My favourite sources of informed comment


By D. J. Webb

I am one of those who does not lament the loss of The Independent as a print newspaper. Theoretically, newspapers are great organs of a lively democracy. In fact, they all chant the same rhetoric. Who would spend money on any of them? In fact, The Guardian too faces financial difficulties and I welcome that. One of the best things about our digital lifestyle is that we have access to many sources of information. Defunding of the BBC would be a very welcome step, and I would even like to see all news taken off the airwaves entirely, leaving people to find their own sources of information online.

I read The Telegraph online avidly. True, the same propaganda is peddled there, but there are some good columnists, especially on economics and international affairs, including Jeremy Warner, Liam Halligan, Allister Heath, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard and Roger Bootle. Janet Daley, Allison Pearson and Simon Heffer are always good value. When your ten free reads are exhausted, just clear The Telegraph from your browser cache and start again. Don’t under any circumstances give them any money. The Daily Mail including The Mail on Sunday is good on many subjects. I check Peter Hitchens’ column every Sunday. His blog is updated regularly and includes many articles that are not part of his Sunday column.

The Financial TimesGideon Rachman is worth checking for international affairs, but he determinedly cleaves to the centre of box in terms of comment. The Economist is good on certain, but not all, issues. The Spectator carries many good articles (once again: delete the relevant cookie if you’re asked to pay). I find Douglas Murray and Fraser Nelson worth reading, although Nelson is another centre-of-the-box bunnie, and regularly extols the virtues of immigration. Breitbart London is the only UK news site that is fully on our side.

Looking further afield, I regularly read Vdare: all contributors are good, including Peter Brimelow, John Derbyshire, Patrick Cleburne, Paul Gottfried and others. Don’t miss the Radio Derb broadcast every Friday. Mark Steyn is an awesome campaigner for free speech and against Islamization. His site comments on the US, the UK, Canada and the wider world. Taki Theodoracopulos’ Takimag is very good indeed.  Look for articles by Theodore Dalrymple, Gavin McInnes and Steve Sailer. Unz carries articles on numerous topics, including Steve Sailer on human biodiversity (racial differences in intelligence), but with a good selection of intelligent articles on international affairs.

Real Clear World is regularly updated with links to well-thought-out pieces on politics, economics and international affairs. Stratfor is an amazing site on global issues, but too many articles are behind the paywall. (Guys, comment is free– who would pay for comment? This business model deserves to fail.) Some articles behind the paywall can be accessed via Google if you type the article name in. George Friedman is part of Stratfor (a company known as “the shadow CIA”), but has also branched out in the form of Geopolitical futures. He thinks outside the box on long-term geopolitical trends and many articles are free to access. Bloomberg View carries interesting opinion pieces from a range of points of view. I make sure never to miss Leonid Bershidsky‘s columns.

As far as pure economics is concerned, Moneyweek is unrivalled. Don’t miss Merryn Somerset-Webb‘s blog. The Market Oracle is a great site on financial issues, house prices trends and so forth. Nadeem Walayat is an awesome commenter, and his latest missive on the EU referendum is worth  a read. Zerohedge tends towards conspiracy theory, including railing against central bankers and their machinations, but carries many genuine scoops.

As far as libertarian comment is concerned, you are of course right now on the best site: articles here are not single-issue, but cover a broad range. Don’t miss Spiked Online for an aggressive defence of free speech and much more. These guys are immigration enthusiasts, so you do occasionally have to hold your nose. Frank Furedi is undoubtedly the lead theoretician there, and his articles are simply unmissable.

We don’t need the state to direct thought. I find I’m very well informed via my own reading, choosing my own sources. The stupefaction of the populace seems to be a key state aim: those who know nothing can’t challenge the direction of policy. Make it a habit never to listen to the BBC: you couldn’t do better than consult these sources of information on a regular basis.

26 thoughts on “My favourite sources of informed comment

  1. Gavin Innes should be changed to Gavin McInnes. Apart from that, great article. I am familiar with all of these except the economics ones. I had given up hope for sane economics commentary, making do occasionally with the nauseatingly glib Keiser Report on RT. Thanks for these sources.

    • I’ve changed that to McInnes. The Keiser report is good, but Max Keiser’s screaming in the middle of each video grates after a while.

  2. I get most of my information on important matters from my elderly neighbour Ron, who thinks he is captain of the Home Guard and is predicting a surprise victory for Mr Attlee.

      • I keep an eye on the press, including the Mail, but had missed that one. Not that I’m surprised. I see Parliament has handed an “implementation study” over to another Fawcett Society front group, “End Demand”, which seems to be run by the indefatigable Junior Anti-Sex League organiser Kat Banyard, she of Feminista, Object etc.

  3. I am one of those who does not lament the loss of The Independent as a print newspaper.

    It’s an easy mistake and I make it, but libertarians should hold themselves to high standards. Try it this way around:

    “Of those who do not lament the loss of The Independent as a print newspaper, I am one.”

    • Enoch, I do not object to criticism, especially from those who know their stuff. “I am one of those who…” is perfectly acceptable in English. You can find 19th-century examples at https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=%22I+am+one+of+those+who%22&tbm=bks&tbs=cdr:1,cd_min:1800,cd_max:1899

      As Horace Hutchinson wrote in 1653, “it must not be imagined that I am one of those who can endorse the opinion sometimes expressed that Mayfly fishing is so easy and so deadly as to be almost a form of poaching, and only in a small degree removed from spinning the minnow” (https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=EhM8AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA376&dq=%22I+am+one+of+those+who%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjc26iQj4vLAhVBPBQKHVKQB6wQ6AEIRjAI#v=onepage&q=%22I%20am%20one%20of%20those%20who%22&f=false).

      Views on correct English vary. I find few people have anything worthwhile to say on the matter.

      • The mistake as I see it is that you used a singular verb with a plural subject. “…one of those who does not…” should be “…one of those who do not…”

        • Yes, Rob, you are right. I am not amending the article above, as this discussion below will be incomprehensible without it, but your correction is right and Enoch’s not. Thanks.

          • Mr Webb,

            In view of your own very evident shortcomings in matters of English usage, would it be too much to ask that in future you refrain from critiquing the usage of others?

            Or, if you can’t resist the temptation, would it be in order for me to ask that you exercise a little more tact in future? I don’t mind being criticised, and I do thank you for pointing out my own very minor error, but I must confess I was a little put out by the manner in which you went about it. I apologised for my own petulance, but you have not had the good manners to do likewise. You were rude, arrogant and contemptuous. You also gave the impression that you do not commit such errors, but it is clear that you do.

            I take particular umbrage at your suggestion that I am ‘uneducated’ and that I am somehow engaged in a ‘race to the cultural bottom’ (I think that was your wording, but I don’t care to look back at the posts). Neither of those things are true and I deeply resent you for making such statements.

            Thank you.

            • No, Tom Rogers, I will not refrain from criticising other people’s English. Sorry to let you down with a thud there.

              You are free to pick me up where necessary — and I guarantee in advance to accept all valid criticisms.

              The fact that days or a week after I pointed out you used “likely” as an adverb (“most likely” and “very likely” are acceptable in adverbial usage, but not “likely”) shows you are becoming too deeply emotionally involved with the Internet.

              You can be as resentful as you like; I shan’t assuage your seething emotions!

              • I think you misunderstand. It’s not an emotional thing. It’s just a matter of simple tact and common courtesy. You know, that thing about being able to get along with each other – something normal adults try to do. Have you heard of it?

                These things can be sneered at, but they do matter. If I was lecturing to a group of students (not that I would, since I’m not an academic), I wouldn’t start by saying: “You’re all useless and uneducated”, except maybe in an ironic way or perhaps as a psychological ploy. I wouldn’t last long if I went round nitpicking over my colleagues’ minor grammatical errors and calling them ‘uneducated’ in consequence. I would be resented. If I replied to their inevitable protests with: “But I have free speech, and this is not a nursery. Don’t be a baby” or whatever, I don’t think that would convince very many people. I suspect I would be told to grow up and reminded of my own shortcomings.

                Mr Webb, I don’t think your behaviour is that of a normal person. I think there’s something wrong with you. But in any case, I don’t want my posts put under Kafkaesque scrutiny for minor grammatical errors by, no disrespect, some jumped-up numpty who thinks it’s his remit to check everybody’s posts in that way. It’s not human, and I find it creepy and unnerving. I’m now nervous whenever I post here, wondering if I am going to get another Harry Potter howler.

                I want to be able to enjoy reading and commenting here. Is that wrong? Criticism is fine, even harsh criticism. Great, fire away. But the prospect of schoolmasterish correction of my grammar and being traduced and maligned into the bargain, just for a very minor error, is not something a normal adult would tolerate or countenance.

                It could be that the Libertarian Alliance is populated by eccentrics who routinely like to check each other’s submissions to internet forums for grammatical and syntactical faux pas. That’s terrific. Best of luck with it, but it’s not for me, so I’ll be giving this blog a miss in future.

                Thanks.

        • Rob, I interpreted Enoch as meaning “you can’t say ‘I’m one of those who…'”; you can only say “of those who…, I am one”. If he was talking about the verb, then I agree with you that “one of those who” is probably better with a plural verb. The Johnson column in The Economist discussed this at http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2015/03/johnson-grammar a year ago and reached the conclusion that there are two ways of parsing such sentences:]

          1. I’m one [of those] who does.
          2. I’m one of [those who do].

          It depends on how the sentence is divided up mentally. In this particular example, I would agree that the plural is probably better, but I have been thinking of an article on the two registers of English, Latinate (“it is I”) and idiomatic (“it’s me”), with the latter being good English in my view.

          On the plural thing: in English we construe nouns according to sense. It is correct to write “the majority ARE in favour” (majority=most people). The word “lot” is a singular noun, but it is correct to write “there ARE a lot of people in the room”. Sentences like the following drive me crazy:

          Since then, there has been a flurry of voices echoing that sentiment.

          That is a sentence from Bloomberg. US English is influenced by the fact that German learners of English have imported a German sense that singular nouns take singular verbs even where collective. “A flurry” is collective. A flurry of voices have been heard – this is the only correct way of forming the sentence in English.

          I will go further: in the Latinate register, “none of us is perfect” is correct (purely because that is a calque of a Latin sentence). In the idiomatic register, the correct form is “none of us ARE perfect”, as “none of us” should be construed as collective in sense.

          So these issues are open to debate, and some people don’t seem to realize there is any debate. Academic linguists (eg David Crystal etc) are strongly of the view that normal usages among native speakers must be grammatically correct. In the 19th century, an utterly inappropriate concept of “logic” was imported. Another example: “I have only two pens”. This is in the Latinate/logical register. All native speakers of English know instinctively the correct form is “I only have two pens”. Logic is neither here nor there (cf. the lack of a logical future in English, as in “when he gets to work, tell him to phone me”).

      • As pointed out below, I was talking about the singular verb with a plural subject. It’s a common error and has been for a long time, but I think it’s best avoided.

        Views on correct English vary. I find few people have anything worthwhile to say on the matter.

        They do, but those who think about what they’re writing tend to write better. That’s why the worst English is found on the left (which is an ever-expanding category nowadays).

        • I won’t comment any further in the comments on this, as it is clear that the people commenting here are not prepared to even acknowledge academic debate on linguistic topics. Far too much comment is made by people who think English is a branch of Latin grammar, and who seek to import another language’s principles into English. Simon Heffer’s absurd book Strictly English — widely panned by linguists — follows the approach of Enoch’s Eyebrows and others. It is **not** an error to write “I am one of those who is….” It is a more natural form than “I am one of those who are….”, and the question is to what extent you import Latin grammar rules into English. I think schoolchildren should at least be aware of the Latinate register, artificial though it be. They should be exposed to the view that people with **little knowledge of linguistics but who thought they knew more than most** were driving most of the ” it is I”-type things in 19th-century England.

          Another example: it’s me who is doing it. This is the only correct form in English. Those who look at Latin grammar but who betray their own ignorance of linguistics write “it is I who am doing it” — a nonsense sentence!

          See Professor Crystal’s review of Simon Heffer’s book at http://www.newstatesman.com/books/2010/10/english-heffer-sentence I particularly like his condemnation of Heffer’s nonsense view that the plural of “queen mother” is “queens mother”!!!! My study of Cork Irish has given me a feel for the real native intuition of a dialect — the main writer in that dialect railed against the non-natives who set themselves up as experts on Irish and dictated to the native speakers. The plural of queen mother is queen mothers!!!

          • I am. We are. He is. They are. Agreement of subject and verb is not confined to Latin (or Indo-European). The rule to not split infinitives is an example of Latin grammar being imposed on English. What I said is not.

            And note that Chomsky, one of the most famous and influential linguists in the world, is a very bad writer. On these topics, Fowler is a much better guide than Crystal.

            • I said I wasn’t going to comment, but I’ve decided to post one more time: Enoch’s Eyebrow, do you say “a lot of people IS in favour”? “Lot” is a singular noun. It is quite incorrect to argue that theoretical logic trumps idiom. Do you use the logical future after “when” and “if”? Do you say “tell him I called, when he WILL arrive”? If you don’t use either of those, you don’t have a point. Worryingly, you don’t even realize you don’t have a point.

              • DJW — I recommend you read Fowler on this topic:

                http://www.bartleby.com/116/202.html

                It is quite incorrect to argue that theoretical logic trumps idiom.

                When does idiom end and illiteracy begin? Did you deliberately choose to use a singular verb with a plural subject, or were you on auto-pilot?

                Ultimately it was hoped to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving the higher brain centres at all. This aim was frankly admitted in the Newspeak word duckspeak, meaning “to quack like a duck”.

                http://www.orwelltoday.com/duckspeak.shtml

                Do you use the logical future after “when” and “if”? Do you say “tell him I called, when he WILL arrive”? If you don’t use either of those, you don’t have a point. Worryingly, you don’t even realize you don’t have a point.

                Worryingly? I think you’re getting a bit hyperbolic. No natural language is entirely logical. This is not an argument for not caring about obvious mistakes. As I said: the left write the worst prose because they are careless and thoughtless. Chomsky is an excellent example.

  4. IanB: Speaking of Info sources this info may be of interest to you: In fact it may interest Sean also in view of his Spanner defence.

  5. Despite having given Mr Webb five stars for this excellent essay, I found myself up-thumbing Mr Rogers’ comments above and down-thumbing Mr Webb.

    Childish; but understandable, isn’t it? After all, I was the one who tried to defend Mr Rogers against Mr Webb’s initial linguistic criticisms.

    But there’s a bigger issue here. I don’t know who Mr Rogers really is; I suspect he may be better known under another name. But aren’t libertarian organizations, including the LA, there to help people to come in to the freedom movement, when the time is right for them?

    Mr Rogers and I have interacted many times on this site; he seems to be a decent person and a decent thinker. But what has Mr Webb done to help Mr Rogers join us?

  6. Steve Sailer writes about so much more than “human biodiversity”! Let’s not pigeon-hole the guy, given the variety of his amazing output.

  7. One thing about all this change to internet driven sources is the benefit of being able to find the exact things you’re interested in – instead of needing to buy a whole newspaper to read maybe three articles of any real worth.

    If it wasn’t due to sales to the BBC (funded by us), I think the Guardian would already be a dead duck. There are some newspapers who somehow continue to be funded, at a loss, which makes you wonder about the importance of some of these papers and the larger agenda there to keep them as propaganda outlets.

    Like Sean, I have largely stopped watching mainstream news and keeping abreast of mainstream newspapers. I prefer my own “stop off points” that are not so controlled and narrow as the Daily Mail, Daily Express, or whatever.

    It is often more interesting to see what is *really* going on (and not being reported), than the pre-planned diet of topics we are shovelled by the mainstream news channels and newspapers.

    There are downsides, I suppose, in that it makes people gravitate to their own biases rather than challenge their positions – and the internet can be a wild-west of confusion as to what is real and what is not real at times – but I don’t think I’d miss the rigid control over the traditional media.

    Control of the media is one of the key things in controlling a society and a civilisation. That certain people are losing their grip a little bit, that people are leaving the likes of the Guardian in droves (and showing what little dominance such liberal-left positions actually have), is a good thing as far as my own interests and agendas go.

    In general, I think there’s two worlds people are in now – a kind of ‘switched on’ world that is really discussing the issues of our times (whichever side of the coin) – and those who continue to snooze on, or who just pay no attention to anything from anywhere.

    This new world cannot be catered for with traditional newspapers.

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