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by Ed West
Tuesday, 22
October 2019
Idea
10:42

What will singleton society do to politics?

More than a third of households in some countries now consist of someone living alone, as shown in this chart from Branko Milanovic’s new book Capitalism Alone:

This has lots of implications but one of the least talked about is our political system. How we live has a huge impact on our politics; for example, how long a country has been Roman Catholic affects its ability to have a functioning democracy. Why? Partly because the Church’s ancient ban on cousin marriage led to the decline of clans and the rise of nuclear families. As Nottingham University’s Jonathan F Schulz explained a couple of years back: ...  Continue reading

by Ed West
Thursday, 17
October 2019
Spotted
14:09

Important news of the day: the Eleanor Cross is safe

Big news for our country today, I think we can agree. Yes, the Eleanor Cross in Northamptonshire, one of only three surviving 13th century monuments built by Edward I to commemorate his late queen, is off Historic England’s “endangered list” of buildings.

Work had begun earlier this year after the cross had become seriously dilapidated.

The crosses mark the route taken by Eleanor of Castile’s corpse after she died in Lincoln in 1290. Edward and Eleanor had been married for 36 years, having been betrothed in childhood, but unusually for royal marriages theirs was a genuine love match and he didn’t even have illegitimate children. ...  Continue reading

by Ed West
Tuesday, 15
October 2019
Reaction
06:30

Where’s the EU outrage at Spain’s brutal sentencing of separatists?

The Spanish Supreme Court has sentenced leaders of the Catalan independence movement to a combined 100 years in prison on charges of sedition, following their failed attempt to secede from Spain two years ago.

Oriol Junqueras, former deputy leader of Catalonia, received 13 years, while former leader Carles Puigdemont is still in Belgium but will face extradition if Madrid gets its way. Carme Forcadell, former Speaker of the Catalan Parliament, received 11 and a half years for “rebellion”, her crime being to not prevent a debate on independence.

As with the French police’s casual brutality towards Gilets Jaunes protestors (compare and contrast with the way our police treat Extinction Rebellion like they’re on a gap year) so the Spanish violence towards Catalan separatists was a reminder that they do things different on the continent. Can you imagine policemen from the Home Counties being sent up to Glasgow to crack heads because the SNP had dared to hold a referendum? ...  Continue reading

by Ed West
Friday, 11
October 2019
Idea
07:30

How the Knights Templar explain Portuguese politics

Portugal held elections this week, which I won’t pretend to know a thing about except that it’s all to do with the Knights Templar.

As this Twitter thread shows, the political division in Portugal already maps onto the country in the 12th century, when the south was conquered by crusaders, who established large latifundia and so with it a largely landless peasantry ripe for Communism centuries later (Lisbon, incidentally, was conquered by passing English crusaders on their way to the Holy Land). The same thing also occurred in Spain, as the thread explains.

Here's a small thread about why the map of the 2015 legislative elections in Portugal looks remarkably similar to the map of Portugal in 1160. pic.twitter.com/B7VHuH0kWQ ...  Continue reading

by Ed West
Wednesday, 9
October 2019
Reaction
12:27

Why #WeHeartGermany

Leave.EU’s Aaron Banks has conceded that yesterday’s viral advertising campaign “went too far”. The ad showed a picture of Chancellor Angela Merkel with the catchy jingle “We didn’t win two World Wars to be pushed around by a Kraut”.

It represented the very worst, most moronic side of current British public debate. It was obviously aimed to be offensive, what Scott Alexander referred to as “the toxoplasma of rage”, a deliberately obnoxious style of political advertising mastered by animal rights group PETA.

Maybe where Leave.EU went wrong was to offend their sympathisers, even their hardline supporters. Merkel, as the emblem not just of the EU but of free migration, may be disliked by Eurosceptics, but Germans certainly aren’t. Survey after survey shows that British people feel very warmly towards “the Saxons overseas”, as our ancestors called them. ...  Continue reading

by Ed West
Tuesday, 8
October 2019
Reaction
11:30

When will the Left get over WW2?

No sooner had news filtered through that Pizza Express was in trouble when, inevitably, some people suggested nationalising it. Jon Stone of the Independent pointed out that “From 1940 to 1947 the Ministry of Food ran about 2,000 “British Restaurants” selling inexpensive hot meals for the equivalent of about £1 in today’s money.”

Owen Jones ran with the idea, proposing “Publicly owned restaurants offering subsidised quality food – maybe with allocated spaces for, say, nurses and care workers, or people on lower incomes. Everyone deserves a decent meal out with their loved ones or families.” ...  Continue reading

by Ed West
Tuesday, 1
October 2019
Idea
15:20

Why #MeToo is a Christian movement

Tom Holland’s Dominion is truly is an epic work, telling the story of how Christianity came to create the modern, western soul.

One of Holland’s central points is that Christianity was a sexual revolution, placing restraints on men’s sexual appetites whereas previously a powerful man might have taken any slave girl he liked while engaging in worshipping a bunch of rapists.

Now, as Paul had commanded, every human body was sacred.

Instincts taken for granted by the Romans had been recast as sin. Generations of monks and bishops, of emperors and kings, looking to tame the violent currents of human desire had laboured to erect great dams and dykes, to redirect their floodtide, to channel their flow. Never before had an attempt to recalibrate sexual morality been attempted on such a scale. Never before had one enjoyed such total success.
- Tom Holland, Dominion
 ...  Continue reading

by Ed West
Tuesday, 24
September 2019
Reaction
10:16

Greta may be right, but the spectacle is wrong

Yesterday’s video of Greta Thunberg makes uncomfortable viewing, showing as it does someone in great distress. I’ve read many hot takes about how the 16-year-old climate campaigner triggers middle-aged white men because they’re threatened by a young female who stands up for the truth.

Personally, she makes me uncomfortable because her fame is obviously going to make it very hard for her to live a happy life, and her supporters are not making this prospect any more likely. Some, no doubt, will blame her torment on conservative critics, as if thrusting a child into the most important debate of our time is not going to carry huge psychological risks. ...  Continue reading

by Ed West
Wednesday, 18
September 2019
14:52

Tucker Carlson: America’s most important pundit

Here’s a rare “Question to which the Answer Is Yes” in a headline. In The New York Magazine Park MacDougald asks ‘Is Tucker Carlson the Most Important Pundit in America?’

It’s not just that the Fox host has the ear of the US President, but that he’s at the very centre of the conservative zeitgeist.

More than anything, he espouses the Middle American radicalism that John Judis, writing in 2016, identified as the ideological core of Trumpism. Middle American radicals (MARs) are neither fully liberal nor conservative but a blend of the two, mixing populist economics and a hostility to big business with intense nationalism, right-wing positions on race and immigration, and a desire for strong presidential leadership. Their animating idea is that the broad (and implicitly white) middle of American society — those Carlson referred to, in a podcast interview with Ben Shapiro, as people with “100 IQs making 80 grand a year” — is besieged on two sides, by a corrupt elite above it and a grasping underclass below. 
- Park MacDougald
 ...  Continue reading

by Ed West
Monday, 16
September 2019
14:09

Why’s Verhofstadt bigging up empire?

Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt (pictured) brought a big cheer at the Liberal Democrat conference this weekend with a speech in praise of empire. He said:

The world of tomorrow is not a world order based on nation states or countries. It is a world order that is based on empires. China is not a nation, it’s a civilisation. India is not a nation. The US is also an empire, more than a nation. And then finally the Russian federation. The world of tomorrow is a world of empires in which we Europeans, and you British, can only defend your interests, your way of life, by doing it together, in a European framework and in the European Union.
- Guy Verhofstadt

In fairness he wasn’t quite calling for Europe to become an empire, but he was certainly implying it. The word has unfortunate and almost entirely negative connotations but historically many empires have been more cosmopolitan, progressive and outward-looking than small nation-states.

The idea of the EU as a liberal empire has been suggested before, while Piers Paul Read compared it with the Holy Roman Empire, a Catholic vision which many of the Union’s founding fathers would have agreed with. The EU does, after all, give out the Charlemagne Prize, for individuals who have helped promote European integration, in commemoration of the first “Emperor of the West”. ...  Continue reading