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Alexander Neofitov

Alexander Neofitov

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Photo: Outi-Maaria Palo-oja (flickr); Licence: CC BY 2.0

With major changes under way in Europe, issues such as widening economic and social disparities, growing Eurosceptic sentiments and the uncertain future of European integration are looming larger than ever. Policy-wise, an indication of the things to come is the recently published White Paper on the Future of Europe, where only two (No 1 “Carrying On” and No 5 “Doing much more together”) of the five outlined scenarios envisage piecemeal change. In terms of human capital, however, both the issues and the solutions are contained in EU staples, such as the European Voluntary Service (EVS), a youth-oriented mobility programme, reflecting the existing social gaps, but also, subject to reform, uniquely positioned to narrow them.

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Photo: zsoolt (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0
Central European University main entrance

A magical thing happened last week in Budapest – Europe became one notch more erratic and even less predictable. Viktor Orbán, the democratically elected leader of Hungary, in a befittingly authoritarian fashion, passed new legislation on Tuesday, April 4, reflecting its maker’s fondness of political control of science. The legal amendment was fast-tracked, with only a few hours given to lawmakers to seal the fate of academic freedom in the country. It was also tailor-made to fit the long-standing desire of the Central European University, one of Eastern Europe’s top-level universities, located in Budapest, to collect its things and beat it. Leaving behind such a gash in liberal values, that given time it can swallow Hungary, the European Union and, eventually, Uranus.

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Photo: Milos Constantini (flickr); Licence: CC BY 2.0

Our editor Alexander Neofitov points you in the direction of a few articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about the similiarities between Donald Trump and the so-called Berlusconismo, the (not so) strange death of clubbing in Europe, and another Icelandic political conundrum. 

 Alexander, Project Manager and Diaphragm editor

 alexSexism in politics: The Donald vs. Mr. Bunga Bunga

Donald’s latest exposure reminded us again what dirty, dark and testosterone-infested game politics really is. A leaked tape, allegedly just one (and not the steamiest) of many recorded, involves Mr. Trump bragging about grabbing women by the pussy and kissing them whenever he desires to. This appears to have shocked America. Possibly even threatening, of all Trump histrionics, to truncate the man’s pathetic attempt to sit at the helm of the most powerful nation in the world. But can it really shock us Europeans? After all here in Europe this style of political machismo had been going for decades during the reign of another tycoon-come-politician. Of course we are talking of Signore Berlusconi (aka Mr. Bunga Bunga) and his period in Italian politics, aptly titled Berlusconismo in a recent article by Annalisa Merelli for Quartz. Merelli, an Italian living in the US, offers a look at the consequences of electing someone like Berlusconi/Trump to run a country. A witness to Berlusconi’s political evolution, the author depicts the way in which he tapped into public exploitation of women to boost his media empire in the 80s. When he entered politics, however, Berlusconi stepped up his game. To a point where his sexual obsessions became part-and-parcel of what it meant to make policy in Italy, a symbol of his rambunctious, corrupt “sesso e soldi” style of ruling the country. A very nice documentary, titled Berlusconi’s Women, made by an Australian TV station of all things, also deals with the objectification of female bodies in the Italian public domain in the last 30 years. You can check it yourself, but just for heads-up - there is a snippet from an obscure TV show, displaying a young woman hanging from a hook, representing a piece of ham in a meat shop, whose behind is repeatedly stamped by the macellaio. If your eyes haven’t left their sockets by then, in another scene four female journalists sitting at a table discuss the specifics of female career advancement during the Berlusconismo, including providing oral sex when needed. One of the journalists ironically exclaims (adapted) “I told my father - you taught me the wrong things...study, go to university, be brilliant.. when it fact it was so easy - why didn't you tell me to learn how to do a proper blowjob?”. This should not be happening. Like, seriously.

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Photo courtesy: Alexander Neofitov

The EVS4ALL project consortium spent a few days in Paris in the beginning of October 2016 to discuss the progress of the European Voluntary Service for All – a two-year civil initiative striving for more inclusiveness and flexibility of the European Voluntary Service. The latter, a European programme that has been running for twenty years and one of the undisputable successes of European integration, has built many of the social, professional and cultural ties, necessary for nurturing a healthy European citizenry. The EVS4ALL project partners, on the other hand, have made a substantial contribution to the practical and policy aspects of extending the programme’s benefits to each and every European citizen. To learn more about the challenges addressed by the project, its conceptual underpinnings, structure and results follow the link. 

Gay to Jihad
Photo: Surian Soosay(Flickr); Licence: CC BY 2.0

Join E&M for a discussion on radicalization in Europe as we try to figure out whether terrorists are evil by design and look at the factors and circumstances that turn personal stories into the next episode of “final destination”.

Looking at footage of terrorist mayhem is no picnic. Images of damage caused to human beings, like the ones from two weeks ago in Brussels, look all too overwhelming. Reactions in such cases tend to be no less intense: without knowing it we, peace-loving Europeans, might even go as low as to briefly align with radical agendas ourselves and want the motherfuckers burned.

NEXT ISSUE 01.07.2017