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Despotism is a beast of capitalism Authoritarians thrive off our nihilistic wasteland

Absolute power is the brother of anarchy (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Absolute power is the brother of anarchy (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)


June 21, 2023   6 mins

As history speeds ahead in the Age of AI, it is also being thrown abruptly into reverse. Authoritarian rule is our current Zeitgeist, spreading across the globe from El Salvador to Myanmar.

This isn’t, in fact, all that surprising. The more capitalism shatters traditional pieties, disregards frontiers and uproots whole communities, the more strident become the defenders of family, religion and fatherland. The more narratives of God, People and Nation are spurned as outdated, the more potently they return.

Those for whom identity is flexible confront those who know who they are only too well. For every Texan CEO knocking back free booze in the VIP lounges of airports, there’s a bearded patriarch with a rifle for whom the Other is to be found just over the river. There are some glamorous nightclubs in Istanbul, while around Mardin and Diyarbakir in the Kurdish south-east of Turkey people pray on the pavements and donkeys wander through filling stations.

Tradition and modernity are complicit as well as conflicting. A world of constant flux and restless innovation is in danger of eroding the values by which it legitimates itself. This wasn’t a problem for the Victorians, who despite the pace of social change and the clamour of the marketplace still clung to certain eternal verities. They were aware that you couldn’t legitimise what you did in purely secular, pragmatic terms, not least if it included herding people into slums and workhouses. Instead, there were certain foundational principles to which they could appeal, from the laws of God to the sanctity of the family and the supreme value of the individual.

Precepts like these were particularly important if you were trying to run an empire, a discreditable affair for which you need a whole raft of high-minded rationales. It’s true that there can be an embarrassing gap between your principles and your practice, as there is in today’s United States. Having spent the week bribing officials and shafting your competitors, you gather in church on Sunday morning to celebrate the metaphysical aspect of your existence. On the whole, however, the two sides of your life peacefully coexist, rather as Jacob Rees-Mogg is Victorian toff and modern entrepreneur in a single surreal person.

There are limits, however, to this coexistence. Sooner or later, the fluid, unstable, provisional nature of life in the shopping mall and marketplace is likely to infiltrate the moral sphere as well. It’s then that people begin to talk about postmodernism. Eternal verities drop away, and along with them the stout foundations on which you used to rely for defending your way of life. Talk of God, Progress and the Destiny of the Nation starts to sound hollow in the world of Tesco and Google. It served capitalism well in its earlier, more triumphalist phase, but it doesn’t ring true in the era of Britain’s Got Talent. Instead, moral values become relative and subjective: you may object to serial killing, but personally I find it a lot of fun. This kind of thing may be harmless among friends, but it’s no way to run a country. To do that, you need a firmer framework and a tighter consensus, not least at times of political or economic crisis. Yet what if you have just relativised all that out of existence? What if modern capitalism saws off the branch on which it is sitting?

It’s at this point that turning to nationalism, populism, religion and traditional ethics has its appeal, whether in Ankara or Washington. It’s particularly attractive if you are confronting an enemy such as Islamism, which has no trouble at all with moral absolutes and metaphysical foundations. You don’t want to be left ideologically disarmed in this struggle, even if you’ve done most of the disarming yourself. So large patches of the globe shift towards authoritarianism, which isn’t necessarily the same as coercion. In the recent Turkish elections, for instance, millions of people have just consented to be coerced, or at least consented to a political regime which works in large measure by authoritarian means.

Like any other form of government, such regimes will only survive in the long run if they can persuade enough citizens to identify with them. People must feel that their identity is at stake in supporting this power. They must find themselves reflected in the Leader, as a child may see itself in the fond look of its parents. Because power, law and the state are abstractions, it’s easier to get people to internalise them if they take on tangible form. In autocratic states, power is incarnate in a single figure; but this means that some of the people might identify not with power itself but with the individual who represents it. To avoid this happening, Nature in its infinite wisdom has made a lot of those individuals either faceless or repulsive. Erdoğan, who looks like a harassed, slightly down-at-heel schoolteacher on the point of retirement, is an example of the former. Adolf Hitler was an ill-favoured little runt, Stalin looked like a crafty walrus and Mao was in sore need of a spell in the gym.

Most of these men were dictators, not just authoritarians, and the power of a dictator is absolute. The word “absolute” means free or unrestricted, which includes being unrestricted by circumstances. To say that torturing a baby is absolutely wrong is to say that it’s wrong irrespective of any circumstances you might specify in order to justify it. Absolute power is power which is in principle unconstrained. It may rein itself in, or even show mercy and compassion, but it does these things only when it feels like it.

Nietzsche believed that the Superman should treat ordinary folk with kindness, but he saw this as an act of condescension, not as a moral obligation. It is a form of sovereignty which rests entirely on itself, and is therefore arbitrary. If it had to appeal to law or custom or tradition to validate itself, these things would take precedence over it and it would cease to be absolute. Besides, there are no laws for how the law is to be established in the first place, which means that law has a close affinity with lawlessness. Many political set-ups rely for their stability on people coming to forget the blood and tears in which they were born.

Because absolute power is unrestrained, it can be hard to distinguish it from anarchy, even though it is often anarchy which it is out to suppress. The two are sides of the same coin. In Maurice Sendak’s children’s classic Where The Wild Things Are, the hero Max becomes king of the wild things, a phrase which contains a crucially ambiguous preposition (of). Does it mean that Max is king over the wild things or the wildest thing of all? The answer, needless to say, is both.

The absolute and the anarchic are also related in another sense. Absolutists are people who fear that the only alternative to rigid laws and precise regulations is total chaos. Unless you have a rule forbidding players to pass the ball back to the goalkeeper, then — key phrase — before you know where you are, all the players will be passing back to the goalie all the time and the game will never get started. One might call this the essence of the authoritarian mind-set. Allow people their freedom and they will abuse it. The fact that they aren’t really people without it is overlooked. How could you possibly have pavements on which people can walk in opposite directions at the same time? Everyone would obstruct everyone else and nobody would ever get anywhere.

It is logical, then, that Shakespeare’s autocratic Lear is accompanied throughout most of the play by the anarchic Fool. There is more than one sense in which the two are terrible twins. For one thing, anyone who wants to be a king must be a fool, at least in Shakespeare’s day. This is one reason why Lear is mad. Monarchs attract envy and aggression, which is why tribal chiefs in pre-modern societies are sometimes ritually beaten during their coronations. This didn’t happen to King Charles, but he still managed to look like a helpless victim throughout the ceremony, as a group of men around his throne kept doing things to him and he just had to sit there and take it.

For another thing, the Fool’s debunkery strips the mask from his master’s authority, showing it to be just as arbitrary as his own antics. The problem with sovereignty is that, being perched on a height, it can’t see itself in the eyes of other people, and so can’t have its identity confirmed by them. This is why Lear begs for someone to tell him who he is. Without dialogue with others, selfhood simply implodes, which is another reason why Lear is mad. In one or two of his other plays, Shakespeare seeks to repair this situation by drawing on the legend of the ruler who moves incognito among the common people in order to learn about their daily lives. Today, minus the incognito, this is known as a walk-about.

Those who are driven mad by power in our own time aren’t so much kings or politicians as celebrities. Like Lear at the beginning of the play, they are told only what they want to hear, and thus see themselves mirrored everywhere they look. Only by encountering otherness can one know who one is, and thus retain a degree of sanity. Otherwise, like a certain famous entertainer, you will end up asking your assistants to stop the wind from blowing.


Terry Eagleton is a critic, literary theorist, and UnHerd columnist.


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Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
10 months ago

If one looks at a list of the world’s most authoritarian countries , they are distributed amongst Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Their authoritarian nature is derived from three main sources: having communist governments , having high religiosity that permeates into government and corrupt kleptocracies common in Africa. None of these are related to Capitalism.
The creeping authoritarianism in the West is coming from the anti-capitalist Left. It is they that ban, shutdown and criminalise dissenting opinion. They that try to destroy the lives of dissidents of their dogma.They that want ever more state intervention to control and regulate our lives,
Our society has suffered a degredation in morality, a conscious destruction of the traditional family and gender roles, the pernicious adoption of moral relativism and the demonisation of national group identity. But the culprit is not Capitalism; it is the destructive, malign force of Progressivism.

Last edited 10 months ago by Marcus Leach
Steve White
Steve White
10 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

You have said all true things, but there is one problem. Progress from what? From family values? Where do those come from? I would argue that what is lacking is an epistemological foundation for those values. Which, in the West, particularly the Anglosphere, that came from biblical Christianity.
Therefore, as Christianity declines, so the West declines. Because cultures need accepted common universal truth (the epistemological foundations) upon which to build particular truths. (particular ethics and values). With postmodernism we can’t even agree universally on what a man or a woman is, and this is a problem. A problem which leads to chaos.
When I say Christianity, many people think of the morals of Christianity, the 10 commandments. For much of the last century in America at least, there was an assumption that you could hollow out Christianity of Christ and apply the values of it. To some degree it worked. Making it less distinct made it capable of being applied more broadly without offending too many people. If people just wanted nice communities with people acting honestly, working hard, and doing unto others as they would have done unto them, then the non-distinct mile-wide and inch-deep Christianity worked for a time…
However, over time, this degraded. As Missionalism and Transformationalism became valued in the Christian megachurch model, politicians such as Obama found that they could pitch the same sort of hope for building a better earthly city and bringing justice in the land through secular political means.
Therefore, as Christianity became less about salvation from our sins, and eternal life in the world to come, and more about transforming the city, and bringing social justice in the here and now, this became a movement ripe for political advancement of fundamental transformation. It was a movement that could get results much faster, with the power of the government behind it, and it often had the blessings and spiritual cover of pastors from the Missional movement.
Now, at this point, this insider movment appears to have helped put the death nail into Christianity informing broader culture, because for too many, it’s just another voice of moralism in the culture wars. Stripped of the life changing gospel of the free gift of righteousness (Ro 5:17), and eternal life, modern Christianity really is just another moral reform movement, and therefore I would argue, one that is stripped of its divine power to change hearts. God works from the word preached, not indistinct blobs of words, but preached with understanding, for the purpose of the salvation of all who believe and put thier hope in Christ and his saving work on their behalf.

Last edited 10 months ago by Steve White
Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve White

Religion doesn’t automatically mean a belief in the family. There are plenty of religious boarding schools where children are removed from the influence of their parents and put in the hands of priests and nuns, many of whom are not paedophiles. Likewise for those who can’t pay there are religious children’s homes. In Ireland the Church was desperate to drag single mothers from their families and turn them into slaves.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve White

Religion doesn’t automatically mean a belief in the family. There are plenty of religious boarding schools where children are removed from the influence of their parents and put in the hands of priests and nuns, many of whom are not paedophiles. Likewise for those who can’t pay there are religious children’s homes. In Ireland the Church was desperate to drag single mothers from their families and turn them into slaves.

Curts
PC
Curts
10 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Correct Marcus.
The model of modernity where we are all going to be able to rationalise everything to its core and deconstruct our drives and impulses to the pull of a hormone here and some psycho babble there is flawed.
People are flawed, we need context into which sits the human spirit – nation, god, country and definitely family, whatever construct the individual leaned into has always provided these. Historically this can be pretty ugly too but it’s an integral part of the human condition.
If you want to do the socialist administration of man gig it gets even worse.
Nihilism leads to some pretty unreal horrors in the gulag.

Last edited 10 months ago by Curts
Steve White
SW
Steve White
10 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

You have said all true things, but there is one problem. Progress from what? From family values? Where do those come from? I would argue that what is lacking is an epistemological foundation for those values. Which, in the West, particularly the Anglosphere, that came from biblical Christianity.
Therefore, as Christianity declines, so the West declines. Because cultures need accepted common universal truth (the epistemological foundations) upon which to build particular truths. (particular ethics and values). With postmodernism we can’t even agree universally on what a man or a woman is, and this is a problem. A problem which leads to chaos.
When I say Christianity, many people think of the morals of Christianity, the 10 commandments. For much of the last century in America at least, there was an assumption that you could hollow out Christianity of Christ and apply the values of it. To some degree it worked. Making it less distinct made it capable of being applied more broadly without offending too many people. If people just wanted nice communities with people acting honestly, working hard, and doing unto others as they would have done unto them, then the non-distinct mile-wide and inch-deep Christianity worked for a time…
However, over time, this degraded. As Missionalism and Transformationalism became valued in the Christian megachurch model, politicians such as Obama found that they could pitch the same sort of hope for building a better earthly city and bringing justice in the land through secular political means.
Therefore, as Christianity became less about salvation from our sins, and eternal life in the world to come, and more about transforming the city, and bringing social justice in the here and now, this became a movement ripe for political advancement of fundamental transformation. It was a movement that could get results much faster, with the power of the government behind it, and it often had the blessings and spiritual cover of pastors from the Missional movement.
Now, at this point, this insider movment appears to have helped put the death nail into Christianity informing broader culture, because for too many, it’s just another voice of moralism in the culture wars. Stripped of the life changing gospel of the free gift of righteousness (Ro 5:17), and eternal life, modern Christianity really is just another moral reform movement, and therefore I would argue, one that is stripped of its divine power to change hearts. God works from the word preached, not indistinct blobs of words, but preached with understanding, for the purpose of the salvation of all who believe and put thier hope in Christ and his saving work on their behalf.

Last edited 10 months ago by Steve White
Curts
Curts
10 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Correct Marcus.
The model of modernity where we are all going to be able to rationalise everything to its core and deconstruct our drives and impulses to the pull of a hormone here and some psycho babble there is flawed.
People are flawed, we need context into which sits the human spirit – nation, god, country and definitely family, whatever construct the individual leaned into has always provided these. Historically this can be pretty ugly too but it’s an integral part of the human condition.
If you want to do the socialist administration of man gig it gets even worse.
Nihilism leads to some pretty unreal horrors in the gulag.

Last edited 10 months ago by Curts
Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
10 months ago

If one looks at a list of the world’s most authoritarian countries , they are distributed amongst Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Their authoritarian nature is derived from three main sources: having communist governments , having high religiosity that permeates into government and corrupt kleptocracies common in Africa. None of these are related to Capitalism.
The creeping authoritarianism in the West is coming from the anti-capitalist Left. It is they that ban, shutdown and criminalise dissenting opinion. They that try to destroy the lives of dissidents of their dogma.They that want ever more state intervention to control and regulate our lives,
Our society has suffered a degredation in morality, a conscious destruction of the traditional family and gender roles, the pernicious adoption of moral relativism and the demonisation of national group identity. But the culprit is not Capitalism; it is the destructive, malign force of Progressivism.

Last edited 10 months ago by Marcus Leach
Nick Hallam
NH
Nick Hallam
10 months ago

The commissioning editors at Unherd are probably too young to remember Eagleton in his pomp. Had they been around to see his antics in the 80s and 90s, they would have loathed him with all their hearts. His books – huge selling primers of ‘theory’ for the hundreds of thousands of young and ignorant students being pumped into the humanities ( I was one) – were deliberate, vicious, smart-alec underminings of literary tradition. It was immensely demoralising. His schtick was to relativise the great achievements of the past – they were the falsely conscious productions of bourgeois ideology. No need to take them seriously. The revolution would provide something better. Like all Marxist midwits, he assumed that his own preferences were somehow immune from his own critique.
And here he is, still bleating. You did it, mate. This is the cheap and empty world people like you did your best to create. I hope the cash has made it palatable. People like Eagleton left the culture defenceless. I imagine that no single person has done more harm to the intellectual life of this country than this guy. Nobody did more to cultivate the ‘nihilistic wasteland’. This is not hindsight. The editors at UnHerd should look at reviews of Eagleton by Eric Griffiths in the TLS in the 90s. He was a known huckster, offering only the empty and the cheap. He should not be permitted to launder his reputation now.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Nick Hallam

“ He should not be permitted to launder his reputation now.”

Don’t worry he hasn’t, and thank you so much for that accurate comment.

Ben Jones
BJ
Ben Jones
10 months ago
Reply to  Nick Hallam

Thank you Mister Hallam, I do remember him from sociology lessons in the late ’80s, my ‘Millie Tant’ style lecturer was in thrall to the man. In any case, your takedown and other comments below the line are infinitely better, and more amusing, than Eagleton’s predictable rambling.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
10 months ago
Reply to  Nick Hallam

Brillliant comments.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Nick Hallam

“ He should not be permitted to launder his reputation now.”

Don’t worry he hasn’t, and thank you so much for that accurate comment.

Ben Jones
Ben Jones
10 months ago
Reply to  Nick Hallam

Thank you Mister Hallam, I do remember him from sociology lessons in the late ’80s, my ‘Millie Tant’ style lecturer was in thrall to the man. In any case, your takedown and other comments below the line are infinitely better, and more amusing, than Eagleton’s predictable rambling.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
10 months ago
Reply to  Nick Hallam

Brillliant comments.

Nick Hallam
Nick Hallam
10 months ago

The commissioning editors at Unherd are probably too young to remember Eagleton in his pomp. Had they been around to see his antics in the 80s and 90s, they would have loathed him with all their hearts. His books – huge selling primers of ‘theory’ for the hundreds of thousands of young and ignorant students being pumped into the humanities ( I was one) – were deliberate, vicious, smart-alec underminings of literary tradition. It was immensely demoralising. His schtick was to relativise the great achievements of the past – they were the falsely conscious productions of bourgeois ideology. No need to take them seriously. The revolution would provide something better. Like all Marxist midwits, he assumed that his own preferences were somehow immune from his own critique.
And here he is, still bleating. You did it, mate. This is the cheap and empty world people like you did your best to create. I hope the cash has made it palatable. People like Eagleton left the culture defenceless. I imagine that no single person has done more harm to the intellectual life of this country than this guy. Nobody did more to cultivate the ‘nihilistic wasteland’. This is not hindsight. The editors at UnHerd should look at reviews of Eagleton by Eric Griffiths in the TLS in the 90s. He was a known huckster, offering only the empty and the cheap. He should not be permitted to launder his reputation now.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
10 months ago

“Despotism: it’s capitalism wot dunnit”
Well done Terry. Now go and pick up your nice little pay cheque.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Give him a break!
He has two ex wives, five children, and three houses to support!

ps. He turned 80 in February and is perhaps an excellent example of that adage “Hate keeps a man alive, it gives him strength “.

Last edited 10 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
10 months ago

Shalamov who survived in the Gulag from 1937 to 1955 said spite was the last emotion; it kept one going.
63 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Quotes On Success In Life – OverallMotivation
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“You must understand, the leading Bolsheviks who took over Russia were not Russians. They hated Russians. They hated Christians. Driven by ethnic hatred they tortured and slaughtered millions of Russians without a shred of human remorse. It cannot be overstated. Bolshevism committed the greatest human slaughter of all time. The fact that most of the world is ignorant and uncaring about this enormous crime is proof that the global media is in the hands of the perpetrators.” ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn“The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie. “One word of truth outweighs the world.” ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn“Modern society is hypnotized by socialism. It is prevented by socialism from seeing the mortal danger it is in. And one of the greatest dangers of all is that you have lost all sense of danger, you cannot even see where it’s coming from as it moves swiftly towards you.” ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn“Such as it is, the press has become the greatest power within the Western World, more powerful than the legislature, the executive and judiciary. One would like to ask; by whom has it been elected and to whom is it responsible?” ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn“To destroy a people, you must first sever their roots.” ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn“If I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible what was the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: ‘Men had forgotten God; that is why all this has happened.’” ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn“The strength or weakness of a society depends more on the level of its spiritual life than on its level of industrialization. Neither a market economy nor even general abundance constitutes the crowning achievement of human life. If a nation’s spiritual energies have been exhausted, it will not be saved from collapse by the most perfect government structure or by any industrial development. A tree with a rotten core cannot stand.” ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.“Evil people always support each other; that is their chief strength.” ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Intrigued, so who were “the leading Bolsheviks who took over Russia” If they were not Russians?

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
10 months ago

Stalin was Georgian.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

What about the “others’?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
10 months ago

Bolsheviks – Wikipedia
There is also a need to assess who made up The Cheka
Cheka – Wikipedia

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Aha! The usual suspects!

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Aha! The usual suspects!

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
10 months ago

Bolsheviks – Wikipedia
There is also a need to assess who made up The Cheka
Cheka – Wikipedia

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

What about the “others’?

D Walsh
D Walsh
10 months ago

You need to check the early life section

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
10 months ago

Stalin was Georgian.

D Walsh
D Walsh
10 months ago

You need to check the early life section

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Intrigued, so who were “the leading Bolsheviks who took over Russia” If they were not Russians?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
10 months ago

Shalamov who survived in the Gulag from 1937 to 1955 said spite was the last emotion; it kept one going.
63 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Quotes On Success In Life – OverallMotivation
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“You must understand, the leading Bolsheviks who took over Russia were not Russians. They hated Russians. They hated Christians. Driven by ethnic hatred they tortured and slaughtered millions of Russians without a shred of human remorse. It cannot be overstated. Bolshevism committed the greatest human slaughter of all time. The fact that most of the world is ignorant and uncaring about this enormous crime is proof that the global media is in the hands of the perpetrators.” ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn“The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie. “One word of truth outweighs the world.” ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn“Modern society is hypnotized by socialism. It is prevented by socialism from seeing the mortal danger it is in. And one of the greatest dangers of all is that you have lost all sense of danger, you cannot even see where it’s coming from as it moves swiftly towards you.” ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn“Such as it is, the press has become the greatest power within the Western World, more powerful than the legislature, the executive and judiciary. One would like to ask; by whom has it been elected and to whom is it responsible?” ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn“To destroy a people, you must first sever their roots.” ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn“If I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible what was the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: ‘Men had forgotten God; that is why all this has happened.’” ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn“The strength or weakness of a society depends more on the level of its spiritual life than on its level of industrialization. Neither a market economy nor even general abundance constitutes the crowning achievement of human life. If a nation’s spiritual energies have been exhausted, it will not be saved from collapse by the most perfect government structure or by any industrial development. A tree with a rotten core cannot stand.” ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.“Evil people always support each other; that is their chief strength.” ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Ben Jones
BJ
Ben Jones
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Marxist is gonna Marxist

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Give him a break!
He has two ex wives, five children, and three houses to support!

ps. He turned 80 in February and is perhaps an excellent example of that adage “Hate keeps a man alive, it gives him strength “.

Last edited 10 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Ben Jones
Ben Jones
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Marxist is gonna Marxist

Steve Murray
LL
Steve Murray
10 months ago

“Despotism: it’s capitalism wot dunnit”
Well done Terry. Now go and pick up your nice little pay cheque.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago

If you ignore the title of the piece, which Eagleton almost surely didn’t write, what there is of an argument here seems less absurd. He can write and I respect that his list of three historic, authoritarian villains included the most infamous ultra-righty and two ultra-lefty anti-marketeers. Elsewhere, he seems to pretend that authoritarianism/despotism is somehow intrinsic, or more intrinsic, to capitalism.
While I don’t share his (or any) brand of radicalism, for me the main flaws that took away my ability to enjoy the author’s wit and style were his facile psychoanalysis of everything under the sun, and the way the whole text is more of a rat-a-tat miscellany vaguely connected to a theme–with some good “zingers” here and there–than anything with much cohesion or depth.
Eagleton is clearly a brainy man with a sense of humor and a certain amount of insight, however biased. I’d enjoy his efforts more if he seemed to take the job, and his readership, a little more seriously.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

That’s what i just said, using about 1% of the words, since it’s all been said before several times.

You’re right, of course, but it’s become boringly repetitive (not you – Eagleton).

He’s milking the system by picking up easy money for minimal extra effort, in a parody of capitalism itself.

Last edited 10 months ago by Steve Murray
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Ha! He’s capable of more but not giving it for whatever reason. I’m tempted to pathologize him the way he does with nearly all he brushes against.

AJ Mac
AM
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Ha! He’s capable of more but not giving it for whatever reason. I’m tempted to pathologize him the way he does with nearly all he brushes against.

N Satori
N Satori
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Do you by any chance make your living a restaurant or food critic?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Nope.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Nope.

Steve Murray
LL
Steve Murray
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

That’s what i just said, using about 1% of the words, since it’s all been said before several times.

You’re right, of course, but it’s become boringly repetitive (not you – Eagleton).

He’s milking the system by picking up easy money for minimal extra effort, in a parody of capitalism itself.

Last edited 10 months ago by Steve Murray
N Satori
N Satori
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Do you by any chance make your living a restaurant or food critic?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago

If you ignore the title of the piece, which Eagleton almost surely didn’t write, what there is of an argument here seems less absurd. He can write and I respect that his list of three historic, authoritarian villains included the most infamous ultra-righty and two ultra-lefty anti-marketeers. Elsewhere, he seems to pretend that authoritarianism/despotism is somehow intrinsic, or more intrinsic, to capitalism.
While I don’t share his (or any) brand of radicalism, for me the main flaws that took away my ability to enjoy the author’s wit and style were his facile psychoanalysis of everything under the sun, and the way the whole text is more of a rat-a-tat miscellany vaguely connected to a theme–with some good “zingers” here and there–than anything with much cohesion or depth.
Eagleton is clearly a brainy man with a sense of humor and a certain amount of insight, however biased. I’d enjoy his efforts more if he seemed to take the job, and his readership, a little more seriously.

J Bryant
J Bryant
10 months ago

For me, Eagleton’s essays are always hard to pin down. I see some commenters viewing the current essay as mainly a Marxist, or at least left wing, critique of capitalism, but that’s not how I see it.
Like so many of his essays, this one appears to be a “meditation” (if that isn’t too pretentious a word). In this case, a meditation on power. He discusses how strong, populist leaders (potential dictators) arise in response to the destruction of culture and identity by hyper-globalized capitalism and other factors. He then considers the fate of populist, even dictatorial, regimes and what is required for them to maintain power, and he goes on to consider what happens to dictators–people who have too much power that isolates them to the point they lose a sense of their own individual personality. He even manages to slip in a reference to King Lear.
His essays do seem to ramble, but, for me, they ramble cleverly and humorously, and provide food for thought.

Last edited 10 months ago by J Bryant
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I agree with that, especially your concluding sentence. Do wish the rambles settled in more often, but at least it’s not a grim slog and I find myself reading all his contributions.

Jason Smith
Jason Smith
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“His essays do seem to ramble, but, for me, they ramble cleverly and humorously, and provide food for thought”.
They really don’t

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I agree with that, especially your concluding sentence. Do wish the rambles settled in more often, but at least it’s not a grim slog and I find myself reading all his contributions.

Jason Smith
Jason Smith
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“His essays do seem to ramble, but, for me, they ramble cleverly and humorously, and provide food for thought”.
They really don’t

J Bryant
JB
J Bryant
10 months ago

For me, Eagleton’s essays are always hard to pin down. I see some commenters viewing the current essay as mainly a Marxist, or at least left wing, critique of capitalism, but that’s not how I see it.
Like so many of his essays, this one appears to be a “meditation” (if that isn’t too pretentious a word). In this case, a meditation on power. He discusses how strong, populist leaders (potential dictators) arise in response to the destruction of culture and identity by hyper-globalized capitalism and other factors. He then considers the fate of populist, even dictatorial, regimes and what is required for them to maintain power, and he goes on to consider what happens to dictators–people who have too much power that isolates them to the point they lose a sense of their own individual personality. He even manages to slip in a reference to King Lear.
His essays do seem to ramble, but, for me, they ramble cleverly and humorously, and provide food for thought.

Last edited 10 months ago by J Bryant
Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
10 months ago

This is the worst article I’ve seen on UnHerd in a long time.

Capitalism, at its heart, means freedom. Freedom to keep the fruits of your labour. Freedom to choose who to trade and work with. Freedom to choose products and services on a daily basis. Freedom to accumulate wealth and pass it on to your children.

Our current system is corporatist, bordering on fascist. It’s an unholy alliance of Big Business with Big Government.

Allison Barrows
AB
Allison Barrows
10 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

Ah, but capitalism is a Marxist term. The true definition Marxists never use is free markets. There’s just something about the word free that they can’t abide.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

‘They’ regard it is an oxymoron.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

‘They’ regard it is an oxymoron.

M Lux
M Lux
10 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

How about freedom to choose your gender?
I see a lot of comments on this article blaming “the Left” and adding a good dose of whataboutism to boot, but really the rot in western societies transcends that old binary and anyone clinging to it misunderstands the shape of things to come.
My take on things is that while “the progressives” (such as they are) have certainly been the main drivers of western authoritarianism in recent years, the grounds were happily prepared by free market/interventionist types, who were just as willing to curtail freedoms in the name of “safety” by turbocharging the post 9-11 “security” state.
Then people you apparently disagree with took that idea and ran with it til we reached the absurd point that you can go to prison in Britain for Facebook posts that contain wrongthink.
So really, both sides of the establishment made the bed that we collectively have to lie in.

Last edited 10 months ago by M Lux
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
10 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

Ah, but capitalism is a Marxist term. The true definition Marxists never use is free markets. There’s just something about the word free that they can’t abide.

M Lux
M Lux
10 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

How about freedom to choose your gender?
I see a lot of comments on this article blaming “the Left” and adding a good dose of whataboutism to boot, but really the rot in western societies transcends that old binary and anyone clinging to it misunderstands the shape of things to come.
My take on things is that while “the progressives” (such as they are) have certainly been the main drivers of western authoritarianism in recent years, the grounds were happily prepared by free market/interventionist types, who were just as willing to curtail freedoms in the name of “safety” by turbocharging the post 9-11 “security” state.
Then people you apparently disagree with took that idea and ran with it til we reached the absurd point that you can go to prison in Britain for Facebook posts that contain wrongthink.
So really, both sides of the establishment made the bed that we collectively have to lie in.

Last edited 10 months ago by M Lux
Mark Goodhand
MG
Mark Goodhand
10 months ago

This is the worst article I’ve seen on UnHerd in a long time.

Capitalism, at its heart, means freedom. Freedom to keep the fruits of your labour. Freedom to choose who to trade and work with. Freedom to choose products and services on a daily basis. Freedom to accumulate wealth and pass it on to your children.

Our current system is corporatist, bordering on fascist. It’s an unholy alliance of Big Business with Big Government.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
10 months ago

Another day, another shot fired in the academy’s war on reality. If universities didn’t exist we wouldn’t invent them – scholars no longer need to be in the same room to communicate. Time to convert them into affordable housing.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Precisely, and something that Thomas Cromwell had in mind before his unfortunate demise.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Precisely, and something that Thomas Cromwell had in mind before his unfortunate demise.

Hugh Bryant
HB
Hugh Bryant
10 months ago

Another day, another shot fired in the academy’s war on reality. If universities didn’t exist we wouldn’t invent them – scholars no longer need to be in the same room to communicate. Time to convert them into affordable housing.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
10 months ago

As ever, Mr Eagleton rationalizes his argument, always seeming to start with his favourite conclusions – that Capitalism / Free Markets / Tories / Inherited Wealth is to blame, and then reverse engineers that to fit whatever topic he chooses to cover.
How anyone could look at the authoritarianism plaguing our lives at present and absolve the ‘Progressive’ Left of blame, frankly beggars belief.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
10 months ago

As ever, Mr Eagleton rationalizes his argument, always seeming to start with his favourite conclusions – that Capitalism / Free Markets / Tories / Inherited Wealth is to blame, and then reverse engineers that to fit whatever topic he chooses to cover.
How anyone could look at the authoritarianism plaguing our lives at present and absolve the ‘Progressive’ Left of blame, frankly beggars belief.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
10 months ago

I think some readers who had a go at Giles Fraser yesterday might be having second thoughts after reading this article. I liked both articles (but in different ways). Having read Mr Eagleton a few times it is clear that the editors need to get in his ear. On the article itself the author is (as with most people with historic appreciation) too focussed on the past and unable to see ahead clearly – the new authoritarianism isn’t coming with swastikas or hammers & sickles, jackbooted army-wannabes and summary executions but with a smiling “social worker” working for the state with the same flag you have always known and the threat to your job or children being taken away. No discussion of AI and no mention of Covid or Chinese surveilance cutlture which is incredible. Almost like he has a blind spot…

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
10 months ago

I think some readers who had a go at Giles Fraser yesterday might be having second thoughts after reading this article. I liked both articles (but in different ways). Having read Mr Eagleton a few times it is clear that the editors need to get in his ear. On the article itself the author is (as with most people with historic appreciation) too focussed on the past and unable to see ahead clearly – the new authoritarianism isn’t coming with swastikas or hammers & sickles, jackbooted army-wannabes and summary executions but with a smiling “social worker” working for the state with the same flag you have always known and the threat to your job or children being taken away. No discussion of AI and no mention of Covid or Chinese surveilance cutlture which is incredible. Almost like he has a blind spot…

Christopher Chantrill
CC
Christopher Chantrill
10 months ago

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, the educated class that gave us the State of Nature, communism, the welfare state, the administrative state, and demolished the mutual-aid associations that everyone once belonged to.

Christopher Chantrill
CC
Christopher Chantrill
10 months ago

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, the educated class that gave us the State of Nature, communism, the welfare state, the administrative state, and demolished the mutual-aid associations that everyone once belonged to.

Susan Scheid
Susan Scheid
10 months ago

I am sorry to say, though I hoped for more, that I found this essay to be a mass of words, signifying nothing. What I hoped for, but did not find, is analysis that also suggested a course of action we might take to get us out of our current predicament. Alas.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Susan Scheid

A clever response no doubt inspired by:-
“Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying NOTHING”.*

(*YKW.)

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago

In a way, our cultural moment combines Macbeth’s despondency with Hamlet’s paralysis-of-analysis/crazed-overreaction. Scary times.

AJ Mac
AM
AJ Mac
10 months ago

In a way, our cultural moment combines Macbeth’s despondency with Hamlet’s paralysis-of-analysis/crazed-overreaction. Scary times.

Kevin Hansen
KH
Kevin Hansen
10 months ago
Reply to  Susan Scheid

I too thought it was a load of sh*te. You did articulate it better than me though. Fair play

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Susan Scheid

A clever response no doubt inspired by:-
“Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying NOTHING”.*

(*YKW.)

Kevin Hansen
Kevin Hansen
10 months ago
Reply to  Susan Scheid

I too thought it was a load of sh*te. You did articulate it better than me though. Fair play

Susan Scheid
Susan Scheid
10 months ago

I am sorry to say, though I hoped for more, that I found this essay to be a mass of words, signifying nothing. What I hoped for, but did not find, is analysis that also suggested a course of action we might take to get us out of our current predicament. Alas.

AC Harper
AH
AC Harper
10 months ago

The more socialism shatters traditional pieties, disregards frontiers and uproots whole communities, the more strident become the defenders of family, religion and fatherland.
There, fixed that for you. From Wikipedia:

The term “National Socialism” arose out of attempts to create a nationalist redefinition of socialism, as an alternative to both Marxist international socialism and free-market capitalism.

Strange how the frame of commentary has been shifted to call Adloff Hilter’s efforts ‘far right wing’.

AC Harper
AH
AC Harper
10 months ago

The more socialism shatters traditional pieties, disregards frontiers and uproots whole communities, the more strident become the defenders of family, religion and fatherland.
There, fixed that for you. From Wikipedia:

The term “National Socialism” arose out of attempts to create a nationalist redefinition of socialism, as an alternative to both Marxist international socialism and free-market capitalism.

Strange how the frame of commentary has been shifted to call Adloff Hilter’s efforts ‘far right wing’.

N Satori
NS
N Satori
10 months ago

UnHerd slides steadily to the Left. We seem to be getting a dose of Eagleton’s Marxist windbagging every week now along with that bloke from Novara media. Owen Jones, George Monbiot, Polly Toynbee and Zoe Williams are probably waiting in the wings.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
10 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

I think the bloke from Novara has some interesting things to say. Eagleton is just a superannuated rent a trot from the 1970s.

Jason Smith
JS
Jason Smith
10 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Don’t forget old Thomas “definitely not a Nazi” Fazi

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
10 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

I think the bloke from Novara has some interesting things to say. Eagleton is just a superannuated rent a trot from the 1970s.

Jason Smith
Jason Smith
10 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Don’t forget old Thomas “definitely not a Nazi” Fazi

N Satori
N Satori
10 months ago

UnHerd slides steadily to the Left. We seem to be getting a dose of Eagleton’s Marxist windbagging every week now along with that bloke from Novara media. Owen Jones, George Monbiot, Polly Toynbee and Zoe Williams are probably waiting in the wings.

Daniel Lee
DL
Daniel Lee
10 months ago

Wouldn’t Mr. Eagleton be more comfortable at The Guardian, where they share his apparent notion that the most broadly successful economic system in the history of the world, the one that has brought the most prosperity to the most people despite its shortfalls, is actually a noxious substance that should be cleansed from culture? I worry that he might be unhappy where he is.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Lee

He probably carries an enormous amount of animosity towards England, and its munificence towards the Irish diaspora in particular. All rather sad really.
.
His late mother is reported to have had staunch ‘Republican’* views.

As we say: “you can take a man from Ireland, but never take Ireland from the man.”

(* Otherwise sometimes referred to as the IRA or even the Council House Killers.)

Stephen Magee
Stephen Magee
10 months ago

Argumentum ad hominem.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Magee

A fortiori.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Magee

A fortiori.

Stephen Magee
Stephen Magee
10 months ago

Argumentum ad hominem.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Lee

He probably carries an enormous amount of animosity towards England, and its munificence towards the Irish diaspora in particular. All rather sad really.
.
His late mother is reported to have had staunch ‘Republican’* views.

As we say: “you can take a man from Ireland, but never take Ireland from the man.”

(* Otherwise sometimes referred to as the IRA or even the Council House Killers.)

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
10 months ago

Wouldn’t Mr. Eagleton be more comfortable at The Guardian, where they share his apparent notion that the most broadly successful economic system in the history of the world, the one that has brought the most prosperity to the most people despite its shortfalls, is actually a noxious substance that should be cleansed from culture? I worry that he might be unhappy where he is.

Peter Kettle
Peter Kettle
10 months ago

The usual full Marx from this drum beater for anti-capitalism. Get some reading done Terry.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter Kettle

His job title really should be: Professor of His Own Literature

Last edited 10 months ago by Steve Murray
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter Kettle

His job title really should be: Professor of His Own Literature

Last edited 10 months ago by Steve Murray
Peter Kettle
PK
Peter Kettle
10 months ago

The usual full Marx from this drum beater for anti-capitalism. Get some reading done Terry.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
10 months ago

To do that, you need a firmer framework and a tighter consensus, not least at times of political or economic crisis. Yet what if you have just relativised all that out of existence? What if modern capitalism saws off the branch on which it is sitting?

We prefer analogies like “capitalism is its own gravedigger”, or “The last capitalist we hang shall be the one who sold us the rope”, comrade. But you make a point that is undeniably in line with the tenets of scientific socialism. And, comrade, you already know that the “firmer framework” and “tighter consensus” can only be found in the historically inevitable phase known as the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
10 months ago

To do that, you need a firmer framework and a tighter consensus, not least at times of political or economic crisis. Yet what if you have just relativised all that out of existence? What if modern capitalism saws off the branch on which it is sitting?

We prefer analogies like “capitalism is its own gravedigger”, or “The last capitalist we hang shall be the one who sold us the rope”, comrade. But you make a point that is undeniably in line with the tenets of scientific socialism. And, comrade, you already know that the “firmer framework” and “tighter consensus” can only be found in the historically inevitable phase known as the dictatorship of the proletariat.

David Giles
David Giles
10 months ago

The term “,Texan CEO” informs us only of its authors racism; nothing more.

As to the rest of it: Marxists still think they can denounce despotism? Seriously?

David Giles
David Giles
10 months ago

The term “,Texan CEO” informs us only of its authors racism; nothing more.

As to the rest of it: Marxists still think they can denounce despotism? Seriously?

Mash Mallow
Mash Mallow
10 months ago

“This isn’t, in fact, all that surprising. The more capitalism shatters traditional pieties, disregards frontiers and uproots whole communities, the more strident become the defenders of family, religion and fatherland. The more narratives of God, People and Nation are spurned as outdated, the more potently they return.”

Replace capitalism with marxism – can somebody please explain the difference in this discourse?

Mash Mallow
Mash Mallow
10 months ago

“This isn’t, in fact, all that surprising. The more capitalism shatters traditional pieties, disregards frontiers and uproots whole communities, the more strident become the defenders of family, religion and fatherland. The more narratives of God, People and Nation are spurned as outdated, the more potently they return.”

Replace capitalism with marxism – can somebody please explain the difference in this discourse?

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
10 months ago

The author clearly set out to demonstrate his “otherness” and succeeded in almost every line of this ill considered, illogical and hubristic ramble. At least it wasn’t very long. However it was still a waste of precious time. Must remember to avoid reading this chap’s stuff.

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
10 months ago

The author clearly set out to demonstrate his “otherness” and succeeded in almost every line of this ill considered, illogical and hubristic ramble. At least it wasn’t very long. However it was still a waste of precious time. Must remember to avoid reading this chap’s stuff.

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
10 months ago

Every country will have the 1% most powerful.
Within that group there are the highest “achievers”, the most powerful and to reach that position they have psychopathic traits.
Now imagine if they all got together in Switzerland each year…formed global organisations in support of One World Government.
“Evil people always support each other; that is their chief strength.” ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Last edited 10 months ago by Justin Clark
Justin Clark
Justin Clark
10 months ago

Every country will have the 1% most powerful.
Within that group there are the highest “achievers”, the most powerful and to reach that position they have psychopathic traits.
Now imagine if they all got together in Switzerland each year…formed global organisations in support of One World Government.
“Evil people always support each other; that is their chief strength.” ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Last edited 10 months ago by Justin Clark
Mark V
Mark V
10 months ago

Word salad

Margaret Donaldson
Margaret Donaldson
10 months ago

Have just seen King Lear in Stratford Ontario and enjoyed Eagleton’s comments about the King and his fool and their application to his argument. Sorry!

justin fisher
justin fisher
10 months ago

For me, Lear’s whirlwind was that of Job’s. But that’s probably because I’ve never known power and simply wanted Job’s speech to be more poetic and epic. Lyre in the world wind.

In spite of the Straw Man Industrial Complex going to work in the comments, I continue to see a Darwinist fundamentalism driving the socio economics of our time. This is the common reading of Nietzsche, regardless of whatever nuance he may have intended from his own whirlwind of mad insight. This was the original meaning of “Hell is other people” after all.

Yet it appears in Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag for anyone willing to read him for himself rather than to quote him to win points in comments sections. Solzh was primarily repulsed by the shallow consumerist culture of the West before he engaged in any culture war takedowns at Harvard. Citations are needed for that, but that was always my fundamental impression.

There are so many non reductive versions of Darwin possible, including Darwin himself. Lord Russel Wallace even more so. But what does that matter to the Straw Man Industrial Complex on either side? Nobody reads Adam Smith let alone Keynes. The caterwauling of the Bolshevik Libertarians continues to slouch us all toward Bethlehem.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
10 months ago
Reply to  justin fisher

Pretty average first effort. Now try to elucidate your arguments without recourse to student-level capitalisation of generic terms gleaned from some forum requiring less actual thinking than Unherd.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
10 months ago
Reply to  justin fisher

Pretty average first effort. Now try to elucidate your arguments without recourse to student-level capitalisation of generic terms gleaned from some forum requiring less actual thinking than Unherd.

justin fisher
justin fisher
10 months ago

For me, Lear’s whirlwind was that of Job’s. But that’s probably because I’ve never known power and simply wanted Job’s speech to be more poetic and epic. Lyre in the world wind.

In spite of the Straw Man Industrial Complex going to work in the comments, I continue to see a Darwinist fundamentalism driving the socio economics of our time. This is the common reading of Nietzsche, regardless of whatever nuance he may have intended from his own whirlwind of mad insight. This was the original meaning of “Hell is other people” after all.

Yet it appears in Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag for anyone willing to read him for himself rather than to quote him to win points in comments sections. Solzh was primarily repulsed by the shallow consumerist culture of the West before he engaged in any culture war takedowns at Harvard. Citations are needed for that, but that was always my fundamental impression.

There are so many non reductive versions of Darwin possible, including Darwin himself. Lord Russel Wallace even more so. But what does that matter to the Straw Man Industrial Complex on either side? Nobody reads Adam Smith let alone Keynes. The caterwauling of the Bolshevik Libertarians continues to slouch us all toward Bethlehem.

Kevin Kierans
Kevin Kierans
10 months ago

Wow. That was like sitting next to a very drunk, very opininated guy at a bar.

Kevin Kierans
Kevin Kierans
10 months ago

Wow. That was like sitting next to a very drunk, very opininated guy at a bar.

Stephen Magee
Stephen Magee
10 months ago

Gotta laugh at the way most of these comments just bear out Eagleton’s thesis. This article is firmly based on long-standing Catholic social teaching, yet none of the commentators seem to recognise that.

Stephen Magee
Stephen Magee
10 months ago

Gotta laugh at the way most of these comments just bear out Eagleton’s thesis. This article is firmly based on long-standing Catholic social teaching, yet none of the commentators seem to recognise that.