In 2016 two surprising explosions of popular contempt for the existing order drove Britain into Brexit and paved the way for Trump’s presidency of the United States.
On both sides of the Atlantic, proud regimes with global pretensions were levelled by justifiable revolts. But in the name of self-government, Brexit and Trump will intensify the authoritarian traditions of their outdated political systems.
The Lure of Greatness is a blistering account of how and why this happened. The shadow of Iraq, the great financial crash, campaigns of poison and intrigue, the filleting of David Cameron with the cold fury of a Remain voter... these are just the start.
At the book’s heart is the story of the institutional and constitutional implosion of the United Kingdom, the farce of ‘the sovereignty of parliament’, a passionate account of English nationalism and the absurdity of the ever-increasing and insidious influence of the Daily Mail. What emerges is a compelling summary of an EU in crisis, the fateful absence of a viable left alternative, the normality of immigration – all of which frame the reasons for the triumph of Leave.
Anthony Barnett, co-founder of openDemocracy, applies a lifetime of observing, reporting and sedition in this searing analysis of the two great democratic disasters of our time.
It has become increasingly apparent that in Britain the relationship between town and country is breaking down and that both are in crisis: policies concerning urbanisation, industry, housing and transport are in disarray, while new issues have arisen concerning the environment, farming, the rural economy, food quality. . .
In Town and Country, members of the Town and Country Forum, a body established in 1995 to bring together influential and thoughtful people concerned with this issue, explore the many-faceted problem of the relationship between urban and rural communities, providing both a focus for debate and an authoritative reference point for contemporary argument. The contributors include academics, philosophers, writers, political activists, environmentalists and other experts on urban and rural affairs. The result is a book of immense importance raising fundamental questions about the way we live now.
This is the most important, wide-ranging and critical debate so far published on the monarchy.
It is not concerned with the trivia and tragedy of the Windsor's personal lives. Instead, a glittering range of contributors from across the spectrum of opinion focus on what the monarchy means for Britain today. Do we - can we? - continue to live in what Anthony Barnett calls in a provocative introductory essay, "an empire state?"
The essays include Charles Moore's stirring reassertion of the case for the crown and David Hare's denunciation of the "odious rituals of deference." Lady Longford assures us that the royal phoenix will rise from the ashes of the Windsor fire. Christopher Hitchens rebukes Shirely Williams and criticizes the monarchy for invading our privacy. Marina Warner dissects our fear of change. These and many others contribute to a debate conceived as a watershed. A debate that will be seen as having shattered the taboo on serious scrutiny of the monarchy.
Anthony Barnett was the first Director of Charter 88, the campaign for constitutional reform, from 1988–95. He co-founded openDemocracy in 2001, was its first Editor and writes regularly for it. He co-directed the Convention on Modern Liberty in 2009. His books include Iron Britannia: Why Parliament Waged its Falklands War (1982), Soviet Freedom (1988), This Time – Our Constitutional Revolution (1997), Iron Britannia, Time to Take the Great out of Britain (Faber Finds edition, 2012), and Blimey, it could be Brexit! (2015).