Think of all the preposterous Nobel Prize winners. Tony Morrison, Pearl S. Buck, Elfriede Jelinek, the Communist JosÃ© Saramagoâ€“sure there are some goodies in the bunch, but what an unreliable guage of literary talent! Literary quality has almost nothing to do with the Prize. The operative criterion is politics, or, rather, political correctness, galvanized by literary noises. Horace Engdahl, the permanent secretary of the Prize, as much as acknowledged this a few weeks ago when he announced a couple of weeks ago that â€œthe US is too isolatedâ€ and doesnâ€™t â€œparticipate in the big dialogue of literature.â€
Unlike Sweden, Horace?
As I said when asked about Mr. Engdahlâ€™s statement, his performance reminded me of the story Ugandaâ€™s bravado under Idi Amin: Like the Untied States, they had an Apollo space program, only the rockets were made of balsa wood. Engdahlâ€™s statement, I said,
strikes me as a kind of publicity stunt for a prize that in recent years has demonstrated its fatuousness and political complexion with one political laureate after the next punctuated now and then by a VS Naipaul just to lend a patina of credibility.
And letâ€™s not forget the Nobel Peace, which permanently discredited itself when it awarded the palm to the Palestinian and pedophile Yasser Arafat in 1994.
But today we have yet another illustration of Marxâ€™s revision of Hegelâ€™s version of the progress of history: things happen as it were twice: first as tragedy (Arafat) then as farceâ€“witness this yearâ€™s Nobel Laureate for economics: Paul Krugman.
Yes, that Paul Krugman, laughing stock (well, one of them) of The New York Timesâ€™s editorial: the anti-capitalist, anti-American town crier whose hysterical maunderings about the economy and American society were embarrassing before they went entirely off the reservation and became merely part of the ambient left-wing static emanating from The New York Times. Krugman is not just a left-wing academic economist. He is a hard-left activist whose only claim on our attention is as a bellwether of a certain species of anti-American demagoguery.
Well, one must laugh to keep from crying. Meanwhile, Krugman will be $1.4 million richerâ€“unless, of course, Barack Obama should be elected and start nosing around that â€œwindfallâ€ profit. That is notâ€“not by a long shotâ€“enough to make me wish for an Obama presidency, but it would be a pleasing consolation prize.
Let’s quit pretending that the Nobel Prize is something that it isn’t. It may once have been prestigious and worthwhile, but not any more.
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