Author: David Adler

Analyst of Totalitarianism—Reading Simon Leys Today

Simon Leys was perhaps the pre-eminent Western chronicler of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, and it is worth returning to his work for its vivid first-hand accounts of life in Beijing during this period. But Leys was also interested in the process by which, under the right conditions and with the right ideology, a society can collapse into insanity and murder. His description of the Cultural Revolution showed how political hysteria and the legitimization of violence and hatred combined to ravage a nation. These developments, however, are by no means unique to communism in general or China in particular, and Leys explored similar themes in his retelling of the harrowing true story of a ship wrecked off the coast of Australia in 1629. His book on the topic, The Wreck of the Batavia, is a short masterpiece about how the small society that the ship’s survivors tried to construct in the wake of the disaster was plunged into apocalyptic madness and murder by a psychopathic leader operating according to his own deranged totalitarian ideology. The parallels to Maoism—although Leys …

Straight to Hell: Millenarianism and the Green New Deal

Millennials and Gen Z and all these folks that come after us are looking up, and we’re like, “The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.” ~Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, interviewed by Ta-Nehisi Coates at the MLK Now event. I wish we didn’t have 12 years. It’s our lungs that are going to get choked with wildfire smoke. … Climate delayers are the new climate deniers. ~AOC on Instagram Live. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, popularly known as AOC, is the youngest member of Congress and she is preoccupied with the coming Apocalypse. The world, she warns anyone who will listen, is going to end in 12 years. “Like, I’m sorry to break it to you,” she announced during a live Instagram broadcast as she made dinner in her Bronx kitchen. “If we do nothing, there is no hope. There is a global threat to the planet. We are dying now.” Her Green New Deal, she insists, is the only way to avoid this looming catastrophe. AOC’s apocalyptic warnings are not mis-statements nor …

It’s Time to Marginalize the University and Revive the Café

It’s time to marginalize the university. Universities have come to play an outsize, unwarranted, and often malign role in American life. But their influence and prestige doesn’t stem from any recent intellectual accomplishment or even insidious political agenda. Instead it comes down to “power” to use a word much in vogue among academics. And this power, more than anything else, is economic. Without this power, why would people take academics’ more ridiculous pronouncements so seriously, or seriously at all in the case of communication studies departments? The limitations and drawbacks of North American academia are obvious. This goes beyond the intolerance, irrationality, illiberalism, even violence associated with some “studies” or other departments that see advocacy as their primary mission. Less remarked upon are the catastrophic intellectual failures of the social sciences. This includes the complete inability of foreign policy researchers to forecast the demise of the Soviet Union; the failure of political scientists, with few exceptions, to predict the rise of Trump; and the deeply embarrassing record of macro-economists in terms of warning about the …