Weekend reading

I think this has now definitely become a three-weekly feature. Suggestions for interesting reading from the internet recently:


A long and fascinating profile by McKay Coppins in the Atlantic of Newt Gingrich, possibly the single guiltiest figure in the story of how the United States has reached its current dire position.

And another profile of a very unpleasant person: Daniel Trilling in the Guardian on Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, alias Tommy Robinson, the white nationalist activist who has developed a cult internet following.

The Pew Research Centre with a new report on social attitudes in Europe, showing a stark east-west divide on a number of questions, but rather more complexity on others.

A very sensible meditation by Phillip Magness at the American Institute for Economic Research (a free-market think tank) on the record of economists giving advice to authoritarian regimes, and the extent to which that raises a moral problem.

On the project of trying to understand Trump’s America, the critics who come from the right often seem to be the most perceptive: here’s Simon Schama in the Financial Times (via John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations).

And on the same topic, Fareed Zakaria in the Washington Post explains much of what is shocking about the Republican Party’s embrace of paranoid thinking.

Back to Australia, David Solomon at Inside Story reviews a much-needed biography of William McMahon, an unlikely martyr for economic rationality in the mad Australia of the 1960s and ’70s.

A report from the Grattan Institute at the Conversation looks at the counter-productive nature of Australia’s state taxes – which seem to be getting worse rather than better – and argues for a shift towards reliance on land tax.

A really interesting assessment by Alberto Mingardi of Vilfredo Pareto, the Italian economist, and what his career tells us about the tensions within liberalism and their relationship with fascism.

Probably the best thing I’ve read this year on China: a sobering assessment by Jonathan Tepperman in Foreign Policy of where Xi Jinping is taking the country and how big a break he represents with his predecessors.

Finally one that’s mostly pictures rather than words, but no less fascinating: the remains of Stalin’s attempt to connect the Arctic coast of Siberia to the rest of the Russian railway system, as photographed by Amos Chapple at the Guardian.


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