Skip to main content

Continental Drift by Benjamin Grob-Fitzgibbon

Ernest Bevin cph.3b17494.jpg

I have to say right up front: I haven't read Grob-Fitzgibbon's book. Nor do I plan to. Nonetheless, his is a really cool hyphenated surname, and that at least makes him and by extension his new book worth some mention here.

The book, Continental Drift, is apparently about the drift of Great Britain's political self-image away from the continent of Europe. Chronologically, the sweep seems to be from Ernest Bevin to the present.

Bevin was the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs under Prime Minister Attlee from 1945 to 1951. That is his photo, above. Bevin accepted the loss of India, but thought the British Empire had to compensate by holding more tightly onto its possessions in Africa and the Middle East. Bevin also hoped to encourage a united new political structure in Europe, with Britain of course to play the leading role. This would enable Britain to retain Big Three status alongside the US and USSR.  

Britain's self-image as a member of this Big Three club did not survive the Suez crisis in the mid-1950s, though, and the nature of its relationship with the rest of Europe was to take a number of twists and turns.

I have a forthcoming book review in The Federal Lawyer that will speak to related issues, from the point of view of Britain's, and Europe's, finances. That's of another book, not of Grob-Fitzgibbon's which (have I mentioned?) I have not read. I am told it is a fine work.


Popular posts from this blog

England as a Raft?

In a lecture delivered in 1880, William James asked rhetorically, "Would England ... be the drifting raft she is now in European affairs if a Frederic the Great had inherited her throne instead of a Victoria, and if Messrs Bentham, Mill, Cobden, and Bright had all been born in Prussia?"

Beneath that, in a collection of such lectures later published under James' direction, was placed the footnote, "The reader will remember when this was written."

The suggestion of the bit about Bentham, Mill, etc. is that the utilitarians as a school helped render England ineffective as a European power, a drifting raft.

The footnote was added in 1897. So either James is suggesting that the baleful influence of Bentham, Mill etc wore off in the meantime or that he had over-estimated it.

Let's unpack this a bit.  What was happening in the period before 1880 that made England seem a drifting raft in European affairs, to a friendly though foreign observer (to the older brother…

Cancer Breakthrough

Hopeful news in recent days about an old and dear desideratum: a cure for cancer. Or at least for a cancer, and a nasty one at that.

The news comes about because investors in GlaxoSmithKline are greedy for profits, and has already inspired a bit of deregulation to boot. 

The FDA has paved the road for a speedy review of a new BCMA drug for multiple myeloma, essentially cancer of the bone marrow. This means that the US govt has removed some of the hurdles that would otherwise (by decision of the same govt) face a company trying to proceed with these trials expeditiously. 

This has been done because the Phase I clinical trial results have been very promising. The report I've seen indicates that details of these results will be shared with the world on Dec. 11 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology. 

The European Medicines Agency has also given priority treatment to the drug in question. 

GSK's website identifies the drug at issue as "GSK2857916," althou…

Francesco Orsi

I thought briefly that I had found a contemporary philosopher whose views on ethics and meta-ethics checked all four key boxes. An ally all down the line.

The four, as regular readers of this blog may remember, are: cognitivism, intuitionism, consequentialism, pluralism. These represent the views that, respectively: some ethical judgments constitute knowledge; one important source for this knowledge consists of quasi-sensory non-inferential primary recognitions ("intuitions"); the right is logically dependent upon the good; and there exists an irreducible plurality of good.

Francesco Orsi seemed to believe all of these propositions. Here's his website and a link to one relevant paper:

What was better: Orsi is a young man. Born in 1980. A damned child! Has no memories of the age of disco!

So I emailed him asking if I was right that he believed all of those things. His answer: three out of …