Essays

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.

Wednesday 8 October 2008

The End of Left and Right?

A Battle in Print essay from the Battle of Ideas 2008

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’.

Tuesday 7 October 2008

The domestic limits to American international leadership after Bush

A Battle in Print essay from the Battle of Ideas 2008

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.

Saturday 4 October 2008

The ‘Regeneration Games’, London, 2012

A Battle in Print essay from the Battle of Ideas 2008

Professor James Woudhuysen argues that an Olympics ‘Win/Win’ won’t work

Thursday 18 September 2008

Snow in Istanbul

Photoessay impression: Istanbul, and Snow by Orhan Pamuk (Faber)

Once people internalise the ideology of passivity and infectiveness, they cease to be able to understand themselves as properly political subjects.

Thursday 28 August 2008

Communist kitsch without conviction

Photoessay: a visit to Memento Park, Budapest, Hungary

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?

Monday 21 January 2008

What does music mean?

A Battle in Print essay from the Battle of Ideas 2008

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.

Thursday 11 October 2007

Surviving New Labour as an artist

Artistic independence and the pitfalls of state funding

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.

Wednesday 25 October 2006

Free speech is more than a slogan

Why free speech still matters

Those who suggest limits on free speech are in effect opposing rational debate - and painting a dim picture of humanity.

Wednesday 14 April 2004

Looking forward to a ‘golden age’

How critics of 'declinism' are more conservative than they make out

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.

Friday 5 December 2003

You’re so vain, you probably think this book is about you

Therapy Culture and the Therapistas

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.

Tuesday 20 May 2003

What is knowledge?

Universities, the 'knowledge economy', and the real thing

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.

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Resources

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Marxists Online
Marx, Engels, Lenin and beyond

New Left Review, international Leftist journal

Mute Magazine, culture and politics after the net

Red Pepper, influenced by socialism, feminisim and environmental politics

Dissent Magazine, US Leftist journal for the clashing of strong opinions

And its counterpart, Commentary, general, yet Jewish

Granta, magazine for new writing

Wikipedia, ze internet encyclopedia

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online, all things philosophical