Archive for March, 2004
While doing research for the Normblog Bob Dylan Song Poll (if you haven't sent your entry in already read here) I remembered that I have copies of two Dylan albums which I don't really need anymore, since I have CD copies of the same. So the first Oxford-area VS-reader to stake their claim to LPs of Bringing It All Back Home and Blonde on Blonde can have them. Just get in touch.
In the end I went for (no particular order) "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts", "Like A Rolling Stone", "It Ain't Me, Babe" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'". I left the fifth permitted spot intentionally blank, as it would be a crime to pick five without having something from John Wesley Harding (= best Dylan album ever), but after playing the record three times I just couldn't decide which song I liked most.
Here's a happy image, generated by my pseudonymous colleague and international man of mystery Nasi Lemak: it's a graph of the ten-poll moving average of W's approval rating since he took office, and some shrewd observers reckon they can spot an underlying trend...
(Follow the link for the detailed graphs, with more legible axes, etc.)
While non-Christian nations can indeed subscribe to human rights -- and it is to be hoped that they do -- fundamental human rights (as opposed to the politically correct doctrines being laid down by European institutions) are emphatically not secular. They are based on the precepts originally laid down by Judaism and embellished and developed by Protestantism -- that individual behaviour must be constrained by moral laws, and that all human beings are equal in the image of God. Take this Judeo-Christian God away, and equality disappears too.The secular 'human rights' promulgated by eponymous lawyers and government ministers are actually nothing of the kind. They are instead an attempt to destroy this liberal and democratic heritage and replace it by a secular inquisition that takes self-governnment away from peoples and deprives them of the expression of their individual culture. It is deeply, profoundly, terrifyingly anti-democratic...Next up (we can only hope), Melanie on Kant's transcendental deduction of the categories...(Actually, that's slightly unfair, but only slightly. There's an interesting discussion to have about the relationship between Locke's natural rights theory and theism, on which Jeremy Waldron's God, Locke and Equality is quite superb. But this isn't it, and most of the rest of what she's written above is nonsense.)
Matt Cavanagh, the Blunkett aide who was revealed at the weekend as having written a book suggesting that employers might acceptably discriminate against black job applicants, seems to be a man who once had a philosophy but has now unaccountably mislaid it. Cavanagh appears to be arguing that since he consigned this proposal to paper, it is academic - meaning, perhaps, that in the real world it is not a good thing at all. For one who was possibly trained in logic, this is a serious sort of defence. There are indeed books in which you are allowed to float bizarre and offensive proposals confident in the knowledge that nobody will think you mean them seriously. But these are known as novels, not works of political theory.The modern age began in earnest when ideas ceased to matter...I haven't seen Matt Cavanagh himself mount this defence; rather, it's what the people at the Home Office have been saying about him.For an alternative, less temperate response, try here. I'm going back and forth on what I think about this case. I still think the broadsheet news reporting has been pretty crappy. Journalists keep writing about Cavanagh's suggestion that unfair discrimination might in certain circumstances be "rational", without pointing out that the word "rational" as it is habitually used in economics and, often enough, in philosophy can just refer to whatever it is that appears to me the best thing to do in order to realise whatever goals I might happen to have. But enough people have emailed me to point out that Cavanagh's views -- both philosophically and politically -- really are pretty right-wing, which raises the question of why, given that Mr. Blunkett clearly likes to be surrounded by free-thinking young men, he chooses particularly right-wing free-thinking young men by whom to be surrounded... I mean, if you want political theorists, this is a pretty left-leaning crowd. (It reminds me of the Labour Party's Commission on Social Justice ten years ago, whose first pamphlet, The Justice Gap, reflected on recent academic work on the idea of social justice and offered criticism of John Rawls and praise for Robert Nozick...)