Liberalism Will Not Be Defended by Liberal Ideas Alone

Vladimir Putin has challenged liberals to defend liberalism. Liberalism is “obsolete”, Putin stated in an interview this weekend, before his arrival at the G20 in Osaka. Conflating immigration with crime, he insisted that “every crime must have its punishment”. No doubt relishing his timing with respect to Stonewall as much as the G20, he spoke of “core populations” who merited the state’s support. Sexual minorities, by contrast, deserve little more than provisional tolerance of their behaviour. Putin applauded national populists in countries across the liberal democratic west. He supported their upending of the rules-based liberal international order and its domestic counterpart of multicultural national societies. Putin’s rant is a perfect illustration of contemporary anti-liberalism…

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Liberalism vs. the Law

50 years ago, in the space of less than a week, the US experienced not only the Stonewall riots (and the birth of the modern gay rights movement) but a further event of historic significance, less remarked upon at the time, and practically forgotten today (at least in public debate). Yet this second event would intersect with the historical trajectory of Stonewall and the rise of social movement politics more broadly during the 1970s, with important implications for American democracy in the years to come. That other event was the swearing in of Warren Burger, a committed homophobe, as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Burger’s election was triply significant…

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How do you write the history of the post-Cold War age?

It’s two weeks to launch day and Empire of Democracy is now available for pre-order. It’s been a long road to get here. In 2011 I set out to write a book that I was desperate to read but that didn’t exist: a one stop history of the West in the present age. That book now exists and is about to release on June 25th (US) and June 27th (UK). So how do you write a history of the post-Cold War age…?

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Academia’s doom loop (and how to escape it) - Reflections after a roundtable with Stefan Collini

If local surgeries were run like a modern British university you would soon, quite rightly, take your health problems elsewhere. A visit to your local GP would find a forlorn and overworked figure, busily rescheduling their own appointments because patients kept cancelling on them, wondering when your own appointment would be over so they could get back to their real tasks for the day: ranking colleagues for a mock General Practitioner assessment exercise (in advance of a national exercise next year); designing a strategy to increase patient numbers (perhaps by offering out of hours services?); and thinking how to sugar coat the salary savings the local Health Trust have insisted be found by middle management (refusing any increase for another year looks like a good bet). This evening they may (or may not) get to keeping abreast of medical knowledge in their field. The sad thing is that modern British Universities really are run a little like this. We are a long way indeed from the days when Harold Wilson could proudly declare the Open University (our first “university of the air”) open for the provision of quality and affordable education in a modernising democracy…

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