Europe’s Futures Colloquium IV

Monday, 30 September 2019, 4:00pm - 6:00pm, IWM library

The Many Faces of Sustainable Work, Wealth, Health, and Welfare

The project will deal with a topic I have been working on long since – The Varieties and Fragility of Sustainable Work, Wealth, Health, and Welfare. It will focus on public lectures and new publications aimed at translating complex findings from theory and comparative empirical research into readily understood “pop-science” journalism for a broader audience.

It will build on two more recent books, “Welfare in an Idle Society? Reinventing Retirement, Work, Wealth, Health and Welfare” and “The Future of Welfare in a Global Europe”. Both publications are quite bulky (701 and 528 pages respectively), highly technical (with several hundreds of charts and tables), and correspondingly demanding, addressing mainly professional audiences.

But their basic queries are of great public and political interest beyond specialist’s concerns. They approach challenges of survival of utmost timeliness: the sustainability of European welfare societies in a context of globalized economic competition, and the prerequesites of a specific European Social Model, still to be developed. Is there actually “no European Social Model in Europe” – or is there a case to be made for and trends of development towards a European Social Union?

What is to be learned from sub-regional or national avant-garde models and the catching-up process of countries historically lagging behind EU standards? Is there an evolutionary pattern from warfare-welfare over welfare to welfare-cum-workfare – or unconditional basic income regimes? What distinguishes a pluralist “Welfare Society” or Welfare Mix model from a traditional paternalist “Sozialstaat”, both against ultraliberal Laissez-faire Darwinism or a protectionist National Social Welfare Chauvinism? What differences are to be observed from the UN-European Region of 56 countries vs the EU-27 and the Eurozone-19?

Europe’s Futures are manifold and contingent. A comparative conceptual framework will be used to create vignettes with specific ideas for action to reinvent sustainable work, wealth, health and welfare.

Bernd Marin is director of the European Bureau for Policy Consulting and Social Research in Vienna.


The Liberal Narrative that could Challenge European Status Quo and Fight Back National Populism

We are facing a new modernization – with digital, ecological and imigrant revolutions affecting every aspect of the life of an average citizen. The politics is not catching up. Populists might be talking of the paradise lost, making their respective countries „great again”. But notwithstanding their sentimental language they are surprisingly modern and cunning, in a way that most of their opponents aren’t.

As Jan Werner Müller noted, those who vote for populists aren’t necessary populists themselves. It is possible to win hearts and minds of the nations currently under nationalist rule. They supported more moderate options not such a long time ago. But only with the European alternative to current uninspiring status quo, especially those countries at the peripheries where a modernizing agenda was always an import, not a domestic product.

Fareed Zakaria argues in a recent „Foreign Affairs” that most of the wounds were self-inflicted, by the arrogant the United States, overreaching, disrespecting rules and allies. In a world where the power supporting liberal rules is waning the main sort of legitimacy is a democratic vote. Restoring the power of the citizen in the era of meritocracy is the ultimate promise of a populist. What they deliver is false promises to satisfy the former and incompetence as a result of dismantling the latter.

During my fellowship at the IWM I’d like to examine different ways of channeling the anger and disappointment with European elites and narratives in a way that strengthens rather than weakens European project. European democrats and liberals have to take the „change” back!

Leszek Jażdżewski is  the editor-in-chief at Liberté journal in Lodz.

Europe’s Futures – Ideas for Action
A strategic partnership initiative of IWM and ERSTE Foundation