- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 1, 2006

Marxist nightmare

“Modern capitalism does not need to be offset to be good. Capitalism can, on the contrary, be virtuous. In a fallen world the bourgeois life is not perfect. But it’s better than any available alternative. American capitalism needs to be inspirited, moralized, completed. …

“The combination of longer and richer lives since 1800 is one reason that liberty has spread. There are by now many more adults living long enough lives sufficiently free from desperation to have some political interests. The theory that economic desperation leads to good revolution is, of course, mistaken, or else our freedoms would have emerged from the serfs of Russia or the peasants of China, not from the bourgeoisie of northwestern Europe, as they did in fact. Material wealth can yield political or artistic wealth. It doesn’t have to, but it can. And it often has. What emerged from Russia and China, remember, were the anti-bourgeois nightmares of Stalin and Mao.”

— Deirdre McCloskey, writing on “Bourgeois Virtues?” in the May/June issue of Cato Policy Report

Honor society

“Western ideas of honor underwent a process of evolution that, for some reason, never happened in Islamic — or, indeed, any other — honor cultures. I believe we owe the difference to Christianity. … When the aristocratic honor culture finally died out in the 18th century, honor was reinvented partly by integrating it, for the first time, with Christian principles. One of the most striking things about the old Western honor culture … was the status it gave to women. Nowhere else do we see the exaltation of women — sometimes described as putting them on a pedestal — that was characteristic of chivalry in the West.

“All honor cultures make women’s honor — by which is meant their chastity or fidelity — the property of their male family members, for it is up to fathers, brothers or husbands to protect it, and to challenge other men who threaten it. The process is all bound up with status, of course, but we see this in a particularly virulent form in a primitive and tribal honor culture like the one in Pakistan.”

— James Bowman, discussing his new book, “Honor: A History,” in an interview with Christina Hoff Sommers on Tuesday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Star colony

“Over the past six weeks a Western security force has effectively taken over the small African nation of Namibia. A beach resort in Langstrand in Western Namibia has been sealed off. … Armed security personnel have been keeping both local residents and visiting foreigners at bay. A no-fly zone has been enforced over part of the country. The Westerners have also demanded that the Namibian government severely restrict the movement of journalists into and out of Namibia. The government agreed and, in a move described by one human rights organization as ‘heavy-handed and brutal,’ banned certain reporters from crossing its borders.

“However, this Western security force is not a U.S. or European army plundering Namibia’s natural resources or threatening to topple its government. It is the security entourage of one Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. … They reportedly wanted their first child to be born in Namibia because the country is ‘the cradle of humankind’ and it would be a ‘special’ experience. And it seems that no security measure is too stringent in the name of making Ms. Jolie feel special. Welcome to the new celebrity colonialism.”

— Brendan O’Neill, writing on “Brad, Angelina and the rise of ‘celebrity colonialism,’ ” Tuesday at www.spiked-online.com

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