Ricky Gervais is a fool — in all the right ways
The comedian's stinging criticism of the Hollywood elite takes a stand against 'anti-comedy'
Ricky Gervais lived up to his promise to “go after actors” for their “pretension and hypocrisy” at yesterday’s Golden Globes.
On top of a catty comment about Judie Dench, he mocked Hollywood ties to paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, Leonardo Di Caprio’s very-young girlfriends, and the gross hypocrisy of woke capital:
“You say you’re woke but the companies you work for — Apple, Amazon, Disney — if ISIS started a streaming service, you would call your agent, wouldn’t you?” he said, and laughed at Apple and their focus on morality, “which is rich coming from a company that runs sweat shops in Asia”. Apple’s Tim Cook didn’t look too pleased. ...
Are human rights overtaking democracy?
Lord Sumption raises important questions about the mission creep of human rights
Jonathan Sumption’s Reith Lectures on BBC Radio 4 last year was one of the most important recent interventions on the subject of public morality — and so I was delighted to take his Confession this week.
The idea of Human Rights has now become so pervasive and unexamined within our way of understanding public morality that it has come to elbow out all other ways of thinking about morality. In other words, to admit some scepticism about rights sounds to many like scepticism about morality itself.
It wasn’t always thus. Jeremy Bentham, of course, described rights as “nonsense on stilts” and Marx insisted that rights, being inherently individualistic, exist to separate human beings from each other, thus fragmenting community. Sumption’s critique is different. Sumption challenges us to think further about the role of rights in a democracy, and in particular the legitimacy of the way in which a right now serves to trump the sort of public decision making that exists in a democracy. What makes a human right so fundamental that it carries more weight than the decisions of our properly elected representatives? ...
Lisa Nandy on social conservatism and Dominic Cummings
The Labour leadership contender spoke to UnHerd about how communities can protect their culture
Lisa Nandy has formally joined the race for the Labour leadership, on an agenda of rediscovering local activism and reconnecting with communities across England. But what does she really mean?
When I spoke to her back in September, I asked her about the cultural rather than economic aspect of the ‘community’ agenda. Spending money on regional infrastructure is now relatively uncontroversial: what does she make of local and traditional communities wanting to protect their culture and way of life from a disorienting pace of change and globalisation? This is especially difficult for the Left, as it is often taken as code for hostility to immigration. ...
Studying Classics shouldn’t be an elite pursuit
People forget the long tradition of working class study of the Classics
If you read one thing this weekend outside UnHerd make it Edith Hall’s Classics for the People in Aeon. Rich in anecdote and example, the essay looks at the long tradition of working-class study of the classics and makes a passionate call for a move away from our contemporary iconoclasm toward revival of popular classical education as an intrinsic and liberating good.
The study of ‘classics’ emerged after the Glorious Revolution as a way of bestowing ‘gentlemanly’ values on both the hereditary Tory aristocracy and the emerging Whig bourgeoisie. But study of the classics rapidly spread beyond elite circles: ...
Watch: Yarom Hazony in a fiery debate on nationalism
The academic locks horns with columnist Bret Stephens at Princeton University
The rising tide of nationalism around the world has left the old-standing liberal order in a precarious position. Today, competing geopolitical powers China, Russia and the US all have nationalist leaders who share a healthy disregard for the multilateral system, allowing trade wars to rage and supranational bodies to crumble. Similarly, in an increasingly divided Europe, once a bastion of liberal-internationalist values, leaders are now proudly identifying themselves as nationalists, which others describe as “a betrayal of patriotism”.
This clash of worldviews has thrust the ‘open versus closed’ debate into the spotlight, but perhaps no face-off has been quite so fiery as the one between Bret Stephens, a New York Times columnist and Yoram Hazony, author of The Virtue of Nationalism. In a debate at Princeton University, Stephens describes nationalism as a “dangerous” ideology that bleeds into darker forms of authoritarianism and ethnonationalism, whereas Hazony, who featured on Giles Fraser’s Confessions last year, calls Stephens’s worldview “smug and condescending”. Instead, he argues that the world is governed best when nations pursue their own independent interests. Video above… ...
Conservatives should capture the Green movement
It's time to re-discover the long-lost conservative environmentalist tradition
Walking through Victoria Station, and seeing giant television screens portraying apocalyptic scenes of Australia on fire, it did strike me that this is exactly how I imagined the future when I was younger.
It is a future filled with overwhelming anxiety and alarm, so much so that, according to a YouGov poll large numbers of young people don’t want to have children because of climate change.
I’m sceptical that global warming is the real reason here; rather it’s probably more a general feeling of pessimism, which does reduce fertility. (I imagine the sort of people who don’t have kids for the sake of the planet are probably the sort of people whose children would be best able to fix the problem, but never mind.) ...
Green means going local in globalised Vancouver
A sign in a pile of potatoes saying 'BC first' taught me a lot...
If you multiplied Islington by four and plopped it next to the Pacific, you’d end up with a city a lot like Vancouver. The largest city in the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC for short) seems tailor-made for the liberal elite.
Free movement is the city’s fabric: there’s a running joke that no one who lives in Vancouver actually grew up there; 67% of the population were born outside BC, 45% outside Canada. In most Vancouver constituencies, Left-wing candidates won sizeable majorities in October’s federal election. There are more Extinction Rebellion chapters within 100 miles of the city than in the whole of BC’s two neighbouring provinces put together. (Cost of living is exorbitant, naturally, and gentrification rampant; inequalities are increasing.) ...
Can patriotism be progressive?
A seemingly innocuous statement has triggered a heated debate on the Left
Every so often, the Left engages in an agonised debate over whether it is possible to be Left-wing and patriotic at the same time. The debate has kicked off again as Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, has written a piece about how Labour lost (because of Brexit and the “broken political system”, obvs; Ctrl-F “Corbyn”, zero results, unsurprisingly).
In it she makes a somewhat vague case for a “progressive patriotism”, based on “unity and pride in the common interests and shared life of everyone”, and also sugar and spice and all things nice. To my slight surprise this inoffensive-to-the-point-of-vacuous suggestion has caused all sorts of friendly fire incidents. ...