Happy Labor Day and/or Labour Day to all our North American readers, and listeners. If you've been out and about this long weekend, you might have missed a busy couple of days at SteynOnline, including my own Labor Day observances; my celebration of a great movie, The Last Picture Show; a musical footnote to the Diana anniversary; and the launch of the latest Tale for Our Time.
As I argued in my Labor Day piece, the devil makes work for idle hands - and that includes not just meth and heroin, but terrorism, too. So here we go with Part Four of my serialization of Joseph Conrad's classic The Secret Agent. This tale is a very prescient one, first published in 1907, but highly relevant to our own time in its psychological insights into terrorists and their supporters living their lives in major western cities.
Tonight's episode begins with Mr Verloc seeing out his fellow anarchists:
He closed the door behind their backs with restrained violence, turned the key, shot the bolt. He was not satisfied with his friends. In the light of Mr Vladimir's philosophy of bomb throwing they appeared hopelessly futile. The part of Mr Verloc in revolutionary politics having been to observe, he could not all at once, either in his own home or in larger assemblies, take the initiative of action. He had to be cautious. Moved by the just indignation of a man well over forty, menaced in what is dearest to him—his repose and his security—he asked himself scornfully what else could have been expected from such a lot, this Karl Yundt, this Michaelis—this Ossipon.
That's true. A middle-aged man values repose and security, and is wary of activities that might threaten it. Which is why today's jihad is generally a young man's game. So, "not satisfied with his friends", Verloc the Embassy spy turns back to his domestic life, and thus in this installment we get to know his family a little better - in particular Stevie, the simple boy who will play a crucial role in the events that follow. As I've written before about our own time, the categories of "disturbed individual with mental-health issues" and "Islamic terrorist" are by no means exclusive:
If a fellow goes all Allahu Akbar at the cenotaph in Ottawa or Ohio State University or a coffee shop in Sydney, well, he was a bit of a loner, had a few mental-health issues, difficult family background, etc. No wider significance or pattern can be discerned.
The susceptibility of the simple-minded is a big part of terrorist recruitment.
~If you prefer video to audio, tomorrow, Tuesday, we'll have a brand new SteynPost for you.
~Labor Day marks supposedly the end of summer leisure activities, but the party never stops at SteynOnline. In the current issue of our Mark Steyn Club newsletter, The Clubbable Steyn, Founding Member Jacob Clearfield proposed we host a Mark Steyn cruise. There's all kinds of these things floating out there - the Weekly Standard cruise, the Rat Pack cruise, the Kiss cruise (as in the band), and, for all I know, the antifa cruise and the Isis cruise (possibly on the same ship). Anyway, I responded to Jacob that the Somali Riviera was very reasonable at this time of year, but if readers had alternative suggestions to please let us know. So:
I just opened up the debut newsletter and see Jacob Clearfield floated the idea of a cruise. I've never had the slightest inclination to go on a cruise, but if the logistics work out I'd be first in line.
As far as destinations go, I'd prefer Alaska, but in order to placate my liberal girlfriend, the destinations would have to be more tropical.
Alaska for you, the Tropics for your girlfriend. So we should split the difference and cruise Detroit. Other suggestions:
~Diane Oliver says she'd fancy a European cruise, maybe on a river. A Danubian Steyn cruise would be pretty groovy.
~Mary Rollino fancies a Steyn cruise round the British Isles or maybe up the New England coast to Canada.
~Linda Sax also likes the idea of an East Coast cruise, with discussions of demography, Islam, Judeo-Christian values, education and national security, but leavened by a little live music (classical, jazz, folk). So civilizational collapse punctuated by a string quartet up the coast to the Gulf of St Lawrence: Can't beat that deal.
Thank you for all your suggestions. Keep them coming by emailing your suggestions here.
If you'd like to sign up a friend or relative for The Mark Steyn Club, we do have a new Gift Membership category - and, if you're an existing member, make sure you log-in to receive your special Founder's Friend price.
See you for Part Five of The Secret Agent tomorrow.