The Corner

A Fateful Zigginess

Today’s Impromptus is about politics, ideology, language — the usual shenanigans. One item is about this uncle of Kim Jong Un’s who has been removed from power and airbrushed from the regime’s propaganda. In my column, I use the expression “fell out of favor.” But what did the uncle do? What was his infraction? How did he incur his nephew’s displeasure? I don’t know, and, frankly, it doesn’t matter much. A Communist regime can invent any infraction, can seize any excuse handy.

(In point of fact, individuals occasionally do this too, in their relations with others.)

After writing my column, I thought of a phrase — a phrase I heard from Eugene Genovese, the late, great historian. I sat down with him two years ago, for an interview. He joined the Party at 15 and was kicked out at 20. I asked him why. He shrugged and said, “I zigged when I should have zagged.” It was that trivial and random.

All political or social movements, I suppose, have their share of ideological enforcement and “anti-deviationism.” (That is a term from the PRC, I believe.) More liberal-minded people allow some zigging, within reason. And when I say “liberal,” I don’t mean “McGovernite.”

(I sense that that term is getting a little musty. Time to switch to “Obamite”? Although Obamism is simply McGovernism with greater and more nauseating pretensions.)

Incidentally, to see the resulting profile of Genovese, go here. A rich, interesting life.

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