Chronicles, April 2008

One of the preoccupations of this ultra-ultra-right wing publication is the value of distinctions among people- class distinctions, ethnic distinctions, gender distinctions, etc.  Most of its contributors are firmly convinced that the great trouble with the current age is that such distinctions are being elided.  They say that what they dread is not equality- that what will come when all the old distinctions are destroyed or concealed is not an egalitarian society, but its opposite.  The new elite will rule brutally, while the ruled will be atomized, unable to form bonds of solidarity among themselves. 

Several pieces in the current issue explore this worry.  Editor Thomas Fleming writes the obituary of the bourgeoisie: “The old bourgeoisie is as dead as the old aristocracy.  The two classes, at least in America, have merged into a single type.”  With them has perished the citizen who feels himself to have a stake of ownership in the state, and so too have perished the republican virtues that made free government possible.  Historian John Lukacs laments “The End of the American Middle Class,” finding that only a tiny number of Americans truly own any property.  Most of those who claim to be owners really hold only an abstraction, and that on the sufferance of the bank.  As a result, “We now live in a largely classless society.  Not unforeseeable is the emergence of a new kind of ruling class- but who, and how, and when, no one can tell.”  James O. Tate’s “Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used to Be: Arriving at Indistinction” traces the idea that “the flattening out of all distinctions would put an end to war” through various twentieth century American novelists.  Scott Richert analyzes the consequences of current trade policy on our future class structure, concluding that “we can see the ranks of the underclass swelling, while the new-new rich drive the transformation.”    

Some of the magazine’s other preoccupations crop up, too.  Its “neoconfederate” streak shows up in an extremely hostile item about Abraham Lincoln’s refusal to negotiate with secessionists in the period from November 1860- April 1861.  Christie Davies writes about the horrors that her native Britain is supposedly suffering as the result of allowing large-scale immigration from Muslim countries.  Lefalcon’s idol Srdja Trifkovic documents both the uses to which secessionist movements around the world have put the USA’s recognition of Kosovo’s declaration of “independence” and the distrust that recognition has inspired in American allies who face secessionist movements of their own.  In particular he calls attention to intense unease in India, where public opinion fears that the USA will try to win favor with Pakistan by recognizing a similar declaration in Kashmir.  A review of three movies dealing with abortion (including the Romanian film 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, reviewed favorably in the Nation a few weeks back) is dominated by horror and indignation at the procedure.  The critic praises 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, because the filmmaker’s prochoice views are overpowered by graphic scenes near the end.

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