Notes From the Margins…

A march against austerity does you good

  • June 21, 2015
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There is a certain breed of cynic on the left who will tell you there’s no point in demonstrations, that marches, protests etc are managed spectacles through which an authoritarian political system projects an illusion of democratic participation and offers a safety valve to release potentially dangerous and destabilising pressures.   Such pessimism is not...

Al Qaeda: Our New Best Friend

Al Qaeda: Our New Best Friend

  • June 18, 2015
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There was a time, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, when the world suddenly seemed simple and easy to understand, when the falling towers blew away any remaining clouds of ambiguity, nuance or complexity.   In those grim but bracing days,   everything was bathed in the luminous glow of ‘moral clarity’.

We understood that the West...

Islamic State’s British Volunteers: a Useful Threat?

Islamic State’s British Volunteers: a Useful Threat?

  • June 17, 2015
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I feel sorry for the Bradford husbands and other British Muslim families whose children and relatives have absconded to join Islamic State’s savage utopia, but I don’t feel any sympathy at all for the ‘radicalized’ volunteers who have gone to Syria.   It isn’t as if you have to look very far to know what...

Chilcotmania!

  • June 15, 2015
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Many years ago I remember going to my local record shop almost every week to find out if they had received Television’s first album yet.   I started going months before it actually came out after reading Nick Kent’s great review in the NME.   I was hooked on that album even before I heard...

Look out Europe: the Russian bear is coming

Look out Europe: the Russian bear is coming

  • June 05, 2015
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There is a psychological theory called projection which I have often thought can be applied to international relations.     Essentially, projection describes a tendency in interpersonal relationships by which individuals project onto others certain characteristics that they fear or hate in themselves.

An obvious example might be a sexually-frustrated fundamentalist preacher who persecutes others because...

Two Days, One Night

Two Days, One Night

  • June 03, 2015
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I’ve just seen the Dardenne brothers’ brilliant Two Days, One Night (2014)   It’s a film I’ve been looking forward to seeing for a long time, and it didn’t disappoint.     The premise is deceptively simple: Sandra Byas, played by Marion Cotillard,   is a worker in a Belgian solar panel factory who has...

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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