All posts by Finn O’Connor

Family Matters – What’s at Stake Between Canada and India

Written By: Finn O’Connor

For some, the holiday season is an opportunity to connect with family and friends who we often do not get to see more than once a year. For others, it is a chance to remind ourselves why we only see our family once a year as we get the opportunity to revisit the same old disagreements from the last holidays and sit uncomfortably around the dinner table for five hours.

International relations can seem a lot like the latter at times, especially between democratic countries who are often forced to interact in global forums despite their personal misgivings with one another. Most of the time, allies bite their tongue and get to business without dredging up the ugly stuff. However, from time to time, two family members get into a row across the table while the other patrons awkwardly watch from the sidelines.

Despite being on other sides of the world, the two countries have a surprising amount in common. A parliamentary system inherited from the late British Empire, a vast territory covered in a harsh climate that sometimes borders on unhospitable, and an array of regional cultures that often chafe against the idea of a national identity. However, within these similarities are fundamental differences. Canada is temperate and can be bitingly cold, while India is tropical and brutally hot. Canada’s regional identities stem from its population’s colonial homelands, whereas many of India’s cultures predate the European nations themselves. And, while Canada’s democracy persists in a recognizable form, the Indian government has increasingly toyed with authoritarianism and nationalism. Continue reading…

Growing Pains – Lessons on Automation from the Industrial Revolution

Written By: Finn O’Connor

I’ve found it difficult, recently, to avoid hearing the term “Artificial Intelligence” as it seems the craze over sophisticated prediction models has infected every newsletter in my inbox. Every time I log into LinkedIn, I am bombarded with entrepreneurs developing vague “AI based solutions” that they reckon might change the world. At the same time, it seems like every occupation is a risk of being replaced by artificial humans that can perform any task better, and cheaper, than any lowly meat-bag. Though these fears are understandable, AI threatens the once untouchable domain of human thought upon which the information age was built. Of course, on the other hand, there is the age-old argument that while old jobs become obsolete, new ones we cannot even conceive of will replace them (I just recently learned my roommate works as an “AI prompt writer”). But while we can all look to the future to imagine what careers we might see in the next decade; it might also help to look to the past.

Continue reading…

The Great Leap Sideways – Chinese Industrialization Under Mao Zedong

Written By: Finn O’Connor

After forming the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, Mao attempted to rapidly develop China’ economy through a series of centrally administered 5-year plans based on the Stalinist industrial policy. The most famous of these plans is the second one between 1958 and 1962, commonly referred to as the Great Leap Forward (GLF). These plans came at an enormous economic and social cost, resulting in the death of between 15 and 55 million people through one of, if not, the largest famine in history. The failure of Mao’s economic policy led him to double-down on the Chinese Communist Party’s social control, purging dissidents and rewriting Chinese history through the Cultural Revolution of 1966 to 1976. After the Chairman’s death and subsequent reorganization of power within the CCP, Deng Xiaoping undertook broad economic reforms that moved the Chinese economy away from its command structure to a more free-market approach through the household responsibility and Town-Village Enterprise (TVE) programs that stimulated market-driven economic growth. Paired with an opening-up policy that ended decades of economic isolation from the world economy, Deng cultivated some of the most rapid development in history, setting the PRC on track to become one of the strongest of today’s economies.  Continue reading…

Cartels and Collapse – The Deep (Economic) Impact of Asteroid Mining

Written By: Finn O’Connor

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report released in late March has once again spurred discussion on how we can reconcile humanity’s massive consumption with the relative continuation of our way of life (1). One solution that has long been discussed is the possibility of harnessing resources outside the terrestrial ecosystem to bolster our scarce supply. The most attractive place to start this process is with asteroids; mineral-rich rocks that orbit our sun. Companies like Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries cropped up in recent years intending to harvest asteroids for their resources and transport them back to Earth. However, they have barely begun the exploratory stage, where probes are sent to assess the composition of target asteroids (2). Continue reading…

The Irony of Reform- Gorbachev’s Anti Alcohol Campaign


Written By: Finn O’ Connor

Gorbachev was a complicated figure to say the least. He is as close as a Russian politician can be to a hero in the West. As the victors of the Cold War, the United States refer to him as the man who conceded defeat and brought an end to the tense superpower rivalry that spanned nearly half a decade. In former members of the Eastern Bloc, he is remembered for his brutal crackdowns in Lithuania and Estonia. His economic policy, one that contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union, leaves an equally complicated legacy.  Continue reading…