The Way Ahead 7: Internet Protocols and Human Rights


<——-Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 09.50.501. A must-see short film I recommend: The very interesting short documentary film by #netofrights.   <——— 

It explores the relation between Internet protocols and #HumanRights

2. Also there is a short “trailer” available of this film, at 

3. My hat off to #Article19 and Coding Rights  who collaborated to make these video’s.

jaap van till, TheConnectivist

PS.  This was shown at the recent #IETF96  conference in Berlin:

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 12.33.05

PS 2. This manual seems to be very popular lately with dictatorial regimes, frightened to loose their Old Power and Control over “their” country.

Schermafbeelding 2016-07-22 om 13.39.26

No, I am not kidding. You can download this Dicktators manual from:
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Neoliberalism is a Species of fascism”

Another sharp signal that neither The State or The Market are working properly anymore.

The P2P Civil Society must be restored and balanced with the other two poles (brought back to their proper functions and renewed institutes) of the Trias Internetica.

jaap van till, The Connectivist



by Manuela Cadelli, President of the Magistrates’ Union of Belgium, via Defend Democracy

The time for rhetorical reservations is over. Things have to be called by their name to make it possible for a co-ordinated democratic reaction to be initiated, above all in the public services.

Liberalism was a doctrine derived  from the philosophy of Enlightenment, at once political and economic, which aimed at imposing on the state the necessary distance for ensuring respect for liberties and the coming of democratic emancipation. It was the motor for the arrival, and the continuing progress, of Western democracies.

Neoliberalism is a form of economism in our day that strikes at every moment at every sector of our community. It is a form of extremism.

Fascism may be defined as the subordination of every part of the State to a totalitarian and nihilistic ideology.

I argue that neoliberalism is a species of fascism…

View original post 1,102 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Way Ahead 6: Call for a European Commons Assembly

Euopean Commons assembly


Reposted from the P2PFoundation website   and can be seen at


Civic and community initiatives are working to vitalize our urban, rural, scientific and digital commons, and promoting a future guided by democratic participation, social equity and environmental sustainability. At the heart of these acts of “commoning” are satisfying, joyful social relationships that regenerate our interpersonal and physical surroundings. We reject the idea that we are merely self-interested individual consumers or competitors in a fierce market jungle. Instead, we also consider ourselves active and cooperative citizen caretakers working for healthy and fair neighbourhoods, cities and societies.

In times when European institutions are losing support and in deep crisis, we as European citizens are reclaiming Europe. We are concerned that many of our governments tend to favour the narrow interests of dominant market forces instead of catering to the common good of people and the planet.

We are alarmed that growing global social inequality and exclusion, along with climate change, are threatening our very future. We regret that massive privatization and commodification have already deprived us of much of our shared commons that is essential for our physical, social and cultural well-being, and our dignity.

Our experiences of commoning

Commoning relates to the network-based cooperation and localized bottom-up initiatives already sustained by millions of people around Europe and the world. These initatives create self-managed systems that satisfy important needs, and often work outside of dominant markets and traditional state programmes while pioneering new hybrid structures.

As commoners:

  • We build and strengthen communities by using and sharing knowledge, arts, culture, agriculture and technology.
  • We build co-housing projects, support local agriculture, live in eco-villages, and have community-based and community-owned infrastructures (e.g. for energy, water, wifi, culture and funding).
  • We take care of and collectively manage natural resources (including water, forests, seeds and animals).
  • We make and freely share music, images, software, educational materials, scientific knowledge and the like.
  • We have already succeeded in making some public-sector information accessible to all, including publicly-funded research, health knowledge and technology.
  • We try to open up existing democratic institutions, through new tools of participatory democracy and transparency.

We call for

We call for the provision of resources and the necessary freedom to create, manage and sustain our commons. We call upon governments, local and national, as well as European Union institutions to facilitate the defence and growth of the commons, to eliminate barriers and enclosures, to open up doors for citizen participation and to prioritize the common good in all policies.

This requires a shift from traditional structures of top-down governance towards a horizontal participatory process for community decision-making in the design and monitoring of all forms of commons. We call on commoners to support a European movement that will promote solidarity, collaboration, open knowledge and experience sharing as the forces to defend and strengthen the commons.

Therefore, we call for and open the invitation to join an ongoing participatory, inclusive process across Europe for the building and maintenance of a Commons Assembly. Together we can continue to build a vibrant web of caring, regenerative collective projects that reclaim the European Commons for people and our natural environment.

Omnia sunt communia!

===========end of re-post from P2PFoundation site=====

This “Call” fits very well to the Network Europe 21 proposal of  Ulrike Guérot , see

My advice is to INTERCONNECT these Commons, instead of trying to manage or merge them. The Corridoria (see elsewhere on this blog page)  chain of interconnected city area’s may be a good start to do so.

jaap van till, theConnectivist

Posted in Collaboration, democracy, Fiber-to-the-Farm, Growing food, Maker Movement, Megaregions, New Power, P2P Commons, P2P Power, solarwarmth, Synthecracy, TransTribalCollaboration, Trust, Uncategorized, Value, Wealth creation | 1 Comment

The Way Ahead 5: Jeremy Rifkin on how Unions and Cooperatives must re-invent themselves lateral scale

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 18.41.17

snapshot, for video see link below

Reblogged from the P2P Foundation Blog, with hat tip to Michel Bauwens:

Highly relevant and urgent in the present zero marginal cost digitized society.

jaap van till, TheConnectivist

PS. Note to companies and organizations who want to do business with Cooperatives:make sure that you have to sell to local “communities” with special requirements, which you have to understand well. Open communication and relationships with them. Quite different from passive “consumers” of the past.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Way Ahead 4: Proposed Remedy Against Escape into Fear & Isolated Tribes = Synthecracy !

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 09.12.05

“Talent is always conscious of its own abundance & does not object to sharing”
   ~~Alexander Solzhenitsyn
How can we use the sociology of networking in more constructive ways than spreading fear?

The media are each day full of shocking images of racial conflicts and police killings in the USA and the New Nationalism of #Brexit and Trump, see: (by Douglas Ruhkoff) and Friedman’s column in my previous blog.

It is sad to see that uncertainty,  fear and hate are popping up all over the world right now and show their ugly heads in even the highest places. And in explicit racist and even new-fascist movements. Can we think of a way to counter these trends?
The best remedy IMHO is to respect, honor and support Btwieners in society, wherever they are.
Definition:  A ‘ Btwiener ‘ (pronounce “betweener”) is a member of more than one tribe
                        and are respected and has credible contributions in each of them. In that way
                        they can build “bridges” between those tribes.
                        It is another word for ‘ weak ties ‘, first identified by the sociologist Mark S.
                        Granovetter in 1973, see: The Strength of Weak Ties .
                        Prof. Peter Csermely discovered that molecules and other living creatures
                        perform the btwiener function all over Nature to repair and stabilize
                        communities, see his book “Weak Links – the key to stability
                        in networks and complex systems”
                 What I did was to replace the “weak tie/ link” name with “Btwieners
                 which sounds more strong for the vital bridges between diversity they construct.
Role model: Gandalf the Grey, visitor.
Function of Btwieners: They travel, visit, and communicate with and connect          
                                              people, across physical, mental and cultural borders and walls.
                                                In the flesh or on social networks. And they make society more
                                                stable by making the diverse tribes less isolated.
                                                Betwieners construct and maintain the collaborative
                                               links for  problem solving TEAMS *),  between isolated
                                               and inward looking tribal CLUSTERS of people;
                                                 in order for them to work together: to solve complex    
                                                problems which require a wide diversity of expertise, where
                                                different backgrounds and different points of view and creative
                                                contributions are an asset.
When such teams work well they can mix and synthesize those different views into solotions that  exhibit Synergy. Thus the term #SYNTHECRACY I coined for this new vast bottom-up constructive movement.
Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 13.01.52
Examples: the young expatriates in London, who are not really amused by the upcoming Brexit consequences.
Yes, I am proud to say “Ich Bin Ein Btwiener “, to paraphrase JFK in his famous speech in Berlin. We better now cross the walls instead of erect new ones. *) But the engine at the core of such Teams is the synergy between the diverse team members if they can really synthezise their mental models into new solutions. The VALUE, wealth, prosperity and jobs thus created will drive the post-neoliberal-1% SYNTHECRACY for the 99%.
jaap van till, TheConnectivist




A fantastic example of Synthecracy was shown in New Power (closed discussion group on Facebook ) by  Lee-Sean Huang

Over the last week I have been involved in some new power-inspired peer production and activism as a coordinator for the Letters For Black Lives. It’s an all-volunteer initiative that started as a crowd-sourced letter written by Asian-Americans to foster intergenerational dialogue about ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬, and has since grown to include almost 30 language translations and localizations to include other communities like Canadians, Latinos, Brazilians, and more. There was also a video version of the letter made by volunteers in San Francisco.

Here’s an interview with me and some of the other coordinators on the history and behind the scenes of the project:

Remember the song “Teach your Parents well, the childrens Hell will slowly go bye…..”?
Posted in #TransTco, btwiener, btwieners, Collaboration, Synthecracy, TransTribalCollaboration, Uncategorized, Value, Van Till's Principle, Wealth creation | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Way Ahead 3: Thomas Friedman’s NYT Column about #Brexit

Connectivity in Europe

The Way Ahead -3

IMHO the best analysis about #Brexit was written by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times of June 29, 2016

Crux is that politicians are faced with a choice, a split in the road ahead. Either they choose for an

  • closed isolationalist/nationalist/xenophobic populist policy ( leave EU, #Brexit)


  • open connectivity/diversity = strenght/ collaborate for synergy policy (stay in EU, reforms) more in line with reality – see picture above, we are all interconneted, nothing is “independant” anymore, so wake up to this network world.

A unnerving thought is that countries (outdated nation states, remember) like France, Austria, Hungary, The Netherlands, Poland are faces with the same choice, brought nearer by (coming) elections. Friedman’s column clearly defines what the proper priorities should be (highlighted in Bold in the full text below).

jaap van till, TheConnectivist


The British vote by a narrow majority to leave the European Union is not the end of the world — but it does show us how we can get there.

A major European power, a longtime defender of liberal democracy, pluralism and free markets, falls under the sway of a few cynical politicians who see a chance to exploit public fears of immigration to advance their careers. They create a stark binary choice on an incredibly complex issue, of which few people understand the full scope — stay in or quit the E.U.

These politicians assume that the dog will never catch the car and they will have the best of all worlds — opposing something unpopular but not having to deal with the implications of the public actually voting to get rid of it. But they so dumb down the debate with lies, fear-mongering and misdirection, and with only a simple majority required to win, that the leave-the-E.U. crowd carries the day by a small margin. Presto: the dog catches the car. And, of course, it has no idea now what to do with this car. There is no plan. There is just barking.

Like I said, not the end of the world yet, but if a few more E.U. countries try this trick we’ll have quite a little mess on our hands. Attention Donald Trump voters: this is what happens to a country that falls for hucksters who think that life can just imitate Twitter — that there are simple answers to hard questions — and that small men can rearrange big complex systems by just erecting a wall and everything will be peachy.

But I digress.

Because although withdrawing from the E.U. is not the right answer forBritain, the fact that this argument won, albeit with lies, tells you that people are feeling deeply anxious about something. It’s the story of our time: the pace of change in technology, globalization and climate have started to outrun the ability of our political systems to build the social, educational, community, workplace and political innovations needed for some citizens to keep up.

We have globalized trade and manufacturing, and we have introduced robots and artificial intelligence systems, far faster than we have designed the social safety nets, trade surge protectors and educational advancement options that would allow people caught in this transition to have the time, space and tools to thrive. It’s left a lot of people dizzy and dislocated.

At the same time, we have opened borders deliberately — or experienced the influx of illegal migration from failing states at an unprecedented scale — and this too has left some people feeling culturally unanchored, that they are losing their “home” in the deepest sense of that word. The physical reality of immigration, particularly in Europe, has run ahead of not only the host countries’ ability to integrate people but also of the immigrants’ ability to integrate themselves — and both are necessary for social stability.

And these rapid changes are taking place when our politics has never been more gridlocked and unable to respond with just common sense — like governments borrowing money at near zero interest to invest in much-needed infrastructure that creates jobs and enables us to better exploit these technologies.

“Political power in the West has been failing its own test of legitimacy and accountability since 2008 — and in its desperation has chosen to erode it further by unforgivably abdicating responsibility through the use of a referendum on the E.U.,” said Nader Mousavizadeh, who co-leads the London-based global consulting firm Macro Advisory Partners.

But we need to understand that “the issue before us is ‘integration’ not ‘immigration,’” Mousavizadeh added. The lived experience in most cities in Europe today, is the fact that “a pluralistic, multiethnic society has grown up here, actually rather peacefully, and it has brought enormous benefits and prosperity. We need to change the focus of the problem — and the solution — from the physical reality of immigration to the political and economic challenge of integration.” Schools, hospitals and public institutions generally will not rise to the challenge of the 21st century “if social integration is failing.”

Indeed, in my view, the countries that nurture pluralism the best will be the ones that thrive the most in the 21st century. They will have the most political stability, attract the most talent and be able to collaborate with the most people. But it’s hard work.

Yet in an age when technology is integrating us more tightly together and delivering tremendous flows of innovation, knowledge, connectivity and commerce, the future belongs to those who build webs not walls, who can integrate not separate, to get the most out of these flows. Britain leaving the E.U. is a lose-lose proposition. I hope the “Regrexit” campaign can reverse Brexit and that Americans will dump Trump.

Never forget, after the destruction of World War II, the E.U. project “emerged as a force for peace, prosperity, democracy and freedom in the world,” noted Eric Beinhocker, the executive director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking at Oxford. “This is one of humankind’s great achievements. Rather than let it be destroyed we must use the shock of the Brexit vote to reimagine, reform, and rebuild a new Europe.


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Way Ahead 2 : Rethinking Interconnected Europe in the twenty-first century

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 21.01.08

The following shortened article by political scientist Ulrike Guérot is, although long, extremely relevant IMHO to help the definition process of a future for Europe, post-Brexit, called “Network Europe 21” .  Hat tip to Felix Stalder on Nettime  and Michael Gurstein who brought it to my attention.

Felix commented:

Besides all the bad things that come to mind with Brexit there might be an opening to a real rethinking of Europe as political projects now that the ideal of a European Super-state, an ever closer union, is fading. Good riddance, as far as I can see.
But what would that rethinking of Europe entail? It seems clear that the most interesting ideas come from people thinking about the metropolitian/regional level. Not just the rebel cities of Spain.

The post-nation state “interconnected metro-areas” ideas fits like a glove to my Corridoria trade route proposal, see elsewhere on these blog pages, like for instance see map at the end of this blog.

jaap van till, theConnectivist and…. count of Corridoria.

PS. See also the new report about Urbanization in the EU :

Europe as a republic. The story of Europe in the twenty-first century by Ulrike Guérot

The system currently known as the European Union is the embodiment of post-democracy, says Ulrike Guérot. The solution: to turn Europe on its head. For the Europe of tomorrow is a European Republic, the embodiment of a transnational community.

Full article :


Europe as a Republic and the principle of political equality

National borders come and go, basically they are a man-made artefact of history, a fiction, whereas regions are authentic reality and Heimat to people.[13] It is important in this context to remember that until around 1880, Europe was much more borderless than today and you could travel from Paris to St. Petersburg without a passport.

We have been deconstructing borders again: the Schengen zone and the euro currency are examples of today’s efforts to break down borders in Europe. Yet it seems that we don’t want to abandon other, much more important national borders, which we hold against Europe, when it comes to administrations, social or tax issues, and which prevent the emergence – and emancipation – of a true European political entity.

Allow me to give you some examples of where the national Leviathan still brings Europe to its knees. The first being the location of major industry clusters in Europe. If you map these, it is not difficult to see that they are not organized “nationally”.[14] Though there are transnational industry clusters, there is above all a great inequality between the centre and the periphery in Europe; and a great inequality between urban and rural areas. This is the case all over the EU and even within Germany. And that says it all, really: we are still designing our EU policies along the national borders that left the scene quite some time ago in industry and supply chains.

For example, a German car is not German at all: it has leather seats from Italy, tyres from France or screws from Slovenia, but it still ends up being included in Germany’s export statistics. Thus, national economies such as Slovenia’s are largely dependent on the German supply chain and in this sense are no longer autonomous national economies.[15]

This is, again, my main point: we measure on a national level things that can no longer be measured on a national level, things like productivity, exports, etc. It makes little sense to measure export statistics on a national basis within a currency zone: we don’t measure differences in exports between the German states of Hessen and Schleswig-Holstein, for instance.

What’s more, we are allowing member states to compete with one another.
Instead of seeing Europe as one big pooled economy with one account for all nations, we place states – and by extension their citizens – in competition with one another: we are operating within a supply chain with unequal social standards, unequal taxation, unequal wages and unequal social rights. In the past few years, Germany in particular has in effect damaged other economies by deliberately keeping wages low.[16] In essence, the current EU offers equality for markets or companies, but not for citizens. This should and even must be inversed eventually: each and every political entity must secure political equality for its entire people; whereas companies are out there to compete. That is their role, but citizens are not there to compete against each other through tax or social regimes. States are not enablers for companies, but should protect citizens. This is their original role.

So we essentially have exchanged market competition for citizen competition, because we allowed tax and wage shopping within the EU for companies. Further, while Germany is allegedly paying for everything in Europe, according to the distorted public discourse, the numbers tell a very different story: Germany has contributed largely to macroeconomic imbalances of the Eurozone through “beggar-thy-neighbour” policies and wage dumping; has made huge profits from the single European market,[17] the euro and even the eurocrisis, including almost 30 billion euros through negative interest rates on its government bonds, for example.[18] But the German model isn’t working for the rest of Europe![19] Not to mention the fact that Germany’s dominant role within the European economic governance system doesn’t work.

And finally, it is not even working for Germany, as even if Germany as a country “cashed” all these statistical gains from single market and the euro in, these gains would not be distributed evenly among German citizens (let alone Eurozone citizens), which explains why ordinary German taxpayers feel “overstretched” today as regards showing solidarity with Greece: it simply isn’t the case that all Germans have benefited from the euro, far from it.[20]

As a result of this nationalistic approach to EU politics, we are in effect perverting the protective function the state serves for its citizens: EU member states now find themselves in a race-to-the-bottom contest. I am reminded of that old advertisement with the Duracell Bunny: Germany is currently the bunny with the most powerful battery, but at the cost of its neighbor countries.

Political entities should in fact guarantee equal rights for their citizens, a point I’ll come back to later. They have responsibility for the care of their citizens rather than for the state of their markets.
However in the EU system we have exactly the opposite: the EU states pit their citizens in competition against each other to guarantee the best possible conditions for their own industries: this would not be possible within a national democracy. Civil and social rights vary from country to country in Europe, particularly within the eurozone. It is these differences in civil and social rights, which stand in the way of a political entity called Europe. Europe thus needs an emancipatory movement!

The flawed structure of European governance still driven by national borders where it shouldn’t be can be applied to nearly all policy areas of the EU and they often block good policy results for European citizens. Take, second example, the European energy market. In recent years, sustainable energy has been incentivized through subsidies, which vary from country to country; energy grids, however, are still regulated on a national level.[21] What about the energy union? If Portugal has a surplus of sustainably generated energy, this electricity cannot be fed into the French network, for example, because French energy companies lobby behind the French position in the council. By now Germany has learnt that its famous Energiewende, the transition towards renewable energy, can only work if it has a European dimension – but the decision to launch the Energiewende was made unilaterally by Germany.

Example number three: the planned capital markets union. The plan is to mobilize private money and hedge funds for investments. In the European Commission’s Green Paper, all kinds of incentives are planned to make investing in, say, small and medium-sized businesses appealing to investors, through tax breaks for instance – but this would of course vary from country to country: hence, a capital union based on nationally varying tax incentives is a contradictio in adjecto. The real problem for investment in transnational industry clusters in border regions is national insolvency rights, because the investor does not know which law would apply. Instead of tackling this problem upfront, harmonizing or developing a common insolvency right, the EU flees into a formal rhetoric of structural reforms and credit crunch: the EU is actually very smart in not talking about the Elephant in the room.

Example number four: digital Europe. We all know – and this has now even been shown in studies by Deutsche Bank – that poor broadband provision is a decisive impediment to growth in rural areas. That’s why we now have the concept of a “digital union” which even a German European commissioner is trying hard to promote. However, the financing and infrastructure of this venture remain largely in the hands of national governments, which often don’t have the money. The great networks of the past century, like telecommunications, electricity, etc., which were the foundations of growth in that century, were developed by means of state monopolies, however.[22] Today, instead, we want these networks to be either market driven or consumer driven forces. The problem is: today’s rural areas are deserted. There are no markets and no consumers out there. This is also why Europe’s current buzzword for everything – “structural reforms” – is largely meaningless: where there is nothing, there is nothing to reform.

Goederenstroom EU

By contrast, the EU – because it is not a “state” – is not allowed to use its “own money”, let alone loans, in order to provide these rural areas with suitable infrastructure. Yet, the market itself will not deliver: building broadband networks in Amrum or in Ardeche is not worth the hassle. And so we are failing on both accounts; we are not providing a European Internet on a global scale according to EU rules, nor are we supporting these rural areas. This seems to be the model for many EU politicians.

In this way, regional differences end up becoming set in stone, especially those between urban and rural areas, as a result of national policies – and these differences will come home to roost politically.
Today’s social crisis is a crisis between urban centres and rural areas; but above all it is populism that is eroding Europe’s growth. All over Europe, it is for the most part in rural areas that support for populist movements is becoming a problem. As a result of this rural social crisis we now have a European electoral crisis. One only has to map support in France for the National Front to see immediately that it is particularly high in rural areas with high rates of unemployment. The correlation is as good as one to one: the map showing unemployment is nearly identical to that showing the FN vote.

Let’s take a look at Great Britain: the northern – and rural – areas in particular tend to vote UKIP. The little industry that remains is, however, especially dependent on the European single market (not in absolute, but in relative terms). In other words: a UKIP vote would particularly damage these deindustrialized regions in the north of England – the very regions where voters opt for UKIP.[23] This largely rural social crisis we have today is waiting to happen on a European scale tomorrow!

Do national strategies help us get to grips with this problem? I’m afraid they don’t. We have to consider urban and rural areas together once more: the social crisis currently happening in the rural areas is the populist, and therefore Europe-wide, crisis of tomorrow. These regions all over Europe should be supported by the state, above all in terms of infrastructure.

As I mentioned, structural reforms – the current buzzword for many EU politicians – are not going to help here. Of the six billion euros set aside to tackle youth unemployment, only 25 million have been used, because these rural regions have no infrastructure, no small and medium-sized businesses, and therefore no work for young people. We are destroying the rural way of life, instead of building more decentralized lifestyles. Either we leave these regions devastated and we basically “feed” these regions on a European scale through fiscal redistribution from urban/industrial regions to rural, in which case they could become our resort for leisure; or we rebuild the regions. This is our choice, not nationally contoured policies within the Eurozone.

What we need to do in Europe is two things: engage in the protective function of the state for its citizens, by ensuring that all European citizens can basically and permanently count on one thing: the principle of political equality! This is the European roof of res publice europae according to that map of 1537. Below that roof, we need to rebuild vibrant and largely autonomous regions, to reconstruct what Pierre Rosanvallon, the great French sociologist, once called “social bodies”.[24]

By the way, this would respond to Europe’s other detectable megatrend, which is about towns and metropolitan areas that want to be more independent. These towns, along with the rural regions, can be places under the new dress of Europe, a modern twenty-first-century dress that is all about a “Network Europe 21”. This Europe is flat, electro-mobile, it uses local energy resources, it lives in a shared economy and the Internet of things – and in doing so, once more becomes a global avant-garde, pre-designing the future dualistic global-local governance the world needs in lieu of nation-states.[25] This Europe would also be slow-food and climate friendly, reactivating regional agricultural memories instead of participating in large-scale European agricultural policies, which has the perverse effects we know, here and in Africa (and which, among many other reasons and factors, is also one reason for the hunger and refugee problem of this continent).

Power of people

And lastly this concept would be compatible with the megatrend – or renaissance – of both republican and genossenschaftliches thinking,[26] that is to say cooperative thinking, which emerged in the early twentieth century and which was by the way essentially created and sustained through “cooperative banks” (Caissa d’Espagna in Spain, Crédit Agricole in France, the Raiffeisenbanken und Sparkassen in Austria and Germany). This school of thought was everywhere the backbone of local industries. I do not need to point out that current EU policies, with reference to the banking union for example, are diametrically opposed to this school of thought, and make for good politics and structures where big banks are concerned, but not for Sparkassen; meanwhile complaint about a credit crunch in rural areas abound.

So the Europe of the future should have two things: a common legal roof that offers all its citizens political equality; and autonomous regions and metropolitan areas. This does not mean levelling down everybody.
When I’m talking about the principle of political equality, I mean three

– equal voting rights
– equality in the taxation of citizens (income tax, property tax) – equal access to social rights

The French revolution brought equality for all European citizens beyond classes. Today, Europe’s – peaceful! – revolution of minds must assure equality beyond nation-states.

In Germany, for example, where I come from, living conditions vary greatly between Munich in the south and Rügen in the north or the Saarland in the west, but, despite this, all citizens have the exact same vote in Bundestag elections, they are subject to the same tax liabilities and they have the same access to social rights. The rates of local trade taxes and corporation taxes vary and ensure a balance between regions. This could also work in Europe. We are therefore not talking about the levelling out of different regions, and we are not talking about social egalitarianism; we are talking the principle of political equality, without which a lasting political entity is unimaginable. Imagining this for Europe today seems inconceivable. But it was also inconceivable for the German territories in the German Confederation in 1868: “A uniform German social insurance system – my God, never!” was the protest at the time.

And then Bismarck came along. And it worked. Nobody can predict what will be conceivable or achievable on a European level in the long term.
On the contrary, this is not an entirely utopian fantasy – deliberations e.g. over the introduction of shared European unemployment insurance began in Brussels some time ago.[27] Or to put it another way, one might also claim that without the basic principle of political equality we ultimately cannot forge a lasting political entity in Europe, starting with the eurozone. Perhaps it is then high time that we really try to understand this state of affairs!

The good news is that the vast majority of European citizens have long since accepted the principle of political equality. According to a sociological study, the concept of political equality – with an emphasis on social benefits – has long been accepted by around two-thirds of European citizens.[28] In this respect, the general population seems to be in advance of the political elites, which currently seem to be trying hard to respond to populist pressure: it is a shame, then, that no political party in Europe has so far adopted the explicit goal of political equality. In other words: today, it is not citizens but national elites who are the problem in Europe, because they lack courage and political will!

In addition, the generational dynamics of the European discussion is astounding. In essence, mostly old white men are not capable of even imagining the Europe in which Europe’s youngsters are already living.
What are we offering the younger generation, who are already living in a Europe that Brussels currently doesn’t want to officially create?

When a young woman has been working in England for the last three years, has German citizenship and is still with her Danish boyfriend who she met while studying at university in the Netherlands, then this has long been normality. And both of them have managed to adapt well to this life. Then their desire to have a child becomes reality. After deciding to leave England and briefly considering moving to Germany to be with her family, they both elect to move to Denmark and raise their child there together. So far, so romantic. But have you thought about the questions this raises in terms of social benefits? After long discussions with the authorities, it finally turned out that the woman had lost all her entitlements to social benefits in England, which she had gained from paying into the English system, at the point when she registered as unemployed in Germany. She would have had to have been employed and subject to social insurance contributions for at least three days in Germany to be eligible to have her rights to benefits transferred. This in itself is absurd. But as an expectant mother of German nationality she also has no rights to German social security benefits while living in Denmark, and she would only be able to claim Danish benefits if she had been paying into the Danish social security system for at least 13 weeks before giving birth. Surely this isn’t what we want? And so I say again, what are we offering this younger generation already living in a Europe that we apparently don’t want to create?

A regional and republican Europe: decentralized, and with a different kind of transnational European parliamentarism

How might the euro-union look if we went ahead and transformed it into a European Republic, constituted by regions and metropolitan areas? What building blocks might we zoom in on? I’ll attempt to take you on a speedy tour through the eurozone, which could become the Euro-Union and then a European Republic. Incidentally, I have addressed this topic in greater detail in the “Manifesto for the Foundation of a European Republic” which I published together with the Austrian writer Robert Menasse in 2013 – and which has just been reprinted in the catalogue of Kunsthaus Zurich, which is currently running an exhibition on Europe.[29]

To begin with, we must recognise that sovereignty is held not by the states but by the European citizens as a whole. The perceived lack of a European demos, which is often reiterated in current debates (think of the German Federal Constitutional Court, for example), turns out to be false. If we could deconstruct the term “sovereignty” and rediscover sovereignty as an individual concept,[30] we would realize that we are in fact citizens in a double sense – we are both citizens of the EU and citizens of our individual states. We would also, I hope, realize that the authority of these states is based entirely on a sovereignty that we ourselves had previously delegated to these states. On this basis, we could conceive of a new kind of European polity. In other words: even if the UK as a country exits the EU, Scots – and all other British citizens – remain as individual citizens of the EU.

But let’s begin with the eurozone, which is the most homogenous area in economic terms and which most urgently requires that the common currency is embedded within a common European democracy. The eurozone, the nucleus of the European Republic, is currently made up of 19 countries, but many nations, such as Poland, could soon join the euro. A newly designed European parliamentary system might then be possible for the eurozone. By that I don’t mean higher rates of participation[31] or even a democracy by plebiscite, but rather a democratic system that satisfies Montesquieu’s principle of the separation of powers: a Europe-wide legislature with control over a European executive. A Eurozone Parliament elected via equal suffrage – one person, one vote – would be equipped with full legislative rights. Democracy as we know it!

To this end Jürgen Habermas is developing a conceptual thought experiment on “double sovereignty”[32] in which constitutive power consists of the totality of all EU citizens, on the one hand, and the European nations, on the other. This amounts to raising EU citizens to a position of equal sovereignty to the European nation-states. Democracy and nation-states would be decoupled to the extent that European citizens would, as citizens of the EU, be partly sovereign on their own.
They would thus enter into an equal and heterarchic relationship with the sovereign nation-states in the constitution of the European community.

The European Parliament would have to be able to introduce bills, in other words it would have full rights to initiate legislation, and it would also have to receive budgetary powers. Therefore the “orderly legislative procedure” that requires the approval of both chambers of parliament would have to be extended to all political areas. This would mean that the European Council – the assembly of heads of state and government which until now has only enjoyed a semi-constitutive status – would have to be incorporated into a Council of Ministers that had been expanded into a second chamber of parliament. And finally the Commission would have to assume the functions of a government that is equally responsible towards the Council and Parliament.[33]

But over time, one could push this even further, insofar as Network Europe 21 has two layers: a European republican roof and independent regions/towns. Europe could also take the US system as a model: next to a pro rata European parliament, there would stand a European congress composed of two senators per region or metropolitan area, with each region/metropolitan area having a governor. This would be compatible with the direct election of a European president, which is not a utopia notion, but already features in many party programmes of European parties today – and which would constitute an in-depth identity building exercise for European citizens in the twenty-first century.

The Europe that we are picturing is thus no longer organized on a national level. It is decentralized, but interconnected – digitally, through information and communications technology, transport and electricity. It has at its disposal an infrastructure that is uniformly developed and promoted by the EU. Rural regions will develop “social nodes” again and be able to close the gap with urban growth regions and no longer be neglected. Formerly desolate rural regions will be replaced by rural infrastructure and local or regional economies relying on local energy as well as on local banks. Regions and towns will become the spinal cord in a nervous system of new, decentralized growth policies and regional clusters of industry. This new network works in support of other European development goals, such as: decentralized energy production, the use of electric-powered vehicles on a regional level, sustainable rural development, and regional agricultural structures.
Network Europe 21’s new decentralized structure, which will link up rural areas with a network of cities, will no longer necessarily have to be organized on a national level; regions and cities will be brought together by means of a transnational democracy and on a common legal ground, that of the European Republic.

In this Europe, regions as well as cities will be under the large umbrella of a European Republic representing Europe on the international stage (in terms of foreign policy, the environment, trade, cyber, etc.), which will serve to hold the European entity together from the inside, guaranteeing equal public and social rights for its citizens: equal voting rights, equal taxation, and portable social rights (meaning European health care and European unemployment assurance). The necessary buffers and competition between regions will arise through the use of regional taxes.

As a result, individual nation-states will not necessarily be the constitutional pillars of the “Europe 21st” century project any more – instead, the Network European 21 project will be region-based, allowing regions to remain united yet largely autonomous. This feeds back into the current regional movements, which are already staging protests against the power of the nation-state, as in Scotland or Catalonia for example. This would be a win-win situation for Europe: the ability to act externally as a single entity in the international arena while achieving closeness to its citizens on the inside.


The words of Albert Einstein seem appropriate here: “No idea is a good idea unless it first appears to be completely illusory.” In other words, the right to a utopian ideal is a human right: “Because that which exists is not all there is, that which exists can change”,[34] as Theodor Adorno once said. Now more than ever, it is our responsibility to change Europe. For Europe has not run out of options, societal processes can always change and be shaped by citizens.

Now perhaps you’re asking yourselves: but how do we get from A to B?
That is a valid question. And in fact, right now it looks like we won’t be getting from A to B, and a European Republic will certainly not be voted in over the EU negotiating table. This is a question that cannot be answered here. Nevertheless we can and must allow ourselves to think about the future as we would like to see it. We can allow ourselves, for the first time, to develop a clear vision of the kind of political entity we would like to create in Europe; indeed, it is even our duty to develop a convincing narrative for Europe – and then to hope that, if it becomes popular, it will gain some political weight.

The idea of Europe conceived by people like Richard Coudenhoven-Kalergi or Aristide Briand in the 1920s did not really become a reality until the 1950s; even the currency union took 30 years to get from the Werner Plan to the euro: sometimes good things take time and even a historical catalyst; and the organization of a European democracy is naturally a complex and difficult issue. We will certainly need half a century to work on it. But it is good to have a compass: without a clear goal, Europe and the EU will continue to go round in circles, as it is currently doing!

The Network Europe 21, a European Republic composed by a network of regions and towns is not real but it is imaginable. The concept of the Republic has been the fundamental principle of political order in the European history of ideas since Plato. It is compatible with all European political traditions and languages, from Poland to Italy. The notion of a Republic speaks to us emotionally, as it point to the public good. The next step is thus merely a matter of raising awareness of the fact that, as vocal, emancipated European citizens, we hold the new political order in our hands at all times, for we are sovereign!

Is this easy? By no means! How can we achieve a joint bureaucracy and protect minorities from small territories – such as the citizens of Malta, who would hardly be represented in the European Parliament any more? Is it possible to ensure this level of political arbitrage between very different regions and towns? And what about the financial tug-of-war between the centre and the periphery? And how should we go about balancing out social preferences? Is there such as thing as a European public sphere? What should we do about language? Can we make it work via the use of technology? European parliamentary sessions held via I-Translate – can we imagine that? Speeches from Brussels being broadcast live on national TV in that country’s language? Academics are still quite sceptical in this respect.[35] However, a multilingual democracy does seem to work in India, which is poor and has a high rate of illiteracy, so why should Europe not be able to have a multilingual democracy? Nothing is easy. But deconstructing the euro and unravelling Europe isn’t simple either. And we do not want to live in the monster.
Indeed, we are left with no alternative but to build a European
democracy: Yes we can. If we want, we can!

Conversely, we have to imagine the kind of world which we are sliding into, the people who will be governing us if Marine Le Pen ends up leading France, and Jobbik leading Hungary; if the populists are allowed to continue stirring up trouble and idiocy reigns supreme. And then, after the neo-liberal revolution, a surveillance revolution might come, driven by fear and praising a misleading concept of security. It is time to remember that Karl Popper was concerned about open societies and its enemies. A world in which we once again become one another’s enemies, divided along national lines – and moreover become so preoccupied with our own problems that we forget that the world outside continues to turn, faster and faster – a world in which, in the not too distant future, we may no longer play such a prominent role: we do only make up seven per cent of the world’s population. What else should we really be doing, than investing all of our energies into finally creating a European political entity that works?

Those of you who may have just now begun to take an interest in Europe, those of you who have just begun to grasp that the issue of Europe is your issue too, everyone’s issue, the one sentence to remember from here on is this: unless we want to abandon our continent to political neglect, we need to re-build Europe, to turn it from upside down and make it fit for the twenty first century.

We need to (re-)build it based on the principle of the political equality of all European citizens! The enforcement of the principle of political equality is therefore what we are calling for today. This is the emancipatory movement Europe must take on. This is Europe’s task for the twenty first century, a step forward to shaping Network Europe 21.

We do not need to do this all now. But we need to do a first step to escape the vicious circle we are in. The first step is to put our aim on paper as a claim. The first presentation of Europe as a map dates, I mentioned it earlier, from 1537. In 2037, this map will be 500 years old. This leaves us some 30 years to fix a republican Network Europe 21 and to orient Europe towards a common future for all European citizens on a different basis from what we have today.

Viva the European Republic! The European Republic is under construction!


[13] Menasse, Reden wir
[14] Cf. Dimitris Ballas, Danny Dorling and Benjamin Hennig, The Social Atlas of Europe, Policy Press, 2014 [15] Zoltàn Pogátsa, “Hungary: From star transition student to backsliding member state”, Journal of Contemporary European Research 5, no. 4 (2009): 597 [16] Many articles on this topic can be found, see esp. those by Harald Schumann of Der Tagesspiegel [17] A McKinsey Study from 2012 calculates that the gain of ten years of euro-making between 2002-2012 amounts to an aggregated gain of 300 billions, out of which 160 billions went to Germany.
[18] For detailed figures see Siegried Schieder, “Zwischen Führungsanspruch und Wirklichkeit: Deutschlands Rolle in der Eurozone”, Leviathan 3 (2014): 363-97.
[19] For more on which see publications by Christian Odentahl here:; for a French perspective, see Guillaume Duval’s book Made in Germany: Le mythe du model allemand, Seuil, 2014; and, for an Italian perspective, Angelo Bolaffi, Il cuoro tedesco, Donzelli, 2013.
[20] Schieder, “Zwischen Führungsanspruch und Wirklichkeit”
[21] Deutsche Bank Research, “Progress needs broadband: Private investment requires more government stimuli”, 27 august 2014 [22] For this reason the DGP is recommending a Marshall Plan for Europe:
[23] For the rural-urban divide in the UK, see:
[24] Pierre Rosanvallon, The Society of Equals, Harvard University Press, 2012 [25] Jeremy Rifkin, The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014 [26] Menasse, Reden wir [27] Sebastian Dullien, “Eine Arbeitslosenversicherung für die Eurozone”, SWP-Studien 1 (February 2008); the last Social Affairs Commissioner Andor Lásló introduced plans for European unemployment
[28] Jürgen Gerhards and Volker Lengfels, European Citizenship and Social Integration in the European Union, Taylor & Francis Ltd., 2015; on this topic, see also Martin Heidenreich, Krise der europäischen Vergesellschaftung, Springer, 2014.
[29] Ulrike Guérot and Robert Menasse, “Manifest für die Begründung einer Europäischen Republik”, 23 March 2013, Die Presse,;
see also Kunsthaus Zurich, Europe – The Future of the Past, [30] Cf. the writings of Jean Bodin (Les six livres de la République,
1576) and of the Austrian jurist Hans Kelsen (1881-1973) [31] “Form follows function”: formal participation does not make a democracy. I develop this argument here: “Was ist heute Demokratie?”, 12 June 2015, [32] In Leviathan 42, no. 4 (2014) [33] These reforms, incidentally, were also recently presented by the so-called Spinelli Group with regard to a new EU constitution. They would bring the eurozone’s democracy closer to Montesquieu’s principle of the separation of powers, an idea also considered, incidentally, by the Westerwelle Report on the future of the EU from September 2012 and even earlier in the Schäuble-Lamers paper on “Kerneuropa” (core Europe) from 1994.
[34] Theodor Adorno, Negative Dialectics, 1966 [35] Scharpf, Fritz, “Das Dilemma der supranationalen Demokratie”, in Leviathan 1/2015; Höpner, Martin “Der Integrationistische Fehlschluss”, in Leviathan 1/2015; and Streeck, Buying Time.


European part of Trade Route Corridoria:  a chain of connected metropoli is starting to appear as a European Backbone for Energy, Information and transport logistics. see link mentioned above.


Posted in bandwidth, Collaboration, Corridoria, Europa, Fiber-to-the-Farm, Network Europe 21, Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments