The Fleming Foundation Cultural Commentary

2

Filmer’s Patriarcha, IV-VII (FREE)

Filmer is typically accused of tracing the legitimacy of Charles I, back, in an unbroken line, to Adam.  What he actually argues is something different.  In the first place, he points out that, at least in principle,  there is always an heir, even if that heir is unknown.  If Adam were still alive and died today, there would be an heir, though no one would be able to discover who it was.  On the strength of the Old Testament, he assumes that the principle of primogeniture is universal, when it is not.  The privilege given first-born sons is a natural tendency,...

15

The New Index: Deleting the Great Books of the Anti-Western World

Most people are acquainted with published series and curriculum lists of  “great books,” such as the Great Books of the Western World, the Harvard Five Foot Shelf, the reading lists of “great books” colleges, and the contributions to curriculum reform made by the latterday president of the Wizard of Oz University, the Great and Terrible Bill Bennett. Most of the writers on most of the lists are either deserving of careful study, such as Homer and Sophocles, Vergil and Cicero, Dante and Shakespeare, or at least harmlessly pleasant pieces of fictions (Little Dorritt) or merely tedious scientific and mathematical works (Ptolemy,...

6

Wednesday’s Child: Babbaluci News

I often plead indigence in this space, never forgetting to identify its root cause as indolence, and these days the darn thing seems to be getting out of hand.  Of course I could write a blockbuster novel, or else get silicone implants and start posting bikini selfies on Instagram, but, fortunately, all this takes work and indolence stands in for conscience to put its foot down.  Perhaps a decorative position, a sinecure of some kind, could improve matters, and so I thought of ordering business cards that would suggest an affiliation with some fictitious enterprise of moment. After some reflection,...

7

Feeding the Monster:  Macron and the Propaganda War

The new French president claims that opponents tried to sabotage his campaign by claiming that he is homosexual.  The claims were based, on the one hand,  in  “misogyny because they say it’s not possible to be with a woman who’s 24 years older, and “on the other side, it’s homophobic.” Emmanuel Macron is in a bit of a bind, because when any public figure denies allegations of  homosexuality, his denials are taken, in some quarters at least, as evidence of anti-homosexual bigotry.  He is quick, therefore, to insist that he would cheerfully admit to being homosexual, if he were, though I...

20

Coulda Woulda Shoulda: If Wishes Were Horses, Hillary Would Win the Derby

Barbara Streisand, at a recent performance in Brooklyn, paid tribute to Hillary Clinton and shared her dreams of the New Camelot that would have replaced the Evil America being rebuilt by Donald Trump and his legions of straight white males.  Speaking of a recent interview with Hillary, Streisand added that it “makes us yearn for what could have been, what should have been. I was thrilled to hear yourself describe yourself as an activist citizen and part of the resistance.” Streisand as political commentator is a satirist’s dream come true.  At the age of 75, herself, she actually had the...

7

Filmer’s Patriarcha II and III

Filmer begins his detailed argument with an attack on Robert Cardinal Bellarmine, one of the greatest of the Jesuits and a doctor of the Church.  Bellarmine was a widely respected thinker, a man of sound judgment and excellent reason, whose arguments against Protestantism were credited with saving some parts of Europe from the Reformation and restoring many doubting souls.  He played a creditable role in the controversy over Galileo and deserves to be better appreciated today. Like several other Jesuits, Bellarmine wanted to protect the power of the Church (and its earthly head) from the ambitions of the nation states...

2

Diary of a Nobody: Sunday in the Octave of Cinco de Mayo 

It was Sunday after lunch.  My wife had already gone out to inspect her flowers, while I was tying the laces of my walking shoes and fiddling with our little bluetooth speaker in preparation for the two-miler with Italian lesson. Finally, shoes tied, the Linguaphone lesson discovered, speaker connected, I walked out into the yard to find my wife chatting with a rather queer duck, dressed as if he were a recently retired member of the Sweet Adelines or the Buffalo Bills (once-famous Barbershop quartets).  He was wearing an alarmingly striped jacket, with sweater vest, blue shirt and—I believe—a paisley...

3

Hoisting the Donkey, Conclusion (FREE)

Americans sometimes think theirs is the only “nation of immigrants” beset by ethnic conflicts and bound together only by the flimsy cords of a national ideology.  According to our official propaganda, America is a nation “dedicated to the proposition” and unified by the war to end slavery and republican government.  The Italian state, however, has its own mythology.  According to official Italian propaganda, the varied regions and cultures of Italy were unified in the Risorgimento, a glorious uprising that unified Italy and culminated (after a few disgraceful decades in the middle of the 20th century) in a universal nation more...

6

Andrew Sullivan’s Reactionary Nightmare

One of the worst commentators anywhere is Andrew Sullivan. Even though he edited the left-liberal New Republic, and hasn’t changed his views, he sometimes fashions himself a “conservative.” Granted, “conservative” doesn’t mean much nowadays – or maybe means so many contradictory things the word has become meaningless. Yet, although he took back his massive support for the Iraq War, his major lack of judgment in that murderous folly should have pushed him from the field of opinion-making and into a monastery to do penance for the rest of his life. Even with his mea culpa, in 2008 Sullivan excused himself...

6

Autodidact: Filmer’s Patriarcha, Part I

I have been asked, many times, to explain my objections to John Locke and his  theory of natural rights and the social contract.   One way to address that question is the discussion of Sir Robert Filmer Patriarcha I undertook some years ago.  I am revising and condensing those pieces for our newer and better project.  Patriarcha was actually written before Locke Treatises, which effectively debunks the mythology.  During the month of June, I will be posting paragraphs of the work, making comments, taking questions and comments from participants in the discussion.  The book is available online at http://www.constitution.org/eng/patriarcha but...