Authoritarian Socialism and the Anarchist Alternative

This is the second of two essays I submitted for university this week. For this one the question prompt I chose was “Does socialism always tend towards authoritarianism?” Short answer was no, but I had to write about 1799 more words so this is the long answer talking about the State, Russia, Spain, and anarchism and a bit of democratic confederalism. Title is iffy and unimaginative because screw putting effort into that. All references are down the bottom. Enjoy

Socialism is a school of thought most simply defined by its opposition to capitalism (Heywood 2021: 75). This is, however, an extremely broad range of ideas and there has been much conflict within and between nations, parties and movements about what, and who, constitutes true socialist ideals. Perhaps the greatest of these is the antagonism between democratic and authoritarian visions of socialism. The Twentieth Century saw the rise of authoritarian socialism, manifested primarily through the Russian Revolution in October 1917 and the horrors of the Stalinist regime, and in China under Mao’s Communist Party.

Continue reading “Authoritarian Socialism and the Anarchist Alternative”

The Monopoly of Australia’s Major Parties and Political Disenfranchisement

This essay was written for one of my political science units at UQ. It is a response to the question of whether Australia’s major parties enhance or damage our political system. While (hopefully) sticking to the criteria and constraints of the assessment, I have argued the latter. A full reference list is at the end. Enjoy.

Australia’s political system has been dominated by two major contenders dating back to 1909, between the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and what is now the Coalition parties (the Liberal Party of Australia (LPA), the National Party, and, in Queensland, the Liberal National Party (LNP)). While the latter has gone through several iterations and name changes, these two blocs have maintained power between themselves with only tentative challenge from minor parties and Independents in recent years. (Kefford et al 2018). It is the purpose of this article to explore some of the key issues such a restrained system has and the damage it has had on Australian politics and policy.

Continue reading “The Monopoly of Australia’s Major Parties and Political Disenfranchisement”

The Melbourne Protests Are Not a Worker’s Movement

22/09/2021

We are in the third day of small but loud protests taking place in Melbourne right now, and it has become crystal clear what the purpose of these demonstrations really are. What started ostensibly as a “tradies” protest against Victoria’s vaccine mandate and the Union’s support of it has quickly turned into a violent, nationalist and conspiracy ridden farce. The misinformation online has accelerated as clashes begin with police, now at the Shrine of Remembrance.

Continue reading “The Melbourne Protests Are Not a Worker’s Movement”

Objectivity Requires Evidence and Context

15/09/2021

I’ve written a number of pieces over the years about objectivity, whether that be reporting in the media, the recording and study of history, or relying on science for truth. As usual, something I have read and stuff I have heard puts my own ideas in much clearer language than I have so far achieved, this time in the case of journalism. John Pilger’s 1998 book, Hidden Agendas, that came out the year I was born, basically says truly objective journalism needs one key thing – context.

Continue reading “Objectivity Requires Evidence and Context”

Australia Day: Triple J, MLA, and the Symbolic Smokescreen

07/06/2021

(The following piece is my essay assessment for Media and Society at the University of Queensland).

The Australia Day debate surrounding the “Change the Date” movement has generated growing controversy every year as we get closer and closer to January 26th. The aim of the movement is to move Australia Day away from the darker and more brutal aspects of Australia’s history, much of which sprung from the declaration of a British penal colony in 1788. Rather than a celebration, many dissident voices view the day as one of mourning, the beginning of an invasion and wiping out of the indigenous populations and their land and traditions. Much has been done in recent decades to cement the dominant hegemonic view of a celebratory white (and generally male) experience, including attempts to sanitise this image (Brooker, 2017)1.

Continue reading “Australia Day: Triple J, MLA, and the Symbolic Smokescreen”

On George Orwell

08/05/2021

George Orwell is a name everyone learns, at least in the West as far as I know, during school. Animal Farm and 1984 are the two books written by him that we are told to read and write some analysis of. They are both antitotalitarian works, with Animal Farm being based on the Russian Revolution and led by Lenin and the Bolsheviks, and 1984 being a scary predictor of surveillance. And that’s about it. That’s all I learned about him in school. Of course, there’s much more, and not all of it is good.

The Twitter hellscape was quick to mob me on that.

Continue reading “On George Orwell”

The Abolition of Borders Requires Abolishing the State

02/05/2021

It has become a bit of a cliché in movies, TV shows, games, etc. when in or around some walled off or secure location to suggest, “what if it was not meant to keep us out, but to keep something in”. The Flood in Halo, for some reason, is the first that comes to mind. I recently finished reading Against the Grain by James C. Scott about the earliest history of whar we would now call “States”, the beginnings of “civilisation”. When we think of walls and borders, it’s usually in relation to keeping things or people out. But it has the inverse effect too – borders keep us in thrall to the State.

Continue reading “The Abolition of Borders Requires Abolishing the State”

Bounty on Disney: Star Wars Strikes the Outrage Cycle Again

11/02/2021

The ever-harmonious Star Wars fanbase’s discourse is crashing through Twitter again. This time, “#CancelDisneyPlus” is trending, as some call for subscriptions to the streaming service to be dropped after Lucasfilm confirmed that Mandalorian actress, Gina Carano, is no longer a part of the series. It’s the usual story: a controversy, actual or perceived, occurs, and the usual suspects come out to give their “politically incorrect” opinion on the matter.

In short, the “free market capitalists” are trying to cancel Star Wars. Again.

Continue reading “Bounty on Disney: Star Wars Strikes the Outrage Cycle Again”

Different Arenas, Same Tactics

06/02/2021

Drifting in and out of online political discourse as an observer (rarely bothering or daring to get swept up in Twitter threads with self-righteous mobs of any persuasion), I have noticed that there is a common thread between some unlikely groups. Pro-China, Russia, DPRK, Assad, etc. “communists” (read: people who think anything anti-US imperialism is amazing), and “right-wing” conspiracy nutcases come up with similar stories to justify their positions – it’s all fake!

Continue reading “Different Arenas, Same Tactics”

Communities of Knowledge: The Power of Networks

30/01/2021

I recently bought a book (which has joined my daunting and ever growing to-be-read pile) called The Knowledge Illusion. The subtitle really caught my eye: “The myth of individual thought and the power of collective wisdom”. Perhaps the book may change my mind on the individual thought front – I think individual thought is still extremely important and powerful – but the notion of collective wisdom had me making parallels with other fields, from neuroscience to the cosmos. I think it is undeniable, if not plainly obvious, that creating a community of open knowledge is a natural and necessary part of any society or group.

Continue reading “Communities of Knowledge: The Power of Networks”