How Simple Narratives Conceal Complex Truths. Interview With Peter Hitchens

On the Imagine Athena podcast I had the great pleasure of speaking to the Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens, one of my go-to writers and thinkers.

We discussed how simplistic moral narratives are used in political discourse to conceal harder, more complex truths about the world.

Did Britain really attain the victory it set out to in WW2? Is Britain’s relationship with the US a lot more adversarial than the two countries like to admit? And can Trump really make America great again?

The two books he mentions in the podcast are The Deluge by Adam Tooze and The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan

The Imagine Athena Podcast is also available on iTunes.

Jordan B. Peterson: Hate Thrives Underground

Professor Jordan B. Peterson on why sunlight and air is the best disinfectant for hateful speech:

“You want to drive the people who hate underground?

We know what happens, psychologically, when you do that. It’s a very bad idea. Anything you drive underground thrives. It thrives.

It partly thrives because it isn’t even allowed to express itself. And then it festers and turns into hatred that far exceeds the original. The idea that you make society safe by not letting horrible people say terrible things is not a good proposition.”


Who Are The Fascists Here?

The so-called “anti-fascists” are unable to see beyond their own professed beliefs to how their behaviour actually comes across.

Last weekend, during the Trump inauguration in Washington D.C., nearly a million demonstrators descended on America’s capital city to protest the election of Donald Trump. This included the very well attended “Women’s March”, which was, for the most part, peaceful and well organized. Even if one disagreed with their reasons for taking to the streets, it has to be recognized that there was absolutely nothing sinister or ominous about it all. It was people expressing strongly held political beliefs in a perfectly legitimate way.

The same cannot be said for many within the “Antifa” or “Black Bloc” movement, also in attendance, who, storming along with their matching black outfits, flags and masked faces, smashing windows, cars and setting fires, appear just as intolerant as anything which they claim to oppose.

They behaved in exactly the same way during the 2010 students fees protests in Britain, injecting a fascistic strain of violence into normal democratic proceedings.

It is the fascist who responds to an utterance with an authoritarian fist and who engages in desecration rather than discourse.


Best Films About Politics and Culture on Netflix

Best of Enemies (2015) A sharp and cerebral documentary about the adversarial relationship between arch-liberal Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley the conservative founder of The National Review magazine. The two men were enormously influential intellectual figures in American political life during the 1960s. Best of Enemies centres around a series of famous televised debates that took place between them in 1968 in which their fierce rivalry was on full vitriolic display.

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Dirty Jobs

One of the themes we’ve explored for some time now on Imagine Athena is how utopian dreams turn into nightmares. It is much better to deal with things as they are in reality than it is to pursue grand ideological visions, which are often more the product of wishful thinking than solid fact. The political quest to nudge every high school graduate into pursuing an academic degree is a good example of this. In the United States and Western Europe, huge numbers of young people now take on astronomical amounts of government-backed debt to attain degrees of sometimes dubious value. Mike Rowe, the producer of the American television series Dirty Jobs, which aired from 2005-2012, has been a vocal critic of this policy. He has long argued that, nowadays, instead of making the best of the opportunities that are available, we are encouraged to live our lives according to a template: a fixed notion of what the ideal existence is. But rather than achieving that we end up  living identical lives devoid of creativity or originality. The result: people become unhappy when they don’t live up to that ideal and thousands of well paid vocational jobs go unfilled every year.