Wednesday. 4/9/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Melkon Charchoglyan

Watch and learn

This Sunday the Design Museum Den Bosch, in the Dutch city of ’s-Hertogenbosch, will open a retrospective of Nazi design to mark the 75th anniversary of the city’s liberation. It will come as no surprise that the museum is facing calls for the exhibition to be cancelled. The charge: reverence for a subject that should be buried.

We should always sympathise with such grievances but the museum’s critics are leaping to a conclusion. Does watching Schindler’s List mean that you revere the Third Reich? On the contrary, it’s a question of education and remembrance. In that vein, Den Bosch aims to demonstrate the dangerously powerful tool that design became under the Nazi regime – not to promote the subject matter. It’ll do this by showing everything from the likes of conscription posters, architectural sketches, furniture from the Reich Chancellery and even the original Volkswagen Beetle.

Wilful ignorance comes at our peril, whether today or 80 years ago. Design, like politics, continues to be deployed to dupe the public: just think of the arrow-shaped Brexit party logo, subconsciously inviting the voter’s tick on the ballot paper. It’s imperative that we learn from the past to discern the same trickery in the present – and that simply can’t happen if we shut down every sensitive discussion.

Politics / Italy

Fairweather friends

Who would have thought in 2013, when the Five Star Movement (M5S) first got into the Italian parliament – or even a year ago, when the short-lived Lega-5 Stars coalition was born – that the supporters of this populist party would approve a coalition with its archenemy? Yesterday the M5S membership gave its blessing, via a vote on online platform Rousseau, for its leaders to form a government with the Democratic party. By agreeing a shared policy programme and avoiding a snap election, the new coalition has passed an important test. But there are more obstacles to overcome: parliament will now vote on the new executive. The delicate new coalition could well fall at the last hurdle.

Diplomacy / Iran

Chain reaction

The stand-off between Iran and the West has become further complicated by Tehran’s announcement yesterday that it could reach 20 per cent enriched uranium with just a day or two of work. That’s effectively a threat to stockpile the material needed for nuclear weapons. Ninety per cent is the enrichment point necessary to achieve a nuclear bomb but by 20 per cent, much of the work is already done (by comparison, under the 2015 anti-proliferation treaty, Iran was limited to 3.67 per cent). President Hassan Rouhani said that his country will not desist until the US lifts the sanctions it reimposed last year – unless European leaders provide an economic package to alleviate Trump’s measures. With the two countries at loggerheads it’s up the international community to mediate.

Tax / Japan

Heavy duty

Japan’s retailers and restaurateurs are bracing themselves for 1 October when a rise in consumption tax (Japan’s sales tax) comes into force. The decision has provoked the ire of business owners and customers alike and there are valid criticisms. It’s confusing: goods will be grouped into a two-tier system that seems to arbitrarily introduce higher taxes on some things but not others. It also could be bad for growth: the last rise of this kind, in 2014, was followed by a sudden drop in GDP. To ease the fear among small and medium-sized businesses that consumers will be frightened away by the increase, the government is subsiding a 5 per cent refund for anyone using cashless payments.

Urbanism / Australia

Paint the town red

Australia is said to be home to some of the world’s most liveable cities but in recent years urban environments down under have seen populations expand and property prices soar. Enter the Festival of Urbanism. The summit, which is co-hosted by Sydney and Melbourne, is engaging architects across the nation to respond to these challenges. Under the banner “Cities, housing and health”, events will focus on improving both central business districts and Australia’s famously sprawling suburbs, where chronic disease hits isolated populations. It’s meaty stuff but there’ll be some lighter moments too: a historic pub-crawl-cum-orienteering event in downtown Melbourne is sure to inspire some pride in the city’s superb hospitality.

M24 / The Menu: Food Neighbourhoods

Paris, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis

Monocle 24’s Charlie Filmer-Court takes us on a culinary tour of a street that has long been adored by Parisians.

Monocle Films / Lisbon

Lisbon: The Monocle Travel Guide

Lisbon may be one of Europe’s oldest cities but it’s far from staid, with massive murals, azulejo-covered townhouses and cutting-edge museums. Allow us to guide you through this eminently liveable (did we mention there are sandy beaches?) and fast-changing city. Published by Gestalten, The Monocle Travel Guide to Lisbon is available now at The Monocle Shop.

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