In this edition of The Aidan Project, Aidan welcomes back philosopher, Dr. Benedict Beckeld, for a conversation which explores the current political climate, and delves into intriguing questions regarding the self and personal agency. Why has the political climate become so polarised? What is causing this failure of communication? And how do we understand our own personal self – is the self an illusion and do we have the ability to have acted differently in a given situation? Could letting go of an illusory idea of ourselves liberate us to better live, love and learn? Aidan and Benedict discuss tribalism, free speech, political discourse, journalism, truth, relativism, and the deep questions of the self and free will. Aidan and Benedict also both share an example of an unwitting experience in less than honourable journalism – in Benedict’s case, his comments on inner and outer beauty were used in an egregiously misrepresentative manner by an American tabloid newspaper. The episode begins with a summary of the theme from Aidan and Benedict’s previous conversation, episode 12, Western Downfall: Why Trump Won. Benedict explains whether he feels the conditions which led to Donald Trump’s presidency have begun to change or have continued unabated. Dr. Beckeld was born in Sweden to Brazilian and Jewish parents, but emigrated with his family to New York City as a teenager. Dr. Beckeld’s philosophy has thus far focused primarily on matters of aesthetics, ethics, contemporary culture, political philosophy and the philosophy of history. For more information on Dr. Beckeld, you can find him online at http://www.benedictbeckeld.com and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/benedictbeckeld
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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In this edition of the podcast’s bonus audio series, ‘Project Extra’, Aidan again welcomes back special guest Jared Miracle, who holds a PhD. in anthropology from Texas A&M University. Aidan and Jared discuss the depressing lack of choice in UK and US politics in respect of viable ruling parties, Jared’s experiences on campus with social justice warriors, the fascinating politics of sport in different regions of the world, and more. As always, a conversation with Jared is well worth your time in listening to. You can find Jared’s web site at www.jaredmiracle.com, on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dockungfu, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jaredmiraclewriter.
Clips on this episode Following the Brexit result, Peter Hitchens discusses two-party politics in the United Kingdom, BBC News 24, published 24 June 2016 A discussion on social justice warriors on university campuses, Real Time with Bill Maher, published 17 March 2017 A parody of the Presidential debates, Saturday Night Live, published 23 October 2016
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There is a quote, often attributed to Winston Churchill, which predicts, “The fascists of the future will call themselves anti-fascists.” Churchill probably did not say this, but the idea certainly has prowess. We all too often see well-meaning organizations come to represent the very behaviours they had set out to destroy. Is Antifa an example of this? There is evident confusion on the left surrounding the name, ‘Antifa’. Antifa is an abbreviation of ‘anti-fascist’ or ‘anti-fascist action’. Unfortunately, there is a branch of leftists who are using the explanation of the name as the only required justification for all the organisation does. In this edition of the podcast, Aidan looks at Antifa and asks, “What’s in a name?” You can tweet the show @TheAidanProject. For further information on other groups discussed on this show, see www.sourcewatch.org.
The British Empire, and other European powers, began to leave South East Asia in the aftermath of World War 2. The region has changed dramatically since this era; a period when British troops were fighting communists in Malaya, several years before the US attempted its own communist supression in Vietnam. It was during the British Empire’s response to Chin Peng’s insurgency that the colonial rulers committed an atrocity that could be called ‘Britain’s My Lai’. On this edition of the Aidan Project, Aidan is talking to Christopher Hale, a distinguished freelance executive producer, producer/director and writer, to discuss British rule in Malaya, post-colonial South East Asia, press constraints in Malaysia and Singapore, Donald Trump’s tenuous grasp of history, and the incomparable Philippines President, Rodrigo Duterte, a man who has claimed to have personally killed criminals, among other controversies. Christopher has numerous documentary credits to his name, for the BBC, Channel 4, Discovery, and National Geographic, amongst other broadcasters. His programs include ‘Why Reading Matters’ for BBC4, ‘The Year the Earth Went Wild’ for Channel 4, ‘Naked Science: Universe’ for National Geographic, ‘Oasis of the Golden Mummies’ for Discovery, ‘Accidents in Space’ for BBC/Travel Channel, and many more. Christopher’s 2013 book, ‘Massacre in Malaya: Exposing Britain’s My Lai’, covers the Malayan Emergency of 1948–1960, which was the longest war waged by British and Commonwealth forces in the twentieth century. Christopher has also written a number of books on wartime Nazi Germany, including ‘Hitler’s Foreign Executioners: Europe’s Dirty Secret’. For more information on Christopher and to check out his voluminous work, visit http://www.christopherhalemedia.org/. You can find Christopher on Twitter at https://twitter.com/chalemedia.
On July 21, the noted evolutionary biologist and author, Richard Dawkins, was de-platformed by a ‘progressive’ radio station in California because of comments he had previously made about Islam. This decision – powered by the moral confusion that maliciously designates fair criticism of religion as hate speech – is yet another example of the left’s deeply dishonest, nonsensical, virtue-signalling and outlandish apologising whenever Islam is discussed. In this episode, Aidan is joined by Sadia Hameed, spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, for an honest conversation on the challenging issues of appraising Islam, leaving the faith, the media’s obsession with ‘Islamophobia’, the widespread cultural relativism and obscurantism espoused on the left, the conflation of peaceful Muslims and archaic Islamists by the right, and much more, including the de-platforming of Dawkins. This is an important conversation regarding the interactions of the ideas of Islam and the world. For more information on the Council, visit their web site at https://www.ex-muslim.org.uk/.