• Camille Paglia Contra Mundum

    Cultural battles whose ideological roots were planted in the 1970s by American academics under the influence of French post-structuralism, and which percolated in various forms throughout the 1980s, came to a crushing head by the beginning of the 1990s. What emerged was a new intellectual orthodoxy, characterized by a stance of permanent victimhood applicable to any group felt to fall outside of the privileged position occupied by white western males; widespread suspicion of, if not outright hostility to, the heights of the great Western cultural traditions and its makers; and rejection of a biological human nature. Social and linguistic constructivism, accompanied by global relativism regarding truth and knowledge, replaced them. Mired in the shallow puddles of linguistic puzzles and affecting chic political postures, the new dogma rigidly circumscribed the range of acceptable inquiry within its ideological constraints. Deviations from doctrine routinely resulted in condemnation for perpetuating past systems of oppression. Indeed the value of free inquiry and free expression came under fire from these quarters, on the grounds that they aided injustices. The result was an enforced intellectual conformity, severely straightening the bounds of free thought and talk—the very value of which began to look suspect from such angles. READ MORE...

  • trump-military-strategy-02

    What Trump’s Budget Reveals about His Military Strategy

    Donald Trump’s crusade against the inside-the-Beltway elite proceeds apace. Or, at least, that is what he wants you to believe. The latest foray is his “skinny budget,” an unabashed assault on a bevy of pet projects and sacred cows, combined with an equally brazen bid to grow the Pentagon’s budget.

    As the saying goes: the White House proposes and the Congress disposes. This budget will not become law. It is hardly a worthless exercise, however, it provides yet another window into the president’s thinking, especially with respect to how he intends to conduct foreign policy. On balance, the priorities revealed by the budget suggest that President Trump wishes to use the military more often and engage in diplomacy less often than his predecessors. The mystery is why he thinks that that approach will be more effective. READ MORE...

  • north-korea-nuclear-program

    Lessons from North Korea’s Nuclear Program

    In a successful test earlier this month, North Korea fired four missiles into the Sea of Japan, heightening concerns about its nuclear weapons program. As Victor Cha, a former Bush administration adviser, recently said of the missile tests, “This is now a military testing program to acquire a proven capability.”

    The tests continue to raise the stakes for President Trump, who indicated before he took office that North Korea acquiring long-range, nuclear-armed ballistic missiles is something that “won’t happen.” Trump’s blunt message and the urgency of the international response are understandable. But although its nuclear weapons present a threat today to its neighbors, and likely down the road to the United States homeland, North Korea also provides two important lessons that the United States could use to reorient its foreign policy in a more useful direction. READ MORE...

  • germany-energy-crisis

    The Coming German Energy Crisis

    Recently, I came across a report by Fritz Vahrenholt, Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Hamburg, entitled Germany’s Energiewende: a disaster in the making. It made for interesting reading.

    In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster in 2011, the German government decided to shut down its 19 nuclear power stations, which supply nearly 30 percent of the country’s electrical power, by 2022. Driven by social pressure, the German government now plans to get rid of all fossil fuels, thus increasing the share of renewable energy to 95 percent of total energy supply by 2050. READ MORE...

  • the-ben-option

    Is The Benedict Option Only For The Privileged?

    From my interview with Crux, the Catholic web magazine:

    The Benedict Option offers some strong proposals-such as homeschooling or pursuing classical Christian education, relocating to live in more intentional Christian communities, and rethinking employment so as not to compromise religious commitments. Does this limit the Benedict Option to a very wealthy and privileged group of Christians that can afford to take such measures?

    That’s a good question, and it might well could do that. For example, homeschooling is not exclusively the province of the well-off middle class, but it does take having one parent at home to be able to pull this off successfully and one parent with a high enough income that can support the family, so that does limit it. READ MORE...

  • productivity

    Beware Comparing Brits’ Productivity Unfavourably to That of the French or Germans

    Britain’s productivity growth has halted. The evidence is clear.

    Since the financial crisis, output per hour worked has been effectively stagnant, only re-hitting the peaks seen at the end of 2007 in late 2016. This is unprecedented. To see the scale of the deviation from trend, if it had continued to grow as it did prior to the crisis (not that one might expect that to happen), it would be around 18 per cent higher today.

    Everyone knows this and everybody knows instinctively that it can be a symptom of a problem. If you cannot have sustained rises in productivity, then living standards will stagnate. Absent the constant betterment of producing more with less effort, robust wage growth is impossible, however much governments might will it by jacking up the minimum wage. READ MORE...

  • end-of-history

    Revisiting the End of History


    Did History return with a vengeance on 9-11? Or was that just history — that is to say: stuff happening? And are the rise of Western leaders like Victor Orban and Donald Trump, and the vote for Brexit, further evidence that History has taken a new turn? Or are they also just stuff happening?

    The question is prompted by a piece Paul Sagar has at Aeon that is well worth reading, about how Francis Fukuyama’s “End of History” argument has been misunderstood and mis-recalled. As Sagar reminds us, Fukuyama didn’t think the “end of history” meant the end of stuff happening — it just meant that we had arrived at the point where there were no more plausible fundamental political debates: READ MORE...

  • derailing-neil-gorsuch

    Day 2: Tendentious Progsplaining of Originalism Proves Unsuccessful Tactic for Derailing Neil Gorsuch

    If Monday’s hearing was about the Democratic senators’ telegraphing their lines of attack on Judge Neil Gorsuch, Tuesday’s was about how those messages weren’t reaching their target—assuming that target was building political opposition to the nomination. Different senators tried different tones—strident (Dianne Feinstein, D-CA), bumbling (Pat Leahy (D-VT), condescending (Dick Durbin, D-IL), angry (Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI), prosecutorial (Amy Klobuchar, D-MN), absurdist (Al Franken, D-MN), alarmist (Chris Coons, D-DE), workmanlike (Richard Blumenthal, D-CT), and redundant (Mazie Hirono, D-HI)—and all failed to slow down the Gorsuch Express. READ MORE...

  • trump-confused

    Trump’s Confused Approach to Burden-Sharing

    Christopher Preble takes aim at the misguided priorities in Trump’s proposed budget:

    But spending more money on the U.S. military is unlikely to induce greater burden sharing on the part of U.S. allies. After all, from Iraq and Afghanistan, to North Korea and the South China Sea, the U.S. military has been quite busy in recent years. Add in the four or five other countries regularly subjected to U.S. drone strikes and you begin to get a clearer picture of the scope of U.S. military activism. But Trump’s call for “a larger, more capable, and more lethal joint force,” suggests that he thinks our soldiers, sailors, airmen and U.S. Marines haven’t been doing nearly enough. READ MORE...

  • central-banks

    It’s Time to Dump Most Central Banks

    On March 16th, the New York Times carried reportage by Peter S. Goodman, Keith Bradsher and Neil Gough, which was titled “The Fed Acts. Workers in Mexico and Merchants in Malaysia Suffer.” The theme of their extensive reportage is that U.S. monetary policy is the elephant in the room. It is the elephant that swings exchange rates and capital flows to and fro in emerging-market countries, causing considerable pain.

    Emerging-market countries should dump their central banks and local currencies. READ MORE...