reading list

This will be the last reading list before Christmas. I offer three pieces from the National Review and one from the New York Times.

Many of you will watch The Crown over the Christmas break, so this piece at National Review caught my eye. It is true, the series ‘slanders’ Prince Philip (according to some commentators) but this piece, taken in the round, makes the case for the monarchy.

Kyle Smith explains the appeal: ‘The series writer Peter Morgan’s approach is neither to grovel before the throne nor to sneer at it but simply to imagine what it might be like to sit on it. As we pick up the saga in 1957, the power of the monarchy is long gone. How does one find purpose in being a national ornament?’

It is a thoughtful piece.

The sexual harassment crisis rolls on in the United States. This piece in the New York Times is a very important account of Harvey Weinstein and the methods he used to control the media, how he used politicians and celebrity status to exploit and sexually harass actresses.

It details the financial support Weinstein gave to the Democrats, and Hillary Clinton in particular. It also tells how the Clinton campaign was warned that Weinstein was probably a man who sexually harasses women. It didn’t seem to make much of a difference.

We are told that ‘after Mr Clinton faced impeachment in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Weinstein donated $10,000 to Mr Clinton’s legal defense fund. Mr Weinstein was a fund-raiser and informal adviser during Mrs Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign, a guest in her hotel suite when she won and a host of an A-list victory party. He was an early backer of both her presidential bids.’ It is a long but very important read.

In thinking about what to do about the tidal wave of sexual harassment David French has a conservative approach. He asks how we should bring up boys to become the men we want them to be. Unsurprisingly he views marriage as the crucial institution that civilises men.

French believes that ‘a sex drive channelled into a sacred, lifelong marriage bonds husband and wife together and creates and builds families. Physical strength means that a man can be a protector in the way that many women cannot – and not just from the rare physical threat of another man. In times of crisis, what do we so often see? Men disproportionately emerging to do the hard physical labor of rescue and rebuilding. In times of ordinary physical need – whether it’s repairs or relocation – again, it’s disproportionately men who do the work. In a very real way, a good man can be a shelter from the storm.’

French continues: ‘Raise a boy to live for himself, with a sense of entitlement, and he will often unleash that enormous inborn energy in the most destructive of ways. Raise a boy to live for others, with a sense of obligation, and that same energy can build a nation and sustain a culture. We can’t make a perfect world, but we do have a choice. Better or worse? It’s time to recognize and respond to human nature, or – despite the best of intentions – we will continue to choose to be worse.’

Finally, we end with conservatism and its future.

In this piece, Clay Routledge at National Review charts the decline of the conservative mind. Looking at research and trends he argues that the rising generation is far less resilient and freedom-loving than those that have gone before. As such, Routledge believes the threat to conservatism does not necessarily come from the likes of Trump and Roy Moore, but from psychological trends.

‘The biggest threats to conservatism are psychological, not demographic, trends. As an actual philosophy of life and not just a low-resolution tribal marker, conservatism thrives when people are mentally resilient, self-reliant, and strongly invested in the interpersonal bonds that make small government viable: family, friends, and community. At the national level, all of these psychological characteristics are in decline, and with them, so is principled conservatism.’

This is something we have warned about repeatedly in the British political landscape and Routledge notes that ‘winning elections is not the same as using conservative principles to address pressing social and economic challenges’

He concludes: ‘Trump isn’t the future of conservatism. He is a prophetic warning of its retreat.’

Finally, I take this opportunity to thank our readers for their support and to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.


  1. “…marriage as the crucial institution that civilises men.”

    In a similar vein Samuel Clemens was once asked: “What would become of men without women?”
    He replied “Scarce sir….mighty scarce”.

  2. Routledge is saying what I have been observing , the decline of community.i lived abroad from age 25 to 38 and felt isolated and foreign until I began a university course and went to work.I also loved the culture of Italy.The bonds within familes there are strong and also within towns.I thnk they are more likely to survive the purge of family and national ties which Peter Sutherland and the EU has inflicted upon us.
    Here in the UK we are attacked at all levels, I believe that it is probable that democracy is over.

  3. Boys have for some time been battered by the media and in schools by an ultra feminised education system. Turning that particular juggernaut around is a long term task which society has not even started.
    I’m afraid we have a long way down before things can improve

    • The education system is not simply feminised. It is also effeminate. For an illustration of this just look at the rush to close schools because of snow a few days ago. When I was at school in the 1950s and 60s any such suggestion would have been regarded with incredulity.

      Snowflakes, with a capital S, cannot cope with snowflakes with a lower-case s – or their teachers cannot.

  4. Encouraging boys to enter marriage under the belief that they will be rewarded for it is the monumental lie that destroys men as that kind of servitude will not necessarily make women respect men, in fact it goes against their nature of what a man really is. Before feminist subversion destroyed our society that kind of thinking was a pretty little lie that conditioned men into monogamy and worked relatively well. As women nowadays can provide for themselves and often with a better wage then men, then a servile man who can provide at a lesser rate than women can are not attractive qualities. Feminism is Marxism in a dress and is all about the destruction of the family unit but they need men to believe the lie to keep them docile.

    I do not advocate that men should avoid marriage. I just say that men should build up respect from women so that they serve men instead of the other way round in order to keep the relationship stable. Love, honour, obey really is the bedrock of our civilisation.

  5. All good recommendations, as always. And yes, Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year to you, Laura, your cohorts here, and indeed to one of the finest commentariats on the internets.

    I must say that I very much fear that Mr. Routledge is correct, but remind all that we’ve been going to h*ll in a handcart since Christ was a corporal and the end is not yet. Things wax as wane as always.

  6. The American Franciscan, Richard Rohr, has written a number of articles, and books, about bringing up boys. He points out that in many traditional societies, teenage boys underwent a test to bring them to manhood – to initiate them – such as surviving in the wild for a period. This was to (partly) break their bond with their mother. Mothers have most to do with bringing up their children; to become men, boys have to break from this (girls learn more gradually to become women by copying/following their mother’s example). In the past, in the West, National Service provided some kind of initiation programme. In the absence of this, many boys/young men find a substitute in various types of gangs.

  7. Talking about a chunk of the younger generation not being conservative voters and blathering on about mental issues misses the point… … might vote ‘Conservative’ if you’ve got your house and decent job……..if you haven’t, if you’re on a ZHC contract on NMW….why would you vote for Blues that like the idea of the Beecroft Agenda that makes it easy for bosses to sack on a whim…with no comeback on them. Like the hysterical spiel about Momentum….the ‘Momers’ aren’t rabidly left wing, they are mainly (or at least appear to be) middle class younger people raging at the fact that old generations really did f**k ’em over by wrecking pensions (JM followed by GB), allowing s**t contracts, failing to build enough homes, stagnant wages, expensive transport…. …hellfire….if the Blues took on some of the vested interests in their own party…..they’d be in power for years….

  8. ‘As we pick up the saga in 1957, the power of the monarchy is long gone. How does one find purpose in being a national ornament?’
    I would take issue with that statement.
    In 1957 the power of the monarchy was not long gone. The Victorian political commentator Walter Bageot wrote that the constitutional monarchy had one function and one alone, which was to withhold ultimate power. On an election the leader of a party able to command a majority in the Commons is given a writ of government valid for five years, or until that majority is no longer sustainable, whereupon power reverts to the Crown.
    In 1957 that still obtained, but in the next decades the sovereignty that Elizabeth II had sworn to protect and preserve for her successors had been signed away in four bills that she signed into law.
    The first bill, brought to her by Heath, gave her the opportunity to say ‘Mr Heath, you are asking me to sign away the sovereignty that I swore to preserve. Constitutionally I have to sign it into law. I will do as you ask IF you take the bill back to the Commons and publicly tell the Commons and the people what you are asking me to do. If the Commons instruct me to sign I will do as they tell me. But I will not sign until then.’
    Would Heath have insisted that she sign and taken it back to the Commons and the public? I think not.
    That’s when the monarchy became a national ornament.

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