Author: Ben Woodfinden

Spiking the Right

In newsroom vernacular, the decision to kill a story is called “spiking”. It happens for various reasons including inaccuracy, irrelevance, dullness, and defamation. Writers get spiked too, for all those reasons and more. The superb former National Review essayist Kevin Williamson, for example, got spiked this month just as he was about to start a new gig at The Atlantic. Furious vilification by progressives over an intemperate tweet pre-empted his move from the conservative confines of NR into the mainstream liberal media. Williamson is no outlier, contends Ben Woodfinden, but rather the latest victim of “no-platforming” by leftists bent on banishing the right from public discourse.

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Bully for Brexit

The one year countdown to Brexit has begun, and mostly unenthusiastic negotiators for the EU and the UK are trying to come up with an arrangement that minimizes the economic and political pain. Their work is complicated by the revival of a Cold War with Putin and a Trade War with Trump. Be that as it may, writes Ben Woodfinden, Brexit has the potential to revive Britain as a model global free trader and alternative to both suffocating supranational bureaucracy and rampant populist protectionism.

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Plato’s guide to professional sports

Why does Sydney Crosby keep playing hockey after four concussions when he has $50 million in the bank? Why is Tom Brady trying for his 6th Super Bowl ring at 40? And why do millions of sports fans spend billions buying tickets, jerseys, cable TV subscriptions and all the other stuff that makes pro sport such a global economic behemoth? Plato knew the score, writes Ben Woodfinden, who reckons the great philosopher would approve of the way modern western society has channelled the innate human desire for glory into non-lethal entertainments for the masses.

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The Harper legacy that Liberals dread

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried to hang the Omar Khadr payoff on Stephen Harper, which roused a feisty counterattack from Canada’s most reclusive ex-PM. But Harper’s legacy won’t be defined by whatever he did or didn’t do to a confessed terrorist. Instead, writes Ben Woodfinden, it will be defined by what he did to unite Canada’s Conservative party and movement, build its institutional foundations, and make it permanently competitive for power.

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What do we do after work?

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, according to the proverb. But what does all play and no work do to us? Thanks to the rapid acceleration of automation and artificial intelligence, we may be about to find out on a humanity-sized scale. With a guaranteed income and no job, and machines that can do anything we can do, only better, what will we do all day? Will it make us more creative and philanthropic, or more hedonistic and self-destructive? Ben Woodfinden weighs the odds.

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Theresa May’s Conservative realignment

Within days of the Manchester terrorist bombing, British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn blamed U.K. foreign policy for inciting Islamist extremism. Prime Minister Theresa May immediately pounced, accusing Corbyn of blaming the victims. It was a typically guileless Corbyn blunder and a typically adroit May response. But May’s early successes as PM, which will likely include another Tory election win next month, aren’t just due to her lame opponent. She is the face of a bold new Toryism, writes Ben Woodfinden, one rooted in traditional British nationalism and communitarian ideals. Amid echoes of Thatcher, May is quickly emerging as the anglosphere’s most important conservative political leader.

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