Stories that matter from near and far.

A Conservative Call to Arms

For the past fifty years, the left has steamrolled workplaces, schools and places of worship in the name of progressive ideology. Mark Bauerlein argues that conservatives are finally waking up to the nature of their opponents and the ultimate stakes in the culture wars. It is time, he says, for conservatives to assume a fighting stance.

A Conservative Call to Arms

For the past fifty years, the left has steamrolled workplaces, schools and places of worship in the name of progressive ideology. Mark Bauerlein argues that conservatives are finally waking up to the nature of their opponents and the ultimate stakes in the culture wars. It is time, he says, for conservatives to assume a fighting stance.

The Archive

Amazonian Rhetoric

What’s a climate obsessive to do when the data suggested wildfires worldwide are declining? Or when the Earth’s forested areas are increasing? Or when the rising productivity of agriculture and increasing crop yields mean we now need less land to feed more people, and so are sparing massive amounts of wild land? For climate alarmists the answer is obvious: ramp up the rhetoric and recruit some celebrities. Matt Ridley, writing in The Spectator, argues that the recent preening and preaching prompted by the Amazon fires was primarily an attempt to garner attention in a competitive media market.

Post-human History

Few intellectuals can match the extraordinary popular success of Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari. In two best-selling books, Sapiens and Homo Deus, he tackles the big questions about the human condition and its future. Harari’s wide-ranging, macro-histories have clearly struck a nerve with the public. Yet his account of our collective past assumes that the biological, scientific version of human nature provides the true and full explanation of what we are. Writing in City Journal, Sir Roger Scruton notes that Harari’s reductive view of history skirts the rather gaping matters of human self-consciousness and self-awareness. In the end, writes Scruton, Harari’s histories are about homo without the sapiens.

Rebel Weather

The renowned Canadian physician Sir William Osler once observed that “the greater the ignorance, the greater the dogmatism.” No issue fits Osler’s words better than climate change. Contrary to global dogma, climate science is far from settled. Among the basic challenges facing climatologists is securing accurate records of the Earth’s temperature. John Steele Gordon, writing in Commentary, reports that when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration installed 114 state-of-the-art weather stations in 2005, it didn’t quite confirm global warming. As Mark Twain summarized, “Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.”

Boris and the Battle for Brexit

Three years after the British people voted to leave the European Union, Britain is still stuck. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s threat to leave without a formal Brexit deal has triggered a crisis in Parliament. Behind this commotion is an intransigent E.U., mindful that without the threat of a “no-deal” Brexit, the U.K. has no bargaining power. Christopher Caldwell, writing in The Claremont Review of Books, deftly fills in the blanks on the Brexit debate, especially regarding the Eurocrats. The E.U.’s ability to evade democratic responsibility, Caldwell warns, may be even more robust than its most vocal critics feared.

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 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.

Minding the Mindfulness Movement

Mindfulness and meditation have entered the mainstream of western societies. Emerging from Buddhist traditions, mindfulness practices claim to be “non-judgemental” and compatible with any belief system. Advocates claim meditation can reduce stress, alleviate physical pain, boost productivity and creativity, and help adherents understand their “true” selves. Yet for Sahanika Ratnayake, a “cultural Buddhist” and a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy at Cambridge University, mindfulness and meditation are “metaphysically loaded.” In her evocative account, first published in Aeon, she suggests why mindfulness practices are unsuited for reaching real self-understanding, and warns against the tendency to view mindfulness as a panacea for the modern world’s ills.

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.