Blauwdruk Europa ~ Interview met Alicja Gescinksa

Filosoof Alicja Gescinksa houdt een vurig pleidooi voor meer moraal in het openbare discours. We kunnen niet zonder moraal in het gesprek en moeten duidelijk zijn over welke waarden we willen uitdragen, zoals de ander erkennen, geïnspireerd zijn door verschillende culturen, en solidariteit creëren. Het is geen statisch gegeven, maar een eeuwigdurend proces: vrijheid moet je elke dag opnieuw veroveren. Erkenning van de wisselwerking tussen
verschillende landen, erfgoed e.d. is noodzakelijk, evenals een politieke vertaalslag. We hebben de EU nodig als overkoepelend orgaan, maar moeten wel sceptisch blijven kijken naar haar functioneren.

Geschinska heeft zelf een migrantenachtergrond, en moest leren loyaal te zijn in haar nieuwe land België. “Maar als je niet weet waar je vandaan komt, weet je niet waar je naar toe gaat.”

Blauwdruk Europa – Alicja Gescinska, interview Linda Bouws – 23 april 2013

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Alicja Gescinska ~ Van angst bevrijd

Je kunt bibliotheken vullen met filosofische traktaten over de liefde, maar over de haat is weinig gefilosofeerd. Nochtans is dat een belangrijk fenomeen. Een psychologisch verschijnsel dat geen mens vreemd zal zijn. In deze lezing wordt een specifiek aspect van de haat uitgelicht: de wijze waarop de haat zich verhoudt tot de vrijheid. De Duitse filosoof Max Scheler merkte begin vorige eeuw al op dat de haat en het ressentiment tot de ondergang van de vrijheid voeren, zowel op persoonlijk als maatschappelijk vlak. Scheler voorzag de triomf van het totalitarisme en inderdaad bewijzen de opkomst van het fascisme en de Tweede Wereldoorlog Schelers gelijk. Als haat en ressentiment opbloeien, wordt het bedje van de despoot gespreid. Net zoals dat gebeurt door morele passiviteit en onverschilligheid. Want het kwaad kan pas triomferen als mensen te goeder trouw onverschillig staan toe te kijken.

Al wie de vrijheid lief is, moet zich daardoor dan ook afvragen hoe het zit met de haat en het ressentiment in onze maatschappij. En met onze morele onverschilligheid. Bevrijdingsdag is daartoe een uitstekende gelegenheid. Hoe zit het dus met de haat en het ressentiment bij ons?
En met de angst ook, want ressentiment en haat worden gevoed door de angst. De angst dat we onze eigen toekomst niet in eigen handen hebben. In dat opzicht staat de vrijheid vandaag onder grote druk, want we leven in angstige tijden. We worden murw geslagen door allerhande crises. Financiële en economische crises. Maar ook met betrekking tot het onderwijs, onze democratische waarden en Europa zelf wordt steeds vaker van een crisis gesproken. Het vertrouwen in onze samenleving wankelt. En daarmee ook het geloof in onze democratische vrijheden.

Deze lezing is een aansporing om ons niet te laten misleiden door politici die angst cultiveren. Angst voor Europa. Angst voor de ander. Angst voor verscheidenheid. Angst voor al die Polen en Bulgaren die de Nederlandse bodem komen bezoedelen. Een angst die onlangs op confronterende wijze op het voorplan van de Nederlandse politiek verscheen. Angst kan snel omslaan in haat. En dat de vrijheid daarmee niet gediend is, mag duidelijk zijn. Vrijheid is geen voorrecht voor enkelen, maar het recht van allen. Ook van minderheden. Wie een verklikkersamenleving wil, waarin minderheden geviseerd worden op basis van geloof en afkomst, is geen democraat of vrijheidsstrijder. Laat ons dus vooral niet passief of onverschillig toekijken. Ons van kritisch commentaar onthouden. Laat ons de waarde van verdraagzaamheid en respect herwaarderen. Want zonder verdraagzaamheid en respect, kan er ook geen vrijheid zijn.

Vrijheidslezing 2012 Felix Meritis 5 mei 2012

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The Anatomy Of US Military Policy: An Interview With Andrew Bacevich


Andrew Bacevich ~ Photo:

Since the end of the Cold War, the US has been the only true global superpower, with US policymakers intervening freely anywhere around the world where they feel there are vital political or economic interests to be protected. Most of the time US policymakers seem to act without a clear strategy at hand and surely without feeling the need to accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions. Such is the case, for instance, with the invasion of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan. US policymakers also seem to be clueless about what to do with regard to several “hot spots” around the world, such as Libya and Syria, and it is rather clear that the US no longer has a coherent Middle East policy.

What type of a global power is this? I posed this question to retired colonel and military historian Andrew Bacevich, a Boston University professor who has authored scores of books on US foreign and military policy, including America’s War for the Greater Middle East, Breach of Trust, and The Limits of Power. In this exclusive interview for Truthout, Bacevich explains how the militaristic nature of US foreign policy is a serious impediment to democracy and human rights.

C.J. Polychroniou: I’d like to start by asking you to outline the basic principles and guidelines of the current national military strategy of the United States.

Andrew Bacevich: There is no coherent strategy. US policy is based on articles of faith — things that members of the foreign policy establishment have come to believe, regardless of whether they are true or not. The most important of those articles is the conviction that the United States must “lead” — that the alternative to American leadership is a world that succumbs to anarchy. An important corollary is this: Leadership is best expressed by the possession and use of military power.

According to the current military strategy, US forces must be ready to confront threats whenever they appear. Is this a call for global intervention?

Almost, but not quite. Certainly, the United States intervenes more freely than any other nation on the planet. But it would be a mistake to think that policymakers view all regions of the world as having equal importance. Interventions tend to reflect whatever priorities happen to prevail in Washington at a particular moment. In recent decades, the Greater Middle East has claimed priority attention.

What’s really striking is Washington’s refusal or inability to take into account what this penchant for armed interventionism actually produces. No one in a position of authority can muster the gumption to pose these basic questions: Hey, how are we doing? Are we winning? Once US forces arrive on the scene, do things get better?

The current US military strategy calls for an upgrade of the nuclear arsenal. Does “first use” remain an essential component of US military doctrine?

It seems to, although for the life of me I cannot understand why. US nuclear policy remains frozen in the 1990s. Since the end of the Cold War, in concert with the Russians, we’ve made modest but not inconsequential reductions in the size of our nuclear arsenal. But there’s been no engagement with first order questions. Among the most important: Does the United States require nuclear weapons to maintain an adequate deterrent posture? Given the advances in highly lethal, very long range, very precise conventional weapons, I’d argue that the answer to that question is, no. Furthermore, as the only nation to have actually employed such weapons in anger, the United States has a profound interest and even a moral responsibility to work toward their abolition — which, of course, is precisely what the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty obliges us to do. It’s long past time to take that obligation seriously. For those who insist that there is no alternative to American leadership, here’s a perfect opportunity for Washington to lead.

Does the US have, at the present time, a Middle East policy?

Not really, unless haphazardly responding to disorder in hopes of preventing things from getting worse still qualifies as a policy. Sadly, US efforts to “fix” the region have served only to make matters worse. Even more sadly, members of the policy world refuse to acknowledge that fundamental fact. So we just blunder on.
There is no evidence — none, zero, zilch — that the continued U.S. military assertiveness in that region will lead to a positive outcome. There is an abundance of evidence pointing in precisely the opposite direction.

Was the US less militaristic under the Obama administration than it was under the Bush administration?

It all depends on how you define “militaristic.” Certainly, President Obama reached the conclusion rather early on that invading and occupying countries with expectations of transforming them in ways favorable to the United States was a stupid idea. That said, Obama has shown no hesitation to use force and will bequeath to his successor several ongoing wars.
Obama has merely opted for different tactics, relying on air strikes, drones and special operations forces, rather than large numbers of boots on the ground. For the US, as measured by casualties sustained and dollars expended, costs are down in comparison to the George W. Bush years. Are the results any better? No, not really.

To what extent is the public in the US responsible for the uniqueness of the military culture in American society?

The public is responsible in this sense: The people have chosen merely to serve as cheerleaders. They do not seriously attend to the consequences and costs of US interventionism.
The unwillingness of Americans to attend seriously to the wars being waged in their names represents a judgment on present-day American democracy. That judgment is a highly negative one.

What will US involvement in world affairs look like under the Trump administration?

Truly, only God knows.
Trump’s understanding of the world is shallow. His familiarity with the principles of statecraft is negligible. His temperament is ill-suited to cool, considered decision making.
Much is likely to depend on the quality of advisers that he surrounds himself with. At the moment, he seems to favor generals. I for one do not find that encouraging.

Copyright, Truthout. 

Andrew J. Bacevich is Professor of International Relations and History at Boston University. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, he received his PhD in American Diplomatic History from Princeton University. Before joining the faculty of Boston University, he taught at West Point and Johns Hopkins.

C.J. Polychroniou is a political economist/political scientist who has taught and worked in universities and research centers in Europe and the United States. His main research interests are in European economic integration, globalization, the political economy of the United States and the deconstruction of neoliberalism’s politico-economic project. He is a regular contributor to Truthout as well as a member of Truthout’s Public Intellectual Project. He has published several books and his articles have appeared in a variety of journals, magazines, newspapers and popular news websites. Many of his publications have been translated into several foreign languages, including Croatian, French, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish.

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Dutch Caribbean Digital Platform


The Dutch Caribbean Digital Platform is online since 2 November 2015
We – the University of Curaçao Library – are in the process of optimizing the system and building our collections. Much of the content still has ‘restricted access’. For these items, we are in the process of clearing copyright issues. If you are the copyright owner of one of these items, please contact us through or call Margo Groenewoud, (5999) 7442236.

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Shervin Nekuee ~ Historische bescheidenheid

Was ik vijf jaar eerder geboren dan was ik in 1978 bij het ontwaken van de revolutie in Iran een zestienjarige en bruikbare pion geweest in de onzichtbare hand van de geschiedenis. Ik was of de kant van de radicale islam opgegaan of een extremistische communist geworden of ik was omgekomen in
de loopgravenoorlog tussen Iran en Irak. Het is mij allemaal bespaard gebleven. Niet omdat ik de juiste morele keuzes heb gemaakt of heldendaden heb verricht. Nee, ik was simpelweg te jong.

Ik heb geen partij hoeven kiezen. Ik was te groen en derhalve nog onbruikbaar toen de meest turbulente gebeurtenissen uit de recente geschiedenis van Iran – mijn land van herkomst – zich voordeden. In een land dat in strijd was verwikkeld met zichzelf en daarnaast zo ongeveer met de hele wereld, heeft mijn leeftijd mijn leven en geweten gered.

Dit ‘toevalsbesef’ is een dwingend besef. Het zou moeten leiden tot bescheidenheid in het oordeel over hoe we ons verhouden tot de vulkanische momenten van de menselijke geschiedenis. De mens neemt deel aan de geschiedenis en heeft te maken met keuzes tussen goed en kwaad: vaker nog, tussen kwaad en erger. Maar wij zijn niet de makers van de geschiedenis, vaak zelfs niet die van onze persoonlijke levensloop.

Felix Meritis, Vrijheidslezing, 4 mei 2012

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Critique Of Heaven And Earth Equality ~ Religion And Political Emancipation According To Karl Marx

Both left-wing and right-wing parties and movements claim to defend Western Values while demonstrating against Islam or against Islamophobia and Populism. From both sides we hear words like Liberty and Equality. Both sides are pointing to the Enlightenment as the core of European Values. When defending ‘European Civilisation’, everyone points to the French Revolution and its Manifesto, the Declaration of Human Rights. The French struggle against privilege, for equal political rights was the start of the political emancipation of the citizens that after 1789 spread all over Europe.

I think we all agree that the legacy of the French Revolution is worth to be defended, but there is a new struggle going on about its Interpretation: do the European Values come in a ready-made package, to be accepted and implemented by the whole world or at least by everyone coming to Europe? Or is the French Revolution still an unfinished business and do we still have to struggle for the realisation of equality and liberty in our societies? I would like to show you why I am of the opinion that the latter is the case, by looking more closely into the heritage of this project for liberty and equality from the 18th century.
I will do so, using a text of the German thinker Karl Marx. (Trier, 5 may 1818 – Londen, 14 march 1883) He is mainly known for his economical ideas about Capital and Labour, but his political texts are in no means less insightful.

If you want to know how equal and free a society is, it is always a good idea to look at the rights of those who are looked upon as ‘different’ from everybody else. Those who claim equal treatment because they are being discriminated against. Marx does exactly this. He addresses an issue that was debated fiercely during the 19th century, just like it is today. I am talking about the relation between State and Religion. Back then the big issue was the position of Jews in society. The state was not secular, but Christian, and Jews were second-class citizens with less rights than our minorities have now. Things are different today, but we can still recognize the questions of the 19th century: does Jews have to renounce their religion in order to obtain full citizenship? Are Jews a threat to society because of their different customs and religious practices? Today, we would never pose these questions in relation to Jews. But they are openly discussed in relation to Muslims.

Marx, of Jewish origin himself, intervenes in 1843 in the debate, publishing the essay Zur Judenfrage. On the Jewish Question, is written 24 years before Capital. In this text, he laid a fundament for his later work. The text is a polemic reaction to an earlier article called Jewish Question from Bruno Bauer, who belonged to the same philosophical-political group as Marx, the Hegelians.
His first point, which is crucial, is a change of perspective: while discussing the Jewish Question, do not look at the behaviour and aspirations of the Jews, but look at the role of the State. Marx uses the Jewish Question to analyse the mechanism of political emancipation in a modern society. In this endeavour, the criticism of religion is the condition of a criticism of politics.

Criticism of religion: what religion and political emancipation have in common
What are we talking about? We are talking about human rights. We have to realise that the original Declaration from 1789 was called Declaration of the rights of Man and of the Citizen (French: Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen) In 1948, when the UN adopted the Declaration it became the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Citizen disappeared.
That is striking, since the core of the analysis by Marx lies in the difference between ‘Man’ and Citizen’. In his words, between emancipation as such and political emancipation. By letting the Man and the Citizen fuse into the Human, an essential procedure of political emancipation is covered up. Who is this ‘Man’ in the Declaration?

Niemand anders als das Mitglied der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft. Warum wird das Mitglied der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft ‘Mensch’, Mensch schlechthin, warum werden seine Rechte Menschenrechte genannt? Woraus erklären wir dies Faktum? Aus dem Verhältnis des politischen Staats zur bürgerlichen Gesellschaft, aus dem Wesen der politischen Emanzipation. (p.363-364)
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