Links for 4-21-2018

  • Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons finally obtained samples from Douma, Syria.

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said business leaders should be happy with Turkey’s perpetual state of emergency “because it guards against terrorism and prevents works from going out on strike.”

  • Eric Bennett writes that the liberal arts are dying, and liberal arts professors are to blame:

    By the 1990s, many scholars equated expertise with power and power with oppression and malicious advantage. The humane gesture was not to fight on behalf of the humanities — not to seek standing — but rather to demonstrate that literary studies no longer posed a threat. Unmaking itself as a discipline, it could subtract at least one instance of ideological violence from the nation and world.

    If the political events of 2016 proved anything, it’s that our interventions have been toothless. The utopian clap in the cloistered air of the professional conference loses all thunder on a city street. Literature professors have affected America more by sleeping in its downtown hotels and eating in its fast-food restaurants than by telling one another where real prospects for freedom lay. Ten thousand political radicals, in town for the weekend, spend money no differently than ten thousand insurance agents.


    The propagandistic nightmare of 1939 was metastatic unity, but the propagandistic specter today, just as grave, is the arrogant and ubiquitous hunch that an individual mind can overthrow the collective lie. The humanities were once upon a time a laboratory for experiments in shared interpretation. They have become, like politics — and, in fact, as politics — aggressively individualistic and resolutely anti-historical.

    Later still:

    Yet the editorial logic of right-wing media resembles closely the default position of many recent books and dissertations in literary studies: The true story is always the oppositional story, the cry from outside. The righteous are those who sift the shadows of the monolith to undermine it in defense of some notion of freedom.