NATO’s lesson for civic activists

Back on Track with Verena Ringler

Join us for a train ride with Verena Ringler, director of European Commons and curator of the Tipping Point Talks 2019. She helps prepare the ground for the next EU and proposes to do things differently to do different things. In the fourth episode she explains what artists and academics can learn from the defense club.

“Some months ago, Hungary’s prime minister Orban forced Central European University to close down most of its business in that country. In situations like these, I wish European academics and artists to think more like NATO. What do I mean? Well, NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, was built around the idea of collective defence. If one ally is attacked, this is considered an attack against all allies. This principle is enshrined in NATO’s famous Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. So if one university in Europe is attacked, what if a pan-European academic alliance would immediately spring into action? Students and professors of other universities would, say, bring a million books to the square of Central European University. Or they would keep up doing the teaching business at CEU, but via a hologram, not in analogue space. Just like Spanish demonstrators have done it a couple of years ago. The toolkit of paradoxical, non-violent intervention is so vast and we certainly don’t lack the ideas of implementation. What we lack is the thinking, the thinking like NATO, the thinking in collective defence. An attack against one university is considered an attack against all. I wish European artists and academics to think more like NATO.”


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This text and video is published under the Creative Commons License: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0. The name of the author/rights holder should be mentioned as followed. Author: Jovana Trifunovic and Igor Bararon / Cover picture: Verena Ringler, film still. Photo: Igor Bararon /

Back on Track

As our world is facing major geopolitical shifts and challenges, from the rise of nationalism to increased demands for privacy, from balancing growing human needs with environmental limits, there is undoubtedly space for major improvements. We see civil society as the key driving force in this process and have therefore launched the video series Back on Track about social engagement and activism as a clear sign of support to the dedicated change makers in our societies.

NATO’s lesson for civic activists is the fourth episode of the second season of Back on Track.

Europe’s power starts at home.

We need a SWOT Europe thinking!

Europe needs a civic CERN!

The power of alliances at second sight

“Democracy is hard work.”

“Lobbying can be a powerful tool for social change.”

“Witnessing war to learn for peace.”

“Proletarians of all countries, who washes your socks?”

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