Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Three links

No common theme to these that I can see.

1. More Zadie Smith. I'm afraid it confirms my theory that she has to mine her own life for material, even to the extent of going back to her (I think undergraduate) thesis. Readable, as ever, but Zadie - something new please!

2. The Anglosphere Miracle by Daniel Hannan. For those of you who like that kind of thing, this is the kind of thing that you will love. It starts with Churchill, then we have John Adams speaking in glowing terms of the English common law, then it's not long before you are onto de Tocqueville saying "The American is the Englishman left to himself” (hmmm) and a Maori saying this (in 1918!) "we know by experience that the foundations of British sovereignty are based upon the eternal principles of liberty, equity and justice". It won't surprise you to hear that Mark Steyn gets quoted (for what is described as his "penetrating... if indelicate" words).

But there is also this, which has something to it:

"It is natural, when we think of a country, to focus on the things that make it different rather than the things that it has exported successfully. When people are asked to name a British food, they will be likelier to say “steak-and-kidney pie” than “a sandwich.” When asked to name an English sport, they will pick cricket rather than football. And so it is with values. Asked what the identifying features of the U.K. political system are, foreigners and Britons alike will often point to the monarchy, the House of Lords, the maces and horsehair wigs and other trappings of parliamentary procedure. Asked the same question about the United States, they will talk of the exorbitant cost of campaigns, the insidious corporate donations, the vicious attack ads. In neither case are they likely to identify the truly extraordinary feature, namely that the lawmakers are answerable to everyone else, and that governments change peacefully as a result of popular votes."

Hannan says this: "The owl of Minerva, wrote Hegel, spreads its wings only with the gathering of the dusk. As the sun sets on the Anglosphere imperium, we understand with sudden clarity what it is that we stand to lose." If you agree, you'll like his piece. If you don't, this isn't the place to convert you.

3. Something completely different. What people are wearing in Finland. The owl of Minerva is fast asleep there.

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