Archive for March 23rd, 2015

Greatness

The problem with greatness is that nowhere near enough of it comes along to rely on. To assume it, therefore, is a prospective vice, even if it is (retrospectively) indispensable to historical understanding. It would be more convenient for everybody if it could be ignored completely. This is one of those moments in which it clearly cannot be.

LKY0

The important things to note about Lee Kuan Yew have all been said innumerable times before, and again in the last few days. He was a Neoreactionary before anybody knew what that was, an autocratic enabler of freedom, an HBD-realist multiculturalist, a secessionist Anglospherean, and the teacher of Deng Xiaoping. Right now, it’s tempting to be glib in proclaiming him the greatest statesman of modern times — but he almost certainly was:

In the 1950s and ’60s, Lee traveled from Sri Lanka to Jamaica looking for success stories of former British colonies to emulate. Fortunately, he chose different models instead: He decided to study the Netherlands’ urban planning and land reclamation, and the oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell’s management structure and scenario-led strategy-making. Singapore, it is often joked, is the world’s best-run company. Lee is the reason why. […] … Now the yardstick is not personality but institutions. Lee Kuan Yew-ism, not Lee Kuan Yew. This is why the 21st century belongs to him more than to icons of Western democracy like Thomas Jefferson or even Jean Monnet, the founding father of the European Union.

There are some interesting obituary pieces out there that are definitely worth a look, but mostly even the sympathetic Western media thinks it knows better (1, 2, 3, 4). It really doesn’t.

ADDED: “The evolution of Lee’s racism …”

ADDED: Spandrell and Jim on LKY.

March 23, 2015admin 23 Comments »
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Sentences (#14)

John Derbyshire cites (with great approval) this sentence from Oscar Wilde:

I have never come across anyone in whom the moral sense was dominant who was not heartless, cruel, vindictive, log-stupid and entirely lacking in the smallest sense of humanity.

(I’d prefer to see the same point made less moralistically.)

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March 23, 2015admin 7 Comments »
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