by UnHerd Staff
Friday, 31
December 2021
Video
11:00

2021: Year in review with Aris Roussinos and Mary Harrington

UnHerd's contributors look back at a tumultuous year
by UnHerd Staff


The year began with riots in Capitol Hill in Washington and the removal of Donald Trump from social media; in March Meghan and Harry gave their interview to Oprah from a Los Angeles mansion, and in April Prince Phillip passed away; Western troops departed Afghanistan, leaving chaotic scenes in the capital Kabul; Maya Forstater was judged by the courts to be legally entitled to her gender critical viewpoints — and Kathleen Stock was forced out of Sussex University; bitcoin became formal tender in its first nation state; and Covid dominated public policy for the second year running.

Freddie Sayers is joined by Aris Roussinos and Mary Harrington to look back on a tumultuous and consequential year.

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Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
5 months ago

Happy New Year to all Unherd commenters.

Few would view this site as a talent show, but could I suggest a festive “commenters concert.”

I’d open with James Joyce and Julie Blinde, duetting to Billy Joel’s ‘“Go To Extremes.”

Perhaps then a Chris Wheatley solo channeling “I Don’t Want To (just) Talk About It,” followed by Francis MacGabhann and Annemarie Ni Daleigh doing the full Riverdance routine.

Galatas Taveris could bring his rich baritone, and unusual cockney southern drawl, to “It’s a Rich Man’s World” before being joined by Leslie Van Reenen for an Invermectin pastiche to the theme from The Horse Whisperer.

After the interval, I’d suggest Billy Bob giving us a rousing chorus of Billy Bragg’s The Red Flag and then a chorus from all lady contributors of “I am Woman Hear me Roar.”

To bring it all to a close, a quick poem by Drachir Nevarc and I’d be happy to chip in with Pharrel Williams’ “Don’t Worry be Happy,” before we all finale with “The Philosophers Song” … by Monty Python.

Note: Prashan Kotak will be providing an AI driven light show and may appear in hologram. For those with safety concerns, Rasmus Fogh will be providing vaccine injections and masks at the door (not optional).

As we head into the commenters paradise that will be 2022, let us remember that the central psychological characteristics of the woke are a total absence of humour, and a comprehensive lack of the self awareness to know how ridiculous their obsessions seem to others.

A trap we could never fall into.

J Bryant
J Bryant
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Ha ha. Funniest comment of 2021. Happy New Year to you too!

James Joyce
James Joyce
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Wow! I get the opening! Big thank you Martin and Happy New Year to all!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Martin, you have left out the cohort who become immediately triggered when hearing the words ‘women’s rights’. I really think they deserve a paragraph.
Plus what about a doctor, biochemist and biophysicist who has already told us all the facts I’m reading in the RFK book. He uses a nom de plume. Maybe he is RFK! Maybe I’m onto something!

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
5 months ago

Did you have a tune in mind for the cohort, or will anything by Little Willy do?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Haha….

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I would just like to know where Galeti has buried Sanford Artzen.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
5 months ago

At the end of the year, I want to say Thank You to Freddie, the contributors to UnHerd and all the wonderful commentators underneath the articles. I sometimes learn more from them than the authors of the articles. As an early member of UnHerd, you haven’t disappointed and good luck to a very successful new year. Hopefully you’ll be financially sound and will continue to bring us insights into many subjects. I especially enjoyed Freddie’s interviews.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
5 months ago

Absolutely agree. Freddie is about the best current affairs interviewer I’ve ever seen. Mary, Aris and the other contributors are excellent. This conversation was so entertaining I would love it to be a biannual event. Perhaps after the French election we could have a conversation with Freddie, Aris & John Lichfield? They could also give us their opinion of how the German Chancellor is going. (There will be an Australian federal election at the same time which will be of no interest to anyone).

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
5 months ago

Yes, thank you Freddy. You’re the best thing about Unherd. I thought that Aris was good on stuff he knows about like Afghanistan, and he has good instincts on things he doesn’t know much about, like the United States. Mary is clever, but sometimes pretends (to herself) that she knows about things which she doesn’t really know about – like the Royal Family. Much better to say little and sign off quickly on things you don’t know about, Mary, than bang on, and get deeper into the sxxx. Sometimes it’s like you are sitting in front of your tutor at university trying to keep your end up.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

I thought quite the opposite. I thought Mary ran rings around Aris.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
5 months ago

If we assigned them all Winnie the Pooh characters Aris would be Eeyore, but not as endearing. I can’t quite squeeze Mary into one of them, unless there had been some slightly cynical, street wise, educated, Rabbit, character. Freddy is, I suppose, Christopher Robin.

Iris C
Iris C
5 months ago

Meghan makes much of being condemned for the colour of her skin but I would suggest that if she had not been of mixed race the Queen might well have refused consent for Prince Harry to marry her. Clearly she was unsuitable in every respect. He could still have married her but she would have been plain “Mrs. Windsor”

Last edited 5 months ago by Iris C
Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
5 months ago
Reply to  Iris C

I don’t think anyone gives a toss about Meghan’s skin colour. I think most people are more bothered about her being possibly the most annoying person on the planet, with her husband hot on her heels in second place.

James Joyce
James Joyce
5 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Excellent! I second your position!

Elena Lange
Elena Lange
5 months ago

There is something about Mary…she’s marvellous. Hands down my favourite UnHerd contributor. I always learn something new to add to my own perspective. Freddie is great, too. What a pleasant human being. With Aris, I always expect him to come up with a brilliant take, but he’s been letting me down so far.

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
5 months ago
Reply to  Elena Lange

Aris writes better than he talks. He has lots of ideas and imagination, but his experience is relatively limited. Improvising is easier on paper than in the flesh. I like most of his articles.

Elena Lange
Elena Lange
5 months ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

He’s stylistically good, I just miss substance. He’s refusing to become part of the “culture war” so much that he becomes precisely that, namely quite vacuous.

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
5 months ago
Reply to  Elena Lange

I agree. Quite a good way of putting it.

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
5 months ago

Megan’s story is simply that, when she married Prince Harry, she quickly found out that it wasn’t about her, and she was just a bit-player in a Queen-centred drama. But in California, it’s about her, and Harry is a bit-player. That’s all it is. Megan and Harry are irrelevant to the monarchy’s future, which depends on the next two monarchs: Princes Charles and William.

James Joyce
James Joyce
5 months ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

Excellent observation and also a shout out to Iris C with a similar point.
I’m particularly interested in questions of identity–one of my things. To this point, does anyone have the juice to get UnHerd to write a piece on Meghan and Harry’s citizenship? I’ve suggested this to UnHerd but did not receive a response.
Meghan’s American–not interesting some might say. Really? If an American become a member of a royal family (or ISIS), isn’t that grounds to have citizenship revoked. The inside of every American passport has a list–not comprehensive but it gives you the idea–of what acts it takes to lose American citizenship.
And what of the citizenship of their children? Not everyone born in the US is automatically an American citizen (crazy policy, I’ll save it for another day)–children of diplomats for example. Is the Duchess of Sussex a diplomat? Will her children be both American citizens and British Royalty. Is she? I seem to vaguely remember something about a war to get rid of the monarchy…..I believe that Grace Kelly had to renounce her American citizenship to marry into the royal family of Monaco–why is Meghan so special? (Let’s not ask her–she would tell us, but it would take days….)
I’d also suggest that she is a criminal. Hear me out–apparently she has been calling Senators on their personal cellphones, identifying herself as the Duchess of Sussex, and then lobbying for this or that far left cause. In most circumstances, it is a crime to be an unregistered lobbyist of a foreign power.
Am I the only one interested in this?

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
5 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Prince Harry is a gentleman, and Meghan manipulated Harry’s gallantry to get him as her protector. In his mind, Harry is protecting his mother Diana via his egocentric and power-hungry wife. It’s really sad he ended up with Meghan, because I think he deserved much, much better. But I can understand that he would find most English upper-class girls as dull as ditchwater, most of them thick and barely educated, and many looking like horses. It’s a pity he doesn’t speak French !

Last edited 5 months ago by Giles Chance
Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
5 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

I’m no expert on the finer points of UK citizenship law, but in general, UK law tolerates dual citizenship and so – after a certain period of residence in the UK, Meghan could have applied for it. Whether taking UK citizenship is a reason to revoke her US citizenship is a matter for US law – of which I know very little, so won’t comment. I do not think that there would have been any obligation for her to given up her US citizenship just to marry into the Royal family. Grace Kelly having to give up her citizenship would probably have had to do with the citizenship laws of Monaco. Maybe it has specific rules to do with their royal family or perhaps it operates a policy of mono-citizenship.

James Joyce
James Joyce
5 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

With respect, I disagree and I think you are wrong. It’s not the taking of UK citizenship that I sort of object to (I object in principle to dual citizens, believing it an oxymoron), it’s becoming part of the royal family. With respect to Grace Kelly, I think it was probably the laws of the US AND the laws of Monaco that forced this choice on her, but US law was definitely involved. I vaguely remember something similar in SE or DK where someone marrying into the royal family had to give up the previous citizenship.
MM seems to be actively lobbying for various and sundry causes–all extreme left–while identifying herself as the Duchess of Sussex. I think that this could be a criminal act.
Because we have a respectful disagreement, I would implore UnHerd to clear this up with people who do know. I find it fascinating, especially as it seems that MM and the Ginger idiot are becoming increasingly involved in American citizenship.
Funny note about becoming a US citizen while retaining some other citizenship–a situation that will soon apply to a friend from the UK, who is very much on the straight and narrow. He has no intention of renouncing his British citizenship. Fair play. BUT the very act of becoming a US citizen will cause him to lie, because he must swear that he is abandoning all previous allegiances to “foreign potentates,” if memory serves. If one accepts the clear language of the oath, it would be hard, if not impossible, to BECOME American while RETAINING some other citizenship.
This actually bothers my friend a lot, and being the good friend I am, I constantly remind him of this. Maybe he will take the oath with his fingers crossed!

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
5 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

“Lets not ask her” and it would be full of only ‘Her truths’.She would surely have to give up her Title to go into US politics and if it came to it her British Royal husband which, by then, would have served his usefulness. I’m sure there is (or in draft form, should be) something in your constitution about it. If not then now is the time to start drafting.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
5 months ago

UNHERD 2021 in retrospect
1) ‘The Great Selfie Riot’. (where the protestors went into Congress, stayed between the ropes, took selfies, and left) Aris thinks it was a coup without leadership, goals, or means…but still coupish. Freddy thinks it was irrational Exuberance from anti-Biden crowd. Mary thinks it was a Reverse-Putsch from the Social Media Moguls and Dems, and their militants who fallow them, by hysterical over response. (Locking down the Capital and the political trials and media panic and mud slinging – And de-platforming Trump across the board.)

2) ‘Harry+Megan+Opra’ ‘The Class and Nobility of the Queen and the Monarchy, and the other of that from Megan’. Aris thinks it is the little, fast, quick breeding rodents taking over from the Dinosaurs. Mary and Freddy find it sad, squalid, but see the direction having some inevitability.

3) ‘Afghanistan:’ USA troops, (on orders) walked out, the Taliban walked in. Mary sees it as the end of the Glorious Myth of the West, and its NGO industry, of freeing and enlightening bound and unenlightened lands. “A Gigantic Con”. Freddy recons she is right – the myth is over, and now it is done, no one really cares and Left and Right have moved on. Aris feels Biden is doing OK, and is a ‘Good Manager’, and also points out is the Liberals forcing Western Sex Creed on the locals was the thing which doomed it to fail. (I posted this many times, from my background there) Freddy and Aris agree we need to be engaged with the Taliban – which is 100% True.

4) Gender/Trans. Mary – ‘Diversity Scam, Gender Critical Movement are now taking their fight to capturing institutions as they cannot win in popular discourse’. Aris thinks it nonsense. Freddy and Mary lots of Centrist thinking, although with many,’ Yes…, But….’ and the odd ‘Post-Democracy’ reference.

5) Bit Coin: Aris not against authoritarian state, (if it is on his side, which he suspects it will be). Basically the three do not understand Block-Chain and Crypto. Mary asks the good question if dispersed finance takes over from National finance – will the modern world work, as the Nation States all function under $ Reserve Currency and Central Banks for the ships to sail, the mines to dig, and the economies of goods and services to work.

6) Covid. Freddy ‘Chilling’ how the majority of Austria and Australia citizens are happy to lock up a large minority for basically ‘Disobedience’. Mary – the attitude is: covid is a disease of social intimacy – and the cure is regulating and stopping that. Aris finds the State handled it competently, agrees with the response, feels valuable lessons learned. (I believe this this covid response been the greatest violation of freedom and human rights I have ever seen – and Nuremberg Trials need to come next – that all the pro mandate people have committed horrible crimes, and will lead to the collapse of the Global Economy into great depression, and this was intentional) Two were against, amazed one was for. Freddy points out how little power the states have as they were compelled to all go along with WHO and the big powers. Every Nation (excepting Sweden) were shown to be sheep herded by the unknown Shepherd.

Rating? Mary is the brightest, and I also think sees so much more under the surface than the other two – Centrist overall, but maybe too worldly. Freddy – Centrist and Calm. More interviewer than participant – most of his thoughts given to get the others to respond. Aris – Wow, maybe he has seen too much as a War Reporter, but wants order at all costs – That order is the desired state of man, even though that must be imposed as people are naturally disordered.

Typed as I watched – as it was a bit slow – need more conspiracy loons – as 2021 was made for them. Fireworks are going off all around, happy New Year, all you sheep.

Iris C
Iris C
5 months ago

Enjoyed your discussion very much. Freddie Sayers is an excellent interviewer and really brought the issues alive for me.
By the way, we are still not being told the truth about Omicron. It is not only milder, it has little effect on most of those testing positive. If the experience up here is anything to go by, no one is actually ill, some have a sniffle or a bit of a headache but nothing more.. Many of the staff at our oil terminal on Flotta have tested positive. The staff are now living across on the island and continuing to work as usual.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago

I finally got the time to watch this. As usual, Freddy was superb – he voiced some opinions and steered the conversation adroitly, but did not overpower the discussion.
I found Aris hard going. I couldn’t hear what he was saying a lot of the time and when I did hear what he was saying, I mostly became alarmed. Too much authoritarian state control tendencies for a liberal libertarian like me and I don’t like the dismissive way he shrugs off the culture wars – as though this is a not meaningful for certain groupings who are heavily impacted. I gave him a few points for the comments on Prince Charles who behind his stuffy image, is curious, thoughtful and challenging – a man who will follow thought leaders.
Mary was outstanding – clear, intelligent commentary which was compelling, different and interesting.
Let’s have this more often!

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
5 months ago

Yes – but shuffle some wild cards into the deck. I say either Peter Hitchins, or David Ike.

J Bryant
J Bryant
5 months ago

Great discussion and, as usual, Freddie is an outstanding host. I particularly enjoyed the discussion of the Capital Hill protests/riots. Mary H’s observation about ordinary people being excluded from the Biden inauguration really struck home for me.
Happy New Year to contributors and commenters at Unherd.

James Joyce
James Joyce
5 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Completely agree about Mary’s comment about “ordinary people.” I sort of knew, but the way she put it was eye opening for me.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago

I have just returned from the shops, where I bumped into an acquaintance who told me he had had two heart attacks after taking the vaccine – he now suffers from some condition that gives him frequent extreme vertigo. He is in his 40s – slim, healthy otherwise.
I do hope the vaccine safety scandal is covered in this interview, but it will have to wait – I’m off to play bridge and drink wine.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
5 months ago

You and I appearently do a duet on the excellence of Horse Ivermectin in preventing covid. A worthy cause.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Touch wood I don’t seem to catch this virus. I go out a lot, don’t socially distance, don’t wear a mask and if I’m forced, wear it incorrectly, share food, hug people, don’t sanitize and share some communal spliffs from time to time. I also use Ivermectin and Vit D.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
5 months ago

The only thing that I think is even remotely sensible about your behaviour is the use of Vit. D. Deliberately wearing your mask incorrectly strikes me as a little childish; if you’re wearing it why not wear it correctly?.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago

Because I cannot breathe? Is it childish to want to breathe? Nothing can surprise me any longer, but the authoritarians continue to hit more lows. Further, I decided I would not spend my latter years cowering inside, following a clearly arbitrary set of rules that have been proven not to work and which are devised by power hungry, corrupt people.
Nor in the eventuality am I prepared to be told to sit at home and wait until I get sick enough to go to hospital (the current medical protocol for Covid), when there are plenty of medications that can be used.

Last edited 5 months ago by Lesley van Reenen
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
5 months ago

If you are unable to breathe whilst wearing a mask you can get medical exemption.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
5 months ago

Thanks again to Freddie, Mary and Aris for a stimulating and interesting discussion.
All the best for 2022 to you all at UnHerd, and also to the legion of commentators.

Iris C
Iris C
5 months ago

Don’t forget that women in Saudi Arabia had few freedoms until this decade. Women will get their freedoms in Afghanistan but it will take time. It is totally unrealistic to try and force change but it could be encouraged by the US giving some leeway. .

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
5 months ago
Reply to  Iris C

I’ve just read Alexandria: the quest for the lost city, by Edmund Richardson, which is mostly about Afghanistan. (The recommendation on the cover is from William Dalrymple). A very readable book – having read Dalrymple will help with the background – and as entertaining as a Flashman novel. You read these books and think – how could the West have done so much damage for so long to that part of the world?

I was a bit surprised that Aris was so approving about Biden and Afghanistan. What the disastrous end of the occupation proved was how little knowledge the American military/intelligence community had about the real on-the-ground situation in Afghanistan. Did Biden not know that? In which case, not much has changed since the British in the 19th century.
Us readers would very much appreciate some recommendations – could the Unherd contributors give us their best read from 2021?

Last edited 5 months ago by Russell Hamilton
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago

The Biden section was particularly poor commentary from Aris. Besides your observations was the very obvious point that there is a difference between a decision to act and the manner in which it is enacted. I cannot imagine a more destructive, shambolic withdrawal being organized by any administration. And when his allies requested a bit more time to organize, he doubled down and refused.
Note that I am commenting in the same vein as Aris i.e. that Biden is capable and actually made the calls.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
5 months ago

There is, in most organisations, certainly in competant military ones a procedure to be followed on change of comand. It usually goes something like “All orders issued by my predecessor are to remain in force until countermanded be me”.
The original withdrawl plan (under Trump) was to be based on Baghram airfield.. If not Biden then his staff must have changed the oporder on his behalf. I cannot see any competant senior military staffs (like those of the US) opting for an airport open to covert attack with access controlled by the enemy.