Review: The Rule of the Clan

[by Mark Safranski / “zen“] Rule of the Clan by Mark Weiner I often review good books. Sometimes I review great ones. The Rule of the Clan: What an Ancient Form of Social Organization Reveals about the Future of Individual Freedom  by Mark S. Weiner gets the highest compliment of all: it is an academic book that […] Read more »

Human Sacrifice and State-Building

[by Mark Safranski / “zen“] A while back I had a longish post that argued that the mass executions practiced by ISIS drew from the long pagan tradition of ritualistic human sacrifice. Today in the news, some social scientists see evidence of human sacrifice as the catalyst for establishing and maintaining stratified, hierarchical and (usually) oppressive […] Read more »

America’s Anti-Agoge

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“] “….Instead of softening their feet with shoe or sandal, his rule was to make them hardy through going barefoot. This habit, if practiced, would, as he believed, enable them to scale heights more easily and clamber down precipices with less danger.” – Xenophon, The Polity of the Lacedaemonians “Be quiet! […] Read more »

Review: Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“] Blood Meridian: or The Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy Cormac McCarthy and Blood Meridian first came to my attention back in 2000 when noted literary critic, Yale professor Harold Bloom was interviewed on C-Span’s Booknotes regarding his book, How to Read and Why. Bloom, an eccentric character who […] Read more »

Elite Failure and Populist Trump It

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“] GOP Front Runner, Donald J. Trump A friend sent an essay by the prolific IR scholar, Professor Angelo Codevilla that had been posted at Powerline Blog.  It was good. For the unfamiliar, Codevilla often writes on national security and intelligence matters and some readers may be familiar with his (with Paul Seabury) […] Read more »

Intellectuals and their Romance with Political Barbarism

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“] Martin Heidegger, Eric Hobsbawm and Ezra Pound A  meandering post inspired by Reason Magazine and Charles Cameron. Reason.com is best known for giving a scrappy libertarian take on current events, crime, technology and pop culture, but recently, an article by Charles Paul Freund touched a deeper, darker vein of twentieth century history […] Read more »

Pete Turner on “Collecting Instability”

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“] Pete Turner of The Break it Down Show had a powerful post that encapsulated what is wrong with the American approach to intervention in foreign societies, both in terms of our aid and development programs as well as COIN and military assistance of various kinds. Collection Center Collects Instability  ….A good […] Read more »

T. Greer on Ibn Khaldun’s Asabiyah

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“] T. Greer of Scholar’s Stage has an exemplary post comparing the philosophy of English social contract theorist Thomas Hobbes with medieval Arab historian Ibn Khaldun, who described a critical component of a functional polity – asabiyah.  You should read Greer’s post in its entirety, but here is the take away […] Read more »

The Darkness behind Colonel Nightingale’s Two Great Truths

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. "zen"] Colonel Keith Nightingale, was featured  at Thomas Rick’s Best Defense blog  ”future of war” series at Foreign Policy.com. It is a strong piece, well worth reading: The seven ingredients of  highly adaptive and effective militaries   The there are two great truths about the future of war. The first is that [...] Read more »