Liberal Fascism: Wings Over the World Edition

by John Holbo on January 24, 2008

I know, I know. But I’m going to talk about it anyway. Here he is, today:

I tried to explain, for those whose feelings were so hurt they didn’t even crack the spine, that the title Liberal Fascism comes from a speech delivered by H. G. Wells, one of the most important and influential progressive and socialist intellectuals of the 20th century. He wanted to re-brand liberalism as “liberal fascism” and even “enlightened Nazism.” He believed these terms best described his own political views — views that deeply informed American progressivism and New Deal liberalism.

I happen to know a thing or two about this, through research on Wells’ work on his cinematic (Wells scripted, Korda produced, Menzies directed) good-bad boondoggle, the 1936 SF film, Things To Come [wikipedia].
I’ve posted about the film before on CT here. I wrote a really fun post about it at the Valve: how H.G. Wells prevented steampunk. [click to continue…]

National Histories

by Kieran Healy on January 24, 2008

Ari at Edge of the West asks,

bq. … who’s the most important … [American] historical figure about whom most people know nothing?

(I have edited the question slightly, because Ari is a historian and so writes 250-word blog posts that have five footnotes.) I don’t have many suggestions, because I am one of the “most people” in this case and ipso facto know nothing about potential contenders. But in the comments someone suggests Philo T. Farnsworth. This reminds me of a conversation I once had with an American historian and a Russian computer scientist. It went something like this:

American: … but that’s TV, I suppose. Philo Farnsworth didn’t know what he was getting us all into.
Irishman: Who?
Russian: Who?
American: Philo Farnsworth. He invented the television.
Irishman: No he didn’t. John Logie Baird invented the television!
Russian: Who are these people? Television was invented by Alexander Televishnevsky!

I forget the Russian inventor’s real name. As I recall, further discussion established that for many 20th century developments the Russians had a counterpart developer who, according to the schoolbooks, had just gotten there before. And while this may seem like a standard bit of Soviet-era oddness, the phenomenon of simultaneous discovery in science well-established, together with “Stigler’s law of eponymy.”:’s_law_of_eponymy

When hypotheticals attack

by Chris Bertram on January 24, 2008

British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, “defending proposals for 42-day detention”: :

Ms Smith said the Government could not afford to “sit on our hands” in preparing for potential future risks – but denied she was legislating for a hypothetical situation.

“We need to legislate now for that risk in the future,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“It won’t be hypothetical if and when it occurs. We are not legislating now on the basis that we are bringing it in now for something that might happen in the future; we are bringing in a position for if it becomes unhypothetical.”

Indeed, or indeed not …