breaking news from the world of ideas

by Freddie Sayers
Wednesday, 16
October 2019

Hassan Damluji: How to build a global nation

I sat down with author Hassan Damluji to discuss his new book, The Responsible Globalist...

I sat down with author and Deputy Director of the Gates Foundation Hassan Damluji to discuss his new book, The Responsible Globalist.

His central idea is that globalists need to learn from nationalists about the importance of ideas of belonging and identity. The only way they will succeed, he argues, is by replicating those same feelings at a global level.

What I really like about Hassan’s book is that he takes seriously the complaints of populist voters over the past few years – for example, he thinks individual countries must be able to control their own pace of immigration. He doesn’t demonise them as dark regressive forces that need to be put back in their box. ...  Continue reading

by Mary Harrington
Tuesday, 15
October 2019

LeBron James kowtows to China

Lakers basketball hero LeBron James poured burning oil on already-troubled waters when he appeared to row back from supporting freedom of speech...

Last week there was some kerfuffle when Daryl Morey, general manager of basketball team the Houston Rockets, tweeted in reference to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests “fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong“. He was forced into a partial retraction of this comment following a furious reaction from Chinese basketball fans and backers, though the NBA subsequently appeared to stand by Morey.

Then, Lakers basketball hero LeBron James poured burning oil on already-troubled waters with an ambiguous comment, in which he appeared to row back from supporting freedom of speech in favour of a more collectivist stance: ...  Continue reading

by Peter Franklin
Tuesday, 15
October 2019

Late Capitalism? Don’t you believe it.

In the 1930s, the capitalist system faced an existential threat from communism and fascism; but what does it have it worry about today?...

Late capitalism? Don’t you believe it. A timely blogpost from Branko Milanovic reminds us that the capitalist system, love it or hate it, is far from on its way out:

Geographically, capitalism is now the dominant (or even the only) mode of production all over the world whether in Sweden where the private sector employs more than 70% of the labour force, the United States where it employs 85% or in China where the (capitalistically-organized) private sector produces 80% of the value added.

This was obviously not the case before the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and Russia, nor before China embarked on what is euphemistically called ‘transformation’ but was in reality replacement of socialism by capitalist relations of productions.

- Branko Milanovic

Furthermore, he says, capitalism (especially the tech sector) is creating new markets (and thus turning non-capital into capital) all the time – “a huge market for personal data, rental markets for own cars and homes… market for housing of self-employed individuals.” ...  Continue reading

by Ed West
Tuesday, 15
October 2019

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

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?...

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 Philip Collins
Monday, 14
October 2019

Trust me, Tony Blair is not as brilliant as you think

I’m afraid I just cannot share Freddie Sayers's view that Tony Blair is this brilliant...

Phil Collins, Times columnist and former speechwriter for Tony Blair, responds to Freddie Sayers’s recent UnHerd piece, How Tony Blair Destroyed the Centre Ground

I don’t myself agree with Tony Blair’s position on Brexit. I don’t want a second referendum and I think we should leave, with a deal. If one emerges from the current negotiations I hope enough MPs vote for it. 

However, I’m afraid I just cannot share Freddie Sayers’s view that Tony Blair is this brilliant. He massively, hugely over-rates his capacities, almost to the point of derangement.  

“More than anything else, this shift explains why political and public opinion is now irreconcilably divided; more than anyone else, it’s thanks to him,” he writes.  ...  Continue reading

by Giles Fraser
Monday, 14
October 2019

Sorry Lady Hale, that’s not quite an answer

Lady Hale's response to anxieties about legal overreach didn't convince me...

Back in June, Lord Sumption delivered the Reith Lectures on BBC Radio 4. In a series of devastating talks, he charted “law’s expanding empire” – the extension of the law into areas of public life that were previously thought of as being beyond its legitimate remit.

In 1911 there was one solicitor in England for every 3000 inhabitants. Just over a century later, there is about one in 400, a sevenfold increase.
- Lord Sumption

Human rights law, he argued, has been particularly beset by a sense of mission creep.

When he delivered his lectures, he could hardly have imagined how prescient his words would seem just a few months later. The philosophical question raised by Gina Miller’s recent use of the law to thwart the will of the executive in proroguing Parliament was very much a question of the proper balance between the political and the legal. As Sumption warned, the encroachments of law into areas that it previously thought of as outside its concern threatens fundamentally change the balance of our constitutional settlement. ...  Continue reading

by Freddie Sayers
Monday, 14
October 2019

Prince Charles hints at a blueprint for his reign

When Prince Charles becomes King, the monarchy will overnight once again become a court of ideas

When Prince Charles becomes King, one of the more dramatic ways in which the monarchy will change overnight is that it will once again become a court of ideas. Charles has an active intellectual life, and is surrounded by favourites and thinkers in different disciplines. In this he is quite unlike his mother, who is known to prefer more down to earth pursuits.

Leading the British delegation to the Vatican over the weekend to celebrate the canonisation of John Henry Newman, Prince Charles also authored a considered essay about the new saint in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.

The event itself confirms the sphere of public life where he feels he can be most active: outside politics, but defending the role of faith in public life (see the 2008 controversy over his job title), tradition and heritage (see his foundation’s focus on traditional arts and architecture). In other words, things that matter but don’t make the news. ...  Continue reading

by Mary Harrington
Saturday, 12
October 2019

Weekend long read: China’s illiberal Confucianism

This week’s long read recommendation looks at the rise of authoritarian Confucianism as an increasingly dominant state doctrine in modern China...

This week’s long read recommendation, from T.H. Jiang and Shaun O’Dwyer at the excellent Palladium Magazine, looks at the rise of authoritarian Confucianism as an increasingly dominant state doctrine in modern China.

This revival of Confucianism has become part of the Zeitgeist of contemporary China. What lies at the core of this project is to redefine the relationship between the Communist Party, the Confucian tradition, and Chinese history […].

Liu Xiaofeng, a professor of classics at Renmin University, promotes the idea that the CCP, as an elite group, is the modern incarnation of premodern Confucian literati-bureaucrats, whose superior intellectual and moral virtues entitle them to function as the grand tutor of the people.  In contemporary China, argues Liu, the task of the CCP is to uphold lofty moral ideals (moral politics or “the Kingly Way”) in order to resist the nihilism and relativism of liberal modernity, exemplified by the way of life and normative political ideals of the United States.

- Jiang and O'Dwyer
 ...  Continue reading