Dr James Alexander

Reflections on the War in Ukraine

by Dr. James Alexander Mock-up of a pretend Time Magazine cover I In order to be sceptical about war we need both philosophy and history. In relation to politics, history is the study of the world in terms of an imperative to recognise fluctuations in power through time, and philosophy is the study of the world in terms of an imperative now to think, speak and act well. Philosophy wants us to be ruled by law, and history suggests that we will always be ruled by power. History indicates to the sceptic, therefore, that war is always with us, while philosophy indicates that it should be with us as little as possible. Peace is an ironic matter for the historian, and an earnest matter for the philosopher. To be sceptical is to occupy a balanced position between these two extremes. No one should have a policy of eliminating war; for the only way to eliminate it would be by another form of war. There is no such thing as perpetual peace. And yet no one should have a policy of accepting war. There should be no such thing as perpetual war. What is war? War is a consequence of the desire to solve a problem by dissolving it: that is, specifically, by destroying the people who appear to be responsible...

The British Public is Having a Periodical Fit of Morality

by Dr. James Alexander As Peter Hitchens observed in a recent Mail on Sunday article there is something rather absurd about everyone in December 2021 and January 2022 morally condemning the Johnson regime for holding a few parties at a time when that regime was instructing the people not to hold such parties. It is absurd because everyone should have condemned the Johnson regime for perpetuating an initially awkward but eventually brilliant and completely overwhelming coup by ‘nudge’ and ‘fudge’ whereby ordinary protocols (including established emergency protocols for a respiratory disorder) were overturned for a dystopian, despotic and wholly anti-English policy. (Nudge was the work of SAGE and NERVTAG; fudge was the work of No. 10.) In our time we can condemn only some things. But we cannot condemn the worst things, and we cannot condemn them directly. What we have is a political culture in which moral condemnation is extremely difficult. I have an explanation for this. But before I explain it, I want to draw attention to two exceptions: that is to say, to two ways in which moral condemnation is possible. On the one hand moral condemnation is easy if one detects an affront to the officially sanctioned state morality. For instance, one way of doing this is to pose as an excluded minority (good) and morally...

Narcissistic Gnosticism: A 21st Century Political Religion

by Dr. James Alexander Those of us on the side of truth, right, justice and common sense are extremely puzzled by the beliefs which enable those who have changed the world for the worse, even if only for a year or two, to claim that everything is normal. The sharpest insights about our contemporary crisis have not come from academic philosophers but from marginal figures like Georgio Agamben, Bret Weinstein, Jonathan Sumption and the benign Reverends of Irreverend. Anyone who doubts this should consider the anodyne observations about neoliberalism made by academics in Theory and Event or the abject capitulation by figures like Slavoj Zizek to pandemic protocols. Nothing exceeds in preposterousness the defence of masks put out by Zizek. Who needs the face? he asked. One of his arguments was that Freud had said that seeing someone’s face was inadvisable when being psychoanalysed. As if our relation to all other humans is that of subject to shrink! Another was that the face lies, but that eyes tell the truth. On the other hand, C. J. Hopkins has contributed something significant to Covid Studies with his reflections on "The Covidian Cult". Dr. Will Jones has taken everything further by harnessing Covid together with Climate and Wokery (all of the politically correcting, identity politicking, social justice warrioring, critical race theorising, virtue...

Nice Totalitarianism

by Dr. James Alexander https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXWhbUUE4ko A few weeks ago I wrote a passage simply in order to get my thoughts in order on the way the world is turning. Here it is: Our modern state ideology, our political correctness, appears to be three-pronged, like the devil’s fork or trident.The first prong is climate change, its inevitability: carbon emission, global warming, rising sea levels and the need to do something about them.The second prong is the pandemic, the necessity of dealing with a virus by the negative measures of lockdown, masks, distancing and the positive measures of vaccines and other, somewhat belated, treatments.The third prong is wokery, or the requirement that we adopt the set of miscellaneous views about ‘Gay’, ‘Women’, ‘Race’ and ‘Trans’ which Douglas Murray has itemised in The Madness of Crowds. Evidently, great minds think alike, and some great minds organise their thoughts more quickly than other great minds. For after writing the above I saw that Will Jones in an excellent article for the Daily Sceptic entitled “The Unholy Trinity of Social Control” had been the first to see that these three forces have to be assembled into a triad. He called them Covid, Climate Change and CRT (or Critical Race Theory). I admire the alliteration, though I think we might have to sacrifice some it so...

BULLSHIT-19

by Dr James Alexander Part I Pardon my American, but it is finally necessary to write about bullshit. In 2005 the American philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt wrote a book entitled On Bullshit. He characterised bullshit by saying that it is not simply telling lies, or misrepresenting the truth, but having a lack of interest in the truth. The bullshitter may tell the truth, or may lie, but, either way, who cares, that is not his primary concern. His primary concern is to say something which will achieve some other thing which is not obviously evident from the words themselves – amusing everyone, perhaps, or scaring everyone, or simply getting on, climbing the greasy pole, or securing a contract.Of course, every utterance has some other significance or importance to us besides its propositional content. The English philosopher J.L. Austin in the 1960s noticed that statements have ‘illocutionary’ content as well as ‘locutionary’ content: that is to say, each statement has something which is intended to be done in saying it as well as something which is actually expressed in the thing said. If I am to explain bullshit in these terms, then the bullshitter is someone who is only concerned with the illocutionary content. In fact, the bullshitter lives in an illocutionary world. Yet when the bullshitter speaks, his words obviously...

The History of the Decline and Fall of Conservatism

by Dr. James Alexander The Covid crisis is of great political significance. It may in fact mark the end of the Conservative Party. The history of conservatism is usually told in terms of politicians – from Peel, Disraeli and Salisbury through Churchill to Thatcher, Major, Cameron, May and Johnson; or in terms of shifts in economic policy: from protection to free trade in the mid-19th century, from free trade to tariff reform in the early 20th century, from Keynesian consensus to monetarism in the late 20th century; or in terms of thinkers like Burke, Oakeshott, Scruton etc. But I want to propose something a bit different, not only for the sake of history itself, but in order to understand the contemporary crisis of the Conservative Party. The history of conservatism, when seen from sufficient distance, falls into four, perhaps now five, stages. Conservatism was named in the 1830s for the politics of Peel. But it was not a happy politics. It was a reactionary, even late, politics, a politics of a belated and reluctant concession to the events of 1828 to 1832 in which the old order of church and state and of mixed government (King, Lords and Commons) was replaced by the English version of a revolutionary, enlightened order in which the sorts of ideas which had been espoused...

A Political Theory of COVID-19 or Hobbes’s Coviathan

by Dr. James Alexander Political theorists have been mostly silent about COVID-19, as far as I have seen. There was Georgio Agamben, who, early on in 2020, suggested that what was going on bore out his view that the exception was now the norm. For thirty years or more Agamben has gone on, to great applause from admirers and publishers – he is one of those writers for whom every lecture in Italian becomes a handsomely bound book in English – in a paranoiac metaphorical erudite leftist manner. But now events have borne him out. And since he was willing to say that something bad was going on, we have to give him credit, not only for that – saying so – but also for having worked on a theory which, no matter how irrelevant it seemed in the old days (except, perhaps, to Guantanamo), now has something to say to everyone. Apart from him there is no one I know of. They continue in conference and on Twitter while the world burns. So I asked myself which of the great political philosophers would have approved of the government-corporation-media response to this novel coronavirus (and the apparently necessary consequence that all discussion, debate or disagreement be suppressed, avoided, deplatformed)? And the answer was bare, to say the least. Plato might...

Rule, Britannia. Britannia Take the Knee

by Dr. James Alexander Britons are slaves and if they are not yet fully enslaved then there is certainly every sign that they wish to be slaves, and this is what all the taking the knee and taking the jab is about. If we do not want to be slaves, then we need beliefs which will enable us to confound the politics of others. And we also need to maintain a politics of justified opposition – something which collapsed during the pandemic. The BBC was right, by its own standards, to try to erase the words from the performance of Rule, Britannia at the Last Night of the Proms last year: because these words are no longer part of the official ideology of the United Kingdom. Let us consider its most famous lines, and some of the best lines from ‘God Save the Queen’: Rule, Britannia! Britannia rule the waves!Britons never, never, never will be slaves!Confound their politics,Frustrate their knavish tricks… In recent times we might as well be signing these lines instead: Ruled, Britannia! Britannia take the knee!Britons never, never, never shall be free!Adopt their politics,Applaud their knavish tricks… Any opposition in this country will have to begin by declaring firmly that even if Britons no longer rule the waves, they never, never, never shall be slaves. We need,...

The Great Preset

by Dr. James Alexander Alexis de Tocqueville In 1858 Alexis de Tocqueville wrote to a friend about un virus d’une espèce nouvelle et inconnue, "a virus of a new and unknown species". He was not referring to anything biological, but to the French Revolution. And it should be obvious to all of us at the end of the year 2020 that the significant "virus of a new and unknown species" this year has not been the coronavirus but the political response to the coronavirus. In trying to make sense of the extremity of what has happened, we have heard talk of a ‘Great Reset’: which is the name for the supposed conspiracy by which the global rich will use the current crisis to control and pacify the human population by taking property, regulating finance, monitoring us through the panopticon of modern technology, controlling our movement with health passports, continuing the flow of luxuries, signalling to us our subjugation by the use of masks, vaccinations and implants, and imposing on us a single technocratic world government. There are several obvious things to be said about any conspiracy. The first is that conspiracy is an exaggeration, the equal and opposite exaggeration to cock-up. The first wants to believe that everything is a consequence of control. The second wants us to believe that...

A Cockupspiracy

by Dr. James Alexander https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2m8puwFyuM Influenza symptoms seem only a slight intensification of one’s ordinary attitudes to life: disinclination to get up, etc.Geoffrey Madan’s Notebooks: A Selection eds. J.A. Gere and John Sparrow (Oxford University Press, 1981), p. 78 I think we have to distinguish COVID-19 from Polis-20. COVID-19 is a disease caused by a novel coronavirus, which emerged in 2019. Polis-20 is the universal political response by governments, aided and abetted by the information, opinion and speculation establishments of various media, medical and scientific institutions in the year 2020 to perpetuate a triple policy which deliberately seeks to dehumanise and desocialise us through the use of masks, distancing and lockdown and has the unintended but certainly well understood triple consequence of damaging the economy as a whole, ruining our lives by constraining our economic and social activities and causing us to suffer more from deaths for other reasons (whether the reasons are economic, social or indeed medical). Polis-20 is also novel: indeed, entirely unprecedented. It is also foolish and evil: foolish because of its triple unintended consequence, and evil because of the nature of the triple policy itself. Let me try to summarise everything that has been said on the sceptical side since March 2020. I take my views from a variety of sources: Peter Hitchens, Lockdown Sceptics, some...

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