Obligatory shilling. I wrote an article for The Critic about censorship and iconoclasm in Edinburgh, and progressive instutional capture in general. It is not online yet but I recommend the magazine.
Oh, Canada. Malcolm Kyeyune reflects on the maple-scented authoritarianism of Justin Trudeau:
Perhaps buildings being burned down, sometimes with their occupants still inside them, is just part and parcel of living in a vibrant democracy. Meanwhile, a protest that has led to zero loss of life and no torched buildings is cast as a grave threat to democracy.
I think this is a very interesting point:
It is notable that Trudeau is calling on the banks and tech firms to help restore public order, while excluding any meaningful role for the military. The banks, as well as various parts of the tech sector, are increasingly looking like the only powerful institution that the managerial classes can expect to count on in a true crisis.
In other words, political elites can only count on the backing of other elites.
Trudeau has the narcissism of Emmanuel Macron without the political will that leads his Gallic cousin to make sudden grand decisions like, say, announcing a giant nuclear power plant construction programme. It is unsurprising if liberal managerialism trips with him.
Bloodlands revisited. You would have to be mad, bad or brainless to accept that the Ukrainians waited until tens of thousands of Russian soldiers were poised on their borders before attacking Donetsk. But then, the Kremlin also asked us to believe that two mysterious, military-aged Russian men just happened to be visiting Salisbury Cathedral when a Russian dissident was poisoned in the town. Telling a big, obvious lie and facing no consequences is a kind of power play.
Anatoly Karlin, a pro-Russian commentator who is smart and independent-minded enough to be worth reading whatever one thinks of his opinions, predicts war:
I don’t exclude that this is a bluff 100%, and would have to eat a big L if it is. But the L the Kremlin would have to eat would be incomparably bigger, imagine torpedoing your international credibility and your markets just to “humiliate” and “destroy” “Western war propaganda”.
But why? Karlin quotes from an article by Putin:
It would not be an exaggeration to say that the path of forced assimilation, the formation of an ethnically pure Ukrainian state, aggressive towards Russia, is comparable in its consequences to the use of weapons of mass destruction against us.
We shall see what happens. The West should not have enabled the Ukrainians to think they could join NATO. But I wonder if that would have satisfied the Russians. Putin is not, after all, thinking entirely in terms of power. He is thinking with the blood.
Talk is cheap. Despite its abysmal opening paragraph, this is a very entertaining and incisive critique of modern essay writing by Jackson Arn:
…too many of these essays end with an implicit go fetch!, as though the reader were the essayist’s therapist, puzzling over stacks of notes to figure out where it all went wrong.
The expense accounts that once flew Hunter S. Thompson to Zaire and Joan Didion to El Salvador have failed to keep up with the consumer price index. The self endures as a subject for the twenty-first-century essayist, partly because of its ability to inspire powerful, moving art, but mostly because it’s cheap.
Anyway, look out for my forthcoming essays on going out for coffee, buying a new pair of socks and browsing the TL.
The doors are closing. Matthew Schmitz muses on millennials as we drift towards our inevitable mid-life crisis:
It seemed that we could do what we wanted, except form lasting relationships; go where we liked, unless it was home. For no other generation have the possibilities been so limitless and the reality so limited.
What Do Men Want? The interesting and provocative philosopher Nina Power has a new book on masculinity out. I’m looking forward to reading it.
Caviar. Also in book news, the poet Sarah Fletcher has a new pamplet out soon. A lot of modern poetry makes me think no more than “huh” and feel no more than mild distaste but I always enjoy Sarah’s.
Errata. Well, this is embarrassing. It turns out that my test was negative after all. When I got a message, hours after doing a test, telling me to self-isolate I assumed that it must have been positive. Not so. It was just meant to remind me to self-isolate until I had got the results. Going out five days earlier than expected felt good but a bit transgressive - like being released from prison on a technicality. The important thing is that everyone is healthy.
Have a lovely week,