Thursday 8 October 2020 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 8/10/2020

The Monocle Minute

Image: Shutterstock

Opinion / Venetia Rainey

Golden handcuffs

The applause that followed the news that Golden Dawn was now officially considered a criminal organisation – and no longer a legitimate political party – had barely died down when the water cannon and tear gas began. Most of the 15,000 people who had gathered to protest the Greek neo-Nazi group quickly poured onto side streets. Only a few dozen remained on the wide road outside Athens’s main courthouse to throw molotov cocktails at advancing riot police. It was a sudden, violent end to a demonstration that had been going on peacefully for hours. Some suggested that it had been triggered by undercover Golden Dawn supporters seeking to undermine the protest.

The messy aftermath shouldn’t distract from the verdict itself, which surpassed the low expectations of many here. “I don’t trust the Greek system,” a young woman called Maria told me ahead of the court ruling. “I hope that they will all be found guilty on all charges but I doubt it. There have been layers of corruption in the system for years now.” Thankfully, she was wrong. Not only were Golden Dawn’s leading figures convicted of operating a criminal organisation but one member was also found guilty of the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas in 2013; convictions for other members included the attempted murder of several migrant fishermen and causing bodily harm to a group of trade unionists – a charge sheet that speaks volumes about the organisation’s ideology and tactics.

But Maria’s fears are not entirely unfounded. Last week the EU’s Rule of Law report found that, despite reforms, there are gaps in the Greek justice system’s anti-corruption efforts. More judicial change is needed. Or, as another protester told me: “They say that justice is blind but sometimes it is more [blind] than it should be here.”

Image: Getty Images

Geopolitics / Global

For Five Eyes only

Five Eyes – the world’s premier intelligence-sharing alliance, involving the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – appeared to be in the market for a new member this week after British defence minister Ben Wallace said that the UK was open to recruiting more nations. Intended to “send a message to China”, Wallace’s suggestion came after Japan’s new government expressed an interest in joining the group. Yet according to Michael Clarke, former director of think-tank Rusi, there is very little chance of this happening, regardless of what Wallace might say and the UK might want. “It will not become six or seven eyes,” he told Monocle 24’s The Briefing, emphasising that the alliance is an Anglo-Saxon-only coalition that relies on total trust of a kind that cannot be built overnight. “Politicians can order intelligence-sharing organisations to talk to each other – but they can’t make them trust each other,” says Clarke.

Image: Alamy

Society / Japan

Electronic mail

Far from the well-worn sci-fi tales of robot overlords, Japan is perhaps most likely to lead us into a future where robots and humans coexist. Yesterday in Tokyo, its post office tested for the first time a four-wheeled robot that it hopes to use to conduct deliveries as early as 2023. Developed by Tokyo-based company ZMP Inc, the electric-powered, 108cm-tall red robot successfully travelled 700 metres from a hospital to a post office in 20 minutes.

The robot was reportedly met with a warm reaction on the city’s streets; it helps that it has bright colours – it is also available in lemon yellow, blue and donkey grey – and even a friendly smile. These details are regular features in Japanese robotics. Such inventions are seen by some as essential partners in a country facing a shrinking population, more so than the sort of faceless machines that might one day replace humans in the workplace. Now that’s something to write home about.

Image: Getty Images

Migration / Italy

Open minds

Not much more than a year ago it looked as though the populist tide in Italy would continue to rise, as far-right leader Matteo Salvini was enjoying great popularity. His incendiary anti-migrant rhetoric had been put into action with a series of infamous “security” decrees that sought to prevent migrants rescued at sea disembarking from NGO ships. How things have changed in the past few months – and not only because of the pandemic. This week, Italy’s ruling left-wing coalition, which replaced the previous populist government last year, decided to abandon virtually all of Salvini’s draconian anti-migration regulations. Not only will NGO boats be allowed into Italian ports but a new emphasis has been placed on integration measures for migrants, including language and skills courses. The decree is proof that there is room for a more humanitarian approach in Europe – you just need leaders who are brave enough to take a stand.

Image: Getty Images

Fashion / China

Touch and go

The 18th edition of Shanghai Fashion Week, China’s most important biannual fashion event, kicks off today with the theme “Eternal Runway”. It’s a bold statement of resistance from China’s fashion community: Shanghai was the first industry event to go fully digital in spring and is now the first to return to physical-only shows (many others have offered a fix of physical and digital shows this year). The 13-day event features more than 90 shows for menswear, womenswear and children’s wear lines. Expect to see the latest collections from Chinese designers including Angel Chen (pictured), Ming Ma and Leaf Xia, as well as new faces. Other highlights include Uma Wang’s first collaboration with Chinese underwear brand Threegun, and a dedicated space to present the latest sustainable materials from textile experts such as Dupont, Lenzing and Tencel.

Image: Luigi Fiano

M24 / Monocle On Design

Why does Milan have a new design week?

In lieu of Salone del Mobile this year, Milan has created a new event for designers seeking inspiration and industry insight: Milano Design City. We visit the showrooms, galleries and workshops taking part.

Monocle Films / Italy

Gaja: the next generation of winemakers

Five generations after Giovanni Gaja founded his eponymous winery in the Piedmont town of Barbaresco, the family continues to produce some of Italy’s best vintages. Their uncompromising commitment to quality is helping to maintain one of the world’s finest vintners.


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