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Britain’s government took a sharply xenophobic turn this week. Prime minister Theresa May poured scorn on “citizens of the world,” while her home secretary, Amber Rudd, warned that companies might be forced to publish how many foreigners they employ, causing dismay both in Britain and outside it (paywall).
But just as notable as the Tories’ newfound nativism is their newfound interventionism. May called for creating “a new centre ground in which government steps up,” possibly pressuring companies to not only employ fewer foreigners but also pay more taxes and treat both workers and customers better. It’s a near-reversal of the party’s pro-market shift under Margaret Thatcher. And it’s a far cry from the US, where Donald Trump and his allies have hijacked the Republicans’ big-business conservatism with a brand that, while even more xenophobic than Britain’s, is virulently anti-government.
In short: what does it even mean to be a conservative any more? Or, for that matter, a liberal? On some things, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton couldn’t be further apart, while many of Trump’s and Sanders’ supporters are similar people angry about similar things (paywall). In Europe, likewise, both the hard left and hard right have benefited from voters’ frustrations.
This is captured in a recent YouGov poll that shows “authoritarian populism” becoming mainstream all across Europe. A legislator for Jobbik, Hungary’s far-right party, told BuzzFeed, “Immigration is the only common denominator between right-wing parties.” Jobbik’s economic policies are more in line with those of left-wing populists like Greece’s Syriza and Italy’s Five-Star Movement.
This unraveling of left/right categories suggests it’s becoming time to ditch them. The ideological divide in the years to come will be the one May staked out this week: for openness to the world, or against it.—Gideon Lichfield
Five things on Quartz we especially liked
The map of the internet. Much like highways and tunnels, the internet is a vast global infrastructure made up of wires, cables, and machines. But what does it look like? And how does it work? In this 11-part series our reporters explore how the explosion in online video has quietly rewired the internet, how humble latex laid the foundations for the global web, how authoritarian countries apply censorship using “choke points,” and more besides.
What if felons in the US could vote? Millions of Americans who’ve committed serious crimes are banned from voting even after they’ve served their time. Hanna Kozlowska looks at the racist history of criminal disenfranchisement and what ending it might do to the electoral balance.
The desperation of Indian housewives in America. Last year as many as 100,000 Indian women were in the US on “dependent spouse” visas that don’t permit work, often robbing them of careers, independence, and dignity. Diksha Madhok interviewed more than a dozen wives about being trapped by a visa “that is almost Victorian in its restrictions.”
Three steps towards reinventing your career. It doesn’t happen overnight; it’s taken Khe Hy, Quartz’s entrepreneur-in-residence, four years. But he kept a spreadsheet of his activities during that time, and he pulls some lessons from it on how to change course when you’ve no idea what to do next.
Leave Elena Ferrante alone! Many people were outraged when a journalist (allegedly) identified the famously reclusive, pseudonymous novelist. Did she have a right to remain unknown? Did her readers have a right to know her? Thu-Huong Ha explores our fascination with celebrity, privacy, and the writer’s inner life.
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Five things elsewhere that made us smarter
Why eastern Germany is so xenophobic. A government report this week warned that growing anti-foreigner sentiment in the former East threatens all of German society. Der Spiegel’s Stefan Berg explains that people haven’t really adjusted emotionally since their days behind the Iron Curtain—and feel chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes refugees more warmly than easterners were welcomed after reunification.
Could linguistic analysis help detect Alzheimer’s? Researchers used statistical language analysis software to examine the vocabulary used by novelist (and Alzheimer’s sufferer) Iris Murdoch, and found it had deteriorated in her final book. Given the connection between dementia and linguistic impairment, asks Adrienne Day in Nautilus, could language software hold promise for researchers trying to detect early signs of the disease?
The Chinese workers who make Donald Trump’s ties. The US presidential candidate, who routinely charges China with killing the US on trade and taking American jobs, has been under attack for manufacturing his own line of ties in the country. Nobody has determined exactly where, until now. For Racked, Spencer Woodman slogs through the secrecy shrouding global supply chains to uncover the actual factories and the harsh conditions their workers endure.
The dizzying grandeur of 21st-century agriculture. We all know our food comes from industrial farms. But we rarely see what they look like. George Steinmetz spent nearly a year knocking on doors that rarely open to the public to produce a remarkable photo essay for the New York Times that captures modern farming in all its mind-boggling scale.
When you die, will you become an app? When a car ran her best friend down, a Russian AI specialist collected his digital traces and used them to build a bot that could talk to her, by text message, uncannily like he would have done. Casey Newton in the Verge on the modern-day science fiction that might well become many people’s science future.
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