congress / people

Paul Scheffer

Date and place of birth: 1954, Nijmegen, Holland

Living place: Amsterdam, Holland

Theme: sociology, philosophy, politics

ECC Participation: Congress Council

photo: Stef Verstraaten

The professor at the University in Amsterdam, head of the urban studies department. He won renown with the essay The Multicultural Disaster (2000). In this book Scheffer dissolved the Dutch myth of the open society in which coexist the members of various religions and traditions.

“Conflicts are a sign of integration, an attempt to live with each other, not beside one another.”

He proved that falsely understood tolerance should be substituted with the concept of equality and with the same rules applied to everybody by the democratic-liberal state. The author developed this theme in a broader socio-historical context i.a. in the book The Immigrants: The Open Society and Its Limits. This time he wrote not only about the emigrants in Holland, but in the entire Western world. “The quest for a way to live together requires us all to take a close look at ourselves” – he remarked –“not by betraying the open society, but by becoming more faithful to that ideal.”

Scheffer studied philosophy, sociology and political sciences. He was educated at the University in Nijmegen, in Paris and in Amsterdam. In the 1980’s worked as a press correspondent in Paris and Warsaw. In 1986 took up work at the Wiardi Beckman Institute, think-tank for the Dutch social-democratic group Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA). Scheffer remains an influential member of the PvdA.

Since 1992 he has been publishing in the Dutch press, mostly in “NRC Handelsblad” newspaper, and in the foreign periodicals: “Die Zeit”, “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”, “Le Monde des Debats”, “El Pais”, “Politiken” or “Tagesanzeiger”. Scheffer is concerned mostly with the issues touching upon the model of multicultural Europe, migrations, integration with the open society or the redefinition of the civic community.