Steven - CairnsI started this weblog having for some time been a perennial pest to my Facebook friends through an absurd habit of sharing my thoughts on politics, religion and the state of the world. I recently came to the conclusion that social media is best left to cat memes and closed communities of common interest and that I was at risk of losing too many acquaintances for my own good by revealing what I really think of the world and the forces that are shaping it.

It seems that even when people are aware that the world is in crisis, they are content to retreat from the reality of the situation. In many ways, it is hard to blame them—the future is indeed quite scary. Through a combination of factors, everyone on this planet faces some very serious challenges and, unless things change direction very soon, it is very easy to conclude that the future outlook for much of the planet is not very bright. The environment is under attack through uncontrolled land clearing and climate change, continual wars are destroying the social and economic fabric of nations, political trends are strongly moving towards totalitarianism, poverty and social dislocation are being exacerbated through radical neoliberal economic agendas, the role of the media has been converted from being a check on those in power to tool of propaganda and technology is being turned against people as a means of social control. However, while the issues facing humanity can be overwhelming, they will never be resolved by ignoring them and retreating into the balm of social media avoidance, mass media news and ‘reality’ television. The power of the Internet is that information is still available for those who wish to know. I am a firm believer that information is emancipatory in the hands of the public and that the solution lies in widespread awareness and collective action to expose and oppose those who would bind us into a future favouring only a select few.

My interest in the world was an awakening that came through studies in critical social psychology which introduced me to concepts such as psychological positioning and the use of language as a means of projecting the self and as a persuasive tool. It was during my initial studies in psychology that the events of 9/11 occurred, and the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq took place while I was working on my MA in social psychology. It was through this lens that I experienced the intense propaganda campaign and lies advanced by the Bush regime to justify the criminal destruction of two countries. While the lies used to justify the theft of the Iraqi oil reserves were fairly transparent at the time, I found it difficult to understand the level of wanton destruction and cruelty visited upon the Iraqi people and how no apparent thought had been given to reconstruction after the event. Up until then, although I was aware of the horrors of Vietnam and neighbouring countries in South East Asia, I had just thought the US was a mostly well-meaning, albeit often misdirected and incompetent, shepherd of Western civilisation. How naive I was in those days!

Steven Howard
Brisbane 24 May 2016