About

In any English-speaking newspaper, of whatever altitude, news and culture tend to be separated by a rabbit-proof fence, but Richard King has been given a free hand to make news out of culture, and without trivialising the second thing in favour of the first. Clive James

The Bloody Crossroads is a website about politics and culture. It takes its name from the critic Lionel Trilling, who wrote about ‘the dark and bloody crossroads where literature and politics meet’. By that he meant the way in which literature is inseparable from our view of the world; but he might also have meant the way in which politics is inseparable from the way we talk. If there is a common theme in the essays and articles collected at The Bloody Crossroads, this is it: a concern with the politics of poetry and the poetry of politics.

There are other crossroads, just as dark and bloody, explored in these pages. One recurrent theme – familiar to Trilling and his fellow New York intellectuals – is the tension between, and the effort to reconcile, two distinct political traditions: liberalism and socialism, or a concern for individual rights and a desire for a more inclusive, equal and egalitarian society. This may sound like an arcane consideration, but it bears on many of our current debates, from the limits of free speech to the status of religion. All of the writers I most admire – George Orwell, Irving Howe, Christopher Hitchens – were concerned with this fundamental question.

Finally, there is the crossroads at which the world finds itself at the present moment. Humankind stands at a crucial juncture, where climate change, gross and growing inequality and a collapsing economic system threaten (promise) to remake the world. One consequence of this is that ideas are big again, and if these articles do nothing else they may help to ventilate a few them. I hope so, and I hope that visitors to The Bloody Crossroads will find direction, even if they don’t find answers.

Richard King

Fremantle, 2015