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Robert Skidelsky

China’s Quest for Legitimacy

December 3, 2019 The conventional Western view is that China faces the alternatives of integrating with the West, trying to destroy it, or succumbing to domestic violence and chaos. But the Chinese scholar Lanxin Xiang instead proposes a constitutional regime based on a modernized Confucianism.LONDON – Liberal democracy faces a legitimacy crisis, or so we are repeatedly told. People distrust government by liberal elites, and increasingly believe that the democracy on offer is a sham. This...

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Placido Domingo: cancel culture?

‘People who do really good stuff have flaws’ said Barack Obama in a recent talk.  About the same time I read: ‘Placido Domingo has withdrawn from all future engagements at New York’s Metropolittan Opera [after 51 consecutive years] following allegations of sexual harrassment made by several women, including a soprano who said he reached down her robe and grabbed her bare breast’.[The Week,5 October 2019] Domingo’s burnished tenor and acting ability has thrilled generations of opera...

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How to Achieve Shorter Working Hours

I have great pleasure in presenting this report on shorter working hours, which John McDonnell asked me to prepare, and which I have written with the valuable assistance of Rachel Kay. I accepted John’s invitation because shorter working hours is something I believe in. In fact, I wrote a book with my son, How Much is Enough?, which made the case for reducing the burden of work as part of the good life. The philosophy of this Report is quite simple. The advance of technology – the...

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Letter: The UK’s failing economic model demands such bold ideas

Below is the text of a letter to the editor of the Financial Times, signed by Lord Skidelsky alongside 81 other signatories, and published on 6th September 2019. Your series of articles exploring the Labour party’s economic agenda fails to appreciate the severity of the UK’s current economic condition, and reproduces a number of misconceptions. There is growing political consensus that the UK’s economic model is failing. The economy has been performing badly for more than a decade....

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The Fall and Rise of Public Heroism

Recently I watched The Man Who Was Too Free, a moving documentary about the Russian dissident politician Boris Nemtsov, who was gunned down in front of the Kremlin in 2015. A young, handsome rising political star in the 1990s, Nemtsov later refused to bend to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarianism and went into opposition, where he was harassed, imprisoned, and finally killed. The film left me thinking about the diminished role of heroism and courage in modern life, and also...

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The Case for a Guaranteed Job

“Any government,” writes the economist and hedge fund manager Warren Mosler, “can achieve full employment by offering a public service job to anyone who wants one at a fixed wage.” Versions of this idea have received powerful endorsements from prominent Democratic politicians in the US, including presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has linked a government job guarantee to a Green New Deal. Moreover, versions of a job-guarantee program (JGP), more or...

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From Versailles to the Euro

This month marks the centenary of the Treaty of Versailles, one of the agreements that brought World War I to a close. In a sense, the tables have turned. Whereas the treaty imposed huge reparations on Germany, today’s Germany has taken the lead in imposing a large debt obligation on its fellow eurozone member Greece. Although the creditor-debtor cards have been reshuffled since 1919, the game remains the same. Creditors want their pound of flesh, and debtors want to avoid giving it....

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Norman’s Last Day

The funeral of Norman Stone took place on Friday 28 June in the Deak Lutheran Church in Budapest. His son Rupert asked me to be a pall bearer and I followed the coffin up the aisle behind the prime minister Viktor Orban. Historians Niall Ferguson and Harold James, among others, eulogised him. My presence was in a sense accidental. I happened to be spending a month in Vienna and I had come over from to Budapest to see him the previous week: on the day, in fact, he died. I had known Norman...

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From Versailles to the Euro

This month marks the centenary of the Treaty of Versailles, one of the agreements that brought World War I to a close. In a sense, the tables have turned. Whereas the treaty imposed huge reparations on Germany, today’s Germany has taken the lead in imposing a large debt obligation on its fellow eurozone member Greece. Although the creditor-debtor cards have been reshuffled since 1919, the game remains the same. Creditors want their pound of flesh, and debtors want to avoid giving it....

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Interview, in House Magazine

By Geoffrey Lyons In a 2015 article for Project Syndicate, historian Niall Ferguson accused Lord Robert Skidelsky of being “un-Keynesian” for refusing to admit that George Osborne’s austerity policies worked. Skidelsky’s position, Ferguson argued, wasn’t true to the great economist-statesman’s view that one ought to adjust their beliefs in the face of changing facts. Ferguson must have known this was a critical hit. It’s not that Skidelsky has come to identify his views with those of “the...

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