June 8, 2023

Ron DeSantis’s War on Woke

My latest on American Thinker.

There is no politician who better understands that Woke is an existential threat to America

Ron DeSantis calls himself the governor of the state “where woke goes to die,” and his track record of accomplishments in the fight against wokeness as governor of Florida – which he believes will be a model for his presidency of the whole country – has caught the attention of many across the country.  Take Senate Bill 266, which prohibits Florida’s public universities from spending money on programs or activities that “advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion or promote or engage in political or social activism” and weakens tenure protection for professors. Or House Bill 1069, dubbed by critics as “Don’t say gay,” which liberates teachers and students from having to use fashionable nonstandard pronouns. The law also expands existing parental authority over a child’s education by extending the existing prohibition on instruction relating to sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through grade 3 to include prekindergarten through grade 8 and expressly stating that charter schools must comply with this requirement. The bill also requires that instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in grades 9 through 12 be age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students. A review process is also established that allows parents to object to inappropriate books in schools and requires school boards to discontinue the use of any material the board doesn’t allow a parent to read aloud in public meetings.

As former diplomat and host of “DeSantisland” podcast Dave Seminara summarizes [...]  


April 23, 2023

School choice could destroy the Democrat party

My latest on American Thinker.

School choice will drastically reduce the Democrat Party’s election workforce, squeeze its finances and even discredit its basic philosophy

"Surviving the next decades might be an uphill struggle for the Democrat Party. This not so much, or not only, because of the strength of its opponents, but because of education options that give students the choice to attend a school other than their neighborhood public school, commonly referred to as ‘school choice’ policies. So says The Spectator’s Lewis M. Andrews. His reasoning goes as follows: only occasionally in U.S. history does an issue surface that challenges not only the core values of a political party but the party’s working system, that is its ability to function. Now, “if any such issue has emerged in our own time, it’s clearly school choice.” Why? ‘Cause school choice “will severely reduce the Democratic Party’s election workforce, squeeze its finances and even discredit its basic philosophy”. Simple as that. The subject of fierce debate in various state legislatures across the United States, school choice policies, especially the widespread subsidy of K-12 grade schooling in venues not run by teachers’ unions, “would deplete the enormous army of campaign workers that Democrats have come to depend upon during every election cycle.” Not a minor matter. The case of New Jersey is both emblematic and paradigmatic of these dynamics:  [...]  


February 27, 2023

People, Publishers Speaking Out Against 'Insane' Censorship of Roald Dahl

My latest on American Thinker.

This latest woke assault to common sense and freedom of expression might just be turning against those who launched it.

"Roald Dahl was no angel but this is absurd censorship.  Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed," tweeted American-British-Indian novelist Salman Rushdie in response to  chief executive officer of free expression group PEN America Suzanne Nossel, who said the group is "alarmed"  at hundred of changes to venerated works by Roald Dahl "in a purported effort to scrub the books of that which might offend someone."

As the Daily Telegraph first reported, "language related to weight, mental health, violence, gender and race has been cut and rewritten."  For instance, the word "fat" has been cut from every new edition of relevant books, while the word "ugly" has also been culled.  As a result, Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is now described as "enormous" (instead of "enormously fat"), while in The Twits, Mrs. Twit is no longer "ugly and beastly" but just "beastly."  In addition to numerous changes made to the original text, some passages not written by Dahl have been added.  In The Witches, a passage explaining that witches in the book are bald beneath their wigs now includes a line that reads: "There are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that." [...]  


December 21, 2022

Is America Falling Like Rome?

My latest on American Thinker.

Is America running low on the resources it requires to avoid ruin? Victor Davis Hanson concern about the fate of America

When news of the Battle of Saratoga reached Britain, a young Scottish barrister told economist Adam Smith: “If we go on at this rate, the nation must be ruined.” Adam Smith responded, “Be assured young friend, that there is a great deal of ruin in a nation.” By that, he meant that nations can absorb a lot more blows than the pessimists tend to think. A few days ago, American Greatness had a very concerned article by Victor Davis Hanson on the future of America.  After quoting Adam Smith’s answer at the beginning of the article, and after reviewing the ills that beset America, Hanson concluded his reflection with the following statement: “We have seen lots of cultural revolutions in this country, but never one that was so singularly focused on razing the foundations of America -- until now. Yes, there is a lot of ruin in great nations. But even America is by now running low on it.”

In all fairness it has to be said that such a terrible sentence perfectly reflects the reality of the country as it has become today. We are $31 trillion in collective debt, says Hanson, the military is politicized and short of recruits, and the American people are witnessing the breakdown of basic norms essential for civilized life: “Old Cairo seems safer than an after-hours subway ride or stroll at dusk in many major American cities. Medieval London’s roadways were likely cleaner than Market Street in San Francisco.” Not to mention the fact that “speech was freer in 1920s America than it is now.” Nor can the “abject, deliberate humiliation” suffered in Kabul be forgotten, when the worst U.S. administration ever decided to flee  and abandon to the terrorist Taliban a huge, remodeled air base, tens of billions of dollars in military hardware, a $1 billion embassy, and thousands of friends. In addition, FBI is corrupt and discredited, collaborating with Silicon Valley’s Big Tech companies to suppress free speech and warp elections [...]  


December 4, 2022

The Armageddon of Free Speech

My latest on American Thinker.

Let's hope Elon Musk at Twitter is prepared for an onslaught from the world's biggest players against freedom of speech.

Just a few days ago, as many will remember, Elon Musk trolled CNN by posting on Twitter a meme with a fake headline attributed to the the cable news network.  The image included a screenshot of anchor Don Lemon next to a stock photo of Musk.  The headline read, "CNN: Elon Musk could threaten free speech on Twitter by literally allowing people to speak freely."  Needless to say, CNN's public relations department quickly posted a screenshot of Musk's tweet, which included a disclaimer saying that the tweet was in violation of Twitter's rules.  In response, Musk brushed off CNN's response, tweeting: "Lmaoooo."  Those are the initials for "laughing my a-- off."

In addition to being funny, the episode was also in some ways incredibly meaningful and emblematic.  In other words, the "fake headline" was not so fake.  On the contrary, it was a brutal and effective synthesis of the way liberals, leftists, and progressives approach the issue of freedom of speech.  They put things less crudely; they are so often sophisticated intellectuals who speak elegantly and like to dance around things instead of getting straight to the point.  But the final result is always the same.  Their reproach for the supporters of freedom of speech — or what they call "free speech absolutists" —  is that "free speech is not simply about saying whatever you want, unchecked, but about negotiating complicated compromises."  According to the critics of Elon Musk, the "rhetoric of free speech absolutists" fails to understand that "for some speech to be free, other speech has to be limited."

It's curious that most of the time, their arguments are self-referential and self-assertive statements and propositions: "Like Trump, Musk has become the tribune of fascists and racists by way of adolescent contrarianism, an insatiable need to flaunt his control and a radicalising inability to cope with being told he's wrong on the internet.  For him, 'free speech' seems merely a vehicle for his delusional plan to make Twitter into a fawning 'digital town square' that he presides over."

Do you remember the medieval ipse dixit argument?  "He (Aristotle) said it himself," serving as a phrase capable of ending arguments.  Now it has become, "We (liberals, progressives, etc) say so."  It's true because we say it's true, and if you don't agree with us, you are a fascist/racist/homophobe, etc., and we don't want your kind here.  It's the contrary — o tempora, o mores! — of the answer Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis gave in 1927 to the question, "When someone says something we disagree with, should we shut them up?"  "The remedy to be applied," he said, "is more speech, not enforced silence." [...]  

September 28, 2022

Is the EU’s Establishment Trembling?

My latest on American Thinker.

Apart from the EU’s establishment and the international leftist community, no one should be worried about Italy’s next government.

The New York Times’ Jason Horowitz on Monday correctly stated that “Italy turned a page of European history on Sunday.” Unfortunately, he was wrong in adding that Italy elected “a hard-right coalition.” In fact, the winning coalition led by Giorgia Meloni is a center-right one. But this kind of misunderstanding perfectly reflects the way liberals -- and the mainstream media -- change the meaning of words to suit their own narrative and agenda. Meloni, for her part, describes herself and her Fratelli d’Italia party -- Brothers of Italy, a name that echoes the first line of the Italian national anthem -- as conservative. “There’s no doubt that our values are conservative ones,” she told the Washington Post. “The issue of individual freedom, private enterprise in economy, educational freedom, the centrality of family and its role in our society, the protection of borders from unchecked immigration, the defense of the Italian national identity -- these are the matters that we preoccupy ourselves with.” Of course, she’s very firm on her beliefs and principles. As she said at CPAC 2022: [...]  

September 10, 2022

Is Europe on the Verge of a Political Breakdown?

My latest on American Thinker:

"Among the many consequences of the war in Ukraine, power dynamics in the EU are changing -- or have changed -- in response to the profoundly altered circumstances. As a matter of fact, if on the one hand Viktor Orbán’s proximity to Vladimir Putin has de facto paralyzed the Visegrad group (Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, and the Czech Republic), on the other Poland and the Baltic states are gradually coming into a more structured relationship with Nordic countries such as Sweden and Finland, presenting the EU, starting with Germany and France, with a fait accompli.

At the same time, last Saturday tens of thousands of Czechs protested in Prague against the government to demand more state help with rising energy bills, with some carrying signs denouncing the country’s membership of the European Union and the NATO military alliance. It was the largest manifestation of public discontent over the worst cost-of-living crisis in three decades.

In Germany on Monday, more than 70,000 protesters took to the streets in Leipzig, the most populous city -- with population of 500,000 -- in the German state of Saxony to protest against the government’s inefficiency in supporting measures to overcome the rising cost of living amid soaring inflation in the European country after the sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU in response to the assault on Ukraine. In addition to the Left Party, several right-wing parties have also called for demonstrations, including Free Saxons and Alternative for Germany (AfD).

In addition to that, it’s almost election time in Italy, where the very likely victory for the center-right coalition in the general election on September 25 could see Europe’s fluctuating power dynamics shift still further... [...]"

Read more: Is Europe on the Verge of a Political Breakdown?

June 11, 2022

A Roller-Coaster Ride in Leftist Academia Hell

My latest on American Thinker:

"It must have been a whirlwind last few days for Ilya Shapiro, from his reinstatement as head of the Georgetown University Law Center, on Thursday, June 2, after a more than four-month investigation launched by Georgetown Law School, to his resignation from the school, on Monday, June 6, to the news that he joined the Manhattan Institute as senior fellow and director of constitutional studies.

Ilya Shapiro
Georgetown investigated Shapiro after he tweeted on January 23, 2022 that Sri Srinivasan, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, would be President Biden's "best pick" for the Supreme Court. He continued: "[Srinivasan e]ven has identity politics benefit of being first Asian (Indian) American.  But alas doesn't fit into latest intersectionality hierarchy so we'll get lesser black woman."

Ilya Shapiro's "lesser black woman" tweet gained wide attention on Twitter and within the Georgetown community and led Georgetown Law dean William Treanor to send an email denouncing the tweet as "appalling" and "at odds with everything we stand for at Georgetown Law."  Georgetown's Black Law Students Association also called for Shapiro to be fired, the Washington Post reported.

Shapiro deleted the tweet within hours, calling it "poorly worded" and "inartful."  But, as the report submitted by Georgetown to the dean's office on June 2 shows, contrition can empower the mob rather than placate it.  In fact, that apology was framed as evidence of guilt: Shapiro's "plain words not only explicitly identified the race, sex, and gender of a group of individuals," the report said, "but also categorized Black women as 'lesser.'  Though [Shapiro] did not himself describe his comments as offensive or acknowledge that his comments could reasonably be interpreted to denigrate individuals, he promptly removed the tweet and apologized after others expressed their criticism."  Besides, the 10-page report suggests that the university faced tremendous pressure to ostracize Shapiro.  A "lot of faculty" expressed "deep concern" and "outrage" about Shapiro's tweet, as did several administrators, who said they would "not participate in any program or activity" involving him.  It would be "disruptive," they told the diversity office, if Shapiro were "physically present" on campus.

Yet Georgetown reinstated Shapiro, saying university policies did not apply to him when he tweeted on Jan. 26, as his employment was to begin Feb. 1.  In other words, he was cleared in the 122-day investigation only on a technicality.  A bit too much to take in.[...]"

Read more: A roller-coaster ride in leftist academia hell

April 6, 2022

Western Suicide

Gerardo Dottori, "Incendio sulla città" (1926, olio su tela)
Perugia, Museo Civico di Palazzo della Penna

My latest on American Thinker:

"On September 19, 2019, accepting the Defender of Western Civilization award from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute at the fourteenth annual Gala for Western Civilization, Sir Roger Scruton gave a splendid address, his last one before he left this world after battling cancer.  The core message of the speech was that if Western civilization is under attack, this is happening precisely because it's Western, and "the word Western has been taken to be a standard term of abuse by so many people in the world today."  Yet, he explained, Western civilization is not even close to what its detractors think it is — namely, some narrow, small-minded thing called Western.  It is instead "an inheritance, constantly expanding, constantly including new things.  It is something which has given us the knowledge of the human heart, which has enabled us to produce not just wonderful economies and the wonderful ways of living in the world that are ours, but also the great works of art, the religions, the systems of law and government, all the other things which make it actually possible for us to recognize that we live in this world, insofar as possible, successfully."  That's why "we shouldn't despair of Western civilization."  We're talking about, he concluded, "an open, generous, and creative thing called civilization."

Sir Roger's remarks came to my mind as soon as I read the first pages of Suicidio occidentale  (Western Suicide), the new book by Federico Rampini, a prominent Italian journalist who lives in the U.S. and holds Italian and American citizenship.  If an attack in the heart of Europe caught us unprepared, he argues with reference to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is because we were engaged in our own cultural disarmament and self-destruction.  The dominant ideology spread by elites in universities and in the media requires us to demolish self-esteem and blame ourselves for almost everything that goes wrong in the world.  According to this ideological dictatorship, he says, we Western countries no longer have values to offer the world and the new generations; we only have sins to expiate and lessons to learn.

This is the suicide of the West.  In many U.S. universities, Rampini notes, it is impossible for non-extremists on issues of sex and gender to have freedom of speech.  The New York Times in particular, says Rampini, bears heavy responsibility in this regard for playing a central role in the creation of Critical Race Theory.  Putin's aggression on Ukraine, backed by Xi Jinping, he concludes, is a consequence of the fact that the two major autocracies know we are sabotaging ourselves.

Well, that makes perfect sense, does it not?  After all, isn't it true that Putin wouldn't have dared to attack Ukraine if the 45th president had gotten a second term?  And this not only because of Trump's personal charisma, but also — if not mainly — because of his philosophy and anti–politically correct narrative.  From this point of view, too, the change at the White House was a disaster: Joe Biden's "woke" presidency is a luxury the West couldn't and can't afford. [...]"

Read more: Western Suicide

February 7, 2022

The Big Lie of Woke Capitalism

 My latest on American Thinker:

"There are at least three terms to describe the concept of stakeholder capitalism -- corporate wokeness, woke corporatism and woke capitalism. The last of the three was coined in 2015 by Ross Douthat when writing a piece for the New York Times. He defined it as how companies signal their support for progressive causes in order to maintain their influence in society. Since then the concept has become very popular in the U.S. and worldwide, corporations have gone political and seek, or at least profess to seek, change in the world.

On January 24, for one thing, former Unilever CEO Paul Polman wrote in a piece for the Financial Times that “Today, staff and customers believe you should... speak out on big, touchstone issues, from race to fake news and climate change.” In a historic moment of multiple and converging global challenges, he thinks, we have no other option but to embrace so-called stakeholder capitalism. After all, evidence is stacking up to show the “financial benefits to companies that consistently apply their principles and actively work to solve societal problems,” he argues. “Not everyone agrees, however,” he sadly but honestly acknowledges. In fact, if there is a big support for stakeholder capitalism among corporations, there’s also been a backlash from conservative voices, as we will see below. But let us dwell a little more on the supporters of stakeholder capitalism.

In his annual letter to BlackRock shareholders a few days ago, CEO Larry Fink argued that expectations of business leaders have changed dramatically in the last few years. Increased profits, happy shareholders, and more jobs are no longer what a chief executive is expected to deliver. For instance, most stakeholders -- from shareholders, to employees, to customers, to communities, and regulators -- “now expect companies to play a role in decarbonizing the global economy.” And “few things will impact capital allocation decisions -- and thereby the long-term value of your company -- more than how effectively you navigate the global energy transition in the years ahead.” This illustrates perfectly what stakeholder capitalism -- the new mantra of the Business Round Table as announced in August 2019 and endorsed by almost 200 CEOs of the largest corporations -- is all about..."

Read more: The Big Lie of Woke Capitalism

January 18, 2022

The American Medical Association Falls to CRT


My latest on American Thinker:

"The old world is dying and the new world struggles to be born. Now is the time of monsters.” This well-known quote is a liberal translation of Antonio Gramsci popularized by Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, which renders “In this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear” as “Now is the time of monsters.” Antonio Gramsci, the Italian Communist leader and theoretician who is considered the forefather of Critical Race Theory, had probably no idea that, a century later, such an accurate insight into his time would prove to be incredibly prophetic of our own here and now. Today the monsters -- or morbid symptoms -- are among us as neighbors, colleagues, and friends accept and embrace the Critical Race Theory and its ramifications in the many fields of human life and scientific research.

One of these fields -- perhaps the most unthinkable -- is that of medical science and practice. Things have meaningfully changed since on June 25, 2021, White Coats for Black Lives (WC4BL), a national organization led by medical students, published its statement of “vision and values.” The organization, which boasts 75 chapters at medical schools across the country and was called to action by the Black Lives Matter movement, “aims to dismantle racism in medicine and fight for the health of Black people and other people of color […]. Our job is two-fold: 1) dismantling dominant, exploitative systems in the United States, which are largely reliant on anti-Black racism, colonialism, cisheteropatriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism; and 2) rebuilding a future that supports the health and well-being of marginalized communities.” WC4BL also focuses on “dismantling fatphobia,” embracing “Black queer feminist praxis (theory and practice),” “unlearning toxic medical knowledge and relearning medical care that centers the needs of Black people and communities.” [...]

On top of that, the Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) recent guide to anti-racism planning suggests that universities develop a scorecard “similar to the White Coats for Black Lives’ Racial Justice Report Card.” A very important endorsement! Similarly, the October 30, 2021 “Guide to Language, Narrative, and Concepts,” a collaboration between the American Medical Association (AMA) and the AAMC Center for Health Justice, offers “a guidance on language for promoting health equity, contrasting traditional/outdated terms with equity-focused alternatives,” explores “how narratives (the power behind words) matter,” and provides “a glossary of key terms, defining key concepts, and whenever possible acknowledging debates over definitions and usage.” Terms such as “Caucasian,” for instance, should be avoided. Conventional phrases such as “Low-income people have the highest level of coronary artery disease in the United States” and “Native Americans have the highest mortality rates in the United States” should be changed respectively into..."

Read more: The American Medical Association Falls to CRT

December 26, 2021

The Covid fear factory is trembling


My latest on American Thinker

"Hard times are coming for vaccine fanatics and fear-mongering lockdown enthusiasts, or at least that’s what we can reasonably expect after reading the news coming out of South Africa and the U.K. about the Omicron variant. As a matter of fact, the data out of South Africa after five weeks of Omicron spread and out of the U.K. in the first full week after Omicron hit the country suggest that the new Covid-19 variant should be a cause for celebration and relief, not fear and alarm—yet that’s not the direction in which the American media and many politicians are heading..." READ THE REST

November 8, 2021

Will American Wokeness Destroy the Rest of the West?

It definitely seems that there's a sickness emanating from the United States that seeks to contaminate all of Western civilization. France in particular, believe it or not, is alarmed... 

July 19, 2021

The Woke Are Coming to Britain

As a result of the rise of wokism, faith in the principles of economic freedom and meritocracy is at an all-time low in the UK... My latest on American Thinker

June 30, 2021

Critical Race Theory and Its Offspring, BLM, Have Struck Again.

American Thinker
– one of my favorite online magazines! – just published a piece I wrote about how Critical Race Theory seems to have become the EU’s equivalent of China’s Cultural Revolution, and BLM’s agenda is the most crucial social problem facing the old continent.

March 20, 2021

Blessed Are the Free in Spirit: a Review by Walter Bernardone

Once upon a time, I was a blogger. Now I’m someone who has a blog somewhere but has no time to update it anymore. But once a blogger, always a blogger… yeah, as Samuel Robert Piccoli has brilliantly (albeit indirectly) shown throughout his new book, blogging is much more than simply writing, it’s a way of life. Most people think blogging is a Web site on which people publish periodic entries in reverse chronological order and allow readers to leave comments.

This is only partially true, however. As a matter of fact, blogging is defined more by a personal and opinionated writing style. The over-40’s know that blogs went largely unchallenged until Facebook reshaped consumer behavior with its all-purpose hub for posting everything social. Twitter also contributed to the upheaval. No longer did Internet users need a blog to connect with the rest of the world. They could instead post quick updates to link to articles that infuriated them, comment on news events, share photos or promote some cause, all the things a blog was intended to do. Yet the change is real, but not essential.

What I loved most about Blessed Are the Free in Spirit is that it is the quintessence of blogging, an example of blogging at its best.

Rob – as the author is best known in the blogosphere and social media – is also a philosopher and a man of letters, and this makes his writing even more fascinating. He can write about almost everything, as his book shows, without boring the reader. In short, he’s a great writer.

Walter Bernardone (GoodReads, March 16, 2021)

Blessed Are the Free in Spirit: a Review by Helen Butler

Rarely have I come across such an inspirational and enlightening book. Though simply and pleasantly written, Blessed Are the Free in Spirit: A Journal in Complicated times displays a critical spirit that is rare for our time of politically correct madness. This book challenges the reader without appearing to and without ever trying to preach to them, letting them make their own minds up about the many issues and topics the author touches upon, ranging from philosophy to literature, from politics to social media, from songs to seasons and places…

At the same time the book shows the importance to have a strong inner compass, and in so doing the author takes the reader’s consciousness to the highest level.

With that being said, if there is a flaw with this book, it is that it is not for everyone: it is not for small-minded people. It is not for people who cannot bear the freedom to be themselves and to take risks rather than just follow convention.

Politically speaking I’d say that this is a book for open-minded Conservatives and common-sense Liberals, or vice versa. Religiously speaking, in turn, this is a book for open-minded Christians and open-hearted secularists. And so on. Not by chance, as the author himself suggests in the Introduction, Blessed Are the Free in Spirit was conceived under the sign of Michel de Montaigne, who excelled in the art of looking at the things of this world without blinkers, prejudices, and preconceived notions. As S.R. Piccoli puts it, “the Lord of Montaigne was a skeptic, but of a very different sort from the one we are familiar with. He was not the kind of skeptic who basically believes in nothing, who refuses to take anything on faith, who takes issue with organized religion, and things like these. Yes, he was a man who doubted almost everything, but at the same time, he was a good Catholic, one who believed without reservation all that the church taught and prescribed. Strange enough, isn’t it? But strange as it might seem, to be honest that’s what I have always liked the most about him.”

To say that I like this book is an understatement, I love Blessed Are the Free in Spirit and strongly recommend it!

Helen Butler (GoodReads, March 13, 2021)

February 19, 2021

My New Book Is out and Available on Amazon!

Dear Readers,

Here we go again, a new book is born. A few weeks ago, when all the chapters were already written, I just had to write the Introduction to outline the purpose, goals, and contents of the book. Which, at least as regards the contents, was not an easy task at all, since this is a book that ranges across a vast array of topics and subjects. Yet I was well aware that the contents are not what matters most, to some extent they are just a chance and an opportunity. What matters most is what certain events, facts, issues, thoughts, and feelings can teach us about ourselves, life, and the world around us. I’d say that this book is a dialogue with myself about my understanding of and relationship with life itself. Existential, political, and philosophical issues—which are frequently recurrent in the book—are functional to wider self-knowledge and self-understanding. But this is not a philosophical book, despite the many philosophical issues that crowd its pages. Nor is it a political one, despite the seven subchapters devoted to the Trump era and its implications in the political, social, cultural, and economic life in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Let’s put it this way: to me, it is always like this in people’s lives, the idea is to always go forward, to progress toward an ever better condition. And it is right that it should be so. But reality rarely matches the initial vision exactly, and often it marches in the opposite direction. Contrary to popular belief, in our times many never stop unlearning, nor do they give up rising in the hierarchy of what is contrary to the Good, the Beautiful, the Just, or simply the Reasonable. Ours are times of intellectual chaos and moral relativism, if not nihilism, and everything seems on the verge of falling apart, as the events of the recent past in the U.S. and elsewhere, in case it was needed, have abundantly shown—by the way, while I was writing the Introduction, thousands of President Donald Trump’s ardent supporters violently were storming the U.S. Capitol building, prompting evacuations, injuries, and arrests...

The whole story of Covid-19 fits perfectly into this context, to the point of becoming, at least in my mind, an effective metaphor of the Zeitgeist, which is interwoven with individual and collective pursuits, aspirations, and ambitions that are so very often ill-conceived, short-sighted, and based on false premises. Yet, such an upside-down world is nevertheless our one and only world—and it is well worth fighting for, in spite of everything. In a small way and to some extent, Blessed Are the Free in Spirit. A Journal in Complicated Times is my contribution to the fight.

Like my previous book, Blessed Are the Contrarians. Diary of a Journey Through Interesting Times, this one is a kind of diary of a journey through our time—politics, culture, lifestyles, worldviews, etc.—and back home again, where “home” stands for a deep sentiment of belonging to our own free and indomitable spirit, which is much stronger than the spirit of our times, however powerful and attractive it may be. Moreover, in this book, as in Blessed Are the Contrarians, I have selected some of the articles posted on my blog over the last few years, those most suitable for this traditional mode of communication. In other words, Blessed Are the Free in Spirit is somehow none other than Part Two of Blessed Are the Contrarians. But with a couple of differences. The first being that in this book, the “journal” entries are arranged in chronological order (from most recent to oldest), as well as by subject matter. The second is that the author is no longer exactly the same person he was when the first book came out in 2012. This for the simple reason that time never passes in vain. As Heraclitus said, “You cannot step into the same river twice.” The water in the river is never the same, it is constantly moving, so the river is never the same river twice…

One word on the title of the book. A free-spirited person can be many different things—even (at least apparently) opposed to one another rather than harmonious or compatible—because their heart is their compass, and heart has no boundaries or rules imposed from outside. When they are religious, they tend to focus on the innermost teachings and truths of their religious faith rather than the “letter” of the Scriptures—and therefore they’re often, if not always, on the verge of heresy... They do not dwell on the past but resist a progress built on the destruction of traditions that go back many centuries and of the systematic denial of our history and civilization. They are fiercely independent, but can still develop a close emotional bond with those who provide for them and look to others for protection. They deeply care about their beliefs and what they feel strongly about but seem to not worry at all—except the bare minimum—about normal stuff like money, career, success, etc.

Free-spirited people are the salt of the earth, they are not restful persons. You never relax with these people. They are inspiring and thought-provoking, challenging and uplifting, men and women at their best. They are “contrarians” in the best sense of the word. And so they are somehow a step ahead of those to whom I dedicated my previous book. Some time ago, I stumbled upon an excellent definition of that blessed kind of person: “A free spirit is not bound by this, that, matter, materialism or opinion. They sing, dance, and flow on the wind—for they are at one with it. They are nothing and everything—void and expanse. Even space and time do not confine or define them. For they are pure energy itself” (Rasheed Ogunlaru).

With that being said, please note that free-spirited does not mean self-referential, solipsistic, or selfish. Quite the contrary. It’s because they are deeply in love with Life, Humanity, Poetry, Music, Dance, Theater, Writing and so many other things that Free-spirited people are what they are—if they flow on the wind it’s because they are at one with it! If they are self-confident it’s because they have faith in life! As the French say, tout se tient (everything fits). Freedom itself is not an absolute, not an either-or proposition, but a set of relations, possibilities mixed with actualities. Likewise, freedom of spirit, which is the quintessence of human nature, is basically the fruit of a compromise, a miracle of balance and elegance. Ultimately, free-spirited people cannot but be the result of a coincidentia oppositorum (the coincidence of opposites). As the most elegant of essayists and a living miracle of balance and intellectual like Michel de Montaigne once said, “One may be humble out of pride.” Which is certainly not a good thing, but what if we apply the same scheme in positive rather than in negative terms? Well, let’s say, for instance, that one may be cheerful/ironic out of seriousness, easy-going out of severity, naive out of sophistication, and so on. Hence Montaigne’s writing en chair et en os (“in the flesh”), as well as the imperceptibly subversive turns of his sentences and the slyly ironic tone that often creeps into his Essays. That’s what free-spirited people are made up of, and why they are the salt of the earth.

By invoking blessings on the Free in spirit, I’m trying to express the feeling I feel for them, my deep admiration and gratitude for their very special contribution to mankind and society. They are my North Star, my source of inspiration, and the reason why I am what I am. I would like to think that in whatever I write there is something the free-spirited writers and thinkers of the past centuries would approve of. Likewise, I hope what I write does not displease the free spirits of our day too much.

Now, for me, there’s nothing left to do but wish you happy reading and look forward to hearing from you with any questions or comments that you may have.

Blessed Are the Free in Spirit. A Journal in Complicated Times 
Paperback Ed. - ISBN-13 : 979-8702016979 - Publication date : February 5, 2021
Kindle Ed. - ASIN : B08W2DP9RC - Publication date : February 4, 2021 

December 26, 2020

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

I wandered lonely as a cloud,
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

~ William Wordsworth

This famous and amazing poem speaks about one of William Wordsworth’s walks in the countryside of England’s Lake District. During this walk, he encountered a long strip of daffodils... Besides being a quintessentially Romantic poem, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” explores the close and fundamental relationship between nature and humanity. Introducing the idea of loneliness in the first line, but suggesting at the same time that the Poet is not really alone at all, Wordsworth intimates that the natural world—and a strong bond with it—is essential to human happiness and serenity.

The stars of the show in this poem are the daffodils. In the Northern Hemisphere, these beautiful flowers are one of the most welcoming signs of spring. Following the wintry months of grey skies and rain, daffodils bring bright swathes of color to our gardens and parks. That’s why they symbolize rebirth and new beginnings. These strong, resilient flowers are a positive, life-affirming symbol, with a bright and joyful yellow color. As it was not enough, the Poet describes the daffodils as having imaginatively human characteristics. Take their “dancing,” for instance, which is referenced in every stanza and which is an inherently joyful activity, despite being just the effect of the wind… In addition, Wordsworth projects human emotion onto the daffodils: “A poet could not but be gay/In such a jocund company”—even though, obviously, the daffodils don’t experience the world in this way.

As a result of all this, and other subliminal messages of the poem, the reader is led to feel the overwhelming happiness that the Poet enjoyed at the sight of what he describes as a “crowd” and a “host” of daffodils—b.t.w., “host” also has the subtle connotation of relating to angels—that are “fluttering and dancing in the breeze…“

P.S. This post wants to be a sign of hope and optimism for the New Year ahead, and is especially dedicated to my friends who are struggling. 
In this video, British actor Simon Russell Beale performs William Wordsworth's most famous poem, which takes on new meaning amid the coronavirus crisis (August 15 2020, directed and produced by Juliet Riddell and Joe Sinclair; curated by Allie Esiri and edited by Joe Sinclair).