The march of the Maoists, the roots of meritocracy, and the danger of "Diversity."
Recent links of note:
“The Maoist Malady Lingers On”
Tony Thomas, Quadrant
The greatest villains in history, even once dead and discredited, have often retained the adoration of spunky devotees committed to keeping the faith alive. Writing in Quadrant, the Aussie author Tony Thomas investigates one such group: the thousands of expatriate Chinese in Sydney and Melbourne who recently lobbied their city governments to allow public jubilees to honor the legacy of their eternal “Helmsman,” Mao Zedong. To better acquaint himself with the roots of their mania, Thomas dug up a copy of China Reconstructs, a collection of propagandistic memoirs from the height of Maoist fervor in 1968. One story in particular captured his attention—that of a poor young deaf-mute, unable to join the masses in their hymns of praise to the Leader until one Good Samaritan intervenes by jabbing his ears just so, curing the boy of his malady forever after. With miracles like that to look back upon, it’s no wonder that life in Australia has been far from enough to halt Mao’s few but scrappy faithful in their ongoing march.
“The New Ruling Class”
Helen Andrews, The Hedgehog Review
A seemingly endless stream of authors has critiqued America’s “meritocracy” in the past five years, from pedigreed sociologists to a greener crop of pundits and academics. Considering the varied politics of these authors—from the libertarianism of Charles Murray to the wonkish progressivism of The Nation’s Christopher Hayes—they mount a remarkably consistent charge against today’s upper class: that elitism, hypocrisy, and amorality have led to social stratification and decades of subpar governance. And yet, as Helen Andrews makes clear in a lengthy essay in The Hedgehog Review, all of these stern condemnations don’t add up to any meaningful revision of what our “ruling class” should look like. Andrews traces the history of Western meritocracy to its apparent beginning, when the British enacted exams for civil service in 1870, in order to recall the incisive arguments that were made against merit-based rule by people who didn’t already take it for granted.
“Diversity: History’s Pathway to Chaos”
Victor Davis Hanson, National Review
As an esteemed historian of Classical civilizations, Victor Davis Hanson has a strong sense of what it takes to lead a nation down the road to decline. In his latest piece for National Review, he notes the similarity between the polyglot make-up of the Roman Empire in its dying days and the ethnic tribalism he sees emerging in the United States today. Hanson imagines a near future in which whites, having been made a minority by immigration, adopt the same preoccupation with their distinctness that one finds in today’s unassimilated ethnic groups—an ethic that would be incompatible with the e pluribus unum culture that has held the country together despite our constant ethnic tensions. By Hanson’s telling, this cultural quagmire is largely self-inflicted, driven in part by unrestricted immigration, but more so by the odd celebration of “Diversity,” where unity once sufficed.
From our pages:
“Walker Evans at the High Museum”
Leann Davis Alspaugh
On the retrospective of the photographer at the High Museum in Atlanta.
New to The New Criterion?
Subscribe for one year to receive ten print issues, and gain immediate access to our online archive spanning more than four decades of art and cultural criticism.Subscribe