Robert Skidelsky
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Project Syndicate "Against the Current"

Farewell to the Neo-Classical Revolution
Robert Skidelsky
Project Syndicate | Tuesday, September 16, 2008

 
London – The looming bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, and the forced sale of Merrill Lynch, two of the greatest names in finance, mark the end of an era. But what will come next?
 
Cycles of economic fashion are as old as business cycles, and are usually caused by deep business disturbances. “Liberal” cycles are followed by “conservative” cycles, which give way to new “liberal” cycles, and so on.
 
Liberal cycles are characterized by government intervention and conservative cycles by government retreat. A long liberal cycle stretched from the 1930’s to the 1970’s, followed by a conservative cycle of economic deregulation, which now seems to have run its course. With the nationalization of America’s two giant mortgage banks, Fanny Mae and

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The Press versus Privacy
Robert Skidelsky
Project Syndicate | Wednesday, August 13, 2008 | English version Russian

 
Privacy has become a big issue in contemporary jurisprudence. The “right to privacy” is enshrined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, and guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. But Article 8 is balanced by Article 10, which guarantees “free expression of opinion.” So what right has priority when they conflict?
 
Under what circumstances, for example, is it right to curtail press freedom in order to protect the right to privacy, or vice versa? The same balance is being sought between the right of citizens to data privacy and government demands for access to personal information to fight crime, terrorism, and so on.
 
Freedom of speech is a fundamental democratic liberty. It is a necessary

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Re-Thinking the Iranian Nuclear Threat
Robert Skidelsky
Project Syndicate | Sunday, July 13, 2008 | English version Russian

 
Would it be a great disaster if Iran had nuclear weapons? As a habitual contrarian, I pose the question because almost everyone seems to believe that it would, and that it must be prevented at all costs. But is that true?
 
John Bolton, the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, said in April that “if the choice is [Iran] continuing [towards a nuclear bomb] or the use of force, I think you’re at a Hitler marching into the Rhineland point.” Bush, too, has compared Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Hitler.
 
But these so-called statesmen never consider what might have happened had Germany and Britain both had nuclear weapons in 1939. Would Hitler, wicked as he was, have gone to war had he faced an assured threat of

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A League of democracies?
Robert Skidelsky
Project Syndicate | Friday, June 13, 2008 | English version Russian

 
Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, has been calling for the creation of a “League of Democracies.” This new international group would possess a formidable military capacity, based partly on NATO and partly on a “new quadrilateral security partnership” in the Pacific between Australia, India, Japan, and the US. Neither Russia nor China, of course, would be invited to join: indeed, McCain wants to exclude Russia from the G8.
 
The League is necessary, argues McCain, because in matters vital to the US, such as fighting Islamic terrorism, humanitarian intervention, and spreading liberty, democracy, and free markets, the US and its democratic partners must be able to act without permission from the United Nations

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The Apocalyptic Mind
Robert Skidelsky
Project Syndicate | Tuesday, May 13, 2008 | English version Russian

 
It was only to be expected that former US Vice President Al Gore would give this month’s Burmese cyclone an apocalyptic twist. “Last year,” he said, “a catastrophic storm hit Bangladesh. The year before, the strongest cyclone in more than 50 years hit China....We’re seeing the consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continual global warming.”
 
Surprisingly, Gore did not include the Asian tsunami of 2004, which claimed 225,000 lives. His not so subliminal message was that these natural catastrophes foreshadow the end of the world.
 
Apocalyptic beliefs have always been part of the Christian tradition. They express the yearning for heaven on earth, when evil is destroyed and the good are saved.
 
In their

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