Ian Pirie’s website.


A collection of notes on philosophy and politics, written from a socialist, environmentalist and antimilitarist perspective.


I believe (*) that we need to create another - and better – world, one characterised by equality, sympathy (compassion), and non-violence.


But we can only begin to do this if we use our imagination:

- first, to feel with others who are suffering under the present system,

- and second, to think how things could be other than how they are now.


These notes are based on lecturing done over nearly 40 years (1966 – 2005) at UEL, as well as more recent teaching (since 2008) for the WEA, but it is hoped they will interest anyone wanting to find out more about the world around them.                                                                                                                                  


(*) See further at: what I believe...  and at: blog.htm


And I use Facebook to post articles about politics and the environment: https://www.facebook.com/ian.pirie.50



The notes fall into the following groups:


            (1) What is meant by ‘imagining other’...                                                                #why? (for full list). 


(2) Teaching notes for courses offered by the WEA (Workers’ Educational Association):

                        (a) Political Philosophy...                                                                              #political philosophy (contents page)

                        Part 1 (from the classical Greeks to the French revolution)                            #part 1

                        Part 2 (from the 1789 French Revolution to the present)                               #part 2

How Enlightened was the (18th Century European) Enlightenment?            #enlightenment.

            (b) Social Movements in the 20th century – ‘People Power’                      #power.

(c) The Natural Environment - ‘Protecting the Planet’                             #protecting


(3) Teaching notes on ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ – my teaching from the mid ‘70s to 2002 at University of East London (UEL): #csr.

                        These notes also include some recent files that go beyond CSR: inequality part 1 and updates on inequality (e.g. this file has some notes on current economics)


(4) Libertarian Socialism – especially the ideas of Cornelius Castoriadis...         #libertarian socialism.


(5) Autobiographical and personal...                                                                       #personal.




Full list of documents:


 (1) What is meant by ‘Imagining Other’?

            Part 1: What is Imagining Other?

            Part 2: New Ways of Seeing.

            Alternatives. (Includes links to other notes - ‘building the new society in the shell of the old...’)

            Notes on William Blake



(2) Teaching Notes for WEA Courses

(a) Political Philosophy

Political Philosophy Contents Page (has topics numbered, and in alphabetical order).


(i) Political Philosophy Part 1:  


                             Introduction to Part I   Summary for Introduction

                        Plato                                                                Extracts from The Republic                }

                        Aristotle                                                          Extracts from Aristotle's Politics        } Summary for Plato and Aristotle

                        Augustine and Aquinas                                  Extracts - St Augustine: City of God   Summary for Augustine and Aquinas

                        Thomas More, Humanism, Utopias                Extracts - Thomas More                      }

                        Luther Calvin and the Reformation                Extracts - Luther and Calvin              } Summary for Luther, Calvin, Thomas More

                        Machiavelli                                                      Extracts - Machiavelli                            Summary for Machiavelli

                        Hobbes                                                            Extracts - Hobbes                               }

                        John Locke                                                      Extracts - Locke                                  } Summary for Hobbes and Locke 

                        Rousseau                                                         Extracts - Rousseau                               Summary for Rousseau

                        Edmund Burke, Tom Paine, and the French Revolution                                               Summary for Burke and Paine


(ii) Political Philosophy Part 2 (the ‘isms of politics):


                        Introduction to Part 2                         Summary of Thinkers for Part 2

                        Liberalism: Adam Smith         Liberalism: John Rawls            Liberalism today (NEW!!)


                        Socialism before and besides Marx

                        Marx: an overview                  Marx extracts  Marx: the evolution of his thought     Marxism: Religion, Modernity

                        Socialism Since Marx - 1 revisionism/social democracy                          

                        Anarchism - Peter Kropotkin and Mutual Aid

                        Conservatism: Introduction, Burke, Hegel                 Oakeshott and Nozick            Thatcherism                 Hayek, liberal conservatism, new right economics


                        Feminism (Introduction)         Simone de Beauvoir    Feminism (Extracts and Quotes)        Feminism and Inequality             Feminism Today

                        Environmentalism (notes for political philosophy)                 Notes on Climate Change, 'Sceptics' etc.

                                    See also: Corporate Social Responsibility and the Environment

                                       and: Social Movements: the Environmental and Green Movements

                                    and especially: ‘Protecting the Planet’ (below) protecting the planet: introduction


                        Other contemporary thinkers



(iii) How Enlightened was the Enlightenment? (WEA Course [10 weeks]: Leigh-on-Sea, January 2011, Rayleigh October 2011, Loughton October 2012)


                        Lecture Notes:                                                                                                                                   Billericay course 2018:

                        Week 1: Introduction                                                                                                              Billericay 2018 week 1:  Summary for students

                        Week 2: Introduction continued: Enlightenment values                                                        Billericay 2018 week 2:  Summary for students

                        Week 3: Science                                                                                                                      Billericay 2018 week 3:  Summary for students

                        Week 4 Economic Underpinnings (war, trade, agricultural and industrial revolutions)         Not covered for Billericay 2018.

                        Week 5: Religion                                                                                                                    Billericay 2018 week 4:  Summary for students

                        Billericay Week 5 David Hume & Adam Smith                                                                    Billericay 2018 week 5:  Summary for students


Week 6: Human Nature in Smith, Rousseau and Kant (Smith for Billericay see week 5)     Billericay 2018 week 6: Summary for students

                            Extra notes on Adam Smith

                            Extra notes on Rousseau

                            Extra notes on Kant

                            Extracts from Adam Smith


                            Week 7: The Arts (extended to first part of week 8 also)                                                  Not covered for Billericay 2018.

                            Poems and quotations 


                        Week 8: Political Ideas (part A) - Kant, Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau)                             Billericay 2018 week 7}

                        Week 9: Political Ideas (part B) - The American & French Revolutions, Burke and Paine  Billericay 2018 week 7}  Summary for students


                        Week 10: Problematics: slavery, race, women                                                                        Billericay 2018 week 8.  Summary for students


(b) Social movements in the twentieth century

People Power:


NB: Some originally planned chapters are not yet written up. The Social Movements course was originally taught at UEL.


The WEA course – ‘People Power’ - covers: Labour Movement; Peace Movement; Youth and Counter-culture; Feminism/Women; Environment. (2 weeks each topic).


                        Introductory notes (Week 1 of ‘People Power’):

            Social Movements: Introduction (Week 1 of People Power course)              Week 1 Summary Handout


            Other notes for Introduction:

Social Movements: Theory (in-depth notes on the theory of social movements)

            Social Movements in the 20th Century (Week 1 of ‘People Power’ course, further background)


           1: The Labour Movement:  (Weeks 1 & 2 of ‘People Power’)

            Section 1: history part 1 (to end of 19th century) (Summary Handout see above)  (Week 1 of ‘People Power’ continued)

            Section 2: twentieth century         Week 2 Summary Handout                                  (Week 2 of ‘People Power’)     


                        Other notes on the Labour Movement:

            Section 3: Issues (further issues concerning the study of the labour movement, background for People Power course)


                        2: The Women’s Movement: (Weeks 3 & 4 of ‘People Power’)

                        The Women's Movement (2019 notes)  (Week 3 of ‘People Power’)

                        The Women's Movement: Waves and Philosophies  (Week 4 of ‘People Power’)   Women's Movement Summary Handout (Weeks 3 & 4 of ‘People Power’)


                        The Women's Movement (original notes)

            - see also: Feminism (political philosophy) and Feminism: Simone de Beauvoir


                        3. Youth Movement: (People Power Weeks 5 & 6)

                        Youth, Students and the Counter Culture      Week 5 Handout                     (Week 5 of ‘People Power’)

                        'May '68' - student & workers uprising in Paris          Week 6 Handout         (Week 6 of ‘People Power’)


                        - for Week 6: see also the two book reviews below, under (4) libertarian socialism etc (*)


            4: The Peace Movement: (People Power Weeks 7 & 8)

            Section 1: the anti-war movement                  Summary Handout Week 7    (Week 7 of ‘People Power’)

                        Section 2: the anti-nuclear movement             Summary Handout Week 8       (Week 8 of ‘People Power’)



                        5: The Environmental Movement. (People Power Weeks 9 & 10)

Now part of a new course: Protecting the Planet (see (c) below).


                        The Environmental (Green) Movement.     Summary Handout for Weeks 9 & 10         (Weeks 9 & 10 of ‘People Power’)

Protecting the Planet Part 10: the movement (another version)


Further notes:

See also my first notes on this topic: Corporate Social Responsibility 6 the environment.

                        Climate Change. See also Causes of climate change

                        Environmental issues in Australia

                        How an Australian environmentalist survived a crocodile attack and changed her view on humans and nature: Val Plumwood and the crocodile

                        See also Environmentalism for political philosophy course  (above)

                        And especially ‘Protecting the Planet’ (below) protecting the planet: introduction             


                        6. Conclusion:                                    Comparison of Social Movements (for Learning outcomes)   (Week 10 of ‘People Power’)


Social Movements Today.


Extra notes: (Social movements topics not covered in People Power)

                        Section 3: Nonviolence                                  

            Section 4: Peace and War Today        Section 6: updates

                        Conclusion and References on Peace and War (Section 5)

            Russian Revolution (additional notes for the Labour Movement)


Civil Rights – to be completed.

                        Anti-colonialism – to be completed

                        Anti-globalisation movement – to be completed.



(c) Protecting the Planet


Protecting the planet Week 1: Introduction

Protecting the Planet Weeks 2 & 3: some key industries

Protecting the Planet Week 4: strategies for action

Protecting the Planet Week 5: some solutions to environmental problems

Protecting the Planet Week 6:  global warming: causes and controversy

Protecting the Planet Week 7: global warming: effects

Protecting the Planet Week 8: species decline

Protecting the Planet Week 9: energy policies

Protecting the Planet Week 10: the environment movement



(3) Teaching Notes on Corporate Social Responsibility in Context:

- notes based on courses which I taught at UEL from the mid 1970s.


It is quite astounding to see how much emphasis is now (21st century) placed on corporate social responsibility in the world of business – it is no longer just a subject taught at a few progressive institutions such as UEL (in the 1970s UEL was progressive – now I am not so sure!) but it is a matter of lively debate involving many managers and practitioners.


The reader is entitled to be cynical about all this enthusiasm for ‘corporate social responsibility’ on the part of business – as am I, to some extent: real change will only come about when the public is no longer prepared to put up with the self-centredness of business.


However, cynicism alone is destructive and reactionary – progress needs both a willingness to act (on whatever front seems to bring results), and surely also a qualified optimism?


                   CSR in Context: Contents Page

                   Chapter 1: Definitions etc                       

                   Chapter 2: History (early)           

                   Chapter 3: History (recent)       

                   Chapter 4: The workers

                   Chapter 5: The Consumer     

                   Chapter 6: The Natural Environment

                   Chapter 7: The "Third World"                  

                   Chapter 8: Inequality                   Updates on Inequality [New! – recent events (credit crunch, debt crisis, recession and especially the Occupy

                                                                                    demonstrators) have brought into the public domain the issue that has been central for socialists for some 200 years at

                                                                                    least: inequality of income, wealth and power.]

                    Chapter 9: Summary of 'Remedies' and Conclusion.

                    Updates for CSR

                    Essay: The Social Politics of Business Ethics

                    Books etc on Corporate Social Responsibility


(4) Articles on libertarian socialism, Cornelius Castoriadis:


            NEW: Comments on Paul Mason and 'postcapitalism'.


                        Recommencing Revolution (Castoriadis)

                        Teaching Castoriadis at UEL (‘Capitalism, Bureaucracy, Democracy’)

                        (*) Review of: When Poetry Ruled the Streets (on May '68 in France)

                        (*) Reprint of the Solidarity Account of the May Days, France 1968          

            Review of: The Resources of Critique, by A. Callinicos. 


            There is now a good wikipedia entry on Castoriadis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornelius_Castoriadis.



(5) Autobiographical and personal:


            Biographical background to the author of these pages

                        UEL Course Outlines - summary of courses taught by the author at the University of East London (UEL), 1966 – 2005.

                        Poetry I Like (NEW!) - some of my favourite poems.

                        'Reflecting on Nature' - programme notes for a song recital. (NEW!)





Comments on these pages are welcome, to ian_michael_pirie@btinternet.com