Category: Feature


Roger Scruton: Purged

I see Prof. Sir Roger Scruton has been sacked by the Conservative government for saying George Soros is bad, Islamophobia is an imaginary problem, the sky is blue, water freezes at O centigrade, and a host of other offense notions. I never met Scruton, though I used to have some dealings with the Salisbury Review. I read some of his essays and his book on Sexual Desire, which had some good things in it but comes out of a philosophical tradition that has done far more harm than good. In this sense he is a real conservative, clinging to rationalism...


Wednesday’s Child:Looking the Part

Last week, geneticists from the University of Wisconsin announced the results of their research, ongoing since 1957, into the perceptions of “facial beauty.”  The conclusion, as is the usual case with most studies of this kind, will surprise nobody, as what these scientists have determined is that “there is not a master gene that determines a person’s attractiveness, and instead it is most likely associated with a large number of genetic components with weak effects.” The news, vapid as it was, caught my attention on Sunday afternoon, after I’d been to church, the day being the Feast of the Annunciation...


Heresies in the Mirror:  Globalism and Nationalism: Prologue

Globalism is one of many nightmares spawned by the French Revolution, which also generated equally pernicious counter-movements. If some Jacobins opposed war, others embraced it; if considerations of race and ethnicity were condemned by some as retrograde, they were also celebrated by others as as the ultimate reality, and, if the ultimate Jacobin dream is of a universal paradise without distinctions, the lesser alternative has been embraced by a long line of hard-headed pragmatists like Napoleon and Lincoln, Stalin and Hitler.


Wednesday’s Child:At the Circus

I’ve spent the whole of last week at the circus.  No, I don’t mean Westminster or Capitol Hill, I mean literally, with a bunch of clowns. Generally speaking, they don’t make clowns these days like they used to.  A few of them have actually gone into politics.  In Italy, what is now the largest political party was founded by one, and I note that another one, in Ukraine, is slated to be the next president. They call themselves comics to lend themselves respectability, but what they really are is tragic clowns.  They play on the popular perception, famously a dramatic...


College: The Great American Fee-Factory, Part One

Foreword. Back in the 1980s, having had the fascinating experience of sitting on a financial-aid committee, I learned—to my surprise—that colleges no longer awarded endowed scholarships to exceptionally clever applicants; that instead they were offering something called “financial aid packages” to everyone, thus making it obvious to an inquiring mind that intellectual ability had little to do with college admissions. I also discovered that colleges operated in packs or cartels to fix their prices and restrict competition. The piece that follows was the result of my appalled fascination, and since I seem to have anticipated both the dereliction of academic standards...


 Haydn’s “Lord Nelson Mass”

Unless you are a seasoned choral singer, lover of choral music or frequent concert goer, you may not know about what H.C. Robbins Landon (a major biographer of the composer) says is “arguably Haydn’s single greatest composition.”


Two Oinks for Democracy, Conclusion: Dealing with Muslims

Any honest evaluation of US foreign policy over the past 50 years would lead to one conclusion: Any effort to build a stable regime friendly to US interests will have to construct its programs on a population that has some understanding of the West and some institutions—religious or cultural—compatible with our own.  On this basis, we can appreciate at least one of the reasons why we have chosen Israel, for all the troubles this special relationship has cost us, to be the focus of our influence in the Middle East: Israel is a European colony in the Arab and Muslim...


Generations of Impotence, Conclusion: The Cruelty of Nerds

Like so many modern American males, the Marquis de Sade was incapable of taking pleasure in the ordinary things of life.  Morally and intellectually feeble, he wallowed in fantasies of sexual violence.  The history of civilization might be written as a series of social inventions for the proper application of violence: boxing matches, duels, warfare.  When civilizations die, men cannot fall back on the killer instincts of barbarians who control their violence.  They are like the jackdaws studied by Konrad Lorenz:  Not genetically programmed to fight and kill, they do not have the ritual off-switch to stop violence, once it...