Notes From the Margins…
Posts by Matt
Gavin Williamson: Brexitland Rules the Waves

Gavin Williamson: Brexitland Rules the Waves

  • January 06, 2019
  • by

In the final pages of the Beagle diaries, Charles Darwin celebrated the incorporation of Australia and other British colonies into ‘ a grand centre of civilization’ and declared approvingly:

It is impossible for an Englishman to behold these distant colonies, without a high pride and satisfaction.  To hoist the British flag seems to draw as a...

Jeremy Hunt’s Chain of Fools

Jeremy Hunt’s Chain of Fools

  • January 04, 2019
  • by

As a schoolboy studying for my History O’Level, I once memorized the British Foreign Secretary George Canning’s famous 1826 dictum: ‘I called the New World into existence  to redress the balance of the Old.’

At the time I was never exactly sure what it meant, but I understood that it had something to do with the ‘informal...

Jair Bolsonaro:  Robocop in the Tropics

Jair Bolsonaro: Robocop in the Tropics

  • January 02, 2019
  • by

Not many people outside Brazil will be familiar with the name Colonel Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra.   As commander at the Brazilian army’s Department of Information Operations, known as DOI-CODI, in São Paulo, from 1970 to 1974, the man known as ‘Colonel Ustra’ was one of the most notorious torturers under Brazil’s military dictatorship, which ruled the...

2018:  What I Read and What I Watched

2018: What I Read and What I Watched

  • January 01, 2019
  • by

In dark times, books and films bring more than consolation or escape.  In a world gone stale and out of kilter they can provide oxygen that helps you to breathe.  They help you understand what is going on and remind you of what could be going on.

I read a lot of great books last year. ...

2019:  The Reckoning

2019: The Reckoning

  • December 31, 2018
  • by

Politically speaking 2018 was a dismal year, but I can’t help feeling that 2019 is going to be a lot worse.  In the UK we are now faced with a situation that was unprecedented – and until the 2016 referendum – unimaginable.  A minority Tory government, propped up by a heavily-bribed DUP, is using the...

2018: The Year of the Missing Unicorn

2018: The Year of the Missing Unicorn

  • December 30, 2018
  • by

In her study of  the ‘pursuit of policy contrary to self-interest’ from Troy to Vietnam The March of Folly, Barbara Tuchman once noted that ‘Wooden-headedness, the source of self-deception, is a factor that plays a remarkably large role in government. It consists in assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring or...

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.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Events

  • No events

Recent Comments