23nd Karlsruhe Dialogues - Abstracts
Prof. Dr. Tanja Bueltmann
While ‘Global Britain’ is a slogan cited often in the context of Brexit, people from the constituent nations of the United Kingdom have shown great wanderlust for centuries. During the nineteenth-century age of mass migration, migrants from the United Kingdom were — in their millions — going out into the world as adventurers, economic migrants and exiles. They took their skills, language and cultural practices with them in the same way migrants do today.
Within this wider context this lecture charts key aspects of British migration history from c. 1707 to 1920. In particular, the lecture will focus on immigrant networks and associations to explore how British migrants made home in new worlds and examine their contributions. In the age of Brexit, one in which migrants are a central focus of populist othering, this historical perspective provides important context to inform our thinking about present-day United Kingdom identity politics.
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Kaschuba
In the modern age it is the towns and cities, and above all the big cities, that become the centres and living environments of minority groups and cultural styles. Because only here can actors and ways of life that are socially and culturally ‘different’ reach the critical mass and social respect that they need for their public constitution and their long-term survival. This is why European metropolises are just as lastingly influenced by minority cultures as these metropolises in turn have influenced the minorities as typical urban and cosmopolitan cultural formations.
This has led to the combination of cultural diversity, social openness and political freedom that nowadays so consistently characterises urban life as a migration-influenced and civil-society project. And which makes such an environment so attractive, especially to young adults, as a free space for their own lifestyles and life concepts. Particularly in the last two decades urban groups have here taken on more and new responsibility for the community and the public good, and in the process also demanded more communal participation.
However, this positive development now seems threatened by the politics of social division, which arises above all in the political right and polemicises against this open urban society. Against the ‘alien’ or ‘non-national’ nature of migrants, against homosexuals, against ‘rootless cosmopolitans’ and against the ‘corrupt lying press’. There is a threat of reversal in the historical urban-rural relationship, in which social changes and new freedoms in the cities have constantly influenced the course steered by society into the future. Hence, the lecture argues that a resolute and joint opposition is required against this more or less culturally revisionist political trend, which explicitly also turns against communal initiatives and cultural institutions.
Despite the efforts by the United Nations to make the Sustainable Development Goals a truly universal agenda, the level of knowledge and awareness varies enormously among different audiences across the world.
It is just an example of the difficulty of building a global audience, even when it is overwhelmingly clear – and generally accepted – that the magnitude of global challenges can only be addressed globally.
Several reasons help to explain that reality: the traditional prevalence of local and national news and interest over regional or international, the existential crisis of the media industry, the emergence of social media, the role of fake news and disinformation, and the resulting loss of trust in media organizations, a fragmented media landscape, the rebellion against experts…
But technology and new communication tools have also fostered champions to help create a global conscience about specific global challenges. Traditional and new media can and must play an important role in identifying and giving voice to those champions. At the same time, citizens and societies are no longer passive actors; they, we, have the means, and the obligation to take an active role in changing attitudes towards global challenges.
Prof. Dr. Olaf Schwencke
To begin I would like to remind you of the following: on 19 February 1945 the survivors of the Buchenwald/Weimar concentration camp, people deported from all countries occupied by the Germans and liberated a few days earlier by the Americans, vowed ‘to fight for a world of peace and freedom and democracy’. This world is reality in Europe – and it has been for over 70 years. Will it stay that way? Do we have a stable and reliable society of responsibility? Are we not simultaneously seeing the growth of nationalism, also in member states of the EU? Is economic and political protectionism not gaining ground within Europe, too? Are widespread policies of isolationism not evident, especially against migrants and other ‘aliens’? And in general terms: is the process of globalisation not being accompanied by an ongoing weakening of social community and institutions? One fatal and symptomatic fact in the political arena: according to its election manifesto, the party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) wants to abolish the European Parliament (EP)! Since it was directly elected for the first time in 1979 the EP has been a guarantor of democracy; it has set new standards for freedom and freedom of movement, ensures the separation of powers and the rule of law (Treaty of Lisbon), and promotes prosperity for all citizens of the 27 member states. Without freely elected parliaments there is no democracy, no freedom and no rule of law – and here the EP has a global responsibility that extends beyond the borders of Europe! The ‘vow of Buchenwald’ reminds and admonishes us all to uphold the precious commodities of freedom and democracy. This is something for which we bear responsibility.
Prof. Dr. J.P. Singh
A central concern in international development is the gap between development practices as imagined by international organisations and the everyday lives of people in the developing world. This presentation will outline three ways in which the gap narrows or widens depending on the degree of participation, paternalism, and pragmatism in global governance processes. UNESCO reveals an enlightened humanism that unravels in paternalistic and impractical ways. The World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) main approach toward the developing world has been paternalistic, resulting in non-reciprocal hand-outs, despite participatory pressures from the developing world’s economic actors. The World Bank is best poised to narrow the global-local cultural distance with approaches that can be pragmatic and participatory, though that is not always the case. The presentation will provide qualitative and quantitative evidence from the three international organisations.
Prof. Dr. N. Craig Smith
We are often quick to blame companies for misdeeds – VW for the emissions scandal or BP for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill – but are we right to do so? Can we really identify a corporation or any other business entity as a moral agent that can intend actions and be held accountable for its decisions? Can it act autonomously, form moral judgments and respond in light of those judgments? Should we instead say that responsibility rests solely with the individuals involved? Drawing on his book, The Moral Responsibility of Firms (with Eric W. Orts, 2017), he will explore the arguments for and against the idea of corporate moral agency, including different legal positions (e.g. Germany vs. the USA) and the implications of our conclusions on the question.
Prof. Dr. Timothy Snyder
With the end of the Cold War, the victory of liberal democracy seemed final. Observers declared the ‘end of history’, confident in a peaceful, globalized future. This faith was misplaced. Authoritarianism returned to Russia, as Putin found fascist ideas that could be used to justify rule by the wealthy. In the 2010s, it has spread from east to west, aided by Russian warfare in Ukraine and cyberwar in Europe and the United States. Russia found allies among nationalists, oligarchs, and radicals everywhere, and its drive to dissolve Western institutions, states, and values found resonance within the West itself. The rise of populism, the British vote against the EU, and the election of Donald Trump were all Russian goals, but their achievement reveals the vulnerability of Western societies. Snyder goes beyond the headlines to expose the true nature of the threat to democracy and law. To understand the challenge is to see, and perhaps renew, the fundamental political virtues offered by tradition and demanded by the future. By revealing the stark choices before us – between equality or oligarchy, individuality or totality, truth and falsehood – Snyder restores our understanding of the basis of our way of life, offering a way forward in a time of terrible uncertainty.
Peace, liberality, security, prosperity – these are the pillars on which modern society is built, and which are indivisibly linked with the European Union. But political developments in the individual member states show that the EU is in crisis! Brexit, seclusion and populism are key terms that clearly reveal the growing tendency to reject the European idea. The common union of values seems to be disintegrating! In order to ensure the continuation and the strength of the union, it is now time to take on responsibility and to work actively to uphold the union. The lecture shows the possibilities for active political engagement, taking the example of the pro-European party Young European Spirit (!YES) which was founded in October 2018. Even though the attribute ‘Young’ in the name of the party refers to the ‘European Spirit’, the decision-makers of the party are themselves young, aged just 22 and 23. What possibilities, opportunities, and also challenges does the foundation of a party involve? What moves young people to engage politically and to take on responsibility? What goal has the party set itself? !YES serves as a model for answering these questions.
Prof. Dr. Mirjam van Reisen
A new modus operandi of human trafficking has emerged in the last decade, connected to the use of new technology. This connection is insufficiently understood. The globalisation of ICT (information and communications technology) is often set out as an equal architecture that enlightens and enhances lives everywhere, or has the potential to do so. Van Reisen will put forward the alternative argument that the global architecture of ICT, built on the domination of the one-directional Information Society, includes ‘black holes’, social places of communities, which – for different reasons –, cannot participate within communication facilitated by ICT. ‘Black holes’ remain dark places, in the sense that these are not intelligible either through the internet, social media or other technological communication, but these have their own social dynamic – with a gravity that is not governed by ICT, yet relates to its existence. Van Reisen’s argument is that human trafficking for ransom emerges from ‘black holes’ and that its problem needs to be framed within a social understanding of ICT, premised on the unequal and differentiated social consequences and unintended effects that come with the introduction of ICT.