Freedom Games 2017: A Great Intellectual Feast in Lodz

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Freedom Games

The fourth edition of Freedom Games was held on October 19-21, 2017, in Łódź (Poland). The unique interdisciplinary forum, the aim of which is to offer a creative space for individuals from the sectors of culture, business and public affairs, among others, to discuss the key challenges the Western societies must face in the 21st century, was once again a perfect opportunity for exchanging ideas, know-how as well as to voice constructive criticism, whenever necessary.

The RE:volution / Digital Reality and its various dimensions was the leading topic of this year’s edition of the forum. For three days, over 120 speakers from all around the world (including Sweden, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Poland, United Kingdom, the United States, among others) and the conference participants debated during almost thirty panel discussions, keynote lectures, and meetings with writers the current situation in the respective countries and the issues related to the fact that by living in a world of new technologies, our reality is undergoing constant changes in all spheres of life – politics, society, economy, culture, to name just a few.

The Opening Night Ceremony has shown a great interest of people in the discussed matters: the conference room was full to its capacity. The audience was greeted by Mayor of the City of Lodz Hanna Zdanowska, who warmly welcomed the attendees, and was followed by a letter to the organizers and attendees of Freedom Games from President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda delivered by Professor Andrzej Zybertowicz – Advisor to the President. Short introductions were also given by Witold Stępień – Marshall of Lodz voivodeship, Detmar Doering from Friedrich Naumann Foudation for Freedom (one of the main partners of the forum), Błażej Lenkowski – President of the Fundacja Industrial (Organizer of the conference), Ireneusz Zbiciński – Vice-Rector of Lodz University of Technology (Program Partner), and Krzysztof Dudek – Chief Director of the New Theatre of Kazimierz Dejmek in Lodz, the main conference venue.

22853432_1651088838287842_8257286417150818534_nThe formal Opening was followed by the Inaugural Address by Leszek Jażdżewski – Editor-in-Chief of Liberte! Magazine, who introduced the participants to the issues of the topic of forum in his speech RE:volution/Digital Reality. Later, their key note speeches delivered Professor Leszek Balcerowicz (Founder and Council Chairman of Civil Development Forum FOR, former deputy Prime Minister, former President of National Bank of Poland NBP), who talked why open society needs market economy with the focus on institutional systems vis-a-vis quality of life; and Peter Gloor (Center for Collective Intelligence, MIT), who discussed collaborative innovation networks. The speeches were followed by a panel discussion titled Digital Propaganda as a Challenge for the Media, with participation of key Polish media representatives from the POLITICO Office in Warsaw, TOK FM radio, Radio Zet, and Gazeta Wyborcza daily. The evening was closed with two simultaneous meetings with artists: Maria Peszek (a Polish singer famous for her controversial lyrics often touching upon politics) debated Internal Migration: A Road to Safety or a False Alternative?, and Jacek Dukaj (a renowned Polish fantasy writer) devoted to Literary Visions of the Future.

During the two next days the participants had a chance to take part in numerous discussions related to the main theme of Freedom Games ’17. Among them, the most heated debates accompanied the panel discussions related to current issues: Populism in the Age of Internet with participation of Detmar Doering (representative of Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom for Central Europe and the Baltic States in Prague), Giulio Ercolessi (President of the European Humanist Federation), Jana Machacek (Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Institute for Politics and Society), Csaba Toth (Director of Strategy at the Hungarian Republikon Institute, Member of the Board of European Liberal Forum ELF), and Michael Wohlgemuth (Director of Open Europe Berlin, University of Bayereuth) moderated by Magdalena M. Baran (Liberte!). Similar themes were also discussed by Jacek Dehnel (a renowned Polish writer) in a session devoted to The Tasks for the Inteligentsia and the panel discussion Media in the Face of Crisis: Information Noise with participation of Ferenc Hammer (Chair at the Media and Communications Department at ELTE Iniversity in Budapest), Stanisław Skarżyński (Gazeta Wyborcza), and Cecile Vaissie (Professor of Russian and Soviet Studies, University of Rennes II).

22861819_1651090078287718_5308931682854438706_oGreat popularity among audiences enjoyed also events devoted to the urgent issues related to democracy and the role of society in modern world: these were discussed during eg. How Civic Protests Affect Political Processes in Democratic States with contributions from Borys Budka (MP, Civic Platform), Detmar Doering (FNF), Sylwia Gregorczyk-Abram (civic initiative “Free Courts”), Kamila Gasiuk-Pihowicz (MP, Nowoczesna), Katarzyna Kotula (Women’s Protest), and Professor Jarosław Płuciennik (Committee for the Defence of Democracy, University of Lodz) moderated by Jan Gebert (Free Belarus and Ukraine Initiative); a strongly female panel The Power of Women’s Protests vis-a-vis New Technologies with Anna Dryjańska (naTemat.pl), Marta Lempart (initiator and leader of Women’s Protest in Poland), Anna Migała (Dziewuchy Dziewuchom), and Joanna Mucha (MP, Civic Platform); as well as deliberating Democracy in the Age of New Media organized in cooperation with Committe for the Defence of Democracy and inputs from Danuta Dobrzyńska-Schimmer (Project Manager, New Europe 100), Krzysztof Dudek (Chief Director of the New Theatre of Kazimierz Dejmek in Lodz), Professor Ryszard Kluszczyński (Head of the Department of Electronic Media, University of Lodz), Paweł Kowalski (Political Marketing Unit, Faculty of International and Political Studies, University of Lodz), and Róża Thun (MEP, Civic Platform) moderated by Mirosław Michalski (President of the Lodz region and Vice-President of Board of Regions, Committee for the Defence of Democracy). Moreover, in a cutting-edge session titled Palpatine, Daenerys Targaryan, and Voldemort: Populists in Fantasy and Science Fiction, Csaba Toth (Director of Strategy at the Hungarian Republikon Institute, Member of the Board of European Liberal Forum ELF) debated what are the similarities between fiction and real-life politics.

22893970_1651089171621142_4806517307735615031_nA special session was devoted to the efforts of the City of Lodz Office (partner of the event) to make Lodz the host of EXPo 2022 Cooperation-Exchange-Openness. The Role of Mega-Events in Cultural, Economic, and Educational Exchange gathered a great crowd, and the debate between Hanna Zdanowska (President of the City of Lodz), Krzysztof Candrowicz (Fotofestival, Triennial of Photography Hamburg), and Mirosław Proppe (Partner, Management Consulting, Head of Public Sector and Infrastructure in Poland and CEE, KPMG Poland) moderated by Michał Frąk (Gazeta Wyborcza) was welcomed with enthusiasm.

23032616_1651088938287832_452449195879599893_nNot surprisingly, granted the leading topic of the event, a strong emphasis was put on themes related to digital reality. And so, attendees warmly welcomed the discussions Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Humans? With contributions from Karim Jebari (Institute for Futures Studies in Stokholm), Michał Klincewicz (Assistant professor in the Institute of Philosophy, Jagiellonian University), and Paweł Rabiej (Nowoczesna); How Computer Games Change Cultural Behavior? With participation of Jan Argasiński (Assistant professor at UJ Department of Games Technology), Mirosław Filiciak (Director, Institute of Cultural Studies, Head of School of Ideas at SWPS University), Adam Wojciechowski (Vice-Dean for Development and Business Cooperation, Faculty of Technical Physics, Information Technology and Applied Mathematics, Lodz University of Technology) and moderated by Adam Radoń (Director, International Festival of Comics and Games); Digital Footprints, Big Data, and Politics with Sandrine Mueller (Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge), Adam Pelikant (Institute of Mechatronics and Information Systems, Lodz University of Technology), and Katarzyna Szymielewicz (President of Panoptykon Foundation). An important duscussion also accompanied the panel Animal Rights in the Age of Innovative Technologies: The Past and the Futurism with contributions from Dariusz Gzyra (Member of Laboratory of Animal Studies – Third Culture), Jaś Kapela (a Polish writer and columnist, animal rights activist), Anita Krokosz (Department of Radiobiology, Institute of Molecular Biophysics, University of Lodz), and warmly greeted Adam Wajrak (a distinguished Polish nature protection activist).

Since Freedom Games always try to put emphasis also on the dialogue with individuals from the cultural sector, the forum participants could also take part in altogether five meetings with authors: aforementioned Jacek Dukaj and Jacek Dehnel, as well as Wojciech Orliński (Was Lem a Liberal?), Maciej Parowski (Alternative Versions of History), and Marcin Świetlicki.

22861455_1651095838287142_8304850713403620605_oFurthermore, as Freedom Games are not only about giving food for thought but also for soul – in order to do the latter, for the third time the forum participants could also take part in a series of cutting-edge concerts of jazz and improvised music held in the 6. Dzielnica club located in the heart of the city of Lodz (102 Piotrkowska St.). This year, on the stage of the afterparty club, music lovers could enjoy performances of Jazzpospolita, Gaba Kulka, and Świetliki.

On the premises of conference venue, attendees had an opportunity to find out more about the activities of partners (Committee for the Defence of Democracy, Lodz University of Technology, EXPO 2022 Lodz) including a Martian vehicle, a solar-powered vehicle, as well as to try out Virtual Reality (VR) goggles.

22886321_1651088684954524_7552175515377385503_nThroughout the entire event participants had a chance to purchase or take for free a number of publications of the organizer (Liberte!, 4liberty.eu Review), partners of the event (FOR, Committee for the Defence of Democracy) and speakers who contributed to the forum (Professor Leszek Balcerowicz, Marcin Świetlicki, Jacek Dukaj, Krzysztof Iszkowski), among others.

Entrance to all events was free of charge upon an online registration and participation in the promotional campaign.

Partners of the event: City of Lodz Office, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, Open Society Foundations, Atlas Network. Media patronage: Gazeta Wyborcza, Tok FM, Polityka, Kalejdoskop. Program partners: Civic Development Forum (FOR Foundation), Committee for the Defence of Democracy, 4liberty.eu, Bronisław Geremek Foundation, Respublica, Instytut Mikromakro, New Europe 100, Lithuanian Free Market Institute, Republikon Foundation, Lodz University of Technology, Institute for Structural Research (IBS). Content matronage: Łódzkie Dziewuchy Dziewuchom. Regional partners: Promuje łódzkie, Marshall Office of the Lodz Voivodeship. Special partner: EXPO 2022 Lodz Poland.

Freedom Games 2017 were organized thanks to the support by the City of Lodz Office.

Liberté! Foundation, the publisher of the Liberté! magazine is the Organizer of the event.

Find out more: igrzyskawolnosci.pl/en

Olga Labendowicz
Liberte