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Jamie Webb
and
Kiran Kaur Manku

During COVID-19, the UK government failed to engage publics with the ethical challenges that arose during a period of intensive pandemic decision-making. Government-led public engagement focused on surveys that rendered publics passive and tokenistic consultative on narrow policy decisions. There was a void not only in engaging publics with collaboratively grappling with the numerous ethically laden decisions the government had to make in response to the pandemic, but in also recognising the importance of values, particularly public values, in public policy at all. Through their work on the UK Pandemic Ethics Accelerator, the authors conducted a public dialogue and hosted a policy workshop in the House of Commons to provide a platform for public values to be integrated into public policy. Through this work, we experienced the challenges of institutionally embedding more substantive public engagement in public policy, and reflect on them in this chapter. We end with some recommendations for bridging the gap between policymakers and publics, stressing the need to institutionalise mechanisms by which citizens can deliberate on ethically value-laden policy decisions, through which public policy can be made accountable to public values.

in Governance, democracy and ethics in crisis-decision-making
The case of Hungary
Paul Hanebrink

In recent years, Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz government has presented itself as a champion of Christian national values in Hungary and of Christian civilisation in Europe. This discourse is not the product of a religious revival. Instead, it reflects the fact that the Right in Hungary and across Europe has racialised Christianity and tied it to anti-migrant politics, Islamophobia, and an opposition to multiculturalism. Christian Europe has come to mean a ‘white’ Europe. However, the deployment of Christianity as a racialised discourse of belonging and exclusion has a long history in Hungary, recalling the Christian-national politics of the interwar decades, which was directed against Jews rather than Muslims or migrants from Africa or the Middle East. The chapter explores the relationship between historically rooted antisemitic ideology and contemporary anti-migrant and anti-Muslim politics. It analyses the continuities and the transformations in historic conflations of religion and race on two distinct themes: the imagination of Christian Europe (and Christian Hungary’s place in it) as a racialised and bounded space; and the recurring association from the turn of the twentieth century to the present of Christianity with anxieties about demographic decline and population quality.

in Off white
Laura Pulido

In this chapter rumours that emerged in Oregon, USA in response to an unprecedented wildfire in 2020 are examined. The fires were partly due to global warming and endangered numerous communities. In rural-identified communities, some residents insisted that the wildfires were acts of arson by Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Antifa activists, rather than acknowledging the reality of climate change. Importantly, the wildfires occurred in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and months of continuous protests by BLM and its supporters in Portland. These events built on and intensified the tremendous polarization of the Trump era, as conservatives and the right resisted claims of structural racism. One pathway for doing so was to delegitimize anti-racist activists. Though scientists explained the fires, many rural residents embraced a false narrative linked to larger anxieties and anger. Based on an analysis of social media centred on the community of Sandy, it is argued that the rumours reflect the fusion of two forms of denial: climate denial and racial denial. A close reading of the data revealed a narrative structure composed of four elements: 1) Arson is not climate change; 2) Antifa/BLM are the arsonists/terrorists; 3) There is a cover-up conspiracy; and 4) Those who don’t believe this are the real denialists. To understand these narratives, the changing demographic and political landscape of Oregon and the culture of the right are examined.

in Political ecologies of the far right
Open Access (free)
The foundation of Central-Eastern European nation-states after World War I
James Mark

The racialised aspects of the central moment in the foundation of Central-Eastern European statehood – that is, the post-World War I political settlement which created Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Poland – have received very little scholarly attention. Yet the region’s self-determination and nation-building was conceptualised, enacted (and contested) as part of a broader world of colonial and racial thought. African-American intellectuals and anti-colonial leaders in Africa or the Caribbean saw this clearly: the emancipation of the ‘weak and white’ Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the Baltic states, and the simultaneous denial of statehood to the ‘darker nations’, was surely an act of the defence of a white world now felt to be under threat from a rising East and anti-colonial movements in the South. Some critics notwithstanding, nationalists in the region itself often performed this commitment to a white colonial Europe: as protectors of the continent’s eastern borders from ‘Asiatic barbarism’; as potential colonists in Africa; or as bringers of white bourgeois European culture to their own ‘darker’ often poorer minorities within. The chapter concludes with a history of how these ‘raced pasts’ have been erased in national memory in the region. It shows how the process of silencing under both Communism and liberal democracy underpinned an idea of racial innocence which has been recently exploited by populist movements.

in Off white
The (invisible) whiteness of Soviet anti-colonialism and gender emancipation from Central Asia to Khartoum
Yulia Gradskova

Seeking to understand how the politics of race and whiteness could become so powerful in post-communist Russia, the chapter explores the reproduction of ideas of whiteness under a supposedly raceless Communist state. Dealing with questions of gender and women’s emancipation, it shows how postwar decolonisation and anti-colonial struggle marked a turning point in the visibility of race questions within the USSR. In the early Soviet period, overcoming ‘cultural backwardness’, carried out in the name of a socialist universalism, paid little attention to its privileging of white European norms in women’s appearance and behaviour. Race would be forced to the fore in the context of global anti-colonial struggles and the Cold War competition with China. It was Chinese accusations that the Soviets were white and hence incapable of real solidarity that moved members of the Committee of Soviet Women in the Women’s International Democratic Federation to change its leadership. Previously, the Soviet women’s organisation mainly ignored the whiteness of its members during initial encounters with African and Asian women. Since the late 1960s, it promoted women from Central Asia as leaders to show Soviet commitment to the uplift of women from all parts of the Union. While these representatives played an important role in promoting the rights of women in countries fighting against colonialism, these ‘non-white’ Soviet delegates were expected to ‘speak Bolshevik’. They had to reproduce Soviet values and adhere to Soviet norms of whiteness in order to perform their tasks. The entanglement of race and Soviet civilisation was never fully addressed.

in Off white
Ulf Zander

Some musical works that build on Raoul Wallenberg’s actions and fate form the point of departure for an argument aimed at problematizing a previously predominant view of the Americanization of the Holocaust. According to that view, adaptation to the conceptions of US audiences mostly involves simplification and a reduction of nuance. With an eye on increasing interest in Wallenberg in the 1970s, the chapter analyses how he became an important factor in American foreign policy and popular culture. The chapter discusses examples of creative negotiation between information about his life drawn from scholarly studies on the one hand and representations of Wallenberg on the other, especially with reference to the American television serial Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story and the Swedish-Hungarian feature film Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg.

in Raoul Wallenberg
Hubert Buch-Hansen
,
Max Koch
, and
Iana Nesterova

In recent years, discussions in the degrowth literature have increasingly revolved around issues related to degrowth business. Such discussions have sought to understand what business would be like as part of a degrowth society, if it can indeed be part of it, and what, if any, roles business can play in transformations towards such societies. The chapter provides reflections on degrowth and business, suggesting that the latter constitutes an important actor on the roads to degrowth. Subsequently, various matters related to scale and diversity are considered before the chapter analyses what practices businesses would need to implement to render them consistent with degrowth. The chapter ends with a contemplation of whether a degrowth business is necessarily a non-growing business – the conclusion being that this is not the case.

in Deep transformations
Hubert Buch-Hansen
,
Max Koch
, and
Iana Nesterova

Degrowth transformations cannot but start out from what currently exists, that is, capitalist societies. Thus, an understanding of capitalism is a prerequisite for theorising such transformations. Drawing on selected ideas of Karl Marx, supplemented with insights from a range of other social theorists, the chapter unfolds such an understanding. In doing so, it focuses on the capitalist growth imperative and on capitalism in relation to work, consumption and nature. It also takes up the question of whether egoism and greed are universally dominant human attributes. This issue is of key importance as deep social change beyond capitalism is only conceivable to the extent that human beings are able to manifest and nurture existing human qualities which transcend egoism and greed. The chapter argues that indeed human beings have that capacity.

in Deep transformations
Hubert Buch-Hansen
,
Max Koch
, and
Iana Nesterova

Civil society is where ideas challenging the growth paradigm could come to prevail and where a shift away from the current consumer culture could happen. Civil society is a space in which more citizens can experiment with alternative, sustainable forms of living. It is the site of degrowth activism, the site in which the degrowth movement can form alliances with other movements. And civil society is the realm in which broad consent to, and a demand for, profound eco-social transformations could arise, prompting policymakers to adopt more ambitious policies. In short, changes in – and emanating from – civil society are an essential part of degrowth transformations. Enriching the book’s theoretical perspective, the chapter conceptualises civil society and reflects on its scales and diversity in degrowth transformations. Moreover, it highlights the importance of individual self-transformation for civil society to become a sufficiently potent driving force towards degrowth.

in Deep transformations
Open Access (free)
The four planes of degrowth
Hubert Buch-Hansen
,
Max Koch
, and
Iana Nesterova

The theoretical perspective developed in the book suggests that for degrowth transformations to occur, actions in the sites of civil society, business and the state are necessary – and they are necessary also on all scales, including the local, the national and the transnational. For degrowth to materialise, in other words, activities of agents positioned everywhere are required. In conceptualising degrowth in terms of deep transformations, we also highlight that it would necessitate profound changes on all planes of social being: material transactions with nature, social interactions between people, social structure, and people’s inner being. The concluding chapter connects a number of the key arguments made in previous chapters and relates the perspective on deep transformations more systematically to the four planes. In this context, a new, holistic definition of degrowth is proposed. The view of human beings underpinning the perspective is also further explored before various issues meriting further contemplation and interdisciplinary dialogues are identified.

in Deep transformations