The #newpower generation

We’ve become passive consumers. Someone else has the power to decide what we can have and when we can have it. We either take it or leave it. We can have any colour, as Henry Ford so memorably said, as long as it’s black. This is a classic ‘old power’ situation, where power is a currency held by a few. Our role is to be grateful for what we are given. Until now.

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Being a good ancestor (A book review)

When we make decisions, we’re pretty good at thinking about what they’ll mean for us in the immediate future. But when it comes to the longer-term impact of our decisions, whether taken individually or as a society, we struggle to think further than the next decade or so. Anything beyond that is, as we tend to see it, someone else’s problem.

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A quick catch-up on the reading front

As you know, I usually try to write a quick review of books I’ve enjoyed. On the grounds that, if you like reading my blog, you may well like to read the sort of things that I like to read, too. And also because people who write books (usually) put a lot of effort into what they do, so it seems only nice, if I’ve enjoyed their work, to tell other people about it. I’ve built up a bit of a backlog of books to review, though, so in an effort to clear the decks a little, here are some of the things that I’ve read recently. I really think you’d enjoy reading them, too.

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The land under our feet (A book review)

There’s a bit in the film Crocodile Dundee when Paul Hogan says of the aboriginal peoples of Australia ‘they don’t own the land; they belong to it’. Uncomfortable colonialist thinking aside, there’s a strong moral argument than none of us can really own the land under our feet. It’s not even something that we can own collectively. Because it’s not really ours to own at all. Unfortunately, though, nobody told the economists.

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Why it’s good to be mortal

Whenever Natalie reads something in a magazine that she thinks I’ll find interesting, she leaves it out somewhere obvious for me to find. And so I stumbled this morning upon a review in the Guardian of Swedish philosopher Martin Hagglund’s book ‘Why mortality makes us free‘.

It’s “a sweepingly ambitious synthesis of philosophy, spirituality and politics”, apparently (the book, not the review), which argues that it is not believing in the glorious afterlife promised by many religions that makes our lives on Earth so full of meaning. To be honest, though, this benefit of what Hagglund calls “secular faith” is far from news to me. Or to my fellow humanists around the world. Continue reading