TPM Cafe: Opinion

“Darkness at Noon had staying power,” Michael Scammell writes in The New York Review of Books, “for Rubashov’s story…powerfully illuminates the human condition, men’s moral choices, the attractions and dangers of idealism, the corrosive effects of political corruption, and the fatal consequences of psychological and ideological fanaticism.”

The occasion for Scammell’s essay is the chance retrieval of Koestler's original German manuscript, by a doctoral student named Matthias Weßel, who was combing an archive in Zurich. Until now, Scammell reminds us, all translations worked from the English version Koestler produced hastily with his translator (and lover) Daphne Hardy, as they were preparing to flee France and the Nazi invasion. Presumably, the two themselves worked from this very manuscript, once thought lost.

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Back in September, well before the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, I wrote a TPM Café article in which I called the future composition of the Supreme Court the most important civil rights cause of our time. “It is more important than racial justice, marriage equality, voting rights, money in politics, abortion rights, gun rights, or managing climate change. It matters more because the ability to move forward in these other civil rights struggles depends first and foremost upon control of the Court.” When I wrote those words, I feared that those on the left would not see these stakes, but now that Justice Scalia’s death has brought them into sharp relief, the next question is: What to do next? And the answer is the same as in all struggles for civil rights: popular protests and peaceful demonstrations.

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In August 1983, a year after the Lebanon War ended not-as-planned, Israel’s then-Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, retired from politics and, in effect, was not heard from again; many accounts described him as having sunk into a deep depression, which hardly abated until his death. The reasons for a collapse of this kind are never just political: Begin’s beloved wife Aliza had died; he was then put on a regimen of steroids to cope with a heart condition, which exacerbated his shattering grief. He had always been tortured by having left his family behind in Warsaw at the start of the war, by memories of the Gulag, by the bloody work of the Irgun underground in Palestine. He earned great sadness honestly.

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This post was originally published at Election Law Blog.

Justice Antonin Scalia has died in Texas at the age of 79. Let me begin with condolences to his family, friends, and former clerks who were fiercely loyal to him (and he to them). Whatever you thought of Justice Scalia’s politics and jurisprudence, he was an American patriot, who believed in the greatness of the United States and in the strength of American courts to protect the Constitution’s values as he has seen them. He also wrote the most entertaining and interesting opinions of any Justice on the Court.

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Want to contribute to TPM Cafe? Email ideas for your pieces to us at talk@talkingpointsmemo.com

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