Commons. Between Dreams and Reality

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Commons. Between Dreams and Reality Maria Francesca De Tullio (ed.) Creative Industry Košice, 2020 Editor: Maria Francesca De Tullio Publisher: Creative Industry Košice, 2020 ISBN: 978-80-971515-8-4 The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. Commons. Between Dreams and Reality Maria Francesca De Tullio (ed.) Creative Industry Košice, 2020 Co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union 01 / Introduction / Maria Francesca De Tullio / 6 02 / Culture as a Commons: A European Challenge 04 / Commons as Social Ecosystems for Sustainable Culture 05 / Common Futures 03 / Commons, Participation and Urban Spaces A / Culturing Commoning Culture. Creative Europe: 0.14% for Democracy / Pascal Gielen / 18 A / Music, Art, the Power and the Capital: a Theoretical Proposal for an Income of Creativity and Care / Giuseppe Micciarelli and Margherita D’Andrea / 132 B / Depicting the Artistic Biotope of l´Asilo: New Institutions to Foster Artistic Work / Ana Sofia Acosta Alvarado / 162 C / Speculations on a Currency for the Arts / Evi Swinnen and Will Ruddick / 180 A / How to Deal with the Unexpected: on Commons, Crisis and Power. Conversation moderated by Laure-Anne Vermaercke / Evi Swinnen and Michel Bauwens / 194 B / A New Journey for the European Cultural Foundation / Marjolein Cremer / 36 A / Dreams, Realities and Bogus Labels: Commons, Privatisations and the EU Dimension in Turin / Maria Francesca De Tullio and Violante Torre / 52 B / Weekly Journal to Inhabit the Uncomfortable. On Child Participation, Culture and the City: the Unknown as a Catalyst of Learning / Hablarenarte and Sofia de Juan / 80 C / Setting Precedents: Manifatture Knos, Space of Indecision / Michele Bee / 100 D / How Might Urban Labs Foster Collaborative Innovation Processes? / Marcela Arreaga, Sergi Frías Hernández and José Rodríguez / 120 Maria Francesca De Tullio Introduction 01 10 11 The scientific literature (Ostrom 1990) and field experiences on com- mons have demonstrated that resources can be managed and safeguard- ed in an effective way through users’ self-government, through forms of self-organisation that go beyond the traditional mechanisms of public authority and market. When social justice is put at the centre of this kind of self-organisa- tion, commons can also produce cooperative and non-competitive rela- tionships, non-extractive economies, horizontal decision-making and more democratic institutions. Namely this book addresses the cultural sector in particular, where collective actions can build experiences of mu- tualism and sharing of means of production, as well as forms of political self-organisation and democratic participation1. Against that ‘dream’ backdrop, the ‘reality’ is an implementation made up of concrete actions and little victories, with the goal of using everyday practices to produce a broader social, economic and ecological transformation (De Angelis 2017). These actions – despite being pushed by the strongest enthusiasm – encountered a minefield, paved with ob- stacles, ordinary or systemic challenges and sometimes failures. In that sense, difficulties and ‘sad endings’ are lessons to be shared and reflect- ed upon by the European Union’s community and policymakers, with a view towards fostering cultural commons as a drive towards democracy and inclusion. For that reason, this book is aimed at examining ‘ordinary stories’ about the commons to highlight some relevant challenges in the implementation of ‘culture as a commons’. This perspective deserves special attention in the European Union (EU). In principle, the EU seems to favour individual and social cohesion as fundamental values (Art. 3 Treaty on the Functioning of the Europe- an Union2) and points towards the improvement of working and living conditions throughout the Europe3. However, these values struggle to be implemented under a framework of social justice and ‘substantial equal- ity’, which would mean a commitment from institutions to actively in- tervene – even with economic resources – to overcome factual elements of inequality. Instead, culture, inclusion and social cohesion are still sec- ondary in the EU system to the objective of the Single Market, which still appears to be the prevailing driving force. 1 For a description about the “sequence” bringing to civil action, see Gielen – Lijster 2017. 2 Hereinafter TFEU. 3 European Court of Justice, Gabrielle Defrenne v. Société anonyme belge de naviga- tion aérienne Sabena, Case 43-75, 8/4/1976. At this moment in time, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the Euro- pean Union does not provide a hierarchy between the economic rights and the personal ones. This means that human rights and workers’ rights do not necessarily prevail over property rights and entrepreneurship. More- over, the EU system highlights a self-restraint on the part of the EU with respect to social policies. This field has always been a Member States’ ex- clusive competence (art. 6 TFEU): the EU cannot operate through a for- mal harmonisation of national laws, but only with acts of support to Member States’ actions and encouragement to cooperate. In the first phase, a minimal harmonisation of social safeguards was instrumental when it came to eliminating the legal obstacles to free move- ment of workers (Grohs 2019). Afterwards, instead, the subject has been disciplined especially by means of ‘soft law’ – i.e. formally non-binding acts4 – with the objective of completing and integrating the process of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) as well as the process of the Sin- gle Market. This choice is part of a strategy where ‘soft law’ is intended as a means for ‘better regulation’5 (Garben 2018), rather than ‘less regula- tion’: a means of implementing the subsidarity and proportionality prin- ciples (Art. 5 Treaty on the European Union), trying to avoid different stakeholders, and especially small and medium enterprises, perceiving the EU as a subject too far away and at the same time too intrusive in the imposition of regulatory charges.6 However, many scholars claim that soft law is structurally insufficient to ensure social rights, which re- quire – by definition – institutional intervention, directly tackling the fac- tors of inequality (Seeleib-Keiser 2019). These ambiguities, in times of economic crisis, have undermined trust in the EU process, especially among the most disadvantaged. These feel- ings have also been fueled by the so-called ‘democratic deficit’ of the EU, i.e. the feeling of a lack of legitimacy and responsiveness of EU institu- tions: they are perceived as less accountable – since not all of them are directly elected – and their decision-making processes are largely inac- cessible, due to their complexity and supranational nature. 4 More precisely, ‘soft law’ is defined as an umbrella concept including a broad and variegated range of “rules of conduct which, in principle, have no legally binding force but which nevertheless may have practical effects” (Snyder 1993). 5 This trend started from the White Paper on European Governance, COM(2001) 428, 25/7/2001, but the expression was formally used in the Communication from the Commission – European Governance: Better lawmaking, COM(2002) 275 final, 5/6/2002. 6 European Governance. A White Paper, see footnote 5. Commons. Between Dreams and Reality / 01 / Indtroduction Maria Francesca De Tullio 12 13 These shortcomings of the European process have been highlighted by those who argue that the EU needs a shared political direction, other than a Single Market. However, the reluctance to engage in equality and democracy produced an explosive reaction, especially after the European parliamentary elections of 2019: delusion and distrust gave a boost to ego- tistical and exclusionary forms of nationalism. It was clear, then, that the imperative of social inclusion could not be reduced to a series of cosmetic adjustments to the free market, but needed to be a transformative path based on the universality of personal rights and substantial equality, able to build the material foundation for a common civil ground. Such a process must be based on the safeguard and promotion of culture and cultural labour (Gielen 2015). This is also recognised by the Work Plan for Culture 2019—2022 7 which steers cultural policies towards inclusion and sustainability, as well as bringing Europe closer to local communities. Culture as a Toolbox for Sense-making Culture, in its anthropological sense, is a toolbox for sense-making; a means for everyone to give meaning to their life and their (social) envi- ronment. It shapes the government of territories because it defines visi- bility, and it shapes our physical, social and political living space. There- fore, the CCSC consortium acknowledged that culture – as well as cultural rights – is the necessary founding base of any political participation. Its emancipation can multiply the forms of expression, change human rela- tionships and “transform neighbourhoods and cities into more sustaina- ble places, catalysing better lives for their communities.”8 In that sense, cultural labour is inherently also a labour of care (D’Andrea – Micciarelli 2020, in this book). The challenge, then, is to rec- ognise and support this nature. Even if culture is necessary for the enjoy- ment of other human and economic rights, it deserves support and protec- tion ‘in itself’, not only as being instrumental to other values. Therefore, this book – along with the work of the Cultural Commons Quest Office (University of Antwerp) – has understood the sustainability of creative labour as a social sustainability, attained through the balance of different dimensions that need to be institutionally protected: the domestic sphere, confrontation with peers, the civil dimension and the market dimension. The research-action of the project has considered this work on par- ticipation and sustainability of culture as strictly related to cultural com- 7 Council Conclusions on the Work Plan for Culture 2019-2022, 2018/C 460/10, 21/12/2018. 8 Commons. Between Dreams and Reality / 01 / Indtroduction mons, and especially the so-called ‘emerging commons’, i.e. commons that are identified as such not because of their nature or function, but because of the direct role claimed and assumed by the community in the way they are managed. In many parts of Europe, cultural and creative commons (e.g., in- dependent makerspaces and cultural centres, formerly occupied thea- tres, abandoned spaces re-appropriated by communities…) are born as a self-organised way to share and mutualise means of production, in order to make creative work more sustainable and cost-effective. Often, they are places of open cooperation, which eventually stimulate new forms of horizontal and heterogeneous political organisation, aimed at supporting shared vindications. In that way, these experiments become a way to generate both an in- direct income and a transparent and accessible self-government which allows the elaboration and vindication of a more democratic form of government and fruition of culture, beyond the models of traditional institutions and neo-liberal market. In some instances, experiences of self-organisation even make a ‘creative use of law’ in order to make the legal system more innovative: they elaborate and propose the legal tools through which they seek to be recognised. Hence, on the one hand, commons have developed proposals that sof- tened the most extreme exclusive effects of vertical governmental admin- istration and free market. On the other hand, democracy and mutualism are still mostly “the problem, rather than the solution” (Micciarelli 2019). Moreover, they still leave the open question of how public authorities can materially support these realities – in recognition of their social and cul- tural value – without hindering their autonomy. Navigating This Book The core of this book lies exactly in this latter point, which is not mainly focused on the broad theories on commoning but on their very practical life, their factors of growth and transformative potential, as well as on their difficulties and contradictions. The widest challenges and innovations of the commons are in their very concrete, everyday life. That given, the basic idea of the book is to reason with the authors through an interdisciplinary take: not only be- cause different scientific disciplines are involved, but also because the book welcomes the knowledge of those who are experts in the micro-uni- verse about the uses and practices that gravitate around commoning, and for that reason are able to unveil their main transformative aspects and contradictions. The aim is to articulate an analysis of the issues men- Maria Francesca De Tullio 14 15 tioned above, and of the ways in which they are addressed by institutions and communities in policy-making and everyday practices. In particular, the work focuses on different critical points, identified during interdisciplinary research of concrete cases. The framework of this book, as well as some of the field experiences mentioned in it, is giv- en from the project Cultural and Creative Spaces and Cities (2018—2021), co-funded by the European Commission with the aim of experimenting on grassroots participatory democracy in cultural policies. Pascal Gielen’s ouverture highlights how the EU needs to take culture as the foundation of politics (Gielen 2015). The author argues for the 0.14% of the EU budget that is currently being used for culture to be used for an experimental policy that could make Europe more democratic. Mar- jolein Cremer’s contribution narrates the challenges of the European Cultural Foundation’s effort to innovate funding schemes. In particular, the programme Connected Action for the Commons aimed at a long-term empowerment of local hubs – instead of a project-based granting – and facilitated the creation of networks that promote new tools for democrat- ic engagement through culture. The first part of the volume observes commons in relationship with their local environment. All across Europe, the governance of the urban landscape is growingly influenced by private stakeholders, whose promis- es of investment determine the future of buildings, streets or entire neigh- bourhoods. In that context, independent and self-governed cultural and creative spaces try to escape this trend, becoming places where everyone can experiment – in a more general way, and also beyond the artistic field – with how self-regulation can be conjugated with accessibility and active inclusion of the precarious or marginalised people, activities or issues. These experiences lead to different forms of participation, where the community of reference reappropriates spaces and redesigns it through a collective use, thus claiming – per facta concludentia – decision-making rights over the urban planning and the administration of public proper- ty. Michele Bee’s contribution shows the democratic potential of these spaces, and what institutions can learn from ‘undecided spaces’, that are continuously being reshaped by cultural actors, porous to the needs of broader communities. In light of these new democratic dynamics stemming from the bottom up, the question is how EU public authorities can interact with the local ones, in order to become ‘non-neutral’ partners, especially attentive to- wards the inclusion of minorities and grassroots realities that might be neglected or defied by the government in charge at a local level. The essay authored by Maria Francesca De Tullio and Violante Torre discusses the processes through which the EU programmes choose Commons. Between Dreams and Reality / 01 / Indtroduction their projects and interlocutors, in a way that might unwittingly favour ‘commons washing’ and exacerbate the unequal representation of stake- holders in the decision-making of local authorities. The other essays elaborate on what the EU can learn from relevant lo- cal practices that were experimented with in the CCSC project. Hablare- narte and Sofia De Juan highlight how public participation can include all the actors that cross the urban spaces, and especially children, whose involvement can bring new languages and attitudes to policy co-creation. Marcela Arreaga, Sergi Frías and José Rodríguez highlight the im- portance of local experimentation, by developing the concept of ‘urban labs’ – as “open and flexible organisations where users, researchers, ad- ministrations, academics and companies come together to collaborate” in order to produce social innovation. The second part of the book focuses on how commons can become a tool for the economic sustainability of culture. As mentioned, sharing resources can be a way to both reduce the costs of production – thus pro- ducing indirect income – and/or gaining autonomy by appropriating the means of production together. In that sense, Margherita D’Andrea and Giuseppe Micciarelli put the emphasis on the precariousness of creative labour, by navigating the dialectics between workers’ spontaneous cooperation and institutional support, through an ‘income of creativity and care’ for cultural workers. Ana Sofía Acosta Alvarado depicts the case study of L’Asilo, high- lighting the importance of commons in all aspects of artistic work, but also their difficulties, which call for public support for them, well-tailored to their horizontal, informal and grassroots nature. Finally, Evi Swinnen and Will Ruddick illustrate the experiment of Bangla-Pesa – a community currency – to question whether a community currency can be a way to connect commons and artists, and so improve the cultural workers’ conditions. As a conclusion, Michel Bauwens and Evi Swinnen – in conversa- tion with Laure-Anne Vermaerke – speculate on how commons support the recognition and redistribution of public and private powers, as a way to tackle the challenges of our era. Ultimately the book is a ‘mestizo’ work that – while studying com- mons with different and variegated standpoints – observes how knowl- edge and scientific production on commoning cannot be produced except by recognising and giving voice to the commoners themselves. They guard the awareness of problems and possible ways out, in a field where ‘God (and devil) is in details’, on the ground and earth of commons, in the living space of a city, in the bodies of those who live the commoning. Maria Francesca De Tullio 16 References ○ Coriat, Benjamin. 2015. “Communs Fonciers, Communs Intellectuels. Comment Définir un Commun?” In Le Retour des Communs. La Crise de l’Idéologie Propriétaire, edited by Benjamin Coriat, 29–50. France: Les Liens qui Libèrent. ○ D’Andrea, Margherita, & Giuseppe Micciarelli. 2020. “Music, Art, the Power and the Capital: a Theoretical Proposal for an Income of Creativity and Care, In Commons Between Dreams and Reality, edited by M.F. De Tullio. Košice: Cike. ○ De Angelis, Massimo. 2017. Omnia Sunt Communia. Principles for the Transition to Postcapitalism. London: Zed Books. ○ Garben Sacha. 2018. “An ‘Impact Assessment’ of EU Better Regulation.” In The EU Better Regulation Agenda: A Critical Assessment, edited by S. Garben & I. Govaere, 236–237. Oxford: Hart Publishing. ○ Gielen, Pascal. 2015. The Murmuring of the Artistic Multitude. Global Art, Politics and Post-Fordism. Amsterdam: Valiz. ○ Gielen, Pascal. 2018. “Safeguarding Creativity: an Artistic Biotope and its Institu- tional Insecurities in a Global Market Orientated Europe.” In Handbook of Cultural Security, edited by Yasushi Watanabe, 398–416. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. ○ Gielen, Pascal, & Lijster, Thijs. 2017. “The Civil Potency of a Singular Experience: On the Role of Cultural Organizations in Transnational Civil Undertakings.” In The Art of Civil Action: Political Space and Cultural Dissent, edited by P. Gielen & P. Die- tachmair, 39-66. Amsterdam: Valiz. ○ Grohs Stephan. 2019. “New Perspectives for a Social Europe: The “Social Pillar” and the European Semester as Triggers for a New Paradigm of Social Rights?” Revista Catalana de Dret Públic 59: 21–34. ○ Micciarelli, Giuseppe, Speech at the XVII International Association for the Study of the Commons Global Conference, in Lima, Peru, July 1–5, 2019. ○ Ostrom, Elinor. 1990. Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Col- lective Action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ○ Seeleib-Kaiser, Martin. 2019. “EU Citizenship, Duties and Social Rights.” In Debat- ing European Citizenship, edited by R. Bauböck, 231-234. Cham: Springer International Publishing. ○ Snyder, Francis. 1993. “The Effectiveness of European Community Law: Institu- tions, Processes, Tools and Techniques” Modern Law Review 56(1): 19–54. Commons. Between Dreams and Reality / 01 / Indtroduction 18 19 Culture as a Commons: A European Challenge 02 21 Culturing Commoning Culture. Creative Europe: 0.14% for Democracy “It was not just culture that happened to be Europe’s discovery /invention. Europe also invented the need and the task of culturing culture.” Zygmunt Bauman 2004 “What Does Europe Want?”1 Since 2014, both artists and cultural organisations within Creative Eu- rope programmes have been notably concerned about participation in society. The Cultural and Creative Spaces and Cities Project (CCSC) also shares this concern with its focus on the relationship between cultural ac- tors and local governments in Urban Labs. By focusing on the commons and so-called commoning methods, they hope to persuade traditional top-down decision-makers to engage in a more democratic and participa- tive logic in order to be able to make decisions together with bottom-up grassroots organisations and other stakeholders. However, this concern does not come out of the blue. An explanation can be found in the policy statements issued by the European Commis- sion (Iossifidis 2020), in which the Commission itself places a strong accent on and expressly encourages participatory cultural initiatives through its Creative Europe programme. For example, the Commission hopes that cultural activities may contribute to a (more) inclusive society, to active citizenship and to participatory governance – in other words, to a participative democracy in Europe. Europe actually seems to be turning these fine intentions into deeds by directing support towards cultural in- itiatives in particular that strive for more democracy. However, between 2014 and 2020, only 0.14% of the European budget has been spent on culture (Ciancio 2020). This leads us to the conclusion that the European Union (EU) is concerned first and foremost with pro- moting a free market union that is navigated and managed by economic coordinates, which in turn leads us to ask whether Europe indeed really does want more democracy. Of course, as we all know, ever since its beginnings in 1951, the Euro- pean project has been an economic project, one that fitted within a recov- 1 This subtitle comes from Žižek and Horvat 2017. 02/A Pascal Gielen, Professor Sociology of Culture & Politics, University of Antwerp 22 23 ery programme following the Second World War. What is often forgotten, however, is that the unification also had a cultural-political motivation right from the start. The great enthusiasm and grandeur with which statesmen such as Robert Schumann defended the unity of a then still very small Europe and mobilised their national backing was even based on just one core value: restoring and keeping the peace in Europe. In ad- dition to economic recovery, this was Europe’s other great mission. And peace can only be kept when cultures become acquainted with each other, when citizens of member states learn to trust one another. Perhaps this was the most important recovery plan of Europe: restoring trust. How else could peace be maintained? In order to realise that cultural-political goal, however, Europe ended up backing the wrong horse. Founding a community of people purely on a free-market economy is a little like building a house on quicksand. Neither the economy nor free- trade zones keep communities together. On the contrary, the policy dis- mantled the great European dream. The continent increasingly became a competitive space in which all were competing with each other: nation states and regions among themselves, but also European Cultural Cap- itals and creative hubs had to slug it out with each other by having the best bid book and the biggest competitive advantage. This turned Europe into a zone of internal fighting, not violently this time – well, mostly not – but with the permanent smile, the optimism and the dynamics of homo concurrens. Behind this façade, however, lies a bitter reality, even a war of sorts. We have tried to ignore it for a long time but founding a union on free competition among people, among schools, universities, art insti- tutes or creative cities is not only backing the wrong horse. It is inviting a Trojan horse into our midst. We have seen the results of this bad gamble over the past decade. In reverse chronological order: the painful budget debates among member states about the recovery plan in response to Covid-19; Brexit; the bare- ly humane tussle among member states about refugee programmes; the undemocratic interventions by the EU during the financial crisis of 2008; and the growing neo-nationalism in the European Parliament. Not un- important is the fact that this latter ideology mainly brandishes cultural weapons, especially ‘cultural identity’ and national traditions. With its one-sided gamble on building an economy, Europe has failed to build up any cultural resistance against this. A community that is based on economy in a one-sided way becomes ‘dis-embedded’, in the words of Karl Polanyi (1944). Free-market competi- tion disrupts communities. To regard production relations and the econo- my as the substructure of a society was more than just a wrong gamble by the EU. Both vulgar Marxists and Friedrich Hayek, both communism and Commons. Between Dreams and Reality / 02 / A / Culture as a Commons: A European Challenge socialism, as well as liberalism and neoliberalism, have made the same mistake. A society loses all life when it reduces everything to jobs, em- ployment, production relations and commodities. A community of human beings, on the other hand, can only be founded on culture and only politics with a democratic culture can make sure that a society ‘embeds’ and stays embedded. This is because only culture, in the anthropological sense, provides the opportunity for giving meaning: the opportunity to give meaning to ourselves and to the society in which we live (Gielen et al. 2015). In other words, we can only build a meaning- ful life through cultural means (language, signs, images, sounds, colours). In addition, cultural means are all we have to communicate and to weave a web of social relationships. And only a democratic culture provides the political prospect to the right of everyone to signify themselves, the right to recognition and acknowledgement. This is why it is important for cul- ture to be recognised as a common good, as the European Commission al- ready postulated for heritage in 2014 (Iossifidis, 2020, 10), or perhaps even as one of Elinor Ostrom’s common pool resources (CPR) (Ostrom 1990). But then culture should be recognised as a resource to which everyone has equal rights. It comes down to the political right of people to signify themselves and their society and to take part in shaping it. Europe at a Crossroads The events of the past decade make it increasingly clear that Europe is at a crossroads. The continent has to decide today; it has to find an answer to the question put by Slavoj Žižek and Srećko Horvat (2017): “What does Europe want?” Will it choose competition or solidarity? Competitive pro- duction or co-creation? Will it opt for a business model or a societal mod- el, for the leadership of the European Central Bank or that of the Euro- pean Parliament? Will it opt for culture as an economic commodity or as a common good? In short, what will Europe choose as the substructure and glue for the Union: economy or culture? And for the record: opting for the latter is not a choice against economy, but a choice to organise the economy in such a way that it contributes to giving meaning to people and to society. It is about a scenario in which the economy no longer has itself or its own growth as the main goal, but rather the well-being of the community. Calling for more jobs, for example, will not only have individual prosperity as a goal and will thus keep the economy running. A job will still be seen as an important but not the only aspect of recognition. Having a job can, after all, be a source of meaning. The question still remains: what does Europe want? Judging by the paltry budget for culture, one could easily deduct what Europe does not want. Can the plea made by Creative Europe for participative art and cul- Culturing Commoning Culture. Creative Europe: 0.14% for Democracy / Pascal Gielen 24 25 ture be dismissed as empty rhetoric? Is it nothing but a decoy to hide Eu- rope’s true libido? Is Creative Europe a pacifier, a relief valve, an updated version of bread and circuses? Or is it something else after all? Could Cre- ative Europe be the expression of a Europe that wants something com- pletely different? And does Brussels or political Europe want something else from most of its ‘subjects’? However meagre the financial means of Creative Europe are, it seems as if the programme – either consciously or not – gives a voice to that other Europe. In any case, the financing of projects that advocate participation, co-creation, and commons – such as the CCSC project – seems to signify this political intention. In what follows, we dream along with that thought for a while, es- pecially with the belief that ‘Brussels’ at least also wants something else. That political Europe understands only too well that it is at the crossroads of a fundamental choice. And we can take this literally here: the choice for a new foundation. Let us, for now, join the dream that Europe definitely also harbours a different wish. One that is very different from what it has projected with its political actions over the past few decades. Bearing in mind that it is perhaps only a dream, a naïve illusion or wishful thinking, the exercise is still worthwhile. Our own experiences with Creative Europe will be of help in this, as are concepts and analyses from political and cultural theory. Charged con- cepts such as ‘participation’, ‘democracy’ and ‘commons’ quickly tend to look like what Ernesto Laclau (2005) called ‘empty signifiers’. These are words that have the power to hold together social-political unities like the European Union. They do so by combining quite divergent political demands and expectations in one overarching term, a word that in fact covers many overtones or meanings. Like any other social entity, Europe too balances between its internal differences and division on the one hand and similarities, even harmony, on the other. The wish for social cohesion, inclusion and participation is in fact a symptom of a Europe that is constantly navigating between equivalence and diversity, between ‘togetherness’ and ‘every man for himself’, between mutual solidarity and internal competition, between exchange via cultural dialogue or profits via creative competition. In short, between will and action, between great intentions and ef- fective realisation, lies a bumpy road of slippery concepts and practical undertakings of trial and error. The dream of a different Europe is not a study of what already is. On the contrary, it is a quest for something that still has to be made and has to be constantly made anew. CCSC was and is such a culturing project: an undertaking that not only seeks meaning but at the same time, by trial and error, cultivates signification, partici- patory governance and commons. In that sense, what follows is not just a theoretical or an empirical search for an existing culture, for an empir- ically verifiable democracy or an existing commons. It is also an attempt towards ‘culturing’ such a culture, democracy and commons. In other words, looking upon it as a conceptual quest that tries to capture the will or wish of Creative Europe, and attempts to radically follow through with thinking on the speculative path between dream and reality. The rela- tionship between culture, democracy and commons will coordinate how we navigate this journey. Participative Democracy As has been mentioned, many of the wishes expressed in the cultural pro- grammes of the European Commission can be grouped under the theme of ‘participative democracy’. This is, however, a somewhat peculiar concept. Etymologically, ‘democracy’ means ‘government by, or sovereignty of the people’, so this already includes participation. Even more so, democracy ideally means the absolute participation by citizens in the governing of their society, or, in other words, total participation. ‘Participative democ- racy’ is therefore, in fact, a tautology. That the term nevertheless pops up frequently in European circles these days may indicate that not all is right with the form of participation that is supposedly inherent in a Eu- ropean democracy. At the very least, it gives rise to the suspicion that there can be different degrees of participation within a democratic sys- tem and that multiple forms of participation are possible. Therefore, the call for a participative democracy in the first place expresses the hope for more, or more meaningful, participation in decision-making processes. The deployment of and the European appeal to artists and cultural organ- isations to contribute to a participative democracy consequently raises the question: to what form of participation might they contribute? Also, what exactly is meant by ‘participation’ and ‘democracy’? And is political Europe of the same opinion here as cultural Europe? Representation In the scientific literature of the past two decades, we can roughly dis- tinguish three forms of democratic participation (see also Otte & Gielen, 2020). The first one is the well-known representative democracy as stud- ied by scholars such as Alexis de Tocqueville (de Tocqueville 2011) and Max Weber (Weber 1988). This type of political participation occurred in still young nation states in the nineteenth century, together with the po- litical emancipation of the bourgeois. It therefore fits well into the liberal philosophy that places the individual at its centre. It is a system that is Culturing Commoning Culture. Creative Europe: 0.14% for Democracy / Pascal Gielen Commons. Between Dreams and Reality / 02 / A / Culture as a Commons: A European Challenge 26 27 founded on the representation of the people through elections that are held every four or five years. When a cultural policy is developed in such a democratic order, this policy serves to strengthen the identity and le- gitimacy of the nation state on the one hand (with, for example, national museums, theatres, libraries and an official national language, statues and paintings of national heroes or of events that give the nation state historical foundation – in short, the national canon). On the other hand, it also serves to legitimise individualistic bourgeois culture. First and foremost, the so-called civilisation process (Elias 2000) therefore means the culturing of a national bourgeois culture. The civil struggle here takes place mainly around the issue of suffrage, for the lower social classes or for women. Culture is primarily seen as ‘high’ culture, or as the only good culture that leads to the edification of the masses and Bildung. This is why this culture is often promoted in a top-down fashion through, for example, a national historical or art-historical canon. That even a postal worker should be able to listen to Bach is the idea behind the policy that assumes that there is only one good or legitimate culture (Bourdieu 1974). When political Europe speaks officially about culture for the first time in the Maastricht Treaty of 1993, it appears to be underwriting this representative notion. Europe, after all, is wary of cultural intervention. Culture is seen as the almost exclusive prerogative of the member states. European legal documents even use the words ‘nation’ and ‘culture’ in- terchangeably. “In summary, it is initially evident that the Council presumes homo- geneous cultures and attributes a territorial foundation to them. In the legal documents, cultures correspond to peoples and/or nations, or they coincide with the borders of these: either nations are the same as cultures, or they have a culture. In addition, the field of cultural and artistic production is regarded as a representation of nations and/or cultures.” (Quenzel 2005, 159—160) This may explain why Europe mainly restricts its involvement to the economic aspects of culture; it wants to stay clear of interfering with na- tional content. And even when the Union tentatively intervenes in cul- tural issues, it primarily appears to be imitating national cultural politics. Even though Eurocrats like to stress the diversity of the political union, they have their eye on homogeneity all the same, when they talk of a Eu- ropean identity. This longing for the ‘national’ unity of Europe or for one big European nation can also be observed in the construction of the House of European History. Naming it a ‘house’ rather than a ‘museum’ already implies a domestic culture of one’s own in which one is born and bred. To the House, diversity is just a matter of a difference in interpreta- tion of experiences shared by everyone, as it says in its mission statement. Whereas the House certainly navigates between unity and diversity in a scientifically correct manner, the actual EU policy is much less nuanced. That is to say, the organisation of the European cultural policy seems to reduce participation to representation, as it is being implemented in a top- down fashion. The content of Creative Europe programmes is decided in Brussels. Also, the way in which the programmes are being set up, man- aged and monitored is reminiscent of the nation state of old, where an ‘ex- pertocracy’ sets the cultural beat, hand-in-hand with a tight bureaucracy. Under the motto of ‘good governance’ and ‘evidence-based policy’, for example, 10 to 20% of the already limited financial means for culture is spent on documenting, reporting and legitimising. This shows that political Europe does not really place much trust in the sincerity of the intentions of its cultural subjects. And this old political culture becomes even more poignant when applicants are compelled to involve certain cultural actors or when Eurocrats have a say in who will climb the stage of their cultural activities. Creative Europe may strive for a participative democracy, but in the end the issue of who is and who is not allowed to participate is still decided centrally. Or, which cultures are allowed to be expressed and which are not. The complaint of European subjects there- fore remains well-grounded in this regard: Brussels is and remains too bureaucratic. In other words, the European Commission does not see its call for participative democracy as applying to its own decision-making structures. Deliberation Nevertheless, a response had emerged by the end of the 1960s to the over- kill in bureaucracy that comes with a representative democracy. In addi- tion to workers, artists and students also took to the streets to demand the democratisation of overly rigid and overly hierarchical state institutions and other public institutions (universities, museums etc.). Debates, discus- sions and negotiations are the basic ingredients of this second wave of par- ticipation, also referred to as deliberative democracy. Strongly influenced by Jürgen Habermas’ concept of ‘communicative action’ (Habermas 1981) and his analysis of the origin of the public space (Habermas 1962), this form of democracy assumes that consensus can be arrived at on the basis of debate and rational arguments. Whereas in a representative democracy, the civil struggle focuses on the quantitative vote (the number of votes is what counts), in a deliberative democracy the struggle is about the quality Culturing Commoning Culture. Creative Europe: 0.14% for Democracy / Pascal Gielen Commons. Between Dreams and Reality / 02 / A / Culture as a Commons: A European Challenge 28 29 of that vote (what counts is what one says). Thus, the attention shifts from political democracy to cultural democracy. Education, language, well-sub- stantiated knowledge and arguments determine the democratic clout of citizens. The civil struggle now revolves around cultural themes, such as the recognition of folk culture, and other ethnic cultures. The second fem- inist wave also claims the right to an equal – cultural – treatment of men and women in society, in education and in job opportunities. One could say that, in parallel to the growing interest in a delibera- tive democracy, a so-called ‘cultural turn’ is taking place. This is also ex- pressed by the post-modernist debate, which, at least in theory, places high and low culture on an equal footing. However, by its emphasis on empowerment, education and expertise, this form of democracy has its own privileged class. This is no longer the bourgeois, but a white mid- dle-class, which – thanks to the democratisation of education and to social mobility – defines both the political and cultural landscape. With regard to the latter, this means that the various European platforms and stages are primarily taken up by white middle-class art. From then on, cultural taste is not so much determined by the eccentric bourgeois and individualistic artist, but by the teacher, the art mediator or the art educa- tor (Bourdieu 1984). In other words, just like a representative democracy, a deliberative democracy also has its exclusion mechanisms. And they can also be found on the European level. Europe also plays an important role in the democratisation of educa- tion and culture, for example, through its Erasmus programmes. In addi- tion, cultural sectors can count on the European Commission’s support when it comes to exchanges, setting up transnational networks and the mobility of artists. However, those who wish to subscribe to such pro- grammes or, for example, try to get a Creative Europe project funded, must, according to the logic of the deliberative model, have quite a bit of cultural and economic capital at their disposal. Setting up a subsidy file not only requires language skills, such as knowledge of bureaucratic or smart management, and marketing jargon. Preparing such a file also presumes special communicative, diplomatic and social skills because it involves looking for international partners and establishing alliances, all of which requires a substantial financial investment. Finding international partners and convincing them implies a lot of travel with all the costs of transport and hotels involved. In addition, ap- plicants are supposed to guarantee enough financial credit to be able to later cough up the required matching sums. So, who can participate in a participative democracy that imposes such criteria? In the cultural sec- tor, it is well known that young artists, small organisational structures, let alone grassroots and all sorts of civil initiatives (often run by volun- teers) have great difficulty navigating the bureaucratic maze called ‘Brus- sels’. Moreover, they don’t even have enough capital to start this journey in the first place. All this even though those in the cultural sector are on average highly educated, articulate and mediagenic. The qualities required in a deliberative democracy also generate a cu- rious Matthew effect in the cultural sector: the relentless sociological law by which the poor become poorer and the rich become richer. As far as Creative Europe is concerned, we may conclude that it is mainly a mid- dle group that is making a living from it. Business management, cultural managers and lobbyists, including consultancy firms with clever copy writers, seem to haul in the bulk of the subsidies. But the foundation on which Creative Europe rests hardly sees anything of the financial means. Artists and other producers of culture are always last in line when it comes to allowances (see also Ciancio 2020). While searching my own conscience, we can ask: how much of the overall CCSC budget effectively ends up in the hands of this cultural un- derclass? 1%? The rest goes to the salaries of managers, facilitators, me- diators and – mea culpa – researchers. It appears that Creative Europe is not very willing to pay for creativity; unless it has a different notion of creativity. After all, Richard Florida even included bookkeepers among the creative class (Florida & Boyett 2014). For the record, this is not a typically European phenomenon nor is it the unique effect of a European cultural policy. All over the world the creative class is always last in line, whether it concerns national, regional or local subsidies. However, in the free market of the creative industry, the creative professional is also statistically speaking on average the last in the creative chain. Whether it is national or European policy, guide- lines and legislation seem to care little about the income and well-being of the creative class. On the contrary, if legislation is made for the cul- tural industry, it mainly appears to benefit the cultural middle-class of mediators, whereas those who have to make a living by selling their own bodies, production time and creativity are always on the losing end in this capital-driven economy. Good old Marx already knew this. In that sense, the situation of the present precariat is not so very different from that of the historical proletariat. An important difference, however, is that the members of this creative precariat have all sorts of diplomas, are articu- late and capable of debate. In a deliberative model, participative democ- racy therefore has a very nice ring to it. Nevertheless, all these fine words, dynamic assemblies, lively debates, discussion groups and sparkling edi- torials – including mostly the not-so-sparkling studies and reports – don’t Culturing Commoning Culture. Creative Europe: 0.14% for Democracy / Pascal Gielen Commons. Between Dreams and Reality / 02 / A / Culture as a Commons: A European Challenge

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