Lee Jones: Researcher, International Politics, Oxford
Lee Jones researches and teaches international politics at Oxford, where he is Rose Research Fellow in International Relations at Lady Margaret Hall, specialising in the Asia-Pacific region and the politics of sovereignty and intervention. He has lived in Japan and Italy and has travelled extensively in Asia. Lee’s current research is on intervention in Burma, Cambodia and East Timor and his next research project will be on international sanctions.
Many of his reviews are driven by his interests in IR and political theory, but he is also interested both in the demise of progressive politics domestically, and changes in the developing world, including the rise of China; and also the ways in which both developments are expressed culturally - through, for instance, the growing power of religion and Chinese cinema respectively. Lee reads a lot of fiction from developing countries, recently shifting his obsession from South American to Indian authors, but he rarely reads anything new enough to merit a review. A collection of his essays can be found on Lee Jones’ website.
Some of the issues Krumwiede raises have real validity. As the Indonesian controversy suggests, the WHO and big pharma really are – as he puts it – like ‘a hand in a glove’; global health governance is big business and that profoundly shapes how it works and how the benefits are distributed. Yet the relevance and import of this point are profoundly discredited by wild conspiracy-theorising.
Durkheim’s warning against expecting education to be a magic wand capable of resolving social problems seems especially apt today, as the government loads ever greater responsibilities onto schools – nutrition, emotional well-being, citizenship, environmental awareness – without seeking to transform the social and economic problems that give rise to the problems these initiatives are naively expected to resolve.
The nineteenth century viewed the mind as a machine, reflecting the Industrial Revolution; the late twentieth century saw it as a computer, expressing the Information Revolution. The view of the human mind operating through instinctive emotion prior to reason is perhaps no less specific to today’s ‘therapy culture’.
Therapeutic apparatuses have particularly insidious ways of reincorporating dissenters as people who are ‘in denial’, as Nolan’s disturbing paper showed. However, we should never overestimate the power of officialdom to manage society and recast subjectivity by fiat.
While it is perfectly apt to question the state’s capacity to perform these functions on citizens’ behalf (and the propriety of the state fulfilling this role), it is far from obvious, as the book repeatedly asserts, that ‘left to their own devices’ citizens will spontaneously recreate communities.
This essay defends the material basis of progress and the right of developing countries to undergo development, and finally argues that material development offers the only way to avoid the environmental disasters that we are constantly warned are just around the corner.
Ecclestone and Hayes hope that restoring humanist education would provide people with the means to reconceptualise their plight and develop new, transformatory visions. But if social atomisation produced the therapeutic turn, it also constitutes a barrier to escaping it, and cannot simply be willed away by an exhortation to rediscover subjectivity.
The film lurches way beyond any legitimate attempt to avoid a simple morality tale by putting the killings into a comprehensible context, instead ending up positing a moral equivalence between those involved: insurgents and soldiers alike were forced into this scenario by circumstance, not choice, and, as fundamentally decent people, they all suffer.
If anything came out of the Forum at all, however, it was a snapshot of the radical state of confusion on the left today, combining nostalgia for the themes and slogans of the past with many of the prejudices of the present.
Shorris is surely right to dismiss the ‘left-liberal’ thesis of people like Thomas Frank that people are simply voting against their own interests as tantamount to calling people stupid, an anti-democratic thesis. Yet his own view of the masses is scarcely better, since he suggests that racism is ‘the most widely held value in America’ (p284).
Evangelicals care more passionately about politics, and in greater numbers than their liberal counterparts. Their enormous fundraising power makes them a force to be reckoned with. Are they wrong to subject their children to brainwashing? Most certainly – but what alternative are kids being offered?
There is never any sense of what is at stake. Holmes remarks that ‘it is the deepest irony that the French Revolution, with its ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity, led to a quarter-century of bloody war’. There is nothing ironic about this at all: these are things human beings have always had to fight for.
There is obviously a lot of truth in Chandler’s characterisation of post-Cold War Western elites as exhausted and visionless, but I wonder how we get from the clueless elite to the deep, costly interventions of ‘empire in denial’. Why isn’t simply doing nothing an option?
Wallerstein attempts no less than a history of European universalist thought from the sixteenth century to the present day. What emerges is a thin overview that continues to treat ideas as mere epiphenomena of the only logic that matters to Wallerstein: the inexorable expansion of capitalism.
Fukuyama’s latest book provides a clear summary of the origins and beliefs of the neoconservative movement. But given that the central promise of After the Neocons is the provision of alternative means to promote democracy short of war, Fukuyama’s institutional suggestions are remarkably flaccid.
DC Confidential: The Controversial Memoirs of Britain’s Ambassador to the US at the Time of 9/11 and
The character that emerges from these ill-judged pages is a dubious one at best. His public school brand of anti-intellectualism, betrayed most starkly in his unquestioning acceptance of pre-emption, is his worst failing.