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How do you like your liberalism: fat or thin?

Glen Newey: John Gray, 7 June 2001

Two Faces of Liberalism 
by John Gray.
Polity, 161 pp., £12.99, August 2000, 0 7456 2259 3
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... Corinthians, it was once said, worshipped at the tomb of the unknown god. Liberals worship at the tomb of the unknown principle; they’d be prepared to die for their beliefs, if only they knew what they were. Nowadays the creed, at least among political philosophers, recalls the fate of the Old Left: implacable certitude combined with smithereened factionalism ...

From Soixante-Huit to Soixante-Neuf

Glen Newey: Slack-Sphinctered Pachyderm, 29 April 1999

Collected Papers: Technology, War and Fascism 
by Herbert Marcuse, edited by Douglas Kellner.
Routledge, 278 pp., £25, March 1998, 0 415 13780 2
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The Contract of Mutual Indifference: Political Philosophy after the Holocaust 
by Norman Geras.
Verso, 181 pp., £15, June 1998, 1 85984 868 0
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... Statecraft’ is a word not much heard nowadays. The idea that politics could be a craft or techne, familiar to readers of Plato and Machiavelli, is well-nigh beyond superannuation. But even though there’s little bite left in the old dog, it can still bark at a full moon. Its main currency now is in conspiracy theory – or, with the recursive tic which marks this style of political analysis, conspiracy theory theory ...

Unlike a Scotch Egg

Glen Newey: Hate Speech, 5 December 2013

The Harm in Hate Speech 
by Jeremy Waldron.
Harvard, 292 pp., £19.95, June 2012, 978 0 674 06589 5
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... 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 to question the doctrine, or even (though Waldron goes nothing like this far) to reject it ...

Gloves Off

Glen Newey: Torture, 29 January 2009

Death by a Thousand Cuts 
by Timothy Brook, Jérôme Bourgon and Gregory Blue.
Harvard, 320 pp., £22.95, March 2008, 978 0 674 02773 2
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Standard Operating Procedure: A War Story 
by Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris.
Picador, 286 pp., £8.99, January 2009, 978 0 330 45201 4
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Torture Team: Deception, Cruelty and the Compromise of Law 
by Philippe Sands.
Allen Lane, 315 pp., £20, May 2008, 978 1 84614 008 2
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... Like making jokes or copulating without regard to season, torturing is one of those activities that distinguish human beings from other animals. Inflicted both on our congeners and on other species, it marks us out, in the words of the King of Brobdingnag, as a pernicious race of little odious vermin. Even Richard Rorty, the self-styled postmodernist liberal, felt able to pronounce that cruelty was ‘the worst thing we do ...

You have £2000, I have a kidney

Glen Newey: Morals and Markets, 21 June 2012

What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets 
by Michael Sandel.
Allen Lane, 244 pp., £20, April 2012, 978 1 84614 471 4
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How Much Is Enough?: The Love of Money and the Case for the Good Life 
by Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky.
Allen Lane, 256 pp., £20, June 2012, 978 1 84614 448 6
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... 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 ...

The Getaway Car

Glen Newey: Machiavelli, 21 January 2016

Machiavellian Democracy 
by John McCormick.
Cambridge, 252 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 0 521 53090 3
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Machiavelli in the Making 
by Claude Lefort, translated by Michael Smith.
Northwestern, 512 pp., £32.50, January 2012, 978 0 8101 2438 7
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Redeeming ‘The Prince’: The Meaning of Machiavelli’s Masterpiece 
by Maurizio Viroli.
Princeton, 189 pp., £18.95, October 2013, 978 0 691 16001 6
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... 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 most to be commended ...
... in Paris Adam Shatz: Moral Clarity Tariq Ali: Short Cuts Uri Avnery: Netanyahu at the March Glen Newey: The Right to ...

Sensitivity isn’t enough

Peter Berkowitz: The theory of toleration, 7 September 2000

Virtue, Reason and Toleration: The Place of Toleration in Ethical and Political Philosophy 
by Glen Newey.
Edinburgh, 208 pp., £50, November 1999, 0 7486 1244 0
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... show courage and generosity. Which then is to be preferred, toleration or its successor ideals? Glen Newey does not address the question directly, but his closely reasoned book gives us cause to believe that neutrality and sensitivity are poor substitutes for toleration. It is unfortunate that much of Newey’s ...
... swinging voters Yeswards. To repeat, you can lose by winning – and you can trim, and still lose. Glen Newey Although​ descended from Lake District ‘statesmen’, whose land tenure obliged them to defend the border against marauding Scots, and who successfully told King James VI and I to think again after the Union of the Crowns when he said that now ...

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