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.

Pádraig Murphy

The White Raven

Carl Schmitt, close to the authoritarians von Schleicher and von Papen, may have thought he would become indispensable in the new Germany as a useful legal expert. But Hitler, once in power, cared nothing for its legal basis, and still less for the intellectuals who trafficked in such matters.

Making Russia Great Again

Vladimir Putin has made it clear that he plans to operate through an authoritarian state at home, while abroad he wishes Russia to be felt as a great power again, even if that means ‘breaking the American monopoly on the breaking of international law’.

The Russian Troika

The history that played out for Lenin and his commissars, who assumed dictatorial powers, was built on tactical opportunism coupled with simple good luck. One of the first acts was the setting up of the Cheka political police, with the slogan “Death to the bourgeoisie” written on its walls.

The Backward Look

The Russians, according to Svetlana Alexievich, are a people of misfortune and suffering whose best moments have come with war. Following the failed experiment to drive an entire nation ‘with an iron hand to happiness’, the people no longer have the culture of happiness or the taste for a joyful life.

Spiritual Security

To the extent that Russia’s project of joining the Western developed world has failed, and it has failed, its search for a distinctive world stance appears urgent; the paradigm of a united state and church, defined against a decadent, liberal and atheist West, is much favoured.

The Wicked Uncle

Stalin learned from Lenin that ruthlessness in pursuit of what might appear an impossible goal could pay off. In addition, the Marxist inheritance deified the State, the bearer of the highest truth of historical progress, while within the state the party was assigned an absolute status.

A Catastrophe Not Foreseen

Russia’s handling of its client Serbia in the run-up to the First World War was an object lesson in how not to do it. While it is a mistake to assign exclusive culpability for the outbreak of the war to any single state actor, equally none can be absolved of responsibility.

End of an Era

The Ukraine crisis has demonstrated, if further demonstration was required, that Russia will pursue its interests aggressively in what it regards as its legitimate sphere of interests around its borders ‑ and that Europe and the West have no agreed policy on how to react to this.

Epiphanies and Voids

Attention to the apparently insignificant is a particular feature of Japanese art. It is an aspect of Zen’s emphasis on giving attention not to theory or to abstract truth, but to concrete, existing reality, the here and now.

The Errand-Boys of Europe

There is a strong current of thought in Russia which wishes to see the country assert its complete independence from the West and ‘Western values’ and follow its own path as a great Eurasian power. Yet others believe engagement is still possible. What has not been helpful is a US disregard for Russian interests and susceptibilities which has been seen as amounting to an ‘empathy deficit disorder’.