The Phantom of Liberty

Until now, it was the people with nothing to lose taking to the streets.

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

The cover of the International Herald Tribune on July third is full of troubling news. Egypt, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Snowden…

There was barely enough time for the Turkish and Brazilian protests to be dropped from the front page that Egypt exploded with its own rekindled revolt. The back cover of the same issue is a full-page ad from the Fendi fashion house announcing the opening of a new flagship store in Paris. The dress pictured on the ad is probably worth over five thousand dollars. If you open the paper flat on its back, you will have a pretty good representation of what is going wrong in the world today.

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

By now, only the blindest among us still believe that all these revolts that began with the Arab Spring are isolated events. The truth is, the world is feeling uneasy. The uneven distribution of wealth has reached unsustainable levels. With each global financial crisis in the past decade, the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. Wealth is not trickling down through the system any more: it swells at the top creating a new version of Mount Olympus inhabited by the gods of money. Large swaths of the middle class, from Spain to the US, have been pushed down closer to the poverty line. With each totalitarian regime staying in power, more basic services and civil liberties have been taken from the people.

Turkey and Brazil represent an important change in the trend of rebellion. Until now, it was the people with nothing to lose taking to the streets. It was about the deafness of regimes and the lack of hospitals, basic civil rights, schools…

But the protesters in Turkey and Brazil, have something to lose. They are university students, young professionals. They are the young entries to a middle class that is being wiped out together with any prospects for a productive future. They feel left out of the conversation. They see the planet going to dust and governments doing little about it. They see political greed and corruption and feel powerless against it. They see feverish activity where large sums of money can be made, but none of it goes back into the common wealth.

Not long ago, the definition of liberty was the value for humans to have control over their own actions. Modern society has put an expensive price tag on that value. We have believed for over a century that democracy was the best guardian of liberty. We were deceived. Today’s democracies are, for the most part, modern feudal states with Lords building protective walls to safeguard their luxury lifestyles. ‘We the People’ live outside these walls waiting for the crumbs of the big loot. We work longer hours, struggle to make ends meet and accept humbling jobs to put food on the table. We see our children’s education decay, our medical bills skyrocket, while the Lords get away with stealing and cheating within the system.

I travel extensively through countries of all kinds and I see this discontent everywhere. I feel the uneasiness and the unhappiness. I see wars begin and not end. The real-estate exploitation of Gezi Park and the raising of the bus fares in Brazil are, after all, the kind of events that have affected our lives many times before. But now, the timer of the social bomb has expired.

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake


Icarus Blake & Max Power: Editors in Chief
Lora Wiley: Managing Editor
Teo J. Babini: Senior Editor
Greta Pininfarina: Fashion Director
Miko Sala: Art Director
Tiffany Credle: Senior Publishing Editor
Daniel Cardona: Graphic Designer
Luigi Scarcella: Graphic Illustrator
Matt Heidkamp: Editorial Producer and eCommerce Manager
Nancy Cooper: Finance Supervisor
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Contributors to this issue:

Shay Neary/Pride and Go Seek/Cronot Show-Not
Shay Neary is a trans-woman college grad living in Bedstuy, Brooklyn. She currently works at RedFarm in Greenwich Village. She is a newbie to NYC and has an obsession with street food and Starbucks.

Raoul Beltrame/Pride and Go Seek/A Bunch of Dead People: Support Local Artists
Italian-french fashion photographer and videographer.

Eric Hill/Global Odyssey: Dangerous Dining
Eric came to the realization that he wanted to spend some extensive time traveling after leaving North America the first time to go down to Peru with a few friends. Growing up he was raised as one of six children in a strict religious home. Growing up with a professor father they traveled extensively within the US, he always said from a young child that, some day, he would visit every country in the world. That first time while traveling abroad, he could see why he never felt comfortable following the religion he grew up with, he realized happiness and truth were not exclusive to the belief system he was raised in. These thoughts and ideas have led him to his current quest, to find that awesome exists in every country. Awesome in the form of happiness, adventure, laughter and the quest for something more.

Vico LaCava/Window Shopping
Vico does things for the story. This was good that one time, when she walked the red carpet in sparkly stilettos with her ten closest friends to the premier of her first feature film. It was not so good that other time, when she walked alone down the concrete corridor of cell block 3 in a dirty peacoat and dripping mascara.

Max Henderson/Clarity
Max Henderson is a doctoral student in physics at Drexel University. Originally from Coatesville, Pennsylvania, he researches neural networks and quantum computation when he’s not too busy watching “Adventure Time”. His poems are about making mistakes while drinking a good, dark beer. He has previously been published in Black Heart Magazine. You can email him at

3 Responses to “The Phantom of Liberty”

  1. ebru says:

    Great insight and the very essence of what is going wrong/right put in words. Thank you CBK from Istanbul, Turkey. I believe that we have a new episode of global liberation being defined through the social media triggered protests and thank you for acknowledging this process so precisely.

  2. Dani says:

    One of my favorite articles ever written on CBK. Simple, to the point, clear, and relevant, I hope more people take notice of the world around them.

  3. phil says:

    I love this