Europe Under Pressure


“Germany First!” was the rallying cry this week of German euroskeptic party AfD on immigration policy. From The Octavian Report, here’s Germany’s youngest-ever defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg on Europe under pressure.


It is a fitting irony that Norbert Elias, the great German-British social historian and sociologist, was both a refugee and for much of his adult life a professional nomad — he did not, like so many historians, manage to find a cushy appointment early in his career and remained without a stable academic job until late in his life. Perhaps this very dislocation is what gives his work the powerful insight into the evolution of social mores that characterizes it: few other historians see with as keen an eye into the epochal processes in and among nations and principalities shape and define the lives of their subjects and citizens.

The Civilizing Process has a dual aim: to locate the genesis (the sociogenesis, to use one of Norbert’s own favorite terms) of the idea of civilization and to examine, through the changing history of personal manners, the gradual centralization of state power in Western Europe. For anyone wishing to understand the origins of contemporary social and political life, this book is essential: Norbert recounts, with agility and erudition worn incredibly lightly, one of the most earthshaking transformations in world history.


We live in the Age of the Reboot — and the Star Wars universe looks like it is going to be mined for new content for the rest of our natural lives. Without taking any position on the prequels or sequels . . . actually, we’re going to come out and say that no matter how much you may have loved The Force Awakens there’s no way anyone can seriously argue it comes close to the magic of Lucas’s breakthrough space opera Star Wars.

It’s about as classic as movies get: a primal tale of ultimate good versus ultimate evil, the painful relationships between parents and children, and the difficulties and dangers of self-discovery. Though its special effects and production design were groundbreaking, Star Wars is a film driven more than anything else by character (something missing from so many of our latter-day CGI extravaganzas). If you haven’t seen it — what are you waiting for? If you have, watch it again. Ideally with your own kids, so you can see the light in their eyes.

ON THIS DAY IN 1929 . . .

The year 1929 was a tragic one for the Jewish community in mandatory Palestine. Riots and killings plagued Jews throughout that year. The Hebron Massacres formed an especially dark thread of the story, as Hebron was a community where Arabs and Jews had lived in relative peace for several centuries. Still, on the evening of Friday August 23rd, the first sings of anti-Jewish violence began. These would spread the following morning into a full0-blown internal pogrom, with attacks launched against homes in the town’s Jewish areas and violent murders committed against families, including women and children.

The episode is a somber reminder that anti-Semitism has masked itself as anti-zionism since long before the creation of the state of Israel.