I can’t read without having the itch to write, but then who has the time to gather one’s notes to write a “full-on” book review? Life necessarily being a series of compromises, I’ve decided to write some mini-reviews of some recent books I’ve read based on what in them still sticks in my mind rather than comprehensiveness.
Today we have: Julian Assange’s Cypherpunks, a biography of Charles Maurras, conservative Éric Zemmour’s history of France, Alain Soral’s “sociology of game,” a Statist history of the U.S. economy, and a biography of Jean-Marie Le Pen.
An Establishment view: Le Monde cartoonist Plantu’s take on nationalist leader Marine Le Pen and leftist leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage has rejected an appeal by Dutch nationalist leader Geert Wilders to form a vast anti-EU coalition by joining the “European Alliance for Freedom”. Euroskeptics will then continue to be divided into several political groups in the European Parliament. Continue reading →
While on a recent trip to Paris I was able to meet with none other than Emmanuel Todd, who was kind enough to speak with me over a long lunch. Of course you see more detail in the flesh – a sixty year old, proud of his still-full head of hair – but he was in person the exact same as he is in his numerous online videos and media appearances. One difference: he was unshaven, which had prompted the warning “I’m disgusting” with his trademark self-deprecation.
Earlier this year, French billionaire François-Henri Pinault agreed to return two bronze animal heads to China. The bronze statues had been stolen over a century-and-a-half ago, in 1860 during the Second Opium War, in which Anglo-French forces invaded the country and torched the imperial Summer Palace, in part to force the country to open up to international free trade. In an ironic historical twist, the statues’ return also involves trade: the offer was made as part of an official French presidential visit to Beijing to improve diplomatic and, especially, economic ties. Continue reading →
I don’t list these bits of news to praise or condemn them, but to note that they are remarkable: This is the sort of stuff that countries normally vote on, concrete things which, in the cases of cigarettes and female board members, have a direct and very visible impact on people’s day-to-day lives.
Gaulish leader Vercingetorix surrenders his arms to Caesar after defeat at Alesia.
There is a banality to everyday existence. Days pass, the cycle of work-eat-play-sleep activities blur into each, most experiences forgotten and the rest selectively remembered, with the nagging fear that we might just be “shambling meat.” Science has contributed to this in disenchanting the world, explaining most of everything by strikingly arbitrary natural laws, leaving precious little room for the unknown, the divine, miracles. The Internet has accentuated this: it lets you see everything now, from a twenty-year-old newspaper article to a Los Angeles street, including on occasion what the most secretive government organizations and world leaders are doing, there is ever-less mystery. Ten years ago I might find engrossing a film showing some adventure involving an Amazonian jungle mystery or elite officers at Interpol. Today I am unfazed: If such cool stuff could happen, I would have heard about it already.
There is however one major exception: the eternal mystery of death. Death is the ultimate mystical event, a gateway to another form of (non-)experience of which we can know nothing. Perhaps, on the other side, it will be the oblivion of a dreamless sleep. Perhaps it will be a void not unlike that which preceded an individual’s conscious existence. Quite likely it is beyond our comprehension. This is how we know we are not, simply, shambling meat, because a plant or a computer cannot (yet?) fathom such a mystery, which is the flip side of the mystery of being.
I used to not believe in European, or for that matter Western, decadence.
Concerning the West, like Raymond Aron, I would have said that, notwithstanding its debauchery, Western liberalism is superior to other forms of government: more humane, more creative, more scientifically advanced and more economically powerful than the major alternatives (communism, fascism). I would add like Machiavelli that the politics of Republics, while messy, is the greatest source of liberty. Individualism might seem narcissistic and selfish but, concretely, jeans and rock & roll would always conquer hearts and minds better than the austere charms of Socialist realism and Sharia law.
I recently launched the French-language blog/news site Europrotection. I came to the conclusion that it only made sense to split my English- and French-language audiences. This nationless “European public sphere” stuff is quaint, but it doesn’t really work.* In addition to my professional work for dpa and others, I then have this mostly-English personal blog and I have a more focused French blog whose explicit objective is to help French policymakers and French political activists (particularly sovereignists and protectionists) understand EU politics and fight for French interests.**
The site is about the EU, globalization and protectionism. Of course, even the name caused some raised eyebrows among some of my liberal friends. To well-thinking liberals – and here I mean mainstreamers across political parties in both the EU and the U.S. – the very mention of “protectionism” sounds something like “Hail Satan!”
This post looks at an interesting phenomenon: the increase in the number of young adults (18-34) living with their parents. The trend is near-universal across developed countries, but particularly affects those suffering from economic crises (United States, Western Europe). Below are numerous graphs showing the variation of the trend across different countries and the maintenance of national socio-cultural diversity.
The increase is overwhelmingly driven by economics. As young people people fail to find well-paying (or any) jobs, they also fail to achieve economic independence and full adulthood in the face of Western gerontocracy. This emasculation is particularly humiliating for men, who are disproportionately affected. Increasingly, young “adults” in the West are becoming inactive, single and economically dependent “big babies” forever living with their parents.
I am more than a little happy to announce that, in a few days, I will be starting work with the German press agency DPA (Deutsche Presse-Agentur) as a journalist. I’ll be covering EU trade policy and the eurozone.
As this is the summer break, and as I’ve come back from a great weeklong trip along the Chemin de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle between the Auvergne and Toulouse, I’ve been able to do some thinking, and I figure it’s a good time to take stock. I will broach two questions regarding “the ethical journalist” in the age of the internet: This post dealing with the journalist’s “opinions,” the next post on the journalist’s conflicts of interest.