The art of war
Our global leaders have adopted the language of war to fight pandemic. From WHO to Whitehall, Covid-19 is the invisible foe/unknown enemy/silent killer we must unite to battle with blitz spirit and war-room tactics. In Britain – where memories of a ‘good war’ stir in us more warming national pride than dread – we are…
A new nation
Every crisis is a war of ideas. The legacy of Milton Friedman – the great architect of shock economics – illuminates how the fever of disaster burns away precedent; and that what is usurped and adopted is largely a question of what ideas are lying around at the time. It is the work of believers…
The hard stop.
It is a particular piece of cosmic humour…. that we have a pandemic that forces each of us to be an island in order to realise what it means to be human together. – Ben Okri The Virus: unprecedented. Incomprehensible. Also predictable, and predicted – many, many times over. Crisis brings clarity. As the dust settles on…
How to argue with a racist
The pseudoscience of racism is nothing new. From the very earliest encounters with people of different colours, dominant groups have used notions of hierarchy, purity, strength and intelligence to justify enslavement, extermination or extraction. We are, as genealogist Adam Rutherford notes, extremely visual creatures. The compulsion to otherise and categorise based on what we see…
The rehab industry
Gareth Malone’s The Choir, staged this season with some of Britain’s most persistent young offenders, has got the nation talking about prison. It’s a debate that treads predictable lines. But the commonality of conviction rarely enters the fray. It’s an extraordinary yet little known statistic about life in Britain today: if you are a man…
The quick wins of intergenerational living
Our new government declares an interest in establishing a new era of evidence-based iconoclasm. Dominic Cummings writes that he intends to leverage the intersection of skills, fields and ideas to ‘radically improve how people make decisions in government’, and he is seeking new expertise, new approaches and ‘cognitive diversity’ to support it. This is timely. Transformative…
The new leaders
There is one viable form of leadership for our times. INSEAD’s Professor Petriglieri gives it voice when he describes ‘an individual who is willing, able and entrusted to embody, and help to realise, a story of possibility’. Consistent, lived values. Steady – and steadfast – action. Unflinching, clear-eyed belief in the power of the individual and the spirit of the collective.
The modern condition is best captured as a series of multiple, interconnecting tipping points: the Pandora’s box of cause and effect, with no knowing where the domino trail will end. These tipping points – environment, social and economic – are the tight-ropes we walk daily; some with our eyes wide open, some with them closed; the rest peeking non-committally through finger cracks, hoping the wind doesn’t change.
The citizen factory
“This progress from one of the poorest countries of Europe to one of the most prosperous has not been an accident. It’s based on this idea that when there are so few of us—only 5.5 million people—everyone has to live up to their full potential,” he said. “When people are afraid, they focus on short-term…
Halting truth decay
‘As Hannah Arendt wrote in her 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism, “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (ie the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (ie the standards of thought) no longer…
The war of words
In Ibsen’s little performed play Rosmersholm – little performed because it was considered too radical for 1886 Sweden-Norway – two idealistic lovers contend with lost faith against the backdrop of a democracy hijacked by those who would twist populist rhetoric to tragic ends. Its recent revival on London stages this summer and the critical acclaim it received…
The civil war
“But the tide is beginning to change. In August, the Business Roundtable, the influential US business group, amended its two decade-old declaration that “corporations exist principally to serve their shareholders”. The Roundtable said: “While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders” —…