The Fleming Foundation Cultural Commentary

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...

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Diary of a Peripheral Male, Part Three of Three

PARIS I boarded the plane in Pisa and joined the flight full of North Africans going home to Paris.  It is hard to get a waitress–I mean, professional flight attendant on board for the passengers’ safety–because one Moroccan mother seems completely unable to deal with the logistics of traveling with a baby.  It is a nice enough baby, and the mother is sweet, though her French is even less comprehensible than my own.  Not so long ago, a man’s level civilization could be measured, almost literally, by the size of his French vocabulary (never by his accent, since a good...

9

Wednesday’s Child: More from Oxford

  I was sitting in a New College quad, chatting with two habitués of HiLo, the Jamaican speakeasy that, in response to my post last week, a reader has playfully – and, on reflection, not wholly inaccurately – likened to this site.  The boys were both blond, affable, eloquent, and almost preternaturally polite, though obviously I was only too aware of their capacity for nocturnal Jekyll-and-Hyde mutation into what in England is called Hooray Henrys, drunken young men in black tie who vomit into public fountains and never tire of mocking their more scholarly peers. I asked the boys to...

2

Travel Diary of a Peripheral Male 1999, Part Two of Three

MILAN It is small wonder if European conservatives hate the United States.  My room at the Hotel Granduca di York is cramped, too small to fit in a practical writing desk but big enough to hold an American window on the world–a TV set.  Next door is the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, which holds a priceless collection of manuscripts, rare books, and paintings, but here in my room I have everything an American could need: CNN, 24 hours a day, as well as a variety of channels–Italian, French, German–all replaying episodes of Hunter, Friends, or Mad About You (that’s Dingue de Toi...

2

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

Jefferson, in rejecting primogeniture, may have been influenced by John Locke’s First Treatise on Civil Government.  Locke’s primary purposes in the treatises were first, to refute Sir Robert Filmer’s argument that royal authority was patriarchal and could be traced back to Adam’s authority over his wife and children, and second, to advance his own theory that government was not a natural or divine institution but something invented by man, in a state of nature, for his own use.  Since the principle of primogeniture was the basis of most European monarchies, Locke was naturally eager to oppose it, but he went...

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Aristotle, Politics II.4-7

These four chapters of Book II take up consideration of four model commonwealths, two of them fictional and two based on the reality of Sparta and Crete.  Readers should be warned at the outset, though, that since Greeks typically idealized or demonized Sparta (and to a lesser extent the cities of Crete), these two constitutions have to be viewed partly as historical reality and partly as representatives of a political ideology, in much the same way that Fascist Italy or Communist Russia have been treated. The first system under review  was drawn up by Phaleas of Chalcedon, of whom next to...

2

1999 Travel Diary of a Peripheral Male, Part One of Three

An On The House Reprint from 1999 Midtlantic It has been a long day for this straight white European male.  O’Hare Airport is a sort of decompression chamber between Middle America and the rest of the world: rude United clerks who act as if they own the airline, the gauntlet of guards at the x-ray machines none of whom is able to speak English, and everywhere the stench of the Disneyworld cuisine: pizza, hotdogs, and every few feet a McDonald’s, whose unique blend of grease, sugar, and msg is the olfactory signature tune of the New World Order. If they...

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The Disneyland Primary

  California is a crazy state, a kind of Venezuela attached to the Mainland USA and with the world’s top high-tech companies running things instead of Hugo Chavez’s heirs. Like Venezuela, California has massive shortages of local things, in particular housing, which costs more than $650,000 for buying a shotgun shack along the coast, with rents for one-bedroom garrets at more than $1,850 a month. Even if you can afford a house, or bought one before about 2000 when prices almost were reasonable, chances are your children won’t be able to afford to live here until they inherit your manse,...