Future generations will despise our ‘realism’ on Syria

The Observer 13 September 2105


When the people of the future look back at our time, there will be much wringing of hands at the west’s failure to stop the slaughter in Syria. Liberal writers will bewail our “guilt” and “shame” (bewailing is what we liberals are best at, after all). Readers will pat themselves on the back and say that they would never have behaved as we behaved; just as we look back on the Second World War and imagine we would never have collaborated if the Nazis had invaded.

Look at what the generation of the 2010s ignored as they admired their iPhones and took their selfies, they will say in shocked voices.
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Review: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar

Review of Tom Holland’s Dynasty

Observer 6 September 2015

Writers have always conscripted the Caesars to fight their battles. In 1934, Robert Graves turned Claudius into a liberal surrounded by tyrannical monsters, not so different from the tyrants who surrounded Graves in the 1930s. During the sexual revolution of the 1960s, Gore Vidal assailed Americans’ belief that monogamous heterosexuality was “normal” by showing them that the Roman emperors abused men and women, boys and girls with bisexual abandon. Contemporaries did indeed regard Claudius as an eccentric because he only wanted to sleep with women. But as the defining feature of tyrants is their tyranny, Claudius’s readiness to execute opponents for real and imagined treasons is more striking than his taste in concubines.

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Labour is no longer a force for good in the world

Jeremy Corbyn encapsulated everything that was deceitful about his campaign to be leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition when he claimed he wanted to prioritise “the needs of the poor and the human rights of us all”. From the point of view of the poor and the oppressed, his words were a grim joke.

Like many from the Left’s dark corners, Corbyn does not believe in the human rights of “us all”. He is concerned only with the rights of those whose oppression is politically useful. If the oppressed’s suffering can be blamed on the West, he will defend them. If not, he is on their enemies’ side.

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Vienna’s Nazi legacy

From Standpoint September 2105

I don’t think I have hated a city so quickly and so thoroughly as I hated Vienna when I arrived in the mid-1990s. To me it was a chocolate-covered corpse. I had never had any trouble about visiting Germany. I admired the Germans for coming to terms with the legacies of Communism and Nazism and building a democratic republic. But Austria was something else.
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Take a tip from waiters: workers’ rights are being destroyed



From theCommuter misery in London as striking tube workers shut down network

From the Observer 9 August 2015

This island race was once admired for its stiff upper lip, blitz spirit and sheer pluck. Unfortunately none of these admirable qualities can survive a strike. If London Underground stops for 24 hours, the press does not keep calm and carry on. It goes into a funk, as the Telegraph proved last week when it lost what self-control it possessed and screamed: “Let’s sack the lot of them”


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Britain builds a fortress to keep out refugees

From the Observer 2 August 2015

I looked at Salah Mohammed Ali and wondered how he would be remembered if he died trying to reach the shores of England tonight. It was not a fanciful speculation.

Since 1 June, 10 refugees have died on the roads around Calais, at the port or inside the Channel tunnel. Their number included an Eritrean woman hit by a car last week on Calais’s urban motorway. A few days before, a Sudanese man had tried to jump on to the Eurostar. He misjudged the distance and the train smashed his head open. Worst of all was Samir, an Eritrean baby, who lived and died within the space of an hour. Her young mother fell from a truck heading to Dover. The fall triggered a premature birth and that was Samir’s life over before it had begun.

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