Wednesday, June 21 at 19:30 @ The Albion Beatnik
34 Walton Street, OX2 6AA Oxford, Oxfordshire
Being In Time: A Post-Political Manifesto' is Gilad Atzmon's latest pithy book - its title a nod to Heidegger, the John Coltrane of the philosophy world. It broadens the arguments of his previous 'The Wandering Who? A Study of Jewish Identity Politics' (which has sold internationally by the bucket load).
Atzmon describes the post-political world we now live in, how political concepts that were once described as Left and Right no longer resonate with meaning. He sees the old political algorithms surrounding this divide no longer holding true, as the world has distilled into an economic elite, which is oligarchic, overwhelming, and serviced by the rest of us; no longer are politicians the extensions of our will, rather they are the curators of our economic (and occasional electoral) consumerism. Its manifestation, he argues, has been the rise of identity politics and political correctness - politics that does not allow dissent, George Orwell it was who wrote of thought controlled by language, supremacy via syntax; certainly the freedom to think openly, to have debate that isn't closed down, has been, Atzmon argues, a rare and decreasing commodity. As a replacement for the Left and Right we have now the Progressive and the Nostalgic. The Progressives project on to the future their idealism and their own Whig Theories of History, previously the preserve of interpreting the past; those inclined to nostalgia remember when railway timetables ran to order, when we won gold medals at the Commonealth Games, or cite Trump's vision to make America great "again"). Or we can see this as Jerusalem and Athens. Jerusalem, of course, produced tablets of stone with the Ten Commandments, when still today "we have more and more regulations, laws and commandments and yet we are less and less safe and ethical" (witness the Goldman tower block); Athens the birthplace of philosophy, art and rational debate.
The dystopian events of 2016, the votes for Brexit and Trump for which the world seemed to be so ill-prepared, have disrupted the progressive status quo. And they have opened up vistas of disbelief - disbelief in our institutions, our popular media - and the opportuity for Corbyn, for instance, to pronounce old rhetoric, old warhorse left tub-thumping mantras - gonna tax the rich'n'give to the poor. Atzmon sees a metaphysical continuum between Trump and Corbyn, even Robin Hood.
Exciting and sometimes controversial stuff, but also deeply thoughtful; well worth listening to and questioning. Refreshment available; free entry.
“Without a bullet being fired, [citizens] have lost almost total control of the apparatus of the U.S. state... Atzmon not only gives us his interpretation of how this happened, he also tells us why... His answers are damning, but he does give us hope that The Real can prevail.” - from the book's foreword by Cynthia McKinney, U.S. politician and political activist