The Fleming Foundation Cultural Commentary

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Wednesday’s Child: Flesh by the Pound

Last week Alfredo, my closest friend here in Sicily, was arrested on charges of mafia association.  Manlio, a friend Alfredo and I have in common, had suffered exactly the same fate some twenty years ago; after a year in jail awaiting trial, and many another of a ruined life, he was in the end acquitted of all charges imputed to him; by then, however, this former mayor of Palermo was a broken man.  Now it’s Alfredo’s turn to serve as a film extra in a political production known as the war against the mafia. When Mussolini wanted to wipe out...

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Muslims Must Go

Here is Hillary Clinton’s response to the terrorist attacks on Brussels: “Calling for 12 million immigrants to be rounded up and deported.  Demanding we turn away refugees because of their religion, and proposing a ban on all Muslims entering the United States…America should be better than this, and I believe it’s our responsibility as citizens to say so…If you see bigotry, oppose it. If you see violence, condemn it. If you see a bully, stand up to him.” Ms Clinton actually made her remarks at an AIPAC meeting where she spent most of her time attacking the Republican front-runner, but...

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Properties of Blood I.4: Friends, Part D

Types of Friendship In everyday language, we apply the term “friendship” to many different sorts of personal connections.  If we loosely define friendship not by what it is supposed to be in essence but by the duties it imposes, we might describe it as a relationship in which one or both of the parties have or are supposed to have a moral obligation to do each other favors, we can see at once that there is a variety and scale of intensity in such relations.  We owe a variety of particular debts to, for example, kinfolks, workmates and teammates, neighbors,...

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The Autodidact on Aristotle, Part I

The one figure who defines modern thought is Aristotle, not of course because modern thinkers have followed him, but because since Galileo and Descartes and Bacon, scientists and philosophers have defined themselves by their opposition to Aristotle.  That is my first introductory point, as obvious as it is true.  Let me add a second point, no less true but more controversial: In all that is most important, Aristotle is more often right than wrong, and consistently right on those points where he has been most attacked. Life Aristotle was born in 384, an Ionian Greek in Stagira in Chalcidice. His...

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The Religion of Sodom, Conclusion

In Genoa I spent several hours talking with the philosopher Pier Luigi Zampetti.  In his book His book La Sfida Del Duemila (1988), Zampetti blames our spiritual malaise as well as environmental catastrophe on modern consumerism.      Materialism has become the dominant philosophy both in the West and in the East…. Capitalism, as we know, is the economic system of the entire contemporary world.  East and West are worlds bound by capitalistic systems, even if of different types.  But, how is man considered in these systems?  Can he express himself, his free and responsible choices; in other words is...

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The Religion of Sodom, Part I

This is the revised first part of an essay I published in 2000 in a magazine I used to edit. I cannot remember a time when I was not what would be called an environmentalist.  I spent much of my childhood walking on an earth unconstricted by concrete streets and unburdened by the weight of buildings.  I was never happier than when I was out fishing with my father or picking berries with my sister, or helping friends with their traps.  Until we moved near Charleston, I had never seen a city that did not deface the landscape, and to...

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Wednesday’s Child: Colonialism Blues

  My son is in his last year at Oxford – drinking, mostly, as far as I understand from his sporadic communications–and so, when I see a news story with the university’s name in it, I take note.  There was one just the other day. “Serial Killer Uses European Human Rights Law to Sue for Compensation Because Prison Makes her Tearful and Upset.”  Oh no, sorry, wrong headline. The right one was no less absurd, and the gist of it was that a bunch of students… We pretty much know who they are, because for the last fifty years, in...

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Properties of Blood I.4: Friends, Part C

Aristotle—the Philosopher of Friendship The burdens of friendship are still perceived by men and women who have not been influenced by philosophers (from Plato to Sartre) who have rejected the opinions of ordinary people.  By contrast, Aristotle based his ethical and political analysis on the popular traditions and everyday life of the people he knew and observed.  A keen naturalist and a physician’s son, Aristotle, even in his works on ethical subjects—moral, political, and aesthetic questions—began his studies with observation of how people lived and what had been said by earlier generations of respected men, To gain a little appreciation...

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Ransom Notes: Who Asked You?

Although nobody asked for my opinion on these bits of news, I have a few things to say. First.  Finally, the head of a major Christian denomination with a grain of sense!  The bleeding-heart-liberal Archbishop of Canterbury has informed the world that it is not racist to oppose mass migration. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-35781613.  While calling upon England to do more than it is doing to help so-called Syrian so-called refugees, he said that it was “outrageous” to describe fears about the migrant crisis as racism.  Archbishop Welby is as leftwing as most English and North American bishops and ministers of the Anglican communion, but unlike too many...

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The Left’s Jihad Against the South, Conclusion On the House

This multi-cultural hatred of the West was, of course, anticipated in the Communist Manifesto; indeed, it can be traced back through the Enlightenment all the way to Michel de Montaigne in his “Essay on the Cannibals.”  However, Western self-hatred reached a new level of coherence in France after WW I.  When Paul Claudel, Catholic poet, patriot, and diplomat, spoke of preserving the religious and cultural traditions of the West, a coalition of Communists and surrealists denounced him for defending a civilization which the surrealists derided as inferior to all the cultures of the world, high and low.  If the classical...