Let’s have another World War!

Sometimes, it feels like 1910 all over again.

Then, a confident Germany was the up-and-coming industrial power house, fearing an even more up-and-coming Russia, with the UK and France desperately holding on to their colonial empires.

Now, a confident China is the up-and-coming industrial powerhouse, fearing an even more up-and-coming India, with the US and its European allies desperately holding on to its global empire.

Then, an international in-bred elite was holding on to far more wealth than it deserved in term of productivity, leading them to support extremism, nationalism, and populism as a means of holding off the tide of socialism and mass discontent.

Now, an international in-bred elite is holding on to far more wealth than it produces, supporting Clinton and Trump, Boris and Macron.

Then, science was threatening to re-structure the world of work radically, with automobiles and telephones making the world a far smaller place than it was before, and with new technology leading to widespread loss of jobs in agriculture and basic trades.

Now, science is re-structuring the world of work radically, with long-distance trade in services and IA driving out the procedural cognitive jobs that keep the peasants and tradesmen of this age busy: administrators, middle-management and I-follow-orders professionals.

Then, belief in magic was still rife, with new migrants in the US and Australia burying shoes in the foundations of the new houses to appease the spirits, and with romantic nationalism blossoming on the Balkans to kick-start a jolly-good-scrap.

Now, belief in magic is even more rife, with witch hunts, fake news, and fairytales in the US (#MeToo, ‘great again’, and DSM V), where the masses reject the notions of innocent till proven guilty and the idea of rationality, and with romantic nationalism blossoming in Scotland, Catalonia, Padania, and god-knows-where.

Then, dooms-sayers were having a field day, ranging from Halley’s Comet that was prophesised to swallow up earth in its 1910 visit, to regular Armageddon following the sinfulness of the times.

Now, there are even more doom-scenarios with widespread support, ranging from the threats to our climate to Islamic fundamentalism to the take-over by robots.

Then, the corrupt were in power, with monarchies, landed aristocrats, oligarchs, and self-congratulating scientists dominating the West, glorifying wars and preaching purity.

Now, well, need I really say it?

So, shall we have another jolly good scrap then to blow away the cobwebs?


The 2017 #AACSB Innovation Award Winner for the Asia-Pacific Region is…

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 04/11/2017 - 1:39am in

WRDS-SSRN Innovation Award Presented to the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology at AACSB Conference in South Korea

Rounding out the 3rd of 3 AACSB awards for 2017, this time for the Asia-Pacific Region, we are pleased to announce and congratulate The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology as the winners of the WRDS-SSRN Innovation Award™.

Inmoo Lee, Head of School of Management Engineering at KAIST College of Business accepted the award from Robert Zarazowski, Managing Director of WRDS, and Gregg Gordon, Managing Director of SSRN at a luncheon during the AACSB Asia Pacific Conference in South Korea last week.

“On behalf of the leadership and researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), we are very pleased to receive the WRDS-SSRN Innovation Award,” said Inmoo Lee, of KAIST. “KAIST College of Business focuses on academic excellence and innovative research activities. This initiative is also integrated into the curriculum. KAIST College of Business has provided unique and creative education programs such as the Social Entrepreneurship MBA and the MS in Green Business and Policy program. Moreover, KAIST was listed as the 6th most innovative university in the world by the Thomson Reuters this year. We are honored to be recognized by WRDS and SSRN.”

Gregg Gordon, Managing Director of SSRN, added: “Congratulations to KAIST College of Business on winning this WRDS-SSRN Innovation Award. We are pleased to be able to offer business education programs greater visibility and opportunities to showcase their important work through this award and the WRDS Research Paper Series, a new, searchable platform on SSRN.”

Congratulations again to The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. You are the first to win this award for the Asia-Pacific Region. This year’s winners of the North America Region in April was Sam Houston State University, and the Europe, Middle East, and Africa Region winner in October was the University of Gothenburg.

Click here for the press release


Philosophy’s Fit With The Sciences and The Humanities

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 03/11/2017 - 12:54am in

“My aim has been to remind philosophers that their subject, whether or not ‘handmaiden to the sciences’, ought to be handmaiden also to the humanities”

That’s Roger Scruton, writing about philosoph—

Hold on a second. Handmaiden? It’s 2017. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had a handmaiden since at least 1993.

Is political science powder monkey to governments? Is civil engineering the soda jerk to our cities? Is history the Fotomate of our memories?

Not to be knocker-up to the profession, but I fear that if we don’t start using less outdated metaphors, philosophy will just continue to be whipping boy to university accountants and further perceived to be as useful to society as a donkey puncher without a whistle punk.

Moving on…

The words that started this post were written by Roger Scruton, and appear as part of an exchange between him and Timothy Williamson in the Times Literary Supplement on the role of philosophy and its relationship to the humanities and the sciences.

Scruton is worried about scientism in the humanities and how, he thinks, it excludes the subjective point of view:

Philosophy is, and ought especially to be, a handmaiden to the humanities. It should use its best endeavours to show why the attempts to rewrite religion, politics, music­ology, architecture, literary criticism and art history as branches of evolutionary psycho­logy (or still worse, branches of applied neuro­science) are destined to fail. It should be intent on distinguishing the human world from the order of nature, and the concepts through which we understand appearances from those used in explaining them. It is for this reason that I believe aesthetics to be central to philo­sophy, being the branch of philosophy that deals directly with our most studied attempts to create and discern what is truly meaningful.

When I give a scientific account of the world I am describing objects and the causal laws that explain them. This description is given from no particular perspective. It does not contain words like “here”, “now” and “I”; and while it is meant to explain the way things seem, it does so by giving a theory of how they are. I, however, am not an object only; I am also a subject, one with a distinctive point of view…

The human world—what Edmund Husserl called the Lebenswelt and Wilfred Sellars the “space of reasons”—is ordered through concepts and conceptions that vanish from the scientific description of nature. Such things as purity, innocence, tragedy, comedy, elegance and refinement are not mentioned in the book of science. They describe how the world appears to us, and they identify the occasions of action and emotion. But they drop out of every scientific theory, including the theories that explain our belief in them.

Williamson warns that “the equivocation between ‘science’ as natural science and ‘science’ as rigorous inquiry” can lead to the perception that the humanities are worthless unless they adopt or become like the natural sciences, and to the mistake that the personal point of view cannot be studied in a scientific manner:

Scruton announces that “the subject is in principle unobservable to science” because “it is not part of the empirical world”.

History is one of the humanities if anything is. Historians study human subjects, whose points of view they try to understand. Con­sequently, on Scruton’s view, the subject matter of history is not part of the empirical world. This may come as news to historians.

Mathematics, though a science, is not a natural science like physics, chemistry and biology. It supports its results by deductive proofs rather than experiments, but is at least as rigorous, systematic and reliable a search for knowledge. On this broader conception, many parts of the humanities have a good claim to be scientific… 

“We must take a scientific approach to this problem” may sound plausible when interpreted broadly, but is then used to justify applying the specific methods of natural science to problems where they are unhelpful. There is nothing scientific about making unsupported reductionist assumptions into dogmas. Natural science does not tell us that every genuine question is a question in natural science; only bad philo­sophy does. Defending the humanities requires making those distinctions. What does not help the humanities is to contrast them falsely with science, and thereby obscure the ways in which they provide genuine knowledge.

The whole exchange is here.

The post Philosophy’s Fit With The Sciences and The Humanities appeared first on Daily Nous.

The March of Science #9

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/11/2017 - 11:18pm in



Is Philosophy For Enchantment or Disenchantment or…?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/11/2017 - 2:15am in

“One need no longer have recourse to magical means in order to master or implore the spirits, as did the savage, for whom such mysterious powers existed. Technical means and calculations perform the service. This above all is what intellectualization means.”

Those are the words of Max Weber (from a lecture he gave in 1919, the year before he died), quoted in a post by Charlie Huenemann (Utah State) at his blog, Huenemanniac. The post is a version of an address he delivered at the Mountain-Plains Philosophy Conference, and takes up the “disenchantment” of the modern world and philosophy’s role in regards to it.

Seems like a good topic for a day dedicated to re-enchanting the world with fantastical play and portraying the scarily supernatural, no?

Here’s how Huenemann frames his inquiry in the post:

Scientists who go ahead and believe that there is a supernatural order, or supernatural values, will have to pay for this extravagance with an intellectual sacrifice, according to Weber: they will have to kill off their scientific presupposition that the world is disenchanted. If they do not disown this presupposition—if intellectuals want to have the world both ways, both enchanted and disenchanted, they will be living a lie…

Is philosophy in the same boat as science, as Weber saw it—meaning that philosophy, thoroughly applied, is an engine for thorough and complete disenchantment? Or can philosophy provide some sort of grounding for value, which Weber thought was not possible? Or, going in the opposite direction: should philosophy possibly be in the business of providing enchantment, and thereby providing overarching values?

He discusses this initially in the context of early modern philosophy (“Each philosopher had, on the one hand, a no-nonsense basis from which to launch explanations, and, on the other, the wild bouquet of experience that needed to be explained, and the two never met up very well; and magic rushed in to fill the gaps…”) and then turns to contemporary philosophy, particularly the work of Daniel Dennett and Peter Sloterdijk.

First up is Dennett’s program of disenchantment:

[A] way to characterize Dennett’s philosophy is that he is trying to deprive philosophy of any domain of inquiry that belongs specifically to it, as opposed to science. This is the main reason, I think, that many professional philosophers don’t like Dennett: he cedes all of philosophy’s domain to the natural and social sciences, and philosophers are left doing the clean-up work of explaining exactly how traditional philosophical problems are either answered or dissolved through naturalized inquiry… The basic outlook is that, if it isn’t science, then it is something to be explained through a weakness in human psychology (and so in that way it turns out to be science after all). As Dennett insists, there never is any magic.

This might sound like a criticism of Dennett—but in fact I think that his enthusiasm for debunking (what I call his “dansplaining”) grows from deep philosophical roots going back to Thales and Socrates. There is a long, long tradition of philosophers not getting on well with religionists and poets, faulting them for giving in to magical thinking and for not subjecting their beliefs or their utterances to rigorous cross-examination. No philosopher likes being accused of magical thinking; any philosopher accused of it will deny the charge and restore their credibility by insisting that the natural domain, in their view, just has more stuff in it than someone like Dennett believes there to be. In this, they assert themselves to be naturalists, and not supernaturalists. Harkening back to Weber, we can say that, to a philosopher, intellectual integrity is everything, and no one is willing to make the sort of intellectual sacrifice Weber thinks has to be made if one wants to be both enchanted and a scientist. Dennett’s philosophy, and the dialectic between him and his critics, shows that there is a powerful drive in philosophy toward disenchantment.

But… magic always finds a way to creep back in…. [W]e might well ask in what way Dennett’s project is compromised. I believe the compromise is made at the very foundation, in Dennett’s scientism. While Dennett cheerfully deconstructs the belief systems of qualia freaks and other fantasists, he shows no interest in deconstructing science (and philosophy) as a human institution, subject to cultural, economic, and political pressures. He’s not interested in disenchanting our faith in science, and instead accords it an epistemic privilege rather like the privilege the astrologist extends to the stars…

To pretend that the world of philosophy (and science) is insulated from a broader context of historical conditions… is magical thinking of a very advanced degree. Science is a human endeavor, after all, and as Kant observed, from the crooked timber of humanity nothing straight was ever made.

What I am claiming here is that Dennett might be located at the “disenchanting” end of the spectrum, but even he does not go as far as he might. He retains scientific inquiry as a kind of skyhook for his dansplanations, and does not press into the ways in which natural science might be historically naturalized. Furthermore, I suppose someone who took this additional step might also have to go even further, and inquire into the ways in which historians themselves are subject to political, professional, and cultural pressures. One one sets of down the path of disenchantment, one will find no natural resting place: it is critique all the way down, so to speak, with every alleged “view from nowhere” being relocated as a view from an identifiable time and place, politics and class…

So, to sum up, I am arguing (or really only gesturing toward an argument) that philosophy, when thoroughly pursued in a familiar, Dennett-esque fashion—that is, in a Weberian scientific fashion—ends in disenchantment, and retaining any confidence in our values would require the sort of intellectual sacrifice Weber described.

Huenemann then turns to Sloterdijk’s program of philosophy as a way “to provide some sort of enchantment which might give human beings a kind of direction and purpose after having traveled down the long, descending road of disenchantment.” He continues:

Dennett sees enchantment as a disease to quarantine and eradicate; Sloterdijk sees it as a sort of medicine which, when intelligently applied, can save us from the despair of our own self-knowledge. For Sloterdijk, philosophy ought to be in the business of generating some form of enchantment, for the disenchanted life is not worth living…

The two philosophical approaches also differ fundamentally in what sort of discipline they conceive philosophy to be. For Dennett, student of Quine, philosophy rides piggy-back on science, and the presuppositions it carries are the same as those of science. For Sloterdijk, philosophy is a profoundly humanistic affair, drawing upon history and literature as well as art and architecture in its assessment of where we are and where we should be going.

Just as we saw that, in the case of Dennett, there is something to be said for seeing philosophy as driving toward disenchantment—for most philosophers do not wish to be accused of magical thinking—we must also admit that there is something to Sloterdijk’s vision as well. In its most widespread and popular sense, philosophy presents an encompassing vision through which individuals can not only make sense of the world, but can also find some place for meaningful endeavor. Plato’s form of the good, Aristotle’s account of virtue, Descartes’s Catholicism, Spinoza’s single-substance doctrine, and Kant’s noumenal world are integral parts of their attempts to retain some sort of enchantment in the world. Even Dennett’s expression of wonder over the workings of nature—the delight he finds in his own dansplanations—is a low-octane form of enchantment, and it provides the foundation for what he regards as a human life worth living.

Are these instances in which philosophy has failed in its job to shake off all enchantments? Or are they instances where philosophy has successfully done its job, generating the enchantment we need in order to live with ourselves? 

I encourage you to read the whole thing, as my excerpting left out quite a bit (including many helpful examples).

Art: modified image from The Flying Books of Morris Lessmore by William Joyce and Joe Bluhm

The post Is Philosophy For Enchantment or Disenchantment or…? appeared first on Daily Nous.

Scientists for the EU Explains Why the Heaton-Harris Letter Is So Dangerous

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 29/10/2017 - 1:59am in

On Thursday, the news broke that Chris Heaton-Harris, a Tory whip, had written to the universities demanding details of the courses they were running on international relations, and particularly those on Brexit, asking for the names of the lecturers taking the course.

In this video lasting six minutes, the speaker takes you through the issues involved and explains the danger of a personal witch-hunt instigated by a Eurosceptic government. It’s clear that the speaker is a British scientist, who teaches at one of our unis. The blurb for the video runs

The letter from Tory Eurosceptic whip Chis Heaton-Harris to University V-Cs demanding “names of professors” that lecture on Brexit is sinister. What could the purpose of his efforts be, if not to make some kind of report to attack universities or individuals? For example, though the tabloid press? This is a classic totalitarian tactic, from Lenin to McCarthy, to politically go after and remove wider societal resistance to a government line. Universities are a common target to both left & right-wing totalitarianism because of their public voice. To drive public opinion against universities for political/power expedience is damaging both to trust across wider society and to the independence of universities. We already saw this during the referendum when Daniel Hannan peddled the notion that British Universities are paid off “sock puppets” of the EU and part of an elite, not part of “the people”.

Apparently, Hannan initially started by claiming that the universities would love it, when they were freed of EU control. When he found out that most were against leaving the EU, he then changed his tune to this populist, anti-intellectual rhetoric.

Hannan himself is a vile specimen. He’s a Dorset Tory MEP, and so, as the speaker here points out, like Nigel Farage is more than willing to get his salary from the EU. But he resents British universities, who only have a little money from the European Community, getting funding from them. The French philosophical feline, Guy Debord’s Cat, has also pointed out in frequent posts that Hannan is, or used to be, a columnist for the Torygraph Blogs. Not only is he Eurosceptic, but he also openly wants to privatise the NHS. And he lies so much that Buddy Hell calls him ‘the Lyin’ King’.

The Scientist for the EU also goes on to state that Heaton-Harris’/ Daily Heil’s anger that the overwhelming majority of universities don’t reflect the wider views of British society is wrong by pointing out that other parts of British society also don’t. Like the fishing community. But no-one tells them that 48 per cent of fishing people should now support the Remain campaign. He states that different sectors of British society have different views on the issue, according to the circumstances as it affects them.

The Humanist Report: Killary Gets Rough Reception in Wales

Which the American presenter pronounces as ‘Welch’ and ‘Welsh’, confusing the term for its people with the name of the country itself. But you can forgive him that because (1) he’s foreign, and (2) he loves the people of Welsh for standing up to Her Highness and telling her how it really was. And he also likes Matt Free of Channel 4 News for also asking Killary tough questions, which American pundits avoid.

As I’ve discussed in previous blog posts, Killary, who seems to think going around with a mass-murdering creature like Henry Kissinger is a badge of honour, has been going up and down on the Earth promoting her book like crazy. It’s called What Happened, and is basically her attempt to blame everyone but herself for her massive failure to win the election against a colossal moron like Donald Trump. She was Down Under a few weeks ago, giving the Aussies the benefit of her wisdom. Then she was over here, at the South Bank Centre, the Cheltenham Literary Festival and then Swansea University across the border, to receive an honorary degree. The Uni decided to grant her the honour for her work promoting women’s and children’s rights around the world. As the presenter here states, presumably they didn’t get the message that she voted for the Iraq War.

But all did not go smoothly for Kissinger’s fangirl. The students at Swansea actually booed her. And one young woman, a biochemistry student, Kirsty Lloyd, called out to her ‘Bernie would’ve won. He would’ve beaten Trump.’ Which he would have. He was in the lead against her in the polls, until she, Debbie Wasserman Schulz of the Democratic National Convention, and Donna Brasile, Clinton’s main woman in her team, managed to steal the presidential nomination from her.

Lloyd said afterwards

“Hillary Clinton cheated Bernie Sanders of his nomination. And all those drone strikes, which kill women and children are illegal contradict the reason she is being given a doctorate – which is for doing things for women and children all over the world. The main thing she’s done for women and children is kill them in drone strikes.”

And things didn’t get better when she was being interviewed by Matt Free. He reminded her that her share amongst women went down 1 per cent from 44 per cent under Obama to 43. Hillary then tried to rebut this by saying that it was only White women who became disillusioned with her. Overall she won amongst women. And she lost because gender is not yet a powerful factor in American elections as race is. The commenter on the Humanist Report states that this could only be the response of an American politician, who sees everything in terms of identity politics. He also points out that it’s also terribly insulting to Barack Obama, as it implies that he only won the election because he was Black.

Free goes on to make the point that she lost partly because of her background. She’d already been in office – sort of – as the First Lady with Bill Clinton, and so her membership of a political dynasty worked against her. And people didn’t like her as they saw her as an establishment candidate, in an age of revolution.

At which point Hillary goes off and drones on about how she led in all the debates, and was seen as the more intelligent, winning candidate. When he asks her, Clinton responds that she lost partly because of Steve Dromey and Russian ‘interference’.

The Report’s presenter again points out here how Killary has contradicted herself. She says she takes full responsibility for her failure, but then immediately blames other people. He also states that it’s great to see how people in the rest of the world don’t follow American pundits in fawning over their guests, asking easy questions. He liked the way Free made her squirm. He states that you don’t see politicians like Hillary pop up elsewhere in the world, because everywhere she’s seen as another sleazy, corrupt politician like all the others. Largely because of the dodgy dealings of the Clinton Foundation. But you do find politicians like Bernie Sanders appearing in other countries, like Jeremy Corbyn in Britain.

The presenter clearly makes some great points, though he and Free on Channel 4 could have challenged her about the so-called ‘interference’ from the Russians. They didn’t lose her the election. They were trying to interfere in the American election, but no more than they usually do. Crucially, they didn’t leak the incriminating emails to WikiLeaks. Those came from a Democratic insider disgruntled at her corruption.

As for her being the better candidate over Trump, he points out that Trump was trailing behind her and faced worse challenges than she did. In Utah a Mormon, Republican establishment candidate went independent to challenge Trump. And Trump faced another Republican challenger elsewhere, who took more votes away from him than Jill Stein did Hillary.

Hillary, her arrogance, corruption, and entitlement is responsible for her failings, not other people.

Except in one instance: the Electoral College. This swung overwhelmingly for Trump, despite the fact that Killary had three million votes more than he did at the popular level. And the College is an anti-democratic measure put into America’s bizarre and byzantine electoral system in the 19th century in order to give some political power to the southern, slave-holding states. If America was a genuine democracy, it would have vanished a long time ago. But it’s enshrined in America’s constitution, and so is preserved as part of the great wisdom of the patrician founders of the American political system. Who were all patricians with a real fear of power being grabbed by the White peasants and proles, let alone Blacks. They set up the Constitution to keep power in the hands of the monied, and so have built into the system the political paralysis that is stifling the forces for real change that America needs.

Kevin Logan’s Satirical Email to the ‘Heil’ Spoofing Brexit University Witch-Hunt

Yesterday, Mike put up several articles reporting and commenting on the antics of Chris Heaton-Harris, a Tory whip, who took it upon himself to write to university lecturers teaching international relations, asking for their names and details of their courses. He was specifically concerned about what they were teaching about Brexit.

This rightly aroused very strong fears about the government trying to interfere in academic freedom. One university vice-chancellor, Dr. David Green, told Heaton-Harris that he could have the information he wanted, if he stumped up the £9,000 to study the course that all the other students have to pay. He was also quoted on RT as making the point that this was the beginning of the road to Orwell’s thought police and political censorship.

Exactly the same point was made by Dr. Marina Prentoulis, a lecturer in media and international politics at the University of East Anglia. Dr. Prentoulis also pointed out that it shows how weak the Tory position on Brexit is, if they have to go around trying to intimidate university lecturers. She also explained that she felt that, whatever her own views about Brexit were, and she said that she had campaigned against it, she trusted her students to make up their own minds.

Absolutely. University and should be an environment where young people are encouraged to be open-minded, to look at and evaluate for themselves the arguments and evidence pro et contra different views. And this, I would argue, is exactly what Heaton-Harris fears. He’s not upset at students being indoctrinated. In fact, he’s pantingly all for it. It’s just that he wants it done by right-wing Tory lecturers, who share BoJo’s attitude about ‘pinko’ papers being full of depressing predictions about how it will fail. Or Michael Gove, and his bug-eyed rant a few years ago about schoolchildren being taught the Blackadder view about the First World War in history.

As I said in my previous post about this, all totalitarian societies, including Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, persecute and carefully control education because of the threat it poses to their attempts to indoctrinate the young people of their states. It includes the control of school and university curricula, the expulsion of dissident lecturers, including Jews in Nazi Germany, their imprisonment and murder. Both Hitler and Stalin butchered tens, if not hundreds of thousands of teachers and university lecturers when they invaded Poland, in order to deprive its people of their intellectual freedom and independence.

All over the country lecturers and professors have been massively unimpressed. Afshin Rattansi in his interview with Prentoulis said that he understood that most of Heaton-Harris’ letters were thrown in the bin.

Others fought back by sending Heaton-Harris their satirical reply. Yesterday, Mike published a piece about how Peter Coles, an astrophysicist at Cardiff Uni, had responded to Heaton-Harris’ missive with a letter detailing how his course on cosmology and the Early Universe, (EU), also included Brexit, culminating in the line “Unanswered Questions: Limitations of the Standard Model and why the fuck are we doing Brexit?” </em


The Daily Heil has taken up Heaton-Harris’ cause, and asked students to send in their stories about anti-Brexit propaganda being taught by university lecturers. And so other academics and members of the general public have also joined in, and today Mike has put up a selection from them.

These have included Steve Peers, professor of law at the University of Essex, whose letter begins ‘Dear Witchfinder General’.

‘Aaron’ sent a message beginning

“I attend updog university, and we are being taught anti Brexit propaganda by our left wing professors. We are now made to gather in the study hall once a week and salute an EU flag whilst the professor slowly eats a croissant.”

Will Davies said that his lecturer in Communism and Masculinities stated he believes in free speech, but only if its in a language other than English.

Tom Goodwin sent an email about how outrageous it was that his lecturers could not give him a straight answer about Brussels and curved bananas, and how infuriating it was that they should fill his head with true facts.

And Tim Brudenell sent in a piece about how he was just saluting the National Anthem, when his history lecturer broke in and forced him to eat a copy of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital.

It isn’t just the Heil that is publishing demonstrably fake, sensational news. It’s also the Torygraph, which is just as frantically Eurosceptic and hysterical about the Labour party and Jeremy Corbyn. Yesterday the weirdo Barclay brothers’ esteemed organ and the Heil ran the story that Lola Olufemi, Cambridge University’s Student Union’s women’s officer, had written a letter demanding that the university replace White authors with Black and Ethnic Minority writers to ‘decolonise’ the curriculum.

This was another bogus story. Olufemi had made no such demand. Yes, she wanted the curriculum ‘decolonised’, but certainly did not say that she wanted White authors replaced. It’s probably no coincidence that both papers have published piece after endless piece protesting against non-White immigration and the growth of communities of ‘unassimilable’ immigrants.

Mike’s article makes the wider point that these newspaper are effectively shooting down the mainstream press’ claim to be trustworthy and reliable, as opposed to all the fake news coming out of the alternative media outlets, like the Internet. He states that their reputation is now in such a sorry state, that people are starting to lampoon them, and includes a piece satirising the Daily Mail, which claims that Jeremy Corbyn met Lee Harvey Oswald prior to the assassination of JFK. Which he didn’t, being only 14 at the time.

One of the funny spoof replies sent to the Mail I’ve seen is by Kevin Logan, a male feminist on YouTube, who posted this reply. Logan’s a male feminist and supporter of transgender rights, as well as being very anti-racist. His channel consists of a number of videos, such as his series ‘The Descent of the Manosphere’, in which he tackles the outrageous far-right, and the very genuine misogyny, homophobia and racism by members of the Alt-Right and their fellow travellers on YouTube. He’s very highly educated, but is quite a sweary bloke, so be warned: the video below contains ‘colourful metaphors’, as Spock describes foul language in Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home. (Gratuitous reference for Trekkers).

His spoof letter to the Heil reads

Hello there fellow patriots at the Daily Mail.

I am writing to you concerning the troublingly pro-cheese eating surrender monkey turn of events in the Gimpology Department of Wankchester University, where I am currently reading stuff and that.

I was in my compulsory ‘Communism and Being Gay Studies’ lecture on Thursday of last week and was astonished at the behaviour of my lecturer, professor Karl Stalin Trotsky-Marx, Ph.D.

Upon my raising concerns about his reMOANer sympathies, he made me stand at the front of the class and masturbate furiously while singing ‘les Marseillaise’, which is normally only something we are forced to do during our compulsory ‘White Genocide 101’ classes. Can you please send help, as I am afraid my support of Brexit may end up with me getting bummed by a German called Helmut.

Yours spiffingly, Herbert P. Wiff-Waff.

Yes, I realise swearing ain’t big or clever. But it is the reply the Heil deserves. Just as it deserves all the others.

As for Mr. Heaton-Harris, he claimed that he was writing the letters not to intimidate, but because he was writing a book on the issue. This just makes it worse, as it means that he was using his position in government for his own pecuniary gain. Which is fraud.

Now it seems that the Honourable Gentleman, and I use the words loosely, has mysteriously disappeared, just as he should and his wretched government should have done long ago. All correspondence addressed to him on this issue is now going to Tory Central Office.

And I hope it won’t be too long before these closet totalitarians follow him into obscurity.

TYT Interviews Director of ‘Medicare For All’ Cartoon

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 26/10/2017 - 8:29pm in

In this short clip, The Young Turks’ Nomiki Konst interviews Josh Fox, the director and creator of a series of political cartoons, Anti-Totalitarian Bedtime Stories. Here they talk about his cartoon promoting Medicare For All. The film stars Susan Sarandon as the Doctor, and Louisa Gomez as the little Girl.

The film is unusual in that its hero is a leech. The leech is having an existential crisis, as he has found out that every other creature except him has a purpose. So he jumps off his log and goes swimming. A little girl enters his pool, and he attaches himself to her chest in order to suck her blood. As leeches do. The little girl’s mother takes her to the hospital, as they can’t get the leech off. The little girl is a haemophiliac, and so there is the danger that she will die from bleeding. The doctor pulls the leech off, but finds that the leech’s saliva contains a coagulant. This coagulant can be used to treat other haemophiliac.

This is what would happen if America got Medicare For All. Not only would people be treated free of charge, but science would advance, and new medicines and procedures would be developed to help the sick. Unlike today’s private, for-profit healthcare system, which is only interested in extracting money from the sick.

Fox states at the outset that it’s popular across the board with both Republicans and Democrats. The only people who don’t like it are the private healthcare companies and their associates.

The video is somewhat fanciful, as leeches’ saliva actually contains the exact opposite: it has an anti-coagulant. Nevertheless, as New Scientist reported back in the 1990s, this is still very important for treating certain conditions.

As for the cartoon’s message, clearly research is done into disease by for-profit healthcare and drug companies, but there is a problem in that some of these are engaged in horrendous price gouging. Like Martin Shkreli, the CEO of one company, who increased the price of one drug so that it cost hundreds of dollars, so that only the rich could afford it. Such price gouging is also a problem with the multinational drug companies on this side of the Atlantic as well, as needs to be tackled.

This is a fascinating little video, and I hope it reaches more Americans and encourages more people to support Medicare For All. America desperately needs it.

RT on the Tory Whip Requesting Information on Universities and Lecturers Teaching Brexit

Mike’s already put up an article about this yesterday, including the reply from one outraged lecturer disgusted with this transparent attempt to intimidate and control British universities and the way Brexit is taught and discussed.

One of the Tory Whips, Chris Heaton-Harris, took it upon himself to write to university vice-chancellors demanding the details of their courses on international relations, and specifically where it discussed Brexit. He also wanted the names of the lecturers teaching the courses, the course syllabus and any lecture notes or materials on-line.

This has outraged academics across the UK, who have denounced it as McCarthyism. The programme quotes Professor David Green, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Worcester, who states that the letter appears innocent, but is in fact very dangerous. He states that it is the first step to the thought police, the political censor, naturally justified as the will of the people.

Heaton-Harris responded by claiming that Theresa May always believed in the independence of the universities and in free and vigorous academic debate. As Mike points out in his article, however, this guy is a Tory MP and so nobody believes him. RT has as their guest Dr. Marina Prentoulis, a lecturer in media and international politics at the University of East Anglia. And she calls this exactly what it is: a witch-hunt and intimidation. She states that the letters are intended to intimidate because they come on official House of Parliament notepaper, and ask for the names of the lecturers, as well as details of their coursework. When the interviewer asks if this is really so, as the MP has no authority to demand such information and most of the letters, he’s heard, were filed in the bin. She responds by saying that he could have found out that information simply by going on line. He didn’t. She states that it is an attempt by the government to control the debate. It shows how weak the government’s own position is – and the programme notes that Heaton-Harris is very much a supporter of the ‘Leave’ campaign. She also says that it shows the government’s own, entirely false view of history, when they were in the universities and could control what was discussed and taught.

When the lecturer asks about how she can teach the subject impartiality, she responds by saying that students are mature enough to form their own opinions about what they’re being taught. And yes, she is a campaigner, and supports ‘Remain’, but students are able to form their own opinions on the subject.

Mike in his piece on it has the succinct reply from David Green, who told the Whip that he is at complete liberty to see what and how the subject is taught at his university. All he has to do is enroll and pay the £9,000 a year tuition fees the other students have to pay.

In fact, educators in schools and universities are specifically prevented by law from indoctrinating students. They have to be impartial. And in situations, where they are required to make a statement concerning a political or religious belief or issue, they have to state that it is what they believe. They cannot present their opinions as objective truth.

And I would think that the majority of British teachers and lecturers take this requirement very seriously. I can remember hearing from some of the other graduate students at Bristol that they were surprised to find that some of their lecturers had very strong personal beliefs on political issues, when their conduct in class was completely impartial. I realise that some lecturers are much less reticent about making their personal beliefs known to their class, and that academic discussion is all about forming beliefs and testing them through the weight of evidence. And I can certainly remember some lecturers in the past, who made no secret of their opinions in politics and religion. But Tony Blair’s government passed legislation to prevent indoctrination. And some students, at least, have absolutely no hesitation about making their own minds up about what they’re being taught, as Dr. Prentoulis makes clear. And in my experience also, parents may also been extremely concerned about what their children are taught at universities. So really, Heaton-Harris has no cause to try to intimidate lecturers and other educators, who should be allowed to do what they want to do: educate.

Way back in the 1980s I can remember Stephen Fry giving a rather good little talk on the radio attacking Thatcher’s policy towards education. Fry explained that the British words ‘education’ and ‘education’ come from the Latin ‘educare’, which literally means ‘to lead out’. It was all about bringing forth and developing the pupils’ and students’ own abilities, ideas and talents. But the Tories don’t want this. They want instruction instead. Instead of an intelligent, questioning workforce, they want a society of compliant drones that will have the necessary skills to work for their masters in industry, but no more. They do not want questioning minds, that are keen to decide for themselves and form their own opinions. We’ve already seen that in the way Gove went off and demanded that schools teach the received Tory version of the First World War, not Blackadder Goes Forth. Mike wrote a very good reply to that, pointing out that he was mistaking comedy for history, when Blackadder was very much comedy and did not pretend otherwise. But Blackadder was based on a real view of history supported by evidence, even if it is one with which Gove disagreed.

As for Heaton-Harris himself, he should resign. Prof. Green and Dr. Prentoulis are right: it is intimidation, and a very transparent attempt to control what is taught, as well as make educators frightened for their jobs. Totalitarian regimes always try to control what is taught in schools and universities. This was very explicit in Nazi Germany and the Communist bloc. One of the first things the Nazis did as part of their seizure of power was to ‘coordinate’ the universities, and force out Jews, Communists and anybody else, who dared to teach material they didn’t like. This included established scientific fact, like Relativity. That couldn’t be correct, ’cause Einstein was Jewish. Another victim of this purge was the Jewish mathematician David Hilbert, who was one of the great mathematical geniuses of the 20th century. But his ideas were also forbidden because he was Jewish. The resulting purge of intellectuals left Germany academic life and culture seriously impoverished, and enriched America, where many of those purged fled.

And when Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia conquered the peoples of Europe during the Second World War, they had a deliberate policy of imprisoning and murdering those nations’ intellectuals, in order to destroy any independent academic or intellectual life. This was particularly brutal in eastern Europe. In Poland, for example, tens of thousands of teachers and lecturers were imprisoned and shot because of the threat genuine free speech and discussion poses to all totalitarians and autocrats.

The same policies are pursued today by dictators and autocratic regimes around the world. These include Israel, where it is illegal to teach anything about the Palestinians’ connection to their native land. This harsh atmosphere of intellectual repression also extends to Jewish Israelis. Tony Greenstein reported a few days ago that Netanyahu’s government is trying to outlaw Breaking the Silence, a civil rights group comprising ex-squaddies, who talk about the massacres and atrocities of Palestinians they have witnessed and taken part in.


Genuinely free academic discussion, debate and inquiry is one of the cornerstones of democracy and at the heart of any vital national intellectual and cultural life. Government has absolutely no business trying to censor and control political debate. By trying to do so, Heaton-Harris has shown that he is a positive danger to democracy. He should apologise and resign. Immediately.