“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Sunday, March 13, 2005

LI urges readers to go to the article about Arthur Ransome in the Guardian. Ransome is in the heroic line of English children’s book authors – but he is rather unknown in the United States. More interesting, from the American point of view, is that he saw the heroic core of the October Revolution and helped the Bolsheviks out in their wholly just war against the White Reactionaries. Applause all around. He also – being a son of the British governing class – informed the British secret service of what he was doing. Well, you can only stretch your character so far…

In a comment on a recent post, LI’s perpetual friend and foil, Mr. Craddick, asked our opinion of the Soviet Union’s level of barbarity. We cheerfully gave it – nobody should ever diminish the evil of the Gulag. However, there is another side to our opinion of the Soviets. That side is that the world does not need superpowers. It does not need leadership. And the U.S., while not a particularly bad country – in fact, a very good country in many ways – is drawn, by the logic of power, into doing bad things as a superpower. This is why we think that the spies that gave Stalin the means to make an atom bomb were essentially right to do so – although it was also right, or justifiable, for the U.S. to punish them as traitors. Fundamentally, we can’t think of any political reason to countenance the seizing of excessive world power by any nation. It has always puzzled us that the right, which doesn’t trust the state to deliver mail, trusts the state with the means of ending the human species. This, indeed, is straining at the gnat and swallowing the ICBM missile. LI’s view is that there is something wrong with a theory of the state that starts out with an anti-statist ideological coloration while having no real philosophy of governance – that is, having no recognition that governance is in question in every organization, and doesn’t, at the fundamental level, divide between public and private entity – that is a derivative difference.

Returning us to our point of origin – the accidentally adventurous Mr. Ransome. In a sense, his reaction to the Russian Revolution – and the reaction of the Bloomsbury crowd – was conditioned by their descent from the people who ran the British colonies. You will find that almost all the Bloomsbury group, and most of the Fabians, were connected, somehow, to the Indian Civil Service. That group had been imbued with the wholly whiggish view (represented by Lord Macauley and Mill, two India House employees) that the state could actually design a society. That, of course, was the whole point of the “India” project, and it is no surprise that, through that perspective, the Russian revolution looked like what the Brits thought they did in India – rationalizing a superstitious society. The descendents of this group think they are doing the same thing in the Middle East. Plus ca change …

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