LSESU European Society, 3 March 2017
On Thursday, February 23rd, the Youth Association for a Greater Europe and the LSESU European Society invited students and public for a panel discussion on 'European Identity in the Times of Post-Truth Politics' at the LSE. Our speakers – Roger Casale, founder of New Europeans and former MP for Wimbledon, and Dr Hratch Tchilingirian, member of the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford – were happy to discuss with the audience about various aspects of European identity in the light of a broad variety of current ‘crisis moments’, such as Brexit. The event chairs Lars Miethke, PhD Candidate at the LSE European Institute, and Kinga Kuchta from the University College London, guided through a vivid discussion with some 30 curious attendees.
Dr Tchilingirian said the concept of post-truth politics is not a new phenomenon, explaining that it was already an integral part of Soviet cultural and political propaganda. This long-standing tradition could not be quickly fixed by processes of democratisation, leaving the seeds of post-truth agenda in fertile grounds in those countries and potentially spilling over elsewhere. This is even more problematic when Europe does not have a clear message anymore. Casale addressed the lack of vision for Europe’s future and the lack of meaning we attribute to the European community these days, saying that the EU has forgotten what it stands for. This is problematic for its periphery too, said Dr Tchilingirian. What has made European identity attractive to the states at the European Union’s periphery – Eastern Europe 15 years ago, and now the Caucasian countries – is that European identity is not ethnic, religious or national, but based on a certain set of European values. The more this set of values is perceived to be watered down, the less attractive the concepts of ‘Europe’ and ‘European community’ become. Therefore, we need to stand up for this set of values and put those in the centre of our clearly articulated future vision for Europe, both as a message within and outside of Europe.
The Youth Association for a Greater Europe and the European Society express their gratitude to the speakers, chairs and all attendees and hope that this discussion provided stimulating inspirations for our deliberations on European identity and the challenges of our time, namely the new or not so new ‘fake news’, ‘filter bubbles’, and ‘post-truth politics’.
A big thanks to everyone who participated at our panel discussion together with the Youth Association for a Greater Europe last week!