The Fleming Foundation Cultural Commentary

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The Missing Middle Classes, Part III: The Great Secession

  The one absolutely essential feature of middle-class psychology is confidence.  If father ran a successful hardware store, then as long as they live his sons must treasure an understanding of the finer points of the hardware business.  If the old boy designed and built houses, they must be sure to have some grasp of the arts of brick-laying, carpentry, and plastering.  If he was a respected local attorney or solicitor, they must rejoice in the knowledge that he was the impenetrable vault of the town’s secrets. They must never allow themselves to start saying things like, “Well, the old...

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Wednesday’s Child: A Worldly Delusion

Two ladies, long past the first bloom of youth and recently arrived in what Russian wits call the Age of Balzac, are scrutinizing the map of Palermo in the bar on the ground floor of my apartment building. They turn the map this way and that, like two army recruits conspiring to desert in the middle of a dense and inhospitable forest supposedly traversed by a national frontier, and from the air of anxious isolation about them I gather they are American tourists. The bar’s proprietor, Carmelo, is enthroned at the cash register not two feet away.  Nothing would be...

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The Missing Middle Classes, Part II: War, Taxes, And Socialism

What happened to the middles classes?  Three things happened to them: war, socialism, and what we can call, borrowing a term, the great secession. We can start with war.  All governments routinely soak their citizens or subjects to pay for their wars, and that is why the first income tax was introduced into England in 1798 to pay for the war with revolutionary France.  It was rescinded on the signing of the Peace of Amiens, but reinstated with the renewal of hostilities a year later.  A year after the Battle of Waterloo it was repealed again, in 1816.  Then the...

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Properties of Blood, Chapter I, Part G: Rome, Urbs Aeterna

In addressing himself to the Jews (and the stray Gentiles who may have been in the crowd), Jesus was able to take for granted certain customs and traditions of moral law, whose inner and original meaning He now revealed.  Although modern Christians make much of the Ten Commandments, the moral injunctions it contains, against blasphemy, theft, perjury, adultery, murder, and filial impiety were hardly unique in the Mediterranean world.  Such prohibitions were the common stock of ancient moral and legal traditions.  Greeks and Romans (going beyond the Egyptians and Sumerians, whose moral codes were similar to that of the Jews)...

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Interview With Polonia Christiana, Part II

PC     Do you believe the neoconservative dominance of mainstream discourse of US foreign policy is slowly coming to an end or we simply seeing a generational shift? Also, have the neoconservatives in your judgement played a role in instigating the current crisis in Ukraine? TJF    The neoconservatives in themselves are of little or no importance.  They do not formuulate policy, they merely repeat the slogans of the Cold War Democratic Party and put a slight conservative spin.  Their great success was in making an alliance with American Evangelical Zionists, who have been taught to see the world...

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Interview With Polonia Christiana, Part I

Thomas Fleming was interviewed in August by Mike Krupa of Polonia Christiana.  For readers of Polish, the inteveiw is available here.  For those less fortunate, we have posted the original exchange in English., PC  After almost 8 years of Barack Obama’s presidency, what kind of country is the United States? TJF  When Barack Obama was elected President, reaction was divided along party lines.  Democrats, especially those who belonged to ethnic minorities, expected rapid improvement in their condition and in their opportunities for advancement. They also expected a quick end to the military adventurism that had characterized his predecessor’s administrations.  Republicans, by contrast, feared...

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John Kasich’s Bible

Governor Kasich has finally got himself into the news.   Falling asleep in the debate did not work.so now he turns to that last refuge of corrupt Republican: religion.  Accused of pandering for votes by supporting socialized medicine, he offers to give his critics free copies of the Bible. Looks like this is one more cause of a good Catholic boy who has followed the papacy into  non-revolutionary socialism. This is one we cannot blame on Pope Francis or Paul VI or even on Leo XIII.  Kasich abandoned  the Catholic Church for materialist hedonism, and when he found he needed some...

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The Autodidact’s Reading List: Romans of the Golden Age

The Essential Romans In this first draft of the Roman section, I am only going to list a few indispensable works with a few suggestions on translations.  As the weeks and months go by, I’ll be updating this and other sections that are posted. The Golden Age Poetry Vergil, The Aeneid.  I prefer the the polished if far from literal translation of John Dryden, a major work of English literature.  Otherwise, any older prose translation will do.  More recent verse translations, especially those concocted after WW II, are alien in spirit and in form.  Less entertaining the Homer, Vergil is...

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Wednesday’s Child: The Three Consuls

  In English we signal everyman randomness by speaking of Tom, Dick, and Harry, with the French it’s “Pierre, Paul or Jacques,” while the equally boring Russians employ the common surnames “Ivanov, Petrov, Sidorov.”  But when the Italians, God bless their intractable little souls, want to do the same, they speak of “Tizio, Caio e Sempronio,” that is to say, Titus, Gaius, and Sempronius.  Just imagine how that would trip off the tongue:  “If he thinks I’m gonna let every Titus, Gaius, and Sempronius use the new lawnmower, he’s got another thing coming.” When I first came to Palermo some...

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Properties of Blood I F: The Heresy of Globalism

The Rights of Nations Viewing Christianity as the enemy, intellectuals have always felt justified in misrepresenting its teachings, either to make them contemptible (as Nietzsche and the neopagans have done) or to pervert them to what they saw as good use.  So-called Christian Socialists and social gospellers made it appear that “true” Christianity (as opposed to the bogus faith of the previous two millennia) would dispense with all distinctions, including national boundaries. To delegitimate the right of nations to defend their territory, leftists like to quote Paul’s statement that in baptism “There is neither Jew nor Greek,” as if Paul’s...