Author: Maitra (Page 1 of 16)

Review: The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America

 

The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America –  Timothy Snyder.

Tim Duggan Books, 2018.

Hardcover, 368 pages, $27.

 

In sum, Snyder’s central thesis is that Russia is a nationalist, hyper-masculine, reactionary great power that wants to return to an age of soft imperium and spread Christian social-conservative ideas across a postmodern, effete, liberal, and secular Europe. This is the cause of Brexit, of European disintegration, the war in Ukraine, the election of Trump, and the overall terrible misfortune of humanity.

This thesis is as simplistic as it sounds and is based purely on conventional wisdom and current liberal narrative. It also suffers from the notable disadvantages of being empirically inaccurate and wrong.

Read the full review HERE

Book Review: The Virtues of Nationalism

History’s revolt against the Liberal Empire

Review: “The Virtue of Nationalism” – Yoram Hazony, Basic Books. September 2018. 304 pages.

Epochal events in history, of course, never stops, and predicting or explaining such events is fraught with dangers, something Francis Fukuyama found out to his credit. 2016 was one such year, where British exit from the European Union and the election of Donald Trump marked the end of the Post-Cold war unipolarity and globalization. At least those are the two events we paid the most attention too. But other than Trump and Brexit, Nationalism in differing forms returned in Hungary, Austria, Italy, Poland, while India, Russia, and China continued on their respective nationalist revival. Yoram Hazony’s new book “The virtues of Nationalism” adds to the already growing literature and seeks to explain the phenomena. Hazony, the President of Israel’s Herzl Institute and director of the John Templeton Foundations’s Project in Jewish Philosophical Theology, lays the blame on the liberal empire and the “globalists” for their imperial overstretch, and often contradictory and incoherent ideas about what constitutes good and bad nationalism.

READ the full review HERE.

At a secret conference in Oxford

I recently attended a colloquium at Christ Church, Oxford, which was organised in utter secrecy, without any social media promotion.  It was a fairly normal conference, without any protest, perhaps due to the secrecy beforehand.

I wrote about it, in The Federalist.

Nevertheless, the secrecy is what was the key takeaway from the colloquium, and perhaps a sign of things to come in Western academy. The Brits lack the enforceable legal right to free speech Americans enjoy. But as Joy Pullmann pointed out, this decolonize madness has now spread to Yale and Stanford, after Cambridge. Statues will be toppled and disciplines ruined, because of historical revisionism, and the whims of a certain section of scholars and academics who choose to act like Soviet commissars.

Oxford especially is under constant assault, as it remains the bastion of free speech, meritocracy and open research and has so far refused to cave in to egalitarian demands of affirmative action and censorship. But as revolutionary and activist tactics spread, secrecy seems to be the only option to continue research without the worry of mob violence.

 

Read it here, in full.

 

 

I also had an opportunity to take an interview of Dr Nigel Biggar, when I was there, for Quillette Magazine.

 

 

 

 

It is now highly unlikely that I will choose to involve any of the signatories in the project, since I have no confidence in their readiness to engage in the reciprocal and forbearing exchange of reasons.

What is more, if I want to hold lectures or seminars on the topic of empire, I will do so privately, since I cannot be sure that my critics will behave civilly. On one occasion recently, I held a day-conference to discuss Bruce Gilley’s controversial article, “The Case for Colonialism,” and found myself having to use pseudonyms to hide the identities of some participants. One young scholar only attended on condition that his name nowhere appear on print, nor his face on any photograph, lest his senior colleagues find out and kill his career.  

Read it here, in full.

 

 

Long essay on the British housing crisis


 

Not my usual style, but I had the fantastic opportunity to write a feature after a long time, thanks to Lapsus Lima magazine, a beautifully designed magazine from Peru.

Here’s the whole piece.

 

 

A Conservative reading of Pinker’s new book

Review: ‘Enlightenment Now,’ by Steven Pinker

I was made to read Steve Pinker’s new tome, by someone very close to me.

To start with, I don’t disagree with his data, or his stance against Post-modernism, for example. But, here’s my review of his attempted, ahistoric Nate Silver-isation of Renaissance.

It’s a good book, even though I disagree with it, gigantic dataset compilation that will provide joy to optimists. True Conservatives, such as yours truly, are however, rarely optimistic. Simply because we don’t believe history is inexorably progressive or teleological.

Excerpt: 

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Before anyone sells you a “short war” with North Korea…

On November 28th, amidst a relative calm, North Korea tested its intercontinental ballistic missile. It was a matter of time, before North Korea managed to develop a system which is capable to reach mainland US. Regardless of whatever Washington might say, North Korea did what it intended to do. They have now successfully demonstrated that their weapons system is capable, and has achieved what we call the minimum credible deterrence, vis a vis an adversary.

There has been a misconception about what North Korea wanted to do. What, for all practical purposes, is the aim of North Korea. The reality has always been, that North Korea wants to survive. The Westphalian state system which ran from the 19th century to 1991, was upended with unipolarity. North Korea internalized the lessons of Saddam, Kosovo, and most importantly Gaddafi. The toppling of these regimes, and the resultant chaos, and the inability of these states to deter any foreign invasion, often at the cost of destruction and personal deaths of the leaders are a stark reminder that there’s no such thing as international order, but simply great power whims. And the recent experience of unipolarity was not uniform.

North Korea’s missile flew around 1000 KM, but went to an altitude of 4500 KM, and stayed up for over 50 mins. The missile trajectory, straight up to the sky instead of angled path shows that it is capable of withstanding enormous atmospheric pressure on reentry. In a normal ballistic missile trajectory, it would cover the continental United States.

The reality has not dawned in Washington, perhaps. Beijing and Moscow understand the fait accompli, but DC is still on with the basest of talking points. That North Korea will never be accepted as a nuclear power (it is), or the fact that North Korean nuclear weapons provide a ready deterrence (it does). The latest salvo comes from Nikki Haley in the United Nations. While she started with long-standing US position of no war with North Korea, she also mentioned that the “North Korean regime would be utterly destroyed” if there were a war between it and the US.

This is not going to happen.

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My Holiday reading list suggestions

I took the final revision class at the University, wished the students good luck, and came out thinking what a year it had been! My PhD is halfway through, all the theoretical chapters are done, and now I’m moving on to the empirical chapters. I almost got back to full-time column writing for so many different publications as well! Not quite my old journalism life, but close enough.

So what now? A month of peace, to say the least. No teaching, but focusing on research, writing, and some casual reading as well. Bliss.

I was talking to a friend of mine across the pond, and showed her my reading list suggestions for the holidays, and she was a tad surprised that there were no fiction in it. Had me questioning, do we need fiction anymore in life, after the last couple of years or is life already strange enough?

I’m a prosaic man almost reaching my mid-thirties, stiff upper lip and all that, but in light of the trend lines in our planet, here’s my Holiday reading list suggestions for the readers. You lot be the judge!

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Dual toxicity of intersectionality and Islamism

Apologies for I have been busy, with some big publications which are out.

The first one, is a result of a thorough case study, where I highlight how the institutions of media, academia and even armed forces are under the attack from the forces of intersectionality. The operational tactics are Infiltration, Subversion and Coercion.

Read it here. “Intersectionality and Popper’s Paradox“. In Quilette.

The second essay deals the flawed priorities of Western Conservatives, as they neglect the two most sacred duties of any conservative government, security of the realm and law and order in the streets.

Read it here. “Jihadist Insurgencies and Conservative Priorities“. In American Greatness.

The third essay is in the same publication, highlighting the changing character of EU and the imperial dilemma it faces.

Read, “Europe’s Imperial Dilemma“.

Finally, in my first essay for Claremont Review of Books, I talk about something which I have been writing about for a while, on how Islamism is now morphing to a simmering insurgency.

Read here. “The Character of Insurgency“. Claremont Institute, CRB.

That’s enough to keep you occupied for a while!

Until next time.

 

 

 

Three major lessons from recent referendums in Kurdistan and Catalonia

International Relations theorists don’t have the opportunity to conduct lab experiments like scientists. They have to rely on natural experiments, or in other words, deduce and infer from events that shape and transform in front of our eyes, happening in real time.

Recent events on the Catalan crisis and the Kurdistan referendum are important case studies for a few ideas that IR theorists have talked for, for a while.

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Let’s be prudent about Myanmar

I wrote a recent piece in The Federalist on the hysteric Western liberal media coverage of the Rohingya crisis is looking very similar to the ones during the early days of Libyan and Syrian civil wars. Naturally, the reaction to that, was…let’s say…quite extreme.

Anyway, here’s what we are seeing now. the same appeal to emotions, same arguments of ethnic cleansing, and genocide, without any understanding of the history and context of the crisis. It will soon lead to arguments of regime change, and sanctions, if UN peacekeepers. And it is specifically for that reason, every neighbouring country should be wary of the situation in Myanmar.

With more than 310,000 people having fled to Bangladesh in recent weeks, there are daily reports of violence in Myanmar border. The UNHRC, which bizarrely had Saudi Arabia as a chair, of all countries, noted that Myanmar is apparently having an ethnic cleansing. An official was quoted by Guardian, saying, “I call on the government to end its current cruel military operation, with accountability for all violations that have occurred, and to reverse the pattern of severe and widespread discrimination against the Rohingya population.”

The Rohingya issue is not new. It originates from the forced demographic change during the British times, when the northern Myanmar was socially engineered by the British colonial governance, to provide for cheap labour. It created centuries of sectarian tension and separatism, and worse, anti-Burmese violence in the 40s and 50s. Over 50000 Myanmar Buddhists were killed in the 1940s, a wound that still lives in Myanmar. Recently, since the 1980s, the Rohingya separatism, acquired an Islamist character. It is important to note that there’s a huge connection between Islamists in North India, and Xinjiang, and Rohingya and the Moro Liberation front. While most of these groups started with political or economic demands, over time, they have acquired a religious character which cannot be negotiated with.

It is in this time, the latest Rohingya crisis started.

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