. . . [T]here is a fundamental point of intersection between the theory of a just government and much of the underpinning of what we know as Western civilization. Just as there is a necessary non-rational element in the former, so is there a powerful, ordering rational element in Christianity. The start of the Gospel of St. John reads, in English, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The blending of Platonic elements with Christianity is evident, but the process becomes much more so in the Greek text from which the translation is made. In the Greek, “beginning” is not genesis which means a start in time, as used in the first book of the Old Testament, but arkhe, which means the beginning not so much at a particular point in time at which things start, but as the foundation principle out of which being comes. “Word,” of course, comes from the Greek logos, which includes the notion of reason, the inner essence of meaning. Thus, we have the idea that in the beginning, as the foundation principle of the universe, was meaningful reason, and the Word —logos—was with God, the Word was God. That is to say, the universe as conceived by this Gospel is not arbitrary, not a matter of chance or accident, but a reasonable world following a reasoned order with God.

It is this interpretation of the meaning of reality, taken from and developed from the Greek philosophers, that runs through the great tradition of Christianity. It is expressed once more by the greatest of all poets at the height of the Middle Ages, by Dante, when he writes, in The Divine Comedy, “In the great seas of being, all things preserve a mutual order and this it is that maketh the Universe like unto God.”

        —from James Burnham, “To See the World and Man,” April 1984

Perhaps the best lesson that Americans can learn from Yugoslavia is that there is no such thing as a multicultural nation. Certainly what has made the United States a great nation is its cultural heritage. The talents which immigrants brought to America from various cultures blossomed in the context of our culture.

We are a product of Western civilization and Christianity, both of which evolved in Europe. Our own derivation of this civilization emphasizes individual rights and responsibility, strong family bonds, limited representative government, religion separated from state, a strong sense of community, free enterprise, private property, the rule of law and reason, and a common language with which we communicate this cultural heritage. To be an American citizen (or, as an immigrant, to aspire to be one) is to join these cultural bonds, not import alternatives. The only real alternative is the eventual dissolution of America—which, if history is any guide, will likely occur under conditions of savage hostility.

        —from David Hartman, “Reflections on a Texan’s Visit to Bosnia,” January 1999

Perhaps there is another, more subtle form of colonialism with which the United States has not been reproached. West European countries have equally contributed to this cultural and spiritual colonialism in the name of a certain Marxism and technology. I’m speaking about Far Eastern countries that, having become Marxist, have broken their attachments to thousand-year-old spiritual traditions. In this way, the new cultural colonialism is contrary to that of the past, in which the Asian countries’ cultures were left intact. For example, Indochina under French colonization was allowed a spiritual liberty because the colonizers did not tamper with their culture. Nowadays, China, Korea, and other countries, having forgotten their traditions so as to adopt technology and an excessive politicization, are no longer free, in spite of their political independence. National independence is not always synonymous with liberty, either physical or moral. Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, and Rumania are subjected to a single way of thought, to a cultural tyranny, which, far from being simply political, is above all an ideological tyranny.

        —from Eugene Ionesco, “Realism and the Spirit,” February 1986

All we need is to keep one important thing in mind: The United States, Europe, France, and a few other countries are by their very nature inseparable, as they are part of the same Western civilization. If it is still allowed to say so, without offending anyone, this Western civilization was made by the white race. It has even been called the white man’s burden. This civilization was born out of the Greek and the Roman civilization, the Bible and the Gospels, Renaissance humanism, and most of the great scientific discoveries. The rights of man stem directly from Christianity, in which Western civilization is steeped. Our spiritual, moral, family, and aesthetic values have their sources in the ideas developed during the course of our long, shared history.

        —from Jean Raspail, “Defending Civilization,” April 1998

But—and I can hear the question despite my disavowals—what are you suggesting? Are you suggesting that one must be a believing Jew or Christian to write good novels? Certainly not— though one is tempted to make the case and indeed present the evidence that the Jewish novelist, secular or religious, has a certain advantage, what with his unique placement in a strictly linear time and history. By a “certain view of reality” I am speaking of the linearity of history, the density of things and events, the mystery and uniqueness of persons, a view that seems natural to us but is in fact the cultural heritage of Judeo-Christianity. Which is to say that I haven’t read any good Buddhist novels lately. It is to say also that B.F. Skinner, who believed that all life is a matter of stimuli and responses, could not possibly write a good novel—though I believe in fact that he did try. It is to say that the novels of H.G. Wells could not possibly be otherwise than as bad as they are. And I have never read a Marxist novel without being overwhelmed by the thesis.

        —from Walker Percy, “Physician as Novelist,” May 1989


It is said that one bright young theorist told his friends as he lay dying of AIDS, “I die happy, because I was infected by Michel Foucault.” Those words could be, may yet be, the epitaph of the humanities in the United States. Unlike AIDS, there is a cure for postmodernism. It will not come from quoting a few paragraphs of Derrida, or Said, or Kristeva out of the context of their entire careers. It must come from returning to the rich and lively and essential traditions of editing and commenting on the texts that are the basis not only of literary studies, but of our civilization, from antiquity to the present.

        —from E. Christian Kopff, “Postmodernism, Theory, and the End of the Humanities,” January 1996

I know we cannot get back to the ideal of “classical” man with classical learning, classical books, and a closed and classical worldview in which everything is neatly and finally put in its place; “classical man” of this kind was living in quite another world than ours, if he ever was alive. We have consigned the logos to computers, which make it incredibly effective yet unintelligible (safe, specific details perceived by specialists of details), and to the media, where entertainment successfully masks the tyranny of money.

The study of humanity’s evolution in history—and this finally is what classical scholars, for their part, try to do—may still encourage a fuller understanding of our world, in which humans are confronted with each other and with reality, confronted with the strangeness of people and the strangeness of being, to be—one can hope—overcome by insight. The hope of Greek philosophers that it is possible to speak with intelligence about what is real should still persist, and even a Hellenist will acknowledge that this must not necessarily be done in Greek . . .

        —from Walter Burkert, “Classics—Past Ideology and Persistent Reality,” April 1993