"Cut My Life Into Pieces, This Is My Substack Blog" Edition
I am writing this on the bus to Warsaw. It is Saturday morning, and this will be published on Monday, but I can continue to add items throughout the weekend. Hopefully war will not have been declared by the time you read this, or some great natural disaster torn across the world. Who knows how many writers scribbled columns on 21st November, 1963, or 10th September, 2001, in cheerful anticipation of their being published later on. What a waste of time that must have seemed by the next day.
Obligatory shilling. This week I wrote for The Critic about Britain’s failed experiment in expanding the university system. My points could apply to the United States as well. One qualification I should perhaps have made is that I do not recommend not going to university unless you have a solid alternative plan. I wish we did not live in a world of tedious credentialism. But we do.
I also wrote for paid subscribers to this platform about social media as a cosmic blender. If that interests you, subscribe!
Lastly, in personal news, I replaced Bari Weiss at the New York Times and wrote my first column about the need for classical liberalism.
Who's that in the Substack zone? Andrew Sullivan has been let go by New York Magazine and is reviving his blog the Daily Dish on Substack. Welcome, Andrew. Needless to say, I am no fan of his very liberal conservatism but I thought this was an astute observation: “It seems to me that if this conservatism is so foul that many of my peers are embarrassed to be working at the same magazine, then I have no idea what version of conservatism could ever be tolerated.” Indeed.
A brilliant observer. Anthony Daniels writes about Michel Houellebecq. “He is read because there is no more brilliant observer, at least none who is known to me, of the emptiness of a human existence that is materially prosperous but at the same time deprived of religious, political or cultural meaning.” Daniels, who has also published as Theodore Dalrymple, is another brilliant observer, though I think he struggles to acquit liberal economics of any blame for this religious, political and cultural hollowness. Managerialism, his greatest villain, might enable commodification but is not its cause.
Hard truths about soft power. Aris Roussinos writes about the State Department exporting American racial ideology to France.
Respect muh transgressions. A writer at the Daily Dot defends the “queer” tradition of public sex. There is something very strange about how they celebrate intercourse in car parks, stairwells and public toilets for its “taboo” nature but clearly resent it being treated with the slightest hostility or disdain. They want it to be a “taboo” in a toothless sense in which it is called one without being treated accordingly.
Peter Hitchens on trains. Exactly what it says on the tin.
Warsaw. In Warsaw, I went – yes, this is the future – with the excellent filmmaker Stefan Tompson to the Warsaw Uprising Museum. Perhaps the centrepiece of the museum is a screening of a film that shows remastered footage of the city taken by an American bomber in 1945.
Except – there is no city. After the uprising failed, the Germans destroyed and burned the place. There are only ashes and ruins. The destruction of Warsaw was an act of murderous spite – a fit of rage directed against men, women and children whose crime had been defending their homeland. For all of the many problems of modernity, it is inspiring that Warsaw rose again. It was bombed, emptied and burned, and still outlived the people who sought to destroy it.
Have a lovely week,