When I ring Hywel Williams’ doorbell on Friday afternoon, the terraces in the park near Victoria Embankment in London are already full for the Friday afternoon drinks. Hywel has also just arrived; he saw someone riding his bike and already suspected it was me. Over tea, we talk about Wales, where I regularly visited the steel mills in 2000 and where his family is from, about Burgundians, and especially about Erasmus.
Hywel, like me, sees in Erasmus a source of inspiration in our time. He saw increasing divisions in Britain, such as between town and country, between the different parts of the UK, in politics, with the Brexit, and with it, from all sides, the one-sidedness in discussions. The loss of common ideas may seem to increase neutrality, but it is catastrophic for society. After all, on the basis of “every man for himself”, people can argue rationally, but can no longer discuss reasonably with each other.
Therefore, with the support of the City of London, he decided to found the Erasmus Forum in 2019. This forum has become a platform for publications and conferences, where topics are considered from multiple standpoints and where different perspectives come together. In line with Erasmus, he wants more scholarship in the debate, and then not from unilateral point of view; he does not like the word holistic, but would rather speak of synoptic.
The debate tone at the Erasmus Forum is therefore polite, reasonable and publicly accessible, and with an eye for the other. After all, Erasmus too was as much anti-institutional as he was focused on educating people to become sensible responsible beings. In Erasmus’ name, the Forum has already built a fine reputation in recent years in terms of speakers and writers