Category Archives: Personal liberty

Marx at 200 Robespierre at 260

This year is the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx (1818-1883). A recent biography of Marx (reviewed here) places him very much as a man of his time. It is a sign of the success of Marx that his legacy is still so debated; it is a sign of his failure that defending Marx involves separating him, and […]

Islam as philosophical dead end

Classical (622 to c.940) and early medieval Islam was a civilisation and period with a rich philosophical tradition. Yet Islam became a philosophical dead end, an example of how societies, indeed, an entire civilisation, can stop supporting philosophy as a significant autonomous realm of enquiry. Islam is a civilisation where religion swallowed philosophy, with consequences we are still […]

The persistence of (belief in) socialism

I find the persistence of belief in socialism surprising (an example here), particularly given that Venezuela and North Korea both, in their different ways, display, yet again, the disastrous results in poverty, human misery and tyranny of “actually existing socialism”: that is, state domination of the economy. The lesson of Venezuela is, if anything, even stronger, as it is an […]

You cannot make people love & accept you: so stop trying

British people often react with incomprehension at how compulsory voting changes the way Australians approach elections. The ABS postal survey on same-sex marriage is a reminder of just how different Australia’s usual voting procedure is from that in most other developed democracies: people are running the campaign as though it were compulsory, you see, and […]

Women & gays: understand how much they hate you

I have taken a few pops at feminism of late, because I don’t think it’s doing its core job: defending the civil rights of women and girls. However, sniping from the sidelines is only useful up to a point. Here I am in the Weekend Australian modelling how I think feminism ought to be done. […]

How the rhetoric of denunciation distorts public affairs

During a post on how the US Democrats need to get their act together for the good of the United States, IT guru and long-time blogger Eric. S. Raymond makes the following observation about constant harping on about racism: It is irrelevant whether an actual plurality of American voters actually are as racist and sexist as you […]

(Not) coping with the diversity of the real

The heterosexual/homosexual distinction is relatively recent, being coined in the mid C19th. Like all binary classifications, it is somewhat problematic in dealing with the diversity of the human. That being said, it is not merely a social construct: there is a real underlying diversity in human sexuality that it tries (somewhat clumsily) to grapple with. […]

Post-Enlightenment is the Counter-Enlightenment rebooted

There is a clear difference between the modernist Left and the postmodern progressivism. The modernist Left was an Enlightenment project, and proud to be so. This is the stream of political analysis and commentary represented in our time by such figures as the late Christopher Hitchens and Norman Geras, by Terry Eagleton’s jeremiads against post-modernism and by the Euston Manifesto. They are the […]

Decency, righteousness and the add-more-morality error

Having what we might call a moral sense, but which is better called a normative sense, has been basic to the evolutionary success of homo sapiens. The ability to accept, and internalise, constraints on behaviour hugely expands the range of practicable social interactions. Particularly important over the longer run in “scaling up” human social interaction has been the […]

Most Muslims are non-violent

It is true: most Muslims are non-violent (in the straightforward sense that, outside defence of themselves and their immediate family, they do not engage in violence). In fact, as far as I am aware, that has true across the history of Islam, especially as Muslims includes women and children. But even if we just consider men, most […]