Tag Archives: soft power

The Future is Now: Five Steps Towards a Greater Asia

In a media environment saturated with dissection of inconsequential minutiae, it is sometimes a struggle to keep one’s eyes on the ‘substantive images’: the developments of serious import that will concretely define the direction of the world. It was therefore with some relief that we at Mediolana became aware of Parag Khanna’s mildly provocative The Future is Asian: Commerce, Conflict and Culture in the 21st Century, a book that seeks to direct its audience’s attention to the inexorable rise of the planet’s most populous continent.

Khanna’s thesis correctly underscores the undeniable significance of Asia – an act which is not hard to accomplish, but which few have attempted with anything like his stridence and lucidity. Asia possesses a number of the world’s largest economies and most of the world’s foreign exchange reserves; its military potency is exceptional, particular in terms of manpower; and several of its more ambitious countries are taking giant strides on political stages both domestic and international.

Much of this material is borderline unarguable. However, Khanna’s work possibly falls short on its prescriptions for greater Asian integration, which he views as ‘natural’ for what he perceives as a ‘continental system’ similar to that of the European Union.

In fact, Asia is much more diverse – geographically, linguistically, religiously, culturally – than Europe. Democracies border onto dictatorships, while communist nations sustain curious alliances with putative theocracies. A huge amount remains to be accomplished when it comes to fashioning a coherent power bloc out of 49 states which have widely divergent political economies; after some contemplation, what follows are five steps towards a greater Asia:

  1. Asiavision. Pan-Asian soft power events – such as a continent-wide song contest à la Eurovision – can go a long way towards creating a genuinely continental cultural space.
  2. Abolishing absolute poverty. Speaking of soft power, Asia will never fulfil its potential while such large numbers of its citizens – particularly in regions such as South Asia – are needlessly languishing in morally indefensible penury.
  3. Urban infrastructure. China’s Belt and Road initiative – while mammoth in scale – still does not address the need for dramatic investments in public transportation across much of the continent, including the cross-border high-speed rail projects which can connect up regions.
  4. Legislation. Asia presently lacks a continent-wide equivalent of the European Commission, or indeed the African Commission. It should fill this gap with a directly-elected institution which has the technocratic expertise to harmonise and elevate the standing of environmental and industrial laws.
  5. Human rights. Far too many Asian nations (China, Saudi Arabia et al) have little to contribute in the field of basic human rights promotion; at the other end of the democratic spectrum, Asian states still reflexively take their cue from the West rather than evaluating trends more critically. An independent human rights court could go a long way towards remedying this.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Economic Development, Economics, Law, Political Science, Urban Life

Maroc On: North African Kingdom Welcomes Over One Million Tourists Every Month!

Leave a comment

Filed under Economic Development

Prefab Doubt: Confiscated Classrooms ‘Sold to Highest Bidder’!

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, Law, Politics

Desperately Missing ‘Marissa’: Was Mischa Barton the Last Great American Icon?

Moments of transcendence in the context of the act of purchasing a consumer fashion magazine are usually rare to the point of non-existence, but back at the start of 2005, the person who was to become Mediolana’s Creative Director & CSO experienced precisely one such episode on seeing Mischa Barton grace the cover of the short-lived Elle Girl. Barton – at the time, the ace face of a certain California-based teen soap opera – was an it-girl with a difference: namely, an unusual depth of being which was almost totally incongruous to the rapidly-decaying US media environment she found herself inhabiting.

With the best part of a decade-and-a-half has passed having elapsed since this point, we at Mediolana have recently been troubled by a question to which we have no satisfactory answer: with no female (and almost certainly no male) remotely of Ms Barton’s stature having emerged from Hollywood and its domestic satellite media markets in the intervening period, was this remarkable actress the last great American icon?

This question is not merely an academic one. Particularly in the post-1945 era, the projection of US dominance has been inextricably linked to its national brand; in turn, the ability to create personas worthy of emulation and adoration is a key element of this vital ‘soft power’ element. For decades, Brand America enjoyed peerless reach, and globalisation was presumed by many to be synonymous with Americanisation.

However, since the increasingly catastrophic moral and geopolitical failure that constituted Operation Iraqi Freedom – in 2018, Chinese and Russian oil companies are operational in what was until at least the late 1980s a US client state – the United States has apparently been unable to engage in cultural reproduction with anything like the same degree of success (with seemingly even post-Season One installments of The O.C. suffering). Indeed, it has been losing market share in the domain of scripted content to nations such as South Korea and Turkey for some time now.

Of course, explaining this phenomenon requires a broad and sophisticated examination which is beyond the scope of a mere blog post. But it surely isn’t unrealistic to posit that one core reason behind this decline is the total, jarring absence of anyone who can enthuse viewers – particularly young consumers – from São Paulo to Istanbul in the way that Mischa Barton so evidently could. This is something for US policymakers – and not merely television and film executives – to contemplate in an atmosphere of profound sobriety.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Media, Political Science

Korean Wave Latest: International Students Flocking to Soft Power Player!

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, Urban Life

World War Trade Latest: American Business Schools Experience Declining Footfall!

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, Political Science, Psychology

A Textbook Case of Censorship: Chinese Education Ministry Erasing Foreign Content!

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, Media