of notes on philosophy and politics,
written from a
socialist, environmentalist and antimilitarist perspective.
Oliver Sacks said, a few months before his death: ‘The most we can do is
to write – intelligently, critically, evocatively – about what it is like
living in the world at this time.’
(Quoted in ‘Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me’ by Bill Hayes. See The Observer, The New Review
If only I could write half as well as Bill Hayes or Oliver Sacks!!
I believe that we need to create another - and better – world,
one characterised by equality, sympathy, and non-violence.
But we can only begin to do this if we use our imagination
– to feel with others who are suffering under the present system,
and to think how things could be other
than how they are now.
I also very much like Castoriadis’s description of
where we are at present – see below at links.
homepage there are: (i) index of notes on this site, (ii) links with other websites.
Note: I no longer include comments on current issues
etc, as I now post these on Facebook and Twitter
(i) Indexes of
(a) Summary of
contents by category
are based on lecturing done over nearly 40 years (1966 – 2005) at UEL, as well
as more recent teaching (since 2008) for the WEA.
But it is hoped
they will interest anyone wanting to find out more about the world around them.
The notes fall into the following
What is meant by ‘imagining other’... documents, with links, listed below at: #why?
Teaching notes for courses offered by the WEA (Workers’ Educational Association):
Political Philosophy... documents, with links, listed below at: #political philosophy.
Part 1 (from the classical Greeks to the French revolution),
Part 2 (from the 1789 French Revolution to the present)
(b) How Enlightened was the (18th Century European)
documents, with links, listed below at: #enlightenment.
(c) Social Movements
in the 20th century – ‘People Power’ documents, with links, listed below at: #power.
(d) NEW: ‘Protecting
the Planet’ - the Natural Environment: links to documents:
Week 1: the
problem of environmental damage Week 1 notes
Week 2: case
studies: the coal, oil industries etc Week 2 notes
Week 3: global warming/climate
change Week 3 notes
Week 4: impact of global warming;
other issues Week 4 notes
different strategies for dealing with environmental damage Week 5 notes
& 7: possible solutions Weeks 6 & 7
Week 8: the
environment movement (i) Week 8
Week 9: the
environment movement (ii) Week 9
(3) Teaching notes on ‘Corporate Social
Responsibility’ – dating
from my teaching from the mid ‘70s to 2002 at University of East London (UEL).
documents, with links, listed below at: #csr.
NB: these notes include important files that go
beyond CSR: inequality part 1 and updates on inequality (e.g. this file has
some notes on current economics)
Libertarian Socialism – especially the ideas of Cornelius Castoriadis...
(5) Autobiographical and personal... documents, with links, listed below at: #personal.
(b) List of documents:
(1) What is
meant by ‘Imagining Other’?
I believe that we need to create another - and better
– world, one characterised by equality, sympathy, and non-violence.
But we can only begin to do this if we use our imagination
– to think how things could be other than
how they are now.
1: What is Imagining Other?
2: New Ways of Seeing.
(Includes links to other notes -
‘building the new society in the shell of the old...’)
(2) Teaching Notes for WEA Courses
(a) Political Philosophy
Political Philosophy Part 1:
Political Philosophy Part 2 (the ‘isms of
Conservatism: Introduction, Burke,
Hegel Oakeshott and Nozick Thatcherism Hayek, liberal
conservatism, new right economics
(Introduction) Simone de Beauvoir Feminism (Extracts and
Quotes) Feminism and Inequality Feminism
(notes for political philosophy) Notes on Climate Change, 'Sceptics'
See also: Corporate Social Responsibility and the Environment
and: Social Movements: the Environmental and Green
How Enlightened was the Enlightenment? (WEA Course: Leigh-on-Sea, January 2011, Rayleigh
October 2011, Loughton October 2012)
Week 1: Introduction
Week 2: Introduction continued: Enlightenment
Week 4 Economic Underpinnings (war, trade,
agricultural and industrial revolutions)
Week 5: Religion
Week 6: Human Nature in Adam Smith,
Rousseau and Kant
Extra notes on Adam Smith
Extra notes on Rousseau
Extra notes on Kant
Extracts from Adam Smith
7: The Arts (extended to first part of week 8 also)
Poems and quotations
Week 8: Political Ideas (part (i) - Kant, Locke,
Week 9: Political Ideas (ii) - The American and
French Revolutions, Burke and Paine
Week 10: Problematics:
slavery, race, women
(b) Power and Protest – Social Movements in the Twentieth Century:
chapters are not yet written up)
Chapter 1: The Labour
Power’ WEA Course weeks 1 & 2)
Chapter 2: The
Chapter 4: The Peace
Power’ WEA Course weeks 3 & 4)
Section 1: the anti-war movement
Section 2: the anti-nuclear movement
Section 3: Nonviolence
Chapter 6: (‘People Power’ WEA Course Weeks 6 & 7):
The Women's Movement
see also the two book reviews below, under (4) libertarian socialism etc (*)
Chapter 8: (‘People Power’ WEA Course Weeks 8 & 9):
The Environmental (Green) Movement (Protecting
the Planet/Natural Environment Part 2) (**)
Notes on climate change,
sceptics’ etc: Climate change [NEW! – including Updates on climate change]
(Protecting the Planet/Natural Environment Part 4) (**)
For updates on other
environmental issues (not climate change) go to csr6 (Protecting the Planet/Natural Environment Part 1 (**)
environmental issues in Australia
How an Australian
environmentalist survived a crocodile attack and changed her view on humans and
Val Plumwood and the
(**) See also Environmentalism for political philosophy
course (Protecting the
Planet/Natural Environment Part 3)
Chapter 10: Social
(3) Teaching Notes on Corporate Social Responsibility
- notes based on courses which I taught at UEL from
the mid 1970s.
It is quite astounding to see how
much emphasis is now (21st century) placed on corporate social
responsibility in the world of business – it is no longer just a subject taught
at a few progressive institutions such as UEL (in the 1970s UEL was progressive
– now I am not so sure!) but it is a matter of lively debate involving many
managers and practitioners.
The reader is entitled to be
cynical about all this enthusiasm for ‘corporate social responsibility’ on the
part of business – as am I, to some extent: real change will only come about
when the public is no longer prepared to put up with the self-centredness of
business. However, cynicism alone is destructive and reactionary – progress
needs both a willingness to act (on whatever front seems to bring results), and
surely also a qualified optimism?
on Inequality [New! – recent events (credit crunch, debt crisis,
recession and especially the Occupy
have brought into the public domain the issue that has been central for
socialists for some 200 years at least:
inequality of income, wealth and power.]
Summary of 'Remedies' and Conclusion.
(4) Articles on libertarian
socialism, Cornelius Castoriadis and related topics (see also #links):
NEW: Comments on Paul Mason and
(5) Autobiographical and personal:
UEL Course Outlines - summary of courses
taught by the author at the University of East London (UEL), 1966 – 2005.
I Like (NEW!) - some of my favourite poems.
'Reflecting on Nature' - programme notes for
a song recital. (NEW!)
(ii) Links to other
useful or interesting websites:
There is now a good wikipedia entry
on Castoriadis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornelius_Castoriadis.
This includes the
following description of how Castoriadis saw the world at present:
‘I think that
we are at a crossing in the roads of history, history in the grand sense. One
road already appears clearly laid out, at least in its general orientation.
That's the road of the loss of meaning, of the repetition of empty forms, of
conformism, apathy, irresponsibility, and cynicism at the same time as it is
that of the tightening grip of the capitalist imaginary of unlimited expansion
of "rational mastery," pseudorational pseudomastery, of an unlimited
expansion of consumption for the sake of consumption, that is to say, for
nothing, and of a techno-science that has become autonomized along its path and
that is evidently involved in the domination of this capitalist imaginary. The
other road should be opened: it is not at all laid out. It can be opened only
through a social and political awakening, a resurgence of the project of
individual and collective autonomy, that is to say, of the will to freedom.
This would require an awakening of the imagination and of the creative
(2) Tony Holden:
I exchange ideas and thoughts with
someone (Tony Holden) who is on a similar wavelength to me – though his
perspective is Christian (while I am an
Tony’s website contains
interesting book reviews and thoughts: http://www.tonyholden.org/Home.php
Tony says: “We are now into our fourth year with the
website [began December 2010]. Much has changed. In terms of communication we
using Facebook and emails. In terms of our lives much is good but health-wise
we both creak in different ways. As for our values and our visions
humans: they burn bright – we hope we can contribute
to the common good as we work for non-violence, peace and justice. [Ian’s
The website includes: books, art, original poems, comment by both of us especially on urban
society, living with difference and church and society
issues, plus personal
(3) I follow these blogs that
continue to press for a revolutionary socialist view of the world that is
critical of ‘communism’ as well as of capitalism:
‘Scriptonite Daily’ at http://www.scriptonitedaily.com and
Socialist’ at http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com
(4) Other links can be found
in the relevant sections of the notes.