Category Archives: Politics

Modern Insensibilities

“When once the forms of civility are violated, there remains little hope of return to kindness or decency.”—Samuel Johnson Recent years have seen the complete removal of filters on public discourse. Expletives grace the covers of best-selling volumes. Prominent celebrities … Continue reading

Posted in Art and Culture, Politics, Samuel Johnson

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

Necessary Evils: Readings on Politics

“Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”—Thomas Paine Apropos of my own observations on the recent clamor for social perfection is an opinion piece in The Atlantic (“The Unfortunate Fallout … Continue reading

Posted in Politics

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

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

Politics of Easy Virtue

“Everyone, it is true, wishes to do as he pleases and is attracted to those who agree with him.”—Thomas a Kempis, Imitation of Christ It is easy to tolerate what we like. Where that quality really comes into play is … Continue reading

Posted in Politics

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

Mankind is Governed by Names

I have continued my reading of Gibbon, with his discussion of the Roman Constitution and the decline of the republic. The true and lasting origins of imperial power, we are told, lay not in the spectacular and short-lived dictatorship of … Continue reading

Posted in History, Literature, Politics

Orwell on Socialism and Happiness

“All efforts to describe permanent happiness… have been failures.” That is the opinion of  George Orwell in his perceptive essay “Can Socialists Be Happy?” (Tribune, 1943). He adds that Utopias “seem to be alike in postulating perfection while being unable … Continue reading

Posted in George Orwell, Philosophy, Politics