Showing posts from September, 2013

On objectification

Especially with the rise and rise of feminism as social power, talk of ‘objectification’ is getting quite an airing at the moment. It’s an interesting concept, well worth pondering for a little while here. Firstly, let’s look at the idea that objectification is something we need to eliminate or reduce. When we say we shouldn’t objectify people or treat them as objects, it is far from clear how else we should deal with them. After all, each of us is a subject, but another person to us appears as an object – in physical terms but also in how we define them beyond the purely physical – for example as happy, sad, engaging, or annoying. It is difficult to see how we can describe other people and deal with them through language without treating them as objects. To do so would renounce our capacity to do anything relating to others – in other words to be subjects – while in a superficial sense leaving ‘the other’ as something like a ‘pure subject’ –a being with ultimate power (so

A Rather Interesting Red Ed. (On Miliband’s Conference speech)

This article was republished on the same day on the blog Left Foot Forward . Ed Miliband’s Labour Conference speech was full of interesting and important ideas, so let’s get stuck in. As Daily Mirror hack Kevin Maguire said on Twitter during the speech, “Red Ed is back.” It’s a rather interesting Red Ed though –not the 1970s socialist stereotype that right-wingers have been lambasting. Certainly state intervention is back on the table in serious form. The energy companies will be subject to much greater control if Labour gets into government, land speculation will be curtailed in favour of development, and state schools will permanently extend opening hours to make life easier for working parents. Each of these policies are potentially problematic, and I have my fingers crossed they have been thought through properly and Labour has got its defences and counter-attacks planned well for the assault that began immediately even while Ed was talking. The headline-gra

Unite and Labour in Falkirk: a legitimate stitch-up, or worse?

Just before 5pm on a Friday, with the focus of the parliamentary lobby on the G20 in St Petersburg or their third pint, Labour put out   its statement that Karie Murphy, Stephen Deans and the union Unite have been exonerated of wrongdoing over the Falkirk parliamentary selection fiasco. Immediately the warring old Labour Left and ‘Blairite’ factions resumed hostilities on Twitter over what it meant, with the former (Owen Jones leading the pack), demanding that all comments by anyone against Unite be withdrawn and apologised for, completely, immediately, unequivocally. I’m a Labour member (a branch secretary indeed) and am no member of either faction. However I am far from convinced by this ‘exoneration’. As far as I see it, the Falkirk affair is either an example of legitimate (or ‘institutionalised’) fixing by Unite, within the rules, or there has been a cover-up – and there are sources in Falkirk Labour who claim the latter. As the New Statesman’s George Eaton

A few thoughts on depression, and philosophy

The subject of depression has got a fair amount attention in the media in recent times, something much to be welcomed. High-profile figures like former spin doctor Alastair Campbell, ex-footballer-turned-pundit Stan Collymore and the writer Marian Keyes have made their sufferings public and given a lot of encouragement to others who have gone through similar experiences. I’ve been a sufferer myself in the past and certainly welcome these interventions, especially for the way these people have candidly revealed weaknesses in themselves, thereby making it easier for others to do the same. Campbell wrote a little book called ‘The Happy Depressive’, exploring his own experiences and depression as a public policy issue. I won’t go into that book in detail here because I want to take a brief look at depression from a different angle, but one quotation wouldn’t go amiss: “In the US, trust in other people being ‘nice’ has fallen from 60 per cent to 30 per cent in fifty years