THE GLOBAL NEWSSTAND

Stories that matter from near and far.

War and Peace at 150 Years

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Count Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, arguably the greatest of all novels. Among the book’s central motifs is the fragility and contingency of human knowledge, and the subsequent futility of trying to create a social science. In an eternal warning to central planners everywhere, Tolstoy portrayed human beings as existing in a world of contingency and immediacy, continually forced to answer to events entirely unheralded and unexpected. Ultimately, humans need to be guided by something deeper than what can be found through an examination of the empirical world. Gary Saul Morson, writing in The New Criterion, shows how Tolstoy used his literary gifts to show the absurdity of what would become known as scientism, or any other reductionist account of the human.

War and Peace at 150 Years

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Count Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, arguably the greatest of all novels. Among the book’s central motifs is the fragility and contingency of human knowledge, and the subsequent futility of trying to create a social science. In an eternal warning to central planners everywhere, Tolstoy portrayed human beings as existing in a world of contingency and immediacy, continually forced to answer to events entirely unheralded and unexpected. Ultimately, humans need to be guided by something deeper than what can be found through an examination of the empirical world. Gary Saul Morson, writing in The New Criterion, shows how Tolstoy used his literary gifts to show the absurdity of what would become known as scientism, or any other reductionist account of the human.

The Archive

The Good Intentions Paving Co. Visits the City

Urban America is experiencing a widespread breakdown in public order. Cities such as Chicago and San Francisco are marked by homelessness, violent crime, an epidemic of drug abuse, housing shortages, a decaying infrastructure and a general erosion of the human ecology, while others, such as Portland, have added ongoing violent protests to the mix of woes. Among the major reasons for urban decline, believes Steve Malanga, was the championing of progressive social policies reflecting the cultural revolution of the 1960s. Writing in City Journal, Malanga argues that however well-intentioned such policies were, their practical effect was to produce a chaotic, dangerous, urban netherworld. Fortunately, the remedies are well-known; tragically, we appear to lack the political will to enact them.

On The Need for Accuracy and Nuance

Paul Valery, the great French poet and philosopher, held that, “It is impossible to think seriously with such words as Classicism, Romanticism, Humanism, Realism, and the other-isms. You can’t get drunk or quench your thirst with the labels on bottles.” Precisely so. Nor can one think seriously with labels such as feminism, liberalism, communism, populism or conservativism. Douglas Murray, writing in the Spectator UK, warns against the ideological lumping which conflates conservative parties with “far-right” policies. The commentariat needs to adopt a nuanced and intellectually robust political lexicon, Murray argues, one capable of delineating the requisite distinctions among parties on the right.

Cleaning the Window to let in the Light

When President Trump described Baltimore as “a disgusting, rat and rodent-infested mess,” and criticized Congressman Elijah Cummings, a predictable Greek Chorus arose from the Democrats and their enablers in the media: Trump is a racist! “King” Cummings is black, so naturally, any criticism of him or his leadership could only arise from racist motives. Writing in American Greatness, Roger Kimball argues that Trump’s twitter assault was calculated to make the Democrats own the problem of urban decay. And he may well be elbowing open the famed “Overton Window,” the range of ideas and rhetoric permissible in public discourse.

Mass Shooting, U.S., El Paso

Mass Shootings in the U.S.

After the horrific mass murders in El Paso and Dayton, the Democrats immediately blamed President Trump. Blaming Trump, or any politician or public figure, is both intellectually irresponsible and socially divisive. As this unsigned editorial in the New York Sun points out, the motivations that spur these mad killers arise from both the left and right, including concerns about environmental degradation, as in Dayton and Christchurch, and fears over immigration, as in El Paso. We need to accept the grim truth that whatever our political leanings, the blame for these crimes attaches entirely to the killers.

Brazilian Wax, Canada, Transgender

A Brazilian for the Woke

“How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?” asked Abraham Lincoln. “Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” Alas, it appears that Mr. Lincoln was in error. As the enlightened among us now know, a tail is a leg — provided, of course, the dog says it is a leg. Brendan O’Neill, the editor of Spiked Online, looks at the bizarre case of Johnathan Yaniv, a transgender male. Yaniv is arguing before the B.C. Human Rights Council that female beauticians who refuse to perform a Brazilian wax on his male genitalia are violating “her” human rights.

The Demise of the European Left

After the financial crash of 2008, Europe’s leftist parties had an opportunity to channel the anti-establishment fervour of ordinary voters and move from the fringes to the mainstream. For a time, the tide throughout Europe appeared to be shifting to the left. However, earlier this month, after the socialist government of Tsipras was swept aside in the Greek general election, it now appears that the European left is in deep crisis. Yascha Mounk, writing in the Atlantic, suggests that a chain of recent electoral defeats for the left means that the heralded resurgence of socialist parties has peaked – a lesson which the Americans would do well to take into account.

Repatriation, Justice and Terror

The destruction of the Islamic State has led to an intractable problem: what to do with captured ISIS fighters who are western nationals? Despite President Trump’s pleas for enemy combatants to be repatriated and prosecuted in their country of origin, Europeans have thus far turned a blind eye. Writing for the Gatestone Institute, Soeren Kern looks at the Hobson’s choice faced by western nations. On the one hand, repatriating foreign fighters is deeply unpopular and carries political risks. On the other hand, barring their repatriation virtually guarantees the clandestine return of battle-hardened fighters. There are clear security threats attached to either scenario. It is a problem Canadians will soon face.

Welcome to Hotel Canada

Few politicians have ventured as far down the postmodern path as Justin Trudeau who famously proclaimed that Canada was a “postnational” nation, with no “core identity.” The refusal to accept any distinction between one’s conationals and foreigners reduces citizens to mere consumers and creates a nation united only by economic considerations. C2C contributor Bradly Betters, writing in American Thinker, looks at recent headlines which suggest that — contrary to common wisdom — millennials are flocking to Canada’s major cities. However, a deeper analysis suggests that Canadian millennials are leaving the city, forced out by pressures exerted on the real estate market by foreign buyers.

Psychiatry for the Do-it-yourself Crowd

It is normal for psychiatrists to examine patients before giving their diagnosis. This strikes us as sensible. But Bandy X. Lee, psychologist and Yale Professor, decided that when assessing the cognitive competence of President Trump such quaint protocols no longer apply. Following her example, Chadwick Moore, writing in The Spectator USA, uses his psycho-analytic acumen to examine some media personalities. Mr. Moore is a journalist. But he demonstrates conclusively that you don’t need a fancy degree to take the measure of someone’s mental health. What is most needed are strong opinions, the conviction that you are sane and grounded, and the certitude that you are a morally superior specimen. Fortunately, there appears to be no shortage of qualified individuals.

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