Stine Jensen, philosopher / writer:
Hope for ointment for the soul
Culture has taken a big dent. Theaters, cinemas, museums and libraries were disproportionately hit in the corona crisis. The culture-disdainful cabinet did not give a damn, until it became clear that culture is also economy.
In the culture sector, around 3 billion are involved, there are 133,000 jobs (source: CBS). Yes, culture is economics, it is entertainment, an outing and a distraction, but it is so much more: ointment for the soul, educational, enriching. Beauty and comfort.
Scrolling through the note Cultural policy 2021-2024 I got hope. Certainly, the need for art is exemplary. But in this plan it is not just motivated by all kinds of useful outcomes – ’empathy’, ‘diversity’, ‘regionality’ are the buzz words in the policy – the language is actually a bit inspired and inspired.
I add that in major life events, people like form, ritual, and culture that empower the special occasion. Was there ever anyone who didn’t choose music or poetry at a funeral?
Haroon Sheikh, political scientist and philosopher:
Big Tech: the tide is turning
In 2021 we will finally start to get a grip on Big Tech. Dissatisfaction with the power of these companies has existed for years, but very little has changed for a long time. In 2020, the corona crisis initially only increased that power, because digitization was the solution: our work migrated to the cloud, schools went digital and Big Tech built our corona apps.
However, a sudden turnaround took place towards the end of the year. Politicians and regulators in the US and the EU have published critical reports and initiated lawsuits to address the immense power these companies have over society. Policy makers are now seriously considering extreme solutions, such as breaking up these big players.
The disaster year made our dependence on Big Tech painfully visible. That gives hope for 2021: we will then, finally, start to turn the tide.
Emma Bruns, surgeon in training:
Let’s stay resourceful
On a sunny afternoon I took a walk in the woods. It was beautiful but the walking path was narrow, something that has become comparable to ‘dangerous’ since last year. That danger was rapidly approaching: a fellow human being. We approached each other like two deer standing on the edge of their territory and then at the same time arranged ourselves, like real good citizens, in an exaggerated outside curve, which made us more than ten feet apart. “Well, that’s safe, such a double evasive maneuver.”
The evasive maneuver. That may be the word from last year. In Van Dale, maneuvering is defined as ‘skillful accomplishment’, and it comes from Latin: hand work, “Work by hand”.
Actually, I hope that we will continue to do so in 2021. Even after the virus has disappeared. More than ever, the corona crisis has shown that we as a society can be resourceful, inclusive and creative. Let’s stay that way.
Kiza Magendane, political scientist:
In 2021 we will be asking legitimate questions
In the year 2020, I self-censored asking legitimate questions. Why didn’t the Dutch government come up with the idea to oblige me and other Dutch people with a permanent job to hand in 15 minutes of our salary to fill the corona safety net? Why did the Dutch government not dare to oblige homeowners not to charge rent for their commercial properties during the lockdown? These are just a few of the questions I was afraid to ask for fear of appearing stupid. Until I Wellbeing Economics. How and Why Economics Needs to Change read, the new book in which the economist Nicky Pouw argues that instead of focusing exclusively on economic growth, the economy should focus emphatically on bringing about well-being. Economic considerations must therefore take into account a healthy relationship between people and nature. 2021 will be the year in which we will ask as many legitimate questions as possible in order to radically question existing economic dogmas. We will be eternally grateful to the corona crisis for that.
Bastiaan Rijpkema, legal philosopher:
What has been promised, what has been achieved?
D66 party leader Sigrid Kaag wants an extra billion euros for science. Striking, that is roughly the demand with which WOinAactie has been competing for a long time against the current D66 minister of Education Ingrid van Engelshoven. With little effect. Yet another D66 leader, Rob Jetten, saw it differently: aim your pitchforks at the university administrators – they would be sitting on huge pots of money (read: reserves) like “Scrooge McDuck”, he sneered. Jetten’s speech can no longer be found on the D66 website.
Good plans and views are important for a democracy. Equally important is electoral memory. Democracy is a unique self-correcting system, but correcting requires not only looking forward but also looking back. Why don’t political parties also publish multi-year reports for the House of Representatives elections: what has been promised, what has been achieved? Any reminder is welcome, especially if corona is going to dominate the elections.
Will we choose March based on Kaag’s promises or Van Engelshoven’s performance?