breaking news from the world of ideas

by Aris Roussinos
Saturday, 15
January 2022

Ricardo Bofill gave us a vision of an alternate modernity

The architect's death is a reminder that there are other ways of living

We do not live in an age of giants: no wonder then that the loss of a cultural giant like the Spanish-Catalan architect Ricardo Bofill, who died yesterday aged 82, strikes us as so profound. A visionary of the spectacular, Bofill worked with a sense of grandeur and ambition so rare today that his buildings appear to us like the monumental structures of some alien civilisation.

Indeed, the outpourings of praise his death has occasioned highlights the fact that the postmodernist vein of architecture he pioneered is currently undergoing a critical revival. Viewed just a decade ago as the worst sort of kitschy excess, the playfulness and monumentality of postmodernist architecture now seems resonant and thrilling. We are today starved of ambition and daring in public buildings: and no-one was more ambitious or more daring than Bofill. ...  Continue reading

by Aris Roussinos
Tuesday, 7
December 2021

Zemmour is just the beginning

France is moving dramatically Rightwards — and it's time the Brits took notice

Considering the amount of turmoil Britain’s relationship with Europe has caused in the past half-decade, you’d think British commentary would be paying more attention to the French election, and the dramatic Rightward shift of the French electorate it has already revealed. The entire French Left, representing every shade from Communism to soft-Left social democracy, can barely muster 20% voter support combined. The centre, represented by Macron, has shifted further towards a traditional perception of Right-wing politics than anyone on the Tory benches, railing against woke American cultural imperialism, shutting down Islamist NGOs and moving towards a markedly civilisationist discourse about what it means to be European. ...  Continue reading

by Aris Roussinos
Wednesday, 1
December 2021

Is this the end of Europe’s asylum system?

The EU has ruled that it will suspend access for at least six months

British political discourse always seems wildly divorced from that of our closest European neighbours, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the responses to the flow of predominantly economic migrants from Iraqi Kurdistan simultaneously massing on the EU’s borders, and making their way across the English Channel. 

While the British state is paralysed by balancing its legal commitment to offer asylum to those in need with the desire of the vast majority of voters to limit mass irregular migration, the European Commission has today taken the simple step of acceding to Poland, Latvia and Lithuania’s request to limit the access to Europe’s asylum system for the Kurds huddled on its border. ...  Continue reading

by Aris Roussinos
Friday, 26
November 2021

Vladimir Putin may roll the dice on Ukraine

America's commitment to defending the country is very uncertain

Is Russia going to invade Ukraine this winter? And if so, what, if anything, should NATO do about it? Recent Russian troop movements are alarming Western analysts. While previous invasion scares fizzled out, even sober observers are noting that Russia’s most recent buildup of matériel along its western borders is qualitatively different in scale, and are puzzling over Putin’s intentions.

On the one hand, Britain’s eminent strategist Sir Lawrence Freedman notes that “these war scares are regular occurrences.” He assures anxious observers that “the troop buildups are substantial but could not sustain an invasion. The purpose appears to be largely deterrent, to dissuade Ukraine from taking the offensive against the Donbas separatists.” ...  Continue reading

by Aris Roussinos
Friday, 19
November 2021

The Erdogan era approaches the endgame

Turks are turning against the president — but would he leave without a fight?

If you’re not paying attention to Turkey, you should be. As a result of its autocrat Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s eccentric personal interpretation of economics, particularly his war against a shadowy “interest rate lobby” supposedly run from London, the Turkish Lira’s slow, painful collapse is rapidly becoming a rout. Just five years ago, the Lira was trading at 3.3 to the dollar: now it’s hovering at around 11, and rapidly heading to 12 and beyond, as investors lose faith in the country’s ability to manage the economy. But still, the country’s central bank keeps slashing interest rates under Erdogan’s orders. ...  Continue reading

by Aris Roussinos
Tuesday, 9
November 2021

Polish border is the new Fortress Europe in action

The border squabble with Belarus shows how far the EU has moved since 2015

If the dramatic images of hundreds of migrants massed together on the Polish border, facing off against a wall of Polish soldiers and border guards, don’t already underline that the Merkel era is over, Germany’s response surely should. The line among Germany’s political class now seems to be that 2015 was the right thing to do, and must never be repeated, with the general secretary of her CDU party tweeting that

“Poland is not only protecting the Polish border. It is also protecting the borders of the European Union. Therefore, Warsaw has the right to claim solidarity from Berlin and Brussels.”
- Paul Ziemiak

Indeed, Germany’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has briefed the tabloid Bild that “we must help the Polish government secure their external border,” noting that “the Poles have reacted correctly so far,” and that “we cannot criticise them for securing the EU’s external border with admissible means. The Poles are fulfilling a very important service for the whole of Europe” in the face of the “hybrid threat” of “politically organised migration.” ...  Continue reading

by Aris Roussinos
Friday, 5
November 2021

Conservatives need a culture war Blitzkrieg

The Right cannot embroil itself in an endless conflict — victory must be swift

On the face of it, the Republican victory in Virginia this week presents an attractive path to power for conservatives. Riding to victory on a platform of rolling back the Critical Race Theory or CRT ideology beloved of American HR administrators and schoolteachers (though strange and repellant to almost everybody else), the GOP strategy functioned like a form of martial arts that uses its opponents’ institutional strength against them. The enemy to be defeated was not simply the Democrat candidate but the entire superstructure of managerial liberalism: every officious administrator, smug journalist or unhinged social media liberal combined into one amorphous mass to help make the GOP candidate’s case for him. The enemy was not so much a politician, or even an ideology, as an entire social class. ...  Continue reading

by Aris Roussinos
Monday, 11
October 2021

Boris must smash the Grey Wall

The Conservatives are in thrall to Baby Boomers — it has to change

A spectre is haunting Britain: the spectre of Baby Boomers. Beneficiaries of the post-war reconstruction boom, the most prosperous era of modern capitalism, and of free education and cheap housing to advance their social mobility, the baby boom generation has a stranglehold over Conservative policy. Not only is this generation hampering growth and widening social inequality, it is also driving young people towards increasingly deranged forms of activism, threatening the country’s future.

The government needs to change this, fast, not just because it’s right and just but also because it’s eroding any possibility of a Tory support base once the boomers die off. To have any viable future, the Conservatives need to build decent and affordable houses for young people now, where they’re needed, whatever the boomers think. ...  Continue reading

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