Category: Anniversary

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DECLINE AND FALL

I cannot swear that we are completely on the other side of the age of reciprocal misunderstandings and ignorance, but I would venture that at this moment, in the late 20th century, our democracies are closer and more similar than ever before. On both sides of the Atlantic, we face the same big social questions,...

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DEMOCRATISM

The move toward mass, direct democracy in the large nationstate derives much of its appeal from an image of direct democracy reminiscent of the Athenian Assembly, or of the New England town meeting. But such an appeal is mistaken. The social conditions for face-to-face interaction and deliberation present on a small scale are not present...

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HOPE

As the century ends, the marginality of poetry grows. Today it is either a ceremony in the catacombs, a ritual in the urban desert, a fiesta in the basement, or a revelation in the supermarket. It’s true that poets are still persecuted in totalitarian countries and in old-fashioned military tyrannies; in democratic nations they are...

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LIBERAL ARTS

Fraud and deception among society’s heroes draw attention to contradictions and inconsistencies in its value systems. Because American culture applauds entrepreneurship, independence, and ambition, for example, scientists have been encouraged to develop independent imaginations and innovative research, to engage in intense competition, to strive for success. Ironically, Americans also want their whitecoated heroes to be...

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THE NEW WORLD ORDER

. . . [T]he central issue in American politics at the end of the century is what might be described as “The National Question”—whether America is that interlacing of ethnicity and culture we call a nation and whether the American nation-state, the political expression of that nation, is going to survive. It’s a problem that’s...

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THE OLD REPUBLIC

Artur Schnabel . . . once said of Beethoven’s sonatas that “this music is greater than it can ever be played.” . . . The stories of American history are better than they can ever be told.         —from David Hackett Fischer, “Telling Stories in the New Age,” March 1997 In my...

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THE PARTY STATE

In Washington, D.C., access and influence go hand-in-hand; they are the stock and trade of the lobbyist, the lawyer, and the political advisor. They are, as well, the biggest “skill” current officeholders and staff members can take with them when they leave the government.         —from Pat Choate, “Puppets for Nippon,” May...

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THE UTOPIAN NIGHTMARE

If we cannot expect the peace people to listen to reason, it is because theirs is a movement springing from the decadence of Christian life and from the moral paralysis of those whose lives have been robbed of any transcendental dimension. The curious belief of the peace people that the specter of nuclear annihilation can...

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American Empire

Developed nations should assist poorer states by doing no harm. Washington should end government-to-government assistance, which has so often buttressed regimes dedicated to little more than maintaining power and has eased the economic pressure for needed reforms. The United States should stop meddling in foreign affairs which matter little to America; the result is usually...

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CHRISTENDOM

. . . [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...