Birth of a Nation

The congenial Alain Juppé lost by a huge margin to François Fillon – roughly 66 to 34 – in the French centre-right’s final round of primaries yesterday, which also saw a higher turnout than in round one. The economic policies of the candidates were close: thin down the state sector, loosen labour laws, cut taxes. Fillon’s was the harsher – and more radical – approach but the severity of his social programme was also crucial, and Marine Le Pen will be hard pressed to beat him next year. His is a face we will have to get used to. More »

Fidel Castro

On Castro in the 1950s:

In July 1955, Che Guevara was introduced to Fidel Castro, who was organising a guerrilla invasion of Cuba, with a view to overthrowing the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Guevara was soon asked to join the party of insurgents. More »

Outside Trump Tower

209px-trump-tower-3In the subway station at Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street you start seeing people holding signs. They move in clusters up or down the stairs to the train, clutching their flaps of cardboard: ‘No Racism’; ‘Immigrants Make America’. Above ground, this strip of Fifth Avenue is empty. Metal fences have been set up by the police along the edge of the pavement, and by 55th street the barriers are concrete. You walk in the middle of the street. Police are everywhere, chests bulging under their blue jackets, making eye contact with one another and giving assessing glances to passersby. The police stand outside Giorgio Armani; the pen of protesters in front of them is separated by the barricades from Dolce & Gabbana: Gucci is in Trump Tower itself. Most of the time now the boutiques are closed. More »

In Corleone

The Hotel Belvedere is on a hillside a kilometre or so south of the Sicilian town of Corleone. The north-facing rooms have expansive views of the town below and the valley below that. The Belvedere shut its doors to tourists in late 2013 after a couple of decades of business; one of its last reviews on TripAdvisor described it as ‘totally empty’, with a ‘stale’ continental breakfast and ‘towels thin enough to read through’. A few months later, the hotel’s fortunes changed. Reopened in 2014 under new management – a co-operative that also runs care homes in Sicily – the hotel became an ‘extraordinary reception centre’ for migrants, one of about 3000 in Italy. More »

Israel’s New Friends

In February, the Israeli prime minister praised the British government for introducing new guidelines prohibiting publicly funded bodies from boycotting Israeli products. ‘I want to commend the British government for refusing to discriminate against Israel and Israelis and I commend you for standing up for the one and only true democracy in the Middle East,’ Netanyahu said. More »

Goldwater Revisited

Richard Hofstadter gave the Herbert Spencer Lecture at Oxford on 21 November 1963, on the rhetoric and superstitions of the American right. The next presidential election was a year away, but Barry Goldwater, a US senator from Arizona, owner of a department store in Phoenix and author of an influential book about his conservative politics, who promised to roll back Roosevelt’s New Deal, was likely to be the Republican candidate. More »

All Over for Sarkozy

France is still on the outskirts of Trumptown, after round one of the centre-right’s first open primary to appoint a leader. To take part on Sunday you didn’t have to be a member of Les Républicains (formerly the Union pour un mouvement populaire). All you had to do was show the volunteers at the polling station that you were on the electoral register, hand over two euros, sign up to Republican values, and agree on the need for political change (‘l’alternance’). Change from one centrist grouping to the other, that’s to say. Even dyed-in-the-wool right-wing voters are staring down the barrel of a gun. At the other end is Marine Le Pen, the upheavalist candidate for the presidential race next year, jubilant in the aftermath of the Leave vote in the UK and Trump’s win. It was clear before the British referendum that she would go to round two of the presidentials – the left is out of the race – but afer Trump, it would be rash to rule out an FN victory. Whoever emerges from the centre-right primaries to face down Le Pen will be crucial. More »

Waiting to Cross

In a crowded room at a detention centre in Zawiya in western Libya, women from Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Eretria, Benin, Liberia, Chad and Niger told me they wanted to go back home. The men who weren’t locked up were gathered separately in a few rooms, or outside cooking on a small fire and listening to rap. More »

Where is ‘The Secret of England’s Greatness’?

In the middle of Room 23 (‘Empire and Expansion’) of the National Portrait Gallery, between the explorers and officers on one side and Florence Nightingale receiving the Crimean wounded on the other, is a selection of cartes de visites and group photographs of visitors to the Houses of Parliament. The calling cards include those of the Parsee intellectual Dadabhai Naoroji, the first Indian to become an MP (for Central Finsbury in 1892), and ‘Mr Stanley, in the dress he wore when he met Livingstone in Africa’. More »

On Spring Street

1_101springstreet4‘I wrote criticism as a mercenary and would never have written it otherwise,’ Donald Judd wrote in 1974. ‘Since there were no set hours and since I could work at home it was a good part-time job.’ Caitlin Murray quotes this in her introduction to a new collection of the artist’s writing. Like everything I’ve read by Judd, it’s matter of fact, utilitarian – plain in ways that conceal the effort that might have gone into the actual work. More »

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    • jad on The Clean Hands Problem: Most of the comment about Castro and Cuba fails to compare like with like - ie, Cuba with other Central/South American states. Cuba under Castro has b...
    • Phil Edwards on Stop Blaming Migrants: As it happens I gave a lecture on right-wing populism this afternoon. When I got to the section on nativism the lecture nearly ground to a halt - I'd ...
    • streetsj on Goldwater Revisited: My natural instinct is to think that fears of actual-Trump will prove to be overblown - I certainly don't go along with the Brexit doom-mongering - bu...
    • Timothy Rogers on Goldwater Revisited: This time around the populist paranoia is focused not upon some sinister foreign foe or Hollywood-style arch villain, but on certain groups of our fel...
    • editor@dailydetox.org on All Over for Sarkozy: It is worth noting that both Sarkozy and Le Pen are staring down the barrel of the gun of the Tribunal correctionnel. Sarkozy for the reason mentione...

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