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

The politics of truth: A manifesto

We live in undeniably dark times. News headlines of death and despair abound. In such a climate, politics is hardly seen as our salvation. Indeed, politics is seen by many as the problem. One reason given for the decay of our political institutions is that politicians lie. The phrase ‘fake news’ also abounds news headlines … Continue reading The politics of truth: A manifesto

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

The foundational contradictions of liberalism

Liberalism is an ideology—a system of thought. It has a centrepiece: the individual, defined by liberalism as a free-floating unit, separate from other units. It has two basic contradictions: The politico-moral contradiction; and The public-private contradiction. Meet Immanuel Kant: A founding liberal. These contradictions arise from two factors. Liberalism: Accepts the early-modern separation between politics … Continue reading The foundational contradictions of liberalism

The fork in the path: The stakes of the UK general election tomorrow

Tomorrow, something important's happening. Though it has become a cliché, clichés are sometimes true, and this one is: tomorrow's general election will define the UK's future. Here's why. The NHS: At risk of privatisation (Creative Commons) If Boris's Conservatives win a majority--even if Boris himself loses his seat--the Conservatives will go through with their manifesto … Continue reading The fork in the path: The stakes of the UK general election tomorrow

Vote Labour: My speech at the Cambridge Union

Yesterday, I gave the opening speech at the Cambridge Union for the proposition, 'This House Would Vote Labour'. Here's what I said (abridged). I hope you will join me in voting and/or campaigning for Labour in the coming UK General Election--because Labour will help everyone, not just the billionaire class: We’ve reached the fork in … Continue reading Vote Labour: My speech at the Cambridge Union

On power: Tech, the state, and class

Power comes in many forms. Productive power is a relationship between society and nature, whereby people transform nature through technologies (or ‘forces of production’, as Marx called them). Social power is a relationship between people, involving both coercion (the use of threats and rewards, most often to maximise power over production) and legitimation (the use … Continue reading On power: Tech, the state, and class