Sunday 31 May 2020

Siddhartha Varadarajan on Modi & Covid

Siddhartha Varadarajan, American citizen and soi disant Marxist, is in the business of doubling down on his journalistic mistakes. Almost two decades after he alleged that Modi orchestrated the post-Godhra riots, as opposed to calling in the Army to end them, he is still pretending that Modi's aim is ethnic cleansing, not running the country in a clean and efficient manner. Varadarajan was not alone in getting Modi wrong. But the consequence of the Left convincing itself that Modi was Hitler was that it disappeared from Indian politics.

However, Varadarajan is still around as a journalist to mislead youth. He writes in the Wire-

To understand what Narendra Modi has done to India in the first year of his second term as prime minister, I want you to consider the contrasting fate of two young people, Amulya Leona and Anurag Thakur.
Leona, still in her teens, has been in jail for three months now, charged with sedition and other serious crimes for simply shouting ‘Long Live Pakistan’ and ‘Long Live India’ from the stage of a public event in Bangalore.
The girl, who was being paid by anti-CAA protest organizers, shouted 'Pakistan Zindabad' when standing beside Owaisi, the dynastic Muslim politician, who was outraged and had her bundled off stage into the arms of the police. The silly girl meant no harm. But her actions were those of a double-agent seeking to embarrass Owaisi and other Muslim politicians in India. Shouting 'Fire' in a crowded auditorium could cause a panicked stampede. Lives might be lost. That is why the law punishes people who shout 'Fire' in a Cinema Hall or else joke about being suicide bombers when boarding a plane. Amulya is being punished for a similar type of stupidity. The question is whether she was paid to raise this slogan or whether it was her own idea.
If Leona spoke about living, Thakur, who is junior minister of finance in Modi’s government, spoke about killing.
Thakur has been elected to the Central Parliament four times. He has the right to express the sentiments of his constituents in any terms that the law allows. Of course, any member of the Public can file a 'F.I.R' at any police station if she believes Thakur has broken the law. But the guy is smart. He knows the law. It is unlikely that he would have overstepped the mark.
From the stage of a public event in Delhi, he exhorted a crowd of Bharatiya Janata Party supporters to shout “Shoot the Traitors”.
Varadarajan, as an American citizen, may feel that traitors to India should be cuddled by Indians. However, the fact is, the majority of Indians want to see Traitors punished. It is the duty of a legislator to give a voice to the demands of the Public, in so far as this can be done in a lawful manner. Thakur, it appears, has done nothing wrong in the eyes of the law. 
The ‘traitors’ were not an abstraction but the women and men of Shaheen Bagh and elsewhere who had been protesting the government’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
This is Varadarajan's own view regarding the utterance of a man who is not his chum. Will a Court accept Varadarajan's interpretation? No. It is unreasonable. People in Delhi knew that Thakur did not mean that a bunch of old women, who had been lied to and who were sitting in Shaheen Bagh because they genuinely believed they themselves might be deported, were traitors. No. He meant those lying to them and who were orchestrating attacks on the police and on non-Muslims were either Traitors to India or else foreign operatives of Enemy or Terrorist organizations. Indian Law severely penalizes the actions of such people. In a violent confrontation, shoot to kill orders can be issued. In 1992, riots in Delhi were nipped in the bud because an I.P.S officer avenged the killing of a constable of his by issuing a shoot to kill order. Some twenty or thirty members of the mob died but all rioting stopped completely. 
A few days later, in fact, someone actually fired on the protestors at Jamia Millia. However, the police has yet to file a case against Thakur, let alone seek to take him into custody. “The time is not right”, a top law officer of the government told the Delhi high court when asked whether the police intended to register an FIR against the minister.
Why was the time not right? The police had taken a battering from Muslim mobs. Non Muslim mobs had retaliated and quickly gained the upper hand. It wasn't till the National Security Advisor intervened and a new Police Chief was appointed that confidence was restored. Still, if even the Muslim minority could put the Police on the run, clearly they could not afford to take on the non-Muslim majority.

Varadarajan does not get that the anti-CAA protests failed. They were expected to give a boost to Congress and the Left in the Delhi elections. But both were wiped out. Thakur's stock went up. The deeply silly Leona became emblematic of the 'Pinjra Tod' stupidity of Shaheen Bagh type protest. Girls protesting restrictive Hostel rules, 'broke their cage' but ended up in Jail.
Leona and Thakur are not alone.
Thakur is not alone because he is part of the default National party which seems destined to get a third term in office. Leona is not alone because she is in an overcrowded jail. 

Not since the emergency of Indira Gandhi have so many people across India spent so much time in custody for political reasons than in the past year, and never before has the sword of arrest and detention hung over more heads.
 Since India's population keeps increasing, we would expect, ceteris paribus, nothing but this outcome. The good news is extra-judicial killing has gone down a lot.                                         
One former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, is now into her ninth month of incarceration. 
That helps her party- which was allied with Modi's- for when elections are eventually held. Under Nehru, his pal Sheikh Abdullah spent a decade in jail. Indira too kept him in jail till he did a deal. That's how politics works in Kashmir.
At the same time, never before in independent India has there been such impunity for those connected to the establishment.
Nonsense! Indira's reign, supported by the Left, was the high water mark for such impunity. Sonia, reviving that alliance, conferred a similar impunity upon her corrupt cronies. 
If you are a member of the ruling party or support the government’s political agenda, you can advocate violence and even carry it out, spread hatred against religious minorities, humiliate and abuse the poor, without worrying about being asked to render account in a court of law.
Varadarajan, poor fellow, is shitting himself because he will have to render an account of his own efforts of a similar type in a Court of Law. 

The fact is the anti-CAA protest was supposed to be a rainbow coalition of workers and peasants and tribals and so forth. But only poor Muslim women would actually buy into that pack of lies. So, the thing backfired. The non-Muslim vote got consolidated. Muslims were left in the lurch.
In New Zealand, an Indian origin Justice of the Peace was sacked for advocating an economic boycott of Muslims in India.
So what? Being a J.P is an honorary position. 
In Uttar Pradesh, two MLAs were caught on camera doing the same thing on the ground, yet they got to keep their jobs and the police insisted there was no reason to file charges.
Why? The anti-CAA agitation has made non Muslims hate Muslims because, it seems, they object to non-Muslims gaining a safe refuge from Islamic persecution in neighboring countries. Varadarajan was part of this conspiracy. As an American citizen, he has nothing to fear. But the Indian Muslim has suffered because of his mischief. Will the Indian Courts be able to punish Varadarjan? I doubt it. By contrast, a Muslim activist who used to write for the Wire is languishing in jail. 
In many parts of India today, the right of the people to mock or even criticise their leaders no longer exists or hangs by a slender thread.
This is certainly true of Mamta's Bengal or the Shiv Sena's Maharashtra. However, Modi knows very well that writers like Varadarajan help him gain the loyalty of 'Lutyens' Delhi'. This is because we know Varadarajan's whole family. They are a bunch of corrupt cretins. 
Last week, the police in Madhya Pradesh registered a criminal case against a journalist for referring to the prime minister as a ‘gappu’, or braggart.
Anyone can register a criminal case if there is evidence that Indian Law has been broken. The post in question reads ' Gappu, Tadipar, Balatkari, aprakirtik sasanghat walo ko pare kar de to BJP suchmuch dheynisht party hai'. The meaning is that the BJP is populated by rapists and sodomites and braggarts and externed criminals. A local member of the BJP took objection and registered a case with the Police. No arrest has as yet been made. As an equally worthless journalist, Varadarajan may well object to the application of the Law to his own tribe of scribblers. But Indians like seeing journalists squirm.
In Agra, a man who called the Uttar Pradesh chief minister a ‘dog’ has been charged with sedition.
Interestingly, this was done by a female sub-inspector. It remains to be seen whether any arrest will be made. Still, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If people in New Zealand can get into hot water for a Tweet or Facebook post, so can people in India. 
Last month, a young photographer in Kashmir was threatened with arrest under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act as a terrorist for a photograph she posted on Instagram in 2018.
And German tourists keep getting thrown in jail in Greece for taking photos at the airport. The fact is, different countries have different rules regarding this sort of thing based on their own National Security considerations.
In Andhra Pradesh, a woman who asked a series of embarrassing questions about the recent industrial accident in Vishakapatnam was arrested by the police.
She wasn't arrested. She was ordered to appear to answer a case filed against her. She is supported by the opposition TDP. 
The purpose these ‘individual’ cases serve is to scare others into silence. The amended UAPA has also given home minister Amit Shah the power to designate any individual as a “terrorist” without a trial or even the filing of charges.
I think this will stand because it is foolish to say an organization can be designated terrorist but an individual can't. The fact is Terrorist organizations morph continually. Professional terrorists change their allegiance to better funded franchises.
Modi’s abject failure as an administrator is evident from the manner in which he has handled both the coronavirus pandemic and the human catastrophe he triggered by imposing a lockdown without any planning or preparation.
This is Varadarajan's own view. It appears the public disagrees. 
But for me, the disaster he has caused is the logical if hideous culmination of an underlying pathology that has come into sharp focus during the past year – his contempt for democracy.
Wonderful! Varadarajan couldn't get elected rat catcher in America. He can't run for elected office in India because he is a foreigner. But Modi keeps getting re-elected. It is Democracy which has raised him up to global status. All this in just twenty short years. Prior to being appointed C.M of Gujarat in 2000, he had never won an election. Since then, he hasn't lost a single one. Modi is the first person who couldn't afford to go to College to end up in the highest office in the land. Varadarajan thinks it is because Modi has contempt for Democracy. But we all know that Varadarajan and his ilk has contempt for 'uneducated' OBC types from mofussil towns. The odd thing is that people like me- a caste fellow a few years ahead of him at the LSE- now respect Modi and listen when he speaks whereas we feel contempt for Varadarajan who, as Jag Suraiya recalls, once asked 'who or what is a Kurmi?' Surely, this was disingenuous. Varadarajan's dad was a U.P cadre IAS officer. He himself went to Mayo. He must have known what sort of people were Kurmis. He was simply expressing his contempt for the 'great unwashed'. Brahmins like him is what turns us into DMK supporters. 
Only a leader who has that contempt – who believes he can stay in power regardless of what he does – will run the risk of not bothering to make any effort to ameliorate the suffering of millions of migrant workers, all of whom have the right to vote.
Varadarajan's contempt for the truth is what has sunk his journalistic career. He won't be remembered as a Frank Moraes or Kuldip Nayar.  He has gone in the direction of Prem Shankar Jha. But Jha, in his day, was considered an intellectual. Varadarajan was always a verbose cretin.
Modi’s disregard for democracy runs deep and wide, and extends to every institution that is meant to serve as a check and a balance to the exercise of executive power.
The opposite is the case. The reason Modi was not brought down in 2001 itself by rival factions within the Gujarat Sangh Parivar was precisely because he strengthened Institutions and delegated power. The pay-off was efficiency and voter satisfaction. Then, Gujarat began to grow at an unprecedented rate- that too in a balanced manner- because Modi was able to do a deal with the farmers and curb the greed of the Corporates. 
In his first term as prime minister, he undermined the judiciary, the Reserve Bank of India, the Central Bureau of Investigation, the country’s university system, the Central Vigilance Commission, the Right to Information, Parliament and its committees.
Nonsense! The judiciary had over reached and was bound to draw in its horns. Putting Rajan into the RBI was a stunt. It failed. The CBI was never independent. The University system had degenerated forty or fifty years ago. Right to Information was a nuisance. On the other hand, Parliamentary functioning improved because Congress and the Left continually lost seats and thus could create less and less havoc. 
In his second term, he has turned his sights on the federal nature of India’s polity.
But India has a Unitary, not a Federal, Constitution. The Center can redraw State boundaries or downgrade them to Union Territories. 
He has also gutted the Central Information Commission
which was so useless nobody had heard about it. Apparently it was created in 2005.
and further undermined the independence of the judiciary to ensure his assaults on the democratic rights of the people from Kashmir to Kanyakumari are not challenged.
Why does Varadarajan not simply say 'Modi is sexually assaulting my arsehole every night'? That would be more believable. 
Gone is the pretence of development and growth, used as a camouflage during the first term to avoid a backlash to the BJP’s communal agenda.
Gone is Varadarajan's pretence that he is only anti-Modi because Modi is a Hindu. It is now obvious that Varadarajan's rage against the BJP is caused by the horrible anal rape at Modi's hands which he has to endure every night. As a Tambram myself, I feel vulnerable. First Modi buggered Mani Shankar Aiyar but we said nothing because that Doon School asshole deserves all he gets. Then Modi sodomized Siddhartha Varadarajan. Again, we said nothing because that Mayo College asshole must be habituated to such shenanigans. What if Modi now comes for me? I went to St.Columba's and still am cherry in the anal department. Who will speak up for me? Sanjay Subhramaniyam? No. He will simply mutter into his beard about Vasco da Gama. As for his brother, he is too busy being Minister of External Affairs. Nirmala Ji, kindly save my Tambram ass from Modi's lust!
The only “accomplishments” the BJP can point to in the first year of Modi’s second term all relate to its anti-Muslim mindset. First came the gratuitous criminalisation of Muslim husbands who abandon their wives without properly divorcing them. (However, Hindu husbands who do the same have nothing to fear.)
So Modi did something for Muslim women which, Varadarajan believes, Hindu women are denied. He should try explaining this to his wife. She will slap the black off him sho' nuff.
Then on August 5 came the scrapping of Article 370 and the imposition of a communications blockade on the people of Jammu and Kashmir that ran for six long months and has still not been fully lifted.
With the result that the war against Terror turned a significant corner. But this is good for Muslims who suffer disproportionately when suicide bombers run amok.
Next, the Modi government pushed for, and secured, a favourable (if manifestly absurd) verdict from the Supreme Court on the Ayodhya issue that will see the fulfilment of the BJP’s long-standing agenda of building a Ram temple at the site where its leaders and supporters destroyed the Babri Masjid in 1992.
It turns out, Indian law gives judicial personality to a Hindu deity but not to Allah or Jehovah. The Hindu deity won his suit which was instituted before the BJP existed. 
In an inversion of legal common sense, a property dispute which led to the commission of a heinous crime was fast-tracked at the urging of Modi even as the criminal case continues to languish.
Varadarajan is not a lawyer. He is a journalist. In an inversion of journalistic common sense, he credits the BJP- which he abhors- with a popular decision made by the Bench. What he should be doing is saying 'Modi hasn't delivered for Hindus.' 
Last December saw the Modi government’s third ‘accomplishment’, the passage of the CAA. Just as the stated purpose behind the Triple Talaq law would have been served by making it a crime for any husband, and not just Muslims, to abandon their wives without a proper divorce settlement, the stated purpose behind the CAA could have been met by allowing any bona fide victim of persecution from the neighbourhood to become an Indian citizen rather than just the non-Muslim ones.
What happened when Taslima Nasrin was granted refuge in India? Some Indian Muslims put a price on her head. She had to run away to Sweden. The fact is a Muslim who is persecuted on religious grounds in Pakistan or Bangladesh would not be safe from Indian Muslims if they took refuge in India. By contrast, though Indian Muslims object to non Muslims gaining refuge in India, they can't kill them without getting killed in an asymmetric manner themselves.
But the Modi government’s intention was to use religion as a factor to polarise society.
Varadarajan and his ilk's intention was to keep the BJP out of power. But because of their stupidity, they drove even English speaking upper caste people into the arms of the BJP. Nobody minded if Soniaji was being advised Ahmed Patel. But if she was listening to kooks like Romilla Thapar or Harsh Mander then she had to go. There was truly no alternative to NaMo. 
Home minister Amit Shah’s infamous ‘chronology’ made it clear the government intended to proceed next to creating an all-India National Register of Citizens, a plan he and Modi were forced to backtrack on, at least temporarily, when they realised the depth of public opposition to it.
Amit Shah very cleverly defused the situation in Assam- itself the product of Judicial activism- by raising this bogey. But now Shah is touting 'One Nation, one Ration Card' to deal with the problem of migrants. The pandemic has concentrated minds on this issue. Obviously, this ties into a National Register of Citizens such that entitlements are portable. The opposition to the NRC was orchestrated and based on lies. It has now run out of steam. Poor people face existential problems relating to access to the public distribution system. They will clamor for the thing because it is vital to their own economic security. 
The government’s next ‘accomplishment’ was to use communal violence in Delhi to break the resolve of the anti-CAA protests.
Being beaten to death does tend to 'break resolve'. But if mobs do it- in retaliation- thoroughgoing ethnic cleansing follows. The minority gets it in the neck. The Left-Liberals abruptly disappear back into their Ivory towers. 
When that process failed – or was interrupted by the coronavirus – it spun a yarn about the violence being the product of an ‘Islamist-Marxist conspiracy’ and arrested several activists at the forefront of the protest against the CAA under the draconian UAPA.
With hindsight, this should have been done sooner. But six months ago who would have predicted that the Left-Liberals would so bungle the anti-CAA protest? There was plenty of money available and the whole country was seething with different types of economic woe. Modi hoped the thing would become a Muslim dominated affair but this was by no means inevitable. I still don't understand why the Left wasn't able to put up a bigger showing. So far as I can make out, they gave the excuse that the thing was being hijacked by Islamic State type fanatics and so they felt they had to keep away. But, the Muslim activists too had their own complaints. It seems they were being asked 'not to look Muslim'. What were they supposed to do, discard beards and burqas and put on janeos and bindis? 
This despite the fact that the whole world knows the violence was overwhelmingly targeted at Muslims, and that Muslims were as likely to conspire to destroy their homes and livelihoods as the Jews in Nazi Germany were to engineer Kristallnacht.
A Polish Jew shot a German diplomat in Paris because he was angry at the deportation of Polish Jews. Kristallnacht was a reaction to this. It turned out to be popular not just in Germany but also in France and Poland. Anti-Semitism helped Hitler conquer Europe and recruit local collaborators.

The timeline of the Delhi riots are clear. Some Muslims started it and then the entire community got stomped. Why did they start it? Perhaps there was some money on the table for instigating a riot while Trump was in India. The other explanation is that the Police Commissioner was a poltroon.

While the Modi lobby is likely to see the suppression of democracy and the growing insecurity of Muslims as major achievements in their leader’s sixth year as PM, there is no getting away from Modi’s three big failures: his government’s Kashmir policy, his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his inability to insulate the poor and vulnerable from the predictable consequences of the lockdown.
Varadarajan speaks too soon. Kashmir seems a success. So does his handling of Covid. 'Insulating the poor and vulnerable' has to do with 'One Nation, One Ration Card' which nicely dovetails with NRC, Aadhar and Modi's various populist schemes.

As for the Muslims, they have to find some separate political representation. Owaisi seems to be doing well out of his projection of a 'Nationalist Muslim' persona. At the regional level, Muslims will retain a place in governing coalitions. But what about the Center? Tokenist representation can be provided by any party. Muslims want more and they will get it sooner or later. But how it will happen remains unclear. 
The government’s unwillingness, on ‘security’ grounds, to restore 4G services in the valley or release all political leaders and permit democratic political activity is the biggest indication that the scrapping of Article 370 is not the silver bullet Modi and Shah claimed it would be.
No. It shows the policy succeeded. 
The longer the current approach continues, the greater will be popular fears in the valley of a ‘demographic’ solution to the Kashmir problem.
But the thing is inevitable. 
Of course, the Supreme Court’s refusal to do anything about the mass arrests or the internet ban, let alone prioritise the question of the legality of the Article 370 and CAA moves, can be chalked down as another great government achievement, one that Ranjan Gogoi, MP, can savour as he contemplates life from the treasury benches.
Wonderful! Varadarajan says Modi's superpowers include changing the past. Gogoi is from a Congress family. As a Judge, he helped the Bench take charge of the Assam migrants issue which politicians had failed to solve. Once the Court mandated Nationality Registry was completed, Modi and Shah had to engage in some pretty nifty footwork. Thanks to the idiocy of the Opposition, they snatched victory from the jaw of defeat.

Sadly for India and, for Narendra Modi, the ad hoc, knee-jerk, centralised, undemocratic style of functioning that is the hallmark of the prime minister’s method of functioning has led him to commit monumental blunders on the coronavirus front that not even the judiciary can save him from.
Varadarajan thinks a style of functioning can be the hallmark of a method of functioning. Either that or he no longer thinks before writing his worthless articles. 
Indeed, after first giving the government a pass on its treatment of migrant workers, the Supreme Court was forced by the unending misery on display across India to reconsider its approach.
But the Bench now knows that its activism was silly. If it continues to attract attention then everybody and her cat will come forward with accusations of rape and murder against every Judge. Indeed, just recently some Supreme Court Judges gave color to the theory that Justice Loya had been killed by his fellow Judges because the fellow refused a bribe. I am not saying that Loya was anally gang raped before he was murdered. Yet, when it comes to Judges, it is generally a case of 'in for a penny, in for a pound.' If a bunch of them decide to kill one of their number, why not sodomize him as well?
The fact is that from the word go, Modi’s handling of the crisis has been disastrous. As late as March 13, his government was blithely declaring there was no public health emergency. Yet 11 days later, the prime minister felt compelled to impose a national lockdown with four hours notice to the public. While Modi cannot be faulted for believing a lockdown was the answer to the spread of the disease – most of the world’s leaders have acted similarly – he is perhaps the only major leader to have made zero preparations.
The fact is, Varadarajan's reporting can't be trusted even in the slightest detail. Modi's handling of the crisis is quite good. India has done quite well. Its low mortality rate is a matter of comment.
In any case, a Prime Minister is not supposed to make preparations for pandemics. Health is a State, not a concurrent, subject. Perhaps one or two bureaucratic heads should roll. But hindsight is 20-20. 
Even if he had firmed up the lockdown plan on March 19, the day he announced the ‘Janata Curfew’ for March 22, that would have given him six days to plan for the consequences.
But, the responsibility to 'plan for the consequences' falls upon the States as per the Indian Constitution. Some, like Kerala did very well indeed. None did very very badly. 
Having squandered the days before the lockdown and immediately after in the pursuit of political objectives such as the toppling of the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh and the communalisation of the pandemic, the Modi government hoped the heavy-handed use of state machinery would allow it to get away with its minimum governance.
No time was wasted. It is not the case that the politicians or administrators who were tasked with the Public Health, Policing and other relevant functions were  involved in behind the scenes politicking. Varadarajan speaks of 'communalization of the pandemic'. This refers to the spread of the virus by Tablighis who had attended a Conference in Malaysia. Varadarajan's suggestio falsi is that Muslims are spreading the virus. This is not the case. One Muslim organization, unfortunately, was holding a Conference in the wrong time and at the wrong place. But that organization has been condemned by other Muslim organizations. Varadarajan's genius is to appear 'secular' and anti-Modi, yet write in such a way that the Muslim community alone gets defamed and his own high caste brethren feel that only the BJP can save their hides. 
The reality is that the lockdown has failed to contain the epidemic even as it has laid waste to the economy and to the livelihoods of millions.
So, the reality is that the virus has hurt India just as it has hurt almost every other big country in the world. 
Along the way, the sangh parivar’s ugly Islamophobia has also undermined years of Indian diplomacy in the Gulf region – a development that will have harmful economic consequences for the country.
No it won't.  The pandemic has revealed the Gulf's extreme vulnerability.  Its prosperity is based on an unsustainable model. The remittance economy will die off. This means funding for Islamic extremism will dry up. The era of globalization is over. Dirigiste Nationalism is back on the agenda. Big countries like India can still grow- more especially as crude oil prices crash. By contrast, both the Gulf and Iran will have to pipe small.

During Modi 1.0, Arun Shourie joked that the BJP government was ‘Manmohan Singh plus cow’.
Shourie was a cretin, sure enough.
Today, given the manner in which Modi has used the pandemic to centralise governance, promote the interests of big business, trample on the democratic rights of the people
anally rape Siddhartha Varadarajan every night,
and manage the judiciary, his rule is increasingly beginning to resemble the emergency of Indira Gandhi. Apologists for Indira Gandhi used to say, ‘at least the trains run on time’. Modi 2.0 is not even able to manage that, such is the shambles six years of ideologically driven ‘governance’ have created.
Not to mention the condition of Varadarajan's rectum. 
If there is one thing we’ve learned about Modi in all the years he has been chief minister and prime minister, it is that he never learns from his mistakes.
Varadarajan has been writing about Modi for 20 years. The one lesson he never learns is that Modi is a smart guy who figures out ways to do his job better than even his supporters had hoped. 
The current situation is the product of his cult of personality, and the only response he is capable of is to double down on his worst impulses.
Modi is good at P.R. But he doesn't have a 'cult of personality' for the excellent reason that this would attract the ire of his rivals within his party. They would feel that they were not being given proper credit for their own achievements. This was the problem with Indira and Rajiv- but also what made Manmohan so ineffectual in his second spell in office.

The fact is Modi was prepared to leave Gujarat precisely because he had no personality cult or nepotistic or caste based network to protect there. He took a risk by going to Delhi. But he was a better PM than anyone had predicted. 
Centralisation of authority, authoritarianism and divisive, polarising politics have helped him transcend crises before.
The reverse is the case. Delegation of authority and institutional checks and balances have enabled him to improve governance more especially in the context of last mile delivery. The polarising politics of the Left-Liberals has helped Modi. He doesn't have to create a Muslim bogeyman because people like Varadarajan do it for him by claiming that Indian Muslims don't want non Muslim refugees to gain asylum in India. They are prepared to kill cops and burn down their neighbor's houses and demand 'azadi' to do so on a bigger scale. This scares the shit out of the non-Muslim. They then flock to the BJP. 
As COVID-19 spreads and the economy flounders, the coming year will prove far more damaging for Indian democracy than anything we have seen thus far.
Varadarajan thinks democracy is damaged if Modi gets more and more popular. So what he is saying is- 'BJP will trounce Mamta in West Bengal. They will win big in 2021'.  Such a sentiment is highly demoralizing to the Opposition. Why on earth is Varadarajan's rag being financed? It helps only the BJP who, however, are too canny to waste money on the English press. Perhaps, there is some big Corporate conspiracy to destroy the Left-Liberal Indian establishment from within. But the thing is otiose. Those fuckers are as stupid as shit. They can be relied on to help only their enemies.

Friday 29 May 2020

Dohad & Eucharist

Though the Business of Soul Saving is better served by the Saqi's Wine
Because this Pregnancy Craving is wholly thine
Peculiar meat
We too eat.

Salome & Solomon

On the excuse of seeking a professional critique 
Of her Terpsichorean technique
Salome got to dance naked
& Solomon to fake Id

Prince! Of aught autocephalous, so self-fulfilling its Baptist's prediction,
Psuedologos gains feet at Aletheia's crucifixion. 

Thursday 28 May 2020

George Steiner's 'Idea of Europe'.

What is the 'idea of Europe'? The answer, sadly for non Christians, is 'Christendom' and what grew out of it. George Steiner, being Jewish, gives a different answer-
Lightning-rods have to be grounded.
Like everything else, they can't just float in the air at a fixed location.
 Even the most abstract, speculative of ideas must be anchored in reality, in the substance of things.
Sadly, this isn't true. Godel described a Universe in which Time travel is possible. It is abstract, it is speculative, but it isn't grounded in reality at all.
 What, then, of ‘the idea of Europe’?
Like the idea of anything else, it may be grounded in stupidity, not reality, depending on whose idea it is.
Europe is made up of coffee houses, of cafés.
No it isn't. It is a landmass made up of fields and valleys and mountains and rivers. From the spiritual point of view, its Churches and Cathedrals and Monasteries may be said to knit it together and give it an identity distinct from the Islamic portion of the former Roman Empire. But Coffee houses and cafes are not unique to it. Like brothels and massage parlors, they exist everywhere.
 These extend from Pessoa’s favourite coffee house in Lisbon to the Odessa cafés haunted by Isaac Babel’s gangsters. 
I suppose this explains why the gangster king, Benya Krik, is mentally so like the  erudite, English speaking, Pessoa whose school education was in Durban, South Africa.
They stretch from the Copenhagen cafés which Kierkegaard passed on his concentrated walks, to the counters of Palermo.
but reappear on the other side of the Mediterranean in Alexandria. Indeed, there were cafes and coffees houses stretching all the way down to the Cape- as in Pessoa's Durban.
 No early or defining cafés in Moscow, which is already a suburb of Asia. 
Yet Moscow produced Dostoevsky- a far greater figure in the European literary firmament than either Pessoa or Babel.
Very few in England after a brief fashion in the eighteenth century. 
The English 'penny university' declined for three reasons- firstly, the coffee-men tried to monopolize the burgeoning newspaper business ; secondly, people were growing more affluent and could afford more than a penny when socializing or transacting business, third, a private club could also serve alcohol, food, and provide other types of entertainment rather than just stilted conversation.
None in North America outside the gallican outpost of New Orleans.
Prosperity means the opportunity cost of leisure time increases. Only when almost everybody's purse is pinched will people throng to coffee houses or smoking parlors to distract themselves from the pangs of hunger.
In America, the diner offers limitless coffee because both food and this beverage are chiefly valued for fuelling productivity. It is no accident that Count Rumford- one of the first global 'efficiency' experts who was derided by Marx- patented a Coffee percolator. By the beginning of the Twentieth Century, inventors were filing patents for disposable containers for coffee 'to go'.
Europe lagged in productivity. Talent had fewer outlets. The half starved hack sitting in front of a cold cup of coffee working on a verbose feuilleton may have been picturesque. But his American, or even British, counterpart was dining well on roast meat and finding it easy to sell topical articles, written in a breezy style, to a wide range of magazines and newspapers.
There were small oases of 'Cafe Society' in England and some American Cities. But they were for the nouveau riche for whom leisure was still a novelty. But, if their wealth did not prove ephemeral, the soon joined gentlemen's clubs while their wives cobbled together salons.
As for the young intellectual or artist, the comforts of suburban life soon drew them away from the gimcrack splendor of the Cafe Royal to the more solid virtue represented by the Chelsea Arts Club & the pleasures of riverside life in Fulham or, as the Edwardian Age's golden afternoon yielded to evening's softer shades, the Elysian fields of Chiswick or villas in Twickenham where the fair Hesperides hold Court.
 Draw the coffee-house map and you have one of the essential markers of the ‘idea of Europe’.
Yet Morocco and Egypt and Turkey had plenty of coffee shops. Indeed, the thing was Islamic- wine being forbidden- and once had a Papal bull condemning it. But most European socialized over alcoholic beverages. Jews, having low alcoholism, may have been different in this respect. But it is questionable as to what extent 'Europeans' considered Jews to be indigenous. On the other hand, the Nordic countries became addicted to coffee. Laxness tells us that the Icelandic shepherd used coffee to treat distemper amongst his sheep. But this has little to do with the 'idea of Europe'. Steiner is simply being silly.
The café is a place for assignation and conspiracy, for intellectual debate and gossip, for the flâneur and the poet or metaphysician at his notebook.
But the cafe serves wine and beer and cognac as well as coffee. In any case, the pub or beer-hall or gin palace would do just as well for the purposes Steiner mentions. Dedicated club-houses would do even better. The ancient Greeks- who originated the word 'Europe' and to whom 'the idea of Europe' might plausibly be ascribed, hadn't needed Coffee shops to have a lively civic culture.
It is open to all, yet it is also a club, a freemasonry of political or artistic-literary recognition and programmatic presence. A cup of coffee, a glass of wine, a tea with rum secures a locale in which to work, to dream, to play chess or simply keep warm the whole day.
So does the pub or the wine bar or the bistro or canteen. But a salon presided over by a sensible lady is better conducted and less injurious to one's health.
It is the club of the spirit and the poste-restante of the homeless.
No it isn't. The Club is the club of the spirit- though a charming lady's salon may more overflow with esprit. As for the poste restante of the homeless, it is the Post Office.
In the Milan of Stendhal, in the Venice of Casanova, in the Paris of Baudelaire, the café housed what there was of political opposition, of clandestine liberalism.
Nonsense! The cafe was riddled with spies. The blue-stocking’s salon, or the Free Masons' Hall, was safer.  The point about a Club is that not just anyone can stroll in to eavesdrop.
Three principal cafés in imperial and inter-war Vienna provided the agora, the locus of eloquence and rivalry, for competing schools of aesthetics and political economy, of psychoanalysis and philosophy. Those wishing to meet Freud or Karl Kraus, Musil or Carnap, knew precisely in which café to look, at which Stammtisch to take their place.
But bars and beerhalls too had 'stammtisch' signs. It is easy to reserve a table, or a nook, at a pub. Obviously, it wasn't cafes patronized by Jews which determined the fate of 'inter-war Vienna'. Steiner may have had a point about Kraus. But to meet Freud you made an appointment and handed over a goodly sum of cash. Musil, like other similar writers, was best observed at the salon of wealthy females.
Danton and Robespierre meet one last time at the Procope.
 Which was a 'Schelling focal point' only because it was next to a famous Theater.
When the lights go out in Europe, in August 1914, Jaurès is assassinated in a café.
But it might just as well have been called a Taverne. The fact is, the guy was eating his dinner there because it was a unpretentious neighborhood restaurant of a solid, bourgeois, type . He hadn't gone there to exchange ideas with anyone or plot a conspiracy.
In a Geneva café, Lenin writes his treatise on empirio-criticism and plays chess with Trotsky.
But these guys were from 'a suburb of Asia'. According to Steiner, they would have been happier with a samovar.
Note the ontological differences.
There are none.
An English pub, an Irish bar have their own aura and mythologies.
Because more drinking than eating is done there and alcohol is favorable to legend.
What would Irish literature be without the bars of Dublin?
But Joyce is very much a European writer embraced by Lacan and Derrida and so forth. Clearly, there was no 'ontological difference' between a Parisian drinking hole and one in Dublin or Cork.
Where, if there had not been the Museum Tavern, would Dr. Watson have run into Sherlock Holmes?
So Taverns in London are interchangeable with Cafes in Vienna. But Holmes and Watson could just as easily have run into each other at Simpsons of the Strand or the Army and Navy Store or the local tobacconist.
But these are not cafés. They have no chess-tables, no newspapers freely available to clients on their hangers.
England was richer than the Continent. Temperance Hotels and Public Libraries and Working Men’s clubs had reading rooms. But if you could afford a pint, you could afford to buy a newspaper of your own.
It is only very recently that coffee itself has become a public habit in Britain, and it retains its Italian halo.
Actually, it was the mods who had a mania for expressos and Lambrettas and so forth. Their drug of choice was speed. My memory is that the rockers kicked the shit out of them.
The American bar plays a vital role in American literature, in the iconic charisma of Scott Fitzgerald and Humphrey Bogart. The history of jazz is inseparable from it. But the American bar is a sanctuary of dim lightning, often of darkness.
The Procope was very dark when it opened. People commented on this.
It throbs with music, often deafening.
Some do. Others have the TV tuned to Sport. Yet others are quiet.
 Its sociology, its psychological fabric are permeated by sexuality, by the presence, hoped for, dreamt of or actually of women.
Those are Singles bars.
 No one writes phenomenological tomes at the table of an American bar (cf. Sartre). Drinks have to be renewed if the client is to remain welcome. There are ‘bouncers’ to expel the unwanted. Each of these features defines an ethos radically different from that of the Café Central or the Deux Magots or Florian.
Because France was poorer- or the French were more thrifty- than their English or American counterparts. As for 'books on phenomenology'- they are shit. Who cares where they are written?
“There will be mythology so long as there are beggars”, said Walter Benjamin, a passionate connoisseur of and pilgrim among cafés.
But mythology existed before there were coins to throw to beggars. Benjamin, clearly, had shit for brains. Fantasy is not the same thing as mythology.
So long as there are coffee houses, the ‘idea of Europe’ will have content.
Thus, the coronavirus could kill the thing off. But no such luck. Europe as an idea was well established long before coffee was known to the Europeans.
Europe has been, is walked.
So what? The same could be said of every continent save Antarctica. 
This is capital.
Which is how come the Australian Aborigines, with their 'song-lines', were all Capitalist plutocrats.
The cartography of Europe arises from the capacities, the perceived horizons of human feet.
Rubbish! The cartography of Europe arises from sailors drawing charts of landmasses and navigable rivers and then military or cadastral surveyors slowly filling in the blanks.
European men and women have walked their maps, from hamlet to hamlet, from village to village, from city to city.
No they haven't. They have leapfrogged by boat or covered wagon.
More often than not, distances are on a human scale, they can be mastered by the traveller on foot, by the pilgrim to Compostela, by the promeneur, be he solitaire or gregarious.
Sheer nonsense! It was quicker and safer to get around by boat. Horses were the next best thing. Feet have their limitations.
There are stretches of arid, forbidding terrain; there are marshes; alps tower. But none of these constitute a terminal obstacle. Europe has no Death Valley, no Amazonia, no ‘outback’ intractable to the traveller.
Nor has anywhere else. Steiner doesn't get that indigenous populations had crossed 'Death Valley' and 'Amazonia' and the 'outback' long before Europeans got there by sail. But since vastly greater numbers could come swiftly by the same means, Europe prevailed in the 'New World'.
This fact determines a seminal relationship between European humanity and its landscape.
No it doesn't. The fact is 'European humanity' is no different from any other type of Humanity. Hitler didn't understand this. But then he hadn't been to College. What was Steiner's major malfunction?
Metaphorically, but materially also, that landscape has been moulded, humanised by feet and hands.
By people were already doing that in Asia and North Africa before they migrated to Europe. On the other hand, the 'hands' and 'feet' of indigenous hunter gatherers hadn't 'humanised the landscape' very much at all. Large swathes of Northern Europe ceased to be inhabited during the Ice Age.
As in no other part of the globe the shores, fields, forests and hills of Europe, from La Coruña to St Petersburg, have been shaped not so much by geological as by human-historical time.
Has this guy never heard about China? Fuck he thinks happened there? What about India- which was once a great big forest. Its Iron Age clearance predates that of Europe and its sacred geography is genuinely one defined by the 'teerth yatra' which has been, and will be, paced by the feet of millions of Hindus from age after age. By contrast, Europe has nothing similar. The ‘padyatra’ has no special sanctity. There is no pilgrim circuit which encompasses Europe. What there is is merely local, or, at best, crosses a single national border. They do not link up with each other in the manner of the 'Bharat darshan', or 'Ekta Yatra', so as to define a unified spiritual heimat- or ‘karmabhoomi’.

Indeed, there is only one ethnic group which regularly crosses borders as part of an itinerant way of life. It is the Gypsies, who are of Indian origin. Unlike Europe, roads in India are only difficult to traverse during 'chaturmas'- the four months of the monsoon'. Kipling's Kim describes life on the Indian Grand Trunk Road which stretches from Bengal to Afghanistan. In India, this gives rise to the distinction between 'Margi'- High Road Culture- and 'Desi'- purely local Culture. Nothing similar could be said about Europe. King James's jester, Coryat, did walk across much of Europe learning its various languages before ending up in India. But in Europe he was considered a zany. In India, he was considered a Saint and his tomb in Surat attracts pilgrims. It remains the case that Europe despises as a gypsy or vagrant, those who regularly cross borders whereas in the East the 'dervish' has spiritual sanctity. Yatra sayamgrho Munihi- the Muni's house is where night falls on the path- is an Eastern, not a European, sentiment.
At the glacier’s edge sits Manfred.
But, for Byron, Christian Greece is central to 'the idea of Europe'. He gave his life to drive the Muslim Turk out of that spiritual Urheimat.
Chateaubriand declaims on the rocky headlands.
But he initially was disparaging of the living Greeks- as opposed to those long dead- in his reports of his travels in Ottoman domains. As a Diplomat upholding the Holy Alliance he was silent on the Greek Revolution only becoming a Philhellenist after he fell out with the Bourbon Government. By then Byron was dead.
Our acres, be they under snow or in the yellow noon of summer, are those experienced by Bruegel or Monet or Van Gogh.
Or Gaugin who ended up in Tahiti. To see what Bruegel or Monet or Van Gogh saw, we would still need to travel out of the Cities in which three quarters of Europeans live. But this is also true if we wish to see Gaugin's Polynesia.
The darkest woods have nymphs or fairies, literate ogres or picturesque hermits in them.
Only dark woods have these fabled appurtenances. They are severely lacking in Piccadilly Circus.
The voyager seems never to be altogether out of reach of the church-bell in the next village.
Unless he is stuck in one of those dark woods.
From time immemorial, rivers have had fords, fords also for oxen, ‘Oxfords’, and bridges to dance on as at Avignon.
But this is also true of India. The word 'teerth' means a 'ford'. But in India, these 'teerths' are linked up into a 'Bharat darshan'. Nothing of the sort obtains for 'the idea of Europe'.
The beauties of Europe are wholly inseparable from the patina of humanised time.
Yet they are visible to the Japanese or Chinese or Bengali landscape painter who capture, it may be, something yet more radically 'humanized'- as opposed to reified by an elite paideia- in comparison with the Academy. Indeed, there was considerable Japanese influence on Manet, Monet, Degas, and most importantly Van Gogh.
Again, the difference from North America, let alone so much of Africa and Australia, is radical.
So what? Europe should be comparing itself with other ancient Civilizations- Indian, Chinese, Arab, Japanese and so forth. What happens when such a comparison is made? We notice immediately that Europe saw itself as a congeries of Nations of diverse origins. The Han Chinese or Hindu Indians or Arab Muslims saw themselves as belonging to different regions or zones but as representing a single nation united by a common creed. A 'separatist' politician in China or India or the Arab lands may be assassinated by his own cousin who considers the fellow to be a traitor to the Nation. Nothing of the sort is feared by European politicians who whip up hatred against the European Union. 
One does not go on foot from one American town to the next.
Whereas Steiner himself regularly went on foot from Cambridge to Geneva.
The deserts of the Australian interior, of the American south-west, the ‘great woods’ of the Pacific states or of Alaska, are virtually impassable.
By contrast to the Baltic or Ionian Sea which one can easily walk across with a picnic basket.
The magnificence of the Grand Canyon, of the Florida swamps, of Ayer’s Rock in the Australian vastness, is that of tectonic, geological dynamics almost menacingly irrelevant to man.
Because the indigenous people of those areas are wholly invisible to this exceptionally stupid man.
Hence the feeling, often voiced by tourists to Europe from the New World or ‘down under’, that European landscapes are manicured, that their horizons suffocate.
Not to mention the fact that European savants have such horrible halitosis that anyone in the vicinity is in danger of asphyxiation.
Hence the feeling that the American, South African and Australian ‘big skies’ are unknown to Europe.
Whereas they are taken for granted by New Yorkers.
To an American eye, even European clouds can seem domesticated. They are so crowded with ancient deities in Tiepolo costumes.
American eyes work in exactly the same way ours do. In London, they are more likely to see the skyscapes of Turner and Constable. They'd be lucky to glimpse anything Rococo. But this is a matter of meteorology. The fact is, clouds do not choreograph tableaux vivant to accord with the taste of a Roi Soleil.
Integral components of European thought and sensibility are, in the root sense of the word, pedestrian.
But only in the same sense that all thought is pedestrian because humans have feet not wings.
Their cadence and sequence are those of the walker.
No. They are those of the talker who may be lame or lazy.
In Greek philosophy and rhetoric, the peripatetics are, literally, those who travel on foot from polis to polis, whose teachings are itinerant.
Yet, Socrates stayed home- only venturing abroad as part of the Athenian infantry.
In western metrics and poetic conventions, the ‘foot’, the ‘beat’, the enjambment between verses or stanzas remind us of the close intimacies between the human body as it paces the earth and the arts of imagining.
And in Sanskrit verse we speak of 'padas'. In Arabic too we speak of 'feet' but both language also have a notion of rhythmic 'gait' which may be that of a camel or an elephant or even a tiger. 
Much of the most incisive theorizing is generated by the act of walking.
More isn't. It depends on sitting at your desk checking and rechecking formulae.
Immanuel Kant’s daily Fußgang, his chronometrically precise traverse of Koenigsberg, became legend.
But he never left his natal town. He was scarcely a 'peripatetic'. What he knew of the World he knew from what he read, not from where Shank's pony had taken him.
The meditations, the rhythms of perception in Rousseau are those of the promeneur.
More, they are those of a widely travelled man who had lived with 'the Quality'.
The extensive rambles of Kierkegaard through Copenhagen and its suburbs proved to be a public spectacle and the object of caricature.
Like Kant, he was a bit 'neuro-diverse'. But plenty of people, all over the world, take regular walks. If their appearance is eccentric and they have attained a certain celebrity then the thing may become an object of remark.
But it is these rambles, with their diversions, their abrupt changes of itinerary and gait, which are reflected in the syncopations of his prose.
In the opinion of Steiner. But what is the 'Structural Causal Model' he is appealing to? Is it really the case that if you walk like Kant you will talk like Kant? On the other hand, if you pause your peregrinations every so often to throw off your clothes to turn naked somersaults up and down the Mall then you are bound to end up writing like George Steiner.
In an American age, which is that of the automobile and the jet,
both of which were invented in Europe
we can scarcely imagine the distances covered and put to intellectual and poetic purpose by European masters. Hölderlin goes on foot from Westphalia to Bordeaux and back.
Because he was a badly paid private tutor trying to save money. He was not yet much of a poet. The travel money he was given amounted to half his wages. Clearly Europe had terrible roads and conveyances at the time.
The young Wordsworth walks from Calais to the Berner Oberland and back. Coleridge, a portly individual, with various physical afflictions, routinely covers twenty to thirty miles per diem across difficult, mountainous ground, composing poetry or intricate theological arguments as he does so.
But Theodore Roosevelt hikes were far more impressive than either. People walk. There is nothing particularly European about walking.
And think of the role of the wanderer in some of the greatest of our music: in Schubert’s fantasies and songs, in Mahler.
But the strolling minstrel exists in every culture. However, they are equally good if they ride a horse or a donkey or a camel.
Again Benjamin’s enigmatic prophecy comes to mind: throughout European allegory and legend, the beggar who comes to the door, the beggar who may be a divine or daemonic agent in disguise, has come on foot.
But there are plenty of such beggars in the Arabian Nights and in the ancient literature of India. Indeed, the 'dervish' and the 'bhikku' can have a very high ritual status in Islam and Hinduism though at one time Christendom too had licensed 'bedesman' and other respectable mendicant classes.         
The streets, the squares walked by European men, women and children are named a hundredfold after statesmen, military figures, poets, artists, composers, scientists and philosophers.
Like the streets walked by Indians and Egyptians and so forth.
This is my third parameter. My own childhood in Paris found me taking, on numberless occasions, the Rue La Fontaine, the Place Victor Hugo, the Pont Henri IV, the Rue Théophile Gauthier.
And mine in Delhi found me taking Kasturba Gandhi Marg, which used to be known as Curzon Road, to Connaught Circus, which is now known as Rajiv Gandhi Chowk. After the fall of the Ancien Regime, the French took to changing the names of streets. The Rue Descartes was given that name in 1809, having previously been named for a family prominent in the thirteenth century. The rue Grat-Culle (scratch arse) was renamed after a martyr of the Second Republic once the Third Republic was safely in the saddle.
The streets around the Sorbonne are named after the high masters of medieval scholasticism.
But only if, like Bernard of Clairvaux, they were also canonized as Saints. France is a Catholic country.
They celebrate Descartes and Auguste Comte. If Racine has his street, so do Corneille, Molière, Boileau.
But this was a Nineteenth Century fad. Paris was after all, a tourist trap, and in any case the City was rebuilt at least partly for political reasons so as to make it easier to police and for the militia to disperse Communards.
The same is true of the German-speaking world, of the myriad Goetheplätze and Schillerstrassen, of the squares named after Mozart or Beethoven.
Again, for obvious reasons, this was a modern development of a sort which smacks of municipal pride and a narrow petit bourgeois sensibility rather than anything representative of an unchanging essence.
The European schoolchild, urban men and women, inhabit literal echo-chambers of historical, intellectual, artistic and scientific achievements. 
But whose native genius was better represented by streets named 'Scratch arse' and 'pull cock'.
Very often, the street sign will carry not only the illustrious or specialised name, but the relevant dates and a summary description.
Which is why we consider the bildungsburgertum to be essentially petty bourgeois, provincial and philistine. Flaubert, the most effective satirist of this class, had a street named after him by a Property Company redeveloping a decrepit Factory.
Cities such as Paris, Milan, Florence, Frankfurt, Weimar, Vienna, Prague or St Petersburg are living chronicles. To read their street signs is to leaf through a present past. Nor has this pietas in any way ceased. The Place Saint-Germain has become the Place Sartre-Beauvoir. Frankfurt has named an Adornoplatz. In London, a prodigality of blue plaques 
Hence Fredric Raphael's Old Testament curse- 'a plaque on both your houses!'. I once pranked a friend of mine by sending her an official looking letter informing her that a great Nigerian Lesbian activist had lived at her newly purchased house. The poor lady was terrified that hefty African dykes would be constantly battering down her door.
identifies the houses in which not only medieval, renaissance or Victorian writers, artists, natural scientists are thought to have lived, but these associated with Bloomsbury and the moderns.
Yet, Europe fell behind America- which had to come save it from self-destruction and which still has plenty of military bases and over 60,000 troops stationed there. Clearly, naming streets after writers doesn't make a country smart enough to defend itself.
Observe the almost dramatic difference. In the United States such memoranda are few. Endlessly, streets are named ‘Pine’, ‘Maple’, ‘Oak’ or ‘Willow’. Boulevards are entitled ‘Sunset’, the noblest of Boston streets is known as ‘Beacon’. Even these are concessions to the humane. American avenues, roads, streets are simply numbered or, at best, as in Washington, known by their orientation, their number being followed by ‘North’ or ‘West’. Automobiles just do not have the time to ponder a Rue Nerval or a Copernicus concourse.
Steiner thinks Automobiles, unlike horses, don't have time to read and ponder over the names of streets. No wonder the Europe of his idealization was so fucked in the head.
There is a dark side to this sovereignty of remembrance, to Europe’s self-definition as un lieu de la mémoire.
Is it that European cars keep crashing into each other coz they are constantly 'pondering a Rue Nerval or a Copernicus concourse'? I sympathize with Steiner. I had a car like that. Sadly, the police thought all the accidents it caused were my fault for being drunk off my head.
The shields affixed to so many European houses tell not only of artistic, literary, philosophic or statesman-like eminence. They commemorate centuries of massacre and of suffering, of hatred and of human sacrifice. In one French town, a commemorative plaque to Lamartine, most idyllic of poets, faces an inscription on the opposite side of the street which records the torture and execution of resistance fighters in 1944.
We get it, Steiner dude. Europeans are utterly shit. Thankfully, America keeps 60,000 troops on European soil so as to stop those stupid fuckers fucking each other up in saecula saeculorum.
Europe is the place where Goethe’s garden almost borders on Buchenwald, where the house of Corneille abuts on the market-place in which Joan of Arc was hideously done to death.
But it is currently safe coz of Uncle Sam.
Memorials to murder, individual and collective, are everywhere. The marbled roll-call of the dead often seems to outnumber the living. Most problematic have been the decisions made, the methods employed, in reference to the reconstruction of the destroyed cities and artistic heritage. Doubtless, the millimetre by millimetre restoration of the old quarters of Warsaw according to eighteenth century topographical paintings is a wonder of craftsmanship and of willed recollection. As is the restitution of Dresden to much of its past radiance, or the facsimile-rebirth of many of the splendours of what was Leningrad. But as one walks amid these solid spectres, a sense of the uncanny, of utter sadness obtrudes.
Which is when you know it is time to stop off for a Big Mac or Starbucks latte. Anyway, Europe has changed. Disneyland Paris is actually quite a cheerful place and doesn't smell like shit.
There is something wrong in all the rightness. As if even the perspectives of depth were only a façade. It is very difficult to put into words the warmth, the aura which authentic time, time as lived process, gives to the play of light on stone, on courtyards, on roof-tops. In the artifice of the reconstructed, the light has the taste of neon.
While in the original it smelt of shit.
The issue is, of course, a deeper one. Even a child in Europe bends under the weight of the past as he so often does under that of schoolbags far too crammed. How often, when plodding the Rue Descartes or crossing the Ponte Vecchio or passing Rembrandt’s house in Amsterdam, have I not been overwhelmed, in even a bodily sense, by the question: ‘What is the use? What can anyone of us add to the immensities of the European past?’ 
Evidently, not often enough which is why Steiner kept writing worthless books.
When Paul Celan enters the Seine to commit suicide, he choose the exact point celebrated in Apollinaire’s great ballad, a point situated below the windows of the room in which Tsvetaeva spent her last night before returning to desolation and death in the Soviet Union. 
Go thou and do likewise, Steiner you pretentious twit.
A literate European is caught in the spider-web of an in memoriam at once luminous and suffocating.
Coz it smells like shit. Still, one could take a shower, go to Disneyland Paris, study a STEM subject and emigrate to America.

It is precisely this weave which North America repudiates.
Which is why Europe needs American troops to avoid going back to its bad old ways. Sadly, Donald Trump may force them to pay more for the privilege.
Its ideology has been that of sunrise and futurity. When Henry Ford declared that ‘history is bunk’, he was giving a password to creative amnesia, to a power of forgetting which underwrites the pragmatic pursuit of utopia.
Actually, he was saying History was confabulation of a paranoid type. Then he himself became infected by a European strain of that disease.
The most elegant of new buildings has an obsolescence factor of some forty years. 
No new building has been elegant since the Regency.
The Vietnam War did cast an almost old-world shadow;

not in France which lost 55,000 soldiers there. America- a much larger country- lost 58,000. The old world was more prodigal of human lives.

 the 11th of September did send a tremor, a memento mori through the American psyche. 

Uncle Sam's war of revenge killed 1.3 million Muslims and has left tens of millions displaced. No doubt, this is the fault of Starbucks and other such coffee shops.

But these are exceptional and most likely transitory motifs. The strongest memories in American sensibility

Steiner means the memories of Americans of European descent. 

 and idiom are these of promise, of that contract with open horizons

as opposed to the lash and the barracoon.

 which have made, of westward motion and scan, planetary travel a new Eden.

a Wilderness Zion, perhaps. But all roads are from Eden.

 Hence the growing malaise at the very thought of memorialising the destruction of the World Trade Center.

Two holes in the ground which are as ugly as fuck.

 Meanwhile a deliberately brutal and, in my view, misguided symbolic mausoleum entombs a central space in Berlin.

Which richly deserves it.
 How much truer to Jesus’s maxim ‘let the dead bury their dead’ are the men and women of the New World.
because they follow Jesus. Steiner forgets the rest of the 'maxim'. It's tough being a Jew.

Still, its good to know that Steiner's 'idea of Europe' isn't that different from Trump's- except Trump sugar-coats things because of his more genteel upbringing and occupation.

The ambiguous weight of the past tense in the idea and substance of Europe derives from a primordial duality.

Ambiguity is impossible if Monist univocity obtains.

 This is my fourth axiom: the twofold inheritance of Athens and Jerusalem. This relationship, at once conflictual and syncretic, has engaged European theological, philosophic and political argument from the Church Fathers to Leon Chestov, from Pascal to Leo Strauss. 

Only because those witty Athenians thought bumming little boys a good thing. Jerusalem was unenthused by such shenanigans.

The topos is as rich and urgent today as it ever was. To be a European is to attempt to negotiate – morally, intellectually and existentially – the rival ideals, claims, praxis of the city of Socrates and of that of Isaiah.
But Americans are even more inclined to elide a Gothic inheritance to concentrate on what they owe to Jerusalem and Athens.  But it is otiose to negotiate anything in this respect this late in the day. Hellenization by conquest occurred from the Third Century B.C onward. Second Maccabees, written in Greek, is considered a canonical by Catholics. In Theology. too, the tradition inaugurated by Philo of Alexandria tended to prevail.
The seminal role of Hellas is manifest.
In Islamic philosophy but that doesn't make Arab countries European.
Three myths, which are among the most ancient in our culture,
but which are not confined to Europe.
tell of the origins and mystery of music. What is arresting is the perception in archaic Greece, via the tales of Orpheus, of the Sirens and of the murderous contest between Apollo and Marsyas, of the elements in music beyond rational humanity, of the power of music to madden and destroy.
This would indeed be 'arresting' if we hadn't grown up with Heavy Metal rock-stars biting off the heads of bats and praying to Satan.
Our mathematics have been ‘Greek’ at least until the proposal of non-Euclidean geometries and the crisis of the axiomatic implicit in Gödel’s Proof of non-consistency.
No. Medieval Mathematics was indebted to Islam though the Arabs borrowed freely from both the Greeks and the Hindus. The word algebra is from the Arabic. It is this 'devil' which prevailed over 'the angel' of a Geometry whose axioms were synthetic a priori judgments of a type which validated maiuetics or the phenomenological method.
To think, to dream mathematically is to follow on Euclid and Archimedes, on the first conjectures as to paradoxical insolubility in Zeno.
No it isn't. Number theory gives rise to the notion of a series and the limit of a series which in turn gave rise to calculus which in turn was enormously helpful in the burgeoning of Science and Technology.
Plato bade no man enter his academy who was not a geometer. He himself, however, directed the western intellect towards universal questions of meaning, of morality, of law and of politics.
But universal questions are universally asked. Why mention 'the western intellect'? The fact is everybody in all countries thinks philosophers and belle lettrists are as stupid as shit. It is the STEM subjects which have enabled us to live more prosperous, more secure, lives.
As A.N. Whitehead famously put it, western philosophy is a footnote to Plato
a pithy saying
 and, one would add, 
only if one were a verbose cretin
to Aristotle and Plotinus,
whose work could be quite properly called footnotes to Plato
 to Parmenides and Heraclitus.
Who preceded Plato. One could say Plato was a footnote to Parmenides. However, mention of Heraclitus contradicts Whitehead's point by reminding us of the importance of the pre-Socratics to the line of Philosophy associated with Nietzsche and Heidegger. I jest. That shite has no importance. 
 The Socratic ideal of the examined life, the Platonic search for transcendent certitudes, the Aristotelian investigations into the problematic relations between word and world, have set out the road taken by Aquinas and Descartes, by Kant and by Heidegger. 
But we now know it was a road to nowhere.
Thus these three pre-eminent dignities of the human intellect and of shaping sensibility – music, mathematics, metaphysics – underwrite Shelley’s statement that “we are all Greeks”.
Music sounds good and those with talent can do very well out of it. Math is useful and has made us all much richer. Metaphysics is worthless. So is most poetry. How much Shelley does anyone read?

But the inheritance of Athens extends much further.
Athens, like Jerusalem, inherited whatever was available from its neighbors and passed on that heritage. However, for purely Religious reasons, Jerusalem has a special sanctity.
 The vocabulary of our political and social theories and conflicts, of our athletics and architecture, of our aesthetic models and natural sciences remains saturated with Greek roots in both senses of the word. ‘Physics’, ‘genetics’, ‘biology’, ‘astronomy’, ‘geology’, ‘zoology’, ‘anthropology’ are terms derived immediately from classical Greek.
So what? The content of these disciplines has greatly changed or was wholly unknown to the Greeks. The etymology of a word does not matter. It does not determine the trajectory of what it points to.
 In turn, the names carry with them, as does ‘logic’ itself, a specific vision, a particular mapping of reality and its open horizons.
This is nonsense. Names exist so as to solve coordination or discoordination problems. But names can be changed very quickly to anything you like because they are wholly unconnected to reality.
 It is an exaggeration, but a suggestive exaggeration, on Heidegger’s part to affirm that a false translation of Greek “being” or “to be” into Ciceronian Latin determined the destiny of Europe.
If Steiner is right then shitheads like himself would be able to give valuable advice as to which Scientific research programs were likely to succeed. Philologists would head up Venture Capital funds. Einstein would have asked Husserl or Heidegger for help finding a Unified Theory. Sadly, etymology doesn't matter. Hermeneutics doesn't matter. Metaphysics is a pile of shite even if it isn't wholly shite at ancient Greek.
It is no exaggeration whatever to add that this destiny springs no less from the legacy of Jerusalem.
There is no legacy from a geographical location. There is only a legacy from people associated in some way with that place. But for us to receive anything of value, a whole bunch of people had to work very hard in a consistent manner over long stretches of time.
 There is scarcely a vital node in the texture of Western existence, of the consciousness and self-consciousness of Western (and, thereafter, American) men and women which has not been touched by the heritage of the Hebraic.
Which is why everybody loves Jews. By contrast, claiming to be of Cherokee descent while being a practicing Zen master isn't cool at all.
This is as true of the positivist, of the theist, of the agnostic as it is of the believer.
In which case, it is only true because it is meaningless.
The monotheistic challenge, the definition of our humanity as in dialogue with the transcendent, the concept of a supreme Book, the notion of law as inextricable from moral commandments, our very sense of history as purposeful time, have their origin in the enigmatic singularity and dispersal of Israel.
But this strain in Jewish thought was the result of Hellenization by conquest. Isonomia was imposed by Alexander.
It is a cliché to cite Marx, Freud and Einstein (I would add Proust) as the begetters of modernity, as the artisans of our current condition.
It is not a cliche, it is false.
But underneath the cliché lies a formidably complex situation: that of secular Judaism and of the translation into secular terms and values of profoundly Judaic antecedents.
The idea of Israel has profoundly Judaic antecedents, though, no doubt, its roots are in the Ashkenazi pale. The idea of Europe does not have profoundly Judaic antecedents.
Marx’s rage for social justice and messianic historicism are directly concordant with that of Amos or Jeremiah.
Nonsense! Neither Amos nor Jeremiah were Revolutionaries. Marx's inspiration was French, not Jewish.
Freud’s strange assumption of an original crime – the killing of the father – mirrors, graphically, the scenario of the Adamic fall.
No it doesn't. It is a parody of the Eucharist.
There is much that is wonderfully close to the promise of the psalms and of Maimonides
Anything influenced by the Aristotle of Islam will be wonderfully close to Maimonides who fled Spain and found security in Egypt. 
in Einstein’s trust in cosmic order, in his tenacious refusal of chaos.
Okay, okay. Einstein was wrong. Don't rub it in.
Judaism and its two principal footnotes, Christianity and utopian socialism, are descendants of Sinaï, even where Jews themselves were nothing but a despised, hunted handful.
Fuck utopian socialism. Christianity, however, is still going strong. But we could equally speak of it as a footnote to an Agricultural Revolution which began in the Levant or in Asia Minor some ten thousand years ago.
Relations have never been easy. The tension between Jew and Greek obsesses the Pauline invention of Christianity.
St. Paul converted to Christianity. He did not invent it. Tension between Jew and Greek was Alexandrian- not a feature of Asia Minor
The Church Fathers are anxiously alert to the dual magnetism of pagan Athens and Hebrew Jerusalem.
Magnets have poles of opposite valency. A 'dual magnetism' cancels itself out.
How is the truth of Jesus to incorporate the indispensable legacy of classical Greece? – a legacy made the more troubling by its transmission via the Arab and Muslim world.
But the Great Church Fathers, with the exception of Pope Gregory,  died before the Prophet Muhammad was born. The way we 'incorporate indispensable' stuff is by stealing it and pretending it was a legacy from that Uncle of ours who emigrated to Venezuela a few years before he was born which is why nobody has ever heard of him.
Time and again, the polarities sharpen.
But only in the clouded minds of professional gobshites.
More often, European humanism from Erasmus to Hegel seeks diverse forms of compromise between Attic and Hebraic ideals.
Compromises are only desirable if there is some cost or benefit to a negotiated settlement. European humanism was merely a Straussian esotericism of a more or less cowardly type.  The truth is neither ancient Athens or Jerusalem matter in the slightest to sensible people.
But after a lifetime of scrupulous inquiry, Leo Strauss, equally steeped in Talmud and Aristotle, in Socrates and Maimonides,
actually he was an amateur when it came to Hebrew
 concluded that no satisfactory understanding could be negotiated between the ultimate imperatives of philosophic-scientific reason as set out in our Greek heritage and the imperatives of faith and revelation proclaimed in the Torah. Syncretism, however ingenious, would always be flawed. Thus, the ‘idea of Europe’ is indeed a ‘tale of two cities’.
Strauss had the good sense to run away to America though he later cautiously dipped his toe into Israel. Europe wasn't a 'tale of two cities'. It was a shit-show. American troops might keep a portion of Europe safe. But Israel would have to fend for itself. The fact that they did so very successfully caused Strauss to exaggerate his family's orthodoxy. Israel military success was making it safer and safer to be Haredi.
My fifth criterion is an eschatological self-awareness which, I believe, may well be unique to European consciousness.
There can be a self-awareness of approaching the eschaton. There can't be de re eschatological self-awareness because the self is obliterated at that point. It's like asking how a person put through a meat grinder feels about the experience.

True, Occasionalism says God could have willed some monads to have this quality. But it still wouldn't be 'self-awareness'. Rather it would be God's gift of a type of awareness which does not arise from the Self. Still, this could be useful to assert that God has a hidden hierarchy of 'pillars' who uphold the Cosmos. But that sort of thing gets silly very quickly. I could claim that my neighbor's cat is the axis mundi.

Buddhism has a no-self doctrine only because it can't have an eschaton. There is no Past or Future, only this instant and the intension formulated in it.

But better yet is the common sense notion that giving a thing a name don't make it real.
Long before Valéry’s recognition of the “mortality of civilizations”
 i.e. German pedantry of even the most pains-taking sort had nevertheless rendered that Nation stupider than shit
or Spengler’s apocalyptic diagnosis,
Spengler incarnated that shittier than shit stupidity
European thought and sensibility had envisaged a more or less tragic finality.
Till Uncle Sam stationed troops there and Europe could begin to relish its ancient heritage of burgers, pizzas, frankfurters & Disneyland Paris.
Christendom never relinquished completely that expectation of an end to our world which had so deeply marked its early, synoptic days. 
But, this is also a big feature of Shia Islam.
Long after what historians have called “the panic of the year one thousand”, prophecies of eschatological doom, numerologies which seek to fix its date, throng the European popular imagination.
But the recent Mayan doomsday prophesy gained more traction in the popular imagination. Jerusalem and Athens are now one with Machu Picchu & Angkor Wat.
But such expectations were rife not only among the less educated. They busied no less a mind than Newton’s.
Because Newton understood a big meteor strike really could obliterate all life on earth. That was what he found in the Mathematics. It was an empirical matter that telescopes enabled Astronomers to see that the probabilities were acceptably low.
In a secular, intellectualised format, a “sense of an ending” is explicit in Hegel’s theory of history as it had been in Carnot’s momentous formulation of entropy, of the inevitable extinction of all energy.
Steiner is being silly. Hegel and Carnot knew calculus. They were speaking of equilibrium as the limit of an infinite series. But, by the time Steiner was writing this, it was clear that random 'zero point' fluctuations could reverse 'heat death'. Anyway, that's what I read in my Spiderman comic.
Or think of the panoramic paintings of European cities in flame or under raging floods which are so curious an aspect of romantic art. It is as if Europe, unlike other civilizations, had intuited that it would one day collapse under the paradoxical weight of its achievements and the unparalleled wealth and complication of its history.
But that intuition turned out to be wrong. Europe was valuable enough to merit American protection.
Five axioms to define Europe:

Europe is a geographical expression and thus ideographic not nomothetic. 
 the coffee house; the landscape on a traversable and human scale; these streets and squares named after the statesmen, scientists, artists, writers of the past; our twofold descent from Athens and Jerusalem; and, lastly, that apprehension of a closing chapter, of that famous Hegelian sunset, which shadowed the idea and substance of Europe even in their noon hours.
These axioms define Israel. They don't define Europe. Israel lives with the possibility of its annihilation. Fortunately, Evangelical America has some bizarre eschatological belief regarding how this event would link up to the Rapture. Shiah Islam has an even more elaborate eschatology where there are two Resurrections so as to permit a final final Battle. But all this has nothing to do with Europe which had bigger Empires than Alexander and reached pinnacles of Knowledge undreamt of by Solomon.
From Sarajevo to Sarajevo, ethnic hatreds, chauvinistic nationalism and regional claims have been Europe’s nightmare. 
Coz them Serbs be kray kray. If only the Archduke had been killed by a Muslim- as was the original plan- perhaps there would have been no First or Second World War.
The ethnic cleansing and attempted genocide in the Balkans are only a recent example of a plague which extends to Northern Ireland, to the Basque country, to the divisions between Fleming and Walloon.
Nonsense! Nobody expects any similar genocide in Spain or Belgium. On the other hand, the Swiss are bound to start killing each other with pikes any day now.
Legitimately, the global spread of the Anglo-American language, the technological standardisation of daily life, the universality of the internet, are taken to be great steps towards an abrogation of frontiers and ancient hatreds.
This was a plausible view back when Steiner wrote this. Now? Not so much.
Innumerable organisations – legal, economic, military and scientific – strive towards an ever-increasing degree of European collaboration and, ultimately, union. The fantastic success of the American model, of its federalism across immense distances and differing climates, calls for imitation. Never again must Europe succumb to internecine warfare.
Nor become the destination of a folk-wandering. What made Europe vulnerable was France’s lack of an offensive military doctrine from the 1860’s till it gained a nuclear force de frappe.
It may be that the future of the ‘idea of Europe’, if it has one, depends less on central banking and agricultural subsidies, on investment in technology or common tariffs, than we are instructed to believe.
Having a highly effective common border security force to keep out refugees is what the 'idea of Europe' requires. Otherwise, Nations will secure their own borders. Goodbye common European heimat! So long Shengen!
It may be that the OECD or NATO, the further extension of the Euro or of parliamentary bureaucracies on the model of Luxembourg are not the primary dynamics of the European vision. Or if, indeed, they are, that vision is hardly one to rouse the human soul.
Sadly, what most 'roused the human soul' in Europe in the Twentieth Century was total war and genocide.
Yet this ideal of unison is undeniable. It inspires important elements of European thought and statesmanship since Charlemagne.
What about Ceasar? Surely he was even more successful? 
But it is, I believe, only one side of the picture.
There is no picture here. At one time there was a notion of a Christendom as the successor of the Roman Empire. But that notion foundered for both theological and geopolitical reasons. Western Europe was contiguous to the New World by Sea. This gave the edge to the Atlantic littoral. The pitiable condition of Europe's roads and the fractured nature of its polity meant that it was cheaper for Nineteenth Century Germans to start a new life across an ocean than to relocate within its borders. Over 5 million Germans went to America where, with 50 million descendants, they represent the largest single ethnic group.
The genius of Europe is what William Blake would have called “the holiness of the minute particular”.
In which case Steiner's generalizations are un-European. Blake says 
He who would do good to another must do it in Minute Particulars.
General Good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite, and flatterer;
For Art and Science cannot exist but in minutely organized Particulars,
And not in generalizing Demonstrations of the Rational Power:

 Steiner, in between mention of 'axioms' suggestive of 'Rational Power' admits, Europe was not united by people walking around. It was divided by bad roads and customs barriers and police check-posts. 'Minute particulars'- like Road repair and maintenance- mattered. Generalizations were the stock in trade of the 'scoundrel, the hypocrite and the flatterer'. 
In contrast to the awesome monotony which extends from western New Jersey to the mountains of California, in contrast to that lust for sameness which is both the strength and vacancy of so much of American existence, the splintered, often absurdly divisive map of the European spirit and its inheritance, has been inexhaustibly fertile.
Steiner speaks as a man of the late Twentieth Century used to fast trains and motorways. But the motorways of the Shengen zone are just as monotonous as any traversed by the Teamster. The difference is America has more dramatic landscapes and contrasts. Where is the Grand Canyon and where Cheddar Gorge?
Shakespeare’s ringing phrase ‘a local habitation and a name’ identifies a defining character.
No it doesn't. Character, if it is definable at all, is changeful. A local habitation and a name may be a Krpikean designator of identity. But it isn't a designator of character.  The character of my neighborhood has changed greatly over the last 10 years. But its name and location has not changed.
There are no ‘small languages’.
Yes there are. They go extinct all the time. 
Every language contains, articulates and transmits not only a unique charge of lived remembrance, but an evolving energy of its future tenses, a potentiality for tomorrow.
The opposite point may be made with greater truth. No language suffices to communicate anything truly lived or any genuine potentiality. Poetry is this heartbreak. 
The death of a language is irreparable; it diminishes the possibilities of man.
Sadly, the reverse appears to be the case. Keeping a dead language on life support diminishes the human possibilities of the pedants paid to do so.
Nothing threatens Europe more radically – ‘at the roots’ – than the detergent, exponential tide of Anglo-American, and of the uniform values and world-image which that devouring esperanto brings with it.
Steiner is being silly. The tide he speaks of has been around for seventy years. It may indeed have served a detergent or disinfectant function. But, that is a good thing because Europe was going down the toilet and taking half the world with it before America stepped in.
The computer, the culture of populism and the mass-market, speak Anglo-American from the night-clubs of Portugal to the fast-food emporia of Vladivostok. Europe will indeed perish if it does not fight for its languages, local traditions and social autonomies; if it forgets that ‘God lies in the detail’.
We all know what happened when Europe started fighting for stupid shit. Why encourage the Continent to go back to its bad old ways?
This assignment is one of the spirit and of the intellect.
No. It is that of stupidity. Language doesn't matter. Math does. Science does. The Humanities could matter- if Professors didn't keep trying to shit higher than their arseholes. 
It is nonsense to suppose that Europe will rival the economy, military and technological might of the United States.
It is also nonsense to think it couldn't. But America is not the danger. It isn't really true that America is pushing its popular culture down our throats at the point of a bayonet or that technology or economic forces have some sinister agenda of their own. On the other hand, there are guys with hooks for hands who genuinely think the only good kaffir is a dead kaffir.
Already Asia, China in particular, is set to surpass Europe in demographic, industrial and, ultimately, geopolitical significance.
So what? Suppose someone else has a bigger dick than you and you find out that a guy who had a real small dick has successfully had penis enlargement surgery, why should you care? There's always someone with a bigger or smaller dick. Sensible people don't get worked up about this. But Steiner isn't sensible. His stock in trade is his actually being European, though he went to school in Manhattan.
The days of European imperialism and diplomatic hegemony are as far gone as the worlds of Richelieu, of Palmerston and of Bismarck.
So what? Europeans are very much better off. 
The tasks, the opportunities now before us are precisely these which witnessed the high morning light of Europe in Greek thought and Judaic morality.
Fuck off! Back then there was little in the way of technology and so Math had few applications. Thus smart people had to content themselves with poetry and philosophy and religion. But those days are long gone. 
It is vital that Europe re-affirms certain convictions and audacities of soul which the Americanisation of the planet – with all its benefits and generosities – has obscured.
Must 300 million people really all decide to do what some silly Professor suggests? 
Let me formulate these all too briefly.
Steiner can't be brief.
The dignity of homo sapiens is exactly that: the realisation of wisdom, the pursuit of disinterested knowledge, the creation of beauty.
As opposed to writing shite like this to make a little money and gain a little celebrity amongst Credentialized cretins who want to feel superior to the hoi polloi. 
Making money and flooding our lives with increasingly trivialised material goods is a profoundly vulgar, emptying passion.
Like wanting to be a celebrity public intellectual and getting to screw a lot of star-fuckers of a physically less appealing type and thus who wouldn't make the cut for a poke from a sports hero or a rock musician.
It may be that in ways as yet very difficult to make out, Europe will generate a counter-industrial revolution even as it generated the industrial revolution itself.
There have been counter-industrial revolutions featuring Luddites and saboteurs and so forth. They could succeed in shifting industry out of their own backyard. But this is old news. It makes sense for the nicer bits of Europe to concentrate on high value added services. Doing good science or making really beautiful clothes or setting up a Mindfulness resort is actually more profitable than setting up dark satanic mills. 
Certain ideals of leisure, of privacy, of anarchic individualism, ideals almost stifled in the conspicuous consumption and uniformities of the American and Asian-American models, may have their natural function in a European context, even if that context entails a measure of material retrenchment.
Sadly, 'anarchic individualism' is stuff the super-rich will pay a lot for. That's why the talentless in the Arts have to fake it so desperately. 
Those who knew Eastern Europe during the bleak decades, or Britain in austerity, will know what human solidarities and creativities can derive from relative poverty. It is not political censorship that kills: it is the despotism of the mass-market and the rewards of commercialised stardom.
Post-war Britain had rationing and industrialized production of the necessities. Eastern Europe may have had the same qualities. However both had celebrities with a relatively privileged life-style. Evelyn Waugh's 'Scott-King's Modern Europe' deals with a Classics Professor who had travelled widely and comfortably before the war- as had many British people of quite modest means- who has to rely on the largesse of some new 'People's Republic' to taste some small crumb of the good-life in those grim days of Exchange Controls and Travel permits. Waugh foresaw that the Humanities would be corrupted by the eagerness of the 'State trained Academician' to gain invitations to Conferences of a meretricious type. Arthur Koestler's 'The Call Girls', which was published some twenty years later, features more luxurious travel and accommodation for the celebrity public-intellectual, but the quality of discussion is now Steiner-level vacuous. 
These are dreams, perhaps unforgivably naïve. But there are practical ends worth aiming for. It is desperately urgent that we arrest
the Call-girls of the Conference circuit?
, so far as is possible, the drain of our best young scientific (but also humanistic) talent from Europe to the edenic offers of the United States. If our best scientists, our finest young architects, our musicians and scholars abandon Europe, if the gap between American and European salaries, career opportunities, resources for research and collaborative discovery is not bridged, we are indeed doomed to sterility or the second-hand.
Steiner is being silly. If Europe started charging an arm and a leg for Credentials tailored to the credulous, then, sure, it could offer higher salaries for 'super-star' Professors. A better way forward is to spend money on things like CERN. The truly smart will flock to where the research opportunities, not the salaries, are best. 
Already, in key domains, the situation is almost desperate. Yet correction of this is not beyond our means. If young Englishmen choose to rank David Beckham high above Shakespeare and Darwin in their list of national treasures, if learned institutions, bookstores, concert-halls and theatres are struggling for survival in a Europe which is fundamentally prosperous and where wealth has never spoken more loudly, the fault is very simply ours.
Is Steiner going to confess that he and his ilk are shite and have been talking pretentious bollocks all their lives?
As could be the re-orientation of secondary education and the media which would amend that fault. With the collapse of Marxism into barbaric tyranny and economic nullity, a great dream – that, as Trotsky proclaimed, of common man following in the wake of Aristotle and Goethe – was lost.
So, Steiner believes 'the common man' is less than an Aristotle or a Goethe. Oddly, this is not a view either, at their best, actually affirmed. Marxism did not 'collapse into barbaric tyranny'. Bolshevism did. But then the regime it replaced wasn't exactly all sweetness and light.
Free of a bankrupt ideology, it can, it must be dreamt again.
And again and again every time a shithead Professor wants to dash off another worthless article on the idea of Europe. 
It is only in Europe, perhaps, that the requisite foundations of literacy, that the sense of the tragic vulnerability of the condition humaine, could provide a basis.
Perhaps. After all, Europeans are as stupid as shit- as their history in the Twentieth Century amply demonstrates. 
It is among the often weary, divided, confused children of Athens and of Jerusalem that we could return to the persuasion that ‘the unexamined life’ is indeed not worth living.
Which is why Steiner makes a better corpse than he did a public intellectual.