This magazine contains a collection of work that the Alpbach Media Academy did on European and global topics 10. - 31.08.2013
PUBLICATION: European Forum Alpbach, Alpbach Media Academy, A-6236 Alpbach in Tirol, Tel. 05336/600-702, firstname.lastname@example.org EDITORS: Michael Fleischhacker, Georg Renner EDITORIAL: Habib Msallem, Katrin Nussmayr, Tatiana Tilly, Sarah Schmidt, Peter Techèt, Conor McMahon, Matteo Colombo, Katerina Vaskovka, Miloš Tomic, Christian Jensen, Florian Peschl, Jennifer McDonald, Levin Wotke, Eleanor Ward, Maialen Torres LAYOUT, GRAPHICS AND CONCEPT: Willem van der Vlugt, Lukas Wagner PHOTO: Philipp Naderer, Luiza Puiu PRODUCTION: Christian Steinbrecher
Michael Fleischhacker Head of the Alpbach Media Academy
Thomas Mayr-Harting, head of the delegation of The European Union at the United Nations Organisation in New York, is an Alpbach-Veteran. He has taken part in many debates about ongoing crises and conflicts throughout the years. This year he was again hit by a major event: UNsecretary general Ban Ki-moon, who was scheduled to take part in this year’s EU-UN-retreat in Alpbach, had to cancel his participation due to a meeting of the security council on Syria. Mayr-Harting talked to some of the students of Alpbach Media Academy about the means and ways – and eventually values – that would help Europe become a global player rather than a global payer. At the same time there were several panels showing that our experiences concerning political power and its use might not be very helpful for coping with the global problems and issues of our time. What are the values that a new conception of solution-oriented politics should be built upon? What are values indeed? Phillip Blond, the controversial thinker and policy-adviser provoked the audience by stating that for example democracy was not a value at all. Will Europe’s future role in the world simply be shaped by Europe’s way of making decisions?
From global payer to global player Head of the Delegation of the EU to the United Nations, Thomas Mayr-Harting’s relationship with the European Forum Alpbach (EFA) dates back to 1976 when he was a student. “I’ve been here basically on a yearly basis. I think I will soon be entitled to plant a tree in Alpbach,” he says. Planting a tree is a right the Municipality of Alpbach gives people who have come here for 40 years. But Mayr-Harting is more than just a frequent participant; he is also a member of the Council and the Scientific Advisory Board of the EFA. “PEOPLE WHO MET HERE HAD BEEN FIGHTING AGAINST EACH OTHER” Accrding to Mayr-Harting people spoke about Europe in Alpbach before they spoke about it elsewhere. “In fact it was quite impressive because the first Alpbach was a legendary meeting in August 1945, it took place immediately after the war and young people who met here had been fighting against each other,” he says, emphasizing the
Forum’s uniqueness. For all of that, there is one point Mayr-Harting regrets. “I have always considered it a problem that there is still an insufficient number of students here from Western European countries.“ As Mayr-Harting progressed in his own professional career, he has always been happy to use Alpbach as a platform. “The students and young people have given me incredible feedback in the field of work I am covering; a feedback that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. It is one of the times of the year where I get reactions to my everyday work which are particularly enriching.”
COLLABORATION BETWEEN THE US AND EU On the August 25 Mayr-Harting is going to moderate a talk called The European Union and the United States as International Actors. “For instance the EU and the U.S. cooperate on the Middle East, where both are members of the Middle East Quartet, but also with regard to the Iranian Nuclear Programme where the EU leads the negotiating efforts of the EU3+3.” This is just one of many areas of international collaboration, and there is also a lot of shared work between the EU and US at the UN. One particular
priority in EU-US relations is the on-going negotiations on a free trade agreement that will boost the relationship. But despite the many common values the EU and the US share there are also some important divergences, for instance on the death penalty. GENERAL UNDERSTANDING OF INTERNATIONAL POLITICS “The EU is often perceived as a global payer, but less often as a global player. The EU provides between 50 and 60 per cent of world development aid.” In fact the 28 EU Member States cumulatively provide nearly 40 per cent of the budget of the UN while the US deposit just 22 per cent. “I think that it
is probably true that we don’t always get the pulling and pushing power that is equivalent to the financial contribution we make,” he says. Regarding the Middle East, Mayr-Harting stated: “If it weren’t for the EU and the financial contributions the EU makes, the Palestinian authority wouldn’t be able to survive, and there are many other comparable situations, in Africa and in other parts of the world. At the same time, I am firmly convinced that the EU’s engagement in international crisis management is also in our own interest: unless we succeed in exporting stability, we will at some point import instability.” “DIPLOMACY IS OFTEN CONDUCTED BEHIND CLOSED DOORS” When challenged with the notion that the broader public often finds international politics confusing or lacking transparency, Mayr-Harting first spoke about early 20th century efforts to put an end to secret diplomacy: “Even today, diplomacy is still often conducted behind closed doors, because you can only build confidence between parties, especially in conflict situations, if they are able to speak with each other without everyone listening in.” A common subject when talking about the EU and UN is the idea of reforms. From security, to economy, to the level of representation of the public, there are several proposals for change. One is the reform of the UN Security Council. According to MayrHarting, Security Council reform is not an issue on which the EU has a common position. Members States disagree on whether there should be further permanent members or not. “Within the EU we don’t have a consensus position on what should happen. I certainly think that the Security Council as it stands does not necessarily represent the world of today but in many ways still that of 1945, and it surely would make sense to further enhance the role of Africa, South America and Asia. But this is a difficult process and as you know any changes of the Charter of the UN confront us with massive procedural requirements which are very difficult to meet.” INTEGRATION AND FUTURE CHALLENGES Integration in Europe has made national borders
increasingly invisible, increased trade and greatly facilitated the free movement of people. But the discussion of whether there should be a United States of Europe is out-dated says Mayr-Harting: “We do not discuss it in this form any more. It is clear that we already have a very advanced form of integration, the most advanced form of integration internationally, which provides a model for other nations in the world; for instance to the African Union. Every single Member State of the EU has a strong national and cultural identity of its own, which it will keep, but at the same time we have agreed to pool sovereignty and exercise sovereignty together in the framework of common European institutions and that I think is a very major step and the biggest step for most of us was of course that of the common currency.” Regarding the future of the EU, Mayr-Harting believes that the process of integration will continue. “The very difficult challenges the EU and its Member States have been facing in the course of the economic and financial crisis will lead to a strengthening of the economic governance of the EU. I also think that the creation of the European External Action Service and the development of a common security and defence policy will strengthen the capacity of the EU to speak with one voice. MORE PRESENCE OF WESTERN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES WANTED The topic of EU integration has also affected the development of the EFA. Mayr-Harting has seen a steady growth of students at Alpbach since he started leading seminars on international relations in 2006. He has noticed among them a real hunger to learn more about integration, in particular from people coming from countries moving closer to entering the European Union. As for the future of the Forum, he would like to see a growing attendance from Western Europe. Increasing diversity is a main concern: “As Austrian Ambassador to Belgium, I supported the activities of the Club in Brussels which brings in many people from Western Europe, and there are many Austrians who study at universities in Western Europe, for instance in the UK, France, Spain, Italy and the Nordic countries. My advice would be to get them to bring along their student friends from there to the Forum.”
THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT IN BRUSSELS
YOUR 4 W
EU INST 1 Simulation Game on decision making in the EU
Experience the European Union
For the first time in the history of the European Forum Alpbach the simulation game “Changing Europe’s Climate” will take place. Students will experience EU decision making first-hand. When it comes to the European Union, years, the organisers decided to make the discussion often becomes confusing the issue more accessable. They started rather quickly, even at the Forum Alpbach. searching for an organisation and decided The European Council is getting mixed on the Centre for Applied Policy Reseach up with the Council of Europe, the Union (CAP) in Munich. The CAP has been worksuddenly shrinks to 27 instead of 28 member ing with simulation games for years and states and decision making processes is not only famliar with the method, but are turned upside down. also with the content. “It was a perfect In order to shed light on the topic, match,” Moser says. the European Forum Alpbach is going to Eva Feldmann-Wojtachnia, who is a hold a Simulation Game about decision senior research fellow at the CAP and making in the EU today. The co-organises the event, 120 participants are going explains her intention: “We to be split into six groups: ‘‘Let’s break the want to convey that you The European Commission, can understand the EU EU down to the European Parliament, and that notwithstanding the Council of the EU, an the complexity there is an the basics’’ inner logic.” It is not important NGO, the economy and of Katharina Moser course the press. From nine that people understand every am to five pm the participants last paragraph of every law, are going to debate and experience the she explains, but rather understand the process of making decisions in the EU. cooperation of powers and the principles At five pm, the findings will be presented behind. “In a simulation you have to use to the public in a press conference. “The your intelligence and negotiate, the motiidea was: let’s take the European Union vation is very high and a lot of potential is and break it down to the basics and try to set free,” Feldmann-Woytachnia asserts. give people the possibility to learn about Katharina Moser emphasises the opportuthese basics,” says Katharina Moser, who nity to overcome the fear of not knowing is in the organising team of the European certain things about the EU. “It’s okay to Forum Alpbach. “That is the best way to not know everything. Realising that you learn.” After having a seminar on lobbying don’t know something is the first step and networking in the EU for around ten which you can build upon.”
The Council of the European Union
Launch your idea! Form a committee with at least seven people from seven different countries. This committee can’t be set up by an organisation, though they can support your issue.
Register your initiative You will be asked to give some information about the proposal. The EC will get back to you within two months to let you know if the initiative is approved.
Start collecting signatures There are two ways of collecting signatures: on paper and online. You need signatures from at least a quarter of the European Union’s countries.
You have one million signatures! Submit the signatures to each of the EU countries concerned. They will verify the validity and you will receive a certificate from each member state.
, The floor is yours! You will have the chance to present your proposal in the European Parliament during a public hearing. If you impress the EC, a new law can be proposed to the EP.
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The European council
HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED HOW YOU CAN BE INVOLVED IN POLICY MAKING OF THE EUROPEAN UNION AS AN ORDINARY CITIZEN? HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF EUROPEAN CITIZENS’ INITIATIVE OR ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT? WE PRESENT TO YOU FOUR MAIN WAYS ON HOW TO ACCESS THE EU’S MAIN INSTITUTIONS AND HOW YOUR VOICE CAN BE HEARD AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF EUROPEAN GOVERNANCE.
The European Commission
The European Parliament
The European Council and the Council of the European Union represent EU member countries. Members of those institutions are national policy makers, ministers and heads of states or governments. EU citizens cannot choose them directly, since they have been put in charge as representatives of the countries, not the citizens.
The European Council comprises the heads of state or government of the EU member states, along with the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council. While the European Council has no formal legislative power, it is charged with defining “the general political directions and priorities” of the EU. It is the Union’s strategic and crisis-solving body, acting as the collective presidency of the EU. The meetings of the European Council take place at least twice every six months. The institution was established as an informal body in 1975; it became an official EU institution in 2009.
ouncil of the European Union together with EP, s bicameral EU legislative. The Council is composed eral configurations of 28 national ministers, one te. The exact Council’s configuration membership ds upon the topic. The Presidency of the Council s every 6 months among the governments of mber states. The continuity between presidenprovided by an arrangement under which three ssive presidencies, known as Presidency trios, common political programmes.
The European Commission (EC) is the executive arm of the EU. It is a body composed of one appointee from each state, but is designed to be independent of national interests. One of the 28 is the Commission President proposed by the European Council and elected by the European Parliament. The body is responsible for drafting all law of the European Union and has a near monopoly on proposing new law. It also deals with the day-to-day running of the Union and has the duty of upholding the law and treaties. It is known as the “Guardian of the Treaties”.
The European Parliament (EP), together with the Council, forms the legislative arm of the EU. It is composed of 766 members who represent the second largest democratic electorate in the world after the Parliament of India, which has 375 million eligible voters (in 2009). It has been directly elected every five years since 1979. Although the EP has legislative power that the Council does not possess, it does not formally possess legislative initiative, which is in the hands of the Commission. Parliament elects the President of the Commission, and approves (or rejects) the appointment of the Commission as a whole. It can subsequently force the Commission as a body to resign by adopting a motion of censure. The Parliament has the power to send amendments of the Commission’s proposal text to the Council. The proposal will become law only if both Parliament and the Council agree on it, which they do through successive readings up to a maximum of three. If they do not agree, then a “Conciliation Committee” is formed from equal number of Parliament and Council members. Once the final position is agreed, it has to be approved by Parliament.
European Initiative for Media Pluralism
Human right to water
One of the ongoing campaigns is the protection of media pluralism, which is a necessity towards the correct functioning of the internal market. Such legislation should meet the public interest objective of maintaining a democratic debate through free exchange of information in the EU. 9,617 signatures collected. Deadline: 19th August, 2014.
A Citizens’ Committee started a campaign to propose legislation to the European Commission on implementing the human right to water and sanitation recognised by the UN. This EU legislation should require governments to ensure and to provide all citizens with sufficient and clean drinking water and sanitation. 1,514,282 signatures collected. Deadline: 1st November, 2013.
Trade pac Start of an eco “Fundamentally the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership between the EU and the US ends at creating a kind of economic NATO between Europe and the United States in order to contain China”, says Professor Zaki Laidi in the symposium “Approaching Global Challenges: The EU and the US as International Actors” about the largest free trade zone in the world.
Talking about transatlantic values: From left to right: M Thomas Mayr-Harting, Wo
So, are we looking only for a safeguard against China´s expansion in world trade or much higher goal is been planned in order to reinvent the whole global order in a different way? The main players’ positions, those of the United States and the European Union, were well presented though the eyes of the panelists, who used examples from history to get to the core of what the position of the USA and the EU would be if they decide to sign the free trade agreement. Professor Zaki Laidi, , emphasized the fact that more problems will come within the European Union if they agree eventually to sign the free trade agreement. Comparing the current situation with the events of 1956 when the French and the British took two different paths, the British realised the importance of their own sovereignty. With the intention of making an alliance with the US, the French
took the opposite side for fear of losing their independence in the future.
slot with the Federal Reserve Bank and the European Central Bank.
“This is the first financial crisis on which the leverage of the US was extremely limited. If you compare it to what the US did after the Second World War, with the Marshall Plan, which was I think equivalent to exporting 4% of the USA GDP to Europe, it is today simply impossible. So what the US unfortunately did was to increase the
The relationship between the USA and Europe as well as the sense for the USA’s interpretation of the crisis and the capacity to intervene in the Euro zone crisis revealed the weakness of Europe in terms of governance. But it also revealed the incredibly weak position of the US to influence the outcome of the crisis.”
ct US-EU: onomic NATO? everyone’s personal story. On the other hand, frankly, Europeans don’t need any American protection in the way they needed it during the Cold War. It’s a natural thing when all the important solutions and decisions are made here in Europe“.
c differences and common Mark Leonard, Zaki Laïdi, olfgang F. Danspeckgruber
In light of the fact that USA and the EU have been looking for a safeguard against China’s expansion in world trade, all panelists agreed that signing the free trade agreement would bring them closer to curb China’s expansion.
Acoording to experts, France’s position is reasonable because of the predictions that the mutual trade between Germany and France would drop by up to 23 per cent and between Germany and the United Kingdom by up to 40 per cent. Mark Leonard, the Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, presented a slightly different point of view on the relationship between the EU and the United States.
“On the American side, Obama’s biography links America to Africa and the Middle East but not to Europe. There is this absolutely amazing passage in his book “Dreams from my Father” when he talks about his visit to Europe, saying: “It’s not that it’s not beautiful, everything is just as I imagined. It just was not mine. I felt as though I was living someone else’s romance”. That’s the same gut feeling that I think Obama has about Europe. And it’s not just Obama, it’s
“For the first ten years after the entrance of China within the World Trade Organisation, they thought that they would be able to achieve a certain number of goals in terms of standards, rules and market access through the WTO. But the Chinese had been extremely clever because they accepted the WTO rules, simultaneously using the all of loop holes within the WTO to limit the access of their market to foreign actors. The frustration of the US is based on the fact that the WTO is unable to bring the measures and the results that are being expected”, stated Professor Laidi. It was mutually agreed that this contract may truly represent a new and very important development now on the verge of being signed between the Europeans and the United States.
“Europeans need manners training,” says Harvard professor
eminar speaker and professor of African and African American Studies, Werner Sollors, has told the Alpbach Media Academy that though European governments like to think of themselves as civilised and forward thinking, they could learn a thing or two from the USA. Speaking on racially motivated incidents across Europe this year, notably the hurling of bananas at Italy’s first black minister Cecile Kyenge, Mr Sollors said: “What happened in the United States was a kind of manners training. I don’t know how deep the emotions go but in public manners this sort of thing just isn’t tolerable anymore.” Highprofile court cases involving ethnicity and nationality are still a talking point in American society, as the outcome of the Trayvon Martin case showed last month. However, overt racism on the streets of America is very much a taboo. Mr Sollors is convinced self and governmental training is necessary. “Europe never had that [training] so people just feel it’s OK to be drinking a beer and throw a banana like it’s a joke. The inherent violence in things like that isn’t really perceived because the manners training isn’t really in place,” he says. More European Union regulation is vital, he insists, just as federal laws had to be introduced to stop inter-state discrimination in the USA. Though often a controversial concept, Mr Sollors also sights affirmative action as a necessity to greater European integration.
the roman empire
photo luiza puiu
44 bc 1453
Will Europe play in tomorrow’s power game?
“The crucial thing is the will to lead“
Austro-American political scientist Wolfgang Danspeckgruber looks to Egypt and Syria and sees shadows of the empire of Alexander the Great, he speaks to Michael Fleischhacker. When he looks to the current issues The question, ‘Which role will Europe play on the world stage tomorrow?’ has been of Egypt and Syria, Danspeckgruber says on the table for 25 years. As Robert Kagan he sees shadows of the empire of Alexstated in his bestselling essay “Of Paradise ander the Great. Almost exactly the area and Power” (published in 2003), Europeans which was conquered by the Macedonian have decided to invest their peace-bonuses genius will now be the place where future into social security programs, instead of balances of power will be negotiated and military programs which have been left to fought over. the US to take the lead. The Europeans Turkey’s ambitions, Persian perspectives, promised to pay whatever necessary to Russia’s interest, the Chinese movement secure and repair what the armed forces towards the west as an “inverse silk road of the United States have phenomenon,” the rising of the achieved on the ground. BRIC-states in general mean Before 1989, Europe had that for Danspeckgruber it is not been the “global player” hard to say what the future that it became after the end of international framework and cold war, nor a “global player” order of powers and empires at all, but rather a “nuclear Wolfgang Danspeckgruber and their character will be. hostage,” says Wolfgang Only one fact is clear, “It will have a quite multi-polar Danspeckgruber, Director of the Liechtenstein Institute on Self Determination appearance.” at Princeton University. Danspeckgruber If Europe discusses its possibilities and is an expert in crisis diplomacy and so he ambitions to be part of tomorrow’s power is used to basing his future projections on game, the crucial thing for Danspeckgruber current issues – and matching them with isn’t “the will to project power, the will to past experiences. lead” or “the will and the ability to carry Power politics, he says, has always consequences, even if they should be been based on core values, core interests, unintended.” This would not necessarily critical capabilities and certain “red lines.” mean that the EU has to become a nation It will be interesting to see what the US state. He asks, “Why not establish the living President, Barack Obama, means when laboratory of a quasi-state?” However, for he marked the use of chemical weapons the foreseeable future, it would require at against Syrian civilians as a “red line.” least some capacity of military power.
“The will and ability to carry consequences”
EUROPE WAS THOUGHT TO BE THE CENTER OF THE WORLD, WHERE ALL THE POWER WAS CONCENTRATED (RED LINES)
There was a time when the Roman Empire ruled the world. At least, the world as they knew it back then. Multicultural Europe was the only existent part of the world in the eyes of Europeans. Slavery was the main institution that supported traditional Roman social structures as well as contributing economic utility; slaves constituted at least a fifth of the population and were the basis of the economy. The military established control of a territory with force, but after conquering new lands the military mission turned to policing the Roman citizens and collecting taxes.
colonialism 19 century
The growth of the Ottoman Empire cut off trading possibilities with the east. Western Europe was forced to discover new trading routes, just as Columbus had done when he travelled to the Americas and when Vasco da Gama had discovered new routes to India and Africa. New forms of trade and expanding horizons made new forms of government, law and economics necessary. Europe introduced its dominating role by dividing the rest of the world into its most powerful colonialism players. Settlers acted as the link between the natives and the imperial hegemony, bridging the geographical, ideological and commercial gap between the colonisers and colonised.
3 THE WORLD WAS BEING COLONISED BY EUROPEAN POWERS
Age of 2 Empires the
Today, the economic and political power balance seems to be constantly shifting, as unions, countries and populations are trying to find their feet after the financial crisis. One of the main questions is whether the dominant players of today will retain their political power and which position Europe will take in the coming years. We have taken a look at Europe´s role in the world, from the Roman Empire in the past to challenges the continent will face in the future.
BESIDE THE PRE-ESTABLISHED POWERS (RED LINES) NEW EMERGING COUNTRIES ARE ENTERING THE SCENE (RED DOTS)
the east 15 - 16 century
THE GREY SHADOW INDICATES THE BLACK DEATH, WHICH LED TO A POWER SHIFT TO THE EASTERN WORLD
At the Late Middle Ages European prosperity and growth came to a halt. A series of famines and plagues reduced the population. Along with it came social unrest, endemic warfare and peasant risings. After striking a blow to the weakened Byzantine Empire in 14th century, the Ottomans started its westward expansion into the continent. For the first time, traders and missionaries started implementing European’s “cultural ideology.” But a distant force, the Chinese Empire, whom Europeans came in touch with, already had an ingrained cultural identity, so the missionaries failed.
the cold war 1947-1991
the future predictions
Projections on the future power of the BRICS economies suggest they might overtake the G7 economies by 2027. Brazil has the 6th largest economy in the world by nominal GDP. Its average annual GDP growth rate reaches over 5 per cent. Its main export potential is based on agricultural and food production.Russia has had a high economic growth over the past decade in the light of increasing raw material prices and the rise of a consumer sector. But in relation to international trading, the countries corruption and bureaucracy could become a challenge in the future. The Indian economic growth has been driven by the expansion of the service sector which has been growing faster than other sectors. It is argued that the pattern of Indian development has been a
specific one and that the country may be able to skip the intermediate industrialisation-led phase in the transformation of its economic structure. South Africa is politically stable and has a well capitalised banking system, abundant natural resources and an established manufacturing base. However, there are still many doubts about the membership of SA in the BRICS, as it hasn’t proved to be as strong as the other emerging economies. This spring, China took over the role as the worlds’ leading export-led nation nation. According to experts, they exported and imported goods for $3,820 billion in 2012. Predictions say that with the current pace of growth, many European countries will have more individual trading with China by the end of the decade.
Weakened by WWII, Europe was divided between NATO and the Warsaw pact. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the post– Cold War world is widely considered unipolar, with the United States as the leading player. This new structural order left Europe with only a few means to influence the international political and economic agenda. The collapse of Soviet Communism between 1989 and 1991 left the West the winner of the Cold War and enabled the reunification of Germany and accelerated the process of European integration that is continuing, but with German economic dominance.
14 DURING THE COLD WAR THE WORLD WAS CLEARLY DIVIDED IN TWO BLOCKS
“I fear for Europe’s future” His tight shirt and dandy haircut has already evolved into a trademark. But when press and politicians talk about Phillip Blond in terms of a star, it’s not only about glibly sayings and glimmering ties. Florian Peschl, Katrin Nussmayr and Christian Jensen dealt with one of the most controversial and identifiable speakers of the EFA.
become nothing more than nicesounding buzzwords. DEMOCRACY AND FREEDOM AS VALUELESS VALUES
They would have laughed about his anti-liberal ideas of political decentralisation and social capitalism a few years ago. These days, many praise Blond as a “philosophy king”, whether they consider themselves conservatives or socialists. His good will has not been confirmed by everyone though. Critics call him a pretentious guru, using big words without any practical statements, even in Alpbach.
According to him, values have grown completely meaningless and the idea of democracy would not be a value at all. “Kim Illsung claims he is a democrat, Putin probably would win an election. Democracy does not necessarily guarantee a good outcome, for example Hitler was elected”, he says. Freedom means for Blond what the status naturalis meant for Immanuel Kant. Actually, both autocracy and democracy tend to restrict freedom of an individual. “If freedom is the primary value, why should you accept anything that would constrain it? In fact a society based on freedom would be a totalitarian society because it is just a derivative value.”
Discussing the future of Europe inevitably brings up the idea of complete unification of the EU member states, in essence the creation of a European nation. But Blond, who runs the political think tank ResPublica, wonders how we can solve our current problems with values that have
But if freedom and democracy are not values at all, which values typify Europe? Blond argues that they wouldn’t exist if we consider our values as indistinguishable from anyone else’s. “But if we believe Europe offers something distinct, and I think it does, we need to say what that
Values and Goods: Political thinker Phillip Blond on a paradigm shift in Europe
distinction is,” he states. A WORLD OF CYNICISM AND NIHILISM That distinction stems from a concept of “good”. His picture of good has been inspired by a mix of Judaeo-Christian spirituality, secular discernment and Greek philosophy as they are unique in believing it is a shared responsibility of all to be good and spread goodness. Other similar accounts have been presented elsewhere, to which Blond contributes the fact that if good is subjective, then it doesn´t matter how you approach it, just that you came to the right conclusion.
But one of the big problems is how society has moved away from this concept: “We live in a world where our universities and third-rate academics take students who are full of hope and ideas and tell them that there is nothing to believe in. This creates a world where cynicism and nihilism is preferable.” According to Blond we need shared goods instead, a system different from the current culture of Western self-assertion and a community that cares about the same goods. Instead of the good for the individual being the key, it would be a system of reciprocity and synergistic bene-
fit. “When I come to Austria and I look around there has been created this sense of beauty through planning law. That is a shared good I can’t achieve by myself.” “REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY HAS DESTROYED PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY” The author of Red Tory calls for more solidarity and communitarian conservatism and stresses a break from old orders. “The EU needs a democratically elected commission and European president. But even if we had that it wouldn’t make much of a differ-
ence, because we live in a time where representative democracy has destroyed participatory democracy – something very intimate, local and close. We need to give people a direct path to power.” His idea of Red Toryism is basically saying that we have an outdated left and an outdated right – a left, which is mostly about collectivism, social welfare and statism and a right, focusing on neoliberal markets. “Both would promise mass prosperity, but in fact only deliver wealth for the few.” According to Blond, neoliberalism would actually be a form of Marxism,
because proletarianised people would subsequently need the state more than ever. “Welfarism and liberalism is the same phenomenon and one causes the other. I reject both,” he states. In general, Red Toryism is based on the ideal of a civic state, where traditional values are respected and local communities are empowered. CREATING A NEW POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC OFFER Innovation and growth play an important role for Europe. Blond would like to get people out of their lethargic lives as consumers by “improving the conditions for small and medium-sized businesses.” The modern-day philosopher with the sharp voice completely opposes policies such as the European Fiscal Compact and promotes more autonomy for EU-countries. According to him, central reformations will merely lead to anti-European populism, comprising of left nationalists in the South and right nationalists in the North. Over the last years the conservative mastermind has evolved into David Cameron’s most important counsellor, suspecting populism and social unrest arising within the EU. Blond came to the conclusion that Europe, through the euro, is sharing a tool of unity that is only creating disunity. “I fear for Europe’s future, because unless we create a new political and economic offer we are going to be in a position where social revolution will bring forth new political parties who will break from Europe.” POLITICIANS AS CREATURES OF IDEOLOGY
“Phillip Blond has been at the cutting edge of progressive thinking about public services and the future of our society,” the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom said in a speech at the launch of ResPublica. Cameron had gathered Blond’s theses for the “Big Society” concept. But today, Blond is disappointed with Cameron’s politics, claiming that he had abandoned his ideas and re-toxified the Tories. According to him the idea of politicians being great men and great women, people who personify virtue and honour needs
to be recovered: “At the moment we don’t have people like that, we either have technological managers or creatures of ideology.” Blond frequently affirms that there is no religious influence on his political activity. Although John Milbanks – who founded the Radical Orthodoxy movement, supervised Blond’s doctorate and is the Chairman ResPublica’s Trustees – believes that Red Toryism actually represents the political aspects of Radical Orthodoxy.
“We have to fight for the place of Europe in the world” Click
aialen Torres and Levin Wotke met with Willy Kempel who works on the relations between Austria and other EU states and Heinz K. Becker, member of the European Parliament to talk about the importance of the EU and the challenges it faces. To exlain to people, why the EU is a necessary institution, Willy Kempel likes to encourage people’s imagination. “What if we did away with the European Union?”, what if the national states had to cope with problems on their own, what if they had to deal with the global free market, climate change and with youth unemployment completely on their own? After asking this rhetorical quesion, Kempel quickly delivers an answer showing how essential the European Union has become for its
member states and its over half a billion citizens. Kempel, who is a permanent representative of Austria in the EU and part of the Federal Ministry of Austria, took part in a panel discussion on Sunday to prepare for the Simulation Game “Changing Europe’s Climate” which is going to take place next Saturday, which he is also going to visit. Under the title “Decision Making in the EU” he discussed among others with Heinz K. Becker, who is a member of the European Parliament for the European People’s Party. Both set down today in the Alpbach Middle School to have Fireside Talks with students and participants of the European Forum of Alpbach. After the Fireside Talks, Kempel and Becker took some time to talk about why we need the EU and how we should deal with current problems.
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