Below is the text to my ‘three-minute thesis’, delivered at Selwyn College on Thursday 4 March 2020. My thesis concerns a crucial gap in Marx’s theory of history. Karl Marx is known as a lover of the state. Under socialism, the state would do away with profit-driven markets through public ownership of production. Marx’s theory … Continue reading The theory of history: What Marx missed
Despite the fuss people are making about climate change, nothing seems to change. Global emissions continue to rise, and governments continue to remain pretty passive. What can we do? As individual 'consumers'--not much. Only 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the stuff linked to individual consumer habits--like flying, meat-eating, or driving. The bulk … Continue reading How do you solve a problem like the climate?
We’ve walked along history’s road. We’re naked and freezing—but at least we can see with our eyes. Then, we are blindfolded, taken to another part of the road, and given a warm coat. Once, we had pain and knowledge. Now, we have pleasure and ignorance. Once, we were chattel slaves, and we were told as … Continue reading A winter’s tale: The allegory of the house of freedom
What causes antisemitism? It’s a question not often asked by a media class obsessed with politicians’ use of language, and not their actual policies. It also implies a long view of history. But it’s a question we must ask if we are determined to reduce this horrible prejudice. Then, we could ask what party in … Continue reading Why a Labour government would reduce antisemitism
What is good? The answer I increasingly hear to this question is, 'it depends'--whether it be on cultural attitudes or on individual sentiment. But the answer mistakes the question for another one: what do people think is good? That's not the question. The question is: what is good? People sometimes go further, insisting that the … Continue reading On the good: Truth, ontos, and telos
Power comes in many forms. Productive power is a relationship between society and nature, whereby people transform nature through technologies (or ‘forces of production’, as Marx called them). Social power is a relationship between people, involving both coercion (the use of threats and rewards, most often to maximise power over production) and legitimation (the use … Continue reading On power: Tech, the state, and class
Nature is as old as time itself. Power is as old as humanity is. But both matter to how we live our lives today. That's why I recently covered issues like 'What it means to be human', 'What power is', and 'How power begins'. Next week, I hope to cover the last theme: hope. So … Continue reading The story so far
What does it mean to be human? There are few questions more basic but also more difficult to answer. So, let me start as all answers to hard questions must. With a story. Meet Australopithecus africanus. An early human (Creative Commons). Yesterday, I sat as countless numbers of students before me have sat. In an … Continue reading What it means to be human