Toronto Welcomes Dr. James Hansen

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Who can doubt that the weather gods have a sense of humour?

American scientist-activist James Hansen is scheduled to speak at the ROM tonight, where he will explain how global warming is "real, consequential, and happening faster than predicted," and expose "the fossil fuel industry, environmental organizations, governments and some scientists" who are to blame for it.

No doubt it will be a bracing and uplifting event—but only if Hansen's plane is able to land at Pearson in the interval between the winter storm now pounding eastern North America and the flurries expected tonight.

*11 a.m. update:

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Happy Birthday, Karl Marx!

It is surely a sign of our postmodern times that, while we in North America are forming mobs to tear down politically incorrect statues, the German city of Trier is having a 5.5-metre sculpture of Karl Marx erected in the town square.

The occasion is the 200th anniversary of Marx's birth in Trier, which falls on May 5, and the generosity of the People's Republic of China in offering the statue as a present. Predictably, some Germans are uncomfortable with the gesture. "The glorifying Marx monument is a poisonous gift," says Ulrich Delius, director of the Society for Threatened Peoples, given that China "commits state terror against its own people." Dieter Dombrowski of the Union of Victims' Associations of Communist Tyranny agrees, noting that Marx "laid the spiritual foundations for the communist dictatorships that came afterwards." But town officials in Trier, who voted in 2017 to accept the statue, aren't having any of it. "Karl Marx is one of the biggest citizens in this city and we should not hide it," Trier mayor Wolfram Leibe told the press.

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How to explain why the most politically sensitive country in the world would erect a new monument to one of history's foremost architects of totalitarianism? Why, tourism, of course! Cashing in on Marx's birthday is an unparalleled opportunity to separate tourists from their money—particularly the Chinese, who are expected to make spring pilgrimages to Trier by the tens of thousands. This would explain why Germany's Moselle region is hosting more than 300 events to celebrate the birth of Marx and, indeed, why Trier's pedestrian traffic lights feature cute little "Don't Walk" Marx icons.

Postmodernism, indeed. It was the underrated (non-Marxist) cultural theorist Steve Martin who first excavated the transgressive positionality via which King Tut "gave his life for tourism" (click the video link above)—and his insights now apply even to Marx. Modernists destroy the past by destroying its monuments. Postmodernists destroy the past by draining its monuments of meaning.

On One-Party Rule in the U.S.

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Last week a chilling essay by Peter Leyden and Ruy Teixeira made waves on the margins of the Twittersphere, where it was re-tweeted by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and subsequently blasted by British conservative James Delingpole. Yesterday the piece was cited by Michael Gerson in the Washington Post, which has brought it fully into the media mainstream.

The thesis of the Leyden/ Teixeira piece is that "in this current period of American politics, at this juncture in our history, there’s no way that a bipartisan path provides the way forward." U.S. politics is so polarized in the Trump era that it can be re-framed as something akin to a "civil war," the authors write. In energy and economic policy, in particular, we see "two different political cultures already at odds through different political ideologies, philosophies, and worldviews. They see the world through different lenses, consume different media, and literally live in different places. They start to misunderstand the other side, then start to misrepresent them, and eventually make them the enemy. The opportunity for compromise is then lost. This is where America is today."

Leyden and Teixeira might be right about where America is today. But what's the solution? "At some point," they write, "one side or the other must win—and win big. The side resisting change, usually the one most rooted in the past systems and incumbent interests, must be thoroughly defeated — not just for a political cycle or two, but for a generation or two." Here's the pièce de résistance. "Let’s just say what needs to be said: The Republican Party over the past 40 years has maneuvered itself into a position where they are the bad guys on the wrong side of history." The G.O.P. is "the party of climate change denial," and of "rule by and for billionaires." What is needed, Leyden and Teixeira conclude, is "Democratic one-party rule."

This is happy-face tyranny—of precisely the sort conservative bad boys like Jonah Goldberg and Dinesh D'Souza have been warning about for yearsIt is impossible to know what kind of traction the Leyden/ Teixeira thesis will have on the American left, or indeed whether such burn-down-the-Reichstag rhetoric, until now the currency of anti-Trump intellectuals like Professor Timothy Snyder, will turn out to be a timeless gift to the right. But it ought to give Americans of every political stripe pause—particularly young Americans, for whom one-party rule for "a generation or two" would mean a lifetime under the yoke.