In this edition of the Aidan Project, the podcast marks a year online with the first ‘best of’ episode. This episode features audio from Aidan’s conversations with Dr. Paul Dean for the America’s Great War series of episodes. This special compilation is being released ahead of Armistice Day, 11 November. On November 11 1918, an armistice was signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France. It brought an end to the awful hostilities of what was thought to be at the time the war to end all wars. This episode looks at World War One from the battle of the Somme to the peace treaty at Versailles. Aidan’s special guest, Dr. Dean, is a former instructor at, and alumni of, Washington State University, who is an expert on World War One and author of Courage: Roy Blanchard’s Journey in America’s Forgotten War. For more information on Paul, please visit his web site at www.paultdean.com.
In this edition of the Aidan Project, Aidan talks about the infamous Gunpowder Plot, Guy Fawkes in popular culture, and the definition of terrorism. In 1605, Catholic dissidents in England attempted to mount an insurrection by first murdering King James I of England and Scotland, along with other notables, in a planned explosion of the Houses of Parliament. Robert Catesby led the audacious scheme to topple the Protestant hierarchy, but it is Fawkes who is most associated with the events of that dramatic 5 November near-miss. Moreover, the subsequent adoption of an abstract idea of Guy Fawkes as somehow playfully representing anarchism and anti-fascism is deeply ironic. The Fawkes mask is a feature of modern popular culture that is far removed from the intention Parliament had when it sought to commemorate the uncovering of the plot with an officially sanctioned annual observance. Parliament desired to remember 5 November as a deliverance from evil, but this message has since been diluted, if not quite altogether lost. In the modern age, ‘Bonfire Night’, ‘Guy Fawkes Night’ or ‘Fireworks Night’ is more notable for theatrical pyrotechnic displays and sickly candy-floss than as a reminder of what would have been an appalling atrocity. Aidan also comments on the definition of ‘terrorism’ in the wake of the Islamist terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan on 31 October.
Remember, remember The Fifth of November The Gunpowder Treason and Plot I know of no reason Why Gunpowder Treason Should ever be forgot Traditional 17th century rhyme
NYC terrorist was happy as he asked to hang ISIS flag in his hospital room. He killed 8 people, badly injured 12. SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!
Lewis Call, ‘A is for Anarchy, V is for Vendetta: Images of Guy Fawkes and the Creation of Postmodern Anarchism’, Anarchist Studies, 16, 2, 2008, pp.154-172. Antonia Fraser, Faith and Treason, (New York: Random House, 1997).
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Shaming is a form of social control. When a person violates the established norms of their community, the group may respond by condemning, avoiding and ostracizing the ‘guilty’ person.
In this edition of the Aidan Project, Aidan examines public shaming in 18C London – where the guilty were placed in the pillory and pelted with various objects, including dead cats – and compares this to social media shaming. Is the treatment meted out on Twitter in 2017 little better than a 1717 stint in the pillory? Why do people join in to attack people they barely know or, more importantly, why do people attack others for ‘offences’ that are often spurious, subjective or not even understood? Aidan looks at one of the most famous cases of social media shaming, the only positive aspect of which was that no dead cats were hurled at the offender. The inherent danger in assisting with frantic social media shaming is that of potentially trivialising something real or exaggerating something trivial. There are, of course, many reasons to be genuinely outraged; Aidan is arguing that by rising up to engage in purely-reactionary shaming, the sphere of honest public discourse is suffering as a result.
In this edition of the Aidan Project, Aidan discusses a potential hint of progress in the battle against leftist confusion.
The case of Maajid Nawaz and the Southern Poverty Law Centre has been discussed several times previously on the podcast; the case is an important one for the struggle it represents. The SPLC, to the horror of those who support the notion that cultural relativism is the death knell of honest discourse, labelled Nawaz an anti-Muslim extremist in October 2016. Nawaz is suing this organisation for libel. Aidan summarises the case for new listeners and provides an update that demonstrates a glimmer of hope and, tellingly, further demonstrates the fantastic degree to which the SPLC is irrefutably mistaken. Aidan also addresses why the terms ‘leftists’ and ‘liberals’ are unreliable synonyms. Indeed, leftists and liberals are often very different in terms of their outlook. Aidan explains why liberals should care about Nawaz’s case, and why liberals must be proactive in tackling the moral confusion espoused by manic leftists. Aidan also explains legal exceptions to free speech in the United States of America under the First Amendment. Related tweets
In the previous episode, Aidan talked about the British reverence for Monarchy. In this edition, Aidan moves across the pond to explore the US national identity. In recent weeks, we have been reminded of the importance of the US flag and national anthem to Americans, with Donald Trump on the offensive against sportsmen who have protested racial inequality and other related grievances by taking a knee for the US national anthem.
Protesting can carry a political cost and can give ammunition to your opponent. David Frum wrote in Atlantic magazine, “Colin Kaepernick has better right to that flag and anthem than Donald Trump. Why concede that right? Assert it.” This is an interesting debate. Aidan gives his take, and explains why he would refuse to sing the British national anthem. Aidan also addresses recent comments made by Trump about press freedom. These comments follow those made in February, when – lest we forget – Trump outrageously stated that the press were “the enemy of the people.” Further reading (in show order) ‘NFL protests: Why did players kneel or link arms?’, BBC News, 25 September 2017, www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41392433
Christopher Hitchens asked in The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain’s Favourite Fetish, “Why, when the subject of royalty or monarchy is mentioned, do the British bid adieu to every vestige of proportion, modesty, humour and restraint?” This podcast episode seeks to explore this, and related, questions.
Why, after executing a King, did the British almost immediately experience a distinct feeling of buyer’s remorse? What purpose do the British think the Royal Family serves? And how intrinsic is the yearning for monarchy within the British identity? In Rights of Man, Thomas Paine, wrote stridently that he thought the British monarchical system absurd. Indeed, he helped establish the United States of America in opposition to monarchy. Christopher Hitchens said the British have a ‘fetish’ for all-things Royal. George Orwell, a man who experienced, wrote and was fearful of autocracy, explained that the British see their monarchy as a safety-valve against tyranny. Orwell pointed to the dictatorships, in stark contrast to British constitutional monarchy, which had suffocated democracy in Germany and Italy in the prelude to World War 2. These questions of national identity are, of course, subjective. But by looking at past events (such as the Civil War and its regicidal aftermath), analysing the various arguments made over time (Paine, Orwell, Hitchens and others), and seeking to understand the continued reverence for monarchy, we can gain an insight into the British identity and its apparent obsession with Royalty.
“Remember, I am your King, your lawful King, and what sins you bring upon your heads, and the Judgment of God upon this Land, think well upon it, I say, think well upon it, before you go further from one sin to a greater; therefore let me know by what lawful Authority I am seated here, and I shall not be unwilling to answer, in the meantime I shall not betray my Trust: I have a Trust committed to me by God, by old and lawful descent, I will not betray it to answer a new unlawful Authority, therefore resolve me that, and you shall hear more of me.” So said Charles I at his trial for treason in 1649. History tells us that those conducting his trial would have been well advised to have listened to these words of defiance. Indeed, republicanism in the UK is about as able to face down the monarchy today as Oliver Cromwell was when, already dead, he was exhumed after the Restoration, and beheaded. Such memories, such ghastly memories, are as much a part of the British identity as pomp and circumstance is.
At the beginning of the podcast, Aidan briefly comments on the high emotions surrounding the Catalonia referendum, and the awful Las Vegas shooting, which both occurred on 1 October 2017. Bibliography Walter Bagehot, The English Constitution (Oxford World’s Classics), (Oxford: Oxford Paperbacks, 2001). Linda Colley, Britons: Forging The Nation 1707-1837, (London: Vintage, 1992). Christopher Hitchens, The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain’s Favourite Fetish, (London: Vintage Publishing, 2012). ‘HM Queen Elizabeth II — Coronation Day Speech — 2 June 1953’, YouTube website, https://youtu.be/S2pgmKeGEZg, 2015, accessed 1 October 2017. Simon Jenkins, A Short History of England, (London: Profile, 2012). John Laughland, A History of Political Trials: From Charles I to Charles Taylor (Proquest eBook), (Bern: Peter Lang AG, 2015). George Orwell, The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell: Volume III, As I Please, 1943 – 1945, (London: Secker And Warburg, 1968). J.A. Sharpe, Early Modern England: A Social History 1550-1760, (London: Bloomsbury, 1997). Charles Spencer, Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I, (London: Bloomsbury, 2014). Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, (London: Penguin, 1985 [first edition 1781]) ‘The Monarchy: popular across society and ‘here to stay’’, YouGov website, https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/09/08/monarchy-here-stay/, 8 September 2015, accessed 1 October 2017. ‘The Trial of Charles I’, BBC In Our Time website, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00kpzd6, 2009, accessed 1 October 2017. Clips ‘Blackadder II’, BBC Television, 1986. ‘The Devil’s Whore’, Channel 4 Television, 2008. Images ‘Queen Elizabeth II’ at Madame Tussauds, Madame Tussauds web site, www.madametussauds.co.uk Queen Elizabeth I portrait, Royal Family web site, www.royal.uk Queen Elizabeth II by Andy Warhol, Guy Hepner web site, www.guyhepner.com
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Kristallnacht, or ‘Night of Broken Glass’, was a notorious pogrom against German Jews throughout Nazi Germany on 9–10 November 1938. In this edition of the podcast, Aidan expands on the arguments presented in episode 49, ‘Notes on Atheism, Hitler and Nazism’, to provide a comprehensive afterword. In the original podcast, Aidan explored the classic argument of the faithful against atheism when discussing human history. This argument – especially prevalent whenever the issue of violence or hatred is discussed – is that Adolf Hitler was an atheist. The inferred claim is that this godlessness demonstrates the danger of turning away from the moral teachings of the church. Another aspect of the argument which is often thrown in as an addendum is a charge that the Third Reich was a secular movement. Aidan revisits these arguments, with particular attention to the Night of Broken Glass, to provide further insight and analysis. Aidan is on Twitter @AidanXCoughlan.
Christopher J. Probst, Demonizing the Jews: Luther and the Protestant Church in Nazi Germany, (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2012).
Richard Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).
John Toland, Adolf Hitler, (New York: Doubleday, 1976).