2016 was terrible – but not for the reasons you think

For billions of human beings, Brexit, Trump and dead celebrities are the least of their worries

That viral Sgt Pepper’s 2016 picture that’s since had to be updated about twelve times

A year that started with the death of David Bowie and ended with Donald Trump as President Elect was never going to go down well. The ‘curse of 2016’ narrative surfaced early. Famous faces were kicking the bucket by the busload. Fascist-looking right-wing populism was on the rise. By now, as people look back on Trump, Brexit and a frankly surreal procession of celebrity deaths, talk of that ‘curse’ has hardened into a more blunt and straight to the point social media catchphrase — ‘fuck 2016’.

What it proves, more than anything, is our catastrophic insularity — our short-sightedness, our fixation with the trivial, and our profound detachment from suffering elsewhere in the world. Is it a shame some talented people have died? Yes. Is it terrible that far-right rhetoric is winning elections. Yes. Continue reading “2016 was terrible – but not for the reasons you think”


Why the Left ignores the global poor

For all their compassion, left-wingers are silent on the most crushing injustice of all


Millions of people are dying, and you’re doing nothing about it. You could do – we all could. If enough of us did, every one of those deaths would stop. But you don’t. We don’t. And, as a result, in the next few years, hundreds of millions of people will die – of causes we could easily prevent.

Poverty is the single greatest crime one bit of humanity currently inflicts on another. It obliterates any claim we have to living in a civilised society. At very least, it accounts for a third of human deaths – 50,000 a day, 18 million a year, and, conservatively estimated, 400 million since 1990. Add up all those killed in all the wars of the twentieth century, and you’ll get a death toll half that number.

And yet we ignore it. Our ignorance and apathy subjects hundreds of millions to a level of human suffering that trivialises everything else. But when I say ‘we’, I don’t just mean catastrophically shallow, short-sighted, inward-looking, triviality obsessed modern society in general. I also mean the Left. Continue reading “Why the Left ignores the global poor”