Democracy from below: What real utopias can we build on?


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Citizens have a crucial role to play in political life and can have tremendous power, as they come together in associations and social movements. To close this first season, Professor Mary Kaldor (London School of Economics) lends us her experience as both an academic and an activist in the peace and human rights movements to discuss what role civil society plays in keeping democracy alive and healthy, and what real utopias we can build on.

Democracy in Question? is brought to you by:

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New and Old Wars: Organised Violence in a Global Era, 3rd Edition. (2012).

Global Security Cultures. (2018).


What is the European Nuclear Disarmament Movement?

(00:00:30 or p. 1 in the transcript)

European Nuclear Disarmament (END) was a movement that started in 1980 as a reaction to NATO plans that would expand and modernize nuclear missiles in Europe as a reaction to Soviet missile upgrades. END campaigned for a “nuclear-free Europe from Poland to Portugal”. It became known through annual conventions and conferences and ended after arms control treaties were signed between waning cold-war powers towards the end of 1987. Source.

Who is Adam Michnik?

(00:03:00 or p. 2 in the transcript)

Adam Michnik is Editor-in-Chief of the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, public intellectual and former dissident. During the anti-communist struggle in Poland, he was a central figure in the Solidarity movement and participated in the 1988 round-table talks that ended communism in Poland. Today he is a vocal opponent of the right-wing national-conservative Law and Justice government. Learn more.

What is the Helsinki Agreement?

(00:06:30 or p. 4 in the transcript)

The Helsinki Agreement, also known as the Helsinki Accords or Helsinki Final Act of 1975, were the result of the first Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), which would later turn into the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). They were a milestone agreement between Eastern and Western countries that bound them to adhere to, among other, peaceful settlements of disputes and human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of thought or religion. Find it here.

What are the Occupy and Indignados Movements?

(00:21:00 or p. 12 in the transcript)

The Occupy Movement started in 2011 as “Occupy Wall Street”, as a protest against social and economic inequality. The protest movement was a world-wide phenomenon, most prominent from 2011 - 2016. Similarly, the Indignados movement in Spain was a protest movement from 2011 - 2015 against austerity measures in Spain, with overlapping demands for more participative democracy. Both are classified as protest movements in reaction to rising global inequality, the financial crisis of 2008 and the Euro-crisis. Although protests appeared together across the world, demands have generally focused on local issues of income and social inequality. Occupy and Indignados.

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