On Friday 24 February 2017, DiEM25 Belfast and the Crescent Arts Centre present Yanis Varoufakis for an evening of discussion on the subject of Democracy on the Edge of Europe.
Varoufakis came to wide public attention as the Greek Minister of Finance in 2015 and played a prominent role in Syriza’s negotiations with the European Union and Greece’s creditors. He is a leading figure in the new, political movement DiEM25 with “One very simple, but radical, idea: to democratise Europe.”
As Northern Ireland struggles with a future outside of the EU – a future that its people did not choose – it is time for democrats of all stripes to play a role in shaping the political structures that govern us. Like nowhere else in Europe, Northern Ireland has experienced the acute ramifications of a contested border and continues to suffer at the hands of those who promote xenophobia and division over equality and cohesion. To add to this, the Northern Ireland Assembly has recently had to call elections due to a damaging political scandal, which exemplifies both the problems with and the opposition to western liberal democracies in the twenty-first century.
In the first part of the program, Dutch politicians will discuss Europe and discuss why Europe is not (yet) a topic in the Dutch elections. Speakers include Alexander Rinnooij Kan (D66), Kathalijne Buitenweg (former MEP, #2 for Groen Links in the coming elections) and Renske Leijten (SP).
In the second part of the program, Varoufakis and the Dutch DiEM25 team will present the ‘European New Deal’, a plan for a new European politics. There is room for questions from the audience.
Moderator: Chris Keulemans
This event is a cooperation of DiEM25 with Paradiso.
A Symposium on the Future of Politics in Times of Populism
Tue 18 04 2017
18:00 with ÁGNES HELLER, SREĆKO HORVAT, SASKIA SASSEN
21:00 Performance by MICHAEL PORTNOY
Wed 19 04 2017
18:00 with TARIQ ALI, ANDREAS SPEIT
21:00 Performance by LAIBACH
In English and German
A seismic shock coupled with fear has seized the worldwide political landscape. Since the US presidential election and the UK’s vote to leave the EU, populist positions that until recently lurked in obscurity on the margins of democracy are abruptly gaining centrality. On the horizon appears not only a possible collapse of the EU but also a worldwide victory of authoritarian systems. Propaganda, hate speech, and attacks on minorities are suddenly becoming commonplace again. Is a new fascism imminent with the mainstream entry of right-wing nationalist positions? Or do different variations of fascism spread themselves out in a diversity of national flavours, whether in Europe or in the USA?
The conference takes up the title of a recently published book by the British historian Tariq Ali. It almost seems as though capitalism no longer needs democracy. Replacing the once reliable political categories of “left” and “right”, the “extreme centre” has emerged—a neoliberal consensus that, according to Ali, is distinguished primarily through a compliant service to the market.
Are Western democracies committing political suicide by increasingly adopting right-wing nationalist positions? What do these alarming developments mean for politics, society, and culture? Which arguments can curb the infamy of fabricated “facts,” a political rhetoric that disrespects all established democratic playing rules? Where can economic and political solutions be found and what do they look like?
Renowned sociologists, philosophers, theoreticians, and activists will meet in April in Cologne for a two-day conference to discuss these questions. Participants are Hungarian philosopher Ágnes Heller, Croatian philosopher and activist Srećko Horvat, and American sociologist Saskia Sassen on 18 04 2017; and British Pakistani historian and author Tariq Ali, Belgian political theorist Chantal Mouffe, and German journalist and writer Andreas Speit on 19 04 2017. In close cooperation with regional universities, a student support program offering intensive workshops and discussions will complement the symposium. For this initiative, the Academy has issued an EU-wide Open Call.
Updated information at www.academycologne.org
TARIQ ALI, born in 1943, is a writer, historian and filmmaker. He counts as one of the most important voices of the European left, writes regularly for The Guardian and the London Review of Books and is co-editor of the New Left Review. In Germany, he writes for the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung about the political situation in the Near and Middle East. Ali lives in London.
SASKIA SASSEN, born in 1949, is an American sociologist and economist. Known for her research on globalization and international migration, she is currently a professor at Columbia University in New York and a visiting professor at the London School of Economics. Sassen coined the term global city.
ÁGNES HELLER, born in 1929, is a Hungarian philosopher and a Holocaust survivor. She worked with Georg Lukács and became Hannah Arendt’s successor as chair for philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York in 1986. Recently she positioned herself clearly against the policies of the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
ANDREAS SPEIT, born in 1966, is a German journalist and author who has specialized in right-wing extremism and neo-nazism in Germany. In October 2016, his new book Bürgerliche Scharfmacher: Deutschlands neue rechte Mitte – von AfD bis Pegida (Middle-class stirrers: Germany’s new right-wing centre – from AfD to Pegida) was published. Speit lives in Hamburg.
SRECKO HORVAT, born in 1983, is a Croatian philosopher and activist. He worked with Slavoj Žižek and Yanis Varoufakis and is active in the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM 2025). He writes regularly for The Guardian and The New York Times. Horvat will be in Cologne as a Fellow of the Academy of the Arts of the World in April and May 2017, and is co-curator of the symposium „The Extreme Centre“.