Relay race for the west

Wealth inequality in our countries is on the rise, and population’s discontent is generating populism, which ultimately poses a threat to the very existence of our democracies.

Right wing populists so far took political advantage of this situation: it seems incredible that they understood and reacted first to what was happening… neoliberalism was their creature after all, but it’s about to die.

While the reputation of long forbidden words such as Socialism gets slowly repolished and readied to return in fashion, it’s becoming clear that right wing parties cannot take us to the next phase of our history alone: leftists must be onboard too.

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Trojan Horse in Hong Kong

The UK gained control over Hong Kong by winning the Opium Wars; a short -maybe over simplistic- description of this history chapter? When in the 19th century the risk of causing an opioids epidemic in several Asian countries clashed against commercial interests, war settled things in favour of the latter.

In light of how this all started, I entertained myself with the idea that the UK may have planned a decades spanning Trojan Horse exercise against China.
It’s admittedly a far fetched hypothesis but -planned or not- Hong Kong may end up becoming exactly that, let me explain!

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How big a crisis?

Crisis are cyclical, and the global financial crisis dated 2008 left scars in our social tissue that are still far from healed. While the top 1% recovered almost entirely in a fairly quick fashion, the larger part of western population’s wages keep shrinking in terms of real purchasing power, now contributing to the rise of right wing populism, the resurgence of racism, white suprematism, sovranism and protectionism.

This scenario ignited a race against time where automation is challenged by the risk of authoritarian drifts within our society.

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Hybrid Democracy

Political fluidity, the cultural replacement of Opinion Leaders with Influencers, and the need for a faster democratic paradigm have brought me to the conclusion that our century will see some rather major restructuring of our institutions.

One of the possibilities that are discussed time and again is the shift from representative democracy to direct democracy.
Among many reasonable and voiced complains about such approach, people may not be interested enough or simply not have enough knowledge on selected topics to be able to express an informed decision.

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Faster Democracy in faster century

We live in a fast era: technology change fast, we rarely have the time to analyze the same input twice, we multitask, we are addicted to novelty and have a idiosyncrasy for anything old.

Our century is arguably faster than any previous one, and our democracies are inherently slow hardcoded from the constitution up to follow the same paradigm that generated them decades or centuries ago.

Our democracy should, and can be faster.

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Political Fluidity

We often hear that we live a fluid political climate.

I already discussed how I do not see this as a momentary glitch in an otherwise sound political system, but rather as the natural consequence of our technological evolution; something that has not yet reached the tipping point too.

So what do we mean when we speak about political fluidity today? It is a concept related to how the electorate is mutable and their support to a leader or party is purely momentary, and could change at any time. While this was obviously always true to some degree, it is now becoming more true than ever.

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On Brexit

On March 29th the Brexit odyssey is scheduled to conclude.
The original question at the referendum in 2016 was as follows:

Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?

  • Remain a member of the European Union
  • Leave the European Union

As of today, there are many possibilities still on the table… the most commonly discussed are:

  1. Deal Brexit
  2. No Deal Brexit
  3. No Brexit
  4. Second Brexit Referendum
  5. Postpone Brexit

I am not proposing anything revolutionary, but I think the option of having a Deal/No Deal referendum was not discussed enough yet.

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Top 10 ways in which 2019 will shape the future

Full disclaimer: …any of those “10 things that…” you see around is an attempt to score high on google… however in my defence the reason it is also a clear and itemized framework for ideas that may become full posts in future.
Also, there are some notable missing trends, for example the technological backlash that started in 2018, but that I see more like a phase, than something that will shape decades to come.
Finally: the order is entirely arbitrary.

Here we go!

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Influenced influencers

An influencer -by definition- is someone who is able to influence others.

Typically the word is used to signify an influence on opinions, however there was a perfectly suitable pre-existing word for this: Opinion Leader.

What is so different between an opinion leader and an influencer, that we chose two use two entirely different names and categories?

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Fear of the unknown

The success of a movie is arguably linked with how much the people can relate to it.
The last year 3 movies caught my attention; not much individually, but when I saw the third of them I began to perceive them as a mark of our time:

  • Annihilation
  • A quiet place
  • Bird box

I am not much of a film connoisseur, so these are all pretty mainstream and relatively successful movies, and they all have quite a bit in common: they describe an unknown and unintelligible threat that impends over humanity. The threat remains hardly explained throughout the movie, and has the potential to change or destroy the world as we know it.

It appears our collective subconscious resonated pretty well with this type of story in 2018, and looking at the current status of technology, society and geopolitics, it seems hardly surprising!

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Cold war 2.0 and Europe

Nato conducts a military drill in Norway with over 50,000 soldiers and 10,000 between military vehicles, aircrafts and ships.

Russia launches the operation Vostok-2018: about 300,000 soldiers, nearly 40,000 between military vehicles, aircrafts, ships, helicopters and drones. China contributes with 3,500 troops.

The American administration is questioning at the highest level the role of USA within NATO (Trump), all while supporting anti-European populist parties (Bannon).

All of this happened in the last few months alone. There’s enough to start considering whether we should concern ourselves with what the future may bring.

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The Bee and the Beehive

That which is not good for the bee-hive cannot be good for the bees.

Marcus Aurelius, in –Meditations

The guy lived -and ruled large part of Europe- nearly 2000 years ago.

What is interesting is that this quote was used in multiple occasions by the mind behind one of the European oldest populist parties -Gianroberto Casaleggio of the italian 5 stars movement- and that it symbolizes in more than a way the founding principle of many other populist values.

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Deglobalization

What would happen if Capitalism was to come to a peaceful end at some point in the coming decades, as I proposed in this post?

Culture is a complex system of communicating vessels, and it would be impossible to shut down capitalism without causing a chain reaction of cultural consequences that are seemingly far away from it: it won’t be enough to imagine a different model for our economy to understand how our world would change.

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Individualism

Romanticism was a cultural movement that gained momentum towards the end of the 1700s in Europe, and is still far from being a concept of the past: whenever you describe a “romantic” sunset or movie, you are the living proof that Romanticism and its focus on emotions has influenced our culture to this very day.
Another strong focus of romanticism was individualism: starting from Beethoven and continuing to me and you, individualism kept growing stronger and gained the status of cornerstone of western culture.

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Likeocracy

What is the social cost of a Like?

I wrote about Social Media before, but this post is about traditional online newspapers and how they are following the same footprints, using new techniques such as click baits and trying to “go viral”  in a bid to gain visibility or simply survive.

One meaningful example form the Guardian: Subsidised tenants are excluded from pool and gym in London block .

A bit of background here: in UK, at least 30% of the newly built apartments should by law be under the “social housing” scheme, with lower rent prices subsidised by tax payers.

Whatever is your take on the matter, this article will likely leave you angered at either:

a) the people who wants to use the subsidised pool and gym by bundling it with the social housing scheme and exploiting the system, or

b) the people who are supporting segregation and even a form of social cleansing, as proposed in the article.

This is the divide et impera at work again! Not because someone is conspiring in that direction: our Digital Media are simply tuned to rank something better if it causes a reaction, likes, shares, engagement!

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Democracy Miniaturisation

After the fall of the USSR, we immediately saw many European countries splitting into smaller entities, and even after that momentum slowed down, there never was an inversion, but rather a consolidation that took different shapes all the way to the present.

At the same time glocalization has grown to become a mainstream cultural trend: on one hand we keep globalizing as we did for decades, assimilating more and more foreign cultures into our own, enhancing the migration flows and letting our society becoming more diverse, but on the other hand we become more and more aware of what makes our own local culture unique exactly because we now have more elements to compare ourselves with others, thus enhancing the personal bond with our local community.

These two factors work in synergy with many others, and together they are providing an impulse towards a miniaturisation of our democracies.

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