Hangout #5: “Peaceful social movements and the will to challenge the status quo”
On the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
On 13 October, international experts in social movements debated the current situation of peaceful social movements and their strength to be able to change the status quo. This debate took place via a Google+ Hangout organized by the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia.
The debate was moderated by Teresa Turiera and involved: Micah Sifry, in charge of the Personal Democracy Forum, participating from New York; Jochen Staadt, professor of Political Science at the Free University of Berlin, and a specialist in the history of the GDR (East Germany) and the fall of the Berlin Wall; and Krystyna Schreiber, member of the Catalan National Assembly (Assemblea Nacional Catalana, ANC, a non-political organization working for the independence of Catalonia), speaking from Barcelona.
Micah Sifry pointed out the current paradox concerning the fact that many social movements enter the arena of political debate via social networks, and achieve a huge force of social mobilisation, but political and institutional powers do not respond quickly enough to the demands of these movements. In this sense, she pointed out that a huge and peaceful movement like the one in Catalonia demanding a referendum on their future cannot be ignored, and that the force of this movement must be channelled through institutional and political powers so as to achieve its goals.
Jochen Staadt, Professor of Political Science at the Free University of Berlin, explained that when a social movement in favour of independence becomes a majority movement in that territory, then this cannot be ignored by Spanish or European public institutions. Staadt, an expert in the process of reunification of Germany, believes that recent developments in Europe such as the peaceful separation between Slovakia and the Czech Republic could serve as an example for finding an institutional solution for a future Catalonia, independent from Spain but within the EU.
Krystyna Schreiber, member of the Catalan National Assembly went on to explain that the majority of Catalans want to vote on their own future and they express this wish in a democratic and peaceful way. According to Schreiber, the international community should look on this process as an opportunity to show the world that a country can become a new State without violence. She added that the Catalan process would be an opportunity for Europe to listen to the peaceful demands of its citizens, thus improving the democratic foundations of the Europe of citizens.
The Google+ Hangout also allowed participants to take questions via Twitter using the hashtag #VoicesForDemocracy from people following the debate live on internet.
Diplocat regularly uses the Google+ Hangout tool to organize online debates with the aim of discussing topics with experts from different sectors and fields related to public diplomacy and the international promotion of Catalonia.
Last updated: 7 October 2015