“The European Union is a dead man walking. It’s a sort of zombie, unable to decide the most important things” are the words of Franco Berardi during the meeting “In the European night. Will the union survive?”, hosted last 27th of September at Boston University. The event was organized by the Center of the Study of Europe of Boston University, as part of EU Futures, a series of conversations aimed at discussing the present and future of the European Union.
The Italian philosopher, media activist and cultural agitator Franco Berardi, also known as “Bifo”, has lived and experienced from a committed and engaged position the development of the European Union, from the vision and the birth, to the current crisis and disillusionment. What makes him now speak from such a dark and critical standpoint about the European Union is the current radicalization and emergence of right-wing movements, together with the incapacity of the Union to handle the migration flows. While the Southern European countries have to face the arrival of refugees and migrants from Syria and African countries, in France and other Eastern European countries such as Poland and Hungary the anti-European and anti-refugee positions are gaining power in the political and social sphere.
“On a pragmatic level, many things must be saved. First of all the Erasmus, the cultural exchanges and the network of solidarity. When I say that the EU is a dead man walking, I don’t refer to the administrative reality, to the day-by-day reality of the Union. I speak in political and strategical terms” tells Franco Berardi during an interview after the conference. Franco Berardi has been part of the group of intellectuals and politicians close to anti-capitalist and anti-financial positions, who although being critical of the overriding financial form that the EU has acquired, have always thought that the Union had to be saved. However, his opinion has changed in the wake of the recent events. “In the last months I started understanding that we’re selling something that is no more existing, that is an illusion. The EU will never disappear. The label will stay there, and also many economic financial exchanges will stay for the bad and for the good. The problem is that the political, the cultural and the spiritual has vanished. It cannot be restored” he says.
In his opinion a moment of deep redefinition is needed in order to save the idea and the original project of the EU. This can not happen without a clear break at the political and symbolical level. He explains however that “many day-by-day experiences and possibilities and institutions have not to disappear. These are the conditions for the launch of the project itself. […] We need a real rupture, but we need a real continuity at the same time”. During the ‘60s Franco Berardi has been one of the leading voices of the Italian autonomist and anti-authoritarian social movements. In his opinion, his generation during the social movements of the ’68 was the first to experience, even if still unaware, an European dimension. At the same time, his generation has failed to convey successfully the European project. “May ‘68 is the first moment when you see in EU a movement fighting for the same project. But we’ve been unable to think explicitly in terms of a new dimension. […] In the ‘80s and ‘90s we start becoming the leading class of Europe, especially in France and Germany. And this is a bad thing. Because we’ve forgotten the experience of the real union, and we have reinvented our place” he says.
Even if the young generation is now facing the Euro-Mediterranean backlash and has to cope with cultural and psychological difficult conditions, he sees in this generation the starting point for a change, and the potential to develop the “new subjectivity” for the future that can trigger a change. He calls it the “collective generation”, which is made of people that has experienced the world through the computer screen. Franco Berardi has always been aware of the power of communication and of the media, since his participation in ’76 to the creation Radio Alice, one of the first free radio stations in Italy. The political activity with the radio caused him an arrest for an alleged collaboration with the Red Brigades (an autonomous left-wing paramilitary organization active in Italy during the so-called “Years of Lead”). Following the active protest organized by the radio, he was released after one month but he soon moved to France because facing charges for his political activity. In his books and last works he has reflected thoroughly about the role and potential of the new media and the global connections of our world. “It’s not just a problem of rethinking the EU, but a problem of rethinking the future for the collective generation” he says.
With this perspective in mind, he clearly states that the dark that has fallen on Europe is the same that has fallen on the US, and that these two worlds have never been so close as now. “We’re facing the same abyss, that is the abyss of fascism. Fascism is the danger of violence, racism and of depression. I see a strong connection between the white male depression and the resurfacing of racist violence. In the past racism was the effect of a sort of superiority complex. Now is the contrary. White people, especially in the US, are lost. Heroin is booming in the Mid West at an incredible level. It has increased fivefold in the last 10 years, essentially among white middle age middle class” he tells. His concern about the situation of US does not have only to do with the current political positions brought by the candidate Donald Trump. “I don’t know if Trump will win or not. I hope not! But anyway what Trump represents is here. It will not be canceled, the problem is here because is the problem of the white male depression” says Franco Berardi.
Referring to the role of US, he points out the central position of what he calls the “Global Silicon Valley”. With this term he does not refer to the factories, infrastructures and technologies, but to the millions of young people working inside the machine, that are connected throughout the world and that could be the subjectivity of the future. When asked about the future of US, he says that “US is the physical center of a process that is deployed worldwide. Here the distance between the new possible connecting subjectivity and the reality of racism is more evident”. He goes on explaining that probably the US is the place where the new vision will rise. “I believe in the future of North America, although I see it is in a deep danger. I believe because the multicultural reality is an irreversible fact, here much more than in Europe. You cannot say here that you can make a wall. It’s not a problem of a physical barrier! America doesn’t exist without the multiplicity of cultural forms. It’s going to be -and it’s already- a situation of civil war, but it’s going to oblige people to invite a new dimension of multiculturality, coexistence and reinvention. It’s not a problem of resistance. It’s a problem of forgetting identity. What is the way for a non-identitarian self-perception?” he wonders.
During the conference, he claims that is necessary to reactivate our realistic brain, and to connect it to the imagination of the possible. Despite he says that there is the possibility to imagine something realistic, and that he does not like to believe in utopias, at the end of his talk he has to field the questions coming from the audience asking which practical solutions he could propose. During his talk he had expressed clearly the problem of overproduction that concerns the entire word. Related to this, one of the practical solutions for starting a change is the introduction of basic income. In our world where production could mainly carried out just by machines and robots, he claims that there is finally the opportunity to reduce working time and cut the production, because we have already too much. Nevertheless, even if we do not need to work anymore, we look at this as a dark perspective. For this reason the process towards the basic income should be the focal point, together with the reactivation of social links, re-giving birth to what he calls “the erotic social meetings of people on the streets”. In this process the “cognitive class”, the intellectuals, play also an important role for a rupture with the current dark present. “We need a social movement, millions of people walking in the streets and reactivating their ability to vitalize the city and revitalize their social relations, and at the same time bring this social energy inside the online dimension” he explains.
Even if it could seem just visionary, the vision of Franco Berardi could at the same time be translated in a very clear and detailed project. “The next movement should be about basic income. […] What is salary? We have to question the modern superstition that says if you want to eat you have to work eight hours at my conditions. I understand for a period of human history have been necessary. We cannot think anymore in terms of salary, but in terms of right to life. Because it’s possible, not just right! And where you find the money? You print the money! The problem is steel, corn, oil, the physical and semiotic goods that we need and already have. What is blocked is our possibility to access these goods, because small class of criminals is forbidding the majority of the human kind to have what they deserve, because this is the only the way in which they can increase their profit”. The general process of change, rebirth and rupture with the past would not be probably an easy and harmless one. In order to change the current trends he explains that also re-appropriation could be necessary. “We go to the supermarket and we take what we need! Organizing a huge movement of re-appropriation would mean violence probably, but violence will be the common ground of understanding in the next ten years. The next step, a peaceful or non-peaceful way has to be with the creation of a movement for social reappropiation. More than on violence, it’s based on solidarity. The real point is not to be strong, the problem is to be together, with many people, to gain the majority of society at this level” he says. “Those workers who are shifting towards racism position, they are not fascist in their heart. The majority of them are simply people who need basic income. The problem is not rejecting two millions of Africans and Syrians. What is two millions people in a continent of half billion people? Nothing! If you organize that process, with no fear. The problem is not there. It’s basic income”.
The event that we eagerly look forward to each year has finally arrived; the Global Programs Photo Contest. Last year 311 of you submitted a total of 806 photos! It was not easy choosing the 12 finalists; there were so many amazing shots. As we anticipate the judging won’t be getting any easier this year, we are thrilled that Professor Peter Southwick, Director of the Photojournalism Program at COM, has agreed to be one of the judges again. We cannot wait to see and share all of the inspirational experiences the BU community is photographing around the city and the world.
This year’s theme is Changing Perspectives. We are looking for images that evoke how your global experience changed your perspective. Again this can be anywhere in the world including Boston. We are asking for a brief write up (one to two paragraphs maximum) to accompany each entry describing the impact the experience had on you and how your perspective has changed.
We will be posting selected submissions throughout the contest to our Instagram account @buglobalprograms.
The Contest: All members of the BU community are eligible to submit up to three photos from global experiences they have had through their affiliation with the University. Top three judged photos will win a prize and be featured on the Global Programs website. (All submitted photos may be used online, in print publications, or displayed on campus.)
Submissions Accepted: Monday, March 14 – Friday March 25, 2016
Winners Announced: Tuesday April 5, 2016
1st Place: GoPro HERO4 SILVER Starter Bundle (valued at $376)
2nd Place: rotation180° Horizon Backpack with rotating beltpack for camera (valued at $259)
3rd Place: Travel preparedness kit includes foldable solar backpack, international converter and compact power bank (valued at $94)
Taxes, where applicable, are the sole responsibility of the winner.
Please carefully read the submission instructions to make sure that your photos are eligible.
Daniela Caruso, long time professor at Boston University School of Law, has been awarded the prestigious Jean Monnet Chair. A teaching post combined with an Erasmus+ grant, the Jean Monnet Chair is offered to highly qualified professors and senior lecturers with a wide experience base and deep focus on European integration studies.
The Jean Monnet project aims to widen the scope of research on EU-related topics, enhance education and teacher training, and prepare future professionals to engage with matters of European integration in the global labor market. The contract for the project runs for three years, during which time European higher education institutions work in tandem with the Jean Monnet awardees and benefit from the chair-holder’s rich expertise in the area of European studies.
Responsibilities as the Chair-holder
In addition to providing at least 90 teaching hours per academic year, as the chair-holder Professor Caruso will conduct several conferences, seminars, and workshops for students and others across disciplines interested in European Union studies.
“Besides reinforcing the ‘law’ dimension of EU studies at BU, both in the School of Law and through interdisciplinary collaboration with students and colleagues of the College of Arts and Sciences,” says Caruso, “by 2018 I aim to complete a research project concerning the distributive effects of trade between Europe and its former African colonies, looking not only at external trade but also at the trade-diverting effects of the EU’s internal market.”
The project, Caruso explains, relates to the present need to coordinate EU and US policies vis-à-vis Africa —hopefully as part of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations. At a scholarly level, the project aims to bridge trade theory with currently understudied empirical findings. More broadly, it aims to participate in the ongoing debate on global justice, currently characterized by a tension between cosmopolitan aspirations and traditional models of nationally bounded solidarity.
BU’s focus in European Union studies
Daniela Caruso, winner of the Melton Teaching Award at BU Law and twice appointed Harvey Gregory Lecturer on International Organizations at Harvard Law School, is the second professor from BU to have been awarded a Jean Monnet Chair. Vivien A. Schmidt, professor of international relations and political science, was named Jean Monnet professor of European Integration in 2001 and founding director of BU’s Center for the Study of Europe in 2011. “Thanks to the masterful example and warm encouragement of Professor Vivien Schmidt, I applied for the Jean Monnet Chair,” says Caruso. “Her high scholarly profile has enabled BU to set up a Center for the Study of Europe (now a part of the Pardee School of Global Studies). The award of the chair allows me to enhance the center’s visibility and to reinforce the ‘law’ aspect of European studies at BU.”
Grant analyst and the center’s assistant director, Elizabeth Amrien, whose efforts since 2002 have been fundamental to strengthening the University’s reach in Europe, further elaborates: “the Center for the Study of Europe builds on the work of the Institute for Human Sciences at Boston University (2002–2009), attracts outstanding visiting scholars, hosts remarkable events, and regularly receives external funding.”
Last October, the Center hosted a TTIP symposium, in which Caruso participated along with fellow EU law scholar Fernanda Nicola. This January, as chair of the European Law Section of the American Association of Law Schools, Caruso convened a panel of renowned legal scholars to address the Refugee Crisis in the Mediterranean—currently the most urgent European problem and a mirror of many flaws in the EU’s design and in global governance. Building on these initiatives, this semester Caruso is convening a Europe and Law speaker series, in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Europe.
Caruso’s projects at BU Law
Well known for her scholarship in contracts, international and comparative law, and with a doctorate in Comparative Law from the University of Florence (Italy), Professor Caruso’s wide experience in European integration studies makes her an apt choice for the chair. She has authored papers that have been published in premier global publications on topics ranging from the implications of European Integration for social legislation to the role of private law in the political transformation of supranational institutions. Caruso has also undertaken several pro bono initiatives around special education law and residential mental health units.
Among other subjects, Professor Caruso teaches a course at BU on European Union Law and conducts a seminar on International Trade Regulation through the Lens of the TTIP. “The ongoing integration of the legal systems of many European states provides us with a number of lessons that can and should inform the most important theoretical debates of our times,” says Caruso. She further explains that when all regulatory controls over the cross-border movement of goods, services, persons, and capital come to be seen as potential obstacles to trade, to be vetted through supranational scrutiny and not just determined by sovereign nations, multiple difficulties arise: the possibility of democratic decision making, the viability of the welfare state, and the very idea of wealth redistribution under the heading of solidarity change meaning and lose much of their traditional substance.
Caruso believes the phenomenon is by no means peculiarly European. Every project of trade integration through internationally binding agreements, including the TTIP and theTrans-Pacific Partnership, foreshadows such difficulties.
“The study of the European experiment—a most elaborate and advanced example of integrated laws and markets—offers a fantastic opportunity to see how far and how deeply globalization is transforming, for better or worse, the way law is carried out,” says Caruso. “It has been a true pleasure, year after year, to focus with my students and through my research on the unfolding of such transformations.”
Further details regarding Professor Caruso’s project activities as the Jean Monnet chair holder can be found on her blog.
Reported by Indira Priyadarshini (COM’16).
Igor Lukes, Professor of International Relations and History at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, discussed Henry Kissinger’s February trip to Moscow in a recent interview.
From the translated segment:
Kissinger is very fond of all sorts of secret missions and visits. He practiced them back in the 1970s, when he was head of the American diplomacy. That’s how he was preparing a sensational President Nixon’s visit to Beijing last.
Then pensioner Kissinger in the Kremlin showed up without the knowledge of the State Department and the US Embassy in Moscow. He offered to Mikhail Gorbachev a kind of an agreement, under which the US would recognize the “legitimate interests” of the USSR in Eastern Europe and would not interfere in the affairs thence, and in exchange, the Kremlin has pledged not to use force in the region.
You can listen to the entire segment here.
Igor Lukes writes primarily about Central Europe. His publications deal with the interwar period, the Cold War, and contemporary developments in East Central Europe and Russia. His work has won the support of various other institutions, including Fulbright, Fulbright-Hays, the Woodrow Wilson Center, IREX, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 1997 Lukes won the Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching at Boston University.
Originally posted here.
Laurence Tubiana, France’s Special Representative to the Paris climate change talks last December spoke publicly for the first time on Feb. 8 at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, providing an inside account of the progress made during the negotiations.
After providing a detailed account of the negotiations, Amb. Tubiana was joined by Dean Adil Najam of the Pardee School and Pardee Center Director Anthony Janetos for a discussion about the climate talks. The moderated discussion included a question-and-answer session with the audience.
Tubiana’s talk, the panel and the question-and-answer session can be viewed here.
Tubiana was the featured speaker at the event titled “The Paris Climate Deal: An Inside Account of How It Happened,” co-sponsored by the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies and the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at Boston University. Some 100 people turned out on a snowy afternoon for the talk.
A globally recognized expert on climate and development issues, Amb. Tubiana was a key architect of the Paris climate deal and a leading figure in coordinating the 2015 global climate change negotiations. A New York Times article profiled her role combining expertise in international diplomacy, French hospitality, and a detailed knowledge of the issues to set the stage that led to the historic agreement.
Originally posted here.
With so many great EU events in DC, you need a phone app to keep track of them all! Our EU Events app is now ready to download, available in the iPhone App store and Android Google Play.
The “EU in the U.S. Events” app is your ultimate guide to events organized by the Delegation of the European Union to the United States, EU Member States, and partner organizations.
Events from the EU Delegation include:
- Conversations in Culture featuring different cultural presentations from various EU countries;
- EU Rendez-Vous focusing on substantive policy areas;
- EU Embassies’ Open House opening their doors to the public;
- European Month of Culture, filled with art, dance, theater, exhibits and many more cultural presentations throughout May;
- Kids’ Euro Festival-designed for children of all ages-each fall;
- EU/AFI Film Festival presenting a wide variety of European films to DC metro audiences.
- Member State Events organized by one or more of our 28 Member States Embassies and/or Consulates in the United States;
- Partner Events including the European Institute, the Atlantic Council, European-American Chambers of Commerce, and many more.
Please note, we are still updating the app and continue to improve the user experience. Tweet us your suggestions: @EUintheUS
On January 27, Vivien Schmidt, Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies Professor of International Relations and Political Science and Executive Director for the Center for the Study of Europe, provided her perspective on WBUR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook in a segment entitled “Europe’s Open Borders Under Pressure.”
In her interview, alongside journalists Ryan Heath and Tom Nuttall, Schmidt and Ashbrook addressed the quandary Europe’s refugees are facing in a discussion about the potential suspension of Schengen open borders.
According to Schmidt, the border-closing flirtation may signify the unraveling of the European Union dream. “There’s no question that the dream may be coming undone,” details Schmidt, “but I think it’s important to recognize that the dream has already been tarnished. Before this crisis, we’ve had a crisis of economics, and an ongoing crisis of politics.”
Ashbrook and Schmidt went on to explain how there are extremist right-wing, nationalist, populist parties (both successor parties and flash parties) in Europe that are crises in their own right.
“The People’s Party in Denmark has essentially pushed Denmark in particular on a course that has been anti-immigrant since the early 2000s,” Schmidt says. This continuation of draconian anti-immigration values discourages refugees from coming into Denmark, and while these views may seem extremist, even the social democrats are in favor—these right-wing parties are shifting the center of gravity further away from the original, open, welcoming dream of the European Union.
You can listen to the interview in its entirety here.
-Toria Rainey ’18
In a January 20th segment on Al Jazeera English, Boston University Assistant Professor of International Relations Kaija Schilde argued that addressing the current refugee crisis as it pertains to border security needed to be a priority for all of Europe.
Schilde talks about European Council President Donald Tusk’s recent announcement that the EU must deal with the refugee crisis in “no more than two month” or face the collapse of its passport-free Schengen zone.
“Schengen is at risk and the EU is at risk, and I agree with the two-month time frame, that this has to be something immediate,” adds Schilde, “but what I disagree with is the idea that the EU has to have more border security or that the states have to have more security by reintroducing border control, that’s almost a nineteenth-century solution to a twenty-first-century problem.”
According to Schilde, a potential solution to this problem lies in strengthening internal security, possibly even creating an “EU FBI” to address these internal crises.
To learn more about Schilde and her research interests, click here.
-Toria Rainey, ‘18
Vivien Schmidt was interviewed recently by Hungarian news outlet HVG (World Economy Weekly) on Europe’s refugee fears and populist responses to threat of terrorism on both sides of the Atlantic. The interview was published in two parts on January 4 and on January 6.
The interview appears to have been widely read in Hungary, as the number of comments on both publications suggest. Zsolt Bayer, a co-founder of Fidesz and a friend of Viktor Orbán referenced the interview in one of his recent pieces arguing that it is an emblematic example of a conspiracy between the so called Western professors and the so called journalists which exemplifies the European left’s flawed way of thinking and the international leftist propaganda that tries to convince people that multiculturalism is something good.
The Netherlands will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from 1 January to 30 June 2016. It wants a Union that focuses on the essentials, creates growth and jobs through innovation, and connects with civil society. #EU2016NL