- “Experimenting with Social Norms” in small-scale societies Pseudoerasmus
- Reading Karl Marx in Beijing Fabio Lanza, Jacobin
- Which works better: democracy or dictatorship? Branko Milanovic, globalinequality
- Grappling with the meaning of martyrdom Scott Beauchamp, Law & Liberty
- Trump’s wall and the legal perils of “emergency powers” Ilya Somin, Volokh Conspiracy
- Can Trump spin a wall from nothing? Michael Kruse, Politico
- In defence of conservative Marxism Chris Dillow, Stumbling & Mumbling
- We must stand strong against the men who would be kings Charles Cooke, National Review
- Islam, blasphemy, and the East-West divide Mustafa Akyol, Liberty Forum
- Religious freedom and the modern state Koyama & Johnson, Cato Unbound
- Did Kongolese Catholicism lead to slave revolutions? Mohammed Elnaiem, JSTOR Daily
- Ottoman autocracy, Turkish liberty Barry Stocker, NOL
The most interesting reflection on V.S. Naipaul, the Nobel Prize winner who died earlier this week, comes from Slate, a low-brow leftist publication that I sometimes peruse for book reviews. Naipaul, a Trinidadian, became loathed on the left for daring to say “what the whites want to say but dare not.”
The fact that Slate‘s author tries his hardest to piss on Naipaul’s grave is not what’s interesting about the piece, though. What’s interesting is what Naipaul’s wife, a Pakistani national and former journalist, has to say about Pakistan:
[…] she smiled and asked if I knew what Pakistan needed. I informed her that I did not. “A dictator,” she replied. At this her husband laughed.
“I think they have tried that,” I said, doing my best to stay stoic.
“No, no, a very brutal dictator,” she answered. I told her they had tried that, too. “No, no,” she answered again. Only when a real dictator came in and killed the religious people in the country, and enough of them that the streets would “run with blood,” could Pakistan be reborn. It was as if she was parodying a gross caricature of Naipaul’s worst views—and also misunderstanding his pessimism about the ability of colonial societies to reinvent themselves, even through violence—but he smiled with delight as she spoke.
“That’s so American of you,” she then blurted out, before I had said anything. My face, while she had been talking, must have taken on a look of shock or disgust. “You tell a nice young American boy like yourself that a country needs a brutal dictator and they get a moralistic or concerned look on their face, as if every country is ready for a democracy. They aren’t.”
Damn. This testy exchange highlights well what the developing world is facing, intellectually. Religious conservatives heavily populate developing countries. Liberals, on the left and on the right, in developing countries are miniscule in number, and most of them prefer, or were forced, to live in exile. Liberty is their highest priority, but the highest priority of Western elites, whose support developing world liberals’ desperately need, is democracy, which empowers a populace that cares not for freedom.
So what you get in the developing world is two kinds of autocracies: geopolitically important autocracies (like Pakistan), and geopolitically unimportant autocracies (think of sub-Saharan Africa).
That Naipaul and his wife had the balls to say this, for years, is a testament to the magnificence of human freedom; that Leftists have loathed Naipaul for years because he had pointed this out is a bitter reminder of why I left the Left in the first place.
- Trump’s ‘Great Chemistry’ With Murderous Strongmen Conor Friedersdorf, the Atlantic
- A Little-Noticed Legal Ruling That Is Bad News for Trump Damon Root, Volokh Conspiracy
- Will the Pause in South Asian Conflicts Last? Arif Rafiq, the National Interest
- The changing shape of Britain’s mosques Burhan Wazir, New Statesman
- A Common Free Speech Misunderstanding Ken White, Popehat
- Giovanni Gentile’s philosophy is to this day highly original Flaminia Incecchi, JHIBlog
- Why dictators exploit ancient ruins Paul Cooper, BBC
- The French Revolution’s impact on diplomacy Blake Smith, the Wire
“the term ‘hippie trail’ began to circulate in the late 1960s: it referred principally to the long route from London (or sometimes Amsterdam) to Katmandu.” | The Protestant Reformation and freedom of conscience