XX Open Society Forum: Who are all these people? Tackling the Polarisation of Democratic Societies.
September 16, Tallinn, Estonia
Hatred begins with frenzy and ends with remorse. - Arab proverb
Today's means of communication bring the world to our doorstep, while also creating a possibility of intense informational polarisation and insulation. „Who are all these people? I don't know anyone like this!“ is an exclamation one hears very often lately when people express their astonishment at the extent to which their societies are varied.
It can be heard from non-religious Christians in Europe when faced with religious Muslims living in the same Europe. It can be heard from the liberal elites when faced with the rise of democratic illiberalism. It can be heard from peripheral Europeans of various countries when faced with how their societies come to terms with integrating refugees and migrants of various cultural backgrounds. It can be heard from journalists having to edit anonymous online comments. It can be heard from open society activists defending civil liberties when faced with activists of the insurgent conservative vein.
And yet despite all this informational insulation and societal polarisation, despite the differences, somehow we live together, we share societies. It's a challenge and at that, a mystery that raises many questions. How can we talk to one another across societal and political divides? How should the media effectuate social responsibility? How to show respect to ways of life different of one's own? How to neutralise the impact of all kinds of extremism? Where are the limits of free speech? How to build societies in Europe and the world that are whole and free of hate? These are the issues that the 20th Open Society Forum takes on to address. Our partners for this year's Forum are Baltic News Service and the Norwegian Embassy in Estonia.