Most thought-provoking articles of 2018
Here are the articles we published this year that sparked a conversation in our heads
Paypal activism: Is there a price to being woke?
by Aiden Magro
“There is a strange paradox when leftists call for the end of capitalism but require payment for discourse.” Activists dominate the online world, giving rise to social issues with reach never before seen. Strangers can ask questions, read minorities voices and perspectives, and, to put it simply, learn to be woke.
However, time is money — it comes with a price. Aiden’s focus on LGBTI+ frontpeople on Facebook groups, sheds light on a new phenomenon: paying for emotional labour.
But does paying for explanations—which can be draining, damaging and repetitive—create a clash between left values and capitalism? Millie Roberts
One man’s trash
by Dominic Bui Viet
“Even the most waste-conscious among us have little idea what happens after trash gets sent through the black hole of our bins”, Dom writes. This is definitely true of me—I feel my moral absolution when I separate my aluminiums from my foodstuffs, and rarely think about what lies on the other side. I rarely think about the stories that emerge from the byproducts of my simply existing, the labour that goes into categorising the amorphous mass of social excrement.
Entropy cannot decrease, and it is clear from Dom’s article the effort that goes into making order from disorder. It’s an insightful warning against libertarian individualism—waste persists after us, and we don’t stop to think what happens next. Also, it’s really funny. Lena Wang
Nine days in North Korea
by Jay Tharappel
“What follows is not an academic account that takes into consideration every aspect of the country, but simply what I saw in a thousand words.”
I can’t say I am aligned with Tharappel’s politics, nor do I deny this story was imperfect and tunnel visioned in some respects. But in our media landscape, the majority of articles about everyday life in North Korea are rather bland recounts by privileged individuals who have paid exorbitant prices to attend a Koryo tour. This article is different. It is also based on a tour, but one that is invite-only to friends of the North Korean government. Mainstream media does not publish works like this. We hardly ever see crystal clear photos of the capital. This article is, if nothing else, an incredibly rare historical source into the most isolated country in the world. Instead of being dismissive, I urge people to read Tharappel’s words critically, and decide for themselves what was real and what was staged. Lamya Rahman
Shitty Easter Show Continues to Not Die
by Bruno Dubosarsky
“Shitty Easter Show (also known as O-Day) commenced at the University of Sydney to no applause today at 9am.”
Good satire is satire which challenges ideas we hold sacred. It’s satire that digs deep into the crux of what we as a society do and displays it bare before the whole world, for the joke that it is. Bruno’s piece challenges the sacred institution of USyd’s ODay at the beginning of Semester 2. ODay is a cheap and disgusting affair. It reeks of the type of privilege and self-importance people associate with USyd and as long as it’s alive it will continue to be a stain on this university. Nick Harriott
Socialism or capitalism: The workplaces with both
by James Monaro
Will the revolution be televised? Will it be live-streamed? Does there need to be a revolution at all?
Conceptions of left-wing politics and anything that seeks to escape the exploitative hell of late capitalism often skirts the question of what ends are necessary (or even possible) to achieve the means. This feature gave a look at how democratic participation in industry is a road to better rights and representation for workers – something that doesn’t seem to impossible at all. We like to believe we live in democratic societies, and ensure representation in other parts of our life, so why not the workplace. Given that regions and industries favouring worker-owned cooperatives have some of the highest productivity rates, surely this provides a light even for the soulless among us who would still rather profit. Could this be it? Really makes you think. Andrew Rickert
B.A. ‘n Bougie: USyd’s social scene is classist
by Ellie Wilson
This category rewards writers who have pinpointed a unique quirk about our university – a quirk that has gone either unnoticed or unspoken.
Ellie Wilson’s article on the classism rife in university clubs and societies and the types of events that are run, encourages readers to reflect on the university rites of passage they themselves take part in. It asks the audience to think a bout what aspects of their university experience are complicit in upholding the class barriers that prevent a large portion of students from feeling included. Simple things, like the theme of a cruise, can serve to perpetuate an ideal of upper class mentality. The article was certainly divisive, with many believing that it unfairly targeted arts students and the faculty society.
But the article certainly allows a reader to reflect, not only on the experiences written about, but the many others that we go through as part of our time at this institution. Alison Xiao
USyd tied to arms industry
by Lara Sonnenschein
Will lived experiences divide us?
by Lorenzo Benitez
by Anastasia Radievksa
by Swapnik Sanagaravapu
“The poorest country in the Arab World is in the midst of what has regularly been described as the worst humanitarian crisis of our times.” Not many students know about the Yemeni plight. Despite the sheer scale of the suffering, it’s something which, though we may be aware of, hasn’t infiltrated the collective consciousness in a way that’s deserving of it’s gravity.
“What little we hear about Yemen is often crouched in vague platitudes that evoke our empathy for a few seconds, before shifting on to other issues.” This is the nature of our times. Collective attention is dead. In the wake of that, what can we do?
Reading Swapnik’s article, what sticks out is how considered it is: the human nature of the crisis comes through as you’re reading. It’s a small, but important attempt to break through the noise. Elijah Abraham
Check out the other Best of 2018 lists here.