End of Year Roundup.

datePosted on 12:35, December 31st, 2020 by Pablo

We have arrived at the end of another year here at KP, making it the 11th since this blog started in January 2009. I am the only one left of the original crew and am the only one who posted this year. Lew is still nominally involved with KP as an administrator but he seems to have moved on to other things and most often dispenses his wisdom in 140 character bites. This has led some to claim that KP has become my personal blog but that is not the case as far as I am concerned. I continue to invite people to join what was initially a social democratic/democratic socialist collective because I am acutely aware of my limitations when it comes to areas outside my fields of supposed expertise. This year I simply had no expressions of interest.

I wrote 48 posts in 2020, an average of 4 per month or once a week. Interestingly, I wrote only two posts in April when we were in full lockdown, something that one would have thought would have been reversed–that I would post more while confined to quarters. Most of what I wrote about was in my areas of interest: international relations, comparative politics, international security, authoritarianism, terrorism, and democratic theory and practice. I did several posts on pandemic-related issues, a few on the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch terrorist attacks, a couple on Iran and China, with the bulk of the remaining writing devoted to US and NZ-related themes.

I included as a post the Q1-2 Report from the 42 Group, a collective of youngish strategic analysts, and incorporated a number of links to “A View from Afar” podcasts with Selwyn Manning. There were a few personal posts included in the mix, and stylistically speaking I began to weave more personal anecdotes and observations into the narratives. With this year’s output I crossed the personal 600-post milestone and KP passed the 3500 comment threshold, with a total of nearly 961,000 views since it began publication.

The site averaged 84 readers per day, around 2400 per month and 30,686 for the year so far. This continues the decade’s trend of gradual decline in readers, with the last two years showing a levelling in visits to the site. The “regular” readers continue to come back and we have picked up some new ones. Others have left for greener pastures, and from time to time new and old trolls show up to cause mischief. I did not have to blacklist anyone, which is always a good thing.

We shall see what 2021 holds for KP. I have more surgery scheduled early in the year and am not really thinking beyond that in terms of work and writing projects. I am sure that there will be plenty to comment on both here in NZ as well as elsewhere. Post-Drumpf US politics should be a regular source of entertainment and concern. There could be more, even large scale war.

Although I am not one of those who believe that it can only get better next year, I do think that the world may have crested a wave when it comes to governance and material well-being because the pandemic exposed the deep fault lines not only in various forms of government but also in the global system of production and exchange. As I have said repeatedly, there is no turning back to the pre-pandemic status quo and the post-pandemic future will be forced to reckon with the need for deep systemic reforms in how people are ruled and how they contribute to the productive worth of society.

In any event, to each and every one of you who has stopped by to have a read and engage in the occasional discussion, my sincere thanks and best wishes for a peaceful, productive, heathy and happy New Year.

16 Responses to “End of Year Roundup.”

  1. Barbara Matthews on January 1st, 2021 at 09:18

    I know nothing of the history of this site or of its previous personnel. I think I just stumbled on to it serendipitously. What I really like is having a forum to discuss matters in which I remain interested in a non judgemental way. I also like your responses as I know few people with your expertise, certainly no one in my circle now I am no longer involved in an academic role. Hope the site keeps active. Happy New year.

  2. Pablo on January 1st, 2021 at 09:42

    Much thanks Barbara. All the best to you as well.

    KP started in 2008-09 as the brainchild of Peter Haynes (“Jafapete”) and Anita Easton (“Anita”), who then recruited myself and Lew into the collective. Peter had to drop out almost immediately due to work conflicts and after two years Anita had to do the same (blogging about political matters while working for government agencies poses a problem, as it turns out). Lew is, IMO, one of the sharpest political minds out there and has a rather unique perspective on Maori issues (and hunting/guns!). But in recent years his family and work obligations have reduced the time he can spend writing 500-1500 word essays so he uses a short form social media format to offer his public views. I feel that this is a serious waste of his talent but I am not living in his shoes.

    So it is just me at this point. I am still looking for good writers on feminism, Maoridom, environmental matters, the Arts and assorted other subjects that are beyond my reach. Some guests posts notwithstanding, previous attempts to bring in new blood simply have not worked out. Nevertheless, I remain hopeful that someone will eventually come along and broaden the scope and depth of KP’s coverage.

  3. Di Trower on January 1st, 2021 at 15:44

    Best wishes for a successful surgery and speedy recovery, Pablo. I look forward to hearing you are fit and well again and to reading your posts. Happy New Year to you and yours.

    I hope this year will be a much better year for everyone. Best wishes to all.

  4. Pablo on January 2nd, 2021 at 09:22

    Cheers Di. Onwards and upwards as they say.

  5. Atrocitator on January 2nd, 2021 at 13:19

    I think the problem with recruiting others is that it is very intimidating – you have established such a high standard of analysis and discourse that any other writer would have to work very hard in order to even come close to you. Honmestly I think the blog is fine with just you Pablo. Another writer would just dilute the quality.

  6. Pablo on January 2nd, 2021 at 14:06

    Thanks Atrocitator, that is an interesting take.

    When Anita and Lew were writing regularly, the blog had a rich mix and a heck of a lot more readers. We tried a couple of other people early on but they did not work out for various reasons. More recently EA contributed for about a year but he left to do his own blog (KiwiFirewalker) and then dropped blogging entirely. Kate Nicholls and Selwyn Manning have guest posted, but the offers to come on board have been few and far between.

    Some of it can be due to me, as I have been accused of being arrogant, rude and close-minded. Perhaps there is some truth to that. What I try to do is stay in my lane (occasional personal anecdotes notwithstanding) when it comes to what I write about and be rigorous in presenting and defending my argument. That means not suffering uninformed but opinionated, pedantic or nitpicking, thread-jacking fools in the comments section but also leaves plenty of room for honest debate and an ocean of subjects unexplored. However, friends remind me that the profusion of short-form social media and the premium placed on snark, wittiness and/or one-line punditry conspire against serious essay writing in blog form. Hence, blogs like this are increasingly obsolescent.

    I am not sure about that. KP gets some excellent commentary by regular readers, which means that people are reading longer-form platforms. As much as I disagree with what Chris Trotter often writes, his Bowalley Road blog is a good longer-form read and people like Not PC and Croaking Cassandra offer Right versions of the genre (long form political blogging). Those are just some examples, the point being that if people read these type of blogs then surely there are people who want to write them.

    Anyway, I will plug along. I used to be a jazz DJ back in the day so I may diversify a bit and start going through my old LPs and playlists as well as newer additions to my collection in order to write about things like Thelonious Monk’s politics of protest, Eric Dolphy’s influence on Coltrane, Horace Silver’s Afro-Lusophone orientation or Art Blakey’s band being a germinator of a particularly glorious type of Hard Bop sound. And of course Sun Ra and his Arkestra as an exemplar of democratic socialism put into spectacular musical practice.

    Just listing these artists makes me realise how much more there is too write about if I can get the time and inclination.

    We shall see.

  7. Di Trower on January 3rd, 2021 at 16:48

    I’d personally love the inclusion of music in your blog from time to time, Pablo. Bring it on, I say! Politics and art (music in this case) are made for one another.

  8. Atrocitator on January 4th, 2021 at 20:07

    as someone who has read the blog for years I think it is fine that it covers the subjects that you are expert in, Pablo. It already has a very wide range. Not every blog can cover everything.

    I think the long form blog is still very much alive. Leave twitter rants and Tiktok videos to the teenagers and the mental teenagers. True adults appreciate a long, discursive and academic-style riting piece from an acknowledged and unimpeachable expert in the field, and they also appreciate a chance to discuss in comments without nitpicking or needless discussion of off topic matters. Kiwipolitico provides it very nicely. Nothing in this world is truly perfect but Kiwipolitico comes very close. Honestly the only thing I would change is that you should post more, but i know you have a very busy and fulfilling personal and professional life so I am just grateful for what you can do.

  9. peter sim on January 4th, 2021 at 20:07

    This is my favourite blog site. Sorry to hear about surgery. I wish you well, and please come back soon.

  10. Pablo on January 4th, 2021 at 20:52

    Thanks for the kind words everyone.

    I will see what KP can do this next year. As I said before, there should be plenty of grist for the mill.

    Cheers!

  11. Barbara Matthews on January 5th, 2021 at 09:14

    I like the nature of this blog. It doesn’t need changing, expanding, watering down. It’s perfectly clear what it’s about. I also like the occasional “tug of war” with some readers who like the proverbial canine won’t drop the bone. You know exactly when to give them rope or when to give them the ‘chop.’If they return all’s well again and we await the next big thing. Without Trump will it be less revoltingly riveting?? I guess time will tell as it inevitably does.

  12. Atrocitator on January 5th, 2021 at 10:34

    ” I also like the occasional “tug of war” with some readers who like the proverbial canine won’t drop the bone. You know exactly when to give them rope or when to give them the ‘chop.”

    I agree, it is a pleasure to see Pablo but intellectual pygmies in their proper place and give them their druthers.

    Pablo I will say this – since this is your blog, it is alwasy interesting to ehar more about your personal interests, your life, and the injustices that have been visited on you in your career – and how these injustices expose innate flaws in New Zealand society. If you are taking requests, more of that please.

  13. Di Trower on January 7th, 2021 at 13:08

    I agree entirely with what Barbara, Aatrocitator and others say. I have also thought for quite some time it would be very interesting to hear more about your very interesting life.

  14. James Green on January 8th, 2021 at 21:19

    Twitter doubled the character count to 280 a few years ago by the way. It’s actually usable now (not that I do).

    I only read two NZ bloggers these days: you and Michael Reddell (Croaking Cassandra). I’d like to read Brian Easton too, but after Pundit “upgraded” their website last year I can no longer get their RSS feed to work and I could no longer comment either. Very frustrating; manually checking the website is something I find to be too tedious.

    The decline of RSS in favour of social media as the prime aggregator of news might be why blog readership is declining.

    Anyway, please keep it up. You are the only security and foreign affairs writer I know with a local perspective who is even half-way decent.

  15. Lance on February 8th, 2021 at 20:50

    Hola Pablo,

    Ex student of yours, long time reader and looking forward to many more. I have always enjoyed reading your work. I do miss reading content by Lew also. You mention he is active on Twitter (ugh) are you able to pass on Lew’s user details so I can follow?

    Gracias.

    Thanks.

  16. Pablo on February 9th, 2021 at 06:47

    Hi Lance,

    Thanks for your readership. Lew is great value although IMO wasted on the twitterati. He can be found at #LewSOS

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