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With the implementation of the GDPR and the Facebook data leaks it shows the need to constantly revisit how we think about privacy. But how far can we go to ensure our privacy is safeguarded without decreasing our safety. Security is a value that is quite common in the classical political philosophy mostly tied to the social contract. It is humankind that gives up certain freedoms, including privacy, to the state so that their safety is ensured and they are able to live in peace. However, with the rise of technology we are often more aware of ways our privacy is violated, but if you have got nothing to hide, you have got nothing to fear?


One of the difficult aspects when talking about privacy is how one can define it. A common misconception is to relate privacy to secrecy, this is also the fallacy of the nothing to hide argument. Privacy is not merely to hide your secrets, it encompasses numerous amount of situations. A great example is the protection against stalkers, when someone is following you and monitoring your movement every day that is a clear violation of your privacy. A second example is when other parties can have free access to your past events it can cause you to miss out on opportunities or be treated unfavourably over peers. These two examples are exactly what is at stake in our current digital age. Companies sharing your information to a third party without your consent is a obvious cause that can have the above mentioned repercussions.

The advancement of the Internet of Things privacy becomes even more of a challenge to maintain. Coffee companies would without doubt pay a heavy fee for example to know how customers have synced their coffee machines to their alarm clock to make marketing even more effective. Habits and attitudes have always been key in marketing strategy, but information in the wrong hands can influence not only what advertisements you are shown, but also who to target in elections.

Privacy and Security shall always have to be perfectly balanced and based upon public opinion. While there does not seem to be a big problem with tech giants knowing your interests, you should always have a right to know what personal information companies have acquired from you and how it is being used. Transparency should be the key. Giving consent for uncertain data handling is a bad practice. However, these days it is so hard not to just select 'accept cookies' since else browsing some websites becomes much more of an issue.

Awareness should always be key in the privacy and security debate. People often do not realise or are bothered with what personal information is being passed around from them. But the dystopian scenarios with personal score/ratings seems to become much more likely.

Christianity has been the bedrock of our European society for centuries, it was the glue that hold everything after the fall of the Eastern Roman empire together. Christianity also provided us with a common identity. The values we gained are still reflected in many constitutional laws of European Member states. But with the decreasing of the number of people that identify as religious, what importance can Christianity still have in modern day politics besides raising questions?
On April 9 Macron gave a speech to the French Bishops trying to appease the Catholics and addressing his view and the role that religion should play. Macron called for Catholics to get involved in politics and highlighted in this speech the various topics of the French Church’s concerns such as immigration, bioethics and religious tensions. The final verdict of his speech is that: “He wants an open Catholicism, that is to say a Catholicism that “raises questions” rather than one that sets red lines and gives lessons. “

I think this is a very noble approach, while Christianity can often portray a heavy dose of narrowism, its importance cannot be overlooked. All religions give a sense of belonging or at least an identity, which is often lacking in our progress driven society. If the individual is always centred, how can you find meaning other than in yourself?

A true virtuous society for me should be one that shares belief in objective moral goods and practices necessary for human beings to embody goods in community. The sharing is precisely what I want to differentiate here. Our current idealistic liberal approach can never bear any fruits of a real sense of belonging cause it stands polar to the community life.

Christianity perhaps could be here the guiding hand whether you are a deist or not. It’s focus on thy neighbour and in general those close around you are rather refreshing.

The big paradox then comes of how to infuse a community into the globalising political environment. Globalisation and communitarianism are often portrayed as a false dichotomy in which it is not correct that only one of the option must be chosen and that there are no alternatives.

Christianity can show to be the exemplar of the good community life. To go against issues such as abortion and same sex marriage will undoubtedly cause religion to be more popular than it already is. Rather it should shift its focus on policies that directly aid neighbourhoods by inspiring a sense of belonging therein and pointing to our past which we all share.

It is a Church from which I do not expect lessons, but rather this wisdom of humility,” Cameron concluded, “because we can only have one common horizon and seek every day to do our best to accept the inescapable lack of tranquility that follows our actions.

Democracy has been heavily challenged over the course of history and has found its place in the bedrock of our western ideals. In the various media outlets I have encountered articles stating that so and so leader is damaging the democracy of the nation, or that acts implemented are of authoritarian nature. To be undemocratic is framed one of the biggest crimes of humankind. But as many political philosophers have already pointed out is democracy as a political structure only the least worse of all available options. However, this raises several questions to me. Is there nothing else past democracy that can structure and rule our liberal society? And is democracy not simply past its best time? Is a new political structure, just like creating a new colour, simply unthinkable?


In the graph below you can see what would happen if all the US voters who abstained from voting were counted towards the electoral race anyway. A landslide victory of 445 electoral seats. This quite surprises me, as it is hard to fathom why it is that society, is just not that interested anymore in participating in the governance of their country. Or maybe it is merely that indeed democracy has lost its peak.

[graph] by Philip Kearney

The most famous writer on post-democracy is Collin Crouch who divides the democratic life span in stages These stages are formed in a parabola, where there is build-up, a peak of democracy and decline. The Post-democratic stage is in the decline era, which we now find ourselves in.

"A post-democratic society is one that continues to have and to use all the institutions of democracy, but in which they increasingly become a formal shell. The energy and innovative drive pass away from the democratic arena and into small circles of a politico-economic elite."

Besides for individual countries this can also be said for the EU in its entirety. Habermas for instance states that the because of the rising power of the European council and the undemocratic institutions such as the ECB and the IMF.

To see post-democracy as a stage of democracy itself is one way of defining it, another direction is to view it as something that comes after democracy. For the sake of length, we keep it within the Western concept. Another interesting figure who writes from this direction is Václav Havel, most known for his book The power of the Powerless. He states that the parliamentary democratic ideal is not the only option available to us. A post democratic society:

“Above all, any existential revolution should provide hope of a moral reconstitution of society, which means a radical renewal of the relationship of human beings to what I have called the ‘human order’, which no political order can replace.” A new experience of being, a renewed rootedness in the universe, a newly grasped sense of ‘higher responsibility’, a new-found inner relationship to other people and to the human community – these factors clearly indicate the direction in which we must go. -p.283

This is an interesting yet utopian approach. Can society really transcend political structures? It is hard to envision a harmony so pure all 7 sins have been eradicated from our behaviour. In such a situation it only takes one little lie to upset the balance. If we could bio engineer humans to remove any bad traits, perhaps then we can start seeing beyond governance.

My best bet still would be that this is only possible through technology. When we have reached a form of singularity, political entities will become obsolete. If all beings are one, why do you need an external force to govern itself?

Many political philosophers talk about the cycle of political structures, how from a monarchy or authoritarian model a democratic one can be moulded, and in turn also how democracies deteriorate.

Machiavelli as one of, if not the most famous political philosopher stated several tell-tale signs on when democracy declines. The first is a democracy that is based on heavy partisanship, not one that it is organised in political parties, rather that there is a strong divide into two groups who see each other as rivals and have complete opposite ideologies. It takes no further explanation that this is the case if you look at the social democratic vs the populist parties or Brexit remain or leave vote.
The second marker is an increase in inequality between the rich and the poor. The crisis of 2012 hit everyone equally, but the OECD reported that the household growth of disposable income has not yet recovered from the crisis, most notably for those in the lower incomes. Especially in the PIIGS countries the recovery rate when compared bottom 10% to top 10% differs a lot.

The final, and most important key event for a Machiavelli’s reasons for democracy’s decline is the eradication of the rule of law. The EU’s response to crises have always been problematic due to the cracks in the foundation caused by the reliance on the Monnet method. Normally new integration should create future and so on but the response to the EU crisis did not cause new economic centralisation. Due to the enormous pressure to full the functional gap between a single supranational currency and economic policies that was still intergovernmental the EU decided to go outside the constitutional framework to create an emergency credit facilitator. And put other important decision on the ECB’s shoulder which are immune to democratic accountability.

“European authoritarianism - such as the above-mentioned example - creates incentives for popular anti-system opposition and provides political opportunities for populist leaders, which meaningfully enhance the prospects of an anti-liberal, anti-European backlash.” – Christian Kreuder-Sonnen
If a legal polity does not conform to its own rule of law, it will only result in more future authoritarian behaviour. This can only result into a growing support towards protectionist parties. The populism cannot be entirely explained by this phenomenon, many more country specific factors can be pointed to as causation. Nevertheless Kreuder-Sonnen stresses that it does create extreme incentives for populist anti-system support.
With the immigration crisis no new authoritarian measures where created but the inaction strategy has failed equally, since the EU should have been the ones that could have at least attempted a proper solution rather than rely on the entrance country policies.
Next crises will be, without doubt, the deal breaker for the European community and the trajectory towards nation state importance cannot be reversed. It is a shame that there is no real integration strategy besides options mentioned in the whitepaper by the commission. How can any political entity create support if the future political structure is uncertain? Even a disintegration approach could be something worth mentioning if it all member states can find an unanimity agreement.
Maybe all democracies do have an expiration date as a lot of political philosophers prophesised, and the western liberal version has been long over-due. The return of the nation state does paint a sombre picture, for it will remove the EU as a top economic player. Especially as someone from the Netherlands we could have always relied on our membership to the EU to get a seat at the table, but that will surely all but be guaranteed if more member states will follow Italy’s footsteps.
I must say though not all is as dark as the previous paragraphs fear, if no new major crises develop, perhaps political stability can be ensured and the appeal for protectionist parties will lessen. These are just concerns that are apparent to me in the current discourse, but at least until the new EU election in 2019 I do not think we will found ourselves back on the path towards rapid integration or federalism.

Kreuder-Sonnen, C. (2018). An authoritarian turn in Europe and European Studies? Journal of European Public Policy, 25(3), 452-464
https://www.oecd.org/els/soc/cope-divide-europe-2017-background-report.pdf

David Goodheart’s take on postliberalism, tries to explain and solve the shortcomings of earlier liberalism forms. It is not a new political movement or mandate, rather it takes the shape of an ideology, one to guide political dialogue that accepts that people are both selfish and altruistic. 
Goodheart argues; “that the social liberalism of the 60s and economic liberalism of the 80s ignored the importance of belonging and institutions like family, local community and nation.” 
Post liberalism takes ideas from both the left and the right to form one cohesive strategy to solve economic and social challenges of today without leaving anyone behind. But it also reintroduces lost ideas and foundations such as that of the common life, mutuality, vocation, the dignity of labour and the idea that everyone has a contribution to make.

In my previous post I already tried to highlight the importance of values in a community, however, I think that Goodheart’s work explains this topic more in a pragmatic way that can be easier translated into political debate and new policy. 
Postliberalism accepts that there is a dilemma for progressives in that they want a lot of solidarity on the one hand but also diversity. In reality these two values are contrary, how can you expect solidarity –equality in wealth, equal opportunities and a social welfare system – when you also must have diversity – equal respect for people that have different lives, values and goals.
The goal of postliberalism is to have a realistic form of liberalism, one that accepts families and communities always take priority over the foreign. Setting down a definition of what the nation is, and the community within it. This definition needs to be open enough to include the influx of new people with different backgrounds and places of birth, but not so open that it loses meaning.
It does not take the erosion of historic identity as a catalyst for future damnation, but there should be a desire to preserve the good things about the past and transform these into modern concepts.
When you would apply this theory to immigration it explains that large-scale immigrations are not only about economics but also about less definite things like identity, social contract and mutual obligation. David Goodheart, just like Murray, highlights the dominate liberal universalist voice in the current political that ignores the importance of place and people. Right-populist parties deceivingly stress these absent principles, but with the wrong solutions.
Therefor postliberalism, I believe, could really be the new wave that; “is not afraid to attack the status quo in the name of conservatism; not a nostalgia of the past but a desire to preserve what was best about it, in new forms if necessary.”- David Goodheart.

David Goodheart - A Postliberal future