Feb.22 | An announcement; self-inflicted colonisation; can social science save social media; internationalism
An announcement about A Place to Stand | Some of colonisation's critics enthusiastically import irrelevant movements | Deploying poetry to save social media | The truth in internationalism
After I left my last job I discovered, somewhat to my surprise, that I missed writing. As I’d also retained my interest in the issues and trends shaping New Zealand’s future I decided, after some encouragement from friends, to put the two together and start this blog. I thought I’d give it a year’s trial and now, 12 months on, I’ve decided to keep writing—and, again with the encouragement and at the request of others, to offer some options to support A Place to Stand.
I hope this blog represents a voice and a viewpoint that’s otherwise missing from Aotearoa’s public square. That’s why I’ve been grateful for opportunities to extend it beyond this platform, like this opinion piece in Stuff, a guest post on New Zealand’s most popular politics blog, an appearance on an MP’s podcast, and regular citations in a widely-read politics round-up. I want to keep offering my writing to anyone who’s interested, so everything will remain free to everyone but starting from today, anyone who’d like to support this endeavour can become a subscriber. There are three levels of support: monthly, annual, and what Substack calls ‘founding members’ (a category where you can set your own level of contribution).
Your support would be a huge encouragement and a practical help to continue this creative endeavour. Whatever form it takes, thanks for reading and for being part of the APTS community.
The irony of self-inflicted colonisation
There’s no good reason for you to know who Kyle Rittenhouse is. If you’re a Kiwi, the trial and acquittal of this teenager who shot three men alongside an anti-racism protest is essentially irrelevant. Yet his name was one of Google New Zealand’s “top trending searches for 2021”, his story was a regular fixture in the New Zealand Herald (and provoked furious denunciation by letter writers) and the jury’s “not guilty” verdict drew the ire and anguish of NZ Twitter. This isn’t just a distraction, it’s an imposition. Our disproportionate focus on overseas events of little to no relevance is a modern and self-inflicted form of colonisation—and, ironically, one that is embraced most enthusiastically and uncritically by some of colonisation’s staunchest critics. Continue reading
Can social science save social media?
“Your mind will be punched in a card and shut away in a little drawer.”
- Wendell Berry
The case against social media seems to be growing. Facebook has well and truly fallen out of favour, Instagram is accused of fuelling teen anxiety, and Twitter is often little more than a seething mass of bile. As Jeffrey Bilbro points out in a new article, social media is so embedded in our culture that even those who opt out can’t avoid its influence—it “is becoming the grammar of all social relations.” Accordingly, there are many and varied attempts to fix social media and, because this is a technocratic age, many of them rely on the authority and expertise of social science. But this, Bilbro says, is a false promise. He makes an elegant and important case which I’ll summarise briefly here. Continue reading
The truth in internationalism
I was there when Brexit happened. In mid-2016, my family and I were living in Oxford when the referendum on Britain’s EU membership took place. Our street, like many in the city, was liberally strewn with Remain posters which, one by one, quietly disappeared over the week following the vote to leave the European Union (apart from one which remained in someone’s front window with an additional hand-written annotation, “SAD”). Pundits and pollsters had failed to predict this; much heartache and hand-wringing followed along with, again, liberal scorn poured on those who had voted to Leave. No doubt Britain’s majority had a slew of reasons for voting to Leave, but much of it boiled down to a reassertion of national interests and national bonds. The referendum on the EU is a good case study of the dangers of, and the truth in, internationalism. Continue reading