Glen Newey

Glen Newey was professor of practical philosophy at Leiden University. He died in 2017.

‘A New Jerusalem​ cannot be built without an effective sewage system,’ Miriam Eliav-Feldon wrote in Realistic Utopias (1982). Indeed, the old Jerusalem relied in biblical times on a municipal waste-combustion site, Gehenna, identified by Hobbes as the real-world model for hell – where the fires would keep burning for as long as there were sinners for incineration. In...

The Getaway Car: Machiavelli

Glen Newey, 21 January 2016

Marchamont Nedham​’s The Excellency of a Free State of 1656 sums up both Machiavelli’s notoriety and his place in the short-lived English republic: ‘It was a noble saying, (though Machiavel’s), “Not he that placeth a virtuous government in his own hands, or family; but he that establisheth a free and lasting form, for the people’s constant security, is...

Unlike a Scotch Egg: Hate Speech

Glen Newey, 5 December 2013

‘You are a totalitarian asshole.’ It’s probably not the sort of email that often drops into an All Souls professor’s inbox but, as Jeremy Waldron tells us, some people take the doctrine of free speech literally, and cut up rough when they think it has been slighted. All the same, one assumes that the sender of the email would defend to the death Waldron’s right...

Michael Sandel’s What Money Can’t Buy does for the market what the London Dungeon does for urban history. It’s a compendium of horror stories arising from what one might call the ryanairation of social life, the breakdown of once cash-free practices into severally billable units of account. Capitol Hill lobbying outfits now pay queuing firms to stand in line, sometimes overnight, so that the lobbyists can step in just before a committee session starts; ‘concierge’ medical companies offer queue-jumping treatment to those willing to stump up the fees.

Habit, Samuel Beckett says in his essay on Proust, substitutes the ‘boredom of living’ for the ‘suffering of being’, and he has a point. Human existence is an acquired taste, and many of us get through it with the aid of what Vladimir in Waiting for Godot calls the ‘great deadener’. Blank simian rote – the round of feeding, grooming, ablution,...

Once liberalism’s signature virtue, toleration has of late been superseded by other more fashionable ideals. Foremost among these is ‘sensitivity’, before which there was...

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