Exploratory CW essay pieces look at the broader trends in contemporary society, politics and culture.
A selection of the Battle of Ideas’ Battles in Print is also available here.
The end of Left and Right, if it has occurred, needs to be taken seriously. It amounts to no less than the collapse of a way of looking at, and doing, ‘politics’.
What both Republicans and Democrats fail to grasp is that international legitimacy of the kind that caused the West to accept American leadership after World War Two must derive, ultimately, from domestic politics. International legitimacy cannot be restored solely through actions in the international sphere.
Once people internalise the ideology of passivity and infectiveness, they cease to be able to understand themselves as properly political subjects.
Is a work of art that forges its content out of the everyday, and shows its epic potential, not infinitely preferable to fantasy tales from Middle Earth?
Despite using no words, instrumental music speaks volumes. A simple jig makes people dance in delight and a melancholy melody reduces people to tears; union songs, hymns, football chants and even the national anthem bring people together with shared values, ideas and aims; and everybody has their own special songs.
It may be harder to make great art in a society where nervous, mistrustful governments encourage intolerance and self-censorship. But it is certainly still possible to make good art and to do it without special help.
The current prejudice, that criticisms of novel developments must imply a desire to return to the past, indicates a profound lack of imagination in contemporary society. Ideas don’t crash to Earth from outer space or appear in capsules from the future, but emerge from a critical engagement with the present informed by what happened and what was written in the past. This has nothing to do with ‘turning the clock back’ or ‘returning to the past’, a made-up version of reaction that obscures the fact that real conservatives are people who want to defend the status quo.
Frank Furedi’s Therapy Culture is neither an attack on the counselling profession nor on what they dismiss as ‘self-help’ culture, but a critique of our diminished view of humanity.
The idea that teaching and research are in conflict corresponds with a particularly impoverished model of knowledge, which is revealed in the phrase ‘knowledge creation’. This presents universities as factories of knowledge competing with think-tanks and other private institutions.