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  • The Myth of Nazi Inevitability

    The Myth of Nazi Inevitability

    Lately, I’ve been studying a segment of German history about which I knew little as compared with the period before World War I or the great German cultural awakening between 1770 and 1820, sometimes characterized as die Goethezeit. Germany’s failure to stave off a Nazi takeover, which was well on its way to happening when Hitler became chancellor on Jan. 30, 1933, has been considered proof positive of a bad national character. Supposedly, Germans were always following a “special path” toward a Nazi regime, which just took several centuries to reach its explosive end. This is the view currently propounded by German educators and the leaders of all German parties, except for the patriotic, right-of-center Alternative für Deutschland.

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  • Bad Intel

    Bad Intel

    A pair of recent news items unintentionally demonstrated the ways the Intelligence Community is a primary source of our confused foreign policy in the Middle East, while also undermining President Trump here at home.

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Society & Culture

  • How Communism Saved the Eastern Bloc from Cultural Marxism

    How Communism Saved the Eastern Bloc from Cultural Marxism

    Despite living under nearly a century of oppressive, conformist, Soviet-style Communism, Eastern Bloc nations have somehow maintained strong senses of cultural, religious, linguistic, and ethnic identities. What’s more, they arguably have stronger identities today than do most Western European and Anglophone countries that have enjoyed greater freedom for most of the 20th century. Unlike their Western neighbors, Eastern Bloc nations have avoided the cultural decay and self-destruction that has been eating away at Western democracies over the past half-century. How have they done so? The answer, ironically, is Soviet-style Communism and the circumstances it generated.

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  • Historical Revisionism on the Right

    Historical Revisionism on the Right

    Nietzsche writes in the concluding section of Twilight of the Idols, “One does not learn from the Greeks—their way is too alien, and also too fluid, to have an imperative effect, a ‘classical’ effect.” The divide between Greek antiquity and modernity to which Nietzsche alludes has certainly not discouraged many attempts to bridge this gap. The English classicist John Bloxham, in his book, Ancient Greece and American Conservatism: Classical Influence on the Modern Right (2018), demonstrates how many luminaries of the post-World War II conservative tradition interpreted the Hellenes, especially Plato and Aristotle, as kindred spirits in a common cause against the enemies of civilization. Bloxham extensively shows how major figures on the intellectual right during the Cold War era and beyond projected their own political biases onto various classical texts.

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Reviews

  • <em>Books in Brief</em>

    Books in Brief

    Journalist Tyler O’Neil of PJ Media has been busy. From roughly around the time of the Charlottesville racial conflagration in 2017 to the filling of the inkwells that were used to print this book, O’Neil has covered various aspects of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and its self-appointed role as arbiter of “hate” and what passes for “acceptability” in American society. Unfortunately, the book is an obvious clip job that compiles the author’s previously published articles and blog posts, replete with repetitions, non sequiturs, a few typos, and bumpy transitions.

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  • The American Muse

    The American Muse

    For almost as long as there have been literary works, there have been literary canons, largely established by bookish pedants who do, indeed, “quarrel unceasingly.” The quarreling began early in the third century B.C. and continues today. The “birdcage” to which Timon refers was the great Library of Alexandria, part of a larger temple complex known in the ancient world as the Museum of Alexandria, established by Ptolemy II. Ptolemy, and his father before him, were literary kings who sought to spread the influence of Greek cultural achievements and who founded their museum for precisely that purpose. It was in Alexandria that what we call Hellenism was born.

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  • Dictatorship of the Deranged

    Dictatorship of the Deranged

    A long time ago, I happened upon a cartoon in some publication or other. A single frame—in the vein of Gary Larson—depicted thousands of sheep rushing headlong off a cliff. In the middle of this great multitude, one particular sheep moved in the opposite direction. “Excuse me…excuse me…excuse me,” it bleated. That scene came to mind recently as I read Douglas Murray’s latest book. He takes his title and inspiration from Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (1841), that oddly compelling 19th-century miscellany by Charles Mackay, a book that is still in print and widely read today. This is because it concerns the most bestial part of human nature: the herd mentality.

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  • <em>What the Editors Are Reading</em>

    What the Editors Are Reading

    Perhaps the greatest American autobiography in both the quality of its writing and the import of its content is Whittaker Chambers’ Witness (1952). Sadly, it’s also one of the most neglected by the country’s leftist-dominated intelligentsia.

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  • Lighting Up History

    Lighting Up History

    When it comes to social hierarchy, smokers are only a few notches above pedophiles. Yes, smokers are bad, they smell terrible, and they cost us money—and everyone knows it. One would expect the “smokers bad” message to saturate The Cigarette. Surp

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Remembering the Right

  • Remembering H. L. Mencken

    Remembering H. L. Mencken

    H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) may no longer seem relevant, but that is not his fault. Mencken was a well-read bon vivant with a taste for Teutonic philosophy and a fidelity to what he understood as truth. He was also a brilliant satirist, a longtime writer for the Baltimore Sun, and editor of The American Mercury. His facility with the English idiom and grasp of intellectual history are unsurpassed. How can an aristocratic individualist like Mencken appeal to an age which makes idols out of equality and “democracy”? He can’t and shouldn’t.

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In Memoriam

  • Sir Roger Scruton: Britain

    Sir Roger Scruton: Britain's Culture Warrior

    I first heard Roger Scruton speak at the 1993 regional Philadelphia Society meeting in Dearborn, Michigan, organized to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind. Scruton spoke on the topic of “The Conservative Mind Abroad” in a soft but authoritative voice that gently drew and kept the listener’s attention. However, his professorial demeanor never got in the way of making a forceful point. This was demonstrated in 1997 at a debate in London sponsored by the Edmund Burke Society. I was invited to attend the bicentennial celebration of Burke’s death and the festivities included a debate over his continued relevance.

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Editorials

  • Vestigial Reds

    Vestigial Reds

    Diana West should be a familiar name to anyone who has studied the operation of the American Communist movement. Two of her books, America Betrayed: The Secret Assault on our Nation’s Character (2013) and The Red Thread (2019) examine the influence of Communist party members and fellow travelers on American politics and civic culture, and argue that Communist subversion is alive and well in this country. While America Betrayed focuses on subversive Communist activities from the Bolshevik Revolution onward, and most controversially on Communist infiltration of the United States government before and during World War II, The Red Thread carries West’s investigations down to recent leftist efforts to undermine the Trump presidency.

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  • <em>First Things</em> First

    First Things First

    After people gather into groups they formulate their own founding myths. The veracity of these stories is of secondary importance to their ability to tie people to a sense of noble purpose, shared sacrifice, and confidence that their activities have had some meaning over the passage of time.

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Correspondence

  • White Man

    White Man's Soul Music

    Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison was the first album I ever had of my own, a Christmas gift from my parents. I listened to that album over and over on the stereo my parents had given me that year, sprawled out on the floor of the living room of the little house my father had built on the outskirts of Houston, Texas, in the mid-1950s. I was ten years old.

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Columns

  • The World

    The World's Values

    1917 • La Grande Illusion (1937) • Paths of Glory (1957) • Uncut Gems

    Sam Mendes’ new film, 1917, is a rigorous examination of what it was like to be a low-ranking officer in the Great War. The film follows—literally, with a camera just over their shoulders—two young lance corporals, mere boys, as they attempt to follow mission orders that may well prove fatal.

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  • The Knack of the Non-Deal

    The Knack of the Non-Deal

    An Arab-Israeli peace agreement is like a moderate Syrian rebel or rational leftist: It is possible to visualize, but producing one is daunting. Every attempt has failed. President Donald Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan will be no exception. Hardly the “deal of the century,” it proposes the establishment of a disconnected, truncated Palestinian state with limited sovereignty, covering Gaza and just three-quarters of the West Bank, surrounded on all sides by Israel. All of Jerusalem would be the undivided Israeli capital. In addition, Israel would annex the strategic Jordan Valley and an archipelago of settlements inside the Palestinian remnant.

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  • Brexit Got Done, Now Get Over It

    Brexit Got Done, Now Get Over It

    The great 2016 vote-undoing project seems at long last to have been abandoned on both sides of the Atlantic. In Washington, President Trump’s impeachment fizzled out—a strange and pathetic affair however you look at it. Everyone is looking past it now to this year’s presidential election in November. In London, meanwhile, on Jan. 31 Brexit happened, and most people barely noticed.

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  • Tariffs Work

    Tariffs Work

    For decades, American political discourse has largely operated within the spectrum of opinions voiced by the editorial pages of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Opinions not embraced by one of these newspapers were unlikely to advance very far, and those voicing such unapproved opinions were, sooner or later, likely to be denounced as thought criminals of one variety or another. Not coincidentally, the opinions of the Big Three newspapers tend to advance the material interests of the type of persons who write them and read them, regardless of the impact they have on the country as a whole or on the great many Americans who are far removed culturally and geographically from the opinion-forming centers of Manhattan and D.C.

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  • Meet the Markles

    Meet the Markles

    I never thought I’d get back to this silly subject for Chronicles ever again, but the Markles—as I now refer to them—have a way of getting our attention, and embarrassing Al Capone in the process. As the Feds were closing in on him, Al was told Chicago was getting too hot and he should move to Canada. “Canada?” growled Capone, “I don’t even know what street that’s on.”

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  • And a Little Child Shall Mislead Them

    And a Little Child Shall Mislead Them

    Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has become a vastly influential force in the discussion of global climate change. Even so, policy makers are reluctant to challenge her because her global reputation verges on the hagiographic. Conservative Italians denounce her fanatical disciples as gretini—a heavy-handed pun on the Italian word for cretins, cretini. Even so, the joke is directed not at the saintly Greta, but at her overenthusiastic followers. Even in conservative American media, such as Fox News, any critiques of the grandstanding activist are dismissed as unacceptable, on the grounds that she’s just a kid, even though she is now 17 years old.

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  • Singin

    Singin' the Publishing Blues

    I like a traveling circus. The American Historical Association’s annual conference periodically sets up its tent at the New York Hilton. Since I live nearby, I subject myself to its clown car of characters every half decade. But this year, I saw the confab’s book fair as an opportunity to introduce myself to the editors of several university presses, peruse forthcoming titles, and gauge the attendees’ interest in the latest offerings. On a cold Saturday morning in January, I limped one block to the nearest subway stop to ride to the big top.

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