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Thursday’s Reading List – royalty, Harvey and Hillary, making a man and conservatism’s end


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.

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