“I don’t mind causing offence when I intend to, but I don’t like causing it accidentally” Interview with comedian Stewart Lee
"A few days ago, my son, Lucas, and I took the train to Prague for his school break. Usually, when I visit a city, my first port of call is whatever passes for a botanical garden but when he told me that Prague’s zoo contained not only giant salamanders but also two pairs of shoebills, I could not resist the temptation..." (John Burnside's essay in The New Statesman.) [more inside]
A manifesto for the new man: how the Great White Male can stay relevant The days of the Great White Male are numbered. So how should men live now? Stephen Fry, Mary Beard, Andrew Marr, Margaret Atwood and others offer their survival tips.
"When do women in Ireland get to say 'no'? Today we find out that the answer is 'never', not really – not if a man has other ideas and the state decides to enforce his use of a woman's body." [Warning: may be triggering.] New Statesman, "Violation after violation: why did Ireland force a woman on hunger strike to bear her rapist's child?" [more inside]
"My first taste of Europe. My first realisation that a border is just a line – you cross it and nothing changes. No, everything changes. You are in another world, which is both exactly the same and entirely different." When you leave a country to live somewhere else, where is home?
"I’m not saying the Left embraces or even excuses away these clerics, but this strange reticence across the Left not only allows them to fester, but has other consequences."
Stewart Lee asks "Where are all the right-wing stand-ups?" after BBC Radio 4's commisioning editor Caroline Raphael recently admitted they struggle to "find comedians from the right" on shows such as The News Quiz.
Five classic book reviews from the New Statesmen archive: Including V S Pritchett on Orwell's 1984, V S Naipaul on Memento Mori by Muriel Spark and Martin Amis on J G Ballard's High Rise.
"Real Meals": Will Self's (relatively) new fortnightly restaurant column reviewing high street food outlets for The New Statesman. Thus far: McDonald's, KFC, Indian Restaurant, Starbucks, Subway.
"The idea that the state is an unwarranted assault on individual freedom is not a progressive one. This kind of libertarianism works to protect privilege by cloaking the advantages of the rich in the garb of personal autonomy, individual freedom and the “human right” to privacy." Or so says Professor Gearty in an article in the New Statesman. Via David Miliband's blog, in which he also salutes the debunking of the 'myth' that people in Britain are captured "300 times a day on CCTV"
The world's first multinational I found this informative piece via Arts&Letters. "Corporate greed, the ruination of traditional ways of life, share-price bubbles, western imperialism: all these modern complaints were made against the British East India Company in the 18th century. Nick Robins draws the lessons...
Can Compassionate Fascism Be Far Behind? It's only a short book review but Terry Eagleton - who could be defined as a playful and disobedient neo-Marxist literary theorist - manages to give us, propelled by Robert Paxton's universally praised The Anatomy of Fascism, a pithy and workable definition of fascism and its opposition to conservatism, as well as some depressing, very provocative misgivings about the future of capitalism and the increasing appeal of authoritarianism. Just what is, in the 21st century, the danger and chance of revisionist fascism, in the style of a dubious, unctuous political I Can't Believe It's Not Democracy margarine? [Via .]
Joshka Fischer Said What? That The U.S. Needs Another Boston Tea Party? Hidden in the depths of this very interesting article by Timothy Garton-Ash, on Europe's misplaced anti-Americanism, is a very interesting revelation from Germany's Green Party-carrying Foreign Minister. To what extent are relations between the pro-American and the anti-American Europe and the United States - the so-called "Old and New Europe" - based on misperceptions? Is Europe, like the Middle East and, well, the whole wide world, too complex for the current U.S. administration to understand? Is it really possible for American foreign to swerve round France and Germany? [Fwiw, my two centimes is that it is.]
What the anti-globalists and the dogmatic left share above all with their newfound fellow-travellers among the Islamic fundamentalists is a loss of faith in the modern age and in Enlightenment ideas. The spirit of their protests was captured by a banner at a recent rally in Berlin: "Civilisation is genocide".
Why Are Left-Wing Brits Like Hitchens, Amis And Rushdie Supporting President Bush? In this terrific article, The New Statesman's John Lloyd dares to pose the question. To which I would add my own: so far as the campaign against terrorism is concerned, isn't the standard Right/Left dichotomy becoming an increasingly American thang? [Please look inside Ty Webb's "Axis of Evil" post for an interesting discussion on the Hitchens/Bush (dis)connection]
Master U.S. And Poodle U.K.? On the right and the left, a lot of Brits seem to be questioning what they see as the UK's increasingly subservient attitude towards the U.S. Has something changed in the once proud British character or, as Nick Cohen argues in today's New Statesman, is it all just politics?