Greetings from Utopia

We can only answer the question of what we should do, the philosopher Alistair MacIntyre said, if we can answer the question of which stories we are part of. We aren’t authors of our own lives so much as weavers of tales that extend before and beyond us. This week I was at Chester’s new […]

The peculiar persistence of place

If you live in Barnsley, I was once told, you can be as rude about it as you like and nobody will bat an eyelid. But if you don’t and you suggest it’s anything less than God’s holiday home when the Almighty fancies a break, heaven help you. For Barnsley, read anywhere with a strong […]

The five questions of power

Tony Benn famously said there were five questions to be asked about power. What power do you have? Where did you get it? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you? If you can’t answer the last of those questions, he told MPs, […]

Uncertainty? Let’s have more

Talking to a group of undergraduates about conducting a research project, I asked them where they went for trusted information. They dutifully gave the expected answer: go to the peer-reviewed academic journals. But what if you want to understand what’s going on now rather than however many years ago the peer-reviewed research was done? Social […]

Dawn raids and the death of trust

I tend not to have a lot of contact with the police. So when they come into your life twice in a week, you sit up and pay attention. The first time was in the early hours of Sunday morning, when we woke to discover our home had been broken into, the car keys taken […]