Centuries of Change 2

The American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the Age of Invention, the Spread of Democracy, and women’s rights…

Ian Mortimer’s magnificent new book ‘Centuries of Change’ describes the myriad ways in which European societies have been transformed over the past thousand years. This series of blogs summarises Mortimer’s work and asks just how much progress have we made?

This second post looks at the increasing pace of change during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a period that defined the modern world.   Continue reading

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The Love of Women

Director Kim Longinotto’s new film tells the remarkable story of the Tamil poet Salma and her lifelong rebellion against the stifling misogynistic culture of her village in southern India. For decades, poetry provided Salma with a mental escape from the unbearable conditions to which she was subjected. Her story is one of quiet heroic rebellion against a culture which crushes the female spirit. Continue reading

MLK and the March on Washington, Moscow, Cairo…

For me this struggle is a seamless robe. Opposing apartheid was a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination against women is a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a matter of justice.

                                                                            Desmond Tutu

Racial Equality

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King, addressing a crowd of 250,000 people in Washington, inspired America with his vision of a future in which his children would ‘not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.’ Today King is honoured as a hero, and the Civil Rights campaign he led is celebrated as having ended an appalling injustice. But for most of history the racist beliefs against which he fought were almost universally accepted in white societies.   Continue reading

In Democracy Building the Means are the Ends

A Blow to Democracy in Egypt

One year ago Egyptians were celebrating the end of thirty years of dictatorship and the beginning of a new era of democracy. Now Egypt’s first elected President Muhammad Morsi has been ousted by a combination of street protests and military intervention. This is a mistake. By adopting non-democratic means, Egypt’s opposition parties are unwittingly playing into the hands of those, on all sides, whose pathology makes them incapable of building democracy. Continue reading

Empowering Women Reduces Violence

The global struggle for gender equality is not only about justice. Women’s equality is an essential precondition for the reduction of violence and greed in our world.

The debate on women’s rights is about to change radically. Continue reading

Cultural Tyranny

The biggest danger to our rights today is not from government acting against the will of the majority but from government which has become the mere instrument of this majority…. Wrong will be done as much by an all-powerful people as by an all-powerful prince.

James Madison

When psychopaths and people with other dangerous personality disorders hold power, the result is political tyranny. Continue reading