The neo-cons’ love affair with Winston Churchill is pretty disgusting, but The New Criterion has just taken it to new lows in their January 2011 number, with The Anglosphere & the future of liberty, a symposium of five essays with an introduction by editor Roger Kimball.
According to Kimball and the five essayists, the city of London invented the following things: civilization, fair government, law, individualilty, and freedom, and Winston Churchill, with the help of the British Empire, made sure these things took root and spread to as many people as possible.
Think I’m kidding?
Think The New Criterion is kidding?
No, and no.
Pretty creepy, huh?
This is bound to happen with a publication that considers all “modernism” absolutely good and all “post-modernism” absolutely evil.
Modernism, for The New Criterion—named after T.S. Eliot’s Criterion—is sufficiently plain to support their prudish conservative views, sufficiently urbane to support their intellectuality, and sufficiently linked to T.S. Eliot to support their anglophilia.
Post-modernism for The New Criterion, however, marks the Fall: out-of-control sexuality replaces regal order. Loud, mad Viv is released from captivity to harrass quietly dignified Tom. For The New Criterion, the 60s, and its cult of victimhood, drowns Emersonian self-reliance.
Keith Windshuttle begins his essay:
In Winston Churchill’s famous 1943 speech at Harvard University on the common ties of the English-speaking peoples, he defined the bond in terms of three main things: law, language, and literature.
There is no mention, finally, anywhere in this symposium of five essays, of what this “literature” consists. You’d think the Anglospherists would want to give us some idea, but no.
The New Criterion prides itself in placing art above mere “politics,” and they are always quick to point out when overt political messages (usually the ubiquitous leftist ones) spoil pure art. (This is why The New Criterion adores modernist abstract painting—no annoying political messages!) But here, in defining the Anglosphere, aesthetics is not defined, but government is, and that government values the individual over the state; in other words, the conservative canard of ‘small government’ is the mantra, which is no surprise, coming from the conservative New Criterion.
According to The New Criterion, the political is not supposed to interfere with art, unless that art is political. Then it can. So runs the logic of the neo-cons: Offensive art may be removed from museums, but not in the name of politics, only in the name of art. That makes sense, right?
Winston Churchill giving a “famous speech” on the “common-ties of the English-speaking people” at “Harvard University:” It doesn’t get any better for The New Criterion!
Here’s Roger Kimball in his introduction:
“English, Bishop Sprat thought, is conspicuously the friend of empirical truth. It is also conspicuously the friend of liberty.”
This is the way all the essays read. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.
Madhav Das Nalapat, writing one of the five essays for “The Anglosphere & the future of liberty” symposium, reminds us that Winston Churchill was not exactly pro-India (Nalapat leaves out Churchill’s overt racism and Stalin-like starvation policy towards his Indian nation, however) but he makes up for this lapse in Churchill-worship by roundly abusing those evil, non-English speaking, French and Germans. Way to go, Nalapat!
Even if one were to agree with The New Criterion’s politics and cultural conservativism, one ought to be horrified by this bumbling, ahistorical, symposium.
Everyone ought to be ashamed of this simplistic boot-licking.