Tag Archives: Politics

#78 – Notes on The Irish Famine

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In this edition of The Aidan Project, Aidan examines the claims regarding culpability and blame within the historiography of The Irish Famine (circa 1845-1850). The Irish Famine devastated Ireland’s population: it is estimated to have killed a million people, with around two million more people forced to leave the country. Furthermore, this appalling event is a key example of the uneasy history between Ireland and the United Kingdom. At the time of the Famine, Ireland was a formal part of the UK, following the Act of Union in 1801. Did the British intend to extirpate the Irish, as has often been claimed, or were the British simply incompetent? The genocide charge dominates the historiography of the Famine. This debate over culpability and blame is, of course, a contentious one. This episode, after providing a brief introduction to the Famine, will summarise the competing arguments. This episode includes audio from episode 24 – The Irish Famine: Tragedy and Propaganda, which featured an interview with Professor Liam Kennedy, Emeritus Professor of History at Queen’s University Belfast. Aidan and Professor Kennedy discussed the comparisons made by Irish nationalists between the Irish Famine and the Jewish Holocaust. Professor Kennedy’s most recent book is Unhappy the Land: The Most Oppressed People Ever, the Irish.

Expanded show notes:

#24 – The Irish Famine: Tragedy and Propaganda

‘Blair issues apology for Irish Potato Famine’, The Independent, 1 June 1997.

Bibliography:

D. George Boyce and Alan O’Day, The Making of Modern Irish History: Revisionism and the Revisionist Controversy, (London: Routledge, 1996).

Richard English, Irish Freedom: The History of Nationalism in Ireland, (London: Macmillan, 2007).

Peter Gray, The Irish Famine, (London: Thames & Hudson, 1995).

John Mitchel, ‘The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)’, Boston College Libraries, https://archive.org/details/lastconquestofir00mitc, accessed on 11 February 2018. [Note: Digital version of The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps) (1882). Other publishing dates listed are 1860 and 1873.]

Cormac Ó Gráda, The Great Irish Famine, (Cambridge: Macmillan, 1995).


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#77 – Defending Trump’s Presidency

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Dr. Larry Fedewa says that Donald Trump would do well to tweet less often and to rein in some of his unseemly language, but, nevertheless, Dr. Fedewa argues that Trump is doing a good job as United States President. In this edition of The Aidan Project, Aidan is speaking to Dr. Larry Fedewa, a conservative political commentator, with countless media contributions to his name, including the Washington Times. How successful has Trump’s administration been in gaining legislative support? What can be said of Trump’s foreign policy? Is Trump a new Ronald Reagan or is he more akin to a much earlier President, Andrew Jackson? Could Trump face impeachment, and if so, how does the impeachment process work? What is the future of the odd relationship between Trump and the mainstream media? All of these questions, and much more, are considered during this intriguing episode.

Aidan also spoke to Dr. Fedewa for the bonus audio episode, #75 – Project Extra: The Gun Debate.

For more information on Dr. Larry, you can visit his website at http://www.mypoliticalinsights.com. Larry is also on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lawrencefedewa, and you can view his Amazon author page at https://www.amazon.com/Lawrence-J.-Fedewa/e/B076P8Q1W8 (US) and https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lawrence-J.-Fedewa/e/B076P8Q1W8 (UK).

Expanded show notes:

‘Trump says Kim meeting is ‘in the making’ despite concerns’, BBC News website, 10 March 2018.

‘Even when Trump is right, mainstream media downplays it rather than be honest — and more media embarrassments’, Fox News website, 10 March 2018.

“He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion.”

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

The Aidan Project on social media:

The mailing list
Twitter
Facebook

#76 – The Evolution of Alternative Facts

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In this edition of The Aidan Project, Aidan is talking to Dr. Gleb Tsipursky of the Pro-Truth Pledge about the battle for honest discourse. This is an important consideration. During a speech at the White House in January 2017, Donald Trump’s Press Secretary at the time, Sean Spicer, famously said: “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.” This statement has been endlessly mocked, but, in more serious terms, it has come to represent, as stated shortly afterwards without irony by Trump advisor, Kellyanne Conway, as not being a lie, but an entirely different version of the truth. Spicer, explained Conway, was not being dishonest, but was dealing in “alternative facts”. Comparisons to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four were manifestly obvious and, indeed, were deeply indicative of a very real problem. What is the answer to alternative facts? Utilising research in behavioral science, Dr. Tsipursky is leading a team effort to address post-truth politics, fake news, and those unscrupulous alternative facts. Dr. Tsipursky is asking people, be they members of congress or members of the public, to sign the Pro-Truth Pledge as a commitment to deal in only one type of fact, and not the alternative variety. Dr. Tsipursky explains the motivation behind this movement, and outlines his hopes for a more honest arena of public discourse. Why are humans so easily misled? What can be done about fake news? Is it possible that Donald Trump would sign such a pledge? How has social media been manipulated to spread misinformation, and can this be prevented? These questions, including a fascinating look at why humans are, from an evolutionary standpoint, poorly equipped to deal with the modern age, are featured in this episode.

For more information on the Pro-Truth Pledge, or to sign the pledge, head to https://www.protruthpledge.org/take-the-pro-truth-pledge/

Expanded show notes:

‘Richard Dawkins: We’re too stupid to decide on EU (that includes me)’, The Times, 23 May 2016.

‘Nigel Farage backtracks on Leave campaign’s ‘£350m for the NHS’ pledge hours after result’, The Independent, 24 June 2016.

Related episode:

#10 – George Orwell Versus Alternative Facts
#17 – The Fake News Agenda
#63 – Tribalism Aboard the Ship of Theseus

#75 – Project Extra: The Gun Debate

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In this bonus edition of The Aidan Project, Aidan is speaking to Dr. Larry Fedewa, a conservative political commentator, with countless media contributions to his name, including the Washington Times. In this mini-episode, Dr. Larry offers his reflections on the 14 February 2018 mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, before discussing the wider issue of guns in American culture. Dr. Larry talks about the Second Amendment, the failures of the FBI, the culture clash in the US between rural and urban areas, and more. How soluble is the gun problem in America? Or is the problem less about guns, but more about mental health and law enforcement? Dr. Larry provides considered insight into these questions.

For more information on Dr. Larry, you can visit his website at http://www.mypoliticalinsights.com. Larry is also on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lawrencefedewa, and you can view his Amazon author page at https://www.amazon.com/Lawrence-J.-Fedewa/e/B076P8Q1W8 (US) and https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lawrence-J.-Fedewa/e/B076P8Q1W8 (UK).

Expanded show notes:

Aidan’s full-length conversation with Dr. Larry will be released in the coming weeks. In this upcoming episode, Aidan and Dr. Larry talk for around an hour regarding the presidency of Donald Trump. In a wide-ranging conversation, all aspects of Trump’s administration are discussed, from foreign affairs to the president’s battle with the press. To ensure you do not miss an episode, you can subscribe to the podcast or join the mailing list at http://www.theaidanproject.org/podcast/.

I recommend reading Sam Harris’ 2003 article, The Riddle of the Gun, which is available at https://samharris.org/the-riddle-of-the-gun/.

Aidan and Mary Shores spoke briefly about the Florida shooting in #74 – Déjà Vu: Consciousness and Free Will.

#72 – The Mob Historian: An Episode You Can’t Refuse

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Christian Cipollini writes very good books about very bad things. This is a very good podcast about those same very bad things. In this edition of The Aidan Project, Christian Cipollini, an award-winning historian of the criminal underworld, discusses organised crime, the mob and some of its most notorious characters. Charles “Lucky” Luciano is a particular person of interest for Christian, and with good reason. Luciano, an Italian mobster in the United States in the first half of the twentieth century, is considered by some to be the father of modern organised crime. Aidan and Christian discuss Luciano, the definition of ‘mob’ and ‘mafia’, prohibition, violence, Hollywood’s obsession with gangsters, and much more. Christian has been a featured expert guest on numerous television documentaries for various broadcasters, including the History Channel and National Geographic. For more information on Christian, you can visit Stache Publishing’s author profile, including a look at Christian’s remarkable graphic novels, at http://www.stachepublishing.com/creator-profile-christian-cipollini-gangster-historian/, you can head to Christian’s website at https://www.ganglandlegends.com/, you can browse his impressive Amazon author page at https://www.amazon.com/Christian-Cipollini/e/B00CP95F4K for the United States, or https://www.amazon.co.uk/Christian-Cipollini/e/B00CP95F4K for the United Kingdom.

Expanded show notes:

“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse. Okay? I want you to leave it all to me. Go on, go back to the party.”

Don Corleone
The Godfather (1972)

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Christian Cipollini on IMDB.

‘Narcos’ filmmaker shot dead scouting for locations in rural Mexico, The Telegraph, 17 September 2017.

#71 – Inspiring The Aidan Project – I am still gratefully accepting your feedback on this episode within an episode.

Introducing The Aidan Project Live

Note: You can join the mailing list for information on future live specials and new podcasts.

#71 – Inspiring The Aidan Project

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In a very different edition of the podcast, Aidan takes you behind the scenes of The Aidan Project. Within this reflective podcast, Aidan introduces Inspiring The Aidan Project, a potential separate podcast series which would highlight the men and women whose thinking has inspired Aidan. Aidan then presents a pilot episode for this prospective series; the pilot tells the story of George Orwell. Also in this episode, Aidan offers further reflections on Winston Churchill, following episode 69: The Churchill Myth: Many Dark Hours, and talks about every podcaster’s worst nightmare: a full-length conversation which will never be heard.

Expanded show notes:

#69 – The Churchill Myth: Many Dark Hours

Churchill was flawed like all the greats but his achievements outshine his shortcomings, Sky News, 1 February 2018.

Mary Shores web site

More information on the pilot for Inspiring The Aidan Project:

Copy of Copy of UPSTART

Potential artwork for Inspiring The Aidan Project

Inspiring The Aidan Project is a prospective podcast series, separate to The Aidan Project.

Inspiring would feature five-minute episodes telling the stories of the incredible men and women who have inspired my thinking, for better or worse, according to your preference.

In some instances, I may disagree with certain statements and behaviours of the luminaries in question, but this does not obscure their overall importance. This is because, as Christopher Hitchens so adeptly explained, “The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.”

Hitchens, Orwell, Paine, Bentham, Mill, Russell, Gandhi, Voltaire, Luxemburg, Hume, Aristotle and Arendt are examples of notables who have passed on. However, Inspiring would also profile living persons, too. After the introductory episode, each edition would be an episode unto itself, which is to say, you could listen in any order.  Episodes would neither be released in order of how I rank their influence – even if this were possible – nor according to the year of their birth. All episodes must simply meet the criteria, which is principally of being a person who inspired me to think critically. It may be, too, that a given person was somewhat dogmatic and prone to superstition; nevertheless, their immense moral courage and/or grand ideas served to inspire me, thus meriting their inclusion.

I want to pay homage to the men and women who inspired me, because I merely stand on the shoulders of these giants. I hope these persons could inspire you, too.

Your feedback will be important to me: I want to hear what you think of the vision, the format, the pacing, even down to the cover art and podcast’s title! Please get in touch.

After I have collated your feedback, the podcast could be launched as a separate entity to The Aidan Project, to be made available via this web site and via all major podcast providers. Episodes could possibly be released within a number of ‘seasons’, ala Netflix.

Kind regards,
Aidan

Aidan Coughlan
2 February 2018

#70 – Notes on the Great Debate: Paine Versus Burke

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In this edition of The Aidan Project, Aidan looks at the remarkable debate that is, according to some historians, the origins of left versus right politics – or progressive versus conservative. In the late eighteenth century, Edmund Burke went up against Thomas Paine, each offering entirely different opinions on the French Revolution. Paine, writing in his most celebrated book, Rights of Man (1791), argued: “Whatever is my right as a man is also the right of another; and it becomes my duty to guarantee as well as to possess.” Burke had spoken out against the revolt in France, saying the chaos and upheaval would eventually be settled by a dictatorship. He was right. Paine certainly did not see Napoleon coming. Britain avoided revolution; instead, Britain moved further to the right. This episode further explores some of the themes from episode 69, The Churchill Myth: Many Dark Hours. Aidan also gives his damning verdict on the dire standard of discourse on social media, where debate is certainly not great.

Related links:

How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently.

#69 – The Churchill Myth: Many Dark Hours

#58 – Notes on Shame and the Modern Pillory

Guest Appearance on Miracles and Atheists

‘The Great Debate’ bibliography:

Paul Langford, ‘Burke, Edmund (1729/30–1797)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography web site, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/4019, September 2012, accessed on 14 October 2017.

Mark Philp, ‘Paine, Thomas (1737–1809)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography web site, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/21133, May 2008, accessed on 14 Oct 2017.

Jonathan Sperber, Revolutionary Europe 1780-1850, (Harlow: Pearson, 2000).

Adam Zamoyski, Phantom Terror: The Threat of Revolution and the Repression of Liberty 1789-1848 [audiobook], (New York: Harper Audio, 2014).