For many Europeans, living in a dictatorship seems to be something from countries far away, or long ago. In reality, it was only 30 years ago - roughly two generations - that a large proportion of Europeans lived without freedom. There are stories of victims and courageous heroes, but the majority of citizens had to ‘just’ keep their head above water in daily life.
How do you do that? On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall, we investigated this during the program How to Survive a Dictatorship. There were also reflections from Eva Rovers and Evert van der Zweerde on dictatorships, because how (un) likely is it that a dictatorship will ever return to Europe?
And then it was time to tear down that Wall! Literally, with former GDR-resident Eva Pieper at the forefront during the "Tear down this Wall" party.
he morning after there was a brunch to handle the hangover of democracy. Because after the euphoria of 1989, the hangover soon developed. For many, the promises of liberalism and capitalism led to great disappointments. The fiercely defended democracy is now under pressure. In Hungary and Poland the rule of law is being rapidly broken down, but there is also cause for concern in the West.
Together with Polish journalist Karolina Wigura, political philosopher Ivana Ivkovic and public administration teacher Michiel Luin, we discussed why the word ‘democracy’ had become one for mistrust for many. There were also hopeful words for the future: in Poland in particular, democracy may be more resilient then we expect.
With the audience present we played the Boiling Frog Game about democracy. Following questions about the current state of our democracy, the public jumped up if the described situation became 'too hot'. After all the questions were asked, all the people in the room where standing! The Boiling Frog Game is part of our new How to Survive a Democracy Pop-up museum, the game is developed for the ACT for Liberty project.