Marina Weisband at the Opening Week 2020: "Second wave of enlightenment".

2020-10-09 The psychologist and digital activist was keynote speaker on the sixth day of the Opening Week. For democracy to work, people need to experience its self-efficacy.

Marina Weisband also wished that the Internet in Germany would be promoted just as much as television and radio. ©Marvin Sokolis
Marina Weisband wished that the Internet in Germany would be promoted just as much as television and radio.

What would pupils improve at their school if they had the power to change everything? "The toilets." Or nothing at all: "Why should I participate? The teachers do what they want anyway." These were some answers Marina Weisband heard during her work as head of the democracy project "aula" at politik-digital e.V. The participation concept is intended to enable young people to actively participate in everyday life, among other things by means of an online platform. The psychologist and former political director of the Pirate Party wants to encourage participation. "The reason why we are discussing democracy today is because it has changed. All of us alive today are more powerful than any generation before us. We are potentially better informed, we are better connected," she said to the approximately 1400 first-semester students who followed the lecture either on computer screens or together with their small groups in seminar rooms. Digital platforms could lead to more participation, but also to more control. It is important that people experience their self-efficacy: "How can we allow people to learn that when they do something, when they fight for something and find majorities, they can change a thing in the world." Self-efficacy can be learned at school and in communities.

But one must also know the tools of democracy, she said, it is not enough to want democracy. That's why she is involved in schools to talk to young people about values such as tolerance and respect for minorities. Plans should not only be forged, but also implemented. What should the society I want to live in look like?, is a fundamental question in democracy. Cities are important places for discourse, because this is where many people come together: "We need nothing short of a second wave of enlightenment in this age of digital transformation and urban spaces are where it is going to happen."

Marina Weisband also wished that the Internet in Germany would be promoted just as much as television and radio. Both would also be available to the poorest people, but would not be as modern as digital participation. The keynote speaker took a lot of time for the students' questions. One student, for example, pointed out that the production of many digital devices is not sustainable and referred to work in African mines as an example: "How we can make sure that our digital progress is not going on the costs of others?" In order to let all people participate digitally, Marina Weisband said, not necessarily more, and above all, not constantly new devices are needed. She pleaded for a right to repair. Open hardware is necessary for this. With free construction plans, smartphones could be repaired in any cell phone store. So far however the legal basis is missing for this. To solve this dilemma, she said, was primarily the task of politics: "We allow big companies to basically produce garbage."

Further Information

Opening Week 2020