Rancid Politics

Six years ago – which is a long time in internet-time – I wrote an review essay arguing that John Laughland was a swivel-eyed loon with rancid politics and a set of very bad arguments.

It’s good to read in today’s Guardian that the rest of the civilised world is beginning to catch up with this path-breaking verdict.

(I’m also pleased to note that that piece is no longer the site of the internet’s only use of the word “festermonger“, according to Google.)

Fear and Loathing Week

[see here] While the political party of which I am a member disgraces itself with its absurd new website, I’m reminded of this bit of Alasdair MacIntyre, as he attacks the so-called communitarians with whom he’s too often associated:

The modern nation-state, in whatever guise, is a dangerous and unmanageable institution, presenting itself on the one hand as a bureaucratic supplier of goods and services, which is always about to, but never actually does, give its clients value for money, and on the other as a repository of sacred values, which from time to time invites one to lay down one’s life on its behalf. As I have remarked elsewhere… it is like being asked to die for the telephone company.

Alasdair MacIntyre, “A Partial Reply to My Critics”, in Horton and Mendus, eds., After MacIntyre, p.303.


Mark Kaplan’s been having reveries about Oxford’s Jericho, the area of town I moved to about a month ago, in particular about Nellie’s delicatessen, which used to be there, but which isn’t any more.

And in one of those extraordinary coincidences, I first learned about the (non-)existence of this place earlier this week, when a colleague stopped to chat on the way into town, and when the subject of living in Jericho came up asked me whether a certain delicatessan was still around, and so on, and so forth.

Jericho’s an interesting part of town. I’ve linked before to this splendid site on Oxford suburbs, which has a wealth of information about the area; and I also spent half an hour or so last week browsing these pages, which are full of good things, including a splendid aerial photo section.

The first ever episode of Inspector Morse was filmed there, too, with a splendid performance from ex-Dr. Who Patrick Troughton playing the local resident weirdo.

Testing, testing

There are quite a few reasons as to why I haven’t been posting much over the last few weeks, but one of them has been the lack of internet access at home. That’s all changed this morning, now that I’ve managed to set up a brand new wireless AirPort Extreme Base Station thingummy, which seems to be working fine.

At least, if you can read this post, you’ll know that it’s working fine.

Dead Socialist Watch, #129

Victor Serge [also here], revolutionary socialist, born 30 December 1890 in Brussels, died 17 November 1947 in Mexico City.

And there’s lots of bloginterest in this particular Dead Socialist today, with tributes flowing in from Hak Mao, Will Rubbish and SIAW. I’ll just add a link to my friend Dave Renton’s essay on the man, later republished in his collection, Dissident Marxism.