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IN PRAISE OF REVOLUTIONARY CONSERVATISM

Posted by on Feb 12, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

IN PRAISE OF REVOLUTIONARY CONSERVATISM

I had a most interesting and gratifying experience last week in Stellenbosch, South Africa, where I attended the Freshers Event at the University.  This is a very long tradition – each year at the start of their university degree, the freshmen and freshwomen at each college create a song and dance routine to entertain each other, their parents, and anyone who wants to attend.  The productions are of surprisingly high quality, lasting around 20 minutes or so, and repeated all evening so that audiences totaling several thousand can...

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THE FALLACY OF LOYALTY

Posted by on Jan 23, 2019 in Blog | 5 comments

THE FALLACY OF LOYALTY

Corporate loyalty – the idea that you should be loyal to a corporation and it should be loyal to you – is a lie, at best a benign illusion that belongs to the past; at worst, a crude attempt at manipulation and a denial of the virtues of the market. But there are other kinds of loyalty, and these are the essence of good living. The Fallacy of Corporate Loyalty When I joined Shell International – the elite managerial part of the oil company – at the age of 21, I heard a lot about loyalty.  Shell was a most...

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TOWARDS THE POST-PROTESTANT WORK ETHIC

Posted by on Jan 8, 2019 in Blog | 2 comments

TOWARDS THE POST-PROTESTANT WORK ETHIC

Guest Post by Marx Acosta-Rubio Can we get beyond the Protestant work ethic, which Richard damned, in a recent post? Richard says that hard work does not equal success, and isn’t even desirable. IF hard work isn’t the key to success, then what is? But I’d like to propose something different – the ‘Post-Protestant Work Ethic’. 1. Maybe we need to redefine the term “work” Work has been termed a negative thing recently. We either love our work, hate our work or have to do work. But the truth of the matter is...

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IN PRAISE OF INACTION

Posted by on Dec 11, 2018 in Blog | 2 comments

IN PRAISE OF INACTION

“I’ve looked in history for heroes who became heroes for what they did not do, but it is hard to observe nonaction; I could not easily find any.”  The inimitable Nicholas Nassim Taleb, of course. Here are three off the top of my head. Probably the greatest was Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor – prime minister – of Prussia from 1862, then in supreme power for twenty-seven years, as Prussia mutated and expanded into the North German Confederation and then into the German Empire.  His career fell into two distinct periods.  Up to 1871...

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KOCH & PETERSON ON FRIENDS

Posted by on Nov 27, 2018 in Blog | 2 comments

KOCH & PETERSON ON FRIENDS

“Without relationships we are either dead to the world – or dead. Although banal, this is true: friendships are at the heart of our lives … what on earth has this got to do with the 80/20 principle?  The answer is quite a lot.  There is a trade-off between quality and quantity and we consistently under-cultivate what is most important.” “If you have a friend whose friendship you wouldn’t recommend to your sister, or your father, or your son, why would you have such a friend for yourself? … You should choose people who want...

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LIBERATE YOURSELF FROM THE PROTESTANT WORK ETHIC

Posted by on Nov 13, 2018 in Blog | 6 comments

LIBERATE YOURSELF FROM THE PROTESTANT WORK ETHIC

What do you detest?  There will be many different answers from you all.  But I bet that none of you have this rather eccentric answer of mine – I detest the Protestant work ethic. Now, this may seem strange.  The Protestant ethic was discussed in a seminal series of articles by the great German sociologist, Max Weber, in 1904-5.  Weber argued that Protestantism glorified the calling of workers and craftsmen, and that this dedication to hard work facilitated the emergence and triumph of capitalism.  Weber quoted extensively from Benjamin...

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SAINTS ANCIENT & MODERN

Posted by on Oct 30, 2018 in Blog | 5 comments

SAINTS ANCIENT & MODERN

In researching my next book, I’ve taken nineteen people, some dead, some alive, who were in my opinion, “unreasonably successful” – that is, they achieved much more than might have been expected of them, and in some cases despite, or because of, marked character flaws.  What has struck me as worthy of comment – though this is not a theme of the book – is how two of the most important and saintly characters, who racked up a fantastic achievement in their life which benefitted millions of people, had thoroughly unsuccessful personal...

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SKIN IN THE GAME: A DOZEN ACTION IMPERATIVES

Posted by on Oct 16, 2018 in Blog | 4 comments

SKIN IN THE GAME: A DOZEN ACTION IMPERATIVES

I am a somewhat reluctant fan of Nicholas Nassim Taleb, and having finished his latest book, Skin in the Game, I settled down to write a review.  But this is hard.  Taleb doesn’t make it easy to summarize his thesis, and he shoots off at all kinds of fascinating tangents, some well-grounded, others which are pure flights of fancy. In the latter category, for example, is his amusing but preposterous question which we meet on page 5 – “How is it that we have more slaves today than we did during Roman times?”  But it turns out that by...

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WHY THE WEST IS DIFFERENT, BUT CAN UNITE THE WORLD IN PROSPERITY

Posted by on Oct 4, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

WHY THE WEST IS DIFFERENT, BUT CAN UNITE THE WORLD IN PROSPERITY

Anthropologist Richard Shweder explains that there is a fundamental difference between Western and non-Western concepts of morality.  Non-Western traditions, he says, have rich theories of moralizing, but they are based either on the ethic of community, or that of divinity. The former involves the norms of the social group, laden with values such as duty, respect, deference, and adherence to convention. The ethic of divinity rests on the purity and holiness required by God. By contrast, though there are elements of these ethics in the West,...

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THE CHAINS OF FREEDOM

Posted by on Sep 18, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

THE CHAINS OF FREEDOM

There is a tendency to believe that individualism is the product of the last century, or of neo-conservative ideology, or of the consumer society.  But that’s wrong.  The truth is that individualism evolved slowly over more than two thousand years.  It is the complex product of Greek, Jewish, European and American thought and history.  It is also a most noble and ethically demanding concept, and, alongside democracy, with which it is deeply associated, one of the best ideas ever. I may become unpopular for stressing this other fact –...

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