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Showing posts from 2018

Can Social Democracy be revived?

While preparing to participate in a conference on the Legacy of 1968, it occurred to me that this year sees another equally momentous anniversary, the end of World War One in November 1918. My deeply-suppressed numerological instinct took over for a second, and made me notice that 1968 is the exact mid-point of the century 1918-2018. Is there any significance in that? What was happening during that century? It then struck me quite forcibly that one thing that was happening during that century was Social Democracy. It arrived slowly, tragically, haltingly to dominate the Western World out of the chaotic aftermath of WWI, which had completely overthrown the 19th century liberal order. It wasn’t always called by that name: it appeared, still does, as Christian Democracy, as the US New Deal, as the Welfare State and even as ‘wet’ Conservatism in Britain. 

One can plausibly argue that 1968 marked the peak of Western social democracy and the birth of its libertarian nemesis: that year saw th…

Weaponised Identity

The antisemitism accusation has become the most devastating weapon in
the far-right's arsenal of lies and fake news. In a secularising age
there are few moral absolutes available, but the strongest of them is
memory of and horror of the Holocaust, which is taught to all
schoolchildren. The next strongest is the innocence of childhood,
which makes accusation of paedophilia a weapon too.
Both these accusations are in effect unanswerable, because no evidence
can be presented to prove a negative. It's the "Have you stopped beating
your wife?" effect, the accusation itself doing the damage regardless
of evidence. It's the lowest form of argument, and a measure of the
sheer rottenness of the current Right, who have themselves abandoned
all moral principle.
It was very disturbing to see Elon Musk - who is a hero to many of my
tech colleagues - descend to their level over the Thai Cave rescue.
As Phil Cohen has pointed out to me, weaponising racism and sexism forms part of the methodo…

Loren Eiseley: Poet Of Evolution

Dick Pountain 25/02/05

I originally wrote this essay in 2005 as the introduction to an anthology of Loren Eiseley’s works whose publication was to be sponsored by my late business partner Felix Dennis. 

This anthology never appeared, due to apparently insuperable copyright issues, and I present my introduction here as a smaller attempt to resurrect Eiseley’s reputation, a project that could hardly be more topical…

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — o — — — — — — — — — — — — — — In 1968 Professor Loren Corey Eiseley was rated among the most admired nature writers in the USA, and his dramatically personal essays on archaeology, fossil hunting, evolution, human origins and animal behaviour were devoured by fascinated lay readers in highbrow magazines from The American Scholar to Scientific American and Harper’s. His first essay collection ‘The Immense Journey’, published in 1957, sold 500,000 copies over the next decade. When men landed on the moon in July 1969, Eiseley was the first author commis…