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Ben Wellings

Ben Wellings is an Associate Professor of Politics and International Relations at Monash University. His research addresses the link between nationalism and geopolitics, specifically in the United Kingdom, the European Union and amongst the English-speaking countries of the ‘Anglosphere’. He is the author of English Nationalism, Brexit and the Anglosphere: Wider Still and Wider (2019) and co-editor of The Anglosphere: Continuity, Dissonance, Location (2019). He is currently researching a book on the relationship between English nationalism and British disintegration. 

Ben Wellings reviews ‘Fractured Union: Politics, sovereignty and the fight to save the United Kingdom’ by Michael Kenny

July 2024, no. 466 20 June 2024
British politics is back in the limelight, after a brief hiatus of relative sanity. The current election campaign will divert attention onto the main parties and key personalities. However, this shouldn’t mask important challenges to the very integrity of the United Kingdom that have occurred since David Cameron took the keys to 10 Downing Street in 2010. In fact, the United Kingdom has been th ... (read more)

Ben Wellings reviews 'Why Populism? Political strategy from Ancient Greece to the present' by Paul D. Kenny

September 2023, no. 457 25 August 2023
Paul D. Kenny’s impressive and engaging book is a corrective to the well-established body of work on populism. This corpus grew in tandem with the most recent successes of populism that have been a feature of contemporary liberal democracies in the past decade, and are a source of anxiety to many who care about democracy and value pluralism. An explanatory orthodoxy about populism has emerged t ... (read more)

Ben Wellings reviews 'The Parliamentary Battle Over Brexit' by Meg Russell and Lisa James

June 2023, no. 454 23 May 2023
A key argument deployed by those in favour of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union concerned the restoration of parliamentary sovereignty. One of the ironies of Brexit is that some of the leading figures who argued for parliamentary sovereignty during the 2016 referendum tried to shut down Parliament three years later so that they could ‘get Brexit done’. This attack on a representati ... (read more)

Ben Wellings reviews 'The Great Experiment: How to make diverse democracies work' by Yascha Mounk

December 2022, no. 449 25 November 2022
This is an optimistic book about the future of democracy in diverse societies. Yet optimism about democracy is a scarce commodity in 2022. Engaging with the prevailing pessimism forms the basis of Yascha Mounk’s prognosis for democracy in diverse societies. This makes it a worthwhile book, despite some absences in the analysis. The Great Experiment – Mounk’s depiction of the uncertain futur ... (read more)

Ben Wellings reviews 'Democracy Rules' by Jan-Werner Müller

January–February 2022, no. 439 22 December 2021
In this accessible contribution to the burgeoning literature on democracy’s travails and what to do about them, Jan-Werner Müller makes a case for hard borders and fundamental principles. These are not the hard borders desired by authoritarian leaders. Instead, Müller asks us to go back to basics (he uses the concept riduzione verso il principo) to establish some hard borders in our understand ... (read more)

Ben Wellings reviews 'Englishness: The political force transforming Britain' by Ailsa Henderson and Richard Wyn Jones

March 2021, no. 429 22 February 2021
This book addresses one fundamental question: is nationalism a transformative force in politics? Nationalism is usually seen as an offshoot of ‘identity politics’, which in turn is the product of long-term social change, notably access to higher education. Such an analysis can be found in David Goodhart’s The Road to Somewhere: The new tribes shaping British politics (2017) and Maria Sobolew ... (read more)

Ben Wellings reviews 'Counter-Revolution: Liberal Europe in Retreat' by Jan Zielonka

October 2018, no. 405 24 September 2018
Jan Zielonka has provided us with an engaging and stimulating diagnosis of the pathologies of the European crisis of liberalism. The prognosis is not great, but there is hope. This short book takes the form of an intergenerational letter to Zielonka’s former mentor, the émigré German liberal intellectual Ralf Dahrendorf. Dahrendorf wrote a treatise on the European revolutions of 1989, which w ... (read more)