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Category Archives: Nihilism

The Advancing Nihilism and the Rot of Post-Modernism in the West – The Jewish Voice

Posted: June 20, 2020 at 10:53 am

By: Jason D. Hill

Much has already been written on the horrific and tragic killing of George Floyd, and much has been written and debated about the existence or non-existence of systemic racism in our society and in the police departments of the United States of America. I submit that reasonable people can have reasonable disagreements about that issue; they can offer reasonable counterfactuals and equally compelling rejoinders. I am a philosopher by training, and one possessed of a cold, unsentimental mind by temperament. Therefore, I take it that an absence of a consensus about issues that are far from unassailable truths can exist without civic life and social trust and cohesion falling into total disarray.

What bothers me about the culture wars taking place in the streets of American cities as I listen (not unsympathetically to the cries of the hearts of people who have genuinely suffered from prejudice and brutality in their lives) is a number of things. First and foremost is the unchanneled rage and directionless anger that is harming not just innocent citizens of all races, but also the very people in whose names the protests and riots are offered up as a form of both restorative and retributive justice, and as invisible victims in systemically corrupt institutions: black people.

When black and white protestors indiscriminately tear down or deface the statues of slaves traders and white abolitionists with equal abandon; when Winston Churchill, a gallant war hero and indisputable defender of Western civilization who, along with the United States, saved the West from the rapacious ravages of Hitlers expansionist design for racially-dominated Aryan rule, is considered morally indistinguishable from racial separatists; and when the latter are lumped with white abolitionists who gave their lives for black emancipation, there is no lower place to sink in terms of both cognitive dissonance and moral depravity. In an imperfect world, moral and conceptual distinctions must be made. In London, the statue of Abraham Lincoln was vandalized at a Black Lives Matter protest.

Lincoln was the heroic president who went to war to free the American slaves and who was killed for it. In Washington D.C., protestors raged against Admiral David Farragut, who went against the separatists in his own state of Tennessee and joined the Union. Today he is widely known as the hero of the Battle of Mobile Bay which dealt a major blow to the Confederate States. Murderer and colonizer were also spray-painted near the name of abolitionist advocate Mattias Baldwin in Philadelphia. Here is a man who was a champion of black voting rights, who paid for and championed the education of black children before the Civil War, and who was known to pay for teachers out of his own money. To show the rampant ignorance at work here, in Boston, protestors vandalized a monument to the 54th Massachusetts regiment. This was the second all-black volunteer regiment of the Union. The list could go on of black and white fighters who fought against the oppression of blacks, and whose symbolic representations are the targets of indiscriminate attacks.

I leave aside the ethicality and appropriateness of removing historical symbols associated with racial oppression for the moment. When looters see a white statue and tear it down because it bears the representation of a white figureregardless of the moral values such a person whom the statue represents actually stood for, we have resorted to a dangerous form of inverted racism and biological collectivism; the logical corollary of the latter is an insidious form of determinism: the idea that a persons racial ascriptive identity can be used to ascribe moral, social or political significance to a persons genetic lineage.

This is the old-school type of racism that informed racial supremacy by whites over blacks in segregated America, and over Jews in NAZI Germany. One would expect the opponents of any kind of racial supremacy to recognize, in principle, the dangers of fighting one form of racism one believes one is fighting against with another: when you kill a person because he is black or Asian or white and for that reason only, you adhere to a principle of chemical predestination: the idea that characterological traits are produced by some form of racial internal body chemistry and, that for such a reason, you must rid the person of those traits by killing him or her.

In the calls to decolonize course syllabi on campus colleges we see a perversion of any fight against legitimate racism. There is now momentum on college campuses to decolonize the syllabi of courses populated with canonical texts written by white (usually) male scholars, writers and thinkers. If one can indiscriminately attack and vandalize the statues of slave abolitionists, cultural heroes and fighters for racial equality like Winston Churchill, David Farragut, Matthias Baldwin, and Abraham Lincoln, then one can equally imagine the deranged amoral imagination of educators calling for course syllabi to be expunged of male white canonical figures. Nowhere can it be imagined that the moral and emancipatory vocabularies for oppression could ever have arisen from some of these canonical figures such as John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, John Locke, Thomas Paine, Hugo Grotius, Charles Dickens, and even Aristotle.

I myself was shocked when I received an email from my home institution apprising me of a workshop that had as one of many programs on its agenda the business of decolonize that syllabus. The reasoning is predicated on misguided social engineering. This is not a matter of diversifying the syllabus. It means literally divesting it of all white canonical figures who are presumed to be racist because they are white and who wrote during particular historical epochs that did not celebrate black agency. I leave aside the obvious malarkey of such reasoning which is putatively obvious and emphasize a point I have made in previous essays: our universities have ceased to be bastions of learning and have become national security threats, purveyors themselves not just of inverse racism, but educational tropes of cultural Marxism where hatred of America and the most ameliorative aspects of Americas civilization are presented as part of the systemic and endemic problem.

What we are witnessing in the ascendancy of the culture wars whether in certain segments in the streets, or, in virtually all domains of our educational systems is virulent nihilism predicated on an axis of moral and cultural relativism.

Moral relativism advances the idea that there are no objective criteria to adjudicate among competing truth claims. Its ruling principle is subjectivism. What one feels is the truth constitutes the truth. Logic and reason according to the more radical school of subjectivism, is the creation of racist and imperialist white constructs. But if nihilism is the logical concomitant of relativism, one must now ask: what is the school and the philosophical foundation of relativism? What first foundational principles underscore the relativism that gives rise to the nihilism in the streets and in our educational systems? (Front Page Mag)

Jason D. Hill is professor of philosophy at DePaul University in Chicago, and a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. His areas of specialization include ethics, social and political philosophy, American foreign policy and American politics. He is the author of several books, including We Have Overcome: An Immigrants Letter to the American People (Bombardier Books/Post Hill Press). Follow him on Twitter @JasonDhill6.

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Dads, kids and lifes curve balls: Here are 6 books to consider for Fathers Day – Seattle Times

Posted: at 10:53 am

Fatherhood changes everything for the man who can grow with the ride. A few of the books below are about such men; others are about kids and dads facing lifes curve balls.

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama.Its been nice to have former first couple Barack and Michelle Obama very much in the current conversation about systemic racism and inequity in America. Obamas 1995 memoir concerns his young life in Honolulu; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Chicago, up until his entrance to Harvard Law School in 1988. The book captures what the author, while growing up, wistfully imagined his absent Kenyan father, Barack Obama Sr., to be, based on stories told by his mother and grandparents. Obama describes meeting his father, an economist, for a brief time in 1971. Years later (after the elder man died), the future president visited Kenya to better understand that half of his identity.

Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev.Turgenevs 1862 classic features two fathers who delight in their college-age sons, but struggle with the philosophical nihilism that consumes each young man. One of the latter, Arkady, raised by a widower on his country estate, is captivated (at least for a time) by the cynicism of his friend Bazarov. During days and weeks spent at one anothers family homes and as guests of a beautiful, wealthy widow, Anna both Arkady and Bazarov are unexpectedly stirred from their radical dismissiveness of emotions by love for women, and come into conflict with one another over the value of traditional mores.

Mary Shelley by Miranda Seymour; Young Romantics: The Shelleys, Byron, and Other Tangled Lives by Daisy Hay.The story of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley is, in many ways, the story of a brilliant but haunted woman who lost her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, from complications of Marys birth. Then years later she lost her father, Charles Godwin, as well when he ostracized her for her live-in relationship with the poet Percy Shelley (while Godwin simultaneously put pressure on Shelley to give him money). Yet Godwin, like Wollstonecraft, had made his name much earlier as a freethinking radical in English politics and culture wars. His original ethos deeply influenced both Mary and Percy Shelley, who tried to live by those principles long after a more conservative Godwin abandoned them. Both of these books are compelling reads into that stark divide in a fathers legacy.

Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces by Michael Chabon.The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay was advised in the early years of his career to refrain from having children, lest he compromise his commitment to writing good books. Well, quite a few books and four children later, Chabon collected several essays for this delightful volume about lessons learned both from guiding ones kids while also following their leads to see what makes them tick. This is not a parenting how-to, but rather a humble immersion into bottomless love.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury; A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine LEngle.Searching for a dad-themed classic to read aloud to your pre-teen/early-teen kids? Dont overlook these speculative fiction touchstones. Bradburys supernatural adventure pits its demonic villain, the soul-sucking Mr. Dark and his nefarious carnival, against the decency and wisdom of a young protagonists aging father. Good and evil also tangle in LEngles perennial favorite, the tale of children crossing time, space and multiverses in search of the father whose spirit kept them going long after he mysteriously disappeared.

Swing Low: A Life by Miriam Toews.Canadian writer Toews (All My Puny Sorrows) engaged a remarkable strategy with this memoir about her bipolar father, Mel Toews, who died by suicide in 1998. Miriam narrates Mels story from his first-person perspective, beginning with his commitment to a Winnipeg psychiatric facility, an event that prompts him to scrutinize his life. Miriam (through Mels voice) recalls his despondent youth; how he defied advice to eschew marriage, fatherhood and career (he became a beloved teacher) because of mental illness; and how his relative stability eroded upon retiring from his work. The book is a talented daughters moving experiment in understanding a parents pain.

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The right to protest is at the center of two movies about the counterculture – Oneonta Daily Star

Posted: at 10:53 am

The Democratic National Convention was held in Chicago in August 1968 as demonstrations against the war in Vietnam were churning across the United States. The assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and U.S. Sen.Robert F. Kennedy earlier that year added to the pall of anger and uncertainty across the country. President Lyndon B. Johnson had decided not to run for re-election in the face of intensifying protests opposing the war. The Democratic nominee would be his vice-president, Hubert H. Humphrey Jr.

Outside the convention hall, violent attacks were committed by the Chicago police against demonstrators. These assaults were shown live on American television.

Chicagos legendary combative mayor, Richard J. Daley, as fierce a smoke-filled backroom wheeler-dealer as any character created by a novelist, was determined that his beloved Chicago not be shamed by protests and that the convention would proceed smoothly. He ordered the police to crush the demonstrators who had gathered in his city.

Its this backdrop that provides the core of one of the most important movies about the counterculture and the right to peaceably assemble ever produced by a major motion picture studio. Medium Cool, released in 1969, is as essential as a film can be.

In Chicago in 1968, celebrated cinematographer Haskell Wexler was directing a narrative feature for Paramount Pictures he had written (and would photograph). The result is a superb mix of fiction and fact thats not only the chronicle of a working man who gets fired from his job because he takes a bold stand against his bosses, but its also a believable story of romantic affection.

Robert Forster plays John Cassellis, a Chicago television news cameraman who discovers that his station is turning over footage of anti-war protestors to the FBI. His intense anger about this results in his dismissal. His love life has taken a positive turn because hes developed a relationship with single mom Eileen (Verna Bloom). Her young son, Harold, runs away from home.

John is doing freelance work at the Democratic National Convention. Eileen goes to the convention area to seek help from John to find her son and becomes caught up in the chaos. The films closing half-hour must never be revealed to those who havent seen it.

Through it all, Wexler expertly combines fictional footage with actual footage of the battle for Chicagos streets. His cinematographers eye is brilliant and his sense of how to tell a powerful story is equal to any of the great directors who came of age during this period of important American cinema.

In 2003, Medium Cool was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library Of Congress for being culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.

The movie, suitable for adults and teenagers, is available on DVD and Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

Meanwhile, the great Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni had decided to make his American filmmaking debut in Los Angeles with a drama called Zabriskie Point. This was after the international success of the sensational London-set Blow-Up, from 1966, his first English-language work, and one of my favorite movies.

Antonioni, who was the master of capturing ennui among the middle-class in his native Italy, wanted to now capture the revolutionary fervor in 1968 of Americas youth. Drawing from the true story of a young man who stole a small prop plane from a local airfield, Antonioni wrangled four other screenwriters, including American playwright Sam Shepard, and created Zabriskie Point, which was released in 1970 by the legendary MGM studio. Its executives were apoplectic at the sex and nihilism Antonioni delivered.

Gorgeously photographed by Carlo Di Palma, the drama has two centerpieces, an orgy in Californias Mojave Desert and the blowing up of a house that went on for many minutes in slow-motion and actually set the standard for slow-motion Hollywood explosions.

Using mostly amateur performers, Antonionis tale follows Mark (played by occasional American model Mark Frechette), who walks out of an ineffective university protest meeting that is accomplishing nothing. Hes willing to die, but not of boredom for the cause.

Kathleen Cleaver, the real-life wife of Black Panther Party leader Eldridge Cleaver, is in the scene. One thing we learn is that women are still expected to make coffee.

During protests on campus, a police officer is shot perhaps by Mark, but probably not. Mark steals an airplane and eventually flies it over a car in the desert being driven by Daria, a footloose beauty played by dancer Daria Halprin, but no ones idea of a talented actress. He lands. They meet.

A professional actor, Rod Taylor, is a real estate developer, and the story zooms forward with Mark planning to return the plane and Daria left in tears. Theyve bonded in the desert.

The weak acting hampers, but doesnt derail, what is a ultimately a fragmented study of illusion, reality, and the joy and beauty of youth hampered by capitalist rules and the need to work for a living.

Zabriskie Point is not a failed movie by any stretch of the imagination; however, it feels made by a committee, and never truly soars like Marks revolutionary spirit and airplane. The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd provide music. The visuals win the day.

The film, suitable for adults and mature teens, is available on DVD.

Michael Calleri reviews films for the Niagara Gazette and the CNHI news network. Contact him at moviecolumn@gmail.com.

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The ACTU needs to start a daily paper. There’s nothing else left – Crikey

Posted: at 10:53 am

It's time to admit that the entire spectrum of daily newspapers is controlled by the right and that we need to do something about it.

The resignation of Alex Lavelle, editor of The Age, comes as a mild shock but no great surprise. A week after management and staff of that once great newspaper protested about both de facto control from Sydney over content, and directions to slant news in a rightwards direction, Lavelle has gone. Ahead of being pushed? Because there was no movement on managements part? Well find out, I guess, but it amounts to the same thing.

Both The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald are being pushed in a rightward political direction, after the abolition of Fairfax by Greg Hywood, and the folding of the papers into an outfit founded by Frank Packer and currently chaired by Peter Costello.

The sole aim of this process is to destroy a base of left-liberal, or even liberal-centrist, thought, for political purposes. This process was underway in the final decades of Fairfax. It was steered by no commercial decision.

There was a huge audience base for a pluralist centre-left daily publication in both cities and especially in Melbourne, Stockholm-on-the-Yarra. The papers were steered towards a centre-right perspective precisely to destroy the power of that social-political formation.

The destruction of The Age, once rated as one of the 10 great newspapers of the world, is a testament to the nihilism of capitalism, and the deep and complacent intellectual mediocrity of many of the people who led Fairfax in past decades, and who lead Nine now.

Well, look, save what can be saved, and support the staff in their struggle, but as a base for a left-liberal perspective, The Age is gone. Its simply over. We have to be clear-eyed about this and admit that the entire spectrum of daily newspapers/news sites is controlled by the right.

Those who want a left-liberal daily news centre are going to have to establish one. And realistically, the only body with the clout, cash and audience to do that is the union movement.

Yes, the ACTU needs to establish a daily newspaper. This is something the union movement should have done many decades ago, but the need now is urgent. They need to put very serious money into a daily that has both an online publication, and a tabloid paper publication.

They need to create a paper/site that can be read by anyone with an average high school education, that has good comprehensive coverage of news, sport, celeb stuff, without being dominated by it, but with a core section on politics, economics and social and global affairs that gives a range of left and centre-left views on the issues of that day.

We need a large-scale, hugely backed paper/site that can attack head on the de facto right-wing way in which all industrial relations is discussed currently as to how much union power should be restrained the bias towards privatisation, market solutions, an export culture which has seen us destroy our national manufacturing plant as a sacrifice to the gods of ideology, and much much more.

Would there be difficulties with this? You bet. The stab at a daily backed by super funds, The New Daily, appears to have lost some of its leftist zeal. But this is once again a case of the wider movement not seeing how much needs to be sunk in to such a thing, and how essential it has now become (something quite different to, and complementary of, the mission of this excellent publication, I should add).

How is it that a movement with millions of members and billions under command in super funds, is content to have no large-scale media of its own? That has a long history. For decades the union movement could rely on its role as a quasi-state apparatus to maintain its power, and the close communal relations of the working-class to form networks of political transmission. City-based tabloids werent right-wing pamphlets, because they had a left-wing working-class audience they didnt want to alienate. Indeed, until the 1960s, the main enemies were The Age and the SMH, the Liberal partys ideological wing.

That all switched pretty fast, as society changed its composition. From the 60s onwards both broadsheets became reliably left-liberal, and even if the middle-class more than the working-class read them, they were a crucial place to argue left political and economic policies toe-to-toe with the right. That reliance encouraged complacency, and now, here we are.

So, if we cant get an alternative voice, and I dont see who else can provide its core (even if a few liberal multimilli/billionaires are added on the top), then were finished. Presumably, with todays announcement on higher education, that point becomes obvious. Its going to be onslaught after onslaught from here on, with no large-scale base from which to mount a sustained alternative argument to a broad audience.

This country is then just Alabama on the Pacific, in which the left, even the centre-left, is a permanent oppositional presence, nothing more, and quietly abandons any notion of winning power, or even setting an agenda, which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The leadership of the union movement needs to shake itself out of its modest expectations, its long-learnt petitioning, protesting role, its cultivated lack of audacity, its narcissistic pursuit of internal divisions, and acquire the ambition to set the agenda, and become a full countervailing force to what is now a large-scale right totality.

Like many people raised on The Age, Ill still glance at it in the morning. It still does great stuff investigation-wise. I still trust its core journos and editors to stand up to undisguised political heavying. But if management wants to go a certain way, it will eventually get its way. As something that it was, The Age and the SMH are gone. Mourn them and move on. Or stick around for the next funeral, which is ours.

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Fans of beloved icon are in for real shock – Morning Bulletin

Posted: at 10:53 am

When it comes to TV lawyers, Perry Mason is venerated.

For more than 270 episodes from 1957 to 1966, the cool, calm and collected defence lawyer, played by an unflappable Raymond Burr, through logic and a rigid formula, would somehow persuade the guilty party to confess on the stand.

There was certainty and comfort to a Perry Mason episode: Justice would be served, chaos reined in and order restored. And we can all go to bed without any moral quandaries or ethical indigestion.

The 2020 Perry Mason? Not on your life.

The 1932-set prequel HBO miniseries, starting on Foxtel* on Monday, starring Matthew Rhys as Mason, Tatiana Maslany and John Lithgow couldn't be more different to Burr's iteration. It's gritty, dark and veers towards nihilism at times.

Fans of Burr's version and the Erle Stanley Gardner books that previous radio and screen adaptations have been based on, may be shocked. This is not the Perry Mason you thought you knew. It is not your grandparents' Perry Mason.

The titular character is messed-up, violent and gripped by neuroses, self-doubt and PTSD. He's emblematic of the US of that era, still reeling from the effects of the Great War and the Great Depression while striving to find a purpose.

It's an origin story of how Perry Mason transforms from a barely hanging on private detective to the defence lawyer he's better remembered as.

"What drew me to this character was that it was the redefining of an iconic character," Rhys says. "Mason, to me, is an incredibly flawed character and that makes him an infinitely more human character.

Matthew Rhys believes this version of Perry Mason is much more relatable. Picture: Foxtel

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"My hope is people will relate to him and feel he's accessible because when I watch superheroes or perfect people, I find it hard to relate to them or find a way in. What I liked about his flaws is that they're very justified.

"You can see how the cracks have opened in him and the key moments in his life have affected him and are affecting him.

"The journey is going to be pretty big and interesting. Mason starts out as one thing on this very traumatising case and then ends up something completely different, something he didn't think he was capable of or wanted to do. But he always has this incredible sense of justice."

The Welsh-born Rhys, who is best known to international TV audiences for his long-running roles on The Americans and Brothers & Sisters, wasn't originally meant to play this revamped version of Perry Mason.

That was to be Robert Downey Jr, who was approached a decade ago along with his wife and producing partner Susan Downey to make a Perry Mason movie set in contemporary times.

The pair, who produced Perry Mason through their Team Downey production company, weren't interested in making a modern version - they wanted to go back to Gardner's novels, the first of which was published in 1933 and decided TV was the better medium to tell a fuller story.

"We couldn't tell the story that we wanted to explore (with a feature)," Susan Downey says. "Even if it is a single case, there were so many facets and worlds that we wanted to dive into that we decided the best way to do that is on television."

Downey Jr's film schedule was also too demanding for him to take on the role as intended, so the challenge fell to Rhys.

Rhys was delighted. "As we all know, (Downey Jr) is a very busy man so his diary is booked for many, many, many years. So I was very lucky about that fact. But he was incredibly gracious as well. There was no direction from him - he said to me, 'You've got to make it your own now, here's the hat.'

"He popped by a couple of times and brought very nice food and drink, and he left us alone."

Gardner wrote more than 80 Perry Mason novels and short stories from 1933 and 1973, which has sold millions and millions of copies around the world.

The 1957 TV version with Raymond Burr (centre) as Perry Mason.

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One of the distinct things about Gardner's work is that he didn't give backstories to his core characters - we don't really know much about Perry Mason, secretary Della Street or investigator Paul Drake.

Ron Fitzgerald and Rolin Jones were the writers and showrunners hired to steer the ship, and they were clear about what they did and didn't want Perry Mason to be.

"Perry Mason was flesh and blood, and so was Paul and Della. They weren't a delivery system to solve a crime and to give you a satisfying piece of pie at the end of 51 minutes," Fitzgerald says.

"We weren't interested in approaching this in a 'crime of the week' manner. That kind of formula has been done and done very well, and on a bunch of shows, so we didn't feel like there was really much room to add anything to it.

"For us, it became really exciting when we were able to go back to the original stories and look at those books and go, 'Wait, this guy's not in court, he's doing a bunch of private investigating' and then we asked ourselves, 'What must his background have been to have been able to beat the cops to the solution of all these crimes?'"

Executive producer and director Tim Van Patten contends that modern audience expectations are for more "fully formed characters, and that means having backstory".

Fitzgerald said the first thing they did was be firm that they weren't locked into what the 1950s TV show was even though it's "an icon, it's very sacred among everybody who loved and watched it".

"With HBO, you know that you have the freedom to get closer to a true depiction of life as we know it, and that includes some language, some sex and adult situations and stuff like that," he says.

Much grittier than youd expect.

There is indeed a lot of sex and violence in the series - including some graphic shots.

One person who would not have been happy with the more "lurid" aspects of the revamped series is Gardner's now-deceased widow Agnes who gave an interview in 1990 that her late husband would never have approved of sex and violence in his Perry Mason stories.

Fitzgerald and Jones laugh at this.

"I think his widow was telling a version of his life. If you do a little digging into Erle Stanley Gardner, he might've had some, you know" Jones trails off before adding, "The estate has been really generous and lovely working with us so there's no reason to air some dirty laundry or something.

"But I take that source as what that source is. Or read the novels and there are all sorts of clues to what Erle Stanley Gardner's life experience was."

Rhys isn't the second actor to take up the role of Perry Mason, he's not even the third or fourth. Between the radio plays, the TV show and some movies, Rhys is the 10th actor to play the famous lawyer.

It's a character that you could easily call iconic.

"There have been a couple of moments in my life when I've played relatively iconic people," Rhys says, recalling famous real-life figures he's portrayed on screen including Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

"The experiences have opened me up to seeing that people, and I include myself in this, have an idea or a definition of who that character should be without necessarily having the real history to back it up.

"They said, 'Oh, we're going to remake Perry Mason,' and even though the show was very big in Britain and I had this idea of who Perry Mason was - this real virtuous, justice-at-all-costs kind of martyr that gets everyone to confess on the stand.

"But I couldn't really recall watching it. I thought I knew who he was but then I thought 'Hang on, I don't think I've ever seen an episode.' In my experience, that's what people tend to do, they have a firm idea of who Perry Mason but can't recall the previous versions succinctly."

John Lithgow plays a mentor character to Mason while Juliet Rylance portrays Della Street.

Rhys says he was able to let go, which in itself was intimidating to a point.

"The older I get, the less I care, which I think has helped me a lot.

"What was really liberating was at the beginning, the team said, 'Look, this is our Perry Mason, this will be your Perry Mason, this is the redefining of him. They stripped away that intimidating aspect (of playing an icon)."

Co-star Maslany, who plays a charismatic evangelical preacher modelled after real-life woman Aimee Semple McPherson, describes this version of Perry Mason as "completely fresh and new".

"He feels so contemporary - he definitely lives in a grey area, which is very compelling to watch," she said.

Even with all the tonal, thematic and character changes, Fitzgerald believes the team can mount a case that Perry Mason is still true to the spirit of the novels.

Downey says: "Erle Stanley Gardner was a lawyer before he was a writer, and at that time everybody was a little corrupt, as it is said in our show - everybody's a little guilty of something, it's just how you play in the grey areas for the greater good.

"And that is absolutely the spirit of the stories he tells in the books. (If Gardner was still around) I hope he sees that we are trying to be to true to it and deliver it in a way that's going to get as broad an audience as possible so people can really appreciate what he created so many years ago."

Perry Mason starts on Fox Showcase and Foxtel Now on Monday, June 22 at 8.30pm

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*Foxtel is majority-owned by News Corp, the publisher of news.com.au

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Did slavery really make Britain rich? – The Spectator USA

Posted: at 10:53 am

Its a sad truth that much of our wealth was derived from the slave trade, said Londons mayor Sadiq Khan. Others agree: for Al JazeerasImran Khan, Britain was built on the backs, and souls, of slaves. But there is a problem with this analysis; its wrong. Just like the story told of an island nation standing alone since 1066, its a myth that the monstrous evil of the slave trade made Britain the wealthy country it is today.

Slavery and sugar did not provide the sinews of finance that drove industrialization. Total profits from the slave trade, had they been invested entirely in Britain, would have accounted for about threepercent of all capital formation in 1770. These profits,vastas they were for some individuals, were toosmallto change a nation, and may not have been significantly higher than those found in other industries; if sugar yielded a massively higher return on investment, amoral capitalists wouldshifttheir money out of other industries and into it. As a share of the British economy, the sugar industry was roughlyequivalent to barley, hops, and brewing. Yet you will find very few people willing to argue that without the profits generated by beer industrialization would not have happened (although you will find someclaiming that civilization would not have arisen without beer).

Whats also true is that the Caribbean colonies did not provide a unique source of demand for goods which theexploitedBritish worker could not. While Imperial trade policies gave a slight advantage to British merchants, they were totally absent in places where the map was not shaded pink, where British goods did a roaring tradenonetheless. It is not even true to say that the links between the Caribbean and the wider British economy were of special strategic significance; they were only in that theywereweaker and less strategic than those of other industries such as textiles, iron, and coal.

And for the country as a whole, the Caribbean colonies werenot profitable. They functioned because the UK government leveled tariffs on cheaper sugar produced by competingEuropean powers, and because the costs ofnaval protectionwereborneby the taxpayer. British national income would arguably have been considerably higher if the colonies had been given away; this is a story repeatedacrossthe old Empire. So why did Britain bear these costs?Put simply because the interests of wealthy plantation owners and traders werewell-representedin a Parliament where seats could bebought.

So whatever some might argue, slavery and sugar did not build Britain. Yes, some of our grand buildings and country houses were paid for by the proceeds of slavery. And a few businesses such as the pub chain Greene King, or the insurance marketLloyds of London can trace some of their wealth back to the slave trade.But it isnt true, as Khan claims, thatmuch of our wealth was derived from the slave trade.

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If anything, the slave trade functioned instead largely to heighten inequality.David Eltis describes the sumtotalof its consequences in 17th century asa very few more wealthy individuals in an already unequal society. This is a description which stands for the period thereafter too; had the slave trade never existed, the nations economic history would barely be altered.

The corollary of this is, of course, that nothing good came from slavery. It is impossible to point to the industrial revolution as a consequence and claim that the blood spilled from slavery gave rise to a better world. It didnt. There is no callously utilitarian justification for the suffering on the basis that it built the West; slavery was not for anything, other than the purest nihilism in the pursuit of money for the very few. All it achieved was the wealth of Thomas Colston and a small number like him, and a permanent moral stain on the history of the nations that took part.

Sam Ashworth-Hayes is a journalist and economist with an MPhil in economics from Oxford. He blogs at Marginally Productive. This article was originally published on The Spectators UK website.

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Nihilism and White Bliss in America’s Most Livable City – The New Republic

Posted: June 13, 2020 at 3:00 pm

From a distance, Le Magnifique looks almost like a scene from a cartoon. The hero of the statue, former Penguins center and captain Mario Lemieux, is skating one way with the puck dangling on the blade of his stick, every bit the menace in the open ice who earned the right to be called the best hockey player who ever lived. (In this town, Gretzky is always second. And after a few beers, an argument about what kind of numbers Sidney Crosby would put up during the stand-up goaltending era may also come up.) On the other side of Lemieux are two defenders skating completely the opposite way, colliding, dumbfounded by this marvel of a human being who skates past with a Looney Tunes smirk on his face. The statue is beautiful, save for the hair. The hair on bronze statues always looks a little weird texturally, like uncooked ramen noodles.

The statue captures a moment from a December 1988 game against the New York Islanders, played in the Civic Arena, whenLemieuxsplit two defenders and displayed the violent power he could turn on and off. Like many of the citys white residents, fans of this very white game, I felt proud when the statue went up. Our hero, the citys icon, finally immortalized. And like many of the citys white residents, I didnt know what stood at the spot where he skated roughly 30 years earlier, in the 1950s, when the city razed over a thousand structures and displaced 8,000 residents, the vast majority of them black, to begin the arenas construction.

Last weekend, during Pittsburghs uprising in response to the brutal murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, protesters spray-painted a hammer and sickle above Marios powerful wagon, and the phrase IT IS RIGHT TO REBEL. Unlike the poverty, mass surveillance, and routine state violence that black residents of the city are subjected to, and which the protesters made their target, the spray paint splatter on the citys idol was enough to get white Pittsburghers to finally pay attention. Sports radio personalities sprang into action to defend the poor statue, unable to defend itself, and fans rallied behind them, decrying the likelihood that any real Pittsburgher would ever defaceLemieux.

The implied neutrality of the statuea belief that some symbols can exist outside politics or geographies of raceattempts to bypass more urgent questions about where we are right now and why. Like why a statue of a white sports icon and the arena it guards may actively represent something quite different for generations of residents displaced by the franchise that has functioned as a selective engine for prosperity in a heavily segregated city.

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The Last of Us 2 pre-loads are live, here’s how much space you need – GamesRadar+

Posted: at 3:00 pm

You can start your The Last of Us 2 pre-load now if you bought a digital version of the game.

While you won't be able to start playing The Last of Us 2 until its proper release date of June 19, you can make sure its bytes are stored safely on your hard drive right now. According to this Reddit user's PS4, the total download for The Last of Us 2 pre-load will take up 76.97 GB of storage on the console.

You only need 20.65 GB installed to start the application, but it feels kind of perverse to point that out when you still need to wait a week to actually play The Last of Us 2. Thanks a lot, PS4 user interface.

Speaking of waiting, a lucky few did manage to get their copies early for review-writing purposes. That includes GR's very own Alex Avard - here's a snippet of his thoughts, and you can click the link in the first paragraph of this article for the full thing.

"The resulting 25 hour campaign is as full of controller-dropping 'holy crap' moments as it is the quiet, contemplative scenes of immense poignancy that the studio is known for, many of which are enough to leave a lump in the throat, if not render you a bawling wreck on the couch. As a contemplation of the thin line between justice and vengeance, and an uncomfortable plunge into the darker shades of the human psyche, The Last of Us Part 2 is unforgiving in its depiction of violence, nihilism, and the nebulousness of morality in a world without laws."

There's still more on the horizon - see what you should keep an eye out for next in our guide to upcoming PS4 games.

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CALLERI: The right to protest is at the center of two movies about the counterculture – Niagara Gazette

Posted: at 3:00 pm

The Democratic National Convention was held in Chicago in August 1968 as demonstrations against the war in Vietnam were churning across the United States. The assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and United States Senator Robert F. Kennedy earlier that year added to the pall of anger and uncertainty across the country.

President Lyndon B. Johnson had decided not to run for re-election in the face of intensifying protests opposing the war. The Democratic nominee would be his vice-president, Hubert H. Humphrey Jr.

Outside the convention hall, violent attacks were committed by the Chicago police against demonstrators. These assaults were shown live on American television.

Chicagos legendary combative mayor, Richard J. Daley, as fierce a smoke-filled backroom wheeler-dealer as any character created by a novelist, was determined that his beloved Chicago not be shamed by protests and that the convention would proceed smoothly. He ordered the police to crush the demonstrators who had gathered in his city.

Its this backdrop that provides the core of one of the most important movies about the counterculture and the right to peaceably assemble ever produced by a major motion picture studio. Medium Cool, released in 1969, is as essential as a film can be.

In Chicago in 1968, celebrated cinematographer Haskell Wexler was directing a narrative feature for Paramount Pictures he had written (and would photograph). The result is a superb mix of fiction and fact thats not only the chronicle of a workingman who gets fired from his job because he takes a bold stand against his bosses, but its also a believable story of romantic affection.

Robert Forster plays John Cassellis, a Chicago television news cameraman, who discovers that his station is turning over footage of anti-war protestors to the FBI. His intense anger about this results in his dismissal. His love life has taken a positive turn because hes developed a relationship with single-mom Eileen (Verna Bloom). Her young son Harold runs away from home.

John is doing free-lance work at the Democratic National Convention. Eileen goes to the convention area to seek help from John to find her son and becomes caught up in the chaos. The films closing half-hour must never be revealed to those who havent seen it.

Through it all, Wexler expertly combines fictional footage with actual footage of the battle for Chicagos streets. His cinematographers eye is brilliant and his sense of how to tell a powerful story is equal to any of the great directors who came of age during this period of important American cinema.

In 2003, Medium Cool was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library Of Congress for being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.

The movie, suitable for adults and teenagers, is available on DVD and Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

Meanwhile, the great Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni had decided to make his American filmmaking debut in Los Angeles with a drama called Zabriskie Point. This was after the international success of the sensational London-set Blow-Up, from 1966, his first English-Language work, and one of my favorite movies.

Antonioni, who was the master of capturing ennui among the middle-class in his native Italy, wanted to now capture the revolutionary fervor in 1968 of Americas youth. Drawing from the true story of a young man who stole a small prop plane from a local airfield, Antonioni wrangled four other screenwriters, including American playwright Sam Shepard, and created Zabriskie Point, which was released in 1970 by the legendary MGM studio. Its executives were apoplectic at the sex and nihilism Antonioni delivered.

Gorgeously photographed by Carlo Di Palma, the drama has two centerpieces, an orgy in Californias Mojave Desert and the blowing up of a house that went on for many minutes in slow-motion and actually set the standard for slow-motion Hollywood explosions.

Using mostly amateur performers, Antonionis tale follows Mark (played by occasional American model Mark Frechette), who walks out of an ineffective university protest meeting that is accomplishing nothing. Hes willing to die, but not of boredom for the cause.

Kathleen Cleaver, the real-life wife of Black Panther Party leader Eldridge Cleaver, is in the scene. One thing we learn is that women are still expected to make coffee.

During protests on campus, a police officer is shot perhaps by Mark, but probably not. Mark steals an airplane and eventually flies it over a car in the desert being driven by Daria, a footloose beauty played by dancer Daria Halprin, but no ones idea of a talented actress. He lands. They meet.

A professional actor, Rod Taylor, is a real estate developer, and the story zooms forward with Mark planning to return the plane and Daria left in tears. Theyve bonded in the desert.

The weak acting hampers, but doesnt derail, what is a ultimately a fragmented study of illusion, reality, and the joy and beauty of youth hampered by capitalist rules and the need to work for a living.

Zabriskie Point is not a failed movie by any stretch of the imagination; however, it feels made by a committee, and never truly soars like Marks revolutionary spirit and airplane. The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, and Pink Floyd provide music. The visuals win the day.

The film, suitable for adults and mature teens, is available on DVD.

Michael Calleri reviews films for the Niagara Gazette and the CNHI news network. Contact him at moviecolumn@gmail.com.

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Black Lives Matter campaign has been hijacked by extremists – Reaction

Posted: at 3:00 pm

Alarmingly, the landscape of Britain, especially its capital, has assumed an aspect of alien, dystopian desolation. Its origin was three months of pandemic lockdown; the more recent cause is the paralysis of government, national and local, in the face of intimidation by the violent and wholly unrepresentative elements of a mob that is successfully dictating its agenda to the elected authorities. This weekend, London is disfigured by sinister-looking wooden rectangles enclosing the statues of our monarchs, statesmen and national heroes. They have become monuments to the eclipse of civilisation.

Those statues, confined in cubes like nuclear waste, include three of our kings and Sir Winston Churchill the man who did more than any other individual in 20th century history to defeat rampant racism of a viciousness and scale unimaginable to modern woke demonstrators. They have compiled a hit list of 78 memorials they insist must be removed, across 39 towns and cities, 12 of them in London. They include monarchs, prime ministers, a holder of the Victoria Cross and national hero Nelson on his famous column, the global epitome of London. It is a project to erase large parts of Britains history, to create a tabula rasain iconography, a revolutionary Year Zero.

The pretext for visually deleting our heritage is to protect monuments from rioters. That limp excuse predicates the inevitability of riots and the impossibility of containing them. The message it sends to the perpetrators of violent disorder is: you have won. These clashes on Whitehall would have been illegal at any time, but they take on an extra dimension of nihilism in the light of the fact that Britain is still on lockdown against a deadly pandemic. Demonstrators should have been dispersed at the first signs of their congregating.

Police were not backward in harassing lonely sunbathers during lockdown, so why permit thousands to assemble cheek-by-jowl? They appear to have been crippled by deference to the demands of the more extreme protestors.

It is fashionable to claim we have an obligation to reappraise our society and its alleged faults. True, we do need to revisit many of our assumptions, including an objective investigation of the scale and incidence of racism, but it should not come at the price of abandoning all historical nuance and rationaldebate.

The unjustified slur that Britain is aninherently racist nation today must also be repudiated. This country has, successfully, opened its doors to millions of immigrants, but further integration is made more difficult by the most militant campaigners, often extravagant white liberals, relentlessly engendering a culture of grievance and victimhood that seeks to divide.

Unfortunately, the real agenda of some of these activists, as we have seen on our streets and in their social media proclamations, is to overthrow the political order of representative parliamentary democracy and to destroy capitalism,or the market system.

Many of the supporters of the organisation Black Lives Matter want peaceful change. BLM started in the US with a sensible outlook and noble goals rooted in tackling serious social problems. It has since been hijacked by the far-left. Anyone who doubts that should look at the British website UKBLM raising large sums of money for the campaign and advocating (on the read more section) the dismantling of capitalism and the abolition of the police.

In this way, just as, historically, many scoundrels wrapped themselves in the Union flag, today the catch-all mantra of anti-racism and anti-fascism is being deployed to mask a totalitarian agenda.

Troublingly, most mainstream politicians with very few exceptions appear too terrified to point any of this out. The Prime Minister had a modest go at speaking out on Friday, on Twitter. But he and his colleagues will have to go much, much further. They must make the case clearly in defence of the rule of law, democracy and civic order.

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