Category Archives: History

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 […]

Globalisation, internationalisation and globalism

It has become something of an analytical commonplace to see the rise of populist nationalism (or national populism)–the development of nationalist parties in Europe, the Brexit vote in the UK and The Donald winning the Electoral College (and thus the US Presidency) in the US–as signifying “a revolt against globalisation”. That is not a useful way […]

Multiculturalism is an experiment that might fail

Multiculturalism has become a sacred marker of progressivism: one absolutely has to be in favour of multiculturalism, or one is not a good person. A person seriously critical of (let alone hostile to) multiculturalism is, in fact, outside the moral pale. There are deep problems with this. First is defining what one means by multiculturalism–there are quite a […]