“The power of the powerless is the capacity to understand which is the truth and which is the lie of the regime, and to refuse to live in the lie”.
This is the opening message launched by Pavel Trantina in his welcome speech at the second DCW Symposium, held in Brussels on February 27th, 2015.
Trantina worked for Vaclav Havel and is now member of the European Economic and Social Committee, which hosted the event.
60 young Europeans came from the whole old continent to debate “The Role of Conscience and Dissent in Bringing About the Fall of the Berlin Wall and Rising the Iron Curtain In and About 1989”.
Keynote speaker for this second symposium was Harald Wydra, from University of Cambridge. In his presentation, entitled “Making Europe from the Margins before 1989: The Politics of Conscience and the Fall of the Berlin Wall”, he underlined that how there has always been the idea of a “center” of Europe – identified usually with the leading countries of a certain period. If politics is just a matter of power, as Max Weber defined it, which kind of role should conscience have? And how is it related to the ‘centers’ of Europe?
The danger of the “centre” is to become “dogmatic” and to ask for a blind acceptance. And dogmatism leads to ideology. The only chance that dissidents had to overcome the power was to show they were morally superior. To do so, they could not use violent means and they could not propose new ideologies. Only with the power of their exemplary lives they could succeed.
Wydra’s speech was followed by an intense Q&A session and students’ presentations about their research on the topic.
About the keynote speaker: Harald Wydra, Fellow of St Catharine’s College at the University of Cambridge.
Harald Wydra is a Fellow of St Catharine’s College at the University of Cambridge. After studies of history and political science at the Universities of Regensburg and Salamanca, he took a PhD in Social and Political Sciences from the European University Institute in Florence. Before coming to Cambridge in 2003 he taught Political Science at the University of Regensburg. He held visiting fellowships at the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris and the Australian National University in Canberra and was a Visiting Professor at the Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense. He is a founding editor of the academic journal International Political Anthropology.
A video of his presentation is available here.
Elena Bernini, Dissent and Nationalism in the Baltic States
Elena is from Italy, where she studies Political Science and International Relations at the University of Pavia.
Noemi Magugliani, The Role of Literature in Bringing About the Fall of the Berlin Wall
Noemi is studying “International cooperation and development” at ISPI (Italian Insitute for International Political Studies) in Milan.
Flavia Munteanu, Hierbleiber Protestant boycotts and rallies – How important was the role of conscience and dissent in the run-up to the fall of the Berlin Wall
Flavia studies Politics and Eastern European Studies at University College London. She is the Director of the New East Platform, a non-governmental organization which aims to challenge Western misconceptions related to the Eastern European region through online articles, debates and London-based events.
Bakht Jamshaid Baryar, Political Economy Perspectives Manifestations of Revitalized Conscience
Bakht studies Political Economy at King’s College London.
Gregorio Ramella Pollone and Alessio Pellegrino, The GDR Intellectuals’ dissent
Both Gregorio and Alessio study at Politecnico of Turin (Italy).