Lazy rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living

Virtue as resilience


I like Reign. I like how the show is early-modern Gossip Girl, flagrantly unconcerned with history except as a stage for teen jealousies and romances. I like how everyone wears pretty dresses. And I especially like the Very Serious face that Adelaide Kane, as Mary Queen of Scots, pulls whenever she has to make a Morally Difficult Decision. There’s an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where Faith, the evil vampire slayer, swaps bodies with Buffy, and Faith (in Buffy’s body) practices her impression of Buffy by looking sternly into a mirror and saying, “You can’t do that, it’s wrong.” I think of this exaggerated performance of tough virtue every time I watch Reign. Read more↴

Steal something for baby Jesus


There's something horribly trivializing about the phrase "baby Jesus." I rather like Taylor Swift’s version of “Last Christmas,” though the rest of her Christmas album is less good, particularly “Christmas Must Be Something More,” which is very Christian in a way I find kind of unappealing. This isn’t just because of my general bias in favor of a secular Christmas; there’s something unpalatable about Swift’s attempt to advance a Christian theme in a modern idiom that lacks any kind of theological weight, and so is forced to rely on mere earnestness. This is actually an instance of a more general problem I have with Christianity, which is, as historically fascinating as I find it to be, on some level, I just don’t believe in it. I don’t mean that I don’t accept the religious tenets of Christianity (although I don’t); rather, I doubt Christianity’s empirical existence: I find it much easier to imagine that all those people who today say they are Christians are just somehow confused, than to imagine that they really believe what they say they do.

Of course, this limitation of my imagination has little bearing on the actual state of the world, but I was reminded of my emphasis on the historicity of Christianity by a post condemning Reverend Tim Jones’s recent sermon justifying shoplifting in cases of extreme necessity (via). Read more↴

Now this is a story all about how my ideology got flip turned upside down…

…and I’d like to take a minute just sit right there I’ll tell you how I came to advocate a liquidationist position in the Communist Party of Great Britain.

Harry Pollitt, looking suspiciously like Mikhail Gorbachev After I’d stopped laughing at Rowenna Davis’s description of Martin Jacques as a “credible leftist advocate,” I realized the story of the erstwhile Marxism Today section of the CPGB is not really very funny.  When Tony Blair and people decided that an electable social democratic party would have to make some rapprochement with neoliberalism, they, eventually, ended up in government. Martin Jacques made the same ideological move, and ended up writing newspaper columns tailing whatever New Labour had just done. So little reward for such ideological upheaval.

The other interesting thing in that article is the way it depends on constructing two fantasy figures of “the left.” Read more↴