About Roots and Resilience

Radical: about the inherent fundamental roots of an issue.
Investigation: a detailed inquiry or systematic examination.

I'm currently working as an independent researcher and freelance journalist for a number of organisations. In 2008 I reported from Thailand and eastern Burma where I worked with the Karen National Union. I have had my work published in the New Internationalist magazine, openDemocracy.net, the Observer, and many other websites and newspapers. I've lived in Japan and travelled extensively in Europe and Asia.

I intend to go back to university next year to study Human Rights Law as it is in this field that my passion for attempting to make sense of the world was first kindled; so Roots will, in part, be a reflection of this background and take shape as such. I do not intend for it to solely be a place of academic reflection, however, and I will also use it as a place to comment and analyse current affairs and post interesting bits-and-bobs I find. This may take the form of longer essay-like pieces, but more often I will post shorter snippets and ideas, pictures and videos. My main interest is in the establishment and protection of human rights, particularly the Middle East, and Southeast Asia (and Britain!). But I also have a deep interest in Latin America and central Africa. So my posts will echo this, but, will not be limited by it. I also have a focus on refugees, refugee law, and the asylum system, so it is likely that an emphasis on forced displacement, refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants will also come through.

I chose the name 'Roots and Resilience: Radical Investigations in deep politics, law and language' for a variety of reasons: I use the term radical to mean to get to the roots of something, to unearth its true meaning, and this is what I want to do. To do this I will investigate by studying the roots in detail. And, perhaps, discover where they lead and where they source nutrients. Investigation in journalism is dying (there are still valiant pockets of life), and in its place is left a depth-less recycling and re-branding of 'content'. Whatever happened to news?

Politics is often seen as something that happens 'over there', something removed from daily life, where only a handful of cultured technocrats possess the skills to operate its levers. I don't think this is the case. This politics is insane, and has been proven so time and time again, most recently by way of the most catastrophic collapse of the world economy since 1929, the development of increasing layers of overlapping and interrelated global crises caused by wars and their inherent and broad destructive power, increasingly capable and organised criminal networks that operate in both the 'illicit' and the 'licit' economy, and the (now irreversible) prospect of devastating climatic changes that are already causing havoc for societies in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Our democracy is malfunctioning. Every few years people vote for leaders from a small selection of interchangeable brand-names, none of whom have the interest of the indigent in mind when in office no matter what ideological webs are woven to get there. Einstein said it, and I agree: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting results."

The term "deep politics" is credited to Peter Dale Scott who wrote that:
'Deep politics' is defined as all those political practices and arrangements, deliberate or not, which are usually repressed rather than acknowledged. A 'deep political system' is defined as one which resorts to decision-making and enforcement procedures outside as well as inside those sanctioned by law and society.
I'm a firm believer in the power of the Rule of Law in society, but, only when that law is applied justly. This is something else that is -- once again -- in fashion: the government routinely flouts (and reinvents) law for political purposes, imprisoning those it deems 'a threat to the public' without recourse to fair trial or, sometimes, even legal counsel. By doing so they mock centuries of legal tradition stretching back to the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 that established Habeas Corpus. This has to stop or we risk what's left of our democracy advancing further towards a technological and psychological tyranny. I think the way we can reclaim the system and 're-imagine' and re-mould it is through organised and persistent action and discourse among the people. The task at hand, then, will require a great deal of resilience on the part of people everywhere. There is no other way.

Language is included because it is possibly the most important aspect of the current malaise. Career politicians, corporate leaders and 'operators', the judiciary, the military and bureaucrats, and, of course, the hacks and TV talking-heads (barring a few brave souls) are professionals at using language to eviscerate the truth. To gut it and replace it with what can only fairly be described as bullshit. Bullshit is what binds it all together.

Roots and Resilience, September 2009