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Dear Europeans. We, the editorial team of E&M, have an urgent matter to discuss with you.
E&M is an independent transnational media outlet that was created as a student project back in 2007/8 by a bunch of heady graduates that knew no boundaries in Europe. They were driven by a firm belief that an inclusive pan-European civil society, based on unbiased dialogue and freedom of expression, is possible. Over the last nine years we have been on the lookout for bits and pieces that can explain the European “psyche” through a more personal lense and we have largely succeeded. In recent months, however, we have been feeling increasingly overwhelmed by the incoming news, which have somehow stopped making sense. We are struggling with a persistent feeling of unease: at the direction Europe is taking, at the prevailing political wind globally, and with our seeming inability to find reasonable solutions. Please find below our thoughts, fears and a call for action, we would very much want you to take part in.
Our editor Sam Volpe points you in the direction of a few articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about essays that will make you swoon, queerness and why we write and ought to read.
Sam, Project Manager and Diaphragm editor
I am bored of reading why 2016 has been the worst year. It has been difficult. It has been occasionally traumatic for those of us of a particular political persuasion. It has seen a number of wonderful celebrities and public figures die. Frankly, it has been a little bit shit, but you knew that by now.
Therefore, in this, your festive edition of Good Reads, I have decided to make it my mission to pass on some writing that will, at the very least, distract you over the holidays.
Sit in a comfortable armchair and put your feet up. Imagine you're in a secluded library with a roaring fire. The world is not doomed, and here, in hyperlink form, are a few reasons why.
On the 4th of December 60 % of Italians voted against the constitutional reform package proposed by then PM Matteo Renzi, that resigned in line with his promise to step down if he did not win the referendum. On the same day green candidate Alexander Van der Bellen won the Austrian elections for President of the Republic, against extreme right wing Norbert Höfer. And it seems that in a post-Trump, post-Brexit Europe news can only be reported in binary mode, with reference to their effects on the European Union: in this case the Austrian victory stands as a positive result for Europe, while Italy’s results would be the next domino to fall in an extremely disheartening 2016, towards dissertation of our Union. Now, whilst I too fear for the great political uncertainty this referendum result presents for Italy, it is far too nuanced a situation to befit most of the polarised mediatic representations. So with the extreme parties on the rise around Europe and the world and increasingly divisive, hateful rhetoric permeating European mainstream discourse, what do the Italian referendum results mean for Italy, Europe and the world?
On July, 15th a group of military officials unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the Islamic-conservative AKP-government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan which left 265 people dead. In the aftermath of these events, the Turkish government has declared a state of emergency and demands the extradition of the oppositional preacher Fetullah Gülen from the United States who is the alleged mastermind of the coup. Since then, the Turkish government has officially detained about 26,000 alleged Gülen-supporters. Moreover, several media channels lost their license, schools were shut down, and Erdoğan considered the reintroduction of the death penalty.
In response to this suggestion, Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU High Representative Federica Mogherini ruled out the possibility of a country that reintroduces the death penalty to become a member of the Union. Afterwards, the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım distanced himself from this proposal. Nevertheless, the relationship between Turkey and the EU remains strained. Germany in particular has been struggling to find a coherent strategy to deal with the authoritarian developments in Turkey as the following analysis will show. Partly due to the German guest worker policy in the 1950s, there are now about three million people of Turkish descent living in Germany, which is the basis for a traditionally close alliance between both Germany and Turkey and which makes it worth taking a look at the current state of the German-Turkish relations.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Luckily, America has finally bloody decided. Unluckily, they've managed to elect the sort of demagogue who will, to be euphemistic, challenge the rest of the world for four years minimum. If he makes it that long without being impeached that is.
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
Sexism 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.
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.
What is Europe? Is Europe more a geographical, cultural, political or economic concept? What defines the European identity? These are all questions E&M has pondered from the very beginning, and over the years we’ve come up with many very different answers. Indeed, our vision of what Europe is and should be is influenced by many factors. With this new regular feature, My European Bookshelf, we wanted to consider one of those factors: literature. In this space, E&M has invited young Europeans to share the books that have shaped their understanding and perception of Europe.