Film & TV

Review | ‘Dunkirk’

30/07/2017 Luke Murphy

“There are several leading characters in the film but there is nobody around which the entire story revolves. Not even Kenneth Branagh’s Commander who stands on the pier attempting to direct the evacuation is master of his own fate. All rely on the other interlinking perspectives of the story. The perspective of Mark Rylance’s retired veteran’s pleasure boat crossing the channel to a war zone is fuelled by the duty to do his bit.  As is Tom Hardy’s endless dogfights in the air knowing he might lack the fuel to get himself home.” (Read More)

History & Philosophy

Liberalism’s problem with the concept of violence

05/06/2017 Stephen Mallet

“What is violence? In truth, there is no clear definition. Political theorists often disagree about the parameters of the word and its relation to other metaphysical concepts such as power. This leads to radical differences. An anarchist may see violence as any act which restricts choice; whereas, a liberal may view violence as physical, empirical, an action of causing harm. How violence is theoretically treated radically defines many political doctrines.” (Read More)

Photograph: Pexels
History & Philosophy

In defense of wonder

08/01/2017 Daniel Hewett

“I’m an Atheist. No, not the kind who troll Christian websites. I fall into the reluctant Atheist category. If the late Christopher Hitchens were alive today, some of his most scathing rhetoric would be reserved for me. I’m not sure whether I’m proud or ashamed to admit that.” (Read More)

Photograph: 'Walk of Fame' / Davide D'Amico
Arts & Culture

Why there will be no more en masse mourning of celebrities in the future

17/12/2016 Alastair Stewart

‘Today, in our interconnected, globalised and culturally internationalist world, it’s a macabre, but easy temptation, to look around and imagine which artists will generate the same shockwaves when they die. Who will, for the twenty-somethings of today, be the ‘legends’ that receive posthumous awards and extensive media coverage lavishing praise or skewering with retrospectives?’ (Read More)

Photograph: 'The Alhambra, Spain' / Max Besser Jirkal

The Alhambra, populism and the dangers of an ignorant population

12/12/2016 Alastair Stewart

‘Western civilisation is more connected than ever, yet the ability of populations to discern fact from fiction and to decide which is an outright lie has declined. In the case of Trump, what is curious, is the presumption that politicians and leaders will lie seems to have reached a satirical impasse. There’s the cliche that politicians or someone in public life will lie but surely they can’t lie that much. There is an implicit presumption and trust that they could never go that far and it has allowed, with the absence of historical knowledge, deception, and hyperbole to become commonplace.’ (Read More)

'History is all around us' / CC
History & Philosophy

Why we need citizen philosophers

27/05/2016 Amy Cools

The discipline and expertise of academic philosophers, and the broader set of experiences, challenges, and opportunities for new questions and unique ways of understanding the larger community of ‘citizen philosophers’ each serve to keep the other more honest, more challenged, and more informed, in the great world conversation we’re all having. (Read More)

History & Philosophy

Brussels vs Istanbul: The proximity principle and selective caring

28/03/2016 John Lindberg

The proximity principle explains why a terrorist attack in the U.S. would affect us more than an attack in Nigeria. Proximity can also refer to cultural proximity where we perceive a certain culture to be closer to our own. This better equips us to relate to what has happened. An attack on a culture similar to ours makes the scenario that similar events could happen at home much more credible. We can rationally understand that attacks taking place in a faraway country could theoretically take place anywhere, but this hardly ever translates into an emotional response. (Read More)


History is written by the victors, so how will we remember the EU?

26/02/2016 Alastair Stewart

For a real insight into the British attitude toward Europe in the months ahead, it’s the Eurovision which is the most indicative of British feelings to our continental neighbours. We participate, we watch and chortle at the perceived weirdness and the stereotypes of other cultures but we never truly engage in it. We’re sort of just there, awkwardly caught off guard as if we’re at a party where we don’t really know many people and are half-heartedly dancing until our real friends arrive. (Read More)

History & Philosophy

Communitarianism, Writ Large

18/02/2016 Amy Cools

So a communitarian could argue that while the moral ideal of freedom is traditional in the US, it’s the broader implementation of it that tool a long time as traditional practices caught up. (Read More)

History & Philosophy

On free speech and political correctness: A response to Lindy West

05/02/2016 Amy Cools

Yet when it came to the central argument of her piece, the ‘silencing’ argument, she lost me. And when she went from disagreeing with to railing against Jonathan Chait, a columnist with New York Magazine who explains why he thinks free speech is being threatened on college campuses, to the extent that she accuses him, no, downright slanders him, of ‘imply[ing] that black Americans being shot in the streets by agents of the state are the real puppetmasters of an authoritarian regime’, she really lost me. (Read More)


Reconciling Realism and Human Rights

21/11/2015 Alastair Stewart

Despite suggesting that morality is intrinsic to human nature, Morgenthau acknowledges that there are serious questions as to how to “build a bridge between ethics and politics (Morgenthau 1960: 6). Indeed, even though he acknowledges a moral element to man’s character that moves beyond the pastiche of ‘power, power and power’ that he is famed for, there is an inconsistency at the heart of his moral thinking. (Read More)

'Lion' / CC
History & Philosophy

Cecil the lion exposes our ignorance about the human condition

28/08/2015 Alastair Stewart

Cecil the lion proved the point. The tragedy of a great beast being slain for sport is not lost on me in a world where extinction for most creatures beckons in the near future. It was quite right for their to be a shocked global outcry, particularly on social media, at something so garish. Yet the event unified people in such a wisdom of crowds type way as to beg the question why we’re not like this about the daily human travesties that occur every day all over the world. Have we become so used to hearing of famines, murder, rape, genocides, female genital mutilation and terrorism that we’ve accepted it as a fact of life? Even if these are facts of our global civilisation that may well be perennial, have we really lost our ability to care and our desire to see change? (Read More)

'Seeing the world' / CC
History & Philosophy

One nation conservatism is a way of seeing the world

21/07/2015 Alastair Stewart

I’m being facetious, but there’s a point: ‘one nation’ is a loaded phrase. You hear it and think unity. In fact it’s a merely a premise to view the society through rather than a complete argument in itself. It is neither wholly conservative nor completely radical and it’s rooted in a philosophical rather ideologically disposition. (Read More)

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis / CC
History & Philosophy

Liberty’s Exiles: Unionists in an independent Scotland

21/04/2015 Alastair Stewart

Funny thing: I drafted the below article when sitting at 6am in a airport waiting to move to Spain. It was one of several. To borrow from Clint Eastwood’s ‘Dirty Harry’, in all that excitement, I kind of lost track and forgot all about it. Unearthed, here it is. Maybe it will be relevant again if there’s another Scottish Referendum. In which case ignore this preamble.

AS (Read More)

History & Philosophy

To understand federalism’s future, we must look to the past

12/04/2015 Sean Mowbray

From the cyclical nature of history we can learn a lot. In our current turbulent political atmosphere we may look to historical antecedents for knowledge and wisdom. As the general election looms ever closer on the horizon and the political arguments take shape one issue will ever present in the mind of Scottish voters whether they were in the Yes or No camp, that is the promise of ‘near federalism’ by Westminster officials. This is the story of a struggle for federalism from which we may gain some insight. (Read More)


Unity or Division? Assessing the impact of the Japanese occupation on modern Indonesia: Part 3

29/03/2015 Alex Beck

The elimination of Dutch influence and mobilization of the population for the Japanese war effort demanded the systematic indoctrination of Indonesians throughout the archipelago. Although this constant propaganda failed to convince Indonesians of the apparent superiority of Japanese culture, it did, however, intensify anti-Western and nationalistic attitudes, which in the process helped unify Indonesians in their commitment to independence. (Read More)


Unity or Division? Assessing the impact of the Japanese occupation on modern Indonesia: Part 1

28/03/2015 Alex Beck

When Showa Japan invaded the Dutch East Indies in 1942, different groups began to compete for the goodwill of their new colonial masters. In the course of these events remaining Europeans were either killed or sent as forced labour into Japanese concentration camps. Many Indonesians had welcomed the Japanese as liberators but their hopes were soon balked. The occupying power brutally quelled resistance since its ultimate aim was to incorporate the East Indies into the ’Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere – a Japanese dominated imperial order. (Read More)

History & Philosophy

Did Israel Misuse Targeted Killings? A Machiavellian Account: Part 1

19/03/2015 Alex Beck

“A targeted killing is a state-level, intentionally focused operation using every resource that intelligence agencies and armed forces have at their disposal with the objective of forcefully and permanently eliminating specific individuals from armed conflict, or at the very least deterring them from partaking in armed hostilities.” (Read More)

History & Philosophy

Scotland’s Empire in the Sun

24/02/2015 Sean Mowbray

A current of thought amongst contemporary historians follows that empires have a life span. Like living organisms they grow, mature and begin to decay in a natural and seemingly inevitable process of decline. This has proven true for the greatest empires known to the world – Rome, Egypt, Spain, Britain and perhaps America today. (Read More)

'U.S Flag' by Ian Ransley / CC
History & Philosophy

Remembering Welsh America

22/08/2014 Ross Graham

Columbus discovered America in 1492’ is a line most likely to appear in standard school textbooks. In actual fact, it was his voyage of 1492 that registered his recognition, even though he never set foot on the mainland of the Americas until 1498. Although some will debate aspects of the story, what is not in the standard school textbooks is the fact that almost three centuries before Columbus’s great claim to fame, there was another from the European world to set foot on the ‘New World’. (Read More)