The Unrepentant Jacobin was born in London, and studied in Manchester, Knoxville Tennessee and Dublin. He moved to London in 2000 to study a postgraduate course in film-making, graduated as a director and became a freelance film-maker. He lives alone in North London and blogs at Jacobinism.
Why do you blog? > To explore the issues with which I have become preoccupied, and as a means of involving myself in the argument. There's no better way to learn.
What has been your best blogging experience? > My second post was about Chomskyite idiotarians Media Lens. They described it as 'beyond shameful' and 'one of the worst yet'. For me their outraged indignation constituted a great endorsement. I remain proud of that post.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Unintentionally quote-mining Kenan Malik, a writer for whom I have a great deal of time and respect. Still not entirely sure how it happened and I corrected it as soon as it was brought to my attention, but I was mortified. There are few things more important as a polemicist than being scrupulous and fair-minded with the arguments of others.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Explain and persuade, don't hector.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Tom Paine, although I feel fairly sure he would have resisted the 'intellectual' label.
What are you reading at the moment? > An essay on the Counter-Enlightenment by Isaiah Berlin.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Bob Dylan, Pauline Kael, Norman Mailer, Buster Keaton.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Not sure I feel qualified to select on the basis of literary quality, but my favourite novel is probably The Day of the Locust.
What is your favourite poem? > 'The Walrus and the Carpenter'.
What is your favourite movie? > El (1953).
What is your favourite song? > 'Gimme Shelter'.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > The Iraq War – although this was part of a larger change in my thinking which led to the wholesale shedding of my youthful hesperophobia.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > That there is no such thing as objective truth.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Paul Berman's polemic Terror and Liberalism had an enormous impact on me. Literary, eloquent, clear-minded and persuasive. Berman is the finest liberal essayist I've come across. His patient dismantling of anti-War pieties in that short book is breathtaking.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > Rumsfeld's 'unknown unknowns'.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > The dismantling of the prevailing segregationist multi-cultural model, combined with a thoroughgoing assault on the moral and cultural relativism underpinning it.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Religious fanaticism and its hand-maidens, sectarian hatred, woman hatred and Jew hatred. A combination of these things is already tearing a number of countries to pieces before our eyes. Nuclear proliferation comes a close second.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > I disapprove of Golden Ageism. If we do slip backwards, we must simply redouble our efforts. There's still much to be done.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > 'Enjoy yourself. It's later than you think!'
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > No. But I'd find marriage to someone whose views were identical to my own extremely boring.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Straightforwardness.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Flakiness.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > As few as possible – not because it isn't expedient or morally justifiable sometimes, but because I'm really not very good at it.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > I dislike any ostentatious displays of religious or political affiliation. Slogan-bearing badges and t-shirts, religiously observant haircuts, dress codes and iconography of any kind.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Sunbathing.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > William Burroughs, when asked if he had any regrets, said: 'My god, what a question! There isn't a day that goes by where I don't regret something I've said or done. Now you're asking me about a lifetime?!' My feelings exactly.
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > The young David Hemmings.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > San Francisco or Paris.
What talent would you most like to have? > To be able to read and retain information rapidly. I'm a slow reader and it's very frustrating.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Christopher Hitchens, Dorothy Parker, the Marquis de Sade.
[A list of all the normblog profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]