In her discussion with Anne McElvoy on the podcast “The Economist Asks” Amy Chua offers some wise and unusually balanced insights into the problematic schism entailed by identity politics and the damage caused to the “connective tissue” holding heterogeneous societies such as the USA and the UK together.
Tribalism has always existed, but is now playing a far more pivotal role in society: from the rise of gender and ethnic affiliation, to nationalist parties in Europe and even the appeal of Donald Trump. Amy Chua, author of “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” and “Political Tribes”, explains why the politics of sharp-edged identities have become so powerful.For information regarding your data privacy, visitacast.com/privacy
— Read on play.acast.com/s/theeconomistasks/eed21a66-66ac-4463-8f46-f107aec42d8a
This point is very well made. I wish I had said it. Sadly, I didn’t, though it is consonant with what I have thought for years and said, without undue repetition, for years.
“It also, though, goes to the heart of what we think communication is. You know, if you think of communication as an exercise in respect for the other, you don’t repeat yourself. Repeating yourself suggests that you’re either demented or that you just don’t care about the other person’s response; you’re prepared to override it and say the same thing again and again. There’s no way in which a chanted slogan invites an answer. I think there’s a whole politics of that kind which grows out of the mass movements on the left but also invades the language of the left.”
The competition is in the mirror. Gratitude for the opportunity of being alive is proper to our condition. Envy is nothing new, indeed it is an error as old as the world, though it is true that people are now seeking the wrong axis through self-scrutiny and in social media, nor is the answer generally to be found in the vapourings of the lifestyle articles of the Guardian. The confessions of the first paragraph are ugly revelations, better dissembled, since they are of limited objective interest. Seek wisdom, not status. Study for the joy of discovery, learn a few languages, take some exercise and don’t look for rewards. Delight in the success of others and help them to achieve it; often, their progress will bring burdens of responsibility you would prefer not to shoulder anyway. That is their affair. The author of this article, who feels she is doing something important, could have learnt the rudimentary grammar of a language in the time it took to write this commentary on our times. Envy has always been the enemy; my father, who possessed little that he hadn’t forged by his own effort, by-passed it altogether by taking pleasure in birdsong, gardening and playing the flute. The implicit message of this article is that the author has been aspiring to be her own axis; this is a cardinal error, known as that of the “moi désaxé”, or the misplaced axis of the self. If there is no longer a being external to us in whom to invest our faith, there is still the business of studying the accumulated knowledge of our forebears in science and in the arts, an endeavour that will free us from solipsism. This is an endless cure for envy. LJ
This is just one of an increasing number of narrowly circumscribed areas in which impediments to freedom of expression are doing untold practical damage. I could foresee this all as early as 1985, when I had my first whiff of the speech codes associated with political correctness. I don’t wish to judge the intentions of the misguided advocates of this “premature synthesis”, which has evolved into a toxic ideology, but for humanity the cost has been very high indeed. It is no exaggeration to state that lives are at stake as a result of the austere neo-puritanical monitoring of human speech. Children and adults need to be informed if they are gluttonous; the idea that we should refrain from doing so lest we be guilty of “fat shaming” is preposterous, therefore it is refreshing to read an article in which plain truth is acknowledged to be an important part of the way forward. LJ
Paul McCartney believes in a higher being. Fine.
Paul McCartney believes he has met this higher being. Not fine.
Paul McCartney, who now claims to have met God whilst under the influence of a narcotic drug, is an ocean-going turnip.
One of my tutors, Christopher Robinson, in his work on French Literature of the 19th Century, refers in his consideration of Flaubert’s Félicité, protagonist of “Un coeur simple”, the first of the “Trois Contes”, to her state of “transcendent self-deception” at the moment of incommunicable “revelation” when the Logos becomes fused and confused, deep within the self, with her recollected image of her beloved parrot. Look no further. Paul McCartney has demonstrated the enduring veracity of the notion. If this isn’t “transcendent self-deception”, then I don’t know what is. To communicate this during a period of our history when narcotics constitute such a grave problem, for more than one generation, is an act of egregious irresponsibility. Perhaps he isn’t feeling the eyes of the world upon him. Perhaps he is looking for love, which is apparently “all you need”. Perhaps it is indeed time, after all, for him to sink into oblivion. LJ
Voormalige Beatle Paul McCartney gelooft in een hoger wezen. Hij heeft naar eigen zeggen God ontmoet na drugsgebruik. Dat zei de 76-jarige componist en zanger tegen de Engelse krant The Times.
This gesture of commitment to the welfare of young people might look a little more convincing if it were set within the context of a broader coherent policy of protective intervention, extending to such areas as the restriction of sales of smartphones for use by minors. The implementation of a policy excluding them from schools (the smartphones, not the minors, at least not yet…), such as that already courageously set in place in France, might entail tangible benefits. Certain schools (I am sure this is not true for all) also appear to have thrown in the towel with regard to responsible regulation of the sale of junk food and drinks, the battle against the dominion of social media and instruction in what constitutes basic good sense. Young people deserve more confident guidance than this and adults should have the courage to provide it. LJ
“Soms gaat dat gepaard met verslaving aan alcohol, drugs, of internet (excessief gamen of porno).” QED
Surprise, surprise! Stop looking at social media, don’t do drugs, ignore the tattoo parlour, think for yourselves and do some disciplined studying. This will greatly relieve your conscience and enable you to sleep soundly and to greet each morning for the miracle it is, whatever duties it may herald. LJ
The international hegemony of English is indeed troubling, as is the tentacular presence of American culture. Vive la différence! That said, mastery of the lingua franca within a nation, English in England, French in France and so on, would seem to me to be a fitting intellectual project, if not a requirement (but let us be compassionate here) for those aspiring to citizenship.
Let us not forget Goethe’s aphoristic injunction:
“Wer fremde Sprachen nicht kennt, weiß nichts von seiner eigenen.”
(He who cannot speak languages other than his own, knows nothing of his own. Goethe: Maxim 91)
Personally, I have no time for the zealous indignation of the lawyer who arrogantly sought to upbraid those speaking Spanish (thug and fool), but perhaps still less for the angry herd that subsequently persecuted him (thugs, fools and creatures of the crowd). America seems unwell.
Some very interesting points are raised in the article below, admittedly not for the first time, but the timing of their exposition nevertheless seems appropriate, in this troubled world, with its conflicting bogus certitudes and their crassly indignant advocates.
Actualités FAITS DIVERS: FAIT DIVERS – Les médias marocains ont simplement évoqué un simple et banal “incident”. Mais d’après nos informations, un récent vol de la compagnie Royal Air Maroc entre Casablanca et Paris s’est pourtant transformé en affaire d’Etat. La faute à un passager furieux de ne pas pouvoir satisfaire ses besoins naturels. Au point de pousser la France à faire décoller en urgence 2 avions de chasse.