Category Archives: Liberal education

What our politicians can learn from the Hunger Games rules of persuasion

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

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Filed under Film, Freedom, Liberal education, Politics

Stop speaking like a corporate robot – for the sake of capitalism itself

Here’s a new year’s resolution for business: learn to speak human. The state of business language as a whole remains an abiding scandal. HSBC’s coinage of “demising” as a euphemism for “sacking” led last year’s pack, but corporate statements that resemble something delivered by an alien with a glitchy translator are hardly rare. Continue reading

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Filed under Business, Economics, Liberal education

Steampunk Economics and the future of leisure

There’s something repellent about the Conservative Party’s new slogan “For Hardworking People”. I can’t agree with those critics who think it is an empty promise. It reflects the values in which David Cameron believes. It suits the social incentives he is seeking to construct. But while encouraging people to work for their own betterment is unquestionably good, when it comes from the mouth of government it is impossible not to scent cynicism. For hard work is not an end in itself for people – only for a state keen to live off their backs. Continue reading

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Filed under Economics, Freedom, History, Human nature, Liberal education, Politics, Science, Technology

Why you can bank on the humanities to launch a City career

Philosophers have been making a killing in financial services since Thales of Miletus used options to corner the ancient Greek market for olive oil. So it is fantastic news to see several big banks continuing to recognise how much humanities graduates have to contribute in the twenty-first century: nearly half of the intake at Barclays is set to have an arts background. Continue reading

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Filed under Business, Human nature, Liberal education

The Greeks have something to teach us about the importance of being idle

BUSINESS and leisure seem like opposites. Ambition’s drive to succeed and achieve has little truck with the pleasures of idleness. With 135 graduates fighting for every opening at investment banks and fund managers, who can afford to be caught with their feet up? Yet leisure is essential, even for the driven. It’s a chance to stand back and train for your next engagement with the enemy. The ancient Greeks understood this, which is why they called leisure skhole – the origin of our English word school – meaning both time held back from the demands of work and a lecture or discussion. Continue reading

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Filed under Finance, Freedom, History, Human nature, Liberal education

It’s now left to Shakespeare to remind us of the depths we are capable of

IT’S POSSIBLE we are to be denied a free press thanks to a backroom deal made in Westminster. But when our right to know what is happening right now is being curtailed, we can at least turn to timeless things for comfort. I attended a thrilling production of Romeo and Juliet last night – but not one primarily for anyone reading this paper. It is instead part of a Deutsche Bank-sponsored initiative at Shakespeare’s Globe, designed to introduce a new generation to the bard. Continue reading

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Filed under Freedom, Human nature, Liberal education, Literature, Politics, Publishing

At the end of the day the business cliche just masks woolly mindedness

LET’S open the kimono. The language of business is a joke. It now seems to be best practice to get your ducks in a row for corporate meetings by memorising phrases like value proposition, point person and core competency. At the end of the day, buzz phrases and bizarre metaphors may take it to the next level, but the most insidious part of this corrosion of office communication is more banal: loose usage, cliche and jargon that conceal lazy thinking. Continue reading

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Filed under Business, Liberal education, Politics