Gove, creationism and the war on reason

Sometimes in politics a line is crossed in a way that is particularly chilling.  The announcement that Education Secretary Michael Gove has allowed advocates of creationism to set up three free schools is one of those moments.  Not that it should come as any surprise – the seeds of this particular development were sown when […]

The triumph of the commons: why Elinor Ostrom matters

The death of Elinor Ostrom, economist, radical and first woman to win the Nobel Economics Prize, seems to have passed largely unnoticed in the Anglo-Saxon world; a look at the #ostrom hashtag on Twitter in the hours following the announcement of her passing showed tributes in many languages, for once English not in the majority.  […]

Still no such thing as society?

Watching the coalition take an electoral thrashing is very gratifying.  Two parties who have executed a feral neoliberal programme for which they have no electoral mandate getting a tanking at the ballot box is good to see – and it emphasises their lack of any mandate – but the story is not really that rosy. […]

The Curse of PPE

There has been quite a lot of debate recently about how the British political class is dominated by Oxbridge.  And I read quite often  – especially on Twitter – comments along the lines of “If Cameron has a first in PPE at Oxford, how come he’s so ignorant about …” or “If Cameron got a […]

Clegg: making a Popper fool of himself

Nick Clegg has made a speech to Demos and the Open Society Foundation on his vision of the open society. Entitled The Open Society and its Enemies, he is obviously channelling Popper’s vast and influential work.  Like so much of Clegg’s utterances, it’s a bizarre mix of the delusional and the misguided.  In many respects, […]

Adam Curtis, loving machines and the dog that didn’t bark

The third film of Adam Curtis’ series All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace was as astonishing as the first two – visually arresting, compelling, throwing ideas at the viewer, sometimes brilliant, sometimes just plain wrong.  Television is a tabloid medium and the ideas could not be developed in this framework, but the questions […]

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace – hippies and hegemony

The second part of Adam Curtis’ documentary was another sensory attack.  Britten, Bartok, ecosystems, a hole in the side of a bison. Some commentators see it as a work of art rather than a straight documentary and you could see their point.  Here are some quick thoughts. Put very simply, Curtis described how in the […]

Ayn Rand and the appeal of pseudo-philosophy

The appeal of the writing of Ayn Rand persists – two new biographies are reviewed at length by Corey Robin here in the Nation, reflecting an upsurge in interest this writer, especially in the United States, following the economic crash in 2008. The Nation review’s title – Garbage and Gravitas – seems to be as good […]