you say you want a revolution, well, you know…
A really good fisk is almost like a remix; you should be thankful for the original chunk of hackwork for giving us the chance to do something interesting. Hence Matt Carr, who dons the positive-pressure mask and takes the scalpel, chops up Christopher Caldwell’s book, and demonstrates the throbbing worm guts to the eager students in the audience, before dropping the lot in liquid nitrogen for the permanent record.
Caldwell, of course, is the man who thought that Robert Kilroy-Silk was going to rule Europe, and who got the New York Times Magazine to publish a six-page hagiography of the silly fool. I tackled it at the time; he drooled over RKS’s desres mellow-crunchin’ country mansion whilst ranting at “the old country-house condescension”, among much else that was ridiculous. He could have said less about the tan and the ice blue eyes…
Now he’s written a whole book called Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, whose content seems to be much the same as Mark Steyn’s America Alone. He’s been described as “knowing his way around the banlieue”, having written some berserkly alarmist pieces back in the winter of 2005. Perhaps he talked to a cab driver…a cab driver who voted FN.
But enough. It’s not that surprising that he’s still a hard-right libertarian/Republican, after all that’s happened – it’s not an ideological position, it’s an identity. It’s slightly more interesting that the tactical disasters that have happened didn’t affect him in the least – in 2005, he went looking for a catastrophic mob crisis in Europe, and he was damn well going to find one. He’d already got the title, and probably the advance. And so, despite the failure of all his predictions, here we are with his Revolution.
What keeps him in business, then? My explanation is that he plays an important role among right-wing intellectuals in the US. Specifically, people who don’t want to read Mark Steyn or Michelle Malkin read him. Indeed, they read him in order to know, themselves, that they don’t read Mark Steyn. They are Caldwell-people, who imagine themselves in the columns of the Financial Times, not the willingly ignorant teabaggers. If they do read Mark Steyn, they only read him to know what the masses think. They say. W. H. Auden’s crack that we say Masses when we mean ourselves in our weaker moments is very much to the point.
To be brief, Christopher Caldwell is an example of a group of writers who cater to people who believe of other conservatives the things conservatives believe of the rest of humanity.