Secularism is not a concept that other religions or civilisations developed independently.
The notion of the secular as a public realm not structured by religion is a product of European Christian civilisation.
Islam did not develop it, as sovereignty is held by Allah and Sharia represents the rules of Allah found by fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and grounded in revelation. The religious scholars, the ulema, skilled in fiqh, determined the law via religious rulings (fatwa). Rulers, as Muslims, submitted to the sovereignty of Allah. They appointed qadis (judges) who applied the rulings of the religious scholars. Rulers could only legitimately issue…
It can mean assuming a protective role, or an off-limits status.
Sikhi and Judaism have several things in common. They are both scriptural religions with a line of religious teachers: the prophets of the Torah and the Tanakh and the gurus of Sikh tradition. They are both minority religions who have suffered a long history of persecution. In both religions, it is the men who wear the publicly distinctive clothing, specifically head gear: turbans in the case of Sikh men, various hats and caps for Jewish men.
The last two similarities go together. By wearing publicly distinctive clothing, Sikh…
It is far more effective at attaching a negative adjective to masculinity than in helping to understand human behaviour.
I am using bullshit in its technical philosophical sense — statements made for rhetorical effect regardless of how factually accurate they are.
To understand the problems with toxic masculinity as an analytical concept, it is useful to start with looking at something that is highly patterned by sex: violence. Especially as the patterns of violence by sex are regularly linked to toxic masculinity.
A Swedish study found that 0.1 per cent of the population made up a fifth of…
Treating disagreement as delinquent does not mean that things are working
Here’s a striking result: according to happiness research, since 1970 the pattern in Western societies has shifted from women being generally happier than men, to men being generally happier than women.
Given the triumph of second-wave feminism in changing law, social mores and public policy this may seem a surprising result. Actually, it makes sense.
First, men have less responsibility as providers. They are no longer expected to be the sole provider for their family. …
Transactivism has taken establishment feminism setting up ovaries and mammaries as being incidental to being a woman and made it irrelevant to being a woman.
It is rather startling how much of the public space is being driven by trans activism and trans issues. Trans folk are, after all, a very small proportion of the population whose individual cases are rife with various complexities.
Yet, we are being offered striking simplistic narratives that have to be adhered to if one is going to be of the morally meritorious.
In fact, trans issues in the public sphere provide an excellent example…
A shocking attack on a legislative building can be very useful.
On the 27th of February 1933, the Reichstag, the building where the legislature of the Weimar Republic met, caught fire. At no stage was the government of the Republic in danger. There was no loss of life.
Yet it was a shocking thing, especially as it was immediately presented as an act of arson (which it was; though by a lone arsonist, conveniently both foreign — Dutch — and communist). Such a shocking symbolic affront to the political order was too politically useful. So the new Chancellor of the…
From our helpless infants to the need to learn and be socialised, the years of effort required to raise human children has shaped our biological and social evolution.
The most important single biological fact in understanding human social dynamics is that we have the biosphere’s most expensive children.
A Homo sapien child does not complete the process of biological maturity until their early 20s. To get them to the stage where they can become parents is at least a 15-year investment, though longer is better.
It is not merely the length of Homo sapien childhood and adolescence that makes our…
And devaluing your citizenship
Controlling public markers of legitimacy can be a powerful source of social leverage. It is one that naturally rests on devaluing citizenship.
A crucial driver of this process in contemporary society comes from the shifts in social power in modern developed democracies as the so-called ‘professional and managerial class’ reaches a sufficient critical mass to aspire to social dominance.
I do not much like the term managerial and professional class. The term is too specifically modern and so gets in the way of connecting current dynamics to past social patterns.
History does not repeat, but it…
The pervasive attack on citizenship is part of a divide-and-dominate strategy.
Citizens of contemporary developed democracies live within an imperial order, but not in the way folk often claim.
There is an historical fable about the history of Western states that goes like this: once upon a time, Western states colonised the rest of the world, but then they morally advanced and retreated from imperialism, becoming welfare states instead.
I would put it slightly differently. Western states colonised the rest of the world because they could. Imperialism is what states do when they can, as more power and revenue is…
Meritocracies decay, and are often over-rated.
Meritocracy is not a new social form. It is not specific to Western modernity. On the contrary, one of the key markers of meritocracy — selection of public servants by examination — was pioneered by China centuries ago.
During the Song dynasty (960–1279), examination became the dominant path to official appointment. With the partial exception of the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), the subsequent dynasties, the Ming (1368–1644) and the Qing (1644–1912), also selected their officials from those who had passed the imperial examination.
The Ottoman Empire (1299–1922) was also a substantially meritocratic polity. The basis…
An accidental small businessman who reads a lot and thinks about what he reads, sometimes productively. Currently writing a book on marriage.