, the reputation of Profumo was shattered. After he first denied
he was involved with Keeler, he later came clean and was forced to resign his position. Ivanov was sent back home to the Soviet Union. Some people suspected Keeler of being a honey trap. A honey trap starts intimate, most often sexual, relationships with influential people in order to collect evidence or incriminating material of that person or digs up confidential information and shares that with other parties. Allegedly, Keeler’s task was to dig up information about the placement of missiles from the US in West-Germany. Keeler,
Profumo and Ivanov all declared that Keeler could not have been a spy. Ivanov responded to the media that it was unlikely for Keeler to ask: ‘Oh, by the way, darling, when are the cruise missiles going to arrive in Germany?’, without being suspicious. The use of honey traps is a quite an old tactic. Especially in war times it can be used as an investigation tool to test loyalties. The Nazis had a brothel, named Salon Kitty, in Berlin where socalled sympathisers were tested to
see which side they were actually supportive of. It was supposed to be a pleasure house, but every room in the brothel was filled with bugging devices which recorded all conversations. Notorious guests like Joseph Goebbels, the son in law of Mussolini and the foreign minister of fascist Italy paid a visit to Salon Kitty. After World War II, honey traps were widely used by the communist regimes. One famous victim of the honey trap was Jeremy Wolfenden, an English correspondent for the Daily Telegraph in Moscow. He was forced to spy for the KGB because he fell into a honey trap in the first place. The KGB made sure Wolfenden entered into a sexual relationship with a Soviet spy who took controversial photos and videos of their get-together. They blackmailed him with the material the KGB had on Wolfenden. Wolfenden reported his recruitment to the British government. However, the Secret Intelligent Service of the UK did not pull him back, but made him a double spy. He had to give information about the Soviets to the English government, while at the same time he had to make the KGB believe that he was of service to them. Wolfenden did not have nerves of steel and struggled with an alcohol problem, which eventually cost him his life at the age of 31. The Stasi even founded a department devoted to the recruitment and training of honey traps assigned to obtain confidential information about West German organisations. Instead of female honey traps targeting influential men, the Stasi came up with an army of male honey traps who targeted women. Because of both World wars, many single women were able to work themselves up into the West-German government
and business life. Handsome men called Romeo spies, had to start romantic relationships with WestGerman women in order to obtain useful information for the GDR's secret services. The Romeo spies were quite effective since they allegedly infiltrated into the highest divisions of the West-German government and even NATO. Markus Wolf, leader of the Romeo spies and a master in espionage, was a great supporter of the use of sex in order to gain important information. He was punished for this method of espionage but he
‘Oh, by the way, darling, when are the cruise missiles going to arrive in Germany?’
was not remorseful. ‘As long as there is espionage, there will be Romeos seducing unsuspecting targets with access to secrets.’ That honey trapping is an all-time tactic for gaining information became evident when British Security Service MI5 published a report in 2009 which was called ‘The Threat from Chinese Espionage’. The report says the tactic of honey traps especially is a notorious way of Chinese intelligence services to infiltrate the business world of the West. Another famous supporter of sexual spying is Russian president Vladimir Putin. Laying honey traps has proven to be a good strategy
to disable political opponents and critics. Ekaterina Gerasimova, better known as Katya, had a sexual encounter with Victor Shenderovich, a journalist with a strong anti-Putin sentiment. Shenderovich is also a married man with a family. The sexual encounter was filmed and the footage was spread all over the internet. Shenderovich has admitted that he was the man in the video and blamed the Russian government for setting him up. Shenderovich is not the only prey of Katya. She seems to have lured several politicians from the Russian opposition into her bed. Rumour has it that the Russians also have compromising material of the American president Devastatedd Trump. This time last year the whole world heard about the concept of ‘golden showers’. Every respectable news section in the world reported about a visit of Trump to Moscow in 2013. Although no one can confirm it (yet?), Trump allegedly invited several prostitutes to his hotel room. They came with full bladders, which they emptied while performing sexual acts. If there are images of this evening, the Russian government has a powerful tool for blackmail. However, if this event was caught on tape it would have probably been published and spread all over the world by now. "Golden shower-gate" might function as a warning that the most powerful politician at this moment is also vulnerable to honey trapping. Not only Trump, but all politicians, CEOs, diplomats and journalists should have their guard up, if they express criticism or have access to important or confidential information. Before you know it you find yourself in a situation similar to that of a Bond movie: secret services, a tempting and sexy man or woman and cameras. However: a movie ends but a scandal lives on.
Sisters on Screen: an Eye-opener Amid the increasingly intense MeToo debate, women are wondering, is it too much to ask of movies that they show us talking to one another about something other than men? JOANA VOSS evaluates the Bechdel test for gender equality in the film industry.
For a witty portrait of female friendship that passes the test with flying colours, (directed by Sally Potter, one of the few woman directors out there), see "The Party"
hloe liked Olivia', I read. And then it struck me how immense a change was there. Chloe liked Olivia perhaps for the first time in literature." Brought to life eighty-five years ago, Virginia Woolf’s narrator in A Room of One’s Own uncovers what could not be more current an issue today. How underrepresented women are in fiction then and now certainly mirrors our standing in reality. Pondering upon how much about women are left out, not even attempted to portray, the narrator contemplates: ‘But how interesting it could have been if the relationship between the two women had been more complicated. All these relationships between women, I thought, rapidly recalling the splendid gallery of
fictitious women, are too simple. And I tried to remember any case in the course of my reading where two women are represented as friends. They are now and then mothers and daughters. But almost without exception they are shown in their relation to men.’ Amidst the heat of the MeToomovement, for those who are struggling to grasp the full extent of the issue, it is worth looking back another thirty-five years to American cartoonist Alison Bechdel. In her 1985 cartoon The Rule, she created a bar to test gender-equal representation in fiction so low that it could hardly be any lower. What came to be known as the Bechdel test has long been part of a basic ABC to those interested in gender
studies. For a film to pass it, it must a) have at least two (preferably named) female characters, who b) talk to one another (that is, in a back and forth conversation) about c) something other than a man. Really, anything at all, even if it is shopping or shoes. In fact, the example in Bechdel’s cartoon is Alien, because Ripley and Lambert at some point have a brief conversation about the monster. It ought to come as no surprise to anyone occasionally buying popcorn that most studio movies do not pass this seemingly foolproof test. In fact, at the 2017 Academy Awards, less than half of the nominees passed. And in 2011, of the top 100 US movies, 33 per cent of all characters
were women, and only 11 per cent of them starred in the role of protagonists. The list of our favourite movies that surprisingly fail ranges from Harry Potter, to Lord of the Rings, to even Run Lola, Run, originally celebrated as a feminist manifesto. Simultaneously, movies like American Pie 2 and Legally Blonde pass even though their representation of gender equality is doubtful at best. It is this ambiguity that has subjected Bechdel to criticism from feminists and conservatives alike. Today, merely mentioning it leads people to complain about its flaws as feminist cinematic criteria, because it conveys almost nothing about the interplay of female and male characters in the movie under consideration. As such, the usefulness of Swedish cinemas recently adopting the test and awarding movies with an A-rating for passing it is hotly debated to the point that critics argue the Bechdel test is ‘damaging the way we think about film’ and reducing the issue of female underrepresentation to simplistic punchlines. But is it not precisely this simplicity that makes Bechdel’s rule so shockingly eye-opening? It was never intended to capture the issue in its complexity, never intended as a test, really, but rather as a pessimistic punchline to start a conversation about gender representation in film and what it says about our society. In this sense, it is not, and never was, a very accurate measure of individual movies but one of the movie industry as a greater whole and the culture it informs and is informed by. That a single movie fails to meet these standards tells us nothing about that movie, its characters, its feminism or overall meaningfulness. But that more than half of all movies fail tells us something about the bigger picture of movie-making.
If Hollywood thinks that male characters will do better at the box office, then it is worth asking why. And perhaps the fact that most aspects of movie-making – writing, production, direction – are maledominated, is a hint at why the stories we are told tend to revolve around men. That people feel the need to write whole articles about what is wrong with the Bechdel test, as an active choice to do that rather than writing about what is wrong with the gender gap it uncovers, is startling. Whether or not the Bechdel test is a successful measure of gender equality may
indeed be questionable, but in any case, as Melissa Silverstein, founder of Women and Hollywood said, “it would be great if our culture reflected who we were and didn’t have to seek out information about whether we are even included”. So Bechdel’s The Rule really is not about giving us a dogmatic rule to assess movies on a binary scale of either gender equal representation or sexism, but about changing norms. So that a sentence like ‘Chloe liked Olivia’ will have nothing phenomenal about it anymore. All we want to see is women. Who talk. To each other. About something other than men. Is that too much to ask?
Sex Sells! the role of the female body in 21st century advertising and the media
huge billboard depicts a beautiful woman clad in a tight dress. Her skin is slathered in oil and she is being pinned down by a muscly, shirtless man, her hips thrusting upwards whilst in the background three men stand watching. Across the front of this scene are painted the words â€˜Dolce & Gabbanaâ€™. This is an advert for one of the biggest fashion houses in the world. And do not think that this is a oneoff example, offenders range from beer companies and car
manufacturers to fast food chains and the cosmetics industry. The use of the female body in 21st-century advertising has become so habitual that we barely notice it. But despite being immune to these images, we must address the damage they are causing to the role of women in society. One of the most concerning developments in 21st-century advertising is the use of the female body as an accessory. Much of the time large corporations with
a largely adult male audience use advertising to project an image of a successful male endorsing their product. Far too often, an integral part of these adverts is the use of women as a submissive accessory to this man. This is in itself ridiculous: will a man buy a certain brand of beer in the genuine expectation that it will come coupled with the bikini-clad model holding it in its advertisement? It works, however. Sex sells, and corporations all over the world are taking advantage of this with no
regard for the negative effects, not only on women but on society at large. Whilst some would argue that the damage caused by the proliferation of these images is an issue of morality, the issue is also a political one. The images do not just cause offence, they also undermine the role of women in society and endanger their political, social and economic well-being. In a society in which issues of pay disparity and sexual harassment are being discussed on a previously unprecedented level, it is wrong that women are still so exploited by mainstream media. We are always shocked by the inherent sexism of advertising from the 1940s and 50s, depicting women holding new vacuum cleaners captioned ‘Give her what she really wants for Christmas’. But look around and we must ask ourselves: how much has really changed? One stark example of this is a British bus company, who less than two years ago adorned their buses with images of topless girls holding signs over their breasts which read ‘Ride me all day for £3’. This is an overt example harking back to the 40s and 50s. But in a more subtle manner, much of the imagery in today’s adverts also displays the same gender stereotypes and objectification. Another prolific offender is the video game industry. Commonly, women play one or two roles in video games: either that of the passive partner who stands by and watches as her male counterpart completes some heroic quest, or as a sex object that exists for the gratification of the male character. In addition, no matter what role she plays, the female character is often the epitome of some ridiculous expectation of the female
body. She will have Barbie-like proportions, that, if she were to exist, would create numerous basic problems - such as preventing her from standing up. The issue here is that, in this day and age, many children begin to play these games at a very young age. Young boys playing these games will develop skewed and hypersexualized views of women, while young girls will be faced with unfair expectations of their own bodies. Whilst the plurality of these images plays a great role in the creation of negative stereotypes of women, it also has a profound effect on the way in which women see themselves. In a recent survey, the
"We are always shocked by the inherent sexism of the 1940s and 50s - but look around and we must ask ourselves: how much has really changed?" beauty company Dove found that less than 20% of women are happy with the way they look. The role of media and advertising in creating this is impossible to deny. Even during times of financial crisis, the female beauty industry has always thrived. It has prospered owing to the insecurity of women, and corporations have profited from female self-loathing. Beauty adverts are full of empty promises. A highly photoshopped image of a model
in a bikini captioned ‘are you beach body ready?’ - advertising weightloss shakes preys on women’s knowledge that they do not look like this girl. It encourages them to believe that they can, however, achieve this through the use of this product. The industry of female selfloathing is a profitable one and also a vicious circle. Many of the corporations benefiting from gender stereotyping in advertising also exploit cheap female labour in developing countries. Sweatshops of women, many of whom will then be spending a large proportion of their income on their own beauty products through the use of which they see a chance of a better life. Women have become a victim of the 21st-century advertisement industry. The same corporations that claim to be pioneers of equality are undermining their own assertions through their exploitation of the female body for their own capital benefit. The beauty industry not only creates female self-loathing, but also gains from it. Clearly, the female body and its use in advertising plays a huge role in the 21st-century economy, but how can we claim to live in a progressive society when media representations of women are so contradictory? There is some reason to be hopeful. One body who has recognized this trend and the harm it is causing to society, is the UK’s ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) who have committed to the introduction of new restrictions on gender stereotyping, objectification and inappropriate sexualization in advertisement for the year 2018. This is a step in the right direction, and if more companies followed this example, then perhaps the advertisement industry can continue to progress in congruence with the rest of society.
“Seeing oneself” at Neot Semadar
ately, particularly during this past fall semester, it started to dawn on me that the end of my BA is coming dangerously close, in summer 2018, if everything goes as planned. Inspired by this and by someone asking me where I want to be exactly in ten years, what I want to do on a day-to-day basis (and to then trace the steps back to see how I could get there), I felt that the ideas I had about my close future were vague and based on assumptions and expectations rather than something substantial. My imagined path of pursuing a Master’s degree at a prestigious university which would lead to employment in a big humanitarian organisation - doing important things for the world - seemed empty once I started to ask a bit harder whether that is all that
life is about, or whether it would make me happy. Furthermore, in an imagined future, once I had all these titles and achievements - then what? In general, how do I want to live my life and what other ways of living one’s life are there aside from the university-career path? With these questions in the back of my mind, I stumbled upon a Facebook group post describing the ideals behind the communal way of living in the kibbutz Neot Semadar in the Southern Israeli Negev Desert. With limited prior knowledge or expectation of the kibbutz way of life, I came to get a glimpse of this way of living for one month and to see if I myself would want to live that way. Their described ideals of cooperation, living together, investigating oneself and one’s relationships with others
in a democratic, simplistic and environmentally sustainable way sounded ideal, but what does this look like in practice? The first thing that struck me as different from the hippieish atmosphere I had perhaps thought of earlier, is the strict routine. Early morning meeting at 5.30, then work until breakfast at 8.30, a half-hour to an hour of break at 12.30. Then work until lunch at 15.00, dinner at 19.00. Various times a week people have additional duties assigned to their name on the kibbutz work plan, such as washing dishes, milking the goats, baking bread. And every day there are smaller jobs on the schedule that people volunteer for, like driving someone to the main road outside the kibbutz or taking
a shift in the office. This is the usual routine, except for Fridays when work ends at 13:00 and Saturdays, because it is Shabbat and the day of rest. Given this almost day-filling schedule, the isolated location and the lack of modern entertainment such as television, the kibbutz demands oneâ€™s full immersion. Outside activities like a remote job or even simply writing this article are difficult to squeeze in. People have meetings on top of everything and need time for themselves and for rest, too, therefore the number of hours per day available for personal use is small. As a result of this schedule and the fact that at least four times a day a big part of the kibbutz meets together, the lifestyle here is a collective one. Around seventy kibbutz children are raised by the whole community,
from age one on they spend the day away from their working parents in daycare, kindergarten, and school until age fourteen, all located in the kibbutz. Those working parents do not receive any kind of salary, the kibbutz provides for more or less all that people need, earned by everyone together in various enterprises, the profits of which are used for the community as a whole. The absence of personal profit and of the accumulation of wealth and simultaneously status and prestige is so radically different from the class society in most parts of the world that it is hard to grasp for me how oneâ€™s attitude towards work and life changes in such a framework. Aside from the lack of personal profit, people cannot even be fired or punished for the work they do or fail to do,
and subsequently the way of going about work is altered, it is less about competition and individual success and more about the cooperative achievement of a joint project, from my limited perspective so far at least. Though without fear of losing oneâ€™s job, a day job being the way most people in an urban, industrialised society at least cover their basic needs, what then is the motivation to work well? Work is part of the core structure of Neot Semadar, one can hardly escape it, but it is possible to go to work but essentially not accomplish much. Added to that is the greater likelihood that someone occupies a position they might not find much joy in, as the pool of available jobs is small and finite. Concerning this subject, I have been told by a kibbutznik that it is not necessary
to like what you do - you can still do it. Outside of the find-your-ownpassion-mania of our generation there is work - as a condition of being a part of Neot Semadar, for however long, where all work is bound to the community and so also to oneself. Consequently, the key point is not so much what kind of work someone does, but rather why they do it, because it is necessary for the well-being of the community and therefore also for the well-being of oneself. In a sense, the connection between what someone does for a living and how that provides them with food and shelter is much more direct, it is deliberate simplicity. For me, this is also a reminder that I can consciously choose to live from my hand to my mouth, that a simple, rural life is legitimate for people who were not born into it, too. The kibbutz lives and survives by upholding various kinds of traditions and rituals, none of which are communicated to newcomers upon arrival, apart from the waiver notifying one of the prohibition of alcohol and drugs on kibbutz grounds (said waiver is not taken too seriously by everyone). Coming to a very special community in another country whose prime language is Hebrew and which does not offer widespread English translation and then making the experience of not being welcomed with instructions and guidance can feel unfriendly, but is part of the general do-it-yourself attitude the kibbutz lives by. As for the language, most people speak English well, but international volunteers are few and the small number of non-Israeli kibbutzniks has learned Hebrew while staying in the kibbutz. The absence of instructions can also be explained by the appreciation of silence in the kibbutz which makes it a custom to have one or various minutes of silence in
almost every meeting, big or small. Initially it might feel discomforting to sit in a circle with fifty people, none of whom speak a word, but many people close their eyes rather than observing others and therefore such a meeting has an air of collective meditation, connecting the present individuals in their silence. The kibbutz has established its own style of communication, small talk is reduced, for example it is rare to hear polite phrases like please, thank you, and nice to meet you in everyday usage. Also barely anyone uses how are you? as a greeting phrase, when one’s
"the key point is not so much what kind of work someone does, but rather why they do it,"
state of being (emotional, or in any other way) is questioned. ‘How are you?’ is asked in a meeting or after work or during the break when there is time for people to pause and ask themselves how they feel. I have read many opinion pieces on the toxicity of mindless reactions that are essential to small talk, but experiencing a culture trying to challenge this cultural illness, I see how few words are necessary
for successful communication and how many words I say without meaning them. In the kibbutz, when someone shares with the group how they feel and what occupies their mind, it can be questioned heavily by the others present. Generally, questions are encouraged as part of a bigger undertaking of investigation of oneself and one’s relationships. Oftentimes a group conversation that starts with ‘Would anyone like to share how they felt during [insert random activity]?’ evolves into an indepth discussion of the underlying value systems and behavioural patterns of the person answering and other people’s perspectives on it. But there are also questions that go unanswered and more than one kibbutznik in Neot Semadar has told me that the question is more important than the answer. Some of the other rituals practiced here for the investigation into oneself are individual days of silence, silent group walks, and the biweekly sensory dance on Friday evenings, when people come to listen to live music and go with it as they feel, with closed eyes, dancing or screaming occasionally or just lying on the floor for the whole duration of forty minutes. It was a new and emotionally intense experience for me to allow myself to move with the music in whatever way I felt, not seeing but still knowing of the many people around me, trying to do the same. In lack of a conclusion of my experiences in Neot Semadar, I can at least say that it broadened my perception of the ways people can live, live together. As another volunteer I met here has put it: ‘There are as many ways to live your life as there are people.’ I have tried out another one now and, in search of my own, perhaps this is what I am taking away from it.
In praise of Hannah Arendt Joep Leerssen
h this winter of my political discontent… the news and media dominated by the lies and deceit of the Right, and by the moral self-righteousness of the Left. Swindlers to the right of me, pedantic snowflakes to my left, and me, ageing and grumpy, stuck in the middle… I decided to return to that sharpest and clearest of political thinkers: Hannah Arendt. I spent an afternoon of my Christmas holidays listening again to the TV interview she gave back in 1964, and it was the finest, most wholesome and invigorating brain massage anyone could wish for. Check it out, it’s on YouTube: Hannah Arendt interviewed by Günter Gaus; there is also a version with English subtitles (which on the whole are of OK quality). She gave this interview coming fresh out of the furore over her book on the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem, now remembered chiefly for its definition of the “banality of evil”, and at the time vehemently criticized by those who preferred to see their evil in more melodramatic, black-andwhite terms (psychopathic sadists over there, blameless victims over here). So she is a bit defensive at the outset (she and the interviewer chain-smoking like troopers throughout), but gradually relaxes, gets more into the dialogue, and explains her political philosophy. How, coming from the mainstream of German philosophy (Heidegger,
Karl Jaspers), she was shaped by her escape, as a committed Jewish intellectual, from Hitler Germany and her eventual resettlement in 1950s New York, where she wrote her Origins of Totalitarianism. The great joy of this interview is the rigorous, trenchant precision and elegance of her speech. Although she had been functioning in an English-speaking environment for many years by this time, she wields German like the flexible precision tool that it is, formulating her position in complex, balanced sentences, adding subtle distinctions and pithy definitions as she goes along, and not afraid of bringing this to a blunt point when needed. (“Wenn man als Jude angegriffen ist, muss man sich als Jude verteidigen. Nicht als Deutscher, oder als Bürger der Welt, oder der Menschenrechte oder so, sondern ganz konkret.”) When she describes how the German political climate adapted itself to the new power relations after 1933, she has this to say of her academic friends (with a veiled critique of mentor and former lover Heidegger): “Sehen Sie, wenn jemand sich gleichschaltete weil er für Frau und Kind zu sorgen hatte, das hat ihm nie ein Mensch übel genommen. Das Schlimme war doch, dass die dann wirklich daran glaubten! Für kurze Zeit, Manche für sehr kurze Zeit... Das heisst, zu Hitler fiel ihnen
was ein. Und zum Teil ungeheuer interessante Dinge! Nicht? [scoffing ironically:] Ganz phantastisch interessante und komplizierte und hoch über dem gewöhnlichen Niveau schwebende Dinge! Das habe ich als grotesk empfunden. Das heisst: sie gingen ihren eigenen Einfällen in die Falle, würde ich heute sagen. Das ist das, was passierte.” Thank God for Hannah, I sighed; we need such unforgiving, crapcutting precision of insight and formulation. (When someone close to the Israeli government aggressively “warned” her about the impact of her Eichmann book, she had the presence of mind to clarify, witheringly: “You are not warning me: you are threatening me.”) How had she maintained, over decades of exile, such a surgical and nimble command of her language? The German language stayed with her, she explained, because, as she had grown up in it, she had imbued its poetry: the many poems she learned in her school days and early adulthood. (And here I paraphrase.) These poems kept her company throughout her life; they had, with their language and their power of diction, shaped her discursive self. If anyone ever asks me again why we need literature, also in European Studies, I’ll refer them to Hannah. Poetry is to intellectuals what spinach is to Popeye: we cannot face the Blutos of this world without a regular dose of it.
New Media Subjectivities KRISZTINA LAJOSI-MOORE
he past year has witnessed a series of buzzwords like “alternative facts,” “fake news,” “disinformation,” or indeed “covfefe,” which instantly became a mystifying neologism (a simple Google search shows more than three million hits). This product of a midnight rant was for weeks the most popular topic in both mainstream and social media, generating countless speculations about its meaning and the mental health of its creator, a self-acclaimed “very stable genius,”
albeit one of a different kind than the author of “Jabberwocky.” While Lewis Carroll’s gibberish was not without method, it is uncertain whether these current tweets and twitterings are the results of careful cogitation. They seem to belong more in the world of Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass: “‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.’” In vain the efforts of pundits to discover
the method behind the madness of this “really smart” chatterbox. Ultimately the intentions behind his seemingly spontaneous and often contradictory messages cannot be determined; yet they become headlines and the subjects of leading articles nonetheless, and with their network effect of reaching millions of readers they trump all other news. Perhaps their author is also referencing one of the best-known
lines of a fellow New Yorker who famously defended the right to be contradictory: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” The idea of hugeness is not irrelevant in his discourse, and Walt Whitman’s opening phrase from the just-cited “Song of Myself” – “I celebrate myself, and sing myself” – might indeed sum up the essence of his public message, which could be seen as a contemporary parody of Whitman’s idea of American democracy. Whitman celebrated himself in poetry as the selfless embodiment of multitudes of different kinds of Americans, while the current political climate shows little tolerance for difference or diversity. In our contemporary mediascape truth is secondary to the selling value of news items gauged by the number of clicks, likes, posts, and shares. This clickbait culture, combined with a distrust of traditional media and scientific facts, has created countless parallel universes, each with its own virtual set of truths. Celebrity culture, combined with powerful digital technology and the monetarization of all values, leads to the glorification of certain individuals as ultimate winners in a world of losers and “deplorables,” the very opposite of Whitman’s open embrace of democratic values. Social media have both improved and damaged the quality of journalism. In some countries the internet provides a haven for reporters who otherwise would be silenced in the traditional media outlets controlled by governments and media moguls, or a combination of both. On the other hand, social media have also changed the way many people receive the news, and have influenced the way news is
presented and knowledge is shared. Sensationalist media coverage, which feeds on outrage and resentment, exploiting the emotional response of the public, has become the norm for most journalism both on the left and on the right. Multitudes fall prey to such enticements and disseminate them, which is precisely what the algorithms targeting public opinion were meant to achieve. Whether real or fake, news becomes profitable when presented in an emotionalized way with inflated
"this clickbait culture has created countless parallel universes" language. Certain political actors and governments have harnessed the methods developed by online marketing and tapped into the inexhaustible resources of human feelings that are easily activated by recalling slumbering images and stereotypes long presumed to be extinct. Thanks to the technocratic style of politics that dominated the “post-historical” 1990s, radical nationalism has returned through the back-door of emotions: a calculated dosage of fear, outrage, and pride has revived nationalist sentiments of the worst kind and has (re)created images of friends and enemies that are easily exploited by populist movements. The online disinhibition effect, to borrow a term coined by the cyberpsychologist Mary Aiken, plays a major role in intensifying
expressions of spite (and of effusive sympathy) on the internet. Some countries, like Germany, try to regulate online hate speech with draconian laws, but the fine line between the freedom of expression and hate speech is not clearly defined, so that media giants, to avoid fines, opt to remove all comments flagged as offensive without first examining the contents and contexts of such posts. Recently a slew of accusations and warnings have been voiced by former architects and investors in giant tech companies, including the former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya, the billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros, and Roger McNamee, a former investor in Facebook, all of whom have expressed their concern about the lack of regulations and the capacity of tech giants to destroy democracy by their profit-driven mentality. Though the bashing of big tech companies has become the latest vogue, we should not forget that all of us have a share in creating these monsters. Outsourcing responsibility to Alphabet or Facebook is easier than admitting that we are all accomplices in feeding the beast. Fear-mongering and spreading even more doom and gloom – funny thing, usually on the internet – does not help. Instead, we should be aware of the dangers of new media, but what we need even more is media literacy and critical reading skills – and more, not less humanities, to keep us humane in this new era of AI and the brave new digital world governed by algorithms. We need to beware the looking-glass world of the Jabberwock (with its “jaws that bite […] claws that catch!”) and seek to understand the meaning of this digital Wonderland with the courtesy and patience shown by Alice.
Judgmental programs and their victims HANNA BLOM
he use of big words like 'privacy' and 'data' can be tricky to navigate and fully understanding their impact on individuals has proven to be a challenge, especially for the Dutch government. When they were updating a 2001 law concerning the competences of the Dutch Intelligence and Security Services (AIVD), a law that has now been dubbed the Sleepwet, five students from Amsterdam were able to recognize the bureaucratic stunting that was involved when politicians decided that anyoneâ€™s data should be up for grabs. Through campaigning, these students have made it possible for Dutch citizens to vote during the upcoming city council elections on a referendum and offer the government the sentiment of the public when it comes to the Sleepwet. The Sleepwet would enhance the powers of the AIVD greatly. Its implementation would allow a
sweeping technique of any citizens' data. As a person no longer has to be a suspect to be monitored, they now only have to be in the same remote area of a suspect and all of their data becomes fair game for the AIVD. Any digital device can be monitored. It would also permit a DNA databank to come into existence and all the combined data which would be stored can be shared with foreign intelligence services, without the AIVD even having analysed it. Once the data would be erased in the Netherlands for any reason, it would be still in the hands of foreign intelligence services for however long they decide to keep it and for whichever reason they want to use it. The implementation of the Sleepwet signifies a move from collecting targeted data to bulk data. Access to massive amounts of data is necessary to analyse the behaviour of criminals or terrorists and to create profiles that enable
the targeting of people showing similar behaviour. This technique of suspecting someone of being likely to commit a crime is called predictive policing. The bulk of data means a more precise image of how a criminal would act online. The Amsterdam police have experimented with Criminality Anticipation System (CAS) to recognize patterns in and, subsequently, preventing common crimes such as pickpocketing. While predictive policing has been experimented with in different countries, with the Sleepwet the Netherlands would be the first country to implement it nationally. The presumption of innocence seems to be taking a back seat with predictive policing. Steven Spielbergâ€™s 2002 Minority Report visualizes this issue. Based on prior decisions, someone is labelled as a likely offender. In the sci-fi classic, predictions are used to stop crimes before they have happened and,
spoiler alert, this completely fails and has destructive consequences for innocent people. The alternate future universe was not meant to melt into our reality, but predictive policing and all its flaws have entered our justice system nonetheless. Even though artificial intelligence (AI) is believed to be this rational force, more capable of being objective than any human being could, it has the tendency to mirror existing biases in society. A massive amount of data needs to be put in for the program to learn and function, but seeing as though any massive amount of data contains certain worldviews and problematic tendencies in thinking, objectivity cannot be expected from AI. The ability to see data, such as crime rates or incarceration numbers, and keep in mind certain circumstances marginalized groups have been put through, such as slavery, is something privy to people. People have the ability to understand the way that various aspects of humanity, like class, race, gender and sexuality do not exist separately but intersect, and the issues people face or the choices they make are influenced by these interwoven parts of our identity, our culture and our history. Only if the installed data would be counteracted by some sort of programming which can take all these factors into consideration when sorting through data, the kinks of human biases could be worked out. Until then, machine learning is not only unable to be objective, it has the ability to strengthen subjective judgements. An investigation into predictive policing programs which were being used in justice systems in the US already showed that defendants who were people of colour were much more likely to be targeted as a â€˜likely criminalâ€™. While race is not
one of the questions being used in these programs, one of them was about the family of the defendant having been incarcerated before. Answering this question either yes or no ignores facts like black Americans being found nearly four times as likely as whites to be arrested on charges of marijuana possession, even though the two groups used the drug at similar rates. The pressing issue of institutionalized racism and the mass incarceration of people of colour in the US is of course not taken into account in the program,
"it is impossible to predict what part of your identity could become incriminating."
but questions like these single out people who suffer from it, and decide that they form a threat. For the program to be accurate, the reality of racial profiling and general bias towards people of colour in the police force would have to be given a place within the research. In the Netherlands, it has become clear over the past years that Dutch people of colour are much more likely to be stopped by police, and are thus more likely to be arrested. When racial profiling in real life police work enables racial profiling in digital police work, people of colour get stuck in a loop where the reality of their will to commit crimes becomes insignificant, as their online profile has already marked
them as something to be afraid of. The narrative that politicians in favour of the Sleepwet have created is one of being able to protect the citizens from the terrorists and the criminals with more efficiency. The innocent, upright citizen would just play the bystander in the digitally enhanced fight against evil. It is a fine story in which many Dutch nationals can see themselves, forgetting that the data that is collected stays within the possession of the AIVD for three years, and in the possession of foreign intelligence services for who knows how long. While living in tumultuous times, it is impossible to know what will happen with national politics in the future and who will be in charge of your information one day. More importantly, it is impossible to predict what part of your identity could become incriminating. When speaking of law enforcement, people of colour can already feel like they have a bullseye on their back for no other reason than their ethnicity and the Sleepwet would mean the AIVD needs even less of a reason to open investigations on innocent citizens. However, a person is more than what their data describes them to be. The numbers and facts that can be gathered from any decision you make when using your automatic devices have meaning beyond the rough data. People exist outside of the confines of the box they are placed in. The Sleepwet is part of a technology-driven hunger for data; because we have the technology, we should allow for the necessary data to be available. Data, however is a possession and strong argumentation should not be necessary when it comes to keeping it private. It is an issue which concerns everyone and a demand for qualitative collecting of our data is appropriate and necessary.
'Parlementarisme is niet het laatste woord van de democratie' LEVENTE VERVOORT spreekt voor Eurovisie met RAOUL HEDEBOUW (40), van de PVDA/PTB (Partij van de Arbeid/Parti de Travailleurs Belges). In tegenstelling tot de Nederlandse PvdA is Hedebouws partij geen gefaalde club sociaaldemocratische bestuurders, maar een unitaire, marxistische partij. Bovendien doet de PVDA/PTB het wél goed: het is twintig jaar geleden dat een marxistische partij het nog zo goed deed in West-Europa. Maar is het marxisme nog wel relevant in de 21e eeuw?
e bestellen een bruiswater en terwijl wij praten neemt hij gretig van de paprikachips op de tafel in Brassérie Le Building in Luik. Ik mag jij zeggen. Raoul Hedebouw is een joviale en innemende man. Het zijn kwaliteiten die hij als landelijk woordvoerder van de PVDA goed kan gebruiken, een positie die hij van 2008 tot 2017 bekleedde. Zijn politieke carrière begon als studentenactivist op de Universiteit van Luik, waar studenten twee maanden staakten als protest tegen onderwijshervormingen. LV: Gebruik jij die ervaringen uit je studententijd in je werk als politicus?
Als ik die strijd op de universiteit niet had meegemaakt, was ik waarschijnlijk niet zo ver gekomen. Ik heb die strijd destijds ook niet ontketend, ik deed gewoon mee. Maar ik heb er wel geleerd mensen te mobiliseren, acties te organiseren, de microfoon te nemen. We deden wel twee speeches per dag gedurende twee maanden staking. We zijn maar gedeeltelijk wat we beslissen, maar toch vooral wat onze omgeving ons maakt. Nog altijd kleven er stereotypen aan het marxisme, dat het alleen voor elitaire studenten is, of voor haven-, mijn- en fabrieksarbeiders die er
nauwelijks meer zijn … Maar de arbeidersklasse is veel diverser dan honderd jaar geleden. De middenklasse, dat is óók het werkvolk. Ga eens in een callcenter kijken, wat al die jonge gasten daar moeten doen … dat is het proletariaat van nu! Zij bezitten hun eigen werktools ook niet. Pak ‘m beet honderdvijftig jaar geleden zat het marxisme ook bij een klein groepje hoogopgeleiden, zoals Marx zelf. De repressie in de grote bedrijven was – en is – zo groot, dat er pioniers nodig waren om de arbeidersbeweging op te zetten. Dat moeten we nu ook doen, buiten onze niche kijken, want we zien dat het werkende volk verandert, maar
nog steeds wordt uitgebuit. Het is jullie wel gelukt om van dat stoffige, ouderwetse imago van het marxisme af te komen, hoe hebben jullie dat weer cool gemaakt? Dit is het resultaat van een lang debat binnen de partij. Op het voorlaatste congres hebben we besloten dat we moeten stoppen met het dogmatisme en het wijzende vingertje, van ‘wij weten het beter’ – wat ook niet altijd waar was. Welke lessen hebben jullie wel uit het verleden getrokken? Het marxisme moet een op de toekomst gerichte visie hebben. Honderd jaar geleden waren marxistische bewegingen nog avant-garde, ook op cultureelexpressief vlak. De Picasso’s van deze wereld maakten schilderijen voor de marxistische beweging. We moeten niet meer telkens achteruit kijken; rond 1900 zaten ze ook niet te mijmeren over de Parijse Commune! De propaganda-affiches uit die tijd zijn juist vooruitstrevend, het zijn eigentijdse affiches. Maar dat lijkt wel verdwenen sinds de Val van de Muur. We zijn gestopt met kijken naar een verleden dat er niet meer is... naar wat er allemaal verloren is gegaan. Het marxisme moet opklimmen naar de 21e eeuw. Toch vallen jullie tegenstanders de PVDA maar al te graag aan op zijn verleden. Sommigen schelden jullie uit voor stalinisten of maoïsten. Bart de Wever (leider van de N-VA, burgemeester van Antwerpen) noemde de PVDA zelfs ‘het afval van de twintigste eeuw’. Hoe ga je daarmee om? Dat is een tweeledige zaak. Enerzijds is het niet nieuw dat de burgerlijke partijen zoals N-VA - of eigenlijk de elitepartijen, ook al zeggen ze van het volk te zijn – afleidingsmanoeuvres gebruiken als ze niet met ons in debat willen,
bijvoorbeeld over Bart de Wevers slechte beleid in Antwerpen of het terugsturen van Soedanese vluchtelingen (die in Soedan vervolgens gefolterd werden, red.). Aan de andere kant moeten we natuurlijk niet zwijgen over het verleden, ook over onszelf, maar vertel dan wel het héle verhaal. Welk verhaal is dat? Ik zeg duidelijk dat de wereld vandaag veel minder goed functioneert dan dertig jaar geleden, voor de Val van de Muur. Vandaag is er geen multipolariteit. De Verenigde Staten vallen gewoon Irak binnen, patat! Platgebombardeerd. Niet veel later komen ISIS en de fundamentalisten daar als paddenstoelen uit de grond. Aan de andere kant is de levensverwachting in Rusland elf jaar achteruitgegaan sinds Gorbatsjov, in Roemenië is mensenhandel en prostitutie big business. Tijdens het communisme waren die landen elke dag in de pers, maar nu niet meer… hoe komt dat nu?! Zijn die mensen er niet meer? Iedereen is bezig met democratie, maar gaat het nu beter dan dertig jaar geleden, in de Derde Wereld bijvoorbeeld? Helemaal niet. De PVDA verandert dus snel. In een recent interview noem je als doel voor 2018 ‘de verdere diversificatie’ van de partij. Is de partij in jouw tijd veel diverser geworden? Eigenlijk zijn we al heel divers, maar we hebben besloten mij naar voren te schuiven, toen we eigenlijk nog niet bestonden in de media. Maar er was echter zo‘n concentratie op mijn vertoon, dat het een probleem werd. Sinds we groter zijn is het mogelijk om de bestaande diversiteit beter naar buiten te brengen, en met de groei van de partij is er een diversificatie bijgekomen van mensen met een migrantenafkomst. Als ik nu voor de TV gevraagd word kan ik
doorverwijzen naar een zwarte kameraad of een vrouw die veel geschikter is. Ik vind wel dat de PVDA problemen omtrent racisme en institutioneel racisme reduceert tot een klassenprobleem of het afdoet als rechtse identiteitspolitiek. Herken jij je in deze kritiek? Maar het is toch ook klassenproblematiek? Dat wil alleen niet zeggen dat culturele identiteiten niet meespelen ... het is een twee-ordeprobleem. Ten eerste, is het sinds vijftien jaar in West-Europa taboe om nog sociologisch onderzoek te doen naar, bijvoorbeeld, criminaliteit. De studies duiden aan dat het probleem van criminaliteit hoofdzakelijk socioeconomisch is, en migranten zijn veel vertegenwoordigd in de laaggeschoolde lagen van de bevolking. Indien je dat klassenkarakter negeert, dan rest je enkel een identitiare benadering die in de kaart speelt van rechts. Ten tweede is klassenidentiteit ook een politiek concept dat weinig aanwezig is bij de migrantenbevolking. Hoe gaat de PVDA dat klassenbewustzijn aanwakkeren? Identiteiten zijn een politiek concept, en in België is het niet alleen een kwestie van racisme, maar ook regionalisme van Vlamingen tegen Walen. Het nationalisme is helemaal terug en er is veel werk aan de winkel. Wij links, hebben een deel van die strijd om identiteit verloren, maar dat betekent niet dat we hem niet kunnen terugwinnen. Identiteit is geen leegte, identiteit bestaat. Maar het kapitalistische individualisme is ook een identiteit. Nog nooit deden we zoveel hetzelfde; dezelfde winkels, films, de globaliseringen en het wereldkapitalisme maakt ons allemaal meer en meer hetzelfde. Je krijgt wel de ideologie van het
individualisme erbij. We moeten de klassenstrijd tegenover het individualisme plaatsen, niet tegenover de culturele identiteit. Ik geloof nog in klassenbewustzijn, ook binnen de migrantengemeenschap. Zij voelen zich nu meer migrant dan arbeider of bediende in dit land; dat is het politieke gevecht dat we moeten winnen. Maar als ik in jullie programma kijk, staat er bij het hoofdstuk ‘discriminatie’ over jongeren dat ‘sommigen van hen ontsporen. Dat kunnen we grotendeels voorkomen door een einde te maken aan discriminatie en ongelijkheid.’ Moet het dan toch weer over de ontspoorde jongeren gaan, in plaats van het racisme in de samenleving? Maar natuurlijk, institutioneel racisme in België bestaat heel sterk. Wij zijn een van de meest racistische landen van Europa, het Belgische onderwijs discrimineert het meest van Europa. Maar ook armoede is geconcentreerd in bepaalde delen van de bevolking; dat is ook institutioneel racisme. Uiteindelijk is dat een democratisch punt en niet een sociaal of cultureel punt. Welke concrete voorstellen staan er dan wel in jullie programma omtrent institutioneel racisme? We hebben bijvoorbeeld campagne gevoerd voor mystery calls, om discriminatie bij sollicitaties te ontmaskeren. Vind je dat Nederland verder is in het maatschappelijk debat om antiracisme en dekolonisatie? Nee, België heeft nog een groot koloniaal gedachtegoed. Je ziet nog altijd dat Belgische ministers het zich veroorloven om zich te mengen in de binnenlandse politiek van de Democratische Republiek Congo. En als je kijkt naar de binnenlandse politiek van België?
Het probleem is, dat al deze gediscrimineerde mensen Belg zijn. Ik wil er geen koloniaal vraagstuk van maken, want discriminatie raakt ook mensen uit landen die België niet gekoloniseerd heeft. Het moet niet alleen maar om symbolen gaan. Zoals standbeelden van koning Leopold? Bijvoorbeeld, ja. Wij hebben voorgesteld om standbeelden van Patrice Lumumba te plaatsen, de eerste premier van de
"een standbeeld van koning Leopold weghalen? Wij hebben er één van Patrice Lumumba laten plaatsen" Democratische Republiek Congo, die door toedoen van de Belgen vermoord is. Dat is gebeurd in Elsene en Bergen. Lumumba is heel belangrijk, hij kan een positief beeld zijn van het verzet van die landen. We moeten positief redeneren en niet in verleiding gebracht worden om discussies te voeren van honderd jaar geleden. Er is nu een probleem van concrete discriminatie op het gebied van jobs en onderwijs. Hoe wordt er in het onderwijs gediscrimineerd? De link tussen migratie en armoede is een sociale kwestie, maar wat migranten meemaken in het onderwijs, dat maken arme Belgen van alle komaf precies hetzelfde mee.
Ook de privileges die witte scholieren genieten? Die witte privileges zijn er, maar in het algemeen voor de kleineen middelburgerij. Dit is een belangrijk punt in de strijd tegen het racisme. Ik ben zelf zoon van een staalarbeider. Op de Universiteit van Luik zijn er maar vijf procent arbeiderskinderen. De rest is van klein- of grootburgerlijke afkomst. In eerste instantie discrimineert het onderwijs dus op armoede en tegen arbeider. Niet-witte Belgen maken al voor een groter deel uit van die groep, en daarbovenop komt nog de culturele en racistische discriminatie. We moeten die discriminaties in al zijn dimensies aanpakken. Ik ben er niet mee akkoord alleen de etnische aspecten ervan te zien. Dit is juist een van de redenen dat jongeren van migratieafkomst ook worden uitgesloten van de strijd tegen racisme. Die strijd kunnen voeren is ook een privilege. De PVDA mag het dan goed doen in de peilingen, als geheel leggen de linkse partijen het af tegen rechts. Extreemrechtse, fascistoïde groepen komen ook in België op. Wat moet links doen om een front hiertegen te vormen? Het is geen toeval dat als extreemrechts vooruit gaat, radicaal links dat ook doet – en ik zeg radicaal links, want wíj zijn geen extremisten. Het is ook een politieke verantwoordelijkheid van links om het rechts-populisme te bevechten, want in die strijd kunnen we niet rekenen op de liberalen of centrumpartijen. Traditioneel links heeft socio-economische maatregelen toegepast, die mensen in de problemen heeft gebracht en hen naar de rechts-populisten heeft geleid. Er zijn mensen die nu denken ‘goddomme, ik heb geen job … wiens schuld is dat nu?’ De liberalen zullen zeggen: ‘het is uw eigen schuld!’, de nationalisten
zullen zeggen: ‘het is de schuld van de Walen!’ of ‘het is de schuld van de migranten!’ En waar moeten de linkse partijen de schuld leggen? Bij de twee procent, de multimiljonairs, de bankiers, de speculanten, de multinationals. Het klassendiscours moet terugkomen. Dat is het probleem van traditioneel links: ze hebben gezegd dat we de multinationals nodig hebben, dat ze de economie draaiende houden. Er is veel werk aan de winkel om dat discours terug te brengen bij het werkvolk. Links moet een radicale stem laten horen, want er zijn genoeg mensen die denken, ‘zijn het nu de migranten of de multinationals?’ Wij moeten dat gevecht winnen, maar niet met een moralistisch vingertje, van ‘je mag niet kwaad zijn, je moet geloven in onze democratie’. Mensen zijn boos en ze hebben gelijk. Dus de PVDA kan ook stemmen winnen bij het Vlaams Belang? Ja, dat delen van de volkse klassen rechts stemmen is eeuwenoud. De inzet is inderdaad om hen terug te winnen. Je vindt dat het klassendiscours moet terugkomen. De Franse filosoof Alain Badiou zegt in december 2017: ‘wij moeten politiek heruitvinden; er moet een geheel nieuwe dialectiek ontstaan tussen massademocratie en activistische democratie, tussen onze organisaties en de staat.’ Is het parlementarisme wel de juiste weg voor een marxistische beweging als de PVDA? Het is een eeuwenoude discussie binnen links, over de staat, want de staat is natuurlijk niet neutraal. Wie heeft er nog écht Marx gelezen, en niet een interpretatie van een interpretatie. Zijn woorden zijn nog steeds pertinent, over hoe de bourgeoisie haar dictatuur oplegt aan het volk. In België is
de staat nauw verbonden met de grote burgerij, en feitelijk heeft het parlement geen macht, de regering beslist er alles. Er zijn duizenden-één links te maken tussen de kabinetten en de multinationals. Badiou heeft gelijk; we moeten af van het idee dat parlementarisme het laatste woord van democratie is. We moeten met het middenveld een tegenmacht met een strijdlogica creëren. Hoe belangrijk is directe actie dan voor jullie? Dát is onze identiteit. Ik vind dat keibelangrijk. Je mag niet denken, ‘ik ga stemmen en voilà, ik ben klaar voor de komende vier jaar’. Tégen ons zijn de krachten heel sterk; kijk naar Griekenland. SYRIZA zat er nog geen twee weken in de regering en de mensen konden
"ga eens in een callcenter kijken, dat is het proletariaat van nu!"
al geen bankbiljetten meer uit de muur halen. Het was een acte de guerre économique. Je moet niet denken dat ze boven maar gaan oplossen, je moet je eigen lot in handen nemen. Er is een grote verscheidenheid in het actievermogen van de bevolking, in heel brede zin: niet alleen op straat, maar ook via petities en op het internet. Hoe gebruiken jullie het internet voor dit doel?
Internet biedt de mogelijkheid voor horizontale communicatie in plaats van top-down. Maar het internet is ook niet voor iedereen, er is nu al een verschil tussen wie wél en wie niet de middelen hebben. Een tool is maar een tool, wat je ermee doet is belangrijk. We gebruiken het internet om ideeën voor te leggen aan mensen, maar we gaan natuurlijk niet peilen op rechtse ideeën. We moeten als politieke partij de publieke opinie niet volgen, maar haar beïnvloeden. Onze boodschap vindt niet altijd haar plaats in de traditionele pers, maar speeches van mijzelf in het parlement hebben wel anderhalf miljoen views. Daarom spreek ik ook in het Nederlands en in het Frans. De PVDA/PTB is de enige unitaire partij in België. Hoe vertegenwoordigen jullie tegengestelde Vlaamse en Waalse belangen? België is het enige land op aarde, waar – met uitzondering van de PVDA – geen nationale partijen meer bestaan. Wij zijn er trots op die partij te zijn. Eigenlijk is er geen strategisch probleem, want de multinationals waartegen we vechten organiseren zich op Europees vlak, in een Europese structuur. Tactisch gezien zijn er soms wel problemen, we moeten nu veel energie vanuit Wallonië (waar de PVDA groter is) in Vlaanderen steken. Uiteindelijk zijn wij de enige realistische partij. Brussel bijvoorbeeld, is niet op te splitsen. Het was al een tweetalige stad, maar nu eerder een vier- of vijftalige. Het marxisme moest honderd jaar geleden al omgaan met verschillen binnen een land; het noorden van Nederland was toen ook al anders dan het zuiden. Je moet leren samenwerken met regio’s die verschillende ideologische snelheden hebben. Wij willen een internationale, Europese beweging.
SES Calendar 13 February – Valentines Borrel On the 13th of February, Cupido will pay a special visit to Café Sanders. Send your (future) significant other a token of appreciation, the proceeds of the night will go to charity! 12 March – The Hague day The SES is heading to The Hague again, the political heart of the Netherlands. Join us on this excursion and visit the city with us, with two very interesting visitations it is promising to become a great success! Last year we visited the ICTY and the Polish embassy: more information about this event will follow soon. 3 April – SES Conference The annual SES conference will take place on the 3rd of April this year. We will discuss how the trans-Atlantic relationship will survive under the current-day pressure. The speakers of the conference will be announced later on, but we can already tell you that it will be a very interesting day. 25 April to 6 May – SES Study Trip 2018 This year’s Study Trip will visit Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn and Riga. 35 SES members, the Travel Committee and the Board will be leaving the Netherlands behind for a cultural and alcoholic excursion. We are looking forward to this amazing experience, it might just become a SES highlight of the year!
(c) studievereniging europese studies 2018