Petitions: a shrunken view of democracy
New Labour's vision for popular engagement in 2008 bypasses the ballot box in favour of just getting us to beg for government intervention.
Earth: a man-made
A new BBC film suggests human beings are screwing up the planet. But without us, Earth would be a pointless rock spinning through space.
Britain’s key weapon in Afghanistan: the bribe
In allegedly trying to buy off a local Taliban leader, British officials have shown a haughty and colonial disregard for the Afghan government.
Shooting down the feminist Thought Police?
The UK government says adults should chill out and let boys play with toy guns. But who made us so uptight about kids’ play in the first place?
After Bhutto: whoever wins, the West has lost
The panicky reactions to the killing of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan reveal how the US and its allies are losing the ‘war on terror’.
|Friday 4 January 2008|
I'm fine. Stop curing me
Brown's plans for a 'personal and preventative' NHS, and the liberty to abuse footballers: read Mick Hume's columns in The Times (London).
Did postmodernity kill the quiz show?
Once, quiz shows were all about Q&A. Now they’re about ribbing and racountering, and some have dispensed with questions altogether.
In defence of Terrace Tourette Syndrome
Forget clamping down on footie fans’ abusive chanting: we should admire the lyrical skill of cramming so much filth into such short verses.
Flash for freedom against PC partypoopers
For readers, the Flashman novels were a jolly romp. But for author George MacDonald Fraser, they were also a swipe against political correctness.
How England’s civil wars changed the world
In the heady period 1648 to 1660, between the trial of Charles I and the restoration of the monarchy, the democratic instinct came to life.
|Monday 7 January 2008|
There's more to economics than shopping
Commentators obsessed with whether Brits are buying too much or too little ignore major shifts in the world economy – and world politics.
Green toffs vs the ‘shopping herd’
The panic about greedy mobs invading Oxford Street during the New Year sales is driven by elite disdain for consumerism and economic growth.
The truth about the ‘credit crunch’
ESSAY: What the Subprime Crisis reveals about the economy, politics and the state in 2008 – and why the real story is the rise of the East as the West flounders.
|Tuesday 8 January 2008|
Who gives a cluck about a broiler chicken?
Ignore the posh fooderati on Channel 4 moaning about the factory-farming of chickens: we should celebrate the freedom provided by mass food production.
The dangers of ‘celebrity science’
A new report shows why we should take celebs’ advice on food, chemicals, how to avoid cancer and other scientific matters with an unhealthily large dose of salt.
Getting to grips with Obama-mania
He has charisma, a good physique and ‘hip-mod grey suits’, and a policy programme that consists only of ‘hope’. Barack Obama takes the politics of personality to a new low.
Kenya is not the new Rwanda
Why Western observers see every political conflict in Africa as an inexplicable outburst of violence and a harbinger of ‘holocaust’.
|Wednesday 9 January 2008|
Ten myths about nuclear power
‘It's dangerous, wasteful and too expensive!’ Greens are busily putting the case against nuclear, but there is not a spark of truth in their arguments.
Healthy in mind and body… what about spirit?
For Aristotle, health meant a ‘flourishing life’. Today, with Brown’s offer of bodily screening, health has been reduced to mere animal fitness.
What Hope for real Change in America?
With slogans promising Hope, Belief and Change, there is a surge of excitement around the US presidential primaries. But can anybody tell us what the Obama-Clinton contest is about?
|Thursday 10 January 2008|
Down with Coercive Participation
Politicians in Britain are keen to ‘engage’ with the public... just as long as our leaders get to make all the big decisions behind closed doors beforehand.
A striking lack of ideas on US TV
With the schedules packed full of Pop Idol clones, ripped-off Brit-coms and half-scripted reality TV shows, it's little wonder the US public finds the screenwriters' strike a turn-off.
Kenya and the myth of ‘African barbarism’
Observers describe the post-election violence as a virus. In truth, everyday Kenyans have historically resisted the top-down process of ethnic
One short drive for a man, one giant leap for mankind
All hail ‘The People’s Car’, which could liberate Indians from their (bicycle) chains.
|Friday 11 January 2008|
Semi-incandescent over Ken’s ‘Lightbulb Amnesty’
A new dark age in Livingstone’s London, industrial chick farming as golden goose - read Mick Hume’s columns in The Times (London).
Please don’t make darts fashionable
How the fun police are sanitising the boozers’ preferred ‘sport’, by banning drink, fags and heated banter.
The monkey incident: cricket’s darkest hour?
Those who claim the ‘Bollyline’ affair is just not cricket are wrong: the game has always been a mental war of attrition.
Is it ethical to use low-energy bulbs?
Our ethical columnist on the benefits of sitting in the dark.
Climate catastrophe? Cool it!
In his new book, Bjørn Lomborg shows how the ‘climate science’ on everything from polar bears to pollution has been politicised.
|Monday 14 January 2008|
Women's libbers for law'n'order
Why are once radical feminists joining the chorus of disapproval about young women in mini-skirts going out, getting hammered and having sex?
‘We should refuse to be terrorised’
At the London launch of his new book, Invitation to Terror, Frank Furedi offered some salutary advice to Gordon Brown on how to win the ‘battle of ideas’.
Prevention is better than cure? Not necessarily
ESSAY: A leading cancer expert says Gordon Brown’s disease-screening initiative could cause unnecessary distress and diminish autonomy.
|Tuesday 15 January 2008|
The Black Man’s Burden
They don’t wear ribbons or white wristbands to show off how caring they are, yet African and Asian expats send billions of dollars in ‘aid’ to the developing world every year.
Kosovo’s Declaration of Dependence
Hashim Thaci, one-time guerrilla turned PM of Kosovo, has promised to break away from Serbia. It's independence, Jim, but not as we know it.
Scientific evidence is being repackaged as ‘The Science’: a superstitious dogma used to hector us on everything from sex to saving the planet.
|Wednesday 16 January 2008|
‘Green’ light bulbs: not such a bright idea
Some states are planning to ban incandescent light bulbs. But how bright will the future be under their gloomy, ‘energy efficient’ replacements?
Democracy is not child’s play
British ministers want to extend the vote to 16-year-olds, in the forlorn hope that a youthful turnout will gloss over the crisis in adult politics and democracy.
From ‘Hillary hate’ to ‘Hillary hurrahism’
The Clintons did more than most to turn politics into a personality contest. So why is Hillary so shocked to be judged by what she wears and how she cries?
Would you donate your body to Gordon Brown?
The PM now wants a system of ‘presumed consent’ to provide more organs for transplant. Yet it was his government obsession with consent that exacerbated the problem in the first place.
|Thursday 17 January 2008|
Ron Paul: no friend of freedom
The Texas congressman has vicious views on abortion and immigration. So why are so many liberals supporting him?
Turning teachers into spies and snitches
UK schools minister Jim Knight wants teachers to monitor their pupils' every antic and the behaviour of their parents. We should give his proposals a big red cross.
Why we need an open-door policy
Kicking off spiked's campaign for freedom of movement in 2008, Nathalie Rothschild argues that there's one way to stop illegal immigration: stop making immigration illegal.
Princess Diana: off with her figurehead!
Bitchiness, backstabbing, cults, conspiracies: the inquest into Diana's death shows the triumph of backward court politics over republicanism.
|Friday 18 January 2008|
Give the NSPCC a good smack
Reality check for child crusaders, and Diana: death of the inquest – read Mick Hume’s columns in The Times (London).
YouTube: even the best bits are Danny Dire
User-generated sites are mostly full of rubbish, but there are a few gems out there - like Terry Alderton's parody of the Real Football Factories.
The second coming of the ‘Geordie messiah’
Kevin Keegan can be relied on to maintain Newcastle United’s traditions: Keystone Cops defending, lousy signings, and bugger-all trophies.
Is it ethical to boycott Japan?
Our ethical columnist on the 'uncivilised barbarity' of the world's leading whaling nation.
Humanity, thou art sick
Shyness is now ‘social phobia’, and dissent is ‘Oppositional Defiant Disorder’. How did everyday emotions come to be seen as illnesses?
|Monday 21 January 2008|
The fall of Rome played out in Southfork
Charlie Wilson’s War, a borderline slapstick comedy about the CIA’s arming of the Mujahideen, reveals more about America than the pious new films on Iraq do.
How public houses enforce public order
No music; no rowdiness; no getting pissed in front of the kids... Britain's Wetherspoon chain of pubs is going even further than the government in policing our behaviour.
How to be European: ban smoking in public
After ‘smoking like a Turk’ in Istanbul, Nathalie Rothschild laments the city's plan to enforce an EU-style clampdown on the evil weed.
|Tuesday 22 January 2008|
Cloned food scare: where's the beef?
An Axis of Reaction is furious about the idea of 'cloned meat'. Yet such meat is not only safe; it could also bring enormous benefits to both farmers and farmyard animals.
Barack Obama: white America's candidate
Desperately hoping that he will change the ‘image of the USA’, white liberals have invested more hope and energy in Obama's campaign than have black Americans.
Rule 8: There’s nothing wrong with ‘electronic babysitting’
Ignore the organic-obsessed supermums and mumsy officials who say kids shouldn't watch TV: there's nothing wrong with electronic babysitting.
|Wednesday 23 January 2008|
Environmentalists: don’t label them Luddites
Using the L-word to describe today’s middle-class eco-miserabilists is an insult to the nineteenth-century radicals who fought for their rights and dignity.
They couldn't run a
credit-spree in a bank
Beyond the mind-numbing financial stats, the Northern Rock debacle gives an insight into the real state of politics and economics today.
|Thursday 24 January 2008|
Liverpool, you’ll always walk alone
If fickle football fans weren’t so parochial, supporters around the country could unite to put pressure on the money men who run the Premiership.
‘Stick your minute’s silence up your arse’
Football's vibrant terrace culture once thrived on trading insults; now it languishes under post-Diana codes of emotional conduct.
How Asia bails out America
The Federal Reserve’s ‘shock’ slashing of interest rates was only the latest episode in a drawn-out drama starring Western sluggishness and Eastern dynamism.
Let's call a ceasefire in the 'war on obesity'
In tackling an imaginary fat epidemic, the government is intruding into our lives, guilt-tripping parents and stigmatising chubby children.
|Friday 25 January 2008|
The new face of law‘n’order
The elevation of anti-social behaviour into a central political issue reveals how the directionless political elite in Britain has manipulated our sense of vulnerability.
Keeping humanity secure?
The new focus on ‘human security’ in the debate about international relations suggests there should be an even more meddlesome form of policing of other states’ affairs. No thanks.
Rehab: it’s not rock’n’roll
The Heroin Diaries, by a cleaned-up, self-deluded Nikki Sixx, is probably the last in the classic genre of the bad rock memoir. And it reminds us that early rock’n’rollers’ idea of freedom can’t be found in rehab.
The little book of big ideas
Slicing through PR and marketing bullshit, James Harkin’s dictionary of the ‘latest thinking’ reminds us that ideas can change the world and invites us to start formulating our own.
The tyranny of
The left’s cry ‘the personal is political!’ sounded radical once, but it has been used to legitimise state interference in our lives. If what we do in the bedroom is ‘political’, why shouldn’t the authorities regulate it?
The midwife of miserabilism
With its attacks on advertising, opulence and environmental filth, John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Affluent Society, published 50 years ago, anticipated today’s small-minded growth scepticism.
Is ‘hyperpartisanship’ paralysing American politics?
It is not a clash of ideologies but rather an empty bickering over nothing of much substance that makes the presidential campaign seem so shrill and divided.
diagnosis and cure
Once, the media fawned over anti-MMR crusaders; they were ‘handsome’, ‘glossy-haired’ and ‘brave’. Now it ridicules them as quacks. What explains journalists’ turn from inflaming anti-vaccine hysteria to embracing scientific evidence?
Dare to know nothing
‘Counterknowledge’, fiction masquerading as fact on everything from 9/11 to homeopathy, is thriving thanks to today's mad mixture of postmodern political correctness and capitalist greed.
I am an intellectual blasphemer
When Alexander Cockburn, author of the forthcoming book A Short History of Fear, dared to question the climate change consensus, he was punished by a tsunami of self-righteous fury. It is time for a free and open ‘battle of ideas’, he says.
|Monday 28 January 2008|
Suharto: made and broken by the West
The bloody dictator was not overthrown by Indonesian ‘people power’, as the obits claim; he was sacked by his Western backers when his face no longer fitted.
Will Obama change American politics?
After his big win in South Carolina, Barack Obama said the word ‘change’ a dozen times. Does he really have a transformative, convention-busting vision?
If you believe in Europe, then reject this Treaty
Those of us committed to true European ideals should challenge the EU oligarchy's disdain for democracy and demand a referendum.
|Tuesday 29 January 2008|
Would you like relish with that A-level?
The idea that McDonald's could provide qualifications has prompted derision, but the ‘McDonaldisation’ of learning has already begun.
Why Karzai was right to reject Ashdown
He relished his role as colonial overlord in Bosnia, so it's not surprising the Afghans don’t want Paternalistic Paddy anywhere near their country.
Ruled by accountants who can’t do their accounts
On the donations scandals, one question remains: apart from denying it did anything wrong, what has Gordon Brown’s government actually done?
|Wednesday 30 January 2008|
A Ryanair chief has described the Advertising Standards Authority as a ‘bunch of unelected, self-appointed dimwits’. He has a point.
Rivers of refuse, bust-ups in parliament, the fall of Romano Prodi’s government: Dominic Standish reports on Italy’s descent into farce.
‘Bin the bag’: the bizarre cause célèbre
Why has ridding society of ‘evil’ plastic bags become the issue for radicals, retailers and officials from San Francisco to Shanghai?
|Thursday 31 January 2008|
Compulsory cookery: another half-baked idea
Teaching children how to cook should be about taste and pleasure - but the UK government is only interested in obesity, salt intake and telling us how to live.
This is more than a case of ‘media Maddieness’
Tim Black reports from a debate amongst leading journalists about the ‘story of their lifetime’: the abduction of Madeleine McCann and the subsequent public hysteria.
Nul points for the immigrant points system
Nathalie Rothschild reports from the first meeting of the Migration Parliamentary Group, which wants to lead a ‘positive’ debate about migration. It got off to a bad start.
Trafficking: return of the ‘white slavery’ scare?
The Metropolitan Police’s legalised kidnapping of 10 Roma children suggests the anti-trafficking industry is the greatest threat to migrants.