The past two weeks or so have been quite significant, especially for students of Politics and International Relations. Here in Chile, for example, President Bachelet gave a speech to Congress in which she signalled a departure from the raw and crude conservatism her predecessor had pursued and in which still scars the country. Ms. Bachelet has not embarked on such a project during her first term but now, having pushed by parents, students, professors and teachers, it seems she’s going to be serious about tax and education reform. This means the country is on the way to shed the pinochetism/conservatism which so many people are just fed up with and which serves only the economic interest of an aristocracy anyway. She reinforced the points she made one day later in an TV interview, in which she also opened the debate about the legalization of medical abortion. The aristocracy, whose time now hopefully has come, is busy to fire a barrage of lies and misinformation about Bachelet’s reforms; aided by arch-capitalist international publications like The Economist. So furious are elites like Santiago’s archbishop Ezzati or former President Sebastián Piñera that they not even are able to rationally argue but drive an emotional campaign. These people (all of them white male and way past their better part of life) prefer women to die before they can have abortion; they prefer to prosecute doctors who help women who had illegal abortions gone wrong before providing universal healthcare and sexual education; these kind of people aim to control the female body.
A second seismic event were the elections on the weekend all over Europe. Especially those for the European parliament which flushed Euroskeptics and demagogues into the very same parliament they aim to obstruct. In the accompanying local elections unfortunately even neo-Nazis (in my native Germany for example) have risen and gained seats in city and municipality councils. The elections have furthermore shown that the majority of Europeans still feels/is not represented, as they abstained. Consequently, no EU member-state and certainly the institution itself can go back to business as usual. The European project has to be redefined and redesigned. I don’t think it’ll be abandoned but something has to happen; that’s for sure.
For students of Politics and International Relations such events are feasts. Students, especially those with a blog that accords them exposure, can rightly be expected to comment and analyse. Well, that’s what I think at least. Whether such claim concords with readers I don’t know (administration still hasn’t come through with statistics, as was promised in January).
Yet as important as these events certainly are, there are limits to the extent politics students, especially distance learners can pay attention. A frustrating lesson to be learned is to recognize ones limits. Thus I’m not writing about doing analyses but about not doing them. Political analyses are a fine thing to do, but when there are papers to read and an essay comes up, these things will have to wait. In return distance learners then can proudly put ‘organizational skills’ or ‘ability to prioritize’ in their CV.
I don’t mean to complain about writing essays and reading papers. Especially on postgrad level these are extremely stimulating exercises. Frustration rather develops once you recognize that you can’t do it all. The department is quite clear in its advice for distance learners; ‘Be realistic’ they say. I guess that’s similar to telling a child not to touch a hot plate – as we all know you have to do it anyway, in order to understand. Distance studies, much more than on-campus, need to be well integrated into work arrangements and social commitments. This means that non-deadline or non-remunerated activity often just has to be placed well behind even the backseat until one is able to breathe again.
Fortunately, not all blog posts have to be neat analyses. There is actually room to write about things that don’t get done. In this sense – back to my essay…