two good links for Saturday

  • A 2007 Spiegel interview with Solzhenitsyn:

    Solzhenitsyn: If we could all take a sober look at our history, then we would no longer see this nostalgic attitude to the Soviet past that predominates now among the less affected part of our society. Nor would the Eastern European countries and former USSR republics feel the need to see in historical Russia the source of their misfortunes. One should not ascribe the evil deeds of individual leaders or political regimes to an innate fault of the Russian people and their country. One should not attribute this to the “sick psychology” of the Russians, as is often done in the West. All these regimes in Russia could only survive by imposing a bloody terror. We should clearly understand that only the voluntary and conscientious acceptance by a people of its guilt can ensure the healing of a nation. Unremitting reproaches from outside, on the other hand, are counterproductive.

  • John Dolan on Martin Amis & Christopher Hitchens:

    To American readers, the targets of Tory xenophobia can seem bizarre, even comic. For instance, in Lucky Jim, Amis Senior rails against Italian cooking, denouncing olive oil at some length as a vile “butter substitute.” Keith Waterhouse, another Tory writer of that era, devotes half a page in one of his novels to a similar sermon against pizza. This obsession with Italian food, which was just coming into fashion in Britain, suggests an important difference between British and American right-wing writing: While most American conservative rhetoric pays lip service to “melting pot” rhetoric, British writers are openly xenophobic, assailing all foreign influences, whether in cookery or movies. Hitchens, for example, took a bizarre detour in one of his screeds to denounce the unfair presentation of medieval English royalty in Braveheart.

    And unlike most American rightists, British Tories are always defeatists, convinced their cause is lost, paralyzed by nostalgia for an imaginary golden age or fighting a rearguard action in defense of a doomed, yet superior culture. In Lord of the Rings terms, England is Gondor, Mordor is the alien (the Arab/Muslim, at the moment), and without a Frodo-level game-saver, we’re doomed. You can hear this sort of wretched whine even in pop music, as when Morrissey moans, “We are the last truly British people you will ever know.” (Though in an amusing twist, Morrissey later came out of the ethnic closet and admitted he was Irish.)

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2 responses to “two good links for Saturday

  1. That Amis-Hitchens article is awful.

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