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Chris Bertram

Sunday photoblogging: crocus with ant

by Chris Bertram on February 28, 2021

Crocus with ant

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Sunday photoblogging: Ashton Avenue bridge (2)

by Chris Bertram on February 21, 2021

This is from the same sequence as last week’s picture. Some people seem to like it more, and it provides some context for the previous photo also.

Ashton Avenue Bridge

Sunday photoblogging: Ashton Avenue Bridge

by Chris Bertram on February 14, 2021

Ashton Avenue Bridge

Sunday photoblogging: a new kid on the block

by Chris Bertram on February 7, 2021

Up at Alderman Moore’s allotments in Bristol there’s a new young fox with a very healthy-looking coat. He came by to say hello yesterday.

Fox at Alderman Moore's allotments

Sunday photoblogging: Reims cathedral

by Chris Bertram on January 31, 2021

Reims- Cathedral

Branching points

by Chris Bertram on January 23, 2021

Thinking back over the past two decades, which of the following events that took place since the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) are the important moments when something different could have been done that might have saved us from being in the situation we are in? How might history have unfolded differently? Are there key events to notice in Asia, Africa and Latin American that ought to be on the list? What is cause and what is merely symptom? Please suggest additional key moments in comments.

  • The decision of the US Supreme Court to award the Presidency to George W. Bush instead of Al Gore (2000)
  • The attacks on the Twin Towers (2001)
  • The decision by Bush, supported by Blair, to invade Iraq (2003)
  • The failure of policy-makers to anticipate and avert the financial crisis (2008)
  • The failure of European leaders to manage the Eurozone crisis so as to avert mass unemployment etc (2009- )
  • The Arab spring (2010- )
  • The “migrant crisis” in Europe (2015-)
  • The Brexit vote (2016)
  • The election of Donald Trump (2016)

Benjamin Constant looks at Brexit

by Chris Bertram on January 21, 2021

If Crooked Timber readers have not had enough of Brexit reflections from me today, there are more over at the LRB blog where I use Benjamin Constant’s distinction between the liberties of the ancients and the liberties of the moderns to illuminate, I hope, the false promise that with sovereignty Brexit brings freedom.

Globalism and the incoherence of Tory Brexit

by Chris Bertram on January 21, 2021

I recently finished reading Quinn Slobodian’s excellent Globalists, which, for those who don’t know, is an intellectual history of neoliberalism focused on the “Geneva school”. As with all good history, the book did not contain quite what I expected it to. I expected to read of the European Union as a kind of realization of Hayek’s ideas from the 1930s aimed at putting economics (and private property) beyond democratic control, a reading that gives some support to “Lexity” narratives about the EU. But the picture that emerges from Slobodian’s story is much more complex than that. In fact, the Common Market emerges as a messy compromise between German neoliberals who did want a rules-based order putting economics beyond politics and French agricultural protectionism and neocolonialism. This results in a split within the neoliberal camp between those who see EU’s regional governance as a partial step towards the legal insulation of economics from the folly of economic nationalism and those who see the EU as economic nationalism writ large, with the latter camp putting their faith in international protections for markets, competition and capital embedded in the WTO.
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Sunday photoblogging: Novi Vinodolski, 2009

by Chris Bertram on January 17, 2021

Novi Vinodolski

Sunday photoblogging: robin

by Chris Bertram on January 10, 2021

Robin at Alderman Moore's allotments

The Stock OBE

by Chris Bertram on January 4, 2021

A brief note stating my view of the decision of the British government to award leading “gender-critical feminist” and philosopher Kathleen Stock the Order of the British Empire for “services to higher education”. Nobody thinks that Stock has been awarded this honour for her work in aesthetics, nor that she has made contributions to higher education in the UK that exceed those of thousands of other university employees. Rather, Stock’s award has to be seen as just another example of Boris Johnson’s government using its powers of patronage to prosecute an “anti-woke” culture war. Other examples of this were the appointments of David Goodhart and Jess Butcher to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and the granting of a peerage to a leading member of the Spiked! (ex-Revolutionary Communist Party) network, Claire Fox. Many of these decisions appear to have been taken at the behest of Trade (but also Equalities) minister Liz Truss, who recently made a bizarre speech name-checking Foucault and suggesting that local councils, somehow influenced by Foucault, had put race and gender equality ahead of teaching children to read and write. Truss has also made a point of referencing the conflicts around trans rights in articles for the Daily Mail. Goodhart, the new EHRC commissioner, has been a vocal supporter of the “hostile environment” policy that led to the UK’s Windrush scandal; Butcher is on record as saying that women who are subject to workplace discrimination should find ways round the problem rather than bringing formal complaints. Nobody reflecting on the values and agenda that led to Butcher’s appointment can believe that the government which gave Stock an OBE has a serious commitment to the interests of women. In a parallel case in which the Trump administration had used its powers of patronage to honour “gender-critical feminists”, I have no doubt that American philosophers who have applauded Stock’s award would see it for what it is: the instrumentalization of discretionary power to fight the culture war. I’ve deliberately avoided going into Stock’s views in this post, although I am not a fan. Rather, I’ve confined myself to things that everyone on this side of the Atlantic who is reasonably well-informed about the facts, including, I suspect, Stock herself, knows to be true. (Comments turned off on this post.)

Sunday photoblogging: tree

by Chris Bertram on December 27, 2020

Oak tree at Ashton Court

Sunday photoblogging: Mount Pleasant Terrace

by Chris Bertram on December 20, 2020

Quiet around here, isn’t it?

Mount Pleasant

Ethos/ Bir Başkadır

by Chris Bertram on December 16, 2020

I’ve just finished watching Netflix’s new Turkish miniseries Ethos, set in Istanbul and directed by Berkun Oya. This has been very little reviewed in the Western press, as far as I can see. The Guardian’s what-to-watch for December doesn’t even mention it. And yet, I think it is one of the most compelling dramas I have seen for a while. The eight episodes link characters from diverse backgrounds linked through Meryem, a hijab-wearing house cleaner who is seeing a psychiatrist, Peri, because of recurring fainting episodes. She lives with her brother, the permanently angry Yasin, a nightclub bouncer and his depressive wife Ruhiye. Meryem cleans the flat of Sinan, a philandering playboy. We get to see a spectrum of Turkish life from devout village people to sophisticated urbanites and a world where women actually dominate the action (the men are passive, confused, at the mercy of events). The soundtrack is wonderful and the acting superb, as is the lingering cinematography. I’ve avoided posting spoilers, which disables me from saying too much about what happens, but it might help to know that Gülbin’s family is Kurdish, and to be primed to think about what is happening when the Hodja’s daughter, Hayrünnisa, leaves the house in the final episode. Some of the interest is Turkey-specific but there’s much that’s more universal, such as the clash between the educated urban set and the more religious “rednecks” from out of town. Give it a try!

Sunday photoblogging: starlings

by Chris Bertram on December 13, 2020

Starlings above Hebron Court