The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-06-30
  • Publisher: St Augustine Pr Inc
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"Cultural instructions." Everyone who has handled a package of seedlings has encountered that enigmatic advisory. This much water and that much sun, certain tips about fertilizer, soil, and drainage. Planting one sort of flower nearby keeps the bugs away but proximity to another sort makes bad things happen. Young shoots might need stakes, and watch out for beetles, weeds, and unseasonable frosts. It's a complicated business. But at least since Cicero introduced the term cultura animi("cultivation of the mind or spirit"), such "cultural instructions" have applied as much to the realm of civilization as to horticulture. In this wide-ranging investigation into the vicissitudes of culture in the twenty-first century, the distinguished critic Roger Kimball traces the deep filiations between cultivation as a spiritual enterprise and the prerequisites of political freedom. Drawing on figures as various as James Burnham, Richard Weaver, G. K. Chesterton, Rudyard Kipling, John Buchan, Friedrich von Hayek, and Leszek Kolakowski, Kimball traces the interconnections between what he calls the fortunes of permanence and such ambassadors of anarchy as relativism, multiculturalism, and the socialist-utopian imperative. With his signature blend of wit and erudition, Kimball deftly draws on the resources of art, literature, and political philosophy to illuminate some of the wrong turns and dead ends our culture has recently pursued, while also outlining some of the simple if overlooked alternatives to the various tyrannies masquerading as liberation we have again and again fallen prey to. This rich, rewarding, and intelligent volume bristles with insights into what the nineteenth-century novelist Anthony Trollope called "The Way We Live Now." Partly an exercise in cultural pathology, The Fortunes of Permanenceis also a forward-looking effort of cultural recuperation. It promises to be essential reading for anyone concerned about the direction of Western culture in an age of anti-Western animus and destructive multicultural fantasy.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Preface: Mostly About Relativismp. 1
The Fortunes of Permanencep. 17
Institutionalizing Our Demise: America vs. Multiculturalismp. 46
Pericles and the Foreseeable Future: 9/11 a Decade Laterp. 73
Rereading John Buchanp. 95
A Dangerous Book for Boysp. 120
Rudyard Kipling Unburdenedp. 128
G. K. Chesterton: Master of Rejuvenationp. 140
Does Shame Have a Future?p. 158
The Consequences of Richard Weaverp. 171
"Art in Crisis"p. 185
Why the Art World Is a Disasterp. 198
Architecture & Ideologyp. 207
Friends of Humanityp. 231
The Death of Socialismp. 245
The Power of James Burnhamp. 256
What's Wrong with Benevolencep. 276
Malcolm Muggeridge's Journeyp. 284
Leszek Kolakowski & the Anatomy of Totalitarianismp. 298
Hayek & the Intellectualsp. 316
Coda: The Anglosphere & the Future of Libertyp. 330
Indexp. 339
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