Dec 08th ’16: European Identity vs. National Identity

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The come-back of populism

Members of DiEM25 believe that the European Union (EU) is disintegrating. Europeans are losing their faith in the possibility of European solutions to European problems. At the same time as faith in the EU is waning, we see a rise of misanthropy, xenophobia and toxic nationalism. If this development is not stopped, we fear a return to the 1930s. That is why, despite diverse political traditions (Green, radical left, liberal), people are coming together in order to repair the EU. The EU needs to become a realm of shared prosperity, peace and solidarity for all Europeans.

In our next seminar, we would like to invite you to discuss with Dick Pels (who will be presenting his book. Download it here!) and Catalin Popa. How to love a continent full of nationalist populists? And how and why did populist leaders become such a main-stream force at all? What is it exactly that the individual finds so attractive about nationalist rhetoric? How to fight it back? How to deal with a freshly elected Trump-president? In the midst of the crisis (or crises, we should say), we have the chance the re-construct a Europe we all fit in. Come and share this moment of reflection with your fellow Europeans!

We are not about consensus, we are about informing; we are not about political ideologies, we are about educating ourselves. And remember: everyone is welcome!

Looking forward to meeting you soon!

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Speaker’s Corner – Thu Dec 8th 19:00-22:00 hrs. (Speaker’s Corner, The Hague University for Applied Sciences. Johanna Westerdijkplein 75, The Hague (behind Den Haag HS)

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Nov 17th ’16: Discussing ‘The future of work’

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Interview with Petro Prattis during the first episode of The Future Of Work

During upcomig seminar, we will discuss a project called “The Future of Work” – a collaboration between artists Julij Borštnik (SI) and Abel Heijkamp (NL) and organisations KUD Mreža (SI), Projekthaus Potsdam-Babelsberg (GE) and Zaaigrond filmproductions (NL). Together, they are working on four documentaries that will be interwoven into an interactive web-structure. The aim of the web platform is to (re)connect individuals and organisations and involve them into constructive debate about the Future of Work. Visit their website here!

In the Netherlands a new legislation on housing is being implemented. To make renting contracts more temporary and thus better match with the the already flexibilised labour market. What type of society do we get when work and housing are both flexibilised? Have you actually thought about what it means to be flexible? What kind of conditions of work and living can we expect from the future? Come and tell us what you think! Have you experienced flexibilisation on your own flesh? Come and share your experience with us!

We are not about consensus, we are about informing; we are not about political ideologies, we are about educating ourselves. And remember: everyone is welcome!

Looking forward to meeting you soon!

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VU University Amsterdam – Thu Nov 17th 19:00-22:00 hrs. (Room F-123 at Gebouw Exacte Wetenschappen W&N; see directions coming from station Amsterdam Zuid on map above)

On our last seminar: transparency, legitimacy, governance

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Our chairwoman opens up the session.

In our last seminar, we discussed the following concepts: transparency, legitimacy and governance. Here a quick recap of who spoke about what.

Can democracy exist without trust?

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For a start, the first speaker we had was a TED speaker. A bit of a teaser to warm up, let late-comers jump in smoothly and inspire debate. Political scientist Ivan Krastev is watching the Euro crisis closely, fascinated by what it reveals about Europe’s place in history: what does it mean for the democratic model? Will a fragmented Europe return to nationalist identity politics? You can watch his talk  here.

On transparency and democracy

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Boris Slijper, currently teaching sociology at the VU, describes himself as having been a very moderate social-liberal between 1989 and 2007 until the economic crisis and the subsequent Greek crisis deeply changed his views. After the shock, he became “sort of an activist” willing to change academia, motivated by the observation that the current academia is not producing the kind of elites we would have expected to be there in 2007. Especially tailored for a non-academic audience, Boris offered, first, a basic introduction to the notion of transparency: how it relates to democracy and some remarks on the arguments against transparency.

In essence, the concept of democracy was addressed from Robert Dahl’s perspective (find out more about his book here): “Democracy is a method of collective decision making based on the idea that citizens are equally competent in making those decisions”. He also reminded us of an idea, though, that often hits a raw nerve among progressive people; that is: that democracy cannot be immediately equated with individual freedom, social justice, gender equality, religious tolerance, environmental justice, etc. Since democracy can indeed lead to “bad outcomes” for progressive-minded people! He went on by explaining the five principles of democratic governance: effective participation, voting equality, enlightened understanding, control of the agenda and full inclusion (of the relevant demos). Note that the latter point is a big issue in European Democracy: how to define the relevant demos when decisions in Germany affect people in Greece? As for ‘transparency’, Boris presented it as an ‘instrumental value’ to achieve ‘enlightened understanding’. In other words: we need transparency; for citizens need to understand what they are deciding about. In his final minutes, Boris offered some second thoughts on transparency and dilemmas that come along with it: sometimes politicians might legitimately need confidentiality to discuss delicate issues. They might, however, abuse. Potential side-effects of demands for transparency are, of course, window-dressing and back-staging. Politicians are likely to find a way and a place to sign deals or hold private extra-official meetings they don’t wish the public to know about.

Transparency and democracy: From Castoriadis to the Commons

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Vangelis Papadimitropoulos holds a PhD degree from the University of Crete and, just as Boris, he started up by sweeping through some definitions of democracy (kratos of the demos). From Aristotle (“democracy is the power of the people”), he took us to Marx (“democracy is the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie”) and to liberals (“democracy is the free market of sellers and buyers regulated by the State”). Vangelis picked up what seems to be a contradiction in the work of Marx: sometimes he argues in favour of “a State Socialism that would gradually lead to Communism” whereas some others, he advocates for the “free cooperation of autonomous workers (therefore: no State)”. Castoriadis, though no Marxist, built up on the second statement. After presenting the principles of Castoriadis’ direct democracy, we learned just how we are currently witnessing the development over the last decades of an alternative economic paradigm, termed Collaborative Commons, that echoes back to Castoriadis’ project. The Commons favour democratic self-management over hierarchical management, distribution of profit over profit maximization, access over ownership, environmental sustainability over growth and last, but not least, transparency over privacy. Moreover, the Commons are mediated by platform co-operativism (e.g. the Internet) by means of which different actors can communicate in a way that anyone is able to take on greater or lesser responsibility according to degrees of motivation, expertise, etc. The creation of such horizontal, flexible cross-connections can advance the recombination and creation of knowledge, leading to increased innovation and autonomy. Finally, Vangelis reminded us that Collaborative Commons can sustain a middle pillar of open co-operativism between a partner state and ethical market entities.

Here, some examples of Commons: Linux, Wikipedia, Loomio, Fairmondo, Las Indias, FabLab, Goteo, Arduino, FLOSS, Open Source Ecology, LibreOffice, FarmHack, Oview & Waag Society.

Open discussion

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We ended up with an open discussion in which, among many other things, the secret negotiations on TTIP, CETA and TiSA were mentioned several times.

 

Looking forward to the next seminar!

DCU Amsterdam

 

Programme – On transparency, legitimacy and governance

Dear attendees of the DCU seminar, dear DiEM’ers, dear all,

Upcoming Thursday (Oct 6th) the DCU will be hosting a seminar on transparency, legitimacy and governance. We are delighted to share our programme with you!

 

Programme

19:00-19:30 hrs. Get together: Room F-123 (see details below)

19:30-19:45 hrs. Introductory video clip

19:45-20:00 hrs. Boris Slijper from the department of Sociology, VU Amsterdam

20:15-20:30 hrs. Vangelis Papadimitropoulos. Phd in political philosophy

20:30-21:00 hrs. Panel discussions

21:00-onwards Open discussion

 

Looking forward to meeting you soon!

DCU Amsterdam

 

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VU University Amsterdam – Thu Aug 25th 19:00-22:00 hrs. (Room F-123 at Gebouw Exacte Wetenschappen W&N; see directions coming from station Amsterdam Zuid on map above)

Oct 06th ’16: On transparency, legitimacy and governance

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Transparent Europe?

DiEM25’s political aim is to put together, from the grassroots upwards, a democratic ‘Progressive Agenda for Europe’ addressing systematically challenges that Europe currently faces. Organisationally, the process of putting up together such an agenda will play a key role in mobilising members, experts and citizens in the pursuit of common goals. And the DCU Amsterdam looks forward to carrying the torch!

One main issue we would like you to come and discuss with us is that of transparency. DiEM has formulated the challenge as follows:

‘Transparent Europe: Introducing transparent government across Europe’

We would like to invite you to actively participate in the next seminar of the DCU Amsterdam. Why should we ask for transparent governments? What is the rhyme or reason to opaque governments? When and why do governments become illegitimate? Are you aware of how the EU operates? Do you (not) know what policies are designed and pushed on your behalf? This seminar is for you!

Are you already thinking of a particular speaker who would be exceptionally fit to address this issue? Submit your suggestion!

We are not about consensus, we are about informing; we are not about political ideologies, we are about educating ourselves. And remember: everyone is welcome!

Looking forward to meeting you soon!

 

DCU Amsterdam

 

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VU University Amsterdam – Thu Oct 6th 19:00-22:00 hrs. (Room F-123 at Gebouw Exacte Wetenschappen W&N; see directions coming from station Amsterdam Zuid on map above)

 

The DCU Amsterdam conducts its first seminar

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DCU welcomes first round of discussions at the VU University Amsterdam

Just recently the DiEM Citizens’ University Amsterdam offered a first round of exchange on the topic ‘A Green New Deal for Europe’. Here a quick recap of who spoke about what.

 

A New Deal to reconstruct Europe

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Menno Grootveld, currently working as a translator, helped us clarify where the term ‘New Deal’ comes from at all. In a journey taking us from the Wall Street crash of the 20’s and the 1932 US presidential election to French farms losing their battle on water supplies to Chinese companies today, Menno made the clear point that, just as during the Great Depression, the solution to the crash did not come from the markets. It did not take technocrats but politicians to get back to an age of prosperity. Indeed, this could not apply better to our current situation: daring to change the mandate of the ECB and let it care about other things than inflation only or having a more active approach towards the economy and stop austerity policies are examples of political actions. For they do not act within a rigid set of rules, rather they change the rules – for politics is, among other things, the power to set and change the rules of the game.

 

Lifeblood of the economy: net energy, financial solvency and sustainability in the 21st century

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Andrew Ringsmuth, a young photosynthesis researcher at the VU Amsterdam, gave his view on how he thinks an energy transition could look like in the present time. He also reminded us of previous energy transitions; the observation there is that it roughly takes 80-100 years to fully adapt the societies in which we live to a different source of energy. Interestingly, this has been a rather robust pattern. Moving froma  wood-powered world to a coal-powered world to an oil-powered world took roughly the same amount of time regardless of whether we went through economic depressions, (two) World Wars, massive population growths, etc. Moreover, we shifted from a low-quality energy source to a high-quality energy source in each of those steps. In the case of solar,however, Andrew rightly pointed out that we would be forcing ourselves to move from high to low quality energy source within an extremely short time window; and, so Andrew: “this requires an unprecedented amount of social and political will”. One of his take-home messages: 80% of the global energy demand is supplied by fuel rather than by electricity. We need to solve a much bigger problem than only our burning light bulbs!

 

A brief overview of the tech that will drive the green transition

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Vincent Friebe, now finishing his PhD in Biophysics also at the VU Amsterdam, displayed an amazingly simple back-of-the-envelope calculation to help us understand how much energy we consume in The Netherlands every day. And it involves light bulbs: in average, each person in The Netherlands burns 160 40-Watt light bulbs 24 hours a day – non-stop! Also, he insisted in the fact if “you want to go green, you have to think about sacrificing part of your  GDP” and he backed this with hard data from the International Energy Agency concerning the natural gas production of The Netherlands. It was particularly striking to learn more about the earthquakes caused by drilling companies in the region of Groningen! All in all, Vincent painted a broad landscape of technological strategies and challenges we all ought to think about when it comes to profoundly changing our energy consumption. Artificial photosynthesis, dye-sensitised solar cells, nuclear fusion and other ‘dream’-techs all share one thing: they need investment!

 

Europe, Democracy & TTIP

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Jurjen van den Bergh, now leading the anti-TTIP campaign in The Netherlands, prefaced his contribution with a quote of Czech economist Tomáš Sedláček: “Our troubles with Capitalism began at the moment when they lost their rival”. Jurjen reminded us of a brief period of time in The Netherlands around 2008 where we did have a debate addressing questions such as: should we not revisit our priorities and look not only at economic growth but also at environmental and social standards or how well people get educated? or even challenging the very idea of monetising everything instead of also valuing non-marketable things that are an important driver for the society, nonetheless. However, as soon as 2009 the American Chamber of Commerce and BusinessEurope among others came up with the narrative of trade deals. Jurjen put earlier trade deals into context: investment protection, trade areas where barriers would be lifted and so on. But he insisted in trade deals such as TTIP, CETA or TiSA clearly being about much more than only trade. Indeed, we find mechanisms in them that hold citizens back from deploying their private actions against corporate interests or even, in certain aspects, overwrite National Law, European Law and/or International Human Codes. Obviously, a threat to democracy! So, in the context of a Green New Deal being put forward by citizens, the fact that our representatives are negotiating these deals is no less than a bitter irony.

 

Digital democracy – the participatory challenge

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Coby Babani, passionate activist currently working on Oview, a new digital tool to vote on relevant issues, shared with us his to-be-released-soon project. An app we would use to vote on questions that reflect what citizens genuinely care about. Coby explained at this point that we live in democracies where the issues we hear about in most of the media are decided for us. Indeed, many Dutch citizens felt puzzled about why they were asked to vote in a referendum concerning Ukraine. Although there is no doubt that many other Dutch citizens were concerned about a trade deal being signed without their consent, the Ukraine referendum raised questions about why citizens are asked about some things, and not about certain others. Besides, the referendum cost ca. 42 Mio. euros! Coby thinks that Oview could solve this problem. In a very inspiring talk, he addressed difference in opinions, biased media, meaning of democracy, empowerment of people, statistics of polls transparent to everybody: politicians, journalists and regular citizens alike. How would elections’ outcomes be affected if you realised that your previous gouvernment actually listened to what you had to say only, say, 5% of the time?

Looking forward to the next seminar!

The DCU Amsterdam

 

Programme – On a ‘Green New Deal’ for Europe

Dear attendees of the DCU seminar, dear DiEM’ers, dear all,

Upcoming Thursday (Aug 25th) the DCU will be hosting a seminar on a ‘Green New Deal’ for Europe. We are delighted to share our programme with you!

 

Programme

19:50-20:00 hrs. Get together: Room F-123 (see details below)

20:00-20:10 hrs. Susan Curvers & Alonso M. Acuña

Welcoming words. Launching the DCU Amsterdam.

20:10-20:30 hrs. Menno Grootveld

A New Deal to reconstruct Europe

20:30-20:50 hrs. Andrew Ringsmuth

Lifeblood of the economy: net energy, financial solvency and sustainability in the 21st century

20:50-21:10 hrs. Vincent Friebe

A brief overview of the tech that will drive the green transition

21:10-21:30 hrs. Jurjen van den Bergh

Europe, Democracy & TTIP

21:30-21:50 hrs. Coby Babani

Digital democracy – the participatory challenge

From 21:50 hrs. on – Attendees willing to thrash out their ideas over a beer are most welcome to do so at the Verrekijker (see event here).

 

Looking forward to meeting you soon!

DCU Amsterdam

 

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VU University Amsterdam – Thu Aug 25th 20:00-22:00 hrs. (Room F-123 at Gebouw Exacte Wetenschappen W&N; see directions coming from station Amsterdam Zuid on map above)

Aug 25th ’16: On a ‘Green New Deal’ for Europe

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Wind turbines in Eempolder, NL

One of DiEM’s political challenges lying ahead is putting together a DiEM European Agenda (DEA) that puts forward very specific Policy Papers.

Here are two out of six points (read them all here):

+ GREEN NEW DEAL: Investment-led Green Recovery & Macroeconomic Policy –
incorporating policies for financing the Green Transition and tackling
effectively the crisis of debt, banking, insufficient investment,
intra-European imbalances, poverty alleviation, the faulty architecture
of the euro, monetary policy coordination between the Eurozone and
non-Eurozone economies.

+ GREEN TRANSITION & TECHNOLOGICAL SOVEREIGNTY – What should Europe be
investing in? And how can Europe avoid becoming hostage to the
technological choices made by multinationals giants for multinational
giants.

In the spirit of self-organisation, these policy papers should be discussed among DiEMers at the local level, who will, at a later point in time, compile all questions, comments and ideas to be sent to a dedicated DiEM comitee who will, in turn, submit a Policy Paper Proposal to the DiEM Assembly.

We therefore invite you to participate in the first lecture of the DCU Amsterdam and learn all you can about the Green New Deal. You don’t know what the New Deal refers to? Or why banking is concerned by a Green New Deal? Or why such a deal is being put forward at all? This lecture is for you!

We are not about consensus, we are about informing; we are not about political ideologies, we are about educating ourselves. And remember: everyone is welcome!

Looking forward to meeting you soon!

DCU Amsterdam

 

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VU University Amsterdam – Thu Aug 25th 20:00-22:00 hrs. (Room F-123 at Gebouw Exacte Wetenschappen W&N; see directions coming from station Amsterdam Zuid on map above)