Sunday reading

For some reason I only seem to get to this about once every three weeks, and then often – as today – fairly late in the weekend. But if you’re looking for something to read, here are some ideas taken from what I’ve come across on the internet recently.


A long read from Isaac Stone Fish at the New Republic on the Chinese government’s influence in America’s leading universities – an echo of similar concerns in Australia, but even more alarming.

A report from Anne Applebaum at the Atlantic on the retreat from democracy in Poland and Hungary. Applebaum sometimes grates on me a bit, but this is urgent and important stuff, with just the right mix of the personal and the philosophical.

On the same general topic, Jon Chait contemplates Hitler-Trump analogies, and explains why we can still learn valuable lessons from the 1930s even though Trump is assuredly no Hitler.

The New Daily’s report on the stupidity of the federal government’s cashless welfare card, and more generally of punitive paternalism in the welfare sector.

Tim Colebatch at Inside Story with a thoughtful piece on the success but current unsteadiness of democracy in Indonesia, in advance of next year’s presidential election.

Also at Inside Story, there’s a nice presentation by Mats Engström of the options for forming government in Sweden, suggesting that a minority centrist government may eventually emerge.

Richard Cooke at the Monthly continues his explorations of American culture, this week with a fascinating report on college gridiron.

Also on America, Walter Olson from the Cato Institute delivers a careful analysis of the recent gerrymandering cases, in which the Supreme Court deferred any decision on the merits of the argument.

For anyone who’s been following the controversy over Nancy MacLean’s book Democracy in Chains, which alleges that public choice economics is a front for white supremacism, this is a very fair yet devastating review by Jennifer Burns in History of Political Economy.

And finally, on a lighter note, go to the Onion for the latest on the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination. Now more than ever, satire seems like our most reliable route to truth.

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