Our latest Tale for Our Time charges on - The Fixed Period, Anthony Trollope's dystopian novel from 1882 on the world of 1980, and the state's solution to human longevity.
Thank you for all your shrewd comments about our serialization. Bill Holcomb, a Mark Steyn Club member from Alabama, says:
Hi Mark -
Part Seven of The Fixed Period starts to illuminate a problem at the very root of the declining state of Western Civilization: feelings trump reason and law alike. The most well-crafted fact-supported logical argument can be cut off at its knees by an opponents' appeal to emotion. This is a fact of human nature that can never be circumvented. Liberals have ridden the emotional bus all the way to seats of US power in culture, academia, the military, the judiciary, and in the governance of large cities.
A certain degree of emotional detachment is required to maintain equitable justice, make hard governmental expenditure decisions, and to win wars. The US fails in all three categories with the Left having succeeded in painting the Right as heartless and 'mean-spirited. The Right then surrenders its intellectual high ground in order to appear nice and likeable. In the long run this fatal political landmine may render long-lasting prosperous democracy untenable.
There is a lot of truth in that, Bill, as President Neverbend acknowledges with respect to his wife, son and prospective daughter-in-law. But I am not sure I quite subscribe to the idea that "this is a fact of human nature that can never be circumvented". To be sure, I used to roll my eyes when Bill Clinton, advancing his rationale for war with Serbia, simpered "it's about the future of all our children". But for two years hundreds of millions of people have said, aw, screw the future of our children, notwithstanding their evident distress and developmental damage. Likewise, hundreds of millions said, aw, while we're at it, screw our aged parents and grandparents, too: let 'em die alone starved even of human touch in their last moments on earth.
In other words, asked to choose between their feelings and Fauci, they sided with Fauci every time. One of the things it's hard to argue with is that in Covidstan natural human feeling has been effortlessly trumped by state power. We're a society that would rather damage and indeed kill our most vulnerable than stand up to the commissars.
In tonight's episode of The Fixed Period, President Neverbend thinks the best cure for his son's excessive feelings is a spot of bracing mountain air:
"I do not intend to be thwarted by you in carrying on the great reform to which I have devoted my life. If you cannot hold your tongue at the present moment, and abstain from making public addresses in the market-place, you shall go out of Britannula. It is well that you should travel and see something of the world before you commence the trade of public orator. Now I think of it, the Alpine Club from Sydney are to be in New Zealand this summer, and it will suit you very well to go and climb up Mount Earnshawe and see all the beauties of nature instead of talking nonsense here in Gladstonopolis."
"Oh, father, I should like nothing better," cried Jack, enthusiastically...
"You had better prepare then to go," said I, thinking that the idea of getting rid of Jack in this manner was very happy.
"But, father," said he, "of course I can't stir a step till after the great cricket-match."
"Mount Earnshawe" appears to be Anthony Trollope's accidental mangling of the actual Mount Earnslaw on New Zealand's South Island, named for the village of Earnslaw in Berwickshire, native sod of the father of John Turnbull Thomson, who painted the picture of the mountain at top right.
Members of The Mark Steyn Club can listen to Part Nine of our adventure simply by clicking here and logging-in. Earlier episodes can be found here.
If you've yet to hear any of our Tales for Our Time, you can do so by joining The Mark Steyn Club. Membership is available now - and, if you sign up, you'll be all set for Part Ten of The Fixed Period this time tomorrow (and all the earlier episodes, of course). And, if you've a friend who likes classic fiction, don't forget our special Gift Membership.
Tomorrow afternoon, just in advance of Tales for Our Time, Mark will be hosting The Mark Steyn Show at 8pm BST/3pm North American Eastern, and then joining Bo Snerdley on 77 WABC New York at 4pm Eastern.
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