1968 and all that…

parismagnum10a

COMRADES! REVOLUTIONARIES! Let us celebrate! It is 50 years since the évènements of ’68 in Paris. Long live the spirit of the barricades! Remember what bliss it was to be alive then, what heaven it was to be young?

No, me neither. There was little bliss available in the rather dour, parochial environs of the ancient country town in North Yorkshire as I entered my fourteenth year. The political pronouncements of boss-eyed philosophe Sartre, the cobble-throwing students, the smart-arsed conundrums of the Situationists, these meant nothing to me or my contemporaries and barely even seemed to impinge on the consciousness of our parents who were more concerned by the fact that we had grown our hair long, dressed like scarecrows and listened to terribly loud music. To give them their due, though, they didn’t complain about us trying pass ourselves off as 18 in the local pubs (and sometimes succeeding) so we could get our hands on pints of cold, fizzy beer.

Yes, at The Fortnightly Review and isn’t it about time you went there and read some more?

Advertisements

Film your Marxist professors.

It’s not as bad as this in the UK but it’s getting that way. Nothing will change until students themselves start to complain.

Jeremy’s Wall

wallpic

POOR OLD JEREMY Corbyn didn’t have time to take a closer look at Kalen Ockerman’s mural, “Freedom of Humanity”, a few years ago, thus missing its anti-Jewish message and later embroiling him in accusations of being soft on anti-Semitism in his party. Mind you, when the first spat happened in 2012 Jeremy was merely an insignificant backbencher so he had no reason to fear it would redound on him six years afterward. Nobody at the time, including the sea-green incorruptible himself, could have imagined him as leader of the party…

Read.

The satisfaction of seriousness: the Peterson Phenomenon.

peterson

“SERIOUSNESS,” SAID LEONARD COHEN in a TV interview, “is profoundly satisfying to the human soul.” The truth of that statement is borne out by the popularity of Dr Jordan Peterson, who has emerged as the most unlikely intellectual celebrity of our day. Just watch a couple of his videos – either his university lectures or his talks and interviews, it doesn’t matter – and you’ll see what I mean. This man is serious. He talks about serious things: life is painful and tragic; the monsters of malevolence and totalitarianism are not only found outside of ourselves but inside our own psyches; happiness is a worthless goal whereas meaning is supremely important; people should stop whingeing they’re victims and take responsibility for their own lives before trying to change the world.

Read on.

“Gramsci’s Hair”. #poems #poets ‘#poetry

Gramsci

GRAMSCI’S HAIR

Il Duce was too soft on you
and let you live

so your hair survived
the damp cells of Ustica and Turi
where you wrote a way out for your comrades
from the ruins of their revolution

I saw you in that photo
on a tutor’s wall
from before those prison days
hair thick and black
you in your neat commissar’s outfit

now every student reading Dante
inhales your spores
and can spell the word hegemony

afterwards I see it was a simple suit your wore
like any old bourgeois citizen
and your face had grown fat
though your hair was still black
if not so voluminous

pity you didn’t live to see
the bald dictator strung up and bloody
like a bulbous spider

that hegemonic bastard, death,
did for both of you, hair or no hair

@ Michael Blackburn, 2018
 

“Telling lies to the young is wrong” – Yevtushenko

LIES

Telling lies to the young is wrong.
Proving to them that lies are true is wrong.
Telling them that God’s in his heaven
and all’s well with the world is wrong.
the young know what you mean. The young are people.
Tell them the difficulties can’t be counted,
and let them see not only what will be
but see with clarity these present times.
Say obstacles exist they must encounter,
sorrow happens, hardship happens.
The hell with it. Who never knew
the price of happiness will not be happy.
Forgive no error you recognize,
it will repeat itself, increase,
and afterwards our pupils
will not forgive in us what we forgave.

“Lies” by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, translated by Robin Milner-Gulland and Peter Levi. From the Selected Poems in the Penguin Modern Poets series, 1968.

Dalrymple_communist_societies

“Communist doctrines were a great lie.”

Aleksandr_Solzhenitsyn_1974crop

One way to commit evil is simply “not to think,” but willed ignorance of evil already means “the ruin of a human being.” Those who tell Solzhenitsyn not to dig up the past belong to the category of “not-thinkers,” as do Western leftists who make sure not to know. The Germans, he argues, were lucky to have had the Nuremberg trials because they made not-thinking impossible. This Russian patriot advances a unique complaint: “Why is Germany allowed to punish its evildoers and Russia is not?”

Solzhenitsyn discovers yet another cause of totalitarianism’s monstrous evil: “Progressive Doctrine” or “Ideology.” In one famous passage, he asks why Shakespeare’s villains killed only a few people, while Lenin and Stalin murdered millions. The reason is that Macbeth and Iago “had no ideology.” Real people do not resemble the evildoers of mass culture, who delight in cruelty and destruction. No, to do mass evil you have to believe it is good, and it is ideology that supplies this conviction. “Thanks to ideology, the twentieth century was fated to experience evildoing on a scale of millions.”

From “Solzhenitsyn’s cathedrals” by Gary Saul Morson, in The New Criterion.

Image c/o Wikipedia.