Ideas & Discussion

Alastair Stewart | Has May got a one-nation Brexit policy?

16/06/2017 Alastair Stewart

“A case in point is that the supposedly politically kindred likes of Ken Clarke and Michael Heseltine are condemning their own prime minister. It’s more telling, still, that the one-nation mantra was borrowed unapologetically by Labour leader Ed Miliband in 2015 and he wore the banner with greater accuracy than either Cameron or May.” (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)

Food and Drink

Why I hate vegans

22/03/2017 Daniel Hewett

“Taxidermy is soon to be found only upon the walls of edgy right-wing night-clubs. Veganism is on the ascent and has quickly become an echo-chamber of sanctimony and righteous indignation. Quinoa and tofu; pine nuts and avocado: these are the altars at which the vegan worships, and the vegan worships loudly.” (Read More)

Ideas & Discussion

Political rhetoric isn’t at an all time low, it’s changed forever

13/03/2017 Alastair Stewart

“There are innate, widely shared moral standards in our society about what is acceptable and unacceptable in public life. Much of it is common sense, otherwise, it’s the product of family, institutions and generational veneration of esteemed figures. The bitter consequence of creating good citizens over critical thinkers is it’s creating a dissonance and disbelief that pure deception could be taking place in broad daylight. ‘Not here’, they say. ‘Surely not, must be an explanation for it’. Yet we’ve crossed the Rubicon with rapid speed.” (Read More)

Ideas & Discussion

Is this the end of the Liberal international order?

12/03/2017 Olivia Beer

“Neither must we conflate nationalism with national pride and support for national values, and especially not with racism. It is perfectly legitimate for nation states to defend their own borders and define their own narratives. An integral part of the liberal world order is internationalism, a body of interacting nation states that may trade freely, share policies and examples of best practice that can simultaneously remain as sovereign actors.” (Read More)

Africa

The African AIDS epidemic is the West’s failure

12/03/2017 Hannah Tayab

“A huge number of victims of AIDS are young women due to their lives as sex workers as there is a lack of opportunities to otherwise make money for women due to education deprivation. Developed nations, therefore, can be argued to have ultimately failed to meet their global responsibilities, as so many African women are still unable to access education and therefore, unable to progress their lives. Accessible education around the globe is a global responsibility for all developed countries.” (Read More)

'Chess' / Dustin Gaffke
Education

Why teaching is a great analogy for the state

07/07/2016 Alastair Stewart

‘Of all the analogies ever put to paper on the nature of ‘the state’, the teaching environment seems to be the least obvious one. Yet that overlooks one of the sharpest, even if it does lack the romantic imagery of a ‘leviathan’ or hypothetical power plays with red phones.’ (Read More)

Ideas & Discussion

Islamic State’s nuclear gambit

04/05/2016 Martin Houdek

When collectively assessing these developments it is possible to conclude two things. Firstly, these events are demonstrative of a focused campaign by Islamic State to acquire nuclear material for a weapon. Secondly, the thefts in Iraq and the apparent eagerness of nuclear smugglers to sell radioactive material to Islamic State attest to the increasing ease and probability of its attainment. (Read More)

Environment & Energy

Democracy and environmental vision can go together

18/04/2016 John Lindberg

What’s to be done? Saying ‘go vote’ is wasted breath because people will only want to do it if they want to anyway. What we should all be rallying for, particularly at elections, is not just for promises for this and that but for, as President George H.W Bush put it, the ‘vision thing’. We want politicians that will sacrifice the popular for the right, and there is a curious absence of it these days. Our country deserves more than ‘the now’ and it deserves a future, but only if our elected officials are brave enough to look beyond their own five-year plans and see the nation’s life as contingent on the environment which nourishes its peoples. (Read More)

'Marriage' / CC
Ideas & Discussion

Where are the political spouses these days?

14/04/2016 Alastair Stewart

To be an example of something ordinary and relatable is precisely what ‘the alternative’ third way doesn’t need. Populism doesn’t require ‘ordinary’ because it often hinges on one individual who holds the gravitas and sway to make the unpopular and unthinkable the new mainstream. No one has any need to know about the marriages of Nigel Farage or Alex Salmond because it bursts their messianic, single-issue singularly of purpose and the anecdotal novelty which props it up. (Read More)

Ideas & Discussion

How powerful should social media activism be?

01/04/2016 Tanya Newton

A furor of social media activism has erupted lately, particularly on the topics of Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration law, Clarkson’s dismissal, and Batgirl. Yet these events have also called into question social media activism’s effectiveness, as petitioners were left disgruntled by the decisions made by the BBC and DC Comics. DC Comics has been accused of allowing itself to be censored, while over a million people have expressed disappointment over Clarkson’s dismissal. Those criticising these decisions, however, have forgotten that social media activism is effective because it is based on the power of the consumer and the voter—and that this, thankfully, has its limits. (Read More)

Ideas & Discussion

The rise of the superlative

11/03/2016 Paul Levy

Edward Hanna, Professor of Climate Change at University of Sheffield, observes, in his article for The Conversation, how, in recent news coverage of winter weather in the UK, that a common winter storm was renamed “weather bomb” by the media. This happened to coincide with my own noticing of the use of “Absolutely Amazing” to describe some fairly normal occurrences by people I’m connected to on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. You really can’t get any more absolute or amazing than absolutely amazing. (Read More)

Ideas & Discussion

Anti-Semitism: The disease that never died

10/03/2016 Stephen Hoffman

There was a naive thought after the Holocaust that anti-Semitism would never return or if it did it would only be present in the margins of society. Unfortunately as recent anti-Semitic incidents in the UK have shown this never happened. My paper for Parliament Street as part of our contribution to the latest inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism into how anti-Semitism is affected by the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians shows that anti-Semitism has just mutated into new forms. In the way it has mutated, it has grown like a bacteria eating at the fabric of British society. (Read More)

Ideas & Discussion

What is happening to the word ‘beautiful’?

08/03/2016 Tanya Newton

‘Beautiful’ has always been a battleground in feminist discussions of representation. While it may seem counterintuitive to argue that we should consider more women as beautiful while also arguing that a woman’s capabilities are worth more than her appearance, tackling the rigid definition of beautiful has been important for intersectional feminism. A traditionally beautiful woman is white; women of colour are more likely to be sexualised instead. A beautiful woman is also normally able-bodied. She usually does not appear to be economically below the middle-class, something that is subtly but pervasively inherent in our ideas of the ideal body shape (too slender for manual labour) and the current trend of tanning (demonstrating leisure time and disposable income). A beautiful woman often also has long hair, a delicate face, and big eyes; she is vulnerable, not strong. So renegotiating this limited meaning of beautiful is a powerful act. Great progress has made with it, which should be cause for optimism. However, recent redefinitions are more troubling than empowering. (Read More)

Photograph: Pexels
Ideas & Discussion

Tattoos and the rebranding of class identity

02/03/2016 Tanya Newton

The image of tattoos has changed, in more ways than one. They have gone from simple and standardised to high-quality pieces of artwork, and they have also gone from working-class, tacky, and hipster, to relatively normalised. Yet the modern surge of ‘tattoo art’ is not just the typical mainstreaming of taboos. It is also a response to the fragmentation of class identities and part of a class identity creation that simultaneous idealises the traditional working class while denigrating poorer people. (Read More)

'Books are power' / CC
Ideas & Discussion

Rushdie’s Fatwa: What have we learned 27 years later?

23/02/2016 Mitchell Foyle-York

He was guilty of blasphemy, according to the former supreme leader of Iran. His best-selling novel “The Satanic Verses” had upset quite a few people, to put it lightly, and was, according to some fundamentalists, enough to warrant Rushdie’s death. But have we-and by “we” I mean humanity in general-learned from this dark passage in modern history? (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)

Essays

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)

Ideas & Discussion

The Balance of Terror

18/10/2015 Philip Horey

On July 16th, 1945 the world entered the Atomic Age. With the successful detonation of the first nuclear weapon, code name: Trinity, diplomacy would never be the same again. The weapons of a modern nuclear arsenal contain multiple warheads, each with a yield around 20 times as powerful as the early designs. But are nuclear weapons really as deplorable an asset as they are often portrayed and perceived? (Read More)

Ideas & Discussion

Nuclear Terrorism – What is the actual threat?

11/10/2015 John Lindberg

Utter the phrase nuclear terrorism and most people would automatically envisage a bright flash, followed by a mushroom cloud rising over a scorched earth. It is an issue that steps into the stage light every now and then, cause some frightening headlines, only to then disappear into the quagmire of issues that are not ‘newsworthy’ enough. Nuclear terrorism is, like all issues connected to the word nuclear, fraught with misconceptions, myths and even outright lies. It is high time that some light is spread over this in order to separate myths from facts, thus enabling a truly informed debate regarding this substantial threat. (Read More)

'US nuclear weapons test in Nevada in 1953' / CC
Ideas & Discussion

No one is asking the right questions about nuclear weapons

07/09/2015 Alastair Stewart

Nuclear weapons are amongst some of the most controversial and emotive of issues. They’re up there with abortion, the legality of war and the death penalty. Ask anyone and they have an opinion, but I’m prepared to bet my lunch money that it will be a response based on the moral side of the question rather than the application of the issue itself. (Read More)

The frontispiece of the book 'Leviathan' by Thomas Hobbes; engraving by Abraham Bosse / CC
Ideas & Discussion

Is anarchy really ‘what states make of it’?

06/09/2015 Alastair Stewart

While theoretical, his argument holds particular interest with what they can tell us about international developments today. The recent normalising of relations between the United States of America and Cuba after over 50 years of suspicion and aggression is a case and point. As the Islamic State congeals and emerges and a de facto state Wendt’s arguments offer more insight than the number of weapons each party has. How are the good, the bad and the ugly relationships formed; how do friends become foes, and foes become friends? (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)

'Talks & Events' / CC
Ideas & Discussion

Should commentators run for office?

25/08/2015 Alastair Stewart

The house of cards fell when the ex-Mr Perry was asked by an audience if he felt so strongly about politics, would be consider running for office. Brand’s response was a school boy cliche: “I would stand for parliament but I would be afraid I would become one of them”.
(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)

Ideas & Discussion

First-past-the-post is no longer fit for purpose

07/05/2015 Tanya Newton

Earlier this month, a group of Labour and Green supporters launched www.voteswap.org. This website operates a system in which Labour voters and Green voters ‘swap’ votes to their mutual advantage. Green voters pledge to vote Labour in seats that can win; in return, Labour voters pledge to vote Green in seats that Labour can’t win. Labour supporters living in unwinnable or safe seats have the opportunity to transfer their vote to a marginal seat, where they are more likely to influence the outcome. Conversely, Green supporters have the opportunity to ensure that the Green national vote share is as high as possible, while working towards the toppling of the current Coalition Government. For Labour and Green supporters, everyone wins. (Read More)

Ideas & Discussion

Why isn’t politics taught in school?

05/05/2015 Tanya Newton

The outcome of the upcoming election will have huge implications on the lives of young people. Decisions on the budget deficit, welfare spending, job creation, house prices, tuition fees, climate change, and swathes of other issues will have more repercussions on the young than anyone else. It’s a travesty therefore that young people are so disempowered. The following two passages in the Conservative Party manifesto typify this. (Read More)

Environment & Energy

Climate change terrorism: A threat in the future?

14/04/2015 Sean Mowbray

When the history of the early 21st century is written it will likely tell of a single day as the fateful turning point. 9/11 will be recorded as the point when the ‘war on terror’ was launched in earnest, unleashing untold havoc across the world. With its vacuously intoxicating allure the war on terror has torn resources from other pressing issues globally and for the last 15 years the ‘war on terror’ has absorbed so much of our attention that little else has managed to squeeze itself on to the agenda. Military budgets have ballooned and the bombing of foreign countries has become common practice in disregard to international law. (Read More)

Photograph: Pexels
Ideas & Discussion

The Global Politics of Development Funding

08/02/2015 Sean Mowbray

When you think of development aid what comes to mind? Is it helping someone in an impoverished country, probably Africa if you live in the UK, find access to water, food or adequate shelter? Or is it vote rigging, corruption and power politics? You would have to be some kind of cynic to think the latter, the kind of person who decries Bob Geldof and Live Aid. (Read More)

Ideas & Discussion

Charlie Hebdo and my grandmother

22/01/2015 Stephen Sacco

But whenever my cousins or me brought up the subject of us being Italian, my grandmother would proudly proclaim: “I’m American.”

And right she was, she was born and raised in the United States. Both my grandparents spoke Italian as well as English. The Italian they learned came from at home, not school. My father and aunt, however, were discouraged from ever speaking Italian. My grandparents wanted to raise their children as Americans. (Read More)