Tag: Tiananmen Square

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The Tiananmen Square protests came to a close in Beijing on June 4th, 1989 when troops arrived and began killing protestors and bystanders. The Chinese government arrested thousands of protesters, cracked down on other demonstrations in the country, kicked out foreign journalists, censored coverage of the Tiananmen incident in the press, bolstered police powers, and […]

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Russell Kirk’s Favorite Loincloth, or The Conservative Novelist Adapts


“Different times demand different actions. Had I been born in Ancient Egypt I may well have advocated for change, even radical change. But modern times require shoring up the Old Moral Order.”– Russell Kirk

If you can, for just a moment pull your mind from Pharaoh Kirkses II and his sartorial choices, and contemplate his point. When asked to consider the conservative novelist, we normally choose from a set cast of characters; Evelyn Waugh, J.R.R. Tolkien, Allen Drury, G.K. Chesterton, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. They represent the bulwark, the voice that stands loudly astride history yelling stop and portrays old values and mores with humanity and passion. Rarely do we stop to consider the novelist that finds those values buried beneath the deep layers of their own modernity, and by showing only faint glimmers argues for their modified return. Two novelists separated by birth and an ocean, Ma Jian and Walker Percy, provide powerful examples of the adapted conservative novelist and his worth.

“The carbine lies across my lap. Just below the cloverleaf, in the ruined motel, the three girls are waiting for me.” Dr. Thomas More, the narrator of Love in the Ruins, is not a well man. He drinks too much, wanders in the dead of night through malarial swamps, and lusts after every woman he can find, just for a moment without his dead daughter and gnostic spouse. In Dr. More there is none of the saintly debauchery of Sebastian Flyte or even the simple sinfulness of Wormwood’s ward, he is a funny and fallen man fully conscious of the beauty he is slowly losing a drunken grip on. Unlike the more famous Thanatos Syndrome, which has been accused even by Percy fans of being preachy, Love in the Ruins thrives on its subtlety, on the guilty pleasure that is watching the moral deterioration of Dr. More which expresses itself in jabs at Commonweal, George Wallace, and the prosperity gospel. Dr. More wishes, it grows clear as the novel goes on, to be faced with the simpler choice of Thomas More, to sacrifice himself to martyrdom and be done with a society that refused to allow old values to adapt or even exist.

Liu Xiaobo’s Two Prisons


China’s 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo has been imprisoned by authorities since 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power.” (At the Nobel awards ceremony, he was represented by an empty chair.) His wife, Liu Xia, has been under house arrest since his prison sentence began, in spite of not being charged with a crime.

Mr. Liu has recently been diagnosed with liver cancer and refused permission to leave China to seek treatment. My understanding is that the Chinese authorities will allow him to have acupuncture and other traditional Chinese medicines but say it is too late for surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy treatments.