All entries by this author

Religion Always and Everywhere Exonerated *

Aug 16th, 2004 | Filed by

Ancient religious texts shouldn’t form the basis of social policy now.… Read the rest

Christopher Hitchens Reviews Edward Said *

Aug 16th, 2004 | Filed by

He felt obliged to speak for the unheard, which could tempt him to be propagandistic.… Read the rest

Dreams and Nightmares

Aug 15th, 2004 7:48 pm | By

And now Norm emails to point out an article of his on this very subject. Very apropos, and full of good points. I want to quote and quote…

Notwithstanding any of this, however, it remains true that from the outset socialism was utopian. It was a distant land, another moral universe. It was radically other vis-a-vis the order of things it aspired to replace. And that is what it still is. A society beyond exploitation is in the realm of the ideal.

And the thing is…well, my colleague will doubtless disagree, but I can’t help thinking that those distant lands we imagine, those other moral universes – those thought experiments and counterfactuals and what ifs – are good for us, … Read the rest

Revolutions Can Look Forward or Backward *

Aug 15th, 2004 | Filed by

Ishtiaq Ahmed says contemporary Islamic notions of revolution value a pristine state of the past.… Read the rest

Neuroscience and Free Will *

Aug 15th, 2004 | Filed by

The binding problem of perception has implications for free will and agency.… Read the rest

‘Contemporary Popular Knowledges’ *

Aug 15th, 2004 | Filed by

Gossip as a form of knowledge? Don’t you mean ‘knowledge’?… Read the rest

Czeslaw Milosz 1911-2004 *

Aug 15th, 2004 | Filed by

Poet, essayist and opponent of mental captivity.… Read the rest

The Politics Behind Cultural Relativism

Aug 15th, 2004 | By Maryam Namazie

International TV Interview with Fariborz Pooya and Bahram Soroush

Maryam Namazie: We received an email from an irate ‘concerned happy Muslim Iranian’ critical of your [Bahram Soroush] statements on the incompatibility of Islam and human rights. He said, ‘it is obvious that you hate your own culture and religion and have a vendetta against anything Iranian and anything Islamic’. He made a suggestion: ‘if you hate our culture and our religion, then I suggest that you go and change your faith and tell people that you have no country and leave us alone’! Now this is something you hear a lot from cultural relativists; that it’s ‘our culture’ and ‘our religion’. Can you expand on that?

Bahram Soroush: They are … Read the rest

Stoicism and Enthusiasm

Aug 14th, 2004 7:54 pm | By

It’s a depressing thought, really. No getting around it. It’s depressing and discouraging – in fact it’s tragic – to think that our best qualities are so inseparable from our worst. That (if this idea has anything right about it) we can’t even aim to make things better, do great things, right wrongs, improve the world, without risking turning into a butcher or an apologist for butchers. But it seems difficult to deny. Of course some people manage it, of course there have been improvers who don’t become homicidal maniacs or their lackeys. But the inherent risk of it seems difficult to deny – I suppose because the two seem to be actually the same thing only in different forms. … Read the rest


Aug 14th, 2004 5:30 pm | By

Normblog pointed out a review by David Aaronovitch in the New Statesman the other day (read the NS item promptly because it will go subscription soon). It’s about a familiar but permanently mysterious fact of recent history: the willingness of the Stalinist and Leninist left to ignore or explain away or deny or justify mass murder. Thus it’s also about one of the starkest examples on record of the phenomenon B&W was set up to document and examine: the way ideology can distort the ability to think properly. B&W is primarily about the way ideology can warp judgments of the truth about the world, but moral judgments play a part in that process too. The denial of Stalin’s crimes was … Read the rest

What’s Up With the Left? *

Aug 14th, 2004 | Filed by

Self-righteous anger merely a cover for indifference bred by failure.… Read the rest

Outlook India Asks: What If? *

Aug 14th, 2004 | Filed by

What if India hadn’t been partitioned, Rajiv hadn’t unlocked Babri Masjid, Gandhi had lived, India had become a Hindu theocracy?… Read the rest

Slightly More Favourable View of Eagleton *

Aug 14th, 2004 | Filed by

But still ‘Sometimes Eagleton sounds like a don passing fruity high-table judgments’… Read the rest

Harsh Words for Latest Eagleton *

Aug 14th, 2004 | Filed by

Narrow but not focused, high-table rambling, platitudinous, repetitious…… Read the rest

Aaronovitch on How Ideology Blinds *

Aug 14th, 2004 | Filed by

Almost indestructible ideological commitment that led communists to deny what they saw.… Read the rest

Wolfgang Mommsen 1930-2004 *

Aug 13th, 2004 | Filed by

German historian opposed revisionist accounts of Holocaust.… Read the rest

Research on Kennewick Man Still Restricted *

Aug 13th, 2004 | Filed by

Justice Department forbidding DNA tests, limiting access.… Read the rest

Goddam Godless Slackers

Aug 12th, 2004 7:32 pm | By

Okay, that was fun, picking fights with my colleague is good entertainment but it’s a luxury, a rare, truffle-like item that only occurs once every few years. Life is not all holiday, as Niall Ferguson has just been reminding us, so it’s time for me to get back to the hard graft of saying something substantive. Well no not substantive – I don’t know how to do that – but anyway not frivolously internecine.

Check out this piece of reactionary nonsense from the aforementioned Ferguson. I’d seen links to it here and there but didn’t bother reading it, because the links merely talked about Europe and holidays and laziness and how much better the US is – and I’ve seen … Read the rest

Blame Atheism! *

Aug 12th, 2004 | Filed by

For what? Oh, everything. Holidays, strikes, Europe. Why not after all?… Read the rest

Knowledge is More Than Cultural Capital *

Aug 12th, 2004 | Filed by

It can make the world a better place; downgrading the struggle for knowledge is reactionary.… Read the rest