Out today: Andrew Sullivan’s confessions
Don't miss the British-American columnist's reflections
You won’t want to miss this one – it’s an intense tour of Andrew Sullivan’s eventful life, taking in Catholicism, the AIDS crisis, reconciling the liberal and conservative instincts — and going to school with Keir Starmer and university with Boris Johnson…
There’s nothing taboo about the Anglo Saxons
The latest controversy over the term 'Anglo-Saxon' ignores their significant history
Of all the tribes running around Europe at the end of the Roman period, no two have had as great a legacy as the Franks and the Angles. The former were so successful that theirs became a generic name for Europeans across the world, so that in the Vietnam War local people would refer to American soldiers as firangi; a century earlier the British in India were called firangi and the Portuguese in China the folangji while Europe is Farangistan in Persian and syphilis was in Arabic al-‘aya al-afranji, the Frankish disease.
The Angles, meanwhile, not only gave their name to one of Europe’s major countries but also to a somewhat related ethnic group in an entirely different continent thousands of miles away. ...
How can we find meaning in bullshit jobs?
Jonah Galeota-Sprung finds an inherent tension in the social role of work
My long read pick for this weekend is Jonah Galeota-Sprung’s review of David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs for The Point magazine. It begins as a discussion of Graeber’s thesis, that the vast majority of jobs in our advanced economy are “not only unpleasant but purposeless”, but opens into a wide-ranging exploration of the past and future of work, and of what constitutes a meaningful life.
In Graeber’s framework, the working world is divided into those who do necessary jobs such as farming and caring for children, roles that are typically low-status and poorly paid, then an upper echelon of rewarding and meaningful work such as in the arts or NGOs alongside well-paid but less virtuous roles in banking. ...
Look closely, and London is not what it seems
In today’s Evening Standard, I take a look at the London results of the UnHerd Britain data — it turns out that the idea of London as an island of liberal values isn’t so true after all…
Why haven’t we banned cars yet?
They're designing a new car-free town in Arizona - we should follow their lead
Our local area Facebook group had a miniature version of the national Brexit divide recently, after the council decided to experimentally close one of the main roads to see how it affected congestion and street life.
I haven’t seen such anger on the internet since the New Atheist Wars of the late 2000s. I admit I’m a partisan on this issue, but it was amazing how unnecessary so many car journeys still are in London; people complaining about the traffic along their route, for journeys that are well-served by public transport and could even be walked in under half an hour. Unless you’re disabled or need a van for tools, there is literally no good reason to drive to work in London. ...
Is it immoral to vote for Labour?
Corbyn's party has become an incubator for the hatred of Jews
Kudos to Sir Richard Evans, distinguished historian of the Third Reich and expert witness in the famous Deborah Lipstadt trial in 2000. Lipstadt had called David Irving a “holocaust denier.” Irving sued for defamation and lost. Evans’ testimony was crucial in Lipstadt’s victory.
Given all this, it was disappointing to many when Evans tweeted out that he was going to support Labour notwithstanding the “cancer of anti-Semitism that has infected” it. This ill-judged tweet met with a howl of outrage. Was Evans really saying that a little bit of Jew hatred was a price worth paying for an otherwise anti-austerity and Remain agenda? Anthony Julius nailed it when he wrote in the New Statesman: ...
Is Jordan Peterson a gateway to the alt-right?
A new study suggests maybe — but it's still better to engage than to demonise
There’s an interesting analysis over at Heterodox Academy on whether exposure to Jordan Peterson serves as a sort of gateway drug to more extreme (Alt-Right) political material. According to the author Joel Finkelstein, “whether consumption of his content serves as a gateway drug to more alt-right content, lend themselves to empirical investigation.”
I’d love to believe that Peterson doesn’t lead to the harder stuff. Unfortunately, that’s not what Finkelstein concludes:
Critically, these analyses do not support the notion that Peterson himself is an extremist or Nazi-sympathizer, and none of us believe that such accusations are credible. We also think that it is highly unlikely that Peterson himself knows about these trends. Indeed, we were ourselves surprised by the findings. Thus, these analyses should not be taken as an attack on Peterson’s character or motives.
Unfortunately, most people in the media and academia don’t have the same sort of high principles as the folks at Heterodox Academy, because the political elephant usually leads the impartial analytical rider – and so cancelling Peterson is what they’ll try to do. ...
How old is too old in politics?
Should there be an age limit for political candidates?
The state devotes ten of billion of pounds every year in pension payments, tax credits and other means of funding retirement. The idea that we should not have to work in old age is uncontroversial. Indeed, our politicians compete among themselves to find new ways of bunging billions at retirees.
And yet some of our leaders are reluctant to retire themselves. In 2021, Angela Merkel is due to bow out at the age of 67, after 16 years of leading her country. Jeremy Corbyn, however, proposes to start out at the age of 70 — and that’s nothing compared to America.
Despite a recent heart attack, Bernie Sanders is still battling for the Democratic nomination at the age of 78. Still leading the field is Joe Biden, aged 77. For a while it looked as though Elizabeth Warren, 70, was the frontrunner. However, inadequate poll ratings against Donald Trump, 73, have counted against her. Support is currently surging for Pete Buttigieg — but at 37, he has the opposite problem to the other main contenders. ...