Monthly Archives: October 2016

Facebook and Censorship: A Paradox

It provides, whether we like it or not, the backdrop to much of our lives. In the age of social media, Facebook, the ageing titan, the weary juggernaut, still retains its prominence. Its policies matter, just as they affect the lives of its billions of users – in both big and small ways. And something which may seem small, but is actually rather significant, is Facebook’s policy towards news and images. Some websites – many of them irritatingly modern and faddish – derive most of their traffic from Facebook shares, using it to generate millions of clicks. Continue reading

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Interview: Reporting from the Front Line Against ISIS

The concurrent wars in Iraq and Syria are possibly the most vital of our times. There is something essential about them, as they encompass so much of what gives contemporary international affairs its shape and impetus. Continue reading

Harambe and Post-Irony

Deaths can serve as salutary events. They bring people together in mourning and in reminiscence. In the case of the famous, they can unite the world in commemoration of great talent, excellent work, and, possibly, lost potential. We have already seen it in 2016, the year which has brought the early deaths of so many greatly loved fixtures of our culture: Prince, David Bowie, Alan Rickman. Continue reading

The Paine Burnings

Today in Britain, there are some practices which we view with a kind of gentle paternalism; they’re customs which we think beneath us, or too antiquated to be of use. One of them is the practice of burning people in effigy, something which is now only practiced by oddballs, people whose ideas of vengeance and often humour are remarkably primitive. Continue reading

The End of Internationalism in the West

In the West, at the moment, internationalism seems to be in decline. Nations are closing in on themselves in trade and in political terms, and publics are increasingly turning to politicians and policies which promise to put the nation-state, not any idea of the common good, first. Continue reading

Abdelbasset al-Sarout and Inspiration

Inspiration can be still be found in the depths of war. And for me, inspiration of a kind has been found in the Syrian conflict. This is not the inspiration of a happy warrior, a ghoulish spectator to events, but rather the genuine sense of fellow feeling which can be found in observing others doing good and hoping for better. Continue reading