Social Cohesion and Terrorism
‘Bikini Black’ and ‘Black Bikinis’, a strange and perhaps provocative start to an article on social cohesion and terrorism; a dark, grave and emotive subject full of thorny issues and slippery definitions. However, these symbolic gestures represent a far deeper set of social and cultural significances when examined more closely.
(For the purpose of this article the definition of Terrorism used is by Professor Bruce Hoffman, U.S. Military Academy, West Point. New York.)
The BIKINI state is an outdated alert-state indicator, used for 30 years by the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) to warn government personnel of none-specific threats such as terrorism and civil disorder. The MOD would slide a coloured panel into a housing denoting the daily threat level, and these boards would be located outside all MOD buildings. The ‘Bikini Black’ panel represented, “an assessment is made that there is the possibility of an attack, but no defined target. It can also mean possible civil unrest, meaning safety can't be guaranteed”, (MOD) which in many ways is an appropriate scene-setting representation of the threat faced by today’s society in the United Kingdom and the West in general. ‘Black Bikinis’ on the other hand represent the crude cultural juxtaposition between the bikini and the burka, culturally loaded imagery which has been adopted by some aspects of the media to highlight a cultural conflict reflecting a so called clash of civilizations as suggested by political scientist Samuel P. Huntington, in a 1992 lecture and later in the American journal, Foreign Affairs in 1993.
“The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future”. (Huntington, 1993)
Both symbols offer contextual references suggesting a media driven clash of cultural values in a nation state wrought with feelings of anticipation, anxiety and frustration. A state wrestling with issues of power, identity and threat whilst engaged in a so called ‘war on terror’, whilst the state’s population carries on with everyday life, subconsciously learning to live with the threat of terrorism , oddly disconnected and left to piece together contradictory messages based on biases, political manipulation and intuition.
This article, explores how society might ‘consciously’ live with terrorism and issues related to the government’s seemingly slow recognition that it is now an unrealistic expectation to win a ‘War on Terror’ as outlined by President Bush in his infamous address to the Joint Session of Congress and the American People in 2001.
“We will direct every resource at our command -- every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war -- to the disruption and to the defeat of the global terror network” ……….. “It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found stopped and defeated” (Georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov, 2001)
A war on terror cannot be won by purely smashing every terrorist movement that surfaces, as suggested by prominent counter terrorist scholars, Dr Louise Richardson and Dr Richard English, acknowledging that any effort to do so, will only perpetuate the problem and create yet more terrorists in their wake. A multi-faceted response is required to develop procedures of containment and processes of ownership rather than seeking to eradicate the terrorist threats regardless of historic evidence to the contrary, (English, 2009) a response which develops containment measures and objectives which are primarily underpinned by interstate and inner-state co-operation, ownership, transparency and education.
Can society learn to live with terrorism? Or rather, can society live with terrorism far better than it is currently? The article examines some of the necessities needed, if society are to be successful at learning to live with terrorism. The article is separated into three main parts, the first: The role of the Fourth (mainstream press), and the Fifth estates (non- mainstream press) will examine the role of the media and the mechanism through which biases flow into policy, a process Professor Cass Sunstein calls the ‘Availability Cascade’ a self-sustaining chain of events vulnerable to manipulation by ‘Availability Entrepreneurs’ which eventually impacts on the state’s political system and the public’s ability to rationalise the terrorist threat. The second: The role of the state’s public and their interpretation of the threat posed by terrorism, its meaning and their fear of minorities, diaspora and immigration whilst passively disconnected from the realities of their actions and reactions to press and social media. This part will discuss the public’s fragility regards feelings of fear and anxiety in conjunction with Dr Arjun Appaduri’s seminal work on the geography of anger outlined in his essay titled ‘Fear of Small Numbers.’ The third and final chapter: The Role of the State will explore what can be learnt from past reactions to terrorism, the types of terrorist agents and what their processes are to require a terrorist skill-set, such as their taught skills (techne) and their on the job skills (metis) as suggested by Dr Michael Kenney from Stanford University's Centre for International Security and Cooperation. (Kenney 2007). This part will also highlight the importance of inter-state and inner-state communication, intelligence and target hardening whilst reflecting on past challenges and successes supported by documents such as ‘CONTEST: the United Kingdom's strategy for countering terrorism’ and the ‘Prevent Strategy’.
“Learning to live with terrorism encourages us to focus on the strategic and tactical responses to terrorism. In particular it provides a basis for studying the strategies and tactics of terrorists themselves. Learning to live with terrorism is to learn to contain terrorist threats rather than seek immediately to eliminate them” (Robert Lambert 2015)
The Role of the Fourth and Fifth estates
The estates of the realm were the broad social orders of the hierarchically conceived society in Christian Europe during the 15th -18th centuries. The first estate comprised almost entirely of the clergy, the second state comprised of nobility and the third realm made up the rest, comprising of those members that were neither nobility nor clergy and grouped into two main identities - those from an urban context and those from a rural one. The fourth estate came about much later in the 19th century and represents the news media. The fifth estate surfaced in the 1960s as a counter cultural movement but now represents a socio-cultural movement with viewpoints in contemporary society, and is mostly associated with bloggers, journalists, and non-mainstream media outlets. All estates represent enormous positions of power and responsibility.
The Fourth and Fifth estate’s position of power and their pivotal role in contemporary terrorism is undeniably a key feature in how we respond to terrorism and ultimately learn to live with it as a factor of everyday life, past, present and in the future. It will be our ability to take a considered ownership of the media’s role, harnessing its advantages whilst being sensitive to its flaws which will form the foundation of our resilience and adaptability. With that in mind it’s important to acknowledge that despite the trauma inflicted physically and physiologically, terrorism is above all a means of communication, a highly impactful means of articulating an agenda. A set of conditions and agenda that converged to spectacular effect on September 11th 2001, watched as a young architect on my first day at work for a prestigious architectural firm in Edinburgh. I sat with my new colleagues and witnessed, live on television, two passenger jets crashing into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre and the horrors that followed, an experience in deep contrast to 19 years earlier when I watched Britain go to war over the Falklands, in 2001, I had a front row seat, live feed, the events communicated with images in real time, rather than the well-chosen words and timely government sanctioned VT footage of the Falklands. The terrorists reached an audience so stunned that at first it suspended belief, unsure whether we were watching fact or fiction. We had become more than observers we had become participants. (Strachan, 2013) This of course was one of the strategic objectives set by the terrorists, as Oxford University Professor, Hew Strachan puts it “a strategic ploy to attract a global audience” (Strachan, 2013). A modern chapter in the history of terrorism had amplified. It is in the face of this highly sensitive role of the mass media, television and increasingly the internet we should constantly remind ourselves that the relationship between terrorism and mainstream media is interconnected and a reciprocal one. Terrorists require a platform from which to express massages of symbolism and narrative, whereas the media needs an audience to survive in a highly competitive and lucrative industry where exclusivity, information and speed are hard journalistic currency. Terrorism sells newspapers and ensures viewers tune in, a reality summed up by the tactless maxim among journalists, or whoever it is that decides what a story is, “if it bleeds, it leads.” Meaning, of course, that if the subject is in dire trouble then that’s the story they’ll run. (Jensen, 2007) It isn’t until we learn that mass media is a useful tool to be used rather than a source to rely on when forming opinion and assessing terrorist risk. A subject examined in Professor Weimann’s Study of the Psychology of Mass-Mediated Terrorism where he suggests that a citizen who relies exclusively on their country’s television network for their understanding of the terrorist threat would have got a distorted impression of the situation due to a tendency for locational and victim bias in their coverage and therefore finding that networks made ordinary citizens more fearful about the likelihood of them becoming the victims of terrorist attacks than evidence would warrant (Weimann, 2008).
To emphasise the precarious nature of media bias and to reiterate the importance of managing expectations with regards the media as an aspect of learning to live with terrorism successfully, Dr Cass Sunstein a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School explains the mechanism through which biases flow into policy which he calls the ‘Availability cascade’.
“The Availability Cascade is a self-sustaining chain of events, which may start from media reports of relatively minor event and lead up to public panic and large scale government action. On some, a media story about a risk catches the attention of a segment of public, which becomes aroused and worried. This emotional reaction becomes a story in itself, prompting additional coverage in the media, which in turn produces greater concern and involvement. The cycle is sometimes sped along deliberately by “availability entrepreneurs” individuals or organizations who work to ensure a continuous flow of worrying news. The danger is increasingly exaggerated as the media compete for attention-grabbing headlines. Scientists and others who try to dampen the increasing fear and revulsion attract little attention, most of it hostile: anyone who claims that the dander is overstated is suspected of association with cover-up. The issue becomes politically important because it is on everybody’s mind, and the response of the political system is guided by the intensity of public sentiment. The availability cascade has now reset priorities. Other risks, and other ways that resources could be applied for the public good, all have faded into the background”. (Kahneman, 2011)
It is easy to see how Sunstein’s notion of the ‘Availability Cascade’ and the resulting ‘Availability Entrepreneur’ could be applied to a whole host of relatively minor events which have led to overreaction and exaggerated terrorist conditions. A current and contentious example could be seen in the Cologne New Year Attacks 2016, although the ramifications of those incidents are still to be seen and mulled over.
“There has been an explosion in far-right and far-left media. They regularly promote conspiracies and spread anti-muslim rhetoric” (Shekhovtsov and Pomerantsev, 2016)
The mainstream media of course is only part of the consideration with regards the fourth and fifth estates. Over the last decade there has been a proliferation of terrorist group activity exploiting the global reach to recruit, enhance status and develop identities. A good example of this would be the ‘jihadi’ websites, blogs, forums and other online media, a so called invasion of a new cyberspace domain as Gilbert Ramsay explains in his seminal publication ‘Jihadi Culture on the World Wide Web’. However, it’s understandable that these aspects of social media will create anxiety, fear and even hatred but they are an opportunity to learn too, as Ramsay suggests, these are not just a perceived threat to security, an open source of intelligence or a tool for radicalisation internationally but also, if handled correctly a subject of cultural interest in its own right something that blurs the boundaries between political reality, myth, legend and ultimately fantasy (Ramsay, 2013).
“In contrast to terror on the internet a growing number of researchers see the internet more as a resource than a threat. They trawl jihadi forums and websites drawing together highly detailed accounts of the nuances of ideological and tactical debates in Al Quaeda and similar movements” (Ramsay, 2013)
It is difficult to imagine a life without multi–media just as it’s becoming increasingly difficult to realistically imagine life without terrorism of one sort or another. It is therefore imperative that we take ownership of the positive aspects that the media has to offer but also manage, analysis and acknowledge the negative aspects without compromising the nation’s democratic integrity and the rule of law.
“When one says “terrorism” in a democratic society, one also says “media.” For terrorism by its very nature is a psychological weapon which depends upon communicating a threat to a wider society. This, in essence, is why terrorism and the media enjoy a symbiotic relationship”. (Weimann, Paul Wilkinson 2008)
Role of the State’s Public
“The Global Terrorism Index recently reported that private citizens are increasingly the targets of terrorist attacks. Deaths of private citizens increased by 172 per cent between 2013 and 2014 compared to the total number of deaths which rose 80 per cent”. The report explains that the majority of deaths from terrorism do not occur in the West. “Excluding the September 11 attack, only 0.5 per cent of deaths from terrorism have occurred in the West since 2000. Including September 11, the percentage reaches 2.6” (Global Terrorism Index 2015, MEASURING AND UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACT OF TERRORISM, 2016)
On the 13th November in the same month that the Global Terrorism Index 2015 document was released, Paris witnessed a series of coordinated terrorist attacks. Three suicide bombers struck near the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, followed by suicide bombings and mass shootings at cafés, restaurants and a music venue in central Paris. The attacks in Paris which killed 130 people and the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices and a Jewish supermarket in Paris killing 17 people in the same year, re-defined contemporary terrorist activity in Europe. It was patently obvious that this type of terrorist attack could and would happen anytime and anywhere.
A week later whilst interviewed for a British newspaper article titled “How do I ... live in the shadow of terrorism?” Professor Richard English explains that “I think it’s almost inevitable that there will be a terrorist attack in the future in London and very probably that it will have some Isis-related connection,” and went on to say, “The likelihood is so strong that regrettably it’s a question of when and how significant, rather than if. This isn’t something that’s going to go away,” (Lyons and Davies, 2015) English, like many others in his field, feels that terrorism is here to stay and in certain respects, had never really gone away, “ One of the depressing lessons from the history of terrorism is it is always likely to be with us”. (English, 2009). With this in mind and when you consider that we have resiliently learnt to adapt and respond to many national threats in the past, in the cold war era for example, we successfully developed mechanisms to respond and live with the threat of an apocalyptic style nuclear war, we have learnt to develop a variety of every day, local responses (officially and culturally) to help ensure our safety against the threat of fire, theft, rape and assault. It is therefore critical that we learn to live with terrorism. We have to develop practices that help to counter the threats of today whilst in preparation for the future potential threats of tomorrow. Threats which according to American political scientist George Friedman in his controversial book ‘The Next 100 Years’ will require a creatively robust, tolerant and culturally confident society in their chosen responses to any politically violent consequences resulting from, as Friedman suggests, the inevitability of a second cold war, the fragmentation of Russian and China’s economies and a significant European demographic change. With low birth-rates the western nations will begin to compete for migrants and eventually around the year 2050, World War III will break out between the United States and the Turkish and Japanese led coalitions. (Friedman, 2009)
Although Friedman’s predictions may be at best speculative, there is no doubt that currently and in the future, terrorism and its unpredictable nature requires particular public attention as part of a multi-faceted national response. The role of the public has to go beyond predicable public awareness literature of situational awareness strategies, which help address preparedness, travel security and perspective, strategies that manifest government guidance which hopes to encourage the public to take responsibility of their own security whilst being vigilant and reporting any suspicious behaviour. Guidance that informs the public of measures taken whilst responding to the risk of terrorist attacks on public transport or vocational tips such as “it’s a good idea to avoid booking hotel rooms on the ground floor” etc. (Stewart, 2010) There is a need for positive and proactive literature reassuring the public that the risk is acknowledged and being addressed however it can adversely run the risk of provoking overreaction and often promotes negative feelings of paranoia, insecurity and fear, emotions which develop counterproductive social complications and help feed the notion of “Suspect communities” (Hickman et al., 2012) encouraging segregation, and prejudice. This creates a potentially corrosive environment which in turn leads to a heightened likelihood of home-grown radicalism and the prospect of further so called ‘lone wolf’ attacks.
One of the first roles the public can adopt is the localised role of ownership through communication to develop a considered awareness of context and the implication of terrorist attacks as a whole. Taking an independent position on it and developing a meaningful mode of transparent and productive discourse which starts simply by defining what exactly terrorism is; an obvious initial role but a potentially rewarding one as I experienced whilst preparing for this article. I asked a number of past colleagues’ two simple questions, “What is terrorism” and “Why is there terrorism?” The results were intriguing in many ways but the key elements taken from the process was that most had, at the very least, a fundamental grasp of ‘terrorism’ and ‘why it happens’ but all of them relished the opportunity to articulate their thoughts and feelings on the subject. They were very interested in reading and reflecting on the other comments, they all showed a notable interest in debating the reasons for terrorist actions. Rudimentary findings perhaps, however there is plenty of evidence to support developing alternative methods of discourse and reflections can promote social unity and ease anxieties (Herzfeld, 2005) which helps us respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism and the threat we face from those who promote it. This is one of the key objectives in the ‘Prevent Strategy’ 2011.
A second role would be to acknowledge the way we are perceived or portrayed internationally and internally across the diverse fabric of communities that make up the state. Are there issues of moral and cultural stereotyping, unhelpful perceptions of religion and ethnicity that require rebalancing? A third role of the state’s public is to ensure there are the correct facilities in order to help prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure that they are given appropriate advice and support and to work with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation which we need to address - two final objects indicated in the Prevent Stagey. The public can play their part in a multi-layered co-operative response to terrorism as a grassroots conduit, hybrid in nature and practiced in a building fit for purpose; a building that promotes reassurance, transparency and safety. A building of neutrality, devoid of state or religious symbolism but designed to be modular as an architectural catalyst for a network of meaning and support.
The role of the state’s public has never been so important. It is from the public that the state expresses its resilience and measures its response to terrorism. The public’s role in responding to terrorist activity and ultimately learning to live with the long term threat of terrorism should not be underestimated by government, or more importantly, by the public themselves. In other words, society should take ownership of the problem and provide a positive contribution to countering the terrorist’s objectives whilst being mindful of the pitfalls within society of a passive involvement, macabre voyeurism and an expectation that the government will take care of things. It is important that the we acknowledge that terrorism is a constant concern, understand the meaning of terrorism and its effects on the individual and the collective consciousness but also temper the understandable emotions of fear, anxiety and suspicion whilst being conscious of the negative conditions persecution and hysteria can produce.
The Role of the State
“By and Large, terrorist conflicts are not won by terrorist groups. Sometimes, however they are lost by states opposing them” (Silke, 2011)
Silke’s quote illustrates nicely the perilous consequences of an ill-informed or over exaggerated response to terrorism by a nation state which reiterates Richard English’s comment that, “ The most serious danger currently posed by terrorists is probably their capacity to provoke ill-judged, extravagant and counterproductive state responses, rather than their own direct actions themselves”. (English, 2009)
The role of the state with regards terrorism is undeniably complex and to a certain degree it is a conditioned political logic to overreact, as Schneider suggests, “Overestimating the threat is better than underestimating it. Doing something about the threat is better than doing nothing. Doing something that is explicitly reactive is better than being proactive. (If you're proactive and you're wrong, you've wasted money. If you're proactive and you're right but no longer in power, whoever is in power is going to get the credit for what you did.) Visible is better than invisible. Creating something new is better than fixing something old”. (Bruce Schneier, 2016)
The State’s response to terrorism isn’t as black and white as the media may have you believe. The response to terrorism is multi-faceted and continually adapting to new intelligence and lessons learnt in the past. Although the results are slow and the processes overly bureaucratic at times, they are products of a political machinery not designed for hastily fabricated responses and when there have been instances of hastily conceived legislation through public and political pressure to react, problems have arisen or circumstances have changed and the legislation has been misinterpreted. Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 is a good example of counterproductive legislature, giving police the power in designated areas to stop and search an individual without having any reasonable suspicion of them having committed an offence. Alan Travis, the home affairs editor for the Guardian newspaper reports that “between 2006/07 and 2007/08 the number of black people stopped and searched under this power rose by 322 per cent and the number of Asian people by 277 per cent. In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that stop-and-searches under S44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 were illegal as there were inadequate safeguards against abuse”. (Irr.org.uk, 2016)
Despite the well-publicised mistakes and slow response time the State plays an immensely important role in the response to terrorism. Military options aside, the government supports a great number of effective, responsive and sophisticated organisations specialising in surveillance, counter terrorism and diplomacy, with the Chancellor, George Osborne, promising in 2015 to spend £3.4bn extra on the country's counter-terrorism efforts over the next five years.
When it comes to learning to live with terrorism as an everyday threat and a legitimate response to terrorism for the foreseeable future, the State’s leaders are less forthright but nonetheless sensitive to the consequences of prematurely ‘nailing your colours to the mast,’ as President Bush did in his ‘we will win the global war on terror’ speech. A sensitivity later revealed by a leaked memo to staff on the House Armed Services Committee saying they should "avoid using colloquialisms ", including the phrase "the global war on terror" (Reynolds, 2007)
However learning to live with terrorism is a reality and the role of the State has to reflect that fact. English, in suggesting that “Learning to live with terrorism encourages us to focus on strategic and tactical responses to terrorism. In particular it provides a basis for studying the strategies and tactics of terrorists themselves” (English, 2009) believes in a containment process rather than a ruthless militarised one. A containment process far from being a perceived capitulation to the terrorists agenda, is a strategic opportunity to build on current external efforts and enhance internal and international cooperation, develop surveillance techniques, explore the hardening of targets and provide a solid contextual foundation from which to analyse earlier choices made in history, such as the tactics employed and strategic gains made in earlier conflicts like the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland. It would also provide a timely opportunity to consolidate legal legislation and consider the distinctions between terrorist acts of violence and violent criminal ones. A distinction called for by David Anderson QC, the senior lawyer who reviews the government's terrorism legislation. Anderson in his 2014 annual report focussed on crimes that he felt should no longer be classed as terrorist offenses explaining that “Journalists and bloggers should not be convicted under terror laws” and that “the problem with the law is that it fails to distinguish, in all respects, between hate crime and terrorism” . It’s apparent then that the State’s heterogeneous role is to provide structure and support, to acknowledge the tactical and strategic faults in responding to past terrorist threats and addressing them. A role that requires the implementation of new and innovative strategies based on information gained from military, judicial academic expertise and experience, and the need to look for links between pre-attack and post-attack terrorist activities, logistically, economically and criminally, identifying methods of communication affiliation and recruitment. A processes of disassembling the violent threat and reassembling the response, a response applicable to today’s context. A centrifugal response that begins from within the state, tailored to work with the “peruse, prevent, protect and prepare” (CONTEST, The United Kingdom's Strategy for Counter Terrorism, 2011) narrative already in place and based on a process of ownership.
It could be argued then, that the primary role of the State, starts with the public acknowledgment, that terrorism is a long term reality and although it may seem politically precarious asking the public to learn to live with the long term possibility of a terrorist attack, it will be an important step to tempering the impact and taking ownership of the threat. Audrey Cronin in her book ‘How Terrorism Ends’ offers six scenarios which explains how terrorist conflicts have ended in the past, which were either one or a combination of “decapitation, negotiation, success, failure, repression or reorientation” (Cronin, 2009) but perhaps there’s a seventh to add to the mix, Ownership.
It is an unpopular idea that terrorism is a part of contemporary living in the world today. Whether its state or none-state political violence or lone wolf suicide bombers the reality is that the threat of terrorism is here to stay and depending on who you ask, it never really went away. Have we have been subconsciously living in the shadow of terrorism for many years? Since the Paris attacks in 2015 there has been a creeping realisation that society will have to learn to live with terrorism and make a conscious effort to re-assess the roles of the media, public and the government in order to do that successfully.
This article explored three general roles under the headings, The Role of the Fourth and Fifth estates, The Role of the state’s Public and The Role of the State. The idea of examining these three roles in particular came from their overlapping nature and the fact they have a potentially powerful and positive synergy to harness as a tool for terrorist responses in the future. After all if the terrorist uses these three domains to devastating effect creating environments of hatred, fear and mistrust, it seems appropriate that they should be the first aspects to explore. If we could re-address our ownership of these essential aspects in our society, we would severally impact any leverage the terrorists would have in their campaigns.
The role of the fourth and fifth estate was contextualised and then examined showing the damaging consequence ‘bias’ can have on a nation’s perception of risk. A mechanism called the ‘Availability Cascade’ was used as an example to show the fragility of policy making and its vulnerability to ‘Availability Entrepreneurs’ showing how bias can impact on the public and ultimately on a state’s legislative process.
The role of the state’s public was contextualised using the events from Paris terrorist attacks in 2015 and introduced the notion of living with terrorism as a long term condition using the statements from professors English and Richards, providing an extra dimension to the current situation. It also offered a glimpse of future challenges using the work of Geo-politician George Friedman. The article proposes ideas of articulation and discourse to counter anxiety and prejudiced behaviour underpinned by findings in preparation pre-writing.
The role of the state was explored initially with regards its potential to lose a terrorist conflict if lessons were not learned from the past and alternative solutions were not found to respond to a modern-day terrorist threat. The efforts of the government were acknowledged and examples of policy and economics explored. The article ends with the suggestion that states explore the idea of publicly acknowledging that terrorism is a permanent fixture of everyday life and once this has been done, a new era of terrorist response could potentially begin.
Finally, the idea of ownership has surfaced more than expected in the process of writing this article and has left many interesting avenues open for discussion. A natural progression from this process will be the exploration of ownership with regards terrorism itself. Asking, is it feasible to wrestle the terrorist’s primary tool of terror from their grasps? Taking ownership of the terror aspect of the conflict would render the group impotent. Perhaps it would be a useful exercise to view terrorism through an alternative lens, an abstract reaffirmation of liberal democracy and its values perhaps. This is a supposition which we at Uniform November hope to explore in future research.