Fragile Freedoms – A.C. Grayling


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British philosopher A.C. Grayling surveys the struggles for liberty and rights that formed the modern West. This lecture is presented in collaboration with the University of Manitoba's Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics. 

(An hour long Podcast from CBC Radio's Ideas,  Fragile Freedom lecture series.)    

Written By: CBC Radio
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  1. I read A.C Grayling’s book “Towards the Light” a couple of years back and it made a profound impact on me.Most of us take for granted the various liberties that we enjoy in the 21st century.We do not even think of the brave men and women who in many cases gave up their own lives and liberty so that future generations might live unfettered lives.

    These freedoms are indeed fragile and it is saddening and also anger provoking that people today are so willing to toss out the hardwon freedoms and go back to cringing subservience to outdated and harmful practices,religion being chief among such practices.

  2. Religion is fascism with an added feature. Fascism; do as I say, because I say so and do not question me about it. Religion; do as I say, because I say so, do not question me about it and give me 10% of your money. Fascism has gone way past it’s use-by date and needs to be terminated in all forms.

    • In reply to #2 by abusedbypenguins:

      Religion is fascism with an added feature. Fascism; do as I say, because I say so and do not question me about it.

      That isn’t what fascism is. Fascism is a form of government. The standard definition of Fascism is a totalitarian form of government emphasizing militarism, jingoism, xenophobia, and close ties between big business and the government. The best definition I’ve seen for religion is from Atran:

      religion is (1) a community’s costly and hard-to-fake commitment (2) to a counterfactual and counterintuitive world of supernatural agents (3) who master people’s existential anxieties, such as death and deception. Atran, Scott (2002-11-14). In Gods We Trust:The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion (Evolution and Cognition) (p. 4). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

      I do agree that most religions have some commonalities with Fascism though. They both emphasize fear of those not part of the in-group, obedience over reason, and patriarchy.

      However, some religious people work very hard, including giving up their lives, to fight against Fascism. The KKK isn’t exactly fascist but they are close and one of their biggest enemies was the black churches in the US South. The leaders of the civil rights movement were mostly various religious organizations. And the Liberation Theology movement in South America was absolutely all about fighting fascism. Many of its leaders were priests and nuns and some of them were brutally murdered by Central and South American Fascist death squads. For example:

      El Salvador marks Archbishop Oscar Romero’s murder

  3. This is a very interesting and easy-on-the-ear talk (as always) from AC Grayling.

    The main question he asks is how we are going to protect our liberties in the future. I don’t think he sees religion as that much of a threat now – though that’s not top say it couldn’t make a come back. His greater concern is how we can safeguard our liberty and privacy whilst taking advantage of and enjoying all the benefits of the e-world we live in.

    I’m certainly against spying by Big Corp and Government agencies, but I’ve come to realise that if we stop it by refusing to cooperate or by shutting down computer databases, we throw out the baby with the bath water. I am wondering now if we should give up trying to maintain our privacy from the machines and instead legislate to make it a very serious offense when someone or some organisation (like the police, say) use the information in an improper way. I’d make the bar so low, that, whilst the collection of our private data as a function of normal and necessary computer memory storage (ie information about our car insurance or how much tax we have paid) carried on and would be legal, use of it by companies or state agencies would be almost impossible without breaking the law.

    I wonder if that is a workable idea? Something for the lawyers, I reckon.

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