It is clear that we are living now in a transition period as suited to political writing as were the days of Ship Money or the reign of Queen Anne. Writers can still change history by their pleading, and one who is not political neglects the vital intellectual issues of his time and disdains his material. He is not powerless, like the Symbolists of 1870, the aesthetes of the eighties and nineties, the beer-and-chivalry addicts of the nineteen hundreds or the demobilized Georgian poet on his chicken farm. He is not a victim of his time but a person who can alter it, though if he does not,he may soon find himself victimized. By ignoring the present he condones the future. He has to be political to integrate himself and he must go on being political to protect himself. To-day the forces of life and progress are ranging on one side, those of reaction and death on the other. We are having to choose between democracy and fascism, and fascism is the enemy of art. It is not a question of relative freedom; there are no artists in Fascist countries....Stagnation, fear, violence, and opportunism the characteristics of capitalism preparing for the fray, are no background for a writer and there is a seediness, an ebb of life, a philosophy of taking rather than giving, a bitterness and brutality about right-wing writers now which was absent in those of other days, in seventeenth-century Churchmen or eighteenth-century Tories...
--Cyril Connolly, The Enemies of Promise (1938)
Addendum: The top news stories in the US today? On the domestic front: the US Congress, in its ongoing savaging of the US Constitution, is preparing to hand over absolute power to the plutocrats running the Bush Administration, under the guise of fixing the mess those same plutocrats created (and note, please, that the mainstream media is studiously avoiding asking economists their opinions on the proposed "fix"). On the international front: the US is expanding the "Bush Doctrine" to include Pakistan as the next front for its endless, destructive war fronting its endless, destructive corruption. All this via a "secret" presidential order, made without reference to Congress. In short: a really, really Bad Situation just got really, really dangerous. Is no one really concerned about this? For it certainly looks to the casual eye that as far as the US public goes, it's all just Business As Usual.
More on Connolly's book on the writing life: soon.
ETA: Tom tells me that finally the News Hour (formerly Mc-Neill-Lehrer) has had three economists on. One of them, he said, was even more scathing in his denunciation of the "bail-out" than Paul Krugman.