We are now no longer fellow citizens, we are fellow believers

At the Spectator  We were all taught at school that in-groups and out-groups are necessarily poisonous things that lead to man’s inhumanity to man. Yet maybe the sort of ideological tribalism which is now so common, and which carries almost nothing in the way of social taboo or stigma, will be more dangerous in the 21st century than the ethnic or religious variety. Strangely enough, I’ve recently been reading about another bunch of guys who were on the Wrong… Read on

Children’s films are the only thing worth seeing these days

At the Spectator I accept the possibility that my cultural tastes may have frozen in time along with my politics and haircut – apparently this happens around 24 – but 2017 was indeed a terrible year for film, so clearly someone agrees with me. And as the film industry has become less successful at selling cinema tickets, so it has become ever more overtly political, desperately trying to keep up with the Great Awokening, the spiralling competition to appear… Read on

How capitalism tamed medieval Europe

At CapX European capitalism had begun in northern Italy, chiefly Venice, one of nine Italian cities that had surpassed 50,000 people by this point. Like Flanders, Venice was at the mercy of the sea but its isolated and vulnerable geography led to what John Julius Norwich called: “a unique spirit of cohesion and cooperation… not only at times of national crisis but also, and still more impressively, in the day-to-day handling of their affairs.” Venice was high in trust,… Read on

The first Britons were black. What does that say about Who We Are?

The ancient Britons were dark skinned, a new analysis of the island’s oldest complete skeleton has discovered. Cheddar Man, who was in his early twenties, was killed around 7150BC and his body remained in Gough Cave’s for over nine millennia before being discovered by workmen in 1903. (The Red Lady of Paviland is older but incomplete. He was actually a man but the man who first analysed the skeleton was a creationist who therefore concluded, due to the… Read on

Can you get ten out of ten on this language quiz?

First person to email, tweet or comment below with the correct answer I’ll send a copy of my new book, published this week, England in the Age of Chivalry (and Awful Diseases).   How many of the 100 most common words in English derive from French?* Which two European nationalities are named after the same tribe in two different, totally unrelated languages? Which English football club (top four divisions) has a name derived from Arabic? Which English football club… Read on

Headlines about cancer are chilling – but we should marvel at medicine’s ability to defeat it

On the marvels of modern medicine, at the i And yet even this statistic can be read in different ways, as can all mortality stats. The fact that “suicide is the leading cause of death among young men” is often cited as a condemnation of society, yet which cause of death wouldn’t be awful? A century ago it would have been pneumonia, tuberculosis or war that killed young men, and before that cholera, plague, hunger and homicide. “The Big… Read on

I do wish the cultural revolution would hurry up and reach its dictatorship phase

At Spectator Coffee House My dinosaur brain obviously categorises things into ‘harmless traditions’ and ‘dangerous threats to western civilisation’, and grid girls are definitely in the former. Formula One is a sort of modern-day version of the medieval tourney, a celebration of masculine bravery and strength by its latter-day knights – the son of the head of the Habsburg family is, funnily enough, a racing driver – and just as the tourneys of the later middle ages had a… Read on

Cities need to be civilized and civil

at the Coffee House But the English-speaking world forgot two important things about city life in the 20th century, lessons that have been painfully half re-learned: that cities should be beautiful and cities need to be civilised. The story of American urban decline in the late 20th century is especially tragic, hollowed out by architectural vandalism, community-destroying motorways, and most of all the breakdown of law and order. In contrast suburbanisation represented a retreat from public life. London is… Read on

Conservatives are the equivalent of the last pagan generation of Rome

At Spectator Coffee House The problem here is not just Brexit, but that Brexit and the economic uncertainty it has brought has exposed how intellectually exhausted conservatism is in Britain; the Tories have simply relied too much on their USP of being the people who can sensibly run the economy, without any real vision of the future, no intellectual hinterland, no heroic narrative to inspire, no confidence in its ideas, and also little interest in using actual empirical arguments… Read on

Is political correctness speeding up?

From Spectator blogs One of the most influential and popular ideas of the post-war era was that of the Authoritarian Personality, which linked fascism with a number of personality traits, including conventionalism, anti-intellectualism and prudery. Conservatism, in other words. It has become popular to believe that being right-wing is synonymous with being authoritarian. Society may have no common culture or religion or body of literature, but everyone knows who the Nazis are. So as Nazism has pushed out everything… Read on