Ballard: Our need for catastrophes

The cultural revolution of the 1960s had an undeniably profound impact on the people who lived amidst its birth pangs. In 1986 a film crew came to make a short documentary about the writer JG Ballard. In the interview, Ballard pointed out that the world which we inhabit requires a certain amount of oil to make the cogs go around and keep the wheels turning. For Ballard it was sex which played such a role in the 1960s, but now sex is no longer a new frontier and increasingly violence has become the oil which keeps the wheels turning. The … Continue reading

Taking advantage of Islam

michel houellebecq

On January 7 2015, Cherif and Said Kouachi, two French Algerians radicalised by the war in Iraq, entered the offices of Charlie Hebdo. It was a Wednesday, and the writers had gathered for an editorial meeting. When the shooting began, the satirists thought it was firecrackers.The deaths of a dozen journalists shook France. It was the deadliest terror attack on French soil since 1961 when the OAS, a fascist paramilitary group, bombed a train killing 28 passengers. At the time, the front cover of Charlie Hebdo bore a caricature of Michel Houellebecq on the front cover. In the unflattering cartoon, Houellebecq … Continue reading

Folk Devils of the Far-Right

Last year, when the Rotherham child abuse scandal broke the narrative was ready-made. The perpetrators were Asian men, the victims were white girls: it’s multiculturalism, stupid! The proponents of diversity and tolerance were painted as rape apologists. It was a particularly powerful case. An estimated 1,400 underage girls had been abused by these men. The emotional pitch is strong and piercing. The forces of reaction often set out to monopolise the most emotionally-satisfying answers. So a lot of people actually blamed ‘political-correctness’. As if the social services feared accusations of racism so much that they covered up a systematic pattern … Continue reading