Disagreement May Be Uncomfortable But It Exists For Good Reason

Everything is political nowadays. I cannot remember a time of more intense political debate. People still share funny cat videos and pictures of their food, but as any content creator will tell you, there is huge interest in politics and current affairs right now. There is a lot of stuff going on in the news: Trump, Brexit, the EU, #MeToo, North Korea. The list goes on. But also people are more exposed to political debate through social media where everyone is mostly able to freely express their opinions, which they do a lot.  This has costs and benefits. It is good to see more people engaging in public discourse, but politics means disagreement and people do not always disagree well. Arguing over politics has caused rifts in families and friendships. In extreme cases it can lead to social discord, polarisation and even violence. There have been people, such as Thomas Mair, Salman Abedi, Darren Osborne, and the London Bridge attackers, to name a few notable examples, who stopped engaging with others and started attacking them instead. This has led many people to lose faith in free speech and open platforms that allow anyone to publish their views, no matter how abhorrent. At such times, it is important to not only argue for free speech, but also for disagreement itself. Read More…

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.

The Politics of Unfriending Someone on Facebook

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It’s a sign of how blurred the lines between our online and offline lives have become when a “real-life” disagreement over politics results in being unfriended on Facebook.

That happened to me a couple of weeks ago. An acquaintance with whom I’d mildly (or so I thought) clashed with about feminism, whilst we were out for a few drinks, later went and removed me from their friends list on Facebook. I was a little bemused to have been unpersoned in this way because it wasn’t like we’d had a blazing row and I wasn’t rude to them at all. We had simply disagreed. Read More…