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Showing posts from October, 2010

The Enragés of the Right

Following a link from the Open Democracy website to a Roger Scruton article about "the political class" lead me to the American Spectator site, a truly fascinating expedition that I would never otherwise have made. Scruton's article started out fairly interesting, in a Weberian sort of way, but abruptly degenerated towards the end into a shameless pandering to the Tea Party public. But the really fascinating part was reading the comments, some of which verge on the deranged.

My first experience of America was in 1970, staying with friends on New York's upper west side, where they introduced me to two utterly crucial books - Norman Cohn's "The Pursuit of the Millenium" and Richard Hofstadter's "The Paranoid Style in American Politics". Both books are more relevant today than when first published, but I fear that much today's audience is too dumbed-down to get much benefit from either. If you want empirical evidence that the paranoid sty…

Chile Leads the Way?

The successful rescue of the trapped Chilean miners generated a most extraordinarily rich set of messages: technical, political-economic, historical, ideological, symbolic and simply dramatic. No one who watched TV coverage of the first breakthrough of the pilot shaft or the emergence of the first rescued miner from the Phoenix capsule could fail to be moved by stoic calm of the trapped miners nor the joy of the waiting relatives. The technical message is not unlike that of the first moon landing, that our technology, when applied with sufficient dedication and resolve can overcome the most extreme hostile environments.

The political-economic message is profoundly appropriate to our current world situation, namely that there's still a vital role for the State and that market forces mustn't be allowed always to prevail. It surely must have been more cost-effective for the mine's owners not even to search for those trapped by the collapse and simply to pay compensation to t…