Between Theology and the Political

BTatP poster jpg

Abbey House blogpost on Rose


Rose conference update

The Rose conference at Durham on 9th January will be held at the Lindisfarne centre in St. Aidan’s college, Durham (not the business school as previously advertised). Dinner will be in the business school nearby.


I’ve apparently just become a fellow of the Higher Education Academy, though I’m still waiting for my certificate. Thanks to the excellent team at Durham who guided many of us through the whole process.

You should read this

All of it.

Irrational politics

Remember when Habermas wrote a book with the title Towards a rational society?

Yesterday a council in Essex painted over a mural by Banksy. His piece was an ironic comment on immigration rhetoric, particularly the irrational (bordering on racist) line of UKIP, before which all the other parties (except the Greens) have kowtowed. Somebody apparently complained it was racist. Did the council decide not to act on the mistaken view of someone who doesn’t understand blatant irony? Did they put up a sign explaining why the artwork is not racist but an attack on racism? Did the council protect the right to free speech against somebody’s hurt feelings? No. They painted over it. Not long ago, Hilary Mantel was attacked for writing a fictional story. Same deal.

Yesterday morning, the Today programme interviewed an advertising person – not a policy analyst, not a political philosopher – about political speeches using individuals’ first names (as in the ‘Joe the plumber’ US affair). They asked, ‘does it work?’ This question almost outright admits that a great deal of our politics is manipulation and propaganda. They may as well have asked, ‘which psychological and sociological tricks can be most effectively played on the electorate to make them vote for one party rather than another?’ Interviews with people from the main two parties are almost never proper discussions of ideas, just an excuse for a politician to trot out some pre-arranged, PR-trained, smokescreen speech.

We talk up our democracy as if it’s some shining example. It’s actually closer to a plutocracy in which most people are not given the means meaningfully to participate. This sums it up pretty well. Here endeth the lesson.

The 2014-5 academic year

I’m taking a moment to drink a cup of tea whilst listening to the somewhat addictive Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes and here’s a quick round down of what I’ve got on this year.

Finish and submit my thesis.

Finish proofreading the MSS for the book I’m co-editing with Arseny Ermakov

Continue to organise the conference on Gillian Rose for January 9th at Durham. I need to write a paper for this too.

Teach an undergrad seminar on the Frankfurt school

Teach an intro to philosophy for students in the Netherlands, mostly online but I’ll go over a couple of times

Teach in intro to philosophy at NTC in Manchester (probably)

TA for Dr. Matthew Geust on the module ‘Religion in contemporary Britain’ at Durham

Complete the B2.2 German course at the Goethe Institute.

Apart from the book, I also have a book review in Political Theology and an article in Philosophy Now appearing. I’ve got a piece on social theory under review with Critical Horizons and one on ethics that needs some work before I can submit it somewhere. I hope to publish my Rose conference paper too. I gave a short paper at a conference last week and was encouraged by an editor of a journal to submit it, but I think that one will have to go in a drawer for the time being. A busy but exciting year ahead.

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