Category: Free Content

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Maurice Barrès and the Recovery of National Identity, II

In his novel Les déracinés (1897), Barrès chronicled the adventures of a group of boys at his own lycée in Nancy.  Their philosophy teacher, brilliant and ruthless, instills in them vast, almost Napoleonic ambitions to put their talents into the service of the ongoing revolutionary liberal tradition.  This is a late reflection of the tradition of Romantic heroism that usually ends disastrously in fiction.  Remember Julien Sorel?  Raskolnikov?   What happens to the boys in Paris is the subject of the novel.  Some become dissolute; others are reduced to poverty; but all begin to collaborate on a journal of the...

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Fatal Mistakes, #2: It’s the Woman’s Right 

A girl at the age of twelve (or younger) may be physically mature enough to conceive a child, but is she intellectually or morally mature enough to think through an issue.  She is not allowed to drive or vote or sue in court or be convicted of murder as an adult.  Why?  Because, as nearly everyone with any intellectual maturity understands, children—male and female—are not well formed enough to be held entirely accountable for their actions. 

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Freedom

From the Christian and ethical perspective, however, freedom is essentially a moral and spiritual condition . Political and economic freedom, if it means simply that a man as the right to choose Burger King over MacDonald’s, Taylor Swift over Lady Gaga, or even a female over a male wife, amounts to very little

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Watergate: The Sequel

As calls for Trump’s impeachment or criminal prosecution get louder and louder, some Republicans are defending Trump by distinguishing his case from that of the evil Nixon. Those who are old enough to remember Watergate understand it was a tempest in a teapot. As one liberal commentator at the time pointed out, Nixon made the mistake of challenging the power of the permanent federal bureaucracy and they lynched him. It was the low point of Sam Ervin’s career, but he had justifiable concerns about the administration’s abuse of power that had nothing to do with the break-in. The rest were...

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Wednesday’s Child:The Quietist Manifesto

I had insomnia the other night, and it so happened that my son, who leads what I suspect is a dissolutely sleepless life in London, engaged me in correspondence about a Russian poem we both knew.  He wrote that he had tried to translate it into English, but “it kept coming out as a string of banalities.”  So I spent the remaining small hours of the night trying to prove my son wrong, to succeed where, in my view, Vladimir Nabokov failed in his translation: Speak not, lie hidden, and conceal the way you dream, the things you feel. Deep...

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Liberal Nationalism versus Patriotism

The words nationalism and patriotism are often confused, and even when political theorists draw a contrast, the result is often a distinction without a difference or a bizarre twist of meaning that defies everyday usage.  The modern concept of nationalism (just like the concept of internationalism) took shape during the French Revolution, which implemented Rousseau’s theory of the general will and continued the process of centralization inaugurated by the monarchy.   According to 19th century nationalists, the will of the nation, defined as an historic community of blood and tongue, had to find expression in a common and unified state. ...

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A Restoration, perhaps?

I stopped by Notre Dame this week to find it completely encircled by high temporary construction walls.  One day it’s open for you to visit almost anytime you wish.  The next day it’s closed indefinitely, with life for the residents and businesses on Ile de la Cité altered considerably.  Yet there was good news the other day, with lawmakers pushing for a restoration “as it was” in opposition to the hubristic “architectural competition” that was to add a second torture to the loss.  No need to remake something that didn’t need to be remade.  Perhaps some may even consider the...