Debating the issues

This is the place to find out about current, upcoming and earlier online discussions and debates held on this website.

Coming up: the free speech debate

For our 2020 series of forums, which will run from March to August (starting 14 March) we have chosen as the overall theme: A new Dark Age? The emerging threats to free speech and the liberal order.

How secure is freedom of speech in the Western democracies?

Just a few years ago the question would have seemed preposterous. After all free speech was something that was taken for granted, accepted and celebrated across the political spectrum.

So what has changed? A lot, actually: a technological revolution that confers arbitrary power to constrain speech on some of the most powerful corporations on earth; a proliferation of new laws that limit expression based on vague and subjective criteria and a widespread erosion of belief in the value of free speech and rational argument.

We will shortly be starting a detailed online discussion and debate on this issue to complement the forums. Join our mailing list on the home page to be notified when this gets under way and how you can join in.

 

Inaugural debate: Identity politics

In December 2018 we ran a pilot project to test interest in discussing issues at the intersection of politics and civilization online. To get things going, I posted a series of articles indicting identity politics, an ideology that has become hugely influential throughout the Western world, including education at all levels, the media, politics and the corporate sector.

I invited all members of the Blackheath Philosophy Forum to respond on this website, eliciting a good debate with a range of viewpoints expressed and many carefully considered contributions - and not a single case of the ad hominem abuse so endemic to online discourse these days.

I belatedly posted the final article in the set, that supported the claim that identity politics threatens core valuable features of the civilization we inhabit, in November 2019. You can read it here.

A linked index to the full set of articles appears below. All the articles remain open for comments or more detailed responses. The debate so far can be viewed in a variety of graphical forms, including an outline treeview and radial graph and more.

Scroll down for information about how to join in or follow the proceedings as they unfold, including daily or weekly digests or immediate alerts when anything is posed.

Incidentally I strongly recommend Douglas Murray's brilliant new book dissecting identity politics The Madness of Crowds - check out the author interview below.

 

Index to identity politics articles by Peter Baldwin

J'Accuse identity politics a short overview that summarizes the five-count indictment

Count 1: Identity politics is racist

  1. The progressive obsession with race
  2. Pauline Hanson and the strange 'It's OK to be white' debate
  3. Actually, it's not OK to be white
  4. Licensed vilification
  5. So, how is this not racist?
  6. Identity politics goes full Nazi
  7. Conclusion: How to foment a race war

Count 2: Identity politics is the enemy of free speech

  1. A new, more perfect totalitarianism
  2. It couldn't happen here though, could it?
  3. The return of arbitrary power
  4. The James Damore case and Google's ideological monoculture
  5. How did things get to this point?
  6. Conclusion: The end of the long march

Count 3: Identity politics harms the oppressed

  1. Ideology over consequences
  2. Black Lives Matter and other catastrophes
  3. Indigenous Australia and the Culture Cult
  4. The politics of suffering
  5. Conclusion: Breaking the silence

Count 4: Identity politics is profoundly reactionary

  1. Culturalisms of Left and Right
  2. Imprisoned by culture
  3. The leftist Counter Enlightenment
  4. A grandiose political miscarriage
  5. Conclusion: A thought experiment

Count 5: Identity politics threatens civilization as we know it posted 22 Nov 2019

  1. Summary
  2. Does Western civilization even exist?
  3. The tyranny of guilt
  4. Fear and loathing at Sydney Uni: The Ramsay debate
  5. From free inquiry to academic monoculture
  6. The compromising of Western academia I
  7. Sanctioning slavery and rape
  8. The compromising of Western academia II
  9. Forbidden questions
  10. No comparing civilizations, we're a university!
  11. The smorgasbord theory of civilizations
  12. Two incompatible conceptions of human rights
  13. Civilizations collide in Europe
  14. The erosion of norms
  15. The great disconnect
  16. Free speech imperiled
  17. Conclusion: Those who the gods would destroy they first make mad

 

How to join in (or just follow) the online discussions

To join in, subscribe to the mailing list (on the home page) and you will be sent an email explaining how to get started and setting out guidelines for the site. These are pretty straightforward: We want reasoned arguments, not ad hominem attacks. Any abusive, defamatory or violent items will be deleted and the account cancelled.

Contributions can be of any length, from a single sentence to major articles with embedded media. If you want to respond to a particular point in an article you can just select the relevant article text and a comment entry box will open with the selected text quoted. Alternatively you can click on the Add comment link below the article.

To add an article, select one of the options from the Respond menu that appears at top right of every page. Your article can be entered and edited online using a full-page editor with standard word-processing features and the ability to embed images, videos and other media (though for long items best to save a draft on your computer first and paste in). Citations can also be added, which are displayed below the article.

To navigate around the debate, use the color-coded menu at the foot of every article or alternatively explore using one of the graphical views available from the menu at top-right.

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