Open societies need to rediscover heroic ideals

At CapX Liberal, free-market systems work, yet their major weakness is an inability to give people the innate human need for stability, order, tradition and group membership – while the systems that offer these things tend to be terrible. So is it possible for enlightened democracies to provide a form of ersatz traditionalism, a free society with a reactionary veneer, and so stem the tide of anomie? A good example of where ersatz tradition does work is constitutional monarchy,… 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 much… Read on

Safe spaces’ exist because universities treat secular ideas as sacred

From the Catholic Herald There have been a lot of stories recently about no-platforming at universities, with free speech and academic intolerance becoming much more of an issue. Last week journalist Julie Bindel was disinvited by Manchester’s Student Union because of something she wrote about a decade ago, since when she has been hounded continuously. Bindel has been disinvited to events so many times now her name could almost be a verb; to bindel someone. Readers will recall… Read on

Darwin’s unexploded bomb

Darwin’s unexploded bomb

From Spectator blogs ‘This book is an attempt to understand the world as it is, not as it ought to be.’ So writes Nicholas Wade, the British-born science editor of The New York Times, in his new book A Troublesome Inheritance. For some time the post-War view of human nature as being largely culturally-formed has been under attack just as surely as the biblical explanation of mankind’s creation began to face pressure in the early 19th… Read on

Is moral change speeding up?

From Spectator blogs After David Cameron’s whole God thing last week, there was a discussion on the radio this morning about whether religion is necessary for morality. Clearly there’s nothing to stop atheists being as moral as religious people, and as atheism grows in more advanced, literate countries, almost by definition the least corrupt and venal societies also have the lowest levels of religious belief. But, as it is generally accepted that human beings are susceptible to the… Read on

Untold truths – how the spirit of inquiry is being suppressed in the West

From Spectator blogs, November 28, 2013 It looks like Boris has offended lots of people by suggesting that some folk are where they are because they’re not very bright, something Nick Clegg calls ‘unpleasant’ and ‘careless’. It’s also, as Clegg must know perfectly well, true, but as Rod Liddle writes this week there are certain things you just can’t talk about, not just despite being true but because they’re true. Rod cites what Dominic Grieve recently said… Read on

A decade after Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate, why is human nature still taboo?

It is hard to know whether Julian Savulescu’s suggestion that we have a “moral obligation” to engineer babies will help push the overton window towards a new and more frightening era of eugenics, or will arouse enough revulsion to make people take the threat seriously. But one thing is for certain – it’s a good thing we live in a society where Savulescu can make such comments, and though I find the idea morally reprehensible, there is nothing… Read on