Who are You?

Portrait of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Who are You?

Identity: the Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, Francis Fukuyama, Profile Books, London, 2018, 218 pp., reviewed by Leslie Jones

According to sociologist Francis Fukuyama, identity politics can sometimes be “a natural and inevitable response to injustice”.[i] For notwithstanding the nominal equality of the liberal democracies, people are too often judged by their skin colour, or their gender etc. He therefore endorses the demands of #MeToo and Black Lives Matter.

The left invariably supports such protest movements. It has no answer, however, to the job losses caused by automation and globalisation, as manufacturing moves from Europe and the US to regions such as East Asia, with lower labour costs. Indeed, as segments of the working class are “dragged into an underclass”[ii] the American left has all but abandoned its traditional natural constituency, to wit, the proletariat.

Into the resulting political and ideological vacuum stepped candidate Donald Trump, a consummate political operator, highlighting in his campaign both deindustrialisation and the opioid crisis blighting white communities. Fukuyama notes that the left’s support for identity politics, immigration and political correctness is “a major source of mobilisation on the right”[iii], a veritable recruiting sergeant. Trump supporters are generally neither poor nor are they mainly manual workers. But they are “bottom of the white heap”.[iv]  They resent their declining status and the metropolitan elite’s preoccupation with minorities. For his fans, Trump is “like a poor person, just with more money”.[v] They admire his refusal to be politically correct, witness his acerbic comments about “Pocahontas”, aka Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Fukuyama believes that the West benefits economically from immigration. But he accepts that the nation state must control its borders and that obligations to refugees should “be tempered by practical considerations of scarce resources…”[vi] Trump’s much vaunted wall, however, is unnecessary, in his opinion. Most of the 11-12 million undocumented aliens in the US arrived legally, on visas that subsequently expired and they are generally law abiding and economically productive.

Unlike one Swedish social democrat who deems assimilation contrary to human rights (see Kent Ekeroth, SD, demolishes the Swedish establishment in parliament, YouTube), Fukuyama supports stringent requirements for naturalisation. Unassimilated immigrants are an economic burden and a potential security threat. And mass immigration from eastern Europe from the new member states of the EU and the presence in Europe of large numbers of Muslim refugees and immigrants is rejuvenating right wing populism. Homophobia, honour killings, arranged marriages and terrorist outrages in Nice and Paris, have “tested the limits of multiculturalism”.[vii] The EU is not only undemocratic but it has failed to generate an authentic European identity.

Fukuyama proposes a remedy for the populist politics of the present. His is a middle path between the conservative neo-nationalism of Orbán, Le Pen, Trump et al. and the liberal internationalism of Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel. Notions of national identity based on ethnicity, as espoused by Viktor Orbán, are retrograde, in his judgement. He considers Donald Trump, likewise, a dangerous demagogue, a tacit supporter of outmoded notions of American identity based on white ethnicity and Christianity.[viii] For Fukuyama, “Trumpism” is what CNN commentator Van Jones calls a “white lash”, an expression of white/male status anxieties.

In Du Contrat Social, Rousseau distinguishes between “la volonté générale” (the general will) and “une volonté particulière” (a particular will, i.e. a sectional interest). Professor Fukuyama evidently accepts this primary distinction. He recommends, accordingly, that we transcend identity politics and “promote creedal national identities built around the foundational ideas of modern liberal democracy”.[ix]

ENDNOTES:

i Fukuyama, page 115
ii Fukuyama, page 116
iii Fukuyama, page 118
iv See Helen Lewis, “From white trash to the whitelash: what do white people want?”, New Statesman, 29 April 2017
v Ibid.
vi Fukuyama, page 175
vii Fukuyama, page 147
viii See “Behold Fake History”, Quarterly Review, October 2018, review of Behold, America, by Sarah Churchwell
ix Fukuyama, page 166

Dr Leslie Jones is Editor of QR

Posted in Book Reviews, Current Affairs and Comment, QR Home | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Brexit – Crunch Time

Credit Legal Sports Report

Brexit – Crunch Time

by Stuart Millson

Despite a rash of remain-inspired parliamentary motions, an all-out media assault against our withdrawal from the EU, and the prospect of a postponement of our leave date, the wheels of change are turning – both in Britain and Europe.

Notwithstanding being presented as the event that would finally settle the decades-long argument over Common Market/European Union membership, the British electorate’s historic 2016 vote to discontinue membership of that bloc – a decision subsequently ratified last summer in the form of Parliament’s EU Withdrawal Act – has set in motion a series of convulsions, which, no doubt, will still be rumbling through our national life for years to come.

On that referendum night three years ago, when Derby, Doncaster, Dorset and a thousand other places far away from the pro-EU political elite, broke away from 40 years of Brussels control, one of the great post-war, liberal-consensus, sacred-cows was slaughtered – to the horror of most of our politicians, civil servants, academics and broadcasters. The latter have fought a rearguard-action ever since – a cultural civil war against Brexit, employing tactics, such as: ‘Project Fear’ (ludicrous scare stories about economic disintegration and impending shortages of food and medical supplies); a High Court legal action on whether the Government had the sole authority to invoke the Lisbon Treaty ‘Article 50’ leave mechanism; and the accusation that the pro-Leave side made false claims about the nature of the EU – thus requiring a second referendum (a feature of nearly every BBC news report about Brexit) to bring us back to our senses. Continue reading

Posted in Current Affairs and Comment, QR Home | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Kamala’s Values Cudgel

Kamala Harris, with a supporter

Kamala’s Values Cudgel

by Ilana Mercer

Sen. Kamala Harris talks a lot about “our American values.” Ditto the other female candidates who’ve declared for president in the busy Democratic field.

“Our American values are under attack,” Harris has tweeted. “Babies are being ripped from their parents at the border …” As to her own proud “know your values moment,” the Democrat from California pinpoints the U.S. Senate Supreme Court confirmation proceedings inflicted on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

To manipulate Americans, politicians always use the values cudgel. With respect to immigration, the idea is to impress upon gullible Americans that the world has a global Right of Return to the U.S. Fail to accept egalitarian immigration for all into America and you are flouting the very essence of Americanism. Or, to use liberal argumentation, you’re Hitler. Continue reading

Posted in Current Affairs and Comment, QR Home | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Getting to Know Benno Landsberger

Benno Landsberger, credit Google Sites

Getting to Know Benno Landsberger

Luděk Vacín, The Unknown Benno Landsberger: ‘A Biographical Sketch of an Assyriological Altmeister’s Development, Exile, and Personal Life’, (Harrassowitz Verlag, 2018), $45.00. Pp.132

Assyriologists in recent times have ruminated on their own discipline. Historical sketches of notable characters, and depictions of the start-up of specialized journals and cuneiform series, have prompted scholars to think long and hard about their roots and origins. The number of articles written on these topics is accumulating. The field is not large. But certain figures do stand out.

Benno Landsberger (1890-1968) was a pioneer of Assyriological studies. He stood atop the field of Sumerian and Akkadian lexicographical researches in his day. Even an encyclopedic scholar like W.F. Albright (1891-1971) described him as “incomparable” (BASOR Apr.1957; p.35). Landsberger (BL) held notable Professorships; his writings are known within a small circle of scholars. A much smaller circle inside that one includes handfuls of erudite men and women who are equipped with the knowledge to penetrate the cuneiform mysteries of Mesopotamian worlds. BL was a student and disciple of Heinrich Zimmern (1862-1931), a distinguished Assyriologist who went his own way in his researches, and whose scholarship BL preferred to the erudition of Friedrich Delitzsch (1850-1922). Continue reading

Posted in Book Reviews, Cultural Matters, QR Home | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

ENDNOTES, March 2019

Scenery from Svendborgsund,  A quiet summer day, by IEC Rasmussen

ENDNOTES, March 2019

In this edition; contemporary British music on the Sheva label: the Danish National Seasonal Songbook, from OUR Recordings; reviewed by Stuart Millson

Hector Berlioz, Grande Messe des Morts (Requiem), a concert at St Paul’s, reviewed by Leslie Jones

One of the most exciting discoveries made by The Quarterly Review Endnotes column (see Endnotes, February 2018) was the music – and large discography – of the modern English composer, Peter Seabourne; a figure almost completely ignored by the British music establishment. An identifiably 20th and 21st-century composer, Seabourne strongly identifies with our musical tradition – combining the stretched tonality of modern music with the understandable forms and textures associated with Debussy, Takemitsu, Britten and early, romantic-era Schoenberg. A guiding force in the world of the prestigious (but niche) Sheva classical label, the composer has offered recording opportunities to several other overlooked colleagues, including the former choral scholar, student at the Guildhall School of Music, organist and choirmaster, Gary Higginson – an equally prolific, yet neglected artist.

Astonishingly, given that Radio 3 has never mentioned his name or offered any lucrative commission for his music, Higginson has composed over a 30- to 40-year period – writing nearly 200 works. Influenced by such English composers as the symphonist, Edmund Rubbra, and by Carey Blyton (who composed much intriguing minimalist music for BBC Television, particularly for the early Dr. Who programmes), Higginson creates an atmosphere of remote landscapes: the opening of Two Pieces for Solo Flute, Op. 62, suggesting Debussy or Varese, but within moments, giving way to a more playful, pastoral sensation. A rare treat, here, to enjoy Maltese flautist, Laura Cioffi – whose playing, like a painter’s delicate strokes of watercolour, have a gorgeous finesse on Sheva’s almost perfect recording. Continue reading

Posted in Cultural Matters, ENDNOTES:Music, QR Home | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

They Shall not Grow Old

Canadian soldiers mark a cross for one of their fallen brethen. Original image source: Nationaal Archief, Color by Great War in Colour; Credit Pinterest

They Shall not Grow Old

A film directed by Peter Jackson, reviewed by Robert Henderson

This is a unique film in terms of its making. Peter Jackson has taken contemporary footage from the First World War and coloured the original black and white film in the most detailed and lifelike fashion, using special software to bring it to a speed which makes the movement entirely lifelike. Amongst the many arresting sights are the early tanks which were surprisingly efficient at riding over the very difficult rough ground created by the vast trench systems which all too easily dissolved into seas of mud.

Jackson used lip readers to discover what people were saying and then voiced their words using the accents the speakers would probably have used based on their regiments. British regiments have a strong tradition of recruiting from particular areas, and were what is known as Pal’s Battalions”.

Finally, he added sound effects for guns, shell and bomb blasts and even a yellow green mist to replicate the use of chlorine gas. The attention to detail is astonishing. Continue reading

Posted in Current Affairs and Comment, QR Home | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Ivanka the Terrible

Ivanka the Terrible

by Ilana Mercer

Donald Trump went into a gathering of special interests, on March 6. It comprised Goldman-Sachs Democrat Ivanka Trump, American multinational CEOs like Apple’s Tim Cook and assorted Chamber of Commerce lobbyists.

The president of the United States (POTUS) then emerged with assurances to all those lowly American workers sick of rising wages and growing employment opportunities. He was now fully committed to the importation of still more foreign workers to “give … to large companies.” Yes! He listened! Deplorables were getting sick of winning.

Ivanka, who clearly calls the shots on the un-American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, sermonized blithely about retraining American workers (who don’t have daddies to hire them). All this made me long for the time Gen. John Kelly, formerly White House chief of staff, was present to stop first daughter Ivanka from, as the general put it, “playing government.”

Last year, when the same kind of cabal tried to make Trump dance to its drums, POTUS responded with his notorious “shithole countries” epithet. Was he not proven right in his aversion to accelerating the tipping point in our own country? Haiti is located in the Caribbean Sea, east of Cuba. The country is forever convulsed by political or natural disasters. In January of 2010, this, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere—where four out of five people live in poverty and more than half in abject poverty (NYT)—was struck by a massive, magnitude-7.0 earthquake. The rescuers, spokespersons, geological surveyors and geophysicists; the missionaries, medicine and military men and women; the aid-deliverers—most were Westerners. Without the West, Haitians would no longer be hobbling along in their post-apocalyptic zombie land. Continue reading

Posted in Current Affairs and Comment, QR Home | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Water, in the Leader’s Vision

Royal Opera House, Oman

Water, in the Leader’s Vision

by Bill Hartley                                                                            

There is something reassuring about absolute monarchy. For one thing, the English language newspaper Muscat Daily is free of the usual political discourse. Coming from a Brexit obsessed Britain, this is no bad thing. Instead, a headline may announce the latest edicts about to be signed into law by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, ruler of Oman. The Sultan’s authority is inviolable and he expects absolute subjugation to his will. Beneath him, so to speak, is a consultative assembly and its proceedings are broadcast on the state television channel. It resembles a sales conference with elderly delegates. That apart, the channel also dedicates itself to promoting Oman. And under the Sultan’s rule, dating back to 1970, when he deposed his father (with British help), there is much to be proud of. A country which then had scarcely moved beyond the Middle Ages now has multi lane highways, sophisticated healthcare (ranked a few years ago at number eight by the World Health Organisation) and fresh water for all. Indeed, the latter was recently the subject of a short piece, delightfully entitled ‘Water in the Leader’s Vision’. Continue reading

Posted in Current Affairs and Comment, QR Home | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Crisis 2000: Insurrection in the United States!

Credit: Noble Night Games

Crisis 2000: Insurrection in the
United States!

 by Mark Wegierski

Magazine: GameFix: The Forum of Ideas (Sacramento, California: Game Publications Group) no 2, November 1994

Game: Crisis 2000: Insurrection in the United States! enclosed in GameFix

The subtitle The Forum of Ideas was dropped in issue 8; the publication was renamed Competitive Edge, starting with issue 10. The company has since renamed itself One Small Step – OSS.

This magazine and game ironically appeared in the month when the democratic process was supposed to deliver a major change in the direction of the American polity – the election of a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, as well as the Senate, with Newt Gingrich becoming the Speaker. However, the promised (or feared) “conservative revolution” never took place. Things rolled on as they had before, and Bill Clinton easily won re-election in 1996. However, one of the ironies of the Clinton presidency was that he balanced the federal budget, introduced restrictions on welfare, and did not impede the economic recovery of the mid to late 1990s.

GameFix/Competitive Edge originally marketed itself as producing “wargames for people who don’t like wargames”. The conflict simulation games they offered were designed to be simple to play, at least by the usual wargame standards, and to be relatively quick and easy to finish, often in less than an hour. GameFix/Competitive Edge had intended to feature non-military games dealing with mountain-climbing, various major-league sports, etc. Since the beginning of the Twenty-First century, the publication schedule of the magazine slowed to a crawl, as the company was going through difficulties. Continue reading

Posted in Current Affairs and Comment, QR Home | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Anti-White Politics?

Jussie Smollett

Anti-White Politics?

by Ilana Mercer

Every time a manifestly racist, anti-white event goes down, which is frequently, conservative media call it “identity politics” as in “The left is playing identity politics.”

Whatever is convulsing the country, it’s not identity politics. For blacks are not being pitted against Hispanics. Hispanics are not being sicced on Asians, and Ameri-Indians aren’t being urged to attack the aforementioned groups. Rather, they’re all piling on honky. Hence, anti-white politics or animus.

The ire of the multiculturalists is directed exclusively at whites and their putative privilege. Anti-whitism is endemic and systemic. Take “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett. Smollett deceived the country and the Chicago Police Department about having fallen prey to a hate crime, which, it transpired, he had crudely orchestrated. Continue reading

Posted in Current Affairs and Comment, QR Home | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment