What it means when Silicon Valleys’ giants meet Donald Trump for a round table

Trump and the state

As the president-elect Donald trump is due to head the White House come the beginning of January, he prepares for his term on a set of proposed manifesto that he promised to upkeep if he were to be elected as President.

On last Wednesday’s roundtable with the Silicon Valleys’ executives, big players such as Uber, Facebook and Microsoft amongst others, sat down and discussed the prospects of these tech companies playing a major role in building an existing and sustaining U.S. economy. A large parcel of the U.S. economy has seen the emergence of tech companies: a shift of production from traditional material industries to the heavily-vested technology services companies.

The face of the U.S. economy is changing, as these tech companies now heads the global frontiers of influence, of amassing across the world. A stake that was unprecedented proved a turning point in pulling in these emerging tech companies, due to capital investments funded by the state. Now, Trump wants a share of that pie, which was only made possible by state capitalism.

The promise of reviving a devastated U.S. economy and creating new jobs, Trump and his new administration has to work with these tech companies to create a series of economic reforms through domestic and global interactions.

Another deep concern is the security of the state. Social-services companies such as Facebook and Uber are a central data collection: particulars, activities and interaction. The fight against cyber warfare, in light of the DMC hacks and relative security penetrations is crucial that big data companies participate in the process of counter-measures to prevent nuances from these circumstances.

The world that faces terrorism in daily probable basis reinforces the need for virtual and security crackdown. ISIS’s global reach was only made possible through the use of smart-phones, social media applications and coordinated communication. Twitter, for example, has curbed the radical influences of ISIS, by shutting down affiliated accounts and location traceability. However, ISIS has evolved into a deeper centric communication and the ‘whack a mole’ effect still persists, following recent attacks in Ankara and Berlin.

As Trump sets out his agenda, the connections that he has made with his Silicon Valleys’ counterparts fuels less the notion the unattainable grasp of an unpredictable neophyte. Trump’s presidential path seems clearer than before; the realization of an isolative predicament in his previous rhetoric acquaint us that statism thrives in nothing but a capitalistic democracy.


Machiavelli’s Prince: Power, states and principalities

Prudence and the Prince

A pragmatic Italian, a realist and a contemporary political philosopher, Machiavelli was a prudent advisor to the Florentine Republic. The Prince was written in a period of the Renaissance, when Europe was plunged into multitudes of warring periods between states and princes, for the struggle of power. The Prince was the ultimate strategy guidebook for conquerors, kings and princes, to deal with power, through prudent regulation of the state and its principalities.

Machiavelli touches on a fundamental aspect of a prince: principalities in its own given right (hereditary); achieved through the approval of civil and nobilities; and the level of acceptance of his ruling people that comes with it, be it existing or contemporary.

The prince has a plethora range of qualities over ruling its people, for they see deemed fit, but for a culmination of a successful principality, one has to strike a balance between his behavior and actions. He categorized these behaviors and actions into two important factors: virtu and fortuna.

Virtu is a set of human values, be it crude, good or neutral. What defines the virtu of a prince, also determines the relationship between his people and the ability and trust they beholden in him. Fortuna refers to luck or fortune, as what a certain series of events may bring damage or advantage to his ability to govern his state. In a broader sense of the word, the prince must seize upon any fortuna, or opportunities to benefit his rule over his people.

The relative sense of governance may differ if a prince holds benevolence or fear in his subjects and people, as to one defines his virtu. But as time progresses, he must change his view of governance; for a strict or lenient, fear or love, that either of which encompasses each other, for the former or latter is evidently present supporting the lesser at the same time but only proceed with his actions with prudence.

Machiavelli points out a salient view, that governance is better managed through fear, while sustaining a better relationship between his subjects and people, through free will and liberty.

Diplomacy in prudence is as imperative as the formation of arms. The arms of a state act as a shield of deterrence, to protect its own sovereignty through non-intervention but also gives rise to the opportunity of conquering other states.

First and foremost, the legitimacy of the people has to be considered, for the notion of building its arms based on the polity is non-negotiable to second rate auxiliaries, mercenaries and outsiders. Machiavelli condemns the loyalty and trust of these second raters that they have self-internal interests and will not fight to their hearts’ content for the sake of the state.

The success of the prince’s principalities bodes down on his prudence, in practical and realistic views that Machiavelli subscribes, and will only thrive on these instances when his subjects and people hold accountable to him.

Rogue One: Fear and interest

A liberal war waged against the Empire

Not far from the setting of a rebirth following the abolishment of the Republic, the rise of the Empire was on the horizon. The insatiable stability of the galaxy was an inch away from prudence, the tool to suppress the unnecessary warfare that emerged from intra-planetary context of Empire rule, which cemented the importance of Weapons of Mass Destruction: the Death Star.

The Rebellion and the Empire: the dichotomies of liberalism and realism are in a constant conflict in terms of the rhetoric and actions. An advocate for freedom and the release of the oppressed: the Rebellion seeks to fight against the tyranny of the Empire.

The struggle between the good and evil was portrayed in Rogue One, pertaining to the brilliance of Gareth Edwards and the fantastic cast crew of diverse proportions. A quaint introduction to the eventual sequences that led to “A New Hope”, of gaining a solid ground that propels the story as it is, by integrating both prevalent and contemporary characters into an aesthetic yet plenary film.

The incredible destructive ability of the Death Star was a major threat to the norms, rules and practices of the inter-galactic society. To the Rebels, the fear of the inevitable shift of power, posed a challenge to their existence. As such the reinforced continuity of the relentless rule of the Empire came under scrutiny, which was met by the Rebellion’s retaliation: the plan to destroy the Death Star. The film revolves around the culmination of the Death Star, in all its destructive glory, a flawed implication resides.

As the story progresses, dissidents, spies, revolutionaries and pacifists join forces in an espionage mission to steal the constructive plans of the Death Star. They held a common interest; hope, the hope of liberation; where rebellions are built on hope. A remarkable feat of achieving the impossible, fielding a faction of ordinary people with no relations to the ‘force’, in broader sense of the word, Rogue One is as realistic as a Star Wars movie can get.

For a solidity breakaway from the conventional Star Wars timeline, the film has done itself justice while retaining the elements of the classic struggle of interests, in a most realistic perspective. It further fuels the notion of the liberal stance of the Rebellion, a plethora yet subtle render of the different characters presented by the diversity of actors and actresses in the film.

Italian’s constitutional referendum

Renzi’s failure and the rise of populism

In the future demise of Italy’s economy and social structure, the people of Italy see the need for change. Matteo Renzi’s call for a constitutional reform on the shift of power to the Italian government, as well as the Italian constitution overtly signal the dismay of Renzi’s democratic party for legislative change. The decision of rejecting the constitutional law, by an inadequate qualified majority of two-thirds of the parliament – hence a proposal bill was drafted to allow a constitutional referendum to be brought upon the people to make the decision for change.

The Parliament of Italy is a bicameral legislature: consisting of two upper and lower houses; Senate of the Italian Republic and the Chamber of Deputies. Constitutional law must be passed through the approval of these two houses, through an endless medium of navetta parlamentare that in same texts; executive power lies on the prime ministers and his cabinet of ministers which government must have the confidence of both houses in order to proceed with the executive order.

The bill for the constitutional referendum was passed by a two round system, which was approved by the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies simultaneously, to be held on 4th December 2016.

The significant shift of legislative power in the Senate, of decreasing the number of seats of 315 to 95, was one of the key points of constitutional reform. From several regional constituencies holding autonomy of governance in public services and cultural riches, to a deflated legislative power in the parliament, Renzi’s centralised approach in state governance begs the question of the importance in regulation. In these two elements of authority and centralisation, the notion of pragmatic decisions to constitute economic reforms can only be applied through lesser numbers of legislative power and impended bureaucracy.

By increasing authority to a centralised government, the people who are in these regional constituencies may feel that their political priorities may be misrepresented; and only through these archaic bureaucracies that their preferences be represented.

Ever since his appointment as the Italian Prime Minister, his economic reforms have been lacklustre. Italy’s GDP increase of 2% was lower than euro-zone of 4%, and unemployment rate has been at a relative high percentage since. The confidence of his people has waned as economic hurdles was not fulfilled through his three and a half years of legislature: reforms were taken place, if future reforms were to be categorised in these half standards, what can be assured of Italy’s future?

The majority of the people of giving the go for the ‘no’ campaign at 59.11%, has their doubts on putting their faiths on a constitutional reform, bogged by preceding unsuccessful political reforms.

Leftist parties such as Five Star Movement (M5S), being one of the main protagonists in the populist movement, which is headed by Beppe Grillo. A charismatic and popular comedian, not shy of expressing his oratory skills in an overtly manner: he represents the unopposed faction of the public; the liberals and the conservatives.

Much can be related to Donald Trump; the populist wave in U.S., of which both do not have a clear ideology which constitute their campaign. The party is not aligned to any structural forms in the left and right spectrum, and for its purpose has a similar rhetoric when compared to other populist waves in the West: anti-establishment and anti-globalist.

This rhetoric of opposing the establishment and the rise of an expanding threat to globalisation and free trade indicates the fall of neo-liberalism and the need for economic intervention. The rising economic inequality is brought upon by the ‘invisible hand’, to a point where it has become stagnant. Despite the global confidence of the European currency, staying in the euro-zone and the vindication of marginalised economic reforms, recalls the reminiscence of the 2010-2013 economic downturn.

The elites have had their throw of the dice on the monumental risks that they had ride upon, and the people had endured enough. They are not competing against each other for the benefit of democracy; the rhetoric is different, they are joining forces in arms: the causal relation to the big bang of populist waves.

Duterte’s grip on Philippines drug ordeal

Philippines’ Sovereignty  

Days have passed, killings have occurred, night foretold. It has been months since the election of Rodrigo Duterte as Philippines’ President. His relentless and brutal anti-drug campaign, one of his key tasks as commander-in-chief, is to eradicate one of the states’ disastrous sufferings that have plagued the population within his term. Drug dealers, users and those who are affiliated with the devil’s advocate are to be prosecuted by the law enforcers, and he also stretched out his hands to the public for assistance, of enforcing a ‘shoot to kill’ policy to bring these infidels to justice.

Questions were raised about his government’s tactics, of neglecting the innocent lives that were caught between the crossfires of the good and evil. The United Nations has condemned his actions of not going through a process of a fair trial, but instead perpetuating the endless slaughter of human lives. The complete disregard for international law, fuels Philippines’s solidarity and most importantly the notion of keeping its own security within its borders; the desperate call for respect for his country’s sovereignty.

Not afraid of using explicit content, the charming character that he is, in press conferences he continuously reassures the sovereignty of Philippines. The idea of the state should not be subjected to any foreign power, and he has the supreme authority within its territorial jurisdiction. His adamant rhetoric on foreign powers to ‘mind their own business’, and his assumptions on past vindications of colonial powers, does not justify their actions on what is an internal conflict rather than a security issue.

“Forget the laws on human rights. If I make it to the presidential palace, I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, hold-up men and do-nothings, you better go out. Because I’d kill you”, Rodrigo Duterte.

International actors such as the UN and amongst countries, the United States, condemn the actions of Duterte, of carrying out extrajudicial killings. The view of Philippines’ security comes under the careless noose of jurisdiction, is compromised. Despite unanimous pressure from members of international society, his actions come under scant domestic scrutiny.

His centralized rule over its sovereignty is branched out through layers of bureaucracies, which he holds complete trust to his law enforcers, while maintaining a firm support from his multi-party system government. He has the support of his people, of polls showing 84% of Filippinos who stand by him in his anti-drug campaign.

Why has it been so successful? The salient issue of the drug epidemic has lingered for decades: the presence of poverty and culmination of economic downturn. The faith that the people of Philippines entrust on the shoulders of the charismatic figure of Duterte, as a legitimate confrontation against drug abusers, comes with his unique ability to build a relationship with his citizens and subjects.

His immense contradictory stance of humanitarian intervention, of disregarding the international law and the outcries of human rights groups, that his affairs will be reinforced with an iron will. His shift of political correctness, by aligning to Russia and China, bows out Philippines’s close allegiance to U.S.A.; the former binaries of which support the anti-drug war, the optimal solution to an abrupt end.

Martin Scorsese and his latest film: Silence

A mission to the land of secular Japan

Martin Scorsese’s 26 year film in the making, which featured in the Cannes Festival in November, is set to be released in the global cinemas on 23rd December. The premise of the story: two Portuguese Jesuit priests are set on a mission to feudal Japan, to procure a lost mandate, but as they progress in their pursuit, they face prosecution under the demise of their capturers.

It bows a familiar cast: Ra’s Al-Gul, the Amazing Spiderman and Kylo Ren. Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver are one of the rising stars in Hollywood; fresh from their break-through films that instated them as the pretext of the natures of these two missionaries. The stranded outcast is played by Liam Neeson, much pertained as the veteran priest who committed apostasy and is seen as a defected agnostic rogue.

As a fan of Scorsese’s film, this is one exception that particularly lifts the lid of insatiability.

“The very nature of secularism right now is really fascinating to me, but at the same time do you wipe away what could be more enriching in your life, which is an appreciation or some sort of search for that which is spiritual and transcends?”, Martin Scorsese.

We have seen his classic films like “Raging Bull” and “Taxi Driver”, and his more recent work of “Hugo” are seen as the realistic forms of adaptations in the history of cinema. The interesting account to point out is that Scorsese’s inference on the topic of secularism has a profound complex that governs the world that we see today.

The catch of the story has the vantage of telling the conflicting interests of secularism and religion. The context of spreading religious belief in feudal Japan through these missionaries is seen from two interest groups; the people and the secular governance. The people, who seek religion for salvation and acceptance, see as an escape from the harsh realities of an impoverished society. From the secularism of the feudal hierarchy, it sees religion as a provocation to power; undermining its importance and security in governance.

The hope of uniting a world in the benign expense of religion is a notion that Scorsese is trying to portray, but is met with obstacles of the rhetoric of secularism; the imbedded belief of a philosophy over a religious prince. The use of the word silence perfectly depicts the motion of a secular party’s interest, and it is to silence the preachers of God.

Scorsese’s daring acclimation to the subject of secularism, in hindsight, has a speckle of debate in the context of the film. An almost altruistic approach set in the lives of these two priests against the repugnant secular governance. The secular realists or the benign men of God?

How do we contextualise different forms of language?

In logical rules and structures

The field of linguistics touches on a fundamental order that recites through the different types of languages. In its perceptions of faceted versions of vocabularies and features in multiple languages, the rule and order remain intact. This rule and order is defined as syntax; a system which constructs a sentence structure based on a set of rules, principles and processes.

We are conformed to the languages that allow us to communicate through these complex systems, and using that ability which is primitive that dates back to the practice of ancient scrolls and the present conuiform; much like how we figure out a maths problem using a calculative system.

The basic form of contextualisation of the language syntax is the sequence of the subject (S), verb (V) and object (O). It features in a sentence structure of many sequences based on the language. For example, in both English and Chinese; “I love you” and “我爱你” of which both has the sequence of SVO. In Japanese, “わたしは、あなたを愛しています”, takes the sequence of SOV.

 The pioneer of modern linguistics is Noam Chomsky; a prominent linguist and a political activist. We heard of the famous sentence “Colourless green ideas sleep furiously”, of which it fits precisely in the form of a syntax. His work “Syntactic Structures” focuses on the aspects of sentence structures, and multiple theories which begin from the study of grammar and the parts of a sentence.

The study of (I-) language refers to the original language of a native community. Cognitive process originates from the native speaker and it branches out to (E-) language with references from (I-) language. Picture this: a person who communicates in a native language, and in order to learn and speak another language, one has the ability to reference from the native grammar and sentence structures in order to learn and speak it.

The biolinguistic perspective regards the language faculty as an “organ of the body,” along with other cognitive systems. Adopting it, we expect to find three factors that interact to determine (I-) languages attained: genetic endowment (the topic of Universal Grammar), experience, and principles that are language- or even organism-independent.

Chomsky describes that the aspects and the processes of a language is innate to the human mind. The cognitive processes that govern the native (I-) language is through the interactions of three factors: Universal Grammar, experience, and the principles of a language. What he means is that the human mind has the inborn ability to learn a language; through experiences such as reading and speaking; on the principles of language syntax.

The usage of syntax is adapted to the implementation of grammar: by adapting to this concept, learning a foreign language is fairly simple, but harnessing the ability to write and speak requires an immense amount of process and time.

However, the human mind has its limits and capacity. The ability to learn multiple languages and to master them is down to a few handful of polyglots, and the dross of us the multilinguals and bilinguals.