Category: historiography

Spice of choice

Cold cheeseburgers, fake gold candelabras, and a Russian mole were not enticing to the Virginia men’s basketball team.

Conspiracy theorists do hyperbole better than anyone else.

Now that Oliver North is back in the news, it’s a good time to remember Fawn Hall. She was to perms what Jared Leto is to manbuns.

But back to Oliver North. Pictures of Wayne LaPierre in bondagewear certainly gives him leverage.

Maria Butina went through the old male NRA leaders quicker than Metamucil.

Celebrity criticism isn’t real criticism. It is a conduit of the entertainment-industrial complex.

There’s nothing to stop anyone from giving inaccurate responses to census questions. It’s one way to disrupt biopolitics.

Put statues of William Tecumseh Sherman in every southern city, town, and village.

We really don’t celebrate the burning of Atlanta enough.

Biden raised $6.3M in 24 hours. Cue the compulsory outrage from the Justice Democrats.

Russia

Japan defeated Russia in 1904-1905, which was the beginning of Russia’s modern inferiority complex.

Russia wouldn’t be Russia if it didn’t blame someone else for its failures.

Whenever the Kremlin press labels any critic of Mr Putin a “fascist,” remember that this was also a risible tactic of the old CCCP (I wish Mr Putin would update the CCCP counter-intel play book).

In the good old days, Komsomol published a list of problematic bands. Here are first 20 bands listed and their crimes (c/o Open Culture):

Sex Pistols: punk, violence
B-52s: punk, violence
Madness: punk, violence
Clash: punk, violence
Stranglers: punk, violence
Kiss: neofascism, punk, violence
Crocus: violence, cult of strong personality
Styx: violence, vandalism
Iron Maiden: violence, religious obscuritanism
Judas Priest: anticommunism, racism
AC/DC: neofascism, violence
Sparks: neofascism, racism
Black Sabbath: violence, religious obscuritanism
Alice Cooper: violence, vandalism
Nazareth: violence, religious mysticism
Scorpions: violence
Gengis Khan: anticommunism, nationalism
UFO: violence
Pink Floyd (1983): distortion of Soviet foreign policy (“Soviet agression in Afghanistan”)***
Talking Heads: myth of the Soviet military threat

Fortunately, only Kiss, AC/DC, and Sparks were labeled “neo-fascist.”

Something every day

The original Boston Tea Party involved posh British-colonial landed gentry and wealthy merchants, who disguised themselves as blacks, Indians, and women in order to carry off what amounted to economic espionage; it was behavior worthy of what today would be called the Bullington Club ethos of the participants.

Members of the media show their true colours during a disaster, no longer the esteemed “4th Estate” revealing the truth of power, but rather a rapacious horde producing soon to be unconfirmed “scoops” as the prize of fleeting journalistic glory.

Is it too early for Je suis Lena (Dunham)?

Harry Kane is the English Messi. Nothing can stop him.

I’m pleased to see Ms Knox having a joyous sense of relief after the vendetta waged against her for eight years has finally come to an end.

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.

Problems

There is no “Western” model. Abstract structural processes (l’histoire quasi immobile, la longue durée, and mentalités, in the terms of the Annales School) have engulfed the world and have taken on their own dynamics in particular places. To tie them to their points of origin is to mangle the object of historical analysis. What is potentially broken — or, at best, significantly frayed — is the post-WWII Entente Cordiale (i.e., Bretton Woods and the United Nations) that established a new world economic order and legal order for managing financial crisis and political conflict (respectively). Porous borders (which are imaginary in any case) means regional problems become global problems; because borders cannot be sealed in any permanent way (the pipe dream of all contemporary nativist-populist political tendencies). Backwardness in the form of medieval monotheism or nineteenth-century nationalism is a symptom of the problem, not a solution.

Phony

WWII was the only “good war” of the twentieth-century. On the American side, these films sustain the myth of the “greatest generation” of Americans, who weathered the Great Depression, won WWII (singlehandedly), and built a mighty post-war economy. That this same greatest generation also defended racial segregation in the bloodiest of fashions, staged coups around the globe, and violated civil liberties at home (from McCarthy to Hoover) goes without comment.

The most apt films in the WWII genre are the ironic ones, like The Mouse That Roared or Kelly’s Heroes.

Numerology went out of fashion around 1588 CE.

Catcher in the Rye is the greatest post-war American novel.

Even Time Warner rebuffed Rupert Murdoch. He’s toxic.

Ma lou Marilou

President Clinton should able to replace Scalia & Thomas during her second term.

The return of Texas and Arizona to Mexico wouldn’t be a bad idea.

When Peter the Great tried to introduce the potato was a crop, Russian peasants resisted. Because potatoes have eyes, the peasants believed the potato had a soul.

Today is World UFO Day.

They are already among us. Live free and prosper alien friends.

The sun never sets in NYC, it just becomes a disco ball overnight.