Tag Archives: society

#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

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#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

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.

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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

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

#53 – Project Extra: Choice Words

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.

Mentioned on this episode

The Aidan Project on Apple Podcasts
Aidan Coughlan on Twitter
The Aidan Project on Facebook
The Aidan Project on YouTube
Episode 49 – Notes on Atheism, Hitler and Nazism

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

#51 – Betrayal: The Rotherham Abuse Scandal

The Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal is arguably the worst child safeguarding failure in British history. In August 2014 an inquiry led by Professor Alexis Jay concluded that at least 1,400 children, the majority of whom were white girls aged 11–15, had been sexually abused in the English town of Rotherham between 1997 and 2013. This abuse had been committed predominantly by British-Pakistani men. As shocking as the scale of the abuse was, what made the events even more unbelievable was the sheer incompetence of the authorities and their subsequent attempts to suppress the truth of what had been really happening. The abuse was an open secret in the town and further afield. What was not known was that the authorities were failing to produce a meaningful, transparent response of any kind. In this edition of the podcast, Aidan talks to solicitor, David Greenwood, also Chairman of Stop Church Child Abuse, to discuss this real-life horror story.  David and his team of solicitors represented – and continue to represent – several of the young girls who were subjected to sexual abuse by gangs of men in Rotherham over an astonishing 16 year period. This is not a classic far-right conspiracy yarn nor is it a grisly fiction novel, though it appears as far-fetched as anything you could ever read about. Sadly it is a true story of what happens when a society and its institutions abrogate their moral responsibilities. Aidan previously spoke to David for episode 37, ‘Dogmatic Silence: Abuse in the Church’, which examined the failures of the Catholic and Anglican Churches in dealing with child sex abuse.

Additional notes regarding items discussed on this episode:

In the United Kingdom, you can report criminal offences to CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.

For listeners in the United States, see the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. Visit https://www.rainn.org/ for more information.

Sarah Wilson’s book is called ‘Violated: A Shocking and Harrowing Survival Story from the Notorious Rotherham Abuse Scandal’ and is widely available, including via Amazon.

For more ways to listen, to subscribe to the podcast or to sign-up for e-mail updates when new content is available, please click here.

#50 – Notes on Antifa: What’s in a Name?

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.

For more ways to listen, to subscribe to the podcast or to sign-up for e-mail updates when new content is available, please click here.