Remember the man, not the myth: Why the real quotes are better than the memes – Part 4

This is post 4 of 5 in the series “Churchill: Remember the man, not the myth” Alastair continues his series examining the best accounts of Winston Churchill, calling for a more significant distinction between the real and apocryphal stories about Churchill. Will the real Winston please stand up? Finding the sources for many of the […]

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Machiavelli was a striking moralist

“For Machiavelli, the people are the moral universalism at the heart of The Prince. Across 26 chapters, he directs princes to pay their attention to the limits and tolerances of the populace. Whether in hereditary, mixed, ecclesiastical or new principalities, Machiavelli attempts to achieve a delicate balance of protecting the people, protecting the prince and protecting them both from the other.”

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Churchill was a peacemaker, not just a warrior

“What is beyond doubt is Churchill’s chief commitment to the preservation of human life. It is easy to get bogged down in what he did or did not think about institutions such as the Council of Europe or the creation of the European Economic Community. These are fads, topical because they are today’s challenges. What is neglected, criminally so, is the motivation of a man remembered for war but who lived for peace.”

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Why history matters to Catalonia

Was the Catalan vote for independence illegal? Yes. It’s that simple. The 1978 Spanish Constitution, agreed across the country in the years following General Francisco Franco’s death in 1975, makes two explicit provisions regarding Spain’s unity.    The first is that “the Constitution is based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation”. Secondly, “political […]

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The Scot who nearly killed Franco

SCOTS are famous for many things, but trying to kill Franco isn’t typically one of them. Nevertheless, on 11 August 1964, an 18-year-old anarchist by the name of Stuart Christie was arrested in Madrid attempting to do just that. To make matters worse, not only was he carrying a kilo of explosives, but they were […]

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Why irredentism explains Brexit

IRREDENTISM is any political or popular movement intended to reclaim and reoccupy an area that the movement’s members consider “lost” or “unredeemed”. Most people know the concept, but not the word. It matters because it explains most, if not all, of the current Brexit debate. The Balkans is the textbook example of the topic. Ideas […]

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When Churchill bribed Franco   

The Spanish Civil War is widely considered a prelude to the Second World War.  All the central powers were peripherally involved, and Spain owed a debt of $212 million for supplies given by Nazi Germany to General Francisco Franco’s Nationalists.  As such, there was a fear that Spain might come out on the side of […]

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A street called 17 January 1966

HIROSHIMA and Nagasaki: the only two occasions in history when nuclear weapons were used in combat. But who remembers the time America accidentally bombed Spain? The 1966 Palomares B-52 crash occurred on 17 January when an American bomber collided with a refuelling tanker over the Mediterranean Sea, killing seven of the 11 crew members. The aircraft carried four […]

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Read this before you see Dunkirk 

Christopher Nolan’s latest epic is just that. It’s a self-contained piece of cinematography the likes of which audiences have not seen in decades. From flawless direction to edge-of-your-seat suspense, it’s not so much a film as an experience. And it can only be enjoyed at the cinema.  A lot has been made of Dunkirk’s cinematic […]

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Why there will be no more en masse mourning of celebrities in the future

‘Today, in our interconnected, globalised and culturally internationalist world, it’s a macabre, but easy temptation, to look around and imagine which artists will generate the same shockwaves when they die. Who will, for the twenty-somethings of today, be the ‘legends’ that receive posthumous awards and extensive media coverage lavishing praise or skewering with retrospectives?’

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The Alhambra, populism and the dangers of an ignorant population

‘Western civilisation is more connected than ever, yet the ability of populations to discern fact from fiction and to decide which is an outright lie has declined. In the case of Trump, what is curious, is the presumption that politicians and leaders will lie seems to have reached a satirical impasse. There’s the cliche that politicians or someone in public life will lie but surely they can’t lie that much. There is an implicit presumption and trust that they could never go that far and it has allowed, with the absence of historical knowledge, deception, and hyperbole to become commonplace.’

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History is written by the victors, so how will we remember the EU?

For a real insight into the British attitude toward Europe in the months ahead, it’s the Eurovision which is the most indicative of British feelings to our continental neighbours. We participate, we watch and chortle at the perceived weirdness and the stereotypes of other cultures but we never truly engage in it. We’re sort of just there, awkwardly caught off guard as if we’re at a party where we don’t really know many people and are half-heartedly dancing until our real friends arrive.

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Reconciling Realism and Human Rights

Despite suggesting that morality is intrinsic to human nature, Morgenthau acknowledges that there are serious questions as to how to “build a bridge between ethics and politics (Morgenthau 1960: 6). Indeed, even though he acknowledges a moral element to man’s character that moves beyond the pastiche of ‘power, power and power’ that he is famed for, there is an inconsistency at the heart of his moral thinking.

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Cecil the lion exposes our ignorance about the human condition

Cecil the lion proved the point. The tragedy of a great beast being slain for sport is not lost on me in a world where extinction for most creatures beckons in the near future. It was quite right for their to be a shocked global outcry, particularly on social media, at something so garish. Yet the event unified people in such a wisdom of crowds type way as to beg the question why we’re not like this about the daily human travesties that occur every day all over the world. Have we become so used to hearing of famines, murder, rape, genocides, female genital mutilation and terrorism that we’ve accepted it as a fact of life? Even if these are facts of our global civilisation that may well be perennial, have we really lost our ability to care and our desire to see change?

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Liberty’s Exiles: Unionists in an independent Scotland

Funny thing: I drafted the below article when sitting at 6am in a airport waiting to move to Spain. It was one of several. To borrow from Clint Eastwood’s ‘Dirty Harry’, in all that excitement, I kind of lost track and forgot all about it. Unearthed, here it is. Maybe it will be relevant again if there’s another Scottish Referendum. In which case ignore this preamble.

AS

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Devolution and the myth of Westminster control?

Since coming to power in 2007, the SNP has placed great emphasis on quality primary education as a defining factor in shaping the lifelong prospects of children. Yet in the run-up to the Scottish referendum, it’s a curious anomaly that neither the Better Together or Yes Campaign have challenged for their advantage the widespread assumption that Scottish education has always been run by Westminster.

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