Gilles Kepel and Chantal Mouffe in Conversation with Philipp Blom:
Is Europe Taking a Right Turn?

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis Europe seemed to be moving to the left. The old continent was marked by anti-austerity protests with inequality in the center of the political debate. Syriza and Podemos captured the imagination of the young far beyond Greece and Spain. But then came the refugee »crisis« and Europe changed overnight. Identity politics replaced class cleavages in political debate and public sentiment. If globalization was about open borders, freedom to travel, tolerance and liberal values, the public mood in Europe today is defined by demands to close the borders and to exclude those who are perceived as different. There is a resurgence of a concept of belonging based on ethnically defined nationality and common cultural/religious roots. Are we witnessing a backlash against globalization? Or is the very nature of liberal democracy changing with a return to the ideas of the 1930s in European politics? Why is there growing support for right-wing political parties? If religion and ethnicity are the new fault lines in European societies, what are the chances for amicable coexistence?

French political scientists Gilles Kepel is a distinguished specialist on the Islamic and contemporary Arab world and identity politics. He is Professor at Sciences Po and Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. Gilles Kepel’s work has made a vital contribution to the understanding of Islam as an ideological, political, and social force, both in the Muslim world itself and within immigrant communities in Europe. In his latest book, Terror in France – the origin of the French Jihad (2015), he identifies the widening new fault lines in French society structured around religion and the postcolonial immigrant identities.

Belgian political theorist and recurrent IWM Visiting Fellow Chantal Mouffe, currently Professor of Political Theory at Westminster University, is well known for her agonistic conception of democracy. Together with Ernesto Laclau, she is viewed as one of the main theoretical references of Podemos. The critical dialogue with Marxism and the Left that she opened up in Gramsci and Marxist Theory (1979) would characterise the main thrust of her work. Her books include Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, (1985, co-authored with Ernesto Laclau), The Return of the Political (1993), Democratic Paradox (2000), On the Political (2005),
Agonistics (2013), and PODEMOS. In the Name of the People (2016, co-authored with Inigo Errejon).

BlomPhilipp Blom is a historian, writer, journalist and translator. His most recent books include A Wicked Company: The forgotten redicalism of the European Enlightenment (2012), The Vertigo Years: Europe 1900–1914 (2010), and Fracture: Life and Culture in the West, 1918–1938 (2015). As a public intellectual, Philipp Blom brings a historical perspective to the examination of change and challenges in contemporary society. / Photo: Peter Rigaud

The debates, curated by Dessy Gavrilova, are a co-production of Wiener Festwochen, the European Network of Houses for Debate »Time to Talk«, Sheldon M Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership and the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM).
In co-operation with Burgtheater, Vienna.

 

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