Author: Thomas Fleming

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Surprising News

Everyday the media spring a surprise on the public.  This morning we learn that a knife-wielding Norwegian in London killed an American and wounded several other people.  While British police are not ruling out terrorism, they are saying at this point that mental health issues are involved.  Oh, and by the way, the Norwegian is of “Somali descent.”   What percentage of Somalis are Muslims, you ask.  Just about 99%, but that is irrelevant.  In one sense the cops are right:  Islam would appear to be dangerous to a believer’s mental health. Just a day or two ago, Somalis in Minneapolis-St. Paul...

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Properties of Blood I.5: Revenge, Part E

The Return of Revenge If we admit to harboring the dark and primitive impulse to take revenge, a priest or minister or professor of ethics, will probably tell us it is an evil desire that ought to be resisted.  We should forgive our enemies and get on with our lives.  After all, living well is said to be the best revenge. It is not always that easy.  Consider the situation in which the hero of Hank Williams, Jr.’s song, “I Got Rights,” finds himself.  The song tells the story of a husband and father who buys a handgun and goes...

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The Visions Forever Green

This is another review essay published in 1983, the year before I came to Rockford, Arnold Toynbee: The Greeks and Their Heritages; Oxford University Press; New York. Mary Renault: Funeral Games; Pantheon Books; New York. by Thomas Fleming Modern man seems haunted by the specter of Greece. Like memories of childhood, the visions of ancient Athens and Sparta hold a place in our minds, forever green.  It does not matter how we first formed the image—a translation of Homer, the illustrations in Bullfinch, the tales we had to translate in first-year Latin.  However we were struck, the Greeks inevitably become...

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Writing and Reading Poetry, II: The Age of Lead

II Let’s start with the one piece submitted in response to my challenge.  This comes from my former managing editor, Kate Dalton Boyer, who is still harboring some dark feelings about her former boss’s sloppy office. Doggerel for TF I know a man named Thomas, his desk will give you pause. If one inquires the reason: “Tace!” he’ll say.  “Because.” Beneath a Mac his thesis (of Grecian poetry) is propping up his keyboard and in danger from his tea. The office door won’t open –review books in the way– it seems another forty-two have just arrived today. The lamp’s a...

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Aristotle’s Politics Book III.9-12

olitics III.9-12 [1284b-1288b] In this final section of Politics III, Aristotle comes to grips with the systems of government ruled by one man.  He begins [9] by surveying the various types of legitimate monarchy: the constitutional monarchy of the Spartans, where the power of the kings was determined by law and limited largely to military affairs, barbarian monarchies in which the kings act much as tyrants do but rule willing subjects and maintain inherited laws and traditions.  One sign of their lawfulness is their use of domestic rather than foreign bodyguards.  Aristotle is clear that while barbarians would tolerate such...

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Living in the Empire of Lies

Julian Assange did his best to spoil the Hillary-fest being held in the renamed City of Sisterly love.  No sooner had Wikileaks released the DNC emails confirming the active collaboration of party leaders with the Clinton campaign than the state media attempted to divert attention from the fact of what the hacked hacks had actually done to ruin the Sanders campaign.  This is all part of a Putin plot to elect Donald Trump.  Why, it’s an outrage when one country tries to rig political outcomes in another. I could not agree more, which is why American administrations have never involved...

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Properties of Blood I.5 Revenge, Part D

Christian Most Christians today are horrified by any thought of revenge.  Bring the subject up, and they are sure to quote, “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord,” as if that were a sufficient refutation.  Far from being a repudiation of vengeance as something evil, the statement is a strong affirmation of vengeance as an instrument of the divine will.  Moral understanding of crime and punishment has certainly moved on since the writing of the Pentateuch, but if Christ was serious that he came not to overturn but to fulfill the law, then we cannot begin anywhere else, if we wish...

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The Failure of Democratic Capitalism

This piece comes from 1982, two years before moving to Rockford as Managing Editor of the magazine I would soon serve as Editor.  It is a slightly revised version of a review of Michael Novak’s Spirit of Democratic Capitalism.  The editors were so alarmed by the implicit rejection of classical liberalism that they felt it necessary to run  the usual “Michael Novak is a genius..” counterpoint along side it. Capitalism must be dead at last. Its demise has been predicted so many times—by Marx and his disciples, by fascists, and even by true believers like the ex-Trotskyist James Burnham—that many of...

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Munich–A City of Two Tales

This just in: A bizarre incident took place this week in Munich.  Out of the blue, a typical German teenager quit spending his money on drugs and night clubs and decided to spend his free time and surplus cash on helping elderly people in a retirement home.  No one knows what motivated this eccentric behavior.  The young man had no known connections with any political movement advocating charity or welfare.  Found in his bedroom were various non-denominational pamphlets on how to practice charity.  All that is know of him is that he was brought up in the Catholic Church and...

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One More Reason I’m Glad I’m Not a Conservative

When several people asked me what I thought of the Republican Convention in Cleveland, I had to answer truthfully that I had paid very little attention to the quadrennial shenanigans. Much of my time, this past week, was devoted to driving my broken-legged wife to medical appointments, the most serious of which was the three hour operation that took place yesterday.  The doctors are proclaiming a tactical victory, but recovery time is now being measured in terms of months rather than weeks, which puts our October program in Greece on hold. When I did have time to turn on the...