Trading Places

Substack
July 25, 2020

Ever since J.S. Mill dubbed the Conservatives the “stupid party” back in the 1800s, conservatives have been caricatured as anti-intellectual, unsophisticated and inflexible moral busybodies. There’s been an extraordinary turnaround. Matt Taibbi, writing in Substack, points out that the stereotypes once used to slander conservatives now more accurately describe the left.

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The Fever Dreams of Charles Dickens

In the Victorian Era viral illness incited pathological fear exacerbated by the lack of empirical understanding about what germs were or how viruses mutated. In Charles Dickens’ novels, fevers served a narrative function, leading to the victim’s disfigurement, destruction or moral salvation. Writing in The Critic, Natasha Green suggests that our own paranoid fears aren’t so different from our ancestors’.

Media, Managerialists and the Worsening Cultural Wars

Thomas Frank is one of the few high-profile journalists to write sympathetically about Donald Trump and his supporters. The native Kansan understands the concerns of Middle America and has taken on the smug, condescending coastal elites. Matt Taibbi, writing in Substack, reviews Frank’s new book, The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism.

The Covid Hyperbole Syndrome

Covid-19 was initially thought to be extremely virulent and many governments worldwide locked-down their countries. But more complete data suggest the contagion isn’t nearly as lethal as originally predicted. Lionel Shriver, writing in The Spectator U.K., argues the coronavirus has been grossly oversold by a witches’ brew of bad science, a hyperbolic media and cowed politicians.

Europe Starts to Fight Back

Beijing’s malign actions concerning the coronavirus, Hong Kong, and human-rights abuses against Uighurs (among others) have triggered a backlash in Europe. Writing in National Review, Jimmy Quinn urges European nations to engage in “democratic security” by mobilizing democratic practices to oppose the Chinese Communist Party’s destructiveness.

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