The US Election from Across the Pacific

I have refrained from much comment on the 2016 US election (Apart from this little thought bubble on demagoguery and this testament to democratic politics).

I have done so because, first of all, I am an Australian. Whilst US politics invariably impacts Australia, I’m not going to sit here to tell any of my American friends how to vote, nor berate them for not voting in our interests (whatever that is), because that is arrogant and rude. Second, because my instinct, as I have gotten older and wiser, is to wait and see. Verbal diarrhea doesn’t do anyone much good, especially in the amplified internet silos.

So I’ve waited, I’ve watched. I’m trying my best to do the very thing that a lot of people seem to have forgotten how to do: Listen. Listen carefully, even to people I disagree with.

I have found some fascinating data that I want to share with you that I think are key to understanding (at least partly) why Donald J. Trump is the President-Elect of the United States of America.

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2016: The Year of the Demagogue

Demagoguery enters at the moment when, for want of a common denominator, the principle of equality degenerates into the principle of identity.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I can find no better sentiment expressing  for how the 2016 US election has turned out. This result shouldn’t surprise anyone. If it did, I would recommend taking a look at this interview. This is a perspective that you don’t get from the regular 6 pm news or from many the regular media outlets based in urban centers. Suffering people who have felt voiceless in the public square will take full advantage of the anonymity of the ballot box to express their actual views.

Is Donald Trump the rational choice? Well, that depends on who you are, where you come from, what level of education you have achieved… your identity, in other words. When identity is substituted for the principle of equality and equity of all citizens, a rising demagogue is waiting in the wings.

I can predict this: the sky won’t fall in. The sun will rise again tomorrow. The earth will keep rotating. People have survived worse leaders. International society has managed to survive worse weirdos and tyrants. Wait and see.

The Latest Casualty in the Generational War: Smashed Avo

For those who are outside the Australian Eastern Seaboard media sphere, demography commentator Bernard Salt argued that if Millennials stopped spending money on overpriced avocado mashed up on toast in cafes, they would be able to afford to by a home in the overheated capital city real estate market.

Desperate for ANY story not related to the worst American Election in history, the article has been jumped on by outraged avo lovers, slightly irked economists and bemused bloggers and has blown into a proper, teacup-sized tempest that has filled my Facebook feed with pictures of said smashed avo on toast.

I’m going to add to the cohort of bemused bloggers because, 1) I have a PhD to procrastinate from and 2) I feel like I have a unique perspective to add to this debate.

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Usury & Neighbourliness

It is a month or two after attending my first academic conference ever and I have a humble little thought that I am processing that I thought I’d share.

The conference is the Oceanic Conference of International Studies and it brings together a whole host of scholars from across the International Relations discipline. It was pretty big, with several dozen papers presented every day and 150-ish delegates from the region.

It was quite a buzz, in the geekiest sense of the word. Academic nerds are a special breed of their own, especially IR nerds and it was nice to talk to people who’s eyes didn’t glaze over as soon as you say ‘normative’ or ‘critical theory’!

The final address of the conference was a last minute panel of four delegates who were asked to give no-more than 15 minutes on what they thought is the biggest challenge for world politics in the next 10-15 years and what is the ray of hope shining through.

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Marking Australia Day…

… Or Invasion Day, Survival Day, Unity Day… Whatever you like to call it. No matter what you like to call this day, it marks an event that changed the course of history of this land, for better and also for worse. So whether your celebrating the occasion or drowning your sorrows, have a beer with clarity of both the good and bad that this day has made possible, way back in 1778.

I think this image quite captures my sentiments about the day. No, this kangaroo is not mourning the death of its mate, like the photographer assumed, he’s taking advantage of the fact that she’s not running away to mate with her. Happy Australia Day!

The unfolding story of Paris

For anyone who is living under a rock… Paris has been subject to a series of coordinated attacks that have so far cost the lives of 140 people (and counting). President Hollande has declared the first state of emergency for 70 years and shut down the French Border.

This is a terrible tragedy and it appears that the perpetrators are Islamist terrorists possibly linked to Islamic State, although it still has yet to be officially confirmed.

I’ve been watching the ABC 24 coverage which so far has been pretty good. It was thorough with some good commentary. However, I have one observation that demonstrate a major issue in the coverage so far.

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Neutering the Poor

Margret Sanger called, she want’s her policy back.

Contraception begins at home

Gary Johns is at it again with his proposed ‘solution’ to the problem of cyclical poverty. This time he has jumped on the outrage-wagon over footage of pregnant Billie Jo on Struggle Street. He has argued previously that all long-term welfare recipients should be mandated to take medium to long term contraceptives in order to prevent inter-generational poverty and alleviate the cost to taxpayers.

Whilst on the surface, it seems like a sensible idea, the implications of applying such a policy amounts a gross violation of human rights and a massive overstretch of government authority.