Here’s a conversation to which, in one form or another, I have been party more than once in the past week or so. Perhaps you have done the same.
In discussing the latest twists of the Covid-19 pandemic, person one says something to the tune of ‘I can’t remember. Is the Delta variant the Indian one, then?’, and person two, if they do not reproach the other for their lack of politesse, says something resembling, ‘er, I don’t know. I’ll just check’.
The protesters who have been in the streets of Thailand for much of the last year are ranged against powerful forces. They oppose the authoritarianism of the country’s political leaders and the absurdity of its monarchy. First among the demonstrators’ enemies is the state, determinedly resisting their demands for greater democracy. Second is the army – loyal to the king and willing to injure and indeed to kill in defence of the status quo.
I made a mistake, in the pages of a British magazine last month, by announcing the dawning of an era in which Giuseppe Conte, then the Italian prime minister, would become an essential national figure. This was a mistake in one obvious and chastening way – Conte failed to form another government, he no longer holds office of any kind – but wrong in another sense: one which may mean that, if anything, I undersold Conte’s stock.
It’s New Year’s Day and, as is traditional, I am laid low by ill health. I am not, to my knowledge, hungover. But no matter, when the year just gone hangs over into the new one, and does so in such an unpleasant, concerning manner.
There is an unfortunate trend in Britain’s politics which has coagulated into a rhetorical device – the latter used so often that it has congealed into reflex. It’s behind a few unfortunate recent cases, each of which have, in their own way, served to confuse, and to excite anger at precisely the most bottled-up and contorted moment of my life time. Continue reading →
There’s a vulgar little thought that keeps intruding when I am trying to think about anything else.
It’s of a piece with other things that have impeded my ability to think and to sit still for many weeks. And it touches on the same themes. But it is motivated less by concern and more by spite. Continue reading →
Authoritarian states do not respond well to crises. They deceive and conceal, and care little for human life when compared to the survival of the regime. But when a crisis settles in, and becomes routine, tyrannies can always be counted upon to capitalise somehow. They can turn the very worst that befalls a people to the state’s advantage. Continue reading →
A perennial and increasingly fevered subject of conversation in this fractured moment is what, precisely, each and every one of us expects to do ‘when this is all over’. By ‘this’, of course, people mean what they are slightly incorrectly terming ‘quarantine’ and not, per se, the disease which may yet still end the lives of millions. Continue reading →