- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Come together
"The mystery of why the Beatles were so great together and so spectacularly mediocre apart remains one of the deepest questions in rock 'n' roll. It was interesting to think that the Beatles were each at their best as members of a group; when the group splintered, each Beatle was severed from a full three-quarters of their optimal personality.
"The desire to see the Beatles back together, so much in evidence at [Paul] McCartney's live shows to this day, is not simply the desire to restore the shattered harmony of the Fab Four. It's also a way of expressing discomfort with what unremarkable artists the Beatles turned out to be when set free from the corporate collective. Without McCartney and producer George Martin to rebel against, [John] Lennon turned out to be another lazy entertainment world hippie, doing lots of drugs and making up pointlessly Dadaist fictional personas with names like 'Dr. Winston O'Boogie.' McCartney couldn't help writing hits superficial fluff that never came close to equaling his music with the Beatles. George Harrison was sued for ripping off other people's songs."
David Samuels, writing on "Dead Beatles for Christmas," Friday in Slate at www.slate.com

Ideology and idolatry
"Russell Kirk saw it coming. As the Cold War was winding down, the father of modern conservatism was invited to the Heritage Foundation to lecture on America's brightening prospects. As he celebrated with his friends the 'death of Marxist ideology,' Dr. Kirk pointedly warned us against a new 'ideology of democracy.'
"'Various American voices have been raised these past few months to proclaim enthusiastically that soon all the world will embrace an order called democratic capitalism,' said Kirk. 'It seems to be the assumption of these enthusiasts that the political structure and the economic patterns of the United States will be emulated in every continent, for evermore.'
"'Democratic capitalism' is 'neoconservative cant,' said Kirk. It is an ideological folly to attempt to recreate in foreign lands with utterly different cultures what 200 years of American history produced here.
"Like all ideologues be they Marxist, socialist, or Wilsonian democracy worshipers attribute their disasters not to a flawed ideology but a lack of energy.
"Today's democratist prattle about converting a post-Saddam Iraq into an Arab model of 'American values' calls to mind LBJ's burbling on about 'building a Great Society on the Mekong.'"
Pat Buchanan, writing on "The Democracy Worshipers," in the Dec. 16 issue of the American Conservative

Post-Soviet Marx
"When Soviet communism fell apart towards the end of the 20th century, nobody could say that it had failed on a technicality. A more comprehensive or ignominious collapse moral, material and intellectual would be difficult to imagine. Communism had tyrannized and impoverished its subjects, and slaughtered them in the tens of millions. For decades past, in the Soviet Union and its satellite countries, any allusion to the avowed aims of communist doctrine equality, freedom from exploitation, true justice had provoked only bitter laughter. Finally, when the monuments were torn down, statues of Karl Marx were defaced as contemptuously as those of Lenin and Stalin. Communism was repudiated as theory and as practice; its champions were cast aside, intellectual founders and sociopathic rulers alike.
"Class war is the sine qua non of Marx. But the class war, if it ever existed, is over. In western democracies today, who chooses who rules, and for how long? Who tells governments how companies will be regulated? Who in the end owns the companies? Workers for hire the proletariat. And this is because of, not despite, the things Marx most deplored: private property, liberal political rights and the market. Where it mattered most, Marx could not have been more wrong."
From "Marx after communism," in the Dec. 19 issue of the Economist

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