Monthly Archives: November 2012

Five reasons to raise a glass in Thanksgiving for our commercial society

BLESSED with a wife born in America, Thanksgiving is a festival I am learning to celebrate. In grim economic times, it is easy to focus only the negative. But we still enjoy the rare good fortune to live, for the most part, in peace and under liberty. Freedoms of association, speech, trade, and faith enrich our lives every day. Albeit a day late, tonight I will be raising a thankful glass with my friends to these five blessings of our commercial society: Continue reading

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Michael Gove is courageously recovering our ancient tradition of learning

IN 75 BC, when the great Roman politician and champion of liberal learning Cicero was quaestor in Sicily, he led an expedition to a neglected, overgrown jumble of funerary monuments just outside the city of Syracuse. Directing men with scythes to cut away the briars, he uncovered the tomb of Archimedes, lost for more than a century, just as he had found it described in an old manuscript.

Education secretary Michael Gove took on Cicero’s mantle this week, in a remarkable speech that sought to cut away modish assumptions and reveal Britain’s forgotten debt to liberal education – the tradition of learning for its own sake. Continue reading

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The Lord Mayor’s Show: A celebration of commerce and military discipline

COMMERCE and peace do best together. In her history of trade and culture in the Renaissance, Worldly Goods, Lisa Jardine points out that, within days of the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Genoese sent ambassadors to negotiate their continued right to trade within the Ottoman Empire. The work that commerce still does today to encourage openness and mutual understanding across political and cultural boundaries remains vital. In the phrase often attributed to the French economist Frederic Bastiat, where goods do not cross borders, soldiers will. Continue reading

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Far from heedless panic, disasters reveal the crowd’s headless intelligence

DISASTERS don’t need leaders. In the blacked out streets of Manhattan this week, after superstorm Sandy hit, traffic is reportedly flowing despite the absence of traffic lights, with drivers behaving more cautiously and coordinating with their fellow road users. It’s the sort of local, spontaneous solution that tends to follow catastrophic events. Continue reading

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