Living in an Age of Extremity

We used to live in uninteresting times, as much as that can ever be said.

Things did not seem to happen. And if they did happen, they happened to other people. The rest of life and the business of living passed easily, dreamily, and the world was always at arm’s length. Continue reading

Philistinism Redux

Review – The New Philistines: How Identity Politics Disfigure the Arts by Sohrab Ahmari

Identity politics, that very modern ideological constellation, with its fixation on race, class and gender, has migrated from academia into the arts. Queer theory, feminist readings, post-colonial studies – all these have carved out significant positions at the heart of the art world. Many artists and ‘creatives’ aspire to these doctrines; they increasingly govern the propagation of culture as well as new criticism of canonical art. Such things matter more than could be expected. Continue reading

After an Election Victory, Emmanuel Macron’s Foreign Outlook Is Hardening

Emmanuel Macron has a difficult task ahead of him.

The new French president is stellar in many ways. Continue reading

Donald Trump Exceeds Expectations in Riyadh

Barack Obama had Cairo. That was where he delivered a speech calculated in its intention and high-flown in its language. It was 2009. He had just ascended to office. It was his moment: a young, fresh-faced American president on his first major visit to a Muslim country. He turned his address into an invocation, extended to the Muslim world at large. Continue reading

There Is No Chance That Donald Trump Will Be Impeached

Donald Trump was a big fan of boasting on the campaign trail. He said he was a great builder – the best in the world. He said he had a secret plan to defeat Isis in 30 days. He said he had a good brain and the best words. Continue reading

The Moderation of Muqtada al-Sadr

The name Muqtada al-Sadr used to inspire fear. His brand of Shia sectarianism contributed greatly to the turmoil following the deposition of Saddam Hussein in 2003. His militia, the Mahdi Army, fought against the United States and the forces of the reconstituted Iraqi state. It also engaged in street violence and intimidation. Continue reading

Enemies of the People, Past and Present

‘The revolutionary government owes to the good citizen all the protection of the nation; it owes nothing to the Enemies of the People but death.’ So declared Maximilien Robespierre in a speech delivered to the French National Convention on Christmas Day, 1793. Continue reading