Notes From the Margins…
Posts by Matt
Small Island: A Brief History of British Immigration ‘Concerns’

Small Island: A Brief History of British Immigration ‘Concerns’

  • January 18, 2019
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Politicians tend to defer almost as a matter of course to popular ‘concerns’ about immigration, as though they were a novel reaction to the unprecedented 21st century phenomenon of ‘mass immigration’.

But these ‘concerns’ are actually part of a longer historical tradition, in which racist and xenophobic prejudices have been attached to different groups of people, in...

The Savage Frontier: Page 99 Test

The Savage Frontier: Page 99 Test

  • January 17, 2019
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Marshal Zeringue’s Campaign for the American Reader blog has a fun exercise called ‘ the Page 99 test.’  Following Ford Madox Ford’s dictum ‘ Open the book at page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you,’ it invites writers to talk about page 99 in one of their...

‘Foreigners Like You Have No Right to Interfere’

‘Foreigners Like You Have No Right to Interfere’

  • January 16, 2019
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Just after the referendum in 2016,  I got a message on this site from an anonymous fascist,  which I wish I’d kept.  The gist of it was that the people like me had lost, and that people like the writer were now going to take their country back.

The tone was  quietly triumphant and determined, and...

What I’m Reading: Blog Piece

What I’m Reading: Blog Piece

  • January 15, 2019
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When I’m writing non-fiction, my reading tends be dominated by the subject in hand. I try to read obsessively on whatever project i’m writing about so that I’m completely filled up by it. When I’m in between books, as I am now, I try to read more freely, either catching up on books I’ve been...

Brexit: Clowntime is Over

Brexit: Clowntime is Over

  • January 14, 2019
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‘In reading the history of nations, we find that, like individuals, they have their whims and their peculiarities; their seasons of excitement and recklessness, when they care not what they do,’ wrote Charles Mackay in his classic Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (1852).  ‘ We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds...

Our Man in Budapest

Our Man in Budapest

  • January 12, 2019
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As a general rule, whenever politicians tell you that they want to protect your culture or your civilisation with walls and fences, it’s a good idea to pat your wallet and check that it’s still there.

One minute you’re staring into their eyes and nodding approvingly as they tell you that your heritage and your identity...

About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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