Happy Columbus Day

Around this date in 1492, ships commanded by Christopher Columbus and flying the Spanish Flag landed Columbus and sailors on Watlings Island in the New World. He thought he was in India. Regardless of what you think of this holiday, the European development of the new world was inevitable. So lamenting the European influx and impact is fatuous. It was going to happen and did. The Indians never sailed to Europe and the only seafaring Asians were the Chinese who conducted extensive exploration of the Middle East, Africa both east and west. had reportedly failed to sail to Europe because as they reported, “We knew about England and saw it as a source of wool and bad wine. We had enough of that.” The Chinese also landed in the North American west coast but did not establish permanent settlements.

The point is that the 15th Century was the age of discovery and having Europeans or Chinese discover America was inevitable. The result was the introduction of European technology to the New World. This technology included the introduction of the wheel, unknown to indigenous peoples at the time.  The highest expression of indigenous technology north of the Rio Grande was the Clovis point. People in Mexico and Peru were advanced in math, astronomy, and agriculture.

The world of exploration explodes in the next century carrying  American crops to Europe and Asia. The potato came from Peru!  Let’s not get carried away by anti-Columbus hysteria, but the left needs a new hysteria on a regular basis. As to the notion that Europeans gave indigenous people diseases for which they weren’t resistant, it may have been the animals that came with Europeans who transmitted the diseases. This is often cited as a single sided issue and it is forgotten or overlooked that the indigenous people gave Europeans syphilis and tobacco. Some would say they won that long-term battle.

The NFL’s Glass House

This article is by Victor Davis Hanson and is very clear in describing the NFL’s current problems. I have added notes where appropriate.

 

The Glass House of the NFL

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File

The Glass House of the NFL

The National Football League is a glass house that was cracking well before Donald Trump’s criticism of players who refuse to stand during the national anthem.

The NFL earned an estimated $14 billion last year. But 500-channel television, internet live streaming, video games and all sorts of other televised sports have combined to threaten the league’s monopoly on weekend entertainment — even before recent controversies.

League broadcast revenues are threatened by the rush to cut the cable. These revenues ae based on cable systems charging each subscriber a fee for sports programming even though only a portion of the subscribers actually watches the programs. The cut the cable movement, which I have done, will reduce the revenue pot used to pay the enormous rights fees paid to eh NFL and other sports leagues.

It has become a fad for many players not to stand for the anthem. But it is also becoming a trend for irate fans not to watch the NFL at all.

Multimillionaire young players, mostly in their 20s, often cannot quite explain why they have become so furious at emblems of the country in which they are doing so well.

Their gripes at best seem episodic and are often without supporting data. Are they mad at supposedly inordinate police brutality toward black citizens, or racial disparity caused by bias, or the perceived vulgarity of President Donald Trump?

The result, fairly or not, is that a lot of viewers do not understand why so many young, rich players show such disrespect for their country — and, by extension, insult their far poorer fans, whose loyal support has helped pay their salaries.

ESPN talking heads and network TV analysts do not help. They often pose as social justice warriors, but they are ill-equipped to offer sermons to fans on their ethical shortcomings that have nothing to do with football.

In truth, the NFL’s hard-core fan base is not comprised of bicoastal hipsters. Rather, the league’s fan base is formed mostly by red-state Americans — and many of them are becoming increasingly turned off by the culture of professional football.

Professional athletes are frequently viewed as role models. Yet since 2000, more than 850 NFL players have been arrested, some of them convicted of heinous crimes and abuse against women.

The old idea of quiet sportsmanship — downplaying one’s own achievements while crediting the accomplishments of others — is being overshadowed by individual showboating.

Players are now bigger, faster and harder-hitting than in the past. Research has revealed a possible epidemic of traumatic brain injuries and other crippling injuries among NFL players. Such harm threatens to reduce the pool of future NFL players.

There is a growing public perception that the NFL is less a reflection of the kind of athleticism seen in basketball or baseball, and more a reflection of the violence of Mixed Martial Arts — or of gladiators in the ancient Roman Colosseum.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has received more than $212 million in compensation since 2006, has been a big moneymaker for the owners. Yet otherwise, he has been a public relations disaster, due largely to his incompetent efforts to sound politically correct. Goodell often insists that trivial rules be observed to the letter. For instance, the league denied a request by Dallas Cowboys players to wear small decals honoring Dallas police officers killed in a 2016 shooting.

At other times, Goodell deliberately ignores widespread violations of important NFL regulations — like the requirement that all players show respect for the American flag by solemnly standing during the national anthem.

The average value of an NFL franchise is estimated at $2.5 billion. The average player salary is nearly $2 million a year. Some of the league’s superstars are making more than $20 million a year. Given such wealth, local governments are understandingly becoming miffed that they have to pony up public money to support new NFL stadiums. Over the last two decades, the American public has shelled out more than $7 billion to build or renovate NFL stadiums. Billionaire owners are able to blackmail the public to pay to keep a franchise or else lose it to a city that offers bigger stadium subsidies.

Meanwhile, the NFL has successfully lobbied for exemption from federal antitrust regulations. NFL owners are crony capitalists who want the state both to subsidize them and leave them alone.

The antitrust exemption is overstated. There is a general exemption for all sports leagues in the Sports Broadcasting Act that allows teams to pool resources to enter into league-wide broadcast agreements. Ther is also a general exemption for labor that all employers use. The NFL does not have an antitrust exemption like the baseball exemption. 

Racial politics in the NFL have become increasingly problematic. The mega-wealthy franchise owners are almost all white businesspeople. Their multimillionaire players are about 70 percent African-American. So there is little diversity among the players, but even less among the owners.

Politically correct orthodoxy dictates that even quasi-public entities like the NFL should “look like America.” But instead, the NFL apparently sees itself as an old-fashioned meritocracy where athletic skills and corporate success alone determine who plays and who owns.

The progressive notions of “proportional representation” and “disparate impact” that sometimes govern universities and government mysteriously do not apply to the NFL, where few Latinos or Asians are included.

But most importantly, the league has entirely forgotten the fundamental rule of business: Never ignore, insult or talk down to the loyal consumers who provide the leagues’ support and income.

The NFL will not disappear, but its national significance is rapidly diminishing.

(C) 2017 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His latest book is The Savior Generals from BloomsburyBooks. You can reach him by e-mailing author@victorhanson.com.

 

That Horrible Weekend in Fenway Park in 1967, for the Twins, Anyway,

POSTED ON  BY PAUL MIRENGOFF IN BASEBALL

THIS DAY IN BASEBALL HISTORY: YAZ, SIR

Saturday, September 30, 1967 saw the first place Minnesota Twins playing the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. A Minnesota win would eliminate the Red Sox, who trailed by one game. However, the Detroit Tigers would remain alive if they won at least one game of their doubleheader against the California Angels. A Red Sox win would bring them level with Minnesota, and give the Tigers a half game lead if they swept the Angels.

In Boston, the Twins took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning. However, they had lost starting pitcher Jim Kaat, an all-star and veteran of three World Series duels against Sandy Koufax (his record in those games was 1-2), in the third inning due to a strained elbow. Kaat had shouldered a huge workload in September and his arm simply gave out. Manager Cal Ermer replaced Kaat with another fine veteran pitcher, Jim Perry.

Boston reached Perry for two runs in the fifth. Reggie Smith led off with a double. Pinch hitter Dalton Jones, who was having a fine year against right-handed pitchers (Perry was right-handed; Kaat left-handed) singled Smith to third. Kaat fanned Jose Santiago, Boston’s pitcher, and Mike Andrews. However, journeyman third baseman Jerry Adair singled home Smith and Carl Yastrzemski singled home Jones.

The Twins evened things up in the top of the sixth. Bob Allison walked with one out, and with two out Ted Uhlaender singled him to second. Rich Reese, batting for catcher Jerry Zimmerman, singled Allison home.

Frank Kostro then batted for Perry and drew a walk. However Santiago retired Zoilo Versalles.

In the bottom of the sixth, Ron Kline replaced Perry. The 35 year-old Kline was a so-so starting pitcher for years before becoming an ace reliever for the Washington Senators in the mid-1960s. The Twins acquired him from Washington before the 1967 season in exchange for Camilo Pascual (a great favorite of mine) and Bernie Allen.

In 1967, Kline had not lived up to expectations. His ERA was more than a run higher than his typical mark for the Senators. Ordinarily, the Twins might have turned to Perry and then to Al Worthington, their bullpen ace. But Perry had been forced into service early and pinch hit for rashly, perhaps. Thus, the game was in Kline’s hands.

George Scott greeted Kline with a “tater,” the term for home run that Scott popularized. Kline got out of the sixth with no further damage, but Boston now led 3-2.

Kline retired the first batter he faced in the seventh, pitcher Santiago. The second batter, Andrews, reached on an infield single.

That brought Adair to the plate. He hit a ground ball right back to Kline. It had double-play written all over it. Kline tried to lead Versailles by throwing over the second-base bag, as I believe is the proper approach, rather than directly to the infielder. Unfortunately for Minnesota, Versalles didn’t make the play. He was charged with an error, and the Twins had runners on first and second with Yastrzemski at the plate.

Ermer brought in lefty Jim Merritt to face Yastrzemski. It didn’t work. Yaz homered to give the Sox a 6-2 lead.

Down to their last out in the ninth, the Twins rallied for two runs on a homer by Harmon Killebrew off of Gary Bell. But Tony Oliva lined out to end the game. Boston and Minnesota were now tied.

Meanwhile, the Tigers had defeated the Angels in the opener of their double header by a score of 5-0. Mickey Lolich pitched a shutout. If Detroit won the nightcap they would take a half game lead.

The Tigers looked like accomplishing this. They jumped on Angels starter Jack Hamilton for three runs in the first inning and led 6-2 heading into the eighth.

If I recall correctly, Tiger fans were nervous about the team’s bullpen all season. Detroit had no dominant reliever. However, as the year progressed they developed a solid bullpen-by-committee. Fred Gladding saved 12 games, Mike Marshall saved 10, and Fred Lasher saved 9. Gladding and Marshall both had fine ERAs (Lasher, not much). John Hiller, whose ERA was also impressive, gave them a good left-handed arm. Former starters Hank Aguirre (a lefty) and Dave Wickersham (a right-hander) also chipped in effectively.

In this game, Lasher had replaced starter Earl Wilson in the sixth inning after Wilson walked the lead-off batter. Lasher set the Angels down one-two-three in the sixth and got through the seventh yielding only a walk.

In the top of the eighth, however, the first four Angel batters — Jim Fregosi, ex-Twin Jimmie Hall (on a walk), ex-Twin Don Mincher, and Rick Reichardt — all reached base against Lasher, with Fregosi and Hall scoring. It seems odd that Tigers manager Mayo Smith left Lasher, who had already pitched two innings, in the game long enough to suffer than much damage. A modern manager might leave Lasher in to face Fregosi but would almost certainly then call on Aguirre or Hiller to face lefties Hall and Mincher.

Finally, with left-handed Roger Repoz due up, Smith pulled Lasher and brought in Aguirre. The Angels countered with ex-Tiger Bubba Morton. Aguirre got him on a grounder back to the mound. However, Mincher scored on the play to make the score 6-5.

Aguirre walked Bob Rodgers. Smith called on Gladding to face Bobby Knoop, a right-handed batter. Knoop reached on an infield single to load the bases.

That was all for Gladding. On came John Hiller to face Tom Satriano, a left-handed batter. Satriano singled to tie the game. The bases remained loaded.

Hiller struck out pinch hitter Bob “Hawk” Taylor. Now he had to get Fregosi to keep the score tied.

But Fregosi, an all-star, came through with a hit that scored two runs. Hiller retired Hall, but the damage was done, and then some. The Angels had scored six runs and led 8-6.

During the course of the double-header, the Angels had run through pretty much their entire bullpen. To close out this game, manager Bill Rigney called on Jim Weaver, who had pitched three innings of scoreless ball in the opener.

Weaver set the Tigers down in order in both the eighth and ninth innings.

The Tigers thus were half a game behind the Twins and the Red Sox heading into the final day of the season. They still controlled their own destiny, though. If they won the Sunday double-header against the Angels, the Tigers would be tied for first with the winner of the Minnesota-Boston game, and a playoff would be required to determine the American League champion.

MLB Postseason Schedule 2017 With Some Interesting Tweeks.

Major League Baseball released the 2017 postseason schedule on Tuesday — and it is similar to last year’s, except in one important way: The 113th World Series will begin Oct. 24 on FOX at the home of the league champion with the better regular-season record.

The standard playoff tiebreaker rules will apply should the two pennant winners finish with identical regular-season records. First is head-to-head winning percentage during the regular season, then higher winning percentage in intradivision games.

Gone are the days when World Series home-field advantage went to the league that won that year’s All-Star Game. It resulted in fun times in Miami at the Midsummer Classic, and now it means hypothetical fun and unrelenting focus on divisional opponents.

• Complete 2017 postseason schedule

If anything, the new World Series home-field rule, a byproduct of the latest collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the MLB Players Association, adds even greater incentive for runaway division leaders like the Dodgers and Astros to keep pressing the gas pedal through September and leave no key tiebreaker scenario exposed.

Let’s just say those two teams, which each has the best record in its respective league, zoom through the postseason and meet in Game 1 of the World Series. As of now, the Series would open at Dodger Stadium. But the Dodgers and Astros have no Interleague meetings in 2017, and that means that if they finish with identical regular-season records and meet in the Fall Classic, Game 1 would be at Minute Maid Park, because Houston has a better intradivision record.

Now let’s say it’s a rematch of the historic 2016 World Series, which the Cubs clinched in Game 7 despite the Indians’ home-field advantage. Cubs fans would have loved those four home games instead of three, right? Cleveland (59-50) currently has a slight lead over Chicago (59-52), but they have no Interleague head-to-head meetings in 2017, so a tiebreaker would go to intradivision records. Right now, the Cubs would have that tiebreaker by a slight margin.

Until 2003, World Series home field alternated back and forth between leagues. There have been 90 World Series under the 2-3-2 format, and in only 46 of them did the team with the better regular-season record have the home-field edge. For fans hoping for a Dodgers-Astros matchup in late October, note that since 1999, the only time the teams with the best record in each league met in a World Series was 2013 (Red Sox over Cardinals). It’s a rarity.

The regular season will conclude again with all 15 games played concurrently starting at 3:05 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 1. Then any potentially necessary regular-season tiebreaker games would be telecast exclusively by ESPN on Monday, Oct. 2. The American League Wild Card Game will be on ESPN on Tuesday, Oct. 3, followed a day later by the National League Wild Card Game, televised exclusively by TBS.

Both AL Division Series will be scheduled to begin on Thursday, Oct. 5. The first full slate of Division Series games, featuring two NLDS openers and a pair of ALDS Game 2 contests, will be held on Friday, Oct. 6. Overall, the Division Series are scheduled to run from Thursday, Oct. 5, through the following Thursday, Oct. 12, with potential Game 5s on Wednesday, Oct. 11 (ALDS) and Thursday, Oct. 12 (NLDS).

TBS will cover all NLDS games, while FS1 or MLB Network will cover the ALDS.

The AL Championship Series, beginning on Friday, Oct. 13, will be telecast by FOX or FS1. The NLCS, set to start on Saturday, Oct. 14, will be telecast by TBS. A potential Game 7 of the ALCS is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 21, while a potential Game 7 of the NLCS is set for Sunday, Oct. 22.

Game 1 of the 2017 World Series is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 24, and the best-of-seven series will change sites for Game 3 on Friday, Oct. 27. If a Game 7 proves necessary once again, it is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 1. Scheduled days off are Oct. 26 and 30 (if a Game 6 is necessary).

FOX Sports will present live telecast coverage of the World Series for the 20th time.

Since the Wild Card Game was instituted in 2012, the annual total of actual postseason games played was 32 in ’12, 38 in ’13, 32 in ’14, 36 in ’15 and 35 in ’16.

All postseason games telecast on MLB Network, TBS, FS1 and FOX will be available to MLB.TV subscribers who are authenticated subscribers to the applicable network through a participating pay TV provider.

ESPN Radio will provide live national coverage of all 2017 postseason games, including the Wild Card Games and any necessary tiebreakers. MLB.com will have full coverage of all postseason action.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Follow him @Marathoner and read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com/blogs hub. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB Homerun Record About to Fall.

Smashing: MLB home run record on track to fall Tuesday

NEW YORK (AP) — Giancarlo Stanton’s smacks, Aaron Judge’s jolts and all those dizzying long balls helped Major League Baseball move another poke closer to the inevitable.

Nearly two decades after the height of the Steroids Era, the sport is on track to break its season record for home runs on Tuesday — and not just top the old mark, but smash it like one of those upper-deck shots that have become commonplace in the Summer of the Slugger.

There were 5,677 home runs hit through Monday, 16 shy of the record set in 2000.

Juiced balls? Watered-down pitching? Stanton’s renaissance? Sensational starts by Judge and Cody Bellinger?

“I don’t think that we are ever going to have a single explanation for exactly why we’ve see so many,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “But players are bigger and stronger. They’re playing a little differently, in terms of the way they swing. Pitchers throw harder. The one thing I remain comfortable with: Nothing about the baseball, according to our testing, is materially different.”

There were 5,610 homers last year, an average of 2.31 per game, and this year’s average of 2.53 projects to 6,139. That would be up 47 percent from 4,186 in 2014.

In just three years, home runs will have increased by 1,953 — an extra 149 miles of long balls at this year’s average home run length of 400 feet, or 15 miles more than the driving distance between Philadelphia’s Citizen’s Bank Park and Washington’s Nationals Park.

“The game has changed,” New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “From when I started, there’s a lot less stolen bases, there’s a lot less bunting, there’s a lot less hitting-and-running. You don’t give outs away, and you let guys swing the bat.”

Already 108 players have hit 20 homers this year, just two shy of the record set last season — and up from 64 in 2015, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“The ball seems to soar from people that are hitting it farther than maybe they did a year ago … and they kind of look like the same person,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor, a Hall of Famer hitter, said before Monday night’s game at Yankee Stadium.

Along with sailing shots come strikeouts, which will set a record for the 10th consecutive year. There were 37,083 whiffs through Monday, an average of 8.25 per team per game that translates to 40,103 over the full season.

“The focus is hitting homers and tolerating strikeouts,” Reggie Jackson said. “I don’t really like all the strikeouts, and I was the king.”

Baseball officials are worried about decreasing action and have been alarmed by the strikeout rise. This year’s total is up from 38,982 last year and headed to an increase of nearly 8,000 from the 32,189 in 2007. The strikeout spike coincides with a rise in fastball velocity; four-seamers have averaged 93.2 mph this year, up from 91.9 mph in 2008, according to MLB data.

“These bullpens are making it extremely difficult. From basically the starter on you’re going to have elite, hard-throwing guys that are looking to strike you out every single time,” said Baltimore’s Mark Trumbo, last year’s home run champion. “The game right now is as max effort as I’ve seen it. Guys are throwing harder. At the plate sometimes you have no choice. It’s hard to steer the ball around when it’s 98 miles an hour and up in the zone.”

Jackson set a record with 2,597 career strikeouts, maxing at 171 in 1968. Six players already have reached 171 this year, led by the Yankees’ Judge at 198. He could break Mark Reynolds’ season record of 223, set in 2009.

“You’d have been on the bench,” Jackson said. “But I don’t know if you set a guy on the bench with 90 RBIs and 40 homers. That’s Judge. You ain’t going to sit that on the bench.”

Steroids fueled the home run surge in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and power subsided after the start of drug testing with penalties in 2004. The home run average dropped in 2014 to its lowest level since 1992, then started rising during the second half of the 2015 season.

MLB has the UMass-Lowell’s Baseball Research Center conduct periodic testing of baseballs and University of Illinois physics professor emeritus Alan Nathan consults as part of quality control. The sport has said repeatedly that baseballs fall within the specifications in the rules.

Manfred isn’t worried some undetectable substance is fueling the new rise.

“I have never said that it’s impossible there’s something out there that we’re missing,” he said. “What I am saying is we’re doing more, more frequently, less predictably, with better testing, and that’s all you can do.”

Women Have More Muscle Stamina Than Men.

This article means that the practice of having women play shorter matches in tennis tournaments is based on false science. The practice is to have women play best of three sets and men play best of five sets. This practice should end.

Women have more stamina and muscle endurance than men, study suggests.woman-exercise-minute-bone-density.jpg

Women have greater muscle endurance than men, a study appears to show.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia found women were less tired after natural muscle exercises than men of a similar age and athletic ability.

For the study, nine women and eight men were asked to flex their foot against a series of sensors as quickly as they could 200 times.

The speed, power and torque – rotational force – of their movements and electrical activity of their muscles was recorded.

The results showed men were faster and more powerful at first, but became more exhausted much faster than the women.

Professor Brian Dalton, study author, said: “We’ve known for some time that women are less fatigable than men during isometric muscle tests – static exercises where joints don’t move, such as holding a weight – but we wanted to find out if that’s true during more dynamic and practical everyday movements.

“And the answer is pretty definitive: women can outlast men by a wide margin.“  

The researchers measured foot movements because it makes use of calf muscles on the back of the leg, used for everyday actions such as standing or walking.

Although only one muscle group was studied, Professor Dalton said he would expect similar results for others.

“We know from previous research that for events like ultra-trail running, males may complete them faster but females are considerably less tired by the end,” he explained.

“If ever an ultra-ultra-marathon is developed, women may well dominate in that arena.“

The study, carried out in collaboration with the University of Guelph and University of Oregon, was published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.

What’s The Matter With Germany?

What’s the Matter with Germany?

By | September 4, 2017

Germany is making trouble again. This time it is not sending young men in uniform swarming across its borders to conquer Europe. Instead, it is using its position of economic dominance to cause young Muslim men from outside Europe to swarm across Europe’s borders. In World War II, Germany’s conquest of Europe and subsequent defeat left the continent in ruins. This time, however, Germany’s actions seem designed to bring about Europe’s destruction by inviting conquest rather than by initiating it.

First the Kaiser, then Hitler, now Angela Merkel. Over and over again and in different ways, Germany’s hubris has invented ways to take Europe down. How can we possibly be here again?

If you take a moment to ponder the title of Gertrude Himmelfarb’s book, The Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenmentsyou will notice that Germany is conspicuously absent from Himmelfarb’s subtitle and her book. This is an important clue about the shape of the West today. After all, the story of Germany comes close to defining the conflicts and agonies of the 20th century and gives clues about our present crises. It is a remarkable fact that twice in the 20th century Germany fought the three nations in Himmelfarb’s list in two enormously destructive wars. Those conflicts strongly suggest that Germany was the enemy, not just of those nation states, but also of the Enlightenment traditions those nations represent.

The Enlightenment was a period of political revolutions in Britain, America, and France. Those revolutions resulted from a radical change in thinking in those three countries.

Britain’s revolution came first, in 1688. It replaced the divine right of kings with rule by the king (or queen) in Parliament, a regime that is still recognizable in Britain today. The radically new American idea was forged in the American Enlightenment and recognizes the sovereignty of the people (the subject of my book, Common Sense Nation: Unlocking the Forgotten Power of the American Idea). America’s original constitutional design is also still recognizable, though America in recent years has been living under an increasingly post-constitutional regime. France keeps trying to make its version of the Enlightenment project work politically, reflecting its inherent problems. France’s current attempt, the Fifth Republic, was established only very recently, in 1958.

During the Enlightenment era there was a crucial parting of the ways between Germany, on the one hand, and Britain, America, and France on the other. Here is Stephen Hicks in his fine book on postmodernism:

Anglo-American culture and German culture split decisively from each other, one following a broadly Enlightenment program, the other a Counter-Enlightenment one.

How would the 20th century have played out if Germany had belonged in Himmelfarb’s subtitle such that war between a 20th century France and Germany would have been as unlikely as war between 20th century France and Britain? That, it seems, would have averted both world wars and saved lives by the tens of millions.

Instead of being part of the Enlightenment project, Germany was the heartland of Romanticism, the 19th-century movement that followed the Enlightenment era. Romanticism was the rejection of Enlightenment thinking, and it started in Germany.

The 20th-century thinker who did the most to shape thinking about the history of ideas during and after the Enlightenment era was almost certainly Isaiah Berlin, professor of social and political theory at Oxford. In The Roots of Romanticism, here is how Berlin described the new consciousness of the people who were participants in and champions of Romanticism:

…common sense, moderation, was very far from their thoughts…there was a great turning towards emotionalism…an outbreak of craving for the infinite…admiration of wild genius, outlaws, heroes, aestheticism, self-destruction.

The Germans emerged from the Enlightenment era as the counter-Enlightenment people.

Berlin wrote that somewhere between the end of the 1760s and the beginning of the 1780s the idea of the romantic hero was taking hold of the German imagination. Note that this is precisely the period during which the American Founders were inventing America. During this period, heroic martyrdom became in Germany “a quality to be worshipped for its own sake.” Berlin described the romantic hero as “satanic”:

This is the beginning of…the Nietzschean figure who wishes to raze to the ground a society whose system of values is such that a superior person…cannot operate in terms of it, and therefore prefers to destroy it…[who] prefers self-destruction, suicide…

Why “satanic”? Berlin’s description of the romantic hero evokes the figure of Satan. Satan’s sin is pride. Propelled by a feeling of injured pride, he led a rebellion against Heaven. It also describes Hitler. He stirred up the Germans’ injured pride over their defeat in World War I, and led Germany into a war of unimaginable destructiveness which ended with the destruction of Germany and Hitler’s suicide. Once again, the Germans while seeking to salve a wounded pride through self-destructive means, seem poised to take the rest of Europe down with them.

For about a century after the Germans set out on their anti-Enlightenment path, the threat they posed to the West was limited because Germany did not exist as a single country. Before 1871, the area that would become Germany in that year consisted of a number of independent states varying in size and power, ranging from kingdoms and grand duchies to principalities, cities and ecclesiastical states. Although the number of German states had declined throughout the centuries, reduced by deaths of royal lines, annexation, and conquest, there were still around 300 German states by 1800. The new state, by unifying the Germans, soon acquired the power to threaten the West. When the Allies divided Germany after its defeat in World War II, it was again no threat–though certainly an unhappy place for those stuck living in the Eastern part of the divide. Now reunited, it is no coincidence that Germany is a problem again.

It is important to realize how much the Germans’ rejection of Enlightenment thinking, already strong, was intensified by their experience of the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon ravaged and humiliated the German states. For Germans, Napoleon represented not just the French Enlightenment, but the Enlightenment overall. The Germans hated Napoleonic France and rejected the Enlightenment along with it.

The emergence of the United States, modern Britain, and modern France during the Enlightenment era, and Germany’s rejection of the Enlightenment provide the basis for understanding why Germany has been and continues to be a problem for the West.

If the West wishes to avoid a repetition of the destruction and disasters of the last century, it would do well to consult its own Enlightenment tradition and to marginalize the thinking of German Romantics, like Merkel, who recall an intellectual tradition that can demonstrate no positive historical achievement.

About the Author: 

Robert Curry
Robert Curry serves on the Board of Directors of the Claremont Institute and is the author of Common Sense Nation: Unlocking the Forgotten Power of the American Idea from Encounter Books. You can preview the book at: http://www.amazon.com/Common-Sense-Nation-Unlocking-Forgotten/dp/1594038252 He also serves on the Board of Distinguished Advisors for the Ronald Reagan Center for Freedom and Understanding.
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