Shapes of things

Re Jared Diamond: Guns and Collapse are not taken seriously in the academy. Books published for the commercial market intentionally cultivate controversy, at the expense of erudition.

Wishful thinking masquerading as journalism. How often I could apply this criticism!

Re Perez Hilton: Mining the trash bin of popular culture for profitable nuggets is America’s oldest profession. See P. T. Barnum.

*

The cynicism of right-wing politicians is unabashed.

Right-wing parties and their politicians are especially prone to using the most symbolically violent language available. It appears that in the upcoming election, the UK Conservatives must shore up their populist flank on the far right. The swamp metaphor, an echo of Enoch Powell’s infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech, does the trick.

A similar phenomenon occurred in Germany in the 1890s. The aristocratic German Conservative Party was dragged into populist demagoguery by the presence of anti-Semitic peasant parties which threatened to pick off tradition Conservative “safe seats.” Occupying a position between the anti-Semites and the Conservatives stood the Bund der Landwirte (Farmers’ League) comprised of a rump of 5,000 Prussian large landowners and several hundred thousand peasants. The BdL’s political discourse was simultaneously populist, anti-Semitic, and elitist.

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