Friday, 04 November 2016 18:21

Good Reads - From sexism in politics to pirates riding the wave of discontent in Iceland

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Photo: Milos Constantini (flickr); Licence: CC BY 2.0

Our editor Alexander Neofitov points you in the direction of a few articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about the similiarities between Donald Trump and the so-called Berlusconismo, the (not so) strange death of clubbing in Europe, and another Icelandic political conundrum. 

 Alexander, Project Manager and Diaphragm editor

 alexSexism in politics: The Donald vs. Mr. Bunga Bunga

Donald’s latest exposure reminded us again what dirty, dark and testosterone-infested game politics really is. A leaked tape, allegedly just one (and not the steamiest) of many recorded, involves Mr. Trump bragging about grabbing women by the pussy and kissing them whenever he desires to. This appears to have shocked America. Possibly even threatening, of all Trump histrionics, to truncate the man’s pathetic attempt to sit at the helm of the most powerful nation in the world. But can it really shock us Europeans? After all here in Europe this style of political machismo had been going for decades during the reign of another tycoon-come-politician. Of course we are talking of Signore Berlusconi (aka Mr. Bunga Bunga) and his period in Italian politics, aptly titled Berlusconismo in a recent article by Annalisa Merelli for Quartz. Merelli, an Italian living in the US, offers a look at the consequences of electing someone like Berlusconi/Trump to run a country. A witness to Berlusconi’s political evolution, the author depicts the way in which he tapped into public exploitation of women to boost his media empire in the 80s. When he entered politics, however, Berlusconi stepped up his game. To a point where his sexual obsessions became part-and-parcel of what it meant to make policy in Italy, a symbol of his rambunctious, corrupt “sesso e soldi” style of ruling the country. A very nice documentary, titled Berlusconi’s Women, made by an Australian TV station of all things, also deals with the objectification of female bodies in the Italian public domain in the last 30 years. You can check it yourself, but just for heads-up - there is a snippet from an obscure TV show, displaying a young woman hanging from a hook, representing a piece of ham in a meat shop, whose behind is repeatedly stamped by the macellaio. If your eyes haven’t left their sockets by then, in another scene four female journalists sitting at a table discuss the specifics of female career advancement during the Berlusconismo, including providing oral sex when needed. One of the journalists ironically exclaims (adapted) “I told my father - you taught me the wrong things...study, go to university, be brilliant.. when it fact it was so easy - why didn't you tell me to learn how to do a proper blowjob?”. This should not be happening. Like, seriously.


The (not so) strange death of clubbing in Europe

What is a common thread between Brexit and the demise of UK clubbing? The two processes oddly peaked in concert, with Britain opting out of the European Union in June 2016 and London’s Fabric closing gates in September. Both episodes were watershed events - in the first case the referendum marked a sharp turn in Britain’s geopolitical orientation, from standing ground within the European community to, well, God knows what. In the second case the permanent shutdown of one of Europe’s most renowned clubbing venues (thankfully the other one, Berlin’s Berghain, is still kicking) was the last blow to the already fading UK nightlife. According to estimates in an Economist article focusing on the phenomenon the number of clubs in Britain almost halved between 2005 and 2015, with similar trends observed in other European clubbing hotspots - Netherlands and, to a lesser extent, Berlin. Most importantly, however, both developments seem to be symptomatic of the same  issues - aging population and a growing gap between generations in terms of political and cultural preferences. 90s kids, the ones that used to sleep on the dancefloor, grew up and left the clubs, heading towards an age, where simply keeping after the acquired homes looks more tempting than rocking hard. So far so good, but new kids, generally less of a commercial force than their predecessors, simply won’t party in a club that much anymore. Leading to such absurdities as people in their 20s actually drinking less or skipping hangovers, as depicted by a Guardian article on shifting nightlife preferences in the UK. You would also not imagine what clubbing culture has been substituted for - adult sleepovers, midnight running and bingo. Yes bingo. A little fancier, but still bingo. I’d better go and sniff some neon! P.S. There is a light at the end of the tunnel - the party, this magical communion with the music and people that surround you until you vomit, is obviously moving to Eastern Europe (check out Tbilisi, Georgia), where people are wallowing into the good ol’ vibe of underground joints. At least that is what Arthur House claims in his Calvert Journal piece on the booming Eastern European underground electronic music scene.


Pirates at bay in Iceland: new dawn for party representation in Europe?

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Photo: Day Donaldson (flickr); Licence: CC BY 2.0 - From left to right: Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson, Birgitta Jonsdottir, Jón Þór Ólafsson

Iceland is a small, but eventful nation. Notwithstanding the abundant cultural influences, subject to another discussion altogether, Icelandic politics are also not entirely devoid of colour. Considered an economic miracle (the country boomed in the yearly to mid-2000s, then crumbled completely in 2008 and then it boomed again), Iceland used to share the aura of pristineness native to the Nordic states. Then the Panama Papers came in and to everybody’s surprise of all European leaders to take a place next to Putin in being directly exposed by the leak was none other than Iceland’s then Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson. Although Mr. Gunnlaugsson was also the only politician to lose his job because of the papers, the whole episode must have tipped the scale as Iceland is heading towards yet another political conundrum - the very likely victory of the national Pirate Party in the parliamentary election on saturday, October 29th. An article by Griff Witte in Washington Post sheds light over the rise to power of the party, a development described by the author as an electoral absurdity, on par with Brexit and Trump’s Republican nomination, which should not have materialised. But is this really that surprising? Actually, to draw in culture, one of the most unnerving portrayal of corrupt politics I have ever witnessed is the 2013 Icelandic movie XL. The depicted stomach-churning depravity seems to resonate well with the perceptions of Icelandic voters regarding the country’s political establishment. In that they are really not much different from people elsewhere in Europe, where populism has entered the stage on a white horse. What is different here is that Icelanders do not seem to crave radical change out of purely materialistic concerns, such as economic or security pressures, of which they seem to have less. It looks more like the decision to enthrone the Pirate Party would be a lesson in morality - uproot entirely the rotten mainstream by handing the keys to the good guys. Correspondingly, the Pirate Party is not your typical populist outfit. Instead of swastika-bearing lunatics they are a collection of “anarchists, hackers, libertarians and Web geeks”. Instead of promoting anti-liberal rhetorics the Pirate movement is promising to turn Iceland in a digital “safe haven” and introduce a genuinely new style of Internet-based decision-making, allowing citizens to vote online on everyday policies. It remains to see how all of this could be put into practice, but in the meantime the whole affair certainly feels like a new beginning.

Last modified on Monday, 07 November 2016 11:08

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