Quote Of The Day #32

Michel Onfray

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“They are those who believe that Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and love and do not want to hear about an Islam of war, intolerance and hatred… The collaborator wants to see only the first [type of] Islam by believing that the second has northing to do with Islam. These collaborators are the Islamo-leftists.” Continue reading “Quote Of The Day #32”

Whose History?

Trawling the past for ways to boost your ‘victim’ status

Many years ago I recall the splendid toilet humour magazine Viz included on its letters page a contribution that suggested to the History Channel that there was more history than that which occurred between 1939 and 1945 and that some of said history happened outside of Germany. History has been squeezed so much in the school curriculum that in some ways it feels like the only topics kids are aware of are the Tudors and the Second World War – the ‘Henry and Hitler’ approach so detested by academic historians. I was reminded of this when I was reading the final chapter of Anne Applebaum’s new book Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine. Continue reading “Whose History?”

Quote of the Day #31

Christopher Hitchens

“Modern humans have existed approximately 100,000 years. Our species suffered and died, most of its children dying in childbirth. Most other people having a life expectancy of 25 years. Famine, struggle, bitterness, war, misery. All of that for 98,000 years. Heaven watches with complete indifference and thinks ‘that’s enough of that, it’s time to intervene.’ And the best way to do this would be by condemning someone (Jesus Christ, the son of god) to human sacrifice somewhere in the less literate part of the Middle East. Let’s not appeal to the Chinese, for example, where people can read and write and study evidence and have a civilisation. Let’s go to the desert and have a revelation there. THIS IS NONSENSE!” Continue reading “Quote of the Day #31”

I Like Stories Too

But the categories ‘fiction’ and ‘non-fiction’ exist for a reason

One of my favourite childhood memories of my late grandmother happened when I was about eight years old. My grandmother had been on holiday and when she returned she brought back presents for myself and my siblings. My present was a Ladybird book of Greek myths containing the stories of Theseus and the Minotaur and Perseus and the Gorgons. I read the book over and over again. I’m pretty sure it was one of the reasons I got into History – wanting to know more about the society that created such fantastic tales. What I never did however, even as a child, was get my ideas about morality from the legends of Classical Greece. The gods of Olympics and the heroes of these legends seem to behave in a pretty immoral, or rather amoral, fashion. All societies have produced stories about superhuman beings – those of the Norse are particularly good and the Viking view of heaven as an endless drinking party is definitely one I can relate to. The great misfortune of History is that a large number of people have been forced to live according to the primitive morality contained in the myths and legends of the Ancient Hebrews. Continue reading “I Like Stories Too”

Book Review #2

The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson

It may be because I am a natural contrarian (or a pedantic, middle-aged git) but I am always suspicious when everyone seems to agree on something. Hence my dislike for ‘national treasures’ like Bruce Forsyth (hint, so was Jimmy Savile) and the fawning sycophancy meted out to the deeply ordinary and talentless Windsor- Mountbatten clan – news exclusive in the Daily Mail and Daily Express, Kate Middleton wears clothes. Whilst I would have probably (and reluctantly) voted to Remain in the European Union if I still lived in the UK, the fact that all the main political parties, the entire media Establishment and most of the ‘celebrities’ who represent public opinion in modern Britain were on the Remain side made me very sceptical. But my contrarianism (is this even a word?) pales into insignificance compared to the great iconoclastic historian Niall Ferguson. Continue reading “Book Review #2”

A Proposal For Change

Time to end the stranglehold of the Establishment

It is fair to say that the West is going through a period when faith in politicians and the  political system is at a very low point. Whatever one thinks about the UK’s decision to leave the European Union or Donald Trump’s election to the presidency of the United States, these are, by any standards, unusual events. As were the Front National’s Marine Le Pen winning 34% of the vote in the French presidential election in May (double what her father achieved in 2002) and the AfD winning 1 in 8 votes in the Bundestag last month.

And as faith in politicians has declined so has faith in religion; outside the USA, Christianity is dying in the West and the indigenous population of Europe and North America is not warming to the latest aggressive and intolerant version of the Abrahamic delusion that has poisoned Western society since the fourth century.

People are at once cynical and ill-informed about politics – witness the enthusiasm for Jeremy Corbyn among people in their 20s and 30s. Some of Corbyn’s most ardent fans support his plan for large-scale nationalisation but also want to want to stay in the neoliberal EU. Both of these positions are intellectually valid but they do tend to be mutually exclusive – you simply can’t have both. Look at the way Greece was treated by the EU when it was forced to sell off state utilities to pay debts to international banks. There was no ‘bailout’ for Greece, only for the banks – privatised profits but socialised losses.

It is time acknowledge that the democratic institutions of the West are in need of a thorough overhaul. I have written before about the debt the West owes to the Classical Greece and Rome rather than to so-called ‘Judeo-Christian’ values. One of the key ideas I think can revitalise democracy and end the domination of the neoliberal Establishment (by which I mean all the main political parties in the West) is sortition – the selection of public officials by lot. Continue reading “A Proposal For Change”

Leap Of Faith 

Science and Religion are not competitors 

If the Sun was scaled down to the size of a white blood cell, the Milky Way would be the size of the continental United States. There are between 100,000,000,000 and 400,000,000,000 stars in the Milky Way and it is estimated that there are between 100,000,000,000 and 200,000,000,000 galaxies in the universe. Even if you take the lowest estimates there are about 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (10 sextillion) stars in the universe. Then there are the spaces between galaxies which are even larger than the galaxies. The Milky Way is between 100,000 and 160,000 light years across but the closest galaxy to our own, Andromeda, is around 2,500,000 light years away. The sheer scale of the universe is incomprehensible to poorly-evolved east African primates who only learned to speak properly less than 200,000 years ago. But the most important things to the ‘creator’ of all this are the genitals of one species on one planet that orbits one of these stars and whether one half of said species shows its hair to the other half. Continue reading “Leap Of Faith “