Public ideas

Shakespeare on politics

The third Boyer Lecture by John Bell – Shakespeare: soul of the age is Shakespeare’s women.  It’s less political than his previous two lectures. Shakespeare lived in an age of male patriarchy and misogyny – present day Afghanistan comes to mind. Bell sees the best in Shakespeare’s female characters – even Lady Macbeth gets a good write-up. Some of his female characters are conniving, sly or otherwise flawed, but they are never weak. Bell’s main interpretation of how Shakespeare deals with gender is that he “spent his career dissecting male power structures and showing the disastrous consequences of male arrogance, egotism, brutality and indifference”.

Pope Francis, Gramsci, and Cicero on a change of era

On the ABC’s Religion and Ethics Report Andrew West interviewed Adrian Pabst of the University of Kent on the question Has the Covid-19 pandemic killed liberalism?

Relating his ideas to those of Pope Francis and Antonio Gramsci, Pabst suggests that rather than going through an era of change, we are going through a change of era. He sees the age of liberalism as passing away, but it would be a misunderstanding to classify him as a proponent of illiberalism. The word “liberal” has too many shades of meaning: Pabst refers specifically to the liberalism of unfettered markets, and the liberalism of self-centred individualism.

Nor is he an advocate of populism, authoritarianism or minimal government. Rather he optimistically sees the emergence of a new covenant where Cicero’s civic virtues – justice, courage, temperance and fortitude – hold societies together.

Pabst is author of Postliberal politics: the coming era of renewal.