…Peterson is an undeniable intellectual master of the most authentic kind. What this means is that genuinely educated progressives who are opposed to Trump need (if they are serious and sincere) to go through Peterson and his intellectual community. In other words, educated progressives cannot pretend there are no serious intellectual forces associated with Trump. There is at least one, and it’s the cluster of ideas Peterson has been working on for decades. To be clear, I am not saying Peterson has caused support for Trump and I’m not saying Peterson himself supports Trump (I don’t know, but he generally avoids naïve blanket identifications.) I am just saying that, as far as I can tell, his perspective represents a major, public intellectual force that coincides with at least some vectors of support for Trump.
And the sizable minority of left libertarians makes sense to me (because that’s me, basically). So it’s interesting that left-libertarians are communicating thoughtfully in a community with many Trump supporters. I want to show this to all the left libertarian activists I know (who are very different than left libertarian people in general). To show them there is serious intellectual content in the new seeming “right-wing” ecology of ideas and figures, which they see as one big “alt-right” to be stopped by “no platforming” everything. But I probably won’t bother, because radical left activist types are generally not in the business of learning.
Chesterton is a well-known “orthodox” Christian writer, like CS Lewis, writing in defense of the classical tenets of Christianity, but also known for his devotion to Distributism (he along with Belloc–) which was an attempt at a third way economic system. I’ll not be treating that subject at the moment, except to say that there is in very large degree, as with Lewis, a great disconnect between Chesterton’s imagination and his politics. It’s also worth noting that in the time they were writing in defense of this system, many other third-way economic systems were being proposed as well (we should recall Pound’s attempts at this as well. Poets cannot help but try to be lawgivers, even if they are ill-equipped) – which was at the beginning of the 20th century.
Chesterton’s real prominence as a writer seems to start with receiving a column at Dicken’s paper, The Daily News, which was a reformist paper. It is unclear exactly how he got this column, though timelines vary slightly: he actually began working for the paper in 1899, and in 1901 or 1902 began the regular column. If you look at his history, it is very yeomanly; he seems to have stepped himself up – not coming from a particularly humble background, but also attending prominent schools (St. Paul’s School, University College London) where he would no doubt have attracted attention. He never had a particularly prominent position, but seems to have made the right connections and have performed well, a track of life which matches his politics.
He was rather short-lived, living only to 62, (d. 1936) but this is likely because he became very overweight (something he was not afraid to joke about.) It is even a theme that sometimes comes up in his poems.
With the breakup of the USSR, Russia has been reduced to two-thirds of the territory and half the population of the Soviet Union.
Its former republics and now neighbors Georgia and Ukraine are hostile. Its space launches are now done from a foreign land, Kazakhstan. Its economy has shrunk to the size of Italy’s.
It has one-tenth the population and one-fifth the economy of its looming neighbor, China, and, except for territory, is even more dwarfed by the United States with a GDP of $20 trillion, and troops, bases and allies all over the world.
Most critically, Russia’s regime is no longer Communist. The ideology that drove its imperialism is dead. There are parties, demonstrations and dissidents in Russia, and an Orthodox faith that is alive and promoted by Putin.
Where, today, is there a vital U.S. interest imperiled by Putin?
Better to jaw-jaw, than war-war, said Churchill. He was right, as is President Trump to keep talking to Putin—right through the Russophobia rampant in this city.
The preeminent condition of the present time is aesthetic desperation: the search for the smallest piece of beautiful scrap, the most vanishing hint of a serious ideology, that has not yet been brutally subsumed, commoditised, disenchanted, and ground to dust. If I have been accused of fleeing into the ‘ruins’ of Christianity, such an action ought to be entirely unremarkable: in fact, for the Western mind at least, the entire world is more and more a ruin, and we inhabit it almost as ghosts. Mark Fisher cut to the heart of the matter: ‘Capitalism,’ one of his most famous and devastating passages observes, ‘is what is left when beliefs have collapsed at the level of ritual or symbolic elaboration, and all that is left is the consumer-spectator, trudging through the ruins and the relics.’ When everything solid dissolves into air, all that is left on the ground is ash.