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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Combing through magazine racks for gems

Mag_authors Finding myself in the right part of town with some time to kill this morning, I stepped into Vancouver's Does Your Mother Know? (undoubtedly the home of the most varied magazine inventory in Western Canada) to see if I couldn't find a copy of The Chap or Chronicles. I was a tad disappointed that they carried neither and walked out the door an hour later with only a copy of The American Interest in hand; but while I was there, I did read some excellent articles. Although for non-subscribers these five articles are only accessible in meatspace and therefore I can't provide links to full articles, I still thought they were worth sharing:

1. Editor Michael Shermer's cover article "The New Revisionism. What if Hitler Won the War?" in the current issue of Skeptic assesses (but, unfortunately, somewhat conflates) various WWII revisionist theories including the familiar racial-ethnic and the "mainstream" revisionism of Niall Ferguson, Pat Buchanan, and Nicholson Baker, and pinpoints the critical flaw in all these arguments as their dependence on some particular course of counterfactual history.

2. There's a fascinating self-portrait by Muslim-turned-agnostic Ibn Warraq in the January issue of the (apparently troubled) Standpoint.

3. British doctor and prose master Theodore Dalrymple writes in the Jan/Feb edition of American Interest about "Irrational (Democratic) Exuberance" and its Obama fever manifestation:

Times of despair are also times of hope, or at least a type of hope, that is to say the willing attribution of magical powers to a plausible man who presents himself as having the answers to the situation.

And lastly, my two favorites:

4. Ulli Diemer lays out a principled case for freedom of expression (including for 'hate speech') and responds to the most common arguments (from the left and right) in favour of state censorship in the current issue of the progressive Canadian Dimension. Highly recommended.

5. "As it was in 1918," when Randolph Bourne penned the famous words 'War is the health of the State,' writes American conservative Andrew Bacevich in the Jan/Feb American Interest, "so it is in 2008."

In Bacevich's retrospective of Bourne, the great critic of Woodrow Wilson and American entry into WWI is described as "an intellectual, a radical who cherished freedom and loved America. [Whose] crucial contribution to political discourse was to draw a sharp distinction between Country–the people and their aspirations–and State, an apparatus that perverts those aspirations into a relentless quest for aggrandizement at the expense of others." In this drive for self-aggrandizement, says Bacevich, drawing parallels to the Bush II years, war is a primary tool:

War imbues the State with an aura of sanctity. Those who purport to represent the State–the insiders,those who are in the know–expect deference and to a remarkable extent receive it. The more urgent the emergency, the more compliant the citizenry. A people at war, Bourne observed, become "obedient, respectful, trustful children again, full of that naive faith in the all-wisdom and all-power of the adult who takes care of them." [...] Only through war and quasi-war of recurrent crisis and confrontation can the [State's interests] express themselves fully.

UPDATE: The website of the Holocaust revisionist IHR has the full text of Shermer's article.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on February 24, 2009 | Permalink


You dare to link to a Holocaust denial website and yet claim to be in favor of freedom? For shame!

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-02-24 10:45:21 AM

I love DYMK! Glad to hear it's still there.
Thanks for the interesting round-up.
I don't want to come all PC on you, Kalim, but I also think that linking to the revisionist site is questionable, especially when Shermer's article is available in Sceptic (and if it's not free, pay for it people!).

Posted by: Craig | 2009-02-24 4:18:47 PM


I only linked to the IHR site because, as I suggested, it wasn't available on the Skeptic website. By linking to the IHR site, I was advancing debate about revisionism (a good thing), and I don't see how I have materially helped the holocaust denialist agenda.

Also, do you really expect a bunch of free-loading netizens like our beloved Shotgun readers to shell out money for something they can find with a simple google search?

Posted by: Kalim Kassam | 2009-02-24 4:43:56 PM

I live in hope . . .

Posted by: Craig | 2009-02-26 2:12:53 PM

My article (#4 above: 'Free Speech' - as long as it doesn't offend anyone) is actually available online, at

Posted by: Ulli Diemer | 2009-03-04 7:46:23 PM

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