Monday, June 28, 2004

Classism and Materialism

A relatively random thought for Friday. A couple days ago, a friend remarked to me that, despite his upper-middle class income, his 'sympathies' truly lie with the 'working class.' I let the remark pass, but thought immediately to myself, "Why do you insist on viewing people as members of groups arranged according to peoples' socioeconomic status?" This led me to think, "Would your sympathies no longer be with a person if he or she adopted a new career path, was promoted, or otherwise did something that increased his or her income, thereby lifting him or her out of the so-called 'working class'? Does your care for a person terminate when they help themselves out of a financially difficult situation?" This then led me to think, "Why do you base your 'sympathies' on a person's material wealth at all? Is a wealthy person truly any happier than a poor person? Is concern for the economic well-being of the poor such a noble thing? Shouldn't we be happier that a person is poor yet living a virtuous life than if they were rich and yet living a life of vice and excess?" Of course, my friend, like many left-wingers, fixates on the mundane and worldly, the material, presuming that the goal of government is to build the 'perfect' city here on earth, while those of us who are both a bit more practical and bit more interested in the transcedent know that such a goal is the ultimate folly.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Iraq and Plato's Laws: Building the Second Best City

"Anyone who uses reason and experience will recognize that a second-best city is to be constructed %85 That city and that constitution are first, and the laws are best, where the old proverb holds as much as possible throughout the whole city: it is said that the things of friends really are in common." (Plato, Laws 739A3-740C3)

In this famous passage, the Athenian Stranger in Plato's Laws informs his partners in dialogue that they are exploring and describing how to create not the ideal city, but the second-best city, for that is what they should do in building their new city on Crete. Those who are not blinded by ideology, those who can use reason and have experience can plainly see that the ideal city is not possible given the failings of human nature; indeed to attempt the construction of the first-best city will lead to corruptions and great evils. The first, best city, the Athenian says, is that where throughout the entire polis property is held communally. While ideal, this is foolish and impossible -- something best left to the imagination, or perhaps reserved for the transcendent city. It is the arrangement of property contrived in The Republic (at least as to the first two classes of citizens), a discussion where Socrates (and significantly not the Athenian Stranger) was embarking on a different kind of mission from that in the Laws: Socrates was searching for the meaning of justice for men individually through the analogy of the city, justice writ large. From comparing the ideal arrangements of the Republic's polis, justice was to be found and then reduced to guide the individual conscience. Thus the Republic was never really meant to be attempted -- the best possible city that can actually be brought intexistencece, at least in our mundane sphere, is the second-best, that in the Laws.

Thus in the Laws, Plato, through the Athenian, expresses what has become the dominant theme of modern American conservatism: that pragmatic, anti-ideological point of view which sees Utopia as dangerous and knows the place of men as against gods and devils. It is the anti-communist impulse that recognizes the danger in promoting man to a divine position, or promoting nature and lesser creations above man. It is a recognition of our own limits, and our own temptation to corruption. It is the realization that government's greatest goal is to do no harm while encouraging virtue to flourish. Plato saw all of this nearly 2,400 years ago, nothing has really changed save the deadliness of our weapons and therefore the scale of danger presented by refusing to understand our own human flaws.

Liberals would do well to remember these teachings of Plato, and try not to fall pray to the temptation to believe too much in our progression beyond the moral state of classical man. We have done a fair job of constructing that best truly possible but second-best city here in America, and we are currently attempting to do the same for a foreign people, a task not totally unlike that of the Athenian stranger. For while the men of Crete and Athens there had different cultures and different nationalities, they shared what all of us share, the reality of the Good and of Justice, realities that do not change. They shared the same human drives and failings, and thus the best and second-best city for an Athenian was the same at some level as for those who hailed from Crete. There is hope in Iraq if transcendent Good is allowed to cut through dogma enough to shine on that part of the Iraqi people which yearns for the same things we do, values the same things all men do. Even while evil exists and attempts to thwart us in our task, we should be heartened by the desperation evil men currently show, the gravitation to Iraq of every brand of evildoer and fanatic, for they come to fight us because they see us cutting through their dogma, letting Good shine through. They know that if we succeed in building the second-best city, they and their plans for the region are doomed to failure.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Islamo-Sophist Tyranny

Can Western political philosophy contemplate Islamism (the ideological-extremist brand of Islam preached by Islamic radicals)? Can it understand Islamism or address the Islamist ideologue-politician? Simply put, the answer is no. And in that answer lies the reason we fight.

To unpack these questions, one must first understand what political philosophy is and is not in the Western sense. Political philosophy is the address of the philosopher to the politician. Here, I use 'philosopher' as a normatively loaded term as one who exposes realities outside politics to the test of truth. The philosopher is he who seeks the truth of things in conversation with others with that same end, and seeks that truth for its own sake. The philosopher, like Aristotle, believes in truth and therefore concerns himself with metaphysics, the study of being. This, of course, is the opposite of the ideologue, he who entertains a theory, basing it on yet more theories, and ultimately ignores the truth of things, even to the point of rejecting the possibility of truth. The ideologue is the sophist who uses words to convince rather than to explore, he is Callicles in Plato's Gorgias, versus the uncorrupted youth who wills to know rather than knowing to will.

The political philosopher is the philosopher as he addresses the politician. In his most proper role, the political philosopher coaxes the politician away from tyranny, away from suppressing philosophy. The politicians killed Socrates, and the politicians killed Christ. Such were failures of political philosophy. Dangers arise when ideologue-sophists take up the role of the political philosopher. The politicians killed Socrates, but it is the sophist who prepared the politician to so act. The sophist as political philosopher (ignoring the oxymoron), like Machiavelli, coaxes the politician to tyranny rather than vice versa. The ideologue provides a theory for the politician to seize in his pursuit of his own ends. The classic tyrant, the ruler who rules only for the good of himself, the ruler who suppresses philosophy, uses ideology as a tool.

Now, however, we see a new, more menacing form of would-be tyrant. The philosopher-politician, like Plato's philosopher-king, in a world not corrupted like our own, would be the ideal benevolent ruler. Instead, in our mundane existence, the philosopher-politician is more likely to be the sophist-politician, the corrupted philosopher become king. Such a man adheres to an ideology, rejects truth save for what his ideology reveals, ignores contradictions with that which is, and seeks remorselessly to universalize the ideology. He is the root and bringer of evil, as evil begins with mistakes in thought and theory put into action and perpetuated.

In our era, this is the Islamist militant, seeking nothing but the universalization of his own religious ideology and ignoring truth and justice. The Islamist-sophist-politician makes a plea to the most base and diabolical in an impoverished people, promising heavenly reward, with the end of making the state a tool of the ideology. To this end he emphasizes the ungrounded and total will of Allah, detached from considerations of truth and reason, placing this will above that which is. In putting will before reason, revealed truth before metaphysics, the Islamist creates a vehicle for mobilizing men that cannot converse with or even contemplate a worldview based on philosophy and the truth of things, a national telos devoted to the truth of a core of values as fundamentally Good, Western political philosophy. There is a total disconnect -- the two can only fight.

Saddam Hussein was a tyrant of the more classic type, but he was learning more and more to use Islamism as a tool, to befriend it and equip it. Witness his addition of Allahu Akhbar to the Iraqi flag. He was a ruler with resources and weaponry, coming more and more to envision himself at the head of an Islamic superstate, and thus he was too dangerous to ignore. Zarqawi and bin Laden are the sophist-politicians, ideologues in the worst sense of the word. With them there is no reasoning, there is no ability for discourse. To even attempt such is folly. Islamist sophist-tyranny is too dangerous to merely appease and too different for co-existence. It must be stamped out and Islam must rid itself of it, or it must destroy us.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Appeasement and Evil

The nausea-inducing Ted Rall recently posted on his weblog regarding the recent beheadings in the Middle East:

Obviously the murderers are first and foremost to blame. But a share of the responsibility also lies at the feet of those who have made America so despised throughout the world: presidents, policymakers and spooks past and present. They made "American" a dirty word. They made Americans targets.

Mr. Rall obviously hates America and what it stands for. The presidents and policymakers he speaks of acted in the interests of America and in the interests of those values America stands for. They are the presidents that defended freedom and democracy in World War II, that fought off the godless menace of communism, and that most recently liberated a people from the grip of a ruthless, murderous dictator. If that makes "American" a dirty word and makes us targets, it is not because what we have done and what we defend is wrong or blameworthy. No, it is because the people that target us and believe that we and our values are 'dirty' have evil in their souls. They target us because we wish to make men free, because we fight for what we believe in, and because we threaten their fanatical dreams of domination and oppression. Given that those who target us are so evil, in a way we should rejoice that they target us (even as we lament that evil men exist), for it proves our own goodness. If evil men were to befriend us, we should worry for our own souls.

Ted Rall goes on to blame President Bush:

As we consider these gruesome murders, we should consider them on par with the gruesome murders of 800+ American servicemen and women and close to 100,000 Iraqi and Afghan civilians and soldiers killed during Bush's two wars. Bush's hands are dripping with their blood, just as surely as the men who drew the knives across Berg and Johnson's throats.

Again, Rall demonstrates his inability to distinguish between good and evil. When soldiers sacrifice their lives for the good of their comrades and a foreign people with whom they have no ties, their acts of selflessness ought to receive our highest praise. Instead, Rall forgets the worthy motives of the soldiers and the end of national security, and writes as if the President, motivated by nothing but hatred, killed our own men himself. That he can equate President Bush, one in that line of Presidents standing up for our core beliefs and fighting to protect our homeland and ways of living, with Islamist terrorists thirsty for the blood of the infidel and motivated by nothing but murderous religious zeal makes plain Mr. Rall's own moral depravity. His words are an affront to all those men and women and their families who have sacrificed so much over the last two hundred years for the cause of liberty and democracy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Abortion and Naturalness

We have all heard the standard arguments on both sides of the abortion issue: the claim of the privacy interest in one's own body versus the plea for the life of a pure innocent. Once you get an abortion proponent to admit that there is no difference between a fully-developed fetus prior to labor and a fetus just born, and once you get them to admit that, given changing technology, viability is not a defensible reference for determining the moral value of an innocent human life, potential or in being, they turn to the famous 'violinist.' Yes, abortion may be the taking of innocent human life, but it is justified: it is like self defense. Imagine, they say, a violinist that is dying and is hooked up to a person during the night, staying alive by relying on that person's organs and bodily functions. Come the morning, the victim could disconnect the violinist even though he is innocent of the crime as one cannot demand the co-option of another's body for any purpose.

Brilliant, right? Not really. Besides being a ludicrous, unreal hypothetical, there are key differences between it and a pregnancy. First, the woman chooses to undertake the risk of becoming pregnant whereas the sleeping person in the example certainly did not go to bed understanding the risk of being hooked up to a dying violinist during the night. That difference is crucial and distinguishes the violinist example from any pregnancy save one resulting from rape. Second, the example overlooks the naturalness of the process of pregnancy and childbearing. The woman's body is not designed to be hooked up to a dying violinist. It is designed, however, to bear offspring. To this a pro-choice advocate no doubt will reply, as Laurence Tribe has, that what is natural is irrelevant; it cannot be an excuse for 'co-opting' a woman's body for nine months and inflicting hardships upon her only because she happens to be female and thus is saddled unequally vis-a-vis men with the risks involved in sexual intercourse. Such a response, besides being derogatory of one of the highest human functions and of the Creator's design, contradicts itself. The no doubt liberal abortion proponent that makes this response is arguing that because something is 'natural,' it is not therefore 'moral' or 'choiceworthy.' To conclude thusly is arbitrary, says the pro-choice proponent. Rather, it is 'unfair' to so saddle woman unequally. So the abortion proponent is arguing from a point of fairness and equality. But where does one get such a starting point for argument? Every argument, once the many layers are removed, comes down to a point of belief or faith, just as does every law. A speed limit law boils down to a concern for the sanctity of human life. One cannot prove that human life is sacred, and one cannot prove that 'fairness' is choiceworthy. Instead, these bases for argument are taken on faith and more importantly are generally derived from our natural human inclinations -- the laws written on our hearts. We seek fairness for no other reason (unless for a purely religious reason) than we naturally feel that we should seek to be fair. So an argument from fairness and equality is also an argument from that which is natural, and to use the concept of fairness to declare 'naturalness' (fairness's own root) arbitrary is paradoxical. It is like the total skeptic affirming the truth of the unknowability of things. If fairness is choiceworthy, so is anything else written into the design of the human being, including the function of childbirth.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Al Qaeda-Iraq Links

New evidence came to light yesterday regarding a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's regime (full story available here.) Apparently, Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, a high-placed lieutenant colonel in the Fedayeen Saddam (Hussein's highly trained irregular warfare volunteer special forces), was also a high-ranking member of Al Qaeda and attended a planning meeting for the September 11th attacks held in Kuala Lampur in January of 2000.

This new bit of evidence is helpful in terms of proving after the fact the need to go to war, but it is not necessary or helpful to be thinking in such retrospective terms, nor is the press' skepticism of the war and the reasoning behind it a healthy one. Whatever may have been said publicly by the Administration, we went to war knowing two realities, first, that there is a large group of Middle Easterners fanatically dedicated to the destruction of Israel, America, and everything the West stands for, even to the point of sacrificing their own lives and those of their friends. Second, there was a rogue dictator who had proved his militarism in the past, was bent on developing weapons of mass destruction, and was harboring delusions of territorial expansion. These two menaces not only shared the same enemy, but the same culture, faith, and region of the world. Their mere proximity to each other was too dangerous to be allowed to continue given the reality of weapons that can kill thousands or even millions in one strike, and the reality of Islamists who have already demonstrated that they dream of martyrdom in the slaughter of innocent Americans. That there were no overt ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq was and is irrelevant -- what is more crucial is that there could have been, and there likely would have been in the future. That is, after all, what preemption is all about, stopping something before it can develop.

But the press and liberal Democrats do not understand the concept of preemption and apparently cannot see, even after September 11th, the dangers we face. The press is already attempting to downplay the new evidence of a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq. In his article for the UPI, Shaun Waterman quotes an army of liberal pundits. Peter Bergen says that "Shakir is a pretty common name," and that "perhaps al-Qaida had penetrated Saddam's security apparatus." Why would Al Qaeda want to 'penetrate' Saddam's Fedayeen, a paramilitary force trained in guerilla tactics? If Al Qaeda wanted to gather intelligence on Saddam and his regime, that would not be the place to do it. Waterman also downplays the significance of the Fedayeen Saddam, saying "the Fedayeen were a special unit of volunteers given basic training in irregular warfare," and quoting Michael Eisenstadt to the effect that the Fedayeen were merely a group of "thugs and bumpkins." This is the same Fedayeen Saddam that the press a little over a year ago described as Saddam's crack paramilitary security apparatus, the loyalists still intact after the topple of Saddam's regime that could prevent the emergence of a stable Iraq. Then, the Fedayeen were a tool the press used to attack the President's policy and predict a negative outcome for the President's war. Now that an al-Qaeda link has been found in the Fedayeen, the press attempts to distance the group from Saddam and downplay its importance so as to undercut the significance of the link. The Fedayeen is suddenly a group of 'bumpkins' that received only a 'basic training' in guerilla tactics. It is as if the press hates George Bush more than it hopes for victory for America and the Iraqi people.

John Kerry, in the meantime, demands that the President give "a fundamental explanation about why he rushed to war for a purpose it now turns out is not supported by the facts." Neither, apparently, does John Kerry understand the concept of preemption. In a world of evil men and horrible weapons, we can't afford to wait for clear and concrete evidence to come to light before we take action, but rather we must act to stop such a combination before it is even contemplated. Once there is clear evidence, it is too late. This is not a law enforcement action, but a war. We are not trying to punish criminals, we are trying to stop an evil menace from devouring the very souls of an entire region of peoples and taking the lives of innocent Americans en masse. This is a war of survival, and 'clear evidence' is a luxury we can't afford.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

The World Market and Sovereignty

Just a quick additional thought to add to yesterday's post on sovereignty. Just as the rise of global telecommunications, new and faster shipping methods, harmonized trade law regimes and the like threaten nations' cultural identities requiring stronger moral leadership to keep a country unified, it also makes the welfare state less and less defensible. As blockages to global markets erode and international trade increases, the principle of comparative economic advantage becomes all the more important as the world comes to more approximate the ideal of economics. No longer can nations afford to concentrate their economic policies on maintaining or encouraging economic equality and ensuring the welfare of all, but rather they must concentrate on allowing individuals the greatest opportunities to participate in the global economy. Protectionist or welfare-oriented economic plans and policies will be washed over by the greater international economic forces, but the currents and eddies those blockages, or inefficiencies, stir up, the greater the harm to the well-being of that nation as a whole. To now in the face of a global economy insist on bottling up labor and capital in less relatively productive economic sectors for the sake of the few unfortunate workers who face hardships is to do two things: 1) To ignore the fact that we cannot create a perfect utopia here on earth, and 2) to condemn the national economy to relative decline as the inefficient industries consume resources on the dole of the government while preventing new areas of economic advantage from developing. Other nations will pass us up as we fall behind, and as our desire to maintain certain industries keeps us from developing, so too will we become more dependent on those industries as the price of retooling the economy becomes ever greater. The vicious cycle would indeed be difficult to break. As an additional note, we would also be denying poorer countries the jobs that their economies need to begin down the path of development, hoarding them for ourselves to our own detriment. We would do this in spite of the fact that sometimes a very poor country's poverty is its only true economic advantage and its only step stool to climb from that poverty. And yet this is what the 'compassionate' Kerry and his liberal colleagues would have us do.

So putting yesterday's thoughts together with today's, we see that global changes require that a state and a leader be more vocal and strong in his advocacy of values and the nation's cultural identity, but should also step back from economic regulation and insist all the more on allowing the global markets to work. Liberals would do just the opposite on both counts.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

A New Sovereignty

Liberals often remark that President Bush's 'unilateral' (i.e., without unified socialist Western European support) policy of preemptive defense has disrupted the international system's framework for maintaining order. They lament the affront the Bush Doctrine makes to the United Nations and to the idea that international institutions foster peace amongst nation-states with equal right to be at the table where decisions are made. As usual, their utopian dreams delude them, make them miss some of the cruder realities of the world.

If ever that ideal liberals strive to maintain did exist or made sense, it does no longer. With the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the conflict between capitalist democracy and communism, Islamism has re-entered the scene. Weapons technology and WMDs, loosed from the controlling bonds of the cold war, seem to the terrorists a more attainable means. At the same time, global telecommunications, the internet, mass media, and air travel have all developed to make the world a much smaller place. What does all of this mean for sovereignty and the international system? First, it means that the role of nation-states in the world and consequently of their leaders is changing. Communications, the internet, travel technology and cross border migrations have all served to dilute distinct cultures and threaten nations' distinctness and shared cultural values. In response, leaders must more vocally and forcefully champion their nations' identities and purposes, couching their policy pronouncements in terms of their countries' telos or ends. Given the rise of Islamism and terrorism, it is also clear that not all nations can claim their particular motives, ends, and animating principles to take an equal measure of goodness and justice as do others'. As we saw with the dysfunctionality of the United Nations with the cold war, it makes little sense to hope that bargaining and discussion with an enemy ideology will lead to peace. It therefore also makes no sense to accord each nation-state moral equivalence in terms of its right to act with sovereignty within its borders, and its right to interact with other sovereigns on the world stage. Couple this insight with the awesome power and reality of WMDs, and we see that it is very dangerous to so assume.

Given a world where values and justice must be championed so as not to be drowned out by the tempting relativism made attractive by cross-cultural communication, given a world where evil is readily apparent in the form of an ideology vying to attract fighters to its cause, and given the reality of WMDs, the old, utopian-liberal ideal of nations sitting down around a table to bring peace to the world by judging the legality of international acts is unworkable. Instead, international acts must become legal in common law fashion: We have set wonderful precedent in this new arena of international common law by getting together a group of like-minded nations to combat and preempt the dangers of a rogue, evil regime bent on obtaining WMDs and willing to harbor terrorists. We have with decisive action delimited the sphere of proper motives for sovereigns acting on the world stage. We have sent a message which, over time, may come to have the force of law -- not that might makes right, but rather that might can and should make right when called to do so. Given the dual reality of evil in the world and man's ability to discern it from that which is just, this is a good compromise.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

An Aristotelean View of the New Iraq

What makes a state what it is? Aristotle called the state the 'final natural political association,' coming after and flowing from the smaller natural associations of community or town, family, and the association within each individual man. The state is the final natural association because the people have shared common values and in those a shared telos or end. This is what gives the state its cohesiveness and allows it to move forward and grow with a sense of purpose and place in the larger international community. For diverse society like America, that 'glue' is our shared belief in ordered liberty, religious tolerance, and republican governance. For a country like England or France, the 'glue' is more related to ethnicity and a long, shared cultural tradition. Without such shared values and ends, a state cannot long survive at peace with itself.

Hence, the problems in the Middle East. Not passing judgment on motives, the Middle East and the Iraq we know were created by fiat where no shared values existed. In their absence, the soil was fertile for tyranny, as where there is chaos, the demand for order makes strict rule more palatable, and that rule will grow and corrupt itself. In any such situation, pretenders to the status of 'national telos' also sprout up, providing ideological ammunition for radicals desiring to take advantage of the unstable situation. Thus, in the Middle East and in Iraq in particular, we saw radical Islamism, the lowest common denominator between the radicals in each Islamic faction, claiming to be a shared system of values with the end of a tyrannical ideological superstate, pitted against would-be fascist dictators interested in power pure and simple.

Such a situation proved to be explosive, a threat to itself, its neighbors, and its ideological enemies. For our own self-defense, America had to intervene. And to fix the situation, we must attempt to supply the lacking element that created the situation in the first place: some sort of framework of shared values and beliefs, namely, our own values of ordered liberty, religious tolerance, and republican, federal government.

We Americans believe, and quite rightly, that the set of values we cherish, those things that bind our nation together and make it a more or less 'natural' pseudo-Aristotelean state, are absolutely just and praiseworthy, moreso than those of many other states. We believe that our values of liberty and religious tolerance appeal to man's desire to be free, while democracy and republican government appeal to man's desire to have a hand in the direction and formation of his greater political community, and thus they have real, transformative power. Not only that, but as all men have these inclinations, our values, at their most basic level, can bring that transformative power to bare in any society, so long as it is made up of men and women. As Julius Caesar noted in book three of his Commentaries on the Gallic Wars, "[A]ll men, by nature love liberty and hate the condition of slavery." Thus a new Iraqi government and a new creed of freedom and democracy may be able to eventually take root and similarly provide the Aristotelean 'glue' for that diverse society just as they do our own.

Liberals, unfortunately, seem not to believe that liberty and freedom have universal applicability, they do not seem to take pride in the exultation of the ideas America stands for, and they deny that our ways have cross-cultural appeal. Day in and day out, the press seems almost to hope for America's failure, to hope that America's values cannot transform the Middle East into a peaceful place. This should not surprise us, of course, as it is an echo of liberals' historic theme. It is Jimmy Carter and his call for America to be content with having past its peak, its 'malaise.' It is the notion that to strive for the best is somehow offensive to those who do not similarly strive, or who come up a little bit shorter. It is the idea that mediocrity is acceptable and even desireable. It is the same reason that liberals sought reconciliation with Soviet Communism.

Luckily for America, we have as President a man who, like Ronald Reagan, does not settle for the mediocre and will continue to champion our values as absolutely good and prasieworthy. We have a President who, like Ronald Reagan, is optimistic about America, its way of life, and the power of our values to change the Middle East and the world. In George W. Bush, we have a true, Aristotelean, American leader.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Welcome to the Rostra

First, a bit of history with which you may well be familiar. The Rostra is the latin term for the speaker's platform that sat in the ancient forum romanum, the Forum of the ancient city of Rome. The name 'Rostra' is the plural form of 'Rostrum,' which was the name for the heavy, oak beak on the bow of war galleys used to ram other ships. In 338 B.C., the consul Gaius Maenius defeated the Volscian fleet in the harbor at Antium, and mounted the rostra of the captured enemy ships on the wall of the speaker's platform in the forum. From then on, the platform was known as 'the Rostra.' From the rostra, interested members of the various Roman orders, consulars, senators, and businessmen-knights gathered to listen to Rome's best orators and discuss matters of public business. From the Rostra politicians' careers were made or broken, while in the Forum public opinion was influenced and formed. Frequenters to the Forum waited to hear the pronouncements of the Senate read from the Rostra, public debate and discussion to follow. News of military victory or defeat, the results of elections, and news of the health of the grain supply all echoed through the Forum from the Rostra. Greats from Marcus Tullius Cicero to Gaius Julius Caesar spoke from that platform. It was the center of public deliberation, and the center of the Roman Republic.

Holding no such pretentions but in that same spirit do I begin this weblog.

Current events will be highlighted and discussed with a view to exposing error and bringing out truth. Through the dual lenses of history and political philosophy, and with a firm belief in the concepts of Truth and the Good (two things too often lacking in modern political dialogue), I hope to get my readers thinking about what really is, and how it differs from what ought to be. For wherever there is an 'is', there is an 'ought'. I hope you enjoy this space, and please spread the word!