For NRO, Tim Cavanaugh writes: MSNBC host Chris Hayes is getting an alarming amount of attention for his latest effort in The Nation, a stemwinder arguing that the abolition of fossil fuels is like the abolition of slavery.
The argument may sound forced, but Hayes has a logical premise that goes something like this: Socrates does not wear sandals; a potato kugel does not wear sandals; therefore Socrates is a potato kugel. It’s also tricked out with quasi-erudition and broad claims such as this one: “Before the widespread use of fossil fuels, slaves were one of the main sources of energy (if not the main source) for societies stretching back millennia.” (Busy old fool, unruly Sun!)
Hayes, who serves as an editor-at-large for The Nation, manages to make 4,600 words feel even longer, with overflowing adjectives (“obvious,” “ungodly,” “brute, bloody”); lethal compound modifiers (“heart-stopping,” “full-throated”); cascades of adverbs (“immensely,” “basically,” “unfathomably” “probably,” “literally,” and even “downright”). There’s a to-be-sure paragraph guaranteeing the reader that Hayes is not making a “moral comparison between the enslavement of Africans and African Americans and the burning of carbon to power our devices” — followed by another 3,600 words comparing the enslavement of Africans and African Americans with the burning of carbon. (Hayes is coy as to what devices are in fact powered by these exotic carbon energy sources — about which more in a moment.)
So how does it make sense to compare the use of hydrocarbons with the enslavement of people? Read the rest of this entry »
Nick Gillespie writes: Christopher Hitchens died on this date two years ago. Hitchens was the model of a public intellectual. He was certainly public in his positions and arguments, which allows for anyone interested to assess a person’s arguments. And he was intellectually honest in a way that is uncommon, with many (most?) thinkers curtailing their views if they threaten a broader ideological identity. Though definitely a man of the left, Hitchens was never orthodox and ran into trouble given his positions on issues such as abortion (he was against it), foreign interventionism (he was for it), free speech deemed offensive to certain groups (he was for it), and more. While he rarely missed opportunities to offend right-wing sensibilities (he once joked about Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s clearly having started with the president was still in office), he didn’t hold back against the left, either. He had few kind words about Martin Luther King, Jr. and he dismissed Gandhi as a “poverty pimp.”
He admitted to Reason in a wide-ranging 2001 Reason interview conducted a few months before the 9/11 attacks that his connection to the left was fraying (he would break definitively with The Nation magazine shortly after the attacks). Part of the reason stemmed from his realization that the forces of creative destruction unleashed by capitalism were remaking the world in a way that he – along with Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto – could appreciate:
The thing I’ve often tried to point out to people from the early days of the Thatcher revolution in Britain was that the political consensus had been broken, and from the right. The revolutionary, radical forces in British life were being led by the conservatives. That was something that almost nobody, with the very slight exception of myself, had foreseen.
Looking for the perfect finger puppet of a communist mass murderer for your favorite comrade this holiday season? The Nation magazine has got you covered.
The liberal magazine’s online store — “The Nationmart” — features a magnetic finger puppet of Che Guevara. The late Argentine revolutionary helped Fidel Castro install a police state in Cuba, where Guevara personally oversaw hundreds if not thousands of executions and the creation of labor camps where dissidents, homosexuals and others who “committed crimes against revolutionary morals” were ultimately sent. But Nationmart didn’t let those pesky details get in the way of its sunny description of the Che finger puppet.
“We may not know where Castro is these days, but we know where Che Guevara is: on your finger as a magnetic finger puppet!” the item’s playful description reads. “On your finger, he’s a puppet; on your fridge, he’s a magnet; in your puppet collection he incites the others to rise against their capitalistic oppressors!”
“Approx. 4 [inches] tall. But not too short to stand up for the poor and oppressed,” the description continues.
The puppet is a steal at just $5.99.
But if you prefer something a little more special, you might want to consider the Che Guevara doll for your budding Occupy Wall Street activist, or even the Che Guevara watch for the significant revolutionary in your life.
“Che Guevara was many things,” the description of the doll reads. “He was a rebel, an adventurer, a statesman, a civil rights leader and a revolutionary. And now he’s a cute doll thanks to our Che Guevara Little Thinker Doll. The Che Doll stands about 12-inches tall and comes dressed in green khakis, black boots and belt, plus his trademark beret. It’s as adorable, appealing and cuddly as the real Che was intense, violent, and cuddly. Che was known for fighting for just causes, and you should buy one just, well, cause.”
The heralded “civil rights leader” once famously meditated on hatred, noting:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Whoops, that was Martin Luther King, Jr. Here’s Che’s thoughts on hatred: “Hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine. This is what our soldiers must become.”