Skip to main content


Showing posts from November 10, 2019

personalism and the left: Morales and the coup

If we look at the Left from the the perspective of a 120 years, one anomaly really stands out: the curious case of personalism. I’ve been thinking of the “cult of personality”since Evo Morales fled Bolivia. Of course, what the right is doing in Bolivia is a coup. There’s no doubt that the right has long sought to make Morales, a democratically elected president, into a ‘dictator” figure, something that is then pawned off on a compliant press in the U.S. and Europe. What was “dictatorial” was Morales attempt to more justly distribute economic gains. Bolivia, unlike other primary products countries, has had a remarkable growth trajectory over the past 14 years, since he has been in office. His record is in shining contrast with his privatizing predecessors. However, the real mark of political success, that is, the emplacement of a party that can robustly represent the interests of the workers, is structural. Here, Morales, like so many leftist leaders (one thinks of Castro

autofiction and the prime of Muriel Spark

Write what you know is the advice of the writing class. Write about who you know is the mantra of the gossip column. Surely these two maxims are meant to meet – and the meet will be cute. The name for it now is “auto-fiction”. Its great predecessor, always wheeled out to impress the rubes, is Proust. And who can deny that the Marcel of  In Search of Past Time  bears a striking similarity to that man in the cork lined room at the end of the line, caught in his web of words? There’s an amusing story in the New York Times  about the autofiction feuds of Norway. Norway is the featured country at the Frankfurt Book Fair this year, and this has produced a thin stream of stories surveying the literary scene in that country of 5 and a half million people. Not a lot of people up there, clustered around the fjords, but there are many writers, including international star Knausgaard, the king of auto-fiction if there is one. The story is, thank God, not another warm-over of the Knausgaard