The Itaewon tragedy, the sinking of the Titanic, and the new interwar years

The Itaewon tragedy in Seoul has shocked South Korea and the world as it is revealed 153 people died as a result of over-congestion related to Halloween festivities. As the West mourns a boring Halloween, Korea finds itself mourning losses that mirror the tragedy at Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival last year at which 10 died, … Continue reading The Itaewon tragedy, the sinking of the Titanic, and the new interwar years

Peace for all time: The enduring insights of Thomas Hobbes

Originally published on 24 September 2022. Seventeenth-century political theorist Thomas Hobbes has a paradoxical attitude to power. On the one hand, he thinks that 'the pursuit of power, after power' is the root and stem of 'Warre', of 'every man, against every man', leaving the 'life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short'. But … Continue reading Peace for all time: The enduring insights of Thomas Hobbes

On contradiction

To embrace contradiction is intelligence. To resolve contradiction is courage. ‘Two philosophers meet at Jena.’ Hegel meets Napoleon in Jena — an imagined piece from Harper’s Magazine, 1895. To deny contradiction is stupidity. To ignore contradiction is cowardice. The fool says in their heart, ‘There is no contradiction.’ The wise teacher says, ‘There is no … Continue reading On contradiction

Tenet, temporal geopolitics, and Elon Musk’s East-West gambit

Who is Elon Musk? Iron Man? No, too boring. The new Steve Jobs? No, too interesting. The new Christopher Nolan? More like it. Let me explain. East meets West: Elon Musk and Ye (The Artist Formerly Known As Kanye West). In Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, admired by engineers in Elon Musk’s line of work, a war … Continue reading Tenet, temporal geopolitics, and Elon Musk’s East-West gambit

Get a grip, Russia is not going to nuke Ukraine — but the media’s rhetoric implies the West might

It is said that whoever first diagnoses a situation as dangerous is wise, and whoever first accuses someone as responsible is foolish. Of course, what if these are the same person? For Thomas Hobbes, there are two kinds of people — natural persons like you are me, and artificial persons like states and corporations. Among … Continue reading Get a grip, Russia is not going to nuke Ukraine — but the media’s rhetoric implies the West might

Fear: Why everyone downplays the China crisis

It puzzles me that almost every conversation I have with people about China involves people downplaying a number of aspects of the threat this growing great power poses to world peace: 1. China’s power, 2. The possibility or probability of war between America and China, 3. The potential danger of that war, 4. The ability … Continue reading Fear: Why everyone downplays the China crisis

Will China Replace America? Observations from 2017

The following text was given at a talk in 2017, initially published on my legacy blog, Principia Politica, before the commencement of Trump’s trade war with China which continues to this day under the Biden administration. In 1823, US President James Monroe asserted that North and South America ‘are henceforth not to be considered as … Continue reading Will China Replace America? Observations from 2017

Fire in the water: ‘Pacific Rim’ and tectonic geopolitics

Guillermo del Toro is a remarkable film director. From Pan’s Labyrinth to The Shape of Water del Toro has delighted viewers and critics alike with spectacle, intrigue, and (for want of a more precise word) humanity. So when he made a science fiction blockbuster about great big beasts (Kaiju, from the Japanese, ‘giant beast’) emerging … Continue reading Fire in the water: ‘Pacific Rim’ and tectonic geopolitics

Time of Terra: The medieval foundations of modern politics

In my previous writings about modernity, theory, philosophy, art, and evolution, I have somewhat obscured the key to the world in which we live: its origins in medieval Europe. This idea occurred to me, paradoxically, in reflecting on science fiction, such as the tabletop game Warhammer 40,000, which follows influences both from high fantasy (notably, … Continue reading Time of Terra: The medieval foundations of modern politics