Saturday, August 29, 2015

"Are Such Things Done on Albion's Shore?"

In the increasingly overheated and carnivalesque atmosphere of immigration politics in this country (is “carnivalesque” too fond a word for casual proposals of mass population transfers and the eradication of birthright citizenship?—well, the medieval charivari was no pretty thing either – it too tended to involve the ritual humiliation of “outsiders”), it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the U.S. is no worse in this respect than most of the world’s wealthy and powerful nations, and it may be considerably better. Indeed, the very “stir” that Trump’s blustering has caused this summer has itself stood as evidence that many, if not most people in this country see him as beyond the pale. Compare this bombastic but ultimately substance-less American scene with the case of Britain, which has quietly unveiled its own version of the “Trump Plan” this past month -- except there it was not announced by an extremist candidate who, though he might sink his own party, will never win a national election—not, that is, by the BNP and its ilk, but by the Tory government in power. Compare the fact that while Trump has been fairly widely reviled in this country, the British plan is being reported with remarkable dispassion by mainstream and left-liberal outlets. Notice the fact that while Democrats have pounded away against Trump, voices in the UK Labour opposition, far from denouncing the basic orientation of Cameron's plan, have in some cases complained that it does not go far enough. Observe, finally, that while Trump's plan is disturbing as an exhibition of chauvinistic, but probably unrealizable fantasies, Cameron's plan will most likely be implemented.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Unscrupulous Landlords

Immigrants living in Britain illegally will face abrupt eviction from rental properties under new laws designed to make Britain a tougher place to live in, the government will announce as it redoubles its response to the Calais migrant crisis. […] A new criminal offence will target unscrupulous landlords and letting agents who fail repeatedly to carry out the ‘Right to Rent’ checks or fail to remove illegal immigrants from their properties. They could be fined, jailed for up to five years or face further sanctions under the Proceeds of Crime Act.” ~ The Guardian, 8/4/15.

-- We will now hear the case of
Name:[Redacted], Occupation: innkeeper
Of residence: Bethlehem, you, sir,

Saturday, August 22, 2015


You may have noticed that the world right now looks not altogether different from how it does in the opening chapters of Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism, full as it is of "stateless people," denied basic rights, persecuted by chauvinistic movements of various stripes at home, and welcomed nowhere else-- least of all in the countries that could actually afford to take them in (their impoverished adjacent neighbors are often of necessity more hospitable). At such a time, ugly predictions based on this similarity come easily to mind, and are no doubt being made already. I fear that pretty much any era of human history is bad enough, though, that it can look like 1938 if you squint at it—so let’s not bother with the dark prognostications and just say that things are quite sufficiently rotten as they are.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

"La Symphonie Pastorale": A Review

As kids we are taught that at some point in the early 20th century, our society fixed all the remaining problems in the Victorian moral code (and in everything else for that matter); so when we grow up, we tend to be rather surprised that life still turns out so often to be a painful struggle between our desires and the consideration we owe to other people. We resolve this tension by politely pretending that none of us ever desires anything that might be bad for anyone else -- which is of course how the Victorians resolved it too (except of course, for the Victorian villain, who, much like the modern "creep," never refers to the reader), so we are really back where we started.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Juvenilia One: The Attempted Overture

I'm inaugurating a new form of shameless self-exhibitionism on the blog today, which I hope will become a semi-regular feature. (Quarterly? Annual? We'll see how long it takes me to run out of juvenilia.) I was trying to remove some of the clutter of old files from my laptop yesterday and kept stumbling across things I'd begun work on as a teenager and abandoned after a few pages. Usually such finds are a source of stabbing pain to me, but not this time. I was surprised and pleased to discover that enough time had gone by at this point that I could look back on my early writing without expecting it to be any good, and therefore with the freedom to be mildly amused when it isn't and pleasantly astonished when, in the odd line or two, it is. Given that the internet allows me to publish pretty much anything I want (it just makes no promise that anyone will see it), I thought I might as well do something with these efforts.

Monday, August 3, 2015


As someone who is still technically resident in Florida, I am treated to the occasional email blast from my representative in Congress, Vern Buchanan. It is one of the few avenues left in my life through which Red State talking points can find me, and it serves as a check (healthy or otherwise) on my optimism about human affairs. A week ago they sent me a “poll” headlined “Sanctuary for Illegals?” (I imagine there being some sort of office competition to come up with that one – it’s hard to make sanctuary sound scary, so what’s the least human-sounding term we could use for the people affected?) But hey, he’s just asking, right? Don’t be so sensitive.