Monthly Archives: January 2017

Hot Water and Higher Education

There’s meant to be something somewhat seedy about the profit motive. Perhaps this is why, in the case of education, many of us recoil in horror as soon as the prospect is introduced. This is an irrational response, but it’s not entirely unreasonable. Education is something which makes politicians misty-eyed. It makes their voices quaver. Our leaders describe with great emotion the need for the next generation to do better, to have more, to go without less. Continue reading

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Hopes Over the Arab Spring Were Premature

For my generation, 2011 came close to being our 1968. Like the latter, it was a year of political change, change that seemed dynamic and accelerated.

The world was on the verge of being transformed. It seemed as though undemocratic regimes, for too long a regrettable fixture of the Middle East, could be over­thrown and replaced. More than that, there was a sense of real optimism. It seemed the weight of history had been lifted. Continue reading

Trump Washes His Hands of Syria

Donald Trump is about to become president of the United States of America. As remarkable as this phrase still seems, it’s going to happen. As such, his pronouncements matter; his every utterance is newsworthy.

This is why Trump’s first interview with a British newspaper, conducted by Michael Gove for The Times, is notable. Alongside the expected comments on Brexit, which Trump greeted warmly and enthusiastically, the president-elect also discussed the usefulness of NATO, the situation in Syria, migration to Europe and, inevitably, Russia and Vladimir Putin. Continue reading

Beyond Post-Truth

The phrase ‘post-truth’, a word of the year in 2016 (dearly departed and much missed), is already looking a bit clapped out. It’s a little on the nose, even obvious; it’s not all that insightful; and the thing is already entirely ubiquitous, on the lips of every lazy pundit and within easy reach of every angry guy on the internet. They all want to use it, as it conveys a kind of easily attained semi-intellectualism, just about enough for TV and Twitter. Continue reading

The Spirit of the Arab Spring Laid to Rest

It is widely held that 2016 was a depressing year.

Much of this collective feeling can be attributed to less substantial events such as the deaths of many famous people, and the pall this seemed to cast over the year as a whole.

But there are more serious reasons for believing that what happened in 2016 leaves the world darker than it was before, and less optimistic when thinking about the future. Continue reading

Theresa May and Nostalgia

It was thought that Theresa May had played the perfect game. She managed to win the Conservative leadership election without the thing turning into an election. She managed to do it without lifting a finger. Everyone seemed very impressed. Continue reading