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Vienna's empty streets
December 2018 / January 2019

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The massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh is one reminder that this evil is not as far behind us as we all wish. But on top of the unimaginable stories and the horror of what happened in that attack, there seemed something additionally needless about the way in which politics began to intrude from the moment the killings had happened. America is so divided at the moment that it is as though people are waiting in every wing trying to notch atrocities up for their or their opponent’s side.

Perhaps it was to be expected, so close to the midterm elections, but people saying that the massacre was a reason why people should vote either Republican or (more often) Democrat seemed very near sacrilegious. Of all the things that are wrong about the thinking of our time one of the worst — covered in Jonathan Haidt’s excellent new book (see this issue's Underrated) — is that life is a straightforward fight between identifiably evil people and identifiably good ones. The idea that “pro” or “anti” Pittsburgh was on the ballot paper is a monstrous delusion.
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One thing that seems to be throwing a lot of people at the moment is trying to work out what is happening as opposed to what is being said. And then working out what is more important — the words, or the deeds. We seem to have agreed that words matter more, probably because they are easier to absorb. That was certainly one conclusion I took from the reaction to President Macron’s speech warning about the perils of nationalism. At the same time that the French president was giving that speech he was reintroducing national service in his country. What is national service for, if not the nation? And where is the line between nationalism and, say, national service? There may well be one. But they cannot be in complete opposition, can they?
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Anonymous
March 17th, 2019
7:03 PM
The obvious reason why Macron is reintroducing national service to France is so that French taxpayers can do their bit to train soldiers for the Army of the European Union.

Ano Nymous
December 19th, 2018
5:12 PM
"there seemed something additionally needless about the way in which politics began to intrude from the moment the killings had happened" Old Dougie has never done this at all when Muslim extremists do anything. Nope, not at all.

observer
December 7th, 2018
12:12 AM
I too was in Vienna recently (September this year to be exact) and the city seemed far from empty. In fact one of the staff at the main tourist information centre actually used the words "Vienna is full". This is in marked contrast to my last visit to the city in 2001 when it was possible, for example, just to drop into the Cafe Central for a coffee without having to stand in line waiting for a free table. In 2001 the art galleries were peaceful places visited by art lovers. Now they are plagued with tourists taking selfies as they stand by famous Klimt or Schiele paintings. Away from the tourist spots multicultural "enrichment" has given Vienna drab streets lined with tatty little shops and ugly snack bars (just like so much of multicultural London). Native Viennese are scarce in these areas and it is easy to get the impression that the Middle East is pushing further and further West.

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