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Showing posts from January 17, 2016

the Randian tone of Donald Trump

The National review takedown of trump laid an egg, and reminds us that nowadays, Glenn Beck counts as a rightwing intellectual. In the old days, National Review actually did have some intellectual heft. For instance, it poured scorn on Ayn Rand. Here's Whttacker Chambers review of Atlas Shrugged. Here's the second graf: The news about this book seems to me to be that any ordinarily sensible head could not possibly take it seriously, and that, apparently, a good many do. Someb ody has called it: “Excruciatingly awful.” I find it a remarkably silly book. It is certainly a bumptious one. Its story is preposterous. It reports the final stages of a final conflict (locale: chiefly the United States, some indefinite years hence) between the harried ranks of free enterprise and the “looters.” These are proponents of proscriptive taxes, government ownership, labor, etc., etc. The mischief here is that the author, dodging into fiction, nevertheless counts on your reading it as political

for the draft

For the draft One of the great victories of the antiwar movement in the Vietnam era was the abolition of selective service. In retrospect, this was a victory for the right. For the left, and for the American people, it was a disaster. The draft, it turns out, is a dialectical instrument – one in which the affordances impinge on each other. As a political tool, it both mobilized the population to do the bidding of the political establishment and spread mass anxiety that the political establishment had to respond to.  Its abolition has contributed to two trends. One is the trend to executive office wars. These started out small in the Reagan years, became much bigger under Bush 1, and exploded under Bush 2 and Obama. The second is the drifting apart of the general population and the guarantor state. That state, built to support the working class, now routinely supports capital against the working class. And it supports war. If the draft had not been abolished in the seventie

what do you mean we, kemo sabe: the new yorker we

The New Yorker "we" Renata Adler, in her intemperate book against the new New Yorker of the 90s, Gone, took particular offense at the very person of Adam Gopnik. "I had learned over the course of conversations with Mr. Gopnik that his questions were not questions, or even quite soundings. Their purpose was to maneuver you into advising him to do what he would, in any case, walk over corpses to do." James Wolcott is also a non-fan: “He is avidly talented and spongily absorbent, an earnest little eager beaver whose twitchy aura of neediness makes him hard to dislike until the preciosity simply becomes too much.” Myself, I have never met the man, and I liked the winsome Paris to the Moon, which was in the fine New Yorker tradition of accounts of an exotic Paris that was at once more civilized and more backwards than the good old USA. I accept the limitations of that vein, and then read Thurber or Flanner or Gopnik (less Flanner, actually – the b