Tag: Noam Chomsky

The Rationalist’s Defence of Injustice

(Originally Published at Irishleftreview.org in May 2016)

Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilisation, supposedly replied that he thought it might be a good idea. Taken at face value, we can presume that he was both contemptuous and cynical of the idea of civilisation of any kind existing in the West. Being on the receiving end of Western civilisational endeavours such as the one he experienced in India during his life, he would have been well aware of hollowness of the idea that actions and ideas emanating from the West were inherently virtuous. Indeed, very few people, especially in Ireland, need to be reminded of the great altruism with which the British Empire undertook the task of civilising the world. Although Great Britain is no longer the empire it once was, it continues to play the civilising game along with its master, the United States. Meanwhile, the notion that great powers undertake certain actions for the benefit of the “uncivilised” of the world continues to hold sway, along with the concomitant idea that such actions are inherently virtuous. They are inherently virtuous simply because said actions are being carried out by the U.S. and its allies. Nothing more needs to be said in their defence according to the reigning orthodoxy. Said orthodoxy resides not only in and around the centres of power, and not only emerges from the mouths of the most devoted nationalists and neoconservatives but can also be found in those who are considered to be sceptics and rationalists.

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Christopher Hitchens Was No Angel

When Christopher Eric Hitchens passed away on December 15th of last year, his death from oesophageal cancer, whilst expected, did nonetheless come as a shock to many given his firm resoluteness in battling the disease. The eulogies in his memory came in rapid succession, each one seemingly revealing another level of his irreverent and upstart nature. He was remembered as, “…one of the greatest orators of all time. He was a polymath, a wit, immensely knowledgeable, and a valiant fighter against all tyrants including imaginary supernatural ones.”, by Richard Dawkins, with Stephen Fry noting that he was someone who “…opened up debate and gave voice to ideas and causes that without his talents would have been less ventilated and less understood.” Tony Blair also had the kindest of words to say about Hitchens, memorialising that he was “fearless in the pursuit of truth and any cause in which he believed.” For someone considered within the atheist movement to be one of the “Four Horsemen of the New Atheism”, it appeared that a hagiography of Hitchens was being written after, and even immediately prior, to his death. Despite being held up as a paragon of scepticism, rationality, and honesty, in the last decade of his life Hitchens was none of this. Instead, his rational faculties were seemingly suspended as he became a right-wing cheerleader for American-led Western invasions in the Middle East directly after 9/11.

Palestine, Palestinians, and Israel

Definitions of citizenship and what it means to be a citizen of a particular nation has been used to justify discrimination against various groups of people for centuries. These people are generally in the minority in a particular region and are seen as an underclass, and/or something to be dealt with in whatever manner those in the majority deem appropriate. History is full of examples where this thinking has led to egregious levels of discrimination and violence aimed at the minority or undesirables; from the Catholics in Northern Ireland to the Tutsi in Rwanda, where in both cases discrimination and ostracisation eventually led to full-blown violence. This is also the case when it comes to the Palestinians in what was historic Palestine and is now, for the most part, considered the modern state of Israel.

Ron Paul: Liberty or Tyranny

(Originally Published in the UCC Express in February 2012)

It’s somewhat difficult to believe that Barrack Obama won the U.S presidential election in November of 2008. This difficulty arises because it seems as if it was just yesterday that it happened. Time has a nasty habit of doing that; passing by at a rate so fast that the next thing you know, there’s another election looming. Obama personified hope during the 2008 election campaign and he marketed it as such, as that’s what the U.S presidential elections boil down to: marketing. Everyone believed in this concept called “change” that he promised he would bring to the U.S political landscape. His followers were fanatical in their devotion with “Yes We Can” becoming their mantra, which if they repeated often enough, would ensure that the opponents of their idol were crushed. Well now, just over three years later, there appears to be another man who has captured the collective imagination of the voters across the Atlantic. The man in question is of course, Ron Paul.