Weekend reading

Sorry I’ve been working on another project this week, so there hasn’t been much time for blogging. But here’s a selection of things I’ve come across that you might find interesting.


Cas Mudde in the Guardian argues persuasively that we need to pay more attention to questions of gender in understanding what the far right is all about. It’s not a new point, but it still seems much under-appreciated.

The BBC gives a careful explanation of how European tariffs apply to African products. Funnily enough, the European Union, typically caricatured as a protectionist monster, gives Africa a better deal than most places, although more could still be done.

Also on Europe, Marko Prelec at Politico makes the (very sensible) case for a land swap between Serbia and Kosovo. I might write some more about this when I get the chance.

Nick Gruen at Inside Story gives us a long but gripping meditation on the rent-seeking in today’s professional world and how to think about solutions.

Jon Lovett at Crooked considers how to mourn John McCain, and more generally soften some of the hatreds of politics by trying to recognise admirable qualities in our opponents.

Andrew Spence at the Lead points out that targeted advertising on social media, the source of so much recent angst, may for all we know be just as useless as most other advertising.

The Economist has a thoughtful long read on immigration. While I’m sceptical about the idea that heightened border control can generate public support for immigration, there are a lot of ideas there that are worthy of consideration.

Niels Kadritzke at Le Monde diplomatique offers Greece as a case study in privatisation – or rather, how not to do privatisation. Ironically, the very insight that privatisation depends on, namely that government is badly suited to commercial operations, means that it will also handle sales badly.

Henry Reynolds at the Conversation returns to the subject of terra nullius and the foundational questions of Australian sovereignty. It’s good stuff, but I think he underestimates how easy it is for people to live without addressing fundamental questions.

Colin Dickey at the New Republic reviews a biography of a grand American conspiracy theorist, and opens a window on a crazy world that has started to impinge on mainstream politics.

And this one’s a few weeks old now, but not to be missed: a New York Times Magazine profile of the much-demonised George Soros, a hero for our time. Very relevant to the politics of Central Europe as well as the US.

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