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Showing posts from December 15, 2002
Remora Venezuala. LI averted our eyes from the news during the past week in this space -- at least officially. Like a robotically connected citizen, outside of this space we did keep a beady-eyed watch over the march of history in the newspapers. One story that hasn't stirred us is the general strike in Venezuala. Why haven't we been stirred? After all, what word, to a romantic leftist, conjures up more vivid images of liberty, equality and fraternity than the general strike? The favored tool of the working class -- and yes, Virginia, there is a working class -- usually engages our sympathies. This one, however, has engaged our ambiguities. On the one hand, the picture is this: Hugo Chavez has all the appearances of that scourge of Latin American history, the military populist, of whom Peron is the great, dark exemplar. They arouse the contempt and fury of the propertied class, but one shouldn't infer, from that, that these military energumen are leftists. Mor
Dope What would Pilate do? We've been losing readers by the handfuls as we've pursued the argument in James Fitzjames Stephen's Liberty, Equality, Fraternity this week. Or rather, as we have gnawed around the edges of it, like a man on a diet with a salt cracker. Our friend L.S. in NYC has recommended less lentamento -- our slow-motion conceptual strip-tease, he tells us, is gradually putting the patrons to sleep, who have come for some hot action and a little ideational pudenda. Hey, what can we say? We are using this space to put together a possible essay. And so you will have to excuse, reader-patron, a certain air of sawdust, and fragments, and sketches. To continue, then -- we are, we promise, going to get to the central paradox in Stephen's conservative imperialism -- that, in the name of the Christendom, Stephen is forced to advocate the government of a bunch of Pilates. And we see this same paradox in Stephen's conservative American heirs, tra
Notes What would Pilate do? LI was happy to receive a little email from our friend Alan this morning. He is resurrecting his own blog, Gadfly's Buzz . He also liked, actually liked, our continuing series of posts about James Fitzjames Stephen -- which seem, otherwise, to have decreased our readership significantly, at least according to that little inaccurate site meter thing we keep on this site. Odd. We find Fitzjames Stephen to be a more and more fascinating figure. After reading his entry in the National Biography (a series started and edited by his brother, Leslie Stephen, who was -- as our readers already know -- Virginia Woolf's Dad, as well as the model for the polymathic dynamo in George Meredith's The Egoist), we realized that, by accident, we are ending the year by tying together many of the themes we've pursued on this site. We've written about Lord Macaulay (5/4/02) and Lord Bacon, wandering into Macaulay's essay about the Trial of Warren
Dope Pilate (continued) Niall Ferguson, the conservative historian, pens an article in the NYT Magazine this Sunday that nicely sums up the conventions of the moment among the trans-Atlantic belligerants. He goes back and forth with the parallel between the British Empire and the U.S -- too much of a historian to find analogies unembarrassing, but too much of a belligerant to fresist it: "Let's look again at that parallel between the U.S. and the British Empire. Terrorism is a global phenomenon and so, necessarily, is the war against it. One consequence of 9/11 was to shatter forever the illusion that Americans could retreat to enjoy the fruits of their productivity behind a missile defense shield. For terrorism breeds in precisely the rogue states and strife-torn war zones that some Republicans before 9/11 thought we could walk away from. Intervention to impose the rule of law on such seedbeds of terror is far from an unrealistic project. That was precisely what