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Take action, but keep a healthy dose of doubt!

Back on track with Ivan Krastev

12. June 2018
Magazine > Voices > Take action, but keep a healthy dose of doubt!

Embark with us on a train ride with  with the renowned political scientist Ivan Krastev and enjoy his sober analysis of the facts to consider when acting for change.

“When you talk to young democracy activists today, the first thing that they’re going to tell you is: Enough talk. Let’s do something. And I have a great understanding of what they are talking about. If the number of conferences and seminars that have been organised around the world is the indicator for what a good place the world is, then we are living in the best possible of the worlds. But there is something in which they are wrong. It’s quite important that you hear your doubts and that you think before acting. It’s not simply having the right instinct, it’s not simply having the right impulse to do something. One of my intellectual heroes, Albert Hirschman, who was a German-American economist, who ran from Hitler in the 1930s, who saved many people by helping them to emigrate to the United States, made a major goal of his life the idea to prove Hamlet wrong. He wanted to prove that you can have your doubts, you can agonise around certain decisions, but this is not going to prevent you from acting. Even more, the person who really wants to make a change is a person that should have doubts. I’ve been always asking myself, if you decide to make a monument of an ideal democratic citizen, the one we want our kids to look up to, who is going to be him? Is it going to be simply someone who defended democracy against its enemies? Probably. But my choice is going to be a different one. I’m going to put on the monument a citizen who is ready to change his opinion on the basis of an argument. Because, in my view, he is the real hero of democracy. Democracy cannot function if people are not ready to change their opinion on the basis of an argument.”

This text and video is published under the Creative Commons License: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0. The name of the author/rights holder should be mentioned as followed. Author: Jovana Trifunovic and Igor Bararon / erstestiftung.org
Cover picture: Ivan Krastev, film still. Photo: © Igor Bararon / ERSTE Stiftung.


Back on track

As our world is facing major geopolitical shifts and challenges, from the rise of nationalism to increased demands for privacy, from balancing growing human needs with environmental limits, there is undoubtedly space for major improvements. We see civil society as the key driving force in this process and have therefore launched the video series “Back on track” about social engagement and activism as a clear sign of support to the dedicated change makers in our societies. The video “Take action, but keep a healthy dose of doubt!” is the second episode of the six-part video series.