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...and never the two shall meet?

Nationalism in Belgium might be different from nationalism in Ukraine, but if we want to understand the current European crisis and how to overcome it we need to take both into account. The debate series "Europe talks to Europe" is an attempt to turn European intellectual debate into a two-way street.

At the "Europe talks to Europe" debate in Bucharest in March 2010, Romanian economist and former minister of finance Daniel Daianu was asked whether the financial crisis has opened up a new divide between western and eastern Europe. He protested loudly. It might very well be that the crisis initially re-awoke perceptions in the West of eastern Europe as unruly and unpredictable, but today the concerns lie elsewhere, he said. The real and much more dangerous dividing line runs between the relatively stable economies north of the Alps and the southern members of the Eurozone. Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain are the problem children of today, not the new member states.

Debate series



Nationalism in Belgium might be different from nationalism in Ukraine, but if we want to understand the current European crisis and how to overcome it we need to take both into account. The debate series "Europe talks to Europe" is an attempt to turn European intellectual debate into a two-way street.

From Autumn 2009 to Spring 2011, Eurozine organized a series of public debates in cities across central and eastern Europe, including Budapest, Bratislava, Brno, Bucharest, Lviv, Sofia, Warsaw and Vienna. A cooperation with ERSTE Foundation.

Read all the debates in the series.
As far as the economy goes, Daniel Daianu might be right: the North-South divide is indeed a worrying development that seems to threaten not only the Monetary Union but the European integration project as a whole. However that does not mean that the gulf between East and West has been bridged – especially not in the world of letters and ideas. While the 2004 and 2007 enlargements, incorporating ten central and eastern European countries into the EU, have had positive and equalizing effects on the economy, they have done little to change the fact that western intellectuals and pundits dominate the international public sphere. It is still difficult for writers, journalists, philosophers, historians, sociologists, political analysts and theorists from central and eastern Europe to get an audience outside their home countries. Western Europeans don't seem to be interested.

The exchange of articles within the Eurozine network is, unfortunately, no exception to this rule. The number of texts originally published in western European journals being translated and republished in magazines in eastern and central Europe far exceeds the number of articles travelling in the other direction.

Needless to say, this has little or nothing to do with the quality of analysis. It has to do with what historical, social and political experiences are considered to be universal. And perhaps with indifference.

One of the aims of "Europe talks to Europe", the round of public discussions that make up the core of the second volume in the Eurozine im:print series, is to integrate discourses that are still confined to the margins of intellectual Europe into a common European exchange of opinions and arguments. Each event featured a "local" and an "international" protagonist, discussing a topic of regional as well as general relevance.

All these discussions – on issues ranging from the limits of multiculturalism to Marxism as analytical tool and political perspective, from citizens' trust in the political system and the future of democracy to politics of memory and cross-border journalism – illustrate the importance of a communal space transcending national boundaries, where arguments and analyses based on diverging historical experiences can be formulated. While Marxism has strong critical potential in western Europe, many eastern European intellectuals regard it as a totalitarian relic. Both perspectives are part of the European intellectual legacy. Nationalism in Belgium might be very different from nationalism in Ukraine, but if we want to understand the current European crisis and how to overcome it we need to take both into account.

The first debate in this series, however, appeared to be an East-East affair. Under the heading "Dilemma '89", Slovak author and journalist Martin M. Simecka met Hungarian architect, former politician and dissident LˇszlŰ Rajk in Budapest to discuss the legacy of communism both as family history and public issue.

It was a riveting discussion, touching on many of the sore points in recent European history. For example, when LˇszlŰ Rajk noted that the failure to deal with the communist past is not an exclusively eastern European phenomenon. "What about the western '68ers who waved their little red books?" he asked, as if expecting an official apology. But it's not a matter of apologizing, Simecka countered. It's about what really happened. It's about giving the younger generation a chance not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

This was one of the most inspiring accounts of the causes and consequences of that historical moment in the fall of 1989 that I heard during the whole anniversary year 2009.

An eastern European thing? Think again!

 



Published 14.03.11


Original in English
First published in Eurozine

© Carl Henrik Fredriksson
© Eurozine
 

Focal points     click for more

Ukraine in focus

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/publicsphere.html
Ten years after the Orange Revolution, Ukraine is in the throes of yet another major struggle. Eurozine provides commentary on events as they unfold and further articles from the archive providing background to the situation in today's Ukraine. [more]

The ends of democracy

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/democracy.html
At a time when the global pull of democracy has never been stronger, the crisis of democracy has become acute. Eurozine has collected articles that make the problems of democracy so tangible that one starts to wonder if it has a future at all, as well as those that return to the very basis of the principle of democracy. [more]

Russia in global dialogue

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/eurocrisis.html
In the two decades after the end of the Cold War, intellectual interaction between Russia and Europe has intensified. It has not, however, prompted a common conversation. The focal point "Russia in global dialogue" seeks to fuel debate on democracy, society and the legacy of empire. [more]

Hungary

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/eurocrisis.html
In recent years, Hungary has been a constant concern for anyone interested in European politics. We have collected articles published in Eurozine on recent developments in Hungary and broader issues relating to Hungarian politics, history and culture. [more]

The public sphere in the making

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/publicsphere.html
The public sphere is not something given; it is made - over and over again. But which actors are involved and what roles do they play? Is there a difference between an intellectual and an expert? And in which media or public space does the debate take place? [more]

The EU: Broken or just broke?

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/eurocrisis.html
Brought on by the global economic recession, the eurocrisis has been exacerbated by serious faults built into the monetary union. Contributors discuss whether the EU is not only broke, but also broken -- and if so, whether Europe's leaders are up to the task of fixing it. [more]

Time to Talk     click for more

Time to Talk, a network of European Houses of Debate, has partnered up with Eurozine to launch a new online platform. Here you can watch video highlights from all TTT events, anytime, anywhere.
Robert Skidelsky
The Eurozone crisis: A Keynesian response

http://www.eurozine.com/timetotalk/the-eurozone-crisis-a-keynesian-response/
Political economist and Keynes biographer Robert Skidelsky explains the reasons for the failure of the current anti-crisis policy and how Europe can start to grow again. Listen to the full debate organized by Krytyka Polityczna. [more]

Support Eurozine     click for more

If you appreciate Eurozine's work and would like to support our contribution to the establishment of a European public sphere, see information about making a donation.

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Editor's choice     click for more

Marcus Rediker
Ghosts on the waterfront

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2012-07-27-rediker-en.html
Historian Marcus Rediker describes the sailing ship as linchpin of the emergent transatlantic economic order and instrument of terror for slaves transported from Africa, going on to discuss European harbour cities' role in the slave trade and their responsibilities in reckoning with its moral legacy. [more]

Literature     click for more

Olga Tokarczuk
A finger pointing at the moon

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2014-01-16-tokarczuk-en.html
Our language is our literary destiny, writes Olga Tokarczuk. And "minority" languages provide a special kind of sanctuary too, inaccessible to the rest of the world. But, there again, language is at its most powerful when it reaches beyond itself and starts to create an alternative world. [more]

Piotr Kiezun, Jaroslaw Kuisz
Literary perspectives special: Witold Gombrowicz

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2013-08-16-kuisz-en.html
The recent publication of the private diary of Witold Gombrowicz provides unparalleled insight into the life of one of Poland's great twentieth-century novelists and dramatists. But this is not literature. Instead: here he is, completely naked. [more]

Literary perspectives
The re-transnationalization of literary criticism

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/literaryperspectives.html
Eurozine's series of essays aims to provide an overview of diverse literary landscapes in Europe. Covered so far: Croatia, Sweden, Austria, Estonia, Ukraine, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, the Netherlands and Hungary. [more]

Debate series     click for more

Europe talks to Europe

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/europetalkstoeurope.html
Nationalism in Belgium might be different from nationalism in Ukraine, but if we want to understand the current European crisis and how to overcome it we need to take both into account. The debate series "Europe talks to Europe" is an attempt to turn European intellectual debate into a two-way street. [more]

Conferences     click for more

Eurozine emerged from an informal network dating back to 1983. Since then, European cultural magazines have met annually in European cities to exchange ideas and experiences. Around 100 journals from almost every European country are now regularly involved in these meetings.
Making a difference. Opinion, debate and activism in the public sphere
The 25th European Meeting of Cultural Journals
Oslo, 29 November - 2 December 2013

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/oslo2013.html
Under the heading "Making a difference. Opinion, debate and activism in the public sphere", the 2013 Eurozine conference focused on cultural and intellectual debate and the production of the public sphere. [more]

Multimedia     click for more

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/multimedia.html
Multimedia section including videos of past Eurozine conferences in Vilnius (2009) and Sibiu (2007). [more]


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