Politics, Culture, Economy: Up for Debate

A Brussels debate attached to the ECF Princess Margriet Award heard a concerted plea to save the legacy of democracy by ending the neo-liberal orthodoxy that is robbing young people of their future.

Titled ‘Politics, economics and culture: a different balance?’, the debate took place in Brussels cultural venue The Egg on 19 March 2012, and featured the curator and new Princess Margriet Award laureate Charles Esche, economist Judith Marquand, and media activist Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi. It was moderated by leading Dutch journalist, Frénk van der Linden.

Watch the video 

Esche claimed that neo-liberalism’s simplistic world-view cannot hope to capture the complexity and diversity of our lives. We must reject it, and embrace new possibilities emerging from below rather than dictated from above. One practical step would be to turn museums into platforms for collective thinking.

Marquand lamented the erosion of the ideal of the public good over recent decades, but was encouraged by the groundswell of intelligent protest, as epitomised by the Occupy movement. Berardi insisted that ‘the new dark age has to be faced’, while praising the social movements for bringing solidarity back into people’s lives. Download Marquand's talk (PDF).   

The debate matched the radicalism celebrated in this year’s choice of ECF Princess Margriet Award laureates, Charles Esche and filmmaker John Akomfrah. The three speakers hail from very different backgrounds, but were united in demanding that we ‘invest, invest, invest – in culture, education, and imagination’.

The debate was co-organised with the Flemish-Dutch House, deBuren