Category Archives: History

Sex and gender

This is based on a comment I made here. If you think the bodies are sexed (clearly true) and psyches are sexed (a bit murkier, but broadly true) then it is easy to get more than two genders. Male (male in body and psyche) Female (female in body and psyche) Third (body and psyche don’t match). Plenty of human […]

Black Lives Matter and the destruction of social capital

Recently read the following comment: A second example i’ll give is Black Lives Matter. One is labeled racist/white supremacist/white nationalist/nazi if you say “no, All Lives Matter.” But the problem isn’t a devaluation or disrespect to the grievance (at least in all instances as it is implied) — it’s the selection of the name. … In […]

The persistence of (belief in) socialism

I find the persistence of belief in socialism surprising (an example here), particularly given that Venezuela and North Korea both, in their different ways, display, yet again, the disastrous results in poverty, human misery and tyranny of “actually existing socialism”: that is, state domination of the economy. The lesson of Venezuela is, if anything, even stronger, as it is an […]

Sicilian Diary

From time-to-time, I indulge in a bit of travel writing, although I haven’t done it for a while. This week’s Speccie features yours truly travel writing on Sicily, one of my favourite places in the world and a place where I once worked on an archeological dig. ‘Muslims will not blow anyone up here,’ the proprietor […]

No, Ibn Khaldun is not the father of economics

I am a great admirer of work of the C14th Muslim intellectual Abū Zayd ‘Abd ar-Raḥmān ibn Muḥammad ibn Khaldūn al-Ḥaḍramī (1332-1406), known as Ibn Khaldun. I gave a paper on his thought to the University of Melbourne Medieval Roundtable in April 2016, I will be giving another examining the course of the Ottoman Empire in the light of […]

The depths of Palestinian dysfunction

We are about three years away from the centenary of the (third) Palestine Arab Conference in December 1920 which demanded an end to Jewish migration into Palestine and just under three years from the centenary of the April 1920 Nebi Musa riots, the first fatal clash between Jews and Arabs in Palestine on the matter […]

Why there is so much nonsense spouted about fascism

If you are going to invoke the interwar period, particularly the 1930s, please do so intelligently. By which I mean, non-propagandistically. And by interwar period I mean the phenomenon of fascism and neo-fascism. Despite self-serving (look at me, I am opposing fascism!) shrieking, there is not a lot of fascism or neo-fascism in contemporary Western politics. […]

Hitler defeated Lenin, Chiang defeated Mao

It is a commonplace that the victors write history. But which victors? The victors that are claimed to write history are normally taken to be those who win wars and other conflicts. But just because one side wins a war or conflict, it does not follow that its ideas triumph in the longer term. Consider […]

Stop with the projecting

If you assume some factor is behind everything, it is very easy to find it everywhere you look–you just project it onto phenomena. Marxists assumed everything was driven by class dynamics and–surprise, surprise—they found it everywhere they looked. As a friend of mine said to me years ago; Marxist academics didn’t look for evidence, they […]

Understanding the 2016 US Presidential election

We humans are excellent at motivated reasoning: taking a preferred framing and using it to “explain” events. The more highly educated we are, the better we are at it. We homo sapiens are also a profoundly cultural species. In particular, we are moralising, status-conscious, coalition builders. We have a powerful, apparently inbuilt, tendency to copy behaviour which either […]