Reading today about the US reporters released from North Korea made me wonder just how I’d react in the same situation. Likewise, last week I spoke to an interesting fellow at a seminar on Somalia who was talking about a New York Times writer who’d been captured by the Taliban outside Kabul and held for 7 months before escaping. These kind of incidents make me wonder just what I’d do.
Naturally I can make all the bluster and play-by-play strategies I’d devise to break away, negotiate or, if it gets dire enough, figure out how to kill myself before they do. Grim stuff, but I sincerely hope that such things never happen. Nonetheless, from the safe halls of university seminars and discourse, I often find myself getting impatient at the aloof, disconnected rationalisations we throw around like popcorn in a movie theatre. It’s so easy to look at these place in the world where hunger, deprivation, conflict and general sufferings occur and then place harsh criticism upon those who would attempt to change it, those who would perpetuate it, and most egregiously, those who remain indifferent to it. All the theoretical and philosophical masturbation helps not at all when one is confronted, on the ground, with the realities one only reads about in reports and journals.
I suspect many academics in International Relations and Politics would say that it’s necessary to remain aloof, lest passion cloud one’s judgement, that it’s not conducive to good thinking if you take a side or say something you might get attacked for. But really, is this not the entire point of it all? To provide some sort of contribution via academics towards our chosen field? For many, we do this because it’s something we can put on a CV and use for job-hunting. For others, it’s pure intellectual indulgence. But isn’t that missing the point? Focusing on Strategic Studies; a field which is inherently clear in its objectives and utility, doesn’t lend well to other aspects of International Affairs. I find in my seminars and tuts increasingly hostile and impatient to woolly, opaque notions of what’s important, what should be done, and how we should remain always prudent etc etc ad nauseum. It’s irksome, and I don’t think I’ll ever find it agreeable.
Perhaps it’s arrogant to think that I would act in similar fashion to those fortunate few who escape from tyrants, terrorists and generally evil people, but damnitall, if the alternative is akin to what I witness within the halls of academia, there’s really no choice in the matter at all.
What a load of nonsense John! Shut the hell up and give us music.
Fine! Broken Social Scene – Fire Eye’d Boy