Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Man does not live of Sony alone

We may have disagreed with Samuel Huntington on many things, but he was right about the cultural tone-deafness of today's western elites. It is the most lasting heritage of Marxism: the belief that only economics are real, and all other human factors will yield to economic realities.

It is if it changes

This article clearly touched a raw nerve (as confirmed by the multitude of comments), namely the possibility that Christianity may be something so real that it is able to change people. This is a sensitive spot for post-enlightment Western culture, which is based on the assumption that human reason is naturally capable of building civilization, and cannot accept that human reason itself may be in need of redemption.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Big difference

Ross Douthat on the cultural effects of Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Deepest questions

The Alpha course is a significant phenomenon.

Higher standards

People on both political sides seem excited about the new secretary of education.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Conflict brewing

Right of conscience regulations are going to be a major political battleground in the next few years.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

La volonté générale

Czech president Vaclav Klaus meets the children of 1968. They don't care what he thinks, or how people voted. Being true heirs of Rousseau, they EMBODY the will of the people. The poor guy thought totalitarianism ended in 1989 ("19 years ago").

Monday, December 08, 2008

Garbage in garbage out

Spengler sees a silver lining in the economic crisis.


Just wait until your employer provides you with some good stuff for free.

England is finished

When you read the word "understanding" (as opposed to learning) six times in the same paragraph and hear that children will be taught "practical skills" for "real-life situations" (as opposed to any real content), you can be sure that an educational system is being actively destroyed by a clique of academic pedagogists.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Ideology rules

If you care to know how bad the situation really is in Pakistan, an excellent source is Syed Saleem Shahzad . To him it seems absolutely obvious that the ONLY reason the Pakistanis may crack down on out-of-control Islamic militants is because of the pressure from Washington. That suggests that this plan is probably wishful thinking.

Creeping vocationalism

Victor Davis Hanson again. After you skip the first seven paragraphs on the merits of classical education (nothing wrong there, just a bit cliche), his analysis of what's happening to the university system is quite acute.

Leave them alone

Ross Douthat again, this time on the Republican party and pro-lifers.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Warm and fuzzy and content-free

All of us who work in education have met powerful people like Ms.Darling-Hammond.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The end of the left

Peter Berkowitz reviews the latest book by Bernard-Henry Levy. Apparently BHL regards Nietzsche as the embodiment of the liberal spirit. Since he is a respected philosopher we must hold our judgement, but for anybody else this opinion would suggest excessive intake of cocaine.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Economic un-reality

A bad response to the disasters wrought by the financiers would certainly be let politicians run the economy. The truth is that both the prevalence of finance and the prevalence of politics are symptoms of social and cultural weakness, since both are means, not ends.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Piotr Verchovenskij goes to San Francisco

The current outburst of ideological violence will sound familiar to those of us who love Dostoevskii (or who know the history of Europe, 1789-1989).

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Hopefully this will not come to pass. The US bishops seem willing to stand up and fight.

Offer something

Ross Douthat trashes George Weigel.

$27,000 a year progressives

A piece of some anthropological interest.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Decline and fall of California

Victor Davis Hanson is what the Romans called a laudator temporis acti. But at least he can write decent English...

Be brave

A plea for defending the interests of young people when they conflict with those of the teachers' unions.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Not happy

Cardinal Stafford makes waves.

Freedom of conscience

An interesting controversy.

Unintended consequences

If you think this is horrible, you should worry about the day they will discover a genetic marker for "androphilia". Strangely enough, Will Saletan and most of his ideological peers seem oblivious to the danger.

Friday, November 21, 2008

To the bunkers!

From time to to time (but not too often) you should read the Mogambo Guru, just to be reminded that there is a degree of folly to human affairs.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Canon Fodder

What is the point of the "Great Books"? Some have seen the idea as an exercise in snobbery, some as an attempt to save Western civilization, some as a way to make money. Yet after reading this article the question remains: Are there some books that should be read by everyone?

Nihilism watch, XVII

Some more depressing material. An interesting point here is the way in which the de-humanization of the self is justified with a bogus reference to "science." The problem of course, is not science but a complete dis-education of the person, to the point that the heart seems almost atrophied. At least, though, this is a more transparent and honest situation than the romantic/modern claim that Christian spousal love is "natural."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008


A story on Michelle Rhee. At least she seems to have one clear idea: that in order to educate you need good teachers above all else. Not good methods, not a favorable social environment, not better educational theories. Young people learn from teachers.

Fill more forms

This column has an interest beyond the specific story (the murder of a baby in Britain) because it discusses a trend:
So much effort goes into the procedure that no time, energy or inclination is left over to secure the alleged purpose of the procedure.

The triumph of procedure over content is indeed all around us, for instance in education.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Meet Martin Eisenstadt. Notice that many of his "scoops" have become common knowledge and will keep being believed by many people for a long time to come.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Join the club

Movie buffs may enjoy this piece by Ken Russel.

"Known as the CURRICULUM"

Diane Ravitch explains the problem with "No child left behind:" neither money nor formal accountability nor federal mandates can produce good education.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Compassionate nihilism

Melanie Phillips does not exactly hit the right tone, but she is right that the figure in recently history that most resembles Obama is Tony Blair. Personally attractive, moderate in economic matters, hawkish in foreign policy, but ultimately the enabler of a disastrous progressivist ideology and a believer in the redemptive power of the state. She is also right in pointing out that Blair's (and, probably, Obama's) sentimental-technocratic progressivism reflects most of all a gaping cultural vacuum. Ultimately, politics must rely on some notion of what it means being a human being, and on some body of shared knowledge about how to live in society and educate young people. Otherwise, without any roots in the past, what is left is the editorial page of the New York Times: sentimental mush and moronic babbling about equality. In this vacuum, individual politicians can be personally intelligent and well-meaning, but (bad) ideas have their own power and produce their own effects.

Reality check

Shelby Steele on the Obama election and race.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

To be filed under "What's Ahead?"

President-elect Obama is known to have taken a keen interest in education. So whom might he pick for Secretary of Education? Here are some possibilities.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Class divide

Christopher Caldwell makes an interesting summary of the presidential campaign.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Thinking straight

Maggie Gallagher explains the obvious. The fact it is not obvious is quite a bad sign regarding our collective capacity for rational judgement.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fueled by imagination

Fouad Ajami is concerned about crowds. It is true that a crowd can be the most lonely place, and that lonely and alienated people provide the best material for politicians in search of a crowd.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Culturally divided

Howard Fineman is rightly astonished that the electoral race is not over. Indeed, given the mood of the country Obama should be 30 points ahead. The fact that he is not points to to something interesting: US elections are about conflicting ideologies (as opposed to conflicting interests) much more than they used to be. Many people don't vote for a political program, they vote based on cultural identification. And many people simply cannot identify culturally with Obama.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


John Allen on US Catholics and the presidential elections.

Fantasy world

All the news coverage of sex addiction is of some interest for two related reasons: 1) it undermines one of most nefarious and pervasive ideologies that shape our culture, the theory of sexual liberation originally elaborated by Wilhelm Reich (Freudo-Marxism), 2) because just raising the question of "reality" awakens, implicitly but inevitably, a religious question.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fingers crossed

Michael Gerson offers a typically balanced assessment of what would decide the success or failure of an Obama presidency in domestic policy. As for foreign policy, let us just hope that Sen. Biden is wrong.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Memento mori

Christopher Hitchens reviews Brideshead Revisited.


It is appalling that an intelligent Catholic layman like E.J. Dionne accepts as a the normal state of affairs that US catholics should be divided "conservative" and "progressive" groups. It is a sad truth that US Catholics think of themselves according to such external political categories. But do they realize this a symptom of complete cultural failure on their part? If you let the secular culture set the terms of the debate to the point that you end up dividing the Church exactly along the same political lines as the rest of society, that means you have not done your homework in developing an original Catholic political culture. It is a shame, really.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rugby, the meaning of life?

What kind of parent would bring his/her paralyzed son to Switzerland?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


The scary thing about the persisting and bitter polarization in the US is that is based strictly on ideology, not on economic interest. This almost unprecedented in American history.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Things are getting worse for Christians in Mosul.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Coming to a city near you

ACORN seems to be an interesting example of how ideology makes people impervious to reality.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

End of freedom

If you think Sweden is a crazy country, think again. Often extreme cases only reveal what is logically implicit but still undeveloped in the mainstream.


The Economist is baffled:
All this amounts to something that Europeans, at least, may find surprising. In much of Christianity’s former heartland, religion is associated with tradition and ritual. In China, it is associated with modernity, business and science. “We are first-generation Christians and first-generation businessmen,” says one house-church pastor.

We noticed

While obvious and not in need of scientific verification, this connection does have some impact on human affairs.


An intervention by Cardinal Ouellet on the situation in Quebec.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Poverty is not just money

George Packer on the working class and the elections. It is a melancholic piece because it is obvious what this people really need is certainly not income redistribution by the government, or anything the candidates are proposing. In fact, the things they need the most (stable families, better education, economic creativity, participating in the life of a people) is simply beyond the reach of politics per se. However, politics could at least support whatever forces are capable of social reconstruction.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


The NYTimes has discovered a debate in the Catholic Church re. the elections. Of course there is no such thing, given that during the last few years the US bishops have been remarkably unanimous in saying what they regard as priorities. But this never stopped the NYTimes before...

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Natural affinity

The history of Christianity in India sounds interesting.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Like me, for example?

Steven Weinberg is a great scientist, and one has to grant that his profession of atheism has a certain existential seriousness which is lacking in many of his contemporaries. As such he is quite representative of the prejudices of the age: a) the reduction of reason: if we learnt to "worship nothing" we would stop being human, and b) that religion is just the things we make up to explain our place in the universe. However, it is also possible that something might HAPPEN.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Inverse proportion

The connection between Christianity and Western rationality is going to be proved experimentally.

On the way out?

In November California will vote on marriage. Based on the comments to this column, the consensus seems to be that marriage is some sort of secular sacrament, a state recognition of our romantic committments. Nobody seems to realize that, on this basis, it becomes a perfectly useless institution, and what people are really pushing for is its abolition. On the other hand, this reduced notion of marriage has not come about with the gay movement, but the other way around. The idea of gay marriage has been made possible by a dominant mentality that was shaped many decades ago and enshrined in the no-fault divorce laws of the 1970's.


Nobody really understands the mind.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Regensburg, part II

Read the Pope's magnificent address to the French intellectuals.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Amir Taheri has read the foreign-policy platforms of the two parties. The summary is that McCain may be simplistic but Obama is naive (or ideological?)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fluent but impatient

While talking about foreign policy, Fouad Ajami grasps something of how Obama is very representative of a certain contemporary type. It would be interesting to trace it back to the notion of education that is prevalent in our "top" universities. Essentially, people are taught only "science" (empirically-oriented knowledge directed at problem solving), but no "philosophy" (grappling in a systematic fashion with questions of truth and meaning)

Pow! Wham!

Camille Paglia is often fun to read.

Basic instinct

A conversion.

Monday, September 08, 2008


A column by David Frum. It is interesting that, in order to push the Republican party out of its ideological empasse, he quotes as a moral authority John Paul II (Frum himself is Jewish).

Friday, September 05, 2008

The greatest disorder

What one sees in many stories about persecution is that Christianity is hated because simply by affirming the value of the person it is the greatest threat to the powers that be.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The elite again

Hanna Rosin comments on some statistics that show that
An intact happy marriage that produces well-behaved children, it turns out, is becoming a luxury of the elites.
The conclusion seems to be that (at some level) being affluent helps people getting their act together (apparently "well-behaved" means "using contraception"). A functional family as a bourgeois privilege: one more item in a catalog of possessions. Richer people can afford it, the poor cannot.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Ross Douthat and Yuval Levin are scandalized by the media's hysterical reaction to the Palin nomination. But the reason is very simple: nothing scares the liberal elite like the idea that after losing the working classes culturally, they may also lose them electorally. In this sense, Palin is truly the anti-Obama, in a way McCain could never be -- because she explodes the contradiction that the interest of the common people should be best defended by an intellectual class that deep down despises those same people's values and ideals. For this reason Peggy Noonan is right when she says that
"they are going to have to kill her, and kill her quick."

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

He loves Hemingway

An essay on the life of Sen. McCain. He clearly comes through as a true representative of the U.S. "stoic" tradition. Like all forms of romanticism (i.e. an esthetic substitute for Christianity) it's ambiguous: it can be a step on the way out or it can bring one back. But at least is something...

Monday, September 01, 2008


The New Yorker has an essay on religion and the elections. It is fair to say that there is nothing new (which unfortunately means that the discussion remains quite shallow).

Sunday, August 31, 2008

German villages?

More evidence of historical affinities between European and Arab anti-semites.

In the City Journal, read also the latest Dalrymple.

Religious cleansing

Anti-Christian persecution in India.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


The interesting point about Sen. Obama's infamous vote in Illinois is not that IT was morally revoltING but that HE was not morally revoltED. We are in a time in which, deep down, everything is politically negotiable, Why? Because morality is not rooted in any form of knowledge, i.e. in reason. There is hope of redemption even for the most hardened criminal if he KNOWS his wretchedness. But today, one can be a very nice person (like Obama seems to be) and a perfect nihilist without even knowing it.

Friday, August 15, 2008


The thing about France is that it was the first country to develop a modern, post-Christian ideology: the myth of the "Grande Nation." As is well-known, ideology enables people to stomach much bigger bloodbaths.

Living big

People from New York will recognize something familiar in Mr. Melvyn Kohn (I mean, Mr. William Milliken Vanderbilt Kingsland).

Perpetual adolescents

Beside the silly slogan about "saving the males," Kathleen Parker has a few good points. What she misses is that our culture does not value fathers because it does not value (in fact, it rejects) the authoritative side of love. In this respect, we are the living proof of the fact that without authority there is no growing up to adulthood.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The opposite of "universitas"

Given that our society regards as the colleges' main task the training of the workforce (and this is what most students expect: to be prepared for a job), Charles Murray's proposal is not without merit. As long as one remembers that there are some things that cannot be certified by a CPA-type exam, and that without them there is no education of a human person, and thus no civilization. But does anyone care?

Monday, July 28, 2008


Joseph Bottum on the historical collapse of mainline protestantism in the USA. The most interesting parts is how a dying religion turns into politics, and how politics becomes the substitute religion.

Foggy Bottom

Some people say the U.S. State Department is about to make yet another major blunder. Same conclusions here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

All forgotten

A piece on Catholicism in Australia. At least the writer goes beyond the usual liberal cliches by recognizing that there is a deeper problem. Except it gives it the wrong name: he says the question is Catholic "identity" while the problem seems to be, quite simply, Faith.

Back to reality

Today Tom Friedman is disgusted. The only good thing can come out of Zimbabwe is putting an end to some of the lingering fantasies of the 1960's (the neat division of the world between evil colonialists and good anti-imperialist fighters).

Interesting data

Some say that McCain could make inroads with hispanic voters by supporting school choice.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Apparatchik class

What Dalrymple writes about the psychiatric system in the UK,applies very well to many state universities in the US, where the administration is dominated by highly political PhD's in education who are interested in many things but certainly not in education....

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Lowest of the low

The NYTimes magazine" has a long piece on demographics.

New elites

Goldman Sachs is taking over the country (says David Brooks).

Friday, June 27, 2008

The great switch

The talk of the day is the new book by Douthat and Salam. There are at least two reasons why it is getting attention: first because the political right-wing is desperate for new ideas. More importantly because the book reflects the big, dramatic, unimaginable (only a generation ago) 'change of seats' that has been taking place in American politics. The Democratic party, which used to represent the (largely "ethnic" and Catholic) working classes, has become the party of the more ideological, affluent liberal bourgeoisie. Conversely, the authors argue, the Republican party (traditionally regarded as the party of the moneyed elites) is bound to become the party of the "socially conservative" working classes, while keeping its allegiance to the principles of limited state intervention in society and in the economy. Obviously, this shift is extremely relevant to the Catholic presence in the US, which for many decades identified itself politically with the Democratic party. It is not by chance that several of the young new writers mentioned by David Brooks are Catholic (e.g. Douthat and Ponnuru).

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pyramid scheme

The paradox is that by abolishing vocational training and forcing everybody to go to college, "educational ideologues" have also made it hard to get a higher education, since most affordable colleges are now run like, well... vocational schools!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Who is this man?

This points to a larger concern that many people "feel" about Barak Obama and that may still keep him from the presidency. That deep down he is completely shaped by the mainstream liberal post-marxist ideology of the academic and media elites. Which many people in the US perceive, perhaps unconsciously, as a threat to their way of life.

True to what?

Peggy Noonan also grasps well what Tim Russert represented, and how different US culture has become.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Staggering statistics on children without fathers.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Elite ideology

A nice essay on the way in which feminism has ended up helping economic expansion rather that human development.

Old vs. new

Peggy Noonan's list is interesting.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Freedom to offend

When people are certain about their identity, they are not easily offended, nor are they willing to give the state the power to "protect" them, since a healthy society has many ways to "tar and feather" outrageus doctrines. Unfortunately we are witnessing a double trend in which, while the cultural fabric of society weakens, the power of the state becomes more absolute.
David Warren has a good column on the subject.

Rapture for nerds

Some supposedly intelligent people are putting their faith in the singularity.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Monday, June 02, 2008

"Believe me, ladies, we’re not worth it"

A classic Antony Lane review. There is a perverse irony in the way feminism, by ideologically affirming women as "independendent" beings, seems to have really made them much less free...

Wait and see...

Is the XXth century faith in the state really dying?
Or is it British society that is dying and is no longer able to sustain freedom?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Green Leninism

Charles Krauthammer on what environmentalism" represents for a certain type of people.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Changing the destiny of mankind

Amir Taheri's discussion of Iranian foreign policy really sheds light on the mentality of Western "liberals", who cannot conceive that somebody could be driven by a totalizing ideal. Theirs, on the contrary, is the ideology of the bourgeois: a confortable life for all is the fulfillment of every conceivable human desire.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Daughter of a theory

Like all ideologies, feminism tends to embrace abstractions better than real people.


It is not easy to be original.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A threat to the state

The thing about places like Algeria is that probably nobody cares about Islam as a religion. It is just the unifying ideology of society, whereas Christianity by appealing to personal freedom is an implicit threat to power. This reminds us of Solovev's remark that Islam was just the natural evolution of the Caesaro-Papism of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Big Switzerland

We suspect that Europe's irrelevance is cultural before it is political.

Friday, May 16, 2008


An essay by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese on marriage. She has two good insights:

a) That aberrations like gay marriage are in reality perfectly consistent with the dominant understanding of marriage, which is why they are almost unstoppable.

b) That the family is really an obstacle to power and that the goal here is "disaggregating all of the remaining social institutions that provide the foundations for any collective resistance against political and economic domination."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

It's mathematical...

These researchers should read some American religious history. What they describe has a very long tradition, and reflects an inner contradiction of protestant theology, which is doomed by its separation of faith and reason to swing pendulum-like from Calvinism to naturalism and universalism. For instance, the Unitarian movement started in the early XIX century among New England Calvinist Puritans, and within a couple of generations became, guess what: a moralistic, therapeutic deism!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Moving to Beirut

An interesting analysis of what's going on in the Middle East.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Dalrymple on the Fritzl case.
I think that such cases bring into sharp focus our continual but continually failing attempts to understand ourselves and our place in nature. It is odd that we should have been equipped by that nature with a desire that (in my opinion) can never be fulfilled.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Well said

You may have missed this very balanced essay by Fr. Samir a few weeks ago.

Ready to explode

The US media do not care much about Lebanon.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

An inconvenient truth?

In case you missed it, global-warming skeptics are having a field day with the latest data. This is challenging hundreds of careeers and millions of dollars in grants, of course, so the other side is desperate to twist back "science" in their direction.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Nihilism on campus

It is obvious that if all questions of meaning are removed, the humanities are bound to decay into ideology and politics.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

40 years later

This year people are thinking back of 1968.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

No reform without freeedom

The thing about education is that it requires educators. This implies that at some level somebody's freedom will be involved.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The oppression of sin

The tragedy Zimbabwe is significant because it reveals the lie of the "liberation" movements of the second half of the 20th century (which is still the dominant ideology in many US academic departments). The lie is that the world can be neatly divided in the oppressors (bad) and the oppressed (good). There is much more truth in the Catholic doctrine of original sin: that we all share in the same weakness, and that when the oppressed take power they will usually be just as evil and corrupt as the former oppressors.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Thought provoking Pope

Interesting comments on the Pope's visit by E.J. Dionne and especially by Michael Gerson (consider that the former is a quite "liberal" Catholic, and the latter an Evangelical).

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008

U.S. Catholics

Some statistics.

The truth, the WAY and the life, no?

Cardinal Vingt-trois (23?)'s path.

New take

The Washington Post on the state of US Catholicism. A change from a few years back is that the big story does not seem to be the liberal-conservative conflict, but rather the contrast between "American" Catholics (supposedly on the way out) and "Latino" Catholics (the wave of the future?). Another irrelevant distinction, probably.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Totality in a particular

Recognizing that something beautiful reflects a specific experience of life is NOT a conceptual mistake.

The truth shall set you free

It is true that the meaning of the word liberal has changed a lot during the last quarter of the century. Especially in Europe, a liberal used to be somebody concerned with political and economic freedom, and more or less rooted in a a generic "western" tradition (read: secularized Christianity). Today, a "liberal" is, at best, a moderate leftist. Worse, the concern for freedom has been replaced by cultural relativism, which of course is very detrimental to freedom itself, because in the long run there is no guiding criterion but sheer political power...which was the logical outcome of Marx's philosophy. So poor Karl had a strange destiny: his social vision utterly failed, while his philosophy was brought to triumph by the wealthiest bourgeoisie in world history. He would probably be disappointed.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


At least aul Berman understands the power of ideology, and so he is very discouraged. He should ask himself: where does love of freedom come from? Only from the experience of a great love.

No I

Life in China.

Monday, April 07, 2008


The Church is a life always needs to be renewed. If it is reduced to a culture and to institutions, it fades.


A longish essay on tribalism in the Middle East. The author neglects to raise the question what factors made possible the emergence of the "individual" (or rather, the "person") in the West.

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Pope and the US

At least Time makes an attempt to understand where the Pope stands in relation to American culture.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Who decided the rights?

Pay attention to the logic here: if something is not a right enshrined in the state constitution, that means the state has the right to outlaw it. So, we do not have any rights beside those the constitution grants us? Does the California constitution say anything about freedom?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


More on Christian-Muslim relations: Christianity in Turkey, and interesting Coptic priest and Spengler's take on the Allam story.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Last Sunday the Pope baptized Magdi Allam. The fact that he chose to do it in such a public manner is very remarkable. Allam is a major public figure both in Italy and in the Arab speaking world, and his public conversion will force many Muslim to take a position on issues like freedom of religion, apostasy and so on...

Allam's letter to the editor of Corriere della sera is also very interesting.

The anti-curriculum movement.

E.D. Hirsch is always very lucid on matters of education.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mysterious ways

This is quite striking, if you think of his previous job.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Like talking to 5-year olds

How to give the most shallow possible interpretation of the Pope's proposal about education and Christian identity: reduce it to a problem of discipline. The amazing thing is that both "liberal" and "conservatives" share exactly the same mentality, and both seem totally unaware of (and uninterested in) what Benedict XVI has been talking about. Regensburg, the speech at La Sapienza etc: they are just irrelevant to the official U.S. Catholic intellighentsia. All they want to know is if the Pope is going to intervene in their squabbles.

Knowledge and meaning

A new Templeton Prize winner.


An update on Iraqi Christians.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Wake up E.J.

E. J. Dionne thinks that the culture wars are over. It is very telling that he thinks that "religion and culture" have nothing to do with "prosperity and security," i.e. with the real life of society. The fascinating thing is that Dionne (a progressive Catholic) shares with his conservative Protestant "enemies" exactly the SAME idea of the relationship between religion and politics. Namely religion brings a "moral" input to politics (on the right, abortion and gay marriage; on the left social justice and the environment). The possibility that what is at stake are the foundations of our life together as human beings (freedom, the value of the person, the nature of the family, the problem of education etc.) seems to escape him completely. This is the tragedy of western liberalism: to take for granted (and often to undermine) all the things that made it possible.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Florida on steroids

What is really fascinating about Dubai is that apparently there are thousands and thousands of people in the "western" world who are so affluent and so without roots that they are willing to go live in a completely artificial and remote location. This really says something about the kind of relationships they (do not) have in the places where they grew up.

Bored to violence

T. Dalrymple reviews the work of J. G. Ballard. He also has a fun column on Prozac.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Love does not fade

You can always rely on the Guardian to show you the logical outcome of all the bad ideas that have shaped Western culture in the last couple of centuries. As Guardini said, it is an important development that finally, after several centuries, the long attempt to have Christianity without Christ (e.g. in our understanding of the love between men and women) is over. Now things will be much more transparent.

Friday, February 29, 2008


Unsurprisingly, this story has not received much attenton in the US press.


There are are now 2.3 million people in jail in the US.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

How did that happen?

It is a sad reflection on the state of our culture that probably nobody at the Economist has read Christopher Dawson.

Speaking of ignorance, fans of "Spengler" will get a kick out of this. Especially the part where Rush insists that there is "NO FIRST NAME!!"

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Prophet of doom

It seems logical that too much money (printed to finance too much debt) must lead to inflation.

Culture matters III

There is nothing between the individual or family unit on one hand and the central state on the other. Britain has fallen into De Tocqueville's trap of an atomised society, where "every man is a stranger to the destiny of others. He is beside his fellow citizens but does not see them ... while above them rises an immense and tutelary power, that of the state". We have lost the habit of association.

Indeed. May we suggest that the problem reflects deep cultural trends, and will not be fixed by having more local mayors and city councils?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


You cannot but feel some admiration for these guys. Also, Marvin Olasky is an interesting man.


The challenges facing the Church in India.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

One more time

Lebanon may be about to pay the price of other people's follies, again.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Male infantilism

This lady has made an important discovery:

Adults don’t emerge. They’re made.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Reality does not matter

A notable difference between US and European politics is that while in Europe doctrinaire ideological thinking is found mostly on the "progressive" side (i.e. on the political left, after the demise of fascism and nazism), in the US one can find full-fledged conservative ideologues.

Friday, February 08, 2008


David Brooks captures what's at the core of the Clinton-Obama race, which has interesting implications about what "education" means nowadays. (Certainly, not being "introduced to reality." Rather, becoming able to avoid it systematically, like the alphas in Huxley's Brave New World).

Thursday, February 07, 2008

He is just too nice

Nothing can be more destructive that good intentions combined with intellectual confusion.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


This article does a good job of diagnosing a major problem affecting public education in the US: incompetent boards of education that let corrupt teachers' unions run the schools. It is not clear though that the answer lies in "nationalising" public education. First of all, there are many things between local school boards and the federal government (what about the states?). Second, there is no reason to think that politicians are less irresponsible and teachers' unions less powerful at the federal level than they are locally.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Messianic politics

Obama has given a soaring speech in South Carolina. Great rethoric, but what is his proposal precisely? Essentially the content he is proposing is the purity of his own person as a honest and truthful agent of "change" (whatever that means). His appeal can be summed up in the claim that his purity and truthfulness are the embodiment of the purity and truthfulness of the American dream, which has been betrayed by the "old" politicians. If you think about it, it is somewhat scary, because we all know that we are neither pure nor truthful.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Culture matters II

Stanley Kurtz has it exactly right:

Societies built around nuclear families, and around religious and cultural traditions that stress the freedom, equality, and sacredness of individual human beings, have the basic ingredients out of which rule of law, civic associations, political freedoms, and the modern state develop. Societies in which individual freedom is subordinated to the honor and advantage of the kin-group (and where non-Western religious and cultural traditions reinforce these values) are far less likely to develop genuine liberal democracy, or even a vibrant modern economy and state.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Go Murdoch

We will not cry for the New York Times.


At least Levin & Ponnuru understand that the Republicans need some fresh thinking on economic issues, beyond their standard pro-growth ideology.


Now for an Israeli perspective on some of the candidates for the US presidential elections.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


It is interesting how the two Republican frontrunners in South Carolina are summing up their motivations:


I am running for president of the United States of America because I believe the transcendent challenge of the 21st century is the struggle against radical Islamic extremism, which takes many forms, is the greatest force of evil we’ve ever faced, and is bent on our destruction and our extinction.


The Huckabee campaign, by contrast, worked to drill into the conservative heart of his base, running just one ad which proclaims him a “Christian Leader” exclusively since Wednesday. It begins, “Faith doesn’t just influence me; it defines me.”

Friday, January 18, 2008

Good readings

Sandro Magister has the complete collection in English of the materials relevant to the Pope-Sapienza incident.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pretty conventional

Leon Wieseltier ponders Barack Obama. It's amazing somebody like him would rather vote for McCain.

Oppression by bureaucracy

David Warren comments on the intolerance of "human rights."

Back to reality

A good article on the state of American education. It makes the case that market-style competition is not enough to overcome the devastation of the quality of teaching wrought by the ideologues who rule the schools of education.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


You may have heard already of this shameful story.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sad story

Civilizational angst in the Arab world. Another storm may be gathering.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Princess Diana?

Obviously Melanie Phillips is not excited about Barak Obama.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Culture matters

Peggy Noonan summarizes the Iowa caucuses. Mark Steyn agrees with her diagnosis. On Friday David Brooks had a similar intuition. One can only hope that all of this indicates some kind of cultural shift, at least on the conservative side.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


The New Republic wanted to write a story about Ron Paul volunteers, but ended up writing a story about being young.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Rousseauian wishful thinking

In one form or another, most of us have been educated to believe in the myth of the noble savage.


David Brooks says as it is about Romney.


Kenia provides another refutation to the idea that democracy is a matter of having a costitutional structure, elections, a free press etc. Not that these things are not good; the problem is that good structures reflect the life of a people united by common ideals. If the people do not share common ideals (which can only be fostered by education), "tribal" interests will always make democracy an empty word.