Category Archives: History

CATO Institute Events: Weltschmerz: How the West Lost Its Mojo and What Liberals Can Do to Fix It


A generation ago, humanity witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall, the disappearance of the Eastern European bloc, and the breakup of the Soviet Union. Many thought that the victory of liberal democracy and competitive enterprise over communism and central planning would usher in a lasting era of peace and prosperity, but now the West appears to be undergoing an existential crisis. Across some of the most successful societies in history, liberal institutions are under attack from the far left and the far right. What brought about this stunning crisis of confidence in Western values and institutions and the ascendency of political and economic populism?

Source: Weltschmerz: How the West Lost Its Mojo and What Liberals Can Do to Fix It | Cato Institute

Know Your Enemy Podcast: How They Did It, Pt. 2: The Christian Right and Roe

At long last, Matt and Sam dive into the origins of the Christian right—a complicated tale often flattened by contemporary debates. What was the history of Christian anti-abortion activism before Roe, and how soon after the landmark Supreme Court decision did conservative Christians coalesce around the abortion—and other issues—to become the political force we know today? What did it take to get Catholics and evangelicals to join forces, and what were the barriers to them coming together, especially given the history of anti-Catholicism in the United States? And how did all this help reshape the GOP into a vehicle for anti-abortion politics, given that such a scenario was not fated on the eve of Roe? Your hosts take up these questions and more, stopping in the early 1990s—when they’ll pick up with the story in the third and final episode in the series.

Myth of the 20th Century Episode 239: The Rise of Goldman Sachs

As a $60 billion a year investment bank engaged in market making and asset management for equities, fixed income, commodity and derivative securities for large institutional clients, Goldman Sachs, having been founded in 1869, is arguably the world’s most recognizable name on Wall Street. Known for attracting some of the best financial talent, it is both respected and feared, in some cases being accused of “ripping their clients off” in the relentless pursuit of profits. Defenders of firms like Goldman Sachs make a big deal about how they’re instrumental in the efficient allocation of (financial) capital, but one could argue the concentration of highly intelligent and motivated individuals operating what amounts to a glorified casino is a gross misallocation of human capital, robbing other critical sectors of talent that would otherwise have gone to engineering real solutions, not financial ones.

Source: The Rise of Goldman Sachs (Myth20c – Ep239)

Lawfare Podcast: Private Sector Intelligence with Lewis Sage-Passant

When the term “intelligence” comes up regarding an organization, most of us immediately think of government institutions. And there’s a good reason for that; nation-states have become the centers of the most prominent intelligence collection, analysis, and direct action. But that’s far from the whole story. Increasingly, corporations are developing intelligence units of their own to uncover and assess threats to their personnel and facilities, analyze geopolitical and environmental risks that might affect their business prospects, and even take actions traditionally associated with governments. In this episode of Chatter, David Priess chats about all of this and more with Lewis Sage-Passant—who has built on his experiences in British military intelligence, private sector intelligence, crisis management, and related PhD research to explore the history, evolution, and ethics of this intriguing and challenging domain. They discuss the long history of private sector intelligence efforts, the difficulty disentangling early commercial efforts from government purposes, the fabled Pinkertons in the United States, the development of intelligence around modern corporations, the ethical issues that arise in this realm—and James Bond.

Source: The Chatter Podcast: Private Sector Intelligence with Lewis Sage-Passant – Lawfare

The Worthy House Book Review: A Gallop in Ethiopia: Wax, Gold & the Abyssinian Pony (Yves-Marie Stranger)

It has been a long time, a millennium and a half, since Ethiopia was a relevant player on the world stage. But I sometimes wonder if, as the present age grinds to its stupid end, the time of Ethiopia, with its ancient, self-confident Christian civilization, has come round again. Out of the corner of my mind’s eye, I see the Ethiopians sweeping northwards to dominate the Middle East, then replacing much of what is left of the decayed Europeans, perhaps linking up with their Orthodox brethren, expelling the Turks, and returning most of Eurasia to the Christian fold, igniting a new syncretic civilization. Probably not, but why not? That’s what we’re going to explore today.

I freely admit I do not really understand much about present-day Ethiopia, although I know a few more facts than the average American (which is to say I know more than zero) about Ethiopian history. This is mostly because I previously read and discussed G. W. Bowersock’s The Throne of Adulis, the focus of which is late Classical Ethiopia, including the Aksumite Empire. My ignorance about Ethiopia has, however, been somewhat alleviated by reading this very interesting book. A Gallop in Ethiopia is not a reference work, or even a work that is easily classifiable. It is like a spotlight, that briefly and idiosyncratically illuminates a variety of fascinating topics in turn. It is a type of autobiography, of a Frenchman, Yves-Marie Stranger, who moved almost by chance to Ethiopia in 2000, stayed, married an Ethiopian woman, and returned to France in 2016. In those years, Ethiopia underwent great change, as did Stranger himself, and he shares glimpses of his adventure with his readers.

Source: A Gallop in Ethiopia: Wax, Gold & the Abyssinian Pony (Yves-Marie Stranger) • The Worthy House

Wisdom of Crowds: One Hundred Years of American Conservatism

Ideas have consequences. From the early 2000s Matt Continetti, the author of the fascinating new book The Right, has worked at some of the leading institutions of American conservatism. He has seen firsthand how many of them fallen or lost their way. But where conservatism’s critics see a movement that has become unrecognizable and even dangerous, Continetti sees instead a rich, vibrant, and messy war of ideas, institutions, and personalities. This week, Continetti—the co-founder of the Washington Free Beacon and a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute—offered us a panoramic look at the past and future of the American right and its sometimes odd intellectual evolution. How much do ideas really matter? How might the Republican Party have been different had 9/11 not happened? And would the conservative movement have even been possible without the pervasive threat of communism?

Source: One Hundred Years of American Conservatism

The Z Blog: Getting Preachy

In the biological sciences, there are a group of measures used to test the health of an ecosystem or the health of a species. In the case of a species, estimates of the population are usually the starting place. Then it may be the population density of the species, which can determine if the pressure is the loss of habitat or some unknown environmental factor that is lowering fertility. It is assumed that a declining population relative to territory is always a sign of crisis in a species.

Of course, these measures are never used to test the health of European populations because that is a conspiracy theory. Everyone knows that all you have to do is utter the abracadabra phrase “conspiracy theory” and all of the related things that are easily observed can no longer be mentioned. Putting that aside, the same measures we use to test the health of a species could be applied to humans. In fact, we could have much more granular and accurate measures.

For example, we cannot know the total fertility rate of a frog species, but we do know the fertility rate of humans. In fact, we could break it down by race and ethnicity if we really wanted to know the answer. We know that the population of European people, relative to other populations has declined significantly over the last century. We also know the population density of Europeans in Western lands, relative to other races has also declined significantly over the last century.

Unlike frogs or bats, humans have quantifiable social habits that are tied to the health and wellbeing of the people. Church attendance in the West, for example, correlates with fertility rates. Across the West, church attendance has been in decline and along with it the overall fertility rate. In parts of Europe, churches are now museums used at Christmas and Easter for largely secular ceremonies. In the United States, the ruling classes mocks and ridicules Christians.

This overall drop in church attendance tracks with the growing social unrest and the alarming decline is social trust. Put another way, a healthy society can have a good government or a bad government, but it can thrive because it has an abundance of social capital as measured by trust its primary social institution. On the other hand, a society in crisis has declining social capital. Trust in the organic institutions like the church, declines, reflecting the collapse in social trust.

There is a lot here, but the one thing we can know for certain is that Christianity in the West is in crisis. That crisis seems to parallel the crisis facing European people, which suggests there is a connection. Maybe the decline in faith is a symptom of the overall decline in the people or maybe all of these measures have a common cause that lies upstream from the culture. The “who decides’ answer is controlling the “how things are decided” side of the formula.

Source: Getting Preachy | The Z Blog