Category Archives: History

Trump, Tyranny and True Evil

… when we were brought face to face with tyranny—with a kind of tyranny that surpassed the boldest imagination of the most powerful thinkers of the past—our political science failed to recognize it.

—Leo Strauss, On Tyranny

The fearful cries against President Donald J. Trump on the grounds that he is a tyrant in the making would have more credibility if a yuuge swath of Western media and political elites had not spent much of the last century missing, ignoring or excusing the worst tyranny in human history.

This Christmas Eve, celebrate the 25th anniversary of its defeat.

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The Wedgwood collection is a key piece of our commercial heritage – let’s keep it together

We have three months to save a vital piece of Britain’s commercial heritage. The Art Fund, an independent charity which helps buy art for the nation, has already raised a heroic £13m. It is now seeking a final £2.74m in donations by 30 November to keep the Wedgwood collection together in its Staffordshire home. Continue reading

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Lights out for darker skies: The First World War started with a crash

For the City, the Great War began with a financial crisis. Even before Britain committed itself, Europe’s great powers ranging against one another spelled disaster: the collapse of the magnificent, peaceful edifice of international trade built between the empires.

As told in Jerry White’s riveting account of London in the war, Zeppelin Nights, on Friday 31 July 1914 the London Stock Exchange closed indefinitely. Lloyd’s of London refused all business except to insure war risks. The bank rate suddenly doubled from 4 per cent to 8 per cent – its highest level in 40 years. Long queues formed outside the Bank of England, eager to exchange notes for the harder currency of gold. Continue reading

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Forget free market selfishness: It’s socialism that turns us into liars and cheats

Markets make people better. Not many people seem to think so these days, but the idea got a boost from a recent piece of research by Dan Ariely and others, which compared moral behaviour in Germans brought up in East and West Germany.

The team found that those with an East German background cheated twice as much as those raised in the capitalist West. The East Germans regularly lied about their success on a task throwing dice. Older subjects, with more experience of life under socialism, cheated the most. Those who had lived for 20 years or more under socialism were 65 per cent more likely to cheat than West Germans. This supported earlier work showing East Germans approved far more of cheating on taxes, although that criminal propensity appeared to be eliminated after seven years of reunification. Continue reading

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Finding Garcia: It’ll take pluck to liberate yourself from micro-management

CAN YOU carry a message to Garcia? Do you even know what it means? The phrase used to be household currency, at least in America, but seems to have rather dropped from view. Yet since it was coined by an inspirational essay in 1899, it has been the subject of two feature films and it inspired an indie rock album as recently as 2009. It’s time for another revival. Continue reading

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It’s not enough for Tories to love liberty – Britain needs two parties of 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

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Leadership lessons from the ancients: How to succeed like Cyrus the Great

IT WAS a great invasion in the cause of liberty. Not 70 years ago, but two and a half millennia, when on 7 October 540 BC the army of Cyrus the Great entered Babylon by water. Beforehand, he misdirected the blockaded city by digging a ditch encircling its walls, as if settling his army in for a siege. Then, under cover of night, the brilliant general and architect of the Achmaenid Empire diverted the Euphrates into this massive ditch, and marched his troops into the heart of the city along the river bed.

This is just one remarkable tale in a fresh edition of Cyrus the Great’s ancient biography by Larry Hedrick, aimed at bringing his insights on leadership to the boardroom. Management guru Peter Drucker called it not just the first systematic study of leadership, but still the best. Continue reading

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Socrates and the euro elections: A democratic dialogue


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

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How one man battled the bureaucrats to save a billion lives

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

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Filed under Freedom, History, Innovation

Why commercialism captures the true spirit of Christmas

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

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