Sound and fury told by the American cultural “elite”

There are few funny stories to emerge from American politics over the last two months, especially during the constitutional embarrassment of the latest faux and cursed impeachment. There is, however, one story that stands out as laugh-out-loud funny, and symptomatic of the cultural decay, which has been a constant theme of this blog since its … Continue reading Sound and fury told by the American cultural “elite”

The failure of institutions in the pandemic crisis

Yuval Levin argues that the institutions of contemporary society, primarily America in his account, have become degraded. There is a good discussion with Yuval Levin on this topic over at the Hoover Institution Youtube channel. We have lost trust in these institutions, he argues, because simply they have become less trustworthy. Their performance has been … Continue reading The failure of institutions in the pandemic crisis

America’s Coming Century of Humiliation

Could it be that the current unrest in America and the disintegration of its political, social and cultural institutions are the beginning of its own 21st century version of the Chinese Qing Empire's Century of Humiliation - 百年耻辱? Could it even be that the leaders of China - who by the account of Michael Pillsbury, … Continue reading America’s Coming Century of Humiliation

K.T. McFarland’s Revolution in Tamerlane’s Shadow

Over the last week I have read the K.T. (Kathleen Troia) McFarland's Revolution: Trump, Washington and 'We the People' (2020). I was led to this book by the remarkable case of injustice perpetrated on General Michael Flynn. K.T. McFarland was Michael Flynn's deputy, Deputy National Security Adviser in the first months of Trump's presidency, and … Continue reading K.T. McFarland’s Revolution in Tamerlane’s Shadow

Do we repair our republics with big ideas or ordinary virtues?

My old boss and sometime mentor, Terry Moran, has given an oration in which he sets out a diagnosis and remedy for the troubles of government and democracy today. Terry is the former head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in Australia, and, less impressively, the Victorian Premier's Department where I worked with … Continue reading Do we repair our republics with big ideas or ordinary virtues?

The slow death of my history

Over the last couple of months I have been reading history.  Simon Sebag Montefiore's The Romanovs: 1613-1918, Orlando Figes A People's Tragedy: the Russian Revolution 1891-1924, and Ian Kershaw's Rollercoaster: Europe 1950-2017. All of this reading has been valuable and fascinating to me. The intricate catastrophes of the Romanov dynasty, the myriad tragedies of the … Continue reading The slow death of my history

A new dark age

It is a dark age when learning is despised; when violence prowls our streets; when the cherished teachings of our wisest culture falls disused and forgotten. Apocalypses are not fashionable, though innovation and disruption are. We celebrate the piracy of wanton wealth and mock the traditionalists who sit in their cells and speak alone with … Continue reading A new dark age

Traditions beyond politics

For much of my life I have thought about questions of politics and government. How can government respond to any one of dozens of social issues that have occupied my professional life? What can government do? How can a policy issue be presented to political decision-makers in a way that holds their attention, if briefly, … Continue reading Traditions beyond politics

The return of the venal office and tax-farmer

The French Revolution was in part a revolt against a degraded court, whose profligacy in prestige goods was in stark contrast to its bankruptcy in pursuing national prestige in war, and in part the collapse of authority of a political order, so disabling its most essential task, taxation. The crucial preliminary chapters of any good … Continue reading The return of the venal office and tax-farmer