Monday. 9/5/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Alamy

Opinion 01 / Carlota Rebelo

Union dues

For as long as I can remember, being European has been a part of my Portuguese identity. After our turbulent dictatorship years, perhaps growing up in a peaceful and democratic Portugal – an EU member throughout my life – had something to do with it. It took moving to the UK, nearly a decade ago now and long before Brexit, for me to realise that not everyone born in Europe actually feels European.

Don’t get me wrong: the EU has its flaws and is far from perfect. But it feels poignant on this year’s Europe Day, in particular, to remember all the things that we have to be grateful for. I, for one, can’t really imagine my life without the EU. It has allowed me to grow up and live across a continent where – until February this year – war between European nations had been the stuff of history books. It showed me a world without borders, where people and goods could travel freely. It opened the doors to more than 4,000 universities and funded my Erasmus year in Florence. It gave me one of my first jobs at the European Parliament in Brussels. And it allowed me to move seamlessly to the UK, a process that is no longer quite so simple.

I’ve never really celebrated Europe Day. It’s strange to mark a day that commemorates “peace and unity” when it’s all that you have known. But Russia’s desire to use this day to herald a much darker victory in its war in Ukraine shows us why we should never take peace for granted – and reminds us how lucky we really are.

Image: Getty Images

Opinion 02 / Richard Heydarian

At the crossroads

Asia’s oldest democracy votes today in the most consequential election in contemporary Philippine history. Outgoing populist president Rodrigo Duterte has left the country’s liberal-democratic institutions in tatters: critics have been jailed, major media outlets have been shut down and thousands have perished in a violent drug war. On the foreign policy front, Duterte has repeatedly threatened to nix the country’s century-old alliance with the US in favour of warmer ties with China and Russia.

But Duterte lacked the wherewithal or discipline to push his authoritarian project to its logical conclusion. Repeated efforts to perpetuate himself in power failed to gain traction. The latest surveys now show that Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr (pictured), who is broadly supportive of the incumbent’s policies, is the favourite to become the next Philippine president. But leading opposition candidate and current vice-president Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, who beat the ex-dictator’s son in the 2016 elections, remains optimistic that she can once again pull off an electoral upset, boosted by some high-profile 11th-hour endorsements and nationwide “house-to-house” campaigns by an army of dedicated volunteers.

In contrast to Marcos, Robredo is an advocate of human rights and civil liberties, backs warmer ties with fellow democracies and believes in responsible macroeconomic policies. What is at stake, then, is no less than the soul of Philippine democracy – and the direction of the country’s domestic and foreign policy for generations to come.

Richard Heydarian is a Manila-based academic, columnist and author of “The Rise of Duterte: A Populist Revolt Against Elite Democracy”. Hear more from him on tomorrow’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Shutterstock

Diplomacy / Canada & Ukraine

State visit

Several high profile visitors, including US first lady Jill Biden, made unannounced appearances in Kyiv on Sunday to demonstrate support for Ukraine amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of the country. Notable also were Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau, deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland (who is of Ukrainian descent) and foreign minister Mélanie Joly (pictured). Trudeau vowed to increase Canada’s already substantial support for Ukraine during a joint press conference with president Volodymyr Zelensky. Trudeau’s government has faced recent pressure at home over the lack of a diplomatic presence in Ukraine, particularly as the number of prominent international visitors increased over the past few weeks and several foreign governments have pressed ahead with plans to reopen their embassies.

Ottawa’s desire, until now, not to treat Kyiv as a day trip for purely optical purposes might be understandable. But given that Canada is home to the largest Ukrainian diaspora outside Russia, an on-the-ground diplomatic presence in Kyiv matters, and the apparent delay has been curious. Canada's government has done so much to support a country at war to which it is uniquely tied. Yesterday’s visit is a welcome affirmation of a relationship between two countries that runs particularly deep.

Design / UK

Object lessons

London Craft Week, delayed until autumn for the past two years, is back in full force in its regular spring slot as it kicks off today. With more than 300 events and participation from 26 countries, the week-long festival celebrates beautiful objects and the creators behind them. Founder Guy Salter takes a broad view of the notion of craft. The event brings together “the widest range of people making extraordinary things”, he says. That includes everything from ice cream and ancient leather to a personal project of the queen of Malaysia, who has worked with individuals in the Malay prison system to teach traditional weaving skills that will be on show at London’s High Commission of Malaysia. “Coming back now is absolutely delightful,” jewellery designer and participant Sian Evans tells Monocle. “Yes, we’ve got the internet but these are craft objects. They need to be seen and handled.”
londoncraftweek.com

Hear more from Guy Salter and Sian Evans on London Craft Week in today’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle 24.

Culture / USA

Endless summer

In Provincetown, Massachusetts, on the tip of Cape Cod, organisers of the Twenty Summers festival have been taking down the storm covers on the historic Hawthorne Barn’s vast windows in preparation for another season of conversations and concerts. The festival, which begins this week, brings together those who want to imagine what the world might be like 20 summers from now – from a linguist scouring indigenous texts for tips on harmonious living to an architect who wants to reconsider what we mean by “home”. The barn, which was built in 1907 as an art school, is an evocative host. “There are paint stains on the floor that were made by Jackson Pollock,” executive director Aziz Isham tells The Monocle Minute, adding that the building has a special spark when everyone comes together. “It’s like watching culture being created in real time against a backdrop of the beautiful Cape Cod light, with the ocean visible from the front deck.”
20summers.org

Image: Federico Martins

Monocle 24 / Monocle on Design

Extra: Ernest W Baker

We head to the Porto atelier of contemporary menswear label Ernest W Baker to learn how it combines classic tailoring with modern influences.

Monocle Films / Lithuania

Kaunas: Lithuania’s modernist city

As Lithuania’s second city, it’s not often Kaunas gets much international attention. This, however, could be about to change. Kaunas has been named one of Europe's Capitals of Culture for 2022; a title it’s taking seriously. Monocle visited the city to take a tour of its modernist marvels. Read more on the story in our December/January issue.

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