Thursday, 28 September 2023

Progress Prize!

TxP, in partnership with Civic Future and New Statesman Spotlight, has launched an essay competition encouraging responses to the question: "Britain is stuck. How can we get it moving again?" 

I am not entering the competition, for a number of reasons: I think Britain is not especially stuck and seems to be moving pretty normally (8 years behind the USA, as usual); even if it were stuck then I don't think that my suggestion for jogging it along would be in line with what the judges want; and I don't think I'm eligible anyway. 

Nonetheless, in the hope that I can inspire others, I have set out 1200 words below with the right answer to the question: feel free to steal it if you want.

Thursday, 14 September 2023

Why the Baby Boom happened - and one thing that might help repeat it

The new edition of Works in Progress is out. It's got a few things that are worth a look (e.g., Samuel Hughes on architecture) but I just want to talk a little bit about this one, on the Baby Boom. (I recommend that you read it - it is well done and interesting - but you'll get the important bits from my summary below.)

Long story short: today, as we all know, birth rates are collapsing and no solution is in sight; but we (i.e., the West) were in this position before, in about 1930, and the problem then was solved by the Baby Boom; now, you might think that the Boom was something to do with the end of WWII, but it wasn't - it started earlier and it happened in neutral countries and ones well away from the war just as it did in the US and UK. So: why did the Baby Boom happen? And can we repeat it?

The authors come to the conclusion that three factors made a difference: "advances in household technology, progress in medical technology, and easier access to housing". 

I'm completely unconvinced by the first one: the authors take the clever step of looking at the Amish (i.e. people unaffected by advances in household technology) and point out that they had a baby boom too. Moreover, their evidence of increased adoption of household technology is (a) US-centric (i.e., failing to account for the worldwide effect) and (b) underwhelming for the period we are interested in, namely c.1935 to c.1955, when the only marked change seemed to be in fridges.

As for the last of the three factors - housing - well, we expect to see housing come up in any modern discussion of progress; I suspect that I have said more than enough on the topic recently. For present purposes, let me just say that I would have liked to know more about Amish housing.

But what about the second factor - progress in medical technology? By this, the authors mean in particular improvements in peri-natal care. The collapse in maternal mortality during this period is indeed heartening and remarkable: there's a great graph at the link that I'll let you look at for yourself. It does seem to have made a difference: for example, the Amish use modern medicine, so they benefitted from these improvements too.

So, what's the situation now? Getting worse in the US:

Not looking too good in the UK either:

Comparable data for France is harder to get (blame my English-language Googling and laziness), but infant mortality is not going well:

I tried Germany next and found the more useful and general information that the UN and WHO have released a report called “Trends in maternal mortality 2000 to 2020”, using national data on maternal mortality from 2000 to 2020 that finds that "progress in some countries [in Europe] slowed down or stopped between 2016 and 2020". I've checked the report and it seems to indicate that things have been getting worse in Europe and North America since 2016.

The Gates Foundation has some user-friendly graphs to similar effect. Here is the one for "high income" countries - as you can see, not a happy story.

This is a disgrace, isn't it? Forget about fertility rates for a moment: hardly a week goes by without some great advance in medical science being widely reported - and not just some splashy headline but a real matter of importance to public health (remember covid vaccines?) - and yet maternal mortality is getting worse? What the actual?

Of course - thankfully - the absolute numbers of deaths are still very low. But mortality rates must be the tip of the iceberg: for every mother or infant who dies, there must be many more who come close, which must be very upsetting to everyone concerned and hardly conducive to anyone wanting to repeat the experience. Indeed, anecdotally, birth experiences that involve horrendous loss of blood and medical emergencies are not at all uncommon. That's frankly a bit rubbish for a well-understood, natural process undergone, at a reasonably predictable point in time, by women of (necessarily) childbearing age all of whom are (necessarily) sufficiently healthy to have become pregnant in the first place. One does not have to be a terribly radical feminist to suspect that the brightest and best in the field of medical research are not spending their time on women's issues.

Moreover, horrible scares and serious injuries must surely be the tip of an even larger iceberg, namely generally poor experiences for women in childbirth. Perhaps the story goes a bit like this: in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, new mothers would tend to see shiny new hospitals and wonderful new medical techniques, and they would be impressed; their own mothers would say "it wasn't as nice as this in my day"; their husbands would be confident that they were in good hands; they would come out of the childbirth experience with a feeling that things were on the up and that, if they needed to give birth again, they would be able to do so in decent (perhaps even better) circumstances; and they would tell their friends the good news. But, even if the overall quality of care is better now than in the 1950s, the subjective experience, compared with the expectations that we have for healthcare as a whole, is worse; and the objective measures of quality seem to be going in the wrong direction. How many mothers now come away from giving birth once and say "well, I'm not going through that again"?; how many fathers say "I wouldn't ask you to go through that again"?; how many women hear awful stories from their friends and decide that discretion is the better part of valour? Enough, I suspect, to make at least some difference to the overall birth rate.

As I say, even if you have no interest in the long-term future of the human race, you should at least be appalled to see standard medical care in rich countries getting worse. What to do? I thought that I might give some money to a charity that does research in the field. So I went to the website of the British Maternal and Fetal Medicine Society (seemed a sensible place to look) and looked at their charities page. A bit odd: a cystic fibrosis charity, a charity devoted to "promot[ing] the scientific study, both pure and applied, of all psychological and behavioural matters related to human reproduction", a charity for premature babies in Northern Ireland and a charity "dedicated to improving the quality of life for seriously ill and injured pregnant women, children and babies in countries where there is extreme poverty" (looks good, but I went to their website and they have no news since 2019, so don't look too active). None looking at improving medical care in the delivery of babies. 

Save the Children has a page on maternal and reproductive health, which starts with an emphasis on preventing women becoming pregnant too young. DFID seems to have adopted a similar approach, but the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (a UK agency that scrutinises whether overseas aid is spent effectively) is unimpressed by the results. I suspect that's the Gates Foundation's approach as well. Not what I wanted: I was looking to try to improve the experience of giving birth, not avoid it.

The Medical Research Foundation? Three results for a search for "maternal" (the same as "whiplash").

Anyway, the best I came up with is this: UCLH has a women's health and maternity fund that carries out these tasks (note research in the second bullet point).

The research itself looks like the right kind of thing: "Investigate the role of T-regulatory (Treg) cell in maintaining a healthy pregnancy and influencing the development of pre-eclampsia", "improve the quality of imaging from Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and ultrasound and use these to develop low risk techniques for diagnosis, treatment and therapy for a range of dangerous conditions of the baby during pregnancy" and all kinds of medical stuff I don't pretend to understand. 

So I gave them some money. Perhaps I have helped invest in the future of the human race; I hope so. But maybe it will just help a bereaved parent spend some time away from the sound of new-born babies; I'd be happy with that too.

Tuesday, 12 September 2023

Article in The Critic - by me

Living in London is not a human right, I say, which is true.

What I am getting at in this piece - and I hope this comes through - is that people ought to consider what it is that they are really trying to achieve with their housing policies. Presumably no-one thinks that, say, Mayfair could or should be rendered readily affordable to people on, say, upper-quartile incomes. But some areas in Zone 2? or Zone 3? should be. Why? What's the reason for drawing the line there?

I suspect that many people's ultimate answers to pressing this line of questioning will be a combination of factors: that the capital city of a country ought to be reasonably accessible to a fair number of its own citizens; that London has a history and tradition of the classes living in close proximity that ought to be preserved; that the life and soul and energy of a city relies on a good mix and variety of people from different income brackets and different life stages; that crowding out all kinds of people on low incomes - students, the young, artists, charity workers, nurses - is bad for London in all kinds of ways; that it is good for neither the rich nor the poor to be in protected bubbles, whether in terms of their ideology or life-experiences, and so living cheek-by-jowl benefits them all; that an international trading city - long a port and formerly an imperial capital - should have space for migrants from across the world, both those just passing through and those who come to stay, and that both they and the locals benefit as a result; and so on. No doubt you can think of other things too. 

I am strongly inclined to agree with this kind of reasoning. But it adds up to a rather non-free-market set of conclusions. Subsidised social housing surely has to be part of the mix (contra Henry Hill), for example. Gentrification is not purely good: replacing the character and traditions of a deprived area with characterless "luxury flats" above chain restaurants, even if a Good Thing on balance, involves some degree of loss. The charm of any famous big city relies at least to some extent on its inefficient, quirky or decorative features: what would Paris be if the Eiffel Tower were replaced by a housing estate or New York if Central Park were built over? Sure, they would both be excellent cities, but it's hard to imagine that they would be improved. Of course, Manhattan is a better city now than when it was not built at all, but it is a sign of the maturity and success of a city when people - particularly a city's own inhabitants, those who know and love it best - turn to considering how it might be preserved, how its peculiarities and oddnesses protected from further changes. All of this requires something quite different from unrestrained development.

Against all of that is the simple argument that the country could be much richer if London grew and accommodated more people - more productive "knowledge workers". Not only richer in base GDP terms, but in terms of the satisfaction of valuable human desires: there are lots of people who want to live in London but who can't afford to - why condemn them to crushing commutes or second-best jobs? No-one is talking about knocking down St Paul's to build flats or putting a housing estate on Hyde Park - all we want is the chance to replace some proportion of the miles and miles of undistinguished Victorian, Edwardian and twentieth-century development that makes up the bulk of London's housing stock. Forget about cheerful Cockneys and their traditions - all of that has vanished to Essex anyway - we are merely talking about replacing some of the shallow foundation-ed brick terraces prone to subsidence, put up by the speculative cowboy builders of their day, with denser modern developments built to higher safety and environmental standards, and thereby allowing more families the chance to share in the wealth and security of one of the world's great cities.

I don't disagree with that line of argument either! Indeed, the arguments for having a mix of people in London tend to support making room for the middling sort too - people too rich for social housing but too poor for Chelsea - and that surely means tweaking the land use of the outer suburbs (and even the Green Belt) to make room for affordable housing bought with mortgages pay out of normal middle-class incomes. 

But my point is that even that argument does not justify a free-for-all. If it's bad for London that there are no cheap and cheerful places for art students and nurses to live, then it's bad whether they are priced out by international capital building unoccupied mega-flats or by middle-class families who want characterful homes in which to raise their children: either way, a thriving city will require a managed mix, not a blanket YIMBY approach.

Or at least, that is how it seems to me now. 

Friday, 1 September 2023

Why is Young Adult fiction so queer?

I am not a reader of Young Adult (YA) fiction, but I happened to see a few YA blurbs recently and the question in I have set out above struck me. The first thing that might strike you, however, is a different question, namely - is YA fiction really so queer? I’ll answer that question first.

The 2023 Bookseller YA Book Prize was recently awarded to When Our Worlds Collided by Danielle Jawando. This book, I read, “follows three teenagers from different backgrounds who are brought together in the aftermath of a stabbing. What follows flips their worlds upside down and makes Chantelle, Jackson, and Marc question the deep-rooted prejudice and racism that exists within society”. 

Not notably queer, you might think (the reviews suggest a gay best friend makes an appearance), but 2023 seems to have been a bit of a break from the norm of the YA Book Prize. Let’s have a look at the previous winners:

- 2022’s winner was “Adiba Jaigirdar’s queer rom-com, Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating ... It focuses on two very different Bengali girls—popular Hani and academic overachiever Ishu—who begin a fake relationship to both help Hani convince her friends that she is bisexual and increase Ishu’s popularity and chances of becoming head girl. Before long, they start to develop real feelings for each other, but not everyone in their lives is rooting for them.” (Interesting to note that Ishu’s popularity would be aided by her being in an open lesbian relationship.)

- “Alice Oseman scooped the YA Book Prize 2021 with her “joyful” coming out story about a teenager who realises that she is aromantic and asexual, Loveless ...”. 

- “Juno Dawson won the YA Book Prize in 2020 with Meat Market, a “gritty and compelling” exposé of the fashion industry”. Wikipedia tells me that Dawson was assigned male at birth, worked as a primary school teacher before making it big in books (“notable works include This Book Is Gay, Mind Your Head, Margot & Me, The Gender Games”), and that “her books often feature LGBT people, and Dawson has advocated for other books to feature more prominent LGBT characters.

You may retort: that’s just the fashionable prize-winning books - what about the day to day reality? So I had a look for other recommended lists, trying to stick to the UK market.

Here is Pan Macmillan’s list of the best new young adult fiction of 2023. It starts with a re-release of Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, presumably to tie-in with the film, but after that normal service is resumed.

- No 2: “Tilly isn’t looking for a girlfriend, but her best friend Teddy is. // Enter Katherine Cooper-Bunting: beautiful, charming, and perfect for Teddy. So why does Tilly find herself using any excuse to join the theatre production they’re starring in? // And why can’t she stop thinking about Katherine?

- No 3: “Enter Theo Somers: a charming, wealthy customer who convinces Dylan to be his fake date to a family wedding full of crazy rich drama. Their romance is supposed to be just for show, but soon Dylan’s falling for Theo — for real …” (and, yes, Dylan is male too).

- No 4: “This tender story about a non-binary teen is a celebration of life and love, and a shining example of hope in the face of adversity … Ben tries to keep a low profile in school until Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As their friendship grows, their feelings begin to change …”.

- No 5 seems to be a fantasy novel, while No 6 “shines a glaring light on how the system, condemns Black and Latinx teen boys to failure before they’ve even had a chance at success” (comma in the original, I’m afraid) and No 7 even appears to include heterosexual romance, but then normal service is resumed with the final one, No 8: “Chloe Green wants to be a winner. Her moms have moved her from SoCal to Alabama for high school, and she has had to spend four years navigating gossips and the puritans who run Willowgrove Christian Academy. She is determined to win valedictorian, and only prom queen Shara Wheeler stands in her way. But, a month before they graduate, Shara kisses Chloe and disappears …”.

Here’s another one, a must-read list for this summer. Book 3 on the list is The Lesbiana’s Guide To Catholic School by Sonora Reyes; the write-up for book 4 says “Jonah and Dylan are sworn enemies. Jonah thinks Dylan is an arrogant golden boy, whilst Dylan sees Jonah as a loud-mouthed show-off. Yet their friends are convinced Jonah and Dylan’s mutual hate is a mask for lust – a rumour that’s fuelled when they wake up in the same bed after homecoming. The pair decide to maintain a fake dating ruse so that they can stage a public break-up, thus proving how incompatible they really are. But the more time they spend together, the more they question their real feelings”; the write-up for book 5 says “William Hussey’s gay YA romance is Sex Education meets Love, Simon with fake zombies”; and that for book 6 says “Gwen and Arthur have been betrothed since birth, despite being wildly unsuited in more ways than one. When they discover that they share something in common after all, the two become reluctant allies – pretending to fall for each other, whilst they explore their feelings for other people – in Gwen’s case it’s female knight Bridget, and for Art it’s Gwen’s bookish brother Gabriel” (the write-up continues, perhaps unnecessarily, that it is “categorically not a Camelot retelling”)..

The Guardian does a round-up of recommended YA fiction here. This features six books, three of which are: (1) the Gwen and Arthur one I mentioned above; (2) an apparently astrology themed one called Never Trust a Gemini (“a feelgood LGBTQ+ romantic comedy with a fresh, joyful energy. Fourteen-year-old Cat is convinced that a match with her oblivious crush Alison is aligned in the stars, until she meets dangerously cool new girl Morgan…”); and (3) a “sapphic Gothic romance inspired by classic fairytales”. 

Do you want to go through Buzzfeed’s list of YA romance we’re loving in 2022? I thought not. But if you change your mind then please feel to check my counting: I think 11 of the 23 books on the list have queer themes. (The situation was neatly summed up by the title of one of them, Well, That Was Unexpected, which seems to be a heterosexual romance.)

TV is little different, it seems. This is a list of the Best Teen Shows to Watch on Netflix, which includes one about “Calliope ... is a young monster-hunter-in-training who unknowingly falls in love with a vampire named Juliette" and Heartstopper, based on a book, in which “two boys from slightly different social circles who find themselves falling for each other after getting paired up in a class together... The coming-of-age and coming-out series spotlights a glowing LGBTQ+ community and has already been renewed for two more seasons”.

I feel that I have proved my point about the facts. So, back to my question - why should this be?

There’s an obvious answer to do with re-balancing earlier wrongs. For centuries, no-one wrote novels about lesbian teenagers with two mothers struggling to be valedictorians - now is the time to redress that injustice! 

But that only takes us so far. Of all the historically under-represented minorities, why is it the sexual ones who are getting almost all the attention in literature aimed at teenagers? In this age of Black Lives Matter, George Floyd, taking a knee and so on, why do we not have more novels about racism? 

I am reminded of what I said in 2021: “[in 1967/8] black people were better placed than gay people: speaking out against homosexuals in 1967 was fine; speaking out against black people in 1968 was not. ... Fast forward a couple of generations. Anti-homosexual prejudice has gone from being common and acceptable to rare and unacceptable. Gay marriage is legal. Gay culture is celebrated. Drag queens are encouraged to read stories to children in public libraries. And so on. The world has moved a lot for homosexual people. But for black people ...” In that piece, I put a potential answer into the mouth of an imagined disgruntled anti-racist campaigner: consider this more evidence for that answer, which I rejected at the time and still tend to reject.

Perhaps the answer lies in the preferences of the producers of such fiction or the commissioners/editors? Or is it something to do with the tastes of the primarily female readership? (But note that most YA books are bought by adults and most of them intend to read the books themselves.) Is it something to do with librarians, whether in schools or public libraries? Can we blame a generation reared on In the Night Garden ... ? I’m afraid I simply don’t know.

If I can’t answer the question in the title, perhaps I can at least ask some other questions instead: 

- what happened to all the dystopian sci-fi and swords-and-sorcery books that teenagers used to like? I’ve hardly seen any.

- will this continue? When today’s teenagers grow up, will they expect to read (and watch) non-heterosexual romance? I had been wondering what had happened to the rom-com recently, and perhaps we can see its future here. 

- what effect (if any) does it have on teenagers to be presented with fictional worlds in which romance is largely not heterosexual? On the one hand, violent video games do not seem to have made teenagers notably violent; on the other hand, we tend to believe that children are susceptible to some kinds of influence (hence: schools).

- what books do teenagers read whose parents don’t want them to read these kinds of books? Where do they get them?

- conversely, what is in the books that teenagers really want to read? You know - the ones that get passed round surreptitiously? 

Answers on a postcard, as YAs don’t say.

Monday, 7 August 2023

Why I am (reasonably) bullish about Britain

What a lot of doom and gloom there is about Britain at the moment! I'm here to cheer you up. 

You've probably recently read something that goes a bit like this: "the UK is a disaster zone, Brexit, nothing works any more, why won't someone put us out of our misery, Brexit, we can't build anything any more, the NHS, did I mention Brexit?, Poland is soon going to be richer than us" For example, "Britain is a developing country", claims Sam Bowman, and I see that the Sunday Times has given him space to make his case there too. The wails of despair have been so loud that they are heard even in California: see Scott Alexander here

Next time you read one of these articles, I want you to steel yourself against their depression-inducing effects by bearing in mind the following three questions and answers (all explained in full below the break):

(1) Is the UK falling behind the US? No.
(2) Does this kind of article propose sensible solutions? Probably not.
(3) What are the long-term prospects for the UK? Not too bad, all things considered.

Tuesday, 1 August 2023

Reincarnation, policy and the law

When I read about the “first American law to address the process of Buddhist reincarnation” (see below, from The Economist), I had to know more: does the US state really believe in reincarnation? This is what I found out.

Although the Tibet Policy and Support Act of 2020 (TPSA) may be the first US law to address reincarnation, it is not the first time that American lawmakers have done so: as the TPSA itself recognises, “On June 8, 2015, the United States House of Representatives unanimously approved House Resolution 337 which calls on the United States Government to “underscore that government interference in the Tibetan reincarnation process is a violation of the internationally recognized right to religious freedom”.

One might, I think, reasonably infer that a government can only interfere in something that actually exists, which entails that the “Tibetan reincarnation process” is a real thing. But that is just a Resolution of one House of Congress; what of US law?

Sure enough, TPSA has plenty to say about reincarnation. For example, it amends Section 620(b) of 22 U.S.C. 6901 note to add the words “, including with respect to the reincarnation system of Tibetan Buddhism” after “it is the sense of Congress that representatives of the United States Government […] should call for and otherwise promote the cessation of all interference by the Government of the People’s Republic of China or the Communist Party in the religious affairs of the Tibetan people”.

It also includes a section entitled “STATEMENT OF POLICY REGARDING THE SUCCESSION OR REINCARNATION OF THE DALAI LAMA”, which notes that Congress has found various matters, including the sort of thing quoted below, before setting out Congress’ policy.

The TPSA’s statement of US policy is a little more cagey on the subject: it starts out by referring to the “selection, education and veneration” of Buddhist religious leaders. Although it later goes on to refer to the “process of recognizing a successor or reincarnation of the 14th Dalai Lama and any future Dalai Lamas”, one might read that as granting the existence of a process of recognising reincarnation rather than believing in reincarnation itself.

But what of the first bit of TPSA that I mentioned, i.e. the desired cessation of all interference by the Government of the People’s Republic of China or the Communist Party in “the reincarnation system of Tibetan Buddhism”? I’m not a US-qualified lawyer so all I can offer is speculation, but my feeling is that choice of the word “system”, rather than (as in the Resolution) “process”, is intended to indicate a certain agnosticism as to what is ‘really’ going on.

The next question that struck me is: what does English law have to say about reincarnation?

My search found no primary or secondary legislation mentioning the topic. (The word “re-incarnation” does appear in the explanatory notes to a Scottish Act, namely the Defamation and Malicious Publication (Scotland) Act 2021. I was excited for a moment when I discovered this but, as is the way with devolution, the momentary excitement was quickly replaced with disappointment: the context here is the “re-incarnation” of common law wrongs in statutory form, which is much less exciting than choosing a new Dalai Lama.) Indeed, neither the Dalai nor any of the other Lamas appear to have been the subject of legislation in this country.

But one of the joys of our system of law is that the laws passed by Parliament are not the end of the matter. What of the common law? What of caselaw?

Here I had a little more luck. The first case I found was not about Buddhist reincarnation at all. Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust v Fixsler [2021] EWHC 1426 (Fam) is one of those terribly sad cases about withdrawing life support from a brain-damaged child. The family in question are Chassidic Practising Jews and the Court heard rabbinical evidence. At paragraph 52 of the judgment, the judge noted that Rabbi Goldberg had explained that the withdrawal of treatment would be a grave sin and that “the spiritual consequence of this is that there is a risk of reincarnation in this world, rather than passing to Heaven: "The soul can come down into another body, which generally happens if the previous soul didn't fulfil a full role and has things still to do to perfect before they can go to heaven"”.

As is sometimes the way with these sad cases (often? how often? I don’t know), the judge went against the parents’ wishes and beliefs. Secular legal system 1; reincarnation nil, I'm afraid.

There are also some less tragic mentions of “reincarnation” in the law reports. For example:

In the end, however, the Tribunal found the Applicant to be a truthful witness, so I would suggest that you take Ozzie’s words with a liberal helping of salt.

Strictly orthodox Buddhist reincarnation, by contrast, appears to have escaped legal notice. The only result for the words “Buddhism” and “reincarnation” that I can find is Fixsler itself, in which the judge mentions Buddhism in passing (in the context of explaining that he cares not for religious law but only for the law of the land). “Buddhist” and “reincarnation” returned no results at all.

I started above with a statement of policy by the US House of Representatives. What of British policy?

I cannot leave the subject of Buddhist reincarnation without telling you (or perhaps, I hope, reminding you) that the British Government was represented at the enthronement of the current Dalai Lama in 1940 by Sir Basil Gould, CMG CIE (1883–1956), the British Political Officer in Sikkim from 1935 to 1945. Gould wrote a rather enthralled and sympathetic account of the whole affair. Perhaps the best way in to it is the account of the changes made to Goulds account when it was translated into Tibetan here, an article which is interesting in its own right and also gives you a good flavour of Gould's words. You can even see some of Gould’s films in the BFI archive (e.g. here, on YouTube). British policy has of course changed a good deal since 1940. But, if you read Gould and the Economist, you may well spot some continuities too. But, Im afraid, there is little to tell us whether the Government of His Majesty, Defender of Faith, would echo the words of Gould were one of its representatives to attend the enthronement of a future Dalai Lama:

Probably there is no ceremony in the Western world which is at all nearly equivalent, but there are affinities to many ceremonies which we know. There are elements of the assertion by all of their duty towards their God-King, and of the God-King’s duty towards his people; of a long drawn out “God Save The King. Long Live The King”; of mystical union and of mutual society help and comfort ; and most certainly of communion and of joy and thanks-giving. The scene carried one back also to the great Durbar at Delhi, when King George and Queen Mary sat to receive the homage of those who were already their loyal subjects and to uplift them by their presence. But it was inevitable that thought should travel also to another Child, already God incarnate when, lying in a manger, He was offered gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh, or when he first visited the Temple which was already His.

Saturday, 29 April 2023

What happened to reactionaries?

Janan Ganesh, self-described citizen of nowhere, had a piece in the FT recently asking: what happened to all the reactionaries? You can find it here or (subject to paywall) here

I would not describe myself as a reactionary but I like to think that I have enough insight into the mind of one to venture a speculative explanation for the apparent disappearance of the species. Read on to discover not only my explanation for the disapperance of the old ones, but also my prediction of the emergence of new ones.