This is the second of two university pieces, this one responding to a question on what future challenges there are in the foreign policy space in Australia. I focussed on the climate crisis, an international issue that Australia could become a global leader in, not just for the obvious environmental reasons, but in support and solidarity with our geographic neighbours in Asia and the Pacific regions. Regional aid, climate refugees, and the urgent transition to a renewables revolution are some of the key challenges we are bound to face – and Australia is not ready.Continue reading “What Are the Key Future Challenges Facing Australian Foreign Policy?”
There is much debate about whether conservatism is a fully fledged ideology or merely disposition, a way of looking at the world that looks to the past to inform the present and carefully guide the future. This is the argument, always presented as a question in textbooks or other material on conservatism but is never answered, and it is adopted by conservatives themselves to justify or explain their positions on political, cultural and social arenas. I think there is merit to the disposition argument, but more often than not it is used as a shield against genuine criticism.Continue reading “Conservatism As a Disposition and a Conservative Anarchism”
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”
An anarchist, voting? Oh no, that’s not allowed, that… that’s the other kind of anarchy! Let alone for Biden! Well, let it be some consolation that I cannot vote in the US election because I have the fortune of being born elsewhere in the world and vote there instead. But I do not view the act of voting in a capitalist electoral system as entirely contradictory to the anarchist belief of abolishing authority, even that of the State itself. Let me explain, because this is a piece for the “left”.
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.
I’ve made the observation before that a lot of what we consider to be political issues are, in fact, a collection of other issues given a controversial spin that generally leads nowhere but a breakdown in discourse and understanding. The main example I used at the time was that abortion was a healthcare and women’s rights issue, not political, and certainly not religious. The most impactful on a global scale is, of course, climate change.
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.
Controversial opinion on a site with “anarchist” in the name, but I don’t think science should be commercialised and portrayed as a product for consumers. Scientific research and exploration should transcend material goals, particularly monetary ones, and should strive to reach a forever receding horizon of knowledge.
I am currently reading Merchants of Doubt, a 2010 book written by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway about how a number of global issues have been corrupted by a small number of “experts” and powerful special interests. The topics covered are quite varied, from smoking, to environmental concerns like acid rain, to Reagan’s Star Wars plans, etc. Probably the most important one is climate change, which I have not reached yet, but it’s an obvious one. But why? The free market loving capitalists should be flocking to support renewable energy, not because they give a shit about the planet, but because it could be the freest market ever created.