2021 Reading List (Part 1)

13/12/2021

I have not written anything for a while, having gone from taking a short break at the wind down of university and then straight back into work, and thought that I should get a head start on the yearly reading list review. I hope to add another one or two by year’s end, but I am quite happy with the amount I’ve managed to get through this year. List will be in the order I read them with comments looking back over them, and with a few exceptions I would recommend most of them. Also keep in mind the earlier in the year it was the less precise details I’m going to remember about the book, so bear with that.

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The Individual: Western Liberal and Indigenous Australian Conceptions

17/11/2021

This is one of three mini essays submitted for a political science assessment. Given the limited word count and my struggles to adhere to “academic writing”, they’re likely not the best pieces, but ah well, uploading them for shits and giggles. This particular essay discusses a key difference between Western liberal thought and Australia’s Indigenous politcal thought, specifically the conception of the individual. Much more akin to branches of libertarian socialism than liberalism, Indigenous political thought realises selfhood through relational means, which is much cooler in my opinion.

Indigenous populations globally have faced longstanding oppression, not just of their people and their lands, but also their cultures, ideas and politics. From the United State’s culling of Native Americans and the invasion and takeover of half of Mexico, the genocide of Australia’s Indigenous peoples (including the entire population of what is now Tasmania (Brodie 2017)), South African Apartheid, and the current displacement and silencing of the Palestinians, settler-colonial societies have systematically separated native populations from what makes their societies. As we face the looming climate crisis and global pandemics, it is this old and not yet forgotten knowledge and wisdom that may help us.

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The Patriarchy: Reform or Displace?

17/11/2021

This is one of three mini essays submitted for a political science assessment. Given the limited word count and my struggles to adhere to “academic writing”, they’re likely not the best pieces, but ah well, uploading them for shits and giggles. This one discusses the patriarchy, some brief examples and history of it, and an intersectional approach to abolishing it. While not denying the importance of reform, it argues there must be radical change to ensure the full liberation of women in society.

Patriarchy, literally “rule of the father”, in its simplest form refers to the dominant role played by the father, by men, in the traditional family structure. In feminist thought, this definition is expanded to include the broader societal discussions of male dominance in most, if not all, aspects of life and their institutions. For many feminists, fathers as the centre of family life “symbolises male supremacy in all other institutions”, and that this “reproduces male dominance in all other walks of life” including “education, at work and in politics.” (Heywood 2021).

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To What Extent is Democracy a Tyranny of the Majority?

17/11/2021

This is one of three mini essays submitted for a political science assessment. Given the limited word count and my struggles to adhere to “academic writing”, they’re likely not the best pieces, but ah well, uploading them for shits and giggles. This one basically just runs with the idea of the “tyranny of the majority” to suggest free association among equals from the ground up limits the potential of it taking place.

Democracy, meaning “rule of the people” in Ancient Greek, has taken many forms since its inception. Even Aristotle outlined different variations of both democracy and oligarchy, stating that “a particular form of government may be preferable for some people, but another form may be better for others.” (Aristotle 2020). For him, the polity was the best form of government, leaning towards democracy, although by contemporary standards this conception would be unacceptable.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Article Review on the Internet and States of Nature

01/09/2021

As with the other piece posted today, this is an assessment item from university (again, that I hope makes sense), this one a review of one of the course readings so far in the semester. I chose this one because, well, mostly I was very low on time because I’m an utter idiot. But also because it was about the internet, which I do happen to know a thing or two about. The TL;DR here is discussing whether the Internet is similar to Hobbes’ State of Nature, as depicted in The Leviathan, or a ‘state within a state’ based on Rousseau’s notion that society is corrupt. My conclusion was that it absolutely is a digital state within many other physical states, and that I disagreed with the author’s (Reeven) middle ground approach and intense focus on net neutrality.

Not as confident with this one as I am with the previous piece, but ah well, here it is.

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Conflicts Within Australia’s Liberal Democracy: Press Freedom and the Right to Privacy

01/09/2021

The following piece is an essay I have written for a university assessment. I seriously hope it makes sense, otherwise there is only disappointment ahead. For a TL;DR, the purpose was to discuss conflicts between two integral parts of the Australian system – liberalism and democracy. This essay essentially puts forward the argument that Australia’s liberal democracy suffers due to assaults on a free press by both the government and corporate power and influences, as well as the invasive domestic surveillance carried out by the government (the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) in particular). The result is a clash between the liberal concepts of the state and private enterprise with the more democratic ideals of the right to information and accountability from the government (in this case through the lens of a genuinely free press), and the right to privacy.

The reference list is also at the end, which happily contains books I have read (and written about) previously. Enjoy, I suppose.

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Anarcho-Capitalism and Gig Economy as “Crypto-Anarchism”: A Response

05/08/2021

The short answer to the question, “Are gig economy companies like Uber or Airbnb anarchist in nature?” is a dismissive wave of the hand. But one of my political science textbooks for a kind of ideologies 101 class has a chapter dedicated to anarchism, which I was excited for. To my dismay and concern, the comical and entirely contradictory branch of “anarcho-capitalism” is briefly explored. Sure, it might be a noteworthy aberration to point at and critique, but here it appears to be treated as legitimate – I guess that’s a consequence of the US’ lunacy…

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