Students of Socrates

The Socratic method is renowned as the foundation of western philosophy. Through asking questions and critiquing implicit assumptions, Socrates destroys the value foundation of Homeric Athens, bringing about a new age of ideas. This age, German philosopher Hegel argued, paved the way for our own time, free from felt values or thought ideas. ‘The debate … Continue reading Students of Socrates

The birth of the market state

In the beginning, there was power. This was the power to sort and arrange the layers of reality into a complex whole, reassembling what had been divided into something resembling unity. In Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan, the 'real unity' of the state plays this role, uniting the divided 'Multitude' into a seamless 'Commonwealth' under the leadership … Continue reading The birth of the market state

The realist manifesto

What is reality? This question is of great importance for all areas of life — including three I take great interest in: philosophy, history, and politics. I’d like to consider each area of study in turn, considering how what we consider to be ‘real’ is influenced by our vantage point, before bringing these perspectives together. … Continue reading The realist manifesto

Market states and pandemic politics: Some lessons from coronavirus

When news spread in January of 2020 that the SARS coronavirus which killed 774 people worldwide in 2002-2004 had mutated, and spread once again from China to the rest of the world, it was not clear things would get so bad. Two years on, and six million people are dead, and many more injured by … Continue reading Market states and pandemic politics: Some lessons from coronavirus

Marx vs. Luther: Will China and the West clash?

Imagine yourself in Wittenberg, Saxony, 1517. Western Europe is uniformly Catholic and, reminiscent of the once-mighty Roman Empire, the “Holy Roman Empire” presides over what is now modern Germany. One day, you notice a young theology professor nailing a lengthy notice to the doors of All Saints’ Church. Reading it, you sharply draw in breath. … Continue reading Marx vs. Luther: Will China and the West clash?

To contain or to collapse? Why China matters

An open letter to the London Review of Books. In his piece on global politics, Thomas Meaney critiques Chicago realist John J. Mearsheimer for advocating a policy of containment toward China. Meaney contends that the likelihood of China threatening America militarily is low for the reason Mearsheimer once gave: America is bordered on east and … Continue reading To contain or to collapse? Why China matters

The China crisis: Why Russia is a dangerous distraction

The news is full of confusing narratives about the topic of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, including comparisons to Nazi Germany, implying that any refusal to militarily challenge Russia would equal Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler. The GDP of the leading economies. Where's Russia? This comparison makes no historical sense. Germany in the 1930s was a rising … Continue reading The China crisis: Why Russia is a dangerous distraction

On the origin of societies: A theory of social evolution

In 1859, Darwin explained that species had their origin not in fate but blind chance: traits were passed on depending on how adapted they were to helping individuals survive, and reproduce, in a harsh world characterised by competition over scarce natural resources. Charles Darwin, author of On the Origin of Species Societies, like species, survive … Continue reading On the origin of societies: A theory of social evolution

Everything ends: Explaining the modern world

It’s fashionable to explain today’s world through two prisms: modern politics and modern economics—or the modern state and capitalism. Even the words sound slightly intimidating. So instead of defining them from a dictionary, I would like to give a historical account of how these pillars of the modern world evolved. Meet Niccolò Machiavelli, an early … Continue reading Everything ends: Explaining the modern world