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” →
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 what 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” →
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” →
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” →
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” →
As this rather wretched and exhausting year comes to a close, I looked back at my list from 2019 and laughed sadly at my optimistic plans to read more in 2020. Perhaps I did when you count news, analysis, etc. online, but in terms of books it was disastrously minimal. However, the books I did read offered brilliant insights or just fascinating bits of knowledge. So, in no real order:
Continue reading “My 2020 Reading List” →
It has been generally accepted that the Dismissal of Gough Whitlam in November 1975 was a “soft coup”. It was the culmination of various tensions between Whitlam and the United States, namely its intelligence communities (and, by extension, our own). One of the oft cited reasons was Whitlam’s purported opposition to the US’ bases within Australia, perhaps the most infamous of which is Pine Gap in Alice Springs. But did Australia’s arguably best Prime Minister actually oppose them as public perception believes?
Continue reading “Did Gough Whitlam Play Us or the US?” →
The first time I heard the term historical amnesia, it was in relation to a discussion about American exceptionalism and the masses “forgetting” the more bothersome parts of their history of involvement (ironically, I can’t recall the specific source or case I first came across). But, rereading Noam Chomsky’s On Anarchism (again, ironically because at the time I read it, I did so without any real focus or retention), the now seemingly obvious opposite is also true: that the true victories and battles fought by the masses themselves are also victim to this international blank slate.
Continue reading “Historical Amnesia Goes Both Ways” →
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.
Continue reading “Consent Manufactured? Bill Clinton, Treasury, and Russia” →
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.
Continue reading “Reality is Conspiracy Without the Flair: QAnon” →