SCORSESE's new film "Gangs of New York" (which I have not seen, as it will take many months to come to Britain) is reviewed by Hillsdale professor Sean Mattie. "After viewing Scorsese's films, one has a greater appreciation of calm and civility, because of the existence of violence and strife at the periphery, and often at the center, of his stories."
NOMINATIONS FOR THE "BLOGGIES" are open until 12 January. So have a look -- and make your vote known. We would be honored to receive your consideration, for example for Best New Blog, or Best Group Blog. In my personal vote, I gave several nods to Dilacerator, OxBlog, and Critical Mass, all of whom provide excellent content.
Thursday, January 02, 2003 :::
AH, TO BE A CONSERVATIVE. If American conservatives think it produces socially awkward situations to come out of the closet, or to be outed, as a conservative in the States, they should ponder the experience of being a Tory in Britain. And if you think this is bad, the social stigma of conservatism is much, much greater in Continental Europe. If you are not afraid of telling Europeans that Bush might have something right about terrorism and Saddam, that the free market does much more good than harm, and that America is fundamentally a decent country - well, you must like spending a lot of time by yourself. Question: And we defend these people? UPDATE: They buy American products.
FATHER JAMES V. SCHALL is a Jesuit professor of government at Georgetown (and author of one of the ISI-Guides) who is a specialist on natural law and a born teacher. He gave an interview to the Claremont Institute's Ken Masugi that might serve as a useful introduction to vexing issues in the philosophy of law. Part I is here and Part II is here. Fr. Schall has a great personal website. There is even a fan site.
IN A SEA OF DARKNESS, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) should serve as a beacon -- anyone who is in high school, college, graduate school; anyone who has graduated without receiving a true education; or anyone who is concerned about a younger person's education, should sign up to ISI, browse its on-line Guide to College, and order the entire catalog of ISI Books without delay. Among the particular delights of ISI is its series of Guides to the Major Disciplines, reader-friendly introductions to the most important fields of knowledge in the liberal arts written by experts who understand Western civilization and are unpolluted by the poison of postmodernism. In addition to existing guides to philosophy, history, U.S. history, political philosophy, economics, literature, liberal learning, and the core curriculum, ISI has just published its ninth guide, to psychology, that popular but treacherous subject. It's available to order from ISI Books, but students on a tight budget can also download the entire Guide in PDF-format for free.
THIS BLOG has discussed judicial activism on previousoccasions. In a book review for Commentary, Jonathan Kay hightlights the little-discussed fact that judicial activism has also been responsible for the erosion of local government, as Congress scores political points by enacting so-called soft rights (to a clean environment, universal access for people with handicaps etc.), and then quietly passed the bill to local communities and states. Redressing this constitutional imbalance should be a priority for federal legislators, but since there a few incentives other than a concern for the common good for them to do so, one can only be pessimistic that this will really happen any time soon. Alternatively, and perhaps more realistically, the authors of the book under review suggest that judges might want to stop rewarding remedies when declaring local governments in violation of federal provisions.
Wednesday, January 01, 2003 :::
WHAT THEY MAKE SOLDIERS READ. Soldiers, we are told, are often incredibly bored, as war consists mainly of waiting to go to war. So, the Defense Department has started sending free books to the troops. During WWI, the Army made F. Scott Fitzgerald popular. Rumsfeld sends his men Sun Tzu, Shakespeare, and contemporary works on heroism and wartime correspondence. Not a particularly imaginative selection. I would like suggestions from our readers for a better reading list for our soldiers, please leave your suggestions in the comments-section. Perhaps From Plato to Nato would be a good beginning...
OF ALL academics, I would rate English literature professor among the worst enemies of Western civilization. Postmodernism --a polite word for general madness-- completely dominates the discipline. When reading in this report from the trenches that things are not well in the world of English lit, I cannot but suppress a smile. But that leaves us with the question: how to save Shakespeare from these barbarians?
SINCE THE NINETEENTH CENTURY, we have the writer laboring under the influence of various recreational drugs. In an entertaining review of the matter, John Lanchester wonders what the literary results have been. It seems to me we could have done without them (provided that W.H. Auden would have managed to write without speed). Mr Lanchester does point out, though, that jazz wouldn't have been much fun without dope.