Radical Egalitarian Atheist Humanitarian Sour Old Puritans Anonymous

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Photo: Arto Marttinen

Here’s everything I believe boiled down to ten seconds of moral logic.

1)     There is no God, heaven, hell, spirits, angels, miracles, fore-lives or afterlives, and life has no inherent ‘Meaning’

2)     Billions of human beings are suffering in ways we could prevent, and that’s incredibly bad

Thus:

3)     Eradicating that suffering should be the pseudo-religious mission statement of every person and every society on the planet

Continue reading “Radical Egalitarian Atheist Humanitarian Sour Old Puritans Anonymous”

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I still hate football

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I have hair, which I sometimes get cut. And this week, that meant talking about football.

I hate football. I hate all sport, in fact – at least in its big, jingoistic, corporate-capitalist permutation. But for the first time in my life, I now actually know something about it.

That’s because I’ve ludicrously ended up in the work Fantasy Football league (for the uninitiated, it’s a game where you build an imaginary team using players from around the world, and score points based on how your picks perform in real-world matches).

Knowing I’m about as sporty as a Gregg’s steak bake, a colleague sarcastically asked if I wanted to join in, and I said yes just to annoy him. With a squad full of players from Panama and Iran, I was already on -8 points by the end of day one. I’m aiming to do as badly as possible. Continue reading “I still hate football”

I Dumb Down: ‘The Segregation of Dissent’ by E.P. Thompson

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EP Thompson

Spooky prescience from the author of ‘The Making of the English Working Class’

Historians are classically shit at prophesising anything, but, back in early ‘60s, a Marxist one predicted the future.

The BBC had just aired a three-part lecture series attacking the New Left – the then-emerging movement of radical students and academics calling for a socialist politics beyond Stalinism and watery Western social democracy. And E.P. Thompson, one of the highest-profile New Leftists, set about writing his own talk in response.

Originally, the intention was to get it broadcast on the BBC. If Auntie was happy to transmit three hours of reactionary propaganda, the reasoning ran, it would surely have to give the New Left some sort of right to reply.

But when the Corporation rejected Thompson’s lecture, he turned it into an essay instead. Continue reading “I Dumb Down: ‘The Segregation of Dissent’ by E.P. Thompson”

I dumb down

Dumbo

I am dumb. A plodder. Terminally middlebrow. Incurably unintellectual. I know this, and I made peace with it a long time ago.

But a lot of new generation leftists are anything but. Their cleverness is astounding. Whenever I watch or listen to something from groups like Novara, I’m bowled over by their ability to hold so much information in their heads.

It’s not just facts and figures – it’s complex theoretical understandings. They don’t just know and grasp Derrida and Lefebvre and Bordieu and so many others, but they can effortlessly apply them to everyday situations in a way that makes sense.

I can’t do that. But what I can do is dumb down. Continue reading “I dumb down”

“Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff

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It’s been titillating liberal-centrists and topping best-seller lists since January, but Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury is trashy and overrated.

Essentially, Wolff, a provocative columnist for the Hollywood Reporter, spent a year wandering around the White House talking to key members of team Trump.

The result was a book. Trump hoped it would be a flattering one — he’d liked a piece Wolff had done on him during the election, and given him free rein of the West Wing off the back of it. But it isn’t.
Continue reading ““Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff”

For a multimillion-dollar distraction, Black Panther is quite radical

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I went to see Black Panther for my birthday, and thought it was very good. I don’t usually like films, or the cinema, or birthdays, but a mate convinced me to give all three a try, and for once I was only vaguely disappointed.

I can’t fully endorse it – they spent $200m making a comic book movie while thousands of people (a lot them African), starved to death. But for a stonkingly profligate corporate blockbuster, Black Panther is fairly radical.

It’s the first mainstream film I’ve seen in years, possibly ever, that has meaningful politics – not so much black nationalism as black internationalism. Incredibly, Marvel, wholly-owned subsidiary of the multi-billion-dollar Walt Disney Company, has put out a pan-Africanist superhero movie. Continue reading “For a multimillion-dollar distraction, Black Panther is quite radical”

New Year’s Resolutions are a waste of time, so here are mine.

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New Year’s Resolutions are a waste of time, so here are mine.

1. Use the internet less.

The internet isn’t just a bottomless well of procrastination excuses. It changes how you treat people. We act as if words on a page (or on a screen) are the most vital building blocks of human communication — and to be fair, we’d struggle to do much without them. But on their own, they’re extremely limited.

Trying to discuss or debate using words alone — without the millions of tiny nuances you can convey with tone of voice, hand gestures, facial expressions and so on — is like using a sledgehammer when what you really need is a scalpel. All brute force, no finesse. Continue reading “New Year’s Resolutions are a waste of time, so here are mine.”