Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Eurosocialist has moved!

Eurosocialist's platform has changed. From now on, you can find the English version on and the French version on Looking forward to your visit!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Quote of the week

"There have been times that I thought I couldn't last for long,
but now I think I'm able to carry on.
It's been a long time coming,
but I know a change is gonna come."

Sam Cooke, A change is gonna come, 1964

One of my favourite songs ever.

Powerful song, covered among others by Otis Redding,
Aretha Franklin, Al Green, and more recently by Seal, to name
but a few. I'd recommend Al Green's for the voice and Seal's
for the video. Timeless.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The best of the blogosphere: Social connectivity to determine success of job applicants

A job vacancy published by a US company specifically requires applicants to have at least 250 followers on Twitter. "Will this set a precedent?", wonders the blog The Lobby. Find out about the whole story here.

Socialist re-enchantment at the La Rochelle summer university

On my way back from Barcelona, I stopped at the lovely coastal town of La Rochelle where the Parti socialiste summer university was held. The sun was shining, people were in a good mood, and optimism was in the air. Journalists felt it too as for once in a very long time they wrote positive articles on the PS. What has caused that sudden turnaround? Could they actually feel the activists’ enthusiasm? Have they been seduced by the reforms announced by PS leader Martine Aubry? Or is it simply that they have finally realised that their approach to the PS in the past years has been overly negative? The PS is by far not only about internal fights. The PS is not dead. The PS is an activist party. It is alive and kicking, lifted up by the dedication of its thousands of activists, who relentlessly and voluntarily give some of their free time to the pursuit of their ideals because they refuse fatality, and decided one day to take their destiny into their own hands. I am regularly dumbstruck when I notice the gap between the party’s life as I see it from inside, and the image that is given by the mainstream media. I feel betrayed and usurped. I am happy to see that finally there are signs of change in this regard.

This weekend at La Rochelle, the activists’ enthusiasm warmed up my heart. Among the reforms announced by Martine Aubry in her opening speech, especially two of them were greeted by thunderous applause, spiced up by bravos and hurrays: the first one was about putting an end to the very French habit of plurality of offices, and the second one was about following the American model and opting for open primaries for the presidential election in 2012. Besides these two groundbreaking reforms, Martine Aubry announced the upcoming launch of a social network dedicated to PS activists and sympathisers. This “socialist Facebook” will be called Coopol from “coopérative politique”, political cooperative in French. I am thrilled by these three announcements as they all go towards a greater openness of the Parti socialiste.

Openness to the diversity of society by putting an end to plurality of offices. In order to renew itself, the Parti socialiste needs to promote more women, young people, people of foreign origin, people from any social and economic backgrounds. Not only will it better reflect the diversity of French society, but it will also convey that diversity engenders creativity.

Openness to our sister parties on the left and to the participation of our sympathisers to the party’s life thanks to the presidential primaries. I am convinced that the left needs to unite. We are driven by the same values. What differs is our vision of what is needed to reach our common ideals. I believe that is something we can overcome. The primaries will also give our sympathisers the opportunity to play an important role in the campaign, thus certainly giving birth to new vocations.

Openness to new means of political activism thanks to Coopol. This new tool will allow activists who share common interests to gather and act together despite geographical distance. Opening up the tool to sympathisers will also show that our party is a common place for debate, as well as a laboratory for political innovation.

Openness is a left-wing concept, and so is participative democracy and transparency. It was high time we reasserted it.

As Al Green sings, "a change is gonna come".

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Spanish government is doing a lot and knows how to make it clear

I've arrived in Barcelona. I've had a walk in my neighbourhood along the Gaudi Avenue between the majestic Sant Pau hospital (below left, behind the billboard) and the breathtaking Sagrada Familia (below right, behind the billboard).

These are just two examples of how much the Spanish government seems to be advertising what they do, as -in a one-hour walk- I've seen two other billboards of this kind. Apparently the Sant Pau hospital work is financed by the Spanish government's PlanE, the much advertised recovery plan to stimulate the economy and boost employment, while the Sagrada Familia work is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund. Both billboards seem to have been put in place by Barcelona's city council.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Eurosocialist becomes Eurosocialista

It's time for Eurosocialist to take her summer vacation and go rest in Barcelona until the end of August. I’m still planning on blogging from there but probably at a slower pace. Who knows what kind of new inspiration the Catalan sun will give me!

I started blogging less than two months ago and already over 500 visitors came to one of my sites, almost as many are following me on Twitter, and 40 people have even suscribed to my RSS feed. Thanks to all of those who have read me so far. A special thanks to the ones that left comments on the posts because this blog is above all meant to be a place for debate. Hasta muy pronto!

Photo credits: MorBCN on Flickr

Monday, July 13, 2009

Social media in plain English

Ever wondered what social media actually meant? It's as simple as ice cream...

So, fellow bloggers: do you think you are like pecan ice cream or rather like pickle ice cream?

Friday, July 10, 2009

The political culture of Generation Y aka Generation 2.0: Openness, Ethics and Humility

A week ago I published a post about Generation 2.0 that dealt with the cultural consequences of the digital revolution. Yesterday, I discovered on Twitter the term of Generation Y thanks to @boriswandoren. The statement “Generation Y” is used to qualify the generation roughly born since the end of the seventies, which is the first one to have massively integrated the use of digital technologies in their daily lives. Boris Wandoren, Jon Worth and I engaged in a Twitter debate about the necessity of Generation Y values to be represented more in politics, which led Jon Worth to write a blogpost disproving the generational argument, stating that the main issue in today’s politics is more the structural difficulty of political parties to integrate “risk takers, leaders, people with drive, people with ideology, and bind them into a party structure”. Julien Frisch picked up this post, partly agreeing with Jon while arguing at the same time that there is some truth in the generational issue.

I still believe it is a matter of generation. But don’t get me wrong, I do not mean it is simply a question of replacing elder politicians by younger ones. That would be too easy. To paraphrase Jon, “it’s more important than that”. The generation question is not only an age question; it is much more relevant as a cultural question. Many young people still think like older generations while some elder people embrace the cultural changes younger generations bring in. Take the example of the 1960s cultural protest movement. Back then, not all young people were culturally liberal hippies! Some were conservative. They were the same age though. Yet looking back in history, at that moment it’s the values of the young progressive hippies -joined by their open-minded elders- that won the cultural battle.

The relevance of the generation question is more culture than age-related. So what is the specific culture of Generation Y and how does it matter? According to the Wikipedia articles I could read on the topic in English and French, what characterises Generation Y -at least in Western countries- is the following:

  • They didn’t grow up with the apocalyptical threat of the cold war.
  • They have integrated the moral transformations of the 1960s/1970s.
  • They haven’t known the world without AIDS.
  • They were young enough when computers and portable electronic devices started to widely disseminate so that they could gain an intuitive command of these technologies, much better than that of their parents.
  • They were born at a time when ecology started to raise interest in the wide public.

This list is certainly not comprehensive, and more importantly not entirely relevant to all geographies, but it is still good food for thought. Although these Wikipedia articles give a good description of Generation Y’s culture, they do not relate it to political behaviours. And that’s where we get back to the point I wanted to make.

The emergence of this new culture will have a long-term impact on politics. My guess is that Obama’s election is the first visible sign of what the political legacy of Generation Y will be. I believe that the future of politics lies in Openness, Ethics and Humility:

  • Openness because, thanks to digital technologies, the public debate has become much more open to citizen’s direct interaction, which also leads to the necessity for institutions to be more transparent. Openness also because tolerance is one of the defining values of Generation Y that believes in sexual liberties and the promotion of minority rights.
  • Ethics because in the past decades there has been a growing disenchantment about politics as a consequence of recurring corruption scandals and a perceived discrepancy between what politicians say they stand for and what their behaviours are.
  • Humility because in today’s world one can become an idol in just a minute, only to fall back as quickly into anonymity, because the world has become so complex that no ideology can pretend to have all the keys to world peace, because we live in an interdependent world where the fate of the richest is linked to that of the poorest.

There is a growing demand for a new way of doing politics. However, there is still not quite a satisfactory offer. Stay tuned: more posts coming up on Generation Y, the open society and what it means for politics.

Update on 11 July:

Boris Wandoren's take on the topic:

and the amazing article by Kevin Kelly on digital socialism:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Communicating Europe: Mission Impossible? What if the problem was elsewhere…

On Monday, Forum 311 -an association of young French professionals in Brussels- organised a debate on the theme “Communicating Europe: Mission Impossible?” I couldn’t go. Fortunately, other bloggers attended, and thanks to them I could read two reports of the debate. They are quite different in style and content. While communication professional, Michael Malherbe, makes a detailed presentation of the themes that were discussed, un Européen jamais content chose to report on the atmosphere of the debate. If you can read French, you should definitely visit those sites.

Although European institutions have made remarkable efforts this year to “communicate Europe” with a view to prepare the European elections, the turnout has been yet again lower than the previous vote. This is a depressing fact for the communicators of Europe, hence the title. One has to admit that they did do their best. Consequently, they can’t help but think it is a lost cause. It has been mission impossible. Willy Helin, Head of the European Commission representation in Belgium, went as far as calling it a “suicidal mission”. What if the problem actually laid in the very expression used to solve it? “Communicating Europe”: why not “communicating with Europe”, or even “communicating with (or between) Europeans”?

At the time of the debates on the French “non”, the Dutch “nee” and the Irish “no” to the
constitutional treaty and the Lisbon treaty, each time I was stroke by the reaction of Eurospecialists from all sides. The vast majority shared the same analysis: had Europeans been more informed, they would have voted “oui”, “ja”, “yes” in chorus. Maybe. Possibly. But as with this debate, the problem isn’t there.

What is needed is not to “communicate Europe” i.e. to spread the good word of the enlightened elite to the uneducated, but to communicate in Europe, between Europeans about Europe. The idea of “communicating Europe” is didactic. Institutions provide information on what they are, but it just works one way. They send information towards recipients – the European citizens – while they haven’t even asked for it. The idea of “communicating with Europe” or “between Europeans” is interactive. The point is to foster debate about Europe. I think the main problem of the European communication is that it is institutional, i.e. consensual, depoliticised, and as such, non polemical. Consequently, it is boring. The whole problem is here.

Although I am sorry about the result of the referendum on the European constitutional treaty in France, I still think something utterly positive happened during this campaign. For once, we talked about Europe! The French have been passionate about this campaign. Everybody talked about it. Why was that? Because there were opposite sides that confronted one another over comprehensible political choices, because there were lively debates, because for the first time, Europe got politicised. I am convinced that the solution to the problem of the gap between the European institutions and the Europeans is the
politicisation of Europe. That’s what my political activism is driven by.

Alright, I can already hear you say “here is another mission impossible!” Because national parties (some) are against it, because national political cultures are too different one from the other (is that really so?), because Europe is too complicated (not more than national political systems), because people are not interested in Europe (self-fulfilling prophecy?), and so on, and so forth… Despite all that, I still believe in it. Dislocating these prejudices by building bridges between national politics and European politics is precisely the focus of this blog. For there is no such word as “can’t” – literally translated into my mother tongue as “impossible is not French”. I know a similar expression exists in Dutch: “Onmegelijk bestaat niet”, which means “Impossible doesn’t exist”. Do you have a similar expression in your own language? The floor is yours!

Photo Credits: European Parliament on Flickr

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