On demagogues

The lovely dullards again and againInspiring their bitter ambitious men. W. H, Auden, “Danse Macabre” Presumably due to some administrative lapse many years ago, I received the education of a gentleman, which included a study of the classical languages. (I suppose some unfortunate gentleman of the same name was sent to a Secondary Modern toContinue reading “On demagogues”

On borders

Nations, like individuals, tell stories in order to understand what they are, where they come from, and what they want to be. National narratives, like personal ones, are prone to sentimentality, grievance, pride, shame, self-blindness. There is never just one—they compete and constantly change. The most durable narratives are not the ones that stand upContinue reading “On borders”

On accountability

It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts. Mahatma Gandhi I would go further than the Mahatma: it is impossible to escape the consequences of one’s acts. But this is is of course not the received wisdom amongst our elites. Of course one can escape the consequences of one’sContinue reading “On accountability”

On political authority

There are no governors anywhere. Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, The Illuminatus! Trilogy We live in an age of problems, or more precisely, of predicaments: that is to say, issues that have no actual solutions, and which can at best be mitigated. To a greater or lesser extent, this has always been so forContinue reading “On political authority”

On values in the sphere of politics

Liberal democracies must defend their values…. Andrew RawnsleY, The Guardian 27/2/2022 So who are these liberal democracies, and what are their values? It’s easy enough to list the states who routinely self-identify as liberal democracies: the United States of America (which is a republic, not a democracy; the framers of its constitution explicitly wished toContinue reading “On values in the sphere of politics”

Predictions for 2022

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past. George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-four Well, it’s that time of year again. In this post, I’m going to re-examine my predictions for 2021 and indulge in some equally ill-founded speculation for the year to come. We’ll see how well I do… SoContinue reading “Predictions for 2022”

On protest

Protest that endures, I think, is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one’s own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence. Wendell Berry,. What Are People For? As I write this, the present government of the United Kingdom is preparingContinue reading “On protest”

On democracy

The whole dream of democracy is to raise the proletarian to the level of stupidity attained by the bourgeois. Gustave Flaubert The word “democracy” comes to us from the Greeks, and was originally a term of abuse. It means, literally, “mob rule”, as distinct from “aristocracy”, or “rule by the best people.” (Of course exactlyContinue reading “On democracy”

On being the villain

Exterminate! Every dalek ever Anyone who has even the vaguest idea about Doctor Who – the British Sci-fi TV series which has been going almost as long as I have – is familiar with the Daleks. The Doctor has grappled with many foes over that timespan, but the Daleks are the classic adversaries. However oftenContinue reading “On being the villain”