Tag Archives: Society

#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).

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#65 – Project Extra: Trump Tower or Bleak House

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In this bonus episode of the podcast, Aidan and cultural anthropologist, Jared Miracle, discuss Donald Trump’s legislative victory on tax reform. Republicans from the Senate and the House of Representatives have agreed on a joint bill which will sanction significant restructuring to US taxation. The Washington Post and Fox News, to the surprise of nobody, have taken entirely different views on the bill. These contrasting stances are typical of the polarisation of political discourse in the age of Trump. Writing in the Post, Fareed Zakaria claimed that the bill is “ushering in a bleak future.” However, David Moore of Fox News argued that Democrats “can’t ever be happy by anything the president or congressional Republicans do.” According to the media, America is either doomed or is on the march towards greatness. Who to believe? In this episode, Aidan looks at the media’s reaction to Trump’s big win, before Jared explains his concerns about the bill. Aidan also discusses what historians are saying about the reforms.

This bonus audio was recorded after Aidan and Jared’s conversation for an upcoming special episode, ‘2017: The Year in Review’. The episode will be released later this month. For more information on Jared Miracle, you can find Jared’s web site at http://www.jaredmiracle.com, on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dockungfu, and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jaredmiraclewriter

Related links:

Historians on the tax fight: “This was manufactured urgency”, Vox news, 18 December 2017

US tax bill: Republicans agree sweeping changes, BBC News, 16 December 2017

The GOP tax bill may be the worst piece of legislation in modern history, The Washington Post, 14 December 2017

GOP tax cuts will strengthen our economy and drive Democrats crazy, Fox News, 14 December 2017

Related tweets:

Archive of all podcasts with Jared Miracle

#63 – Tribalism Aboard the Ship of Theseus

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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

Links to items discussed on this show:

Benedict Beckeld web site
Benedict Beckeld on YouTube
Benedict Beckeld, Monism and Inner Beauty, 1 June 2017.
Western Downfall: Why Trump Won

#61 – Best of the Project, Vol 2: Donald Trump

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The Aidan Project remains intact after a year of podcasting  – thank you so very much for your support. During 12 months of covering the sublime and, in light of a great deal of madness, no shortage of the ridiculous, it is time to look back and reflect at what has been happening. The theme of this compilation is the remarkable anointing and presidency of Donald Trump. In a tour de force of audio, Aidan presents highlights from episodes which have addressed Trump’s ascendancy and rule. With contributions from a range of guests over the past 12 months, in addition to highlights from a number of Aidan’s solo, ‘Notes on…’ episodes, this ‘best of’ presents discussions on the controversy, intrigue and leadership of the inimitable 45th president of the United States of America. Featured in this edition include political philosopher, Benedict Beckeld, who outlines his theory as to why Trump won the election; malware guru, Ran Levi, who explains the allegations pertaining to Russian meddling during the election cycle; Richard Keeble, Chairman of the Orwell Society, who gives his verdict on “alternative facts”; veteran journalist, Gary Herman, who outlines the challenges of a seemingly post-truth world, and documentary filmmaker, Christopher Hale, who explicates Trump’s disturbing lack of understanding of history. All this and a great deal more in a bumper compilation episode.

Episodes featured in this collection:

#2 – The Man of the Year and The Führer
#10 – George Orwell Versus Alternative Facts
#12 – Western Downfall: Why Trump Won
#16 – On Liberty and Free Speech
#17 – The Fake News Agenda
#38 – Notes on Making America Great Again
#40 – Downloading a President
#41 – Westminster Briefing
#44 – The New Cold War
#46 – The Emergency: Empire, Massacre, Duterte
#47 – Notes on North Korea
#56 – Notes on Patriotism: Taking a Knee
#59 – Notes on Terror, Treason and Anarchy

External audio:

Richard Dawkins interview, Russia Today, June 2017

Related articles:

Donald Trump: Man of Letters
The Berlin Wall and Donald Trump

#59 – Notes on Terror, Treason and Anarchy

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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

Related tweets

Further reading

Richard Dawkins, ‘I love fireworks, BUT…’, Richard Dawkins web site, https://www.richarddawkins.net/2014/11/i-love-fireworks-but/, 5 November 2014.

‘Terrorism’, Oxford Dictionary web site, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/terrorism

‘V for Vendetta’, IMDB web site, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0434409/.

Bibliography

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).

 

#58 – Notes on Shame and the Modern Pillory

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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.

Bibliography [by appearance]

Robert Shoemaker, The London Mob: Violence and Disorder in Eighteenth-Century England, (London: Hambledon Continuum, 2004).

‘The price of public shaming in the Internet age’, CNN web site, 16 April 2015, http://www.edition.cnn.com/2015/04/16/living/feat-public-shaming-ronson/index.html

‘A Terrible Shame. Enforcing moral norms without the law is no way to create a virtuous society’, Slate web site, 9 April 2015, http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/view_from_chicago/2015/04/internet_shaming_the_legal_history_of_shame_and_its_costs_and_benefits.html

‘How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life’, New York Times web site, 12 February 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html

 

#54 – Afterword on Atheism, Hitler and Nazism: Broken Glass

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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.

Bibliography:

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).

Volker Ullrich (Author), Jefferson Chase (Translator), Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939, (London: Bodley Head, 2016).

Paul Weber, Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi (unreleased, due November 2017).

Further listening

Sam Harris, ‘Episode 96: The Nature of Consciousness A Conversation with Thomas Metzinger‘, The Waking Up Podcast

The Aidan Project archive on Atheism