« "Destabilization" comes home to roost. | Main | HARPER: IRAN-CONTRA LIAR ABRAMS NO PLACE AT STATE DEPT »

03 February 2017


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Thank you for your kind reply. I imagined the spelling might have been due to some keyboard limitations. I have been using MS for almost 30 years and have added the character sets for a number of languages. That allows me to insert the letters I need from foreign languages to refer to foreign words. I usually know how to spell the word with the correct accents, but the Microsoft makes it easy for me to get the spelling correct with the proper accents for many European languages even though I rarely write in more than two or three others aside from English, and, in those, what I write is very rudimentary.

Babak Makkinejad

I agree, the Patricians have their Utopia and the Plebs theirs.

Both have been quite willing to beat men into line in achieving their respective Utopias.

Babak Makkinejad

Sultan Mohammad II only extinguished the last flame of that civilization; he did not destroy it.


I think we are beginning to turn the corner (as a physicist I am also partial to the quantitative and material worlds too), thanks to two factors:

1. monetization of social media is slowly yielding a more honored place for empirical qualitative research methods with lal of its messy real-life complexities compared to the past stances of disdain and mockery of social sciences and humanities.

2. growing distrust of politicized main stream media narratives and dog whistle reactions seems to be inspiring a more sophisticated skepticism among more and more of the regular joe and jane public not so formally schooled in analytic philosophy. I don't have the data to prove it, but one reason HRC lost and DT won the Potus seat was the absolute refusal of vast swathes of tea partiers, alt rights, alt lefts, left and right libertarians, and bernie bros to givr their votes away ont he basis of dog whistle superficialities while watching msm shun bernie and anyone else who wanted to talk about actual policy and structural economics. The crowds of 10-20 thousand that came out to hear Bernie and Trump evidenced a burning passion by vast swathes of the working public to talk and hear about policy issues and rational discourse. Even in recent days, Bernie bros refuse to give Pelosi and Schumer and other fake left Wall St fronts the time of day, even to denounce the worst dirty laundry held up in public about Donald Trump. They aren't buying it, and even Bernie himself seems to be starting to realize those formerly sympathetic to the democrats are not coming back any time soon, and certainly not before dnc undergoes a regime change of its own.

So, although i am by nature more of a pessimist, in this case I think there are signs of a healthy and growing critical appreciation for humanities and the qualitative values of living "a life worth living." Provided violent outbursts can be contained, channeled into safer venting, and prevented, things could turn out okay.

On this last point, I think it could help a lot if the Veterans could take on another thankless task to step forward with grass roots leadership at local community levels via VFW chapters, volunteer fire depts, KofC, zoning boards, and similar such civic organizations, including the CERT community emergency response team trainings that train civilians as low level first responders in order to free up professionals for the more serious tasks in emergency situations, as well as holding electeds accountable for overseeing reconstruction of material infrastructure. If the fabric of civil society can be made more robust and sustainable, it will be less vulnerable to political winds and more worth handing over to future generations along with a healthy culture for taking care of it.



you did not answer my question. pl


Hope the Colonel PL feels better soon!


Sorry, sir, I am not seeing the said question.


On diacritics and keyboards, this issue is the main reason for why i switched over to iphone and ipad for non-work related social media writing (one should not read this to mean paid work, however, but labor it is). One can load a large number of keyboards almost effortlessly, which all sit happily on call under the globe icon near the shift key no matter which language is loaded. (I presently have 7 keyboards installed and ready to go at the fingertips).

I also feel more comfortable keeping my work related files almost always offline out of harms way on the pc, so there is also that added benefit. (A used older model iphone or ipad can be had for half the cost of new ones too, or even gifted for free from generous relatives or friends who have upgraded.)


Re "'What we really need these days is a deeper kind of self-questioning, but no one is doing it, not in America these days.' Have we ever? I'm being serious."

Respectfully I think we have, although perhaps never willfully at first and perhaps often with a steep cost. The transcendentalists that gave us the New England-style Congregationalists, Methodists, Unitarians as a reflective alternative to the "elect" variety spirituaity of the Calvinists etc., who in turn were seeking alternatives to the status quo of their own days, and the Thomas Paines and abolitionists were largely protected by the transcendentalist spiritual communities, not to mention the French republican movement. (One can argue the growth of alternative RC denominations in the earlier Roman govrtnance eras, the Martin Buber and the Hassidic movements, Muslim denominations, and ditto in Hindu and Buddhist societies in pre-modern eras)

Thereafter, from movements to overturn the fugitive slave laws, suffragettes, organized labor movements and the Upton Sinclairs and George Orwells, even Rod Serlings, civil rights movements, cold war disarmament movements, up to more recent grass roots movements in farmers markets, organic foods, off grid living/energy/prepper movements, occupy and bitcoin economic/finance movements. It actually seems like a lot imo, considering how very little of these were ever handed down through the public education systems!



You asked if there should be a philosophy blog focused on epistemology rather than substance. pl

English Outsider

Thanks, but wasn't objecting, merely advancing the age old excuse that few citizens know what their governments are getting up to abroad or why. It's the sort of excuse that serves for my few surviving German friends who were around before the war and it'll have to serve for us now.

No one could be proud of UK policy in Syria, to take just one example, but for the most of us that's an information problem, not a moral failure. I meet very few indeed who know what we're doing in Syria. I meet none who wouldn't condemn it if they did.



Perhaps its time to rekindle that which the Sultan extinguished.


The irony is that the Athenians were despised by the other Greek city-states, and were imperialists in the neocon mold to boot.

Look up the history of the Delian League. The Athenian allies ditched Athens as quickly as they could.

scott s.


The "university as trade school" had its beginnings with the Morrill Land Grant College Act of 1862, firmly in step with republican philosophy of the time that the state was about economic empowerment of the individual. My native state (Wisconsin) for good or ill decided to combine the land-grant trade school aspects with the existing liberal arts model state university (UW at Madison). Later on the concept of what a university should be morphed again, as the progressives promoted what was (and is) called the "Wisconsin Idea", mainly that the university is part of the political arm of the state (or at least those with political power in the state).

An interesting alternative is NY State, where the land grant college sits side-by-side with the liberal arts Ivy.

You also might consider the history of the "normal" school system as a teacher indoctrination system, and its bureaucratic empire building in most states into "state teacher colleges" and then "state universities".


Trinlae -

Thanks for that.

Regarding Rod Serling, I guess I never knew of his activism or perhaps I had forgotten it. I was aware of his service in the Philippines and in the Battle of Manila. That was a horrendous example of urban combat. Some claim there was as much or more death and destruction there than the London blitz or Hiroshima. When I first visited Manila in 1961 there were still signs of the rebuilding effort in the devastated Old City. I have to wonder if the destruction Serling saw there shaped some of his Twilight Zone TV episodes, or even if it led to his activism, or sharpened it?

Babak Makkinejad

The world has changed.

The two highest exponents of Byzantine inheritance are Iran and Russia - enemies of the Western Fortress.

Somethings do persist...


Thank you for these thoughts. I can understand the appeal and your reasoning. We are content with our use of the MS language applications with various keyboards and languages available. Although my better half uses an iPad (a gift from my brother with the thought that it would change our lives), we are not active on social networks; we are from the Jurassic Park period, having started with manual typewriters, then electric ones, and onto the IBM Selectric with the golf ball options before moving to word-processing programs.

We run a heavy anti-virus program and firewall. Our work involves academic editing for clients from a number of countries and preparing students for undergraduate and post-graduate education. Much of this involves a great deal of back-and-forth on-line, and some of which we do in-person and from home. Thanks again for the suggestion.

Jack Nix

Thank you, Mr. Sale. It is with anticipation I wait for one of your rambles. I believe I read you once lived in Iran and converted to Islam to marry your wife.

Like many I am ignorant of that religion, and would look forward in great anticipation to a ramble on that.

Thanks again,


Mr. Mark Safranski recently held a "Thucydides Roundtable."


Week-end reading pleasure p'raps?

English Outsider

To Babak Makkinejad - you write "The two highest exponents of Byzantine inheritance are Iran and Russia - enemies of the Western Fortress." Could I ask a couple of questions arising from a long ago reading of Gibbon - read it for fun rather than instruction and didn't get much of either.

I can't imagine, incidentally, why Gibbon spent so much effort on Byzantium when he disliked it so much. He must have had a Dawkinite passion against Christianity to work so hard on his round-the-corner attack on it. In particular it's to Gibbon's sour debunking of Byzantium that I think we owe the earlier Western dismissive attitude to all things Byzantine, and therefore to Orthodoxy itself (not "real" Christians). That dismissive attitude carried through for a long time, to be replaced, I think, not by a more accurate assessment but by blank incomprehension for most.

Here's Gibbon looking at Byzantine Court ceremonial (Ch 54) and I extract a couple of lines that illustrate how he thought about what came from where:-

"... The mode of adoration, .. of falling prostrate on the ground, and kissing the feet of the emperor, was borrowed by Diocletian from Persian servitude." Then Gibbon refers to ".. (the) ceremonies of the Byzantine court, which are still practised in the Sublime Porte, and which were preserved in the last age by the dukes of Muscovy or Russia."

Transmission to Russia - he of course got that right. Did he get right the assertion that Byzantine ceremonial was derived from the Iranian? If so, would that imply that the transmission in that case was the other way round to that implied in your comment? Did he get that wrong?

Then there's the implication that the Ottomans took over court ceremonial from the Byzantines. Gibbon's cavalier with his generalisations sometimes and in any case didn't have the range of sources available now, so did he get that wrong too?

Babak Makkinejad

I think Gibbon's writings has had very much a malignant influence on the thinking of the English-speaking people's view of that beautiful civilization called Byzantium.

But I think he was partly right in that the Byzantine Emperors modeled themselves on the Sassanian Kings – who themselves were trying to emulate the legendary court of the Great King. There was a King of Kings in the East and there was a King of Kings in the West – and when the Arab Muslims destroyed the Eastern King, only one King of Kings remained standing; the Byzantine Emperor.

But I also think that Gibbon was being dismissive of the development of the idea of Principe that the Octavian Revolution had introduced – the Divine Principe of post-Republican Rome. That was the legal basis of the Byzantine ideas of Ruler-ship and not their emulation of the Persians court ceremonies – themselves designed to awe the barbaric people around the Byzantine Lands and make them friends of the Empire

I know that ideas went East – when the funding for the Philosophers at the University of Athens was terminated they moved East into the Sassanian Lands. The famous Gundi Shapur Medical College comes to mind as well.

The Ottoman emperors titled themselves "Padeshah" - a Persian word for King and modeled themselves after both the Caesar and the Great King; the educated Ottomans knew Persian and had memorized thousands of lines of Persian poetry, specially the epic poetry of Ferdowsi of the Book of Kings fame.

The deep piety of Byzantines, their (Christian) mysticism, their attitudes towards Law, their Doctrines of Ruler-ship (partly adopted from Sassanian Kingship but also including the subsequent developments of the Octavian Revolution in the ideas of Principe), their ideal of the King as being the First Magistrate and the First Pontiff and of having "Humanitas", deeply affected the world of Islam. Not to mention the refugee scholars that gave Islamic Civilization its initial intellectual brilliance. Which, unfortunately, followed the same Byzantine pattern of Faith over Reason and Stability over Innovation in later centuries.

The same over-all understanding informs Muslims as did the Byzantines: “The State must Survive.” – i.e. the same principle as the pagan (Western) Roman Empire. The Byzantines never tried to convert anybody. The Orthodox Church does NOT have missionary work. It is similar to Sufi's in spirit.

Looking at Lorenzo de Medici and his role in the Renaissance one notes that his teacher Gemistos Plethon was a philosopher from Constantinopole) , and the Byzantine diaspora spread all over Italy's myriad little kingdoms after the Fall of Constantinopole and brought lots of knowledge with them, books, science,....

Among other things, the West learned about classical Greece and Gnosticism from them. Gemistos was a very interesting character having a personal syncretic theology from Zoroastrianism + Plato

Gibbon, I suspect, was inspired in his views of Byzantium by his opposition to both Catholic and Orthodox Christianity and his devotion to the tradition of Liberty among the English people. That a civilization could endure for centuries under hostile conditions, while being stabbed in the back by her Sister Civilization numerous times, did not seem to have altered his views of Byzantium as being in permanent state of decline (some decline, over a thousand years).

I owe much of what I know to a “Home University Library” book, all of 250 pages, first published in 1925, by one Norman H Baynes, titled: “The Byzantine Empire”. The rest I filled in from readings and listening and speaking to others more knowledgeable than I.

English Outsider

To - Babak Makinnejad.

Thank you for that beautiful summary. Ties a lot of things together.

English Outsider

Dean Farris

Mr. sale:

I agree with much of your ramble, but much of what we know about ancient Athens comes from disgruntled aristocrats, as the hoi polloi were pre-literate.

The Politics is the only book I’ve read by a resident (but not a citizen) of ancient Athens. Aristotle ,IMO, is one of your “unscrupulous” as he informed his students how to make an aristocracy look like a democracy.

For the ancient Greeks virtue was a military attribute rather than a moral attribute. It is difficult to understand the ancients if their notion of virtue is misunderstood. The citizens were virtuous, as military service was one of the requirements for citizenship.

Jealousy, envy, and ignorance were the standard epitaphs of the few against the many. Maybe a few blowhards bragged to much about Marathon. Had it not been won the integrate you quote would have been sidestepping Persian soldiers. When the few voted their interests it was politics. When the demos voted their interests it was envy, jealousy, and ignorance.

Every Athenian who ever pulled an oar understood Themistocles strategy at Salamis. Those oarsmen were the lowest class in Athens. On that day they were among the most virtuous (read courageous) men in Athens. Their reward was citizenship. That is how real democracy advanced at Athens, the carping of envious aristocrats and oligarchs aside.

It has been 39 years since I read about ancient Greece. I don't remember whether Themistocles and others got too big for their political britches or were unhorsed by the scheming of political rivals. The vote of Ostracism was as necessary to democracy at Athens as a vote of no confidence is to parliamentary systems.
The existence of the Tenth Amendment acknowledges that Recalling federal politicians from office is one of the reserved powers of the people. Don't hold your breath till Congress makes it explicit.


I agree with Dean Farris comment above. Note that it was the Athenian oarsmen who won the battle of Salamis and freedom for the Greeks. It was not the aristocrats who could afford armor and shields that stood in phalanx but lost the battle at Thermopylae.

There were about 200 Athenian triremes at Salamis and the earlier sea battle of Artesium. That adds up to over 30,000 rowers, all from the lowest class of freemen in Athens. That is where Greek democracy was born and nurture, and NOT in the assembly areas of Athens where they did the black-and-white bead mumbo jumbo. It was because of the legacy of those 30,000 oarsmen that Greek democracy survived the rule of the Four Hundred oligarchs and later the Thirty Tyrants.

As for exile and ostracism, there is a lot that we in the 21st century could learn from that. Miltiades and Cimon were a lot better off in exile than Irish kings and noblemen of the same era who were murdered by their own people. They were held responsible for the fertility and productivity of the land, and the health of the livestock and the people. So when those failed, they were renounced and ritually sacrificed to plead a kinder fate for the people.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad