15 July 2007

"Apparent collapse"

This article in the British newspaper The Guardian is rather funny if one is reading it in the right frame of mind. It's by an unreconstructed far-leftist literature professor, basically arguing that Britain's real problem these days is that it isn't producing enough turgid Marxist poetry and novels. For some reason the rising generation of writers just don't find a failed, discredited, mass-murdering ideology inspirational any more.

What is striking is the number of authors the article cites -- with Salman Rushdie and Christopher Hitchens being prominent examples -- who seemed promising but later turned "rightwards", meaning they started speaking out for the defense of Western civilization against the threat of Islamic imperialism. If that trajectory is becoming common among smart, leftist-oriented writers, maybe there's a good reason for it.

Found via Andrew Sullivan, who highlights this comment. The reactions in the comments thread are very mixed -- I liked these:

If they're not too high, look over the walls of your garden. You'll see a lot of good satire, morally robust satire outside that's knocking simultaneously fascist regimes and die-hard dreamers like yourself who ignore them. It's very robust, very intellectual-ly penetrating and very, very funny. So in short; the reason why you can't see any good satire around you now is because you and your ilk have become the object of it. Thank you for supplying the essential ingredient, the oxygen without which satire could never flourish - complete, blind, folly. - "AntiFascistLeft"

You can quote Carlyle and Shelly and Wolff as much as you like, and all the others too. But none of them had to countenance the threat that we live under. In fact, none of them had to deal with National Socialism, which was already bad enough. But the blight upon humanity that Islamism represents is a far greater evil. So good for you. Call out for your poets and writers and intellectuals. When push came to shove last time around, it was the gritty, hard-headed working people who saved the world from facsism. And this time around, the same will apply. Once again, those with no vested interest in saving this country, except for a profound belief in its eternal values, will save the day for the poets and writers and thinkers. If you think you can dismiss them as fascists or Nazis or racists, you shame yourself by your own cowardice. - "Marabout"

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