Simon Potter, Professor of Modern History, University of Bristol Global media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has announced his retirement as chairman of Fox and News Corp, making way for his son Lachlan. He has been demonised as a puppet master who would pull the strings of politicians behind the scenes, as a man with too much power. But what influence did he and his fellow media moguls really wield? The day after the 1992 UK general election, Murdoch’s tabloid The Sun claimed credit for the Tory victory with the notorious headline “It Was The Sun What Won it”. Murdoch subsequently denied he had such influence. But in 1995, and with another general election on the horizon, Labour leader Tony Blair certainly thought it was worth courting the media mogul. Blair, along with his chief press secretary Alistair Campbell, travelled to Hayman Island, Australia, to address a News Corp. conference. Two years later The Sun turned its back on the Conservatives and backed New Labour, which emerged victorious from that year’s general election. Commentators have argued that Murdoch’s US media empire, notably Fox News, gave Donald Trump significant public support in his quest for presidential power. Although Murdoch now seems to have gone cold on Trump, his latest biography quotes the tycoon’s ex-wife Jerry Hall as telling him: “You helped make him president.” More than a century ago, commentators were worrying about the power of the “press barons”. The archetype of this malign figure was Lord Northcliffe, who as Winston Churchill put it, “felt himself to be possessed of formidable power” after helping to unseat a prime minister and install the next one. According to Churchill, “armed with the solemn prestige of The Times in one hand and the ubiquity of the Daily Mail in the other”, during the first world war Northcliffe “aspired to exercise a commanding influence on […]
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a radical economic theory born in the 1970s. It broadly means shrinking rather than growing economies, to use less of the world’s dwindling resources. Detractors of degrowth say economic growth has given the world everything from cancer treatments to indoor plumbing. Supporters argue that degrowth doesn’t mean “living in caves with candles” – but just living a bit more simply. How do we save our planet? Some economists believe the only way is to radically scale back our global consumption of resources. This is a key premise of degrowth – a political and economic theory that is gaining traction as fears grow over climate change. But is it workable? What is degrowth? Degrowth broadly means shrinking rather than growing economies, so we use less of the world’s energy and resources and put wellbeing ahead of profit. The idea is that by pursuing degrowth policies, economies can help themselves, their citizens and the planet by becoming more sustainable. Practical degrowth actions might include buying less stuff, growing your own food and using empty houses instead of building new ones. Degrowth as a term was coined in 1972 by Austrian-French social philosopher André Gorz, according to the website Degrowth.info. As a movement, degrowth started to take off in the early 2000s, according to media platform openDemocracy. Modern degrowth protagonists include French economist Serge Latouche, who argues that society’s current model of economic growth is unsustainable. Why does Degrowth matter? Government policies have focused on growing and expanding economies ever since. With increasing awareness about climate change, the degrowth debate has accelerated. If economic growth continues to be the default goal, it will lead to climate catastrophe, the argument goes, with no hope of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. It seems to be no coincidence that global warming caused by humans started around the 1830s, scientists believe, when the world’s […]
Walter Isaacson is the author of biographies of Jennifer Doudna, Leonardo da Vinci, Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin, and Albert Einstein. This is the intimate story of one of the most fascinating and controversial innovators of our era—a rule-breaking visionary who helped to lead the world into the era of electric vehicles, private space exploration, and artificial intelligence. And took over Twitter. When Elon Musk was a kid in South Africa, he was regularly beaten by bullies. One day a group pushed him down some concrete steps and kicked him until his face was a swollen ball of flesh. He was in the hospital for a week. But the physical scars were minor compared to the emotional ones inflicted by his father, an engineer, rogue, and charismatic fantasist. His father’s impact on his psyche would linger. He developed into a tough yet vulnerable man-child, prone to abrupt Jekyll-and-Hyde mood swings, with an exceedingly high tolerance for risk, a craving for drama, an epic sense of mission, and a maniacal intensity that was callous and at times destructive. At the beginning of 2022—after a year marked by SpaceX launching thirty-one rockets into orbit, Tesla selling a million cars, and him becoming the richest man on earth—Musk spoke ruefully about his compulsion to stir up dramas. “I need to shift my mindset away from being in crisis mode, which it has been for about fourteen years now, or arguably most of my life,” he said. It was a wistful comment, not a New Year’s resolution. Even as he said it, he was secretly buying up shares of Twitter, the world’s ultimate playground. Over the years, whenever he was in a dark place, his mind went back to being bullied on the playground. Now he had the chance to own the playground. For two […]
Jonathan Taplin is director emeritus of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California and author of Move Fast and Break Things, which was nominated for the Financial Times / McKinsey Business Book of the Year. This is a brilliant takedown and exposé of the great con job of the twenty-first century—the metaverse, crypto, space travel, transhumanism—being sold by Peter Thiel, Mark Zuckerberg, Marc Andreesen, Elon Musk, leading to the degeneration and bankruptcy of our society. At a time when the crises of income inequality, climate, and democracy are compounding to create epic wealth disparity, these four business men are hyping schemes, designed to divert our attention away from issues that really matter. Each scheme—the metaverse, cryptocurrency, space travel, and transhumanism—is an existential threat in moral, political, and economic terms. In The End of Reality¸ Jonathan Taplin provides perceptive insight into the personal backgrounds and cultural power of Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Marc Andreesen and shows how their tech monopolies have brought middle-class wage stagnation, the hollowing out of many American towns, a radical increase in income inequality, and unbounded public acrimony. Meanwhile, the enormous amount of taxpayer money to be funneled into the dystopian ventures of “The Four,” the benefits of which will accrue to billionaires, exacerbate these disturbing trends. The End of Reality is both scathing critique and reform agenda that replaces the warped worldview of “The Four” with a vision of regenerative economics that seeks to build a sustainable society with healthy growth and full employment.
Is the story of the marriage behind some of the most famous literary works of the 20th century —and a probing consideration of what it means to be a wife and a writer in the modern world. At the end of summer 2017, Anna Funder found herself at a moment of peak overload. Family obligations and household responsibilities were crushing her soul and taking her away from her writing deadlines. She needed help, and George Orwell came to her rescue. “I’ve always loved Orwell,” Funder writes, “his self-deprecating humour, his laser vision about how power works, and who it works on.” So after rereading and savoring books Orwell had written, she devoured six major biographies tracing his life and work. But then she read about his forgotten wife, and it was a revelation. Eileen O’Shaughnessy married Orwell in 1936. O’Shaughnessy was a writer herself, and her literary brilliance not only shaped Orwell’s work, but her practical common sense saved his life. But why and how, Funder wondered, was she written out of their story? Using newly discovered letters from Eileen to her best friend, Funder re-creates the Orwells’ marriage, through the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War in London. As she peeks behind the curtain of Orwell’s private life she is led to question what it takes to be a writer—and what it is to be a wife. A breathtakingly intimate view of one of the most important literary marriages of the twentieth century, Wifedom speaks to our present moment as much as it illuminates the past. Genre-bending and utterly original, it is an ode to the unsung work of women everywhere.
by Anthony Seldon & Raymond Newell The UK had Magaret Thatcher and Teresa May who held the ship steady for a few years. Tony Blair, an American ‘poodle’, David Cameron ex-PR, and more lately, Lis Trusk, here and gone in five minutes and of course, Boris Johnson, almost as unhinged as that bloke in the USA who was president before this current one. Across Australasia Paul Keating was one of the better leaders, and in Singapore Lee Kuan Yew. But back to Boris… After his dramatic rise to power in the summer of 2019 amid the Brexit deadlock, Boris Johnson presided over the most turbulent period of British history in living memory. Beginning with the controversial prorogation of Parliament in August and the historic landslide election victory later that year, Johnson was barely through the door of No. 10 when Britain was engulfed by a series of crises that will define its place in the world for decades to come. From the agonising upheaval of Brexit and the devastating Covid-19 pandemic to the nerve-shredding crisis in Afghanistan and the outbreak of war in Ukraine, Johnson’s government ultimately unravelled after just three years. This gripping behind-the-scenes work of contemporary history maps Johnson’s time in power from start to finish and sheds new light on the most divisive Prime Minister to have led the United Kingdom since Thatcher. Based on more than 200 interviews with key aides, allies and insiders, Johnson at 10 gives the first full account of Johnson’s premiership, the shockwaves of which are still felt today. There was utter chaos inside 10 Downing Street where Johnson took huge risks with the truth and malleable principles. His ineptness performing the basic functions are here for all to see. -Doug Green, Publisher, The Mirror www.themirrorinspires.com
The submarines will be patrolling the waters, keeping an eye out for the ‘wolf warrior”.
– Jill Lepore A brilliant, revelatory account of the Cold War origins of the data-mad, algorithmic twenty-first century, from the author of the acclaimed international bestseller, These Truths. The Simulmatics Corporation, founded in 1959, mined data, targeted voters, accelerated news, manipulated consumers, destabilised politics, and disordered knowledge–decades before Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Cambridge Analytica. Silicon Valley likes to imagine it has no past but the scientists of Simulmatics are the long-dead grandfathers of Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. Borrowing from psychological warfare, they used computers to predict and direct human behaviour, deploying their “People Machine” from New York, Cambridge, and Saigon for clients that included John Kennedy’s presidential campaign, the New York Times, Young & Rubicam, and, during the Vietnam War, the Department of Defense. Jill Lepore, distinguished Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer, unearthed from the archives the almost unbelievable story of this long-vanished corporation, and of the women hidden behind it. In the 1950s and 1960s, Lepore argues, Simulmatics invented the future by building the machine in which the world now finds itself trapped and tormented, algorithm by algorithm. “A person can’t help but feel inspired by the riveting intelligence and joyful curiosity of Jill Lepore. Knowing that there is a mind like hers in the world is a hope-inducing thing.” –George Saunders “Everything Lepore writes is distinguished by intelligence, eloquence, and fresh insight. If Then is that, and even more: It’s absolutely fascinating, excavating a piece of little-known American corporate history that reveals a huge amount about the way we live today and the companies that define the modern era.” –Susan Orlean “Data science, Jill Lepore reminds us in this brilliant book, has a past, and she tells it through the engrossing story of Simulmatics, the tiny, long-forgotten company that helped invent our data-obsessed world, in which prediction is seemingly […]
World-renowned researcher and New York Times bestselling author Marcus Buckingham helps us discover where we’re at our best—both at work and in life. You’ve long been told to “Do what you love.” Sounds simple, but the real challenge is how to do this in a world not set up to help you. Most of us actually don’t know the real truth of what we love—what engages us and makes us thrive—and our workplaces, jobs, schools, even our parents, are focused instead on making us conform. Sadly, no person or system is dedicated to discovering the crucial intersection between what you love to do and how you contribute it to others. In this eye-opening, uplifting book, Buckingham shows you how to break free from this conformity—how to decode your own loves, turn them into their most powerful expression, and do the same for those you lead and those you love. How can you use love to reveal your unique gifts? How can you pinpoint what makes you stand out from anyone else? How can you choose roles in which you’ll excel? Love and Work unlocks answers to these questions and others, so you can: Choose the right role on the team. Describe yourself compellingly in job interviews. Mold your existing role so that it calls upon the very best of you. Position yourself as a leader in such a way that your followers quickly come to trust in you. Make lasting change for your team, your company, your family, or your students. Love, the most powerful of human emotions, the source of all creativity, collaboration, insight, and excellence, has been systematically drained from our lives—our work, teams, and classrooms. It’s time we brought love back in. Love and Work shows you how.
A landmark, radically uplifting account of our species’ progress from one of the world’s pre-eminent thinkers – with breakthrough insights into the power of diversity and our capacity to tackle climate change. In a captivating journey from the dawn of human existence to the present, world-renowned economist and thinker Oded Galor offers an intriguing solution to two of humanity’s great mysteries. Why are humans the only species to have escaped – only very recently – the subsistence trap, allowing us to enjoy a standard of living that vastly exceeds all others? And why have we progressed so unequally around the world, resulting in the great disparities between nations that exist today? Immense in scope and packed with astounding connections, Galor’s gripping narrative explains how technology, population size, and adaptation led to a stunning “phase change” in the human story a mere two hundred years ago. But by tracing that same journey back in time and peeling away the layers of influence – colonialism, political institutions, societal structure, culture – he arrives also at an explanation of inequality’s ultimate causes: those ancestral populations that enjoyed fruitful geographical characteristics and rich diversity were set on the path to prosperity, while those that lacked it were disadvantaged in ways still echoed today. As we face ecological crisis across the globe, The Journey of Humanity is a book of urgent truths and enduring relevance, with lessons that are both hopeful and profound: gender equality, investment in education, and balancing diversity with social cohesion are the keys not only to our species’ thriving, but to its survival.