“Political debate is the cornerstone of democracy“

I meet Marcel on a foggy Sunday in a nicely warm café in Rüsselsheim – a town which is known for its varied cultural and ethnic groups. People from different ethnicities live here together in a relatively small area. The automobile manufacturer Opel had promised a safe workplace to a lot of migrants in the 1980ies.

There’s a touch of Europe also in this small café. The guests sitting at the table nearby are talking to each other in polish while wildly gesturing over their breakfast. Looking out of the window one can see a family walking by, pushing a baby cart. The headscarf of the woman gives the idea of a muslim background.

Marcel working at a ATTAC booth in Rüsselsheim.

There seems to be no clash of ethnicities in  this harmonic small town. But Marcel, sipping at his hot cafe, has a critical view on the development of Europe. He is an active member of the ATTAC network. ATTAC, originally founded in the late 90ies as an association for the introduction of the Tobin­Tax, a tax on financial transactions, , is a Non Governmental Organisation. Generallyspeaking, ATTAC takes a stand against globalization, against banks and companies gambling on the stock market, against the violation of human rights in the third world, against the sheer maximization of profits.

“Europe develops into an unjust distribution organization.“, says Marcel. He gives up on the positive image of europe, associated with economic growth and prosperity for everyone. “The wealth of some people is based on the poverty of many.“, he says. Globalization adapts unilaterally to the interests of big corporations. „Globalization is directly linked to liberalization. The financial markets benefit from this.“ Instead, a globalization focusing on human rights, on social, ecological and democratical standards should be promoted.

Contra globalization, contra interests of business, pro human rights, pro environment. One can think  ATTAC would appeal especially to young people. In short ­or long­ term its topics will affect every sphere of their life-. But adolescents often hesitate to relate to political organizations. Fundamentally, the reason for this is the narcissistic preoccupation with themselves. “Only a few people are thinking outside the box.“, says Marcel. Only a small amount of people are taking the time necessary for analyzing complex political topics, according to the young activist. “Most of the young people are striving for economic well­being.“, Marcel explains. Especially media and social networks create a strong attraction of wealth. Social Media like Instagram provide the opportunity to take a deep look into the glamourous life of prominent figures. They present a perfect, glittering world of glamour. “That is why people do have a glorifying image of globalization.“, adds Marcel.

Moreover, the exchange of cultural aspects, like in the movie industry, shows young people the benefits of international integration. Blockbusters produced in the U.S. are available after a short time in Europe. In the past, the exchange of movies was a long process. This also applies to video games. “Of course I can see the advantages of the extended global markets“, Marcel concedes. But the criticism of globalization remains his central concern.

“Let’s take a look at TTIP as an example. It cancels the basic laws of humanity!“ Marcel finds fault width the missing transparency in the governmental negotiations for the transatlantic trade agreement. “No trade barriers -­ that sounds great. But what is hidden in the agreement between the U.S. and Europe?“. The wellknown chlorine­washed chicken will only be the beginning of what is to come, according to him.

How does Marcel picture the future of globalization and which topics will young political organizations have to deal with in Europe? “Ecology is the new trend.“, says Marcel. The hype of vegetarianism and veganism causes a critical debate about consumer behavior and food industry. Here he sees an opportunity to politicize young people. Because, according to Marcel: “Political debate is the cornerstone of democracy.“

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