The rise of the British spiritual empire

From the Spectator Coffee House The decline of Britishness directly goes hand-in-hand with its transformation into an ideology, complete with a set of values attached. Military empires are often followed by spiritual empires after the initial political entity collapses. The Assyrians, for example, still projected huge influence through what westerners called the ‘Nestorian Church’, spreading the faith (and Assyrian culture) as far as China. The fall of Rome was followed by the rise of Roman Catholicism, which preserved and projected… Read on

It’s easy to forget how unnatural it is to tolerate views we disagree with

From Spectator Coffee House Most of us have grown up in such comfortable, peaceful political cultures that we easily forget how unnatural it is to tolerate worldviews and opinions we strongly disagree with; in the English-speaking world it took hundreds of years to achieve this lucky situation, but in much of the planet it is still a mirage. It’s probably more fragile than we think because many people’s actual attachment to democratic liberal principles are pretty wafer-thin when it… Read on

Star Wars is the perfect analogy for the decline of America

From Spectator Coffee House Other great examples of Ottomanism include Hamilton and the Harry Potter series; Ottomanism is not unhappy with other non-progressive ideas, such as hierarchy or inequality. Women must be empowered but then individual women were often very powerful in the least liberal of societies, such as the Ottoman Empire. What defines Ottomanism is what it is against – ethnic nationalism. I can see the Star Wars series increasingly becoming an analogy for the decline of the… Read on

How the Catholic Church created democracy

From Spectator Coffee House The difference family structure makes can be seen in the contrast between southern and northern Italy, where the rate of historic cousin marriage correlates highly with the Mafia index, corruption levels and even how much people cheat at school tests. This is why Sonny Corleone berates his brother for joining the army, those signing up being ‘a bunch of saps because they risk their lives for strangers’. As he tells his sibling: ‘Your country ain’t… Read on

Germany is facing a ticking time bomb of rage

Spectator Coffee House In fact, Merkel’s policies have some pretty serious implications for Germany in the future. I’ve read many people arguing that it was actually a clever, shrewd policy to admit one million migrants because Germany has a low birth rate and needs more people. Yet the education levels and skill sets of most of the people who have entered in the past 18 months are, by German standards, extremely low; Germany has a fairly high-wage… Read on

‘British values’ are a load of old codswallop

At the Spectator Coffee House Sometimes a combination of news stories crop up that so perfectly sum up the spirit of the age, its absurdities and hypocrisies, that there ought to be a name for it. This week, for instance, I learned that the Home Office had barred three Iraqi and Syrian bishops from entering the country, the same department that quite merrily welcomes some of the most unpleasant hate preachers from the Islamic world. Elsewhere, there was also… Read on

Is democracy in danger?

At the Spectator Coffee House One of the reasons many people are sceptical about democracy is because they’re right to be. There is a fair amount of research suggesting that people power is not necessarily the best system of government. For example, one paper suggests that ‘hereditary monarchs with lots of legal power choose better policy than other systems do, including democracies, non-hereditary dictators, and weak hereditary monarchs, and this is reflected in higher growth.’ On top of this… Read on

Where angels come from

I’m in the Christmas issue of The Field. A small extract below, but to read the whole thing you’ll have to buy it: The Christmas story, as anyone knows, begins with a cherub-faced angel and ends with three wise men. Every year we mark this most famous of stories in the carols we sing, in the nativity scenes we put out, and in the decorations on our trees – yet few are aware of the full role angels play… Read on

You can be against the ‘elite’ and still be rich and privileged

At Spectator blogs on those ‘elite’ jerks who I remember from school and university: Many people have remarked that the image of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage posing by the former’s golden elevator doors epitomises the hypocrisy over populists attacking the ‘elites’. Likewise the Guildhall dinner in which Theresa May told an audience dressed in dinner jackets about globalisation and its discontents. These are the ‘anti-elitists’ who now stand up for the people, they sneer. This is to… Read on

As the world gets wealthier we just get more divided

Me, in today’s Evening Standard