The May plan for Brexit

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In a little over 70 pages, Theresa May has confirmed the worst nightmare for Remainers. Not only is Britain leaving the EU, we are leaving the single market and the customs union too. This may mean immigration controls are being placed before economic growth. The political is being put before the economic. This is what she meant when she engaged in such sloganeering as “red, white and blue Brexit”. Speaking at Lancaster House, May deployed the language of internationalism, Theresa May laid out the contours of the plan for Britain to leave the EU and become a “great, global trading nation”. … Continue reading

Did Castro hold back Cuba?

Cuban sign reading: 'To fight against the impossible and win.'

Alongside his depiction as a “brutal dictator”, negative reflections on Fidel Castro since his death on November 25 have focused on his “mismanagement” of the Cuban economy and the consequent “extremes of poverty” suffered by ordinary Cubans. This caricature is problematic – not only because it ignores the devastating economic impact of the United States embargo over 55 years, but also because it is premised on neoclassical economic assumptions. This means that by stressing economic policy over economic restraints, critics can shift responsibility for Cuba’s alleged poverty on to Castro without implicating successive US administrations that have imposed the suffocating … Continue reading

Where to start with Adam Curtis

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A friend asked me where they should start with Adam Curtis. It’s a good question. Curtis has been making films since the early 1980s and really came into his own in the 1990s and 2000s. His latest films Bitter Lake (2015) and HyperNormalisation (2016) constitute a break with the past insofar as he has taken his style to its end. What follows next may be a great decline, or it could be a radical new phase in his work. But let’s get back to the question. The latest films may be hard-going for newcomers to the Curtis style. So I’m going to list my … Continue reading