Consent Manufactured? Bill Clinton, Treasury, and Russia

27/09/2020

In his 2002 book, Globalization and Its Discontents, Joseph Stiglitz goes over how he believes Russia’s transition from “communism” to a “market economy” failed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Despite his mistake in stating that Russia was somehow “Marxist” in nature beforehand, it does explain how, with US assistance, the country continued to freefall to levels below what they were under the Soviet regime. The minute point I want to dissect from this, however, is his faith in then President of the United States, Bill Clinton, to have taken stronger action if he “had been confronted with the arguments”.

I doubt it.

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Reality is Conspiracy Without the Flair: QAnon

06/09/2020

Conspiracy theories have pervaded discourse for decades, from the assassination of JFK to the 9/11 terror attacks being an inside job carried out by the Bush administration. Regardless of the facts and implications one can draw from history and events as they happen, new theories and ideas are added to the pile frequently, particularly with the advent of the internet. These ideas – much like the rhetoric of despotic figures like Donald Trump – are alluring because they offer explanations to those blindly searching for answers. While the questions that led to those answers might be genuine, reality often offers less “fantastic” answers that nonetheless have the benefit of truth.

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The Contradiction of the Zero-Sum Game

03/09/2020

There is a contradiction in the way the proponents of capitalism approach the concept of the “zero-sum game”, the notion that wealth created or owned in one place must come at the expense of others. This conversation has taken many different forms, from the power of the British Empire on a global scale to national debates over the merits of immigration and welfare. But one on side of the debate, there appears to be a glaring inconsistency in their logic.

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Go Read Merchants of Doubt

25/06/2020

Merchants of Doubt, a 2010 book written by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, is a must read. As one of the testimonies on the cover of my copy says, if there is one nonfiction book you read this year, it is the one to go for (obviously try to read more than one, but make Merchants of Doubt a priority). It follows a number of stories that mar the history of scientific progress by telling them from the perspectives of actors we often don’t hear from in the modern “debates”: the scientists themselves.

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Report Truth, Not Views

23/05/2020

The idea of journalism being an adversarial “pillar of democracy” is laughable, as I have written a few times on this site before. One of the books I am reading at the moment, Merchants of Doubt, provides examples of how the “fairness” and “balance” aspects of journalism, however desirable in theory, are corrupt and abused in practice. As “conservative intellectuals” of the Internet age love to say, facts don’t care about your feelings, folks.

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Invoking 1984: Chomsky and Silber

27/04/2020

I always enjoy it when people turn to George Orwell’s 1984 in a debate. It must just be the interviews and videos I stumble across, but in a fair number of them they do so from a position of ignorance about Orwell himself and/or in a way to smear their opposition despite them being the founts of questionable information. Words have always been louder than actions in “democracies”.

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David Hannan’s Arguments Against Socialism

12/04/2020

I have recently stumbled into a few videos online with pro-capitalist arguments, decrying socialist ideas and encouraging free markets to take full form. The one thing I have found listening to them, whether their arguments have any legitimate points within, is their selective examples and, at times, complete disfiguration of facts. One such video was an argument about why socialism did not work by a man (who I know nothing about beyond this) called Daniel Hannan. I haven’t written in a while, so what better way to get back into it than by questioning this random guy’s points?

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My 2019 Reading List

31/12/2019

Admittedly, I thought I had read more books than the ones on this list, but alas it is much smaller than anticipated when I compiled it. I wasn’t expecting anything huge, and 16 books is still a reasonable feat, in my view, but I can’t help but feel a tinge of disappointment that I didn’t get through more. I would, however, suggest that finishing university and keeping up with news events and analysis probably makes up for that. Nevertheless, these are the books I read this past year, with a few thoughts looking back on them and links to piece that refer to them.

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Biases in Journalism and in History

28/12/2019

I have written before about E. H. Carr’s ideas of the “historian and his facts”, of how history can never be “objective” because there are always things that will influence even the most aware observers. I would put forward that this concept also applies to journalists, who are, in a sense, historians of the moment in which they report.

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Media Hasn’t Really Changed: Colonial Tasmania

28/12/2019

I am currently reading The Vandemonian War by Nick Brodie. As always, when I learn more about Australia’s history involving the Indigenous peoples, I grow more and more disappointed with the shallow understanding that our education system throws at countless disinterested students. But I’ve written about that already, and there was a small point Brodie made about the press coverage that made me chuckle – rather cynically – at the parallels to today.

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