breaking news from the world of ideas

by David Goodhart
Thursday, 26
March 2020

The German media’s liberal globalism is yesterday’s news

For the past couple of weeks I have been peering through one little window onto the German C-19 soul by watching the main evening news programme ZDF Heute Journal (on the ZDF app). Reassuringly (perhaps) the story in Germany seems to have followed a very similar trajectory to here, with both countries considerably less draconian than France, Spain and Italy. We have been just a few days behind Germany as it has closed schools, then shops, encouraged people to lockdown so far as possible, and then ordered people to do so.

In the days after Angela Merkel’s big televised address on 18 March advising people to socially distance there was the same official concern, as in the UK, that too many people were disobeying instructions and mixing in the sunshine. So last Sunday she delivered a second address after a meeting with the minister presidents of all the German states ordering people to stay at home. Though she didn’t say order. Instead, just like Boris Johnson in his address on Monday, she said these are no longer recommendations they are rules. ...  Continue reading

by David Goodhart
Wednesday, 23
October 2019

Time for our political packages to be re-sorted

I have been doing some online dating recently which gives you a lot of practice both in presenting yourself and in noticing tribal politics in other people.

I was having a friendly online chat with one woman and she asked me what I thought of Boris Johnson. As this was the Guardian’s online dating site and she had described herself as a socialist I assumed there was likely to be a correct and an incorrect answer here. But as I was quite interested in her I tried to be truthful in the least off-putting manner.

I said I had voted Remain but think we should respect the Brexit vote and I would certainly consider voting Tory if Boris Johnson stood the best chance of bringing the country together around a One Nation programme, perhaps not that different from the 2017 Tory election programme (shorn of the silly bits on adult care).  ...  Continue reading

by David Goodhart
Tuesday, 3
September 2019

What Bruce Springsteen tells us about Community

Blinded by the Light is not a great film but I enjoyed it for several reasons. It is loosely based on the Bildungsroman “Greetings from Bury Park,” by Sarfraz Manzoor, chronicling the turmoil of a teenage British-Pakistani boy growing up in Luton in the 1980s and his unlikely love affair with the music of Bruce Springsteen. And that book was commissioned, in part, thanks to a piece I published by Sarfraz — From Lyllapur to Luton — in Prospect magazine in December 2001, just after 9/11. The film also has a walk-on part by my nephew Leo Shirley!

But I like the film even more because of what it tells us, intentionally or unintentionally, about our modern ambivalence about the idea of community. Everybody in politics likes community in theory, one of the commonest anxieties about the modern world is that communities are weaker than they used to be. Rising loneliness, deaths of despair, mental illness are all, with some justice, blamed on weaker communities. ...  Continue reading