The Fleming Foundation Cultural Commentary

5

The Failure of Democratic Capitalism

This piece comes from 1982, two years before moving to Rockford as Managing Editor of the magazine I would soon serve as Editor.  It is a slightly revised version of a review of Michael Novak’s Spirit of Democratic Capitalism.  The editors were so alarmed by the implicit rejection of classical liberalism that they felt it necessary to run  the usual “Michael Novak is a genius..” counterpoint along side it. Capitalism must be dead at last. Its demise has been predicted so many times—by Marx and his disciples, by fascists, and even by true believers like the ex-Trotskyist James Burnham—that many of...

3

Munich–A City of Two Tales

This just in: A bizarre incident took place this week in Munich.  Out of the blue, a typical German teenager quit spending his money on drugs and night clubs and decided to spend his free time and surplus cash on helping elderly people in a retirement home.  No one knows what motivated this eccentric behavior.  The young man had no known connections with any political movement advocating charity or welfare.  Found in his bedroom were various non-denominational pamphlets on how to practice charity.  All that is know of him is that he was brought up in the Catholic Church and...

8

One More Reason I’m Glad I’m Not a Conservative

When several people asked me what I thought of the Republican Convention in Cleveland, I had to answer truthfully that I had paid very little attention to the quadrennial shenanigans. Much of my time, this past week, was devoted to driving my broken-legged wife to medical appointments, the most serious of which was the three hour operation that took place yesterday.  The doctors are proclaiming a tactical victory, but recovery time is now being measured in terms of months rather than weeks, which puts our October program in Greece on hold. When I did have time to turn on the...

1

Wednesday’s Child: Yes, Prime Minister

Britain has a new prime minister by the name of Theresa May.  In and of itself this may not be reason enough for jubilation, but last week the new leader appointed a cabinet that was considerably stronger than what many, myself included, had been expecting.  No fewer than four leaders of the Leave EU movement in parliament received ministerial portfolios, most remarkably Boris Johnson, who became Foreign Secretary; David Davis was given a new post of Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union; and a similarly novel position created in the wake of the referendum, that of Secretary of...

6

Learning to Write and Read Verse

Several readers and friends have asked me how to read poetry, and the questions usually take the form of asking my advice on this or that book on prosody or form or the history of poetry.  I invariably reply to such requests—as I also reply to requests for “one good book” on Greek drama or the fall of Rome or ancient rhetoric, by suggesting generally that is best to form one’s taste on the “classics” that used to be approved by the wisdom of our ancestors, the cut-off being World War I. In matters of writing—poetry and rhetoric, for example—I...

0

Boethius Book Club, Episode 3: Shakespeare’s Measure For Measure

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One of Shakespeare’s less familiar masterpieces is Measure for Measure. This is a serious play, certainly not a comedy, and yet it ends happily without a full complement of corpses on the stage. It was written about 1605, during the same period in which he composed his greatest works. In Measure for Measure Shakespeare takes up serious moral and political questions: the nature of justice, the quality of rulers, and, perhaps most significantly, the debate over marriage that raged between, on the one hand, Catholics and Anglicans, and, on the other, Calvinists. It is not too much to say that...

0

Properties of Blood, Chapter 5: Revenge, Part C

Civilized people will never be impressed by any argument that seems to celebrate the morality of apes.  We are, after all, human beings who are, as Christians say, made in the image of God or, as Darwinists insist, the product of tens of millions of years of evolutionary progress.  It is a main thrust of philosophical liberalism (and of ancient Stoicism) that human beings have a duty to rise above not only animal but parochial and sectarian passions. I can almost hear the rumblings from the professors, social workers, and other right-thinking people:  ”If you once start conceding some legitimacy...

3

Anti-Trumpers, Please Watch The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

{I beg pardon from both Red Phillips and our readers for being so late in publishing this.  It arrived on a day I was preparing dinner for a few early arrivals to our Summer Symposium, which just ended Saturday night.  I was preparing the dinner–a two day project–because the chef in charge, namely my wife, had just broken and badly dislocated her ankle in several places and will have to undergo an operation this week. TJF] As a good traditional conservative, I like Westerns. If you watch a lot of Westerns you will eventually discern that many of them have a...

4

Wednesday’s Child: Betting on Winners

  In a writer’s life it sometimes happens that no sooner does he put a thought in words than chance sends him fresh evidence to substantiate it, a kind of souvenir acknowledgement in tacit confirmation of what he had been thinking.  So it happened last week.  No sooner had I posted my musings on football than chance spirited me away to a place called Enna, a mountain townlet in the middle of Sicily, where, of all places, an international piano competition, with my wife among the jurors, was to take place.  Free lodging, free grub, and free air at temperatures...

9

Loretta’s Lynch Law

American political leaders are almost to a man, woman, and  all points in-between,  uneducated and literate only to the level that they can read the speeches that are written for them.  Nonetheless, it is sometimes enlightening to examine the clichés—almost all of them not simply false but counter-intuitive— with which they pepper their pronouncements. Case in point, Loretta Lynch’s sermon on the murder of five officers of the law in Dallas.  After thanking the reporters for attending, she assured the American people that “we”—whatever or whomever she means by that— “…intend to provide any assistance that we can to investigate...