Tag Archives: Marxism

North Korea and Literature

North Korea is in part fascinating because it is mysterious. Cut off from viewing eyes not by geographical remoteness but by political design, the state and the lives within it seem strange and bizarre to observers. The mystery of the hermit state is part of its myth, which is cultivated by North Korea’s leadership, as well as a by-product of its peculiar circumstances. Outsiders can enter only irregularly. Western journalists cannot report on North Korea as they might any other country. Outside analysts can only guess at the bare facts of its economy, its politics and its culture. Continue reading

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Philistinism Redux

Review – The New Philistines: How Identity Politics Disfigure the Arts by Sohrab Ahmari

Identity politics, that very modern ideological constellation, with its fixation on race, class and gender, has migrated from academia into the arts. Queer theory, feminist readings, post-colonial studies – all these have carved out significant positions at the heart of the art world. Many artists and ‘creatives’ aspire to these doctrines; they increasingly govern the propagation of culture as well as new criticism of canonical art. Such things matter more than could be expected. Continue reading

Oliver Cromwell: The Holy Warrior

Review – God’s Englishman: Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution by Christopher Hill

Few figures in the canon of English history can claim to be as controversial as Oliver Cromwell. Reviled in Ireland, revered by many, and skilfully avoided by politicians and public figures eager to avoid the controversy inevitably associated with his invocation, Cromwell’s life has been chronicled, interpreted and pored over for more than 300 years. For many, especially children, Cromwell is known as a figure of history, but often only as a caricature. His supposed Puritanism, his part in the execution (by decapitation) of King Charles I, his warts – all of these represent and to some extent define Cromwell in the public eye. He will, however, stand the test of time; too much is deeply associated with his most remarkable life for him to sink into obscurity. But the misunderstandings surrounding Cromwell’s life and legacy remain great. A young Winston Churchill, whose earliest memories were of Ireland – his family moved there after Lord Randolph, Winston’s father, got a job as secretary to his own father, the Duke of Marlborough, who was appointed Lord Lieutenant – wrote of one such story in his memoir, My Early Life. Continue reading