After Brexit And Catalonia, What Will Become Of The EU?

The future of the European Union is surely in doubt.
Brexit and Catalonia are the most glaring recent examples of the irrepressibly dynamic forces of nationalism that continue to exert powerful influence on the human psyche within European communities.

More importantly, the processes that led to the victory of the “Leave” campaign in the June 2016 and the eruption of Catalonia’s cessationist sentiment form part of the disintegrating tendencies under way in today’s global political economy. They add to the growing list of cases illustrating the limits of the idea of a united Europe.
The more likely future of Europe is a neoliberal superstate jointly run by Berlin and Brussels. The European elite has been working hard for a long time now to have power transferred from the national governments to a Brussels-based super bureaucracy, with Berlin acting as the political and economic hegemon.

But there is also an alternative – a United States of Europe (a Europe with total integration and without nation states), which is a widely shared idea within certain European elites. Such a project can succeed only if the norms and values of democracy are applied at a transnational and global level (cosmopolitan democracy).

An imperial superstate
As a citizen of a European neoliberal superstate, your life will be determined by two entities: the Brussels-based bureaucracy and the unelected hegemon, Berlin. They will dictate the policymaking process, while nation states – especially those situated on the periphery of the Union – will be turned into “satellites”.

We have already seen plenty of evidence that the EU is heading that way.
Economic cooperation among European member states has revolved around distinct Machiavellian principles and it is the interests of the strong and influential economic agents and of powerful state actors that drive public policy agenda.
The tradition of political cynicism also defines the actual foreign policy agenda of EU authorities and institutions as evidenced by their double-standard approach towards integration and secession. They opposed Catalonia’s declaration for independence in late October 2017 because they don’t wish to see Spain (an EU member state) split, but provided unanimous support in 2008 to Kosovo’s independence.

As a matter of fact, the European Community (along with Washington) not only failed in the case of former Yugoslavia back in the early 1990s to guarantee the territorial integrity of European state frontiers, in clear violation of the 1975 Helsinki Accords Final Act, but individual European member states actually played a key role in the destruction of the Yugoslavian state.

But no one has ever charged the EU with being a democratic political entity. If anything, it acts as an imperial power by virtue of the very emergence of a neoliberal superstate, at least in regard to economic affairs. The manner in which the bailout programmes for Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and Cyprus were handled during the euro crisis stands out as a glaring example of heavy-handed, anti-democratic tactics. Read more

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Studio Meritis MaKOM

Foto: Ilya Rabinovich

Studio Meritis MaKOM (Joseph Semah and Linda Bouws) is aware of the urgent need to add new perspectives to the dominant Western traditional way of thinking in our globalizing world.
The Western world has been predominately manifested by iconic works of art, literature, film, theatre, philosophy, often related to traditional Christianity.
But culture is not static, it is always changing: today’s culture is tomorrow’s heritage.

Seen from this perspective, it is necessary to take a critical look at how Western culture and art are presented and why. It is also important to recognize and accept sources and traditions of other cultures.
We will be searching for new structures and a new conceptual vision which will better reflect the reality of our pluralistic society. This will require thinking out of the box, whereby the artist’s scrutiny on the creative processes in the West will play an important role.

Mission
Studio Meritis MaKOM is committed to investigate and encourage different views on the current artistic research into Western culture. New research into the existing way of thinking will lead to new and maybe forgotten information, representations and interpretations. We will develop these, analyse them and provide them with a podium.
Our aim is to stimulate a collective commitment and to make a contribution to the debate on Western art and culture by also including non-Western art and culture.

Studio Meritis MaKOM reflects and provides context for art and culture.

Studio Meritis MaKOM focuses on
– Current global developments and discussions on Western art
– Contextualization of Western art
– The significance, relevance and representation of Western art, culture and politics in a complex world of interculturalism.

© Metropool Foundation International Art Projects

www.metropool-projects.com
www.josephsemah.nl

Contact: lindabouws@gmail.com
Mob: +31(0) 620132195

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A Conversation With Joseph Sassoon Semah

On Friendship / (Collateral Damage) The Guardians of the Door | Art performance by Joseph Semah (Amsterdam) and György Dragomán | Millenáris, Building B | Photo by Oliver Sin

Joseph Sassoon Semah: Before we begin, there is something important I would like to mention. You see that I have changed my name to Joseph Sassoon Semah.*

Zsuzsanna Szegedy-Maszák: And why is that?

JSS: Beginning on the 20th of October, my name will be Joseph Sassoon Semah as a reflection of the third exile project. I was born in Bagdad. As a family, we were displaced to the State of Israel, and now I am a guest in the West. My grandfather was the chief rabbi of the Babylonian Jews who lived in Bagdad. So I thought that instead of explaining my background every time I would just add the family name Sassoon so people will understand.

ZsSz-M: You often talk about being in a state of self-imposed exile, or rather as a guest. How does your art reflect this?

JSS: I read to the idea of the guest through my mother tongue. For me the guest is not just a friendly person who comes and you let him stay in your home for five days. The guest is someone who stays and works for the good of the whole world. Remember, in Hebrew, we don’t have the word exile. To begin with, גלות, or GaLUT, is not Exile, nor is it Diaspora or an existing place; GaLUT is simply a disciplined activity, an intensive vision, and it is what GaLUT does – it transforms each and every temporary מקום, MaKOM or place of shelter, into a perpetual search for a Hand Full of Soil.

ZsSz-M: You mentioned that your mother tongue is Hebrew, and in a previous interview you mentioned that visual art is in fact a second language for you.

JSS: The Hebrew language is my home. Where can I dwell? In language itself.

ZsSz-M: The manner in which you approach art seems very textual to me. You speak about reading artworks through the Hebrew language. You regard artworks as ‘footnotes’. You recite or read texts aloud during your performances. What is your relationship to literature or to texts? Do you approach visual art from this textual stance? And a follow up question: do you regard music in a similar, textual manner?

JSS: The first time I used a musical score in my art was during my inquiry into a very important moment in history: the meeting between Paul Celan and Heidegger in the Black Forest village of Todtnauberg on July 25th 1967. I placed the two images on a Wagner score, so I used it in an intellectual way. Music to me is textual. I am not an artist of a gallery. I cannot reproduce an image on demand. I call my artworks ‘footnotes’ to a text, but in fact they are part of the text.

Read more

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Civil Domains and Arenas in Zimbabwean Settings. Democracy and Responsiveness Revisited – DPRN Five

Harare - goafrica.about.com

Harare – goafrica.about.com

Introduction (written 2008 – first published 2010)
A popular remedy for Africa’s predicament is the promotion of ‘civil society’. It is conventionally seen as a collection of various kinds of non-profit bodies separate from the state and business sector. It is framed within a consensual model of politics, and thus capable of working in ‘partnership’ with both state and business sectors in pursuit of common interests, particularly ‘development’ and ‘democracy’ [i]. Since the late 1970s donors sought substitutes for the state in the private sector. In the 1980s they discovered the virtues of the non-profit branch of this sector. They tasked older entities such as mission hospitals and newly-arrived non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with providing a range of services, from schooling and healthcare to small enterprise promotion, that were once considered responsibilities of the public sector.
Under their neoliberal paradigm, donors have tried to raise the nonprofit sector’s political status. Beyond service provision, its main task is to counter government power. Here civil society is cast as a hero, who routinely calls a villainous state to account. Yet this model of ‘civil society’ has evoked controversy. Questions have arisen about the effects of NGOs not only as substitute providers of basic services, but also as vehicles of public politics, effectively substituting for opposition political parties [ii]. A number of writers have called attention to ‘the obvious: that civil society is [largely] made up of international organisations’. Some argue that the whole concept of ‘civil society’ as promoted by outsiders does not match African sociological or political realities, and can ultimately weaken, rather than strengthen the power of common citizens. There are calls, in short, for a re-think. Read more

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Noam Chomsky And Robert Pollin: Breaking Through The Political Barriers To Free Education

Robert Pollin – Photo: UMass Amherst

In an increasingly unequal country, the stakes are high for debates over student debt and the prospect of free higher education. Driven by neoliberal politics, our current educational system is both a product of and a driver of deep social inequities. In this interview, world-renowned public intellectuals Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin take on the question of who should pay for education — and how a radical reshaping of our educational system could be undertaken in the US.

This is the third part of a wide-ranging interview series with world-renowned public intellectuals Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin. Read part one here and part two here.

C.J. Polychroniou: Noam, higher education in the US is a terribly expensive affair, and hundreds of billions are owed in student loans. First, do you think that a system of free higher education can coexist alongside tuition-charging universities? Secondly, what could and should be done about student debt?

Noam Chomsky ~ Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Noam Chomsky: The educational system was a highly predictable victim of the neoliberal reaction, guided by the maxim of “private affluence and public squalor.” Funding for public education has sharply declined. Tuition has exploded, leading to a plague of unpayable student debt. As higher education is driven to a business model in accord with neoliberal doctrine, administrative bureaucracy has sharply increased at the expense of faculty and students, developments reviewed well by sociologist Benjamin Ginsburg. Cost-cutting dictated by the revered market principles naturally leads to hyper-exploitation of the more vulnerable, creating a new precariat of graduate students and adjuncts surviving on a bare pittance, replacing tenured faculty. All of this happens to be a good disciplinary technique, for obvious reasons.

For those with eyes open, much of what has happened was anticipated by the early ’70s, at the point of transition from regulated capitalism to incipient neoliberalism. At the time, there was mounting elite concern about the dangers posed by the democratizing and civilizing effects of 1960s activism, and particularly the role of young people during “the time of troubles.” The concerns were forcefully expressed at both ends of the political spectrum.

At the right end of the spectrum, the “Powell memorandum” sent by corporate lobbyist (later Supreme Court Justice) Lewis Powell to the Chamber of Commerce called upon the business community to rise up to defend itself against the assault on freedom led by Ralph Nader, Herbert Marcuse and other miscreants who had taken over the universities, the media and the government. The picture was, of course, ludicrous but it did reflect the perceptions of Powell’s audience, desperate about the slight diminution in their overwhelming power. The rhetoric is as interesting as the message, reminiscent of a spoiled three-year-old who has a piece of candy taken away. The memorandum was influential in circles that matter for policy formation.

At the other end of the spectrum, at about the same time, the liberal internationalists of the Trilateral Commission published their lament over “The Crisis of Democracy” that arose in the “terrible” ’60s, when previously apathetic and marginalized parts of the population — the great majority — began to try to enter the political arena to pursue their interests. That posed an intolerable burden on the state. Accordingly, the Trilateral scholars called for more “moderation in democracy,” a return to passivity and obedience. The American rapporteur, Harvard professor Samuel Huntington, reminisced nostalgically about the time when “Truman had been able to govern the country with the cooperation of a relatively small number of Wall Street lawyers and bankers,” so that true democracy flourished.

A particular concern of the Trilateral scholars was the failure of the institutions responsible for “the indoctrination of the young,” including the schools and universities. These had to be brought under control, along with the irresponsible media that were (occasionally) departing from subordination to “proper authority” — a precursor of concerns of the far-right Republican Party today. Read more

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