Thematic DSCs

A letter from Rosemary Bechler to those of us wanting to know how we can develop our Thematic projects within a collective…


Dear DiEM25 Thematicians,

Greetings from Rosemary – a grounded ground organiser! (the role I’m proud to play on the DiEM25UK national collective).

I wanted to share some thoughts on Thematic DSC’s, and to get your views on what we are doing….  So here goes…

Of course thematic DSC’s, whether they are getting five enthusiasts together on an issue locally, or bringing the experience of different countries to bear on the same major pan-European challenge that we have in common, are a great potential contribution to the development of DiEM25 policy.

As editor of the European section of openDemocracy I know how revealing both the similarities and differences in approach to any major issues are – from health services, to housing to immigration. So the DiEM25 membership as a giant feedback loop for all policies agreed or in the process of being formulated is a fantastic resource for us.

But policy-making, particularly when it comes to pan-European election manifestos, for example, are negotiations with partners that can’t possibly accommodate all our interests and views for all time. So there is another, rather different reason for forming a thematic DSC, and that is to build our movement on the ground – in short, Thematic DSC’s, both within and outside the DiEM25 movement, are an opportunity to conduct really good, open-ended, democratic debates – where people might take different views – but would still listen to each other, and everyone would maybe change their minds a little bit or learn more about the position they held. Isn’t this an essential building block for any successful social movement?

If we are a movement that is aiming to democratise anything – including our own movement internally – what we have to accommodate is people with different views learning how to arrive at enough of a shared perspective to be able to campaign on it together, a perspective that can only gain from diverse experiences and ideas.

We are aiming to democratise Europe!! – so we need to be able to engage Europeans across a huge range in a common debate on the key ways we want to live together in peaceful co-existence. To do this you can’t suppress dissent – you need to cultivate debate. And we can’t be afraid of conflict. In a movement, as opposed to a political party, if two constituencies disagree about what will work, there will be cases where the best thing to do, like ‘forking’ online, is to try both out and give ourselves a proper chance to see which option performs better.

As DIEM5 activists we need all the experience we can muster in listening to people, changing their minds and having our own minds changed in turn. I actually think that cultivating intelligent debate with ‘adults in the room’ is one of the things that DiEM25 does best and has to offer those who we hope will join us… And now, we are at last beginning to build an online Forum that helps us spread the discussions and the best practise more effectively. Ultimately, the new policies we feed into will benefit hugely from this open-minded culture. And most important of all, we will be able to take the discussions out there into our communities, big and small.

Thematic DSC’s are a really good way of setting up the debates that create active, thinking citizens. Confident inquiring people who know how to listen to each other and instead of all the toxic polarisations that our societies are currently suffering from (unfortunately we are learning this lesson only too well in the UK!) how to change their minds when the facts seem to change!… If DiEM25 can produce democrats in this sense – then that is one very important way that we prove here and now that it is possible to democratise Europe.

If you have an idea of a debate you think needs to happen, and you want help in thinking through how best to support it by registering a Thematic DSC at DiEM25… please get in touch. I’d love to talk it through with you!

And all the best for these precious days of talking and planning together!

Carpe DiEM!
Rosemary Bechler, September 14, 2018