Archive for April, 2009

John Gray, one of the gloomiest social thinkers around, has just had another book published on why the drive to social progress is dangerous. The human imagination, in his view, led to the worst crimes of the twentieth century. Gray’s Anatomy (Penguin), a collection of his essays over the past 30 years, takes contemporary misanthrope […]

Will Hutton endorses recent Anthony Giddens’ call for a pragmatic middle of the road environmentalism in his regular Observer column (see 2 April 2009 post for book reference). Hutton rejects the utopian conservatism of the likes of Prince Charles and what he sees as the left wing anti-capitalism of the G20 protestors. Instead he favours […]

Thomas Friedman, the New York Times foreign affairs correspondent, tries to popularise the flawed notion of eco-systems services in a comment in this weekend’s newspaper. The globetrotting correspondent uses the example of Costa Rica to show that: “As we debate a new energy future, we need to remember that nature provides this incredible range of […]

Britain’s most influential development economist seems to have trouble distinguishing between poor countries and players in children’s football teams. Paul Collier of Oxford University has written an article for Prospect suggesting the West implement a red and green card system for coups in poor countries. A red card would indicate that the West considers elections […]

Interesting to read Göran Therborn, a sociologist with a radical reputation, trying, like me in my recent spiked review, to grapple with the contemporary meaning of inequality. Only Therborn’s concern in his article in Open Democracy is defining and measuring different dimensions of inequality. There is no conception of the need to realise the human […]

I do not normally comment on ideas floated by Britain’s Conservative Partly despite it being likely they will be the country’s next governing party. Tory leaders rarely say anything interesting or original. But the Conservative attack on state “excess”, as reported in today’s Financial Times, is worth noting. It seems that the economic crisis is […]

The following comment by me appeared in the latest Fund Strategy (6 April). The headline is a reference to the derision heaped on President Lula of Brazil in some sections of the financial media for daring to blame the developed countries for the crisis. While the G20 leaders were smiling politely for the world’s media, […]

This week’s Economist special report on the rich includes an article on social inequality. It starts with the observation that inequality has widened considerably over the past 30 years after narrowing from the 1930s to the late 1970s. But it reviews competing explanations for the recent widening without coming decisively down in favour of any […]

Another tantalising glimpse of Barack Obama’s growth scepticism. In his joint press conference with Gordon Brown this week he said: “In some ways the world has become accustomed to the United States being a voracious consumer market and the engine that drives a lot of economic growth worldwide. And I think that in the wake […]

Three more substantial and high profile contributions to the vast growth sceptic canon have recently been published in Britain: Anthony Giddens The Politics of Climate Change (Polity Press). View of an influential sociologist and government adviser. Peter Singer’s The Life You Can Save (Picador) argues the rich should give more to the global poor. In […]