// archives

Politics & society

This tag is associated with 204 posts

The Illuminati: maybe not such a mad idea

When we dig for the truth, we flirt with madness. But in a world where hidden power is all too real, it’s the only sane thing to do.

What philosophy can teach us about tackling abuse

Inadequate processes are not the source of the problem, although they are part of it. The word that has been used most frequently to describe the source of Oxfam’s malaise is its “culture”, the corporate equivalent of “character”.

The ungrateful traveller

Last week I went to Bangkok. Returning home, the question on my mind was how did such an astonishing statement become so mundane?

Never Had It So Good

By the time you read this, something truly dreadful might have blighted the world. Pinker does not prophesy that this won’t happen; he simply reminds us why it should not and need not, as long as we don’t give up the notion of the emancipatory power of reason to help illuminate the way forward. If that is naive, even more naive is the belief that despair, fatalism or superstition supplies a credible alternative.

How we forgot the collective good

“UK plc” has become part of the ordinary lexicon. If anyone finds it objectionable, few say so. No one announced that from now on we should conceive of our country as a business, but gradually, imperceptibly, it became natural to do so. This is how so many cultural shifts happen. Ways of thinking mutate gradually, helped by changes in vocabulary that we accept without question.

Back to basics

In the Balkanised age of the internet, bands that most people have never heard of can fill arenas, and TV series on platforms most people don’t use can have audiences of millions. Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto, shows that intellectuals can play that game too. His YouTube lectures — with titles such as “Identity politics and the Marxist lie of white privilege” — have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

Monuments should spark reflection, not genuflection

History is not only written by the winners, it’s carved and cast in their image, too. That’s why cold, hard lumps of stone and bronze have a remarkable capacity to fire the passions. Campaigns to erect statues or tear them down are part of a wider cultural conflict, as the latest skirmish clearly demonstrates.

Five years on from the horsemeat scandal

Little of significance has changed since the scandal because the truth is that it was the almost inevitable consequence of a flawed food system, not just a failing of one small part of it. The nub of the problem is that farm produce is now more often a commodity sold on price than it is a product bought for its distinctive value.

Books to open eyes to inequality

ON PETER SINGER. I contributed to this selection of thoughts on books to open your eyes to inequality for the Guardian.

The case for “gender viscosity”

Gender and sexuality are not so much fluid as viscous. Both sexuality and gender are not absolutes set in stone but they are generally more sticky than liquid. They have soft edges but tend to keep their shape.

twitter