The series of provocations in the Gulf by the Islamic Republic of Iran, beginning with the sabotage of four vessels in mid-May, culminated last Friday in the illegal seizure by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) of the British-flagged and operated Stena Impero oil tanker, followed shortly thereafter by the seizure of the Liberian-flagged, British operated MV Mesdar in the Strait of Hormuz. Only the Mesdar has been released. This episode has served to demonstrate the serious defence issues confronting Boris Johnson, the incoming United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister, which have to be dealt with immediately and cannot be pushed off into the future when the domestic turbulence over Brexit has abated. Continue reading
When the Democratic Party faced a revolt from its ranks for daring to propose condemning anti-Semitism, the scene gave those of us in Britain deja vu. The American Left is following the same script that led to the rapid radicalization of the Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn. It’s no longer a mere talking point, a form of shorthand for journalists: The Democratic Party’s Corbynization is here, and it tacks so closely to what happened in Britain that it’s important for Americans to understand where we’ve been — and where they’re headed. Continue reading
The unexpected victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the Democratic primary in The Bronx in June caused quite a stir, given her membership of the Democratic Socialists of America and her controversial policy positions. Nonetheless, she has been enthusiastically embraced as “the future” by the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Events in Britain suggest Democrats might want to exercise some caution here before they go all in. Continue reading
Sohrab Ahmari’s The New Philistines is a crisp and concise polemic. While the book’s focus is “a crisis in the art world,” Ahmari’s dissection of modern art’s failure has implications for the trajectory of the entire liberal Western project.
As Ahmari notes, the complaint that bad art is being considered good is as old as civilization. Ahmari argues persuasively, however, that what is going wrong now is “qualitatively worse than all that came before” because the custodians of our heritage have not redefined the standards of objective beauty and at least a search for truth but have discarded them.
In place of the old standards is a cult of identity politics—a mix of “radical feminism, racial grievance, anti-capitalism, and queer theory”—that has no need for truth-seeking; “truth” is only a means of inflicting upon people an order that is racist, sexist, and homophobic by design, according to the identitarians, which is why their pre-set answers and simply inept art is acceptable, because it advances the cause of challenging this unjust system.
Identity politicization is “one calamity among many” in the art world, yet it has implications far and wide. The identitarians’ own relativistic logic divides the human species into competing tribes whose only interest should be a search for power. With this, the identitarians lay bare their illiberal heart and the danger they pose well beyond the art world.
Ahmari has three chapters. The first covers the reopening of Shakespeare’s Globe and its takeover by the identitarians. The second examines Artforum, the leading contemporary arts magazine in the United States. And in the third Ahmari gives a tour of the London arts scene. Continue reading
Published at Newsweek
In the past two years, and especially over the last month, the Islamic State militant group has launched a coordinated campaign of terrorism in Europe. Among these recent attacks was the murder of 84 people in Nice by a man who ploughed a truck into Bastille Day crowds, and the brutal killing of a priest in Normandy when two young men stormed a church.
Now, the number of armed police in London, and ultimately across the U.K., is set to increase significantly. These additional forces will patrol landmarks and other areas where large numbers of people congregate. An attack in Britain is “highly likely … a case of when, not if,” according to the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe. A stabbing in the British capital Wednesday is not currently being treated as an extremist act but has underlined the perceived need for an increased police presence. Continue reading
In the immediate aftermath of the 23 June referendum vote in which the United Kingdom chose to leave the European Union there was a good deal of chaos in British politics. The Prime Minister resigned, a full-scale revolt erupted against the Leader of the Opposition, the pound plunged to its lowest level since 1985, and a nasty spate of racist incidents were recorded across the country. At a week’s remove, some order has begun to re-assert itself. Continue reading
There are few people in British public life more destructive, especially among the young, than Russell Brand, not least because of his poisonous advice that people should not vote. When I first saw him proffer this advice on Newsnight—where I could not believe he had been invited and then taken seriously—it seemed to me a form of vandalism, using his prominent and comfortable position to urge those less comfortable to throw away one of the few levers they had to make their lot better.
But now I find the only way I could cast a ballot in the upcoming Election is if there was an option for “None of the Above”. I can only differentiate myself by noting both the very considerable gulf in our audiences, and thus responsibilities, and that I do not seek to advise anybody, only explain my own personal decision. Continue reading