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

This article, largely based on GIPA info, is an example of the type of content Honi should strive to publish — well-researched, analytical content, which critques University management and situates the issue in a broader political and economic context. Zoe Stojanovic-Hill

Will lived experiences divide us?

by Lorenzo Benitez

Lorenzo Benitez’s ‘Will lived experience divide us?’ applies lessons from analytic metaphysics, phenomenology, and philosophy of mind to the political, critiquing the foundational and complex solipsism of identity politics.
In the process Benitez leaves us with much to consider, suggesting that our established propensity for empathy is the glue that permits solidarity between group insiders and outsiders. For those who haven’t considered identity politics and its philosophical undergirding, this article offers a balanced exposition.
But even those more familiar with the complexities of identity politics will find unique and well-established insights in Benitez’s piece, especially those among them who approach the issue from a political background. And even those who disagree will be forced to articulate their position more substantially and in a way that better maps onto the revelations Benitez unearths through his reasoning.
As such, we can be sure that the time Benitez takes from us and passes over to the land of thought is not lost, but an investment that grows in profitability with time. Liam Donohoe

How USyd killed Darlington

by Anastasia Radievksa

It’s easy to forget USyd has 150 years of history. This article shines a light on a small part of it—on how the university is tied to the fabric of the Inner West. It’s eye opening to realise how much of that history still touches us today: Darlington and development, social movements, power struggles and urban dynamics. It makes you realise USyd is more than just a backdrop for lectures, but an intersection of people and their ideologies—and a meeting of present of past. Janek Drevikovsky

The war in Yemen: What the news isn’t telling you

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.