June 9, 2024

How the West Was Lost at Oxford University

My latest on American Thinker.
The British cultural establishment triumphantly welcomed a new history book according to which Western civilization has always been a bad idea... This unequivocally means that the capitulation of the British cultural establishment to “woke” culture — and other elite obsessions — is complete.

Once upon a time, we were told that the peoples of the Western world — which includes countries like Australia and New Zealand, although located in the Eastern Hemisphere — are heirs and trustees of Western civilization, imbalances and excesses included.  Often referred to simply as “the West,” Western civilization is a broad concept used to understand the cultural, social, political, and economic norms, traditions, values, and institutions that originated in or are associated with Europe.  It has its roots in Ancient Greece and Rome as well as in Christianity, humanism, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution. It values rationalism, democracy, and individual freedoms and rights.

Later on, Marxist and otherwise far-left historians argued that the history of the West is marked by exploitation and conflict among different social classes, from feudal lords and serfs in the Middle Ages to capitalists and workers in the modern era.  Marxists, in particular, introduced the concept of cultural hegemony, formulated by Antonio Gramsci to describe ideological domination of the bourgeoisie over the proletariat.  In other words, according to this type of approach, the dominant cultural norms and values of Western civilization serve to maintain the power of the ruling class.

As of now, the left-wing narrative is that Western civilization is an illusion.  Postmodern and deconstructionist historians have claimed that the West is a late invention of the 18th-century philosopher. Skeptical of the grand narratives that have historically been used to describe Western civilization, such as progress, enlightenment, etc., they argue that these narratives often oversimplify complex histories and marginalize alternative perspectives.

It is in this context that the new book How the World Made the West, written by Josephine Quinn, professor of ancient history at Oxford University, needs to be read.  It’s aimed to bring to fulfillment the goal and the dream of legions of leftists the world over and from time immemorial. [...]  


March 19, 2024

Ukraine’s War: Let’s Hope Trump Wins

My latest on American Thinker.
In short, the scenario is that of a Western world in the grip of a strange obsession arising from a misunderstanding, whereby we are confronted with the possibility of WW III without there being any good reason for it.

When three weeks ago French President Emmanuel Macron said he refused to rule out sending ground troops to Ukraine, his words stood in stark contrast to both the European and American “red line” when it comes to putting boots on the ground in that country. As a matter of fact, several NATO countries, including the U.S., Germany and the UK, were quick to rule out that hypothesis. The "path to victory" is providing military aid "so Ukrainian troops have the weapons and ammunition they need to defend themselves," a White House statement said. Analogously, German chancellor Olaf Scholz, UK prime minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman, and the office of Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni reiterated the agreed commitment to supporting Ukraine without including the presence of troops from European or NATO states on Ukrainian territory.

Since then things haven’t changed that much, except that the awareness that the risk of plunging the world into the Third World War has increased. This is especially thanks to three factors. The first is the so-called Weimar Triangle. “Today we agreed on a number of priorities, including the immediate procurement of even more weapons for Ukraine on the entire world market,” announced Scholz at the end of a summit meeting, held on March 15, with the French president and the Polish prime minister Donald Tusk referring to the launch of “a coalition of Ukraine’s allies for long-range weapons.”

 The second factor is the insistence with which Macron reiterates his position.  “Maybe at some point -- I don't want it, I won't take the initiative -- we will have to have operations on the ground, whatever they may be, to counter the Russian forces,” the French president told newspaper Le Parisien in an interview on Friday.

The third factor is the myopia with which NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg [...]  


January 19, 2024

America’s Descent into Madness and Back

My latest on American Thinker.
Several indicators suggest that a shift in public sentiment is taking place

It’s become almost a cliché that the United States of America, once a shining beacon of freedom to the world, is increasingly becoming less of a model and more of a bad experiment of political culture, a country that is losing its moral compass and is becoming more and more dysfunctional with each passing year. Until some time ago such kinds of observations were typical of left-wing intellectuals and activists, but in the last few months/years they have become bipartisan, though of course for opposite reasons.

One of the maîtres à penser—probably the most prominent one—of this new approach to understanding the evolution—or, better, involution—of American political culture is Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow in military history at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a professor emeritus of classics at California State University, Fresno. A good summary of his views on how America has changed in these past few years is a recent American Greatness article that explains how, by whom and for what purpose American civilization has been turned upside down, which is why “we have a rendezvous soon with the once unthinkable and unimaginable.” In the last six months, he says, we have borne witness to a series of iconic moments evidencing a self-induced collapse of American culture. “The signs are everywhere,” he explains, “and cover the gamut of politics, the economy, education, social life, popular culture, foreign policy, and the military.”  Although he doesn’t explicitly say it, the implicit message is that America is descending into a sort of madness.

How else can we explain why the Biden administration fled from Afghanistan, leaving behind billions of dollars of advanced military weaponry and equipment in the hands of Taliban?  Or why has the Pentagon revolutionized the entire system of recruitment, promotions, and tenure in the armed forces, “by predicating them in large part on race, gender, and sexual orientation rather than merit or battlefield efficacy?” [...]