David Van Reybrouck

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2 November 2011

G1000 Manifesto

If the politicians can’t find a solution, let the citizens. That’s the call of a group of Belgian intellectuals and activists. They have a detailed proposal: the G1000, a meeting in Brussels on 11 November 2011. One thousand randomly selected Belgian citizens will be given an opportunity to discuss, in all freedom, the future of their country. “Because democracy is so much more than citizens who vote and politicians who negotiate.”

Surreal rearguard state or foretaste of problems yet to come? David Van Reybrouck predicts that the underlying causes of Belgium’s political crisis will repeat themselves throughout Europe as the new media call into question established democratic practices.

Across Europe, countries are clawing back the sovereignty they once willingly sacrificed in pursuit of a collective ideal. At the beginning of 2011, Belgium – a country apparently irreparably divided along national lines – handed over the EU presidency to Hungary, where hard-edged nationalism aimed not only at minorities, but also at the loss of autonomy that accompanies political union, has gained momentum. From the point of view of European integration, these and similar developments are deeply worrying. On the other hand, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, nationalism was seen as a liberating force: in Ukraine nationalism is associated not only with the aim to break Russian influence, but also with a strong urge to join the European Union. Does it make sense at all to talk in the same terms about contemporary nationalism in East and West? Ukrainian journalist and politician Andriy Shevchenko met Belgian author David Van Reybrouck in Lviv to discuss the re-nationalization of political life in Europe. Moderated by Sofia Dyak of the Foundation Center for Urban History of East Central Europe in Lviv.