Open Future

Open Future

  • Open Future

    On bad artists, a tongue-tied Jordan Peterson, and helping the losers from free trade

    The Economist’s Open Future initiative aims to remake the case for the values of individual freedom and free markets in the 21st century. Highlights from this week’s activities include: 

    An article on whether artists’ personal lives should affect how we treat their work

    In recent weeks Junot Díaz has been accused of rudeness, allegedly tinged with misogyny, that chimes with the machismo he depicts in his stories. There is not, and can never be, a fixed rule for deciding what, in an artist’s biography, counts as disqualifying for his art. That being so, removing books from shelves or school curriculums is both mistaken and patronising.

  • Open Ideas

    How much should artists’ personal lives affect how we treat their work?

    by A.M.

    “LE MORTE D’ARTHUR”, a 15th-century collection of stories about King Arthur and his knights, may be the finest depiction of courtly romance in any language. It contains some of the loveliest prose ever written in English. Its authorship is somewhat murky: it is attributed to Thomas Malory, but there is some dispute as to which of several men of that name actually wrote it. The likeliest candidate probably scribbled parts of the book in prison, where he was confined more than once in a criminal career that took in accusations of theft, attempted murder and rape. Those circumstances have not stopped “Le Morte d’Arthur” featuring on many university curriculums.

  • Open Voices

    Freedom of speech and religion is not a licence to discriminate

    by Ria Tabacco Mar

    Ria Tabacco Mar is a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT & HIV Project. In 2016 she was named one of the “Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40” by the National LGBT Bar Association.

    As the United Kingdom debates whether a bakery may lawfully refuse to sell a cake with a certain inscription, a case involving another bakery and another high court offers an important reminder of why laws against discrimination matter.

    In America, the Supreme Court is currently considering the case of Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig, who were turned away by Masterpiece Cakeshop because they are a same-sex couple.

  • Open Borders

    The Rohingya crisis bears all the hallmarks of a genocide

    by R.C.

    REPORTS from parliamentary select committees are usually mild affairs. Often a consensus is forged out of competing party-political interests. Few committee members want to rock the boat too much. This makes the report on the Rohingya crisis out on May 22nd from Britain’s International Development Committee even more striking. “Bangladesh, Burma and the Rohingya crisis” is as direct and hard-hitting at it gets. In the words of Stephen Twigg, the committee chairman, the report calls for “a decisive shift” in Britain’s relations with Myanmar. It is a damning indictment on the Burmese government and Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of the country. 

  • Open Markets

    What governments can do for the losers from free trade

    by Jared Bernstein

    Jared Bernstein is a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Previously, he was chief economist and economic adviser to Vice-President Joe Biden and executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class. In 1995-96, he was Deputy Chief Economist at America’s Department of Labour. He is the author of numerous books on economics. Follow him on Twitter at @econjared

    When I joined the Economic Policy Institute in the early 1990s, we were among the only economists documenting how certain groups of workers and their communities were increasingly displaced by trade.

  • Open Future

    On vulgar liberals, cultural appropriation and hostile environments

    The Economist’s Open Future initiative aims to remake the case for the classical liberal values of individual freedom and free markets in the 21st century. Highlights from this week’s activities include:

    A film on the next frontier of neurotechnology

    Efforts to connect human brains to computers have taken big leaps forward in recent years. Melding minds with machines could provide the biggest single upgrade to human intelligence since the species evolved. But are humans ready? Our film explores how thoughts could control machines.

    A look behind the data of Britain’s “hostile environment” for immigrants

    A decade ago Britain was one of Europe’s most welcoming countries.

  • Open Future

    Why liberals need to be vulgar

    “A feeble creed for weedy people! Rightists and Leninists love that caricature,” says Edmund Fawcett about liberals. The Economist asked Mr Fawcett to reply to five direct questions in answers of roughly 100 words.

    Mr Fawcett is the author of “Liberalism: The Life of an Idea”, which was published this month in a second edition, making room for President Donald Trump, Brexit and other political tremors that have shaken the liberal mindset. He was a journalist at The Economist for 30 years before retiring in 2003. 

    His responses are below. They are followed by an excerpt that he picked because, as he put it: “Liberalism is easy to recognise but hard to sum up.

  • The open society and the Open Society

    The ironies of George Soros’s foundation leaving Budapest

    by By M.S.

    Imagine you want to do something nice for the world. Let’s say you believe in the virtues of democracy, freedom of speech and association, government transparency and that sort of thing. Perhaps you have personal experience with how awful life can be in countries that lack these civic features. How about starting an organisation to promote them?

    Of course, it’s hard to build such an organisation without money. But what if, by fortunate coincidence, you are a canny trader who has made a vast fortune on the currency markets?

  • Open Ideas

    When respect for diversity is taken to crazy extremes

    by I.K. | WASHINGTON, DC

    EVERY year the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art hosts a gala. A single ticket costs $30,000. New York’s A-listers and wannabes deck themselves in overwrought garments designed for the party’s theme. Three years ago “China: Through the Looking Glass” inspired dresses with dragons (pictured), hair held in place with chopsticks and, from a few sartorially confused celebrities, kimonos.

    The attire prompted an outcry over “cultural appropriation”—an elastic, ill-defined gripe.

  • Open Borders

    Britain creates a more hostile environment for immigrants

    by J.T.

    “Promiscuity or sexual preference within the law. Drinking or gambling. Eccentricity, including beliefs, appearance and lifestyle.” These are just a few of the criteria that Britain can use to deny citizenship, if “by the scale and persistence of their behaviour, [applicants have] made themselves notorious in their local or the wider community.”

    The Home Office’s rules cover all manner of sins, from the serious to things like a police caution or failing to pay local taxes. Although the “notoriety clause” is almost never used, its very existence gives the Home Office wide discretion, says Nick Nason, an immigration lawyer at Edgewater Legal.

  • Open Society

    China and Eurovision clash over an LGBT performance—and the value of diversity

    by S.N.

    It has showcased a man in a hamster wheel. It has presented a bearded lady in a golden dress. And this year’s final includes a MeToo-inspired anthem by a singer who intersperses lines like “I’m not your toy, you stupid boy,” with chicken sounds (and movements).

    The Eurovision Song Contest, an extravagant annual event which has its finale in Lisbon on May 12th, is neither about music nor about Europe. Yes, it helped launch the careers of Abba and Celine Dion. 

    But behind the smoke, elaborate costumes and extraordinary dance routines, Eurovision is really about pushing boundaries, celebrating the idea of multi-culture over mono-culture, and being able to laugh at oneself.

  • Open Future Festival

    Join us to remake the case for liberal values

    As The Economist celebrates its 175th anniversary, the classical liberal values that it has championed are as relevant as ever. Yet liberalism’s core tenets—faith in open societies and free markets—face greater resistance. A rise in populism and authoritarianism, a denigration of experts and inquiry, and a rejection of open markets threaten the stability and prosperity of the past 70 years.

    The Open Future Festival, taking place in three cities over a 24-hour period on September 15th, will grapple with the most urgent issues of our time.

  • Open Future

    On servile DC journalists, helping free-trade’s losers and elections in Lebanon

    The Economist’s Open Future initiative aims to remake the case for the classical liberal values of individual freedom and free markets in the 21st century. Highlights from this week’s activities include:

    Women’s and gay-rights are represented as a new generation of Lebanese vote for the first time
    Decriminalising homosexuality, abolishing child marriage and introducing secular laws were among the issues backed by independent candidates in legislative elections in Lebanon on May 6th. The independent candidates ran against the established political parties that have presided over the country for decades.

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