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The Bifurcation Point of the Liberal Jurists

As I was reading a book on an episode in Bulgarian history known in Marxist historiography as the "White Terror" (1923-25) -- in truth a rather restrained and ad hoc reaction to an attempted communist uprising in September 1923, I was struck by a reference to one of Johann Caspar Bluntschli's tomes. The book was written by law students, so evidently the legacy of this Swiss transitional figure lives on in Slavic lands. Bluntschli was the premier moderate of his times. "I'm not one of these react

American Janissaries

June 28, (or June 15, depending on your calendar preferences) is the anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. In this battle, smaller Serbian and Bosnian forces took the field against the invading Ottoman Turks. Both armies were essentially wiped out, and both the Ottoman Sultan Murad and the Serbian leader Prince Lazar were killed. In keeping with Ottoman tradition, on the news of his father’s death in battle, Murad’s son Bayezid strangled his younger brother Yakub, becoming the sole heir t

Africa Will Not Save Spengler's West.

The subject of "Africa" is one that is it is almost impossible to breach without the rancid stench of sentimentality choking out the critical faculties of any potential interlocutor. A perfect case in point can be found, unsurprisingly, in one of Ross Douthat's recent columns, "The West and What Come After." Against the backdrop of Trump's speech in Poland, Douthat writes: This nationalist argument comes in racist forms, but it need not be the white nationalism that Trump’s liberal critics rea

Dunkirk: Can the English Get Home?

The Enemy has the English and French armies surrounded at Dunkirk. We never see the faces of the Enemy. The score of Dunkirk is incessant and driving. The film is a masterpiece. I was skeptical that this military disaster could be rendered as something heroic. Christopher Nolan has captured a change in the zeitgeist. This may be first patriotic movie of the 21st Century. “When 400,000 men couldn’t get home, home came for them.” The Enemy had bombed the British fleet and the main port facilities

The Things They Carried

When looking for something to read, either for myself or a recommendation for someone else, I usually look for something old. The older the better, in fact, because even aside from questions of historical significance the test of time is the surest quality filter I’m aware of. Now, though I’m quite comfortable ignoring the New York Times bestseller list, occasionally I do find something worthwhile among new works (“new” relative to the literary canon, that is, so to clarify, I basically just mea

The Eighteenth Brumaire of Fritz Pendleton

Fritz Pendleton has implored reactionaries to take note of a well-known Corsican, believing his significance to be unjustly downplayed. His essay "The Napoleonic Touch" (also linked from his blog) asks us to reconsider the Napoleonic legacy. I shall take up his challenge. Interpretations of Napoleon still largely converge on one of two axes: Adolphe Thiers' and Hippolyte Taine's. A republican admiration for Napoleon the liberator juxtaposed to contempt for Napoleon the egoist, leveller and adven

The Ghosts of Empire

Speculative fiction in Great Britain has a long and rich tradition of the imperial horror story. At the very start of the detective fiction era, Londoner Wilkie Collins placed a haunted Indian gem at the heart of 1868’s “The Moonstone.” Similarly, many of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tales involve deadly rivalries or murderous intrigues that have their origins in the many colonies of the British Empire. The second Holmes novel, 1890’s “The Sign of the Four,” features a stolen treasur

Bonald and the Socialists: Some Unsettled Debts

Louis de Bonald remains one of the begrudgingly and infrequently acknowledged founders of sociology. It is illustrative to consider the way Bonald, who was a firmly modern thinker, being steeped in Malebranche's occasionalist solution to the dilemma of Cartesian dualism, ended up setting the foundations for modern sociological thinking while using it to further anti-modern ends. Bonald was also a representative of an aristocratic and patriarchal school of anti-capitalistic thought which in some