Ethics, rules, ‘woke’ wankerism

‘Is you woke, bro,’ the twenty-something going on 14-year-old asked me.  ‘Is that English or some other language?’ was my not so friendly reply.

‘Harsh, dude.  I’m not up for dat.’

I walked away suppressing the urge to slap the kid. Such a bad impression of an accent he didn’t understand. Something he extrapolated from a music video.

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Joyce: hypocrisy unbound

Barnaby Joyce can’t help himself: in his own words he convicts himself as an adulterer, liar, and hypocrite.  And still he has the nerve to ask people to ignore this chain of serious failings, and to continue to entrust him with the second-highest public service office in the country.

It is timely to remind all politicians that they are public servants, not divine right princes and princesses.  They have a duty to the nation, not merely to party politics and their own bank accounts.  They should be held to higher standards than Wayne and Cheryl Citizen.

Joyce is either an incredibly simple-minded man who believes his own lies, or he thinks of the public as simple-minded and gullible.  The third option is that he’s following a strategy of deceit designed by his co-conspirator in this matter: Vikki Campion.  She is trained in this sort of propagandizing, and she is certainly the only real friend Joyce has at the moment.

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Luminous realm of values

luminous-realm-post

Christopher Hitchens used to tell a story. A good natured but stupid ‘nature’ class teacher, Mrs Jean Watts, had one day ventured to explain that grass and leaves were green as god’s gift to mankind. He paraphrased her: ‘This is an excellent thing and proof of the glory of god, because he could have made vegetation orange or red, something that would clash with our eyes, whereas green is the most restful colour for our eyes!’ Nine-year-old Hitchens concluded: ‘That’s bullshit!’ Bang. Done. The Eureka moment from which he extrapolated all the other idiocies that flow from humans presuming to speak for god.

For me the matter was less certain and more complex, but no less fundamental. And it applies much more widely than just to matters of religious authority proper. The purview is all human reasoning.

Let’s take a detour via Jean Paul Sartre’s 1946 lecture, ‘Existentialism and Humanism’, which some have argued should have been translated as ‘Existentialism is a Humanism’. The distinction is not as inconsequential as it may seem. The translation of this lecture from the French by Philip Mairet contains the sentence: ‘Thus we have neither behind us, nor before us in a luminous realm of values, any means of justification or excuse.’ A sentence that, when considered carefully, is not just profound, but one of the most elegant literary renditions of any idea in the modern era. In fact, it was such a perfect phrasing that I wondered whether there had been a mistranslation of ‘numinous’ for ‘luminous’. I had to check various sources, but in those I can lay my hands on it is at least a universal mistake, if it is a mistake at all.

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Amerikaner ethics: failure
at the starting gate

Nosferatu-shopped-shadow

Matthew Hutson’s recent New York Times opinion piece about ethical thinking in the US, ‘Our Inconsistent Ethical Instincts’ pre-supposed its own unwitting, gloomy conclusions about ethical imbecility in its opening paragraph:

… Should we ban assault rifles and large sodas, restricting people’s liberties for the sake of physical health and safety? …

What’s absent from this question is any consideration of the history of social organisation, and the implied social contract that underpins almost all forms of contemporary Western political formation. Even in America, all notions of exceptionalism aside In other words, Hutson’s frame of reference is selfishly personal, proposing that morality can and does exist in such a space of egotistical isolation from a surrounding society. It is the lunatic position of some libertarians and Tea Party types who demand all the benefits of a society but profess to hate every manifestation of it that doesn’t directly meet their myopic, narcissistic desires for immediate and continuous self-gratification.

Continue reading “Amerikaner ethics: failure
at the starting gate”

Amerikaner ethics: failureat the starting gate

Nosferatu-shopped-shadow

Matthew Hutson’s recent New York Times opinion piece about ethical thinking in the US, ‘Our Inconsistent Ethical Instincts’ pre-supposed its own unwitting, gloomy conclusions about ethical imbecility in its opening paragraph:

… Should we ban assault rifles and large sodas, restricting people’s liberties for the sake of physical health and safety? …

What’s absent from this question is any consideration of the history of social organisation, and the implied social contract that underpins almost all forms of contemporary Western political formation. Even in America, all notions of exceptionalism aside In other words, Hutson’s frame of reference is selfishly personal, proposing that morality can and does exist in such a space of egotistical isolation from a surrounding society. It is the lunatic position of some libertarians and Tea Party types who demand all the benefits of a society but profess to hate every manifestation of it that doesn’t directly meet their myopic, narcissistic desires for immediate and continuous self-gratification.

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In god we trust …

bush-911

On the face of it Jill Lepore’s New Yorker article ‘The Dark Ages’[1] is just an overdue forensic account of when and how the rule of law was openly abandoned in the US, but in its unusual, almost tortuously sterile language is actually contained an account of how the US has led a Western abandonment of liberal democracy, of all pretense at public morality, and of all legitimate claim to represent a higher, more refined form of liberty or justice than anyone else.

It is inevitable that others will argue that some of the trends described here were already evident in different times and circumstances, and that may be sustainably argued, but it seems no single chain of events so definitively separated what was before the events known as 9/11, and how things are afterwards.

Perhaps the most bitter irony of Lepore’s account is that it was jurists, the supposed centurions of the rule of law, and the justice it should represent, who drafted, endorsed, supported and did not oppose George Bush’s measures arrogating to the executive government of the USA the ‘right’ to kidnap, detain, torture, and indefinitely incarcerate almost anyone anywhere on the planet without any legal process at all.

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Internet freedom is a chimera that dances only to an American tune

The following polemic arose from some heated discussion on Google Plus about what Sergey Brin appeared to say in a Guardian article on 15 April, and then sought to clarify on Google Plus itself . It is also more directly a reply to Dieter Mueller’s commentary (since deleted from Google Plus) on both those points of discussion.

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