janan.ganesh@ft.com on the ‘Threat of Direct Democracy’. American Writer comments

Mr. Ganesh again proves that he is talented at producing the political and moralizing feuilleton. A journalistic staple of a European journalism of the 19th and early 20th Centuries, though not focused on the larger questions he touches upon.


Except that Mr. Ganesh tries to connect the disparate manifestations of discontent that mirrors his self-serving cynicism: direct democracy being his idée fixe, that gets lost in his profusion of civic actors and the forces of  his ‘history made to measure.’

The norm we have grown up with, of the greater share of the population being free to choose its rulers, has been around for the historical equivalent of the time it takes to cough.

Now the Greeks and the Romans were selective in their practice of democracy, while it lasted, but Mr. Ganesh elides this from his precis, these were manifestations of democracy, no matter its imperfections. They are and were are precursors.

Demonstrative of Mr. Ganesh’s self-serving trivialization of the present Age of Fracture:

When we try — and many far-from-hysterical commentators have been moved to since the rise of Donald Trump as US president, the moderate conservative David Frum among them — the dread is always an authoritarian dictatorship.

David Frum is not a ‘moderate conservative’, but a Neo-Conservative, a political nihilist, whose fretting about Trump is rooted in his yearning, or better yet a political romantic, whose ‘nostalgia’ is for an actual Philosopher King of  Platonic origin, celebrated by Leo Strauss

Skipping back, we confront a finding  of the Pew Survey that causes :

The trouble is that 43 per cent approved of a system in which “experts, not elected officials, make decisions”  …

One of the most honored of American political thinkers, and newspaper writers, Walter Lippmann was the foremost advocate for the rule of technocrats, as a necessary check  against too much democracy. Recall the role of Cass Sunstein in the Obama administration, as full time propagandist?

Then there is this bit of dubious advice from Mr. Ganesh:

It is there in the dystopic commentary and the fretful re-reading of Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America (a novel whose greatness, like that of 1984, lies in everything but its predictive power).

Having read Mr. Roth’s ‘Plot’ I can say that it is awash in the usual Roth sexual obsessions of voyeurism, masturbation, and his perpetual obsession about his Jewishness, as not just an accident of birth, but as some kind of moral calling. Now he does construct a very likable hero for his book, himself, and he is the only consolation of this literary exercise. So winning a character, that he is reminiscent of Scout in Harper Lee‘s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ in capturing the affection of the reader.  But Roth’s obsessive narcissism is the central conceit of  ‘Plot’ with an  ‘American Fascism’ , and its fictional leader Charles Lindbergh: featuring  re-education camps in the American Midwest for Jewish children, is the most dismal exercise of American Jewish paranoia, given free reign,  that I have ever encountered. In sum, ‘Plot‘ is about Roth’s usual obsessions, with the rise of American Fascism and its leader Charles Lindbergh, as mere back drop. Roth’s advisor for this novel was Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. , the quintessential American political and moral conformist, with a narcissism equal to Mr. Roth’s.

But let me end my comment by quoting this bit of Mr. Ganesh’s comic fatuousness:

What Karl Marx said of capitalism’s inherent instabilities is truer of democracy.

American Writer







About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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