Politics & Economics

LRB cover 1904, trapeze artist, by Peter Campbell, 1997

Boris Johnson’s First Year

Ferdinand Mount

2 July 2020

The past decade should have taught governments to beware of hasty large-scale remodelling. But it seems only to have emboldened the Johnson apparat to go flat out for more of the same. It may still seem somewhat mysterious that the British government, with all the expertise available to it, should have proved so spectacularly cackhanded. If it is a mystery, it is not hard to solve.

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Where the Poor Lived

Alison Light

2 July 2020

Charles​ Booth’s survey of London poverty was an epic Victorian undertaking. Beginning in the late 1880s with East London, Booth and his army of investigators launched a systematic study which . . .

What can the WHO do?

James Meek

2 July 2020

At the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic it was gravely expected that the Euro-American countries would hold firm, with their sophisticated healthcare systems based around high-tech hospitals, while . . .

America Explodes

Adam Shatz

5 June 2020

George Floyd has rapidly achieved the status of an international martyr, a symbol of racial injustice like the Scottsboro Boys, wrongfully imprisoned for raping a white woman, or Emmett Till, the 14-year-old . . .

The Manifesto Instinct

Joanna Biggs

18 June 2020

When​ is the right time to ask for what you want? One of the strange things about the feminist movement is that what women want hasn’t been that much of a mystery at all. (Mary Wollstonecraft . . .

Bolsonaro’s Brazil

Perry Anderson, 7 February 2019

By comparison with the scale of the upheaval through which Brazil has lived in the last five years, and the gravity of its possible outcome, the histrionics over Brexit in this country and the conniptions over Trump in America are close to much ado about nothing.

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Let Them Drown

Naomi Klein, 2 June 2016

Environmentalism might have looked like a bourgeois playground to Edward Said. The Israeli state has long coated its nation-building project in a green veneer.

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The Housing Disaster

James Meek, 9 January 2014

The government has stopped short of explicitly declaring war on the poor, but how different would the situation be if it had?

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Watch and listen

Eliot Weinberger, 3 February 2005

In 1992, a year after the first Gulf War, I heard Dick Cheney, then secretary of defense, say that the US had been wise not to invade Baghdad and get ‘bogged down in the problems of trying...

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Isaiah Berlin

Christopher Hitchens, 26 November 1998

In​ The Color of Truth*, the American scholar Kai Bird presents his study of McGeorge (‘Mac’) and William Bundy. These were the two dynastic technocrats who organised and...

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Why Fascism is the Wave of the Future

Edward Luttwak, 7 April 1994

That capitalism unobstructed by public regulations, cartels, monopolies, oligopolies, effective trade unions, cultural inhibitions or kinship obligations is the ultimate engine of economic growth...

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The Morning After

Edward Said, 21 October 1993

Now that some of the euphoria has lifted, it is possible to re-examine the Israeli-PLO agreement with the required common sense. What emerges from such scrutiny is a deal that is more flawed and,...

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Maastricht and All That

Wynne Godley, 8 October 1992

A lot of people throughout Europe have suddenly realised that they know hardly anything about the Maastricht Treaty while rightly sensing that it could make a huge difference to their lives....

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John Hume on the end of the Unionist veto in Ulster

John Hume, 2 February 1989

In recent times in Ireland we have been reminded of a lot of anniversaries. Remembering the past is something of an obsession here. The future, discussing it or shaping it, doesn’t seem...

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City Government

David Runciman, 18 June 2020

The sort of city government Rahm Emanuel champions has only been made possible because the nation-state now exists to shoulder much of the burden of warfare and finance. It is one of the luxuries of the...

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Julian Assange in Limbo

Patrick Cockburn, 18 June 2020

Many of the secrets uncovered weren’t particularly significant or indeed very secret. In themselves they don’t explain the degree of rage WikiLeaks provoked in the US government and its allies....

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In Beijing

Long Ling, 4 June 2020

I replied no to each question and then asked: ‘What if someone hides this information?’ Without looking up she said: ‘Nobody can hide. Everything is under control.’

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The American Virus

Eliot Weinberger, 4 June 2020

Throughout his presidency, Trump has had a favourability rating of around 40 per cent. (He is the only president never to have gone above 50 per cent.) Now, despite the tens of thousands dead and the tens...

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Short Cuts: In Tripoli

Jérôme Tubiana, 4 June 2020

In late March, Yonas heard that another rescue boat, the Alan Kurdi, was on its way to Libyan waters. But he didn’t manage to get on board. On 7 April, the boat, crammed with 150 migrants, headed...

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The Inequality Engine

Geoff Mann, 4 June 2020

According to Thomas Piketty, history demonstrates that the means deployed to address the problem of legitimacy are only ever partly material. The more important means are ideological: at the very least,...

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Mussolini’s Unrealism

Edward Luttwak, 21 May 2020

As his country’s grand strategist, Mussolini’s incurable delusion was that a highly staged military parade, with the same tanks turning up again and again, was proof of actual military capabilities...

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A Great Wall to Batter Down

Adom Getachew, 21 May 2020

Priyamvada Gopal’s focus isn’t on the ways colonial subjects negotiated, resisted and reclaimed the empire, so much as on the ways in which imperial crisis awakened dissent at the metropolitan...

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Scotland’s Dreaming

Rory Scothorne, 21 May 2020

Independence is not inevitable, but it is now the engine of Scottish electoral politics, giving shape to its party system, providing motivation for its activists and guaranteeing a constant flow of controversy...

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Becoming homeless is easily done

David Renton, 7 May 2020

Early on it became clear that millions of workers were employed on contracts their employers regarded as temporary. Employers were perfectly willing to dismiss these workers, in some cases even refusing...

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The government is now keen to claim it was never prepared to tolerate high levels of infection in order to achieve herd immunity, but while it was defending the mitigation strategy it was prepared to argue...

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Bibi has done it again

Yonatan Mendel, 7 May 2020

On 15 March – two days before Netanyahu was due to appear in court, the first time in Israel’s history that a sitting prime minister would go on trial – the justice minister announced...

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Nigel Lawson once said, with the hint of a sneer, that the NHS is ‘the closest thing the English people have to a religion’. There seems every likelihood that the NHS will become the defining...

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The Arrestables

Jeremy Harding, 16 April 2020

Extinction Rebellion has come under fire for suggesting, as Roger Hallam has, that prison isn’t such a bad experience. Eda Seyhan, a lawyer and civil liberties campaigner, delivered a blistering...

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Adam Tooze, 16 April 2020

It isn’t a secret that China’s debt bubble, Europe’s divisions and America’s irrational political culture pose a challenge to the functioning of what we know as the world economy....

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Diary: #coronasomnia

Wang Xiuying, 16 April 2020

My city is at a standstill and the smog has cleared. The sky at night is a revelation.

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Secrets are like sex

Neal Ascherson, 2 April 2020

Like sturgeons and swans in medieval England, public information began as royal property. Today, we understand more vividly than ever before that information is also a commodity: I have it, you don’t;...

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Too early or too late?

David Runciman, 2 April 2020

There is a difference between a politician deciding your fate and its being left to impersonal chance. But it isn’t a dif­ference that matters much when lives are on the line. When something...

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