Homer, Vergil and the Culture War (2020), by Sean Gabb


Homer, Vergil and the Culture War
Sean Gabb
22nd February 2020

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The Classics Faculty at the University of Oxford is considering whether to remove from its undergraduate courses the compulsory study in their original languages of Homer and Vergil. The reasons given are that students from independent schools, where some classical teaching is kept up, tend at the moment to do better in examinations than students from state schools, and that men do better than women. I regard this as the most important news of the week. I do so partly because I make some of my living from these languages, and so have a financial interest in their survival. I do so mainly because I see the proposal as a further enemy advance in the Culture War through which we have been living for at least the past two generations. Read more

A Brief Word on Brexit


A Brief Word on Brexit
Sean Gabb
1st February 2020
(Published in The Libertarian Enterprise, 2nd February 2020)

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Yesterday evening – that is, the 31st January 2020 – at 11pm GMT, my country left the European Union. We did so after four years of heated and often hysterical argument. Nothing much seemed to have changed this morning. I went out shopping, to see the same people buying the same things at the same prices. Since we are now in a transition period, lasting till the end of this year, in which we remain within the Single Market and subject to the rules of the European Union, it would have been odd if anything visible had changed. Yet, if nothing visible had changed, one very important thing has changed. Read more

Racism – a Tool of Globalisation


Racism – a Tool of Globalisation

By Duncan Whitmore

It scarcely needs saying that, to listen to the liberal-leftist claptrap gushing from outfits such as The Guardian, one would think that Britain (and the predominantly white, Western world generally) is a hotbed of racism and xenophobia. Although having been particularly prominent since Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, the issue has again risen to headline news as a result of the so-called “Megxit” – the decision of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to step back from royal duties, with the racism of the British tabloid press being a supposed factor.

While it is easy enough to point out anecdotal examples of racism anywhere, the notion that Britain suffers from either chronic or widespread racism – the kind that singer Lily Allen ascribes to the reason for Boris Johnson’s election victory – is difficult to defend. Academic research into the matter shows that Western countries are among the most racially tolerant in the world when it comes to the possibility of ethnic minorities moving in as next door neighbours. Remainers, who were aghast at Britain’s “xenophobic” decision to “turn its back” on Europe, may be interested to know that British parents are relatively happier for their children to enter interracial relationships than parents on the continent. And the Migration Observatory at Oxford University points out that the vast majority of immigrants to the UK find Britain to be hospitable and welcoming, and that they are able to improve their lives as a result of hard work. Moreover, while blacks are among the lowest earners in the UK, the government’s own figures show that the percentage of households earning more than £1,000 per week is greater among Indians, Chinese and other Asians than it is among British whites. So if racism is an explanation as to why some ethnic groups fail to earn as much as whites then the British people must be remarkably selective with their racism. Read more

Queen Elizabeth Beats Hollywood And The Stumblebum Sussexes


By ilana mercer

His wife, a hero of sorts only in the TV series “Suits,” had hightailed it to Canada, leaving Harry Windsor, formerly known as Prince Harry, to deliver a concession speech.

Make no mistake—no matter the moola they rake in, Harry and Meghan Markle have been sorely defeated and deflated.

Earlier in January 2020, the stumblebum Sussexes had smugly announced to the public that they “planned to carve out a progressive new role within this institution.” The unavoidable implication of that sleight-of-hand was that “this institution” (the monarchy) was just not woke enough for the two’s exquisitely honed sensibilities.

Gallantly has Harry tried, since, to make his subjects believe that it is he, not Meghan Markle—his meddlesome, divisive, American wife—who had attempted, and failed miserably, to outsmart Queen Elizabeth II.

But the crass and callous rollout production, lacking in etiquette and contemptuous of royal protocol, fell flat.

So deeply silly was the Sussexes Instagram statement, that it had brainy royal correspondents and members of the Queen’s Bench snickering that Harry and his Hollywood wife must have been getting bad advice from friends across the Atlantic, who knew nothing about the workings of the British monarchy.

A woman of impeccable class, HM the Queen, aged 93, handled the Markle tantrum with great kindness—even though the couple had informed the world of their antics, before apprising the queen and other members of the Royal Family.

Wrapping up Markle’s failed brinkmanship, Harry unleashed a load of bafflegab, peppered with oddly fatalistic phrases such as, “after so many years of challenges,” “there really was no other option,” and, sadly, “it had come to” this.

Translated: After two years of royal toil, my wife had had enough. She cracked under the duress of being dressed to the nines, served the food of her fancy, watched over and catered to, housed in a palace of her own design, and showered with her heart’s desire and a title.

These were paltry rewards for Markle’s herculean efforts. In a word, Meghan prefers the life of a celebrity to the life of a public servant.

Despite two years of torturous toil, Harry and his “hardworking” bride were prepared “to continue serving the Queen.” Alas, rambled Harry, that “unfortunately, … wasn’t possible.” The Queen was having none of it.

No wonder. Her Royal Majesty embodies mettle. She has lived a life of dedication and duty. Still in her teens, before being crowned, Elizabeth had joined the military, during World War II, where she “drove a military truck while she served.”

Translated, again: Meghan and Harry (the man of the house comes first) had hoped to serve the queen on their own terms. Her Highness went hardline, the outcome of which is that, for mindlessly following Meghan, Harry and his boorish bride have been stripped of their status as “working members” of the Royal Family, have forfeited their HRH titles and the honor of travelling on behalf of the queen. Their names have been expunged from the court circular. The Sussexes are also in the bad books of the prince of Wales. Prince Charles, after all, pays for his sons’ lavish lifestyle.

According to Alastair Bruce, ABC News’ royalty consultant, and himself a military man, Prince Harry will also lose his honorific military patronages and titles, including “his title as Captain General Royal Marines,” which was especially dear to Harry.

Granted, life at Frogmore Cottage, in Windsor, a place beyond picturesque, didn’t quite cut it for Meghan. But, since it was renovated largely at public expense, down to a yoga studio, a staircase for Meghan’s grand entrances and original paintings from the queen’s own collection—the pair will have to reimburse the Sovereign Grant fund.

That the British monarchy stands for the last vestiges of ancient English tradition is not in dispute. But what do the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stand for in this tawdry saga? The Economist magazine, whose sources crown Meghan Markle as the “principal agent of the current debacle,” tethers “Harry and Meghan to … Marx”:

Markle is a “product of an entertainment business that has done more than any other industry to fulfil Marx’s prediction that ‘all that is sacred’ would be ‘profaned’ and ‘all that is solid’ would ‘melt into air.’”

“The Communist Manifesto” predicted and celebrated that crass commercialism would subject national institutions “to the revolutionary logic of the global market.” “The Sussexes,” muses the Economist’s Bagehot Column, “are … embracing capitalism in its rawest, most modern form: global rather than national, virtual rather than solid, driven, by its ineluctable logic, to constantly produce new fads and fashions.” [Emphasis added.]

In 21st-century capitalism you accumulate followers in order to monetize them. … In a 21st-century-capitalist society you are propelled around the world in pursuit of the latest marketing opportunity.

To date, the queen has foiled Meghan’s mindless plan to brand the term “Sussex Royal.” Believe it or not, the two twits had gone and hired a branding agency—the same one that caters to the children’s channel Nickelodeon—and had tried to trademark a Sussex Royal logo.

No doubt the Queen’s Bench has put Meghan and her American pettifoggers in their proper place.

Once upon a time, a dolt from Tinseltown imagined she was a match for the queen of England.

The End.

**

Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She’s the author of Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011) & The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed (June, 2016). She’s on Twitter, Facebook & Gab. Latest on YouTube: “How Democracy Made Us Dumb.

 

What Libertarianism Is…


…and What it Must Do

 By Duncan Whitmore

Anyone who has taken the time to study in depth the wealth of scholarly literature of Austro-libertarianism cannot help but be enthralled by the intellectual treasures provided by our school of thought. Not only have we uncovered a body of knowledge which – especially in comparison to mainstream social science – is rigorous, scientific, coherent and interdisciplinary, but, as the true successors of classical liberalism, we have an inspiring vision of the future that can sweep away war, conflict, strife and poverty while propelling the human race to unheard of heights of peace and prosperity. Indeed, for many of us Austro-libertarianism has been the most joyous and rewarding discovery of our lives, providing a sheltered harbour in a world which would otherwise leave us adrift in a sea of chaos.

Unfortunately, we are forced to admit that the intellectual accomplishments of Austro-libertarians are disproportionate to our achievements in effecting real world change which, by comparison, are almost miniscule. Although most forms of direct socialism have been discredited by the disaster that was the Soviet Union, we are today living in a world of unprecedented state power which the majority of the population, buoyed by a sense of control instilled by their occasional visits to the ballot box, views as entirely legitimate. It is bad enough that the modern nation state has accreted to itself power and functions that ancient kings and emperors could only dream of; but we are confronted also by a pervasive attitude that any difficulty, problem, error, injustice or whatever that life may choose to throw at us – including our own personal foibles and failings – is always the state’s responsibility to solve. The problems of paper money, the welfare state, boom and bust, public “education”, crippling regulation, disastrous overseas wars and all of the other ills bred by the state are not going to be vanquished when the majority of the public regards this institution as the magic carpet that will whisk us all away to the land of milk and honey. Read more

Should The U.S. Be The Globe’s Judge, Jury And Executioner?


By ilana mercer

Qassim Soleimani, an Iranian major general, was assassinated by a U.S. drone air strike, at the Baghdad International Airport (BIAP). Soleimani was traveling with one Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Al-Muhandis was an Iraqi, born and bred. He was even elected to the Iraqi Parliament, in 2005, until the U.S. intervened. (Yes, we intervene in other nations’ elections.)

Iraq’s caretaker prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, was furious, denouncing “What happened [as] a political assassination.” Unanimously, Iraqi lawmakers “responded to the Soleimani assassination by passing a nonbinding resolution calling on the government to end foreign-troop presence in Iraq.”

Yes, it’s a complicated region. And America, sad to say, still doesn’t know Shia from Shinola.

The consensus in our country is that “Soleimani deserved to die.” That’s the party-line on Fox News—and beyond. It’s how assorted commentators on all networks prefaced their “positions” on the Jan. 3 killing of the Iranian general.

Even Tucker Carlson—the only mainstream hope for Old Right, anti-war, America-First columns like this one—framed the taking out of Soleimani as the killing of a bad guy by good guys:

“There are an awful lot of bad people in this world. We can’t kill them all, it’s not our job.”

However you finesse it, the premise of Tucker’s assertion is that the American government, and the smart set who live in symbiosis with it, gets to adjudicate who’s bad and who’s good in the world.

The debate is only ever over whether the U.S. government should or shouldn’t act on its divine rights as transnational judge, jury and executioner, never over what’s right and what’s wrong.

Stateside, the only inquiry permissible is a cost-benefit calculus. Will the assassination of Soleimani, a military official of a sovereign state, and an avid and effective slayer of Islamic State terrorists—pay strategic dividends for America in the long run?

This is crass pragmatism bereft of principle. It’s currently on display everywhere, even surfacing on BBC News, where a female analyst, an American, was deploying the childish “bad man” meme to outline America’s Disneyfied foreign policy.

This angels-and-demons production always starts with the prototypical evil dictator who was alleged to be messing with his noble people, until the avenging, angelic empire sent a drone to the rescue.

Again, even Tucker, whose antiwar credentials in recent years have been impeccable, conceded that this Soleimani guy probably needed killing, which is the same thing Iraqis old enough to remember America’s destruction of Iraq, circa 2003, would say about President George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and Ms. Rice.

So, who’s right? Or, is blind patriotism predicated on accepting that it is up to the U.S. government and its ruling elites to determine who lives and who dies around the world?

“Soleimani deserved to die,” an atavistic bit of jingoism, made by Republicans and Democrats alike, on Fox News and on CNN—it holds true only if you believe that the U.S. government is the keeper of the flame of an immutably just, universal code of law, which it is deputized to uphold, wherever it takes-up residence.

Such a chauvinistic impulse is true only if you believe that the U.S. government’s might gives it the right to be universal judge, jury and executioner, deciding who may live and who must die the world over.

As to whether the U.S. government has a right to eliminate an Iranian state actor by declaring him a “terrorist”:

Like it or not, Soleimani was a uniformed official of a sovereign state. He was the equivalent of our Special Operations commander.

We Americans would not tolerate it were Iranians to designate America’s Special Operations commander, Gen. Richard D. Clarke, a terrorist.

Moreover, if Iranians took out America’s Special Ops commander somewhere in North America—which is analogous to the assassination of Soleimani—Americans would consider it an act of war by Iran.

Soleimani was the commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ clandestine and regional operations arm, the Quds Force. Iranians look upon him as we Americans view the commanders of our clandestine Special Operations forces the world over.

With a distinction: Our Special Operations forces and their command encroach on the Iranian neighborhood much more so than Iranians and their special force command encroach on American territory, unless you consider the Middle East to be American turf.

To repeat: The crucial difference between Iran’s Quds Force and America’s Special Operations forces (SOF) is that the former is regional, the latter global.

As I write, America’s SOF, upwards of 8,300 commandos, are engaged in secret operations the world over. Unknown to all but a few Americans, “U.S. commandos deploy to 149 countries—about 75 percent of the nations on the planet,” reports investigative journalist Nick Turse. Expect that by the halfway mark of this year, “U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM or SOCOM), America’s most elite troops, will have already carried out missions in approximately 133 countries.”

“If Iran should not be allowed to interfere in neighboring countries,” pondered Sara, an Iranian mourner interviewed at Soleimani’s million-strong funeral, “why should Americans be allowed to come to our region all the way from the other side of the Earth?”

Correction: Soleimani patrolled only Iran’s very dangerous neighborhood. His mission was far more modest and nationalistic than that of the U.S. government, which bestrides the globe, arming and training foreign troops all over it.

Unlike America’s proxy militias, Iranian proxy militia operate in the region.

As to the “imminent danger” a single individual, Soleimani, was said to pose to “American lives”: Arrayed against the veracity of the intelligence to that effect are Republican Sens. Mike Lee and Rand Paul. They characterized Wednesday’s intel briefing as positively “insulting”; “the worst briefing” they had received.

No wonder. The intelligence was produced and pushed by the same spooks who’ve been agitating against President Trump and all vestiges of his original “America First” plank.

The intel justification for the Soleimani assassination came from the same intelligence community that cooked up the anti-Trump Russia monomania and the WMD-in-Iraq casus belli.  

These disgraced sources now insist that Soleimani was planning future, precision strikes—nefarious atrocities against U.S. soldiers—and, therefore, needed to be dispatched right away.

However, other more credible sources, including Rand Paul’s dad, allude to Soleimani’s involvement in a diplomatic mission which was underway between Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia, and would have cut out the U.S. as middleman.

Skepticism aside, when we accept U.S. state aggression based on iffy, prior-restraint arguments, then aggress we must ad absurdum. Consider: Between 1975 and 2015, Saudi Arabian Sunnis murdered 2369 Americans in the homeland, to Iran’s zero. When it comes to the lives of American civilians, at least in recent decades, the Saudis (Trump’s new BFFs), not the Iranians, have blood on their hands.

Based on the erroneous prior-restraint reasoning, and our putative, divine American rights as judge, jury and executioner—we could confine all Saudi-Arabian Sunnis to camps, for the purpose of “reeducation.” It’s what China is doing to its Muslim minority.

Preposterous!

So as to survive the onslaught of the Sunni fundamentalist majority, the endangered Alawite minority in Syria has formed an alliance with Shia Iran, also a marginalized minority within the Ummah. The Shia-Alawite alliance has been good for Christians in Syria.

But Saudi Arabia doesn’t give a dried camel’s hump about Christians or American casualties. They have managed to skillfully enlist the West in a proxy Sunni-Shia religious war, also Riyadh’s ultimate aim.

Despite a campaign of “America First,” and much like the Bushes and Clintons before him, the president has decided to side with Sunni Islam while demonizing the Shia.

**

Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She’s the author of Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011) & The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed (June, 2016). She’s on Twitter, Facebook & Gab. Latest on YouTube: “How Democracy Made Us Dumb.

 

Leave, Actually – What the Election Means


Leave, Actually – What the Election Means

By Duncan Whitmore

“Tidings of Comfort of Joy” – so heralded the front page of The Daily Telegraph during their vision of Boris Johnson’s election victory descending from heaven with a chorus of angels. Certainly the magnitude of Johnson’s achievement is difficult to overstate. Not only has he propelled the Conservatives to an impressive parliamentary majority by robbing Labour of seats in its traditional working class heartlands; he has also, in a few short months, purged the Tories of their wrangling over Europe which has plagued each of their party leaders since Margaret Thatcher. For libertarians, however, while the result of last Thursday’s poll brings much comfort, the joy may have to be put on ice for a while.

There is comfort in the fact that, for the third election in a row – two general, one European – the British people have reaffirmed their 2016 decision to leave the European Union. No longer can dyed-in-the-wool Remainers claim that the electorate did not know what they were voting for, given that the precise form of Brexit was there for all to see in the text of Johnson’s withdrawal agreement. In the end, the possible split of the Leave vote between the Conservatives and the Brexit Party failed to materialise. Instead, as Nigel Farage intended, his party contributed to the fall of Labour in working class constituencies while the Tory vote remained intact. In some of the most surprising Tory victories – for example, in Durham Northwest, Blyth Valley, Bassetlaw, Bishop Auckland and Bolsover (where Dennis Skinner was unseated after nearly fifty years) – the spoils from Labour losses were parcelled out between the Brexit Party and the Tories, allowing the latter to accomplish anything between narrow and landslide victories over Labour. Although, according to Wednesday’s Times, some studies have claimed that the Brexit Party actually deprived the Conservatives of around twenty further seats, this is no bad thing. For in spite of gaining only 2% of the vote nationally and no seats, Farage’s combination of help and hindrance to the Tories has paid off by decimating the prospect of any parliamentary “Remainer” alliance while also neutering Conservative complacency. Of course, the precise unfolding of Brexit – i.e. the final form of Johnson’s withdrawal agreement and the eventual results of negotiations over the trade deal – remains to be seen. But the prospect of a second referendum leading to the outright cancellation of the decision to leave has finally been buried. Read more

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