Monthly Archives: March 2014

The scope of moral concern

What Americans call “the culture wars” operate around different presumptions about human nature, social action and the scope of moral concern. Presumptions economist Thomas Sowell divided into conflicting visions; the constrained or tragic vision of human nature versus the unconstrained or utopian vision of human nature. The former sees human nature as a constraint, the latter […]

A pathology parading as a polity

What does it say about a country that it is forced to have its “home” cricket tests in another country? For the purposes of test cricket, Pakistan holds its “home” tests in the United Arab Emirates because Pakistan itself is deemed too dangerous. A problem with violence What does it say about a country that a […]

Built-in Imperialism: an era of farcical return

Alexis de Tocqueville and Friedrich Nietzsche both scored well in prognostication. De Tocqueville famously wrote in the 1830s: There are now two great nations in the world which, starting from different points, seem to be advancing toward the same goal: the Russians and the Anglo-Americans. … The American fights against natural obstacles; the Russian is at grips […]

The joy of a peaceful society

On Wednesday evening, I was in the Melbourne CBD, coming from a regular (second Wednesday of the month) dinner-and-talk meeting. The talk had been on the Turks Head Club, a weekly dinner group that originally met at the Turks Head Tavern in Gertrude St, Soho, organised by friends of, and centred around, Dr Samuel Johnson. The dining […]

Constrained by God: an epistemic event horizon

Reading about inadvertent patterns created by Islam brings to mind how adaptability is an advantage in a civilisation. While it is true that religious belief can be something of a moveable feast, it is nevertheless true that religious doctrine–particularly text-based religious doctrine within monotheism–can be a powerful and continuing constraint. This is particularly obvious in Islam. In the […]

The world has changed

A strain of thought I have noticed over the years with reference to international relations is “the world has changed” line: that circumstances have become so different that past fears or concerns are no longer germane to present realities. So much so, that such fears and concerns themselves have become the “real” problem. Two cases […]

Historical analogies

The crisis in the Crimea has folk reaching for their historical analogies. Taking the most directly resonant one, the original Crimean War (1853-1856) was about blocking Russian ambitions towards the decaying Ottoman Empire, which then controlled most of the Middle East. The Russo-Turkish interaction had huge strategic implications. Russia-Ukraine, not so much. The Appeasement analogy Then we come to […]