The Fleming Foundation Cultural Commentary

5

Brexit Wrecks It

As the days drew new for the vote on Brexit,  the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union seemed  unlikely.  It seemed too good to be true, even to Nigel Farage.  As the polls were closing, the UKIP leader was gloomily predicting a thin victory for the Remains. Later that evening, it was all over but for the whining of good old Dave Cameron in tears.  He just had to have this referendum to show that Britons were as suicidal as everyone else in the West.  “What”—as that noted political observer B. Bunny, Esq. would say, “a maroon.” The term Britons,...

2

Wednesday’s Child (on Thursday): Independence Day

The more one thinks about it, the clearer it becomes that freedom in our day and age is all about saving face.  And that some people in the world, perhaps an overwhelming majority of them, just don’t give a toss about having their face saved. Freedom is an entry in a roster of intangibles, on the same page as honor, dignity, sovereignty, faith, love, respect.   Drop any one of these metaphysical substances from the roster, and you will find that the remaining ones have become more inchoate as a result.   Excise another, and you will see that, rather...

4

No One Ever Expects the Spanish Inquisition

When I looked at Red Philipps’ recent piece on the NeverTrump movement, I realized how ignorant I am of the conservative zanies who populate the blogosphere.  He referred several times to one Eric Erickson.  If I had ever heard of this character, the name—so reminiscent of Swedish comic Ole Olson—had been rejected by my conscious mind as one more piece of lint it did not need.  I can already tell you who played Chester and Doc on the Gunsmoke radio  program and once read a bad book on Gandhi by another fraud of the same name.   Enough, as they...

2

Poem(s) of the Week

While we were at Camp Saint Christopher, I found myself gassing on, as I so often do, on a favorite theme, namely, how various disabling mental conditions, e.g., intoxication or insanity, may confer benefits in making the sufferer more open to spiritual truths a more controlled rationality will attempt to exclude.  My prime example was Saint Catherine of Siena.  When someone raised the question of old age–whether someone as decrepit as myself gained anything in spiritual wisdom to compensate for the decline in physical well-being and mental powers.  I thought of one of my favorite poems, Edmund Waller’s lines on...

0

Aristotle, Politics III, 1-2

The third book of the Politics is of fundamental importance for understanding the nature of all forms of political association, particularly citizenship, which is to say, legitimate membership  in a commonwealth.  It is also an essential corrective to the liberal tradition, not so much because it offers an alternative theory as because it begins by looking at the facts.  Citizens are not random individuals who happen to have been dumped on our soil by illegal aliens; a nation is not simply a jurisdiction that allows us to make money from each other. In the beginning of the book [III.1], Aristotle...

0

Properties of Blood I.8: Spouses and Heirs, Part E

From Kith to Kin to Commonwealth If there is one commonplace that is shared by political theorists who view human societies not as a set of abstractions but as an organism or ecosystem it is that the commonwealth is an outgrowth of the household or family.  Wherever we turn—to Aristotle or Cicero, St. Thomas or Althusius, Sir Robert Filmer or French counter-revolutionaries—we find the family at the foundation of the evolving social order. The steps of this theoretical social evolution usually echo Aristotle’s account that traces the coalescence of households into a village and villages into a city or commonwealth. ...

2

Maintenant, ça suffit

I’ve been out of Paris for a week now, and apart from a brief stop there on my way to London to watch the Brexit vote unfold, I will be out of my adopted home for another week still.  I continue to be bemused that such a generally kind and often generous populace is acting out in the most vicious and selfish of ways – and the current strikes are perhaps a visible sign of a silent sickness that has plagued France for some time. Now, I want to make it clear – I understand and respect that strikes are a way...

1

The Convention Coup Delusion

Since the NeverTrump forces have so far failed to attract a credible (in the eyes of the conservative movement)  independent challenger to run against Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the general election, their focus seems to have shifted toward an effort to nominate someone other than Trump at the Republican National Convention in July. This has been the steady drumbeat coming from such NeverTrump sources as RedState and Erick Erickson’s The Resurgent among many others. This effort is transparently absurd. Some are making the case that all Republican delegates are technically unbound and/or that through sleight of hand with...

5

Autodidact: Readings for June

By popular demand (at least three requests uttered in a diffident tone of voice), I am reintroducing some discussions of lighter works–in addition to the ongoing Aristotle–and a poem of the week. For the next few weeks, I propose to discuss three works by R.L. Stevenson:  The Wrong Box, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and The Dynamiter. I have been mostly absent from this site for over two weeks.  For more than a week, while I was in South Carolina attending the Abbeville Institute’s Summer School, my MacBook Air refused to turn on, and when, every few...

6

At the Zoo

Man taunts history much the way he abuses nature, like a young delinquent at the zoo who is completely certain that the wild animal he’s teasing is secure in its cage.  Like nature, history is patient, shrugging off his foolish provocations, and only once in a while does it emit a deafening roar and rattle the bars of the cage.  Even more rarely, it breaks out, and then woe betide the arrogant trespasser.  Then Nero fiddles as Dresden burns, Castro smiles and strokes his beard as Lisbon is leveled by the earthquake, and Genghis Khan’s motorized divisions march on the...