Ideas? Not again!

2

September 28, 2016 by AK

At some point I got the feeling The Economist had become a sort of Reader’s Digest written by Oxbridge PPE/SPS graduates. But low expectations multiply the chances for a positive surprise, like this:

Its [the Alt-Right’s] more cerebral fellow-travelers reheat criticisms of democracy that have been around since Plato. They argue that government of and by the people is flawed, and would prefer something more like the enlightened absolutism of Prussia under Frederick the Great.

Keenly observed. “Since Plato” sounds respectable. As one Russian author asked, would you rather live in non-democratic Prussia around 1870 or in democratic Egypt in 2012? Nowadays the rule of law is a rare exception; democracies are a dime a dozen. Large-scale immigration from outside the first and second worlds keeps pushing western democracies in the direction, not exactly of Egypt, but of Brazil and other fractured and disorderly societies.

Nonchalantly, The Economist concludes:

These people are not the ones to worry about.

In the sense that they won’t be looting stores or setting cars on fire – not even mugging liberals to convert them to alt-rightism – they won’t cause any bother. But ideas might still have consequences and there are times when settled arguments get re-argued.


2 comments »

  1. Tim Newman says:

    At some point I got the feeling The Economist had become a sort of Reader’s Digest written by Oxbridge PPE/SPS graduates.

    Oh hell yes. I subscribed for years, and then it dawned on me that their Russia coverage was not holding up too well against what I was witnessing from living there, i.e. they failed to acknowledge that around 2006-2010 Putin was genuinely popular and living standards among ordinary Russians was the highest it had been in their history. They really didn’t care about Chechnya and other “soft”, Western concerns.

    Then I figured out this supposedly liberal, free-market publication was anything but: it championed all manner of regulation and authoritarianism (it remains a huge supporter of the EU), and they were as much a part of the establishment as those they claimed to stand against. As you say, it’s basically a bunch of Oxbridge types who think things ought to be run pretty much as they are, only with clever people like them in charge.

    • AK says:

      There’s a lot of interesting stuff in some of their pieces but it’s usually in the middle: the intro and the conclusion are more or less preordained. Smart people tend to be too flexible for their own and public good.

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