Saturday, July 08, 2006

Short Saturday Report

Still no news, wondering if it means a negative.

Today we visited the Cloisters; I will write some reflections when I post the pictures. Afterwards we went to St. Mike's for Vespers--great, as usual. Then dinner at Carmine's Italian Seafood restaurant, down on Beekman. No visit to the site of the WTC. After dinner we paid a visit to Union Square, went inside Forbidden Planet. Then another train ride out to North White Plains, and a car ride to Sommers, where my friend lives.

Pope to Venerate Holy Grail

Pope to Venerate Holy Grail

Friday, July 07, 2006

In New York City

I'll do a longer write-up in the morning; no news from UST, not by email at least.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


It's the second set, Maria Sharapova is up 5-3 against Amelie Mauresmo (having lost the first set to her) in her women's semifinal match; John McEnroe just noticed that Miss Sharapova does not have to grunt after each hit--she was silent for the last two hits of a point. Monica Seles is quiet compared to Maria Sharapova--it's unfortunate that Miss Seles retired, she was one of the few who used a double-handed grip. There is speculation as to whether the tournament officials will make a statement about making noises during a game--this afternoon the commentators were explaining that it's a question of sportsmanship, since vocal sounds cover up the sound the racket makes when it makes contact with the ball, and it used to be that players depended on hearing that noise because it would give them some kind of idea of how the ball was hit and where it might be going. Miss Mauresmo makes some grunts as well, but they're not as loud. 5 years ago there were complaints about Miss Seles, whose grunts were deemed to be 'unfeminine' by people in certain venues. I don't think I've seen any comments like that made recently; perhaps attitudes are changing.

No Americans in the singles finals this year.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

More from Chosun Ilbo

More from Chosun Ilbo:
Samsung Electronics’ MP3 player Z5, YP-Z5, which went on release in the domestic market on Wednesday./Yonhap (Jun.14, 2006 19:27)

Actress Lee Young-ah, the 2006 goodwill ambassador for blood donation, gives autographs at an event to mark the third World Blood Donors Day at the Sejong Center for Performing Arts in Seoul on Wednesday. /News... (Jun.14, 2006 19:25)

Australian actor Hugh Jackman poses during an interview for his new film ‘X-MEN:The Last Stand’ at a hotel in Seoul on Wednesday. The film, in which Jackman plays the blade-bearing superhero ‘Wolverine’, will be released here on Thursday. (1, 2, 3)

Models in Taegukgi body paint take part in a World Cup-themed marketing campaign for a green tea drink by beverage maker Sulloc Cha.(Jun.11, 2006 20:47)

Korean American teenage golf pro Michelle Wie throws out the ceremonial first pitch before the start of the American League baseball game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore, Maryland.(Jun.07, 2006 19:00)

In cerebration of Jeju Air’s first flight from Jeju to Seoul, cabin crew and the airlines’ endorsement model Nam Sang-mi greet travelers at Gimpo Airport on Monday. The carrier started the Jeju to Seoul route last Friday with only press aboard. (June 6, 2006)

Students at Hangaram High School report to school wearing white T-shirts and black shorts on Monday, the first time in Korea a school has adopted short trousers as part of the uniform./Yonhap (Jun.05, 2006 19:52)

Kindergarten students, teachers and parents campaign for traffic safety in Sokcho, Gangwon Province on Friday./Yonhap (Jun.02, 2006 19:40)

Models show off World Cup-themed wedding clothes at a fashion show on Friday at the aT Center, in Seoul on Friday./Yonhap (Jun.02, 2006 18:28)

People in masks and traditional costume perform during the annual Dano Festival of Gangneung, which has been named a masterpiece of humanity’s oral and intangible heritage by UNESCO, in Gangneung, Gangwon Province on Wednesday. Dano is the fifth day of the fifth month according to the lunar calendar, or May 31 this year./Yonhap (May 31, 2006)

Children look on as young women wash their hair in “Changpo,” water boiled with sweet iris leaves in cerebration of the Dano Festival at the Namsangol Traditional Village in Seoul on Sunday. Dano is the fifth day of the fifth month according to the lunar calendar, or May 31 this year. (May 29, 2006)

Business -- May 25, 2006

Just two weeks ahead of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, children root for the national foot ball team at Sangam Worldcup stadium in Seoul on Thursday. (May.25, 2006 18:50)

A new statute of independence fighter Yu Kwan-sun, a graduate of Ewha Girls’ High School, which marks its 120th anniversary this year./Newsis (May.23, 2006 19:01)

LG Electronics' name card-sized mobile phone LG-KG320, which is 9.9 mm thick, to be launched in Europe./Yonhap (May.22, 2006 19:15)

German singer Jeanette Biedermann, French singer Jenifer, Canadian actress-musician Avril Lavigne, and Korean signer BoA (from left) arrive for the screening of the film "Over the Hedge" at the 59th International Film Festival in Cannes, France, on Sunday./Yonhap-AP (May 22, 2006 19:05)

Models introduce a touch-wheel phone (PG-3600V, left) and a fingerprint recognition phone (PG-6200, right) developed by Korea’s Pantech at a product launch event in Taiwan on Wednesday. /Yonhap (May.18, 2006 19:11)

The world’s first high-speed downlink packet access (HSPDA) phone, the SCH-W200 Samsung Electronics is set to sell through SK Telecom./Yonhap (May.16, 2006 19:58)

With the World Cup 2006 in Germany some 20 days away, Asiana Airlines staff cheer the Korean national football team. The carrier is an official sponsor of the team. (May.16, 2006 19:57)

Students at Chung-Ang University in Seoul pose for their graduation album at the school's campus on Tuesday. (May.16, 2006 19:06)

In celebration of Teachers’ Day, students at the Department of Korean Classics of Kyungsung University massage their professors’ shoulders after a coming-of-age ceremony at the campus in Busan on Monday. The two events coincided this year.(May.15, 2006 18:44)

Girls in traditional costume take pictures of one another with their mobile phones at a coming-of-age ceremony in Seoul Square in front of Seoul City Hall on Monday.(May.15, 2006 18:39)

People surround a large pizza measuring 2006 mm
in diameter during a new menu launch by Mr. Pizza in Seoul on Sunday. The pizza was made to resemble a soccer ball to support the national football team in the 2006 World Cup in Germany, which starts next month./Newsis (May.14, 2006 21:00)

Korean American golfer Michelle Wie shakes hands with Jeong Choon-bo, chairman of Shinyoung Corp., after Wie clinched a two-year endorsement contract worth US$3 million with the real-estate developer on Tuesday./Yonhap (May.09, 2006 19:09)

Women cool down amid rising temperatures at theme park Everland’s Caribbean Bay in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province on Thursday. (May.11, 2006 19:02)

With 30 days to go before the start of 2006 Word Cup in Germany, models show off clothing in support of the national team made by FnCKolon at Kolon Tower in Seoul on Wednesday. (May.10, 2006 19:14)

Babies lie at adoption agency
Holt Children’s Services in Seoul on Wednesday, one day before the nation’s first Adoption Day designated to encourage the practice in Korea. The babies are cared for by foster families before being adopted./Yonhap

Korean-American golfer Michelle Wie talks with model Dennis O during an event organized by Nike Golf, with which Wie has a sponsorship contract, at the Pristine Valley Golf Club in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi Province on Monday.

Korean-American golfer Michelle Wie rides a golf cart with model Dennis O during a friendly round organized by Nike Golf, with which Wie has a sponsorship contract, at the Pristine Valley Golf Club in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi Province on Monday./Yonhap)

Models show off sunglasses from the 1940s to the present at an event at Lotte Department Store in Seoul on Sunday./Yonhap May.07, 2006 20:53)

Michelle Wie watches
her tee shot during the final round of the Asian Tour's SK Telecom Open at Sky 72 Golf Club in Incheon on Sunday. Wie made her first cut in a professional men's tournament on Friday after shooting a 3-under-par 69 in the game./Newsis (May.07, 2006 20:52)

People dance the salsa on the streets on Sunday afternoon, the last day of the Hi Seoul Festival in downtown Seoul. (May.07, 2006 20:49)

Teenage golf sensation Michelle Wie
holds a press conference after finishing the first round of the SK Telecom Open, her eighth attempt to make the cut in a men’s tournament, at the Sky 72 Golf Club in Incheon on Thursday./Yonhap (May.04, 2006 18:09)

Teenage golf prodigy Michelle Wie takes a driver shot during the Pro-Am golf match in the SK Telecom Open 2006 at the Sky72 Golf Club in Incheon on Wednesday. Wie will make her eighth attempt to make the cut in a men’s tournament starting Thursday. (May.03, 2006 18:54)

Models pose with the Pavv Daylight Plus PDP TV developed by Samsung Electronics on Tuesday (SPD-42/50Q7HD). The model enables users to enjoy a clearer image in bright light./Yonhap (May.02, 2006 19:18)

Students in uniform watch a ceremony for the 60th anniversary of the Korea Military Academy on Monday./Yonhap (May.01, 2006 19:14)

A model shows off Samsung Electronics handsets nicknamed SKIN (SCH-V890/SPH-V8900) in a joint marketing campaign with Mercedes-Benz on Monday. The S-Class series by the German carmaker, which will be on the local market starting this month, comes with a SKIN mode thrown in./Yonhap (May.01, 2006 19:14)

Michelle Wie yawns early Monday morning, three days ahead of the Asian Tour's SK Telecom Open,when the athlete took a practice round at Sky72 Golf Club on Incheon's Yeongjong Island. After finishing nine holes, Wie said the course was both beautiful and fun, adding she hopes to give a strong performance. The Sports Chosun, a sister publication of the Chosun Ilbo, followed the golfer on her practice round.
Michelle Wie talks with her mother.
Michelle Wie's mother helps her during putting practice.
Michelle Wie surveys the green.
Michelle Wie hits an iron shot. (May.01, 2006 19:04)

Korean American golfer Michelle Wie swaps club for bat before a game of the Korean professional baseball league in Incheon on Sunday. Wie received a warm reception on arrival in her parents’ home country on Saturday to take part in the SK Telecom Open./Yonhap (Apr.30, 2006 21:39)

Children participate in a Chosun-era changing of the guards ceremony at the Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul on Sunday./Yonhap (Apr.30, 2006 21:36)

Half-naked members of the Raelian Movement march during a rally against war and violence in Seoul on Sunday. The religious group believes that extraterrestrials created life on Earth through genetic engineering and claims to have cloned a human being./Yonhap
(2) (Apr.30, 2006 21:34)

Korean Football Association president Chung Mong-Joon and his wife pose with national football team manager Dick Advocaat, in traditional Korean costume, and his wife at a Hyundai guest house in Seoul on Sunday. Chung is the largest shareholder of Hyundai Heavy Industries./Yonhap (Apr.30, 2006 21:33)

Models show off swimsuits with a picture of Dokdo and a slogan exhorting patriots to defend the islets against Japanese territorial designs at the Lotte Department Store in Seoul on Thursday. (Apr.27, 2006 19:11)

Models show off 21 new Hewlett-Packard products including laptops and printers in Seoul on Wednesday. (Apr.26, 2006 18:29)

In a measure of the U.S. success of Kim Yun-jin in the hit TV series “Lost,” the actress is appearing in a campaign for the Red Cross in America. A poster featuring her promotes the GIVE 100, NEW YORK campaign, which encourages New Yorkers to donate to help those in need. (Apr.26, 2006 18:25)

A model in body paint slices a large rice cake to mark completion of the frame of a shopping mall TechnoMart in Shinrim-dong, Seoul on Tuesday./Yonhap (Apr.25, 2006 21:04)

Promoters hold cutouts of laptops and PDAs to promote venture firm Ubitizn’s service enabling users to watch TV on their handheld devices. (Apr.25, 2006 19:10)

Three scholars are nominated by the king for dispatch to Japan during a reenactment of Tongsinsa, a series of Korean missions sent to the island country to introduce Korean culture in the 17th-19th centuries, at Changgyeong Palace in Seoul on Sunday afternoon. (Apr.23, 2006 21:21) (2)

Dancers perform a traditional court dance at Changgyeong palace in Seoul on Sunday afternoon./Newsis (Apr.23, 2006 21:14) (2)

Tonsured children in monks’ robes touch their head at the Jogyesa temple in Seoul during an event for children to experience the monastic life on Friday./Yonhap (Apr.21, 2006 19:39)

Samsung Electronics
holds a marketing blitz for the firm’s new LCD TV Bordeaux at a wine bar in Seoul on Thursday./Yonhap (Apr.20, 2006 19:04)

A group in traditional costume re-enact a traditional homage to the god of agriculture in Seonnongdan, Seoul on Thursday to pray for a good harvest./Newsis
(Apr.20, 2006 19:04) (2)

Staff with E1 jump in front of a tank lorry adorned with images of national football players to cheer their performance in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. E1, a provider of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), will run 25 such tank lorries until July 15, when the championship ends. (Apr.20, 2006 18:59)


Chosun Ilbo photos

An ordination ceremony at a Catholic church in Baekseok-dong, Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi Province on Wednesday./Yonhap (July 6, 2006)

University students smile at an orientation session on Wednesday before starting work as part-timers in the Songpa District Office in Seoul./Yonhap

Korean American golf prodigy Michelle Wie smiles after making a birdie on the third hole during the second round of the U.S. Women's Open golf championship on Saturday, at Newport Country Club in Newport, Rhode Island./AP-Yonhap (July 3, 2006)

Models show off clothes and precious stones by international designers at a fashion show at COEX in Samseong-dong, Seoul on Thursday./Yonhap (June 30, 2006)

Models show off summer watches at a watch shop in Myeongdong, Seoul on Tuesday. (June 28, 2006)

People root for the Korean team a few hours ahead of its World Cup match against Switzerland, in Seoul Square on Friday. Huge crowds are expected to gather here during the match, which will broadcast live from Germany./Yonhap (June 24, 2006)

North Korean women greet foreign businesspeople at an investment blitz for the Kaesong Industrial Complex co-hosted by Hyundai Asan and the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) on Thursday./Yonhap (Jun.22, 2006 19:30)

Models introduce Samsung Electronics cell phones at the IT expo CommunicAsia 2006, which will run from Tuesday through Friday in Singapore. /Yonhap (June 20, 2006)

Seoul Square in front of City Hall is filled with people in red T-shirts cheering for the national football team during its match against France in Group G of the World Cup in Leipzig on Monday morning. The tea... (Jun.19, 2006 18:52)

Women cheer for their national team during the 2006 World Cup. Clockwise from left: women from Sweden, Germany, Trinidad & Tobago, Paraguay, Portugal, the U.K., Brazil, Korea, Poland and Ukraine./Yonhap (June 17, 2006)

Models introduce Oriental Brewery’s new beer Blue at the Korea Alcohol & Liquor Expo 2006 at COEX in Seoul on Thursday. /Yonhap (Jun.15, 2006 19:43)


From The New Liturgical Movement:
Ambrosian Chant texts (pdf format)
(Daniel Mitsui comments: " has about 70 Ambrosian Chants available for free download. It's complictaed - and time-consuming - to download music from that site, but they have some excellent selections.")

But more importantly!

The Carmelite Monks of Wyoming
I think M. Wright is with this group, but I'm not sure because the address listed on the website is not the same as the last address I have for him. But the webpage design is very good! And they seem to be attracting a lot of interest. Let us pray for the community.

More photos of the niece by Auntie KK

Photos and stills of The Banquet

Here. Zhang Zi Yi's latest--the movie opened in Hong Kong a while ago, I don't know if there are any plans to distribute it in the U.S. The movie looks gorgeous, I hope it turns out better than The Promise.

Photos of Winona Ryder

Actress Winona Ryder poses as she arrives for the premiere of her new film 'A Scanner Darkly' during the 2006 Los Angeles Film Festival in Los Angeles June 29, 2006. The film starring Keanu Reeves and Woody Harrelson opens in the U.S. July 7. REUTERS/Fred Prouser (UNITED STATES)

REUTERS/Fred Prouser

REUTERS/Fred Prouser

REUTERS/Fred Prouser

REUTERS/Fred Prouser

REUTERS/Fred Prouser

(AP Photo/Lucas Jackson)

(AP Photo/Lucas Jackson)

Cast members of the movie 'A Scanner Darkly' Woody Harrelson, left, Winona Ryder, and Keanu Reeves, right, pose with director of the film, Richard Linklater, before the premiere of the movie at the Los Angeles Film Festival in Los Angeles, Thursday, June 29, 2006. (AP Photo/Lucas Jackson)

Apparently she lives in San Francisco and prefers it to ****** Los Angeles. Good for her. San Francisco is a pleasant place to live, despite the earthquake danger and the politics of the city. After last night's repeat of Law and Order: SVU, one can only hope that stating what the Faith teaches is not considered a hate crime in SF. If that were to happen...

No idea what her next project is; she says she has activities other than acting. Good for her. Maybe she should settle down, too.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Pope Hails Founder of Community of St. John

Code: ZE06070421

Date: 2006-07-04

Pope Hails Founder of Community of St. John

Dominican Father Philippe Marks 70 Years as a Priest

ARS, France, JULY 4, 2006 ( The founder of the Community of St. John was able to preside at a Mass of thanksgiving for 70 years of priesthood.

During the celebration Friday for Dominican Father Marie-Dominique Philippe, a message from Benedict XVI was read. In it, the Pope united himself to the religious' "thanksgiving" and prayed that "God may make fruitful the work given to him to accomplish in his priestly faithfulness to the call of Christ."

The Holy Father ended the message with the desire that Father Philippe "might continue his priestly life in the peace and joy of one who has left everything for the Kingdom."

On the following day, Father Jean-Pierre-Marie, prior general of the Community of St. John, warmly welcomed Cardinal Franc Rodé, for the ordination of 14 priests and eight deacons.

Cardinal Rodé, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, addressed the ordinands in his homily.

"Your spirituality," he said, "is that of St. John -- you put all your priestly and religious life under his protection in order to live according to his grace and to accomplish the missionary work entrusted to the Church by Jesus today.

"Your love for St. John leads naturally to Mary, whom you venerate as your Mother and Protector. Your founder, the 'dear Father Philippe' -- as Pope Benedict XVI called him last February -- never ceases to introduce you into the mystery of Mary. She is the model of consecrated life and the Mother of the priesthood."

Consecration to Mary

Cardinal Rodé underlined the fruitfulness of the consecration that the first brothers of the community made to Mary on Dec. 8, 1975.

"From the beginning, the community has consecrated itself to Mary by the beautiful prayer of St. Louis de Montfort, in order to live a life totally given to Jesus, a life of adoration and study, a life fraternal and poor and lived in religious obedience," the cardinal said. "It is from this that your family is born, family of brothers and sisters, family both apostolic and contemplative, may it grow and spread throughout the world to bear witness to the Gospel of our Lord in the footsteps of St. John the Theologian."

At the end of the ceremony, Father Philippe addressed his thanks to Cardinal Rodé for coming and in return the cardinal thanked him "for what he had done for the Church, for from his heart totally given to the Lord, and his intelligence open to the truth and to the Holy Spirit, a new community is born in the Church. In its vigor, its youth and its freshness it carries the word of the Gospel to the world. Father Philippe, the Church is profoundly thankful for what she owes you, and she owes you a lot!"

Last Feb. 15, Benedict XVI received members of the ecclesial community, celebrating its 30th anniversary, in St. Peter's Basilica.

The Community of St. John comprises 930 men (half of whom are priests or deacons) and active and contemplative women religious, as well as more than 3,000 lay oblates of more than 34 nationalities. It is present in 21 countries.

The Brothers of St. John are recognized as a religious congregation, under the bishop of the Autun Diocese, in France, where their motherhouse is located.

Reflections on Independence Day

by Daniel Larison

Also: John M. Butterworth on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.
A nice article on Balsamic vinegar.

In response to my query, Mr. Larison writes:

For the Founders’ understanding of the relevant legal and political issues, I would have to recommend the primary sources of their own writings first and foremost (Regnery has a good edition of the political writings of John Adams with which I am familiar, and Jefferson’s writings are widely available), together with a combined reading of Filmer’s Patriarcha and Sydney’s Discourse Concerning Government (which was the Whig rebuttal of Filmer). There are several collections of Antifederalist and Federalist writings surrounding the ratification debates that convey the rival conceptions of the legal and political traditions both sides in the debates on the Constitution shared. As for studies of the more general background, I recommend The Language of Liberty by J.C.D. Clark for understanding the rhetorical and political tradition in which the Founders were working (this study extends beyond the Revolutionary period into the early 19th century, and treats both “sides” of the Anglo-American world together).

For the immediate post-independence period I recommend The Jeffersonian Persuasion by Lance Banning, particularly the connections it makes between the tradition of Country dissent against the Court (as represented by Bolingbroke) that the Jeffersonians relied upon in making their critiques of cities, merchants the “monied interest.” For some of the historical background of the 17th century, Crisis of Parliaments by the late Lord Russell is fairly good for the basic narrative up to the Civil War (I cannot claim that Russell is without his biases, but he was a good enough historian to keep them from overwhelming his interpretation). I’m afraid that American history is my amateur interest, not my professional area of expertise, so I am undoubtedly neglecting many very good and probably more important volumes that will help you more than my scattershot recommendations. I hope these help.

Article on NA's only Coptic Orthodox Monastery

Desert Prayer With Egyptian Roots

Life at North America's only Coptic Orthodox monastery is rigorous and strictly for worship. It draws those who seek a deeper insight into Christianity.
By David Kelly, Times Staff Writer
July 3, 2006

NEWBERRY SPRINGS, Calif. — Down an unpaved road, past brooding icons and swaying stands of mesquite, lies St. Antony's Monastery, a place of scorching winds and emptiness that perhaps only a holy man could love.

Little moves when the sun is high, but as the day wears on, black figures emerge from solitary rooms. These shrouded men, most from Egypt, are practicing the oldest monastic tradition in Christendom and tending its sole outpost in North America.

They spend days and night in prayer, seeking a mystical union with the divine.

"The desert gives you a great calmness of heart," said Father Antonious Saint Antony, one of 10 monks living here. "After a while God seems like a friend."

Despite its remoteness, this 800-acre swath of the Mojave 25 miles northeast of Barstow has become a magnet for thousands yearning to embrace a way of life far different from mainstream America — one shunning materialism, embracing poverty and denying the self.

Click on link to read more.

THE ABBOT: Father Anastasi Saint Antony leads a service at St. Antony Coptic Orthodox Monastery, 25 miles northeast of Barstow. In about AD 285, St. Antony pioneered the ascetic and monastic tradition that would spread throughout the Christian world.
(Irfan Khan / LAT)Jun 13, 2006

VISIT BY THE FAITHFUL: Orange County residents Cherie Anderegg, left, and Sarah Nicola attend a prayer service. (Irfan Khan / LAT)Jun 13, 2006

RETREAT: Visitors follow a reading. “I feel comfort, I feel joy, I feel peace,” says one. “The monks are like angels on Earth.
(Irfan Khan /LAT) Jun 13, 2006

ONE FOCUS: Father Maximos Saint Antony attends to an icon of St. Antony at the monastery’s entrance. Much of the monks’ lives are spent alone in tiny rooms called cells, with only a bed and a chair.
(Irfan Khan / LAT) Jun 13, 2006

THE WORD: Monks recite vast portions of Scripture from memory and often repent of their sins. They take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
(Irfan Khan / LAT) Jun 13, 2006

Thanks to Adam commenting at Katolik Shinja.

Reminds me of the book Journey Back to Eden: My Life and Times Among the Desert Fathers by Fr. Mark Gruber.

Lukacs: It's the End of the Modern Age

It's the End of the Modern Age


For a long time, I have been convinced that we in the West are living near the end of an entire age, the age that began about 500 years ago. I knew, at a very early age, that "the West" was better than "the East" -- especially better than Russia and Communism. I had read Spengler: But I believed that the Anglo-American victory over the Third Reich (and over Japan) was, at least in some ways, a refutation of the categorical German proposition of the inevitable and imminent Decline of the West. However -- Churchill's and Roosevelt's victory had to be shared with Stalin. The result, after 1945, was my early decision to flee from a not yet wholly Sovietized Hungary to the United States, at the age of 22. And 20-odd years later, at the age of 45, I was convinced that the entire Modern Age was crumbling fast.

But there is a duality in every human life, in every human character. I am neither a cynic nor a categorical pessimist. Twelve years ago, I wrote: "Because of the goodness of God I have had a happy unhappy life, which is preferable to an unhappy happy one." I wrote, too: "So living during the decline of the West -- and being much aware of it -- is not at all that hopeless and terrible." But during these past 10 years (not fin de siècle: fin d'une ère), my conviction hardened further, into an unquestioning belief not only that the entire age, and the civilization to which I have belonged, are passing but that we are living through -- if not already beyond -- its very end. I am writing about the so-called Modern Age.

What were its main features? First of all, it was the European Age. Until about 500 years ago, the main theater of history was the Mediterranean, and the principal actors were the people along or near its shores, with few important exceptions. With the discovery of the Americas, of the East Indies, of the shape of the globe itself, all that changed. The European age of world history began.

Yet the very adjective, and designation, of "European" was something entirely new at that time, 500 years ago. The noun "Europe" had existed for a long time, although infrequently used. But "European," designating the inhabitant of a certain continent, was new. Until about 500 years ago, "Christian" and "European" and "white" were almost synonymous, nearly coterminous. After 1492, "Europe" expanded in several ways. Entire newly discovered continents became settled by white people, and Christianized. The lands conquered or colonized by the settlers soon became parts of the empires of their mother countries. Finally, European institutions, customs, industries, laws, inventions, buildings spread over most of the world, involving also peoples who were not conquered by Europeans.

But after the two world wars of the 20th century, during which the peoples of Europe grievously wounded each other and themselves, almost all of that came to an end. There were no more new settlements of Europeans (and of white people) on other continents. (One exception was the state of Israel.) To the contrary: The Europeans gave up their colonial empires, and their colonists left their Asian or African homelands. Yet the Christian churches in Africa, Asia, Oceania seem to have survived the reflux of white people, at least in many places. What also survived -- indeed, it spread athwart the globe -- was the emulation and the adaptation of institutions, industries, customs, forms of art and of expression, laws that were originally European. But the European Age was over.

It was over, at latest by 1945 (if not already by 1917), when the two superpowers of the world (meeting in the middle of conquered Europe) were the United States and Soviet Union. There remained no European power comparable to them, not even Britain. That brings up a terminological question. Was (is) the United States European? Yes and no. Yes: in the sense that its origins and laws and institutions -- and for about a century the majority of its inhabitants -- were of Anglo-Saxon-Celtic origin. No: since its population is now becoming less and less European. And the United States, too, is affected by the crumbling of the institutions and the ideas of the Modern Age that had produced it at its beginning.

To list the evidences of the ending of the Modern Age would fill an enormous book. Here I must try to sum up -- or, better, to suggest -- some of them.

The progressive spreading of democracy has marked the history of mankind, certainly during the past 200 years but in many ways throughout the entire Modern Age. That progress was usually gradual, at times revolutionary, and not always clearly visible on the surface of world events. How long the democratic age will last no one can tell. What "democracy" really means is another difficult question. But there is a larger consideration. We are living through one of the greatest changes in the entire history of mankind, because, until relatively recently, history was largely (though never exclusively) "made" by minorities, while increasingly it is "made" by majorities. (In reality it is not so much made by majorities as it is made in the name of majorities.) At any rate, this has become the age of popular sovereignty (at least for a while).

"Aristocracy" ought not to be categorically defined as the rule of kings and/or noblemen. "Democracy" also means something more than the rule of "the people," more, indeed, than mere popular sovereignty. But, especially in Europe, between the highest and the lowest classes (or between the rulers and the ruled) there was another, rather particular, class in the middle: the so-called bourgeois class or classes, whose origins and first influences go back well beyond the beginning of the Modern Age and whose rise marked much of it, together with its achievements.

By the end of the 20th century, the very term "middle class" had lost much (if not all) of its meaning because of its tremendous inflationary growth, perhaps especially in the United States but also in other nations where a governing upper class, whether in politics or in society, has practically ceased to exist. At the same time, "bourgeois" remains, in retrospect, a historical reality. The existence of a bourgeoisie was marked by recognizable forms of behavior and of ideas. We ought to honor its achievements -- not only constitutional government and its attempts to balance equality with liberty, but the fact that most of the great minds and the greatest artistic creations of the past 500 years were the products of people of bourgeois origins and of bourgeois status. Which is why it is at least possible and, in my opinion, reasonable to give the Modern Age (or at least its two centuries before 1914) a telling qualifier or adjective: the Bourgeois Age.

The Bourgeois Age was the Age of the State; the Age of Money; the Age of Industry; the Age of the Cities; the Age of Privacy; the Age of the Family; the Age of Schooling; the Age of the Book; the Age of Representation; the Age of Science; and the age of an evolving historical consciousness. Except for the last two, all of those primacies are now fading and declining fast.

By the second half of the 20th century, the near-universal principle of government was that of popular sovereignty rather than that of the state; indeed, the power and authority of the state, and respect for it, began to decline. The most evident example of that is Russia, where, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the problem is no longer the overwhelming power of the state but, to the contrary, its weakness. Elsewhere, too, the breakup of entire states has begun, of which the "privatization" of some of the state's former functions and services, or the formation of such supranational institutions as the European Union, are but superficial -- and perhaps even transitory -- appearances, together with the evident lessening of the authority of the state. Popular resentment against "government" merely masks the essence of this phenomenon from which the United States is not at all exempt.

The Modern Age has been the age of money -- increasingly so, perhaps reaching its peak around 1900. During the Middle Ages, there were some material assets, often land, that money could not buy; but by 1900, there was hardly any material thing that money could not buy. But during the 20th century, the value of money diminished fast. One symptom (and cause) of that was inflation. By the end of the 20th century, the inflation of stocks and of other financial instruments became even more rapid than the inflation of money, at the bottom of which phenomenon another development exists, which is the increasingly abstract character of money -- due, in part, to the increasing reliance on entirely electronic transactions and on their records. Income is more important than capital, quick profits more than accumulation of assets, and potentiality more than actuality -- that is, creditability more than actual ownership. What has been happening with money is, of course, but part and parcel of a much more profound development: the increasing intrusion of mind into matter. That this happens at a time when philosophies of materialism are still predominant only reflects the mental confusion of our times.

The Modern Age was, by and large, marked by an increase in the numbers of people; and by an increase in the production of goods and in their availability. But we must recognize that the Age of Industry was remarkably short-lived. It was less than 130 years ago (in 1874) that the majority of people in England were employed in industrial work, not in agricultural production. The people of the United States followed that pattern. But, by 1956, the majority of the American population were no longer engaged in any kind of material production, either agricultural or industrial. They were employed in administration and in services. That proportion has grown fast ever since, and in all "advanced" states of the world. It may be said that the production of consumption has become more important than the production of goods.

The Modern Age was the age of the town. The word "bourgeois" is connected to the word for "city" in about every European language. Bourgeois civilization was largely, though not exclusively, urban. The adjectives "urban" and "urbane" acquired added meanings during the Modern Age. After 1950, the decline of the cities set in. The once urbane populations had begun to move out of the cities, into the suburbs. By the end of the 20th century, the association of urbanity with civilizing disappeared: the presence of an urbane middle class within the cities lost its influence and importance.

The Modern Age discovered the virtues -- and pleasures -- of privacy. Life in the Middle Ages -- both in and outside the dwellings of people -- was public, in more than one way. Soon after the beginning of the Modern Age, there came a change. The most evident material sign of that was the new ideal of the bourgeois house or "apartment." (The latter word is telling: It meant the separation of working and public places apart from private chambers, whether in the palaces of kings or in the houses of the bourgeois.) The recognition of interiority affected our very language (and our very thinking); the increasing recognition of imagination (arising from the inside) rather than of inspiration (occurring from the outside). Thereafter, the increasing emphasis on political and legal rights of the "individual" seemed to affirm the rights to privacy, at least implicitly. But the idea of the private -- and thereby autonomous -- "individual" was a fiction. In a mass democratic society (perhaps especially in the United States), the desire for privacy was much weaker than the desire for respectability, usually within a particular community. Compared with the wish for public recognition, the cultivation of private behavior, of private appearances, of private opinions remained confused, occasional, and feeble.

The modern cult of privacy had, at first sight, a common ground with the cult of what is still called "individualism" (a questionable term); but, at closer sight, that connection is deceiving. Privacy had more to do with the developing bourgeois cult of the family. During the Middle Ages, children were sent out to work, often for others. During the early Modern Age, children returned to the family (or, more accurately, they were kept within the family for a longer time). The tendency to protect and educate children (note the original meaning of "educate": bring up, guide forth) was another new bourgeois habit, eventually spreading up and down, to the nobility as well as to the working classes.

As the 19th century progressed, bourgeois ideals concerning the protection and the education of children were adopted by various governments. More important: So far as family life went, toward the end of that century, for the first time, large numbers of married women, including mothers, no longer had to work in the fields or in factories -- because of the wages and the industrial employment of their husbands. Like the entire Industrial Age, that development was short-lived.

During the 20th century came many changes, including the availability of divorce, and of abortion. Yet on many levels, those were consequences rather than causes. As happens before or near the end of a great age, the mutations of institutions, societies, mores, and manners involved the very relations of the sexes. The ideal of the family woman, wife and mother and homemaker, began to fade. Many women, restrained for a long time by certain social customs and habits, became eager to prove their abilities in various kinds of employment: a justifiable aspiration. Yet -- especially in the United States -- the desire of a woman to be employed somewhere in the so-called "marketplace" was often not the result of financial necessity but, rather, of a new kind of impulse: The life of a housewife -- especially in the suburbs -- proved to be lonely and boring. Women thought (or, rather, convinced themselves) that they were reacting against the age-old and often senseless categories and assertions of male authority; yet their dissatisfaction often arose not because of the oppressive strength but because of the weakness of males.

The age of institutional schooling was another feature of the Modern Age. There were universities in the Middle Ages but few (or no) schools of general learning. By the 17th century, schooling became extended to younger and younger ages, eventually including children of the poor. By the 19th century, the ideal of general and public education, increasingly involving the responsibility of governments, became sacrosanct. Still, much of the training and the proper education of children remained the responsibility of parents in the home. During the 20th century, that changed. Like so many other things, the role of the schools became inflated and extended, diminishing the earlier responsibilities of parents. As on so many other levels and ways of mass democracy, inflation had set in, diminishing drastically the content and the quality of learning: More and more young people, after 20 years in schools, could not read or write without difficulty. Schools were overcrowded, including colleges and universities.

In that increasingly bureaucratized world, little more than the possession of various diplomas mattered. Since admission to certain schools -- rather than the consequently almost automatic acquisition of degrees -- depended on increasingly competitive examinations, the word "meritocracy" was coined. In reality the term "meritocracy" was misleading. As in so many other spheres of life, the rules that governed the practices and functions of schools and universities were bureaucratic rather than meritocratic. It is bureaucracy, not meritocracy, that categorizes the employment of people by their academic degrees. The number and the variation of degrees awarded by higher institutions grew to a fantastic, and nonsensical, extent. Besides being custodial, the purpose of institutional education was now the granting of degrees to provide instant employment.

The inflation of "education" had much to do with the decline of reading (and of its declining requirement in the curriculums of the schools). That was another sign of the end of the Modern Age, which was also the Age of the Book. The invention of the printing of books coincided with the beginning of the Modern Age. At first, it was the availability of books, rather than of schools, that led to an increase of readers -- until, by the 19th century, men and women who could not read became a small minority among the populations of the Western world. Around the same time, the flood of reading matter, including newspapers, rose even higher than the ever-rising flood of books: With the rise of universal literacy (due to the extension of schooling) there was now a new reservoir of potential readers to be tapped. But the inflation of printed matter unavoidably reduced its quality; and there were other influences at hand. The reproduction of more and more pictures in newspapers, magazines, and books; the advent of moving pictures and, finally, of television led to a condition in which -- again, not unlike the Middle Ages -- the routine imagination of large masses of people became pictorial rather than verbal.

I now come to the most difficult of these necessarily generalized and inaccurate summaries of devolution: that of art, which in the Modern Age was inseparable from the ideals not only of beauty but of representation. Much of the art of the Middle Ages was symbolic, and idealized. The Renaissance, of course, discovered humanism, the beauty of the human body, and the complexity of human nature; and it began with an emulation of Greek and Roman art that was marked by "mimesis" or in another word: "re-presentation." A deep shift in consciousness at the end of the 18th century then affected art, first of all poetry and painting. That was the conscious recognition of imagination, beyond the older idea of inspiration (an early recognition of the inseparability of the observer from what he observes). During the 19th century, literature and architecture were increasingly influenced, if not altogether inspired and formed, by historicity. Meanwhile, Realism and Naturalism in poetry and painting were more and more affected by the artist's comprehension of the limitations of "objectivity" -- that is, of the entire separation of the observer (and, of course, of the artist) from his subject.

After the early 19th century, the artist was no longer seen as an artisan, meaning a craftsman, but rather as a person of unusual, indeed, superior sensitivity. By the early 20th century -- even before the catastrophe of World War I -- what was oddly, and belatedly, called "modern art" meant a drastic and brutal departure from the traditions and the achievements of the Modern Age. The ending of the ideals of re-presentation was also marked by an increasing tendency in letters, buildings, music, painting, poetry, to ugliness.

This Jeremiad has its conditions, and limitations. One of them involves the distinction between the passing of the Modern Age and the Decline of the West. Of course, almost all of the symptoms of the ending of the Modern Age have been most evident within the so-called Western world. But because of the continued influence of Western habits and institutions and practices all over the globe, not a few differences between the customs of the Western and the non-Western world are now sometimes hardly more than differences in timing.

Another limitation is even more evident. That is a chronological limitation of my Jeremiad. The rapid dissolution and the malfunctioning of the institutions and ideals of the Modern Age gathered speed during the 20th century, and especially during its second half. Is that not too shortsighted a view? No, history is not a mechanical clock: The pendulum never swings back. But human events and minds change, though slowly; something different, something new is beginning.

A third limitation consists in the condition that the mutation of characteristics and institutions and habits is especially (though not at all exclusively) evident in the United States and in the industrially or technically most "advanced" countries of the Western world. That should not be surprising: After all, the American historical handicap (as well as the once-American advantage) was due to the condition that the institutions of the United States were born in the very middle of the Modern Age, in the century of the so-called Enlightenment, whereby the people of the United States have been less immune to the shortcomings of modernity than other peoples whose mental and physical makeup carries some living memories of older epochs, of an older and different past. After 1989, an unprecedented situation arose: The United States was the only superpower in the world. Does that connote the apogee of the Modern Age (the age that had given birth to the United States of America)? Not at all.

And then there is Christianity. Its churches have been emptying. Yet something like that has happened before, and often. (One example: Perhaps never in the 2,000 years of the Holy See was a Pope as bereft of prestige and power as Pius VI was 200 years ago, in 1799.) Is Christianity disappearing? I do not think so.

And now: the Contra-Jeremiad. A list of the enduring achieve-ments of the Modern Age. Enduring; and lasting; and matters still in progress. We are healthier than ever before. (To be more precise: less affected by pain and by contagious illness.) Our life span has become longer and longer. Large masses of people are now able to live in conditions of comfort available only to the richest or most powerful of our great-grandparents. Large masses of people drive their own automobiles. Institutional slavery has largely ceased to exist. Almost every state now proclaims itself a democracy, attempting to provide a minimum of welfare to all of its inhabitants. Men have been propelled to the moon and back.

We cannot crank our lives backward. We must also know that there were (and are) no Golden Ages of history. The evidences of decay all around us do not mean that there was any ideal period at any time during the Modern Age. In certain fields of life and art and thought: perhaps. In others: certainly not. Yes, it would be pleasant to meet Rembrandt or Bach or Montesquieu or Washington -- or perhaps even to live in the age of Edward VII: but only with plenty of money at our disposal, and in at least near-perfect health.

Moreover, history and life consist of the coexistence of continuity and change. Nothing vanishes entirely. The institutions, the standards, the customs, the habits, the mental inclinations of the Modern Age still exist around us.

So does the respect for many of its creative achievements -- political, social, but, even more, artistic. (One of them is polyphonic music, which was a unique European creation sometime during the beginning of the era.) The respect for older things has now acquired a tinge of nostalgia -- almost certainly part and parcel of the uneasiness with "progress." During the past 40 years, the meanings of the adjectives "old" and "old-fashioned" -- especially in the United States -- have changed from "antiquated" or "outdated" to suggest some things that are reliable, solid, enduring, desirable.

In any event, there is every reason to believe that the respect for (and even the occasional emulation and adaptation of) some of the creations of the Modern Age (surely its achievements in art) will continue and grow. The time will come (if it is not already at hand) when people will look back and respect and admire (perhaps with a sigh, but no matter) -- indeed, when they will recognize -- the past 500 years as one of the two greatest eras in the history of mankind, the other having been the "classical" one, Greece and Rome. But here is a difference -- and a significant one. The last time something like that happened was 500 or 600 years ago, involving but a small minority of people, which is not what is happening now. At that time, men began to look back at the achievements and the letters and the art of Greece and Rome, idealizing them, and emulating them. (All art begins with emulation.) That was the Renaissance, a re-birth: The word is telling. It marked the beginning of modern historical consciousness -- although that was imperfect and incomplete, because of its almost unrestricted idealization of the Classical Age, of the ancients. Its admirers dismissed the entire Middle Ages. They took their inspiration from two ages away, farther back.

That is not happening now. Something else is: our respect and admiration for the age that is now past but which existed immediately before our times and that, in many ways, is still close to us and extant within us. And that is a symptom of the evolution of our historical consciousness, which may be acquiring novel forms and which is not weakening.

But now we arrive at the greatest and gravest duality -- indeed, the greatest and gravest problem looming before us at the end of the Modern Age. Now, for the first time in the history of mankind, dangers and catastrophes of nature are potentially (indeed, here and there actually) threatening nature and humanity together. Those dangers are man-made. They include not only horribly destructive atomic and biological weapons but many effects on the nature and on the atmosphere of the globe by the increasing presence and intrusion of the results of applied science. So, at the end of the Modern Age, the control and the limitation and even the prohibition of some of the applications of science -- including genetic engineering -- becomes a, sometimes global, necessity. At the same time, there exists no international or supranational (and in most cases not even a national) authority that would enforce such measures.

In view of that prospect, the confusion and the split-mindedness characteristic near or at the end of an age appears. Most "conservatives," votaries of what is still wrongly called "capitalism" and of technical progress, deny the need to preserve or conserve. Most "liberals" still cling to outdated dogmas of the so-called Enlightenment, unwilling to question the validity of science. That kind of schizophrenia is evident, too, among the Greens or environmentalists -- otherwise an interesting and promising appearance of a movement that, for the first time in modern history, prefers the conservation of nature to the inroads of finance and science -- since the same Greens who militate in favor of laws and authority to halt the ravages against nature militate against laws and authorities that still claim to protect families and forbid abortions. The very word "environmentalism" is inaccurate and even misleading, as if mankind were one thing and its "environment" another.

Still, after all, the existence of Greens and of environmentalists is a promising symptom -- despite their still present split-mindedness of being anticonservative and conservative at the same time. At the end of the Modern Age, for the first time in 200 years, more and more people, in more and more fields of life, have begun to question the still present and now outdated idea of progress.

Some time during the past quarter of the 20th century, the word "postmodern" appeared: another symptom of the uneasy sense (rather than a clear recognition) that we are living through (or, rather, facing) the end of an age. The prefix "post," in itself, is telling. There is some sense of historical consciousness in it (as for example in "post-Communist" or "post-Impressionist" or "post-liberal"). Yet the meaning (as different from the sense) of "postmodern" has been and remains inadequate, and worse than imprecise: It is vague, to the extent of being unhistorical. Besides, most academics and "postmodernist" intellectuals still shy away from abandoning their faith in the Enlightenment, in the Age of Reason.

There is a difference between "postmodern" intellectualism and "postmodern" art. We have seen that the Modern Age -- as we still use that approximate term -- began about 500 years ago. Yet the widespread usage and application of the adjective to life and art, such as "modern woman," "modern design," "modern architecture," "modern art," and so on, appeared mostly in the 1895-1925 period. So: What is "postmodern"? A reaction to the 20th century? Or to the 19th? Or to the 18th, 17th, 16th? A reaction to, or a step ahead from, Picasso? Or Meissonier? Or Poussin? One form of art to which "postmodern" may be applicable is music: but, again, only in a narrow chronological sense. By "modern music," we customarily designate the period beginning from Wagner (or, even better, from Debussy), ending with Poulenc, Ibert, Honegger, Webern, Duruflé -- the period recognizably 18801950. Is "postmodern" music therefore a reaction to, or a step ahead from, not only, say, Strauss but also Gershwin? If so, then only orchestral compositions after about 1950 are "postmodern." In popular music, "modern" was the high period of jazz, approximately 1914-1950, after which "postmodern" is rock, an electronic application of primitivism and barbarism. In architecture, "modern," after about 1895, amounted to anti or nonhistorical, or to anti or nontraditional. And "postmodern" architecture either does not exist or it is hardly more than a reaction against Bauhaus and Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier -- but often only in bits of ornamentation and a few other smallish details. If "postmodern" architecture and art are nothing more than reactions to post-1895 modernism, the term is inadequate and imprecise.

Yes, we are at -- we are living through -- the end of an age. But how few people know that! The sense of it has begun to appear in the hearts of many; but has not yet swum up to the surface of their consciousness.

That will happen, even though there exist many obstacles to it -- among them, enormous but corroding institutions. As these lines are being written, something is happening in the United States that has had no precedent.

A great division among the American people has begun -- gradually, slowly -- to take shape: not between Republicans and Democrats, and not between "conservatives" and "liberals," but between people who are still unthinking believers in technology and in economic determinism and people who are not. Compared with that division, the present "debates" about taxes and rates and political campaigns are nothing but ephemeral froth blowing here and there on little waves, atop the great oceanic tides of history.

However -- this is not a political or social pamphlet. Its theme is simple. It has to do with conscious thinking. We have arrived at a stage of history when we must begin thinking about thinking itself. That is something as different from philosophy as it is from psychoanalysis. At the end of an age, we must engage in a radical rethinking
of "progress,"
of history,
of "science,"
of the limitations
of our knowledge,
of our place in the

John Lukacs is a professor emeritus of history. His books include Five Days in London, May 1940 (Yale University Press, 1999). This article is adapted and condensed from his At the End of an Age, to be published next month by Yale University Press. Copyright © 2002 by John Lukacs.
Section: The Chronicle Review
Page: B7

See also his At the End of an Age.

Lukacs: The Triumph and Collapse of Liberalism

The Triumph and Collapse of Liberalism


The history of politics -- more, the history of human thinking -- is the history of words. Consider what happened to the word "liberal" in the United States.

It has become a Bad Word for millions of Americans. Confident that a large majority of the American people have come to regard, see, or hear the adjective "liberal" as definitely pejorative, the president of the United States found it proper and useful to affix it to his opponent in campaign speeches day after day, across this vast country. Meanwhile, his opponent thought it best not to identify himself as a liberal.

This accusatory label is reminiscent of the habit of some political speakers 50 years ago who declared that their opponents were "Communists" or "Communist sympathizers." Such a similarity, while not precise, is at least interesting, since the increasingly rapid fall of the popularity of "liberal" began just about 50 years ago. It may be worth tracing the curve of its descent.

In the year 1951 no less a demagogue than Sen. Joseph McCarthy still used "liberal" positively, at least on one occasion. In a speech he accused Gen. George C. Marshall and Secretary of State Dean Acheson of being part of "a conspiracy so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man. A conspiracy of infamy so bleak that, when it is finally exposed, its principles shall be forever deserving of the maledictions of all liberal men." In that very year Sen. Robert A. Taft, idol of recent American conservatives, thought it necessary to state that he was not a conservative but "an old-fashioned liberal."

But lo and behold: By 1960 President Dwight D. Eisenhower would declare that he was a "conservative." A tectonic shift in the development of American thinking, and of politics, had begun.

I put "thinking" before "politics," since the history of the latter is often a slow -- and belated -- consequence of what is happening under the surface of publicity. In 1964 Barry M. Goldwater, the first outspokenly conservative candidate for the presidency, lost in a landslide. In 1980 Ronald Reagan, a self-designated conservative, won in a landslide. Thereafter, the congealing of the meaning of "liberal" as something bad and anti-American became one mark of the recent presidential campaign. But what was happening was something well beneath the verbal habits of electioneering.

"Conservative" was a word (and a political idea) that Americans eschewed for a long time. During the 19th century much of the political history of Europe and, in particular, of Britain was marked by the debate between conservatives and liberals. In the United States that was not so.

There was no Conservative Party in the United States. There were a few American authors and thinkers in whose writings and statements we can detect properly conservative elements; but they, too, with practically no exceptions, shied away from affixing the conservative label to themselves. Moreover, again practically with few or no exceptions, Americans believed in the concept of "progress"; indeed, it may be said that the more liberal a man was, the more he believed in and advocated progress. That American configuration, seen in politics in the association of liberalism and progressivism, prevailed until about the middle of the 20th century. In 1950 the cultural critic Lionel Trilling declared that the only dominant philosophy in America was the liberal one. In 1955 a Harvard professor, Louis Hartz, wrote that the perennial and prevalent American creed was liberalism.

They were wrong. Those reputable academics pursued the obvious (to quote Oscar Wilde) "with the enthusiasm of shortsighted detectives." Right before their eyes antiliberalism was rising fast. Within a few years antiliberals would adopt "conservative" as an adjective; they began to affix it to themselves proudly (and often imprecisely, but that is not the point). Symptoms and examples would fill a large book. Consider just one: In 1955 the first self-described "conservative" weekly of opinion appeared, The National Review, edited and directed by William F. Buckley Jr. It had few subscribers. Twenty-five years later its circulation was larger than that of The Nation and The New Republic combined. Its enthusiastic readership was the vanguard of the massive popular wave that propelled Ronald Reagan to power.

What were -- what still are -- the sources of American distaste for liberalism (a distance from, rather than a disillusionment with, liberalism)? One was the gradual liberal acceptance, indeed advocacy, of the welfare state. During the 19th century, liberalism, by and large, meant political and economic individualism, an emphasis on liberty even more than equality, a reduction and limitation of the powers of government. From the beginning of the 20th century, liberals, by and large, accepted and advocated the spread of equality, meaning more and more legislation and government bureaucracy to guarantee the welfare of entire populations. That kind of administrative intervention, with its occasional legislative and bureaucratic excesses, turned millions of Americans against "government" (though they were often the same Americans who were enthusiastic about the political and military powers of government).

Another source of the dislike of liberalism was anti-Communism. Just as the political advocacy of liberalism had moved closer to socialism, the ideology and foreign policy of liberals and Democrats often seemed (and were) more tolerant of Communism and the Soviet Union than were nonliberals and most Republicans. Liberals were, or seemed, less patriotic (more precisely, less nationalistic) than most Americans. And it is, of course, the viscous cement of nationalism that binds so many of the preferences and beliefs of masses of people together.

Beneath these political and ideological sentiments there was the sense, more or less apparent, of a general disappointment with liberal ideals. There was the inclination, sometimes fatal, of liberals to take the ideas of the Enlightenment to extremes: to propagate a public morality devoid of, if not altogether opposed to, religion; to insist more and more on institutionalizing the promotion of justice, at times even at the expense of truth; to emphasize freedom of speech, often at the expense of thought; to make abortion legal; to approve same-sex marriages and affirmative action.

To an increasing mass of Americans, "liberal" began to mean -- rightly or wrongly -- a toleration, if not a promotion, of what many considered to be immoralities. That the private lives and the moral behavior of many self-professed conservatives hardly differed from those of their liberal opponents mattered not, at least until now. What may matter in the future is a division between conservatives who love liberty more than they hate liberals and conservatives who don't -- or between conservatives who believe in patriotism and tradition and other conservatives who believe in nationalism and technological progress. But that is another matter.

For a long time in common American parlance, to be antiliberal meant also to be anti-intellectual. That is no longer so, for many reasons, one of which is the increasing presence of serious conservative thinkers, writers, and academics. Meanwhile, most academics, however, are still anti- or nonconservative, and remote from the mainstream of people. That is not unusual: Isolation of intellectuals and academics from the great mass of people has almost always been thus.

That liberals in academe have contributed to that isolation by asserting unreasonable ideas, contributing thereby to the increasing confusion and corruption of both higher education and intellectual commerce, may be largely true. Alas, the defense of traditions of humanism ceased to be the monopoly of liberals long ago. Still, intellectual dishonesty (and its customary consequence, selective indignation) is not a monopoly of liberals, either: There is evidence of it among self-identified conservative and neoconservative writers, thinkers, and academics.

We must now understand that the collapse or near collapse of liberalism has not been merely an American phenomenon. Worldwide, we are in the presence of a dual historical development.

On a nearly worldwide level, liberal principles, advancing through centuries, and particularly in the 19th century, have triumphed. There is less institutionalized injustice around the globe than ever before. The abolition of slavery; the promotion of universal education, universal suffrage, freedom, and equal rights for women; and the provision of health services, guaranteed help for the poor, popular sovereignty, etc., if not perfectly or everywhere, but at least in principle, have been widely adopted around the world.

But the institutionalization of those reforms, aimed at the elimination of all kinds of injustice, has also led to an increasing prevalence of half-truths of many kinds. Hence the other, the uninspiring side of the liberal coin, evident -- and not only in the United States -- in the decline of Liberal parties, particularly in much of Europe. Evidence of injustice may still animate millions of people, perhaps, especially, the young; but the political label of "liberal" has become soiled, outdated, torn at its edges.

That is a pity, I must say, as a historian who has never been a liberal. A pity: because consider only the relationship of the word "liberal" to the word "democrat." Two hundred years ago -- and for a long time thereafter, especially in the English-speaking world -- "liberal" was a term of praise, unquestionably so. It not only suggested but meant generosity nay, magnanimity; not only breadth of a mind but strength of soul; a reference to someone "free from narrow prejudice," and "worthy of a free man," according to the Oxford English Dictionary. One need not only open the dictionary for proof: It is all around, in the immortal prose of a Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Samuel Johnson, or William Thackeray.

When it came to the formation of the democracies of the West, the concepts of liberalism and democracy, while not inseparable, were surely complementary, with the emphasis on the former. Among the founders of the American republic were serious men who were more dubious about democracy than about liberty. They certainly did not believe in -- indeed, they feared -- populism; populism that, unlike a century ago, has now become (and not only in the United States) the political instrument of "conservatives," of so-called men of the "Right." It is significant that in Europe, too, the appeal of the term "liberal" has declined, while "democratic" is the adopted name of a variety of parties, many of them not only antiliberal but also extreme right-wing nationalist.

Yes, democracy is the rule of the majority; but there liberalism must enter. Majority rule must be tempered by the rights of minorities and of individual men and women; but when that temperance is weak, or unenforced, or unpopular, then democracy is nothing else than populism. More precisely: Then it is nationalist populism. It may be that the degeneration of liberal democracy to populism will be the fundamental problem of the future. True, many liberals have contributed to the inflation -- the degeneration -- of the original meaning of "liberal." But the acceptance of the word "liberal" as a connotation of something damnable, unhealthy, and odious is to be deplored.

Liberalism in its noblest, and also in its most essential, sense has always meant (and, to be fair, here and there it still means) an exaltation, a defense of the fundamental value and category of human dignity. But much of scientism and technology (yes, including the orthodoxy of Darwinism and the absolute belief in progress) declares that there was, there is, and there remains no fundamental difference between human beings and all other living beings. But if that is so, what happens to the emphasis on human dignity? Either human beings are unique or they are not. Either thesis may be credible, but not both. That is not just a question for religion.

John Lukacs is a professor emeritus of history. His newest book, Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred, will be published by Yale University Press in February.

From the issue dated December 10, 2004
Copyright © 2004 by The Chronicle of Higher Education

Interview with John Lukacs

History in a Democratic Age

A Conversation with John Lukacs

Historian John Lukacs talks with NEH Chairman Bruce Cole about history and its heroes. Lukacs has written a dozen books, among them Historical Consciounsess, The Passing of the Modern Age, and Five Days in London, May 1940. His most recent is Churchill: Visionary. Statesman. Historian.

Bruce Cole: You’ve written about a variety of subjects: the intellectual history of the past five hundred years, the history of the Cold War, the city of Budapest, the rise and fall of Europe, the history of the United States. What draws you to a given topic?

John Lukacs: There’s a simple answer to this: whatever interests me. Professionally, sometimes, this is a handicap. Other historians may say, “What is he doing on my turf?” Yet I can only say: whatever interests me. If something really interests me, then I’m writing not for money, not for reputation--but because I can’t help it.

Cole: While you’re researching one topic, does that spark off ideas on another that leads to a book, maybe not immediately, but somewhere down the road a bit?

Lukacs: It often does spark an interest. During research, you often find what you’re looking for, but very often you find other things too that, for the reason of economy, you don’t want to include in the same book.

Cole: Yes. Right.

Lukacs: It may just lie fallow. It might result in an article. Who knows, it might even lead to another book.

Cole: You’ve observed that you cannot separate history from the historian. How did you become a historian?

Lukacs: This goes back to a very different world, and to a very different time. As you know, I was born in Hungary. I was interested in history, but it was not until I entered the university that I decided that I was going to get a degree in history, a degree not quite the equivalent to an American Ph.D., but by and large similar. That’s how I became a historian.

Cole: As a child you were interested in history?

Lukacs: The other day I was just thinking about this. I started to read novels and literature, I would say, in my early teens. When I look back, I was always interested in the kind of literature that has much history in it-- not the historical novel as such, but novels that described a time, a place, and people, how they were, what they were thinking, how they and their places were at a particular time.

Cole: I understand. Besides your writing, you’ve had a long career as a college professor. Is there a relationship between your teaching and your research and writing?

Lukacs: Absolutely. I always wanted to write. Frankly, when I got my first teaching position, I said, “All right. This will enable me to write.” I think that I was a responsible and a reliable teacher, but my teaching ambitions were secondary. I was not interested in moving from college to college to college up the academic ladder.

Then, halfway through my teaching career which has almost covered half a century, I discovered that my teaching had very much helped my writing and even that I have been especially fortunate to teach in a good little undergraduate college. If I had been appointed to a large university and taught graduate students, I don’t think I would be as good a writer. I had to talk to undergraduates about complicated things simply but not superficially. It taught me a great deal about economy of expression.

Cole: Well, that’s certainly characteristic of your books: you make complicated events and situations crystal clear. So you find that when you’re in the classroom, you need to get to the essence of what you’re talking about and present it in a way that is fathomable to an undergraduate?

Lukacs: Yes. I have to use my words carefully, and this is what writing is all about. I have shocked many of my historian colleagues by saying that history consists of words, that the words are not just the packaging of the facts. In our minds the facts do not exist apart from the words with which we express them.

Cole: We really don’t know what we know or how we know it until we start to either speak it or write it.

Lukacs: Yes. This goes against the rules in the natural sciences: your expression clarifies your mind.

Cole: It’s that whole creative process that is scholarship, I think. One of the things that I’m very interested in is history in general and American history in particular. Many people in the history profession are working in what I would call silos. They are hyperspecialized and they are really writing for each other.

In many cases that deep specialization is not a bad thing, but it also seems to me that the historian has a wide audience that is very receptive to history. I’m thinking of David McCullough and Ken Burns and The History Channel and C-SPAN. What is the relationship between the historian and the wider public? Certainly it’s been different in the past when there really wasn’t this age of hyper-specialization in history.

Lukacs: You touched on two subjects that are very close to me. There is today among the public--especially among the American public, but this is almost a worldwide phenomenon--a broad interest in history. Of course, this appetite can be filled with all kinds of things.

This appetite is one of the few healthy things in the cultural mess we live in today. Many professional historians are not aware of this. There is another thing. You said there is much specialization of history and you regretted this. Yet specialization in history is not necessarily a bad thing.

Cole: No. I agree.

Lukacs: The bad thing is that often the specialist is not really very much interested in what he’s doing. He has picked a specialty because he thinks that this will further him in his profession. The true specialist is an eccentric: he is someone who is really and deeply interested in something about which he wants to know more and more.

Cole: Almost obsessed?

Lukacs: Yes. The more he knows, he finds that the less he knows. Yet there are specialists now today. Again, at the risk perhaps of lack of charity, I suspect that the people who do it are interested in their historianship rather than in history.

Cole: In other words, in the professional side of their career rather than in the substance of the work.

Lukacs: Yes. In their standing among their peers. There are all kinds of minuscule privileges that come in academic life. Nobody is immune to it. But if the entire emphasis on your ambition and your mental interest is directed there, that is a deep loss.

Cole: How does your work reflect you?

Lukacs: As I said, whatever I’ve written or I’m writing about is something that interests me very much. Another thing is that I am constantly aware of the inevitable relationship of history and literature. History is scientific in a way, but it is an art in another way, in a different way. History is written, thought, taught, spoken in words of everyday language.

Cole: Let’s talk for a minute about history as art. This relation between history and literature, I hope you will agree, is found superbly in Churchill?

Lukacs: Oh, yes. Churchill, as you know, was not a professional historian. There’s a great English historian, Veronica Wedgwood, who expressed it right. She said, “History is an art—like all the other sciences.”

Cole: One of the things you’ve written about is the concept of the great man. We see this certainly in your wonderful Churchill books. Is this nowadays a less traveled path for historians?

Lukacs: So it is, but that will pass. The present tendency of making history into something like retrospective sociology will continue, but will be refined. We’ll definitely become better. I can see that we live in a democratic age and we have to deal with the lives and the history of large numbers of people. This is so obvious that it is hardly worth repeating. Someone who foresaw this, as he foresaw many things, was the great Tocqueville. Tocqueville has a chapter in the second volume of Democracy in America, which asks, “What will be the characteristics of historians in democratic times?” I think that small chapter ought to be pasted above the desk of every historian.

Cole: He says, “The writing of history in the age of democracy will be more difficult than and different from the writing of history in ages ruled by aristocratic minorities.”

Lukacs: Exactly. I think of this again and again.

Cole: The NEH is launching a new initiative called “We the People,” and one of its aspects is that we are going to establish a lecture series on heroes and heroism, with the idea that we don’t believe that history is only created by vast impersonal forces, but that individuals do make a difference and do themselves decisively shape history.

Lukacs: Worth discussing. Yes.

Cole: With that in mind, let’s turn to that remarkable figure, Winston Churchill. How long have you been interested in Churchill?

Lukacs: This goes back to when I lived in Hungary in 1940. I was sixteen or seventeen years old. I have very greatly admired him since that time. Then I read his history of the Second World War. It took about another thirty years for this to crystallize into what you might call a professional historian’s interest.

Cole: Churchill, as far as historians go, has certainly has had his ups and downs. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Lukacs: Balfour, who was a great speaker but had difficulty in writing, said about Churchill’s The World Crisis,--his multivolume history of the First World War--that Churchill had written an autobiography and called it The World Crisis, which is both funny and a bit mean.

Along similar lines, I had a telling and sad experience some years ago. A colleague--a medievalist--had worked on Richard II, a tragic and complex figure in English history. I said, “You really ought to read what Churchill wrote about Richard II in A History of the English-Speaking Peoples.” He absolutely refused to do that, saying that Churchill was not a historian. This is an extreme example of a professional mentality that I regret.

There are passages in some works of Churchill which are stunning, not only because of his language but because of his ability to summarize things in an almost Olympian way.

Cole: Absolutely. I’ve been reading The Great Republic, the book that excerpts sections on the United States. It has appended to it a number of journalistic pieces that Churchill did about the United States, which are really very insightful.

Lukacs: Yes.

Cole: --and often very, very amusing. His ability to synthesize and to get to the absolute nub of things with his magisterial language is absolutely thrilling.

Lukacs: Yes.

Cole: What about Churchill’s reputation today?

Lukacs: Churchill’s reputation today is very high. I think there are two elements in this. I’m not only speaking of his reputation among historians. Compared to the rather mediocre leadership we had in the Western world since him, he stands out and certainly is a heroic figure in the Second World War. That is rather obvious.

But I think there’s another element, too, in the stance he took, adversary as he was not only of Hitler but also of Russian Communism. I think after the fall of the Soviet empire it became apparent that, by and large, most people had exaggerated the power and the influence of Soviet Russia. The power and the ability of the Germans in World War Two was much greater. The Russians were never close to winning the Cold War.

Cole: This makes Churchill’s role, especially in those dark days that you talk about, even stronger.

Lukacs: Yes. He did not win the Second World War, but he was the one who didn’t lose it. He was a single man in Hitler’s path. Hitler knew that. He hated Churchill.

Cole: And the feeling was reciprocated, right?

Lukacs: Not exactly. Churchill was a magnanimous person. Yes, he hated Hitler. But, contrary to what many Germans think, he did not hate the German people. When the news came to him at dinner that Hitler had killed himself, in Berlin, his first reaction was, “Well, I must say that he was perfectly right to die like that.”

Cole: Fascinating.

Lukacs: He was worried that toward the end of the war Hitler would fly to England and say, “Do with me”--these are his words, Churchill’s--”Do with me what you want to do, but spare my unfortunate people.” I think this would have put the Allies in a considerable dilemma.

Cole: What do you think Churchill would have done?

Lukacs: Hitler was not like Napoleon. Churchill would not have had a free hand. He would have had to consider Stalin and Roosevelt. Perhaps he would have liked to put him in some St. Helena in the Tower of London. I don’t know. But he couldn’t do this alone.

Cole: You were just a boy in Hungary at the time this great war was being played out.

Lukacs: I was sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, and a precocious and very insufferable young man, yes. (Laughter.)

Cole: Budapest was really blown apart at the end.

Lukacs: I was right there during the siege. That’s another story. That was a great education for me, having lived through the Second World War, in the middle of it.

Cole: Your decision then to come to the States, that must have given you a different worldview.

Lukacs: This was after the Russians had come. Hungary still did not have a communist government, but I knew that Hungary was in the Russian sphere, so it was only a matter of time until the Communists ruled entirely. I was already too much identified with the British and American side. Our great advantage, due to my mother, was that I spoke English rather well.

Cole: Yes.

Lukacs: And I worked for the Americans, which counted against me, of course. I didn’t do anything very confidential, but still . . . I had a chance of going to any of the English-speaking countries. My natural destination should have been Britain because I had been in school in England for a while before the war, but eventually my venue was the United States, because of my connection with Americans in Budapest.

Cole: You speak of Churchill as a visionary.

Lukacs: He had visionary powers that were extraordinary. Bismarck said that a great statesman can see correctly, at best, five years ahead. Churchill beat that.

Cole: Do you think his vision matured as he aged or do you think this was always the case?

Lukacs: I think this was always the case. He says some very startling prophetic things in his earliest books. Yet I think it matured. He knew a great deal about the world. The British are now understandably contrary to the union of Europe and so forth, but Churchill had a tremendous knowledge of the history of Europe.

Cole: Do you have a favorite book by Churchill? If you were to be shipwrecked on a desert island and could only take one, what would that be?

Lukacs: I would probably take My Early Life, because it’s so delightfully written. It can be reread and reread and reread again.

Cole: How old was he when he wrote his first book?

Lukacs: He wrote his book at the age of twenty-three.

Cole: I think of him as one of the great Victorians, although he’s a little younger than that. He had an active professional life in government with many, many responsibilities and duties; still he wrote and wrote and wrote, in the way those great Victorians did. How did he find the time to do all of this?

Lukacs: In the 1920s, he lived very well, but he didn’t have much money. He had not married for money at all. Sometime in the 1920s he discovered he could make money writing. But it was not money that made him write. He couldn’t help it. He had to write.

Cole: I think you feel like that too; is that correct?

Lukacs: I certainly don’t want to compare myself to him, but perhaps in different ways, yes.

Cole: That’s just something that you need to do?

Lukacs: Writing, in a way, clarifies the mind.

Cole: There has been an opening of the Churchill Archives. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Lukacs: There is one minus in it, but a greater plus than the minuses. It is in a very ugly building in Cambridge, a monstrously modern building.

Cole: He probably would have hated it.

Lukacs: He probably would have hated it, yes. But the archives are in very good shape. The archives include, of course, a lot of people who were involved in his life and they leave their papers there. The archives grow all the time.

An English historian, David Reynolds, is doing an important job. He is reconstituting how Churchill wrote some of his histories; the original drafts of his histories are there.

As you know, Churchill had a fair number of helpers who did research for him. Professional historians may be jealous of that, but they ought not to be. For instance, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and Rubens had thirty or forty helpers.

Cole: That is correct, and they produced the greatest works of art.

Lukacs: Yes.

Cole: Was Churchill a careful collector and preserver of his own papers? Did he have his eye towards history?

Lukacs: I think so. For example, many of his research materials are preserved. I do not like to be overwhelmed with paper. When I finish a work, except, of course, the main draft, I throw all the index cards away.

Cole: I do that too.

Lukacs: I don’t think it’s a very good idea, but you have to economize.

Cole: What do you think Churchill thought his place in history was going to be? Do we know that?

Lukacs: I cannot tell you, but I tell you he was quite modest about his historianship. He writes these books that are second to none, and he says, “This is not really history. It’s a contribution to history.” I don’t think this was an artificial modesty. He meant that.

Cole: What about his role as a world figure?

Lukacs: I think he knew what he was doing. He knew not only what he ought to do, he knew what it was that he achieved, and what he could have achieved and could not achieve.

Cole: Did he have his eye on how his action would result in his place in the world?

Lukacs: I don’t think that he was a man very much suffused with vanity. At the very end of the war, V-Day, when the people in London cheered him to high heaven, he said, “No, it was not due to me. It’s due to you.”

Cole: You’ve been writing for a decade now that the Modern Age is over.

Lukacs: Well, nothing is really over, but yes.

Cole: What makes you think it’s coming to an end?

Lukacs: The Modern Age was the age when Europe extended its power over other continents. It meant many things: white rule, the power of the state, the idea of schooling, the centrality of the family. It was also the Age of the Book and the Age of Money. That is changing. One hundred and seventy- five years ago, Tocqueville saw that something truly new was beginning. Aristocratic minorities had ruled; we were in the Aristocratic Age, and now the Age of Democracy is beginning. This was a very slow passage, a co-existence of aristocracies and democracies. As time went on, the power and the prestige and even the social position of the aristocracies declined, and the power and prestige and the influence and the social democratic structure rose. Now democracy is nearly universal. As Tocqueville also said, this is not a simple theory. People thought the Age of Democracy would be much simpler than when courtiers ruled, but it is not so. What happens is less rule by the people than rule in the name of the people. The people who are doing the ruling have to be nominated and elected, which of course is very democratic. But the very structure of government and election and the actual representation of the people is very complicated.

Cole: What will be the ideas that define the next era?

Lukacs: I’m not a prophet, I’m only a historian. (Laughter.) The wonderful thing about history is--well, wonderful but also maddening--is that it is unpredictable.

Cole: Well, thank you for taking the time to talk with us. I appreciate it, Professor Lukacs.

Lukacs: I've enjoyed it.

Humanities, January/February 2003, Volume 24/Number 1