Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ukraine Collapse

Continuing my unplanned trilogy of ethno-analytical blog entries, it occurs to me that I know several impressive Ukrainians or Central Europeans — such as the Sobars, Michael Malice (who you can see hosting trivia tonight with Polish-descended Jen Dziura), and Karol Sheinin (on whose blog I’m scheduled to have a guest entry sometime in the next several days, on how I went from tentatively supporting Giuliani to tentatively supporting Barr over the past several months). I think it was blogger Meredith Kapushion who said you can often spot her brainy fellow Central Europeans from the sheer size of the “Ukranium.” Serbs, however, are nine feet tall with long limbs for crushing you, evolved from millennia of brutal mountain combat. Of course, I may be oversimplifying the cultures just a bit.

I was hoping to go into around 600 words of greater detail about Ukraine in the form of a book review in New York Post about Red Prince, a book about the cross-dressing fascist sympathizer, Wilhelm von Habsburg, who helped create modern Ukraine in the early twentieth century. Regardless of whether you’re interested in Ukraine per se, though, the book’s a powerful reminder that the age of ideologies in which we live — fascism, communism, etc. — was only very recently wrenched from an earlier age of monarchs and emperors, when families like the Habsburgs ruled for centuries and upstarts like the Bolsheviks seemed a bizarre passing fad, albeit one with an unprecedented body count.

(Socialism in its various forms was responsible for some 150 million deaths in the twentieth century, not counting its ongoing toll in the form of subtly shortened lives due to regulation-induced poverty — or side effects like the sixty million or so killed by environmentalists’ ban on life-saving DDT. The left, in short, is the deadliest thing that’s ever happened to humanity, in terms of absolute body count, but if you told American leftists you wanted to restore the Habsburg dynasty, they’d look at you as if you’d suggested painting the sun blue and would go right on feeling morally superior.)

Red Prince was written by Timothy Snyder, now a Yale historian and two decades ago a Brown undergrad, which I promise is not reason enough for me to be biased in his favor (I think the record of my love-hate relationship with Brown is clear). In other Brown alum news fraught with mixed feelings, though: if Bobby Jindal ends up being picked by McCain to be his running mate, it will be interesting to have a v.p. who can probably field questions on deconstructionism for the first time, since you couldn’t escape that stuff at Brown twenty years ago, even if you were a conservative convert to Catholicism. At one point or another, mark my words, Jindal probably had to write term papers about the detextualized significance of the phallus as a hermeneutic calendar reproblematizing the Other, or something along those lines. We’ll have to watch his speeches for Derrida references. Or maybe Deleuze.

1 comment:

Gerard said...

The thing that irritates me is when socialists try to downplay the number of people their ideology is responsible for murdering by claiming that whatever socialist government you cite in refutation of their skewed belief system is/was not truly socialist, e.g. post-colonial India. I suppose the fact that there existed some private ownership-in contrast to say Maoist China or the USSR post-Lenin-demonstrates that the scores of Indians who died of famine were really the victims of capitalist excess.