To paraphrase Chuck Palahniuk, on a long enough timeline the survival rate of any blog drops to zero. And since the timeline has had its way with our little art project, we reflect on the year it was.
Nothing symbolises the febrile social atmosphere that surrounds us at present more than the epidemic of ‘statue toppling’ that has attended recent protests, in particular those organised around the Black Lives Matter movement. Is this outbreak of de-memorialisation a necessary act of collective catharsis typical of any era, or does it belie a wanton historical vandalism and a rising censoriousness that threatens to define the future? In this debate, ‘Yes' argues that citizens have much more to fear from increasingly visible illiberal leftist intolerance, than they do from the recent outbreak of statue toppling. ‘No' counters that, since monuments matter for their powerful symbolism, their removal is a legitimate way to reflect the changing value systems of an evolving society. In that sense, condemning the memory of a previously valorised historical figure is a symbol of social progress, one that dramatises a determination to leave behind a flawed past from which we have all happily emigrated.
Most countries have faithfully followed the WHO playbook to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. But has the immense social and economic damage wrought by this response been greater than the true medical impact of the pandemic? And what lessons must we learn to inform our future pandemic response strategy? In this debate, ‘For' will argue that the approach deployed on the direction of the WHO has been disproportionate, when a more targeted, evidence-based response would have paid similar dividends. ‘Against’ will say that while hindsight always delivers apparent wisdom, the WHO-led response has been proportionate given its mandate, and will prove effective, given the circumstances.
In this round of The Liffey Accord, each side takes a decidedly different position on how Citizens of Somewhere ought to be defined. As ever, the results demonstrate that perspective is everything and that framing can change all things.