Congres The End of Postwar: Welke toekomst voor Europa?

December 2-3, 2015 - Palace of the Academies, Brussels
Auditorium Albert II

The Thinker’s Programme around Ian Buruma starts from the observation that an end has come to the political and social consensus that arose in Europe after the catastrophe of World War II. That consensus concerned the construction of welfare states, the belief in the strength of a united Europe and faith in a pax Americana

The concluding two-day conference builds on two previous (closed) workshops debating on nationalism and populism, and how they help to undermine the post-war consensus. In his introduction, Ian Buruma re-examines the contours of this consensus and how it was built in Europe on the rubble of two world wars, with welfare, unification, and peace as its primary pillars. With the fall of the Wall and the demise of the Soviet Union after 1989, it looked for a while as if these pillars would be guaranteed for ever. When the communist threat disappeared, however, other forms of leftwing ideology, including social democracy, traditionally anti-communist, began to lose their appeal. In the ensuing vacuum, neoliberalism evolved into a pensée unique that, together with the revival of nationalism and populism, is eating away at the consensus and putting the role of the welfare state under increased pressure.

This diagnosis paints a pessimistic picture. What are the alternatives for the future?


December 2, 2015 (10:00-17:00)

Introduction to the theme: the break with the postwar consensus
Ian Buruma, Thinker-in-Residence

Alternatives to neoliberalism
Tariq Ali, writer, journalist, filmmaker
Bas Heijne, writer, columnist NRC Handelsblad


The re-invention of the welfare state
Erik Schokkaert, Professor of Economics - KU Leuven     Presentatie Erik Schokkaert
Frank Vandenbroucke Ministre of State, Professor of Social Economic Analysis - UvA     Presentatie Frank Vandenbroucke

First closing lecture
Philippe Van Parijs, Professor of Economics and Social Ethics - UCL

December 3, 2015 (10:00-17:00)

Durability of Humanism
Peter Schneider, Writer-in-Residence - Georgetown University
John Lloyd, journalist, columnist Financial Times


Europe as a durable answer to history?
Paul Magnette, Ministre-Président de la Wallonie, Professor of Political Sciences - ULB

Second closing lecture
Ian Buruma, Thinker-in-Residence

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