PANEM today, Panem tomorrow, Panem forever.” You need to watch the chilling new teaser for the next Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay. Its cool irony confirms the series’s remarkable journey from minor young adult diversion to cultural milestone. The series of thrillers is no cinematic masterpiece, but 30 years on from 1984 it is helping inoculate a new generation against the horror and seductions of tyranny. Continue reading
Category Archives: Freedom
FREEDOM doesn’t get many shout-outs from politicians in today’s Britain. The hustings of the nation whose proudest boast used to be “it’s a free country” now echo with little but shades of paternalist reassurance. Have a problem? There ought to be a law to sort it out – and if you vote for us, by God there will be.
Disquiet at the major parties’ lack of interest in political freedom drove this week’s inaugural Margaret Thatcher Conference on Liberty, hosted in the City’s Guildhall by Conservative think tank the Centre for Policy Studies. It was cheering to hear a ringing Tory reaffirmation that liberty matters, but it is not enough. We need a cross-party equivalent. Continue reading
SCENE: A LONDON BACK STREET…
SOCRATES: Hey, you there, why are you tearing up those placards?
ANGRY VOTER: It’s over, the racists have won. It’s a black day for democracy.
SOCRATES: Ah, you’ve been taking part in the recent election. I’m an immigrant from a fellow democracy myself, so I’m fascinated to understand your system better. Continue reading
A CULTURE secretary from the Treasury – it is what John Maynard Keynes, the founder of the Arts Council, would have wanted.
That hasn’t been the mainstream reaction: Sajid Javid, newly-appointed to the Cabinet in the wake of Maria Miller’s departure, has been given a cool reception from arts quarters. A former banker, an economic policy wonk with no special interest in matters aesthetic – what sort of an ambassador for Britain’s culture is this?
Keynes saw it rather differently. The Arts Council began as an arm of the Treasury, at his request. The idea was simple: if you were going to do something as controversial as involve the state in funding art, the last thing you wanted was politicians getting involved. A corner of the Treasury was, he felt, just out of the way enough to prevent official interference. Politicians were qualified to distribute arts funding only if they could be trusted not to get involved. Continue reading
THE 1960s was a decade of explosive change, but the most important revolution wasn’t sexual: it was green. While Western intellectuals looked the other way, lost to well-meaning doom-mongering, one visionary saved a billion lives. Private foundations supported his work; rich governments’ aid programmes often thought it was wrongheaded. But Norman Borlaug (it’s pronounced Bor-log), born 100 years ago this week, triumphed anyway. Continue reading
Farewell to the pound coin’s familiar golden nugget design. Here comes the dough-decagon in its stead. The new 12-sided quid, modelled after the old threepenny bit, got plenty of attention this week. But the most interesting part of the design is what was left out. The flipside of the coin will be opened to a public design competition. Continue reading
You don’t know what it’s like out there. I’ve worked in the private sector. They expect results!” Harold Ramis, the writer of the endlessly quotable Ghostbusters, died this week. It’s a sad loss of a huge talent, a man with the rare gift for blending insight with popular entertainment. Continue reading
I for one don’t welcome our new robot overlords. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all in favour of the liberating potential of new technology. I’m also conscious that worries about jobs lost to mechanisation have a history of being misplaced: the jobs go but new and even better-paying ones appear elsewhere. Continue reading
Freedom isn’t just a rallying call, it is a practical way to transform the world for the better. Letting people make their own choices scorns the arrogance of narrow elites, preferring instead the riches found in every individual’s contribution. That seismic shift opens huge, untapped reserves of human potential. Continue reading
It’s a shame all the shopping has to spoil the true meaning of Christmas. Or so we get told at this time of year, usually by the same prophets of good cheer who want us to celebrate the season by donning hair shirts and cutting back on the booze. Continue reading