Enlightened Despots

President Woodrow Wilson

Enlightened Despots

Leslie Jones enjoys a compelling analysis

Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics & American Economics in the Progressive Era, Thomas C. Leonard, Princeton University Press, Princeton & Oxford, 2016, 250 pp., reviewed by Leslie Jones

In Illiberal Reformers, economic historian Thomas C. Leonard reminds us that between 1890 and 1914, fifteen million immigrants entered the United States. Almost 70% of this total figure was drawn from southern and eastern Europe. The title of Leonard’s book, albeit paradoxical, is certainly apt. For American Progressives, including eminent social scientists such as economist Richard T. Ely of John Hopkins University and politicians such as Professor Woodrow Wilson, not only rejected laissez-faire, they generally espoused eugenics and “scientific racism”.

Indeed, control of immigration was an integral part of the attempt to “remake American economic life through the agency of an administrative state” (page 10). One of the key steps in the consolidation of the latter was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. According to Edward A. Ross, Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, workers of “inferior races” accepted lower wages than American workmen, who chose to have fewer children in the face of such unfair competition. Ross used the term “race suicide” to describe how the Coolie, if permitted unfettered entry, would underbid and outbreed the white labourer. In his History of the American People, Professor Woodrow Wilson concurred, referring to what he called the “strange debasing habits of life…” of the Chinese.

As the author observes, this living standard theory of wages assumed that race, a supposedly immutable factor, predisposed “inferior”, less productive workers to accept a lower standard of living. And it could readily be applied to other allegedly inferior groups of workers, including women. University of Wisconsin economist John R. Commons, for one, opined that “those races which have developed under a tropical sun are…indolent and fickle”. He also bewailed the economic competition of the Jews. Settlement-house-worker Jacob Riis agreed with Commons, claiming that the Jew’s “price is not what he can get but the lowest he can live for and underbid his neighbour”. This unfair advantage had enabled the Jews to monopolise New York’s garment industry, in Riis’s estimation.

Concerning the discourse of “race suicide” and “race displacement” elaborated by progressive scholars, a key text was William Z. Ripley’s The Races of Europe (1899). This book contained “The most influential racial taxonomy of the Progressive Era…” (page 71). Using three criteria, namely, cephalic index, colour and stature, Ripley posited three distinct European races, to wit, Teutons, Alpines and Mediterraneans. He believed that the interbreeding of immigrants from the two “inferior” races, Alpines and Mediterraneans, “threatened to produce an atavistic European type, a kind of negroid throwback” (Leonard, page 72).

Measuring and fact finding “formed the core of the progressives’ scientific sensibility” (page 69). “Taylorism”, or “scientific management”, was but one example. The development of intelligence tests by distinguished psychologists such as Louis Terman and Henry Herbert Goddard provided an additional means whereby supposedly “inferior” elements could be identified. Goddard, author of The Kallikak Family (1912), tested the IQ’s of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island. He claimed that 84% of them were feeble-minded.

Princeton psychologist Carl Brigham, likewise, inferred that the extensive IQ testing of Army draftees during World War 1 conclusively proved that the Nordics (Ripley’s Teutons) were more intelligent on average than the Mediterranean, Alpine and Negro types. “At bottom”, Leonard avers, “eugenics was based on the fear of inferiority, of being inundated from without, or of suffering degeneration from within” (page 114). This fear is perfectly captured by the title of Lothrop Stoddard’s influential tome The Rising Tide of Colour Against White World Supremacy (1920). 

The Dillingham Commission (1907-1910) was set up by Congress to investigate the putative effects of immigration on American workers’ wages and employment. Its 300 staff members studied 3 million immigrants, no less. In due course, it produced forty-one volumes of diverse material, including material pertaining to head shape and criminality. As Leonard observes, the Commission’s 1910 report “added its political and scientific authority to the anti-immigrant cause” (page 149), a cause in which Progressive economists and other social scientists had played such a prominent part. It included a Dictionary of Races and Peoples, written by anthropologist Daniel Folkmar which endeavoured, with little success, to resolve the “different and conflicting taxonomies of European peoples” (page 150). These difficulties notwithstanding, racially undesirable aliens, as defined by the Commission, were in due course excluded by the Immigration Act of 1917.

Dr Leonard has an exemplary grasp of the heterogeneous nature of social Darwinism. As he observes, there was “something in Darwin for everyone” (page 89), even for Sir Francis Galton’s biographer Karl Pearson, a self-styled socialist. However, his (Leonard’s) suggestion (page 115) that “all eugenicists…were illiberal” is incorrect. Galton was the undisputed founder of eugenics and he introduced the term in his 1883 book Inquiries into Human Faculty and its Development. Yet Galton invariably emphasised positive eugenic measures, such as the provision of monetary incentives to encourage eugenic marriages. He is not responsible for the coercive, eugenic measures, notably compulsory sterilisation, that were enacted in the United States and Nazi Germany. This caveat aside, Illiberal Reformers is a tour de force.

Construction of the Statue of Liberty, in Paris

DR LESLIE JONES is the Editor of QR

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Brexit is Britain’s Independence Day

Brexit is Britain’s Independence Day

Stephen Michael MacLean discerns ‘the end of the beginning’

Independence Day. That was Boris Johnson’s description of June 23rd last year, as he and fellow Leave campaigners canvassed the United Kingdom for Brexit, making the case to exit the European Union and strike out into the world once more as a sovereign nation.  What a year it has been, with much to come before the official break in March 2019. ‘Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end,’ so Sir Winston Churchill described an early Allied victory in the darkest hours of World War II. ‘But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.’

Many trace the origins of Brexit to Bruges in September 1988, when Margaret Thatcher declared that ‘We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them re-imposed at a European level with a European super-state exercising a new dominance from Brussels.’

Yet with what hopes did the European project begin. The horrors of the war never far from its mind, and with the Soviet threat and the spectre of nuclear devastation before it, the Continent took a positive step toward removing barriers to trade and opening up new markets for competition, innovation, and productivity. Thus was born the European Economic Community (‘Common Market’) in 1958. Alas! conceived in the bureaucratic mind-set, the EEC soon trod the familiar statist path, culminating in 1993 when it became known as the European Community, signalling that politics was added to its economic remit. Political integration now became the central thrust, but a proposed constitution stumbled when plebiscites in several member countries failed, and sleight-of-hand was resorted to with the Lisbon Treaty of 2009, a constitution in all but name.

UK Eurosceptics took their lead from Mrs Thatcher, and while the Westminster establishment encouraged an inexorable move toward continental union, opponents mounted a rear-guard action. To quell unrest, prime minister David Cameron offered Tory MPs in the Coalition Government a referendum on Europe in exchange for their support. When a majority of Britons voted for separation, Mr Cameron resigned the premiership and was replaced by Theresa May. Although hitherto a tacit supporter of staying in the EU, she assured the country and her party that ‘Brexit means Brexit.’

But even then, Churchill’s ‘end of the beginning’ was far from view. Some argued that the Government could not legally begin the ‘Article 50’ exit without the consent of Parliament; the Government lost this round and the Supreme Court appeal which followed. Legislation therefore made its way through both Houses of Parliament and ultimately received Royal Assent, just in time for Mrs May’s stated March deadline to trigger the formal EU exit. She then gambled on an early election to increase her Commons majority, failed in her gambit, and must now steer EU negotiations through a two-year ‘Brexit’ session with a minority Government.

Formal meetings began Monday, with the UK-EU negotiating team charting the contours of the course forward. Already Britain has conceded to the European timetable, focusing on the rights of foreign citizens, the border between the two Irelands, and the ‘costs of the divorce bill’, before undertaking any discussions on future trade relationships. Yet it is likely that these talks will be somewhat more amenable for the Conservative government than its dealings with those Westminster ‘colleagues’ who threaten a non-confidence vote in Parliament unless it adopts a ‘soft’ Brexit approach to its single market and customs union agreements with Europe.

Much hard work and uncertainty remain, but the Brexit anniversary is still an occasion to celebrate. As a young, failed electoral candidate, Benjamin Disraeli remained resolute. ‘I am not at all disheartened,’ he vowed. ‘I do not in any way feel like a defeated man. Perhaps it is because I am used to it. I will say of myself like the famous Italian general, who, being asked in his old age why he was always victorious, replied, it was because he had always been beaten in his youth.’ From Margaret Thatcher’s Bruges speech on, Brexiteers have been fighting and have been frustrated for thirty years: they are now battle-tested, and they know that British independence is in sight.

Stephen MacLean maintains the weblog The Organic Tory. He writes from Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

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Spengler, Lite

Medusa

Spengler, Lite

The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam, Douglas Murray, 2017, Bloomsbury, Hardback, 335pp., £18.99; reviews by Ed Dutton and Adam J Young

One of the fascinating things about Murray’s dissection of Western Europe’s death wish is that it is written as though we are looking back on it, having shaken ourselves free of it. Beginning with the end of the Second World War, Murray describes how we ended-up in the current crisis; scarred by religious conflict, ethnic segregation, radical Islamic terrorism, and the persecution of dissent. All of this happened within living memory, and much of it only within the last twenty years. It’s as though Murray is a psychiatrist describing our descent into madness, only after we have become lucid and are wondering what on earth happened to us.

Like any good psychiatrist, Murray not only describes our period of dissociative amnesia, but its causes. The clue is right at the beginning: ‘Europe is committing suicide. Or at least its leaders have decided to commit suicide.’ We see as the story unfolds that this is a top-down destruction of Western Europe. It begins with mass-immigration from third world countries after the War to rebuild a war-ravaged continent. For some inexplicable reason, it was assumed that these immigrants would not stay long and that even if they did, it would not be problematic.

When, in 1968, Enoch Powell, a shadow cabinet minister, highlighted the fact that in some locations British people felt like foreigners in their own country (and weren’t happy about this) he was sacked. This provoked a huge furore, ugly protests and the introduction of the catch-all term ‘racist’ to prevent any debate and to intimidate people into silence. A review of this book in the Guardian accuses Murray of being, ‘The right-wing journalist and commentator [who] cites Enoch Powell and wants to protect white Christian Europe from ‘outsiders’.’ But Murray is in fact quite critical of Powell and he bends over backwards to uncover if the Left might have a point in any particular debate.

Charting the history of immigration into the UK, Murray suggests that the real turning-point come when Barbara Roche, New Labour’s immigration minister, let almost everyone in, justifying this on the ground that she felt more at home in ethnically diverse places. Murray looks at the various distortions which New Labour employed in order to justify mass immigration. Concerning the claim that waves of immigration have always characterized English history, Murray notes that there had never been anything before on this scale or involving this level of cultural difference. The only major migration was of the Huguenots in the seventeenth century, and they’ve taken so long to integrate that even now some people refer to themselves as being of ‘Huguenot stock.’ Murray debunks all of the justifications for mass immigration until we get to the most desperate one: ‘Immigration is good because there’s a greater variety of take away food.’

This whole poignant history includes the suppressing of the systematic rape and enforced prostitution of underaged English girls by predominantly Muslim gangs and much else besides. Indeed, Murray pithily observes that if Muslim immigrants really are integrating into British culture then churches and pubs wouldn’t be shutting disproportionately in the areas in which they are dominant.

We travel, with the author, around Europe as he speaks to migrants, journalists, government minsters and locals. He examines the predictable consequences of Merkel’s mass immigration of young Muslim men in 2015 not just into Germany but other countries, such as Sweden. He shows how, across the Continent, the thought police have ensured the total shut down of debate over this issue with serious critics of Islam having to go into hiding (or even being killed) as far back as the Salman Rushdie affair. We see double standards, a total lack of impartiality and shameful attempts to destroy the reputation of people who question the benefits of mass immigration.

Much of this will be familiar to readers of this journal. What perhaps is more original is the examination of why this has happened in Western Europe, given that Eastern European leaders vehemently oppose the altering of their societies as do their people. Murray’s first suggestion is that Western Europeans are uniquely susceptible to guilt and can be readily persuaded to let the world into their borders. A second reason is a power struggle among Europeans. You gain social status by virtue-signalling and by accusing others of being evil in some way (such as being ‘racist’). There is a zero cost to doing this and every benefit to doing so. So this sets-off an arms of race of thought policing in which ultimately no one dares express the truth. The third reason is that we have lost all sense of purpose. We no longer believe in the Christianity that inspired our civilization and so our lives have no eternal significance and there is apparently no reason to defend our culture. Murray, in this regard, takes us on an intriguing tour of contemporary literature, showing how it expresses, as in the novels of Michel Houellebecq, this prevalent pessimism. And note that he (Houellebecq) had to flee France for writing a satire on Islam.

And the fourth reason is that we have had it too good. Our living standards are so high that we’ve never suffered and never had to fight for anything. The last generation who really suffered were born before the War and will soon die out. Eastern Europeans, in contrast, know what it is to fight for their way of life. They still see life as a struggle, and they see the chance of a better future. This is why they implacably oppose immigration; it will change their way of life and they don’t want it to be changed.

This is a thought-provoking, balanced and charitable assessment of the ‘strange death of Europe.’ But perhaps the most surprising aspect is that Murray, the associate editor of Spectator, has managed to find a mainstream publisher.

However, in understanding what has happened there is one area which the author doesn’t address. It is a point which psychologists are seriously discussing. With the ending of Natural Selection since the Industrial Revolution, could it be that the instincts of Western Europeans have fundamentally changed, and that certain harmful mutations have no longer been selected against through high child mortality? Are we ‘committing suicide’ because there is no longer selection against mutant genes which make us want to do so?

EDWARD DUTTON is the author, with Bruce Charlton, of The Genius Famine: Why We Need Geniuses, Why They’re Dying Out, and Why We Must Rescue Them, University of Buckingham Press, 2015

____________________________

Review by Adam J Young – 

To say that Europe is in crisis is an understatement. It is enduring a multitude of crises; a migrant, a moral, a cultural and an economic crisis, all of which are now combining into one, gigantic crisis, the collapse of the Old Europe as we have known it.

One author who is trying to decipher why Western Europe is in free fall is Douglas Murray. In The Strange Death of Europe, he identifies the core problems that the former home of a once great culture is facing. The associate editor of the Spectator and the founder of three think tanks, Murray has traveled around Europe, to the migrant’s camps of Italy and Greece, talking to refuges, NGOs, and European citizens in order to ascertain the root of the problem. His book is full of facts that will disturb those not accustomed to what is happening in Europe, notably those concerning the increase in murders, rapes and terrorist attacks.

One of Murray’s main themes is the migrant crisis. He speaks with a sympathetic tone to migrants, some of whom are fleeing for their lives, and who understandably want to better themselves economically. Yet the towns affected by uncontrolled and unfettered mass immigration that he cites include a small Swedish village whose population has increased from a mere 82 to three-fold that in just one day.

Murray highlights one of the causes of this problem; the changing attitudes of politicians to immigration, making it a toxic subject that it is politically suicidal to address. One of the earliest cases was Enoch Powell. His ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech of 1969, discussing the consequences of mass immigration, ultimately destroyed him politically. Yet remarkably, as Murray points out, Powell had the support of well over half of the country and could have otherwise become Conservative Party Leader and then Prime Minister.

This growing disconnect between politicians (both right and left) and their core voters who want their identity preserved is somewhat baffling. Thus, we have Swedish politicians saying that they have no culture; French politicians promising to end immigration then doing the opposite; the British Labour party trying to bring in a new voter base by mass immigration and thereby alienating its classic working class voters; and the German leader Angela Merkel oscillating from stating that “multiculturalism has failed” to chastising people who want reductions to immigration.

Murray was brought up on the Isle of Lewis (as was Donald Trump’s mother). A member of the Presbyterian church, he only became an atheist after leaving university but he still considers himself a cultural Christian. He contends that we Europeans are searching for meaning in a nihilistic/hedonistic culture. Economic booms have made us better off but this doesn’t make for spiritual fulfilment.

Europe seems to be on the verge of defeat. The solutions offered in The Strange Death of Europe are few and far between. But perhaps things need to get much worse before they can get any better.

Arnold Boecklin, Island of the Dead

ADAM J YOUNG is a blogger based in the North East of England. Contact him through Twitter at @Justalocalserf.

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Canada – the Case for Conservatism

Canada – the Case for Conservatism

Another piece by Mark Wegierski to mark the Sesquicentennial of Canadian Confederation

Given the disparity in resources between small-c conservatives and left-liberals in Canada, the situation of conservatism sometimes seems virtually hopeless. What traditionalists call “human nature” is generally considered a fiction by left-liberals, who believe that human beings are almost entirely determined by their environment and can indeed be shaped in any direction that left-liberalism chooses.

What most Canadian conservatives have failed to articulate is what is lost in the transition from a more traditional society, to one characterized by late modernity. For example, there is a loss of a sense of nationhood, of the feeling of living in a more homogenous, more rooted society. A more homogenous society is usually a society where people are more courteous to each other. A more homogenous society is also usually one with fewer economic disparities. The American state of Utah, one of the most homogenous in the Union, has some of the lowest levels of economic disparity in America.

Delicate Arch, Utah

There is in Canada a fracturing of culture, under the pressures of the American pop-culture, the extremes of multiculturalism and excessive Aboriginal claims. Ironically, the official champions of Canadian culture are among the greatest mavens of political-correctness.

Then there are the multifarious crises of family and morality. No matter how many rights and benefits a given society offers, it is still a failing society if it fails in the most essential task of reproducing itself – both in the purely physical as well as cultural sense. Related to the crisis of morality is the triumph of the “permissive” society – the death of respect for legitimate authority and the sometimes lax operation of the criminal justice system.

Another aspect of social decline is the near-disappearance of respect for masculinity and the continual devalourizing of the military and the police. Canada is a society with one of the lowest percentages of men under arms in history. This is combined with contempt for the effective operation of legitimate security and intelligence functions.

The exercise of foreign policy has long fallen under the paradigm of “soft power” – with development aid the preferred instrument of policy. Some Canadians imagine that they are considered a uniquely virtuous nation in the Third World, on account of their “do-gooder” policies. It is more likely that they are simply seen as “suckers”.

All of the various syndromes which characterize present day Canada are signs of a “healthy” society for left-liberals. It is for conservatives to challenge the core presuppositions of regnant left-liberalism.

Sociologist Mark Wegierski is a Toronto-based writer and researcher

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Mirror of our Fickle State

F Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda

Mirror of our Fickle State

Stoddard Martin “meets” Scott Fitzgerald

Paradise Lost: A Life of F Scott Fitzgerald, David S Brown, Harvard University Press, 2017, HB, pp 330

My maternal grandfather was fifteen years older than Scott Fitzgerald, my father nine years younger. Both were from the Midwest. The former became an alcoholic; the latter went east to college. The America they lived in was peopled by the Nick Carraways, Daisy Buchanans and Jay Gatsbys of a culture Fitzgerald hymned. My father married a Nicole Warren-ish deb who boasted of beaux from Hollywood of The Last Tycoon. The marriage had aspects of Zelda’s and Scott’s. The milieu I was born into – schools, dancing classes, country clubs, the Blue Book – was Scott Fitz to a t. America now is different. Donald Trump is no Jimmy Gatz, and Fitzgerald recedes into tradition as a successor to Hawthorne and Henry James.

No; hang on. Fitzgerald’s Princeton pal, the great critic Edmund Wilson, would balk at setting his rank so high. Somewhat above Booth Tarkington or Ring Lardner is more like it. As for Trump being no Gatz: what would the disdained lover of Daisy Buchanan have grown into had he lived; less blindly romantic, more resentful of the gilded high flyers who could never rate him as other than a ‘bridge-and-tunnel man’? Continue reading

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Open Cast, Closed Mind

Open Cast, Closed Mind

    Bill Hartley identifies an unholy alliance

Last month a public enquiry convened at Kingston Park the home of Newcastle Rugby Club. Some time ago Northumberland County Council granted planning permission for Banks Mining to start work on a new open cast site near Druridge Bay, where they wish to extract three million tons of coal. This decision was over-ruled by central government, hence the enquiry.

Open cast mining used to be the poor relation in coal extraction. These days it’s the only kind of coal mining left in Britain. In the view of some, this business is the equivalent of handing out smallpox infected blankets to the natives. Visit the web site of those opposed to the Druridge Bay project and it would seem as if the four horsemen of the apocalypse are about to descend on the district. Incidentally Druridge Bay itself isn’t affected by the project; more of this shortly. The Banks company has been long established in the north of England and Scotland. Continue reading

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ENDNOTES, 5th June 2017

Em Marshall-Luck and friend

ENDNOTES, 5th June 2017

In a Summer Garden: new discoveries and romantic masterpieces at this year’s English Music Festival

“Roses, lilies and a thousand sweet-scented flowers. Bright butterflies flitting from petal to petal, and gold-brown bees murmuring in the warm, quivering summer air. Beneath the shade of the old trees flows a quiet river with water lilies. In a boat, almost hidden, two people. A thrush is singing – in the distance.”

So wrote composer, Frederick Delius – describing his 1908 work, In a Summer Garden, a sensuous piece of nature-evocation and a memorable inclusion in the opening concert of this year’s English Music Festival. Performed in the Anglo-Saxon and mediaeval abbey at Dorchester-on-Thames (the home of the annual festival, founded and directed by Em Marshall-Luck), the Delius gave the visiting BBC Concert Orchestra a chance to demonstrate that a smaller orchestra (they are approximately 50 in number – half the size of the flagship BBC Symphony Orchestra) is every bit as capable of realising a lush, heavy, late-romantic score. Continue reading

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Lover’s Little Helper

Pretty Yende as Adina and Liparit Avetisyan as Nemorino, photo by Bill Cooper

Lover’s Little Helper 

L’elisir d’amore: opera buffa in two acts; music composed by Gaetano Donizetti; libretto by Felice Romani, based on Le Philtre, by Daniel-François-Esprit Auber; conductor Bertrand de Billy; director Laurent Pelly; revival director Daniel Dooner; Royal Opera House, 27th May 2017, reviewed by Leslie Jones

The elixir of love comes in various guises. There is the dubious concoction, or Elisir Dulcamara (cheap red wine, in reality) that is peddled to gullible farm workers by Dulcamara, a consummate cynic and a somewhat unlikely doctor, given his tattoos and his sharp suit. According to the dashing and self-confident recruiting Sergeant Belcore, however, it is a uniform that makes a man irresistible, for “There is no girl who can withstand the aspect of a soldier”. Or is money the true elixir of love, as Nemorino (Armenian tenor Liparit Avetisyan) seemingly discovers, when a timely inheritance (deus ex machina) transforms him from country bumpkin, unlucky in love, into the most eligible bachelor in the neighbourhood? Or does Adina (soprano Pretty Yende, in her Royal Opera debut) possibly possess the only genuine asset in the attraction department, to wit, her undoubted female charms? Continue reading

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Mass Immigration and its Critics

The Jack Pine by Tom Thompson

The Jack Pine, by Tom Thompson

Mass Immigration and its Critics

The Effects of Mass Immigration on Canadian Living Standards and Society, edited by Herbert Grubel, Vancouver, Fraser Institute, 2009, CAN$19.95, xxvi + 236 pp., ISBN 978-0-88975-246-7, reviewed by Mark Wegierski, to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of Canadian Confederation

The Fraser Institute (fraserinstitute.org) is one of the very few right-leaning think-tanks in Canada. This is in marked contrast to the United States, where think-tanks that espouse moderate conservatism proliferate. Nevertheless, in more recent years, the Fraser Institute has, in a few cases, moved beyond a strictly free-market and purely economic focus, and into the areas of social and cultural policy. This book, which had also been available in its entirety in PDF on the Fraser Institute website, is one of the first major studies to consider the issue of mass immigration.

Pages v-xii give brief biographies of the authors, which show that they all have serious accomplishments. On pages xv-xxvi, Herbert Grubel (a former professor of economics at Simon Fraser University, and Reform Party M.P. from 1993-1997, as well as Reform’s Finance Critic from 1995-1997), gives a pithy précis of the book. Continue reading

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ENDNOTES, 23rd May 2017

Frederick Delius by Jelka Rosen

Frederick Delius, by Jelka Rosen

ENDNOTES, 23rd May, 2017

In this edition: A Mass for Modern Man; Cesar Franck, Violin Sonata in A Major; Elgar and Delius Quartets; Over the Plains, by George Antheil

Ståle Kleiberg (b. 1958) is a Norwegian composer not well known to British audiences – although his works, often dealing with the issues of warfare and persecution, have been performed to great acclaim in the United States. A new CD (on the Lindberg Lyd label) may well serve to bring Kleiberg’s music more to the fore in our country: his Mass for Modern Man – sumptuously and meticulously recorded in the state-of-the-art Olavshallen in Trondheim – revealing a modern-music voice rooted in tonality and moral clarity.

The traditional mass, or requiem, is used by Kleiberg, but it is interspersed with thoughts on contemporary themes by British writer, Jessica Gordon – the loss of a homeland, the plight of a refugee, the loss of faith itself. Surprisingly, the mood of the music is mainly thoughtful and soothing – as opposed to strident or atonal – which one might have expected from someone dealing with modern angst. Continue reading

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