‘In the modern world, the workaholic chino-wearers march ahead’

Your digest of analysis and commentary from the British and international press

Business workers

1. If you want to get ahead, ditch your creativity

James Marriott in The Times

on conformity

“According to the most recent edition of the Financial Times’s How to Spend It supplement, £127,000 will buy you the ‘ultimate’ Steinway self-playing grand piano,” writes James Marriott in The Times. “Isn’t this weird?” he says, in buying the piano it “draws attention to a hobby you don’t have”. It says “my owner is slightly more boring than you might have supposed. My theory is that this is partly the point,” he continues. In the modern world “the ability to sublimate your personality, your eccentricities, your creative fantasies to your work is rewarded. The boring succeed and so being boring has become a kind of status symbol.” Unfortunately, “the cost of not conforming is higher than ever, financially and personally”, writes Marriott, so “the hobbyless, the dull, the impeccably CV-ed, the workaholic chino-wearers march ahead.”

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Read more

2. The Turner Prize has become an anti-artistic, politicised basket-case

Ben Lawrence in The Telegraph

on individual merit

“Is the Turner Prize the biggest basket case in British culture?” asks Ben Lawrence in The Telegraph. The prize has announced its “lastest wheeze”, to make every nominee on the 2021 shortlist an artist collective. “Artistic individualism, be damned! What did Steve McQueen or Damien Hirst bring to our artistic landscape, anyway?” It’s clear, that the prize judges, “who no doubt feel they are being terribly democratic and cutting-edge, have apparently shot themselves in the foot”, writes Lawrence. “A problem with getting involved with collectives is that you’re dealing with multiple voices – even if they’re ostensibly united – and they’re always going to find something to complain about.” Anyway, the best artists have always “alas, been selfish individuals who wouldn’t be deterred from their chosen path. Would Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) have been so dazzling had Picasso formed a collective with sex workers from turn-of-the-century Barcelona?”

Read more

3. The ‘third way’ may have worked for New Labour, but it is impossible now

Joe Guinan and Martin O'Neill in The Guardian

on Blairism

“For Labour, the future simply isn’t what it used to be,” write Joe Guinan and Martin O’Neill in The Guardian. The party is now even further from power than it was before the 2019 election. “In moments of defeat, there is a tendency to look back at what has worked in the past and assume it could be repeated again in the future.” The “third-way” approach of New Labour under Tony Blair brought remarkable electoral success 20 years ago, but it is now “economically unsuited to the present moment” and “unrepeatable in political terms”. Across the Atlantic, another veteran of third-way politics, Joe Biden, has “shifted his economic position in response to the demands of the moment, working constructively with the left of his party rather than marginalising it”, they continue. “If the Democrats are showing that they are not stuck in the past, there is no reason why the Labour party should be either.”

Read more

4. Only scientists and voters can change the politics of catastrophe

John Thornhill in the Financial Times

on failures of governance

“A Covid-19-style pandemic was both predictable and preventable,” say experts. That it has now unfolded as a global disaster is “due to a failure of governance and the lack of a co-ordinated international response”, writes John Thornhill in the Financial Times. “What is most unnerving about this failure is that humanity will soon face even bigger threats. The risks of environmental destruction, nuclear annihilation, cyberwarfare, bioterrorism and rogue artificial intelligence are easy to foresee and horrifying to contemplate,” he continues. But, “at least some smart researchers are on humanity’s case”, adding that “we should invest little hope in political leaders tackling these risks on their own initiative”. This is because “distracted politicians are always likely to delay and defer to ‘realist’ arguments unless ‘idealist’ scientific experts empowered by civil society can convince them otherwise”.

Read more

5. Boris’s animal rights laws could come back to bite him

Andrew Tettenborn in The Spectator

on a racing certainty

One of the most “bizarre” laws included in a raft of new measures announced in the Queen’s Speech this week is one “requiring government to accept that animals are sentient and feel pain and angst like the rest of us”. “To most of us (and probably to Boris) this initially looks innocent enough,” says Andrew Tettenborn in The Spectator. “True, it is ultimately quixotic: animals either feel distress or they don’t, and what the law says about it makes no difference whatever.” However, “such a law would not be nearly as innocuous as it looks.” Animal rights groups “are well-funded, argumentative, and litigious,” says Tettenborn. “Whatever form any legislation took – and the details are still unclear – it is a racing certainty that they would take full advantage of it to exert maximum pressure on the government to conform to their demands.”

Read more

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.