Early last month:
Some other recent videos:
1 hour ago
And then he turned his mind to the War. I suspect that Graves was genuinely physically brave, though not very conscious of it, in a way that many more people used to be. His description of his own very severe wound is either conscious and deliberate understatement or an example of the old-fashioned Protestant stoicism which we were all once taught to observe, but which has largely disappeared in the modern world. I suspect it is the latter. He seems genuinely not to have minded going out on near-suicidal missions between the front lines, and, while he muses on the chances of him being reduced by the grind and fear of war to a shaking wreck with soiled trousers, it didn’t happen to him( as it did to many strong and upright men). Though if he had not been so badly wounded, who knows? So-called shell shock was a great destroyer of minds, and there were, in my childhood, many mental hospitals where its worst victims were still said to lie, trembling and staring, never to recover from the horror of the trenches.
Graves, brought up in the Edwardian English upper middle classes, just seems to have assumed that this is what he was supposed to be. The description he gives of warfare is all the better for being so detached. It is plain from what he says that the generals were largely clueless, the quality of troops very variable, the Germans in general very effective fighters, the waste of life appalling, the conditions verging on the unspeakable. It is also plain that his eventual weariness with the war (like Siegfried Sassoon’s) was not in any way motivated by pacifism or any other sot of left-wing dogma. There’s a wonderful account of a conversation with Bertrand Russell at Garsington, in which he shocks Russell quite badly by explaining the true attitudes of the men serving under him.
Kopits: Well, if you look at their capex plans then you see that Shell, BP, Total, Exxon and Hess are all cutting their upstream spend in their 2013-2017 plans going forward. Only Chevron is raising theirs, and only modestly. So in a world where we are struggling to increase global oil supply and the price itself remains high, the major oil companies are in fact beginning to carve back on their exploration and production investments. It’s capex compression.
So, in a few short months I had learned a new language, been knowingly suborned by a spy, experienced the underside of one of the world’s greatest cities, until recently largely closed to foreigners, learned how to bribe officials, uprooted myself from the land of my upbringing and education (though not, oddly enough, of my birth) and discovered the absolute falsehood of the USSR’s claims to be an equal society, by being lapped in greater and more exclusive privilege than I have ever known, before or since.
This sort of thing has many effects (there’s much more I could tell, but no time to tell it) but one of the main ones is that it sets your mind free to think for itself in a way that 50 years of living in the same place will not usually do.
But how do I communicate this intensified and enhanced understanding to others, who have not been so blessed? Last night I was in York , haranguing a mainly student audience on the need to destroy the Conservative Party (the York student Tories, to their credit, kindly organised this event, and were extremely hospitable to me).
One of the things I need to explain is that socialists and communists have not stopped thinking. They have not ignored the failures of the 1917 revolution, nor the dead end of Attlee’s nationalisation programme. They have regrouped, re-examined the battlefield, turned to other things. The fact that your opponent is no longer trying to nationalise industry, and the fact that the old Bolshevik-influenced Communist Parties are one with Nineveh and Tyre, does not mean that the revolutionaries have gone away.
It just means that, following Antonio Gramsci or Herbert Marcuse ( or Roy Jenkins and Anthony Crosland) they have learned new ways to the old goal of the utopian society. The union barons are a spent force, a stage army of more use to Tory propagandists than to their own side. The battle has shifted into sex, marriage, morality, comedy, drugs, rock and roll, the abolition of personal responsibility, the spread of egalitarian and diversity dogma in schools, the civil service, the law, universities, publishing, broadcasting and the NHS, the anti-Christian frenzy, and the attack on national sovereignty.
The ‘Internationale’, old anthem of Communism, is now just a sentimental recognition of a revolutionary youth. The real anthem of the new revolution is John Lennon’s ghastly ‘Imagine’ , a version of which I heard this morning leaking out of the loudspeakers in my York hotel, part of the background noise of our age, sneaking into our minds as an ear-worm.
Yet it sounds to me like a lot of wishful thinking on the part of some pro-immigration advocates to dismiss the concerns raised by critics about the difficulties in integrating Mexican and other Hispanic illegal and legal immigrants into the national-cultural fabric of American life. You have to be deaf (“For English press 1″) or a bit deluded to dismiss the growing signs of an evolving bilingual America—represented by a split between “Anglos” and “Latinos”—by arguing that, well, it wasn’t so different with the early waves of Italian immigrants.
But there were not millions of Italians living across our border, and the immigrants from Italy were not exposed to 24/7 Italian-language cable television channels and other means of communication that would have helped create or strengthen a sense of cultural separatism. And unlike in the multicultural America of the early 21st century, America during the early 20th century still maintained a strong sense of a national identity that helped assimilate foreign immigrants into the American cultural milieu to which they ended up making their own contributions.
It’s therefore too bad that much of the criticism of immigration on the political right has been dominated by the never-ending preoccupation with building a fence, as well as derogatory remarks about immigrants and foreigners. The discourse has taken a somewhat xenophobic flavor that has antagonized even members of the Asian-American community who, as I argued in another post, are natural political allies of the Republican Party. It has helped create the impression that conservatives are racists and Republicans are nativists who don’t like immigrants who don’t look like them.