1 PUBLIC UTILITY FOUNDATION What Western societies are currently experiencing is such a profound change as the transition from the agricultural to the industrial society.
2 NOT A CRISIS? The word crisis appears to be ubiquitous in the public sphere. Identity is not given once and for all, it is constructed and reconstructed throughout one s existence. Amin Maalouf The overuse of this simplified word, and the dominating focus on the economy, contributes to the deception in our society that we are merely facing a temporary dysfunctional phase. It implies that after the crisis is solved, we will return to an illusive idea of a previous equilibrium. But we are not just facing another crisis. Oxford researchers predict that 45% of the jobs in the United States will be replaced by computer technology in the next 20 year. Instead, we are in the process of profound societal transformations and we need to understand that these changes are permanent and comparably significant to our transition from an agricultural to an industrial society. Recent fundamental shifts in our society - such as the ideological changes due to the fall of the Iron Curtain, changes in gender and family roles, the decreasing importance of institutions such as the church and other authorities, the IT (information technology) revolution, economic and financial globalisation, climate change, global media and mass communication - have broken many of the old structures, on which we based our sense of belonging, our collective identities, norms and values. Therefore, the current transformation has resulted in a feeling of disorientation and anxiety. The fragmented society leaves it up to each individual to find his own sense of identity and values. Populist movements have identified this vulnerability in our society and exploited it by filling the space with simplistic antagonistic rhetoric. These movements have created an illusionary sense of identity, based in scapegoating, i.e. the construction of an external At the beginning of the last century less than 10% of the female population formed part of the national labour force in Sweden. Today, nearly 80% of Swedish women have a job. enemy, the other. This identity-driven populism has deepened a trend towards a wide range of xenophobic micro-nationalist parties, which risks destabilising society even further. Not addressing, and consequently not understanding, the interconnectedness and the universal, permanent nature of our societal change makes such changes appear abstract and thus, threatening. We are facing a transition into a new model of society rather than a temporary dysfunctional phase. HENCE, CECI N EST PAS UNE CRISE, THIS IS NOT A CRISIS. THE CURRENT STATE AND OUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE We acknowledge the fact that our society is experiencing profound societal changes that span further and deeper than the widely discussed economic crisis and that these changes have a considerable impact on the individual s quest for identity. We stress the urgent need for a critical debate about the psycho-sociological, cultural, religious and historical aspects of the societal changes in order to counter the dangerous scapegoating of the other instigated by populist movements all over the world. Yet, acknowledging the issue is not enough, as mere awareness will not provide us with the means to effectively counter these worrying trends and protect ourselves against the exploitation of our fears and insecurities. Society is sensitive to the growing menace, yet we are facing a gaping lack of a shared response against the expanding threat of identity populists. So far we did not succeed in finding and implementing efficient counter-measures. Therefore it is our aim to go beyond debate and actively pursue strategic solutions by consolidating the expertise of all relevant actors in the field. We want to face the challenge and fill the long-overdue gap by delivering successful, practical and feasible solutions to the all-encompassing problem. We aim to mobilise and influence decision-makers in politics, economic, civil society and media to push them to act in this field. We want to contribute to the emergence of open identities and a European citizenship. This goal is not only about accepting diversity but also about appreciating all cultural, ethnic and religious aspects of the individual; as well as to perceive diversity as enriching the collective open identity. We promote the living together of all individuals, cultures, ethnicities and religions in an informed, diverse, pluralistic society.
3 OUR APPROACH Ceci n est pas une crise is a politically independent Foundation of Public Utility, which aims to stir and shape debate about identity populism, develop recommendations for decision makers, provide a dissemination and dialogue platform for exchange of research, information and best practice examples and promote existing and new counter-measures. IN LINE WITH THIS APPROACH, WE STRUCTURE OUR ACTIVITIES IN THREE GUIDELINES: UNDERSTAND We thrive to understand the roots and consequences of identity populism, providing extensive information on this topic. As existing research on identity populism is scattered and rarely concentrated, we believe that it is essential to offer a platform to gather all existing knowledge actions and theories, and allow access to all. COLLABORATE In this regard, we aim to intensify an effective collaboration between existing groups and relevant agents in civil society, politics, economy, science and media to further raise awareness in all sectors of society. One third of the global food production is wasted during production and consumption processes, nearly half of which constitutes clean, fresh food simply rejected by producers, suppliers or consumers. INVENT Our main goal is to foster solutions by actively contributing to the advancement of best practices and innovative, out-of-the-box approaches and by encouraging an exchange of experience and knowhow in the field of identity populism through the creation of a tight network of leading actors. These solutions will be developed on the basis of a range of different activities and initiatives some of which are well-known, others are more experimental and less explored. Conferences and interactive workshops: create space for reflection and creation of efficient counter-measures against identity populism and related issues. Published documents: We will regularly publish reports on our website with research articles; news and a summary of our conferences and workshops, freely accessible to all. Empirical data: We will develop indicators to measure countries according to their ability to offer a good base for the respect of diversity and equality. Charter of living together: A key document, drafted by a group of our founders and other renowned persons, will be signed by public figures from politics, economy, culture and media. Opinion surveys focused on identity and populism Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization Mahatma Ghandi In 2010 about 15% of America s married couples were intermarriages, compared to less than 2% in 1970.
4 WHY CECI N EST PAS UNE CRISE? Answers from our founders Philippe Maystadt Populist and eurosceptic tendencies constantly gain in importance; nationalism of all kind resurfaces, whether it is dominated by economic or cultural aspects; the withdrawal into individual interests or nostalgic visions of the past is widespread. Yet at the same time, the work of NGOs, the creation of associations pursuing aims of general interest, the appearance of new types of expressions, this all shows that a part of the population remains dynamic, attentive to the changing world and open to the future. Thus, we must find the ways for this potential to be fully active in the preparation of policy choices. Hence, the usefulness of a Foundation that will explain what the main challenges of the future are and why they can be met only by a more united Europe. Philippe Busquin Technological and scientific progress is advancing very fast all over the world and natural resources are limited. New paradigms are needed in order for our values of solidarity, equality and liberty to remain the basis for our democratic systems on all levels. Monica Frassoni I have always respected my political rivals and their ideologies, knowing that despite our disagreement, we were all seeking what was best for our countries, what was best for Europe. Our current societal climate, however, makes it dangerously tempting for politicians to gain popularity by inciting fears and tensions, drawing apart societal groups who have long co-existed and flourished together. It is a transition from politics to populism. I strongly believe in the role of a responsible and sensible civil society as part of a solid democracy. By joining Ceci n est pas une crise, I wish to contribute to ensuring that our core values of inclusion, pluralism, and diversity transpass the ongoing transformation of our social structure and gain space in the public debate. Our basic human ambition has not changed - to live together, side-by-side, in a diverse society. Eric Domb I am fascinated by the era of the Xth century which witnessed the development of the Muslim and European civilization between Cordoba, Seville, Toledo and Marrakech. Coexistence and mutual enrichment of Jews, Christians and Muslims. Delicate, sensitive, strong cultures, economic boom... this blend went beyond mere tolerance, aiming to develop a true mutual understanding and to set off the flourishing of a hybridization of knowledge and lifestyles. El Andalous existed. It s possible. Is it an utopia that belongs only to the past? At this present time, where the will to live together is undermined, where powerful societal changes primarily produce a fear of the other and an identity withdrawal, the attempt to revive this utopia is imperative. The Foundation can foster this idea. Jean-Pascal Labille Because we have entered the new century without a compass; because identity quests have replaced ideology as the engine of history; because in the era of globalisation the relationship to other people is more crucial than ever; because all of us living in this strange new century, we have the duty and, more than any previous generation, the means to contribute to this undertaking of salvation: with Pierre Kroll There are moments where people meet: some go into one direction, the others into the opposite one. Sometimes people come back from where others are going, and of course sometimes no one knows where the other is going. Some feel like making the others change direction and taking them with them because they are sure that the others are going the wrong way. We are living in times where the constant impression of crisis, of overwhelming shifts and profound changes make people feel like mourning for the past, dreaming of the return of fixed values, closed spaces and open them up to easy reassuring speeches. It is essential that those who understand that this is not a crisis, that the world will never be as it has been before and, besides, that this is a good thing, help the others understand that we don t need less Europe but more, that we should not avoid each other but live together, that we need to be optimistic and determined. We need to inform and act against the withdrawal into closed identities of all kinds that make the poor believe they will be less so by rejecting the others and the rich ones that they will be even richer by doing the same. strength, beauty and wisdom but also with passion, and sometimes even anger. Yes, says Amin Maalouf, with the burning anger of the righteous. The foundation Ceci n est pas une crise will contribute to reflecting on and fostering the knowledge of societal change, to reinventing living together and equally to helping rebuild the European project.
5 Our founders Philippe Busquin, former European Commissioner Grégor Chapelle, Director General of Actiris Didier De Jaeger, Corporate Director Eric Domb, founder of Pairi Daiza Monica Frassoni, President of the European Green Party Pierre Kroll, press cartoonist Jean-Pascal Labille, Minister of Public Enterprises and Development Cooperation Philippe Maystadt, former Belgian minister and president of the EIB Benoît Scheuer, sociologist and founder of the research institute Survey & Action and Prevention Genocides Dan Sobovitz, Strategic Consultant at the European Commission Eric Winnen, Director General of Dialectiq CECI N EST PAS UNE CRISE, Public Utility Foundation Square de Meeûs, Brussels, Belgium TEL/ FAX: +32 (0) E : W : F :