A bloggy highlights reel

I’m not an epidemiologist, so I don’t know more than anyone else about how the health crisis is going to play out. I’d rather not pontificate about its course or effects while so much is still unknown. I hope for the best, I try to listen to the best medical advice and try to both stay safe and keep others safe. I’d certainly encourage all readers to do the same.

Compared to what many people are going through, bloggers have an easy time of it. One thing we can do to help is to try to preserve as much of normality as possible, so I plan to continue bringing you my take on world affairs as usual: the coronavirus may dominate the news, but politics doesn’t go away.

I’m also conscious that a lot of people will have time on their hands, so I’ve had a bit of a trawl through the archive to suggest some reading material. The plan is that every Friday morning I’ll present 15 posts that I think are worth a (re-)read. They usually also include links to other interesting stories that might help to keep you informed or entertained over the weekend.

I’ve chosen a range of pieces that I particularly like, often of a more reflective or philosophical bent, that seem to me to have continuing relevance beyond the immediate occasion. Feel free to make other suggestions, or to offer any other thoughts on what bloggers can contribute to our well-being in difficult times.

So here goes for week one:

James Buchanan RIP (January 2013). An obituary for Nobel-winning economist James Buchanan, one of the founders of public choice theory. As with most pioneers, it’s a measure of his success that we no longer realise how controversial his ideas once were.

Meet the new Kim, same as the old Kim (April 2013). Kim Jong-un engages in the same game as his father did, upping the rhetorical ante to win concessions from the west. It never meant that he was going to start a war.

The great olive oil scandal of 2013 (May 2013). Eurosceptics have a field day over olive oil, but there was a serious question about business regulation that needs to be looked at.

President Bob back for one more turn in Zimbabwe (August 2013). The opening of Robert Mugabe’s final term occasions some comment on colonialism in Africa and the problem of dodgy elections.

Holiday reading on Middle East peace (December 2013). Just as the Palestinians indicate some new flexibility about the direction of Mid-East peace talks, a study on public opinion shows both sides ready for serious compromise.

Blair, Iraq and Afghanistan (June 2014). The successful conduct of an election in Afghanistan provides an interesting counterpoint to Tony Blair’s call for a new intervention in Iraq.

American unbelief comes out of the closet (May 2015). Another instalment in the long-running debate over the condition of religion in America, where things are never quite what they seem.

The world we have lost (March 2016). Twenty years on, Australia marks the advent of the Howard government. Time passes, but we still live in the shadow of that change.

A three-party America? (June 2016). The Libertarian Party has hopes of becoming something like a mainstream European-style liberal party, raising the question of what it means to be a liberal in the United States.

The luck of the centrist (February 2017). France’s progressive liberal candidate, Emmanuel Macron, benefits from a remarkable run of luck on his way to the second round of the presidential election against Marine Le Pen.

Luther at 500 (November 2017). The Reformation turns five hundred, without ceasing to be controversial. An assessment of Martin Luther’s continuing significance.

Does it matter who funds think tanks? (August 2018). Ideas matter, independently of who’s paying for them. But that doesn’t mean that the latter is unimportant.

Another Trumpist goes down (November 2018). Victoria’s Labor government comfortably wins re-election, in a striking repudiation of the turn to the right made by its Liberal opposition.

Brexit revisits the civil war / Oh no, not 1975 again! (August 2019). Parliamentary warfare over Brexit raises fascinating constitutional questions, including comparisons with Australia.

The impossibility of media balance (October 2019). No-one is surprised to find that politicians lie. But how should the media respond when a particular side of politics inhabits an entire ecosystem of lies?

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