On the day after the European elections, what sort of state will we be in? Crushed under a national-populist landslide, or incredulous at having avoided the worst once more? The worst being: an unprecedented show of disinterest among European citizens for the elections; record abstention levels; an apathetic and indifferent renouncement; and, as a result, the formation of a coalition of reactionary, oppressive and xenophobic parties.
Since the start of the 2000s, the majority of elections have been last-minute salvage jobs, their results determined by strategic voting and alliances of convenience. But they have never resulted in a radical wake-up call, a turning point. they have never inspired us to transform the paradigm and bring social justice and environmental ethics back to the fore in our upside-down world. When they have not given rise to the autocratic, illiberal monsters that are now dotted around Europe, the overriding feeling triggered by those democratic scares has been one of business-as-usual, yet another turn of the screw against the interests of the people of Europe.
This round of European elections has always been destined to fall between two stools: the worst, and avoiding the worst. But against a backdrop of such little hope, how can we look towards the future? How can we present Europe as a utopia for future generations? Those generations, made up of students and school children with an extraordinary sense of civic solidarity, are going on strike throughout the world to save the environment. Yet we have failed to transmit to them the ideal of Europe as the setting of a reinvented utopia – their utopia. Europe as a space of protection, of free movement, of regulation, of invention, of education, of solidarity, of culture, of debate. Europe as a multinational structure capable of dealing with the most urgent issues that this century has thrown at us, from the fight against corruption and terrorism to climate change.
Just 72 hours after the European elections, we will be joined in Lyon by a hundred or so artists, activists, thinkers and European project leaders to analyse this “day after” and to regroup for the future.
Taking place at H7 and Hôtel71 in the Confluence district of Lyon, with its own music stage, food court and programme of events curated along- side We Are Europe (the cooperation project made up of eight festival-forums around Europe), European Lab Camp is a free and multidisciplinary space for debate, music and sharing that is open to everyone.
Over the course of round-table debates, media broadcasts, workshops, exhibitions and performances, European Lab Camp will connect the forces for change who are intent on drawing up a blueprint for the shared future of our continent.
To make that future a reality, now more than ever we need to harness grassroots initiatives, new forms of activism and cooperation, and the power of fiction.
Rather than democratic challenges, it is the current state of environmental emergency that should be forcing us to seek new forms of action and to reconfigure our politics. The climate marches, shows of civil disobedience, boycotts and feminist protests of recent times have all proved that we the citizens can take destiny into our own hands and challenge the models that govern our lives. Notably in Italy and Greece, a veritable laboratory of alternative action is gradually developing around the values of self-determination, municipalism and horizontality.
Convinced that fiction can be used as a weapon of mass reconstruction, we are also inviting authors, artists, forward-thinkers and members of the public to free their imaginations, to put pen to paper and to share their stories: to invent possible futures. We will share experiences, invent fictions and partake in open debates, in order to escape those who would wish to manipulate opinions and sew chaos.
Come and join us!
Vincent Carry et Anne-Caroline Jambaud