Caesar’s Proto-fascism


Caesar: And in Rome, Marc Antony is to speak for Caesar. His authority is not to be questioned.

Canidius: His word will be yours. As always, Caesar’s word is law.

Caesar: Of course. But remind him to keep his legions intact. They make the law legal.

– Wanger. W. (Producer), Mankiewicz. J.L. (Director). (1963). Cleopatra [Motion Picture]. United States: 20th Century-Fox

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On Irreverence


“It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it.”

– Jacob Bronowski

Taarof


There is a social principle in Iran called taarof, it is the concept that describes the practice of politeness through linguistic indirectness and insincerity.

In Iran, people deal with the concept of honesty in a different way than most Western cultures in which directness and bluntness are, to a large extent, accepted and even encouraged communicative principles.

In the context of taarof, Iranians are expected to give false praises and insincere promises. Not out of deviousness, but out of the sociocultural expectation to tell people what they want to hear out of politeness, to avoid conflict, or to offer hope when there is none.

Examples of common taarof situations include: people imploring others to go through a door first; hosts insisting that they do not want customers to pay for dinner; dinner partners refusing to let others share in the cost of a meal; hostesses serving food even though their guests claim they are full; and people being invited to dinner when the host does not really want their company.

“Symbolism and vagueness are inherent in our language. […] Taarof is a sign of respect, even if we don’t mean it.” – Nasser Hadian

Confucianism and the Golden Rule


‘The so-called Golden Rule, “do as you would be done by”, appears in Confucianism as a negative: “what you do not desire for yourself, do not do to others.” The difference is subtle but crucial: Confucius does not prescribe what to do, only what not to do, emphasizing restraint rather than action. This implies modesty and humility – values traditionally held in high regard in Chinese society, and which for Confucius express our true nature. Fostering these values is a form of loyalty to oneself, and another kind of sincerity.’

– Atkinson. S., Landau. C., Szudek. A., Tomley. S. (et al.) 2011. The Philosophy Book New York, United States: DK Publishing p. 39

On the Capacity for Doubt


“The press and the public like certainty and affirmation of popular biases. But real science thrives on the capacity for doubt.”

– Wendy Kaminer

Ceremonial Officers of England


In modern-day Britain, there are a great number of governmental, judicial and servile positions which are largely representational; that is to say, they are mainly or wholly ceremonial and have no function outside the upholding of a certain tradition – often at great financial cost to the public.

All the offices which are discussed below are related in some way to the British monarchy, and although historically they were some of the most powerful positions in the British government, the holders of the majority of these offices do not have any political power today – which, arguably, makes their upholding even more indefensible.

“Any kind of aristocracy, howsoever pruned, is rightly an insult; but if you are born and brought up under that sort of arrangement you probably never find it out for yourself, and don’t believe it when somebody else tells you.” – Mark Twain

Great Officers of State (incomplete)

  • Lord High Steward
    The officer who carries St. Edward’s crown during the coronation of the British monarch.
  • Lord High Chancellor
    The custodian of the Great Seal of the Realm.
  • Lord President of the Council
    The minister who presents new business to the Privy Council (the council which advises the British monarch about affairs of state).
  • Lord Great Chamberlain
    The officer in charge of Buckingham Palace.
  • Lord Privy Seal
    The custodian of the monarch’s Privy Seal.
  • Lord High Constable of England
    The ceremonial chief of the Royal Army.
  • Earl Marshal
    The officer who is charge of organising Royal funerals and coronations.
  • Lord High Admiral
    The titular head of the Royal Navy.

Ceremonial Officers (incomplete)

  • Lord Lieutenants (and their Deputies)
    The monarch’s personal representative in a Lieutenancy.
  • High Sheriffs (and their Undersheriffs)
    The monarch’s judicial representative in a Reeve.
  • Stewards, Chancellors, Admirals, Keepers, Receivers, Solicitors, Wardens, Surveyors, Auditors and Heralds of the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall
    The Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall are the rental properties of the British Monarch and the Prince of Wales respectively.
  • Kings of Arms, Heralds, Pursuivants and Inspectors
    The officers of arms manage heraldic and armorial matters and participate in Royal ceremonies.
  • Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
    An officer who is titularly responsible for the defence of Hastings, New Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich.
  • Warden and Marker of the Swans
    These officers concern themselves with swan welfare on behalf of the British Monarch, who holds the title ‘Seigneur of the Swans’, and owns all mute swans in Britain.

Royal Household Officers (incomplete)

  • Royal Bodyguards, Yeomen and Archers
    These are the ceremonial bodyguards of the British Monarch. Their commanders are known as Gold Stick and Silver Stick.
  • Chief Butler of England
    This office organises the coronation banquet for each newly crowned British Monarch.
  • Mistress of the Robes
    This office manages the clothes and jewellery of the Queen of England.
  • Pages of the Backstairs, Presence and Honour
    These are titles given to the people who serve dinner to the British monarch, announce guests at events at Buckingham Palace, and carry the Queen’s train at official occasions.

“One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in kings, is, that nature disapproves it, otherwise, she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule by giving mankind an ass for a lion.” – Thomas Paine, Common Sense