A question for historians of Anglo-Saxon England

(perhaps for the Twitter, not the comments here) Historians in recent years seemed to have moved away from the idea that a mass invasion of Angles and Saxons in the 5th century displaced the native Britonnic-speaking people of Britain, and absorbed those who stayed (the share of Anglo-Saxon DNA in today’s English population is estimated at anywhere between 5-50%). Instead people seem to have come around to the idea that there were always German-speaking people in eastern Britain, and at the… Read on

The new religion of the Silicon Valley elite

At the Catholic Herald  First the soft drinks manufacturer Pepsi demanded that the state repeal the law. Then Bruce Springsteen cancelled a gig there, followed by Ringo Starr. Various large, sharp-elbowed corporations have since piled in to protest, and Deutsche Bank has cancelled plans to expand its office in the state; this is a company that has a large office in Saudi Arabia, where women aren’t even allowed to drive, let alone choose which loo to use. Are… Read on

The ‘blank slate’ view of humanity is looking increasingly outdated

At the Spectator Coffee House It also, paradoxically, leads to greater kudos for those at the top who are wrongly seen as having justly earned their success, when in fact it was partially through genetic luck. Our discourse is filled with that tiresome phrase ‘privilege’, yet the greatest privilege is to be born intelligent, healthy and attractive (and, just to compound this sense of injustice, these three things correlate). All this has a huge bearing on public policy, especially when… Read on

Standard: London’s housing issues are really driven by taste

So why does London not have more beautiful Islington squares? Partly it is to do with architectural, artistic fashion; in 1987 a young psychologist called David Halpern asked students to rate buildings by attractiveness. Almost everyone had similar tastes, except the architecture students, whose favourite was everyone else’s least favourite and vice-versa. In its report, Create Streets recalls the director of housing and regeneration at one London borough speaking of the “horrid Edwardian streets that most of us live in”… Read on

Richard the Lionheart RIP

Richard the Lionheart RIP

Today is the anniversary of King Richard I, who died on April 6, 1199. Here’s what I wrote about him in 1215 and All That  The Lionheart, as he became known (it’s not clear whether the nickname was as complimentary as it sounds or a reference to his inhumanity, which was widely recognised, or a mixture of the two), spent all of six months in England during a ten-year reign, the rest of which he was causing mayhem in… Read on

Asabiyyah on audiobook: What Ibn Khaldun, the Islamic father of social science, can teach us about the world today

Good news – well for me, anyway. Asabiyyah, my ebook on Ibn Khaldun, is to be made into an audiobook in the near future. You can read more about the book-ette/long essay here, here and here.  

Europe, Islamism and some uncomfortable home truths #BrusselsAttacks

At the Spectator blogs For all the goodwill shown by the vast majority of people in Europe, Muslim and non-Muslim, and for all those things that shouldn’t have to be said – that most Muslims hate this monstrosity – these statistics correlate to terrorism risk. That’s not something people want to hear when they have a desperate urge to feel solidarity, but it is true nonetheless. It may well be that as the Muslim population increases in any European… Read on

Comprendre le conservatisme en quatorze entretiens

Qu’est-ce que le conservatisme ? Une doctrine ? Une sensibilité ? Un ensemble de pratiques ? I feature in a new book by French-Canadian author Philippe Labrecque, who has interviewed 14 conservatives from the US, Canada, Britain and Switzerland. Among the others featured are some guys called Roger Scruton and William Kristol.

The best way to combat the radical Right is to do more of what’s causing their rise

From Spectator blogs In his book The Uses of Pessimism, Roger Scruton suggests that the modern universalism of the left comes from an older tradition of utopianism in which all the problems of the system can only be solved with more of the system. The European Union, like Soviet Communism, is ‘an unachievable goal chosen for its abstract purity, in which differences are reconciled, conflict overcome and mankind soldered together in a metaphysical unity, can never be questioned,… Read on

London is making a mistake with high rises

From Spectator blogs, March 16, 2016 Of course London needs more buildings, since housing costs have vastly increased in relation to earnings, but a key lesson of history is that tower blocks and skyscrapers are not even the most efficient way of increasing capacity. As the campaign groups Create Streets point out, high-rise buildings have lower density than the traditional terraced style found in Kensington and Chelsea.  The proliferation of high-rise blocks in London in the… Read on