breaking news from the world of ideas

by Eric Kaufmann
Tuesday, 16
November 2021

Yes, there is an educational divide over ‘wokeness’

There is a political element too

People who oppose wokeness don’t speak from personal experience of an elite educated culture of repression, but do so for ideological reasons, claims Olga Khazan in a new piece for the Atlantic. Citing new polling data on cancel culture, she finds little difference between the opinions of those with university degrees, who one would expect to have experienced speech policing more, and those without. Instead, variation in opinion on political correctness and cancel culture largely revolves around whether one is a Republican or a Democrat.

There is truth to Khazan’s observation, but it misses the mark because the survey only asks people about their attitudes to cancel culture and identity politics rather than their personal experience of speech repression. It therefore lacks the instruments that would paint an accurate portrait of the reality of cancel culture and self-censorship. ...  Continue reading

by Peter Franklin
Tuesday, 16
November 2021

Jeff Bezos’s spaced-out vision for the human race

The Amazon founder thinks a trillion people could live in the Solar System

Jeff Bezos has a plan for the human race — and it goes a lot further than next-day delivery. It’s all here in his recent interview with Ari Ignatius of Harvard Business Review, but the basic idea is that most of us should live in space.

This isn’t idle speculation on the part of the Amazon billionaire. Bezos is also founder of the Blue Origin spaceflight company. Like his rival Elon Musk, he’s striving to bring down the cost of putting people and things into orbit. If he succeeds, then the sky is no longer the limit. Though he’s realistic about what can be achieved in his lifetime, over the longer-term he’s confident that we can slip the surly bonds of Earth. ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Monday, 15
November 2021

Angela Merkel is too soft on Russia

The Belarusian crisis shows that Putin's interests are not aligned with Germany’s

The crisis on Poland’s border is also being felt by its western neighbour. Many of the 20,000 migrants estimated to have crossed into the EU via Belarus since the middle of October are headed for Germany and reaching its borders in increasing numbers. Yet the response in Berlin has been muted.

Last week, German chancellor Angela Merkel tried to intervene with a phone call to Moscow, from where Belarus might be reined in. She told Vladimir Putin that the situation was “completely unacceptable” as the “instrumentalisation of migrants against the European Union by the Belarusian regime is inhumane.” She ordered Putin to shorten Lukashenko’s leash. ...  Continue reading

by John Lichfield
Monday, 15
November 2021

Will Éric Zemmour’s Bataclan stunt backfire?

The polemicist has been accused of capitalising on the 2015 terror attacks

The French far-Right pundit and likely presidential candidate, Éric Zemmour, offended against good taste and the unwritten rules of political life last week by using the anniversary and site of the Bataclan terrorist attacks in Paris to advance his election campaign.

On Saturday — the sixth anniversary of the Bataclan and other Islamist terrorist attacks in Paris which killed 130 people — Zemmour invited TV cameras to film him outside the concert hall in the French capital where 90 concert-goers were murdered on 13 November 2015.

He accused former President François Hollande of making a “criminal decision” earlier that year to allow Syrian refugees to enter France although he knew that terrorists were hiding among them. ...  Continue reading

by Kristina Murkett
Monday, 15
November 2021

What Durham University doesn’t understand about sex work

The student union can't make an inherently dangerous industry 'more safe'

Durham University has come under criticism for its decision to offer students an online course on working in the sex industry. The ‘opportunity’ is designed to offer students “support which is well informed and free from prejudice” so that they can be “safe and make informed choices.” For example, Level 1 involved discussions on “the laws that govern sex work”, “the challenges students can face”, “motivations for entry for students” and the “impact of Covid” on the industry.

There has, unsurprisingly, been a backlash. MP Diane Abbott called the move “horrific”; Further Education Minister Michelle Donelan warned that the university is “legitimising a dangerous industry” and Only Fans model Kaya Corbridge said that Durham is “preying on people’s vulnerability.”  ...  Continue reading

by Freddie Sayers
Monday, 15
November 2021

Inside Austria’s lockdown for the unvaccinated

I've been speaking to people on the street to find out what they think


UPDATE: Don’t miss the full story and video report, now live HERE

I’m in Vienna on day one of the world’s first lockdown for only the unvaccinated.

At first glance it seems like an ordinary, if rather grey, November day — perhaps with slightly fewer people out and about than you might expect. Medical-grade masks are much in evidence, and there are queues outside all the testing centres (a negative test is an accepted alternative to vaccination).

But this is no ordinary day. As of midnight last night, around 30% of the adult population have been legally mandated to stay inside their homes. They are allowed to leave only to buy essential food, to travel to and from essential work and for physical exercise. Leisure of any kind is forbidden. In effect, this means that two million Austrians are currently under partial house arrest. ...  Continue reading

by Peter Franklin
Monday, 15
November 2021

American voters prefer populism to wokeness

Especially if they're working class

The Rightward drift of the working-class vote is one of the most important political trends of our time. But what about the working-class voters who have yet to join this exodus?

They’re important too. The Left can’t win with the support of middle-class progressives alone — it needs to make the most of what remains of its working-class base. But how?

From an American angle, that’s a question that Jacobin, a Left-wing journal, set out to explore in collaboration with YouGov and the Center for Working-Class Politics. The study is worth delving into in detail, but this is the gist of it.

The polling focused on Americans without a college degree. Self-declared Republicans were then excluded from the sample — presumably because they’re considered a lost cause. So all of the findings relate to the opinions of working-class Democrats, swing voters and non-voters. ...  Continue reading

by Brian Pottinger
Monday, 15
November 2021

FW de Klerk: a great South African let down by the ANC

He and Nelson Mandela held the country together after apartheid was lifted

The death of FW de Klerk last week, apartheid era President and Nobel Peace laureate, marked the passing of one of the last great forces behind South Africa’s painful and still uncompleted transition to a modern democracy.

Always counted amongst the conservative faction of the then ruling whites-only National Party, he astonished many by presiding over the country’s largely peaceful constitutional transfer of power from a white minority to a black majority in 1994.

Predictably, in death he has been described by his far lesser critics as a divisive and polarising figure; his legacy deemed unworthy and his recent apology for the sins of apartheid empty and self-serving. ...  Continue reading