Since being the subject of a recent scandal as reported by The Libertarian last week, London student Kinnan Zaloom has stayed more or less out of the media spotlight while newspapers and magazines around the world have discussed his shocking story. Zaloom, 19, was a student at the Hampstead School in Camden, a borough of London, when his blog was discovered by the headteacher of the school. The Hampstead Trash, as the blog is titled, revealed Zaloom’s academic studies of anarchist literature and individualist philosophy, and his perfectly ordinary belief that every government carries the inherent risk of corruption. Jacques Szemalikowski, the headteacher of the Hampstead School, took issue with what Zaloom’s “mad” anti-establishment thinking, and reported him to the police, as well as phoned the University of Glasgow to dissuade them from accepting him.
In an exclusive interview with The Libertarian which took place over the course of this week, and is excerpted here, Kinnan Zaloom has reacted to his newfound fame, to the scandal which caused it, and shared his thoughts on the future.
Alexander: Reddit has been instrumental in spreading your story, with more than 30,000 redditors visiting The Libertarian for your story alone. During this experience, what has been your view of the role of Reddit and other ‘grassroots’ social news media in shaping political discourse?
Zaloom: Reddit has always seemed to me to be a brilliant forum for people to share information and discuss issues. I haven’t ever used it, but from what I hear from friends who do, they cannot part with it. CGP Grey released a video a few days ago explaining Reddit to non-redditors, which - along with The Libertarian’s success on the site - has made me consider taking part.
Alexander: Do you think Reddit has the potential to change the world?
Zaloom: Reddit and all other grassroots news media have massive potential in changing the world and shaping the political discourse. However, after witnessing the pointlessness of the Arab Spring that was started and spread using social media, I realize the power and corruption of worldwide governments and their suppression of true human thought. That is why I admire social news sites such as Reddit because there are no editors and what is popular is popular because we choose it to be.
Alexander: What has been the reaction of your friends and family? We all know the Internet has viewed you very positively, but how have things gone over in your own circle?
Zaloom: My friends and family have found the whole affair very funny. They know my side of the story and the schools, and laugh off any accusations made about me. But they find my presence in the media very strange.
Alexander: Is there any story that sticks out to you?
Zaloom: I am surprised by the amount of anarchists and libertarians who have gotten in touch to voice their support, my favorite being from the Glasgow Anarchists (and of course the amount of support from The Libertarian).
Alexander: Jacques Szemalikowski, as we have all been shocked to discover, went to the trouble of phoning the University of Glasgow to dissuade them from accepting you for your “anarchism and individualism”, “anti-establishment thinking”, and view of the inherent corruptibility of government, yet these appear on the required reading lists of nearly every university political science programme in the country. Is he out of touch with what universities really want from students?
Zaloom: I couldn’t say whether he is or isn’t out of touch with what universities want from students, but the way in which he runs his school doesn’t allow state comprehensive students to reach their potential as they would if they went to a public school. I really don’t understand his perception of anarchism and individualism, what is so bad about being interested in those philosophies? He was quoted in the Camden New Journal as being worried that I was turning into an anarchist. Would he have said that if I were interested in socialism, communism, nationalism, liberalism, feminism or secularism? I don’t know what his political ideologies are, but Hampstead School has an equal opportunities policy. Would he ever not hire someone because of they support anarchism or individualism?
Alexander: Is his push for conformity at the expense of independent development, critical thinking, and diversity holding Hampstead graduates back?
Zaloom: Conformity at the school is not only affecting students but teachers also. The roles of school councilor, prefect and head boy/girl do nothing for the school; only benefiting the person themselves, as it gives them something handy to put on their CV or university application. Extracurricular activities are non-existent, and even if they do run, they are given the least amount of care and attention possible. The lack of these non-academic activities narrows student sight and expansion. However, you can always catch the head praising the debate society, but in the past few years he hasn’t even attended one debate evening or presentation.
Alexander: You are very well read, as we have gathered from the literature you have quoted on your blog (Plato, Orwell, etc.) What books have most influenced your way of thinking?
Zaloom: Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club and Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy have been a great inspiration. Fight Club has shown me the lengths humans are ready to go to escape reality, and how it is much better to embrace your reality and be the person you are. The Foundation trilogy made me realize that the world is truly chaotic and that every action is an important one. It can take thousands of humans to build a society, yet one person’s action can change the course of millions.
Alexander: If you could make everyone in the country read one book, what would it be?
Zaloom: One book I would suggest everyone read is Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We which when written was a dystopian nightmare and now has become more and more alike to the world we live in.
Alexander: Can you tell us more about where your philosophy comes from?
Zaloom: My philosophy is ever changing, and I did once have an interest in socialism and communism, but even they are ever so easily corrupted. I do not label myself as an anarchist or an individualist, as I’ve only read a few books concerning the philosophies. To me they provide the solutions to the problems we face with the people who hold power over us.
Alexander: To wrap this up, now that we have all become acquainted with your story, everyone wants to know where you are going next. What are your plans for continuing your studies? Have you given any thought to your career?
Zaloom: I am moving this week to study Mathematics at Portsmouth University. I have collaborated with two others to create a new more personal blog, which will just contain our personal criticisms of society. I hope to be very proactive in student societies at university. As to what I want after university, I have no clue. I would equally love to go on to research mathematics or start a career in technical theatre. All that I know is that I hope to be blogging for a long time.
The Libertarian extends its gratitude to Mr. Zaloom for taking the time to participate in this interview, and wishes him the best in his future.
Zaloom’s new blog can be found here.