Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Second time also as tragedy?

Historical memory is short: it was the horror of total war and the unimaginable crimes of crazed totalitarian or authoritarian ideologies that made the post-war West so selfsecure in its liberalism and social market economy. Reason and progress seemed very inviting after the feverish nightmare. But all nightmares are far gone now: the world has been made secure for the free movement of capital, for consumerism, for materialism. Liberalism is at most half-understood and thus half-heartedly defended by the technocratic elites adviced (or is it instructed) by the financial sector while increasingly large sections of population is left out, discarded.

But it wasn't capital and materialism that was to be secured after the Second World War, it was the people - naturally often helped by those things, as tools for safety and progress, securely harnessed to the welfare state. And liberalism itself. the hollow ideology: made for discussion, polyphony, tolerance and rational scepticism, made for no particular end - safe to protect the people from the fanatism and hatred of extreme ideologies that our human nature is so easily prone to.

And now we rehearse the 1930's again - Marie, Marie, hold on tight...

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Affair of the Diamond Necklace

The "great affair" - nothing great about it - surely brings out the sheer, incredible awfulness of the pre-revolutionary France. So much worse than the society that followed though I have never had much warmth towards the Revolution or Napoleon's regime. But those decadent painted dolls feasting while the society starves - those petty intrigues, small, ignorant personalities, nowhere near measuring up to their ludicriously august positions. Marie Antoinette surely among the least bad of them but still a living symbol of injustice and waste with no personal foresight or wisdom (until it was too late).

Saturday, November 19, 2016

We need Keynes and we need him now

The neo-liberal consensus has brought us to Brexit and Trump (cum the various Eastern European neo-fascisms). And it might even be too late now. But in any case we desperately need positive, activist, optimistic message from the liberal democratic main stream parties. If this madness will not stop, things will get even worse. And they are bloody bad already. When was the last time the West had such incompetent, stubborn and blind elites? The 1930's? The 1910's? This stupidity has to stop.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Politics of resentment and moral corruption

It was 2004 when I realized how rotten the once robust system had gotten: moral decadence in the money infested late empire politics. Facts did not matter, short sighted resentments and utterly ruthless propaganda mattered: the pendulum was stuck. The deep structures of historical and economic change brought forward globalization and ever increasing power of capital in relation to work - and the relatively liberalistic economic policies even by the moderate centre "left" did not give much to large sections of the middle and working classes who had to run harder to stand merely still. Then the corrupt media, cynical conservative elites, deranged billionaire donors combined with a history of nasty racialist sentiments and grievances co-operated and manipulated these temporary - one hopes - seizures of power.

There was no activist, self-confident, Keynesian compromize offered, only some half-hearted, much vilified attempts that did not form a coherent "new deal", even feebler in the dysfunctional and Brüningian EU than in the US. And now we have a charlatan, a xenophobe rabble rouser in the White House possibly leading an isolationist administration that might not support the post-war security arrangements, so painstakingly built by a more confident, more open republic. Who knows to what catastrophes this will lead, to what further collapses.

Friday, October 07, 2016

You have what they don't: this moment and the future

And so much better sounding in the original Finnish, so bravely, defiantly sung, decades ago, all one now. Contemplating today a human tragedy - but not only a tragedy - among a myriad such. I have feared that with increasing age there would be increasing resignation and (worst of all) cynicism. But not so yet: I still see the beauty and the horror of existence as freshly as ever. That surely is a genuine achievement - there is not only tragedy but triumph in all human life.

Monday, September 12, 2016

L'enfant sauvage

It would not do good to hear the squirrel's heart beat nor to have imagination as to what horrors and cruelties have already passed to no person's avail, in the hopeless dark or in the brightness of the day, endlessly, repeatedly - especially against the innocent and the pure at heart, even if not completely innocent or completely pure but just a very close enough approximation indeed. I suppose Eliot was thinking about something like this with his "human kind cannot bear very much reality". And what feeble, lazy, self-indulgent hands we raise against this eternity of crime, this never seizing sadism?

Monday, August 29, 2016

The white goddess of tragedy

Jonathan Bate's new biography of Ted Hughes is excellent: judicious, sympathetic with deep understanding of both poetry and human imperfection. After finishing I reflected about those passionate lifes and lines and first thought that so typical of artists, jumping into dangerous depths heedless of safety - but maybe all lifes are, ultimately, mad and heedless, even if only in the absence and fear of those things. Fundementally, I suspect, there are no dignified, measured ways to exist: passion, fear and love will through in one way or the other.

One curious thing is the, dare one say, "goddess mongering" - like with Yeats or Graves, his great heroes, the particular "objective correlate" (inversed in a very Eliotian way: rather should he have talked about subjective correlate) is so very ridiculous. Wasting his time writing silly things about the Goddess in Shakespeare (or something), just as Yeats with his bizarre astrological histories. And of course not wasting: finding his burningly serious subject matter through strange, outwardly barely coherent meanderings.

All the while living that life of betrayal, hurt and great love, living a tragedy, for himself and his loved ones. With no party being a stereotype, not helpless victim nor sadistic abuser, tracing, imitating the courses of stars, the swift lines between them.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Defending reason and decency

One longstanding theme of this blog has been the weakness of our liberal and western convictions and their increasing dependence on material wealth and consumerism. Our principles and institutions feel hollow - the anti-keynesian elite politics of globalization and liberalization almost in sole favour of capital and finance sector are on several levels undermining the Western society, atomizing it, making for ever increasing cynicism and scepticism.

Ground fertile for nasty sentiments, nasty regimes (one very close to my native Finland), for hatred and brutality whether (still) only in sentiment or even in deed. There seems to be next to no elite understanding that the enlightenment values do need vigorous and convinced defence - the society is in desperate need of liberal idealism and liberal defiance. Instead we have faceless technocrats catering for the finance industry.

Our enlightened values are truly deserving of militant, passionate backing: the values of liberty, of reason, of human value, compassion and sympathy are so vastly superior to this creeping nastiness and baseness and dishonesty, to Trump and Putin, to alt-right, to religious fundamentalism of all kinds.

Our liberal world view is under attack and on retreat. A fight has started and it needs to be joined.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Anglais mort a Florence - a citizen of two countries

Brahms was never my dark familiar, nor have I ever experienced a unity of to be and delight, only various glimpses of it, and, yes, them I do have: fleeting perceptions of moments of glory. But being a Protestant, at the very least, culturally, I would not expect to find even a temporary perfection on this fallen earth. Though still, notwithstanding, and equally protestantically I would say, I'm not only of this earth but also of another and better home: of beauty, of art, friendship, love, even in a very Finnish Pietist sense, religion (for who could tolerate the earth). And so, even if only ever partially, protected from the worst corruption of this human world, ever adhering to the long views.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Boom years

Continuing my tradition of highligthing obscure (but excellent) Finnish writers...

Alpo Ruuth is a master portraitist of the post-war communist Finnish urban proletariat: a community defiant, bitter, closely knit and wonderfully humane and warm. Now his best work appears rather folkloric - those people, that culture have been swept away by history, by relentless social change. Elegies of bygone times. But there are reasons for that collapse, that failure of faith: to borrow the terms of their creed, it all was based on "false consciousness" - if all those things in Nordic, deeply imperfect but improving Finland were wrong and unjust (and by and large they were), what then of the promised land, based on bloody terror and systematic suppression of all freedom and free debate? Such self-deception is bound fail; it was built on a lie.