… 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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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