- The Washington Times - Friday, January 7, 2000

Degrading the game

"In Oliver Stone's head-smashing football epic, 'Any Given Sunday,' a player speeds toward the goal line, pigskin in hand, and two members of the opposing team line up to bushwhack him one flying in at shoulder level, the other down low. To describe this maneuver as a tackle would be to make it sound far more polite than it is. As the three bodies meet, in a series of horrifically exact yet splintered images, it looks as if the two defensive players are literally trying to rip the other guy in half, and to do so with the cold-crack precision of a death-sport video game… .

"For Stone, the violence of pro football is a form of pure catharsis the ultimate in cleansing primitivism. It's the timeless spectacle of men pretending to be every bit as homicidal as, deep down, they really are. Here, though, it's football itself that gets pounded and degraded. Stone reduces the sport to its bloody brute essence …. He turns football into a barbaric drug and then says, in effect, 'Admit it you're hooked.' Except that it's Stone who seems hooked on his own nitro flash-cut aesthetic. For all his virtuosity, he never quite lets us see the game."

Owen Gleiberman, writing on "Crush Groove," in the Jan. 7 issue of Entertainment Weekly

Moral breakdown

"A very important part of the story of the post-industrial era concerns the breakdown of virtually all of the sources of moral authority that prevailed in the middle of the 20th century: organized religion, large social institutions like corporations or labor unions, neighborhoods, families, and the nation itself, which after Vietnam became the object of considerable scorn. Social identities have become more complex, shifting, and perhaps even more numerous, but they have also gotten incontrovertibly shallower in a process of moral miniaturization. Between [1973 and 1999] there was a huge run-up (and then subsequent decline) in crime rates; the divorce rate increased 210 percent; births to single mothers went from 13 to 33 percent of all American children; and levels of trust in the U.S. government and other institutions plummeted… .

"The kind of political and economic freedom that is required to produce a post-industrial economic order brings in its wake demands for similar freedom in the moral sphere. Individualism and a willingness to break rules, which is celebrated when practiced by Steve Jobs inventing the Apple computer, is less benign when practiced by your local mugger or drug addict. While economic freedom produces prosperity and technological innovation, moral freedom undermines community and detaches individuals from one another."

Francis Fukuyama, writing on "Getting It Right," in the winter issue of the National Interest

Soviet influence

"Communism controlled society not simply in practice but also in theory and principle. Communists didn't just come together and turn into tyrants, they decided they had to be tyrants… .

"[The Bolsheviks] didn't understand economics. The Marxists thought that they could rule everything, set prices, and order production. When they decided to bring in socialism, a planned economy, and collective agriculture, they were determined to enforce these theories no matter what… .

"It was bad luck that this group of fanatics took control of a big country. For they then used their organizational powers, their financial means, to establish groups all over the world to spread their movement… .

"Without the existence of the Soviet regime it would have all gone differently. The Soviets were a very bad influence on Africa, Asia, and South America, not to mention Europe."

historian Robert Conquest, interviewed by Carl Zinsmeister, in the January/February issue of the American Enterprise

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