Category Archives: Society

Radicalisation and Self-Education

In Sebastian Faulks’ novel Engleby, a significant scene occurs early on, during a university interview. Faulks’ protagonist, the titular character, is the interview candidate. Engleby is a prospective student of literature; a discerning one, to his own mind. And in the course of things, he is asked to make a comparison between the writing of T. S. Eliot and D. H. Lawrence. Engleby, an abrasive, arrogant young man, does not believe there is much to compare. Continue reading

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A Note on ‘Syria’s Nuremberg’

The war crimes of Syria’s conflict have been obfuscated and lied about on a vast scale and with great success, but they have never been effectively hidden.

Not hidden from those whose spells in regime prisons included torture and the possibility of execution, not hidden from those whose experience of regime bombardment was a little more than theoretical. Continue reading

‘Klepto-Queens’ and Far-Right Infighting

Earlier this year, the writer Sohrab Ahmari published a piece on the website of the religious-conservative magazine First Things explicitly attacking the worldview of another member of that tribe, David French.

The subject in hand was the future of the American right. Can it be reconciled both to Donald Trump and to God? Ahmari’s piece accused French of timidity, and of selling out both his politics and his faith in opposition to Trump. Ahmari phrased all this strongly, and was accused by a good number of doing so with harshness. Continue reading

An Embarrassment of Riches

Review – This Is Not Propaganda by Peter Pomerantsev

We live in a golden age not of fact, but of fiction. The possibilities of new media have led to an embarrassment of riches. Where once there was a lack of information, there is now overabundance, with half of the world’s population possessing access to the internet, and the sum of human knowledge accessible from a device most in the rich world carry in their pockets, and replace for an almost trivial sum when its screen gets scratched. Continue reading

The Prison States

The twentieth century has passed and the world has changed. The great evil of the period can perhaps be assumed to have mutated and changed, too. That era’s gravest sin and greatest threat, totalitarianism, seems less evident today, and its equivalents are assumed to have updated their methods. Continue reading

A New Right Victim Complex

It is always a little difficult, after a massacre, to return to discussing the mundane. Talking about the banal so soon after something wrenching seems somewhat brusque. Hence the need, perhaps, to discuss the global far-right in emotive, epochal, outsized terms after the mass shooting in Christchurch. It is a way to keep the emotional intensity high – a bid to retain hot-blooded feeling, and an attempt to avoid an insensitive and premature return to reality. Continue reading

Shamima Begum’s Media Circus

When, four years ago and at the age of fifteen, Shamima Begum first left her family and her country to join a group of religiously-inspired murderers in the Levant, I doubt she expected that her future life would include so many TV interviews. Continue reading