P Diddy’s protege is bringing back a certain anachronistic vibe. That feeling of listening to a mesmerizing voice in a smokey dark basement, with the polished hard wood floor echoing the beats and good old whiskey being served as if it is club soda.
Building upon Hegel, the American thinker Francis Fukuyama believed in time as an evolving and self-controlling system, in which repetition plays a crucial role to reach a perfect end of history. The subtle difference between both thinkers is the belief that this utopian finale has a specific embodiment. Fukuyama defined the absolute flawless society as a liberal democratic system, the obvious merits of such a system would certainly entice the world’s population to revolt and demand the freedom that democracy brings. The voice of the repressed will overcome the gag of authoritarian regimes and set the once bound free. Arguably, the conquest of democracy prevailed in the Middle East during the Arab Spring. Does this mean that in the light of current events Fukuyama was right all along? Is it true that there is a tangible thirst to outspoken freethinking, which can only be found in liberal democracies? Or is the current malaise in developed countries; namely the crash of our system and the growing protests, clear-cut symptoms of a sick and feeble system?
It would be wise to define the essence of freedom. A popular belief holds that we are completely free in our thinking, while intellectual thoughts in authoritarian regimes are scrutinized and likely severely punished. The negativity that this authoritarian aggressive form of manipulation withholds should not be underestimated, yet we should not turn a blind eye to our own intricate issues. Are we not manipulated to conform to the norm on a far more sophisticated scale? The Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci defines this loss of criticism as cultural hegemony. Utilizing seemingly innocent techniques - ranging from peer pressure to marketing - are we not manipulated in forgetting our societies’ helplessness? How free are we? What does it imply? Perhaps the famous contemporary philosopher Slavoj Zizek said it best: “we feel free because we lack the very language to articulate our (inherent) unfreedom”. An important realization lies in the fact that we should acknowledge that our freedom might not be as omnipresent nor as effortlessly available. We should cherish and mostly demand freedom since it is a far more fragile concept than we generally believe.
How democratic is our democracy? Even Aristotle –a notorious critic of the democratic model- stipulated that the base of a democracy lies in its equality. Yet, how can one believe in democracy when inequality has become its very foundation? Is the Kratos (strength) still present with the Demos (people)? The symbol of democracy, its elections, has themselves turned into a perversion of its once potential. Seeping through the cracks of history populism has furiously sprung upon us, deafening the screams for change and crippling the will to stand up. We have lost the capability to differentiate the form of the message, from the actual message. Politicians are (s)elected on base of appearance, character or powerful one-liners instead of real constructive arguments. This has lead to the decay of reasonable solutions. This growing trend of populism ensures the preference of relatively safe short-term viewpoints rather than the much tougher long-term ones. Together with pragmatism and realism, prioritization is a key aspect for any sensible political policy.
This could not be truer when discussing how national interests eclipse global interests. Since we live in an evermore globalizing world it is crucial to truly start forging international solutions for today’s problems. Regardless of the talks of interconnectivity we are still lacking necessary skills to run this planet together. The reason for this failure might just be our continuous habit of putting ones national interests ahead; this narrow-mindedness is severely undermining global goals. On a worldwide scale nationalist pride is practically irrelevant, in comparison even preposterous. We should advocate for a re-examination of our countries crucial policies. In this globalized society, intranational interests should be more relevant than nationally motivated ones and demand a strong response instead of the endless national bickering. The focus on national issues should be of great importance but not overshadowing true global crises. With pressing issues such as growing pollution, global warming, overfishing, overpopulation, ongoing tensions between fellow nations, a poisonous economic recession and still a profound poverty and hunger issue in almost all regions of the continent of Africa and vast areas of South-America and Asia have we reached our (millennium) goals? Does this not impact us? How can we remain silent? It is time to speak up. Our and future generations deserve a true change, and should demand one.
When we remain uninformed. We remain unfree.
“It is much, much worse to receive bad news through the written word than by somebody simply telling you, and I’m sure you understand why. When somebody simply tells you bad news, you hear it once, and that’s the end of it. But when bad news is written down, whether in a letter or a newspaper or on your arm in felt tip pen, each time you read it, you feel as if you are receiving the bad news again and again.”
- Lemony Snicket
To be informed is to be confronted.
“If this is December, it must almost be 2012”
With the shocking shooting that happened today in Belgium.
I decided to recap some of the events that happened during the tumultuous year 2011.
The events featured in this video are:
- Grenade bombing and shooting in Liege by Nordine Amrine
- Rioting in Rome, one of the worst clashes in the history of Italy
- Anti-police protest march in Montreal turned violent
- Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi executed by Libyan Revolutionary Forces
- The massacre in Norway by Anders Breivik
- Rioting in England, terrorizing the entire nation
- The Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton
- The Egyptian revolution cumulating in the resignation of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak
- After centuries of struggle, South Sudan gains its independence
- Ivory Coast’s former president Laurent Gbagbo arrested and transferred to the ICC (International Criminal Court)
- The assassination of Osama Bin Laden by US Navy Seals and CIA operatives
- 9.1 Magnitude earthquake hits Japan followed by an all-consuming tsunami. Resulting in a near nuclear meltdown
- Occupy Wallstreet Movement expressing discontent about the current labour and financial climate
- Flooding devastating land both in Pakistan as well as Thailand
- In fragile Somali, bombing in Mogadishu killed hundreds of people.
- The complete crash of Greece results in high unemployment, higher tax and complete chaos. With constant revolting in Greece as a result.
Music: Bojoura - If it’s Tuesday, it must be Belgium
Found on the soundtrack of the movie “If it’s Tuesday, it must be Belgium” (1969)
All footage is sourced from YouTube. Combining raw footage with footage of AP, RT, Sky News, Al Jazeera,…
An important understanding to deter unfree uninformedness lies in the power, will and especially courage to think critically. The act of critical reflection in itself empowers one to individually comprehend given information. Within the hunger for intellectual development lies the true strength to form and develop your own dreams, refraining to be lulled in a meekly sleep saturated with conformity. However, our feeble attempts to shed our uninformedness may remain in vain if we lack the will to diversify our information and the utter confidence to defy the informee. Without these premises its undefied words will seep in our thoughts and subconciously dominate our beliefs. Since every (informative) dialogue holds a certain way how the original intention is poured into an adaptation and usage of terms, information can never be innocent and withholds a hidden undercurrent.
Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.
Perception defines everything.
The Belgian Paradox
A brilliant example that showcases this ambiguity can be witnessed in simple journalistic news-items, where depending on the source the story becomes substantially different. Such as in a recent article in grief-stricken Belgium (28.11.11), where the difference between the Flemish and Walloon version of the ‘Metro’-newspaper is exemplified by a seemingly highly symbolical (sub)cultural divide. After thoroughly beating the worldrecord for the longest time without government with verve, negotiations finally resulted in a budget agreement. The divide became apparent when the Walloon version focused on the Walloon politician Di Rupo to highlight the agreement’s merits, while the Flemish version of the very same paper utilized his main opponent Flemish opposition leader De Wever to highlight its criticism. This could be disregarded as a legitimate nuance, but is it really as innocent as it seems?
The ‘Metro’ is a commuter newspaper, meaning that every morning dozens of people are dependent on its concise headlines. Going through the topicality in a rather perfunctory custom, reading through the articles as an easy way to keep up to date. Naturally the news is not contrived to follow a malignant evil plan, but the fact that translations of the same newspaper stand in such stark contrast with each other is at best suspect and slightly disturbing. In the end it does not matter what the agreement in actuality says, the focus has been diverted towards two dominating opinions. They have become the voice of; on the one hand Flanders and the other Wallonia. Although it might be unintentional, is this not obviously some sort of manipulation?
In light of the contemporary philosopher Baudrillard, perhaps we should ask ourselves; is the news truly emulating a reality of difference in culture, or is reality emulating the news of a difference in culture?
November 10th 2011 - University of California, Berkeley.
The line it is drawn (Bob Dylan - The Times They Are A-Changing)
As one of the Ivy League universities, UC Berkeley has always been the odd one out. Renowned for being a university that traditionally has been entrenched by a certain feeling of rebelliousness and intellectual outspokenness. During the 1960’s the Berkeley campus’ reputation grew tremendously, becoming a symbol of protest and student activism. Is this still the case?
When a group of students, protesting the current financial policies and the unsustainable high-cost educational bubble, tried to set up tents on the UC Berkeley campus things quickly turned sour. The planned sit-in was deemed a nuisance, so Berkeley staff requested police to intervene and disperse the peaceful protesting youth. This video showcases the unravelling event, resulting in 32 arrests.
In recent times, this is not the only example of aggressive retaliation towards peaceful protests. The mixture of ideological resentment with this aggressive display of force is an extremely toxic concoction, which may result in unwanted repercussions. As former president John F. Kennedy once said: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
Let us hope it never comes down to this.