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Democracy

Brussels, January 28, 2023

To Professor Charles Hyart

 

1. Russia is a European power

Россия есть Европейская держава

Russia is a European power. This was a phrase I often heard repeated by Charles Hyart (1913-2014), my teacher of language and of history of Russian civilisation at the University of Liège[1]. It appears in Article 6 of the Nakaz of Empress Catherine II of Russia (1729-1796), the Instruction she issued in 1767 to the Legislative Commission responsible for harmonising the laws. This work was an authentic treatise on political philosophy, inspired by L’esprit des Lois (1748) of Montesquieu (1689-1755) and by the Italian jurist Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794). It was written in French, then translated into Russian by the Tsarina herself [2]. The phrase appearing in this Article 6 underlines that there was, at least in the minds of certain leaders – despots, enlightened or otherwise –, a desire to impose the notion of a European Russia on both Russians and Westerners.

This orientation did not first emerge in the 18th century. Ever since Ivan IV, known as Grozny, the Terrible (1530-1584), the first Tsar of Russia who reigned from 1547 to 1584, Russia had regularly opened itself up to the West, and in particular to the English through the Northern ports. Peter the Great (1672-1725), who reigned from 1694 to 1725, began a genuine process to westernise the country. This movement continued until the Common European Home, the concept created by Mikhail Gorbachev (1931-2022), even if there were a number of pendulum swings which saw Russia’s European identity sometimes enhanced and sometimes rejected[3]. Some actors viewed the westernisation of their country as a process of derussification. They considered it a betrayal of the triumphant heritage of Byzantium from which Russia arose. They opposed Westernisation, which they regarded as deviance, in the name of slavophilia – Slav nationalism –, asianity or eurasianism, which were permeating the vastness of the two continents straddled by Russia[4].

But it was also in the name of this vastness that, despite her intellectual proximity to Denis Diderot (1713-1784) and to Alembert (1717-1783), Catherine the Great wrote in Articles 9 and 11 of her Instruction that:

[…] The sovereign is absolute; for there is no other authority but that which centers in his single person that can act with a vigour proportionate to the extent of such a vast dominion. […] Every other form of government whatsoever would not only have been prejudicial to Russia, but would even have proved its entire ruin [5].

We will not descend into such determinism.

The Western Europeans’ view of Russia also varied: the violent presence of the Cossacks of Tsar Alexander I  (1777-1825), conqueror of Napoleon (1769-1821), experienced by Liège, the Ardenne, then Paris in 1814, and then the fear of troops from a Russia who was “the policeman of Europe”, the Russia of Nicolas I (1796-1855), threatening the Belgian Revolution of 1830 from afar, gave way, after the Crimean War (1853-1856) [6], to the Franco-Russian Alliance of 1892 and to the bloody confrontation of 1914-1918 which led to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk of 3 March 1918. This treaty, in which the central empires imposed peace on the Eastern front, meant, for Russia, the loss of Ukraine, the Baltic States and the Caucasus, against the backdrop of the anti-Bolshevik crusades pursued by the Allies: the English, French, Italian, American and Japanese intervened directly and militarily until 1920 [7].

Then came the fascination exerted by Petrograd, then Moscow, the new capital of a Bolshevik socialism, on our intellectuals and proletariat, until the end of the 20th century for some. A land existed, said André Gide (1869-1951) in 1936, where utopia was becoming reality [8], and which, increasingly, asserted itself as a global superpower with the United States, as French sociologist Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) had foreseen a century earlier, in 1835, in Democracy in America:

There are, at the present time, two great nations in the world which seem to tend towards the same end, although they started from different points: I allude to the Russians and the Americans. Both of them have grown up unnoticed; and whilst the attention of mankind was directed elsewhere, they have suddenly assumed a most prominent place amongst the nations; and the world learned their existence and their greatness at almost the same time.

All other nations seem to have nearly reached their natural limits, and only to be charged with the maintenance of their power; but these are still in the act of growth; all the others are stopped, or continue to advance with extreme difficulty; these are proceeding with ease and with celerity along a path to which the human eye can assign no term [9].

 

2. The Second Russian Revolution

The arrival of Mikhail Gorbachev in the Kremlin in March 1985 was a major bifurcation which triggered a reversion movement in Europe. The backdrop was characterised by the partial failure of the implementation of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), held in Helsinki in 1975 [10]. It was also a period of tensions over the siting of missiles in Europe, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the Polish crisis in the early 1980s.

From 1985 to 1986, the reforming Russian leader developed an idea which he presented in a speech he gave in London in 1984: in his view, Europe is our common home [11]. This initial signal enabled the European Economic Community, the following year, to begin negotiations with Moscow for the purpose of preparing a draft agreement on trade and cooperation. One of Gorbachev’s collaborators, Vladimir Lukin, a diplomat at the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation (MID), noted in 1988 that the European Common Home proclaimed by President Gorbachev represents the home of a civilisation on the periphery of which we have remained for a long time. Lukin, the future ambassador to Washington, noted that this process, which at that time was growing in Russia and in a number of countries in the East, had, everywhere, the same historical dimension, namely the dimension of a return towards Europe [12].

With his New Thinking, Gorbachev continued his reform of the USSR [13]. In his famous speech of 7 December 1988 at the United Nations in New York, the Kremlin leader showed a new face of Russia and undertook to withdraw from Germany and from Eastern Europe a substantial portion of the Soviet troops stationed there.

A few months later, on 6 July 1989, before the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, where, in 1959, General de Gaulle (1890-1970) had evoked the idea of a Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals [14], Mikhail Gorbachev announced the repeal of the Brezhnev doctrine. This dealt with the right of the USSR to intervene in the socialist countries to defend the Communist doctrine and its territorial acquisitions. It was in this speech that the First Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party repeated the words of Victor Hugo (1802-1885) on the United States of Europe, uttered in 1849:

[…] the day will come when you, France, you, Russia, you, Italy, you, England, you Germany — all of you, all the nations of the continent — will, without losing your distinguishing features and your splendid distinctiveness, merge inseparably into some high society and form a European brotherhood … the day will come when only the battlefield will be markets open for trade and minds open to ideas [15].

President Mikhail Gorbachev at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, 6 July 1989 (Photo capture INA)

In this speech, Gorbachev gave a broad explanation of his European Home concept and concluded that, by uniting, Europeans would be able to address the challenges of the 21st century.

[…] We are convinced that what they need is one Europe — peaceful and democratic, a Europe that maintains all its diversity and common humanistic ideas, a prosperous Europe that extends its hand to the rest of the world. A Europe that confidently advances into the future. It is in such a Europe that we visualise our own future [16].

At the time, this Soviet project, with its increasingly social-democrat orientation, was strongly supported by French President François Mitterrand (1916-1996) who tried to bolster its content, notably when he outlined the following plan on television on 31 December 1989:

On the basis of the Helsinki agreements, I expect to see the birth of a European Confederation, in the true sense of the word, in the 1990s, which will involve all states of our continent in a common organisation with continuous exchange, peace and security [17].

In Mitterrand’s view, the Pan-European union, the confederation he announced in his speech at the Elysée Palace, was not intended to replace the EEC.

In this context, the Warsaw Pact member countries and the NATO countries signed the Paris Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. Likewise, in the wake of this, Moscow endorsed the Charter for a New Europe, adopted by the 34 countries at the end of the same summit, organised ahead of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) of 19-21 November 1990 [18]. This charter dealt with respect for democratic pluralism and human rights and freedoms, and it aimed to open a new era:

We, the Heads of State or Government of the States participating in the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, have assembled in Paris at a time of profound change and historic expectations. The era of confrontation and division of Europe has ended. We declare that henceforth our, relations will be founded on respect and co-operation. Europe is liberating itself from the legacy of the past. The courage of men and women, the strength of the will of the peoples and the power of the ideas of the Helsinki Final Act have opened a new era of democracy, peace and unity in Europe [19].

 Hopes were clearly very high. In fact, according to Professor Hiski Haukkala, by signing the Paris Charter, Gorbachev signaled the end of a competing Soviet normative agenda for the future development of the European international society. Once again it was Europe’s turn to condition Russia’s place in Europe [20].

 

3. The seeds of a future problem

However, in late June 1991, after the Conference of the European Confederation held in Prague, on the initiative of François Mitterrand and endorsed by Vaclav Havel (1936-2011), President of Czechoslovakia, it seemed that it was a failure [21]. Mitterrand’s former advisor on the matter wrote that, in this case, the French President’s only mistake was being right too soon. His clear thinking collided with the convergence of conservatism (that of the Americans, who primarily wanted to maintain their influence in Europe) and impatience (that of the countries of Eastern Europe, who were keen to climb aboard the Community train) [22]. The acceleration of the processes of opening up to the countries of the East, German reunification, and the hostility of the United States to a process in which they were not involved caused the demise of the Confederation and the Common Home [23]. Jacques Lévesque, Professor at UQAM, expressed it thus:

The rapid and unexpected collapse of the regimes of Eastern Europe brought about the ruin of Gorbachev’s ideology of transition and European policy by depriving it of the essential drivers for its implementation and caused the disintegration of the Soviet Union itself [24].

In December 1991, Gorbachev’s USSR imploded in favour of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), dominated by the Russian Federation.

In spring 1992, after these events, Andrei Kozyrev, Foreign Minister under Russian President Boris Yeltsin (1931-2007), stressed the future importance for Russia of being part of the European structures and confirmed the value of active participation in the European process. Use of the norms and expertise accumulated in the European context would, he observed, be of great help in solving the internal problems of Russia and of the other former Soviet republics[25]. Under his influence, Russia applied for membership of the Council of Europe in May 1992, joining it on 28 February 1996 [26]. This was a significant step, too often forgotten. In November 1992, Russia also entered into negotiations with the EEC with a view to a partnership and cooperation agreement on shared democratic values, respect for human rights, and entrepreneurship. This agreement was signed on 24 June 1994 in Corfu (Italy), where Russia and the European Union declared themselves mutual strategic partners [27]. This was another important step in the rapprochement between Russia and Europe. This rapprochement was not merely a signature on paper: from 1990 to 1994, the EEC was responsible for 60% of the international aid to Russia via the TACIS programme [28], and it became one of Moscow’s leading commercial partners, representing more than a third of Russia’s foreign trade [29].

This process of rapprochement suffered as a result of NATO’s marginalisation of Russia during the Balkan wars [30]. This marginalisation triggered anti-Western sentiments and cost Kozyrev his job, despite his efforts to bring about, in the face of increasingly strong Russian nationalist pressure, a switch from his policy to a defence of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a vital interest of Russia [31].

In January 1996, Kozyrev was replaced by Yevgeny Primakov (1929-2015). A brilliant academic who spoke several languages, including Arabic and French, Primakov was in favour of a multipolar diplomacy in which Russia would assume a Eurasian power role, including in the ‘near abroad’ countries of the former Soviet republics. This multipolarity was viewed on the other side of the Atlantic as a desire to harm the United States on all fronts [32]. Europe, however, was still a favoured partner of Russia when a strengthened partnership agreement was signed in November 1997 [33]. The attractiveness of Europe for the Russians had lost the euphoria of the early days, especially as Brussels was showing increasing irritation through its constant criticisms, particularly concerning the Chechen question. In March 1999, it was the unilateral intervention triggered by the US Administration in Kosovo which caused a crisis with NATO; it reached its climax with the occupation by Russian paratroopers of Slatina-Pristina airport on 12 June 1999 [34]. This was also the time of the NATO expansion to include the “countries of the East”.

The US leaders and their West German counterparts skilfully derailed Gorbachev’s plans, offering NATO membership to East Germany, without making any formal promises, not in writing at any rate, on the future of the alliance [35]. But Mary Elise Sarotte, Professor of history at the University of Southern California, highlighted this when she recalled that James Baker, former Secretary of State under George H. W. Bush (1924-2018), from 1989 to 1993, had written in his memoirs: almost every achievement contains within its success the seeds of a future problem. She observed that, by design, Russia was left on the periphery of a post-Cold War Europe. A young KGB officer serving in East Germany in 1989 offered his own recollection of the era in an interview a decade later, in which he remembered returning to Moscow full of bitterness at how “the Soviet Union had lost its position in Europe” [36].

His name was Vladimir Putin, and he would one day have the power to act on that bitterness [37].

 

4. Outstretched hand and closed fist

The arrival of Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin took place against a background of détente with the West, when the post-9/11 war on terror and the development of energy cooperation with Western Europe were major factors.

As the first Russian leader to address the Bundestag, in September 2001, Vladimir Putin began his speech in Russian then continued at length in the language of Goethe, Schiller and Kant. He underlined the importance of European culture by recalling the significant contribution made by Russia to that culture which, he noted, has known no borders and has always been a common asset. And he continued:

As for European integration, we not just support these processes, but we are looking to them with hope. We view them as a people who have learned the lesson of the Cold War and the peril of the ideology of occupation very well. But here, I think, it would be pertinent to add that Europe did not gain from that division either.

It is my firm conviction that in today’s rapidly changing world, in a world witnessing truly dramatic demographic changes and an exceptionally high economic growth in some regions, Europe also has an immediate interest in promoting relations with Russia.

No one calls in question the great value of Europe’s relations with the United States. I am just of the opinion that Europe will reinforce its reputation of a strong and truly independent centre of world politics soundly and for a long time if it succeeds in bringing together its own potential and that of Russia, including its human, territorial and natural resources and its economic, cultural and defense potential [38].

Alongside this outstretched hand, the Kremlin leader lamented the objections that remained with the West and demanded loyalty from NATO by questioning the soundness of the expansion to the East and bemoaning the inability to reach an agreement on antimissile defense systems. Closing his speech about German-Russian relations, Vladimir Putin spoke of his conviction that Germany and Russia were turning over a new page in their relations, thereby making our joint contribution to building a common European home [39].

In the years that followed, Europe became the principal commercial partner of a Russia whose GDP growth reached 7% per year from 2000 to 2007 [40]. This favourable climate meant that the Russian-European Summit in St Petersburg in May 2003 was a great success. At this Summit, the Russian and European diplomats defined four spaces: a common economic space, a common space of freedom, security and justice, a common space of cooperation in the field of external security, and a common space on research and education [41]. The Moscow Summit of May 2005 outlined a series of roadmaps for the implementation of these cooperation spaces founded on security and stability. The Russians and Europeans agreed to actively promote them in a mutually beneficial manner, through close result-oriented EU-Russia collaboration and dialogue, thereby contributing effectively to creating a greater Europe without dividing lines and based on common values [42].

However, once again the geopolitical context collapsed. The Chechen terrorist attacks in Moscow (2002) and in Beslan (2004), the effects of the eastward expansion of the European Union in 2004 to include eight post-communist countries, meaning that Russia’s ‘near abroad’ – especially Belarus and Ukraine – became Europe’s ‘near abroad’, and the suspicion of European support for the colour revolutions – Georgia in 2003, Ukraine in 2004, and Kyrgyzstan in 2005 – led to a new Russian distrust of Europe. Simultaneously, the blatant human rights violations of Vladimir Putin’s regime and especially the assassination, in 2006, of Moscow-based journalist Anna Politkovskaya dashed the European hopes that had arisen from the 2003 Summit.

Russian president Vladimir Putin delivers his remarks about « Russia’s Role in World Politics » during the 43rd Annual Conference on Security Policy in Munich, Germany, Feb. 10, 2007. The theme for the conference is « Global Crisis-Global Responsibilities. » Defense Dept. photo by Cherie A. Thurlby (released)

It was a frustrated Vladimir Putin who attended the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy on 10 February 2007. As Professor Richard Sakwa from the University of Kent wrote, Putin, who was probably the most European leader his country had ever known, intended to bring his country into a new phase of international relations [43]. The Russian president issued a direct challenge to the unipolar model established by the role of the United States in the world and advocated a return to a multipolar world which took account of the economic realities of the planet: China, India, and BRICS, including Russia, had emerged, he pointed out. And although the Kremlin leader at the end of his mandate again evoked the idea of “the great European family”, he mainly denounced the insecurity which the NATO expansion was causing at the Russian borders, stating:

I think it is obvious that NATO expansion does not have any relation with the modernisation of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? [44]

When the new president Dmitri Medvedev entered office on 7 May 2008, all this tension seemed to be forgotten. The Foreign Policy Concept which the President of the Russian Federation approved on 15 July 2008 called for strategic relations to be established with the European Union on a solid, modern legal basis and for a legal space to be created under the auspices of the Council of Europe which would extend across the whole of Europe.

The main objective of the Russian foreign policy on the European track is to create a truly open, democratic system of regional collective security and cooperation ensuring the unity of the Euro-Atlantic region, from Vancouver to Vladivostok, in such a way as not to allow its new fragmentation and reproduction of bloc-based approaches which still persist in the European architecture that took shape during the Cold War period. This is precisely the essence of the initiative aimed at concluding a European security treaty, the elaboration of which could be launched at a pan-European summit [45].

Thereupon, Moscow called for the construction of a genuinely unified Europe, without dividing lines, through equal interaction between Russia, the European Union and the United States. In addition, since Russia was asserting itself as the biggest European State with a multinational and multiconfessional society and centuries-old history, the Kremlin offered to play a constructive role in ensuring a civilizational compatibility of Europe, and harmonious integration of religious minorities, including in view of the various existing migration trends. The new policy concept also called for a strengthening of the role of the Council of Europe, and of the OSCE, and announced the desire of the Russian Federation to develop its relations with the European Union, a major trade, economic and foreign-policy partner. Russia also stated that it was interested in establishing a strategic partnership with the European Union and mutually beneficial relations with the countries in the Union [46].

The ambiguities between the Atlantic democracies also increased. Whereas the United States primarily viewed NATO as a leadership instrument whose role included bringing partners together on missions that might extend beyond the European theatre, the countries of Eastern Europe essentially saw NATO as an instrument of peace in Europe. For their part, the new members from Central and Eastern Europe viewed the Alliance as a bulwark against a Russia which they still feared. As Charles Kupchan wrote, the preoccupation of these countries rendered them open to a Euro-Atlantic order focused more on NATO than on the European Union. This analysis led the professor of International Relations at Georgetown University in Washington, to argue in favour of allowing Russia to join the Atlantic Alliance [47].

To respond to NATO’s continued expansion eastwards, the new military doctrine of Moscow regarded the enlargement of NATO as a major external threat, especially when the alliance contemplated allowing Georgia and Ukraine to join. In anticipation of the annual OSCE meeting in Athens, on 1 December 2009, Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation since 2004, presented a draft treaty on European security, which worried the Europeans and irritated Washington. This reorganisation of the security architecture was based on the idea that any action taken by one of the parties, individually or collectively, including as part of an international organisation, alliance or military coalition, had to take into account the interests of the other signatory parties to the treaty. The European Union responded politely, while drawing attention to the fact that this new proposal should in no way affect the current security obligations of the Member States of the Union [48].

In 2010, a number of initiatives appeared to offer a new momentum in relations between Russia and the West. At the United Nations, Russia voted in favour of sanctions against Iran, which was perceived positively in Brussels. As Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin welcomed his Polish counterpart Donald Tusk in Katyn and expressed remorse regarding the massacre carried out in Poland in 1940 on the orders of Stalin (1878-1953). In April 2010, in Prague, President Dmitri Medvedev signed the New Start Treaty with President Barack Obama with the aim of limiting the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles. The following month, NATO troops, at the cordial invitation of the Russians, marched in Red Square to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the victory over Nazism [49]. Efforts were also maintained on both sides to cement certain cooperation activities. At the EU-Russia Summit at Rostov-on-Don, in spring 2010, a Partnership for Modernisation (P4M) was launched in a relaxed atmosphere, but it failed to deliver any significant improvement in a relationship which some people already viewed as a compromise [50]. It is true that there was a growing feeling of unease in Europe over the reliability of the Russian energy supply [51]. The conflict in South Ossetia between Russia and a Georgia which seemed to be aligning itself with the West also increased tensions at diplomatic and military levels.

 

5. Relations during the stalemate

In July 2013, however, Russian minister Sergey Lavrov published an article in the highly respected international academic publication, the Journal of Common Market Studies; the former Russian representative at the UN (1994-2004) stated that:

European history cannot be imagined without Russia, just as the history of Russia cannot be imagined apart from Europe. For centuries, Russia has been involved in shaping European reality in its political, economic and cultural dimensions. Yet the debate of how close Russia and its west European partners can be and to what degree Russia is a European Country has also been going on for centuries.

Minister Lavrov also pointed out that, in recent years, […] we have an unprecedented opportunity to fulfil the dream of a united Europe [52]. Nevertheless, it was debatable whether that opportunity had passed.

 

President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy at the European University in St. Petersburg, 5 September 2013 (Photo European University)

Less than two months later, on 5 September 2013, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, who was in St Petersburg for the G20 meeting, delivered a lecture at the European University. His words echoed those of Victor Hugo in 1849 and of Vladimir Putin in 2001, among others:

[…] We Europeans, we know one another. We – the French, the Prussians then Germans, the Swedes, the Dutch, the Italians, the Poles, the British, the Russians, and all the others, we have read each other’s books, we listened to each other’s music, we believed in the same God, we have engaged in battles between various sides, we spoke and traded with, and learned from each other, and at times have misunderstood each other. Perhaps we are, as has been said, one “European family”. But then again, one must be careful with a word like that, because to me it immediately brings to mind the first line of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina: « All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. »! I would say that the European family can be happy in its own way. I would say that the European family can be happy in its own way [53].

However, as with Putin’s speech in the Bundestag, the remainder of the text hinted at problems, with Herman Van Rompuy observing:

We share common borders, and also common neighbours. Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova which matter to us both, have to define their own path. But in our view, for Ukraine, an Association Agreement with the European Union would not damage the country’s long-standing ties with Russia. Why should it have to be a case of ‘either/or’? [54]

The creation of the Eurasian Customs Union (ECU) between Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan in 2010 and the ambition to transform it rapidly into a genuine Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) could be interpreted as an initiative aimed at countering the growing presence of the European Union in the post-Soviet area. The Euromaidan demonstrations, which broke out in Ukraine in 2013 at the refusal of President Viktor Yanukovych to sign the Association Agreement with the EU in favour of an agreement with Russia, seemed to realise the Kremlin’s worst fears of seeing its ‘near abroad’ grow in importance.

The annexation of Crimea in March 2014, and in particular the shooting down over the Donetsk region of Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on 17 July 2014, triggered European economic sanctions. These sanctions accelerated the breakdown in relations, especially as they significantly encouraged the rapprochement between Brussels and Kiyv: on 16 September 2014, the Association Agreement was ratified by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the European Parliament. Recalling the statement by US Vice-President Joe Biden that the American leadership had cajoled Europe into imposing sanctions on Russia even though the EU had initially been opposed, Sergey Lavrov pointed out that, for several years, Russia had over-estimated the independence of the European Union and even big European countries. The Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation repeated this view in 2017 [55].

Echoing the words of Russian historian Sergei Medvedev, relations between Europe and Russia had then reached stalemate [56]. At a meeting in Brussels on 14 March 2016 chaired by the Italian politician Federica Mogherini, European High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Foreign Ministers of the 28 Member States unanimously adopted five principles aimed at guiding the Union’s policy on Russia:

– implementation of the Minsk agreement on the Donbas region of September 2014 and February 2015[57] as the key condition for any substantial change in the European Union’s stance towards Russia;

– strengthened relations with the EU’s Eastern partners and other neighbours, in particular in Central Asia;

– strengthening the resilience of the EU (for example, energy security, hybrid threats, or strategic communication);

– the need for selective engagement with Russia on issues of interest to the EU;

– the need to engage in people-to-people contacts and support Russian civil society[58].

These clearly stated positions illustrated but also contributed to the estrangement between Europe and the Russian Federation. Russia was also, and increasingly, openly ignoring the Union as an institution, as demonstrated by the visit to Moscow, in February 2021, of Josep Borrell, which coincided with the expulsion of European diplomats in the case involving Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny [59]. Russia seems to be gradually detaching itself from Europe, wrote the EU High Representative upon his return from this difficult trip[60].

The European Union’s commitment towards the Ukrainians had become increasingly evident since the Russian aggression of 24 February 2022. At the Foreign Affairs Council of 17 October 2022, the ministers took a number of important decisions after being informed of the military escalation and the strikes on Kiyv by the Russian army. They agreed to establish an EU military assistance mission to support the Ukrainian armed forces. The mission would train around 15,000 soldiers on EU territory. They also agreed to allocate €500 million in respect of the European Peace Facility to finance supplies intended for the Ukrainian forces, thus increasing military assistance to Ukraine to €3.1 billion[61].

This commitment clearly provided arguments for Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov when he declared, on 20 October 2022, that the supplies of weapons from the European Union to Kiyv made it a “stakeholder in the conflict” in Ukraine and that countries who supply weapons to Ukraine were “sponsors of terrorism[62].

 

6. Conclusion: power is not an emotion

6.1. From Kant to Hobbes…

Since their earliest contacts, the countries and peoples of Western Europe have had complex relations with Russia. The analysis of these relations is based on the preliminary questions of, firstly, what Russia is and, secondly, what Europe is, questions which are impossible to answer. Intuitively, we feel that it is an issue of temporality: the complex relationship between our present and our past, between history and future: the world to come, aspirations, plans.

The European Union and Russia do not use the same geopolitical grammar [63], since, in Moscow’s view, Europe often discredits itself through its soft power, which is perceived by the Kremlin, and by other governments, as a weak and haphazard hieratic policy. The shift in the discourse of several representatives of the European Union since the aggression in March 2022 has also surprised observers. This was the case when, on 13 October 2022, European Commission Vice-President and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, declared, in response to the bellicose rhetoric of Vladimir Putin, that a Russian nuclear attack against Ukraine would provoke such a powerful answer that the Russian army would be annihilated [64]. The nature and the legitimacy of such statements is debatable. As Kathleen R. McNamara, Professor at Georgetown University and an expert in European issues, wrote in an article of The Washington Post entitled Is Venus becoming Mars?, whereas, previously, the European Union had sought to rise above the fray in the struggles between major powers, attempting to offer a peaceful alternative to violence and coercion, European leaders seemed to be trying to remake the European DNA and become a traditional power player [65]. This change was particularly surprising to McNamara since, in her book on constructing authority in the Union, published in 2017, she argued that the policy of the European Union, since it sought to complement rather than compete with the nation States that form the Union, rendered its authority inherently fragile [66].

The American neo-conservative historian and political scientist Robert Kagan, who was based in Brussels in the early 2000s, had also described the European Union as a particularly weak and passive actor in international relations, denouncing it as entering a posthistorical paradise of peace and relative prosperity by referencing the realisation of the Perpetual Peace of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), published in 1795 [67]. Kagan also expressed in a very gendered and well-known phrase that Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus. He observed that rather than viewing the collapse of the Soviet Union as an opportunity to flex global muscles, Europeans took it as an opportunity to cash in on a sizable peace dividend [68].

Kagan, who wrote Of Paradise and Power in 2003, denounced both Gaullism and Ostpolitik, as well as the European conviction that the United States’ stance towards the Soviet Union was too confrontational, too militaristic, and too dangerous. In this work, which focused on relations between the United States and Europe, Kagan drew a distinction between Western Europe, especially France and Germany, and the nations of Central and Eastern Europe, which, because of their different histories, had a historically ingrained fear of Russian power and, therefore, a more American perception of Hobbesian realities [69]. To explain this analysis, it is worth noting that in Leviathan, his famous treaty published in 1651, the English philosopher Hobbes (1588-1679) stated that:

[…] Fear of oppression disposes a man to strike first, or to seek aid through society, for there is no other way for a man to secure his life and liberty.

Men who distrust their own subtlety are in better shape for victory than those who suppose themselves to be wise or crafty. For the latter love to consult, whereas the former (fearing to be outdone in any negotiations) prefer to strike first  [70].

 Yet since fear was a communicative passion, it placed men in a state of perpetual defiance in which Hobbes calls for a war of every man against every man.

In this war of every man against every man nothing can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice have no place there. Where there is no common power, there is no law; and where there is no law, there is no injustice. In war the two chief virtues are force and fraud. Justice and injustice are not among the faculties of the body or of the mind [71].

The French philosopher and political scientist Jean-Marc Ferry, who taught at the Free University of Brussels and at the University of Nantes, offered a rather curt criticism of Kagan’s analysis, stating that the American had not understood the philosophical breakthrough which meant that the European Union, and in particular some of its Member States (France, Germany and Belgium), were leaning towards the increasingly important perspective of a cosmopolitan rule of law [72]. Ferry observed that the nations of Europe were weaker half a century ago than they were today, including in relation to America.

Today, they have the power – he continues – to assert a “Kantian” orientation towards the United States.

Ferry criticised Kagan for confusing and conflating power and violence. The philosopher pointed out that Europe’s challenge was precisely that it could have power in Europe without resorting to violence.

As “Kantians”, Europeans rely on a power which is a moral and a critical power rather than a physical power. […]  It is clear that if, like the United States, one claims always to be right and only ever to fight for the Righteous (since adversaries embody evil, we ourselves would embody good), it would be difficult to have a genuine discourse on Right. It demands a historical – as it were – sensitivity to what Hegel called “causality of fate”. There is, on the part of the Americans, barely any serious attempt to understand the historical reasons why the vast majority of the States is organised in an authoritarian, or even totalitarian, way; and that, therefore, it is unrealistic to want to introduce democracy by force without considering the context. However, Europeans are undoubtedly sensitive to history – almost overly so [73].

Returning to Josep Borrell, in his speech to the ambassadors on 10 October 2022, the High Representative of the European Union endorsed the view that we Europeans are too much Kantians and not enough Hobbesians [74]. As the researcher Kathleen McNamara noted in The Washington Post, the reference to Hobbes is a striking reminder of the Kagan’s disdainful view of the European Union as a weak, cosmopolitan actor [75]. However, McNamara also observed that there was no robust military capacity behind the threat uttered by Josep Borrell on 13 October that would ensure the annihilation of the Russian army.

This view is also repeated more scathingly by Dmitri Medvedev, Vice-President of the Russian Security Council, in Pravda on 14 October 2022, when he described Josep Borrel as a great strategist and great military leader in a non-existent European army [76].

 

6.2. More RealPolitik for Europe?

In a collective work published in September 2022 entitled « Ukraine, the first global war », Nicole Gnesotto observed that, for Europe to be a power, its responsibility would involve agreeing to examine its principles against reality. (…) An end to the Ukrainian crisis, she points out, assumes that Europe accepts that it must go beyond the diplomacy of values and return to Realpolitik [77]. In her recent work « Europe: adapt or perish », the French historian recalls the importance of the report produced by the former Belgian statesman Pierre Harmel (1911-2009) in 1967 for the North Atlantic Council. This new edition from the new alliance evangelist, to echo the words of the former Foreign Minister in a speech in the Belgian Chamber [78], aimed not only to ensure a collective defence of the Atlantic area but also attempted to reduce East-West tensions. As Harmel wrote:

The easing of tensions is not the final objective: the ultimate goal of the Alliance is to achieve a just and lasting peaceful order in Europe, accompanied by the appropriate security guarantees, the ultimate goal of the alliance [79].

This purpose of the Harmel Exercise is still fundamentally relevant. Moreover, evoking the failure of an attempt to rebuild relations between Europe and Russia on the initiative of France in May 2021, Gnesotto called for military power to be put in its proper place, for it to be made an essential element of diplomatic credibility, a tool at the service of intelligence, negotiation, and persuasion [80].

It is said that now is not the time. But there will come a time when the grievances of the various parties on the ground will have to be taken into consideration [81].

However, this was also the conviction which Dominique de Villepin expressed very clearly when talking about innovation in diplomacy and in capacity to propose a new way: even, stated the former Prime Minister of France during the presidency of Jacques Chirac (1932-2019),

[…] when one has an adversary whom one believes to be in the wrong, a war criminal, evil, one must go part of the way. Otherwise, nothing happens [82].

The French sociologist Edgar Morin goes further: he outlines, even for today, the foundations of a peaceful compromise between the warring parties. At the end of his analysis, he advocates for Ukraine a neutrality similar to Austria, or even European integration. And he adds that it would be important to envisage, in future, the inclusion of Russia in the European Union as a positive outcome of Russian-Western relations. Anticipating possible strong reactions from readers, Morin observes that:

The anti-Russian hysteria, not only in Ukraine but also in the West, and especially in France, should eventually decline and disappear, in the same way as the nationalist hysteria of Nazi Germany and the anti-German hysteria which identified Germany and Nazism [83].

 In his work on perpetual peace, the great Prussian philosopher Kant observed that, in any event, the battlefield is the only court in which States argue for their rights; but victory, through which they win the case, does not decide in favour of their cause [84]. Admittedly, this was before the United Nations tried unsuccessfully, after two global holocausts, to establish the Perpetual Peace he held so dear.

Nevertheless, I feel that Europe must not abandon its Kantian ambition to favour the power of law over that of violence. However, one can concur with Henry Kissinger’s view that the most effective foreign policy is one that marries the principles of power and legitimacy [85], provided that the legitimacy is also the legitimacy of Law: power and legitimacy in a Europe which is faithful to its values and avoids the American debate between deep-engagers who favour US leadership via NATO and restrainers who favour disengagement and observe that their troops have remained twice as long on operations since the end of the Cold War than during that period [86].

It is for the Europeans themselves to take responsibility for who they are; if possible from the Atlantic to the Urals.

Admittedly, the price to pay for the Union seems very high today, since it involves having, simultaneously, a European diplomacy equal to the task, in other words one which relies more on power than on emotion, a military power which guards and protects us and gives us independence from the United States, and a diplomatic power which offers a genuine opportunity to communicate with a voice other than violence.

 

Philippe Destatte

@PhD2050

 

[1] This text originated in a lecture presented at the Blue-Point in Liège on 24 October 2022 at the initiative of Rotary International. I would like to thank Caroline Goffinet and Alain Lesage for their initiative. I am grateful to my historian colleague Paul Delforge for his careful review of the manuscript and his suggestions. As the subject is particularly vast, we will refer to the recent abundant scientific literature on the subject, including: Tom CASIER and Joan DE BARDELEBEN ed., EU-Russia Relations in Crisis, Understanding Diverging Perceptions, Abingdon, Routledge, 2018. – David MAXINE, Jackie GOWER, Hiski HAUKKALA ed., National Perspectives on Russia European Foreign Policy in the Making, Abingdon, Routledge, 2013. – Tuomas FORSBERG & Hiski HAUKKALA, The European Union and Russia, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. – Romanova, Tatiana ROMANOVA and David MAXINE ed., The Routledge Handbook of EU-Russia Relations, Structures, Actors, Issues, Abingdon: Routledge, 2021. – Stephan KEUKELEIRE & Tom DELREUX, The Foreign Policy of the European Union, Bloomsbury Academic, 2022.

[2] Nicholas V. RIASANOVSKY, Histoire de la Russie des origines à nos jours, p. 283-285, Oxford University Press – Robert Laffont, 2014. – Iver B. NEUMANN, Russia’s Standing as a Great Power, 1494-1815, in Ted HOPF ed., Russia’s European Choice, p. 13-34, New York, Palgrave MacMillan, 2008.

[3] Tom CASIER, Gorbachev’s ‘Common European Home’ and its relevance for Russian foreign policy today. Debater a Europa, 2018, 18, p. 17-34. https://kar.kent.ac.uk/66331/

[4] Walter LAQUEUR, Russian Nationalism, in Foreign Affairs, vol. 71, nr 5, Winter 1992-1993, p. 103-116.

[5] Marie-Pierre REY, La Russie face à l’Europe, d’Ivan le Terrible à Vladimir Poutine, p. 144, Paris, Flammarion, 2002.

[6] That humiliating defeat ended the half-century in which Russia was the sole guardian of the system in Europe. Hiski HAUKKALA, A Norm-Maker or a Norm-Taker? The Changing Normative Parameters of Russia’s Place in Europe, in Ted HOPF ed., Russia’s European Choice ..,. p. 41 & 43. – H. Haukkala is Professor of International Relations, Faculty of Management and Business at the University of Tampere.

[7] N. V. RIASANOVSKY, Histoire de la Russie…, p. 522-523.

[8] André GIDE, Retour de l’URSS, Paris, Gallimard, 1936. Rappelé par Marie-Pierre REY, La Russie face à l’Europe, d’Ivan le Terrible à Vladimir Poutine, p. 12, Paris, Flammarion, 2002.

[9] Alexis de TOCQUEVILLE, Democracy in America, Translator Henry Reeve, p. 485,

http://seas3.elte.hu/coursematerial/LojkoMiklos/Alexis-de-Tocqueville-Democracy-in-America.pdf

[10] Hiski HAUKKALA, A Norm-Maker or a Norm-Taker? The Changing Normative Parameters of Russia’s Place in Europe, in Ted HOPF ed., Russia’s European Choice ..,. p. 47.

[11] M.-P. REY, Europe is our Common Home, A study of Gorbachev’s Diplomatic Concept, in The Cold War History Journal, volume 4, n°2, Janvier 2004, p.33–65. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/%20116224%20.pdfGorbachev at the United Nations, President Gorbachev, addressed at the United Nations General Assembly, December 7, 1988. https://www.c-span.org/video/?5292-1/gorbachev-united-nations – Text provided by the Soviet Mission, Associated Press, https://apnews.com/article/1abea48aacda1a9dd520c380a8bc6be6 – See Richard SAKWA, Gorbachev and His Reforms, 1985-1990, New Jersey, Prentice Hall, 1990.

[12] Vladimir LUKIN, in Moskovskie Novosti, n° 38, 1988, in Neil MALCOM ed., Russia and Europe: An End to Confrontation?, p.14, London, Pinter, 1994 – M.-P. REY, « Europe is our Common Home »: A study of Gorbachev’s diplomatic concept, in Cold War History, vol. 4, 2, p. 33-65, 2004.

[13] Mikhail GORBACHEV, Perestroika: New Thinking for our Country and the World, New York, Harper & Collins, 1987.

[14] C. de GAULLE, Discours de Strasbourg du 23 novembre 1959.

[15] Inaugural speech of the Peace Congress, delivered in Paris on 21 August 1849 in Victor HUGO, Œuvres complètes, Actes et Paroles, t.1., Paris Hetzel, 1882. – Stéphanie TONNERRE-SEYCHELLES, Victor Hugo et les Etats-Unis d’Europe, 8 avril 2019. Blog Gallica, https://gallica.bnf.fr/blog/08042019/victor-hugo-et-les-etats-unis-deurope-i?mode=desktop

[16] Address given by Mikhail Gorbachev to the Council of Europe (Strasbourg, 6 July 1989) https://www.cvce.eu/obj/address_given_by_mikhail_gorbachev_to_the_council_of_europe_6_july_1989-en-4c021687-98f9-4727-9e8b-836e0bc1f6fb.htmlVictor Hugo said that the day would come when you, France, you, Russia, you, Italy, you, England, you Germany — all of you, all the nations of the continent — will, without losing your distinguishing features and your splendid distinctiveness, merge inseparably into some high society and form a European brotherhood (…). The day would come when the only battlefield would be markets open for trade and minds open to ideas. (…) We are convinced that what they need is one Europe — peaceful and democratic, a Europe that maintains all its diversity and common humanistic ideas, a prosperous Europe that extends its hand to the rest of the world. A Europe that confidently advances into the future. It is in such a Europe that we visualise our own future.

[17] Allocution de M. François Mitterrand, Président de la République, à l’occasion de la présentation de ses vœux, Paris, dimanche 31 décembre 1989, Texte intégral, République française, Vie publique. https://www.vie-publique.fr/discours/139496-allocution-de-m-francois-mitterrand-president-de-la-republique-loc

[18]. Hubert Védrine notes: for the United States, it is intolerable to think of founding a European confederation without them. Hubert VEDRINE, Les mondes de François Mitterrand, Paris, A. Fayard, 1996. – in Une vision du monde, p. 489-491, Paris, Bouquins, 2022.

[19] Charter of Paris for a New Europe, Paris, November 21, 1991. https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/0/6/39516.pdf

[20] H. HAUKKALA, A Norm-Maker or a Norm-Taker? The Changing Normative Parameters of Russia’s Place in Europe, in Ted HOPF ed., Russia’s European Choice ..,. p. 52.

[21] The newspaper Le Monde described the Prague Conference of 12-14 June 1991 as being as politically inoffensive as a Sorbonne symposium, see: Une initiative controversée de M. Mitterrand, Prague accueille les Assises de la Confédération européenne, in Le Monde, 13 juin 1991. https://www.lemonde.fr/archives/article/1991/06/13/une-initiative-controversee-de-m-mitterrand-prague-accueille-les-assises-de-la-confederation-europeenne_4160582_1819218.html – The place of the United States in this initiative seemed to be at the heart of the press conference of the two presidents at the end of the conference: Conférence de presse conjointe de M. François Mitterrand, Président de la République, et M. Vaclav Havel, président de la République tchécoslovaque, notamment sur le rôle des Etats-Unis dans la construction de l’Europe, la notion géographique de l’Europe et l’éventuelle intégration de la Tchécoslovaquie à l’OTAN, Prague, June 14, 1991, République française, Vie publique.

https://www.vie-publique.fr/discours/133511-conference-de-presse-conjointe-de-m-francois-mitterrand-president-de-l

[22] Jean MUSITELLI, François Mitterrand, architecte de la Grande Europe, Paris, Institut François Mitterrand, 5 février 2012. https://www.mitterrand.org/francois-mitterrand-architecte-de.html Our translation. – Frédéric BOZO, Mitterrand, la fin de la guerre froide et l’unification allemande, p. 344-361, Paris, Odile Jacob, 2005. – Sylvain KAHN, Histoire de la construction de l’Europe depuis 1945, p. 224, Paris, PuF, 2021.

[23] M.-P. REY, La Russie face à l’Europe…, p. 429.

[24] Jacques LEVESQUE, 1989, la fin d’un empire, L’URSS et la libération de l’Europe de l’Est, Paris, Presses de Science Po, 1995. – The Enigma of 1989: The USSR and the Liberation of Eastern Europe, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1997. – J. LEVESQUE, Soviet Approaches to Eastern Europe at the Beginning of 1989, in CWIHP Bulletin, 12/13, 2001.

[25] Andrei KOZYREV, Russia: A Chance for Survival, in Foreign Affairs, vol. 71, no 2, Spring 1992, p. 1-16. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/1992-03-01/russia-chance-survival

[26] The Duma ratified the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms by the Federal Law of 30 March 1998.

[27] S. KAHN, Histoire de la construction de l’Europe…, p. 279.

[28] The EU’s TACIS programme supports democratisation, strengthening of the rule of law and the transition to a market economy in the New Independent States (NIS), which emerged from the break-up of the Soviet Union. These countries are the following: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/FR/TXT/?uri=LEGISSUM:r17003

[29] M.-P. REY, La Russie face à l’Europe…, p. 433.

[30] Ph. DESTATTE, Russia in Nato, Thinking the Unthinkable? in Cadmus Journal, Report to the World Academy of Art and Science on War in Ukraine, Global Perspectives on Causes and Consequences, p. 38-76, July 2022.

http://www.cadmusjournal.org/files/pdfreprints/vol4issue6/Russia-in-NATO-Thinking-the-Unthinkable-PDestatte-The-War-in-Ukraine-July-2022.pdf

[31] Julie DESCHEPPER, Le moment Kozyrev : retour sur les fondements de la politique étrangère post-soviétique, in La Revue russe, n°45, 2015, Les années Eltsine, p. 79-89. p. 86. https://www.persee.fr/doc/russe_1161-0557_2015_num_45_1_2689#russe_1161-0557_2015_num_45_1_T8_0084_0000

[32] N. S. RIASANOVSKY, Histoire de la Russie…, p. 748. L’historien américain écrit : pour monter une coalition mondiale antiaméricaine sous la bannière de la « multipolarité », la Russie est prête à tous les sacrifices (…).

[33] ACCORD DE PARTENARIAT ET DE COOPÉRATION établissant un partenariat entre les Communautés européennes et leurs États membres, d’une part, et la Fédération de Russie, d’autre part, 28 novembre 1997. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/FR/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX%3A21997A1128%2801%29#d1e214-3-1

[34] Mary Elise SAROTTE, Not one inch, America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate, p. 308, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2021. – Bill CLINTON, My Life, Ma vie, Random House – Odile Jacob, 2004, p. 902-903.

[35] Ph. DESTATTE, Russia in Nato, Thinking the Unthinkable? in Cadmus Journal, Report to the World Academy of Art and Science on War in Ukraine, Global Perspectives on Causes and Consequences, p. 38-76, July 2022.

http://www.cadmusjournal.org/files/pdfreprints/vol4issue6/Russia-in-NATO-Thinking-the-Unthinkable-PDestatte-The-War-in-Ukraine-July-2022.pdf

[36] M. E. SAROTTE, Not one inch…, p. 19-20.

[37] Mary Elise SAROTTE, A Broken Promise? What the West Really Told Moscow about NATO expansion, in Foreign Affairs, Sept-Oct 2014, p. 90-97.

[38] Vladimir PUTIN, Speech in the Bundestag of the Federal Republic of Germany, September 25, 2001. http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/21340

Vidéo : https://www.c-span.org/video/?166424-1/terrorist-attacks-us

[39] I am convinced that today we are turning over a new page in our bilateral relations, thereby making our joint contribution to building a common European home. Vladimir PUTIN, Speech in the Bundestag… September 25, 2001. http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/21340

[40] Hiski HAUKKALA, From Cooperative to Contested Europe? The Conflict in Ukraine as a Culmination of a Long-Term Crisis in EU–Russia Relations, in Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 2015, 23:1, p. 25-40, p. 30.

[41] M.-P. REY, La Russie face à l’Europe…, p. 437.

[42] Richard SAKWA, Russia against the Rest, The Post-Cold War Crisis of World Order, p. 256, Cambridge University Press, 2017.

[43] Richard SAKWA, Frontline Ukraine, Crisis in Borderlands, p. 30-31, London, Bloomsbury Academic, 2021.

[44] The stones and concrete blocks of the Berlin Wall have long been distributed as souvenirs. But we should not forget that the fall of the Berlin Wall was possible thanks to a historic choice – one that was also made by our people, the people of Russia – a choice in favour of democracy, freedom, openness and a sincere partnership with all the members of the big European family. Vladimir PUTIN, Speech and the Following Discussion at the Munich Conference on Security Policy, February 10, 2007.http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/24034

Video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLjG1THpeNQ

[45] The Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation, 12 January 2008. Approved by the President 15 July 2008. http://en.kremlin.ru/supplement/4116

[46] The Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation, 12 January 2008.

[47] Charles A. KUPCHAN, NATO’s Final Frontier, Why Russia Should join the Atlantic Alliance, in Foreign Affairs, Vol. 89, Nr 3, May-June 2010, p. 100-112, p. 103. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russian-federation/2010-05-01/natos-final-frontier

[48]  Conclusions of the EU/Russia Summit European Parliament resolution of 17 June 2010 on the conclusions of the EU/Russia summit, 31 May – 1 June 2010. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52010IP0234

[49] Walter LAQUEUR, Moscow’s Modernization Dilemma, Is Russia charting a New Foreign Policy, in Foreign Affairs, Vol. 89, Nr 6, Nov. – Dec. 2010, p. 153-160. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2010-11-01/moscows-modernization-dilemma

[50] H. HAUKKALA, From Cooperative to Contested Europe?, p. 30sv. – Boris TOUMANOV, Un peu de détente politique à Rostov, dans La Libre Belgique, 31 mai 2010. https://www.lalibre.be/international/2010/05/31/un-peu-de-detente-politique-a-rostov-JPZY2E3B3VHKFD24QRZUW2532Q/

[51] In January 2009, Russia pretended to stop gas deliveries to Europe. S. KAHN, op. cit., p. 271.

[52] Sergey LAVROV, State of the Union Russia-EU: Prospects for Partnership in the Changing World, in Journal of Common Market Studies, Vol. 51, p. 6-12, July 9, 2013.

[53] Herman VAN ROMPUY, Russia and Europe, Today, Lecture at the European University at Saint-Petersburg, 5 September 2013. https://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/138657.pdf

[54] Ibidem.

[55] Richard SAKWA, Russia against the Rest. The Post-Cold War Crisis of World Order, p. 259-260 and 261, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017. – Exclusive: « We will survive sanctions » says Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to FRANCE24, 17 Dec. 2014. On 17 December 2014,.

[56] Stalemate may be the most appropriate definition of the present quality of EU – Sergei MEDVEDEV, The Stalemate in EU-Russia Relations, Between ‘Sovereignty’ and ‘Europeanisation, in Ted HOPF ed, Russia’s European Choice, p. 215–232, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. – H. HAUKKALA, From Cooperative to Contested Europe?, p. 30. – Fabienne BOSSUYT & Peter VAN ELSUWEGE ed, Principled Pragmatism in Practice, The EU’s Policy Towards Russia after Crimea, Leiden, Brill, 2021. – Derek AVERRE & Kataryna WOLCZUK eds, The Ukraine Conflict: Security, Identity and Politics in the Wider Europe, Abingdon, Routledge, 2018. – Marco SIDDI, The partnership that failed: EU-Russia relations and the war in Ukraine. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/362542921_The_partnership_that_failed_EU-Russia_relations_and_the_war_in_Ukraine.

[57] S. KAHN, op. cit., p. 279.

[58] Foreign Affairs Council, 14 March 2016, European Council, Council of the European Union, https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/fac/2016/03/14/

See also: Facts and figures about EU-Russia Relations. Nov. 4, 2022. https://www.eeas.europa.eu/sites/default/files/eeas-eu-russia_relation-en_2021-07.pdf

[59] Tatiana KASTOUEVA-JEAN, La Russie après la réforme constitutionnelle, dans Thierry de MONTBRIAL et Dominique DAVID, RAMSES 2022, p. 147, Paris, IFRI-Dunod, 2021.

[60] Josep BORRELL, Ma visite à Moscou et l’avenir des relations entre l’UE et la Russie, Bruxelles, European Union External Action (EEAS), 7 février 2021. https://www.eeas.europa.eu/eeas/ma-visite-%C3%A0-moscou-et-lavenir-des-relations-entre-lue-et-la-russie_fr

[61] Foreign Affairs Council, 17 October 2022.

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/fac/2022/10/17/

[62] Guerre en Ukraine : la Russie accuse l’Union européenne d’être partie prenante dans le conflit, Paris, AFP, 20 octobre 2022.

[63] Sylvain KAHN, Histoire de la construction de l’Europe…, p. 323.

[64] Jorge LIBOREIRO, Ukraine war: Russian army will be « annihilated » if it launches a nuclear attack, warns Josep Borrell, in Euronews, October 14, 2022. https://www.euronews.com/my-europe/2022/10/13/the-russian-army-will-be-annihilated-if-it-launches-a-nuclear-attack-warns-josep-borrellTop EU diplomat says Russian army will be ‘annihilated’ if Putin nukes Ukraine Josep Borrell said that the West’s answer to a nuclear attack would be ‘powerful’ but not nuclear. Le Monde with AFP, October 13, 2022. https://www.lemonde.fr/en/european-union/article/2022/10/13/top-eu-diplomat-says-russian-army-be-annihilated-if-putin-nukes-ukraine_6000230_156.html

[65] Kathleen R. MCNAMARA, The EU is turning geopolitical. Is Venus becoming Mars?, EU Diplomat Josep Borrell warned the Russian Army will be « annihilated » if it launches a nuclear attack. These words suggest a more assertive European Union, in The Washington Post, October 17, 2022. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/10/17/eu-annihilate-russia-putin-borrell/

[66] K. MCNAMARA, Politics of Everyday Europe: Constructing Authority in the European Union, Oxford University Press, 2017.

[67] Immanuel KANT, Toward Perpetual Peace and Other Writings on Politics, Peace and History, Translated by David L. Colclasure, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2006. https://platypus1917.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/kant_towardperpetualpeacebook.pdf – E. KANT, Œuvres philosophiques, III, Les derniers écrits, coll. Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Paris, Gallimard – NRF, 1986.

[68]. Robert KAGAN, Power and Weakness, Policy Review, June & July 2002, p. 1-2 & 8. http://users.clas.ufl.edu/zselden/course%20readings/rkagan.pdf – K. MCNAMARA, Politics of Everyday Europe…

[69] Robert KAGAN, Of Paradise and Power, America and Europe in the New World Order, p. 5-6, New York, Knopf Publishing Group, 2003.

[70] Hobbes’s Leviathan, Reprinted from the edition of 1651, Oxford, At the Clarendom Press – Oxford University Press, 1909-1965. https://files.libertyfund.org/files/869/0161_Bk.pdf – Brigitte GEONGET, Le concept kantien d’insociable sociabilité, Éléments pour une étude généalogique : Kant entre Hobbes et Rousseau, in Revue germanique internationale, 6, 1996. http://journals.openedition.org/rgi/577

[71] Thomas HOBBES, Leviathan… – Jean TERREL, Thomas Hobbes : philosopher par temps de crises, Paris, PuF, 2012.

[72] The concept obviously refers to the idea of a League of Nations and cosmopolitical law between the citizens of a universal state, dear to KANT in his text Idée d’une histoire universelle au point de vue cosmopolitique (1784) dans E. KANT, Œuvres philosophiques, II, Des prolégomènes aux écrits de 1791, coll. Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, p. 187-205 (traduction of Luc Ferry), Paris, Gallimard – NRF, 1985.

[73] Jean-Marc FERRY, A propos de La puissance et la faiblesse de Robert Kagan, Les Etats-Unis et l’Europe, ou le choc de deux universalismes, in Septentrion, p. 263-278, Jean-Marc Ferry, interview with Muriel Ruol, La puissance et la faiblesse. Les États-Unis et l’Europe, Bruxelles, La Revue nouvelle, janv.-fév. 2004/n° 1-2. https://books.openedition.org/septentrion/16389?lang=fr BEN Mokhtar BARKA, Jean-Marie RUIZ, dir., États-Unis / Europe : Des modèles en miroir, Villeneuve d’Ascq, Presses universitaires du Septentrion, 2006.

[74] EU Ambassadors Annual Conference 2022: Opening Speech by High Representative Josep Borrell, Brussels, October 10, 2022.

https://www.eeas.europa.eu/eeas/eu-ambassadors-annual-conference-2022-opening-speech-high-representative-josep-borrell_en

[75] K. MCNAMARA, Politics of Everyday Europe…

[76] Medvedev: Borrell’s remarks about Russian nuclear strike, in Pravda, 14 October 2022. https://english.pravda.ru/news/world/154434-medvedev_borrell/

[77] Nicole GNESOTTO, La puissance n’est pas l’émotion, Conversation avec Laurent Greilsamer, dans E. FOTTORINO dir., Ukraine, Première guerre mondialisée, p. 37, Paris, Éditions Le 1, 2022. Texte du 9 mars 2022.

[78] Vincent DUJARDIN, Pierre Harmel, Biographie, p. 620, Bruxelles, Le Cri, 2004. – Annales parlementaires, Chambre, 26 avril 1966, p. 26.

[79] V. DUJARDIN, Pierre Harmel…, p. 649.

[80] N. GNESOTTO, L’Europe: changer ou périr, p. 217, Paris, Tallandier, 2022.

[81] Emma ASHFORD, The Ukraine War will end with negotiations, Now is not the time for talks, but America must lay the groundwork, in Foreign Affairs, October 31, 2022. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/ukraine/ukraine-war-will-end-negotiations

[82] Dominique de VILLEPIN, Pour stopper la guerre, le « principe actif » de la diplomatie, dans E. FOTTORINO dir., Ukraine, Première guerre mondialisée…, p. 46.

[83] Edgar MORIN, Pour le compromis et la paix, dans Éric FOTTORINO dir., Ukraine, Première guerre mondialisée…, p. 33.

[84] E. KANT, Projet de paix perpétuelle, coll. La Pléiade…, p. 347.

[85] Richard SAKWA, Russia against the Rest, The Post-Cold War Crisis of World Order, p. 255, Cambridge University Press, 2017.

[86] Jolyon HOWORTH, Les Etats-Unis face à leurs engagements extérieurs, Deep engagement contre restreint, dans Thierry de MONTBRIAL et Dominique DAVID, RAMSES 2023, p. 232-235, Paris, Ifri-Dunod, 2024. – Andrew J. BACEVICH, The Age of illusions: How America Squandered its Cold War Victory, New York, Metropolitan Books, 2020.

Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq, October 8, 2022

 

1. Freedom for a creative thinking

If there is one aspect of the Belgium institutional system that may be of interest to Iraq and its state components, it is the undeniable freedom that has been evident in the evolution of federalism and its inherent seeds of confederalism, probably since it was introduced in 1970 [1]. This approach requires us to abandon the long-standing methodological divisions of constitutional law and political science, which differentiate these two concepts in very contrasting ways to incorporate the idea that federalism and confederalism are similar and even that it is possible to move from one to the other, particularly from the federal system to the confederal system [2]. Yet it is generally the opposite path that is adopted.

We should all remember the address to the people of New York State in late November 1787, published in The Federalist, issue 9. In it, one of the fathers of the American Constitution, Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804), quotes at length the treatise by Montesquieu (1689-1755) entitled L’esprit des Lois and his definition of the République fédérative, which Hamilton translates as Confederate Republic. Hamilton also notes the definition given by Montesquieu: a convention by which several smaller states agree to become members of a larger one, which they intend to form. It is a kind of assemblage of societies that constitute a new one, capable of increasing, by means of new associations, till they arrive to such a degree of power as to be able to provide for the security of the united body [3].

From this definition of confederalism, or federative State, Hamilton then moves on to the definition of federation which he himself advocates: The definition of a Confederate republic seems simply to be « an assemblage of societies » or an association of two or more states into one state. The extent, modifications, and objects of the federal authority are mere matters of discretion. So long as the separate organization of the members be not abolished; so long as it exists, by a constitutional necessity, for local purposes; though it should be in perfect subordination to the general authority of the union, it would still be, in fact and in theory, an association of states, or a confederacy. The proposed Constitution, so far from implying an abolition of the State governments, make them constituents of the national sovereignty, by allowing them a direct representation to the Senate, and leave in their possession certain exclusive and very important portions of sovereign power. This fully corresponds, in every rational import of the terms, with the idea of a federal government [4].

One of our most brilliant professors of constitutional law in Wallonia, who was also the Belgian minister for State reform more than fifty years ago, noted that, despite the abundant literature on federalism in the field of political science, it was still unclear where a (con)federation of States ended and a federal State began. His solution was to consider that it was the volume of powers devolved to the central government that was important: if the volume was low, it was a confederal system, if it was high, a federal State [5]. One of this professor’s illustrious predecessors at the University of Liège observed that, in the federal system, the central government has the right to make laws and to impose them on its officials in the fields of justice, law enforcement and tax, and, therefore, to have a direct influence on all the citizens in the Union. In a confederal system, or a system of a federation of States, the central government has relations only with those federated or confederated States and it can only reach the citizens through those States [6]. Nevertheless, this rationale highlights the issue of the durability of the whole and, therefore, the purpose of the federal or confederal system: the supremacy of a common good or a general interest over collective self-interests or individual interests, along with the conviction that each entity accepts and plays their part in the State and societal “family”.

It is also necessary – with the benefit of the Belgian experience still at play – to consider that the possible direction of movement is not only from a confederal model to a federal model, as seen in the United States or Switzerland, but also from a federal system to a confederal system. I am aware that this may anger certain dogmatic constitutionalists as well as certain representatives of the institutional inertia in Belgium, sometimes one and the same. However, there are often major differences to be seen between model and reality, between map and terrain.

 

2. Belgian federalism today

Belgium’s structure today is unique. Although strong traces of state unitarism and centralisation remain, certain traits attributable to federalism are evident, as well as some linked to confederalism. This Belgium is no longer bipolar as it was in the 19th century. It has become culturally, socially, politically and institutionally more complex.

Flanders (6.6 million inhabitants) and Wallonia (3.6 million inhabitants) have achieved the status of political regions with broad, effective autonomy, but not without some difficulty. The Brussels capital-region, the bilingual meeting place, both legally and highly theoretically, of the Flemish and the Walloon populations, has become more multicultural and genuinely international. In addition, it has achieved the enviable position of being one of the capitals of Europe, and even The capital of the Union and its institutions. Lastly, to the surprise of many, Brussels as a region emerged institutionally in 1989, even though it represents only 0.5% of Belgian territory. Another important fact is the considerable mobility of its population of 1.2 million inhabitants: in the space of twenty years, since 2000, more than 1,500,000 people have settled in Brussels and 1,400,000 have departed for other regions or countries. This demographic fluidity poses problems in terms of taxation and, therefore, in terms of the evolution of the powers and institutions of federalism [7]. In the East of Belgium, the world wars have left their mark through the integration of German populations. This area was recognised in the State reforms as a third community of fewer than 80,000 inhabitants and is now, in effect, already a fourth region due to the nature of the powers acquired.

Some professors of constitutional law have observed that, since 1970, Belgium has been characterised by a confederal decision-making process at the central State level, highlighting in particular the constitutional parity between French speakers and Dutch speakers in the Council of Ministers [8], and underlining the unanimous or qualified majority rule required for decision-making among the various components of the State. The use of cooperation agreements in the field of treaty negotiations and the representation of Belgium within the international bodies may also suggest that the federalism stage has already passed. In 1993, a renowned Flemish constitutionalist concluded that, by acknowledging the right of veto of the major communities not only at their federated entity level but also in relation to the implementation of policies which had remained federal, Belgium was moving in a direction which bore some resemblance to the decision-making systems used in a confederation [9]. Two researchers at the University of Liège made the same observation in 2014, noting the shared competence in international relations and the fact that the communities, regions and State were able to conclude mutual cooperation agreements which resembled treaties between subjects of international law (Article 92bis of the special law on institutional reforms of 8 August 1980) [10].

 

3. The confederalist paradigm

The confederalism being discussed today by the political parties in Belgium is a controversial idea. Demanded by the majority of the leftist parties of Wallonia (socialists, liberals and communists) after the Second World War, and advocated by French-speaking intellectuals until the 1980s, the term confederalism became laden with negative connotations when it was demonised by the liberals in Wallonia and Brussels at the beginning of the 1990s. Since it tended to be regarded as an extension of federalism, the term came back into use from 1994, and was then affirmed at various moments in political life by several key members of the major Flemish parties. Conversely, the more prominent it became in Flemish political discourse, the more the French-speaking political parties rebelled against the idea, claiming that confederalism would lead directly to separatism, the break-up of Belgium, and the independence of Flanders.

It was the nationalist party, Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (NVA), New Flemish Alliance, which, in Belgium, developed the most recent and elaborate plan for confederalism. Rejecting the idea, which it considered academic, that this concept suggested collaboration between two independent States, one of their leaders, a political scientist at the University of Ghent, also defined confederalism as an advanced autonomy of federated entities, such that they exercise their powers as close to the people as possible while retaining sovereign powers at the federal or confederal level [11].

The NVA developed a Belgian State reform plan ahead of the 2014 elections and argued in favour of it again in 2019 [12]. In this model, the Confederation would be responsible for Defence, Foreign Affairs, Finance, the conditions for granting nationality, asylum, the Court of Cassation and the Constitutional Court, and tackling major crime. The parity confederal government would be composed of six ministers appointed by Flanders and Wallonia.

The 50 confederal deputies would be chosen on a parity basis from the Flemish and Walloon parliaments, with guaranteed representation for the Brussels and German-speaking regions. People in the Brussels region who opted for the Dutch-language tax and social system would help to elect the Flemish parliament; those who chose the French-language system would vote for the Parliament of Wallonia. Flanders and Wallonia would be given all the remaining powers, including collecting personal income tax (IPP), apart from those specifically assigned to the Confederation. Brussels would have control over its economic policy, including corporation tax and employment aid, as well as its current responsibilities for housing, environment, land management, etc. However, its inhabitants would be linked to one of the two Flemish or Walloon social security systems. The Region would be managed by a parity government accountable to a parliament of 70 deputies, including a guaranteed representation of 15 Dutch-speakers. Solidarity between the different entities would remain. It would be organised on an ongoing basis by mobilising confederal resources and would be quantifiable, transparent and empowering. A permanent Belgian Collaborative Council would be established, composed of the presidents of the confederated entities.

 

Conclusion: the way forward

Classic federalism, if such a thing exists, seems ill-suited to the three principles of Belgian federalism: 1. equivalence of rules, in other words, equality of legal power between federal law and the laws of the federated entities; 2. exclusivity of localised powers either at the federal level or at the level of the federated entities within their respective territories; 3. exclusive use, by the federated entities as well, of their international capacity in relation to the powers transferred to them, including the right to sign international treaties. We should add that two of the federated entities of the Belgian federal State – the Parliament of Flanders and the Parliament of Wallonia – have effective sovereignty in the exercise of their powers thanks to a system of direct and separate election of their members and a constitutive autonomy: a nascent constitutional authority.

Neither federalism nor confederalism are precise legal concepts. They are among the most complex terms in political science; above all, they are products of history. Federalism is described as being sui generis, self-created [13]. All over the world, the aim of the federalist rationale is to articulate these two great contradictory principles: the need for autonomy and the need for association. Sometimes this principle moves in a centripetal direction, which is the case in the United States or in the Europe under construction, and sometimes it assumes a centrifugal form, which is the case for Belgium. In Belgium, there is talk of a Belgian federalism of disintegration. For that reason, the current European Commissioner and lawyer Didier Reynders, when he was political party leader in 2007, told the Le Monde French newspaper that the rationale at play in Belgium was one of a confederation. The challenge, he continued, was for people who are already operating in different worlds to learn to live together [14].

My own preference is not for the confederalism being applied to Belgium but for a federalism of four States, all with the same rights and all exercising the same powerful responsibilities. But in a discussion involving four or five people, the way forward is seldom determined by one person alone.

 

Philippe Destatte

@PhD2050

 

[1]This text is the back-ground paper of my intervention at the conference about The Kurdish Question in the Middle East, jointly organised by The University of Soran, the French Research Center on Iraq and Science Po Grenoble, in Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq, 8 octobre 2020.

[2] See : Philippe DESTATTE, (Con)federalism in Belgium is not a problem, it’s a solution, Conference (Con)federalism: cure or curse, Rethinking Belgium’s institutions in the European Context, 11th public event of the Re-Bel initiative, University Foundation, Brussels,19 June 2014. Blog PhD2050, June 25, 2014 https://phd2050.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/confederalism/ – Ph. DESTATTE dir., Le fédéralisme dans les États-nations, Regards croisés entre la Wallonie et le monde, Bruxelles, Presses interuniversitaires européennes, 1999. – Ph. DESTATTE, Le confédéralisme, spectre institutionnel, coll. Notre Histoire, Namur, Institut Destrée, 2021.

[3] The Federalist, A commentary on the Constitution of the United States, Being a Collection of Essays written in Support of the Constitution agreed upon September 17, 1787, by the Federal Convention, From the original text of Alexander HAMILTON, John JAY and James MADISON, p. 50-51, New York, Random House – The Modern Library, 1960. – Cette forme de gouvernement, écrivait Montesquieu, est une convention par laquelle plusieurs Corps politiques consentent à devenir citoyens d’un État plus grand qu’ils veulent former. C’est une société de sociétés, qui en font une nouvelle, qui peut s’agrandir par de nouveaux associés qui se sont unis. MONTESQUIEU, De l’esprit des lois, dans Œuvres complètes, t.2, p. 369, coll. La Pléiade, Paris, Gallimard, 1951.

[4] The Federalist, op. cit., p. 52-53.

[5] Fernand DEHOUSSE, Le fédéralisme et la question wallonne, Congrès des Socialistes wallons, 5 et 6 juillet 1947, p. 12-15, La Louvière, ICO, 1947.

[6] Émile de LAVELEYE, Le gouvernement dans la démocratie, t. 1, p. 71, Paris, Alcan, 1892.

[7] Philippe VAN PARIJS, The start of Brussels’ demographic decline? in The Brussels Times, 1st September 2022, https://www.brusselstimes.com/column/281867/the-start-of-brussels-demographic-decline

[8] Karel RIMANQUE, Réflexions concernant la question oratoire : y a-t-il un État belge ? dans Hugues DUMONT e.a. (dir.), Belgitude… p. 67. – Voir aussi Il n’existe pas d’État confédéral, dans L’Écho, 7 août 2007.

[9] Karel RIMANQUE, Le confédéralisme, dans Francis DELPEREE, La Constitution fédérale du 5 mai 1993, p. 31sv, Bruxelles, Bruylant, 1993.

[10] Michel PAQUES et Marie OLIVIER, La Belgique institutionnelle, Quelques points de repère, dans Benoît BAYENET, Henri CAPRON et Philippe LIEGEOIS éds., L’Espace Wallonie-Bruxelles, Voyage au bout de la Belgique, p. 60, Bruxelles, De Boeck, 2007.

[11] Pourquoi la N-VA choisit le confédéralisme, dans L’Écho, 4 janvier 2013. – Quel est le confédéralisme prôné par la N-VA ? dans L’Écho, 6 janvier 2013.

[12] N-VA, Verandering voor Vooruitgang, Congresteksten, 31 Januari – 1 & 2 Februari 2014, Antwerpen, 2013. 76 p. https ://www.n-va.be/sites/default/files/generated/files/ news-attachment/definitieve_congresbrochure.pdf – Le changement pour le progrès, 2e partie, N-VA, 30 octobre 2013, 15 p. https ://francais.n-va.be/sites/international.n-va.be/files/ generated/files/news-attachment/conference_de_presse_3010_-le_confederalisme_0.pdf – Ben WEYTS, Verandering voor Vooruitgang, 30 octobre 2013 https ://www.n-va.be/ nieuws/verandering-voor-vooruitgang

[13] Fernand DEHOUSSE, Les projets fédéralistes de 1938 à nos jours, dans Jacques LANOTTE éd., L’histoire du mouvement wallon, Journée d’étude de Charleroi, 26 février 1976, p. 27, Charleroi, Institut Destrée, 1978

[14] Christophe DE CAEVEL, Tabou confédéral, Édito, dans L’Écho, 13 novembre 2007. – Jean-Pierre STROOBANTS, En Belgique, « la logique est celle d’une confédération », Didier Reynders, libéral francophone, exige un « signal clair » des Flamands sur leur volonté de maintenir un État fédéral, dans Le Monde, 10 novembre 2007.

 

Mons, 21 October 2021 [1]

Abstract

In his History of the Origin of Representative Government in Europe, a series of lectures given two centuries ago, from the end of 1820 to 1822, but published thirty years later, François Guizot (1787-1874) criticised partial opinions conceived before examining the facts. Guizot, a professor at the Sorbonne and future Minister of Education under Louis-Philippe, believed that this attitude distorted the rectitude of judgments and introduced a deplorable frivolity into research. He thought that erudition would suffer as a result of inadequate investigation and cursory judgments. Although, in 2021, European democratic concepts have evolved fundamentally since Guizot’s time, particularly in favour of educational progress and especially higher education, heuristics as a tool for discovering facts remains a serious concern for researchers in all disciplines, and also for citizens in a digital world. European universities, through their process, and above all through their ambition, are arguably one of the best responses to these genuine concerns.

 

A Professor of history at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1812 and then a senior civil servant under the Restoration, François Guizot alarmed the authorities with his liberal ideas and was suspended from teaching from 1822 to 1824. It was during this period that he wrote his major historical works, entitled History of the English Revolution, General History of Civilisation in Europe, and Histoire de la civilisation en France, works which brought him recognition as one of the finest historians of his time [2]. With his scientific mindset, he was one of the first historians – notably after the Liège scholar of the 16th century, Jean Chapeaville (1551-1617) [3] – to use the footnote, in other words, a reference to sources, and to develop an apparatus criticus, using primary sources [4]. After being elected deputy at the beginning of 1830, Guizot became Minister of the Interior in the government that arose out of the July Revolution, which resulted in Louis-Philippe becoming king of the French. As Minister of Public Education from 1832 to 1837, then of Foreign Affairs, he played a key political role, even serving as President of the Council. Conservative by nature and opposed to universal suffrage, he fell from power, along with the king, during the Revolution of 1848 and devoted himself to writing until the end of his life [5].

1. Questions concerning the relationship between a subject and an object

In 1820, while his political friends were excluded from the business of government and he was teaching in Paris, his audiences compiled their notes with a view to publishing his lectures on The History of the Origins of the Representative Government in Europe. Guizot did not perform the necessary revision work until much later, as his lectures were not published until 1851, and then shortly thereafter in London, in English, the following year. During the opening discourse of his lecture of 7 December 1820, which is reproduced in the work, Guizot starts by addressing the relativity of historical facts, which, if they have not gained or lost any of their content over the time they have spanned, will reveal their meaning only gradually, and analysing their significance will reveal new dimensions: and man thus learns, he writes, that in the infinitude of space opened to his knowledge, everything remains constantly fresh and inexhaustible, in regard to his ever-active and ever-limited intelligence [6]. The problem which Professor Guizot imparts to his students lies at the very heart of the objective he has set for his lecture: to describe the history of the public institutions in Europe based on reading about the particular moment of the new political order that had emerged in 1815. For Guizot, this means we have to reconnect what we now are with what we formerly were, and even – and he expresses it so beautifully –, gather together the links in that chain of time.

The problem, observes Guizot, is that studying the old institutions using modern ideas and institutions to explain or judge them has been largely neglected. And when it has happened, he says, it has been approached with such a strong preoccupation of mind, or with such a determined purpose, that the fruits of our labour have been damaged at the outset.

 Opinions which are partial and adopted before facts have been fairly examined, not only have the effect of vitiating the rectitude of judgment, but they moreover introduce a deplorable frivolity into researches which we may call material. As soon as the prejudiced mind has collected a few documents and proofs in support of its cherished notion, it is contented, and concludes its inquiry. On the one hand, it beholds in facts that which is not really contained in them; on the other hand, when it believes that the amount of information it already possesses will suffice, it does not seek further knowledge. Now, such has been the force of circumstances and passions among us, that they have disturbed even erudition itself. It has become a party weapon, an instrument of attack or defence; and facts themselves, inflexible and immutable facts, have been by turns invited or repulsed, perverted or mutilated, according to the interest or sentiment in favour of which they were summoned to appear [7].

Guizot’s analysis is still valid: the problem of discussing political issues that are relatively close in time but perceived as distant due to the scale of the changes that have occurred in the institutional conditions, changes which can be drastic in the case of a revolution or a profound regime change.

He highlights the danger facing teachers, researchers and « intellectuals » – I am aware that it is anachronistic for me to use this word in 1820 or even in 1850 –, the difficulty they have in speaking or writing neutrally, objectively and dispassionately, with the distance that is expected of the role or profession of the person expressing their opinion and getting close to the truth or even telling the truth. The issues surrounding analysis of sources, the ethics of the scientist, and logic as conditions of the truth, along with questions concerning the relationship between a subject and the object they are addressing [8] and historical criticism are at the heart of this self-reflection.

 

2. A Cognitive Apocalypse

In his lecture to his students, Guizot highlights the risk of being contented too quickly with a sparse collection of sources which appear to support a previously stated assumption without truly substantiating it. When faced with the ambitions and requirements of proof, scant data produces incorrect interpretation of documents. Passion and commitment based on a flimsy argument threaten quality of knowledge, while erudition becomes a partisan instrument. How often do we encounter this situation in a world in which, however, education – and particularly higher education – is becoming increasingly democratised?

Guizot, who, as a minister, had previously resurrected the Académie des Sciences morales et politiques (Academy of Moral and Political Sciences), would today find support for his views from another scientist, a member of the Académie des Technologies (National Academy of Technologies of France) and the Académie nationale française de Médecine (French Academy of Medicine). Just over two centuries after the declarations we have highlighted, Gérald Bronner, professor of sociology at the University of Paris, observes in his remarkable work Apocalypse cognitive (Cognitive Apocalypse) that the first twenty years of the 21st century have introduced massive deregulation in the marketplace for ideas. We note, as does Bronner, that this cognitive market is characterised both by the vast amount of information available, which is unprecedented in the history of humanity, and also by the fact that everyone is able to contribute their own representation of the world. Furthermore, Bronner believes that this evolution has weakened the role of the traditional gatekeepers, namely the academics, experts, journalists, and so on, all those who were previously regarded as rightfully able to participate in public debate and perform a beneficial regulatory role [9].

Bronner’s analyses display a degree of pessimism concerning our ability to cope with this situation. At least three reasons are cited: firstly, the famous Brandolini’s Law or Bullshit Asymmetry Principle. The Italian programmer Alberto Brandolini observed, in 2013, that the amount of energy needed to refute nonsense is far greater than that required to produce it [10]. Will we all be able to find the time, strength and courage to deal with waffle, simplistic analyses and even fake news? Many academics on social media have stopped doing so.

In his fine work on Le courage de la nuance (The courage of nuance), the essayist Jean Birnbaum wisely recalls the presentation made by Raymond Aron (1905-1983) at the Société française de Philosophie in June 1939. Faced with the increasing dangers, the great French intellectual called on his colleagues to assess their commitment: I think, said the author of Introduction à la philosophie de l’histoire [11], that teachers like us are likely to play a minor role in this effort to save our deeply held values. Instead of shouting with the parties, we could strive to define, in the utmost good faith, the problems facing us and the way to solve them [12].

Next, Bronner calls on a great mind of the mid-19th century: Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859). More resolutely democratic than his contemporary Guizot, Tocqueville writes, in his book Democracy in America (1835), that in general, only simple conceptions take hold of the minds of the people. A false idea, but one clear and precise, will always have more power in the world than a true, but complex, idea [13]. Some of you may still recall the excellent cartoon by Wiley Miller, published in The Intellectualist, in 2015, which shows a crowd of people approaching a ravine on a path marked Answers, simple but wrong » while one or two are making their way along a winding path, book in hand, having chosen the direction « Complex but right ».

Wiley Miller, The Intellectualist, 2015

Beyond the common meaning of the words, complex systems analysis, so dear to William Ross Ashby (1903-1972), Norbert Wiener (1894-1964), Herbert Simon (1916-2001), Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1901-1972), Jean Ladrière (1921-2007), Edgar Morin, Jean-Louis Le Moigne, Ilya Prigogine (1917-2003) and Isabelle Stengers, to name but a few, often remains outside the field of knowledge of our university chairs and, therefore, of our students.

Lastly, Bronner notes that our voracious brains do not automatically lead us to scientific models. Even where we have an appetite for knowledge, he adds, this can easily be distracted by the way in which the cognitive market is editorialised. This is the case, for example, with the confusion between correlation and causality, which is clearly illustrated by the Nazi slogan, “500,000 unemployed: 400,000 Jews” [14]. This device seems to crop up repeatedly. But there are other examples, and in all fields. For example, in 1978, the French fascist party, the Front national, stated: « A million unemployed people are a million immigrants too many. France and the French first. »[15] Another example is the poster that Nigel Farage unveiled in Westminster in mid-June 2016, one week before the BREXIT referendum on 23 June. The British broadcaster and Leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) used a picture with the slogan Breaking point: the EU has failed us all, with the subheading: We must break free of the EU and take back control of our borders. The photograph used was of migrants crossing the Croatia-Slovenia border in 2015, with the only prominent white person in the photograph obscured by a box of text. Many people reacted by saying that to claim that migration to the UK is only about people who are not white is to peddle racism. That controversy prompted Boris Johnson to distance himself from Nigel Farage’s campaign [16].

The fact that we have found some particularly divisive, if not detestable, examples could weaken the idea that each of us, entirely logically, may simply demonstrate only what is prejudice. We often start the process of judgment with an inclination to reach a particular conclusion. In their book Noise: A Flaw of Human Judgment, Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony and Cass R. Sinstein give a great example of a slant of thought they call conclusion bias, or prejudgment: when one of George Lucas’ collaborators in the development of the screenplay for Return of the Jedi, the third Star Wars film, suggested that he should kill off Luke and have Princess Leila take over, Lucas rejected the idea and disagreed with the different arguments, replying that « You don’t go around killing people » and, finally, that he didn’t like and didn’t believe that. As the authors observed, by « Not liking » before « Not believing », Lucas let his fast, intuitive System 1 thinking suggest a conclusion [17]. When we follow that process, we jump to the conclusion and simply bypass the process of gathering and integrating information, or we mobilise System 2 thinking – engaging a deliberative thought – to come up with arguments that support our prejudgment. In that case, adds Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winner for economics, and his colleagues, the evidence will be selective and distorted: because of confirmation bias and desirability bias, we will tend to collect and interpret evidence selectively to favour a judgment that, respectively, we already believe or wish to be true [18]. Prejudgments are evident wherever we look, conclude the three professors. When people determine what they think by consulting their feelings, the process involved is called the affect heuristic [19], a term coined by the psychologist Paul Slovic, Professor at the University of Oregon.

3. Heuristics as a form of resistance for enlightened minds

As is often the case, we can counter our reasons to despair with reasons to rejoice and hope. In my view, these lie in the power of heuristics, techniques and scientific method(s).

Heuristics is generally understood to mean all the intellectual products, processes and approaches that foster discovery and invention in science. There are two distinct aspects. Firstly, a methodological classification which denotes the discovery techniques that substantiate and legitimise knowledge and, secondly, what we can refer to as general heuristics. This forms part of epistemology, the critical study of science [20], and is responsible for describing and reflecting the general conditions for progress in scientific activity [21].

We are clearly all familiar with the questions of method, the path we follow or undertake, which is designed to lead us and to enable us to achieve a given goal and capitalise on a result. This is the path that provides us with our experience as scientists and intellectuals, which we call experimentation when we initiate it systematically. Scientific research is based on a desire to travel along this path, interactively combining assisted observation of experimentation and system analysis, thus enabling explanation. Adapting thoughts to facts is observation; adapting thoughts to each other is theory [22].

In that respect, contemporary research has two messages for us. Firstly, that of rigour and critique, and, secondly, that of relativity, and therefore humility. In my view, these are each as necessary and important as the other.

3.1. The first message: that of rigour and critique.

Rigour consists, firstly, in knowing what one is talking about, what the problem is, and what one is looking for. This is the first reasonable goal of heuristics: to express in general terms the reasons for choosing subjects which, when analysed, may help us achieve the solution [23]. We can, of course, follow in the footsteps of mathematicians, physicians, logicians, and philosophers, such as Pappus of Alexandria (4th century AD), René Descartes (1596-1650), Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz (1646-1716), Bernhard Bolzano (1781-1848), Ernst Mach ((1838-1916), Jacques Hadamard (1865-1963), George Polya (1887-1985), Jean Hamburger (1909-1992), Morris Kline (1908-1992), and, more recently, Daniel Kahneman and Shane Frederick. In each of our disciplines, we have visited one or more of them, if not all. A mathematician such as Polya, author of How to Solve it? [24], who taught in Zurich and then at Stanford, argues that the sources of inventions are more important than the inventions themselves. This should, he claims, be the motto of any student planning a career in science. Unsubstantiated demonstrations, lemmas that appear out of nowhere, and supplementary approaches that occur unexpectedly are puzzling and depressing for all students, both good and mediocre [25]. Having struggled through an oral exam on Bernouilli’s theory, I can personally testify.

There are, in the world, certain traditions for constructing a critical and intellectually robust discourse, one which is also not Eurocentric and does not, contrary to what we too often teach, date back to the Renaissance or the Enlightenment. As a Visiting Professor at the National Engineering School of Tunis, I am constantly discovering how much we owe – and the term “we” includes researchers such as Arnold J. Toynbee and Joseph Schumpeter – to the Arab scholar Ibn Khaldoun (1332-1406). In the introduction to his great work Muqaddima, this 14th century economist, sociologist and historian recommended making a comparison between the stories as handed down and the rules and models thus established. If they concur and are consistent, these stories can be declared authentic, if not, they will be considered suspect and discounted [26].

This tangible heuristic effort was pioneered by the Italian humanist Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457), whose role was, according to François Dosse, decisive in the notion of truth, to the extent that Dosse, a historian and epistemologist at the University of Paris, spoke of a real turning point [27]. Valla questioned the authenticity of the Donation of Constantine, written in 1440. This text, which acknowledged the fact that the Roman emperor Constantine the Great had bestowed vast territory and spiritual and temporal power on Pope Sylvester I (who reigned from 314 to 335), had great influence on political and religious affairs in medieval Europe. Lorenzo Valla clearly demonstrated that this document was a forgery by analysing the language of the donation. He showed that the Latin used in the text was not that of the 4th century and so argued that the document could not possibly have dated from the time of Constantine [28].

The critical method has found its guardians of the temple in Charles-V Langlois and Charles Seignobos, who established a bulwark against what they considered the natural inclination of the human spirit: not taking precautions and acting confusedly in situations where the utmost caution is essential. They wrote that while everyone, in principle, accepts the value of Criticism – with a capital C! – it hardly ever happens in practice.

The fact is that Criticism is contrary to the normal aspect of intelligence. The spontaneous human tendency is to add belief to assertions and to reproduce them, without even distinguishing them clearly from one’s own observations. In daily life, do we not accept indiscriminately, without any checks, hearsay, anonymous, unsafe information, and all types of documents of mediocre or dubious merit? (…) Any sincere person will recognise that significant effort is needed to shake off the ignavia critica, that common expression for intellectual cowardice; that this effort must be repeated, and that it is often accompanied by genuine suffering [29].

Suffering, the word is out … As with beauty, one needs to suffer to be a researcher. Research is a form of torture inspired, in part, by the works of the German historian Leopold von Ranke (1795-1886). To reach scientific paradise, the research process subjects the document, and the student and the teacher, to a series of analytical operations made up of internal criticism or scholarly criticism (restoration, provenance, classification of sources, criticism of scholars), then to internal criticism (interpretation, negative internal criticism, criticism of sincerity and accuracy, establishing the specific facts) and, lastly, optimises them in synthetic operations.

In 1961, in his extraordinary work entitled L’histoire et ses méthodes (History and its methods), published under the direction of Charles Samaran (1879-1982) from the Institut de France, Robert Marichal (1904-1999) picked up the notion put forward by Langlois and Seignobos, observing that documentary criticism had scarcely been challenged by the proponents of “New History”, which, according to this esteemed archivist, thought that the traditional processes were still effective. Marichal added that the principles that apply to criticism were no different, in general, to those that apply to all human knowledge, as can be found in any logic or psychology textbook [30].

Fifty years later, Gérard Noiriel, a specialist in epistemology in history, states in the online edition of the work by Langlois and Seignobos that they had not invented the rules of historical method, as the basic principles had been known since the 17th century and had been codified by German historians at the beginning of the 19th century. The major contribution of these two professors at the Sorbonne is arguably, states Noiriel, that they wrote that it was necessary to read the historians with the same critical precautions as when one analyses documents [31].

Human science has been greatly influenced by the scientific path taken by history at the end of the 19th century. But, like history, it has distanced itself from this strict criticism of documents. In an introduction, in 2008, entitled L’approximative rigueur de l’anthropologie (The approximate rigour of anthropology), Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan, a professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences sociales (School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences) in Paris, showed that the word was nothing more than an apparent paradox, highlighting the inevitability of approximation faced with the vulnerability of cognitive bias and ideological excesses, and then abandoning this quest completely in a book entitled La Rigueur du qualitatif The Rigour of the Qualitative) [32]. De Sardan also enlisted his American colleague Howard Becker, who, in Sociological Work: Method and Substance (Chicago, Adline, 1970) and Writing for Social Scientists (University of Chicago Press, 1986 & 2007), had highlighted this tension between consistency of what is being described and conformity with the elements discovered [33].

The scientific paradigm has given way to other paradigms, which have also characterised all human sciences. This is the case with the famous École des Annales (School of Annals), whose books, by a brilliant professor from Liège, Léon-E. Halkin (1906-1998), and supported by the Centre de Recherches historiques at the École pratique des Hautes Études in Paris, have helped to clarify these issues surrounding historical criticism.

Although it remained a methodological requirement, the strict critical method – in the sense of the idolatrous cult of the document [34]  – seemed to become more relaxed at the beginning of the 1980s. At the same time, as Charles Samaran had already done in 1961, it was now a question of highlighting the general principles of the method [35], or even the ethics, of the historian. In that regard and taking their cue from the editorial director of l’Histoire et ses méthodes, Guy Thuillier (1932-2019) and Jean Tulard call on the mighty Cicero for help: the first law he must obey is to have the courage not to say what he knows to be false, the second is to have the courage to say what he believes to be true. Thus, they continue, sincerity of mind implies critical sense [36]. The other precepts of Thuillier and Tulard are those I offer to my students, pointing out that this advice applies to all their tasks in all disciplines, as in daily life:

  • Do not assert anything unless there is a “document” that you have verified personally.
  • Always indicate the document’s degree of “probability” – or uncertainty. Do not rely on appearances or have blind faith in texts (…)
  • Always explicitly highlight the assumptions that guide the research, and point out the limits of the investigation (…)
  • Maintain a certain distance from the subject in question and do not confuse, for instance, biography and hagiography (…)
  • Be wary of hasty generalisations (…)
  • Be aware that nothing is definitive (…)
  • Know how to use your time well; do not rush your work (…),
  • Do not shut yourself away in your office (…). Life experience is essential (…) [37]

3.2. The second message is that of relativity, and therefore of humility.

 The remarkable work done by Françoise Waquet, research director at the CNRS, ends with some powerful words: science, she writes, is human – inevitably, mundanely, profoundly so [38]. Her research, in laboratories, libraries and offices, among teachers and students, books and computers, shows how business rules and academic passion(s) are structured around objectivity. Waquet considers the analyses performed Lorraine Daston, co-director of the Max Planck Institute Berlin for the History of Science. These works showed a propensity to strive for a knowledge that bears no trace of the person who has the knowledge, a knowledge which is not characterised by bias or acquired concepts, by imagination or judgment, by desire or effort. In this system of objectivity, passion appears to be the internal enemy of the researcher [39].

Henri Pirenne expressed it perfectly, in 1923, when he claimed that, in order to achieve objectivity or impartiality without which there is no science, [researchers] must constrict themselves and overcome their cherished prejudices, their most deeply seated convictions, and their most natural and respectable sentiments [40]. Moreover, Émile Durkheim expressed the same view for sociology, as did Marcel Mauss for anthropology, Vidal de la Blache for geography and even Émile Borel for mathematics. We could, as Françoise Waquet did, list numerous examples that, even in the so called “hard” sciences, lead to a form of asceticism and ardent objectivity [41].

In the second half of the twentieth century, the dramatic advances in science after the end of the Second World War and the questions arising from criticism of modernity have not left science unscathed. The Jesuit François Russo (1909-1998), a former student at the École polytechnique, noted, in 1959, that science tends to pose problems that lie beyond the domain of the strict scientific method. He cited the theories of Albert Einstein (1879-1955) and Georges Lemaître (1894-1966), other analyses regarding the universe in its entirety, and considerations concerning the depletion of energy in the universe, biological evolution, the origins of life and of humans, human nature, etc., underlining that scientific advances cause these questions to reappear rather than disappear. In this way, and at the same, he posed questions of meaning [42].

Should it be said that the debates on these issues have evolved, from Raymond Aron (1905-1983) to Paul Ricœur (1913-2005), from Karl Polanyi (1886-1964) to Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996), from Karl Popper (1902-1994) to Richard Rorty (1931-2007) and Anthony Giddens, etc.?

On the question of objectivity, he was one of the professors whose classes had the greatest impact on me, who, when faced with passion, demonstrated the path of lucidity. In L’histoire continue (History is going on), the medievalist Georges Duby (1919-1996) considers that it is strict positivist ethics that gives the profession of researcher its dignity. If, he continues, history is abandoning the illusory quest for total objectivity, it is not on account of the stream of irrationality that is invading our culture, but it is above all because the notion of truth in history has changed. Its goal has moved: it is now interested less in facts and more in relationships… [43]

 

Conclusion: sentiment, reason and experience

Let us return to François Guizot, where we began, but this time in closing.

In that Guizot’s moment, as Pierre Rosanvallon called it, a veritable golden age of political science [44], the lesson was clear: how, at close quarters and under pressure from the major upheavals seen in that period – the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution, and the structural and systemic transformations they caused in the fields of technology, politics, society, culture, etc. –, how can we comprehend these events under the sovereignty of reason?

Even if most people have perceived, each in their own time, the advent of a new world [45], with its growth, acceleration, emerging trends and instabilities, our society appears to be characterised more so than yesterday by the flow of information of all kinds that reaches us, challenges us, and assails us. Carried along at great speed on what was already being called the information superhighway a few decades ago, we are learning to control our minds at hitherto unknown speeds, bolstered as we are by our digital tools. To put it mildly, it is now microprocessors that punctuate our work. During lockdown, having switched from Teams to Zoom, from Jitsi to Webex or Google Meet – and having often continued the habit, we all know that it is now the digital world that sets the pace. In the flow of messages, links and texts sent to us, we are learning how to identify the hackers and other digital pests. Beyond our defensive tools, it is experience that often guides us.

We have few firewalls to defend ourselves against the demons of the cognitive apocalypse described, or promised, by Gérald Bronner. We do not want any censorship of “good thinking” or a sterilised world in which we filter our connections and sanitise our brains. In my view, the best form of regulation remains our own intelligence.

This certainly involves heuristics and research methods. In a formal address he gave in September 1964 to mark start of the new term at the Faculté polytechnique de Mons, professor and future rector Jacques Franeau (+2007) noted that it was necessary to avoid confusing objective with subjective, and that, since the primary aim of any society was to create the best environment for human life and happiness, it was necessary, to achieve that goal, for it to start from certain and objective data, to have knowledge before choosing its direction, and then to build on the solid foundations afforded by that knowledge [46].

Thus, to address the concerns, we have highlighted two responses: firstly, rigour and criticism and, secondly, relativity and humility.

Without resorting to Voltaire’s idea that all certainty which is not mathematical demonstration is merely extreme probability [47], the teaching of those who frequent higher education must base stringency on both the robustness and the reasonable traceability of any information produced. Citing a source does not, whatever the discipline, mean referring to the overall work of a scholar, nor even to one of their creations – digital or paper – without specifying the location of the information. Some colleagues or students send you a 600-page book with no further clarification, editing or pagination. Verification is impossible. Similarly, to return to an observation made previously by both the German-American mathematician and economist Oskar Morgenstern (1902-1977) [48] and the Frenchman Gilles-Gaston Granger (1920-2016) [49], the issue of data validity and reliability does not seem to be of interest to many researchers. For these two distinguished experts in comparative epistemology, it was economists who were being targeted. But we can be sure than many other researchers are affected. I am certain that these testimonies resonate with you as they do with me. Training our students in rigour, precision and criticism will certainly help to make them not only good researchers, but also mindful and courageous intellectuals, in other words individuals capable of grasping the most difficult or far-fetched content, breaking free from it, and communicating only what is accurate and certain.

Relativity and humility stem from our awareness of our weaknesses when faced with the world and the difficulty we have in grasping the system as a whole. They are also nurtured by the legitimate notion that explanations of phenomena and their truth change with scientific advances. It cannot be denied, states Granger, that a Newtonian truth concerning the trajectory of a star differs from Einstein’s truth regarding the same object [50]. Rather than being sceptical about scientific knowledge, it is instead a question of looking at ourselves, as human beings, and acknowledging the richness of our capacity to articulate sentiment, reason and experience. At a time when cybernetic dreams are becoming a reality in artificial general intelligence, we have an ever-increasing number of human and scientific references to show us the way.

Thus, to conclude this talk, I will refer to the author of La Science expérimentale, Claude Bernard (1813-1878). In his acceptance speech at the Académie française, on 27 May 1869, the great doctor and philologist observed that, in the progressive development of humanity, poetry, philosophy and science express the three phases of our intelligence, moving successively through sentiment, reason and experience [51].

Nevertheless, states Bernard, it would be wrong to believe that if one follows the precepts of the experimental method, the researcher – and I would say the intellectual – must reject all a priori notions and silence their sentiment, so that their views are based solely on the results of the experiment. In reality, he adds, the laws that govern manifestations of human intelligence do not allow the researcher to proceed other than by always, and successively, moving through sentiment, reason and experience. But, convinced of the worthlessness of the spirit when reduced to itself, he gives experience (experimentation) a dominant influence and he tries to guard against the impatience of knowing, which leads us constantly to make mistakes. We must therefore go in search of the truth calmly and without haste, relying on reason, or reasoning, which always serves to guide us, but, at every step, we must temper it and tame it through experience, in the knowledge that, unbeknown to us, sentiment causes us return to the origin of things [52].

If, in 2021, European democratic conceptions have fundamentally evolved since Guizot, thanks to progress in education and in particular within higher education, heuristics as a tool for discovering facts remains a sensitive concern for researchers of all disciplines, but also citizens, in a digital world. European universities, such as those gathered in EUNICE, considering their background, but also above all by their ambition, undoubtedly constitute one of the best responses to real concerns.

 

Philippe Destatte

@PhD2050

 

[1] This text is the background paper of the conference that I presented on October 21, 2021 at the Academic Hall of the University of Mons, as part of EUNICE WEEKS mobilising, with the support of the European Commission, the network which brings together the universities of Brandenburg, Cantabria, Catania, Lille – Hauts de France, Poznań, Vaasa and Mons.

[2] Laurent THEIS, Guizot, La traversée d’un siècle, Paris, CNRS Editions, 2014. – Edition Kindle, Location 1104. – François Guizot, in Encyclopaedia Britannica, Oct. 8, 2021, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Francois-Guizot

[3] René HOVEN, Jacques STIENNON, Pierre-Marie GASON, Jean Chapeaville (1551-1617) et ses amis. Contribution à l’historiographie liégeoise, Bruxelles, Académie royale de Belgique, 2004 – Paul DELFORGE, Jean Chapeaville (1551-1617), Connaître la Wallonie, Namur,  December 2014. http://connaitrelawallonie.wallonie.be/fr/wallons-marquants/dictionnaire/chapeaville-jean#.YWrVvhpBzmE which, at the time, had fascinated Professor Jacques Stiennon (ULIEGE).

[4] Ibidem, Location 1149-1150.

[5] Guillaume de BERTHIER DE SAUVIGNY, François Guizot (1787-1874), in Encyclopædia Universalis accessed on 13 October  2021.https://www.universalis.fr/encyclopedie/francois-guizot/ – Pierre ROSANVALLON, Le moment Guizot, coll. Bibliothèque des Sciences humaines, Paris, NRF-Gallimard, 1985. – André JARDIN and André-Jean TUDESQ, La France des Notables, L’évolution générale, 1815-1848, Nouvelle Histoire de la France contemporaine, Paris, Seuil, 1988.

[6] François GUIZOT, Histoire des origines du gouvernement représentatif en Europe, p. 2, Paris, Didier, 1851. – (…) and man thus learns that in the infinitude of space opened to his knowledge, everything remains constantly fresh and inexhaustible, in regard to his ever-active and ever-limited intelligence. GUIZOT, History of the Origins of Representative Government in Europe, p. 2,

[7] François GUIZOT, History of the Origin of Representative Government in Europe, translated by Andrew E. Scobe, p. 4, London, Henry G. Bohn, 1852.

https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/61250/pg61250-images.html#Page_1

[8] Concerning these issues, see the always very valuable Jean PIAGET dir., Logique et connaissance scientifique, coll. Encyclopédie de la Pléiade, Paris, Gallimard, 1967. In particular, J. PIAGET, L’épistémologie et ses variétés, p. 3sv. – Hervé BARREAU, L’épistémologie, Paris, PuF, 2013.

[9] Gérald BRONNER, Apocalypse cognitive, Paris, PUF-Humensi, 2021.

[10] G. BRONNER, Apocalypse…, p. 220-221.

[11] Raymond ARON, La philosophie critique de l’histoire, Essai sur une théorie allemande de l’histoire (1938), Paris, Vrin, 3e ed., 1964.

[12] Raymond ARON, Communication devant la Société française de philosophie, 17 juin 1939, dans R. ARON, Croire en la démocratie, 1933-1944, Textes édités et présentés par Vincent Duclert, p. 102, Paris, Arthème-Fayard – Pluriel, 2017. – Jean BIRNBAUM, Le courage de la nuance, p. 73, Paris, Seuil, 2021.

[13] Alexis de TOCQUEVILLE, Democracy in America (1835), Translated by Harvey C. Mansfield & Delba Winthrop, p. 155, Chicago & London, The University of Chicago Press, 2002. – La Démocratie en Amérique, in Œuvres, collection La Pléade, t. 2, p. 185, Paris, Gallimard, 1992. – G. BRONNER, op. cit., p. 221.

[14] G. BRONNER, op. cit., p. 238 et 298

[15] Valérie IGOUNET, Derrière le Front, Histoires, analyses et décodage du Front national, 26 octobre 2015. https://blog.francetvinfo.fr/derriere-le-front/2015/10/26/les-francais-dabord.html

[16] Heather STEWART & Rowen MASON, Nigel Farage’s anti-migrant poster reported to police, in The Guardian, June 16, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/16/nigel-farage-defends-ukip-breaking-point-poster-queue-of-migrants

[17] D. KAHNEMAN, Thinking, Fast and Slow, New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011. – Trad. Système 1/ Système 2, Les deux vitesses de la pensée, Paris, Flammarion, 2012. – See also: D. KAHNEMAN et al., dir., Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases, Cambridge University Press, 1982.

[18] Daniel KAHNEMAN, Olivier SIBONY and Cass R. SUNSTEIN, Noise, A flaw in Human Judgment, p. 166-167, New York – Boston – London, Little Brown Spark, 2021.

[19] Ibidem, p. 168. – Paul SLOVIC, Psychological Study of Human Judgment: Implications for Investment Decision Making, in Journal of Finance, 27, 1972, p. 779.

[20] In the broadest sense of the concept, both Latin and Anglo-Saxon. See Gilles Gaston GRANGER, Epistémologie, dans Encyclopædia Universalis, viewed on 10 October 2021. https://www.universalis.fr/encyclopedie/epistemologie/

[21] Jean-Pierre CHRÉTIEN-GONI, Heuristique, dans Encyclopædia Universalis, viewed on 10 October 2021. https://www.universalis.fr/encyclopedie/heuristique/ – Avrum STROLL, Epistemology, in Encyclopaedia Britannica, viewed on 16 October 2021, https://www.britannica.com/topic/epistemology

[22] Jean LARGEAULT, Méthode, Encyclopædia Universalis, viewed on 10 October 2021. https://www.universalis.fr/encyclopedie/methode/ – Scientific Method, in Encyclopaedia Britannica, October 15, 2021, viewed on 17 October. https://www.britannica.com/science/scientific-method

[23] George POLYA, L’Heuristique est-elle un sujet d’étude raisonnable?, in Travail et Méthodes, Numéro Hors Série La Méthode dans les Sciences modernes, Paris, Sciences et Industrie, 1958.

[24] G. POLYA, How to Solve it?, Princeton University Press, 1945.

[25] G. POLYA, L’Heuristique est-elle un sujet d’étude raisonnable…, p. 284.

[26] Ibn KHALDUN, Le Livre des exemples, Autobiographie, Muqaddima, text translated and annotated by Abdesselam Cheddadi, collection Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, t. 1, p. 39, Paris, NRF-Gallimard, 2202. (Our translation in English) – Abdesselam CHEDDADI, Ibn Khaldûn, L’homme et le théoricien de la civilisation, p. 194, Paris, NRF-Gallimard, 2006.

[27] François DOSSE, L’histoire, p. 18-20, Paris, A. Colin, 2° éd., 2010. – Blandine BARRET-KRIEGEL, L’histoire à l’âge classique, vol. 2, p. 34, Paris, PUF, 1988.

[28] Ulick Peter BURKE, Lorenzo Valla, in Encyclopaedia Britannica, viewed on October 19, 2021 https://www.britannica.com/biography/Lorenzo-Valla- Donation of Constantin, in Encyclopaedia Britannica, viewed on October 19, 2021. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Donation-of-Constantine

[29] Charles-Victor LANGLOIS and Charles SEIGNOBOS, Introduction aux études historiques, p. 48-49, Paris, Hachette & Cie, 1898. 4 ed., s.d. (1909).

[30] Robert MARICHAL, La critique des textes, in Charles SAMARAN dir., L’histoire et ses méthodes, coll. Encyclopédie de la Pléiade, p. 1248, Paris, NRF-Gallimard, 1961.

[31] Gérard NOIREL, Preface by Charles-Victor LANGLOIS and Charles SEIGNOBOS, Introduction aux études historiques, Paris, ENS, 2014. https://books.openedition.org/enseditions/2042#ftn8

[32] Jean-Pierre OLIVIER de SARDAN, La rigueur du qualitatif, Les contraintes empiriques de l’interprétation socio-anthropologique, p. 7-10, Louvain-la-Neuve, Bruylant-Academia, 2008.

[33] Howard BECKER, Les ficelles du métier, Comment conduire sa recherche en Sciences sociales, p. 48, Paris, La Découverte, 2002. – J-P OLIVIER de SARDAN, op. cit., p. 8.

[34] F. DOSSE, L’histoire…, p. 29. Here, we are referring to Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges (1830-1889). See François HARTOG, Le XIXe siècle et l’histoire, Le cas Fustel de Coulanges, p. 351-352, Paris, PUF, 1988.

[35] Ch. SAMARAN, L’histoire et ses méthodes…, p. XII-XIII.

[36] Ibidem, p. XIII. – J. TULARD & G. THUILLIER, op. cit., p. 91.

[37] J. TULARD (1933) and .G. THUILLIER, La méthode en histoire…, p. 92-94.

[38] Françoise WAQUET, Une histoire émotionnelle du savoir, XVIIe-XXIe siècle, p. 325 , Paris, CNRS Editions, 2019.

[39] Lorraine DASTON, The moral Economy of Science, in Osiris, 10, 1995, p. 18-23. – F. WAQUET, op. cit., p. 393,

[40] Henri PIRENNE, De la méthode comparative en histoire, Discours prononcé à la séance d’ouverture du Ve Congrès international des Sciences historiques, 9 April 1923, Brussels, Weissenbruch, 1923. – F. WAQUET, op. cit., p. 306.

[41] F. PAQUET, op. cit., p. 303. – Paul WHITE, Darwin’s emotions, The Scientific self and the sentiment of objectivity, in Isis, 100, 2009, p. 825.

[42] François RUSSO, Valeur et situation de la méthode scientifique, in La méthode dans les sciences modernes…, p. 341. – See also: F. RUSSO, Nature et méthode de l’histoire des sciences, Paris, Blanchard, 1984.

[43] Georges DUBY, L’histoire continue, p. 72-78, Paris, Odile Jacob, 1991.

[44] Pierre ROSANVALLON, Le moment Guizot, coll. Bibliothèque des sciences humaines, p. 75 et 87, Paris, NRF-Gallimard, 1985.

[45] Michel LUSSAULT, L’avènement du monde, Essai sur l’habitation humaine de la Terre, Paris, Seuil, 2013.

[46] Jacques FRANEAU, D’où vient et où va la science ? Formal address to mark the start of term at the Faculté polytechnique de Mons, 26 September 1964, p. 58.

[47] René POMMEAU, Préface, in VOLTAIRE, Œuvres historiques,  p. 14, Paris, NRF-Gallimard, 1957.

[48] Oskar MORGENSTERN, On the accuracy of Economic Observation, Princeton, 1950.

[49] Gilles-Gaston GRANGER, La vérification, p. 191, Paris, Odile Jacob, 1992.

[50] Ibidem, p. 10.

[51] Claude BERNARD, Discours de réception à l’Académie française, 27 May 1869, in Claude BERNARD, La Science expérimentale,  p. 405-406, Paris, Baillière & Fils, 3rd ed., 1890.

[52] Ibidem, p. 439.

Washington, September 8, 2021

200 Leaders Call for New UN Office to Coordinate Global Research to Prevent Human Extinction

Earth’s magnetic shield weakening, ocean-poisoning hydrogen-sulfide gas from advanced global warning, out-of-control nanotech and AI, are among the possible future threats to humanity, warn The Millennium Project, World Futures Studies Federation, and the Association of Professional Futurists.

In an open letter to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, internet pioneer Vint Cerf, Nobel Prize Laureate Oscar Arias, and other technological, business, political, technological, environmental, and academic leaders around the world are calling for a new UN Office of Strategic Threats to coordinate global research on long-range strategic or existential threats to humanity, and to their prevention.

The letter [attached] requests that the UN Secretariat conduct a feasibility study for the proposed UN Office. « The immediate crises always seem to overrule the long-term concerns about the future of humanity. So, we need a specific UN Office that just focuses on what could make us go extinct and how to prevent it, » said Jerome Glenn, CEO of The Millennium Project. »

The UN already has agencies that are addressing many of the serious trends today—such as decreasing fresh water per capita, concentration of wealth, and ethnic violence—but these do not pose a threat to the survival of our species.

Long-term threats

However, there are long-term threats that do, such as the ten below:

  • Weakening of the Earth’s magnetic shield that protects us from deadly solar radiation
  • Massive discharges of hydrogen sulfate (H2S) from de-oxygenated oceans, caused by advanced global warming
  • Malicious nanotechnology (including the « gray goo » problem)
  • Loss of control over future forms of artificial intelligence
  • A single individual acting alone, who could one day create and deploy a weapon of mass destruction (most likely from synthetic biology)
  • Nuclear war escalation
  • Uncontrollable, more-severe pandemics
  • A particle accelerator accident
  • Solar gamma-ray bursts
  • An asteroid collision.

« There is no single point for collaboration in the UN system that addresses such long-term threats to human survival, » said Ambassador Héctor Casanueva, former Chilean Ambassador to UN multilateral organizations in Geneva. « A UN Office on Strategic and Existential Threats to humanity could identify, monitor, anticipate, and coordinate strategic research on a global scale to prevent these threats, he suggested. « It would serve international agencies, multilateral organizations, nation-states, and humanity in general. »

The idea of a new UN Office was raised during the celebration of the annual « World Future Day » on March 1, 2021, a global online conference of nearly a thousand experts from 65 countries. The Millennium Project, which hosts World Future Day, suggested that a resolution be offered at the next UN General Assembly, to be held in September 2021. It would give the UN Secretariat the mandate to conduct a feasibility study of the proposed UN Office of Strategic Threats.

Open letter to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for feasibility study of a UN Office of Strategic Threats

September 8, 2021

Dear Mr. Secretary General,

Long-range strategic threats to the survival of humanity are well-documented, ranging from the potential of advanced artificial intelligence growing beyond human control to weakening magnetic fields that protect life on Earth.

Although the United Nations includes agencies that are addressing many of the problems facing humanity today, there is no central office to identify, monitor, anticipate, and coordinate research on long-term strategic threats to humanity.

A UN Office on Strategic Threats, which would centralize and coordinate information and prospective studies on a global scale, could serve international agencies, multilateral organizations, nation-states, the private sector, academia, and humanity in general. We think that the Office could be created without putting pressure on the budget of the organization, reallocating resources and coordinating its work with universities and research centers around the world.

This idea was raised and discussed in detail during World Future Day, March 1, 2021, a 24-hour conversation of nearly a thousand experts from 65 countries, organized by several international associations of futurists and think tanks to discuss strategies for improving the global future.

The signatories of this open letter – academics, diplomats, scientists, and experts in foresight and strategy from different countries and sectors – ask Your Excellency to welcome and facilitate the adoption of a UN General Assembly Resolution at this September’s General Assembly that would give the General Secretariat the mandate to conduct a feasibility study on establishing a UN Office on Strategic Threats.

Sincerely,

  1. Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, Author, Geostrategist, Former Dir. of Foreign Policy & Security Think Tank, Sri Lanka
  2. Nancy Ellen Abrams, Author, Philosopher of Science, Attorney at Law, USA
  3. Sergio Abreu, Secretary General, Latin American Integration Association (ALADI), Uruguay
  4. Philip Omoniyi Adetiloye, Professor, Federal University of Agriculture, Nigeria
  5. Rosa Alegria, Representative, Teach the Future Brazil, Brazil
  6. Soledad, Alvear, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Former Senator, Chile
  7. Jan Amkreutz, Author, futurist, speaker, The Netherlands & USA
  8. Janna Q. Anderson, Executive Director, Imagining the Internet Center, Elon University, USA
  9. Yul Anderson, President, African American Future Society, USA
  10. Amara D. Angelica, Editor-at-Large, KurzweilAI, USA
  11. Shahar Avin, Senior Research Associate, Centre for the Study of Existential Risk University of Cambridge, UK
  12. Diana Baciuna, Local Councillor, Bucharest Borough 4, Romania
  13. Guillermina Baena Paz, VP Latin America WFSF, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico
  14. Ying Bai, Vice President, Academy of Soft Technology, China
  15. SJ  Beard, Academic Programme Manager, Centre for the Study of Existential Risk Cambridge, UK
  16. Clem Bezold, Co-Founder, Institute for Alternative Futures, USA
  17. James Boyd, Complex Systems, SingularityNet, USA
  18. Pedro Bretes Amador, CEO and Co-Founder, NewWay, Foresight, Portugal
  19. Gregory Brown, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University, Senior Analyst, CENTRA Technology, USA
  20. Steve Brown, Founder, The Futures Collaborative, USA
  21. James E. Burke, Foresight and Solutions Navigator, DeepDive Foresight, USA
  22. Iurie Calestru, Program Director, Institute for Development and Expertise of Projects, Moldova
  23. Franklin A. Carrero-Martinez, Sr. Dir. Global Sustainability, National Academy of Sciences, Eng., and Med., USA
  24. Hector Casanueva, VP Chilean Council of Foresight and Strategy, Former Amb. Geneva, Prof.-Res. University of Alcalá, Chile & Spain
  25. Shiela R. Castillo, Futures Learning Advisor, The Center For Engaged Foresight, Philippines
  26. Vint Cerf, Internet Pioneer, Google, USA
  27. Sadok Chaabane, Former Min. of Justice & Higher Educ., GM, Polytechnique Internationale University, Tunisia
  28. Richard J. Chasdi, Professorial Lecturer, George Washington University, USA
  29. Puruesh Chaudhary, Founder &President , AGAHI, Pakistan
  30. Marvin Cheung, Board Member, Unbuilt Labs, USA
  31. Thomas J. Christiffel, Principal, Regional Intelligence-Regional Communities, USA
  32. Epaminondas Christophilopoulos, Deputy Chair Foresight Team, Office of the President of  Greece, Greece
  33. Reynaldo Treviño, Cisneros, Consultant, Systems and Strategic Planning, Mexico
  34. Anthony Clayton, Professor, University of West Indies, Jamaica
  35. Deborah Clifford, Head of Finance, Woolworths, South Africa
  36. Jose Cordeiro, Executive Director, Ibero-American Foresight Network, Venezuela and Spain
  37. Raluca Coscodaru, Consultant/Professor, Innovation and entrepreneurship, Romania
  38. Catherine, Cosgrove, Futurist, Canada
  39. William Cosgrove, Former Vice President, World Bank, Canada
  40. Shermon Cruz, Executive Director, Center for Engaged Foresight, Philippines
  41. Cornelia Daheim, Founder & Dir. Future Impacts; Chair, Futures Circle, Min. of Educ. and Res., Germany
  42. Jim Dator, Professor Emeritus, University of Hawaii, Manoa, Hawaii
  43. Philippe Destatte, Director, The Destree Institute, Belgium
  44. Mara Di Berardo, Technologist, Institute Nanoscience of the National Research Council , Italy
  45. Simone Di Zio, Associate Professor, University G. d’Annunzio, Italy
  46. Pedro Miguel Diegues, Consultant, Foresight & Strategy, Portugal
  47. Peachie Dioquino-Valera, Advisor, Center for Engaged Foresight, Philippines
  48. Hugh T. Dugan, Former Special Assistant to the President, National Security Council, USA
  49. Paul Epping, Chairman, Xponential, The Netherlands
  50.  Jelel Ezzine, President, Tunisian Association for the Advancement of ST&I (TAASTI), Tunisia
  51. Daniel Faggella, CEO, Emerj Artificial Intelligence Research, USA
  52. Horacio Martin Ferber, Faculty, National University of Avellaneda, Argentina
  53. Elizabeth Florescu, Director of Research, The Millennium Project, Canada
  54. Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, Former President of Chile, Chile
  55. Michael Friebe, Prof. Health Tech., Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Germany
  56. Caroline Figuères, Former Director, International Inst. for Com. and Dev.(IICD), The Netherlands
  57. Luciano Gallón, Professor, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Colombia
  58. Adolfo Arreola García, Professor, Anáhuac University, Mexico
  59. Banning Garrett, Faculty, Singularity University, USA
  60. Lydia Garrido Luzardo, UNESCO Chair Anticipation and Resilience, SARAS Institute, Uruguay
  61. Jose María Gil Robles, Former President , European Parliament, Spain
  62. Fausto Carbajal Glass, Member, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI)., Mexico
  63. Jerome C. Glenn, CEO, The Millennium Project, USA
  64. Willis Goldbeck, Founder, Foresight Education, USA
  65. Blaž Golob, CEO GFS Institute, Chair, Forum on Future of Europe, Slovenia
  66. Abhik Gupta, Vice-Chairperson, Tripura State Higher Education Council, India
  67. Antonio Gutelli, Docente, Juan A. Maza University, Argentina
  68. Miguel Angel Gutierrez, Director, Centro Latinomericano de Globalización y Prospectiva, Argentina
  69. Mohammad Habib, Partner, Director, MENA Region, Siegel® MCAN, Jordan
  70. Cathy Hackl, Chief Metaverse Officer, Futures Intelligence Group, USA
  71. William E. Halal, CEO, TechCast International, USA
  72. Aharon Hauptman, Fellow, Zvi Meitar Institute for Implications of Emerging Technologies, Israel
  73. Peter Hayward, Co-host, Futurepod.org, Australia
  74. Sirkka Heinonen, Professor Emeriti, Finland Futures Research Centre, Finland
  75. Lucio Mauricio Henao Vélez, CEO, Prospectiva.org, Colombia
  76. Éva Hideg, Professor, Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary
  77. Brock Hinzmann, Partner, Business Futures Network, USA
  78. Cyrus Hodes, Chair AI Initiative, The Future Society, France
  79. Razvan, Hoinaru, Former Chief of Staff, EPP Romanian Delegation, EU Parliament, Romania
  80. Philip Horvath, Partner, Luman, Germany
  81. Adriana Hoyos, Professor/Senior Fellow, Instituto de Empresa (IE) Harvard University, Spain & USA
  82. Arnoldo de Hoyos, Professor, Pontificial Catholic University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
  83. Claudio Huepe, Director, Center of Sustainable Energy, Universidad Diego Portales, Chile
  84. Barry B. Hughes, Professor, University of Denver, USA
  85. Jan Hurwitch, Director, Visionary Ethics Foundation, Costa Rica
  86. Asif Iftikhar, Teaching Fellow, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan
  87. Enrique V. Iglesias, Former President, Intern-American Development Bank, Uruguay
  88. Lester Ingber, CEO, Physical Studies Institute LLC, USA
  89. Jose Miguel Insulza, former Secretary General, Organization of American States (OAS), Chile
  90. Silvia Iratchet, Institutional Relations, Suma Veritas Foundation, Argentina
  91. Abulgasem Issa, Associate Professor, Libyan Authority for Scientific Researches, Libya
  92. Garry Jacobs, President & CEO, World Academy of Art and Science, India
  93. Maciej Jagaciak, Member of the Board, Polish Society for Futures Studies, Poland
  94. Alejandro Jara, Former Associate DG WTO Geneva, Former Ambassador, Chile
  95. Robert E. Jarrett, Senior Fellow (ret.), US Army Environmental Policy Institute, USA
  96. Weiquing Jiang, Chairman, UN Ethics Chinese Union, China
  97. Zhouying Jin, Prof. and Former Director, Center for Technology Innovation and Strategy, Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China
  98. Maria João Rodrigues, Pres. Foundation for European Progressive Studies, Former Min. Employment, Former MEP and VP of the Group of the Socialists and Democrats, European Parliament, Portugal
  99.  Christopher B. Jones, Faculty, Walden University, USA
  100.  Michel Judkiewicz, Managing Director, Silver-Brains, Belgium
  101. Ted M. Kahn, CEO, DesignWorlds for Learning, USA
  102. David Kalisz, Head of Department , Management & Strategy, Paris School of Business, France
  103. Nikolaos Kastrinos, (signed in personal capacity) Foresight Team Leader, DG Research & Innovation, European Commission, Belgium
  104. Charlotte Kemp, Vice President, Global Speakers Federation, South Africa
  105. Stephen Killelea, Founder & Executive Chairman, Institute for Economics and Peace, Australia
  106. Tony Kim, President, Future Design Lab, South Korea
  107. Yusuke Kishita, Associate Professor, University of Tokyo, Japan
  108. Eric Klien, President, Lifeboat Foundation, USA
  109. Dana Klisanin, CEO, Evolutionary Guidance Media R&D, USA
  110. Norbert Kołos, Managing Partner, 4CF, Poland
  111. Tamás Kristóf, Associate Professor, Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary
  112. Martin Kruse, Senior Executive Advisor & Futurist, Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, Denmark
  113. Osmo Kuusi, Adjunct Professor, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland
  114. Annah Kyoya, CEO, Leadership Impressions Ltd, Kenya
  115. Mounir Labib, Academy of Scientific Research & Technology, Egypt
  116. Patricio Leiva Lavalle, Dir. Latin American Inst. of Intl Relations, Miguel de Cervantes Univ., Chile
  117. Gerd Leonhard, CEO, The Futures Agency, Zurich, Switzerland
  118. Tiziano Li Piani, R&D Engineer, Leonardo Labs, Italy
  119. Marilyn Lienbrenz-Himes, Assoc. Prof. Emeritus , George Washington University, USA
  120. Lt-Gen Naeem Khalid Lodhi, Former Secretary of Defence, Pakistan
  121. Thomas Lombardo, Director, Center for Future Consciousness, USA
  122. José A. LugoSantiago, Chief Futurist, Institute for Leadership & Strategic Foresight, USA
  123. Pavel Luksha, Founder, Global Education Futures, Russia
  124. Patricia Lustig, Chief Executive, LASA Insight Ltd, UK
  125. François Mabille, General Secretary, International Federation of Catholic Universities, France
  126. Luciano Rodrigues Marcelino, Director General, Interinstitutional Relations, DGRI, Private Technical University of Loja – UTPL, Ecuador
  127. Carlos Alonso von Marschall Murillo, Head, Prospective Analysis and Public Policy, Min. of Planning and Political Economy, Costa Rica
  128. Jorge Máttar, Executive Director, Centro Tepoztlán Víctor L. Urquidi, Mexico
  129. Philip McMaster, Co-Founder, World Sustainability Coop, China
  130. John F. Meagher, Consultant, Futurist/Occupational and Environmental Health, USA
  131. Ricardo Torres Medrano, Professor, Catholic University of La Plata, Argentina
  132. Alvaro Mendez, Co-Dir. Global South Unit, London School of Economics, United Kingdom
  133. Maria Mezentseva, Member of Parliament, Chair of Ukrainian Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Ukraine
  134. Alvaro Cedeño, Molinari, Former Ambassador in Geneva, Costa Rica
  135. Cesar Monsalve Rico, Consultant, Development and Innovation Professional, Colombia
  136. Caryl Monte, CEO, International Wisdom Academy, Curaçao
  137. Iván Alonso, Montoya-Restrepo, Professor, National University of Colombia, Colombia
  138. Luz Alexandra Montoya-Restrepo, Professor, National University of Colombia, Colombia
  139. Juan Carlos Mora Montero, Professor of Planning & Foresight, National University, Costa Rica
  140. Morne Mostert, Director, Inst. for Futures Research, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  141. Victor V. Motti, Director, World Futures Studies Federation, USA
  142. Leopold P. Mureithi, Professor of Economics, University of Nairobi, Kenya
  143. Eric Noël, Founder, Canada Towards 2030, Canada
  144. Kacper Nosarzewski, Partner, 4CF, Poland
  145. Pavel Nováček, Head Development & Environmental Studies, Palacký University, Czech Republic
  146. Erzsébet Nováky, Professor Emeritus, Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary
  147. Concepcion Olavarrieta Rodriguez, Pres. Nodo Mexicano. El Proyecto del Milenio; Exec-Sec, RIBER, Mexico
  148. Erick Øverland, President, World Futures Studies Federation, Norway
  149. Karla Paniagua Ramírez, Head of Futures Studies, Center of Design and Communication, Mexico
  150. Ioan Mircea Pașcu, Former V.P., European Parliament; Former Minister of Defence of Romania, Romania
  151. Robert A., Pavlik, Futures/Environmental Studies, Marquette University, USA
  152. Martha Beatriz Peluffo Argón, Dean, Faculty of Education Sciences, Universidad de la Empresa, Uruguay
  153. Charles Perrottet, Principal, Futures Strategy Group, USA
  154. Jahna Perricone, Director of Mindfulness Programs, Center for Conscious Creativity, USA
  155. Jeremy Pesner, Doctoral Student, Carnegie Mellon University, USA
  156. Adrian Pop, Professor, National University of Political Science and Public Administration, Romania
  157. Mila Popovich, Founder, EVOLbing leadership, USA & Montenegro
  158. Patty Rangel, Author, International Astronautical Congress, Australia & Germany
  159. Kristian Ravić, Advisor, Office of the Mayor of Zagreb, Croatia
  160. Andrew W. Reynolds, Adjunct Professor, University of Virginia and DOS (ret.), USA
  161. Álvaro Ramírez Restrepo, Director, Futurion Ltda, Colombia
  162. Roman Retzbach, CEO, FutureInstitute Zukunftsinstitut, Germany
  163. Saphia Richou, Chercheur au LAREQUOI, Conseil en Prospective Stratégique et Coopétition, France
  164. Xiaobing Rong, Deputy Secretary General, UN international collaboration & coordination agency, China
  165. Stuart Russell, Center for Human Compatible Artificial Intelligence, University of California, USA
  166. Torben Riise, CEO, ExecuTeam; Founder, Institute for Futures Studies, Copenhagen, USA
  167. Clarissa Rios Rojas, Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge, UK
  168. Stanley G. Rosen, Consultant, Strategy Analyst, USA
  169. Rebecca Ryan, Founder, CEO, NEXT Generation Consulting, USA
  170. Paul Saffo, Professor, Stanford University, USA
  171. Óscar Arias Sánchez, Former President of Costa Rica (1986-1990, 2006-2010), Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Costa Rica
  172. Rocco Santoro, Senior Statistician, Daccude, Italy
  173. Ramón Santoyo, President, WFS Mexican Chapter, Mexico
  174. Carlos Alberto Sarti Castañeda, Director, Fundación Propaz, Guatemala
  175. John M. Schmidt, Founder, CANSYNTH, Australia
  176. Kamal Zaky Mahmoud Shaeer, Chair, Council of Futures Studies and Risk Management, Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, Egypt
  177. Yair Sharan, Director, FIRS2T, Israel
  178. Mario Silberman, Former Ambassador, CTA, UNIDO/UNDP, Chile
  179. Mihaly , Simai, Former Chairman, United Nations University, Hungary
  180. Alexandra Sokol, Chief Sustainability Officer, EnviroDynamix, Santa Monica, CA, USA
  181. Roger Spitz, Founder, Disruptive Futures Institute, USA
  182. Maarten Steinbuch, Professor, Technical Univ. Eindhoven, Netherlands
  183. Veerappan Swaminathan, Founder & CEO, Sustainable Living Lab Pte Ltd, Singapore
  184. David Tal, President, Quantumrun Foresight, Canada
  185. Amos Taylor, Project Researcher, Finland Futures Research Center, Finland
  186. Rohit Talwar, CEO, Fast Future, UK
  187. Sadia Tariq, Research Associate, Sanjan Nagar Institute of Philosophy and Arts, Pakistan
  188. Paul Tero, Principal Consultant, Dellium Advisory, Australia
  189. Mohan Tikku, Journalist, Author, Futurist, Former Senior Fellow, Indian Council of Soc. Sci. Res., India
  190. Nicoleta Topoleanu, Human Resources Coach and Consultant, Romania
  191. Peter VanderWel, Principal Futurist, FutureVision, Netherlands
  192. Koen Vegter, Founder, Might Futures Design, Netherlands
  193. Sanja Vlahovic, Former Amb. of Montenegro to Italy, Malta and UN organizations in Rome, Montenegro
  194. Paul Werbos, Program Director(ret.), National Science Foundation, USA
  195. Jeremy Wilken, Broadcaster, Design for Voice podcast, USA
  196. Wilson Wong, Head of Insight & Futures, Horizon Scanning UK, UK
  197. Peter P Yim, CEO (retired), CIM3, Hong Kong & USA
  198. Jesús E. Caldera Ynfante, Dir., Intl and Interinstitutional Relations, La Gran Colombia University, Colombia
  199. Amy Zalman, CEO, Prescient, USA
  200. Xialin Zhang, Secretary-General, Intl. Cooperation Center for Future Strategic Research, China
  201. Duoyin Zhou, Deputy Director, UN International Collaboration &Coordination Agency, China
  202. Ibon Zugasti Gorostidi, Director, Prospektiker, Spain

Namur (Wallonia), August 28, 2021

Anticipating means visualising and then acting before the events or actions occur. This implies taking action based on what is visualised, which just goes to show how complex the process is and how problematic our relationship is with the future. The saying “to govern means to foresee » is at odds with this complexity principle. It also refers to individual responsibility. Blaming politics is a little simplistic and unfair, as it is up to each of us to govern ourselves, which means we must “anticipate”. Yet we are constantly guilty of not anticipating in our daily lives.

 

1. Our relationship with the future

 Our relationship with the future is problematic. There are five different attitudes, of which anticipation is merely the fifth. The first is common: we go with the flow; in other words, we wait for things to happen. We hope everything will go well. It is business as usual, or we have always done this as they say in Wallonia. We can also echo the words used by the miners whenever the colliery tunnels were shored up: it can’t hurt, it’s not dangerous, it’s strong, it’s reliable, etc. My father taught me to ridicule this cavalier attitude and, above all, to challenge it.

The second attitude is more active: it involves playing by the rules and working within the norms. The elected officials pay close attention to this, and so do we all. We have to have an extinguisher in our car in case of fire, but mostly to comply with the legal obligations, regulations, technical checks, and so on. Note that public buildings and businesses are also required to have them and to ensure that they are checked regularly. Very few people have one or more fire extinguishers in their house or apartment, and, even if they do, they may not be in working order or suitable for the different types of fire that may occur. We know that it is not a legal requirement, so most people don’t bother about it.

The third attitude towards the future is responsiveness: we respond to external stimuli, and we adapt quickly to the situations that arise. Images of firefighters and emergency workers come to mind, of course, and entrepreneurs as well. Responsiveness may be a virtue, but we know that it is sometimes ineffective in the face of fast-moving events. In defence of their discipline, futurists often quote a saying which they attribute to the statesman Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (1754-1838): when it’s urgent, it’s already too late.

The fourth attitude towards the future is preactivity: our ability – or lack of – to prepare for changes once they are foreseeable. The word foreseeable is clearly related to forecasting, in other words, an assumption is made about the future which is usually quantified and associated with a confidence index based on an expectation. This involves taking a number of variables and system elements into account against a background of previous structural stability and analysing them and their possible evolutions. The likelihood of these possible evolutions is then calculated. Validation is always uncertain due to the complexity of the systems created by the variables. A common example is the weather forecast: it gives me a probability of rain at a given time. If I am preactive, I take my umbrella or I pile sandbags in front of my doors.

The fifth attitude towards the future is proactivity. In his work on the Battle of Stalingrad – 55 years after the event –, British historian and former officer Antony Beevor criticises the German general Friedrich Paulus (1890-1957) for not, as the military commander, being prepared to confront the threat of encirclement which had been facing him for weeks, particularly by not retaining a strong, mobile, armoured capability. This would have enabled the Sixth Army of the Wehrmacht to defend itself effectively at the crucial moment. But, Beevor adds, that implied a clear assessment of the actual danger [1]. This means that, faced with expected and identified changes (I would say exploratory foresight), or even desired changes, which I will cause or create (I would then say normative foresight), I will take action. Anticipating means both visualising and then acting in advance, in other words, acting before the events or actions occur. That is why we could also say, with Riel Miller, that if the future does not exist in the present, anticipation does. The form the future takes in the present is anticipation [2].

 

2. A threefold problem to comprehend the future

We are all faced with a threefold problem when confronting the future. The first problem is that, in the tradition of Gaston Berger (1896-1960) [3], we are expected to look far ahead but, in reality, the future does not exist as an object of knowledge. Clearly, it does not exist because it is not written and is not determined, as Marx believed or as some collapse theorists today believe.

We are also expected to take a broad view and to reflect systemically. But forecasts only focus on a limited number of variables, even in the era of Big Data. Yet we find ourselves faced with systems which are all complex and interwoven in a tangle of unlikely events. We are all familiar with emergences [4] or sudden occurrences linked to the relationships between participants and factors within the system. When driving my car, I can anticipate a puddle, to avoid aquaplaning, or a patch of ice by telling myself that I must not break. But, in reality, I never know what my reaction will be when I feel my wheels shaking, or how my car, my tyres or the road surface will react. Similarly, I never know what the reaction will be of the drivers in front of me or behind me, or in the other lanes, or of the bird that happens to strike my windscreen at that precise moment. So, I have to deal with the complexity, but I cannot reduce it.

The third problem is that, faced with world systems of such complexity, my own knowledge tools are limited. We are trained in disciplines, epistemologies, knowledge methods, vocabularies, and scientific jargon which do not encourage multidisciplinarity (studying one discipline through several disciplines), interdisciplinarity (transferring methods from one discipline to another) or transdisciplinarity (a demanding approach which moves between, across and beyond disciplines), to echo the distinctions expressed by the Franco-Romanian physicist Basarab Nicolescu in response to the works of Jean Piaget (1896-1980) [5]. Our narrowmindedness and reluctance to open up affect our humility, encourage received ideas, create ambiguity (words do not have the same meanings), prevent the necessary constructive dialogue, and adversely affect collective intelligence.

A key achievement of the French economists and futurists Jacques Lesourne (1928-2020) and Michel Godet was to demonstrate the limits of forecasting, which looks to the past for invariants or relationship models to suggest its permanence or its relatively constant evolution in the future, leading to conditional forecasts: ceteris paribus, all things being equal”. Michel Godet’s major work is entitled The Crisis in Forecasting and the Emergence of the « La Prospective », (Pergamon, 1979). In it, he writes that it was on account of the philosopher Gaston Berger, who was himself nurtured on the reflections of Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) and Maurice Blondel (1861-1949), and numerous Anglo-Saxon sources of inspiration, that the foresight approach developed. This intellectual stance involves taking the past and future into consideration over the long-term, comprehending the entire system in a seamless way, and exploring capabilities and means of action collectively.

Against our cultural, mental, intellectual, scientific, social and political background, this approach is not encouraged. It does, however, move us on from the question “what is going to happen” to the question “what may happen” and, therefore, “what if?”. This is also linked to one of our major preoccupations: the short-, medium-, and long-term impact prior analysis of the decisions we take.

Foresight has developed methods based precisely on the issue of these emergences. In addition to analysing trends and trajectories – which can identify crises such as the global financial crash in 2008 –, it also works with wildcards: major surprises and unexpected, remarkable, and unlikely events, which may have significant impacts if they occur: the 9/11 attacks, the Icelandic volcano in April 2010, the Covid crisis in 2019, the floods in July 2021, and so on.

There is also much talk today of black swan events as a result of the work of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, formerly a trader and now professor of risk engineering at the University of New York. This involves identifying events that are statistically almost impossible – so-called statistical dissonance – but which happen anyway [6].

 

3. Constructing a political agenda for complexity

First of all, we must be sceptical about the retrospective biases highlighted by the economist, psychologist and future Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman and his colleague Amos Tversky, which involve exaggerating, retrospectively, the fact that events could have been anticipated. These biases are linked to the need we all have to make sense of things, including the most random events [7]. When the unpredictable happens, it is intellectually quite easy for us to see it as predictable.

Next, it should be noted that political leaders are faced with the core issues of appropriation, legitimacy, and acceptability – especially budgetary – of a decision taken at the end of a dialogue and negotiation process involving multiple participants. The public will not necessarily be in favour of the government spending significant amounts on understanding problems they cannot yet visualise. Like St. Thomas, if they can’t touch it, they won’t believe it. At the outset, the population is not ready to hear what the politicians have to tell them on the matter, whether it involves a “stop-concrete” strategy or a perishable supply of masks. For experts and elected officials alike, it is no longer enough to make claims. They now have to provide scientific proof, and, above all, avoid denial, as the emotional link can be considerable. The significant role played by the media should also not be overlooked. For a long time, it was thought that a pandemic was an acceptable risk, as in the 1960s with the Hong Kong flu which caused at least a million deaths globally between 1968 and 1970, whereas the sight of Covid-19 victims in intensive care is unbearable and makes us less willing to accept the number of deaths. Remember how, in France, Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot was criticised and accused of squandering public money when she bought health masks and vaccines for swine flu (H1N1 virus) in 2009-2010. At the same time, humans have a great capacity to become accustomed to risk. Think of the nuclear sword of Damocles that was the Cold War, which continued until the early 1990s. We should also question whether this military nuclear risk – the anthropic apocalypse – has disappeared.

We constantly find ourselves needing to agree on the priority of the challenges facing us. Constructing a political agenda for such complexity is by no means clear, and political leaders wonder whether they will be criticised for starting works that may not seem urgent or sufficiently important to merit sustained attention, stakeholder mobilisation, and the resulting budgets.

Finally, governing not only means solving organisational problems, allocating resources and planning actions over time. It also means making things intelligible, as the French historian Pierre Rosanvallon points out [8]. The political world does not appreciate the importance of the educational aspect. In Belgium, politicians no longer go on television to talk to people directly and explain an issue that needs to be addressed. Government communications have disappeared; now, there are only televised addresses from the Head of State, who in this way becomes the last actor to communicate values to the public in this way.

 

Conclusion: uncertainty, responsibility, and anticipation

In May 2020, during the Covid-19 lockdown, the host of Signes des Temps on France-Culture radio, Marc Weitzmann, had the bright idea of recalling the first major debate of the Age of Enlightenment on natural disasters and their consequences for human populations [9], a debate between Voltaire (1694-1778) and Rousseau (1712-1778) about the Lisbon disaster of 1755 [10].

HRP5XD Lisbon Tsunami, 1755 – Woodcut – The Granger – NYC

On 1 November 1755 (All Saints Day), Lisbon was hit by a huge earthquake. Three successive waves between 5 and 15 metres high destroyed the port and the city centre [11], and tens of thousands of inhabitants lost their lives in the earthquake, tsunami and huge fire that followed. When he heard the news, Voltaire was deeply affected and, several weeks later, in view of the gravity of the event, he wrote a famous poem in which his intention was to go beyond mere evocation of the disaster and compassion for the victims.

Come, ye philosophers, who cry, “All’s well,”

And contemplate this ruin of a world.

Behold these shreds and cinders of your race,

This child and mother heaped in common wreck,

These scattered limbs beneath the marble shafts—

A hundred thousand whom the earth devours,

Who, torn and bloody, palpitating yet,

Entombed beneath their hospitable roofs,

In racking torment end their stricken lives.

To those expiring murmurs of distress,

To that appalling spectacle of woe,

Will ye reply: “You do but illustrate

The iron laws that chain the will of God »? [12]

In this “Poem on the Lisbon disaster”, from which these lines are a short excerpt, Voltaire ponders the appropriateness of attributing the event to divine justice, when, according to some so-called optimistic philosophers at the time, everything natural is a gift from God and, therefore, ultimately good and just [13]. Without calling divine power into question, Voltaire counters this concept, rejects the idea of a specific celestial punishment to atone for vices in the Portuguese capital, and instead declares fate responsible for the disaster.

As mentioned by Jean-Paul Deléage, who, in 2005, published in the Écologie et Politique review the letter which Rousseau sent to Voltaire on 18 August 1756, Voltaire went on to propose a new concept of human responsibility. This concept was social and political rather than metaphysical and religious. Thus, in his reply to Voltaire, Rousseau states as follows:

 (…), I believe I have shown that with the exception of death, which is an evil almost solely because of the preparations which one makes preceding it, most of our physical ills are still our own work. Is it not known that the person of each man has become the least part of himself, and that it is almost not worth the trouble of saving it when one has lost all the rest Without departing from your subject of Lisbon, admit, for example, that nature did not construct twenty thousand houses of six to seven stories there, and that if the inhabitants of this great city had been more equally spread out and more lightly lodged, the damage would have been much less, and perhaps of no account. All would have fled at the first disturbance, and the next day they would have been seen twenty leagues from there, as gay as if nothing had happened; but it is necessary to remain, to be obstinate around some hovels, to expose oneself to new quakes, because what one leaves behind is worth more than what one can bring along. How many unfortunate people have perished in this disaster because of one wanting to take his clothes, another his papers, another his money?  Is it not known that the person of each man has become the least part of himself, and that it is almost not worth the trouble of saving it when one has lost all the rest? [14] 

Whereas, for Voltaire, the Lisbon disaster was an accident and an unfortunate combination of circumstances, Rousseau feels that the natural seismic effects were compounded by the actions, urban choices and attitude of the people during the disaster. It is the responsibility of human behaviour that Rousseau highlights. In essence, he believes that, although Lisbon was destroyed, this was linked to the human decision to build a city on the coast and near a fault line. A lack of anticipation, perhaps.

Rousseau returned to these matters in his Confessions, in which he again absolves Providence and maintains that, of all the evils in people’s lives, there was not one to be attributed to Providence, and which had not its source rather in the abusive use man made of his faculties than in nature [15].

In the appropriately named Signes des Temps, or Sign of the Times, programme, Marc Weitzmann established a link between this debate, the question of uncertainty, nature and mankind, and the thoughts of French urbanist Paul Virilio (1932-2018). Scarred by the blitzkrieg and his lost childhood, and the idea that acceleration prevents anticipation and can lead to coincidence, Virilio, author of Speed and Politics (MIT Press, 2006), The Original Accidentl (Polity Press, 2007), and The Great Accelerator (Polity Press, 2012), emphasised that industrial and natural disasters progressed not only geometrically but also geographically, if not cosmically. In his view, this progress of contemporary coincidence requires a new intelligence in which the principle of responsibility permanently supplants the principle of technoscientific effectiveness, which is, considers Virilio, arrogant to the point of delusion [16].

Thus, as in Rousseau, our natural disasters seem increasingly inseparable from our anthropic disasters. All the more so since, as we now know, we have through our human and industrial actions altered the course of time in all its meanings: climate time, as well as speed time, or acceleration.

The fine metaphor used by futurists on the need to have good headlights at night – the faster we travel, the brighter they need to be – seems somewhat outdated. While, today, we are collectively wondering whether the road still exists, we can still enjoy inventing, plotting, and carving out a new path. For, in the words of Gaston Berger, the future is not only what may happen or what is most likely to happen, but is also, and increasingly so, what we want it to be. Predicting a disaster is conditional: it involves predicting what would happen if we did nothing to change the situation rather than what will happen in any event [17].

Risk management will remain a fundamental necessity on the path we choose. What is more, any initiative involves a degree of uncertainty which we can only ever partially reduce. This uncertainty will never absolve our individual and collective responsibilities as elected representatives or citizens. This uncertainty, in turn, creates a duty of anticipation [18].

Anticipation culture must feature at the heart of our public and collective policies. To that end, we must employ foresight methods that are genuinely robust and operational, along with impact prior analyses for the actions to be taken. That is the only way to tackle a new future without false impressions.

In his conclusions of The Imperative of Responsability, Hans Jonas decreed that, facing the threat of nuclear war, ecological ravage, genetic engineering, and the like, fear was a requirement for tackling the future [19]. We must treat anticipation in the same way. Thus anticipation meets hope, each being a consequence of the other.

 

 

Philippe Destatte

@PhD2050

Related paper: Increasing rationality in decision-making through policy impact prior analysis (July 12, 2021)

 

Direct access to PhD2050’s English papers

 

[1] Free translation from: Antony BEEVOR, Stalingrad, p. 231-232 et 252 , Paris, de Fallois, 1999.

[2] Riel MILLER, Futures Literacy: transforming the future, in R. MILLER ed., Transforming the Future, Anticipation in the 21st Century, p. 2, Paris, UNESCO – Abingdon, Routledge, 2018.

[3] Gaston BERGER, L’attitude prospective, dans Phénoménologie et prospective, p. 270sv, Paris, PUF, 1964.

[4] According to the systemist Edgar Morin, emergence is an organizational product which, although inseparable from the system as a whole, appears not only at the global level, but possibly at the level of the components. Emergence is a new quality in relation to the constituents of the system. It therefore has the virtue of an event, since it arises in a discontinuous manner once the system has been constituted; it has of course the character of irreducibility; it is a quality which cannot be broken down, and which cannot be deduced from previous elements. E. MORIN, La méthode, t.1, p. 108, Paris, Seuil, 1977. – The concept of emergence finds its origin in George Henry Lewes. To urge that we do not know how theses manifold conditions emerge in the phenomenon Feeling, it is to say that the synthetic fact has not been analytically resolved into all its factor. It is equally true that we do not know how Water emerges from Oxygen and Hydrogen. The fact of an emergence we know; and we may be certain that what emerges is the expression of its conditions, – every effect being the procession of its cause. George Henry LEWES, Problems of Life and Mind, t. 2, p. 412, London, Trübner & Co, 1874. – André LALANDE, Vocabulaire technique et critique de la philosophie, p. 276-277, Paris, PUF, 1976.

[5] See: Transdisciplinarité in Ph. DESTATTE & Philippe DURANCE dir., Les mots-clés de la prospective territoriale, p. 51, Paris, La Documentation française, 2009. http://www.institut-destree.eu/wa_files/philippe-destatte_philippe-durance_mots-cles_prospective_documentation-francaise_2008.pdf

[6] Nassim Nicholas TALEB, The Black Swan, The Impact of the Highly Improbable, New York, Random House, 2007.

[7] Daniel KAHNEMAN & Amos TVERSKY, Prospect theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk, in Econometrica, Journal of the econometric society, 1979, vol. 47, nr 2, p. 263-291. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1914185?seq=1

[8] Pierre ROSANVALLON, Counter-Democracy, Politics in an Age of Distrust, Cambridge University Press,  2008.

[9] Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Lettre à Monsieur de Voltaire sur ses deux poèmes sur « la Loi naturelle » et sur « le Désastre de Lisbonne », présentée par Jean-Paul DELEAGE, dans Écologie & politique, 2005, 30, p. 141-154.

https://www.cairn.info/revue-ecologie-et-politique1-2005-1-page-141.htm

[10] Cfr Marc Weitzmann, Le Cygne noir, une énigme de notre temps, ou la prévision prise en défaut, avec Cynthia Fleury, Bruno Tertrais et Erwan Queinnec, Signes des Temps, France Culture, https://www.franceculture.fr/emissions/signes-des-temps/le-cygne-noir-une-enigme-de-notre-temps-ou-la-prevision-prise-en-defaut

[11] Sofiane BOUHDIBA, Lisbonne, le 1er novembre 1755 : un hasard ? Au cœur de la polémique entre Voltaire et Rousseau, A travers champs, 19 octobre 2014. S. Bouhdiba est démographe à l’Université de Tunis. https://presquepartout.hypotheses.org/1023 – Jean-Paul POIRIER, Le tremblement de terre de Lisbonne, Paris, Odile Jacob, 2005.

[12] Translation taken from the Online Library of Liberty, https://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/voltaire-laments-the-destruction-of-lisbon-in-an-earthquake-and-criticises-the-philosophers-who-thought-that-all-s-well-with-the-world-and-the-religious-who-thought-it-was-god-s-will-1755.

VOLTAIRE, Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne (1756), Œuvres complètes, Paris, Garnier, t. 9, p. 475. Wikisources : https://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:Voltaire_-_%C5%92uvres_compl%C3%A8tes_Garnier_tome9.djvu/485

[13] We are talking about theodicy here. This consists in the justification of the goodness of God by the refutation of the arguments drawn from the existence. This concept was introduced by the German philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz (1646-1716) in an attempt to reconcile the apparent contradiction between, on the one hand, the misfortunes that prevail on earth and, on the other hand, the power and the goodness of God. LEIBNITZ, Essais de théodicée sur la bonté de Dieu, la liberté de l’Homme et l’origine du mal, Amsterdam, F. Changuion, 1710. – See Patrick SHERRY, Theodicy in Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/theodicy-theology. Accessed 28 August 2021.

We know that in his tale Candide, or Optimism, published in 1759, Voltaire will deform and mock Leibnitzian thought through the caricatural character of Pangloss and the formula everything is at best in the best of all possible worlds … VOLTAIRE, Candide ou l’Optimisme, in VOLTAIRE, Romans et contes, Edition établie par Frédéric Deloffre et Jacques Van den Heuvel, p. 145-233, Paris, Gallimard, 1979.

[14] Translation from Internet Archive, Letter to Voltaire, Pl, IV, 1060-1062, p. 51.

 https://archive.org/details/RousseauToVoltairet.marshall/page/n1/mode/2up?q=lisbon,

Lettre à Monsieur de Voltaire sur ses deux poèmes sur la « Loi naturelle » et sur « Le Désastre de Lisbonne », 18 août 1756. in Jean-Paul DELEAGE, op. cit.

[15] J.-J. ROUSSEAU, Confessions, IX, Paris, 1767, cité par Sofiane BOUHDIBA, op. cit.

[16] Paul VIRILIO, L’accident originel, p. 3, Paris, Galilée, 2005.

[17] G. BERGER, Phénoménologie et prospective…, p. 275. (Free translation).

[18] Voir à ce sujet Pierre LASCOUMES, La précaution comme anticipation des risques résiduels et hybridation de la responsabilité, dans L’année sociologique, Paris, PUF, 1996, 46, n°2, p. 359-382.

[19] Hans JONAS, The Imperative of Responsability, In Search of an Ethics for the Technological Age, The University of Chicago Press, 1984.

Washington, 5 November 2018

We live in an age where populism, as both a totalitarian and a Manichean political attitude [1], is becoming more established on both sides of the Atlantic. An age, also, in which there is a proliferation of democratic innovations attempting to address the issues of the 21st century and the crises in representation and delegation. The question of public confidence in institutions is key, but it is based, first and foremost, on the way in which these issues should be resolved and, therefore, on the mechanisms that allow this to happen. In this respect, questioning governance in terms of its relationship with the law, as the World Bank and the World Academy of Art and Science are doing, makes sense, particularly in as turbulent a context as the one we live in today [2]. It seems that each piece of data, each reality, each fact and each change is doubted, challenged or even disputed. Individualism and the restricted thought communities in which some people seem to isolate themselves permanently prohibit any critical dialogue, permitting instead all forms of intellectual or cybernetic manipulation. Memory fades and the horizon becomes more limited, rendering any view fundamentally myopic. In an age of fake news [3], combined with superficial perspectives, all information, and also all knowledge, seems fragile and shifting. Yet, as a historian and Yale professor Timothy Snyder rightly pointed out, if there is no truth, there can be no trust, and nothing new appears in a human vacuum [4].

The democratic innovations are clearly here to fill this vacuum, by restoring meaning to collective action in which the involvement of each individual is recognised and by empowering citizens and politicians. The Destree Institute’s Wallonia Policy Lab – the Brussels Area Node for the Millennium Project – has been involved in these innovations in conjunction with the Parliament of Wallonia, based on an experiment which was launched in 1994 and which ended in 2017 and 2018, with citizens’ panels held within the parliamentary precinct itself, in dialogue with deputies and ministers. We are dealing here with the processes highlighted by Professor Archon Fung [5] which he calls “empowered deliberation” or “empowered participatory governance”, which enable officials and citizens to address complex and volatile governance issues to try and resolve them jointly [6].

In addressing some “new” governance models in Europe and the United States, we will firstly review the definition of the concept and the organisation of its models in three spheres. We will then move on to examine six mutations which have influenced and developed this model, before turning our attention to a 21st-century form of governance, as advocated by the Committee of Experts on Public Administration in the United Nations Economic and Social Council which, during its 2018 session, proposed a form of governance for Agenda 2030.

 

 1. The governance models

Behind the concept of governance, as we will use it here, lies an old idea reflecting the political science of social administration, and a more modern concept, stemming from the end of the 1980s, which represents an effort to reinvent a management model through dynamic organisation of the actors and stakeholders. This model has a history, which we will not elaborate on here, but which has its roots in the process of decolonisation and advancement of human rights and in the efforts, particularly by the United Nations and the related institutions, to shape new countries or even a new world [7].

 

1.1. Towards a definition of the concept of governance

In 1991, in a Report by the Council of the Club of Rome entitled The First Global Revolution, Alexander King (1909-2007) and Bertrand Schneider (born in 1929) use the term “governance” to denote the command mechanism of a social system (and its actions), which endeavours to provide security, prosperity, coherence, order and continuity to the system. This concept necessarily embraces the ideology of the system, which may (democratic) or may not (authoritarian) define means for the effective consideration of the public will and the accountability of those authorities. It also includes the structure of the government of the system, its policies and its procedures. Some might even say that governance is the means to provide a stable equilibrium between the various centres of power [8].

The British successor to Aurelio Peccei as President of the Club of Rome, and the French Secretary General of that organisation which was founded in 1968, note that the concept of governance, in the broadest sense, should not be reserved for national or international systems but should be used for regional, provincial and local governments and for other social systems such as education, defence, private enterprise and even the family microcosm [9]. Thus, governance includes the government and also any actor who uses the command mechanisms to articulate demand, formulate objectives, disseminate guidelines and monitor policies [10]. As the political scientist and futurist James Rosenau (1924-2011) indicates, in this fragmented world of ours, all these many and varied actors are of no less importance in the governance process than government policies. However, Rosenau, a professor at George Washington University, qualifies the idea of “command mechanism” found in the Club of Rome’s definition, preferring instead the concept of “control or steering mechanism”, which brings the concept closer to its etymological origin [11].

Steven Rosell, a Canadian researcher at the Institute for Research on Public Policy who was himself inspired by the works of the American diplomat and professor Harlan Cleveland (1918-2000) [12], offers a definition of governance that takes account of these aspects when he writes: the process of governance is the process whereby an organization or a society steers itself, adding that the dynamics of communication and control are central to that process. While the role of government is and remains central to the process of governance, in the information society more and more players, voluntary organisations, interest groups, the private sector, the media and so on – become involved in that process [13].

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has set itself the goal of advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources that help people build a better life. In its second annual report, in 1991, the UNDP suggests that underdevelopment originates from a lack of political accountability rather than a lack of funding. Since 1992, the term “governance”, combined with the democratisation of State management, has appeared in the Global Report on Human Development [14]. The UNDP, which was a co-author, defined good governance as the exercise of political, economic and administrative authority in the management of a country’s affairs at all levels. Governance comprises the complex mechanisms, processes and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, mediate their differences and exercise their legal rights and obligations. Good governance has many attributes. It is participatory, transparent and accountable. It is effective in making the best use of resources and is equitable. And it promotes the rule of law [15].

We are aware of the World Bank’s role in disseminating the concept of “good governance” as a public management model – developing accounting control to tackle corruption, building legal frameworks to promote the establishment of international free enterprise, a mechanism for decentralising services, etc. [16] The Washington institution was also at the forefront in terms of defining institutional governance:

We define governance broadly as the traditions and institutions by which authority in a country is exercised. This includes (1) the process by which governments are selected, monitored and replaced, (2) the capacity of the government to effectively formulate and implement sound policies, and (3) the respect of citizens and the state for the institutions that govern economic and social interactions among them [17]. We see the operational side of this definition for the World Bank, a definition which also includes a range of indicators that help to explain these various aspects of governance [18].

Other definitions have been developed over time, including those of the European Commission, the OECD and various countries. In its White Paper in 2001, the European Commission indicates that governance means rules, processes and behaviour that affect the way in which they are exercised at European level, particularly as regards openness, participation, accountability, effectiveness and coherence [19].

As the political scientists have demonstrated, governance is a descriptive label used to highlight the changing nature of the political process over the past few decades. This concept alerts us to the ever-increasing diversity of areas and actors involved in the development of public policies. It takes into account all the actors and all the areas outside the executive framework of the policy development process [20]. The key element in both understanding and promoting governance is probably the notion of stakeholders of the particular policy or issue, which turns such parties into potential actors [21]. Whether they are engaged in action or in campaigning, it is through such involvement that actors find the legitimacy of participating in the governance of the defined territory. As for the public sector, such involvement may offer it a new opportunity to rethink its role and, consequently, a new vitality [22].

Lester Salamon, professor at John Hopkins University, has highlighted the new governance paradigm by demonstrating the transition between, on the one hand, traditional public administration based on programmes, agencies, hierarchy, public-private sector antagonism, command and control mechanisms and skills-based management, and, on the other, governance based on new tools, network logic, a constructive relationship between the public and private sectors, negotiation and persuasion and development of skills [23].

This comparison is consistent with others, particularly that between the Weberian Bureaucratic State and the Postmodern State, between government and governance, drawn up by Richards and Smith in 2002 and developed by Michael Hill [24].

diapositive1

 1.2. The three spheres of governance

The UNDP model structures the State, the private sector and civil society as three spheres of governance based on a specific division of tasks.

– The role of the State and its three powers – legislative, judiciary and executive (public services and the military) – is to create a political and legal environment and climate conducive to human development by defending interests for the public good. It is the State’s responsibility to ensure law enforcement, maintain order and security, create a national identity and vision, define a public policy and programmes, generate revenues for public services and infrastructures, draw up and implement its budget and regulate and stimulate the market.

– The private sector which, from the smallest business to the largest, grows within the market, creates and provides goods and services, along with jobs and revenues for citizens. This commercial sector is not linked to a specific territory, yet it is an element of regional development.

diapositive3

Three spheres of governance

– The private sector which, from the smallest business to the largest, grows within the market, creates and provides goods and services, along with jobs and revenues for citizens. This commercial sector is not linked to a specific territory, yet it is an element of regional development.

– Civil society, which comprises all citizens, who may be organised through non-governmental organisations, professional organisations, religious associations, women’s associations, cultural or community associations, etc., facilitates political and social interaction, particularly by mobilising groups of citizens to participate in economic, social and political activities and express a range of dynamic and varied opinions [25].

Although it makes the system easier to understand, this arrangement of the three spheres of governance does not diminish the complexity of the system. Thus, it reveals the following seven types of relationships which remain common:

– the relationship between governments and markets;

– the relationship between governments and citizens;

– the relationship between governments and the voluntary or private sectors;

– the relationship between (elected) politicians and (appointed) civil servants;

– the relationship between local government institutions and residents in towns and rural areas;

– the relationship between the legislative and the executive;

– the relationship between the Nation State and the international institutions ([26]).

In its analysis, the UNDP points out that none of the three spheres is solely responsible for good governance and cannot own it by itself. Good governance extends beyond the functions of each sphere and is a matter for their meetings and interactions. As G. Shabbir CHEEMA, Director of the Improved Management & Governance Division of the UNDP, writes, it is first and foremost a question of promoting interaction between these three spheres. The actors involved at the point where the State, the private sector and civil society meet are the keys to governance [27].

Thus, from the experience of international cooperation, globalisation and economic interdependence, it is possible to derive this approach to governance, which can be seen as a process of coordinating actors, social groups and institutions that produce compromises and political and social consensus on achieving specific goals – which are discussed and defined collectively – in fragmented and uncertain environments. This view of the concept clearly addresses the issue of the State’s role in the organisation of society. Although it radically alters the nature of the relationship between citizens and State, the governance model cannot replace the function of government. We are dealing here with a complementary approach, which involves the decision-makers and increases their expectation of collective action by relying on the other pillars of society.

We can see this in the convergence between the various definitions of the concept of governance and the issue of the position of civil society, while the capacity of civil society to enter into a global dialogue with the political sphere is central to the revitalisation of democracy and the rehabilitation of politics. The key element in both understanding and promoting governance is probably the notion of stakeholders of the particular policy or issue, which turns such parties into potential actors. It is through their action or campaigning that actors find the legitimacy of participating in the political and social arena. As for the public sector, and particularly the government, such involvement may offer it a new opportunity to rethink its role and, consequently, a new vitality [28]. Indeed, politics retains its rightful place in the new model. Its own, new political vision leads it into the heart of the system, as a facilitator and organiser of the debate and of the decisions being taken between actors. In this respect, it appears to be the mastermind, like the State [29].

2. Six mutations that influence governance

At a particular moment in history – in the early 1990s –, a search for a new equilibrium was launched between market, political and civil society actors. It may be that the third of these served to complement the first two, to try and correct the excessive pendulum swing caused by the neoliberal deregulation introduced by Reaganism and Thatcherism. Economic and civil society actors have also been able to join forces in developing countries to maintain cohesion mismanaged by discredited regimes, and have therefore been parties at the international level. The same geopolitical causes that put an end to the bipolarity of the world clearly had an effect on ideologies. Their erosion, and even their partial or total discrediting, no doubt contributed to the development or consolidation of the individualist vision that marks the supremacy of personal sovereignty over state sovereignty and reconnects with the philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment and the social contract. This individualism, in which the individual is not created for the State, but rather the State is created for the individual, is emerging as a significant trend in contemporary society.

In parallel, and faced with increased globalisation, the key players are operating increasingly at the international level and are, themselves, structuring the political and social arena [30]. The European Union is a good example of a public actor, as are multinational businesses and organisations such as Google, Uber, Greenpeace and the Millennium Project.

We wanted to highlight at least six mutations that influence governance, before examining how they influence our model: (1) The Knowledge Revolution (2) the transition to sustainable development, (3) the new social trifunctionality, (4) open government, (5) the conservative and populist zeitgeist, and (6) the increasing influence of businesses.

2.1. The Knowledge Revolution

There is no need to dwell on this mutation, except to point out that it is a single trajectory which originates in the Information Revolution of the 1970s, the communication highways, the cognitive revolution, the knowledge society, the digital revolution, the internet, the genome, robotics, artificial intelligence, etc.: all these transformations, these waves of technological and societal innovations, stem from the same dynamic. This structure of structural change leads us collectively towards something else whose magnitude we have barely perceived. One of the major results is clearly the higher levels of education among citizens and the significant increase in the number of intellectuals, defined as individuals who are engaged in critical thought, supported by research and reflection on society, and who offer solutions to address its normative problems. Unlike the far too negative perception people have of it, social media is a source of training and education for many. The internet, meanwhile, contains a considerable amount of information and knowledge which helps to train citizens. Social media is producing a multitude of new tools for building communities and promoting a more deliberative and more participatory democracy, even if its harmful effects cannot be denied. As early as 1974, in The Coming of Post-industrial Society, the sociologist Daniel Bell dedicated a chapter to this key issue question: who will lead? [31]

2.2. The transition to sustainable development

This transition, which also began at the end of the 1960s with increasing awareness of the limits imposed on growth, grew very (too) slowly through the various reports produced, above all, by the United Nations, scientists, NGOs of all kinds, political parties, States and, now, businesses. Nearly all accepted the notion that sustainable development is a systemic dynamic and a quest for harmony, as advocated in the Brundtland Report in 1987. The implementation of Agenda 2030 and the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) adopted by heads of state and governments at the Special United Nations Summit of 25 September 2015, shares this systemic aspect and takes account of the critical need to save the planet and the urgency of climate change [32], highlighted further in the IPCC report of October 2018 [33].

2.3. The new social trifunctionality

It was the anthropologist and religious historian Georges Dumézil (1898-1986) who showed, through his work on ancient myths, how societies of Indo-European origin organise human activity based on a trifunctional approach. He consistently describes three functions in the societies studied. These are exercised as separate, hierarchical powers: a religion and sovereignty function, a military function and a production and reproduction function [34]. Thus, after the Aristotelian model [35], we note the feudal system model with its three orders, described by the historian Georges Duby (1919-1996), which is based on the work of Adalbéron, bishop of Laon (1027-1030) [36], and the French Ancien Régime model with its three states, conceived by René Rémond (1918-2007) [37] but previously described by the legal scholar Charles Loyseau (1566-1627) at the beginning of the 17th century. The governance model currently in force is a continuation of this trifunctionality, but it has the particular characteristic of seeking, as we have seen, a balance between stakeholders rather than a restrictive leadership of one party over the others.

As with all of Dumézil’s analysis, each of the models has been criticised. Take, for example, the well-known issues raised by Abbé Sieyes (1748-1836) [38] or by Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) [39]. The model of governance by stakeholders has also been criticised and will be again. It has also been described as a new form of corporatism, which clearly evokes some highly charged images.

 

 2.4. Open government

Taking its inspiration from the works of the OGP (Open Government Partnership) and the OECD, open government can be conceived as a citizen-centred culture of governance that utilises innovative and sustainable tools, policies and practices to promote government transparency, responsiveness and accountability to foster stakeholders’ participation in support of democracy and inclusive growth [40]. This process is intended to lead to the co-construction of collective policies that involve all governance players (public sector, businesses, civil society, etc.) and pursue the general interest and the common good. Such initiatives have been taken by leaders said to be above politics, such as Tony Blair, Barack Obama and Emmanuel Macron, and are continuing, particularly in the action plans developed under the guidance of the OGP, such as the UK-NAP: 3rd OGP National Action Plan [41].

  

2.5. The conservative and populist zeitgeist

Whether you like him as a person or not, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in his speech to the TUC (Trade Union Congress) in Brighton on 12 September 2006, perfectly captured the unease felt at that time by citizens and politicians, an unease which was still in its infancy but which would continue to grow until today. The quality of this analysis deserves a lengthy quotation.

« What has changed is the interplay between globalisation, immigration and terrorism. Suddenly we feel under threat: physically from this new terrorism that is coming onto our streets, culturally as new waves of migrants change our society, and economically because an open world economy is hastening the sharpness of competition. People feel they are working longer, but are less secure. They feel the rules are changing and they never voted to change them. They feel, in a word, powerless. This is producing a pessimism that is pervasive and fearful because there seems no way through, or at least a way under our control.

There is a debate going on which, confusingly for the politicians, often crosses traditional left/right lines and the debate is: open vs closed. Do we embrace the challenge of more open societies or build defences against it? In my judgement, we need an approach that is strong and not scared that addresses people’s anxieties but does not indulge them, and above all has the right values underpinning it. The challenge won’t be overcome by policy alone, but by a powerful case made on the basis of values, most especially those that combine liberty with justice, security with tolerance and respect for others. We have to escape the tyranny of the « or » and develop the inclusive nature of the « and ».

The answer to economic globalisation is open markets and strong welfare and public service systems, particularly those like education, which equip people for change. The answer to terrorism is measures on security and tackling its underlying causes.

The answer to concern over migration is to welcome its contribution and put a system of rules in place to control it [42].

 And Tony Blair goes on to condemn economic protectionism, isolation and nativism, the political current of opposing any new immigration:

Protectionism in the economy; isolation in world affairs; nativism within our society; all, in the end, mean weakness in the face of challenge. If we believe in ourselves we can be strong. We can overcome the challenge of global change; better, we can relish its possibilities [43].

The opposite of this open concept is clearly populism, which we mentioned at the outset. In June 2017, Anthony Zurcher, the BBC News correspondent in the United States, described this attitude and its consequences: challenging the legitimacy of elected representatives, distrusting the parliamentary system, criticising the media and a financial oligarchy that seems to run the world, along with challenging scientific evidence, particularly by maintaining a sense of confusion over certain issues: the case analysed was typical: Does Trump still think climate change is a hoax? [44]

 

 2.6. The growing influence of businesses

 The growing influence of businesses is a clearly visible reality. There is little doubt that the role of businesses is better recognised in society and that their impact on governance has increased at the global and the local level. In June 2014, alluding to integrated governance, a new governance model for sustainability, the United Nations Environment Programme observed that companies have been the engine behind the unprecedented economic growth of the past century. The big companies through their operations have managed to raise billions of people from poverty, provide employment and education opportunities and unlock the human potential for innovation and creativity [45].

If we analyse the UNDP’s ‘three spheres of governance’ model, we can already see that, in what we call the first generation (Governance Model 1.0. #1stGen), from the 1980s to the middle of the 2000s the influence of the Knowledge Revolution was already being strongly exercised over the private sector and over civil society. The transition towards sustainable development was recognised mainly within civil society, whereas the social trifunctionality model was disseminated in the public sector through the international institutions.

It seems that this pattern has evolved since the middle of the 2000s towards a second-generation governance model (Governance Model 2.0. #2nd Gen) in which sustainable development is widespread throughout all levels of the public sphere to the point of becoming the official norm. The effects of the Intelligence Revolution have continued to be felt everywhere, but they are especially extensive in the public sector, particularly through the open government movement, and particularly under the influence of Barack Obama, starting from his first term in 2009. But in a world in which knowledge is valued, a new sphere is emerging that of the world of research and universities (Academia). This represents an interface, being both autonomous and a meeting and activation point for the private, public and civil society spheres, particularly through its capacity to activate collective intelligence and its academic freedom. This new sphere is challenging the social trifunctionality model.

It could be argued that the adoption and implementation of the SDGs since 2015 represents a tangible acceleration of the transition towards sustainable development and the prospect of a new generation of governance (Governance Model 3.0. #NextGen).

diapositive4

The growing influence of businesses may, in this key area of the SDGs which are the primary focus of their societal responsibility, provide valuable support, especially since awareness of sustainability in the business world has increased considerably and the resources available to public “authorities” are effectively eroded. Nevertheless, the conservative and populist zeitgeist which is disrupting the public sector and civil society may have some annoying effects, namely blocking or confusing the information and communication flows.

The impacts on the actors in governance of the six mutations in progress can be summarised in the following table.

diapositive5

 

 3. Governance for Agenda 2030?

The United Nations Committee of Experts in Public Administration (CEPA), set up by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in 2001, is composed of 24 members who meet every year at the UN headquarters in New York. The Committee supports the work of ECOSOC to promote the development of effective public administration and quality governance among Member States, particularly in the context of Agenda 2030, in support of the implementation and evaluation of progress in achieving the sustainable development goals. CEPA updates ECOSOC on the various aspects of governance and public administration of sustainable socio-economic development. Its particular focus is on topics relating to development of human capital, participatory governance, development of skills in countries experiencing crises or emerging from conflict, and on the various innovations in public administration and governance.

At its 17th session, which was held in New York in April 2018, the CEPA worked on the subject of preparing public institutions for the implementation of the SDGs (Readying public institutions for implementation of the SDGs). CEPA put forward recommendations on three issues it considered fundamental: firstly, preparing institutions and politicians with a view to ensuring the implementation of the sustainable development programme by 2030, then the implementation, at all levels, of efficient, responsible institutions that are open to anybody, and, finally, measures aimed at strengthening the institutions and giving them the necessary resources to transform societies and make them viable and resilient. Based on its earlier work, CEPA drew up a set of principles of effective governance to support the urgent and total achievement of all the sustainable development goals.

3.1. Effectiveness

3.1.1. Competence: to perform their functions effectively, institutions are to have sufficient expertise, resources and tools to deal adequately with the mandates under their authority (commonly used strategies such as: promotion of a professional public sector workforce, leadership development and training civil servant, financial management and control, investment in e-governement, etc.).

3.1.2. Sound policymaking: to achieve their intended results, public policies are to be coherent with one another and founded on true or well-established grounds, in full accordance with fact, reason and good sense (commonly used strategies such as: strategic planning and foresight, strengthening national statistical systems, risk management frameworks, data sharing, etc.).

3.1.3. Collaboration: to address problems of common interest, institutions at all levels of government and in all sectors should work together and jointly with non-State actors towards the same end, purpose and effect (commonly used strategies such as: centre of government coordination under the Head of State of Government, collaboration, coordination, integration and dialogue across levels of government and functional areas, raising awareness of the SDG, network-based governance, multi-stakeholder partnerships etc.).

3.2. Accountability

3.2.1. Integrity: to serve in the public interest, civil servants are to discharge their official duties honestly, fairly and in a manner consistent with soundness of moral principle (commonly used strategies such as: promotion of anti-corruption policies, practices and bodies, codes of conduct for public officials, elimination of bribery and trading in influence, conflict of interest policies, whistle-blower protection, provision of adequate remuneration and equitable pay scales for public servants, etc.).

3.2.2. Transparency: to ensure accountability and enable public scrutiny, institutions are to be open and candid in the execution of their functions and promote access to information, subject only to the specific and limited exceptions as are provided by law (commonly used strategies such as: proactive disclosure of information, budget transparency, open government data, registries of beneficial ownership, lobby registries, etc.).

3.2.3. Independent oversight: to retain trust in government, oversight agencies are to act according to strictly professional considerations and apart from and unaffected by others (commonly used strategies such as: promotion of the independence of regulatory agencies, arrangements for a review of administrative decisions by courts or other bodies, independent audit, respect for legality, etc.).

3.3. Inclusiveness

3.3.1. Leaving no one behind: to ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality, public policies are to take into account the needs and aspirations of all segments of society, including the poorest and most vulnerable and those subject to discrimination (commonly used strategies such as: promotion of equitable fiscal and monetary policy, promotion of social equity, data disaggregation, systematic follow-up and review, etc.).

3.3.2. Non discrimination: to respect, protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, access to public service is to be provided on general terms of equality, without distinction of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, disability or other status (commonly used strategies such as: promotion of public sector workforce diversity, prohibition of discrimination in public service delivery, multilingual service delivery, accessibility standards, cultural audit of institutions, universal birth registration, gender-responsive budgeting, etc.).

3.3.3. Participation: to have an effective State, all significant political groups should be actively involved in matters that directly affect them and have a chance to influence policy (commonly used strategies such as: free and fair elections, regulatory process of public consultation, multi-stakeholder forums, participatory budgeting, community-driven development, etc.).

3.3.4. Subsidiarity: to promote government that is responsive to the needs and aspirations of all people, central authorities should perform only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more intermediate or local level (commonly used strategies such as: fiscal federalism, strengthening urban governance, strengthening municipal finance and local finance systems, enhancement of local capacity for prevention, adaptation and mitigation of external shocks, multilevel governance, etc.).

3.3.5. Intergenerational equity: to promote prosperity and quality of life for all, institutions should construct administrative acts that balance the short-term needs of today’s generation with the longer-term needs of future generations (commonly used strategies such as: sustainable development impact assessment, long-term public debt management, long-term territorial planning and spatial development, ecosystem management, etc.) [46].

These principles of effective governance, drawn up by the UN CEPA to support the urgent and total achievement of all the sustainable development goals, is a genuine roadmap from which all actors in governance must be able to draw inspiration. Not only administrations and associations, as we have seen, but also citizens, businesses and researchers. Not only will the implementation of these principles contribute to increasing sustainable development and help it to achieve its goals by 2030, but they may also improve our world and our societies, here and now.

Conclusion: Rationality and Organization in Democracy

The governance models highlighted today are certainly not being advocated only for Europe and the United States. They are recommended for the entire world, but these models are enriched considerably by the work undertaken by the major international institutions, associations and foundations. Naturally, these include the Club of Rome, the UNDP, the World Bank, the ECOSOC CEPA and the Open Government Partnership. There are others, as well, such as the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the OECD.

The objective of these initiatives is, first and foremost, to improve democracy and governance. These cannot function without being organised through structured and often procedural dialogue between stakeholders. To achieve harmony, democracy also requires rationality and method [47] from citizens and politicians. Education and training are fundamentally what sustains them on a daily basis. This should never be forgotten.

Philippe Destatte

@PhD2050

 

See also : Philippe Destatte, What is Open Government?, November 7, 2017.

Direct access to PhD2050’s English Papers

 

[1] As Emiliano GROSSMAN and Nicolas SAUGER note in Pourquoi détestons-nous autant nos politiques?, p. 71-72, Paris, Presses de Science Po, 2017, populism is, if we accept the contemporary definitions of the term (including Cas MUDDE, Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2007.), first and foremost a partial ideology (in that it does not offer a full and comprehensive explanation of the world), built around two principles: total separation between the people and the elite (the people being good, the elite being corrupt), and subjection of politics to the general will. In other words, populism is based on a negation of pluralism (the people are a homogeneous whole) and a form of Manichaeism (the people are good, the elite are evil) Our translation. – See also Colin HAY, Why we hate politics, Cambridge, Polity Press, 2007.

[2] This text is an updated version of my speech at the “Round table on Governance & Law: Challenges & Opportunities” seminar held at the World Bank in Washington at the instigation of the World Academy of Art and Science and the World University Consortium, on 5 and 6 November 2018.

[3] Although the historian recalls that rumours are not specific to the information society or the knowledge society. See François-Bertrand HUYGHE, La désinformation, les armes du faux, Paris, A. Colin, 2016. – Fake News, la Grande Peur, 2018.

[4] Timothy SNYDER, The Road to Unfreedom, Russia, Europe, America, p. 279, New York, Tim Duggan, 2018.

[5] Archon Fung is Professor of Citizenship and Governance at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

[6] Archon FUNG, Democratizing the Policy Process, in Michael MORAN, Martin REIN & Robert E. GOODIN, The Oxford Handbook of Public Policy, p. 682, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2008. – A. FUNG, Empowered Deliberation: Reinventing Urban Democracy, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 2004.

[7] See inter alia Louis EMMERIJ, Richard JOLLY, Thomas G. WEISS, Ahead of the Curve?, UN Ideas and Global Challenges, New York – Geneva, UN-Indiana University Press, 2001. – id., En avance sur leur temps?, Les idées des Nations Unies face aux défis mondiaux, p. 229sv., Blonay, Van Diermen – ADECO – Geneva, United Nations, 2003. – Thomas G. WEISS, Governance, Good Governance, and Global Governance: Conceptual and Actual Challenges, Third World Quarterly 21, n°5, October 2000, p. 795-814.

[8] Alexander KING & Bertrand SCHNEIDER, The First Global Revolution, p. 114, New York-Hyderabad, Pantheon Books – Orient Longman, 1991. – It should be noted that, in the French translation of this report, which was prepared by Jacques Fontaine and published in Paris in 1991, the term governance is translated by « structures de gouvernement [structures of government]”, thus indicating that its use is France is not yet widespread. A. KING & B. SCHNEIDER, Questions de survie, La Révolution mondiale a commencé, p. 163, Paris, Calmann-Lévy, 1991.

[9] A. KING & B. SCHNEIDER, The First Global Revolution : A Report of the Council of Rome…, p. 181-182.

[10] James N. ROSENAU & Ernst-Otto CZEMPIEL ed., Governance without Government: Order and Change in World Politics, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992. – J.N. ROSENAU, Along the Domestic Frontier, Exploring Governance in a Turbulent World, p. 145, Cambridge University Press, 1997.

[11] « Governance » is understood to come from the Greek kybenan or kybernetes (as in cybernetics), which means to steer or control. J.N. ROSENAU, Along..., p. 146.

[12] Harlan Cleveland, former United States Ambassador to NATO, president of the World Academy of Arts and Science, had himself used the term since the 1970s. – The organizations that get things done will no longer be hierarchical pyramids with most of the real control at the top. They will be systems—interlaced webs of tension in which control is loose, power diffused, and centers of decision plural. “Decision-making” will become an increasingly intricate process of multilateral brokerage both inside and outside the organization which thinks it has the responsibility for making, or at least announcing, the decision. Because organizations will be horizontal, the way they are governed is likely to be more collegial, consensual, and consultative. The bigger the problems to be tackled, the more real power is diffused and the larger the number of persons who can exercise it — if they work at it. Harlan CLEVELAND, The Future Executive: A Guide for Tomorrow’s Managers, p. 13, New York, Harper & Row, 1972.

[13] Steven A. ROSELL ea, Governing in an Information Society, p. 21, Montréal, Institute for Research on Public Policy, 1992.

[14] UNDP and governance, Experiences and Lessons Learned, UNDP, Management Development and Governance, Lessons-Learned, Series, n°1, p. 9. – Richard Jolly, Director General of Unicef, special advisor to the UNDP Administrator and the driving force behind the Human Development Report, and the conference entitled Good governance and democratisation: the role of the international organisations, Ottawa, United Nations Association in Canada (UNA-Canada), 16 and 17 October 1997. – Une nouvelle gouvernance mondiale au service de l’humanité et de l’équité, dans Rapports mondial sur le développement humain 1999, p. 97-123, New-York, UNDP – Paris-Brussels, De Boeck-Larcier, 1999.

[15] G. Shabbir CHEEMA, Politique et gouvernance du PNUD : cadre conceptuel et coopération au développement, http://www.unac.org/français/activites/gouvernance/partieun.html 17/02/02. Shabbir CHEEMA directeur de la Division du Renforcement de la Gestion et de la Gouvernance au PNUD. – Another definition given by the UNDP is that of Public Sector Management, which dates from 1995: governance or public management encompasses the direct and indirect management by the state of public affairs and regulatory control of private activities that impinge on human affairs. Governance can best be understood in terms of three major components: first, the form of political authority that exists in a country (parliamentary or presidential, civilian or military, and autocratic or democratic; second, the means through which authority is exercised in the management of economic and social resources; and third, the ability of governments to discharge government functions effectively , efficiently, and equitably through the design, formulation, and implementation of sound policies. dans Public Sector Management, Governance, and Sustainable Human Development, Discussion Paper 1, Management Development and Governance Division, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, p. 19, New-York, United Nations Development Programme, 1995. – In 1997, a new study by the Management Development & Governance Division, prefaced by G. Shabbir Cheema, gave a very similar definition to the one presented in Ottawa: Governance can be seen as the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs at all levels. it comprises the mechanisms, processes and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and mediate their differences. In Governance for sustainable human development, A UNDP policy document, p. 3, New-York, United Nations Development Programme, 1997.

[16] See, for example: J. ISHAM, Daniel KAUFMANN & Lant PRITCHETT, Governance and Returns on Investment, Washington, The World Bank, 1995. – Global Economic Prospects and the Developing Countries, Washington, The World Bank, 1996. – Francis NG and Alexander YEATS, Good Governance and Trade Policy, Are They the Keys to Africa’s Global Integration and Growth? Washington, The World Bank, 10 November 1998. – Michael WOOLCOCK, Globalization, Governance and Civil Society, DECRG Policy Research on Globalization, Growth, and Poverty: Facts, Fears, and Agenda for Action, Background Paper, Washington, The World Bank, 10 August 2001.

[17] We define governance broadly as the traditions and institutions by which authority in a country is exercised. This includes (1) the process by which governments are selected, monitored and replaced, (2) the capacity of the governement to effectively formulate and implement sound policies, and (3) the respect of citizens and the state for the institutions that govern economic and social interactions among them. Daniel KAUFMANN, Aart KRAAY & Pablo ZOIDO-LOBATON, Governance Matters, Washington, World Bank, 1999. http://www.worldbank.org/wbi/governance. 16/02/02. Daniel KAUFMANN, Aart KRAAY & Pablo ZOIDO-LOBATON, Gestion des Affaires publiques, De l’évaluation à l’action, dans Finances et Développement, June 2000, p. 1.

[18] Daniel KAUFMANN, Aart KRAAY & Pablo ZOIDO-LOBATON, Aggregating Governance Indicators, Washington, World Bank, 1999. http://www.worldbank.org/wbi/governance. 16/02/2002.

[19] Governance means rules, processes and behavior that affect the way in which they are exercised at European level, particularly as regards openess, participation, accountability, effectiveness and coherence. European Governance, A White Paper, July 25, 2001, p. 8.

[20] David RICHARDS & Martin SMITH, Governance and the Public Policy in the UK, p. 2, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2002.

[21] La société civile et l’OCDE, in Synthèses, Paris, OCDE, December 2001, p. 1.

[22] Lester M. SALAMON, The Tools Approach and the New Governance: Conclusion and Implications, in Lester M. SALAMON, The Tools of Government, A Guide to the New Governance, p. 600-610 , New-York, Oxford University Press, 2002.

[23] L. M. SALAMON, The Tools of Government… p. 9, 2002.

[24] David RICHARDS & Martin J. SMITH, Governance and Public Policy in the UK, p. 36, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2002. – Michaël HILL, The Public Policy Process, p. 21, Harlow, Pearson Education Limited, 5th ed, 2009.

[25] G. Shabbir CHEEMA, Politique et gouvernance du PNUD: cadre conceptuel et coopération au développement…, p. 10. – Governance includes the state, but transcends it by taking in the private sector and civil society. All three are critical for sustaining human development. The state creates a conducive political and legal environment. The private sector generates jobs and income. And civil society facilitates political and social interaction – mobilising groups to participate in economic, social and political activities. Because each has weaknesses and strengths, a major objective of our support for good governance is to promote constructive interaction among all three. Governance for Sustainable Human Development, A UNDP Policy Document, United Nations Development Programme, January 1997.

[26] Sam AGERE, Promoting Good Governance, Principles, Practices and Perspectives, p. 1, London, Commonwealth Secretariat, Management and Training Services Division, 2000.

[27] G. Shabbir CHEEMA, Politique et gouvernance du PNUD: cadre conceptuel et coopération au développement…, p. 10.

[28] La société civile et l’OCDE, in Synthèses, Paris, OCDE, December 2001, p. 1.

[29] Philippe DELMAS, La maître des horloges, Modernité de l’action publique, Paris, Odile Jacobs, 1991.

[30] M. HILL, The Public Policy Process…, p. 20.

[31] Daniel BELL, The Coming of Post-industrial Society, p. 339, London, Heinemann, 1974.

[32] Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 21 October 2015. http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/70/1&Lang=E

[33] Summary for Policymakers of IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC approved by governments, 8 October 2018. https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/

[34] Georges DUMEZIL, Jupiter, Mars, Quirinus, Paris, Gallimard, 1941.

[35] ARISTOTLE, Ethique à Nicomaque (349 ANC), p. 43sv, Paris, Vrin, 1997.

[36] Georges DUBY, The Three Orders, Feudal Society Imagined, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1980.

[37] René REMOND, L’Ancien Régime et la Révolution, p. 64sv., Paris, Seuil, 1974.

[38] Emmanuel Joseph SIEYES, Qu’est-ce que le Tiers état? (1789), Paris, Editions du Boucher, 2002.

[39] K. MARX & F. ENGELS, Manifesto of The Communist Party (1847).

[40] OECD, Open Governement, The Global context and the way forward, p. 19, Paris, OECD Publishing, 2016. – In November 2017, the OECD published this work in French, using the following definition: a culture of governance that is based on innovative, sustainable policies and practices inspired by principles of transparency, accountability and participation to promote democracy and inclusive growth. OECD, Gouvernement ouvert: Contexte mondial et perspectives, Editions OCDE, Paris. 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264280984-fr

[41] Policy paper, UK Open Government National Action Plan 2016-18, 12 May 2016. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-open-government-national-action-plan-2016-18/uk-open-government-national-action-plan-2016-18

[42] Full Text of Tony Blair’s Speech to the TUC (Trade Union Congress), Brighton, Sept. 12, 2006. in The Guardian, 12 sept. 2006. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2006/sep/12/tradeunions.speeches

[43] Ibidem.

[44] Anthony ZURCHER, Does Trump still think climate change is a hoax ? BBC News, June 2, 2017.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40128034

[45] Companies have been the engine behind the unprecedented economic growth of the past century. The big companies through their operations have managed to raise billions of people from poverty, provide employment and education opportunities and unlock the human potential for innovation and creativity. Integrated Governance, A New Model of Governance for Sustainability, p. 8, United Nations Environment Programme, June 2014.

[46] UN, Committee of Experts on Public Administration, Report on the Seveneenth Session (23-27 April 2018), p. 18-21, New York, Economic and Social Council, Official Records, 2018, Supplement N°24. E/2018/44-E/C.16/2018/8.

[47] We are thinking, in particular, of issues relating to mutual adjustment in developing policies. See Philippe ZITTOUN, La fabrique des politiques publiques, Une approche pragmatique de l’action publique, p. 201sv, Paris, Presses de Science Po, 2013.

Hour-en-Famenne, August 29, 2017

If we set aside the political tactics, the individual frustrations of certain elected representatives and the bitterness of recent weeks during the summer of 2017 and regard them as setbacks, we might ponder the partial changes in majority in Wallonia in the light of the possible trajectories envisaged before the process initiated by Guy Lutgen, president of the Human Democratic Centre, or cdH, on 18 June 2017. An analysis of this kind had been carried out in 2016 by a group of independent actors and experts as part of the preparation for a conference organised by the Open University and the University of Mons (UMONS), in Charleroi [1]. This exercise was continued in 2017 with the Regional Foresight College of Wallonia, resulting in a Manifesto published in the journal L’Echo in March 2017 [2]. How should we try to interpret this at the end of August 2017?

First of all, we must consider the fact that those who had identified future bifurcations for Wallonia envisaged them only at the time of the next regional elections, in 2019 or 2024 – it is worth repeating that bifurcations are moments when the system can evolve in several directions and it follows one of the options open to it. Those observers did not necessarily see such bifurcations in changes in political majority, but thought instead that the scale of the expected transformation required an examination of the strength of the policies adopted, the problem being that the elected representatives in the majority that came to power in 2014 did not seem willing to implement them. As is often the case, incidentally, most of the elected representatives were concentrating on the demands of public opinion, as reported or stimulated by the press: providing responses to an effect of the disease symbolised by the benefits received by the ruling elite [3] rather than to the particularly disturbing socio-economic signals emerging from the actors and researchers [4].

The June 2017 wild-card

However, if we try to anticipate the bifurcations in order to prepare for them, and this was indeed the case for the elections in 2019 and 2024, we tend to forget that trajectories do not necessarily originate within the expected timescales: they may materialise spontaneously depending on their centre of gravity and the impetus they provide. This is what is called a wild-card, a major surprise or an unexpected, surprising and unlikely event that may have considerable impact if it occurs. In the exercise carried out on the trajectories for Wallonia, the experts chose various centres of gravity. However, they examined the uniqueness of the institutions of Wallonia and the political parties and identified the Elysette, the meeting place of the government, as the seat of regional power. This logic is fairly consistent, for example, with the bifurcation at the elections on 13 June 1999, with the emergence of the Rainbow government and the introduction of the Future Contract for Wallonia at the instigation of Minister-President Elio Di Rupo. This bifurcation offered a trajectory of potential transformation. We also know that clear bifurcations, major opportunities for change, might also not offer any positive change, as was the case with the communitisation of education in 1989 in which, ultimately, almost nothing happened due to the lack of an appropriate financing law and of any desire to change an educational model that clearly needed changing. But that, as Rudyard Kipling once wrote, is another story.

What we forget, however, and what may explain the events of this summer, is that the centre of gravity of the Wallonia trajectory has, to date, been located in the Elysette only to a very limited extent. Elio Di Rupo, who rose rapidly to become president of the Socialist Party, realised this in 1999 since he felt that the Boulevard de l’Empereur, headquarter of that party, restricted his political activity. In retrospect, there are two bifurcation moments that clearly illustrate the importance of the centre of gravity represented by the political parties. The first took place in 1997, just twenty years ago. The second was in 2005.

The Forgotten Bifurcation

1997: the president of the Christian Social Party (PSC) instigates a new Regional Policy Declaration (DPR)

Since 1994, Robert Collignon had led a Socialist-Christian Social coalition in the Wallonia Region. The Minister-President, who was in charge of the economy, was pursuing a policy of strengthening the existing centres of excellence: biogenetics and pharmaceuticals in Walloon Brabant, aeronautics in Charleroi, astronautics in Liège, environment in the Mons-Borinage region, water in Verviers, agrifoods in Gembloux, etc. He also restructured the steel industry and its three centres: Cockerill-Sambre, Forges de Clabecq and Boël La Louvière. However, at the end of May 1997, based on evidence that the economy of Wallonia was ailing, the President of the PSC (now the cdH), Charles-Ferdinand Nothomb, advocated a new regional policy declaration with some major reorientations to tackle both the economic and the political issues that had arisen in Wallonia. For the Christian Social president, it was a question of rebuilding people’s trust [5]. Since the first quarter of 1993, Wallonia industrial production had undergone a period of decline [6]. But of greater concern to the analysts assembled by the PSC were the comparisons they were drawing with Flanders over the long term: in particular, an unemployment rate that was twice as high in the south, an annual growth slowdown of 0.5 to 1%, a worrying investment rate and a negative trade balance[7]. For the PSC, and in particular for member of Parliament André Antoine, these economic problems were accompanied by a lack of public regulation [8]. A supplementary regional policy declaration was adopted in November 1997 and acted as a valuable recovery plan by promoting decompartmentalisation and transversality of action, calling for leadership from a Minister-President who had influence over his team, and offering new initiatives [9]. Seven years later, the 2004-2009 DPR indicated that an initial step towards recovery had been achieved by the 1997 supplementary regional policy declaration [10].

2005: the presidents of the cdH and the PS evoke the Marshall Plan

The second example is no longer fresh in people’s minds, even though the initiative continues to be at the heart of the political debates in Wallonia. It was June 2005 and Jean-Claude Van Cauwenberghe had been leading the government of Wallonia for five years. Since the 2004 elections, the Christian Socialists had replaced Liberals and Socialists as partners of the Socialists. The new DPR, mentioned above, stated as follows: Wallonia is recovering. But its economic weakness was so intense that the road to prosperity is still long! And then the phrase which has become a mantra for positive minds: One thing is certain: Wallonia has stopped declining [11].

But a year later, while the government was calmly undertaking its legislative work and implementing this regional policy declaration, cdH President Joëlle Milquet and PS President Elio Di Rupo, in turn, called for mobilisation. I’m calling for genuine Walloon action, declared the PS leader. We need a Marshall Plan for Wallonia that requires real ownership and accountability from everyone (government, unions, bosses, universities, teachers, organisations). It’s urgent. It is imperative that we all quantify the actions to be implemented and measure their effectiveness. We know that there are problems in Wallonia despite an improvement which, whatever people say, is still insufficient. The government has taken some positive steps through its strategic plan to stimulate activity. But the best measures in the world are worthless if they are not implemented on the ground. We must all roll up our sleeves; we are at a pivotal moment in Wallonia’s history [12]. Once again, it was clear, as reported by the journalist Didier Grogna at the time, that the President of the Socialist Party was aware of the worsening economic situation in Wallonia and the criticisms levelled at the Socialist partner by cdH vice-president André Antoine, especially concerning the problems experienced by the Minister-President in fulfilling his mandate. As the L’Echo columnist explained: We must shift mindsets and dare to say « no » to Socialist sub-localism; we must be bold enough to shake up the acquired rights and some of the « questionable » behaviour within the public bodies. It seems increasingly unlikely that Jean-Claude Van Cauwenberghe will be able to stay the course for the entire legislature. It appears inevitable that he will be replaced. But by whom? Who will dare to confront the local political bosses who have not been held to account for decades? Wallonia needs a Marshall Plan; that means putting political differences aside and all moving in the same direction[13]. Thus, throughout the summer of 2005, the government of Wallonia was bypassed by the presidents of both parties who, themselves, presented the Priority Plan for Wallonia to the press and, it seems, to the government. The PS and the cdH remained united or, in any event, given the agenda of the declarations in 2005 and 1997, the Socialist presidents adopted the Christian Socialists’ state of mind and expressed their own position alongside them. It is clear that the relations between Nothomb and Busquin were very constructive, as were those between Elio Di Rupo and Joëlle Milquet subsequently. Those relationships were clearly not working in 2017 since, for the first time since it came into being, therefore nearly 25 years, the constructive no-confidence ejector seat was activated to the detriment of the Socialists.

As we can see, 1997 and 2005 represent forced bifurcations, probably even wild-cards, originating from the centre of gravity of the political parties that formed the government majority, and they may help with our understanding of 2017.

A trajectory of hope, two years ahead of time

What seems to have been the problem in early summer 2017 is not so much the issue of the poor governance that has seriously affected almost the entire political world in Wallonia, but rather the convergence of opinion between these « matters » and the now evident inability to respond to the maldevelopment in Wallonia. Admittedly, in the strategy put forward by cdH President Benoît Lutgen, it was these cases of poor governance that constituted the casus belli, which caused scepticism among a number of observers since the cdH itself was also not exempt from criticism. However, as the leader of the Christian Social group reminded the gallery in the Parliament of Wallonia on 28 July, it would be wrong to downplay the signs which confirmed, in 1997 and in 2005, that Wallonia was not on the right road to recovery, since they came from the Economic and Social Council, the universities and the Business Association of Wallonia (Union wallonne des Entreprises). The trend trajectory, entitled Au fil de l’eau… usée, written in February 2016 by the working party assembled for the initiative organised by the Open University and UMONS, is particularly revealing. I quote as follows:

If we practice governance from another time, with an artificial evaluation and a lack of anticipation, if we are incapable of dealing with budgetary challenges and social and territorial cohesion challenges, if we are unable to survive electoral shocks in 2019 and 2024, the seventh reform of the State and the structuring of the skills and resources dedicated to teaching, training, research, etc., we will jeopardise regional cohesion. Wallonia would then experience a downward spiral that would challenge Walloon social and territorial cohesion.

It should be noted that the working party addressed the issues of future symmetries or asymmetries between coalitions at the various power levels and therefore the possibilities of accepting them more normally and more sincerely than in the current onerous climate of dissension. The participants also noted that political life in Wallonia is characterised by its stability concerning a central point, namely the permanence of the Socialist Party in power, with the resulting dominance across the entire political and administrative landscape. As one of the rapporteurs writes, by refraining, however, from expressing political opinions, and especially preferences, it is arguable that (sometimes, often, …) this stability may be confused, or risks being confused, with a certain rigidity. Yet the theory that the PS might be relegated to regional opposition is not beyond the realm of possibility: this is demonstrated by the results of the 2007 legislative elections and the remarkable scope given to the « little » Ecolo parties and the cdH to choose their « major » partner for federal coalitions in 2009. Whatever we think, and whatever the consequences (particularly institutional and administrative), this fundamental change in political habits would represent a major discontinuity in the regional common thread.

Admittedly, alternative trajectories were expected and they will, perhaps, be reviewed to establish whether they are the ones that the bifurcation of summer 2017 will bring. However, it is my conviction that, in addition to what might be a political game and contrary to what was said the day after this bifurcation, Wallonia, in the way that it was being run by the Magnette-Prévot government, was not on the road to recovery. Not because its policies were inadequate – both camps praised the Marshall Plan, its competitiveness centres, Creative Wallonia, the Digital Plan, etc., and the initiative of the Socialist Minister for the Economy, Jean-Claude Marcourt –, but because the mobilisation of the actors was not addressed and sufficient resources had not been allocated to the recovery and therefore to allow the economy to take off.

If we accept this idea, the new bifurcation undoubtedly represents the hope that stems from a transformative, regenerative trajectory that may finally materialise for Wallonia. This is the current rhetoric of the new government led by Willy Borsus. Admittedly, rhetoric is not a trajectory. If the new Minister-President succeeds in mobilising the men, women and resources in Wallonia to realise our redeployment ambitions, the change in majority will allow the regeneration to happen two years ahead of time, which is valuable particularly for those who have suffered from Wallonia’s maldevelopment for too long.

 

Philippe Destatte

@PhD2050

[1] Philippe DESTATTE, Les trajectoires prospectives de la Wallonie (2016-2036), in Virginie de MORIAME and Giuseppe PAGANO, Où va la Wallonie? Actes du cycle de conférences UO-UMONS, p. 65-87, Charleroi, Open University, 2016. – Blog PhD2050, Charleroi, 25 February 2016, https://phd2050.org/2016/02/28/trajectoires-prospectives-de-la-wallonie-2016-2036/

[2] Wallonie, la trajectoire socio-économique, résolument, in L’Echo, 10 March 2017.

http://www.lecho.be/opinions/carte-blanche/Wallonie-la-trajectoire-socio-economique-resolument/9871529

[3] I use this term in the Russian sense employed by Alain Rey which refers to the members of the regime who are entitled to exceptional prerogatives. A. REY dir. Dictionnaire historique de la langue française, p. 2389, Paris, Le Robert, 2006.

[4] See inter alia the convergence of the following analyses: Regards sur la Wallonie 2016, Liège, CESW, June 2016. – Etudes sur la situation de l’entreprise, Portrait des Entreprises en Wallonie, Evolution, Wavre, UWE, 08/2016. – Séries statistiques du marché du travail en Wallonie, Namur, IWEPS, December 2016. – Communiqué de presse du 10 février 2017 relatif aux comptes régionaux, Brussels, Banque nationale, Institut des Comptes nationaux, 4 p. – Paola ANNONI, Lewis DIJKSTRA & Nadia GARGANO, The EU Regional Competitiveness Index 2016, WP02/2017, European Commission, Regional and Urban Policy, 2017. – Rapport sur l’économie wallonne 2017, Namur-Liège, SOGEPA – SPW-DGO6 – IWEPS, February 2017. – Didier PAQUOT, Economie wallonne: 15 ans de plans de redressement, où en est-on? Speech to the Financial Forum of the Banque nationale, Louvain-la-Neuve, Ephec, 27 April 2017.

[5] Nothomb réclame une nouvelle déclaration, in L’Echo, 27 May 1997. – Nothomb réclame un grand pacte social: « Quand le temps du devoir de deuil sera passé, il faudra redonner confiance aux gens, Interviewed by Vincent JUMEAU and Jean-Léon WAUTERS, in L’Echo, 24 May 1997.

[6] Tendances économiques, SES, no.16, June 1999, p. 38.

[7] Une Wallonie moderne, Congrès de Liège du 24 mai 1997, Actes, p. 16sv, Brussels, PSC, 1997.

[8] André ANTOINE, De la nécessité de sortir du pragmatisme sous-régional en Wallonie, dans Une Wallonie moderne, Congrès de Liège du 24 mai 1997, Actes, p. 56-58, Brussels, PSC, 1997.

[9] Marnix BEYEN and Philippe DESTATTE, Un autre pays, Nouvelle histoire de Belgique 1970-2000, [volume 9 of the Nouvelle Histoire politique de la Belgique contemporaine de 1830 à nos jours, under the direction of Michel Dumoulin, Vincent Dujardin and Mark Van den Wijngaert], coll. Histoire, p. 272-273, Brussels, Le Cri, 2009, 428 p.

[10] Déclaration de politique régionale 2004-2009, p. 3, slnd, 2004, p. 3, 153 p.

[11] Ibidem.

[12] Elio Di Rupo appelle à un “sursaut” wallon et veut mettre fin au sous-localisme, Interview, in L’Echo, 11 June 2005.

[13] Didier GROGNA, L’argent n’est pas tout, in L’Echo, 8 June 2005.

Reims, 7 November 2017

 

An innovative, global movement

In 2008, in his Change we can believe in project, Barack Obama highlighted the need to establish greater transparency in political institutions so that all citizens have access to information they need to evaluate the performance of the leaders. The candidate wrote that finally the governance of the country must be a source of inspiration for all Americans and must encourage them to act as citizens [1]. In addition to his desire to reduce unnecessary public expenditure, cut bureaucracy and cancel ineffective programmes, the future President of the United States announced that he wanted to open up democracy. The new Obama administration, he announced, will publish on line all information on the management of the State and will employ all available technologies to raise public awareness of State expenditure. It will invite members of the public to serve and take part, and it will reduce bureaucracy to ensure that all government agencies operate with maximum efficiency [2]. In addition to these priorities he announced compliance with the obligations on natural resources and on social inclusion and cohesion. The stated objective was to restore confidence in the institutions and to clean up Washington: imposing a strict ethical code on the elected representatives and limiting the influence of the lobbies and interest groups [3].

When President Obama entered the White House, one of his first initiatives, on 21 January 2009, was to send a memorandum on transparency and Open Government to the officials at the government ministries and agencies. In this document, the new president reaffirmed his pledge to create a government of this type and asked his departments to help create a political system founded on transparency, public participation and collaboration. This openness, he wrote, would strengthen democracy and promote the effectiveness and efficiency of the government. Firstly, the president wanted the government to be transparent and to promote accountability [4] and tell the public what it was doing. Next, the government should be participatory: when knowledge is shared between the public and private spheres, it is in the common interest for the public to participate in developing policies and allow their government to benefit from their collective intelligence. Finally, the government should be collaborative, which means that it should actively engage Americans in the work of their government, harnessing innovative tools and methods to ensure that all levels of the government and the administration cooperate with each other and with the non-profit organisations, businesses and individuals in the private sector [5]. After being gradually implemented in the United States, this movement, which follows an already long-standing Anglo-Saxon tradition [6], has inspired other countries and prompted an important multilateral initiative which, incidentally, The Destree Institute joined as a civil society partner in 2017.

Thus, in 2011, the Open Government Partnership (OGP) was launched by the governments of the United States, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa and the United Kingdom, who adopted a joint declaration [7]. The objective of the OGP is to set up a platform for good practices between innovators in order to secure concrete commitments from governments on transparency, public action, empowerment of citizens, public participation, democratic innovation and harnessing new technologies to promote better governance.

As the years have passed, more than 70 countries have joined the initiative. As of 2017, the Belgian Federal State has not yet done so [8]. France, which was a pioneer in deliberative processes and Open Data, only joined the OGP in 2014 but has held the joint presidency since 2015, becoming co-organiser of the 4th Global Summit for the Open Government Partnership, which was held in the French capital at the end of 2016. The Paris Declaration, which was adopted on 7 December 2016, reaffirms all the founding principles and values of the OGP and undertakes to push forward the frontiers of the reforms beyond transparency, to advance meaningful participation, accountability and responsiveness. The signatories to the Paris Declaration also pledge to create innovative alliances between civil society and government leading to more collaborative public services and decision-making processes. The document also calls for the development of Open Government at the local level and the launch of local participatory initiatives to bring public policies closer to citizens [9].

A citizen-centred culture of governance

To answer the question of what open government really is, we could examine the closed model of decision-making with Beth Simone Noveck, who ran the Open Government Initiative at the White House in 2009 and 2010. This legal expert and law professor, who is a Yale and Harvard graduate, considers that the closed model is the one that was created by Max Weber, Walter Lippmann and James Madison. This model would have us believe that only government professionals and their experts, who themselves claim to be strictly objective [10], possess the necessary impartiality, expertise, resources, discipline and time to make the right public decisions. This vision, which ought to be a thing of the past, restricts public participation to representative democracy, voting, joining interest groups and involvement in local civic or political activities. Yet, today, we know that, for many reasons, professional politicians do not have a monopoly on information or expertise [11].

Technological innovation and what is today called Digital Social Innovation (DSI) [12] are contributing to this change. However, we do not think they are the driving force behind the Open Government concepts as they are somewhat peripheral. Although technology does have some significance in this process, it is perhaps in relation to its toolkit rather than its challenges or purposes. Open Government forms part of a two-fold tradition. Firstly, that of transparency and free access to public information on civil society. This is not new. The British parliament endorsed it in the 1990s [13]. Secondly, Open Government finds its inspiration in the values of sharing and collaboration used within the communities linked to the free software and open science movements [14]. In this sense, public expectations could be raised, as is the case with some researchers who see in Open Government the extent to which citizens can monitor and influence government processes through access to government information and access to decision-making arenas [15].

Even if we consider that the idea of Open Government is still under construction [16], we can still try to establish a definition. Taking our inspiration from the OECD definition in English, Open Government can be conceived as a citizen-centred culture of governance that utilizes innovative and sustainable tools, policies and practices to promote government transparency, responsiveness and accountability to foster stakeholders’ participation in support of democracy and inclusive growth  [17]. The aim of this process is that it should lead to the co-construction of collective policies that involve all the parties involved in governance (public sphere, businesses, civil society, etc.) and pursue the general interest and the common good.

The international OGP organisation states that an Open Government strategy can only really develop where it is supported by an appropriate environment that allows it to be rolled out. The issue of the leadership of the political players is clearly very important, as is the capacity (empowerment) of the citizens to participate effectively in public action: this is central to the reforms it brings about, as the international organisation noted. Today, governments acknowledge the need to move from the role of simple providers of services towards the development of closer partnerships with all relevant stakeholders.[18].

Thus Open Government reconnects with one of the initial definitions of governance, as expressed by Steven Rosell in 1992: a process whereby an organisation or a society steers itself, using its players [19]. It has become commonplace to reiterate that the challenges we face today can no longer be resolved, given their magnitude, by a traditional government and several cohorts or even legions of civil servants.

Nevertheless, faced with these often enormous challenges, Professor of Business Administration Douglas Schuler rightly reflects on the capacity for action of the entire society that would have to be mobilised and poses the question: will we be smart enough soon enough? To answer this question, Schuler, who is also president of the Public Sphere Project, calls for what he refers to as civic intelligence, a form of collective intelligence centred on shared challenges, which focuses on improving society as a whole rather than just the individual. The type of democracy that is based on civic intelligence, writes Douglas Schuler, is one which, as the American psychologist and philosopher John Dewey wrote, can be seen as a way of life rather than as a duty, one in which participation in a participatory process strengthens the citizenship of individuals and allows them to think more in terms of community. To that end, deliberation is absolutely essential. It can be defined as a process of directed communication whereby people discuss their concerns in a reasonable, conscientious, and open manner, with the intent of arriving at a decision [20]. Deliberation occurs when people with dissimilar points of view exchange ideas with the intent of coming to an agreement. As futurists are well aware, the intended product of deliberation is a more coherent vision of the future [21].

Contrary to what is generally believed, true deliberation processes are rare, both in the civic sphere and in specifically political and institutional contexts. Moreover, Beth Simone Noveck describes deliberative democracy as timid, preferring the term collaborative democracy, which focuses more on results and decisions and is best promoted through technologies [22]. These processes do, however, constitute the basic methodology for more participative dynamics, such as the co-construction of public policies or collective policies, leading to contractualisation of players, additionality of financing and partnership implementation and evaluation. The distance between these simple, more or less formal consultation processes or these socio-economic discussion processes can be measured using Rhineland or Meuse models, which date back to the period just after the Second World War period and which, admittedly, are no longer adequate to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

The United Nations was right when it added a Goal 17, “Partnerships for the Goals”, to the already explicit Goal 16, which is one of the sustainable development goals focussing specifically on the emergence of peaceful and inclusive societies, access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels. This Goal 17 calls for effective partnerships to be set up between governments, the private sector and civil society: these inclusive partnerships built upon principles and values, a shared vision, and shared goals that place people and the planet at the centre, are needed at the global, regional, national and local level [23].

Open regions and territories

In his speech at the Open Government Partnership Forum, which was held in parallel with the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on 19 September 2017, President Emmanuel Macron stated that local authorities have an increasing role to play and are an absolutely essential part of Open Government [24]. In his election campaign, the future French president also highlighted the fact that public policies are more effective when they are constructed with the constituents for whom they are intended. And in what he called the République contractuelle [Contractual Republic], a Republic which places trust in local districts, key players and society, the former minister saw a new idea for democracy: « these are not passive citizens who delegate the governance of the nation to their political leaders. A healthy, modern democracy is a system composed of active citizens who play their part in transforming the country » [25].

In keeping with the work already carried out since the start of the parliamentary term in the Parliament of Wallonia, the Wallonia Regional Policy Declaration of 28 July 2017 embodies this change by calling for a democratic revival and an improvement in public governance founded on the four pillars of transparency, participation, responsibility and performance. Transparency concerns the comprehensibility of the rules and regulations, the operating methods, and the mechanisms, content and financing of the decisions. The aim of participation is the involvement of citizens and private actors, businesses and the non-profit sector by giving them the initiative as a matter of priority, with the State providing support and strategic direction. The text invokes a new citizenship of cooperation, public debate, active information and involvement. The responsibility thus promoted is mainly that of the representative – elected or appointed – and sees an increase in accountability. The relations between public authorities and associations need to be clarified. The text states that performance is defined by evaluating the impact of public action in economic, budgetary, employment, environmental and social matters. It establishes a desire for a drastic simplification of public institutions rightly regarded as too numerous and too costly [26].

As we can see, these options are interesting and they undoubtedly represent a step forward inspired by the idea of Open Government we have been calling for lately [27], even if they have not yet moved on to genuine collaborative governance, deliberation with all actors and citizens or co-construction of public policies beyond experiments with public panels.

Conclusion: a government of the citizens, by the citizens, for the citizens

Open Government is a matter of democracy, not technology. This model reconnects with Abraham Lincoln’s idea of government of the people, by the people, for the people, which ended his Gettysburg address of 19 November 1863 [28]. This powerful idea can be advantageous for all of the regions in Europe, for its States and for the European process as a whole. Here, as in the United States, the principle of Open Government must be adopted by all representatives and applied at all levels of governance[29]. Parliaments and regional councils, who have often already embarked on pioneering initiatives, must grasp it [30].

As Douglas Schuler stated, Open Government would make no sense if it was not accompanied by informed, conscious and engaged citizenship, if it did not mean governance fully distributed within the population, the end of government as the sole place of governance. So this observation refers back to the initial question: what skills and information do citizens need in order to understand the issues they must face? [31] We know the response of Thomas Jefferson, writing from Paris to the philosopher Richard Price in 1789: a sense of necessity, and a submission to it, is to me a new and consolatory proof that, whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that, whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights [32]. This question certainly requires a response linked to lifelong critical education, the importance of philosophy and history, and the teaching of citizenship, foresight and complexity we have discussed recently [33]. As Pierre Rosanvallon notes, it is a question of making society comprehensible for the public, of ensuring that they can have effective knowledge of the social world and the mechanisms that govern it, to enable individuals to have access to what the Collège de France Professor calls real citizenship: an understanding of the effective social relationships, redistribution mechanisms and problems encountered when creating a society of equals [34].

As we have repeatedly stated, Open Government and governance by the players require an open society [35], in other words, a common space, a community of citizens where everyone works together to consider and address shared issues for the common good. Moving from Open Government to an open State happens by extension and through the application of the principles mentioned, from the executive to the legislature and the judiciary, and to all the players upstream and downstream.

Where national governments have not yet launched their open governance strategy, they should start with the districts, cities and regions, which often have the benefit of flexibility and proximity with the players and citizens. Naturally, this requirement also implies that private organisations, too, should be more transparent and more open and become more involved.

Aligning these global ambitions, which have been adopted by the United Nations and passed on by the OECD, Europe and more than 70 nations around the world, with the expectations of our regional players appears to be within reach. It is up to us to complete this task with enthusiasm and determination, wherever we are in this society that dreams of a better world.

 

Philippe Destatte

@PhD2050

[1] Barack OBAMA, Change we can believe in, Three Rivers Press, 2008. Translated into French under the title Le changement, Nous pouvons y croire, p. 180, Paris, Odile Jacob, 2009.

[2] Ibidem.

[3] Ibidem, p. 181sv.

[4] Concerning accountability, which he prefers to translate by rendering of accounts, see Pierre ROSANVALLON, Le bon gouvernement, p. 269sv, Paris, Seuil, 2015.

[5] Memo from President Obama on Transparency and Open Government, January 21, 2009. Reproduced in Daniel LATHROP & Laurel RUMA ed., Open Government, Transparency, and Participation in Practice, p. 389-390, Sebastopol, CA, O’Reilly, 2010.

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=85677

[6] For the background in the United States, see: Patrice McDERMOTT, Building Open Government, in Government Information Quarterly, no. 27, 2010, p. 401-413.

[7] Joint declaration on open government, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/d-claration-commune-pour-un-gouvernement-ouvert

[8] La Belgique n’est toujours pas membre du Partenariat pour un Gouvernement ouvert, in Le Vif-L’Express, 11 August 2017.

[9] Déclaration de Paris, 4e Sommet mondial du Partenariat pour un Gouvernement ouvert, Open Government Partnership, 7 December 2016. https://www.opengovpartnership.org/paris-declaration

[10] See Philip E. TETLOCK, Expert Political Judgment, How good is it? How can we know? Princeton NJ, Princeton University Press, 2005.

[11] Beth Simone NOVECK, Wiki Government: How technology can make government better, democracy stranger, and citizens more powerful, Brookings Institution Press, 2009. – The Single point of Failure, in Daniel LATHROP & Laurel RUMA ed., Open Government, Transparency, and Participation in Practice, p. 50, Sebastopol, CA, O’Reilly, 2010. For an empirical approach to Open Governance, see Albert J. MEIJER et al., La gouvernance ouverte: relier visibilité et moyens d’expression, in Revue internationale des Sciences administratives 2012/1 (Vol. 78), p. 13-32.

[12] Matt STOKES, Peter BAECK, Toby BAKER, What next for Digital Social Innovation?, Realizing the potential of people and technology to tackle social challenges, European Commission, DSI4EU, Nesta Report, May 2017. https://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/dsi_report.pdf

[13] Freedom of access to information on the environment (1st report, Session 1996-97) https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199697/ldselect/ldeucom/069xii/ec1233.htm

[14] Romain BADOUARD (lecturer at the Université Cergy-Pontoise), Open governement, open data: l’empowerment citoyen en question, in Clément MABI, Jean-Christophe PLANTIN and Laurence MONNOYER-SMITH dir., Ouvrir, partager, réutiliser, Regards critiques sur les données numériques, Paris, Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 2017 http://books.openedition.org/editionsmsh/9067

[15] Albert J. MEIJER, Deirdre CURTIN & Maarten HILLEBRANDT, Open Government: Connecting vision and voice, in International Review of Administrative Sciences, 78, 10-29, p. 13.

[16] Douglas SCHULER, Online Deliberation and Civic Intelligence in D. LATHROP & L. RUMA ed., Open Government…, p. 92sv. – see also the interesting analysis by Emad A. ABU-SHANAB, Reingineering the open government concept: An empirical support for a proposed model, in Government Information Quarterly, no. 32, 2015, p. 453-463.

[17] A citizen-centred culture of governance that utilizes innovative and sustainable tools, policies and practices to promote government transparency, responsiveness and accountability to foster stakeholdersparticipation in support of democracy and inclusive growth. OECD, Open Government, The Global context and the way forward, p. 19, Paris, OECD Publishing, 2016.

[18] OECD, Panorama des administrations publiques, p. 198, Paris, OECD, 2017. – See also, p. 29 and 30 of the same work, some specific definitions developed in various countries.

[19] Steven A. ROSELL ea, Governing in an Information Society, p. 21, Montréal, 1992.

[20] Douglas SCHULER, Online Deliberation and Civic Intelligence... p. 93.

[21] Ibidem.

[22] B. S. NOVECK, op.cit., p. 62-63.

[23] Sustainable Development Goals, 17 Goals to transform our world. http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/globalpartnerships/

[24] Speech by the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron at the Open Government Partnership event held in parallel with the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (19 September 2017) – http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x61l75r

[25] Emmanuel MACRON, Révolution, p. 255-256 and 259, Paris, XO, 2016.

[26] Parliament of Wallonia, Session 2016-2017, Déclaration de politique régionale, « La Wallonie plus forte », 28 July 2017, DOC 880(2016-2017) – No. 1, p. 3-5.

[27] Olivier MOUTON, Une thérapie de choc pour la Wallonie, in Le Vif-L’Express, no. 44, 3 November 2017, p. 35.

[28] Carl MALAMUD, By the People, in D. LATHROP & L. RUMA ed., Open Government…, p. 41.

[29] Ibidem, p. 46.

[30] David BEETHAM, Parlement et démocratie au vingt-et-unième siècle, Guide des bonnes pratiques, Geneva, Parliamentary Union, 2006.

[31] Douglas SCHULER, Online Deliberation and Civic Intelligence... p. 93.

[32] Letter To Richard Price, Paris, January 8, 1789, in Thomas JEFFERSON, Writings, p. 935, New-York, The Library of America, 1984.

[33] Ph. DESTATTE, Apprendre au XXIème siècle, Citoyenneté, complexité et prospective, Liège, 22 September 2017. https://phd2050.org/2017/10/09/apprendre/

[34] P. ROSANVALLON, Le bon gouvernement…, p. 246.

[35] Archon FUNG & David WEIL, Open Government and open society, in D. LATHROP & L. RUMA ed., Open Government…, p. 41.