We asked Nick Cohen, author and feature writer on the Observer, to comment on his current work and ideas that have influenced him…
Which of your own ideas have you been thinking about most recently?
I am a social democrat, and have always assumed that the right response to a recession is to borrow to inflate the economy. The Labour government is now testing this idea, maybe to destruction. If it fails, then I will have to rethink my old orthodoxies, and – ahem – Britain will be bankrupt.
What idea of someone else has made most impact on you recently?
I am very struck by the pessimism of scientists such as Steve Jones of University College London about our ability to do anything substantial about global warming. Optimists believe that we can, given the will, solve our problems. Maybe humanity has over reached itself with the environment.
What is the most important book/article of ideas that everyone should read and why?
Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom’s Does God Hate Women?, which is coming out shortly. The emancipation of women was the most important revolution of the 20th century, but western feminism got bogged down in cultural relativism. Oppression was all right, apparently, as long as its victims had brown skins and as long as their oppressors could use culture or religion to justify misogyny. Ophelia and Jeremy’s book is a call to arms against the hypocrisies of our time.
Nick Cohen is a journalist and commentator for the Observer and Evening Standard. He is also the author of What’s Left?, regarded as one of the most important and provocative commentaries on how the Left lost its way. His latest book is Waiting for the Etonians: Reports from the Sickbed of Liberal England. He appears at the Bristol Festival of Ideas on 12th May.