Ian Buruma:

The Elect are fighting the wrong class war. Progressives should be on the side of all people who are vulnerable and in need of protection against powerful interests. The quasi-Protestant obsession with the morality of public figures won’t result in necessary reforms. Statements that affirm inclusivity, diversity, and racial justice sound radical, but often distract from the much harder challenges of improving public education and health care, or introducing tax reforms that create greater equality. This work will do far more for the welfare of poor and marginalized people than demonstrations of virtue.

The Democrats’ relative success in the last midterm elections showed a growing awareness of this among progressive politicians. Concentrating on local economic problems helped many Democrats to win seats. There is a chance that Western democracies will overcome the current waves of right-wing populism and left-wing moralism, but the prospects will be much better if the Elect can learn to temper their puritanical zeal. They can begin by paying a little more attention to Marx and spending a little less time dwelling in the long shadows of Luther and Calvin.

Exactly. Well said! I’m convinced that if we apply CPR to the moldering corpse of that failed prophet just one more time, he’ll spring up and start saying something true and useful for a change. Jesus Aitch, is it a prerequisite for writers at literary magazines that they never have anything resembling an original idea? Or is the lit-mag environment such that only stunning mediocrities have the ambition to appear there? Kind of a chicken-and-the-egg question.