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UnHerd picks: The week’s best Substacks

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October 15, 2021 - 7:00am

This week saw an intensifying global supply chain crisis, the downfall of populists across central Europe, and culture war flare ups around Sally Rooney and Dave Chapelle. What was going on in the ‘stacks, away from the headlines?

Salman Rushdie’s new Substack was announced a few weeks ago to great fanfare. So far it has lived up to expectations. This account of meeting, then remembering, Italo Calvino is a straightforward delight.

Richard Hanania wrote about US Civil Rights Law as a form of class warfare, “in which elites take their preoccupations and hangups about race and enlist powerful institutions to force these standards on everyone else.” Robert Wright x-rayed the ‘Blob’ — the people, the think tanks, the media outlets, and government bodies that shape US foreign policy. Antonio GarcĂ­a MartĂ­nez wrote about his conversion to Judaism, and why human beings are usually religious, whether they’re aware of it or not:

Nihilism, true existential nihilism, is something most of us can’t really live with for any length of time. Do it long enough, and you’ll end up like me strung out on SSRIs and benzos for months until you find some way out of it, assuming you ever do.
- Antonio GarcĂ­a MartĂ­nez , Substack

Dominic Cummings had some new advice this week. And not the usual “do not trust the PM” advice either. Winter is coming and the government isn’t making any statements about… Vitamin D supplements. Cummings writes that most public health officials he encountered in government took Vitamin D, but “don’t tell you to do this.” Here’s his public health message:

Now summer has gone I’m taking VitD supplements again and have advised family and friends over 40 to do the same. NB. While I know what these experts are telling older people, I do NOT know if they think the same about children. The same advice may NOT apply — check this yourself.
- Dominic Cummings, Substack

In the Sight of the Unwise wondered why the US military keeps making the same mistakes over and over again when it goes to war. Why didn’t the US learn from its failures in Vietnam? Perhaps the problem is that America does not fully grasp its role in the world:

The global hegemon is a nation that does not conceive of itself as an empire, and so will not impose direct political rule on the nations it conquers. This leaves American objectives ultimately dependent on the competence of local elites. Sometimes this works out, but when it fails, the US is left with no recourse.
- In the Sight of the Unwise, Substack

Abigail Shrier was exasperated by conservatives failure to take the ‘Gender War’ seriously stateside. Wesley Yang continued to outline the contours of a new ‘disciplinary society’ in the United States:

Through a combination of grassroots activism, media advocacy, and executive branch fiat, a progressive movement embedded within the Democratic party was able to create a permanent state of exception within the rule of law and build a working model of a new kind of disciplinary society — one existing within the framework of traditional law, but reaching out to seize parts of the surrounding framework that enclosed it. The movement used its ties to a media structurally aligned in its incentives to treating the bearers of righteous moral crusades that permit the narrativization of events as a morality play to elicit overwhelmingly favorable coverage. 
- Wesley Yang, Substack

And a sceptical Dan Hitchens asked is it really possible, as we are so often told, that people can achieve anything?

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Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

Good to see Abigail Shrier hasn’t allowed herself to be silenced in her campaign to prevent healthy girls permanently mutilating themselves with medical connivance.
PS UnHerd, have you invited an article from her?

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

I like the weekly substacks review. It always links to some interesting articles.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant