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HOLLOW SYMBOLS -  INTERESTING TIMES 2

HOLLOW SYMBOLS - INTERESTING TIMES 2

June 11, 2020

In this podcast, we take issue with the complaints from  certain Tory MPs, conservative academics and right wing pundits that the toppling of statues of slave traders and imperialists 'erases history' and  'strikes at our way of life', and that historical figures should not be appraised according to modern morality and values. We argue that, contrary to these positions, obscured parts of history are illuminated by such acts, that 'our way of life' does not exist as a monolith, and that past figures should be evaluated according to modern values if we are to appraise our desires for future generations. We sketch out out symbols need to be understood as both heavy and empty. Warning: contains swearing. [Free. 19 minutes.]

LOCK-DOWN PROTESTS AND LIBERTARIAN ABSOLUTISM

LOCK-DOWN PROTESTS AND LIBERTARIAN ABSOLUTISM

May 19, 2020

In this podcast, we discuss the specifics of US and UK anti-lock-down protests which naturally leads on to a discussion of freedom per se and how it can be exercised so as to remove the freedom of others. This involves considerations of property, inequalities of wealth and power, discerning evidence, and evaluating narratives in the face of media and governmental disregard for truth. [Free. 24 minutes.]

CONSPIRACY THEORIES: EPISTEMOLOGY, POLITICS & SELF-CARE

CONSPIRACY THEORIES: EPISTEMOLOGY, POLITICS & SELF-CARE

May 8, 2020

The plethora of conspiracy theories circulating in the public discourse attests to a time of real crisis. In this podcast we examine the epistemological issues that arise from this situation, particularly with reference to scepticism, the hermeneutics of suspicion, and the matter of trust. We also briefly look at the relevant politics and the role of elite money in promoting conspiracy theories and how these theories, though perhaps rightly suspicious of government, nevertheless come down on the side of the status quo. We finish with some recommendations for self-care in the face of the toxic sea of post-truth that public discourse has become. [Free. 28 minutes.]

CONCENTRATIONS OF WEALTH &  POWER AND BIG DATA

CONCENTRATIONS OF WEALTH & POWER AND BIG DATA

February 7, 2020

This podcast is structured around a review of Peter Phillips' book, Giants: The Global Power Elite. I elucidate and assess the main points of the book, [1] that seventeen globally active asset management corporations each administer over $1 trillion, together totalling $41.1 trillion, [2] that these corporations are managed by 199 directors who Phillips gives brief biographies of; [3] that there are deep connections between these personnel and the three main propaganda and public relations global conglomerates, various 'think tanks' and policy bodies, and governments.  I further relate this connectivity to the role of big data as it is extracted and exploited by the tech giants Google and Facebook. I rely on Shoshana Ruboff's The Age of Surveillance Capitalism to make the latter connection. In the light of Phillips' and Ruboff's rigorous scholarship, I consider the vilification of the UK left by the billionaire-owned media and the prospect of a radical, progressive turn in world politics and what is needed to ensure it. [Free. 29 minutes.]

MISLEADING SLOGANS [2] “#SURRENDER BILL”

MISLEADING SLOGANS [2] “#SURRENDER BILL”

September 12, 2019

In this podcast we deconstruct the hashtag "surrender bill" which Prime Minister Johnson has been repeating at every opportunity. This hashtag attempts to spin the bill which recently passed through parliament making it illegal for the government to allow a no deal brexit or a brexit with a new deal without parliamentary consent on 31st October as somehow a surrender in an imagined war. We trace how this framing attempts to resonate with myths and fantasies around World War 2. [Free.  26 minutes.]

MISLEADING SLOGANS [1] “TAKE BACK CONTROL”

MISLEADING SLOGANS [1] “TAKE BACK CONTROL”

September 9, 2019

In this podcast, we unpack the slogan 'Take Back Control' which was employed by Vote Leave in the 2016 referendum which resulted in the Brexit chaos the UK is currently living through. As an information source, we go right to the 'horses mouth', a YouTube video of Dominic Cummings, [Campaign Director, Vote Leave] explaining to an audience how the leave campaign came to win the referendum. [Available here - https://youtu.be/CDbRxH9Kiy4.] We argue that the manipulation of people's thought and actions en mass, which is propaganda, erodes the possibility of a flourishing democratic society and a culture of reasoned argument and careful evaluation urgently needs to be built. [Free. 33 minutes.]

DESIRE & THE FUTURE [YES & NO 6]

DESIRE & THE FUTURE [YES & NO 6]

June 9, 2019

This podcast, recorded in November 2018, continues with commentary on the Songs of No and Yes, and explores the theme of desire further. As well as asking if determinism universally applies, I ask what would be the existential consequences if it did. I conclude that metaphysical issues, like free will  - determinism are probably undecidable, and, in this case, of no existential consequence. The upshot for meditation practitioners is that they are well-advised to be engaged with the world and to make efforts to make a future of flourishing for self and others, rather than repudiating creativity, politics and altruism because "what will be, will be." (If such is their bent.) The practice of letting be with bright awareness, I argue, should be understood as applicable to all aspects of lived experience, including the active, creative and passive. The role of determinism in the scientific method is briefly considered. [Free. 18 minutes.]

CAPITALISM WITH A HUMAN FACE?

CAPITALISM WITH A HUMAN FACE?

November 9, 2018

This podcast was stimulated by a riposte to Aaron Bastami's adage that 'Tories exist to break the poor' which cites Disraeli's lament at the class split in the nation as well as to the building of hundreds of thousands of council houses in 1950s UK as evidence of a right wing benevolence. The main point I make against this notion that Capitalism may have a human face is that every working class advantage was either struggled for or 'granted' by the powers that be for reasons of economic necessity rather than generosity. In this context, I discuss the industrial reserve army and the high cost of training workers as productive technology historically got more sophisticated. I take a detour around the recent Greek economic crisis, the power of information and money, the instability of the money system, and the value and danger of utopian thinking. [Free. 29 minutes.]

TRUMP, MAY, PUTIN AND MEN IN FUNNY HATS [PART ONE: POLITICAL SCOUNDRELS]

TRUMP, MAY, PUTIN AND MEN IN FUNNY HATS [PART ONE: POLITICAL SCOUNDRELS]

July 23, 2018

This podcast is a wide-ranging commentary on the Trump charm offensive on Nato, the UK Prime Minister and Vladimir Putin of last week [13/7/18 ff]. It draws on the relevant press conferences, the film The Vietnam War [Ken Burns and Lynn Novick], the film An Inconvenient Sequel [Al Gore] and broadcasts of the UK Parliament. I consider the thesis that the political class are largely scoundrels. [Free. 37 minutes.]

KNOWLEDGE, UNDERSTANDING, WISDOM

KNOWLEDGE, UNDERSTANDING, WISDOM

August 10, 2017

Why do we have these three cognitive terms? What do they denote and how are they distinct from each other? This podcast is a preliminary investigation of these difficult questions. [Free. 43 minutes.]

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