A Completely Unpredictable Revolution
February 01, 2011
Only fools would predict the unpredictable, and thus with the course of the Egyptian revolution. Imagine yourself as a pundit in Paris at the start of the French Revolution, the mother of them all. In August of 1789, you would have celebrated the “General Declaration of Human Rights,” an ur-document of democracy, as the dawn of “liberty, equality and fraternity.” Yet, four years later, the Terreur erupted, claiming anywhere between 16,000 and 40,000 lives. In 1804, one-man despotism was back.
January 27, 2011
Ernest Gellner: An Intellectual Biography By John A. Hall (Verso, 400 pp., $49.95) John A. Hall concludes his account of Ernest Gellner by observing that his outlook on the world was austere. “But therein lies its attraction,” he goes on. “Not much real comfort for our woes is on offer; the consolations peddled in the market are indeed worthless.
The Grounds of Courage
January 13, 2011
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy By Eric Metaxas (Thomas Nelson, 591 pp., $29.99) Early in January 1939, the precocious German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, age thirty-two, learned that all males in his age cohort had been ordered to register with the military. A dedicated opponent of the Nazi regime, he might have responded by declaring himself a conscientious objector, but there were two problems with such a course of action.
December 17, 2010
“Notes from the Archive: James Frazer Stirling, Architect and Teacher”Exhibition runs until January 2, 2011 at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut, and will then travel to the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal. Post-modernism in architecture came to the public eye when, in the late 1970s, The New York Times printed on its front page the astonishing image of Philip Johnson’s model for the proposed AT&T (now Sony) building in midtown Manhattan.
Being Winston Churchill
December 08, 2010
Seventy years ago, in the summer and fall of 1940, Western civilization teetered in the balance as Britain stood alone against Nazi-controlled Europe. Other major world powers did not lend aid; Russia supported Germany, and the United States remained neutral. After Britain resisted the assault of Nazi bombers, in what was dubbed the “Battle of Britain,” the country was saved and German momentum stymied. The whole course of the war then radically shifted.
The Coming Age of Slaughter
December 06, 2010
Environmental panic led to mass killing in the 1940s, and it may do so again.
Goodbye to Berlin
August 30, 2010
In early February, the top financial officials of seven major industrialized countries gathered in Canada to mull the state of the world economy. To grease their interactions, the Canadians had created an intimate setting in Iqaluit, an Inuit town near the Arctic Circle. A planning document waxed on about fireside chats at a cozy inn and decreed that the attire would be casual.
Fresh Air in Central Europe
August 25, 2010
A certain kind of liberalism familiar to readers of The New Republic has been stirring in, of all places, Germany and Austria. To be sure, it operates on the margins. And, yes, the impulse to appease, run for cover and all the rest lingers there as well. So, too, does the mixture of irritation, indifference, and even outright hostility to Israel.
August 05, 2010
The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism By Pascal Bruckner Translated by Steven Rendall (Princeton University Press, 239 pp., $26.95) I. Once upon a time, it seemed an incontestable fact that the life of the mind radiated from the Left Bank outward. Within a small quadrant of the Latin Quarter in Paris, an intellectual elite labored to produce magisterial works that lesser minds all over the world received eagerly, gratefully—and by and large uncritically.
Reagan Worship For Fun And Profit
July 30, 2010
There's an old line, "Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket." Why do I mention it right now? Oh, no reason: Conservative talk radio host Michael Reagan, eldest son of former president Ronald Reagan, is selling @Reagan.com e-mail addresses on his website with an appeal to conservatives to stop giving their money to companies he casts as tied to liberalism. Writes Reagan: "People who believe in true Reagan Conservative Values are unwittingly supporting the Obama, Pelosi and Reid liberal agenda! What do I mean?