Why I ❤️ Charles Moore

Here’s a longish quote to show why I find Charles Moore’s biography of Margaret Thatcher so irresistible. It doesn’t even matter who these men, Joseph and Sherman, were. I’d never heard of them before. But this characterization makes them come alive on the page:

“Joseph cared so desperately, thought so deeply, meant so well, and yet somehow bungled things. All these qualities were to become even more apparent in the course of 1974, and all of them, the bungling included, were to help the cause of Margaret Thatcher. Alfred Sherman was a very different character. A former Communist, and former machine-gunner for the anti-Franco Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, Sherman maintained a Marxist rigour of thought after his conversion to the right, and a Leninist capacity to identify virtually everyone else as the enemy. His style of argument was absolute. When arguing against public spending on railways, for example, he was not content to call for privatization or a reduction of subsidy: he argued that all rail track should be torn up and the lines converted into bus lanes. He was manifestly, almost proudly, ill fitted to the compromises of party politics.”

I actually left work early to go home and read the biography.

11 thoughts on “Why I ❤️ Charles Moore

  1. I am sometimes interested in autobiographies in order to learn about a specific age. Today finished At the Dawn of Life (На заре жизни, 1911) by Elizaveta Vodovozova about life in the 1840-1860ies among lower nobles and the realities of Smolny school for noble girls.


  2. Her style was fine but usual, not the kind to draw strongly by itself, unlike the book you quote in this post.

    However, the book is very enlightening and studying it would show the lie of idealizing the tsarist past if some people in Russia still do that.

    Most nobles, the most privileged people of tsarist Russia, led truly horrible lives.

    Made me think how horrible the true description of life of American whites during times of slavery, including lives of smaller slave owners, would be.

    That is not said to minimize the horrors of slavery in Russia, USA or anywhere else.

    Is there an understanding that everyone, including whites, greatly benefited from leaving behind the times of white supremacy in USA? Partly, it happened because of scienfitic revolution, but partly – because of revolution in ideologies.


    1. I read that book. It’s good. But I wouldn’t judge the lives of the people In the past by our standards. I’m sure they would be horrified by our lives. No religion or sense of duty to guide us. Complete chaos around us that we have to make sense of on our own. The tentative nature of absolutely everything. No human relationship outside the logic of fleeting fancy. It’s two different worlds, each one with its own price to pay for its version of human flourishing.


  3. // I’m friendly with a bunch of 75+ year-olds.

    Today I read this discussion in Russian and wondered what would say people here:

    Что будет светить в сумерках?

    One answer is faith, but what about non-religious people?

    You once said you wouldn’t work 1 day after pension age, so career of endless discoveries is also out? I thought the ability to work till death and continue discover new things every day was one of the chiefest pleasures of academic career.


    1. It’s precisely because I have a lot that provides me with light that I don’t have to hide from myself in a job. 🙂

      Especially since my job isn’t about discovering new things but about teaching the same very banal things over and over again. Everything I do in terms of research and generating ideas is despised by my university.

      Besides, once I retire I’ll be able to say anything I want openly. And never ever ever be in the same room with eager party apparatchiks again.


      1. // once I retire I’ll be able to say anything I want openly.

        So you do intend to continue doing research and generating ideas, just without the irritating obstacles of limiting oneself.

        In general, it’s interesting what the recipe for creating light is for various people. I can think of an interesting job, a child, loving to read. Yet, if one goes on pension, a child leaves home, and one only reads w/o writing, what is left?

        Many readers here are intelligent, intellectual people, may be they would be able to contribute something too.

        Have you ever written on the topic?


  4. For non-Russian speakers, here is the translation of that short question I asked Clarissa about. My question is probably somewhat different re meaning of life, what is left at the final stages.

    // What will shine at dusk? I’ll try to ask a question, but I’ll probably have to make an effort to correctly express it.
    A child is born. Is growing. For a long time he is in the twilight of dawn, he sometimes uses, but does not comprehend the connections of things and events in the world. Somewhere on the way to the age of three, dawn begins in his life, the sun of thinking rises. Everything becomes clear, precise, speech and memory develop, and over time the child becomes the same as everyone else as an adult.
    I have a question about the other side. Over the years, a person dries up and stiffens. Slowly and gradually, he plunges into twilight. Mobility falls, memory fails, the lines of thinking stiffen. A person goes into twilight – but as a result of a lived life, he can illuminate this twilight. With what? This is actually my question. What shines at the end of life when a person is leaving at dusk?


  5. Puberty blockers for teens in Russia –

    Since Russia is a truly transphobic country, reading this was both sad and ironic:

    “President of the Russian Figure Skating Federation (FFCR) Alexander Gorshkov responded to accusations by American journalist Dave Lisa of using hormone blockers by domestic figure skaters.”

    Interesting what is the true state of figure skating in the West since Western countries also have athletes who want to win.

    Via (In Russian):


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