Society, Politics, Culture

Articles on social, political and cultural themes and problems. For more articles on specific countries, check the Travelling tab. The concerns of Gender, Sexuality and Love have a special tab to themselves too.

Some short, targeted thinking on the United Nations (UN), the responsibility to protect (R2P), terrorism, weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), international law, peacekeeping, humanitarian intervention, national interests and democracy. Written as part of the UN University MSc Programme on Sustainability, Development and Peace.

In Defence of Video Games
To counter prejudice against video games, ten case studies on why they are a legitimate art medium with as much potential for socio-political relevance and commentary as any other.

On Heroism
An article on heroism, reflecting on heroes and heroes' journeys, and the narratives by which we perceive them. The discussion ranges from politics and international development to stories and video games, with a case study of the latter the exemplifies the complexities of this topic.

Broken Work
On why "work" no longer means what it should, and too often connotes ordeals no human should have to suffer.
On Suicide, or Suicidogenic Societies
A frank discussion of suicide, including why suicidal people are not selfish, why our societies are largely responsible for it, and what we can do to address it.

The Repressive Culture of the Necktie
On the strange loss of a very basic freedom - the right to choose what we wear - and why this is such a seriously hurtful problem.

Refuting West-Centric Narratives of Human Rights: A Three-Pronged Critique
An extended essay on why human rights are not, as is sometimes claimed, "Western", whether in essence, form or relevance - but why there are those who may be afraid of them.

Earthquakes are Political
Some reflections, one year on from the March 2011 Triple Disaster in Japan, on the relationship between natural disasters and human socio-political upheaval - and what this means for Japan.
Conflict and Peacebuilding in East Timor
On the bloodsoaked 25-year occupation of East Timor - facilitated by the likes of the US, UK and Australia - and its struggle to recover since. A story of the terrible paradigm of international relations we have chosen, and the need to reject it utterly.
Climate Change Resilience in Guyana
An essay written in a UN University capacity on sustainability and resilience to climate and ecosystem changes, looking at the case of the North Rupununi communities of Guyana. See the Travelling tab for some more general reflections on that country.

Hiroshima - The Price of Peace
Hiroshima is famous for the most unenviable of reasons. A wander around the remnants of its horror, discussing its resurrection as a "city of peace" and why nuclear attacks are wrong under any circumstances.

The Yasukuni Problem
The Yasukuni Shrine commemorates Japan's war dead - including 14 class-A war criminals - and is hugely controversial for its visiting politicians and its war museum's nationalist approach to history. Impressions from a visit, and on questions more complicated than is often acknowledged.
Skeletons All The Way Down: why the EU matters
In the ongoing debates about EU membership, including in Britain, some perspective about why the alternative Europe, of sovereignty and national pride, is horrific - and how it has no excuse to forget it.
On "British Values", the Conservative Party and Crimes Against Humanity
A look at what "British values" really mean and the terminal corruption of the party of British conservatism on the eve of the UK's June 2017 General Election.
A tribute to our eight-legged friends, to whom we have done a great cultural disservice, and some reasons we should perhaps reconsider.

To understand a country, you must look at its prisons
A visit to Fuchu Prison in Tokyo, in a wider discussion on themes and problems in the role of prisons in human society.

The Blazing Gentleman of Shinjuku - or What Next for Japanese Pacifism?
On 29th June 2014, a man set himself alight atop the busiest station in Tokyo over fears of a re-interpretation of its constitution, which bans it from possessing a standing army or taking part in wars. A discussion on why these fears may be quite justified, and on the prospects for a peaceful Japan in changing and dangerous times.

My Hong Kong Story
Memories, history and reflections on the 2019 political turbulence in the land of my childhood anti-authoritarian awakening.
 The 10 Game Challenge
The eleven (not ten) video games that have had perhaps the greatest influence on my thinking. Yes, thinking. As in knowledge, values and perspectives. Video games can in fact do that.

On Pain - or, No, Happiness is Not a Choice
Pain changes people. As societies we have not been very good at understanding that.

The Fall of World of Warcraft
On video games and politics in a time of authoritarian revival, and how a beautiful game, my home of fourteen years, chose the authoritarians and discarded its integrity.

COVID-19 is Not the True Enemy
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, a warning that humanity's own way of the Troll, and its exploitation of this crisis, is a threat far more dire than the virus itself.
June 4th 1989
In memory of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, with a short reflection on its long-term significance.

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