Freedom for all: Why the media’s use of the term ‘modern slavery’ is oddly dehumanising, and downright sinister

I have previously commented on how universities can distract from ongoing workplace exploitation by contrasting our situation with those of our ancestors bound in chattel slavery, from Ancient Greece and Rome (contexts which remain strangely ignored by reports into slavery’s long legacy) to the trans-Saharan (again, an oddly ignored context, seeing as it served as … Continue reading Freedom for all: Why the media’s use of the term ‘modern slavery’ is oddly dehumanising, and downright sinister

The cathedral of capital: Why the West is fruitlessly prolonging the war in Ukraine while stoking war in the South China Sea

Why? Why must so many die and so little be achieved? It makes so little sense to me, but I am beginning to grasp the reasons for the disgraceful behaviour of western countries, elites, academics, and countless supporters of the Ukraine’s bloody imitation of resistance movements in ages gone by. I think it has to … Continue reading The cathedral of capital: Why the West is fruitlessly prolonging the war in Ukraine while stoking war in the South China Sea

A critique of cathedralism: Why conspiracy theory doesn’t make sense of contemporary capitalism

First published on 30 June 2022. It is popular in universities to denounce conspiracy theories as inherently evil descendants of twentieth-century totalitarianism. I don’t wish to make a judgement on this specific point, because each side is polarised to the point that they deal in different narrations of history. To overcome this empirical war, I … Continue reading A critique of cathedralism: Why conspiracy theory doesn’t make sense of contemporary capitalism

The medieval mysteries of ‘Attack of the Clones’

‘Impossible to see, the future is,’ notes Yoda in political discussions with the Chancellor of the Republic, reasoning, ‘the dark side clouds everything’ — an ironic admission in front of the secret Sith lord who had already seized the reigns of democratic power. The Chancellor’s next steps involved translating political power into military might — … Continue reading The medieval mysteries of ‘Attack of the Clones’

On the origin of societies: Towards a theory of social evolution

The following is also available as a YouTube talk, here, after I presented these tentative findings as a "three-minute thesis" at Selwyn College in the spring of 2022. Darwin's 1859 On the Origin of Species speculated that traits are more likely to be passed on from organism to organism if they aid the organism's survival … Continue reading On the origin of societies: Towards a theory of social evolution

Pelosi’s Taiwan visit was a calculated blunder

There is much dispute over the function of Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan: was it a moment of madness, or a signal decision of brilliance? Now U.S.-China relations are fraying on a range of issues, from climate change to military technology, is more tension really needed? Yes, it is — but this almost completely misses the … Continue reading Pelosi’s Taiwan visit was a calculated blunder

The balance of power and the pull of extremes

I would like to discuss, as I have many times before, the importance of balance in the context of political action. It is a decisive tendency in contemporary politics to swing towards one extreme or another, without really breaking out of the broad-based ‘neoliberal’ paradigm in which we live. Any vote seems eventually to produce … Continue reading The balance of power and the pull of extremes

What Liz Truss is really doing

Rishi Sunak is plainly the obvious choice for successor to Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party and, by implication, the United Kingdom — sometimes described, not entirely inaccurately (albeit forgivably imprecisely), as a one-party democracy. But he has a surprise contender — Liz Truss, favourite among Party members but not the best sell … Continue reading What Liz Truss is really doing

Principia Musica: The art of politics

I have some claims I would like to defend. These are claims I cannot possibly defend in one blog post. But here are some, which I will elaborate at a future date, subject to revision. Classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, writing at the birth of commercial society in the musical eighteenth century. I. Class conflict … Continue reading Principia Musica: The art of politics

The poetry of power: On the new art forms of the Third Millennium

Our middle world, orbiting a middle star of a middle ring of a middle-sized galaxy, has produced many wondrous creations, even from the bowels of despair. Life first emerged in the deep oceans, and endured through cycles of hot and cold, adapting to each extreme. Eventually, however, the creatures of sea and sky found themselves … Continue reading The poetry of power: On the new art forms of the Third Millennium