URLs du Jour

2021-03-02

  • Tal Fortgang applies the fusionist policy developed (way back when) by Frank Meyer to the current situation: Fracture or Fusion?.

    Those who have paid attention in recent years to the inner workings of the American right may have noticed some shifts in the way many conservatives explain their beliefs. Among these: A reclamation of the mantle of nationalism; increased trust in the state, even the federal government, and a corresponding comfort with using the levers of power for conservative ends; and a renewed assertion that government is instituted among men primarily to advance the common good.

    These New Conservatives—more communitarian and socially conservative in disposition—have adopted a noble intellectual tradition that has competed with “movement” conservatism for decades. Many of the criticisms that animate New Conservatives’ separation from movement conservatism had been largely dormant until the rise of nationalist-populist sentiment that accompanied the ascent of Donald Trump. But they were once the subject of intense debate during the era of conservatism’s political ascent, especially embodied in the arguments between Frank S. Meyer of National Review and Russell Kirk of Modern Age.

    For me, when you hear a self-described "conservative" gripe about "market fundamentalism", that's a pretty clear signal to withhold your support.


  • Bari Weiss hosts Princeton math professor Sergiu Klainerman on her Substack. He makes an argument that's (unfortunately) necessary to make these days: There Is No Such Thing as "White" Math.

    In my position as a professor of mathematics at Princeton, I have witnessed the decline of universities and cultural institutions as they have embraced political ideology at the expense of rigorous scholarship. Until recently — this past summer, really — I had naively thought that the STEM disciplines would be spared from this ideological takeover.

    I was wrong. Attempts to “deconstruct” mathematics, deny its objectivity, accuse it of racial bias, and infuse it with political ideology have become more and more common — perhaps, even, at your child’s elementary school.

    A powerful assertion made along the way: "When it comes to education, I believe the woke ideology is even more harmful than old-fashioned communism."

    At least the commie education system turned out some pretty decent scientists and mathematicians. A "woke" education system won't do that.


  • [Amazon Link]
    I'm newly following Alan Jacobs' blog. He is a humanities prof at Baylor. I read his book How to Think back in 2018 and was favorably impressed.

    He recently made a good point while discussing Amazon's decision to remove Ryan T. Anderson’s book When Harry Became Sally from its offerings: Damnatio memoriae.

    But to me, the most interesting point for reflection is this: The censors at Amazon clearly believe there is only one reason to read a book. You read a book because you agree with it and want it to confirm what you already believe. Imagine, for instance, a transgender activist who wants to understand the position held by Ryan Anderson and people like him in order better to refute it. That person can’t get a copy of the book through Amazon any more than a sympathetic reader like me can.

    But another, deeper belief lies beneath that one: It’s that ideas like Anderson’s are not to be refuted but rather, insofar as it lies within Amazon’s vast power, erased — subjected to Damnatio memoriae. And the interesting thing about that practice is that it is simultaneously an assertion of power and a confession of weakness. Amazon is flexing its muscles, but muscles are all it has. Its censors don’t want anyone to read Anderson’s book because they know that they can’t refute it. They have no thoughts, no knowledge — only reflexes. And reflexes will serve their cause. For now.

    I confess that I needed to bounce over to the damnatio memoriae link.


  • I grew to like The Band a lot at the tail end of the group's life. At City Journal, Ian Penman looks at their Elusive Harmony. (It's a review of a new Levon Helm biography.)

    The Band was one of those 1970s outfits that combined impeccable technique with a smelling-salt whiff of rock-and-roll brimstone, soaked in rhythm-and-blues know-how but equally able to riff and scowl. This was “Americana” before the consumer demographic existed: a thick gumbo of country, barroom blues, and educated chords. What set them apart from near-contemporaries like Little Feat and Steely Dan was the prevalent idea that The Band was somehow more than a band, something more symbolic: a proud embodiment of small c conservative values and core democratic principles—a collective enterprise putting aside personal ego to achieve an authentically American harmony, wider and deeper than the five individuals involved. This was all the more notable, given that four out of those five individuals were Canadian, with singer/drummer Helm the only one born in the USA.

    If you liked The Band, you'll learn something.


  • And the Google LFOD News Alert rang for an article in … whoa … The Jerusalem Post. Which is a humorous look at that burning questions: Why are Jews attracted to Florida?. Going down the letters: F, L, O, R, …

    I is for Independence. I’m convinced that if the state could, it would secede from the union. Anything goes, and no one is gonna tell a Floridian – or their chosen leaders – what to do. The license plates here only say “Sunshine State” because “Live Free or Die” was already taken by New Hampshire.

    Well, it turns out it's a little more complicated than that.

    • LFOD is, of course, New Hampshire's official motto, but only since 1945.
    • Florida's official motto is not "The Sunshine State", it's "In God We Trust". It was adopted in 2006.
    • But as far as NH license plates go, LFOD has been there since 1971. (Replacing "Scenic".)
    • Florida has placed "Sunshine State" on license plates since 1994. But it's just one option. Most Florida counties allow you to have the county name, or "In God We Trust" instead; arguably, an even more freedom-loving arrangement than New Hampshire.