Review – The New Philistines: How Identity Politics Disfigure the Arts by Sohrab Ahmari
Identity politics, that very modern ideological constellation, with its fixation on race, class and gender, has migrated from academia into the arts. Queer theory, feminist readings, post-colonial studies – all these have carved out significant positions at the heart of the art world. Many artists and ‘creatives’ aspire to these doctrines; they increasingly govern the propagation of culture as well as new criticism of canonical art. Such things matter more than could be expected. Continue reading →
‘The revolutionary government owes to the good citizen all the protection of the nation; it owes nothing to the Enemies of the People but death.’ So declared Maximilien Robespierre in a speech delivered to the French National Convention on Christmas Day, 1793. Continue reading →
The continued popularity and influence of Edward Gibbon’s classic work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire represents something of a conundrum. Long included as part of the canon of great historical writing (if such a thing can be said to exist), it is hardly perfect; indeed, there are many reasons – superficially at least – why it should be disregarded by contemporary students. Continue reading →
Cerebrotonic Cato may
Extoll the Ancient Disciplines,
But the muscle-bound Marines
Mutiny for food and pay.
Caesar’s double bed is warm
As an unimportant clerk
Writes I DO NOT LIKE MY WORK On a pink official form.
W. H. Auden, “The Fall of Rome”
Though the current trouble affecting the Conservative party in no way resembles the malaise affecting its Labour equivalent, there is certainly a sense – one which is reinforced by media coverage and the proclamations of opposition politicians – that the party is in trouble, even crisis, ahead of the upcoming referendum on the European Union. Continue reading →
The Roman genius was, in many ways, channelled through and marshalled in its creativity. Monuments, great feats of cultural and civic engineering, the notion of a long-lasting and unifying empire – all of these stand as testament to the legacy of Rome. An aspect of this abundant ingenuity can be found in the history of Roman law, and in its applications to other, later legal systems. Many of them owe a great deal, even if it is unspoken, to what came before. In this instance the hand of history is a heavy one; and since the rule of law and its corollaries are so essential to the equitable and prosperous arrangement and maintenance of society, such a subject is ripe for both study and – one hopes – interest. Continue reading →
This essay aims to explore one of the most attractive and oft-examined events in the history of Western Europe, namely the transition between the late Roman Republic and the early Empire, but from a wider perspective than that by which it is most frequently investigated. Rather than attempting to look at this period through the prism of military and political history exclusively, this essay will attempt to do so with reference to wider cultural indicators in addition to that previously mentioned. This piece concludes that this question is rather more complicated than conventional wisdom, and much earlier study, dictates, and that further and wider research is necessary in order for historians truly to appreciate the complexity of the issue at hand. Continue reading →