Does the legacy of a heroic struggle for justice cover over a multitude of sins? Or does the iconic hero’s fatal flaw render him and, perhaps even his legacy, leprous? Is it 'one strike and you're out' or might the twitteratti just possibly permit nuance and, dare I say it, complexity?
Sacred Treasure How many people view the recent death of missionary John Chau Emma Scrivener writes, as potently as ever, about the power of the gospel to counteract a self-harming mindset And then she followed it up with this blinder…
Sacred Treasure Former LibDem leader, Tim Farron has been saying some really important things in the last week about the state and nature of western liberalism. Here is his original Theos lecture: What Kind of Liberalism do we want? Then…
I've felt overwhelmed in recent weeks. I've started posting about it on at least 5 occasions and then each time deleted my meagre thoughts. There really are no words. But there need to be words. The presenting issue has of…
We are so much more aware of the sociological contexts for the public square, these days - or if we're not, we should be, because they will be pointed out soon enough! This means that the background of whoever is holding forth…
Revolutions invariably eat their children.
It’s an almost inevitable fact of history. The expression was coined by a royalist journalist during the French Revolution, Jacques Mallet du Pan. But perhaps, if tweaking was needed, more often than not revolutions eat their parents. Think Robespierre in France; Trotsky in Soviet Russia; Röhm in Nazi Germany. (more…)
Standards in public discourse have deteriorated. I hope that is something on which we can all agree. Jeremy Corbyn came to the Labour leadership promising a kinder and more respectful politics – but that’s not happened. Of course, it was not really in his gift. Nor was he ever likely to control his more radical supporters, let alone political foes. (more…)
RANT ALERT (This is v abnormal for me, but I’m quite exercised about it!)
I’m getting tired of people complaining about immigration, and just wish politicians would have the courage to speak up for it. The UK has ALWAYS been a country of immigrants – you just have to look at the history of London’s East End over the last 5 centuries to see this. (more…)
I’m trying to understand power – what it means, how it’s wielded, how it affects us. Big topic. But I’m increasingly convinced that we can’t understand the culture of suspicion without grasping the power of power (and itsabuses).
This has drawn meto someone who has been a bit of a hero, but whose writings I’d only dipped into. Reading Václav Havel‘s masterly and vital 1978 essay The Power of the Powerless has blown me away. Written in the dark days of Czechoslovak communism (only 10 years after the false dawn of the Prague Spring), it is a profound analysis of what it was like to live under a regime built entirely on lies. The only response, the only subversion of the regime, therefore, is to live in truth. (more…)
It has its gainsayers (eg Steven Poole is pretty disparaging, though unfairly in my view) but George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language (the whole essay is online), is prophetic. Of course some of his linguistic concerns are matters of taste and fashion (as Steven Poole rightly notes). But written at the close of the Second World War, this article exposes the sham sincerity and dissembling motivation behind so much political speech and writing. That is the essay’s great virtue. And it has not gone out of date at all. (more…)