Category Archives: History

What Were They Fighting For?

Critics of the Confederacy say that slavery was the critical factor in secession. Some states, like Missouri, made it clear in their declarations to leave the Union that “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery.” By contrast, … Continue reading

Posted in History, Politics

Religion, Politics and Mysticism

 “Just as it is possible to conceive of a religion which will satisfy man’s religious needs without being applicable to the social situation of modern Europe—as, for example, in Buddhism—so we can construct, at least in theory, a religion which … Continue reading

Posted in History, Philosophy, Politics, Religion

A Genealogy of Morals

Continuing my reading of The Dynamics of World History, author Christopher Dawson explains that just as all pre-modern societies can be shown to have a religious basis, so every culture has also possessed a moral code. Beginning with the Enlightenment, … Continue reading

Posted in History, Philosophy, Religion

Christopher Dawson on Religion and Civilization

“It is the religious impulse which supplies the cohesive force which unifies a society and a culture. The great civilizations of the world do not produce the great religions as a kind of cultural by-product; in a very real sense, … Continue reading

Posted in History, Philosophy, Religion

The High Cost of Political Perfection

Recent events prompted me to dust off my books on the Soviet Union, especially those chronicling the Stalinist purges of 1936-38, which claimed over half a million lives. There was a time when reading such works was an intellectual curiosity; … Continue reading

Posted in History, Politics

An Instance of Fortitude

In his “Essay on Epitaphs,” Samuel Johnson recalls the lines inscribed on the tomb of the Greek Stoic teacher: “Epictetus, who lies here, was a slave and a cripple, poor as the beggar in the proverb, and the favourite of … Continue reading

Posted in History, Literature, Philosophy, Samuel Johnson, Stoicism

Muggeridge’s Memoirs

I realize that over the years I have dedicated very little space to Malcolm Muggeridge. This paucity is perhaps due to sheer irresolution when faced with the depth and volume of his insights. Where to begin? For the moment I … Continue reading

Posted in History, Politics

Crossing the Alps with Hannibal

According to Betty Radice, Penguin Classic’s founding editor, the Roman historian Livy “was an inspiration to the European scholars who welcomed the humanism of the classical world.” He was a masterful storyteller. In Book XXI he takes the reader across … Continue reading

Posted in History

The Brilliant Bias of Edward Gibbon

Concluding my series of remarks on Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, I refer once again to Hilaire Belloc’s commentary.* The Anglo-French historian spoke highly of Gibbon, saying that he “fashioned a vehicle wherein could repose in the … Continue reading

Posted in Hilaire Belloc, History

Decline and Fall

The decline of empire may for a time be delayed but it can never be averted. Rome was torn apart by recurring civil wars amidst cultural and moral decay. Barbarian incursions dealt the final blow, yet they were more a … Continue reading

Posted in History, Politics