The Fleming Foundation Cultural Commentary

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Rome, Year 16 AMT

I left Rockford with the best intentions.  I was going to write and post a diary of our six weeks (plus a few days) in Italy, even including the boring details of transatlantic travel post -911 or, as I prefer to call it, in the Age of Muslim Terrorism, as in “we left home on January 7, AMT 16. Our brief escape from the Midwestern Winter and presidential politicking seemed doomed from the start.  Jim Easton was kind enough to take us to the Van Galder bus station, where we soon learned that the departure schedule had recently been changed,...

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Wednesday’s Child: Gadarene Light

Like any massive fraud, whether successful or unsuccessful, Russia’s recent parliamentary election is an interesting subject.  Fraud, swindle, pyramid–perpetrated or operated by all sorts of impostors, flimflam artists, and snake oil salesmen–where would world literature be without them?  Thomas Mann’s Hochstapler, or confidence man, in Confessions of Felix Krull is alone worth a million real-life fraud victims. Conrad would never have written Chance, the masterwork that pulled him out of obscurity, without its central character, the swindler Smith de Barral.  Gogol would not have written Dead Souls without Chichikov, the spectre of Western monopoly capitalism in the guise of a...

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The Plagues of Greece, an Interview with Nikolaos Hidiroglou

First, the one homework submission. Vince Cornell sends in:   t is inevitable what we face. What we did once treasure we must now break. But first must we state our causes plainly. That this divide did arise from just cause Be assured, for we declare with one voice That our lives, our liberty, and our joy Are those goods which we must of our own secure. Britain, it was you that did bar our way, Cruelly depriving us of our base rights. Destructive became your rule over us, And we now do form our own government Building it upon...

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Trump: The Lesser Evil

Hillary Clinton’s take on a large percentage of the American people is drawing fire: “You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right, The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it,” and added, “some of those folks—they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.” The other half of Trump supporters are simply stupid and depressed, and people in Hillaryland should pity them. Let’s do some quick and very rough math.  In round numbers, the country has about 280 million people, about three fourths of whom—or 210 million—are old enough to vote.  Making...

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Greece II

Athens may be the oldest city in Europe. It is certainly the oldest that is still significant. There were settlements on the Acropolis before the Greeks arrived, and, although the Athenians may have slightly exaggerated in claiming that their citadel was never abandoned in the Greek Dark Age brought on by the so-called Dorian Invasion, they are more or less right that they maintained some kind of polity throughout that grim period. Whether they can survive the new Dark Age, brought on not by more primitive northern Greeks–or still more primitive invaders from the Middle East–but by Athenian politicians who...

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Wednesday’s Child: A Polite Curate

Replying last week to a thoughtful reader’s question, I wrote some nasty things about a hierarch of the Russian Church. Basically, I said the gentleman was a bad egg. Looking back at that exchange, all sorts of thoughts run through my mind, some more conciliatory than others. The curate’s egg – forgive me for repeating a 1895 story from Punch that everyone must know by now – may have been bad, but the polite curate said to the bishop who was giving him lunch that it was good in parts. Isn’t just about every human being on earth a curate’s...

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Interview with Misa Djurkovic, Part III

The Bigger Picture 8.  Why is this happening.  Is this a case of historical accident?  Do you agree with American and European who say it is all the fault of President Assad or does US support for the rebels—only the “moderate and democratic” rebels, of course—play a part? The roots of this problem spread deep into neoconservative (neotrotskyite) schemes and are behind the agenda of “democratizing” the Muslim world. It started with Afghanistan and reaches a climax with Arab Spring. There is now massive instability all around MENA (the Middle East and North Africa): the slaughter of Christians, outbursts of...

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Wednesday’s Child: Repentance

A fascinating document is circulating in cyberspace. As it is in my mother tongue, there’s little point in directing my readers to a specific link, but those among them who read Russian can easily find it by using Yandex or any other search engine that accepts Cyrillic. The author’s name is Sergei Grigoryants. I had already left Russia when, in 1975, the dissident was arrested by the KGB and sentenced to five years in prison for “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda,” under Article 70 of the Khrushchev-era Soviet Penal Code which took up where Article 58 of the Stalin-era Penal Code...

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Misa Djurkovic Interview, Part II

Part II:  The European Context 5. The Germans seem to be talking out of both sides of their mouth, with Merkel saying early on that this had to be treated as a humanitarian crisis but later blaming Hungary and Croatia for letting so many migrants into the EU.  What do you think she and other EU leaders have in mind? I just published a book called The Illusion of European Union. One big chapter deala with immigration politics in the EU. It is a mess, that basically comes down to a strong internal fight between ordinary people–which includes even statesmen...

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Cicero, Part II: Enter Cicero, Stage Left.

The most notable event of the consulship of Pompey and Crassus, however, was the political trial of Gaius Verres. As governor of Sicily (73-71) Verres had outdone all his predecessors and rivals in corruption and theft, and he could afford to retain the greatest legal and political talent of the day, the former consul and arch-conservative, Q. Hortensius Hortalus. The desperate Sicilians turned to M. Tullius Cicero, a young orator with great political ambitions. Cicero was a well-to-do novus homo (a new man, that is, someone with no ancestors who had reached high office) from the sticks, Arpinum, in fact,...