Aristotle, Assos, Republicanism; Law above all individuals and parties

A bit later this evening I’m taking the night bus to Aegean Turkey, sometime tomorrow I will get to Assos right on the coast.  Assos goes back to Ancient times when it was a Greek colony.  Aristotle spend a few years there in exile from the politics in Athens.

I will speak to some philosophy students visiting Turkey about Ancient Liberty.  I will concentrate on Aristotle’s Politics, and my recent reading on it has lead me to think about many ambiguities in Aristotle’s account of a republic which is a word translators are using as synonymous with constitutional state or political state, or state governed by a group of free men.  One thing that struck me is the strong emphasis on law above everything in the community.  H says that democracy rests on law, not on majority decisions.  
We should be careful about discussing very specific situations through reference to political theory, but there are times when it is inevitable.   Looking at all this talk from the EU that the Turkish courts are wrong to examine a closure case against Turkey’s governing AKP, which is rooted in religious conservatism.
Whether the case is right or wrong, republican theory since Aristotle suggests that freedom and democracy rest on law not popular will at any one moment.

Experimental new parallel home:

I have a new experimental home for the blog under the title of Barry Stocker’s Weblog.  This is part of my trial period using .mac.  .mac is a service available to owners of Apple Macintosh computers, providing a webpage/blog home, online storage of computer files, online photograph albums, an email address amongst other thing.  Like most things associated with Apple and Macintosh computers, it is extraordinarily beautiful.  However, after a free trial it has to be paid for, so I need time to decide on this.  In the meantime posts will appear here and in the link indicated.

This has arisen because I am the proud and happy owner of  a new MacBook (white, 2.4 GHz) which I am writing on a this very moment.  I have gone further than many users towards having a very pure and integrated Mac experience through two choices: my default browser is Safari, which is native to the Mac OS; my default document creating suite is Apple’s iWork, which includes Pages for creating text documents and Key Notes for computerised presentations.  The browser and the document suite are both beautiful in appearance and functioning, and integrated with the beautiful integration already present in the OS and in the relation between the appearance of the OS and the appearance of the computer.  More on these issues later.    

AKP Authoritarians Trying to Dominate Higher Eduction: A Threat to Secularism and to Academic Freedom

Today I saw that the AKP government in Turkey is still trying to impose its will on higher education, by appointing the rectors of new public universities in Turkey.  A lot of such universities are opening and this is an important issue.  It is well established that faculty vote for the Rector in any public university.  AKP is trying to encroach on academic autonomy in order to find jobs for its friends and impose its ideology on Turkish society.  They are good at flying below the radar, in a stealth approach to increasing the social and political influence of religious conservatism in Turkey. 

I would grudgingly vote for Obama Barack: Thoughts on the United States Presidential Election

I am not convinced by Barack’s brand of self-inflating rhetoric of hope and change.  In policy terms it seems to mostly mean a growth of spending and regulation.  Some proposed regulation is necessary and welcome (on expanding health insurance for example) but there is no sprit of restraint. Despite Obama’s presentation of himself as above politics, his campaigners were caught out assuring the Canadian government that his anti-free trade line will not be followed in office.  

The Republicans have had 8 years and it has not been a good eight years.  The ‘War on Terror’ has been used to attack the liberties of US citizens, particularly through the Patriot Act.  Foreign prisoners have been tortured by presidential permission at Guntanamo Bay.  Iraq has been turned into an eat all you can buffet for a variety of Islamist gangs, who have tortured and murdered Christians and rival Muslims under a weak Iranian oriented government of soft Islamists, northern Iraq has continued to be a based for Kurdish separatists in the PKK terrorist movement.  Theşr continuing attacks on Turkey are a great evil in themselves and are poisoning Turkish politics, contributing to the revival of a neurotic and defensive nationalism (earlier today I saw a beautiful black Lamborghini in Nişantişi with a red Turkish flag symbol replacing the usual blue EU sşde field on one end of the number plate, all a bit ironic and very indicative)  The region continues to be dangerous and unstable for Israelis and Arabs.  The US economy has declined sharply form the condition in which Bush inherited it.  Government spending had shot up on both defence and social programs, at the same time as a huge cut in taxes on share dividends had weakened the tax base.  Scientific advice on the environment has been ignored or overruled by administration members.  AIDS programs and sex education at home and abroad has been slanted towards trying to impose pre-marital virginity as the ideal, under the influence of religious extremists.  This is a record of incompetence and bad policy which needs to be punished.
The Republicans showed pragmatism in selecting McCain as their presidential candidate, in some circumstances I could support his election, but the overriding priority now must be to put the Republicans in the doghouse for  a minimum of four and maybe eight years.  The Democrats must get the White House and strengthen their hold on both houses of Congress.  The Republicans need to purge, or at least marginalise, the Theocons, the national security conservatives and the  militant forms of Neoconservatism (which in its more moderate forms is is a benign form of universalist democratic idealism) and this will take time.  The party needs to establish a large amount of distance from policies of torture, restricting civil liberties, enforcing conservative and intolerant forms of Christianity, and fantasies of defending US interests through: reinventing foreign states, attempts at unilateral restructuring of whole regions, attempts to turn conflicts between the US and other countries into reruns of World War Two.  There must certainly be an end to insults and humiliations directed at those European governments which see some of these problems differently.  
It has to be Obama Barack .  Getting the first African-American into the  White House would be wonderful, and I hope that some socially tolerant Republicans will support Obama Barack to counterbalance the kind of blue collar conservative Democrat who apparently can support Clinton but never Barack.  Barack needs to choose a Vice-Presidential candidate with Reagen Democrats of that kind in mind.

Changes to the Blog and my new Mac

Previous layout was too fussy and full of stuff that was of secondary importance at best in the side bar.  Present format tries to focus on blog contents, while referring readers to other blogs where they might follow up what I discuss.  

I’ve spent so much time recently thinking about computers and computing, I’ve added that a major area of blogging content and it will feature quite regularly.  I am picking up a new Macintosh tomorrow (White MacBook, 2.4 GHz ).  I did not get one in Turkey as Mac prices are twice the US price and about two-thirds more than the British price.  The Apple shops here are all resellers, are small with limited stock, and the staff are mostly not well informed.  I’m delighted to see a growth of Apple resellers in Istanbul, but I could not find a case for my iPod classic suitable for attaching to my arm when I go out for a run, and when I was looking for new earphones for it, the assistant thought my iPod Classic was an iPhone.  If I had an iPod Touch, which is roughly speaking an iPhone without the telephone, I would have understood.  That’s a shop in walking distance of where I live in a very good big shopping centre, but I have yet to buy anything in Pupa (the Apple reseller) and maybe I never will.  The MacBook comes courtesy of  I shpped it to the daughter of a friend.  All going well I will pick it up in a few hours and will be blogging from it soon afterwards.