Imagine there’s no Sgt Pepper. It’s all too easy in the era of Trump and May | John Harris13 hours ago
This great Beatles album is as thrilling a listen as ever on its 50 th anniversary: but its a melancholy day for the one-world counterculture the record soundtracked
At the time Sgt Pepper was released, the American writer Langdon Winner once recalled, I happened to be driving across the country on Interstate 80. In each city where I stopped for gas or food Laramie, Ogallala, Moline, South Bend the tunes wafted in from some far-off transistor radio or portable hi-fi For a brief while, the irreparably fragmented consciousness of the west was unified, at the least in the minds of the young.
How far away it all seems. On 26 May the 50th anniversary of the Beatles Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band( it actually falls on 1 June) is likely to be marked by the release of remixed and repackaged versions of the original album. With his characteristically jolly meeknes, Paul McCartney insists in the latest issue of Mojo magazine that its only a record but its gained in notoriety over the years. The truth is that Sgt Pepper might be the most confident, boundary-pushing record British rock musicians had already been generated, and it is worth revisiting again.
We might also think about the era the album crystallised, and its long legacy. Sgt Pepper is not quite the quintessentially psychedelic, love-and-peace artefact of historical cliche: streaked through its multicoloured astonish is a very Beatle-ish various kinds of melancholy, partly rooted in the bands decidedly unpsychedelic postwar childhoods. But the wider culture moment, and the Beatles place at its heart, were indeed replete with beads, buzzers and a wide-eyed optimism.
Three weeks after the album came out, the band were the biggest attraction in the worlds first global satellite TV demonstrate, singing All You Need Is Love to an audience of as many as 350 million. Meanwhile, on both the US west coast and in swinging London, young people on the cutting edge genuinely were trying to push into a future very different from the one their parents had envisaged.
The so-called counterculture may not initially have reached much beyond its urban nerve centres and campuses. But the basic ideas Sgt Pepper soundtracked soon acquired enough influence to begin no end of social revolutions. A new emphasis on self-expression was manifested in the decisive arrival of feminism and gay liberation. Countries and borders came a distant second to the idea of one world.
Such shibboleths as matrimony until death and a job for life were quickly weakened. Once the leftist unrest of 1968 was out of the way, the shift continued away from the old-fashioned politics of systems and social structures towards the idea of freeing ones mind everything coloured with an essentially optimistic position of the future.
Two years after Sgt Peppers release, a young alumnu at Wellesley College, a women-only institution in Massachusetts, dedicated a speech. Our persisting acquisitive and competitive corporate life, including tragically the universities, is not the way of life for us, she said. Were searching for more immediate, ecstatic, and penetrating modes of living. And so our topics, our questions about our institutions, about our colleges, about our churches, about our government continue.
Her name was Hillary Rodham, and her journey says a lot about where 1960 s values eventually resulted us. To quote the music novelist Charles Shaar Murray, the line from hippy to yuppie was not nearly as convoluted as some people subsequently liked to believe and once the love decades more ambitious alumni reached positions of power, the origin of many of their notions was as clear as day.
Their professed distaste for corporate values fell away, but the hippy individualism summed up in the future Hillary Clintons insistence on immediate and ecstatic ways of life lived on, as did a questioning attitude to tradition, and to the stifling the limit of the old-fashioned nation state.
After the anti-6 0s backlash symbolised by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, by the mid-9 0s such notions were shaping a new political establishment, exemplified by Bill Clinton, and Blair and Browns New Labour. I am a modern man, from the rocknroll generation. The Beatles, colour TV, thats my generation, said Blair. Clinton honked away at his saxophone and ended his rallies with a song by Fleetwood Mac.
It is not hard to read across from these legislators ideals to what they soaked up in their formative years. In 2005 Blair, who fronted a long-haired band while at Oxford University, told the Labour party conference that people should be swift to adapt, slow to complain open, willing and able to change. Collectivity was yesterdays thing; against a background of globalisation and all-enveloping liberalism, governments task was to encourage people to be as flexible and self-questioning as possible.
Inner-city living builds for healthier, happier people, study determinesOne week ago
Residents of higher-density areas are more active, more socially engaged and less obese than people who live in the sprawl of suburbia
Contrary to popular belief, busy city centres beat suburban living when it is necessary to human wellbeing, as socialising and walking make for happier, healthier people, according to a new report.
Downtown residents- packed together in tight row houses or apartment blocks- become active and socially engaged than people who live in the sprawl of suburbia, according to a report that aims to challenge popular beliefs about city life.
Its authors said their findings should encourage legislators to promote the benefits of built-up city living.
” If we can persuade policy makers that this is a public health possibility, we can construct well-designed communities, and in the long term you have made a big difference in the area of health outcomes ,” its co-author Chinmoy Sarkar told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
” With evidence, we can scheme multi-functional, attractive neighborhoods that promote physical activity, promote social interaction, and shield from negatives such as pollution and impression unsafe .”
The examine- by Oxford University and the University of Hong Kong( UHK)- showed that in 22 British cities people living in built-up residential area had lower levels of obesity and exercised more than residents in scattered, suburban homes.
” As cities get more and more compact, they become more walkable. In denser residential areas they are better designed and most attractive destinations. We are less dependent on our automobiles and use public transport more ,” he said.
Sarkar, assistant prof at UHK, said policies and planning needed to catch up with the data, rather than relying on urban myths about what attains cities work.
The study showed that areas of suburban sprawl with about 18 homes per hectare- such as poorly designed neighborhoods near motorways, where driving is the only option- had the greatest rates of obesity and lowest rates of exercise.
Suburban areas with few homes- often privileged communities with big gardens and open spaces- were healthier than this but lagged behind the most densely populated areas in inner cities.
Walking constructed the biggest change, said Sarkar, and social interaction and physical activity flourished best in compact communities.
The analyse compared more than 400,000 residents of cities- including London, Glasgow, and Cardiff- and procured the best health came in areas with more than 32 homes per hectare, the average density for new building in Britain.
This level, typical of developments of standalone semi-detached suburban homes, is less than a one-quarter of the density of Georgian terraces of London’s desirable Islington and Notting Hill neighbourhoods.
Sarkar called into question British policies- such as statutes to curtail suburban homes from dividing their plots and filling in more homes in gardens- which have sought to preserve suburbia’s open and emptier spaces.
In January the government announced it would construct 17 new towns and villages across the countryside in a bid to ease a chronic housing shortage. But Sarkar said policy makers should think again before building on green fields.
Despite spiralling home costs and government targets to build a million homes by 2020, Britain’s restrictive scheming system has prevented high-density, urban planning due to fears that it would lead to high-rise, low-quality blocks of flats, according to a government paper released in February.
London remains one of Europe’s most sparsely populated major cities, with less than half the density of Madrid, Barcelona and Paris, and below the level of Milan, Berlin and Rome.
The paper recommended local authorities to reverse their long-standing opposition to built-up residential areas by highlighting London’s mansion blocks and terraced streets, all of which promote a strong sense of neighbourhood.
On Wednesday the prime minister, Theresa May, said the government would give PS2bn( US $2.6 bn) to local government authorities to build 25,000 homes for rental in the social housing sector, which urgently requires new properties.
The the administration has invest a further PS10bn in a strategy that aims to boost home ownership by helping people buy a new-build home with only a small deposit.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Prince George arrives for first day at PS18, 000 -a-year prep school16 days ago
Choice of Thomass Battersea stimulates four-year-old prince the first direct royal heir to be educated south of the river in London
Prince George has started school; a royal enrolment that has upped the desirability of properties in the well-heeled environs of the south-west London prep school chosen to tutor the four-year-old.
Plans for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to accompany their firstborn on his first day were changed due to her recently announced pregnancy and the severe morning sickness “shes been” experiencing. Instead the duke did the school operate solo.
A crowd of well-wishers had met outside the school gate to watch. The young prince arrived shortly before 8.50 am and was driven through a side entrance and a security gate shut behind them.
The third in line to the throne arrived for his first day at PS18, 000 -a-year Thomas’s Battersea, where he will learn to” be kind”, acquire” confidence, leadership and humility” and not have a best friend to prevent other children having hurt feelings.
Holding his dad’s hand and seeming a little apprehensive, George strolled from the car and then had a formal handshake with Helen Haslem, head of lower school. the duke was holding his son’s school bag.
It was a low-level arrival as far as media were concerned. Unlike William’s first day, which was witnessed by a bank of photographers, the ferociously protective Cambridges stipulated only one TV camera and one photographer would be there to capture the moment of George’s first day.
The newest and most famous pupil, who will be known as George Cambridge, was escorted into the reception class.
Kitted out in his John Lewis uniform( also available at Peter Jones in Sloane Square)- winter and summertime uniforms, red art smock, and PE kit including black ballet shoes total more than PS365- the young prince can look forward to a broad education.
No holds barred and funny as hell: the fierce humor of Margaret Cho24 days ago
One of Americas most politically outspoken standups is eventually bringing her barbarian brand of comedy to Britain
If you have never heard of Margaret Cho, believe the caustic, crude slapstick of Joan Rivers, the politically-charged gibe of Bill Hicks and the quick-witted improvisation of Robin Williams- all rolled into one but with a feisty Korean spin. Now the US comedian is about to embark on a UK tour, starting in Edinburgh on 25 November and ending at the O2 Shepherd’ s Bush Empire on 10 December.
Cho is a five-time Grammy and Emmy nominee and a household name in America, and earlier this year Rolling Stone magazine named her as one of the 50 best standup comics of all time. She has worked with all the above comics, and others such as Jerry Seinfeld, but says her greatest mentor and influence was Rivers.” I try to carry on her legacy ,” she says.” I feel like I learned everything I know from her .”
For a comedian like the openly bisexual Cho, famous for her brazen take on sex and politics, there has never been a better time to hit the road.
With the daily tweet-fest that is the presidency of Donald Trump and the sexual harassment revelations rocking Hollywood, Cho says the material is flowing like never before.
” There’s a lot about Trump, a lot about race and sexuality, and politics. I get to talk about all that various kinds of stuff, which I think is really important ,” she says.
Cho, 48, is also open about having been sexually assaulted and raped by a family friend as a adolescent. The accusations about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein have inevitably brought that back- but for her, slapstick is healing.
” I never believed I would see anything like this in my lifetime. I’m a survivor of this kind of stuff so it’s really amazing to see it happening ,” she says.
” It’s disgusting, but that’s what’s great about comedy. You can take something really terrible and make it funny. And that’s magical, that’s what we all strive for, to take things so dark and so difficult and construct them very light ,” she says. Dealing with difficult subjects, sometimes in difficult circumstances, is trademark Cho.
At a recent fundraising bash in Washington DC she was waiting in the wings with fellow headliners Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno when one of the theatre reps rushed up and whispered in her ear:” Whatever you do, don’t talk about Trump !”
Cho remembers:” Everyone suddenly seemed really scared. It was so weird .” At first she thought it might be the president himself. But as she seemed out into the audience, Cho clocked his daughter, Ivanka, with spouse Jared Kushner, one of Trump’s closest aides.
She thought about it for a split second, but carried on regardless- lambasting, with her signature barbarian humor, Trump, Weinstein and” all the bad in national societies “.” I won’t be asked back ,” she says, giggling.” But that’s OK with me .”
Cho is now looking forward to getting better acquainted with Britain.” Britons know their comedians very well. You watch comedians change their demonstrates and come back with a new demonstrate every year. So there’s a connection that they have with their audience.
” Comedy in saloon is actually there to be the social instigator, and get people talking to each other and get the social feedback running. Comedians have a different role in society there than they do in America. It’s definitely much more involved .”
Cho depicts heavily on her childhood growing up in and around a lesbian bookstore in San Francisco, which her parents bought when she was seven.
” We sold a lot of gay porn, and that’s pretty crazy for a very Conservative Korean household !” she jokes. It was here, though, that she learned the ache of losing friends, most of them to Aids.
” Aids changed my whole world. That’s the thing I haven’t is dealing with as a performer yet. I hadn’t figured out a way to talk about it- up to now .”
Like many comedians, it’s her own troubled past that has perhaps been most influential in Cho’s work- including with regard to her struggle with medication and alcohol abuse.
” Comedy is really about coping. It’s about coping with your own suffering, and your own pain. How do we find a way through that? That’s what slapstick is in general. It’s a way to cope. It’s finding a way to survive with all of this happening ,” she says.
Sometimes that suffering has spilled over on to the stage. At one sell-out gigin New Jersey last year half the crowd strolled out midway through when she appeared to slur and forget her punchlines. Grainy video footage of the event indicates battles breaking out and Cho ranting at” over-privileged white people “. At the time she put the fiasco down to sorrow over the death of fellow comedian Garry Shandling, but not long afterwards she dropped off the circuit altogether.
” I spent about a year and a half in a very closed-off rehab”, she says.” I just didn’t want to go back into the world .”
Now she feels like she’s” come out of the craziness and into the sun”, and is ready to attain her most troubling experiences part of her standup routine.” The worse the subject the funnier it is, that’s what I believe ,” she says.
The title of her new indicate- Fresh Off the Bloat – is itself a reference to being fresh off medications, alcohol and” the verge of suicide “. For the UK demonstrates, Cho has been busy rewriting a big chunk of her act to catch up with the constant flow of sexual harassment accusations dogging the entertainment industry.
She’s no stranger to Hollywood herself. She was in the film Face/ Off with John Travolta and had her own TV sitcom in the 90 s, All-American Girl , where she played the rebellious daughter in a traditional Korean-American household. Former boyfriend Quentin Tarantino famously directed one of the episodes.
The pair, she says, lately “was talkin about a” the Weinstein allegations and their wider impact.” It’s very difficult because it involves all this amazing cinematographic history too. But I think it’s going to be a continual reminder that there’s a lot of bad in our society, and particularly in industries like amusement where there’s so much feeling of absolute power that people have. So I think there’s a lot more to come out. I feel like this is just the beginning, and I’m really grateful for that .”
Read more: www.theguardian.com
‘A tale of decay’: the Houses of Parliament are falling down1 month, 4 days ago
The long read: As politicians dither over repairs, the risk of fire, inundation or a spate of sewage merely increases. But fixing the Palace of Westminster might change British politics for good which is the last thing many of its residents want
Britain’s Parliament is broken. It is a flame danger. It is insanitary. Asbestos worms its route through the building. Many of the tubes and cables that carry heat, water, energy and gas were installed just after the war and should have been replaced in the 1970 s; some of them date from the 19 th century. The older the steam pipe become, the more likely they are to cracking or leak. When high-temperature, high-pressure steam enters the ambiance, it expands at velocity, generating huge, explosive energy. Such force could be fatal for anyone close; it could also disturb asbestos and send it flying through the ventilation system, to be inhaled by palace employees. The house caught fire 40 times between 2008 and 2012. Last year, a malfunctioning light on an obscure part of the roof caused an electrical fire that could have spread rapidly, had it not been detected at once. Whatever else happens in the Palace of Westminster, that great neo-Gothic pile on the Thames, one thing is constant. Every hour of every day, four or five members of the fire-safety squad are patrolling the palace, hunting for flames.
Away from the grand chambers of the House of Commons and House of Lords, away from the lofty passageways, away from the imposing committee rooms with their carved doorways, the palace is tatty, dirty and infested with vermin. Its lavatories stink, its drains leak. Some of the external stonework has not been cleaned since it was built in the 1840 s, and is encrusted with a thick coat of tarry black that is eating away at the masonry. Inside the building, intricate fan vaulting is flaking off, was affected by oozing rainwater and leaking pipes. Its Gothic-revival artworks are decaying: in the Lords chamber, the once-golden statues of the barons who signed the Magna Carta are now dull gray, pitted and corroded.
Beyond its country of disrepair, the building is all too obviously a remnant of a predemocratic age. It was constructed not to welcome its populace in, but to impress them with its fortress-like grandeur. It was designed when women were, at best, crinoline-wearing spectators of parliamentary life, consigned to the public gallery. With its chilly colonnades of sculptures of male politicians, its heavy, ecclesiastical furnishings and gentlemen’s-club atmosphere, it provides the perfect stage-set for Britain’s” very aggressive, very masculine, very power-hoarding republic”, as political scientist Matthew Flinders put it.
Trump row could kill off swift post-Brexit trade bargain, says former UK envoy1 month, 9 days ago
Quick transatlantic trade bargain should be put out of our intellects says former ambassador, as poll depicts 72% of British public suppose chairwoman is a risk to international stability
Donald Trump’s degenerating relationship with Britain is likely to kill off any lingering cabinet hopes of a swift post-Brexit trade deal with the United States, a former British diplomat to Washington has warned.
Sir Nigel Sheinwald said that a series of controversial interventions by the US president in British issues meant that the remote prospect of a quick transatlantic bargain, heralded by pro-Brexit cabinet members, should now be” put out of our minds” for good.
His intervention comes as a new poll highlights the British public’s opposition to Trump in the wake of his decision to cancel a trip to the UK, with fewer than a fifth of voters( 18%) believing he is a friend of Britain.
Almost three-quarters of voters( 72%) also believe that the US president is a risk to international stability, according to a new Opinium poll for the Observer . A similar proportion( 71%) believe he is untrustworthy. Two in five voters believe that Trump should not be visiting Britain at all.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Which countries have the worst drinking cultures?1 month, 16 days ago
From savouring flavors in France to binge drinking in Australia readers talk about the alcohol culture where they live
How much alcohol is safe to drink? It is a question scientists have been trying to get to the bottom of for centuries, and now a survey exploring drinking advice around the world has found that the answer varies significantly depending on where you live.
In the US, for example, three or four drinkings a day( 42 g for women and 56 g for men) is thought to be safe, but in Sweden that is well over the amount health authorities recommend: 10 g for women and 20 g for men. Whats more, a standard drink in Iceland and the UK is 8g of alcohol, compared to 20 g in Austria.
Can these fluctuations be attributed to the fact that each place has its unique drinking culture? We asked readers to summarise their countrys stance towards alcohol and the unscientific, we should stress outcomes seem to suggest we might all be tip-off the scale when it is necessary to consuming a safe amount.
It is differed, but most people drink socially , not generally to excess, but responsible drinking( not drinking and driving for example) is rare. We should have tighter drinking and driving statutes. Dickon, 40
In the Spanish equivalent of a greasy spoon, workers stop for brunch with a beer followed by a big brandy then get into their autoes and go back to work. Its the drink-driving that I dont like. Anonymous, 45
Binge drinking is glorified in Australia, and the focus is not on drinking in moderation or for enjoyment. We should be encouraging alcohol-free days. I am likely not a true representative of the Australian drinking population as I am a very light drinker I drink maybe once a month. Anonymous, 44
There is a big binge-drinking culture among the youth in the country and a huge part of the health budget and policing budget is spent on dealing with drink-driving, collision and emergency services, and other long-term harmful effects of alcohol. We have a robust liquor industry that lobbies the government ferociously to prevent regulation of alcohol marketings. Advertising here has been grudgingly curtailed. Anonymous, 50
People often go to Izakayas[ Japanese-style pub] after work on Fridays or special occasions with their colleagues. However, alcohol is nearly always drunk here alongside snacks or food, entailing very few people get incredibly drunk. There are some cases of people with alcohol-related problems in this country, but people dont drink alcohol in order to get drunk, but rather to relax.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Scottish food standards agency criticised over E coli poisoning suit2 months, 22 days ago
FSS told newspaper it had no direct proof connecting outbreak that killed three-year-old girl with artisan cheese-maker
Scotlands food criteria bureau has come under attack after it confirmed it had no samples or test evidence connecting a cheese-maker with a food poisoning outbreak that killed a three-year-old girl.
Prof Sir Hugh Pennington, a world authority on the glitch blamed for the outbreak, E coli O157, said the information issued by Food Standards Scotland( FSS) on its investigation had been a mess, and had failed to answer basis the issue of the case.
The whole thing is a mess in terms of the public datum coming out said Pennington, emeritus prof for bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen and a former adviser to the UK Food Standards Agency. From my point of view, I just dont understand whats going on.
He said he was puzzled by the agencys delay in releasing its report in the outbreak, which objective several weeks ago. The sooner we find all the data which has been collated which allows the FSS to point the finger, the better it will be for everybody, he added.
The agency issued an alert in July after it connected an E coli outbreak that had affected 20 people with two batches of Dunsyre Blue, one of the best known brands from South Lanarkshire-based Errington Cheese, which has pioneered the use of unpasteurised milk.
The firm receded the cheeses from sale in July, but the frighten intensified last week after the FSS revealed that a three-year-old girl in Dunbartonshire had died and 11 people were hospitalised after contracting the E coli O157 bug. Prosecutors at the Crown Office are analyzing a file on the case.
Errington Cheese insisted its repeated testing had seen no traces of E coli in any of the cheeses involved, but the FSS said last week that two batches of Dunsyre cheese were implicated based on epidemiological evidence.
Two days later, the company said that withdrawing the cheeses from sale was in the best interests of consumers to protect them from potential risks to public health.
However, the agency told the Sunday Herald at the weekend it had no direct proof the cheeses it had named and had banned from sale were to blame. Tests carried out to date from samples taken by South Lanarkshire council as part of this investigation have not seen the same stres connected with the outbreak, it said.
It is understood the FSS did not test any samples of the cheese eaten, had no swabs from any restaurant or home or supplier, and was relying instead on a questionnaire of those affected by the outbreak. The FSS would not comment on those elements of its investigation.
The agency said on Saturday its testing of Erringtons cheese led to a positive finding of E coli O157 on a different product, the firms Lanark White brand; although it had not yet is proved that that cheese had the shiga toxin that stimulates the bug so dangerous.
The company withdrew its Lanark White from marketing, too, on the agencys instructions but again tried to defend its food hygiene and production standards. In a statement on its website, Errington Cheese said its advisers were unhappy about the testing used by the FSS: those batches of Lanark White had been on sale for three weeks with no reports of ill-health.
The company said in August there had been no E coli detected at all at its mill or in its cheeses since 21 March, either by its own laboratory, the local council or by its clients.
Its six samples of the Dunsyre Blue that was targeted by the FSS had all been clear. From the limited information given to it by the FSS, all the cases occurred in the first two weeks of July, even though the cheese had been on sale for up to nine weeks.
The FSS said on Monday: Public health is and is still being FSSs priority and specific actions will continue to be determined by what is necessary to protect public health and the interests of consumers. As there is an ongoing food safety investigation, we will publish more information when this is necessary to protect public health and provide information to consumers.
Pennington said it was often difficult to immediately connects a suspect batch of cheese to a poisoning outbreak because an E coli bug may merely affect part of each block, and consumers may have eaten the only evidence available.
In some instances, people could pick up the bug from an infected knife without feeing the cheese involved. However, without very detailed analysis, such as DNA testing, of each bug identified in every patient to prove a direct connection, there could more than one source of the outbreak.
Pennington has not been contacted by the Errington family in this case but gave expert evidence in the companys defence in 1994 when it was unsuccessfully prosecuted after traces of listeria were found it its Lanark Blue cheese. He said in this case the Erringtons had a right to see the FSSs report as soon as is practicable, so it could understand why its brands had been identified as the source of this outbreak.
But he said the FSS attitude in this case underlined long-standing hostility in Scotlands public health and food safety sectors towards cheese make use of unpasteurised milk, including the Errington brands. English regulators were more relaxed about unpasteurised milk; Scottish agencies became far more hardline after two major salmonella outbreaks in the 1970 s caused a number of fatalities.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
How the education gap is tearing politics apart | David Runciman2 months, 25 days ago
The Long Read: In the year of Trump and Brexit, education has become the greatest divide of all splitting voters into two increasingly hostile camps. But this is not a clash between the ignorant and the enlightened
On 23 February, Donald Trump stood before a rally of cheering supporters to celebrate a thumping victory in the Nevada Republican caucus his third consecutive win, in defiance of the naysayers who had predicted that his bubble was about to explode. If you listen to the pundits, we werent expected to win too much and now were win, winning, winning the country, he bragged. We won with young. We won with old. We won with highly educated. We won with poorly trained. I love the poorly educated.
That last line provoked immediate waves of mockery. It sounded at the time like another one of Trumps many gaffes he loves that people do not get a decent education? Yet behind the mockery was a real sense of disquiet, which has not gone away: Trump loves the less educated because they appear to love him back. As the Atlantic reported in March: The best single predictor of Trump support in the Republican primary is the absence of a college degree. Education or the lack of it seemed to be propelling the Trump bandwagon.
The possibility that education has become a fundamental divide in democracy with the educated on one side and the less educated on another is an alarming prospect. It points to a deep alienation that cuts both routes. The less educated dread they are being governed by intellectual snobs who know nothing of their lives and experiences. The trained fear their fate may be decided by know-nothings who are ignorant of how the world actually runs. Bringing both sides together is going to be very hard. The current election season appears to be doing the opposite.
Trump continues to poll far ahead of Clinton among voters who did not go to college, while Clinton still results by a significant margin among college alumnus. This is a significant change from 2012, when the picture was far more mixed. Four years ago, the college-educated vote was almost evenly divided, with graduates favouring Obama over Romney by a narrow margin, 50 to 48. Recent polling sets Trumps lead over Clinton among white humen without a college degree at a sobering 76 to 19.
Of course, there are other factors at play here. Race is one; gender is the other. The overwhelming majority of Trumps advocates are white, irrespective of their education levels. However, white men with a college degree divide much more evenly between the candidates, whereas white women without a college degree still strongly favour Trump. Less educated voters who support Trump are not inevitably poor: many earn more than $50,000( 39,000) a year. Trump scores particularly well among small business owners who did not going to see college. These polling numbers which are only indicative, since no one has actually voted yet can be unpicked a hundred different ways. But it is hard to avoid the conclusion that how people referendum is increasingly being shaped by how long they expended at school.
What is happening in the United States has also been happening in the UK. The Brexit campaign had its own Trumpian moment, politenes of Michael Gove, who told Faisal Islam in an interview on Sky News on 3 June that the British people have had enough of experts. Gove was also widely mocked if not experts, who was he proposing to get to repair his vehicle, fix his teeth, teach his children?
But what he said struck a deep chord, because it contained a large component of truth. The experts Gove was mocking had been telling the British public that the risks of Brexit far outweighed any potential benefits. Gove insisted that the voters should choose this for themselves, on the basis of these experiences, rather than listening to elite voices that had a vested interest in the outcome. Those voices came trailing educational qualifications, which had set them in their positions of authority at the IMF, the Bank of England, the Treasury. Gove was asking voters absence anything like the same educational qualifications to feel empowered to repudiate what they were being told. And in the referendum on 23 June, that is what they did.
Voters with postgraduate qualifications split 75 to 25 in favour of remain. Meanwhile, among those who left school without any qualifications, the vote was almost exactly reversed: 73 to 27 for leave. A report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation last month confirmed that educational possibility was the strongest driver of the Brexit vote. Again, there were plenty of other factors at work including a significant generational divide. Older voters were far more likely to vote leave, which partly helps to explain the education gap, since the rapid expansion of higher education in recent decades entails older voters are also much less likely to have attended university. But the Rowntree report concludes that educational experience was the biggest single determinant of how people voted. Class still matters. Age still matters. But education appears to matter more.
A post-Brexit electoral map of Britain starkly exemplifies this new divide. Scotland voted remain for its own particular reasons. But in England and Wales, many university towns emerged from the referendum as isolated outposts of pro-EU sentiment in a sea of Brexit. Newcastle, York, Nottingham, Norwich, Cambridge, Brighton, Warwick, Exeter, Bristol, Reading, Oxford and Cardiff all voted remain. I live in Cambridge, which voted remain by a margin of 74 to 26. There was consternation here following the result. It was accompanied by a barely squelched help feeling that ignorance had won the day. I lost count of the number of times I was told that one of the top trending searches on Google in the immediate aftermath of the vote was: What is the EU? The implication was that we had been taken out of Europe by people who did not even know what it was they were being asked to decide about.
Few felt comfortable, at the least in public, following this thought through to its logical conclusion. Yet it was hard to escape the sense that a long interred distrust of democracy was opposing its style back to the surface. If politics has turned into a tournament between ignorance and knowledge, then places like Cambridge is a possibility starting to feel dismayed by the realisation they are now on the losing side. But that would be to fall into an old trap.
Elite anxiety about the consequences of political ignorance is nothing new. In the long history of intellectuals worrying about democracy and its fails, two basic dreads maintain nagging away. The first is that republic will entail regulation by the poor, who will use their power to steal from the rich. The second is that republic will entail regulation by the ignorant, who will use their power to do the dumbest things. Both these worries go back at the least as far as Plato. The ancient Greeks understood full well that democracy meant letting the have-nots get their claws into the haves. For Aristotle, thats what the word meant: it was regulation by the poor( the demos ) over the wealthy. But if class conflict came with the territory, the deeper anxiety was what the masses might do out of sheer foolishness.
For Plato, democracy suffered from the basic flaw of putting decision-making in the hands of people who were not competent to choose. Politics was a ability and most people were simply clueless. Worse, that built them prey for hucksters and demagogues who would promise the earth and get away with it. Republic was fertile ground for fantasists with a taste for power. If you tell the people that up is down, and the person or persons believe you, then who is going to let them know that they are wrong?
These anxieties have never really gone away, and they reassert themselves at times of political crisis. In the 1920 s, the American political commentator Walter Lippmann updated Plato for the 20 th century by arguing that modern citizens simply lacked the mental capacity to process the information needed for intelligent decision-making. Lippmann had worked in American propaganda during the first world war and had considered at first hand just how easy it was to manipulate public opinion.
It is no longer possible, he wrote, to believe in the original creed of democracy: that the knowledge needed for the management of human affairs comes up spontaneously from the human heart. People will vote on the basis of anything that grabs their attention in a passing moment, filtered by whatever deep racisms they harbour beneath the surface. Evidence entails little to the average voter; reasoned argument means even less. Lippmann concluded that republic could only be rescued by establishing a cadre of specially trained experts, whose job was to steer politicians away from the dubious instincts of the people and back towards what the evidence required. Otherwise, the manipulation of public opinion would become the be all and end all of democracy, which is all the encouragement demagogues ever need.
Lippmanns fears chimed with the growing fret of some prominent mid-2 0th century economists that too much democratic decision-making would lead to fiscal ruining. A series of future Nobel prize wins, from Friedrich Hayek to Milton Friedman, channelled the ancient critics of democracy by arguing that putting the voters in charge meant short-term impulses would prevail over long-term prudence. Ultimately, they believed, republic produced inflation, which was just another way of the poor getting their own back on the rich. Hayek and Friedman both set their ultimate religion in the power of marketplaces. But first, they felt experts had to be empowered to rein in the self-destructive impulses of the voters. Hayek at one point advocated restricting the franchise to those aged 45, in order to cut out the young, who dont know whats good for them, and the old, who have a vested interest in the past. Hayek did not believe that anyone, however expert, could know the future. But he wanted to put self-knowledge back at the core of republic: the worldly wisdom of understanding what is possible, and what is just wishful thinking.
Lippmann, Hayek and Friedman insisted they were trying to save republic , not destroy it. But what they believed democracy required saving from was itself. The voters had to be rescued from their preference for fairytales and the person or persons peddling them. In the late 20 th century, partly under the influence of such thinkers, democratic politics did carve out spaces where experts could be better insulated from the impulsive decision-making of the masses, as independent central bank and other unelected bodies were entrusted with more and more decision-making capacity, away from the glare of public opinion. Now, in the 21 st century, these are the experts who find that the voters no longer want to heed their advice.
In the year of Trump and Brexit, it is tempting to think that republic is reverting to type and that popular ignorance is once again being targeted against expert knowledge. Trump is what you get when demagoguery is allowed to run unchecked, egged on by a craven media that simply enjoys the depict. Brexit is what you get if you ask people a question that they lack the basic information to answer. This is the view that has been doing the rounds in the circles in which the highly educated move. But to think this is a big mistake.The educational divide that is opening up in our politics is not really between knowledge and ignorance. It is a clash between one worldview and another.
What is the EU? Hearing trained remainers taunt those who would like to request that question the day after the vote was an uncomfortable experience and not only because the story about Google searches was largely apocryphal. After all, the question is not as straightforward as it seems: it is simple enough to say what the letters refer to, but far more difficult to know what they really means for our politics and our future. Education is not the same as knowledge. Nor is knowledge the same as knowing which way to election. The split between the university towns and other parts of the country did not arise because one set of people understood what was truly at stake and the others were just taking a wild guess. Both sides were guessing.
Even now , no one truly knows what is going to happen. The better-educated cleaved to one set of predictions because these chimed with what they already believed in. Polling carried out before the referendum, which asked people what they thought was likely to happen in the aftermath of a Brexit vote, found that university graduates thought that it would create an immediate fiscal accident, whereas those with fewer qualifications thought it much more likely that things would carry on as before. Prior political preferences shape what we guess the evidence proves , not the other way round.
None of this would have been able to surprised Lippmann. When he argued that ordinary voters were incapable of judging complex policy questions on their merits, he did not exclude the trained from that judgment. He entailed everybody. As he wrote: I have not happened to meet anybody, from a president of the United States to a prof of political science, who came anywhere near to embodying the ideal of the monarch and omnicompetent citizen. He thought that we needed experts who were trained in eliminating their own biases and whatever a regular university education does, it does not do that.
The historical record leaves little doubt that the educated, including the highly educated, have gone astray in their moral and political reasoning as often as anyone else, write the political scientists Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels in their new book Democracy for Realists, echoing Lippmann. What the educated are better at is voicing like they know what they are talking about, because they have been trained in how to make an debate. Well-informed people are likely to have more elaborate and internally consistent worldviews than inattentive people, but that just reflects the fact that their rationalisations are better rehearsed. Education gives you the ability to tailor your debates to suit your personal predilections, which is why it is a big asset on the job market. But it does little to help tailor your personal preferences to suit the best arguments.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Twitter suspends American far-right activists’ accounts3 months, 11 days ago
The move comes as the social network cracks down on hate speech on the site with new tools and features
Twitter has suspended the accounts of a number of American alt-right activists hours after announcing a renewed pushing to crack down on loathe speech.
Among the accounts removed were those of the self-described white-nationalist National Policy Institute, its publication, Radix, and its head Richard Spencer, as well as other prominent alt-right figures including Pax Dickinson and Paul Town.
Spencer, who according to anti-hate group SPLC calls for peaceful ethnic cleansing to halt the deconstruction of European culture, decried the bans as corporate Stalinism to right-wing news outlet Daily Caller.
Twitter is trying to airbrush the alt right out of existence, Spencer said. Theyre clearly afraid. They will fail! Members of the Reddit forum r/ altright “ve called the” move a purge.
Spencers ban is particularly notable, since he previously had a verified account on Twitter – the badge the company gives to noteworthy accounts to prove they are who they say they are. In the past, Twitter has stripped accounts of their verified status in the wake of abuse, as the company did with an editor at far-right news outlet Breitbartthis year, but the company does not appear to have previously acted so conclusively against an account it had once devoted what could be interpreted as a badge of approval.
A Twitter spokesman said the Twitter Rules prohibit violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts infringing those policies.
The move came the same day that Twitter announced a new move against loathe speech and harassment on the site. The company announced new features intended to allow users to control what content appears in their notifications, but it also confirmed a change to its develop process for moderators on the site, and a new set of tools for reporting loathe speech.
Those changes were welcomed by users, but also seen as too little, too late. As with Facebooks clampdown on fake news on its social network, users construed the social network as ultimately realising that its platform was facilitating and emboldening the far right, but merely during the course of its week after the far-rights candidate of choice had won the US presidential election.
For former Twitter users, both those cast off the site due to their extreme positions, or those discontinuing Twitter in protest, a new social network is hoping to hoover them up instead. Gab advertises itself with the slogan Free speech for everyone, and features a green frog as its logo. Webcomic character Pepe the Frog was added to an online abhor symbol database in September owing to the figures co-option as an alt-right icon.
In a statement, Gab said: We are a free-speech website and nothing more. Gab is open to all users, regardless of their political beliefs, ideology and moral positions. Our mission is to set people first and to foster discourse without hindrance and proscription, as is occurring throughout the online community.
We use a frog, because it has long been a symbol of fertility, creation, going back to the ancients. Its seen as a emblem of prosperity.
So far, though, the service has just 12,000 users, stimulating it small in comparison to other far-right meeting place such as Stormfront.
Read more: www.theguardian.com