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.