Violence, history wars and ecofeminism

It's funny that we use the term 'history wars' for debates about history, since one of the common themes in these debates is about violence, whether violence was practised by certain people or states, and whether it was legitimate. Historians like me, who are critical of the use of violence and anti-war,  are thus described as being engaged in a 'war', just like those who believe war is legitimate. The use of metaphors in this way is interesting and often seems to serve particular ideological purposes, including to discredit caring (e.g. pacifists engaged in metaphorical 'wars', breastfeeding supporters engaged in metaphorical 'nazism'). There are many ironies because people who believe in the legitimacy of certain wars, and indeed tend to glorify wars in some ways (eg John Howard and Anzacs) are also likely to deny that there was a 'war' on Indigenous people in Australia, to minimise the violence of invasion, and ignore the resistance t

Depression, stress, loneliness, alcohol

Still trying to keep up with the blog. This time I'll write something personal rather than about politics. I don't suffer from severe depression, but from time to time I get a bit depressed, stressed or lonely. Again, I wouldn't say my life is particularly stressful or lonely, compared to many people who have much harder lives, but I do experience these feelings sometimes, like many others, I think. When this happens, because of my background and the particular culture I grew up in, I often tend to turn to alcohol to cheer myself up. I don't think there's anything wrong with having a drink or a couple of drinks, but when I'm drinking in those situations, I quite often drink more than that, to the extent it probably affects my health. I'm pretty healthy, but could be more so. It has at times also affected my relationships with other people, mainly through getting into arguments that are more angry or rude than I would ideally like them to be. It's

peaceful conflict resolution

I'm home with a cold, being lazy, trying to write something. I've got plenty of things to do but I'm trying to keep writing on this blog. It's quite time-consuming, and easy to neglect, but for a blog to be useful or valuable it's important to keep it up to date. I'm trying to think through some ideas to do with peaceful conflict resolution, which have a particular relevance to some current political issues, though I can't discuss these at present.  As discussed in my thesis , a key social condition in our society is that hierarchy and inequality are normalised. Our ways of dealing with conflict probably also reflect this. It's not an area I know much about, but it seems to me we proceed on the basis of ingroups and outgroups, rather than an inclusive socioecological perspective that we're all in this together and we have to make it work. If we attempted to take such an approach, I think we'd focus much more on resolving conflict at the

On kindness and Twitter

Much of this blog so far has been about argument, conflict, anger, hurt feelings and the general difficulties of speaking fearlessly and honestly. But a recent experience on Twitter illustrates how kind people can be. Some people seem to think Twitter is all about anger, abuse and piling on. 'Twitter's a cesspool' seems to be a common opinion (though I suspect uttered more by non-users than users). However my experiences show a different picture. I'm a fairly small Twitter user (about 340 followers and follow about 380) and mainly follow people whose political opinions and views appear similar to mine. That can get you the 'echo chamber' effect, where you think your views and opinions are much more common than they are (this is also a problem for people who live in particularly 'lefty' areas, as I do) but it can also lead to affirming experiences. Recently I posted on Twitter: Val Kay @Valakay 52 years after I first w

On honesty, rudeness, being offended

A few bits and pieces I was browsing through blogs and I came across this by Timothy Burke, talking about why he blogs and why he has been quiet recently. He seems to touch on some of the same issues I'm trying to explore here. He's a long time blogger, aware of " problems of long-standing in online culture: trolling, harassment, mobbing, deception, anonymity, and so on."  But he goes on to say: Nevertheless, I started a blog for two major reasons. First, to have an outlet for my own thinking, as a kind of public diary that would let me express my thinking about professional life, politics, popular culture and other issues as I saw fit, and perhaps in so doing keep myself from talking too much among friends and colleagues. I don’t think I’ve succeeded in that, because I still overwhelm conversations around me if I’m not thoughtful about restraining myself.  The second was to see if I could participate usefully in what I hoped would grow into a new and mor

when I'm trying to say what I think but you think I'm insulting you ...

Over the years I've definitely upset quite a few people by saying what I think - sometimes by carefully considered comments that still upset people, and sometimes by just unguardedly saying what I think. Reflecting on the pattern in this, they are comments where I was suggesting (or people thought I was suggesting) that they (or someone else) was being sexist, or racist, or not environmentally sustainable. I'd say this pretty well covers the gamut of why I have been banned from Hoyden about Town and Crooked Timber and the extensive arguments that preceded those bans. In the case of Hoyden About Town, it was a while ago and I don't still have the reasons that the blog owner, Tigtog, gave for banning me, but as I remember it was that I upset people. This was following many heated discussions over sexism on the former Larvatus Prodeo blog (where Tigtog was a moderator) and a comment I'd made to another commenter on Hoyden about Town, which possibly suggested that she

Dualisms, patriarchy, war and Anzac Day

John Quiggin, who has a reliably critical perspective on war, had a post on his blog today discussing Anzac Day and commenting that Turkey could have been on the side of the allied powers in World War One. I had been thinking about Anzac Day, and the conflict I feel between the need to express anti-war views at a time like this, and a sense of hopelessness about doing so. His post prompted me to comment, and try to express some of my views. So I am reproducing that comment below, as a starting point, which I can further develop later or expand on in future posts. [In reply to John Quiggin]: Thank you for a thoughtful contribution to Anzac Day. Reading the linked article [ here ] it is depressing because it’s so obvious. The issue of the taken-for-granted, that which we can’t see because it’s normal. Patriarchal states in which a handful of men gain power, dress up in uniforms, fight over territory, form alliances in secret and so forth. Not all that much has changed. Weber th