The trouble with most of our attempts to tell the story of Rome—to deploy Rome as a metaphor in current events, for that matter—is that we tend to focus on the end points: the failure of the republic, the last days of the empire. The real puzzle of Rome, for historians and political theorists alike, is not its failure but its survival.
What if we just . . . gave people money? That’s the solution to poverty, at once simple and revolutionary, a variety of thinkers across the political spectrum have offered in recent years. Specifically, they posit a “Universal Basic Income,” or UBI: A set amount of cash that every individual in society would receive each month, no questions asked.
Cuius regio, eius religio. “Whose realm, his religion.”
With this 1555 declaration, and on behalf of his brother Charles V—by the grace of God, Holy Roman Emperor, forever August, King of Germany, King of Italy, King of all Spains, etc.—Ferdinand, King of the Romans, delayed a conflict that threatened to tear the continent apart. The Treaty of Augsburg offered the martialing princes of the Holy Roman Empire a settlement: Within their domains they would dictate religious life. Whether Catholic or Augustana confessing Lutheran, rulers and subjects would be united by faith and sword. But they would tolerate their neighbors. Later, in 1648, as the Peace of Westphalia brought over a century of European religious wars to a kind of close, this arrangement grew and spread and lay the foundations of modern religious pluralism.
Let’s face it, most books that come along with art exhibits usually are too academically strenuous and boring for laymen. A lot of people buy them for the pictures. But Katie Hanson’s Klimt and Schiele Drawings, a companion guide to a just-concluded exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, breaks the mold. Hanson, the assistant curator of Paintings and Art of Europe at the MFA, writes with style, simplicity, and—even more rare—a goal for her readers. She wants you to learn how to admire and experience art the way Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele hoped we would.
In 1991, after the Soviet Union collapsed, the United States gained unchallenged supremacy in the world. Indeed, just three years later, the U.S. alone accounted for about 25 percent of global GDP and 40 percent of world military spending, while Washington’s treaty allies in Europe and the Asia Pacific boasted roughly another 47 and 35 percent, respectively. Potential adversaries, meanwhile, were weak and overmatched: Russia was reeling from the Soviet implosion; China did not have the economic or military weight to compete; Iran was still recovering from its calamitous war with Iraq. In this environment, the U.S. could act with impunity. Democracy was expanding across the globe; the long shadow of communist authoritarianism had disappeared. It was the end of history as we knew it. Or so many thought.
Women are in a bind. The sexual revolution has loosened sexual standards to such an extent that the less-easily-attained joys of committed relationships are increasingly out of reach, reducing women’s life satisfaction even as sexual freedom is hailed as their salvation. In Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense, conservative author Mona Charen bluntly argues that this shift toward shallow relationships is tailored to the male libido:
The cover of Room to Dream features a black-and-white photo of a little boy sitting on the front porch of an old house. It’d be cute except for the title above his head, scrawled in a font that belongs on a horror-movie poster. Suddenly the colorless photograph doesn’t arouse nostalgia, it creates a sense of unease, as though there might be something lurking in the shadows behind the smiling child. Fitting for the autobiography—of sorts—of David Lynch, a man who has dedicated his career to presenting bourgeois life as a veneered rotting corpse.
Biographers typically have an affection for their subjects. Sometimes so much so that they descend into hagiography. No danger of this from Haaretz writer Anshel Pfeffer, an extreme example of the debunking biographer. Typical of his snarky style: Netanyahu “had given up on Israeli journalists being honest enough to present him as the country’s only true leader.”