I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

John Fanning

People Like Us

Society’s losers suffer not just from economic but cultural deprivation and loss of self-esteem. The winners have the opposite condition, hubris and a tendency to preen themselves on their success while refusing to accept that much of it has come from luck or loading of the dice.

From Drift to Decadence

It has plausibly been suggested that we now have the capability to transform the five fundamentals of the global economy ‑ information, energy, transport, fuel and materials ‑ into sustainable production at minimal costs compared to the present. The problem is that we lack the will.

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

Many huge companies continue to ignore environmental and societal issues and carry on despoiling the planet and exploiting their workers in the name of profit maximisation. But such organisations – let us call them the ‘hairy bacon capitalists’ – are not immune to public opinion.

What Is To Be Done?

The business corporation has been in existence for centuries, but it was only in the last fifty years that the primacy of maximising shareholder return as its sole purpose was established as dogma. But now that dogma is being challenged, and sometimes in unlikely quarters.

What are we going to do?

Most people born today can expect to become centenarians, but the structuring of education and work are still built around outdated models. These are now under attack from two sides: the reality that retirement could last 40 years and the threat to jobs from automation, AI and robots.

Living in the End Times

Oscar Wilde saw one significant drawback to socialism – ‘too many meetings’. But with increasing inequality and ample evidence of big money’s erosion of democracy, citizens who wish to save it may well have to resign themselves to going out the occasional night.

The Future’s Bovine

Big Tech seems to envisage a future in which most humans will be like docile cows, to be regularly milked for their data. If you want to retain some control over your existence you will have to learn to run faster than the government, faster than the algorithms and faster than Amazon.

Reclaiming Democracy

The internet is the most abundantly stocked pantry of grievance in the history of mankind, its users under constant surveillance. What future can there be for democracy if politics becomes a question of detailed statistical analysis and precisely targeted messages rather than ideas?

In Cold Blood

It has been euphemistically categorised as ‘enhanced interrogation’, but Jean Améry, who suffered it at the hands of the Gestapo, called it ‘methodical violence, the equivalent of rape’, adding that ‘whoever has succumbed to torture can no longer feel at home in the world’.

The Hive Mind

Charged with reviving the ‘New Republic’, Franklin Foer hired good writers. Quality improved but sales didn’t. ‘Data specialists’ were hired, who insisted that the editor should focus on ‘snackable content’. He complied, but then resigned and wrote a very interesting book as revenge.