"You Will Wind Up Wearing Tattered Shoes If You Mess With Mr News" Edition

Hello,

Obligatory shilling. I wrote a short post for UnHerd about old age protestors.

For my paying subscribers, I gave some - hopefully modest - writing advice. I also wrote for my paying subscribers about modern apocalypticism.

A dangerous place. Kent Anhari reflects on comedy and philosophy:

Comedy allows exceptions to overtake generalities and makes a mockery of the comprehensive. It ushers us away from intelligibility and coherence and towards absurdity. The space that the comic opens for us is a dangerous place to live.

But Anhari goes on:

But even if the philosophers and churchmen warned us rightly…there’s something at least a little bit funny about the warning itself…A prohibition on laughter is already compromised. Self-seriousness is the perfect set-up for a joke, and there’s nothing funnier than watching an actor try to keep a straight face.

There are no easy answers here. I think a joke is fundamentally unfunny if it is based on a lie. It is, in essence, counterfeit. On the other hand, our institutions and traditions are based on a lot of half-truths as well as facts. There is always something absurd about human behaviour if you regard it from an angle. Comedy, to that extent, opens the door for nihilism - but it can also be said that the eternal clown is a miserably comic figure himself.

Gerontocracy watch. According to the Financial Times the British government is considering lowering the earnings threshold at which young people start repaying their student loans. This is apparently meant to discourage people from taking “soft” courses. I am all for thinning the ranks of students who take soft courses. I took creative writing and I wish I hadn't done. But this is a terrible idea which will lighten the pockets of young professionals on starting salaries at an already miserable time, with taxes rising, prices rising and wages not bloody rising enough. Quite apart from anything else, I cannot fathom how the government can behave as it does and not realise that young people will hate the Tories even more than pop culture already leads them to. How can you blame them? Don't shelve this plan. Burn it.

Phallic lightsabers. J.W. Hammond and five of their colleagues write about “Why the Term ‘JEDI’ Is Problematic for Describing Programs That Promote Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion”:

The Jedi are inappropriate mascots for social justice. Although they’re ostensibly heroes within the Star Wars universe, the Jedi are inappropriate symbols for justice work. They are a religious order of intergalactic police-monks, prone to (white) saviorism and toxically masculine approaches to conflict resolution (violent duels with phallic lightsabers, gaslighting by means of “Jedi mind tricks,” etc.). The Jedi are also an exclusionary cult, membership to which is partly predicated on the possession of heightened psychic and physical abilities (or “Force-sensitivity”).

You can tell why it takes six people to craft such insights. Remarkably, this analysis of the “toxically masculine” implications of “phallic lightsabers” appeared in Scientific American. Frame something around “diversity” and “inclusion” and you can get it published anywhere. They are more liturgical than intellectual.

The Nordic model. Malcolm Kyeyune writes from Sweden about the consequences of short-sighted universalism:

Some of the fighters for the acceptance of refugees during the crisis years have later partaken in or even led local protests against mixing immigrant and native born students in the same schools. A decision taken in Trollhättan to bus kids from migrant areas to other schools met fierce protests in late 2020. One of the leaders of this revolt? The former liberal party politician, Rita Svensson, who had been on the record in 2016 as advocating for students to be given bus cards in order to break segregation.

Paulina Neuding on gang violence and Tino Sanandaji on crime are also worth reading.

Son against father, father against son. William Guppy's sharp review of Helen Andrews's Boomers (which I liked very much) includes this excellent passage:

The slight and regretful ideological u-turn which Paglia has taken in recent years is comparable to that taken by fellow British Boomer John Cleese, a critical biography of whom would have been most welcome in Andrews’ book. Cleese, who enjoyed a fairly traditional, upper-middle-class upbringing, has dedicated his career to subverting the very same traditional British society which both molded him and projected him into the limelight. He has been enormously popular, in part because the British middle and upper class tend to enjoy that small moral relief which they experience through laughing at themselves. Christianity, nationalism and class have all come under Cleese’s satirical gaze while he continued to enjoy the fruits of the middle-class existence that he so tenaciously and profitably chipped away at. Now, like so many Boomers, he finds himself in the crumbling ruins of that same soppy-stern society, wishing that it would return, if only partially, and has begun a late-life declaration of war against political correctness, multiculturalism and the ‘loony left’ for which he is partly responsible. The father against the son, the son against the father, etcetera.

Deterritorialization. Mike Jones reflects on globalism:

Contrary to what many have said, globalism does not rid the world of the nation state. It does, however, delimit it. Once in a position of power, globalists will hive off the functions of the state and farm them out to a complex range of extra-governmental organizations and semi-independent bodies. Their key function is to push “the rules of the game” beyond the reach of democratic politics, the strategy of deterritorialization. 

Time preferences. Krzysztof Tyszka-Drozdowski considers populism:

Electoral victory is not enough to affect change. The biggest weakness of populism is that it hasn’t learned to think long-term. Big Tech and big corporations are gaining more political relevance than the political class itself because, unlike most political parties, they don’t think about the future in terms of a single electoral cycle.

The sweet science. In the Sight of the Unwise analyses the artistry of Oleksandr Usyk's triumph over Anthony Joshua:

Rarely in sport do you see such artistic mastery of a craft like this, and rarely do fighters elevate themselves in a loss like Joshua did last night. By boxing with Usyk so well he proved himself to be a far smarter and more skilled fighter than many of his critics thought. 

Have a lovely week,

Ben