Hope and Optimism on the Planet of the Apes (Tyler Hummel, 5/17/24, Voegelin View)

As a story told from the apes’ perspective, it is a strangely optimistic trilogy. The ape’s near-literal exodus from confinement to the promised land creates one of the strangest Moses allegories in contemporary fiction, while still being about humorous talking monkeys. The human characters that form the ensemble never return between movies, due to being implicitly killed off. Caesar, Maurice, and Koba are the most empathetic and consistent characters of the trilogy, and the story of apes seeking their freedom—united by brotherhood and loyalty—is the lone spot of hope in a franchise where the only possible ending is the end of the world and the fated end of mankind.

They’re endowed by their Creator with the right to self-determination.


Winning for democracy: In Poland, Donald Tusk shows how to reach voters tempted by authoritarians (JOHN AUSTIN, LUCAS KREUZER AND KAMIL LUNGU 15 MAY 2024, Inside Story)

In the United States, Europe and beyond, there is a lot of unease about the future of democracy. Will Donald Trump regain the White House? Will the Republican congressional minority, enthralled by Trump, imperil democratic Europe and possibly NATO itself, despite a recent vote for Ukraine aid? Will France or Germany fall to ethnonationalists and fascists?

Against this backdrop, Poland’s parliamentary elections and the selection of Donald Tusk as prime minister last October offered a hopeful counterpoint. Voters embraced Europe and the world to rebuild democratic institutions torn apart by ten years of right-wing populist rule under Jarosław Kaczyński and his Polish Law and Justice Party.

A new analysis offers encouraging details. A larger-than-normal turnout, driven partly by a motivated cohort of younger voters, was a triumph for democracy. The analysis comes from two of the authors of this piece, Lucas Kreuzer and Kamil Lungu, graduates of Georgetown University’s BMW Center for German and European Affairs. The Polish election recommitted the country to tolerance, democracy and Europe after a decade of right-wing, populist rule that had sought to dismantle democratic institutions and stigmatise marginalised communities.


More People, More Prosperity: The Simon Abundance Index: The Simon Abundance Index 2024 finds Earth’s resources 509% more plentiful than in 1980. (Marian L. Tupy, 22 Apr 2024, Quillette)

Between 1980 and 2023, the average time price of the 50 basic commodities fell by 70.4 percent. For the time required to earn the money to buy one unit of this commodity basket in 1980, you would get 3.38 units in 2023. In other words, your resource abundance increased by 238 percent. Moreover, during this 43-year period, the world’s population grew by 3.6 billion, from 4.4 billion to over 8 billion: an 80.2 percent increase. Given that personal resource abundance grew by 238 percent ((3.38 – 1) x 100) and the population grew by 80.2 percent, we can say that the population-level resource abundance rose by 509.4 percent ((3.38 x 1.802) x 100 – 100). Population-level resource abundance grew at a compound annual rate of 4.3 percent and every 1-percentage-point increase in population corresponded to a 6.35-percentage-point increase in population-level resource abundance (509.4 ÷ 80.2 = 6.35).


Republicans Are More United on Foreign Policy Than It Seems (Matthew Kroenig, APRIL 13, 2024, Foreign Policy)

Some observers might object that a Trump-Reagan fusion is an oxymoron, given that the leaders’ world views and personalities are so different, but they have much in common. Both were outsiders to Washington. Both were Democrats and entertainers before they became Republican politicians, and both were castigated as unserious and even reckless. Nevertheless, they became the most influential Republican presidents in recent decades, and one cannot make sense of Republican policy today without understanding them both.

Conservatives and progressives have fundamentally different beliefs about the nature of the international system and the role the U.S. government should play in world affairs. As conservatives, members of both wings of today’s Republican Party agree that it is the duty of the U.S. government to secure American interests in a dangerous world. By contrast, progressives tend to prioritize cooperation with other nations to address shared global challenges, such as climate change and public health.

On defense policy, conservatives share a broader commitment to the United States showing enough strength that no adversary dare challenge it—to attain the goal of peace. In this view, force should be used sparingly and decisively. Today’s Republicans support a strong national defense and oppose both what they perceive as the Biden administration’s excessive caution, such as overwrought fears of escalation in ongoing wars in Europe and the Middle East, and neo-conservatives’ extended military interventions.

Actually, conservatives/liberals are irreconcilable with the Left/Right precisely over the notion of American interests. We believe with the Declaration that all men are entitled to self-determination while the Identitarians care only for themselves.


Dawkins and ‘cultural Christianity’: what does it all mean? (Heather Tomlinson, 05 April 2024, Christianity Today)

However it could be said that Dawkins hasn’t really contributed that much to the decline. The poor arguments of his ilk have in some people prompted a move towards faith, and caused other positive effects such as sharpening the Church’s intellectual capabilities. The deterioration of Christian belief in the UK has been gradual and a long time coming: writers CS Lewis and GK Chesterton, for example, predicted the trajectory many decades ago. Dawkins’ personal contribution has been minimal.

What is also new is a more widespread questioning of the dogma of progressivism – the relentless pursuit of improvement while sidelining or completely rejecting tradition, which in practice has often included Christian belief. This momentum is perceived as a good thing by most people today, unaware that it is a fairly new idea: previous generations were more respectful of their history. Attempts to re-engineer an imaginary “better world” often lead to unforeseen consequences, as Dawkins seems to be learning as he mourns the loss of Christian culture while rejecting the tenets that had created and sustained it.

Esme Partridge in Unherd slammed Dawkins comments as “naivety”. She argued his attitude is similar to another huge social change: his generation’s stance on the sexual revolution. They personally benefitted from the old morals, yet at the same time put the future availability of such positive effects in question by attacking their foundations.

“Dawkins’s belief that it is possible to reap the cultural benefits of Christianity while publicly undermining its legitimacy is perhaps an expression of this generational mentality,” she wrote. This was also the attitude of Enlightenment thinkers such as Locke and Montesquieu, who believed that liberal values would be upheld without Christianity. Partridge points out that this has been shown to be false too, as they have mutated into “anarchic systems of self-interest which undermine the virtues upon which liberalism was originally premised.”

She adds her voice to the calls for a renewal. “Like any organism, Christianity must recover its roots, or it will die — a fact of life which, as an evolutionary biologist, Dawkins ought to appreciate,” she said.

Everyone is culturally Christian. You can’t have a Clash of Civilizations when there is only one.


Why Vietnam admires capitalism (Rainer Zitelmann, 4/04/24, The Article)

Why Vietnam admires capitalismHo Chi Minh city, Vietnam & Capitalism (image created in Shutterstock)
Officially, Vietnam calls itself “socialist”, but ever since the Doi Moi reforms at the end of the 1980s, the country has been steadily moving toward a market economy. Vietnam has opened up to the outside world more than China, it welcomes private investors, and an entrepreneurial spirit is making itself felt throughout the country. […]

In contrast, the two countries that describe themselves as socialist – as Vietnam does – receive the lowest levels of approval: only 40 percent of Vietnamese respondents admire China’s economic system, while 55 percent say they disapprove of it. The proportion of respondents who like North Korea’s economic system is even lower, at 35 percent, while 38 percent reject it.

We won the war.


How Capitalism Beat Communism in Vietnam: It only took a generation to go from ration cards to exporting electronics. (RAINER ZITELMANN, MAY 2024, reason)

In 1990, with a per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of $98, Vietnam was the poorest country in the world, behind Somalia and Sierra Leone. Every bad harvest led to hunger, and Vietnam relied on food aid from the United Nations and financial assistance from the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries. As late as 1993, 79.7 percent of the Vietnamese population was living in poverty.

By 2020, the poverty rate had fallen to 5 percent. Vietnam is now one of the most dynamic countries in the world, with a vibrant economy that creates great opportunities for hardworking people and entrepreneurs. Once a country unable to produce enough rice to feed its own population, it has become one of the world’s largest rice exporters, and a major electronics exporter too.

You can’t have a clash of civilizations when there is only one.


The Religion That Remade the World: a review of Dominion by Tom Holland (John F. Doherty, 2/07/24, Public Discourse)

The thesis of Dominion, like that of Christopher Dawson’s Progress and Religion, is that the Enlightenment’s account of “progress” is a myth. Everything on which modern Westerners pride themselves—the separation of politics from religion, respect for the dignity of each human being, and a zeal to eradicate injustice—traces its origins not to secular reason and science, but to the Christian faith.

The concept of human rights started not in revolutionary politics but in the canon law of the medieval Catholic Church—a law rooted in the belief that man is made in God’s image and that God took on human flesh in Jesus. European Christians enslaved non-Europeans, but their worship of the God-man who let himself be crucified, stung their consciences so much, or so inspired those they oppressed to revolt, that slavery and colonialism eventually died out. It was also Christianity, not 1960s feminism, that elevated women’s status in society and marriage, through the veneration of women saints like Macrina of Cappadocia, Catherine of Siena, and Mary the Mother of Jesus.

Even apparently anti-Christian Western movements are inescapably Christian. Secularism would not have been possible unless Jesus had distinguished “the things of God” from “the things of Caesar.” Disbelief in the miraculous began with Christian wonder at the wisdom of nature as God created it: why look for extraordinary interventions of God on earth when creation itself is miraculous enough? Progressivism’s zeal for social reform began in the Protestant Reformation, which itself continued the medieval clerical reform movements that were begun by Pope Gregory VII.

No Imago Dei, no basis for rights.


Saudi Arabia: The Chimera of A Grand Alliance (REUEL MARC GERECHT, Liberties Journal)

Which brings us to the current Saudi crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the country — easily the most detested Saudi royal in the West since the kingdom’s birth. With the exception of Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, who is the most indefatigable Middle Eastern dictator since World War II, MBS is the most consequential autocrat in the region. And the prince made a proposal to America — a proposal that may survive the Gaza war, which has reanimated anti-Zionism and constrained the Gulf Arab political elite’s decade-old tendency to deal more openly with the Jewish state. To wit: he is willing to establish an unparalleled tight and lucrative relationship with Washington, and let bygones be bygones — forget the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and all the insults by Joe Biden — so long as America is willing to guarantee Saudi Arabia’s security… […]

When it came to cult worship, Saudi kings and princes had been fairly low-key compared to most other Middle Eastern rulers. Yet MBS’ sentiments are, again, more modern. He has effectively established a police state — the first ever in Saudi history. His creation is certainly not as ruthless as the Orwellian nightmares of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or Assad’s Syria; it is neither as loaded with internal spies nor rife with prison camps as Abdul Fattah El-Sisi’s Egypt. But MBS’ Arabia is a work in progress. Those in America and Israel who advocate that the United States should draw closer to MBS, so as to anchor a new anti-Iran alliance in Riyadh, are in effect saying that we should endorse MBS and his vision of a more secular, female-driving, anti-Islamist Saudi Arabia without highlighting its other, darker aspects, or that we should just ignore the kingdom’s internal affairs and focus on what the crown prince gives us externally. This realist calculation usually leads first back to the negatives: without the crown prince’s support of American interests, Russia, China, and Iran, the revisionist axis that has been gaining ground as America has been retrenching, will do even better. And then the positive: Saudi recognition of Israel would permanently change the Jewish state’s standing in the Muslim world — a long-sought goal of American diplomacy.

The prince clearly knows how much Benjamin Netanyahu wants Saudi Arabia’s official recognition of Israel. The Israeli prime minister has loudly put it at the top of his foreign-policy agenda. (Before the Gaza war, it might have had the additional benefit of rehabilitating him at home.) The prince clearly knows how much American Jewry wants to see an Israeli embassy in Riyadh. And after some initial weariness, the Biden administration now wants to add the kingdom to the Abraham Accords. Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and Sudan recognizing Israel was good, but Saudi Arabia would be better. Although the White House certainly hasn’t thought through how the United States would fit into an Israeli-Saudi-US defensive alliance, whether it would even be politically or militarily possible, the administration proffered the idea before Biden went to Saudi Arabia in 2022 — or echoed an earlier, vaguer Saudi suggestion of a defensive pact — as part of Riyadh’s official recognition of Israel. Given the importance that MBS attaches to things Jewish, he may well believe his offer of Israeli recognition gives him considerable leverage in future dealings with the United States.

Joe Biden paved the way for MBS’ go-big proposal by making one of the most embarrassing flips in presidential history. Biden came into office pledging to reevaluate US-Saudi ties and cast MBS permanently into the cold for the gruesome killing of Khashoggi and, a lesser sin, making a muck of the war in Yemen, which has led to the United States, given its crucial role in maintaining and supplying the Saudi Air Force, being an accomplice in a bombing campaign that has had a negligible effect on the Shiite Houthis capacity to fight but has killed thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of Yemeni civilians. (In civil wars, it is hard to know who is starving whom, but the Saudi role in bringing starvation to Yemen has not been negligible.) Fearing another hike in oil prices before the midterm elections, Biden travelled to Saudi Arabia, fist-bumping MBS and getting not much in return except reestablishing what has been true in US–Saudi relations from the beginning, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt hosted two of King Ibn Saud’s sons in Washington: everything is transactional.

We conspire to deny Arabs the self-determination we claim is universal and then wonder why we are unpopular.


Vancouver’s new mega-development is big, ambitious and undeniably Indigenous: In B.C., Indigenous nations are reclaiming power and wealth for their own citizens—no matter what the neighbours thin (Michelle Cyca, March 11, 2024, Macleans)

Sen̓áḵw is big, ambitious and undeniably urban—and undeniably Indigenous. It’s being built on reserve land owned by the Squamish First Nation, and it’s spearheaded by the Squamish Nation itself, in partnership with the private real estate developer Westbank. Because the project is on First Nations land, not city land, it’s under Squamish authority, free of Vancouver’s zoning rules. And the Nation has chosen to build bigger, denser and taller than any development on city property would be allowed.

Predictably, not everyone has been happy about it. Critics have included local planners, politicians and, especially, residents of Kitsilano Point, a rarified beachfront neighbourhood bordering the reserve. And there’s been an extra edge to their critiques that’s gone beyond standard-issue NIMBYism about too-tall buildings and preserving neighbourhood character. There’s also been a persistent sense of disbelief that Indigenous people could be responsible for this futuristic version of urban living. In 2022, Gordon Price, a prominent Vancouver urban planner and a former city councillor, told Gitksan reporter Angela Sterritt, “When you’re building 30, 40-storey high rises out of concrete, there’s a big gap between that and an Indigenous way of building.

The subtext is as unmissable as a skyscraper: Indigenous culture and urban life—let alone urban development—don’t mix. That response isn’t confined to Sen̓áḵw, either. On Vancouver’s west side, the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations—through a joint partnership called MST Development Corp.—are planning a 12-tower development called the Heather Lands. In 2022, city councillor Colleen Hardwick said of that project, “How do you reconcile Indigenous ways of being with 18-storey high-rises?” (Hardwick, it goes without saying, is not Indigenous.) MST is also planning an even bigger development, called Iy̓álmexw in the Squamish language and ʔəy̓alməxʷ in Halkomelem. Better known as Jericho Lands, it will include 13,000 new homes on a 90-acre site. At a city council meeting this January, a stream of non-Indigenous residents turned up to oppose it. One woman speculated that the late Tsleil-Waututh Chief Dan George would be outraged at the “monstrous development on sacred land.”

To Indigenous people themselves, though, these developments mark a decisive moment in the evolution of our sovereignty in this country. The fact is, Canadians aren’t used to seeing Indigenous people occupy places that are socially, economically or geographically valuable, like Sen̓áḵw. After decades of marginalization, our absence seems natural, our presence somehow unnatural. Something like Sen̓áḵw is remarkable not just in terms of its scale and economic value (expected to generate billions in revenue for the Squamish Nation). It’s remarkable because it’s a restoration of our authority and presence in the heart of a Canadian city. […]

What chafes critics, even those who might consider themselves progressive, is that they expect reconciliation to instead look like a kind of reversal, rewinding the tape of history to some museum-diorama past.

Hilarious that the Left expected the End of History to pass them by.