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To give my self more perspective on the current fake-news phenomena I will take a closer look at not the culprits thereof, but rather why it is more prominent over quality news. What draws people to news and articles that contain speculative, opinionated, or straight op false information? Why is the current news output cluttered with so much non-issue? And can anything be done against it that does not restrict the freedom of speech? These questions I think need answering to find the root of the problem.

We have all visited sites that are partisan and show a clear echo chamber and framing to support a single ideology. The articles highlighting the faults in the opponents are numerous and each a valid reason to cause worry or instill irritation.

As example; so many of those late-night talk shows repeat the same unnecessary Trump bashing sketches that it gets almost infuriating to watch. I, by no means, support the methods and policies of the current US president, but ridiculing him over and over must not sit well with his supporters. But that let me wonder as to why it is so popular. How is it possible that these shows with endless taunting and mockery of the same person scores high, regardless of the position he holds?


The number one reason I think what makes this such a success is that outrage sells. Getting people riled up is an effective method to go viral and thus receive more viewers. This strategy is somewhat portrayed in the 1984 book by George Orwell, where the citizens have their anger fuelled by daily videos of the number one enemy of the state. A video from CGP Grey describes the psychological reason behind this in quite a simple matter. Anger is the dominating emotion when it comes to how likely it is for you the share the impulse. On top of that, the more often it is shared the more aggravating these impulses become.

Anger impulses also polarizes the current topic at hand, when portrayed with a message that instil vexation you are more likely to create an us against them illusion in comparison when encountering positive content. A cute cat picture won’t make you despise cute dog pictures, but on topics such as, something complex as the current ‘trade war’ you are more tempted to take one of the two sides; in favour or against.

This conclusion is not some ground breaking new research, it has been and is used by marketing firms since its invention. The prominence of it in news however, seems to be on the rise. In the past there used to be a much clearer line as to what was factual informative news, and what was content to be enjoyed reading for its lack of objectivity. News now is diluted with so much non-issue that it can only increase that apathy we have towards it. Once we reach a point where everything becomes the most important thing, nothing will be important anymore.

The only positive note so far I find is that due to being aware of the abundance of non-issue and dishonest information we tend to be more critical to what we read, hear and see.

Inspired by the recent SpaceX launches I think a closer look is warranted at the laws governing outer space. Space policy or space law is governed by a treaty under the United Nations, its principles govern the activities of states in explorations and use of outer space. However, the treaty is deliberatively unclear and narrow. Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) are prohibited but any other form of weaponisation are not included in the treaty.

To supplement the Outer space treaty of the UN several multilateral initiatives were taken but ultimately did not gain enough support to be formalised. China, in partnership with Russia, put forward a treaty called The Treaty on the prevention of weaponisation of outer space, and the EU in similar fashion attempted to create a Code of conduct for outer space activities. The deadlock of these treaties can be explained due the very nature of the policy field. Only a very limited number of states have the capability for spacefaring, and those that have the means differ in interpreting the outer space treaty. No one wants to upset the current balance and satisfactory yet limited treaty.

It is no surprise then that states are turning to national law for space law creation. There is an evident need for a regulatory framework that states are now filling with a patch work of national law. A model (ILA model) has been created on the formulation of said laws, however upon examination it is merely a template for national regulation.
States adopt regulations that fit their need and are based on their interpretation of the outer space treaty. These new laws will become the basis for future international arrangements simply due to the fact of leading by example. In this scenario however, how then will the interests of the states that do not have space access capabilities be guaranteed? To state that subsequent domestic laws replace the OST is not a given, the US for instance, has shown to include the OST in its new laws to merely be subsidiary to the original treaty. But even if there is no intent to be malicious in the creation of national space law, the domain of space policy will be influenced, and non-spacefaring must be wary.
Ensuring non-spacefaring countries having a presence in the creation of space law is the ethical thing to do, but a case can be made whether it is rational. Countries that have invested a lot of capital in the creation of their space program should not be limited by those that do not. A balance of the scope of the international framework is therefor of utmost importance, and also the reason that it should stem from an international body. The more traction the privatised space market gets, the higher the need for a proper binding international space legal framework.

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

In a recent LSE article in response to the recent Italian elections James Newell wrote that;

“The right’s success in exploiting immigration as an issue was revealed by the results of a poll carried out by the private research institute, Tecnè, in early February.”

This sets a very interesting frame, that apparently having an anti-immigration mandate is exploiting the issue in favour of more political support. There is apparently a very small margin in which you can discuss the issues of immigration and integration, anything too critical is deemed exploiting and unethical. Solidarity, human rights, and acceptance are at the core of the European Union and when related to the immigration crisis it is only natural that as exemplar the EU should be host to those that are in aid. But being blindsided by the long-term consequences is becoming more apparent and calling cultural conservatives racists helps neither.


After reading Murray’s book on the strange death of Europe, I come to realize how much of an issue it is to debate about the consequences of immigration, since people even take offence at the word crisis these days. Murray highlights numerous examples of politicians, professors, and writers who had warned about it had either been ignored, defamed, dismissed, prosecuted or killed. Rarely, if ever, even after the facts changed, did the actual victims receive much sympathy.

Immigration itself has many repercussions for the host country, from decreasing wages in the lower labour market, housing shortages and the extra burden on the education system. All of these may be serious questions that need proper management but not impossible. An often-skipped burden is also that of integration. As a liberal society who are we to tell immigrants to adapt to our lifestyle. Traditionalist populist parties often argue for more integration since when in Rome, do as the Roman’s do. But what if those recently arrived do not adjust to the same values we live by?

It is exactly this question the social democratic parties are too afraid to try to answer, and instead, strange analogies are made to compare the current immigrant crisis to that during the second world war. Isn’t it the strangest thing that it is the liberal societies that go quiet on bigotry if it comes from a community of immigrants.

Murray; - “No one had prepared for the possibility that those arriving might not only not become integrated but might bring many social and religious views with them, and that other minorities might be the first victims of such lack of foresight.”

And it is for this reasons that we as Europeans do need not shy away from what values we treasure and expect being upheld by all residents. A big melting pot is just, for now, an unreachable utopia, and if the social democrats do not want to join the debate on this topic, Italy sadly won’t be the last country to have an EU-sceptic anti-immigration government.