Don’t Blame Theresa May. Brexit Was Never Going To Be A Romantic Adventure

I haven’t written much about Brexit, lately. I’ve been adopting a wait and see approach.

I realised pretty quickly how technical and complex the process of exiting the European Union actually was and I thought it would be wise to read and learn from people who were experts in trade and regulation. Much of the discourse around Brexit focuses on ideological and theoretical matters, with the minutiae of actual EU legal code rarely discussed. Very few people are knowledgeable in such matters and we didn’t hear from them at all during the referendum campaign, which, in hindsight, was woefully short on substance. The single market and the customs union were hardly mentioned and Leave (with some exceptions) never put forward a model for leaving the EU. No one had any clear idea of what the UK would look like post-Brexit. It really was a leap in the dark. Read More…

The Sad Thing About Useful Idiots Is That They Are Often Intelligent And Educated

Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them.” – George Orwell

There is a two-part brilliant series from the BBC World Service, presented by journalist John Sweeney, currently available in the archive, about the so-called “useful idiots”, otherwise intelligent people who become apologists for abhorrent regimes, which they think they understand, but do not. Read More…

The Past Is Not Perfect And We Should Not Expect It To Be

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our relationship to the past. History was one of the subjects I studied at University, so the past has always been of great interest to me. I also know that the past is not one and the same for everyone. History can be broken down into so many different areas and people from different countries, regions, economic, religious and political backgrounds etc. will each have unique stories to tell about the same period of history. There is no overarching grand narrative. History is more complex than that.

Which is why I am concerned by the political tendency nowadays to oversimplify the past and take a very negative view of it as racist, sexist and oppressive. Just to name a few examples: there is the recent Rhodes Must Fall movement which tried to topple statues of the British colonialist Cecil Rhodes at the University of Cape Town and Oxford University. (They were successful at UCT, but not at Oxford.) The British writer Afua Hirsch wrote a very controversial article last year in The Guardian calling for the removal of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square. The reason: Nelson did not voice opposition to slavery whilst he was alive. There have also been attacks on 90s sitcoms such as Friends because some of the characters made un-PC jokes. A pre-Raphaelite painting by John William Waterhouse was taken down in February from a gallery in Manchester because it “sexualised” women. Read More…

The Grenfell Tower Fire Was Exploited By Political Opportunists Pushing An Agenda

The long-form  journalist Andrew O’Hagan has written an incredible 60 000 word piece on the Grenfell Tower fire in the London Review of Books that exposes much of the political opportunism that followed the fire in June 2016. Initially, O’Hagan said that he has been furious about the blaze and wanted to know who was responsible for the 72 deaths; however, as he researched the incident over a ten month period he began to realise just how much the fire had been politicised by activists who had long-standing ideological grudges against the Tory-led Kensington and Chelsea council. Read More…

This Is A Great Debate About Masculinity and Men’s Issues

This is a really great discussion about “masculinity” and  “men’s issues”. This subject can get quite heated quickly, but this particular discussion was intense without getting nasty (for the most part). They disagreed with each other and listened too. It also represented a broad spectrum of views which made for a good adversarial debate. I highly recommend it:

 

 

 

 

ISIS Hated Beauty, History, Freedom, Music and Art

 

Two BBC documentaries which are available to watch right now show just how much Islamic State hated beauty, history, freedom, music and art.

In the The Road to Palmyra, architectural historian Dan Cruickshank and photographer Don McCullin journey to Palmyra to observe the destruction IS wrought after they invaded the ancient Syrian city in 2015.  Cruickshank is visibly overcome at times as he discovers just how much precious human history IS tried to obliterate.

Manchester: Bomb Our Story interviews the young victims of the 2016 bombing of Manchester Arena, all of whom are deeply traumatised by the wicked events of that night. They were supposed to enjoy an evening of innocence, dancing, laughter and fun. But a crazed, murderous terrorist had other plans.

I highly recommend you watch these two deeply moving and insightful films.


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Night Will Fall

Night Will Fall is a powerful documentary about the footage captured by Allied forces of newly liberated concentration camps, in the closing days of WW2, that was later made into a film titled German Concentration Camps Factual Survey (1945).

The scenes the soldiers were confronted with were so shocking that they feared no one would believe that they were real. Indeed the first accounts that Soviet soldiers had given of Auschwitz and Majdanek in eastern Europe were initially written off by Britain and America as atrocity propaganda. They soon realised how wrong they were. In fact, the Soviet footage of Auschwitz contains some of the most infamous images of the monstrous extermination camps. An elderly Russian soldier interviewed in Night Will Fall is overcome with emotion as he remembers the terrible things he saw… Read the rest On Netflix Now