I’m a third-year History and Arabic student at the University of Manchester, and have just returned to London after an abortive year abroad learning Arabic in Jordan (thanks, Covid). Travelling and living abroad in a country and culture as different to ours as Jordan’s is without the obligatory reflection of your own values and priorities is impossible. Whether it makes you question what you think you know or makes your beliefs even more firmly entrenched, there’s no doubt that it gives one pause to think. Do I know, then, what I think about everything already? No, unfortunately not. But i’m not entirely sure that’s the point.
Politically speaking, I’ve always found it easier to say what I don’t agree with, than what I do. I can rapidly recognize and deplore evidence of systematic injustice, inequality and racism, as well as broad sweeping offensive cultural generalizations of the Middle East, for example. I also have a (un)healthy (ir)rational wariness of data-driven technology and social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram and am frightened by appeals to populist nationalism. I struggle however to assimilate all these beliefs into one coherent and consistent political philosophy (especially into a philosophy adhering to a particular party line), and as a result appear as more of a contrarian than a contributor. On this, it is enough to say that when discovering and critiquing the politics I don’t like I am trying to be more ‘right’, but only by being less ‘wrong’. That being said, my opinions are more left than right, and more socialist than wrong, so you’ll find me writing, unsurprisingly, for the Labour team.
Given this it is quite exciting to be writing for POI, and at the risk of sounding like a hedging politician I hope I can ‘start a conversation’, and ‘stimulate a debate’, as well as hopefully crystalize some of my own ideas. If only because I love a good disagreement, and have nothing to do this summer.