As another year draws to a close, here are some of the highlights of a year of Pandaemonium in 2018.
British politics was, of course, dominated by Brexit. I wrote little directly on the issue (though my original pieces still, I think, hold up well), but much around the issue of populism, including analyses of the Lega/M5S victory in Italy and of the standoff between Italy and the EU over the new government’s budget, and an article on the gilets jaunes protests in France.
I looked at attitudes of millennials to communism and capitalism, asked what it means to be ‘moderate’ , explored the meaning of patriotism and of citizenship.
I pointed out that there is nothing new in panics about ‘fake news’ – and that the solutions proposed are often worse than the problem.
In the wake of the Windrush scandal, I argued that the working class ‘continues to provide an alibi behind which the elite can hide its own prejudices and failures’ .
On BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed, I took part in a discussion on the white working class.
I gave a talk at the CEU in Budapest on the immorality of EU immigration policy and asked where the responsibility for that immorality lies. I wrote of immigration and cultural loss and of the relationship between the working class, immigration and the left.
In the wake of an attack on a refugee schoolboy, I argued that what is surprising ’is not that such attacks take place but that, given the political rhetoric about migration and the character of government policy, they are relatively infrequent’.
I analysed Sajid Javid’s new White Paper on immigration and why it embodies the ‘worst of all worlds’.
Race & identity
I asked what we don’t talk of when we talk of diversity and insisted that ‘challenging racism requires us to confront, not embrace, claims about racial categories that are the province of racists’. I looked at the fruitful tensions between the ideas of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and why their legacies have been lost.
I wrote a long essay for the New York Review of Books about the debate over whether the British Empire was a force for good.
I argued that foreign aid is a fraud and exposed Western cynicism about ‘liberalising’ Saudi Arabia. I also published an article by Mark Curtis on Britain’s role in a covert war in Yemen in the 1960s.
I paid tribute to Osman Kavala and condemned the imprisonment of hope in Turkey.
I argued that ‘We should no more support secular versions of blasphemy laws than the old religious variety’ and that ‘employers should not have the right to dictate what views are acceptable outside the workplace’.
Morality & faith
I wrote about the distinction between justice and vengeance.
‘Disbelief in God’, I suggested, ‘carries little weight without also a faith in ourselves as human beings’.
Science & technology
I counselled against falling for either the utopian hype or the dystopian fears about designer babies and argues that ‘there is nothing ethically superior in condemning future generations to terrible medical conditions if it were possible safely to eliminate them’.
Art, culture & sport
I also paid tribute to South African photographer David Goldblatt, who died this year.
These were the most-read posts in 2018:
Since six of these posts were published prior to 2018 (two – Why hate speech should not be banned and Why both sides are wrong in the race debate – were in fact first published back in 2012), here are the top ten posts actually from 2018
Finally, my thanks to all readers of, and contributors to, Pandaemonium. And most especially to all the Patrons. And best wishes to all for 2019.
The image at the top is Space-Force Construction by Liubov Popova (1921)