March 19, 2017
Why does nearly everyone still talk as though this represents a “failure” of Trump & Co.? His senior advisor, Stephen Bannon has said, as clearly as language can say it, that the object is to destroy absolutely everything and to rebuild it from its ashes as Lenin did. “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal, too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” What is more representative of the establishment of international democracy than the alliance between the United States and Great Britain—destruction of which could only be confirmed by destroying the relationship with the European continent’s leading democracy, Germany?
At every stage, people have refused to believe the plain words of the Trump circle about their evil intentions and assumed that they are failing because they continue to do what they said they’d do. The distinguished British diplomat says that Trump’s actions are “gratuitously damaging.” What part of the promise to “bring everything crashing down” does he not understand? We must not continue to console outselves that Trump is just a floundering failure.
The full article from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/19/white-house-trump-wiretap-uk-ambassador-peter-westmacott?CMP=share_btn_fb
March 16, 2017
So, today we naturally talked about yesterday’s Dutch elections that have so many resonances on both sides of the Atlantic. Also, the attacks on democratic votes further south; and there was talk, too, about a new movie on a great Catalan novel that sounds sensational. (And, uniquely so far, both guests—an Englishman and an American—were from Sitges. We’re quite different ideologically but seem pretty much in sync in the issues at hand.)
March 1, 2017
In 1749, in the great Catalan cathedral city of Girona forty-three miles from the French border, Baldiri Reixac i Carbó (1703–1781) published an influential book that has gone into twenty editions. It was a visionary guide to the education of children and youths that displayed the influence of the Enlightenment, a French-led movement that largely bypassed the normal educational process in Spanish-ruled territories. Among many other things, the text deals with the right motives and means for studying languages. Reixac stressed that, at home and at school (where he urged instruction by “persuasion rather than fear”), pupils should be learning five languages. He gave a different reason for each:
- Their own language, because Catalan brings “a great ability to learn and understand other languages”—this despite the outlawing of official use of Catalan by the Bourbon monarchy’s decrees earlier in the century.
- Latin, because “it is used at all the universities and academies.”
- “Within the Kingdom of Spain,” Castilian is effective equipment for a salesman there.
- French,”because it is obvious that France now rules all the sciences and arts to perfection”—which showed his adherence to the ideas then being formlated for the Encyclopedie.
- And, finally, Italian, in order to “go to Rome” and “to recreate the spirit, when you are tired of other occupations.”
Thus a man of international vision and broad culture saw each language as bestowing its own characteristic gifts and having its own distinctive uses. And nowadays people who are doggedly monolingual are often deemed “educated” and commonly rule the fate of nations.
February 16, 2017
September 29, 2016
The moderator began the program with the subject of the U.S. Presidential debate and asked the guy dressed in red, white, and blue to comment. I was not surprised that the born Europeans were more than eager to express their own thoughts on the subject.
April 28, 2016
March 18, 2016
At the moment, Europe is preoccupied with—if not convulsed by—the issue of massive migration of peoples. Much of the debate stems from a possibility that many of the incoming masses may not share something constantly referred to as European values.
Leaving aside a possible discussion of the extent to which Europe has been busy discarding previously held European values for quite some time (for example, even denying the Christian roots of Europe to the extent that the basic documents of the European Union, against the protests of many, pointedly omit even a neutral mention of them), it is also relevant to recall that far more massive invasion and destruction than is predicted by even the most alarmist commentators took place when Europe invaded the vast continents that Europe has named “the Americas.”
And talk about violating the established values of a society!
A new BBC discussion by renowned experts on the Maya civilization, so largely and purposely destroyed by the Spanish invaders, is estimated to have reduced the population of this very advanced society by ninety percent in a comparatively short time. Ninety percent of the people wiped out. This puts xenophobic whining about letting Muslims back into Spain in quite a different light. And a concomitant of the destruction of humans was a disregard for the many things that Europe could have learned from, for example, their advanced systems of land-use and ecologically wholesome food-production that would mark great progress even today if they could be imitated. The incorporation of vast green spaces into massive city layouts that they accomplished is stunningly sophisticated.
My own comparative lack of interest in and sympathy with Maya civilization (even when I visited one of their former strongholds on the Yucatan Peninsula) had to do with my visceral horror at human sacrifice. This turns out to have been an invented libel, according to advanced academic scholarship. And the idea that the Mayan languages so much admired by scholars were stamped out by Spanish is absurd when we learn that there are still ten million speakers of the various Maya languages surviving (coincidentally about the same number of people who claim to understand the Catalan language, which persistent Spanish violence has also not had the power to stamp out).
I highly recommend this enlightening (and even entertaining) discussion from BBC Radio Four.