Friday, May 17, 2019

‘Luddite’ Shouldn’t Be a Dirty Word

I waited greedily by the mailbox for my copy of A Scribbler in Soho, the new anthology-cum-“celebration” of the great Auberon Waugh. Though regarded by the Brits as one of the great journalists of the 20th century, he’s somehow unknown in this country. That’s a shame. His columns for Private Eye contain wisdom that America badly needs. For instance, in the margins, I’ve jotted a heartfelt Hear, hear! next to Waugh the Younger’s quip: “It is the kindest thing one can possibly say of a politician that he changed nothing.”

One legislator recently forced me to question this Tory truism, however, and I’m ashamed to admit that it’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. No doubt most of her Green New Deal is absurd. Yet if she were to succeed in redirecting travelers from airports to railways, we’d have no choice but to regard her as the greatest conservative statesman since Prince Metternich.

All rational people dread flying. The psychiatrist who first designated the aversion to traveling in a giant cigar tube one mile in the air as a “phobia” ought to have been plopped on the couch himself. Trains are themselves somewhat precarious. “The Devil is a railroad car,” as Josh Ritter sang. Still, they’re preferable to cars, which Russell Kirk called “mechanical Jacobins.” He (correctly) believed that they would destroy local communities and economies. The official who bans automobiles should be hailed as our long-awaited philosopher king.

[Read more at The American Conservative.]

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