Tag Archives: populism

Carrot Versus Stick Latest: Stick ‘Winning Hands Down’! #HumanRights #RuleOfLaw

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PakiBash, 2.0: How Postmodern Racism Enables Systemic Decay

The renaissance of racism was one topic that we at Mediolana did not except to be writing about in the late summer of 2017, but with the rise of authoritarian populism in both key developed economies and emerging markets – and a nod to the 16-bit cult video game PakiBash – it makes perfect sense to elucidate the mechanics of this phenomenon.

Contemporary postmodern racism – while certainly not excluding the possibility of physical violence – is a predominantly virtual beast. But it has far-reaching real-world consequences, including ’tilting’ elections, the dehumanisation of out-groups and – crucially – guaranteed decline. Here’s how it works:

  1. Activate ad campaigns. The media is critical in creating a fecund climate for postmodern racism. It does this by running increasingly shrill stories which make popular scapegoats synonymous with structural economic and social problems that they have little-to-no tenable causative connection with, especially vis-à-vis the rest of the population. Wildly inaccurate extrapolations from unrepresentative examples are routinely deployed in this phase.
  2. Increase the heat. The next step – in which the media often (though not always) plays the roles of both cheerleader and instigator – is to claim that in an era when hate speech has become the defining wallpaper of our digital culture, ‘ordinary people’ are somehow being silenced from expressing hate speech. This has the effect of getting people to adopt confrontational demeanours, raising the temperature far beyond rationality.
  3. Airbrush inconvenient facts. That EU migration constitutes a vast economic subsidy to, say, the finances of the United Kingdom – a net benefit of £8.8bn from 1995 to 2011, as opposed to a £604.5bn drain on the exchequer during the same period by British nationals – is something that must be flushed down the memory hole. Sexual abuse – something which numerous high-profile cases have demonstrated is tragically institutionalised at all levels of UK society – is, somehow, to be construed as solely committed by people with darker skin tones and ‘alien’ names working in the margins of the nighttime economy.

Postmodern racism is, in many senses, a quite brilliant stratagem. And to certain population demographics, this new and improved form of Paki-bashing will doubtless provide that surge of adrenalin which is otherwise presumed missing from their existences.

However, it does not actually solve any of the problems it purports to explain. Quite the reverse: (i) it infantilises sections of the general public by conning them into believing that their own deficiencies – such as catastrophically low levels of educational attainment – can be remedied by blaming abstract entities; (ii) it deliberately polarises and degrades political discourse; and (iii) it gives a Get Out of Jail Free card to the taxpayer-funded agencies whose performance and policies have been central in engendering systemic decay.

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Nullpunkt: German Far-Right Figure ‘Proposes Abolishing Previous 1,000 Years of Progress’!

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Cartoon Character-in-Chief: Three Ways Donald Trump Has Changed Global Politics Forever

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As the seemingly interminable race to the White House enters its final hours, there appears little doubt that this has been amongst the most surreal elections anywhere in living memory: substantive policy discussions have taken a backseat to sexual intrigue, political corruption and atavistic impulses as a no-holds-barred race to the bottom has gripped much of the world’s media.

But stepping back from the soap opera – and notwithstanding the final result – the 2016 United States presidential election will have profound implications far beyond America’s borders, and not merely because of that country’s economic footprint or military ubiquity: the maverick candidacy of Donald J. Trump has probably altered our planet’s political scene forever. After some contemplation, we at Mediolana think that we’ve identified the three most salient ways he has accomplished this:

  1. Emotiveness. Trump has ramped up the levels of raw emotion within political discourse. In response to a single ‘event’ – the tragic shootings at a community centre in San Bernadino, California – he proposed shutting off the United States, at least temporarily, from 30% of the world’s non-US resident population. Trump has threatened to make real the spectre of mass deportations of undocumented immigrants. And he has made a serious play for the sentiments of certain religious communities – notably Catholics – on deeply divisive issues such as abortion. The fact that these positions are not necessarily consistent or even plausible matters not – he has tapped into the general population’s visceral need to feel something.
  2. Street Cred. The fact that Trump – a multibillionaire celebrity who was born into substantial amounts of money – is hardly a classical anti-establishment figure has not been lost on numerous commentators. What is truly remarkable is that despite this, ‘the Donald’ has successfully portrayed himself as an outsider, and with no little skill: he has underscored his status as a stranger in Washington circles, contrasting this with his rival’s near-total embedding in the political matrix. In an era where the perceived distance between the ‘elites’ and the ‘masses’ is significant, this represents a PR coup.
  3. Media Leverage. Donald Trump may not be the first, but he is certainly the most notable figure to transition from being a TV star (who happens to have a property empire) to being a major political figure. He has realised that – to use the phrase of former SAS CEO Jan Carlzon – all business is showbusiness; that many people are now essentially products of the entertainment industry, principally as audience members; and that giving these people – some of whom are genuinely disenfranchised and really have been let down by a corrupt and dysfunctional system – hope of revenge against the machine can put him within striking distance of unparalleled publicity. Trump’s blueprint could go on to spawn a generation of (quasi-)authoritarian populists across the globe.

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Free Football + Sex Appeal + Populism ≠ Magical Formula of Governance?

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