Monday, February 12, 2007

The Guardian has a piece up by Peter (not Paul) Preston on ETA, and if I understand him right--the article could have used some editing--he's saying that the Spanish government needs to make concessions to ETA in order to win ETA's trust, which in turn will permit real peace negotiations. Quote: "Talk doesn't always do it. Talking to terror means delivering, too." No, the Spanish government needs to hunt down those bastards and shoot or jail them all. Anyway, the usual gang of idiots joins in the comments, and it's quite entertaining for a few minutes.

My favorite Australian historian, Keith Windschuttle, has an book review article up at the New Criterion, saying that the 20th century was the century of the English-speaking peoples.

Key quotes: "The English-speaking peoples are temperamentally less inclined towards fanaticism, high-flown rhetoric, and Bonapartism than any others in history. They have respected what is tangible and, in politics at least, suspected what is not...Anglo-American capitalism, when allied to the right to own secure property and the rule of law, unleashed the energy and ingenuity of mankind. It formed the basis of the English-speaking peoples’ present global hegemony...Like the Romans, the English-speaking peoples would be envied and hated by others. They would sometimes find, Roberts argues, that the greatest danger to their continued imperium came not from their declared enemies without, but from vociferous critics within. One of the constants of their common culture’s freedom of expression has been its propensity to harbor a degree of internal censure that among many other peoples would probably prove fatal."

Nobel Prize-winning economist Edmund Phelps has an article at the Wall Street Journal arguing that Continental Europe's culture makes it a weak economic competitor.

Key quote: "Perhaps many would be willing to take it for granted that the spirit of stimulation, problem-solving, mastery and discovery has impacts on a country's dynamism and thus on its economic performance...The weakness of these values on the Continent is not the only impediment to a revival of dynamism there. There is the solidarist aim of protecting the "social partners"--communities and regions, business owners, organized labor and the professions--from disruptive market forces. There is also the consensualist aim of blocking business initiatives that lack the consent of the "stakeholders"--those, such as employees, customers and rival companies, thought to have a stake besides the owners. There is an intellectual current elevating community and society over individual engagement and personal growth, which springs from antimaterialist and egalitarian strains in Western culture. There is also the "scientism" that holds that state-directed research is the key to higher productivity. Equally, there is the tradition of hierarchical organization in Continental countries. Lastly, there is a strain of anti-commercialism."

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