breaking news from the world of ideas

by Peter Franklin
Wednesday, 30
October 2019
Seen Elsewhere
07:00

The real reason why people hate vegans

Writing in The Guardian, George Reynolds asks: why do people hate vegans?

It’s a good question and I don’t think any of his answers are wrong. However, some forms of veganophobia require more explanation than others.

There are always exceptions, but veganism falls pretty much one side of the ‘snowflake’ versus ‘gammon’ culture war — and thus gets the kind of abuse directed at the snowflakes generally. Thus when a story like the Greggs vegan sausage roll comes up, it’s going to disgust people like Piers Morgan as a matter of course.

Much more interesting is the hostility that vegans get from their ‘own side’ — i.e. other youngish, hipsterish, Left-leaning individuals. What explains this?

Despite their supposed tendency towards proselytisation and self-advertisement, what makes vegans different is precisely that they are not just virtue-signallers. Their particular cause involves personal sacrifice. ...  Continue reading

by Freddie Sayers
Tuesday, 29
October 2019
Video
11:29

Rory Stewart on Love, Brexit and Boris Johnson

I sat down with Rory Stewart for a fascinating discussion about whether politicians should talk about love, whether he got it wrong over Brexit and how Boris Johnson made him feel like an abused wife.

Have a watch!

Some key quotes:

ON THE POLITICS OF LOVE
Fundamentally, it is about showing love for another human being – whoever that human being is. And that means that you need to try to live out your values when you engage with them; and try not to be thrown off balance by the fact that they’re angry with you; try to get beyond your disagreements and try desperately to remember that they are like you. That we’re all an odd bundle of insecurities, vanities, strengths, weaknesses – and that we may do bad things, but that we’re not intrinsically bad people. ...  Continue reading

by Giles Fraser
Tuesday, 29
October 2019
Debate
09:11

Democratic attitudes to Israel are shifting

Democratic attitudes to Israel are shifting. A two day conference held this week in Washington DC and organised by J Street – an influential organisation that describes itself as “pro-Israel and pro-peace” – attracted a wide range of influential Democrats, including five Presidential hopefuls. Bernie Sanders spoke personally of his pride in being Jewish, of his time spent in a kibbutz in Israel, and how “[I] look forward to being the first Jewish President.”

Nancy Pelosi gave the keynote address at the gala dinner. Joe Biden, Beto O’Rourke and Elizabeth Warren all sent supportive video messages. On Monday night, Pelosi encouraged Congress to go on record support a resolution formally supporting a two state solution. Sanders went even further: ...  Continue reading

by Peter Franklin
Monday, 28
October 2019
Explainer
16:52

Trouble in Umbria as Salvini soars

Italian regional elections aren’t exactly headline news in the UK, but what happened in Umbria this weekend matters.

In 2018, the populists came to power in Italy — in the form of a coalition between the Five Star movement (a ‘broad tent’ populist party) and the League (a party of the hard Right).

Though it was the junior partner, support for the League surged — while that for Five Star fell away. Seeking to capitalise on this success, the League tried to force an election earlier this year. Had it happened, Matteo Salvini would most likely have become Prime Minister — the first hard Right leader of a western European nation since… well, pick your own precedent. ...  Continue reading

by Mary Harrington
Monday, 28
October 2019
Idea
12:21

Will climate sceptics save us from global warming?

Yesterday I came across an intriguing one-year longitudinal study published in 2018 in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, which looked at the climate-related beliefs and pro-environmental behaviour of 600 Americans. It established three principal clusters of beliefs: the ‘Skeptical’, the ‘Cautiously Worried’ and the ‘Highly Concerned’.

The study shows that among the ‘Highly Concerned’ group, “Belief in climate change predicted support for government policies to combat climate change, but did not generally translate to individual-level, self-reported pro-environmental behaviour”. In contrast, “climate change skeptics were generally more likely to report pro-environmental behaviour than their high-belief peers”. ...  Continue reading

by Ed West
Monday, 28
October 2019
Idea
11:25

‘Never apologise, never explain’ turns out to be right

“Never apologise, never explain” is one of those phrases that has ended up being attributed to Winston Churchill, like everything. It may have originally been said by Victorian Oxford scholar Benjamin Jowett, along with “Get it over with and let them howl”.

And it turns out to be strong advice.

A new study from Columbia University presents the results of an experiment in which respondents were given two versions of two real-life controversies involving public figures. Approximately half of the participants read a story that made it appear as if the person had apologized, while the rest were led to believe that the individual had stood firm. HT: Cory Clark ...  Continue reading

by Giles Fraser
Monday, 28
October 2019
08:33

How capitalism replaced religion

The American historian Eugene McCarraher has been chewing around the intersection of Marxism and Christianity for some time. In several of his published pieces he has drawn attention to the surprising degree of ideological convergence that has been going on as a number of Marxists have found God – Terry Eagleton, Slavoj Zizek etc.

But with his new book, McCarraher has brought together two decades of reflection into a sustained thesis on the spiritual crisis that has been brought about by capitalism. And it has been hailed by James Chappel in the Boston Review as “a landmark in American cultural and intellectual history”. That is quite some claim. ...  Continue reading

by Mary Harrington
Saturday, 26
October 2019
07:00

Blake’s visionary imagination

Jenny Uglow reviews the current William Blake exhibition at the Tate Britain, in this week’s long read pick. The first major Blake exhibition for some two decades, the show takes “exactly the kind of crisp, rational, time-bound framework that Blake himself railed against so passionately”, as Uglow puts it, though she acknowledges that “on the whole, it works well”.

Uglow takes us through a brisk outline of Blake’s chronology, from his early days studying at the Royal Academy through a rejection of its teachings along with much the empirical trend in Enlightenment thinking in favour of visionary imagination. Then his adult work as an engraver working with sometimes radical political causes of the day, to the greater freedom from financial worries and the artistic demands of others he attained in the last decade of his life.  ...  Continue reading