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My Happy Days in Hell

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George Faludy’s memoir of his life in his thirties and early forties is called My Happy Days in Hell. I first read it in September 1986 as a young man of 36.  I finished re-reading it only hours ago. Faludy spent a good portion of early years of World War 2 escaping France and living in French colonial North Africa, before leaving for the United States, where he became a paratrooper. He was, by his own and by the estimationof his fellow countrymen, Hungary’s foremost poet. He returned to Hungary after WW2 with much foreboding, as it was under Soviet occupation. The second half of the book deals with his arrest, interrogation, and imprisonment in a Hungarian forced labour camp, where starvation and beatings were the norm. The day Stalin died in 1953 the reverberations swept the gulags: food was immediately increased, and across the Soviet Empire millions of political prisoners were released over the weeks and months that followed.

The description of the fear and terror that enveloped East European societies in the wake of communist takeover has many echoes today, as Western societies enter into a period of forced speech and political hysterias. Today we have communism without the bother of Marxist economics. Obviously the Deep State has no yet resorted to prison camps for conservatives and liberals (properly so-called) yet but it soon might, if the Democrats and the Deep State behind them decide that imprisonment is an effective tool. I suspect that in today’s society, conformity and obedience can be engineered by Google and Twitter mobs more efficiently than by arrests and obviously unconstitutional procedures, but I don’t bet on it.

There are many treasures in Faludy’s memoir. The most important was his resistance to the constant message that we are nothing but human machines, that we have no souls, that ultimately power will prevail.

The scene: Stalin has died and the prisoners are being released in dribs and drabs over the ensuing months. Faludy is among the last prisoners to be released.

“These men, or rather eighteeen of them, were now waiting to be shaved. These men were the public figures, parlkiamentary deputies and leading intellectuals of the camp; the very men who opposed teh regime more uncompromisingly than the average in their deeds as well as in their thoughts. The seletion was extraordinarily claver for the AVO (secret police), which usually showed little sense for fine distinctions. The experience of forty mnths and hundrds of reports from their informers had made them realize at last that their greatest enemies were not the men who spat on Rackosi’s picture but those who spoke about history and philosophy in their free time”.

George Faludy was released from prison in 1953 and left Hungary in 1956. He lived in Toronto from 1967 until the fall of Communism in Hungary. He died in Budapest in 2006 at the age of 96.

Macron is in trouble with all the right people

It appears that President Macron is no longer favoured by the likes of the Washington Post and the New York Times. A good thing too. Here is Aris Roussinos in Unherd, a periodical I would recommend to your attention on the subject of Macron’s newly found resistance to Islam, right-wing  reaction, and intellectual obscurantism.

 

“Yet it is surely in his vision of Europe as a commonwealth, a continent where we share a sense of belonging and ineffable political values despite our division into discrete nation-states, that we see Macron’s evolution most clearly: the defender of the French Revolution’s values has become an unexpected Burkean. It is not just that his horror at the tyranny and fanaticism of what became of the Arab Spring shapes his worldview, as the French Revolution did Burke’s, with his drift to the right deriving from a similar claimed desire to save liberalism from its own worst excesses.

Macron also echoes Burke’s conception of Europe as a political unit, an orderly and pacific civilisation of its own, and a commonwealth of shared values to be defended against internal and external challengers. Whatever divides us Europeans, he asserts, in a quote which could be lifted directly from Burke’s 1796 Letters on a Regicide Peace, “something unites us. We know that we are European when we are outside of Europe. We feel our differences when we are among Europeans, but we feel nostalgia when we leave Europe.”

 

The joys of not paying attention

The recent media kerfuffle about some boys from Covington high school and their supposedly awful attacks on some poor old Indian have turned around into a media catastrophe. The leftist press got everything wrong – no surprise – but was apprehended in the act, and had to back off. The entire incident will be forgotten in a week. I present this as an important reason why I try not to participate in the blogging of outrage.

In the time the entire event arose, spread, was refuted, and collapsed, I had to go to hospital for a cardiac procedure. (I am well thank you). The slight risk of actual death has a wonderfully concentrating effect on the mind. I turned to youtube videos about saw mills and cabin building. They are my way of engaging in escapist literature.

More than this, they concentrate me into practical efforts that bring exercise, accomplishment, and deep satisfaction in their wake.

The net tendency of Internet participation is to be constantly aggravated. If you are like me, it will be offended by the leftist assault on reason, history, religion, males, the white race, Christianity and morality. If you are anti-Trump, then everything happening these days will be offensive to you sensibilities. The best way to regain your poise and equanimity is to stop paying attention to the shadow play of politics.

Hokum and voodoo

I realize this is not what a political blog ought to say. Yet I am more concerned with my own health and sanity than I am with Trump, Trudeau or any of the dozens of points of concern, such as Brexit, Venezuala, or building pipelines in Canada. We have to remember that the reasons why we are conservatives is that most of life lies beyond and outside of politics, and it is to those wells that we go to draw our spiritual water.