Regular Speech Topics

THEMES I OFTEN RETURN TO WHEN DELIVERING A SPEECH (OR PRODUCE AN ARTICLE OR A BOOK)

ClearThinking
  1. Today’s key trends. The six key development trends – socio-economic, commercial and technological – which have triggered today’s ongoing power shifts. How these power shifts, even though not deliberately orchestrated by anyone, are fundamentally upsetting the political equilibrium. Why these shifts have ultimately caused the first establishment-vs-the-people divide since the democratic breakthrough. Why it has been so tricky for so many politicians, CEOs and CFOs of all sorts to properly grasp – and properly acknowledge – the link between cause and effect. Why highly flawed narratives – typically both sensationalist and self-serving – dominate the political landscape during the presently certainly confused phase of the current transition period. Why there is plenty of opportunity for those who understand why and how mainstream thought will remain reliably wrong for quite some time. Why a political transition period can and should in many ways be tackled in a way similar to an organisation undergoing a major transition. 

  2. Putin, the Russian development curve and the prospects of a finally more democratic Russia. Why Putins’s invasion of Ukraine was more an act of desperation than held by received wisdom. Why Putin might not only be toppled, due to his massive counterproductive blunder, but why it is far from certain that he will be replaced not by yet another “hardman” but by yet another “Zelenskiy”. Why it is true that “people’s revolutions” rarely succeed without a sizeable middleclass, otherwise the despots simply tend to replace one another (the African curse). However, Russia today is neither Africa nor Russia in 1917. On the society development curve Russia is, ironically, more similar to Ukraine in 2022. Why the Russian’s of today could potentially show as much fighting spirit as the Ukrainians in the name of democracy and freedom from a despot.

  3. The Nordics, the Nordic co-operation role model and the Finnish-Swedish NATO memberships. Why the Nordic co-operation model is much superior to the EU co-operation model: close co-operation in every area but, crucially, without eroding democracy. Why small country consensus – typical when professional and social circles are heavily intertwined – can be both a great asset and a great liability. Why the steamrolling of deviating thought served Sweden poorly during phase one of the coronavirus crisis (but thereafter, despite all the politicised fuss, Sweden no longer stood out and did just as well as the other Nordic countries). Why the same kind of steamrolling has, arguably, served Finland and Sweden well when deciding to join NATO. The key factor ultimately determining if and when steamrolling will turn out favourably or not.

  4. Truly understanding Centrism and the distinction between authentic Centrism (balances all key thoughts) and pretend Centrism (cancels all non-Centrist thoughts). Why also Centrism, like all “isms”, is strongly shaped by key stakeholders claiming to offer – usually in good faith – balanced moderation while primarily serving themselves. Why the “Anywheres” of society, led by the metropolitan administration class and pro-big business rather than pro-free market labour market forces, really have sidestepped the “Somewheres” of society (those not gaining or not gaining as much from globalisation). Why practical examples of pretend Centrism (Centrist excess rather than Centrist balance) include the unprecedented open border policies, the transfer of voter power to unelected bureaucrats in internationalist organisations, the corporatist links between politicians and big corporate and/or trade union donors, the no end to the artificial money boosting of the economy, the moralistic “wokery” facing down anyone challenging received (Centrist) wisdom, the woolly peace notions that for too long kept the military realists away from the top tables and the also unprecedented way Centrist intellectuals are set on never or rarely acknowledging Western World progress when Centrists were not in charge. Why these dilemmas should in no way obstruct the fact that Centrism started off well and pushed out inherited prejudices relating to for example ethnicity, gender equality and sexual orientation. Why it is therefore not Centrism per se that is problematic; “only” its pretend (overreach) features. Why Centrism has proven to have a surprising democratic blind spot that in a big way impedes revitalisation. Why the Centrist cancellation of competing thought in fact should be considered heresy by every authentic (prudent balance) Centrist. Why and how a return to a more authentic – and again vote winning – formula is not only perfectly possible but is already ongoing in unexpected quarters: the UK. Why the pretend Centrists would rather “die” than admit as much.

  5. Why years of protracted political and economic agony can be saved, in Europe, if replacing the EU with EEC version 2.0. Why the EU, despite all the good intentions involved, really has no prosperous future following its expansion way beyond its democratic mandate. Why the Brussels project served Europe remarkably well before the political overcoat was added to the original economic project – meaning before the European Economic Community (EEC) was transformed into the European Union (EU). Why the problems started when the European project gained such a critical power mass that it was also sufficiently powerful to ignore voters. Why from then on organisational expansionism – rather than serving Europe – turned into the prime priority of the EU movers and shakers (just as expansionism turns into a key purpose of every bureaucracy without explicit power limits to its mandate). Why not only the EU democratic deficit remains massively underestimated (outside the UK) but also the EU economic and security disadvantages. Why the powerful EU web of vested interests will nevertheless continue to make nonsense of every reform attempt. Why the initial objectives of the European project – free trade but democracy left intact – can now, ironically, only be achieved by dismantling the EU and starting afresh in a much more limited form (EEC version 2.0). Why the EU break-up really is a question of when, not if. Why it is also only a question of time before many of today’s most passionate EU apologists – also those outside the UK – will pretend they were always EU sceptics.

  6. The Brexit story cleansed from both Brussels and London PR-spin. Why the Brexit twists and turns have played out much differently than you might have been led to believe. Especially if based outside the UK where the EU PR-machine – possibly the most influential PR-machine in the world – has been instructed to systematically misrepresent the Brexit story. Why, luckily, the end game is decided by actual results rather than by the narratives doctored in Brussels and typically parroted by member state public servants. Why Brexit has already, for those willing to see, reaped substantial rewards. Why the Northern Ireland issue remains unresolved only while Brussels wants it to remain unresolved. Why “Partygate”, a media driven storm involving a fair amount of hypocrisy on all sides, to no small degree should be seen as vengeful Remainers taking the opportunity to kick Boris where and when he is weak – after forming an unholy alliance with vengeful anti-lockdowners. Why the UK is in facto now – believe it or not – ahead in the transition period development curve.

  7. Why the UK is now set to outpace the member countries of the organisation it just left. Both politically and economically. Despite most establishment bien pensants having for years insisted that the UK is destined to lag behind. Why the coronavirus crisis and then the energy crisis has made it hard to, presently, entangle the Brexit effects. Why no real democrat can still ever doubt that more democratic societies will, in the long run, always beat societies controlled from the top by unelected officials. Why those who remain in doubt have never truly understood the “power of the people” including the undeniably strong correlation between real democracy, innovation and sustainable growth. Why only truly democratic societies can ever be truly inclusive. Why the three most democratic countries in Europe – the UK, Switzerland and Norway – are now the by far best representatives of the classic Northern European free trade tradition: free trade but not at the cost of democracy.

  8. Why Scotland will not leave the UK despite all the smoke and dust. Why the Scottish independence threat does help to concentrate minds in London but also why Scotland is nevertheless, when push comes to shove, highly unlikely to actually leave the UK. Regardless of opinion polls from time to time suggesting otherwise. Why transferring political powers from London to Edinburgh – only to transfer most of the same powers to Brussels where Scottish voters have no clout at all – would be far more schizophrenic than an act of “Bravehearts”. Why the Scottish independence case therefore rests solely on the mistaken Remainer claim that the Brexit effect on the UK economy will be devastating. Why it is likely that SNP is currently swinging its swan song as the dominant player north of the England-Scotland border. Yes, a formidable swan song in all its waning might and misguided passion – but still a swan song.

  9. Why the sensational US development provides yet another textbook example of how (Centrist) overshoot has triggered an anti-thesis counter-reaction (Trumpism). Why this would not have been possible without many voters sensing a need to push back against Centrist (globalist) establishment overshoot. Why Republicans and Democrats are locked into a vicious circle characterised by both sides feeding on each other’s worst failings. Why the Centrists have drifted so far into overshoot terrain they need blunt belligerents such as Donald Trump in order to come across as more balanced. Why the “populist” camp needs polished establishment royalties such as Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, those with deep connections in every establishment sphere of influence including not least the donor community, to come across as the camp representing folksy common sense. Why this has left the much misunderstood silent majority without a champion. Why the 2020 election, as a result, failed to produce a strong majority for either side (and too many voters seemingly voting against rather than for a candidate). Why voters thereby, wisely, are incentivising politicians on both sides to finally start listening to what they have been saying all along: “we do not want overshoot of any variety – including fake Centrism (Centrist overshoot)“. Why, behind the scenes, positive progress can finally be expected since, after a period of trial and error, voters are highly unlikely to yet again endorse any side not shaping up.

  10. What Sweden can and should do to yet again turn into role model for Centrist realism (authentic Centrism) rather than (as has been the case on many occasions during recent years) a cautionary tale for Centrist idealism (pretend Centrism). Why Sweden, until recently a prudent balance role model, abandoned its traditional ways and got it spectacularly wrong during its migration crisis, its violent gang crime crisis and its (phase one) coronavirus crisis. How the pretend moderation – over recent years offered by official Sweden – betrays Sweden’s long history of real moderation. Why and how official Sweden uses professional and social pressure to close rank also behind astonishingly poor policy choices. Why such rank closing is far from without merit but also stifles a rigorous debate and therefore preemptive action. Why the intimate – corporativist – links between public servants and the Labour market bigwigs now add massively to the lowering of public debate standards. Why the Nordic neighbours – Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland – have succeeded in not abandoning the traditionally balanced Nordic ways as much as Sweden. Why a lack of intellectual underpinning hinders foresight but also enables swift u-turns once the head is in the noose. As experienced in real time when Sweden so swiftly decided to join NATO. What Sweden could and should do to return, also during less exceptional circumstances, to its more results- and grassroots oriented ways – so that recent years can be written off as simply an unfortunate parenthesis. 

  11. A British-Swedish comparison of key differences and similarities. Why it is not a co-incidence that parties such as the UK Labour Party and the Swedish Social Democratic Party – once parties widely recognised even among its opponents as the parties of solidarity, working class respect and grassroots oriented practical skill – have transformed into the type of establishment parties they were once formed to fight. Why and how the UK Conservative Party has, at least for a while, managed to take advantage of the power vacuum left following the flagging fortunes of the UK Labour Party. Why the Swedish Conservative party has failed to do the same thing despite a highly similar situation. Why the power balance between the “big business wing” and the “entrepreneurial wing” decides the electoral success of every leading right-wing party. Why the former typically enjoys formidable media powers but the latter formidable strength in numbers.  

  12. Why the idealists often manage to steal the glory while the realists do all the hard work. Why, the peddlers of glorious feel-good-fluff tend to have an advantage during election campaigns (when times are good). Why the vested interests backing a political camp, it does not matter which one, will always demand a little bit more in the same direction as before. Why eventually – when more of the same is increasingly hard to defend rationally – the same vested interests will shift their allegiance from the “realists” to the “idealists”, the producers of glorious intellectual alibis. Why an evergreen tactic among idealists is and always has been to portray political opponents as “subversive radicals” and as “enemies of peace and prosperity”. Why the scene is then be set for a fierce political backlash, “populism”, perhaps equally dogmatic anti-establishment rivals and an acrimonious “culture war”.  Why these transition period battles will not mark the finest hours of the human race and why authentic moderates might not feel truly comfortable anywhere. Why this is precisely the phase country after country is going through in real time. Why things like Brexit, the cost-of-living crisis and the Russian invasion of Ukraine has served as a reality checks in all sorts of ways. Why the idealists will unashamedly try to exploit even these events to their own advantage; even if to no small degree caused by the result of idealist groupthink taken too far. 

  13. Why academics are more influential than ever – and the mainstream academic debate yet so shallow. Why, despite an academic sphere more politically influential than ever, the intellectual debate is still more one-eyed, more politicised and more “woke” than at any point since the democratic breakthrough. Why, then again, the symbiotic relationship between the academic sphere and its political paymasters has always been too close for comfort.

  14. How political history repeats itself in many ways but also offers fascinating novelty. The key political trends today that offer little more than repetition in the history of politics and economics (including today’s political overshoot coupled with a (neo)paternalist attitude towards those raising concerns). The key trends that are truly unique, for example the fact that the overshoot is for the first time orchestrated by Centrist rather than right-wing or left-wing stakeholders. Why the capitals in the developed world are more important than ever as centres of economic entrepreneurship – but the movers and shakers in these capitals are typically also the last to correctly grasp the general political shift in voter sentiment.

  15. The functional purpose – and immorality – of idealism and virtue signalling. Why many major lobbyists, for rational but self-serving reasons, are embracing political virtue signalling so strongly. Why many “woke” students are unknowingly playing into the hands of big business. Why economic power, for the first time during the democratic breakthrough, is turning more rather than less concentrated.

  16. The true takeaways from the intriguing Nordic – and much misunderstood – Nordic coronavirus case study. Why it really does not require a Sherlock to understand the link between cause and effect when Sweden is the only Nordic country to avoid a lockdown even during the most critical early weeks of a new deadly virus – and 2 out of 3 dead in the Nordics end up Swedish. Why the Swedish economy has not performed better than the other Nordic economies despite its more “liberal” coronavirus approach. Why all Nordic mainland countries have economically, due to its exceptional natural advantages, outperformed most of Europe. Why numerous covid libertarians outside Sweden have insisted on labelling the Swedish Social Democrats as freedom champions; even though the Social Democrats typically detest libertarians. Why it has reeked more from Borat than Ingmar Bergman when key bureaucrats adopted a “love for freedom” to hide initial mistakes, and then lapped up praise when touring libertarian press. Why (the real reason) the Swedish approach deviated. Why key Swedish libertarians, those who truly get Sweden, wisely refrained from applauding the Swedish coronavirus debacle. How the Swedish government has still managed to muddle through. Why a major learning opportunity relating to the Nordic case study has, due to outrageous tribalism, so far passed by largely unnoticed.

  17. The universal key to yet again revitalising society – and why we keep forgetting this key. Why it is no coincidence the traditionally most genuinely democratic and grassroots oriented societies – the UK, the Nordics, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand – have for centuries belonged to the most successful countries on the planet. How to arrive at a society which is truly inclusive while not only empowering groups automatically empowered in Centrist/metropolitan/globalist societies (women, sexual minorities and ethnic minorities) but also those who in relative terms have lost out during recent decades (the native working class). How to break bad spells by avoiding repeating the traps we actually know do not serve society but still tend to repeat. 

  18. Why we really do need not be so gloomy about the future. Why political power resting on simplistic good-versus-bad PR-fluff has its limits even when peddled masterfully. Why the present political transition period really is much more predictable and the prospects much brighter – beyond inevitable short-term hiccups – than the career peddlers of doom and division are claiming.