Tag Archives: United States

Buyer’s Remorse: Why Western Liberalism is in Serious Crisis

Since the tumultuous geopolitical events of 2016, analysts of all stripes have been struggling to come to terms with what appears to be a general and decisive shunning of Western liberalism. Those analysts who have ventured into explanatory territory have consistently cited reasons such as (i) the chasm between the super-rich and practically everyone else; (ii) the rise of the alt-right; and (iii) external interference in the smooth functioning of democratic procedure by ‘spoiler’ authoritarian states.

All of these rationales have their merits. But there is one other catalyst behind Western liberalism’s apparently sudden decline which virtually no one seems to have seriously raised, let alone expounded upon: the disenchantment engendered by political ‘products’ which desperately failed to live up to their sales pitches.

Rewind to 2008: the world is becoming engulfed in a financial crisis of gargantuan proportions; the wildly misnamed Operation Iraqi Freedom is on its way to accounting for the deaths of over one million people; and the American working and middle classes are starting to feel material squeezes of a kind not sensed since the Second World War. Barack Obama is not perceived so much as a solution to these intractable problems as a messiah: the man who is going to resurrect the United States economy, empower the disenfranchised demographics and bring about world peace. Yet after a solid eight years of Obamadom, systemic fiscal instability, unyielding militarisation and gross inequality were at least as bad as they were on 20th January 2009, when the indubitably iconic African-American first took office.

Aung San Suu Kyi is another exemplar of the same ilk. Consistently portrayed as a secular saint for decades, she became synonymous with the very concept of human rights. Yet in power, she has spectacularly – some would say, cynically – permitted a human rights catastrophe within her own jurisdiction.

When Nobel Peace Prize laureates promise salvation in opposition but deliver infernal outcomes once inaugurated, it should come as no real surprise that the general public is less than enchanted with a system that they perceive as fundamentally broken. The deeper tragedy is that Western liberal values risk being permanently degraded – not because they are necessarily thought of as exceptionable per se, but because their purported champions are viewed as essentially fraudulent.

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Fifty Shades of Spray: Pesticides ‘Can Ruin #Academic Careers’!

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The Cost of Decadence: ‘One Night in Heaven’ Smashes Price Ceiling!

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Start Spreading the News: New York City ‘Will Rival Silicon Valley’ By 2020!

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Love, Virtually – Two Point Zero: Can Mend Heal Your Broken Heart?

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With Valentine’s Day now indubitably a global festival like perhaps no other – one that practically nobody can escape – and the contemporary relationship scene being characterised by epic churn, we at Mediolana felt moved by an article that our Creative Director & CSO recently came across in The New York Times on the topic of Mend, a new app and associated online community aimed at assisting people going through painful heartbreaks.

Mend (iOS launch date: July 2016) was founded by Ellen ‘Elle’ Huerta, a former Google employee who noticed – during a break-up of her own – that there was gaping gap in the app world for precisely this type of situation, while the corners of the Internet devoted to the topic were (and, we dare venture, still are) dominated by platitudes whose wisdom may only become apparent after a very long time indeed.

Huerta has correctly observed that while there is an ocean of fitness and (somewhat more tentatively) ‘brain-health’ software, vast areas of people’s love lives – beyond those pertaining to getting into a relationship in the first place – are wildly underserved. And on one level, Mend appears to be a great idea which taps into a clear cross-cultural need, having already been downloaded in over 100 countries; moreover, it certainly seems to have the backing of key players in Silicon Valley.

But after some reflection, in our opinion there is one clear potential issue with the concept: by turning such a sensitive area of human existence into yet another domain to be ‘managed’ electronically, apps such as Mend could make society overall that little bit less caring. Secure in the knowledge that there is now an algorithm to tend to their acute emotional needs, people may leave their friends in the care of a portal which can never actually be physically present, let alone listen to someone at close quarters who is truly suffering. Further iterations of Mend – an update is scheduled for this spring – must take this vital consideration into account if the noble original purpose of this technological marvel is not to be subverted.

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