Everyone's President

Everyone’s President

There is something to be said for relatability in a politician. Even Franklin Roosevelt, whose background was as firmly patrician as that of any US president, managed through the medium of fireside chats delivered over the radio to convince Americans the he understood their situation and cared about their fate. More»

Same As It Ever Is

Same As It Ever Is

The crowd at Club Congress is sparse. A few true believers and some people who are only here because they happened to be here already. My friend and I don’t fall into either category. I told him we had to see this show because it’s important, because I respect tradition, because it’s Dead Moon. They’re setting up right in front of us, out on the floor. More»

Weak and Stable

Weak and Stable

It’s hard to keep up with all the screw-ups and psychodramas of the Conservative government these days. You’re afraid you’ll miss one if you as much as blink. More»

Latest entries
The Rise of the Pollyannas

The Rise of the Pollyannas

In a recently released open letter, a group of scholars and venture capitalists described the digital revolution as, “the best economic news on the planet.” This is the sort of thing likely to elicit hosannas from those whose situations in finance and academia have positioned them to reap the benefits of this revolution. More»

Indian Frontier Policy

Indian Frontier Policy

For a few years subsequent to the Second Anglo-Afghan war, our frontier policy happily remained free from complications. It will be desirable to refer shortly to the progress of Russia in Central Asia, and of her conquests of the decaying Principalities of Khiva, Bokhara and Kokand. More»

Statue of Limitations

Statue of Limitations

Today is the 130th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty’s arrival in New York Harbor. To celebrate, Google has offered up one of its “doodles”, in which a disproportionately huge rendering of the bronze lady dwarfs the ship that is bringing her to the United States. She appears to be tipping over, as if she were about to fall into the sea. It’s a strangely resonant image. More»

America and German Independence

America and German Independence

Following the Cold War, America’s military and intelligence apparatus in Germany remained in place. To this day, there are thousands of US troops stationed in the country. When Gerhard Schröder, in another attempt to win an election, made a lot of noise about not supporting the war in Iraq, he nonetheless was happy to allow the US to use German bases. More»

Maududi's Germany

Maududi’s Germany

The Pakistani Islamist Abul Ala’a Maududi had polemical and highly complex views on the spiritual acceptability of democracy. Maududi’s criticisms were unmistakably protofascist, and framed the political outlook of Jamaat-e Islami, formed in British India, in 1941. More»

Stories Matter

Stories Matter

The ending of a fiction represents the point at which its essential artificiality is most acute. While individual lives do end, life itself does not end (or at least, will not end on earth for a literally unthinkably long time). When a fiction ends, it is the apotheosis of the human ability and desire to chop up the flow of time into manageably finite stories. More»

Development Delusions in Pakistan

Development Delusions in Pakistan

The construction of major highways in four provinces, as well as pressure to designate the Chinese-financed Gwadar as a duty-free port, has breathed new life into ongoing efforts for Pakistani development. More»

Horrifying Pastoral

Horrifying Pastoral

When most people visit the Washington D.C. area, they think of visiting the Smithsonian, or perhaps the White House or Pentagon. But when I met up with a friend on a recent trip there, we had our hearts set on an abandoned mental asylum. More»

The American Burden

The American Burden

Ever since the first Snowden leaks in 2013, something strange has been happening in Germany. On the one hand, Germans were shocked by how ruthless the US was, going so far as to tap Angela Merkel’s phone. On the other, the government’s response was incredibly subdued. Of course, there were some publicized angry calls to Obama, and the BND reduced its cooperation with the NSA. But that was it. More»

The Missionary Position

The Missionary Position

A European hat in those days was a rarity except in the large towns, and it attracted notice. That is the reason why I generally discarded it, with other too conspicuously Western adjuncts. Where the inhabitants were not well mannered, the hat was apt to be saluted with a shower of stones. More»

Ayn Rand Was Here

Ayn Rand Was Here

Of all the pricks against which the philosophically-minded person must kick, few are as galling as the persistent tendency of booksellers to shelve the works of Ayn Rand in their ever-dwindling philosophy sections. It’s bad enough that the works of Aristotle and Plato must compete for shelf space with titles like The Simpsons and Philosophy and the works of Bernard-Henri Lévy. More»

American Europe

American Europe

On a visit to Washington DC in 2012 Barack Obama and David Cameron spoke as one. The ‘special relationship’ (a term only used in the UK) was on show. Still, the terms were glowing. President Obama portrayed a “rock-solid alliance” as constant in an ever-changing world. Prime Minister Cameron went further to describe the relationship as “the United States of Liberty and Enterprise”. More»