Economics and similar, for the sleep-deprived

A subtle change has been made to the comments links, so they no longer pop up. Does this in any way help with the problem about comments not appearing on permalinked posts, readers?

Update: seemingly not

Update: Oh yeah!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Is Tom Wolfe the American Martin Amis?

I've hated Wolfe for a long time. Basically, starting half way through Bonfire of the Vanities, when I noticed that a) every single time a female character is introduced, we have to sit through a frankly creepy half-page description of her breasts[1], and b) that Wolfe seemed to believe that the ethnic nickname of the Irish in New York was "Harps", and that he kept on breaking off his story for some really silly jock-sniffing eulogies to the character, strength and downright manliness of anyone with Irish ancestry[2]. I thought it was a really bad book (the film was much better[4]). But anyway, every other fucker apparently liked it (though I have to say, very few actual traders, who usually love anything set in their milieu, even the appalling Ben Affleck vehicle "Boiler Room". And on the basis of that plus the "New Journalism", Wolfe has been taken seriously for a long time.

No more, I think. He's written the following blurb for a book which pupports to prove that modern American liberals are actually fascists (in other words, for a complete waste of time and paper - I have no more interest in how the author tries to make his case than in discussing the ins and outs of geocentrism. Since modern American liberals visibly aren't fascists, "engaging with the arguments" in this book is purely for the sort of people who like playing "Who's Line Is It Anyway?" type games).

"In the greatest hoax of modern history, Russia's ruling "socialist workers party," the Communists, established themselves as the polar opposites of their two socialist clones, the National Socialist German Workers Party (quicknamed "the Nazis") and Italy's Marxist-inspired Fascisti, by branding both as "the fascists." Jonah Goldberg is the first historian to detail the havoc this spin of all spins has played upon Western thought for the past 75 years, very much including the present moment. Love it or loathe it, "Liberal Fascism" is a book of intellectual history you won't be able to put down—-in either sense of the term."

Hahahaha. Credibility gone.

I wish the greatest of commercial success on "Liberal Fascism". If it really takes off it will be like an infestation of herpes in the credibility of all sorts of leading right-wing commentators. The short term displeasure at seeing its author enriched is surely as nothing to the lip-smacking prospect, in four or five years' time, of being able to dismiss half the commentariat with an airy wave of the hand and a cheerful "yes, but didn't he write that embarrassing praise for 'Liberal Fascism'".

Napoleon said that when you saw your enemy making a mistake, you must never interrupt him. I wouldn't want to deprive my mates at Sadly No! of their fun, but I would really caution against being too hard on this book.

[1] I am told that this dirty-old-man tendency reached apotheosis in I am Charlotte Simmons, which I did not read because it did not get good reviews.

[2] An irritating Wolfe trope foreshadowed in "The Tangerine-Flake Baby" and the New journalism, most particularly the stock-car racing pieces, which in retrospect are chock full of bizarre racial biology theories about the "Scots Irish[3]" heritage of people in the Appalachians, and therefore of "Southern Culture" more generally.

[3] The "Scots Irish", beloved of Wolfe, PJ O'Rourke, etc, are the same people as the Ulster Protestants btw. Not a bad bunch intrinsically and all that, but I mean really, me neither.

[4] Although I have to say that when a cinematographer of the calibre of Brian de Palma casts a black actor with a wide nose, then takes a wide-angle lens and films that actor in a close-up from a position just below his face, he knows exactly what he's fucking doing and I regard it as the visual equivalent of the worst racial epithets.
28 comments this item posted by the management 12/20/2007 04:12:00 AM

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