Archive for December, 2018

Richard Condon — The Whisper of The Axe– The Manchurian Candidate — Prizzi’s Honor — Videos

Posted on December 29, 2018. Filed under: American History, Articles, Blogroll, Book, Books, Chinese, College, Communications, Congress, Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Crisis, Cult, Culture, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Drug Cartels, Education, Entertainment, Ethic Cleansing, European History, Faith, Family, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, Fiction, Films, Foreign Policy, Fraud, Freedom, Friends, Genocide, government, government spending, history, Homicide, Language, liberty, Life, Literacy, Mastery, media, Movies, Movies, Narcissism, National Security Agency (NSA), Newspapers, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Police, Political Correctness, Politics, Press, Psychology, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Resources, Reviews, Television, Wisdom, Work, World War II, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Manchurian Candidate – opening scene

The Manchurian Candidate Interviews(1962 film)

The Manchurian Candidate (1962) – Assassination Scene (12/12) | Movieclips

The Remaker: The Manchurian Candidate 1962 vs. 2004

The Manchurian Candidate (1962): Classical Film Review

The Manchurian Candidate – Film, Literature and the New World Order

Anjelica Huston-Prizzi’s Honor-“You wanna do it Charlie” scene

Prizzis Honor 1985

Prizzi’s Honor

Prizzi’s Honor scene.mov

Prizzis Honor 1985

AVE MARIA

Anjelica Huston – Prizzi’s Honor – last scene

About the Archive

This is a digitized version of an article from The Times’s print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996. To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them.

Occasionally the digitization process introduces transcription errors or other problems. Please send reports of such problems to archive_feedback@nytimes.com.

Richard Condon, the fiendishly inventive novelist and political satirist who wrote “The Manchurian Candidate,” “Winter Kills” and “Prizzi’s Honor,” among other books, died yesterday at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. He was 81.

Novelist is too limited a word to encompass the world of Mr. Condon. He was also a visionary, a darkly comic conjurer, a student of American mythology and a master of conspiracy theories, as vividly demonstrated in “The Manchurian Candidate.” That novel, published in 1959, subsequently became a cult film classic, directed by John Frankenheimer. In this spellbinding story, Raymond Shaw, an American prisoner of war (played in the film by Laurence Harvey), is brainwashed and becomes a Communist agent and assassin.

When the 1962 film was re-released in 1988, Janet Maslin wrote in The New York Times that it was “arguably the most chilling piece of cold war paranoia ever committed to film, yet by now it has developed a kind of innocence.”

Mr. Condon was a popular novelist who earned serious critical attention, although he did not always win favorable reviews. His response: “I’m a man of the marketplace as well as an artist.” And he added, “I’m a pawnbroker of myth.” Though others made claims that his novels were prophetic, he admitted only that they were “sometimes about five and a half minutes ahead of their time.”

In “Winter Kills,” a President, evidently modeled on John F. Kennedy, is assassinated in a conspiracy involving the Central Intelligence Agency and the underworld. Obsessed by politics, Mr. Condon once said: “Every book I’ve ever written has been about the abuse of power. I feel very strongly about that. I’d like people to know how deeply their politicians are wronging them.” That abuse could be in contemporary life or as long ago as the 15th century, as in his novel “A Trembling Upon Rome.”

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Politicians like Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and President Richard M. Nixon appeared in various guises in his work, Nixon as Walter Slurrie in “Death of a Politician.” Speaking about politics and political thrillers, Mr. Condon once said, “It’s the villains that make good literature, because they’re the only ones in the story who know what they want.”

He did not write his first novel until he was 42, but, once started, he never stopped. The first, “The Oldest Confession” (1958), was filmed as “The Happy Thieves,” starring Rex Harrison and Rita Hayworth. The novel was a success, but the film was a failure, whereas the second, “The Manchurian Candidate,” was popular in both forms. Eventually he wrote 26 novels and two works of nonfiction, “And Then We Moved to Rossenarra,” a memoir of the years he lived in Ireland, and “The Mexican Stove,” a cookbook he wrote with his daughter Wendy Jackson.

When asked how he knew so much about crime families, he said he first learned about the subject as a boy on the streets of Washington Heights. He was born in Manhattan and graduated from De Witt Clinton High School. Because his grades were so poor, he never went to college. He worked as an elevator operator, a hotel clerk and a waiter, then sold an article to Esquire magazine. While working as a copywriter for an advertising agency, he met a model named Evelyn Hunt, whom he married in 1938. Copywriting led him into movie publicity, with his first stop the Disney organization.

For 22 years, he was a movie publicist, working for almost every major Hollywood studio. With characteristic panache, he later described himself as “a drummer boy for the gnomes and elves of the silver screen.” During this period, he saturated himself with movies, watching eight a week. They were, he said, mostly bad films, but they taught him the art of storytelling and the need for the novelist to be entertaining.

In the late 1950’s, he left Hollywood and returned to New York to become a novelist. The idea for “The Oldest Confession” came while he was on location with “The Pride and the Passion” at El Escorial, outside Madrid. Fascinated by Old Master paintings, he wrote his book about art thievery. The consecutive success of “The Oldest Confession” and “The Manchurian Candidate” enabled him to devote himself to fiction.

In 1959, he began a series of migrations, first to Mexico, then to Switzerland, finally to Ireland. His travels added to his backlog of knowledge, but he continued to set most of his novels in the United States. Through the 1960’s and into the 70’s, his books received mixed reviews, with some of the more admiring notices going to “An Infinity of Mirrors” in 1964. “Winter Kills,” in 1974, drew favorable attention, with Christopher Lehmann-Haupt saying in his review in The Times that it was “a grand entertainment” and “the best book Mr. Condon has written since ‘The Manchurian Candidate.’ “

After writing a series of novels in Ireland, Mr. Condon moved back to the United States, settling in Dallas in 1980. In Texas, he had his next comeback, with “Prizzi’s Honor,” about the Prizzi family of mobsters in Brooklyn. John Huston turned the novel into a hit film, starring Jack Nicholson, Kathleen Turner and Anjelica Huston. The screenplay, by Mr. Condon and Janet Roach, was nominated for an Academy Award. Several years later, Mr. Condon completed the fictional cycle with “Prizzi’s Family,” “Prizzi’s Glory” and “Prizzi’s Money,” published in 1994.

Among his other novels are “Some Angry Angel,” “A Talent for Loving,” “Arigato” and “Emperor of America.”

Throughout his life, Mr. Condon displayed a wry, even diabolical streak. He often named his characters after real people. For example, the characters in Raymond Shaw’s infantry squad in “The Manchurian Candidate” were named for people associated with the Phil Silvers television show, “You’ll Never Get Rich.” His longest-running character, Dr. Weiler, was named after A. H. Weiler, a former film critic for The Times. In various Condon novels, Dr. Weiler turns up as an obstetrician, a cardiologist, a psychiatrist and the royal physician.

Mr. Condon is survived by his wife; two daughters, Ms. Jackson, of Dallas, and Deborah Condon, who lives near Salisbury in England, and three grandchildren.

Brainwashed

Where the “Manchurian Candidate” came from.

Most people know John Frankenheimer’s movie “The Manchurian Candidate,” which stars Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, and Angela Lansbury in the story of an American soldier who is captured in Korea and programmed by Chinese Communists to kill on command. And most people probably think of the movie as a classic of Cold War culture, like “On the Beach” and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”—a popular work articulating the anxieties of an era. In fact, “The Manchurian Candidate” was a flop. It was released in the fall of 1962, failed to recover its costs, and was pulled from distribution two years later, after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It turned up a few times on television, but it was not shown in a movie theatre again until 1987, which—nearly the end of the Cold War—is the year its popularity dates from. The true artifact of Cold War culture is the novel, by Richard Condon, that the movie was based on.

Condon’s book came out in 1959 and was a best-seller. It was praised in the Times (“a wild, vigorous, curiously readable melange”) and The New Yorker (“a wild and exhilarating satire”); Time named it one of the Ten Best Bad Novels—which, from a publisher’s point of view, is far from the worst thing that might be said about a book. The novel’s success made Condon rich; he spent most of the rest of his life abroad, producing many more works in the genre that Timehad identified, including “Winter Kills,” in 1974, and, in 1982, “Prizzi’s Honor.” His adaptation of that novel for the John Huston movie received an Academy Award nomination in 1986. He died in 1996.

Condon was a cynic of the upbeat type, not unlike Tom Wolfe: his belief that everything is basically shit did not get in the way of his pleasure in making fun of it. He learned that attitude in the finest school for it on earth, Hollywood. Before he was a novelist, Condon was a movie publicist. He began, in 1936, at Walt Disney Productions, where he promoted “Fantasia” and “Dumbo,” among other animated masterpieces, and moved on to a succession of studios, finishing up at United Artists, which he left in 1957. He didn’t know what he wanted to do next; he just wanted out. “The only thing I knew how to do was spell,” he later explained, so he did the logical thing and became a writer. Condon claimed that his work in Hollywood had given him three ulcers. He also claimed that he had seen, during his years there, ten thousand movies, an experience that he believed gave him (his words) “an unconscious grounding in storytelling.”

Frankenheimer called “The Manchurian Candidate” “one of the best books I ever read,” but admirers of Frankenheimer’s movie have not been so gracious. Greil Marcus, in a characteristically overheated appreciation of the movie in the British Film Institute’s Film Classics series, calls the novel a “cheaply paranoid fantasy,” and he goes on, “That the story would lodge in the nation’s psyche and stay there was the work of other hands.” The film historian David Thomson describes it as “a book written so that an idiot could film it.” No doubt Condon wrote “The Manchurian Candidate” with a movie deal in mind. It was his second novel; his first, called “The Oldest Confession,” was also made into a movie—“The Happy Thieves,” starring Rex Harrison (a flop that stayed a flop). But the claim that Condon’s “Manchurian Candidate” is not much more than a draft for the screenplay (which was written by George Axelrod, the author of “The Seven Year Itch”) is peculiar. Michael Crichton writes books that any idiot can film; he practically supplies camera angles. But Condon’s is not an easy book to film, in part because its tone is not readily imitated cinematically, and in part because much of it is, or was in 1962, virtually unfilmable. Strange as the movie is—a thriller teetering on the edge of camp—the book is stranger.

Time, a magazine whose editors, after all, have daily experience with overcooked prose, was not wrong in seeing something splendid in the badness of Condon’s book. “The Manchurian Candidate” may be pulp, but it is very tony pulp. It is a man in a tartan tuxedo, chicken à la king with shaved truffles, a signed LeRoy Neiman. It’s Mickey Spillane with an M.F.A., and a kind of summa of the styles of paperback fiction circa 1959. The writing is sometimes hardboiled:

The slightest touchy thing he said to her could knock the old cat over sideways with an off-key moan. But what could he do? He had elected himself Head Chump when he stepped down from Valhalla and telephoned this sweaty little advantage-taker.

Sometimes it adopts a police-blotter, “degree-zero” mode:

“Thank you, Major. Dismiss,” the general said. Marco left the office at four twenty-one in the afternoon. General Jorgenson shot himself to death at four fifty-five.

Occasionally, and usually in an inconvenient place, it drops a mot recherché:

Raymond’s mother came out of her chair, spitting langrel. [“Langrel”: irregular pieces of iron loaded into shell casings for the purpose of ripping the enemy’s sails in naval battles; obsolete.]

VIDEO FROM THE NEW YORKER

A Hundred Years of American Protest, Then and Now

He clutched the telephone like an osculatorium and did not allow himself to think about what lay beyond that instant. [“Osculatorium”: medieval Latin, for a tablet that is kissed during the Mass. There appears to be no connotation involving clutching.]

It signals feeling by waxing poetic:

Such an instant ago he had paddled their wide canoe across that lake of purple wine toward a pin of light high in the sky which would widen and widen and widen while she slept until it had blanched the blackness.

It signals wisdom by waxing incomprehensible:

There is an immutable phrase at large in the languages of the world that places fabulous ransom on every word in it: The love of a good woman. It means what it says and no matter what the perspective or stains of the person who speaks it, the phrase defies devaluing. The bitter and the kind can chase each other around it, this mulberry bush of truth and consequence, and the kind may convert the bitter and the bitter may emasculate the kind but neither can change its meaning because the love of a good woman does not give way to arbitrage.

And, when appropriate, it salivates:

Her lithe, solid figure seemed even more superb because of her flawless carriage. She wore a Chinese dressing gown of a shade so light that it complemented the contrasting color of her eyes. Her long and extremely beautiful legs were stretched out before her on the chaise longue, and any man but her son or her husband, seeing what she had and yet knowing that this magnificent forty-nine-year-old body was only a wasted uniform covering blunted neural energy, might have wept over such a waste.

Some people like their bananas ripe to the point of blackness. “The Manchurian Candidate” is a very ripe banana, and, for those who have the taste for it, delectable.

The magnificent forty-nine-yearold body in the last passage belongs to the mother of Raymond, the assassin, who in Frankenheimer’s movie is played by Angela Lansbury as a proper and steely middle-aged matron. For Condon, though, Raymond’s mother is no matron. She is a sexually predatory heroin addict who commits double incest. She is the serpent in the suburban garden of Cold War domesticity, and, in imagining her and her history, Condon almost certainly had in the back of his mind the book that, three years earlier, had become the first blockbuster in American publishing, Grace Metalious’s “Peyton Place”—a story that also had to be sanitized for the movies. The plot of “Peyton Place” turns on incest (as, for that matter, does the plot of “Lolita,” a sensation when the American edition came out, in 1958). But the luridness of Condon’s novel did not make it to the screen. There is no equivalent in the movie, for example, of the proto-Pynchonesque sequence in which Raymond’s stepfather, Johnny Iselin, attempts to have sex with an Eskimo. Frankenheimer’s idea of satire was a lot more conventional than Condon’s. He was also a Hollywood filmmaker, of course, and obliged to observe a different decorum.

Counterintuitive as it sounds, the secret to making a successful thriller, as Michael Crichton and Tom Clancy have demonstrated, is to slow down the action occasionally with disquisitions on Stuff It Is Interesting to Know—how airplanes are made, how nuclear submarines work, how to build an atomic bomb. Ideally, this information is also topical, food for the national appetite of the day. In “The Manchurian Candidate,” the topic is brainwashing.

Fear of Communist brainwashing seems an example of Cold War hysteria, but in the nineteen-fifties the fear was not without basis. United Nations ground forces began military action in Korea on July 5, 1950. On July 9th, an American soldier who had been captured just two days earlier delivered a radio speech consisting of North Korean propaganda. Similar broadcasts by captured soldiers continued throughout the war. At the end of the war, the Army estimated that one out of every seven American prisoners of war had collaborated with the enemy. (The final, generally accepted estimate is one out of ten.) Twenty-one Americans refused to return to the United States; forty announced that they had become Communists; and fourteen were court-martialled, and eleven of those were convicted.

The term “brainwashing” was coined by a journalist named Edward Hunter, who had served in the Morale Operations section of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services during the Second World War, which he spent mostly in Asia, and who became an outspoken anti-Communist. Hunter’s book “Brainwashing in Red China: The Calculated Destruction of Men’s Minds” appeared in 1951. In it, he explained that “brainwashing” was his translation of the Chinese term hsi-nao, which means “cleansing of the mind,” and which he said he had heard frequently when speaking with Europeans who had been caught inside China in 1949, the year of Mao’s revolution.

In 1955, two years after the armistice ending the Korean War, the Army issued a huge report on the treatment of American prisoners called “POW: The Fight Continues After the Battle.” The Army had interviewed all surviving prisoners of war on the ships that brought them back across the Pacific—more than four thousand soldiers—and had learned that many of them underwent intensive indoctrination by Chinese Communists. The Chinese had carefully segregated the prisoners they had identified as incorrigibles, sometimes housing them in separate camps, and had subjected the prisoners they judged to be potential converts to five hours of indoctrination a day, in classes that combined propaganda by the instructors with “confessions” by the prisoners. In some cases, physical torture accompanied the indoctrination, but in general the Chinese used the traditional methods of psychological coercion: repetition and humiliation. The Army discovered that a shocking number of prisoners had, to one degree or another, succumbed. Some were persuaded to accuse the United States, in signed statements, of engaging in germ warfare—a charge that was untrue but was widely believed in many countries.

The Army report instigated a popular obsession with brainwashing that lasted well into 1957. Stories about the experiences of American prisoners appeared in The Saturday Evening PostLife, the Times Magazine, and The New Yorker. The term itself became a synonym for any sort of effective persuasion, and writers struggled with the question of whether aspects of contemporary American life, such as advertising and psychiatric therapy, might really be forms of brainwashing. Condon must have read much of this material; he did know Andrew Salter’s “Conditioned Reflex Therapy” (1949), a book he has the Chinese psychiatrist in his novel, Yen Lo, cite in the speech in which he announces his successful brainwashing of the American prisoners. Yen Lo names a number of other studies of hypnosis and conditioning, including “The Seduction of the Innocent,” by Frederic Wertham, an alarmist account of the way comic books corrupt the minds of American youth. (Yen Lo evidently has, in addition to his other exceptional powers, a crystal ball, since “Seduction of the Innocent” was not published until 1954, after the Korean War was over.) These books and articles apparently persuaded Condon that brainwashing, or psychological conditioning using a combination of hypnosis and Pavlovian methods, was a real possibility—as the recent experience of the Korean P.O.W.s had persuaded many other Americans that it was.

Condon’s book played on the fear that brainwashing could be permanent, that minds could be altered forever. By the time Frankenheimer’s movie came out, though, it had become clear that most conditioning is temporary. In 1961, in “Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of ‘Brainwashing’ in China,” the psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, who had conducted some of the shipboard interviews with returning P.O.W.s, concluded that the indoctrination of prisoners was a long-term failure. All of the “converts” eventually returned to the United States, and the former prisoners who had come home praising the good life to be had in North Korea soon reverted to American views.

Still, conditioning is the theme (if “theme” is not too grand a term) of Condon’s novel. Even before Raymond falls into the hands of Yen Lo, he is psychologically conditioned, by his mother’s behavior, to despise everyone. His mother is conditioned, by her early incest, to betray everyone. And the American people are conditioned, by political propaganda, to believe her McCarthy-like husband’s baseless charges about Communists in the government. It is not, in Condon’s vision, the Communist world on one side and the free world on the other. It is just the manipulators and the manipulated, the conditioners and the conditioned, the publicists and the public. In such a world, it’s probably better to be the publicist, if you can deal with the ulcers.

Frank Sinatra, who plays Marco, the only friend Raymond has, is supposed to have asked his friend Jack Kennedy for his approval before Frankenheimer’s movie was released. United Artists was apparently afraid that the assassination scene might give some nut an idea. Kennedy, as it happened, loved the movie; he was, after all, the world’s most famous Ian Fleming fan. He was killed a year after “The Manchurian Candidate” came out. Did Lee Harvey Oswald see it? The problem has been examined in depth by John Loken, in a book called “Oswald’s Trigger Films” (2000). Loken concludes that although the evidence is not definitive, Oswald almost certainly did see it. “The Manchurian Candidate” opened in Dallas in November, 1962, and played there for several months; Oswald, who was living in Dallas at the time, had a habit of going to the movies by himself (he was in a movie theatre when he was arrested on November 22, 1963); and Loken has determined that the bus Oswald probably took to work passed within ten yards of a theatre where the movie was playing. (Loken is much struck by the fact that references to “The Manchurian Candidate” are almost nonexistent in the literature, official and otherwise, on the Kennedy assassination. He concludes, in the spirit of all scholars of that assassination, that “the probable Oswald connection, so utterly obvious if one but thinks about it, has been suppressed for decades by a powerful conglomerate that might aptly be called the ‘media-entertainment complex.’ ”)

Immediately after Kennedy was shot, Condon got a call from a newspaper reporter asking if he felt responsible. Condon couldn’t see the relevance, and he was not being defensive. He had not introduced political assassination to popular American culture. Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men” was published in 1946 and was made into a movie in 1949; a version for television, directed by Sidney Lumet, was broadcast in 1958. Assassination is the subject of John Huston’s “We Were Strangers” (1949) and Lewis Allen’s “Suddenly” (1954), also starring Frank Sinatra. Oswald might easily have seen those movies as well. More to the point: “The Manchurian Candidate” is the story of a man programmed to kill at the command of other people. What self-respecting assassin would take such a character for his role model? Either Oswald acted according to his own wishes, in which case he wasn’t imitating Condon’s killer, or he really was programmed by the Communists, in which case the question isn’t whether Oswald saw Frankenheimer’s movie but whether his Communist masters did.

United Artists withdrew “The Manchurian Candidate” from theatres in 1964, although the movie could occasionally be seen on television and in art houses. In 1972, Sinatra bought the rights and, in 1975, removed it from circulation entirely. Whether or not he was motivated by guilt over Kennedy’s death is unclear. He did, however, give his daughter Tina permission to produce a remake, and it is being shot, this fall, by Jonathan Demme. (Demme’s previous movie, “The Truth About Charlie,” was also a remake, of Stanley Donen’s “Charade,” of 1963. His method, judging from that effort, is to update the story and then salt it with allusions to the period of the original. “Charade” was filmed in Paris at the time of the French New Wave, and so in Demme’s version there are appearances by Charles Aznavour, Agnès Varda, and the grave of François Truffaut—none of which have anything to do with the story. Demme has reportedly set “The Manchurian Candidate” in the time of the Gulf War; Liev Schreiber plays Raymond, Meryl Streep is his dragon mother, and Marco is played by Denzel Washington. We can be fairly confident that at some point Denzel Washington will be seen listening to a Frank Sinatra song.)

The Kennedy assassination does not fulfill Condon and Frankenheimer’s prophecy. On the contrary, it buries it. If any assassin might plausibly have been a Communist puppet, it was Oswald, a man who had lived in the Soviet Union for three years, who had a Russian wife, and who once handed out leaflets for an outfit called the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. These facts were widely known within hours of Oswald’s arrest, and yet the theory that he was an agent who was directed, wittingly or not, by Communist handlers has never been an important part of the folklore of the Kennedy assassination. Until the late nineteen-seventies, the official line (endorsed, incidentally, by Condon at the time) was that Oswald acted alone. Dissenters from that view have been drawn mainly to theories involving the Mafia and the Central Intelligence Agency, even though hooking Oswald up with those entities requires a far greater imaginative stretch than associating him with the Soviets. Almost no one thinks of Kennedy (except in some convoluted way) as a casualty of the Cold War, and his death does not represent the culmination of the national anxiety about Communist infiltration. It represents the end of that obsession, and of the panic that Condon’s novel and Frankenheimer’s movie both so happily exploit. ♦

  • Louis Menand, a staff writer since 2001, was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2016.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2003/09/15/brainwashed

RICHARD CONDON BOOKS IN ORDER

Publication Order of Prizzi Books

Prizzi’s Honor (1982) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Prizzi’s Family (1986) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Prizzi’s Glory (1988) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Prizzi’s Money (1994) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Oldest Confession (1958) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Manchurian Cadidate (1959) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Some Angry Angel (1960) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Talent for Loving aka The Great Cowboy Race (1961) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
An Infinity of Mirrors (1964) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Any God Will Do (1966) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Ecstasy Business (1967) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Mile High (1969) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Vertical Smile (1971) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Arigato (1972) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Winter Kills (1974) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Star-spangled Crunch (1975) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Money is Love (1975) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Whisper of the Axe (1976) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Abandoned Woman (1977) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Bandicoot (1978) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Death of A Politician (1978) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Entwining (1980) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Trembling Upon Rome (1983) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Emperor of America (1990) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Final Addiction (1991) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Venerable Bead (1992) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

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Before he began writing fiction stories, Richard Thomas Condon worked for Walt Disney productions as a press agent in the movie business for 20 years where he spent most of his time in the major studios. Prior his moderate success in Hollywood, Condon also worked in the US Merchant Marine. He actually started writing in 1957 in his forties. He often complained of wasting a lot of time in Hollywood when he was employed as an ad writer by United Artists. His boss, Max Youngstein later fired him after deducting amounts from Condon’s salary without his knowledge. Youngstein also offered him a house overlooking a Mexican ocean and told him to write his book, The Manchurian Candidate (1959) which was his second novel. The book was used to make a movie in 1962, making Richard Condon famous. His other book, Prizzi’s Honor (1982) was also made into a successful movie.

Richard Condon was a thriller and satirical novelist, born and raised in New York City and best known for his conspiratorial books like The Oldest Confession (1958), Some Angry Angel (1960), A Talent of Loving (1961), An Infinity of Mirrors (1964) and many more novels. Condon’s writing was famous for its fascination with trivia, complex plotting, and hatred for those in power. For instance, his most popular novel The Manchurian Candidate was highly criticized because it seemed to disturbingly overshadow the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Furthermore, several books feature a thinly disguised version of Richard Nixon. His characters were driven by family loyalty, and with obsession, usually political and sexual. His plots had elements of a typical tragedy involving protagonists who are led by their pride to places where they destroy what they love. One of his most notable books, Mile High (1969) was best defined as secret history. In the novel, And Then We Moved to Rossenara, Richard Condon gives a humorous autobiography that recounts the various places he has lived in the world and his family’s move to Rossenarra, Ireland in the 1970s.

Apart from writing novels, Richard Condon also wrote some popular book series and bestsellers including; Prizzi’s Honor (1986), Prizzi’s Family (1986), Prizzi’s Glory (1988) and Prizzi’s Money (1994). He died in 1996.

Prizzi’s Honor was Richard Condon’s first book in the Prizzi’s series. This is not an ordinary story of a boy-meets-girl. Prizzis is the most influential Mafia family in New York. Their faithful lieutenant, Charley Partanna has affections for Irene Walker who works as a tax consultant in Los Angeles. She also does freelancing which pays her more. She is also a Mob’s hit woman. She cons the Prizzis an unforgivably huge amount of money. Indeed, this is a very dangerous moonlighting which eventually conflicts Charley’s oldest loyalties with his latest one. This book mixes character and caricature easily, making it one of his best books since The Manchurian Candidate.

The second book in the Prizzi’s series is the Prizzi’s Family. Here, Charley Partanna works for the Prizzi family as a hitman by day and studies for his high school exam by night. When he is not studying, he is juggling two beautiful women, probably more than he can handle. One, Maerose, is the granddaughter of Charley’s boss and is hungry for honor, power and Charley of course. The other, Mardell, is a sensational, one-third fantasy, two-thirds legs. This is a problem to Charley, but hormones seem to keep obstructing him. This book is funny and cheerful, and foams with perversity, obsessional religious mania, rascality, greed and lust, and assault and battery, making it a good read.

The next book in the series is Prizzi’s Glory. In this successful last volume in Prizzi trilogy series, the Prizzi family cleans up the environment, immersing huge benefits. They finally appear as a cruel, vivid and comic portrait of the America’s best-run Mafia institution. For the change, a tired, bored and depressed Charley Fontana weds Maerose, but this does not help because Don Corrado has thought of a bigger change, Prizzi’s respectability. Money flows to the Prizzi’s family through dubious activities like gambling, extortion, prostitution, loan-sharking, and narcotics. Don Corrado uses the money to control a new scam, a national political power which Charley heads. This book offers an accomplished and entertaining satire for a feat of joyful reading.

The last book in the Prizzi’s series is Prizzi’s Money. Richard Condon showcases the Prizzi family’s saga of organized crime. Here, Julia Asbury outwits the Prizzis, walking away with a huge amount of their money (a billion & a quarter) to start a new life. She does this after discovering that the Prizzis and her husband had double-crossed her.

Another noticeable writing style by Richard Condon was the use of real-life names in his books. Condon used names of real people as characters in his writings, but generally minor/peripheral ones. One of the most common names used in all of his novels includes F.M. Heller, Franz Heller, F. Marx Heller, and Frank Heller which are variations of Franklin M. Heller. In real life, Heller was, in fact, a television director based in New York City from the 1950s to 1970s and first lived on Long Island before moving to a house along Rockrimmon Road, Stamford, Connecticut. Starting with Mile High, Rockrimmon House and Rockrimmon Road have been frequently mentioned in the novels. All the fictional Hellers also shared a devotion for needlework and grew a thick-white beard similar to the real-life Heller who made a needlework depiction in Condon’s manor house in Ireland. Condon also had a great actor friend, Allan Melvin, who he wrote a nightclub act. Melvin also played Cpl. Henshaw in The Phil Servers Show which Condon was publicizing. Several Condon books particularly Prizzi’s Honor showcases Melvini as a prominent hit man.

Richard Condon’s legend is not only showcased in his wonderful writings but also some popular films that were adapted from his novels. The films include; The Manchurian Candidate (1962 and 2004), The Talent of Loving (1969), Winter Kills (1979), Prizzi’s Honor (1985), and The Happy Thieves from the novel The Oldest Confession (1962). The Manchurian Candidate is recognized as one of the best films of all time. The book combined several elements including; satire, nefarious conspiracies, black humor, outrage at financial and political corruption in America, as well as breath-taking elements from spy fiction and thrillers, and grotesque and horrific violence.

https://www.bookseriesinorder.com/richard-condon/

Condon, Richard 1915-1996 (Richard Thomas Condon)

Condon, Richard 1915-1996 (Richard Thomas Condon)
PERSONAL:
Born March 18, 1915, in New York, NY; died April 9, 1996, in Dallas, TX; son of Richard Aloysius and Martha Irene Condon; married Evelyn Rose Hunt, January 14, 1938; children: Deborah Weldon, Wendy Jackson. Education: Graduated from high school in New York, NY.

CAREER:
Writer. Publicist in New York, NY, and Hollywood, CA, for Walt Disney Productions, 1936-41, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., 1941-45, Richard Condon, Inc., 1945-48, and Paramount Pictures Corp., 1948-53, and in Europe and Great Britain for United Artists Corp., 1953-57; novelist. Producer, with Jose Ferrer, of Broadway shows Twentieth Century and Stalag 17, 1951-52.

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MEMBER:
International Confederation of Book Actors (honorary life president), Dramatists Guild, Authors Guild, Authors League of America.

AWARDS, HONORS:
Writers Guild of America award, Bafta Award from British Academy of Film and Television Sciences, and Academy Award nomination, all 1986 for screen adaptation of Prizzi’s Honor,.

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WRITINGS:
And Then We Moved to Rossenarra; or, The Art of Emigrating, Dial (New York, NY), 1973.

(With daughter, Wendy Jackson) The Mexican Stove: What to Put on It and in It, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1973, reprinted, Taylor Publishing, 1988.

NOVELS
The Oldest Confession (Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection), Appleton-Century-Crofts (New York, NY), 1958.

The Manchurian Candidate, McGraw (New York, NY), 1959, reprinted, Four Walls Eight Windows (New York, NY), 2003.

Some Angry Angel: A Mid-Century Faerie Tale, McGraw (New York, NY), 1960.

A Talent for Loving; or, The Great Cowboy Race, McGraw (New York, NY), 1961.

An Infinity of Mirrors, Random House (New York, NY), 1964.

Any God Will Do, Random House (New York, NY), 1965.

The Ecstasy Business, Dial (New York, NY), 1967.

Mile High (Literary Guild alternate selection), Dial (New York, NY), 1968.

The Vertical Smile (Literary Guild selection), Dial (New York, NY), 1971.

Arigato, Dial (New York, NY), 1972.

Winter Kills, Dial (New York, NY), 1974.

The Star Spangled Crunch, Bantam (New York, NY), 1974.

Money Is Love, Dial (New York, NY), 1975.

The Whisper of the Axe, Dial (New York, NY), 1976.

The Abandoned Woman: A Tragedy of Manners, Dial (New York, NY), 1977.

Bandicoot, Dial (New York, NY), 1978.

Death of a Politician, Richard Marek (New York, NY), 1978.

The Entwining, Richard Marek (New York, NY), 1980.

Prizzi’s Honor (second novel in trilogy; Book-of-the-Month Club joint main selection; also see below), Coward, McCann & Geoghegan (New York, NY), 1982.

A Trembling upon Rome, Putnam (New York, NY), 1983.

Prizzi’s Family (first novel in trilogy; Literary Guild joint main selection), Putnam, 1986.

Prizzi’s Glory (third novel in trilogy), Dutton (New York, NY), 1988.

The Final Addiction, Saint Martin’s Press (New York, NY), 1991.

Prizzi’s Money, Crown Publishing (New York, NY), 1994.

SCREENPLAYS
(With Janet Roach) Prizzi’s Honor (adaptation; see above), Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., 1985.

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Also author screenplay for A Talent for Loving, 1969, and The Summer Music; author of the play Men of Distinction, produced on Broadway, 1953. Contributor to periodicals, including Holiday, Nation, Vogue, Harper’s, Gourmet, Esquire, Travel and Leisure, and Sunday Times magazine. Novels have been published in twenty-two languages and in braille.

ADAPTATIONS:
Books have been adapted for film, including The Oldest Confession released as the film The Happy Thieves, 1962; Winter Kill, 1979; and The Manchurian Candidate, 1962, and adapted remake, Paramount Pictures, 2004.

SIDELIGHTS:
Novelist Richard Condon began writing at age forty-two following a successful career as a movie publicist. Condon’s reputation as a writer of political thrillers was secured with his first two novels, The Oldest Confession and The Manchurian Candidate. Condon’s body of work included over twenty novels, two nonfiction books, a handful of plays and screenplays, and numerous articles on his twin passions, food and travel. This output netted him an income of about two and a half million dollars.

Condon took full advantage of his freedom as a writer. Although he resided in the United States later in life, for nineteen years Condon and his family lived in countries such as France, Spain, Switzerland, and Ireland. Condon’s focus in his novels, however, usually reflected his concerns about American society, particularly the United States government. Condon’s preoccupation with examining abuses of power made him into a cult figure of sorts to readers who shared his convictions. Condon’s novels are entertaining, despite their underlying seriousness. This assessment is compatible with Condon’s personal goals as a writer, which he discussed in a People magazine interview with Anne Maier. “I have never written for any other reason than to earn a living. This is certainly true of other writers, but some poor souls get mightily confused with art. I am a public entertainer who sees his first duty as the need to entertain himself.”

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Most of the material for Condon’s blend of reality and bizarre invention came from “the dirty linen closets of politics and money,” according to a New York Review of Books contributor Thomas R. Edwards. “His view—it might be called Condon’s Law—is that when you don’t know the whole truth, the worst you can imagine is bound to be close.” Edwards added: “[He] isn’t an analyst but an exploiter of our need to believe the worst. He does it skillfully, but his books would be less fun than they are if one didn’t suspect that he believes the worst too, that his pictures of a world of fools eternally at the mercy of knaves are also pictures of what, with anger and disgust, he takes to be the case.”

Condon’s second novel, The Manchurian Candidate, was published in 1959 and remains Condon’s most highly acclaimed novel, one that critics frequently cite as a standard of comparison for his later works. The title of the book refers to the main character, Raymond Shaw, a soldier who becomes a prisoner of war in Korea and is unknowingly brainwashed into committing crimes for his former captors after he returns to the United States. Commenting on this novel, reviewers distinguished carefully between Condon’s writing and literature. Most reviewers noted the novel’s many appeals. Michael Rogers, writing a Library Journal review of a 2003 reprint of the novel, commented that “any fan of political thrillers will enjoy this one.”

Condon followed The Manchurian Candidate with several relatively successful novels. Nevertheless, several of Condon’s subsequent novels generally fell out of favor with critics. In 1974, however, his novel Winter Kills was enthusiastically received. Winter Kills closely parallels the lives of members of the Kennedy family. The main character, Nick Thirkield, is the half-brother of John F. Kennedy analogue Tim Kegan, a young, liberal Irish president who is assassinated by a lone maniac. The assassin is caught and charged with the murder, but when Thirkield learns that another man may also have been involved, he has the case reopened.

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Several reviewers found themselves pleasantly surprised by Winter Kills. New York Times Book Review contributor Leo Braudy, for example, commented that Winter Kills is “a triumph of satire and knowledge, with a delicacy of style and a command of tone that puts Condon once again into the first rank of American novelists.” Braudy explained: “Winter Kills succeeds so brilliantly because the Kennedy assassination furnished Condon with a familiar mythic landscape through which his Gulliver-like hero can wander, simultaneously prey to Lilliputian politics, Brobdingnagian physicality, Laputan science, and Houyhnhnm moralism.” Christopher Lehmann-Haupt expressed a like opinion in the New York Times: “By the time I reached the end of the novel’s incredibly complex plot and had followed Nick Thirkield through the many blind alleys and trapdoors that eventually bring him face to face with the person behind his brother’s assassination, I was a Richard Condon fan once more.”

Extrapolation contributor Joe Sanders observed: “In Condon’s novels, politics determines the shape of society, but politics is not a voluntary, cooperative activity, entered into for some common end; it is a device by which a few clever people manipulate many others to gain their selfish ends.” Lehmann-Haupt expressed disappointment with the ending because he “caught on too early what the ultimate outcome would be,” but he found the novel’s conclusion satisfying. He wrote: “It may not be true that America is run by a small, conspiring oligarchy. It may not be true that things happen in the White House at the whim of movie stars and labor leaders, of courtesans and generals. But the possibilities are no longer inconceivable.”

Winter Kills was made into a critically acclaimed but briefly run film of the same title. Although Condon was not directly involved in the making of Winter Kills, the film’s quality drew his attention and support. After two years of filming for which most of the cast and crew were never paid, Winter Kills opened in New York in 1979 to favorable reviews. The film’s three-week run in showcase theaters was followed by disappearance from theatres, raising Condon’s conspiracy suspicions. Condon’s paranoia was further incited by the murder of one of the producers shortly after the film’s opening; two years later the second producer was sentenced to forty years in prison on a drug charge. The movie was briefly re-released in 1982 and 1983.

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Condon’s novel Prizzi’s Honor dealt with a similarly sensitive milieu: organized crime. Although this setting has been exploited by several other authors, notably Mario Puzo, reviewers believed that Condon’s novel offered a fresh outlook. Charles Champlin observed in the Los Angeles Times Book Review: “Condon, once again accepting the perceived reality as police leaks, newspaper exposes and Puzo have given it to us—complete with Sicilian litany of consiglieri, caporegimes, sottocapos, soldati, and a godfather with a lethal wheeze and a mind Machiavelli might envy—steps over it to present an outrageous and original love story.” New York Times Book Review contributor Robert Asahina noted: “Richard Condon is not Mario Puzo; suspense, not the family saga, is his forte. And he winds the mainspring of the plot so tight that the surprise ending will knock your reading glasses off. Yet Prizzi’s Honor is also a sendup of the prevailing sentimental picture of the underworld. To Mr. Condon, there is honor among these thieves—but it is precisely in the name of omerta that the fratellanza has been willing to ‘cheat, corrupt, scam, and murder anybody who stands between them and a buck.’”

The novel’s love interest involves Charley Partanna, a gourmet cook, compulsive house cleaner, and hit man for the Prizzi family; and Irene Walker, a tax consultant and freelance killer for hire. “It is something of a challenge to a novelist to create a love interest in a story that pairs two ruthless murderers,” observed Times Literary Supplement contributor Alan Bold. “Irene is presented as a colder fish than Charley—she has risen to the top of her profession on account of her ability to murder without remorse. She is as sound a psychopath as Charley. Condon suggests, however, that such creatures are capable of a great passion and Charley, for one, is sure that his love is the real thing.” New York Times contributor Susan Bolotin likewise commented on the originality of this pairing: “If boy-meets-girl/boy-gets-girl love stories seem poisonously tiresome to you, Richard Condon’s boisterous new novel may prove the perfect antidote. It’s true that Prizzi’s Honor starts off with a familiar melody, … but the book soon turns into a fugue with variations so intricate that the genre may never recover.”

Despite opposition from Charley’s father, Charley and Irene are wed. Condon takes the couple through a convoluted plot that includes “a kidnapping, international financial intrigue, a gangland war, police on the take, the power struggle within the family, contract killings, [and] lots of jolly sex,” wrote Bolotin. According to several reviewers, Condon’s exploration of the seamier side of organized crime is distressing. Best Sellers contributor Tony Bednarczyk wrote: “There is solid storytelling, but the subject raises disturbing questions about morals, and/or the lack thereof. It is a fast-paced, very readable story, but one feels a bit guilty for being interested in what comes next.” While Time critic Michael Demarest also believed that Prizzi’s Honor, “like most of [Condon’s] books, comes sometimes too close to the truth for comfort,” he nevertheless concluded: “Condon’s stylish prose and rich comedic gift once again spice a moral sensibility that has animated sixteen novels since The Manchurian Candidate appeared in 1962. If wit and irony could somehow neutralize villainy, the novelist would make a fine FBI director.” Other reviewers expressed similarly laudatory views. Champlin wrote: “Condon is once again the storytelling satirist with a sharp eye and a high velocity typewriter. Prizzi’s Honor may not be his best work but it ranks well up in the canon.” Concluded Asahina: “Twenty years after The Manchurian Candidate, it’s nice to know that Mr. Condon is still up to his sly tricks. In his case, at least, it’s a pleasure that—as he tells us an old Sicilian proverb has it—‘The less things change, the more they remain the same.’”

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Prizzi’s Honor was also made into a successful film of the same title, with Jack Nicholson and Kathleen Turner playing the roles of Charley Partanna and Irene Walker. The film was nominated for several Academy Awards, and the screenplay, adapted by Condon and coauthor Janet Roach, received awards from the Writers Guild of America and the British Academy of Film and Television Sciences. The project was initiated and eventually directed by John Huston.

Huston and movie critics alike believed that Prizzi’s Honor was faithful to the novel, a feat they attribute to Condon and Roach’s skillfully adapted screenplay. Chi-cago Tribune contributor Gene Siskel described Prizzi’s Honor as “a classic piece of moviemaking,” and Los Angeles Times film critic Sheila Benson noted: “To say the film is the treasure of the year would be to badmouth it in this disastrous season. Prizzi’s Honor would be the vastly original centerpiece of a great year.” Benson also wrote: “In its dangerous mix of love and murder, Huston is traversing terrain that he (and certainly The Manchurian Candidate author Condon) blazed decades ago. This ’80s-version denouement may distress the squeamish, but it’s right in keeping with Prizzi honor.”

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
BOOKS
Bestsellers 90, Issue 3, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1990.

Condon, Richard, Death of a Politician, Richard Marek (New York, NY), 1978.

Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series, Volume I, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1984.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume IV, 1975, Volume VI, 1976, Volume VIII, 1978, Volume X, 1979, Volume XLIV, 1987.

Newquist, Roy, Conversations, Volume I, Rand McNally (Chicago, IL), 1967.

PERIODICALS
Best Sellers, June, 1982, Tony Bednarczyk, review of Prizzi’s Honor; December, 1986.

Chicago Tribune, June 14, 1985, Gene Siskel, review of Prizzi’s Honor (film adaptation).

Daily Variety, March 8, 2002, Dana Harris and Sharon Swart, “‘Candidate’ for Redo: Paramount Plans Remake of 1962 Classic,” p. 1.

Extrapolation, summer, 1984, Joe Sanders, article about author.

Library Journal, November 1, 2003, Michael Rogers, review of The Manchurian Candidate, p. 129.

Los Angeles Times, June 14, 1985, Sheila Benson, review of Prizzi’s Honor (film adaptation).

Los Angeles Times Book Review, April 25, 1982, Charles Champlin, review of Prizzi’s Honor.

Modern Language Quarterly, September, 2006, Micahel Szalay, review of The Manchurian Candidate, p. 363.

New Statesman, September 5, 1975, review of Money is Love, p. 285; August 13, 1976, review of The Whisper of the Axe, p. 216.

Newsweek, September 14, 1964, review of Manchurian Candidate; June 9, 1975, review of Money Is Love, p. 81.

New Yorker August 25, 1975, review of Money Is Love, p. 87; December 11, 1978, review of Death of a Politician, p. 206; October 28, 1991, review of The Final Addiction, p. 119.

New York Review of Books, February 8, 1979, Thomas R. Edwards, review of Death of a Politician, p. 35.

New York Times, May 24, 1974, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, review of Winter Kills; May 21, 1976; April 20, 1982, Susan Bolotin, review of Prizzi’s Honor, p. 25.

New York Times Book Review, May 26, 1974, Leo Braudy, review of Winter Kills; May 25, 1975, review of Money Is Love, p. 12; May 23, 1976, review of The Whisper of the Axe, p. 4; April 18, 1982, Robert Asahina, review of Prizzi’s Honor, p. 12; September 4, 1983, John Jay Osborn, Jr., review of A Trembling upon Rome, p. 4; September 28, 1986, Jimmy Breslin, review of Prizzi’s Family, p. 13; October 9, 1988, Vincent Patrick, review of Prizzi’s Glory, p. 24; February 11, 1990, Roy Blount, Jr., review of Emperor of America, p. 14; November 17, 1991, Bill Kent, review of The Final Addiction, p. 20; December 13, 1992, Donald E. Westlake, review of The Venerable Bead, p. 9; February 6, 1994, Joe Queenan, review of Prizzi’s Money, p. 9.

People, December 8, 1986, Anne Maier, interview with author.

Spectator, September 21, 1974, review of Winter Kills, p. 372.

Texas Monthly, August, 1994, William Cobb, “The Don of Dallas,” interview with author, p. 42.

Time, June 2, 1975, review of Money Is Love, p. 72; May 17, 1982, Michael Demarest, review of Prizzi’s Honor, p. 82; September 22, 1986, John Skow, review of Prizzi’s Family, p. 95; September 19, 1988, review of Prizzi’s Glory, p. 95.

Times Literary Supplement, June 11, 1982, Alan Bold, review of Prizzi’s Honor.

ONLINE
Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (December 4, 2006), information on author’s film work.

OBITUARIES
PERIODICALS
New York Times, April 10, 1996, Mel Gussow.

Time, April 22, 1996, p. 33.

U.S. News & World Report, April 22, 1996, p. 26.

https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/condon-richard-1915-1996-richard-thomas-condon

Books by Richard Condon
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Richard Condon

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Richard Condon
Born Richard Thomas Condon
March 18, 1915
New York CityNew York, U.S.
Died April 9, 1996 (aged 81)
DallasTexas, U.S.
Occupation Novelist
Genre Fiction

Richard Thomas Condon (March 18, 1915 in New York City – April 9, 1996 in Dallas, Texas) was a prolific and popular American political novelist. Though his works were satire, they were generally transformed into thrillers or semi-thrillers in other mediums, such as cinema. All 26 books were written in distinctive Condon style, which combined fast-pace, outrage, and frequent humor while focusing almost obsessively at monetary greed and political corruption. Condon himself once said: “Every book I’ve ever written has been about abuse of power. I feel very strongly about that. I’d like people to know how deeply their politicians wrong them.”[1] Condon’s books were occasionally bestsellers, and many of his books were made into films; he is primarily remembered for his 1959 The Manchurian Candidate and, many years later, a series of four novels about a family of New York gangsters named Prizzi.

Condon’s writing was known for its complex plotting, fascination with trivia, and loathing for those in power; at least two of his books featured thinly disguised versions of Richard Nixon.[citation needed] His characters tend to be driven by obsession, usually sexual or political, and family loyalty. His plots often have elements of classical tragedy, with protagonists whose pride leads them to destroy what they love. Some of his books, most notably Mile High (1969), are perhaps best described as secret history.[citation needed] And Then We Moved to Rossenarra is a humorous autobiographical recounting of various places in the world where he had lived and his family’s 1970s move to Rossenarra, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland.

Contents

Early life[edit]

Born in New York City, Condon attended DeWitt Clinton High School.[2]

After service in the United States Merchant Marine, Condon achieved moderate success as a Hollywood publicist, ad writer and Hollywood agent. Condon turned to writing in 1957. Employed by United Artists as an ad writer, he complained that he was wasting time in Hollywood and wanted to write a novel. Without Condon’s knowledge, his boss, Max E. Youngstein, deducted money from his salary, then fired him after a year, returning the amount of money he had deducted in the form of a Mexican bank account and the key to a house overlooking the ocean in Mexico. Youngstein told him to write his book.[3] His second novel, The Manchurian Candidate (1959), featured a dedication to Youngstein and was made into a successful film.

Basic theme throughout Condon’s books[edit]

In Mile High, his eighth novel, one primarily about how a single spectacularly ruthless gangster named Eddie West imposes Prohibition upon an unwary populace, Condon sums up the theme of all his books in a single angry cri de coeur:

“Prohibition fused the amateurism and catch-as-catch-can national tendencies of the early days of the republic with a more modern, highly organized lust for violence and the quick buck. It fused the need to massacre twelve hundred thousand American Indians and ten million American buffalo, the lynching bees, the draft riots, bread riots, gold riots and race riots, the constant wars, the largest rats in the biggest slums, boxing and football, the loudest music, the most strident and exploitative press with the entire wonderful promise of tomorrow and tomorrow, always dragging the great nation downward into greater violence and more unnecessary deaths, into newer and more positive celebration of nonlife, all so that the savage, simple-minded people might be educated into greater frenzies of understanding that power and money are the only desirable objects for this life.”[4]

“Manchurian Candidate”[edit]

Although not perhaps actually originated by Condon himself, his use of “the Manchurian Candidate” made that phrase a part of the English language. Frank Rich, for example, in his column in the “Sunday Opinion” of The New York Times of August 17, 2008, writes about Barack Obama with a reference to both a well-known actress and a well-known plot element in the first movie version of Condon’s 1959 book:

“[Obama’s] been done in by that ad with Britney [Spears] and Paris [Hilton] and a new international crisis that allows [John] McCain to again flex his Manchurian Candidate military cred. Let the neocons identify a new battleground for igniting World War III… and McCain gets with the program as if Angela Lansbury has just dealt him the Queen of Hearts“.[5]

“The fiction of information”[edit]

Condon’s works are difficult to categorize precisely: A 1971 Time magazine review declared that, “Condon was never a satirist: he was a riot in a satire factory. He raged at Western civilization and every last one of its works. He decorticated the Third Reich, cheese fanciers, gossip columnists and the Hollywood star system with equal and total frenzy.” [6] The headline of his obituary in The New York Times called him a “political novelist”,[7] but went on to say that, “Novelist is too limited a word to encompass the world of Mr. Condon. He was also a visionary, a darkly comic conjurer, a student of American mythology and a master of conspiracy theories, as vividly demonstrated in ‘The Manchurian Candidate.'”[7] Although his books combined many different elements, including occasional outright fantasy and science fiction, they were, above all, written to entertain the general public. He had, however, a genuine disdain, outrage, and even hatred for many of the mainstream political corruptions that he found so prevalent in American life. In a 1977 quotation, he said that:[8]

“…people are being manipulated, exploited, murdered by their servants, who have convinced these savage, simple-minded populations that they are their masters, and that it hurts the head, if one thinks. People accept servants as masters. My novels are merely entertaining persuasions to get the people to think in other categories.”

With his long lists of absurd trivia and “mania for absolute details”, Condon was, along with Ian Fleming, one of the early exemplars of those called by Pete Hamill in a New York Times review, “the practitioners of what might be called the New Novelism… Condon applies a dense web of facts to fiction…. There might really be two kinds of fiction: the fiction of sensibility and the fiction of information… As a practitioner of the fiction of information, no one else comes close to him.”[9]

Quirks and characteristics[edit]

Condon attacked his targets wholeheartedly but with a uniquely original style and wit that made almost any paragraph from one of his books instantly recognizable. Reviewing one of his works in the International Herald Tribune, playwright George Axelrod (The Seven Year ItchWill Success Spoil Rock Hunter), who had collaborated with Condon on the screenplay for the film adaptation of The Manchurian Candidate, wrote:

“The arrival of a new novel by Richard Condon is like an invitation to a party…. the sheer gusto of the prose, the madness of his similes, the lunacy of his metaphors, his infectious, almost child-like joy in composing complex sentences that go bang at the end in the manner of exploding cigars is both exhilarating and as exhausting as any good party ought to be.”

Metaphors and similes[edit]

From his 1975 novel, Money Is Love, comes a fine example of the “lunacy of his metaphors”: “Mason took in enough cannabis smoke to allow a Lipan Apache manipulating a blanket over it to transmit the complete works of Tennyson.” [10]

The Manchurian Candidate offers:

“The effects of the narcotics, techniques, and suggestions… achieved a result that approximated the impact an entire twenty-five-cent jar of F. W. Woolworth vanishing cream might have on vanishing an aircraft carrier of the Forrestal class when rubbed into the armor plate.”[11]

Lists and trivia[edit]

Condon was also enamored of long lists of detailed trivia that, while at least marginally pertinent to the subject at hand, are almost always an exercise in gleeful exaggeration and joyful spirits. In An Infinity of Mirrors, for instance, those in attendance of the funeral of a famous French actor and notable lover are delineated as:

Seven ballerinas of an amazing spectrum of ages were at graveside. Actresses of films, opera, music halls, the theatre, radio, carnivals, circuses, pantomimes, and lewd exhibitions mourned in the front line. There were also society leaders, lady scientists, women politicians, mannequins, couturières, Salvation Army lassies, all but one of his wives, a lady wrestler, a lady matador, twenty-three lady painters, four lady sculptors, a car-wash attendant, shopgirls, shoplifters, shoppers, and the shopped; a zoo assistant, two choir girls, a Métro attendant from the terminal at the Bois de Vincennes, four beauty-contest winners, a chambermaid; the mothers of children, the mothers of men, the grandmothers of children and the grandmothers of men; and the general less specialized, female public-at-large which had come from eleven European countries, women perhaps whom he had only pinched or kissed absent-mindedly while passing through his busy life. They attended twenty-eight hundred and seventy strong, plus eleven male friends of the deceased.[12]

Writing about The Whisper of the Axe in the daily book review column of Friday, May 21, 1976, in the New York Times, Richard R. Lingeman praised the book in particular and Condon in general for his “extravagance of invention unique with him.” [13]

Not everyone was as exhilarated by Condon’s antics, however. In a long Times Sunday review just two days after Lingeman’s, Roger Sale excoriated Condon as a writer of “how-to books” in general, this book in particular, and Condon’s habit of using lists: “A lot of it is done with numbers arbitrarily chosen to falsely simulate precision.” [14]

Real-life names in his books[edit]

All of Condon’s books have, to an unknown degree, the names of real people in them as characters, generally very minor or peripheral. The most common, which appears in all of his books, is some variation of Franklin M. Heller. Among them are F.M. Heller, Frank Heller, Franz Heller, and F. Marx Heller. The real-life Heller was apparently a television director in New York City in the 1950s, ’60s, and 70s, who initially lived on Long Island and then moved to a house on Rockrimmon Road in Stamford, Connecticut.[15] Beginning with Mile High in 1969, mentions of a Rockrimmon Road or Rockrimmon House also began to appear regularly in the novels. Late in life Heller grew a thick white beard and became a devotee of needlework—both traits that the fictional Hellers shared, sometimes to ludicrous effect, as when a battle-hardened Admiral Heller is depicted issuing orders while absorbed in needlework. The real-life Heller made one needlework depiction of the manor house in Ireland in which Condon was living at the time.

Condon was a great friend of actor Allan Melvin, having written a nightclub act for him. Condon later became a publicist for The Phil Silvers Show (“Sgt. Bilko”), on which Melvin played Cpl. Henshaw. Melvin’s name shows up in several Condon books, most prominently as hitman Al (the Plumber) Melvini in “Prizzi’s Honor” (a play on Melvin’s “Al the Plumber” character in Liquid-Plumr commercials.) In The Manchurian Candidate, with the exception of Marco, Shaw and Mavole, all of Marco’s platoon members are named for the cast/crew of “Bilko”: (Nat) Hiken, (Maurice) Gosfield, (Jimmy) Little, (Phil) Silvers, (Allan) Melvin, (Mickey) Freeman and (Harvey) Lembeck.

Career in films[edit]

For many years a Hollywood publicity man for Walt Disney and other studios, Condon took up writing relatively late in life and his first novel, The Oldest Confession, was not published until he was 43. The demands of his career with United Artists—promoting dreadful movies such as The Pride and the Passion and A King and Four Queens—led to a series of bleeding ulcers and a determination to do something else.

His next book, The Manchurian Candidate, combined all the elements that defined his works for the next 30 years: nefarious conspiracies, satire, black humor, outrage at political and financial corruption in the American scene, breath-taking elements from thrillers and spy fiction, horrific and grotesque violence, and an obsession with the minutiae of food, drink, and fast living. It quickly made him, for a few years at least, the center of a cult devoted to his works. As he rapidly produced more and more books with the same central themes, however, this following fell away and his critical reputation diminished. Still, over the next three decades Condon produced works that returned him to favor, both with the critics and the book-buying public, such as Mile HighWinter Kills, and the first of the Prizzi books, Prizzi’s Honor.

Of his numerous books that were turned into Hollywood movies, The Manchurian Candidate was filmed twice. The first version, in 1962, which starred Frank SinatraLaurence HarveyJanet Leigh, and Angela Lansbury, followed the book with great fidelity, and is now highly regarded as a glimpse into the mindset of its era. Janet Maslin, writing already over two decades ago, said in The New York Times In 1996 that it was “arguably the most chilling piece of cold war paranoia ever committed to film, yet by now it has developed a kind of innocence.”[7]

The Keener’s Manual[edit]

Beginning with his first book, The Oldest Confession, Condon frequently prefaced his novels with excerpts of verse from a so-called Keener’s Manual; these epigraphs foreshadowed the theme of the book or, in several instances, gave the book its title. The Keener’s Manual, however, was a fictional invention by Condon and does not actually exist. A “keen” is a “lamentation for the dead uttered in a loud wailing voice or sometimes in a wordless cry” [16] and a “keener” is a professional mourner, usually a woman in Ireland, who “utters the keen… at a wake or funeral.” [17]

Five of Condon’s first six books derived their titles from the fictional manual, the only exception being his most famous book, The Manchurian Candidate. The epigraph in The Manchurian Candidate, however, “I am you and you are me /and what have we done to each other?” is a recurring theme in earlier Condon’s books: in various forms it also appears as dialog in both The Oldest Confession and Some Angry Angel. Among other epigraphs, the last line of “The riches I bring you /Crowding and shoving, /Are the envy of princes: /A talent for loving.” is the title of Condon’s fourth novel. His fifth and sixth novels, An Infinity of Mirrors and Any God Will Do, also derive their titles from excerpts of the manual.

Plagiarism charge[edit]

In 1998 a California software engineer noticed several paragraphs in The Manchurian Candidate that appeared nearly identical to portions of the celebrated 1934 novel I, Claudius by the English writer Robert Graves. She wrote about the apparent plagiarism on her website but her discovery went unnoticed by most of the world until Adair Lara, a longtime San Francisco Chronicle staff writer, wrote a lengthy article about the accusation in 2003.[18] Reprinting the paragraphs in question, she also solicited the opinion of a British forensic linguist, who concluded that Condon had unquestionably plagiarized at least two paragraphs of Graves’s work. By this time, however, more than seven years had passed since Condon’s death and Lara’s article also failed to generate any literary interest outside the Chronicle.

In Some Angry Angel, the book that followed The Manchurian Candidate, Condon makes a direct reference to Graves. In a long, convoluted passage on page 25 Condon reflects on “mistresses” and their relationship—a peripheral one, to the reader—to Graves’s writings about “Major Male” Deities and “Major Female” Deities. As Angel was published only a year after Candidate, there is no question, therefore, about Condon’s familiarity with the works of Robert Graves.[19]

Condon’s familiarity with Graves is also in evidence on p. 127 of his first novel, The Oldest Confession. One of the characters in the book purchases a copy of Graves’ Antigua, Penny, Puce!

Works[edit]

All novels except as noted:

Films adapted from Condon novels[edit]

Articles[edit]

  • “‘Manchurian Candidate’ in Dallas”. The Nation, December 28, 1963.

References[edit]

This article incorporates material from the Citizendium article “Richard Condon“, which is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License but not under the GFDL.

  1. ^ Locus, The Magazine of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Field, from their May, 1996, issue #424, obituary of Condon, exact page unknown
  2. ^ Buckley, Tom. “THE LITERARY CONSPIRACIES OF RICHARD CONDON”The New York Times, September 2, 1979. Accessed September 14, 2009.
  3. ^ Max E. Youngstein – Biography
  4. ^ Mile High, The Dial Press, New York, 1969, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 77-80497, page 156
  5. ^ The New York Times, Sunday, August 17, 2008, Sunday Opinion, “The Candidate We Still Don’t Know” at [1]
  6. ^ Time magazine, “Cheese”, March 4, 1971, at
  7. Jump up to:a b c The New York Times, Wednesday, April 10, 1996, Obituaries, “Richard Condon, Political Novelist, Dies at 81; Wrote ‘Manchurian Candidate’ and ‘Prizzi'” at [2]
  8. ^ Who’s Who in Spy Fiction, Donald McCormick, Sphere Books Ltd., London, 1977, page 64
  9. ^ “For Eddie West, power was all that mattered,” by Pete Hamill, The New York Times, August 31, 1969, at
  10. ^ Time Magazine, “Liederkranz”, a book review by John Skow, June 2, 1975
  11. ^ The Manchurian Candidate, by Richard Condon, paperback edition, Signet, New York, November, 1962, fifth printing, page 261
  12. ^ An Infinity of Mirrors, by Richard Condon, paperback edition, Fawcett Crest, New York, September, 1965, page 36
  13. ^ “A Thriller of the Condon Class”, by Richard R. Lingeman, The New York Times, May 21, 1976, at [3]
  14. ^ Roger Sale, May 23, 1976, in The New York Times, at
  15. ^ Remembrance of Frank Heller,” by Ira Skutch, at
  16. ^ Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, Merriam-Webster, Inc., Springfield, Massachusetts, 2004, ISBN 0-87779-807-9
  17. ^ Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition, Unabridged, G. & C. Merriam Co., Publishers, Springfield, Massachusetts, 1943
  18. ^ “Has a local software engineer unmasked ‘The Manchurian Candidate’? Menlo Park woman says author Richard Condon plagiarized”, by Adair Lara, in the San Francisco Chronicle,October 4, 2003; the entire article can be read at [4]
  19. ^ Some Angry Angel: A Mid-Century Faerie Tale, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1960, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 60-8826, page 25

 

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Laurence Kotlikoff — Jimmy Stewart is Dead — Ending The World’s Ongoing Plague With Limited Purpose Banking — Videos

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How Did America Go Bankrupt? Slowly, At First, Then All At Once!

The US federal debt has again been on the move, as of mid-week up to a fresh record of $20.7 trillion. But, really, without some sort of reference point, what does that mean?

Typically, the metrics of total debt or federal debt divided by GDP (Gross Domestic Product, or the total value of goods produced and services provided in the US annually) are used (chart below). Still, that’s a bit ethereal to most folks.

So, I thought I’d make this simpler. The chart below shows federal debt (red line) versus total full-time employees (blue line) since 1970. Clearly, debt has surged since 2000 and particularly since 2008 versus decelerating net full-time jobs growth. The number of full-time employees is economically critical as, generally speaking, only these jobs offer the means to be a home buyer or build savings and wealth in a consumer-driven economy. Part-time employment generally offers only subsistence level earnings.

But if we look at the change over those periods highlighted in the chart above, we get a clear picture (chart below). Full-time jobs are being added at a rapidly declining rate while federal debt is surging in the absence of the growth of full-time employees.

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4147977-america-go-bankrupt-slowly-first

 

Fiscal gap

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The fiscal gap is a measure of a government’s total indebtedness proposed by economists Laurence Kotlikoff and Alan Auerbach, who define it as the difference between the present value of all of government’s projected financial obligations, including future expenditures, including servicing outstanding official federal debt, and the present value of all projected future tax and other receipts, including income accruing from the government’s current ownership of financial assets.[1] According to Kotlikoff and Auerbach, the “fiscal gap” accounting method can be used to calculate the percentage of necessary tax increases or spending reductions needed to close the fiscal gap in the long-run.

Generational accounting, an accounting method closely related to the fiscal gap, has been proposed by the same authors as a measure of the future burden of closing the fiscal gap. The “generational accounting” assumes that current taxpayers are neither asked to pay more in taxes nor receive less in transfer payments than current policy suggests and that successive younger generations’ lifetime tax payments net of transfer payments received rise in proportion to their labor earnings.

According to Kotlikoff and Auerbach, “fiscal gap accounting” and “generational accounting” reports have been done for roughly 40 developed and developing countries either by their treasury departments, finance ministries, or central banks, or by the IMF, the World Bank, or other international agencies, or by academics and think tanks.

Size of the U.S. fiscal gap

Fiscal gap accounting is not new to the U.S. government.[citation needed] The Social Security Trustees and Medicare Trustees have been presenting such calculations for their own systems for years in their annual reports.[citation needed] And generational accounting has been included in the President’s Budget on three occasions.[citation needed]

Based on calculations using the 2012 Alternative Fiscal Scenario long-term projections by the Congressional Budget Office, some estimate the U.S. fiscal gap stands to be $222 trillion – more than 13 times larger than the reported U.S. National Debt.[citation needed] According to the same estimates, the gap grew $11 trillion from 2011 to 2012.[citation needed] Eliminating the entire U.S. fiscal gap through revenue alone would require a permanent 64% increase in all federal taxes.[citation needed] Alternatively, closing the gap through spending reductions alone would require a permanent 40% cut in all federal purchases and transfer payments.[2]

Criticism of fiscal gap accounting

The proposed “fiscal gap” accounting method has been criticized as fundamentally flawed by economists Dean Baker,[3] Bradford DeLong,[4] and Paul Krugman.[5] Their critiques, referenced above, center on the fact that fiscal gap accounting calculates the growth future debt in current account terms, without taking into account the fact that future GDP will also grow proportionately, with the result that future debt will fall on generations with substantially larger incomes to cover the debt, obviating the seeming fiscal impossibility of covering the gap.

References

  1. ^ “The Federal Government’s Long-term Fiscal Outlook: Spring 2012 Update” (PDF). Government Accountability Office. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  2. ^ Kotlikoff, Burns. “Blink! U.S. Debt Just Grew by $11 Trillion”Bloomberg. Retrieved 25 July 2013.
  3. ^ Dean Baker, “Larry Kotlikoff Tells Us Why We Should Not Use Infinite Horizon Budget Accounting”Beat the Press blog, 31 July 2014 (accessed 9 October 2015).
  4. ^ J. Bradford DeLong, “Oh Dear. Larry Kotlikoff Fails to Read…: Let’s Make This This Week’s Monday Smackdown”Grasping Reality blog, August 04, 2014 (accessed 9 October 2015).
  5. ^ Paul Krugman, “Quadrillions and Quadrillions”The Conscience of a Liberal blog, 2 August 2014 (accessed 9 October 2015).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiscal_gap

Laurence Kotlikoff

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Laurence J. Kotlikoff
Kotlikoff.jpg

Kotlikoff in 2011
Born January 30, 1951 (age 67)
Nationality American
Institution Boston University
Field Public finance
Alma mater Harvard University
University of Pennsylvania
Influences Martin Feldstein
Awards Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a William Warren Fairfield Professor at Boston University, Fellow of the Econometric Society
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Laurence Jacob Kotlikoff (born January 30, 1951) is an American academic and politician, who is a William Warren Fairfield Professor at Boston University. Apart from being an economics professor at Boston University, he is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a Fellow of the Econometric Society, a former Senior Economist, and was formerly on President Ronald Reagan‘s Council of Economic Advisers. Kotlikoff ran, as he did in the previous elections, as a write-in candidate for President of the United States in the November 8, 2016 election.

Kotlikoff has made contributions in the fields and subfields of generational economicsfiscal policycomputational economicseconomic growth, national saving, intra- and intergenerational inequality, sources of wealth accumulation, intergenerational altruism and intra-family risk sharing, banking, and personal finance. He has also done work on Social Security, healthcare, tax, and banking reform. Kotlikoff attempted to run for President of the United States in the 2012 election, and sought the nominations of the advocacy group Americans Elect[1] and the Reform Party of the United States before ending his campaign in May 2012.

 

Research

Early research

Kotlikoff’s thesis examined, in a life-cycle simulation model, the impact of intergenerational redistribution on the long-run position of the economy. He also studied whether the rich spend a larger or smaller share of their lifetime resources than do the poor. And he provided a new empirical approach to understanding the impact of Social Security on saving. At UCLA, Kotlikoff wrote a paper with Avia Spivak on intra-family risk-sharing entitled “The Family as an Incomplete Annuities Market.”[2]

He also wrote a widely cited paper with Lawrence Summers questioning the importance of saving for retirement in determining total U.S. wealth accumulation.[3] The publication suggested that most of U.S. wealth accumulation was not attributed to life-cycle saving, but rather to private intergenerational transfers (whether intended or unintended).[3] The article was the subject of a lively debate between Kotlikoff and Franco Modigliani, who won the Nobel Prize in part for his work on the life-cycle model.[4]

Generational accounting

Kotlikoff, together with Alan Auerbach and Jagadeesh Gokhale, pioneered Generational Accounting, which measures the fiscal burdens facing today’s and tomorrow’s children.[5] Kotlikoff’s work on the relativity of fiscal language claims to show that conventional fiscal measures, including the government’s deficit, are not well defined from the perspective of economic theory.[citation needed]

According to Kotlikoff, their measurement reflects economically arbitrary fiscal labeling conventions.[citation needed] He argues that an “Economics labeling problem,” as he calls it, has led to gross misreadings of the fiscal positions of different countries, starting with the United States, which has a relatively small debt-to-GDP ratio, but, he argues, is in worse fiscal shape than any other developed country.[citation needed] In 1991, Kotlikoff, together with Alan Auerbach and Jagadeesh Gokhale, produced the first set of generational accounts for the United States.[citation needed]

Their study claimed to find a major fiscal gap separating future government spending commitments and its means of paying for those commitments, portending dramatic increases in the lifetime net tax burdens facing young and future generations.[citation needed] The generational accounting and fiscal gap accounting developed by Auerbach, Gokhale, and Kotlikoff is a means of assessing the sustainability of fiscal policy and how different countries intend to treat their next generations.[citation needed] Recent generational accounting by the IMF and fiscal gap accounting by Kotlikoff claim to confirm the truly severe long-run fiscal problems facing the U.S.[citation needed]

The Auerbach-Kotlikoff Model[edit]

In the late 1970s, Kotlikoff, together with Berkeley economist, Alan J. Auerbach, developed the first large-scale computable general equilibrium life-cycle model that can track the behavior, over time, of economies comprising large numbers of overlapping generations.[6] The model and its offspring have been used extensively to study future fiscal and demographic transitions in the U.S. and abroad.[citation needed] Demographically realistic overlapping generations models, in which agents can live for up to, say, 100 years, are very complicated mathematical structures.[citation needed]

Agents who are young would, if they were rational and precognitive, consider all future interest rates and wage rates in deciding how much to save and work in the current as well as in their remaining future years.[citation needed] This path of interest rates and wage rates will, in turn, depend on the course of the economy’s relative supplies of capital and labor, since these relative supplies determine whether capital or labor is relatively scarce in any given future year and, therefore, what these factors of production will get paid in the competitive market.[citation needed]

The paths of capital and labor will be determined by the aggregation of the saving and labor supply decisions of the individual agents alive through time.[citation needed] Thus a young person’s decision about consuming and working today depends, in part, on what he believes will be the interest and wage rates when he’s middle age and old, for example, age 90.[citation needed] But the value of these factor prices when he’s age 90 depend on how much capital and labor will be around in that year.[citation needed]

This depends, in part, on the saving and labor supply of unborn generations who will be saving and working when he reaches old age.[citation needed] In short, the economic decisions of one generation are interlinked with those of others because of general equilibrium considerations in which each year’s collective supplies of capital and labor must equal that year’s aggregate demands for these inputs.[citation needed] And the path of interest and wage rates must be such as to clear (equate supplies to their respective demands) these factor markets at each point in time.[citation needed]

Under standard assumptions about the nature of technology and in the simplest framework (which can be extended to more than two inputs), this problem devolves into a 200-plus order non-linear difference equation in the ratio of capital to labor.[citation needed] This ratio summaries both the relative supplies of and demands for the two factors. In equilibrium, the ratio of factor inputs supplied each year must equal the ratio of factor inputs demanded.[citation needed]

Since the path of the capital-labor ratio determines the path of the interest and wage rate, which determine both the annual supply of and demand for the two factors of production, the problem boils down to finding the precise path of the capital-labor ratio that will draw forth from extant households each year aggregate supplies of capital and labor that exactly match each year’s respective aggregate demands for capital and labor by firms.[citation needed]

There are no mathematical techniques for calculating the exact solution of high order non-linear difference equations.[citation needed] (The Scarf Algorithm cannot be used in this context because the number of markets is infinite; i.e., there is no assumed end of the world.) Auerbach and Kotlikoff devised an iterative solution method that entails guessing how the economy’s ratio of capital to labor will evolve and then updating the guesses based on deviations of annual capital and labor supplies from their respective annual demands and continuing in this manner until the economy’s capital-labor transition path converges to a fixed-point path (more precisely, until the guessed ratio of the annual demands for capital relative to labor equal the annual supplies of capital relative to labor).[citation needed]

Prior to the development of the Auerbach-Kotlikoff model, economists had no means of assessing how a realistic life-cycle economy would evolve, including the timing of its responses to a wide range of fiscal and demographic changes.[citation needed] For example, economists had no means of saying how much capital would be available to the economy in each future year were the government to increase its consumption on a permanent basis and finance that higher level of consumption by raising income tax rates.[citation needed]

One of the latest incarnations of the Auerbach-Kotlikoff model – a paper by Hans Fehr, Sabine Jokisch, and Laurence Kotlikoff entitled “Dynamic Globalization and Its Potentially Alarming Prospects for Low-Wage Workers,” includes five regions (the U.S., Europe, Japan, China, and India), six goods, region-specific fiscal policy and demographics, and the endogenous determination of the pattern of specialization.[citation needed]

The general relativity of fiscal language

In 1984, Kotlikoff wrote a fundamental paper entitled “Deficit Delusion”, which appeared in The Public Interest. This was the first of a series of papers and books (see, e.g., Generational Accounting and Generational Policy) by Kotlikoff, including work with co-authors, showing, via examples, that in economic models featuring rational agents, “the” deficit is a figment of language, not economics. I.e., the deficit is not economically well defined. Instead, what governments measure as “the” deficit is entirely a result of the language they use to label government receipts and payments.[citation needed]

If the government calls a receipt a “tax,” this lowers the reported deficit. If, instead, it calls the receipt “borrowing,” it raises the reported deficit. Thus, if you give the government, say, $1,000 this year, it can say it is taxing you $1,000 this year. Alternatively, it can say it is borrowing $1,000 from you this year and will be taxing you in, say, five years the $1,000 plus accrued interest and using this future tax to pay you the principal plus interest due on the current borrowing. With one set of words the deficit is $1,000 larger this year than with the other set of words.[citation needed]

If it so chose, the government could say it was taxing you $1,000 this year and also, this year, borrowing $1 trillion from you for, say, five years, making a transfer payment to you this year of $1 trillion, and taxing you in five years an amount equal to principal plus interest on the $1 trillion and using it to pay principal plus interest on the $1 trillion it is now borrowing. With this alternative choice of words, the reported deficit is $1 trillion larger than with the first set of words. But in all three examples, you hand over $1,000 this year and receive and pay zero on net in the future.[original research?]

Einstein taught us that neither time, nor distance are well-defined physical concepts. Instead, their measurement is relative to our frame of reference – how fast we were traveling in the universe and in what direction. Our physical frame of reference can be viewed as our language or labeling convention. Einstein showed that neither time nor distance were well-defined concepts, but could be measured in an infinite number of ways. The same is true of the deficit. Just like absolute time and distance are not well defined, the deficit and related conventional fiscal measures has no economic meaning.[citation needed][original research?]

Kotlikoff, along with Harvard’s Jerry Green, offered a general proof of the proposition that deficits and a number of other conventional fiscal measures are, economically speaking, content-free, concluding that the deficit is simply an arbitrary figment of language in all economic models involving rational agents.[7]

Such models can feature all manner of individual and aggregate uncertainty, incomplete markets, distortionary fiscal policy, asymmetric information, borrowing constraints, time-inconsistent government policy, and a host of other problems, yet “the” deficit will still bear no theoretical connection to real policy-induced economic outcomes.[citation needed][original research?] The reason, again, is that there is no single deficit, but rather an infinity of deficit or surplus policy paths that can be announced (by the government or any private agent) simply by choosing the “right” fiscal labels.[citation needed][original research?]

Frames of reference

According to Kotlikoff, using the deficit as a guide to fiscal policy is like driving in Los Angeles with a map of New York City.[citation needed] For unlike in our physical world in which we are all using the same language (have the same frame of reference), in the world of economics, we are each free to adopt our own frame of reference – our own labeling convention. Thus, if Joe wants to claim that the U.S. federal government ran enormous surpluses for the last 50 years, he can simply choose appropriate words to label historic receipts and payments to produce that time series.[citation needed]

If Sally wishes to claim the opposite, there are words she can find to justify her view of the past stance of fiscal policy. And if Sam wishes to claim that that economy has experienced fluctuations from deficits to surpluses of arbitrary magnitude from year to year, he can do so. Language is extremely flexible. And there is nothing in economic theory that pins down how we discuss economic theory.[citation needed]

Kotlikoff and Green claim that fiscal variables in all mathematical economic models involving rational agents can be labeled freely and tell us nothing about the models themselves (no more than does choosing to discuss the models in French or English), and this means that the multitudinous econometric studies relating well-defined economic variables, such as interest rates or aggregate personal consumption, to “the” deficit are, economically speaking, content free.[citation needed]

According to Kotlikoff, the deficit is not the only variable that is not well defined.[citation needed] An economy’s aggregate tax revenue, its aggregate transfer payments, its disposable income, its personal and private saving rates, and its level of private wealth – all are non-economic concepts that have, from the perspective of economic theories with rational agents, no more purchase on economic reality than does the emperor’s clothes in Hans Christian Andersen’s famous children’s story.[citation needed]

Kotlikoff chose the title of his paper with Green not to suggest in the slightest any comparison of intellect with Einstein,[original research?] but rather because of what seemed to him to be a strikingly similar message about confusing linguistics for substance.[citation needed] An example here is the definition of a capitalistic economy as one in which capital is primarily owed by the private sector. Kotlikoff claims that an economy which is described as having predominately privately owned wealth can just as well be described as one in which wealth is predominantly or, for that matter, entirely state-owned.[citation needed] Hence, “deficit delusion” implies that economic theory offers no precise measure/definition of capitalism, socialism, or communism.[citation needed]

Intergenerational altruism

Kotlikoff has done pioneering[peacock term] work testing intergenerational altruism[citation needed] – the proposition that current generations care about their descendants enough to ensure that government redistribution from their descendants to themselves will be offset by private redistribution back to the descendants either in the form of bequests or intervivos gifts. This proposition dates to David Ricardo, who raised it as a theoretical, but empirically irrelevant proposition.[citation needed]

In 1974, Robert Barro revived “Ricardian Equivalence” by showing in a simple, elegant framework that each generation’s caring about its children leads current generations to be altruistically linked to all their descendants. Hence, a government policy of transferring resources to current older generations at a cost to generations born, say, in 100 years would induce the current elderly to simply increase their gifts and bequests to their children who would pass the resources onward until it reached those born in 100 years.[citation needed]

This inter-linkage of current and future generations devolves into a mathematical model which is isomorphic to one in which all agents are infinitely lived (i.e., they act as if they live for ever in so far as their progeny are front and center in their preferences). The infinitely-lived model was originally posited by Frank Ramsey in the 1920s. It’s aggregation properties make it very convenient for teaching macro economics because one does not have to deal with the messiness of upwards of 100 overlapping generations acting independently, but also interdependently. Consequently, it has become a mainstay in graduate macroeconomics training and underlies the work by Economics Nobel Laureate Ed Prescott and other economists on Real Business Cyclemodels.[citation needed]

Kotlikoff’s singly and jointly authored work in the 1980s and 1990 called this model into question on both theoretical and empirical grounds. In a paper entitled “Altruistic Linkages within the Extended Family: A Note (1983),” which appears in Kotlikoff’s 1989 MIT Press book What Determines Savings? Kotlikoff showed that when agents take each other’s transfers as given, marriage generates intergenerational linkages between unrelated individuals.[citation needed]

I.e., if you, Steve, are altruistic toward your daughter, Sue, and your daughter marries John, who is altruistically linked to his father Ed, who has a daughter Sara who is altruistic toward her husband David, who cares about his sister Ida, who’s cares about her father-in-law Frank, you Steve are altrusitically linked to Frank. Furthermore, if Frank loses a dollar and you gain a dollar, Barro’s model implies that you Steve will take your new found dollar and hand it to Frank. Kyle Bagwell and Douglas Bernheim independently reached Kotlikoff’s conclusion, namely that the Barro model had patently absurd implications.[citation needed]

Together with Assaf Razin and Robert Rosenthal, Kotlikoff showed in [4] that dropping the unrealistic assumption that transfers are taken as given and permitting individuals to refuse transfers (e.g., refusing your mother’s offer of an extra helping of cabbage) invalidates Barro’s proposition of Ricardian Equivalence. I.e., they showed that Barro’s model was a combination of a plausible set of preferences (altruism toward one’s children) and an implausible assumption about the game being played by donors and donees. In a series of empirical papers with Stanford economist Michael Boskin, University of Pennsylvania economist Andrew Abel, Yale economist Joseph Altonji, and Tokyo University economist Fumio Hayashi, Kotlikoff and his co-authors showed that there was little, if any, empirical support for Barro’s very special model of intergenerational altruism.[citation needed]

Generational redistribution

In life-cycle models without operative intergenerational altruism, the young are the big savers because of every dollar they receive, they save a larger percentage than do the elderly for the simple reason that the elderly are closer to the ends of their lives and want to use it before they lose it. The unborn are, of course, the biggest savers because giving them an extra dollar (that they will be able to collect with interest when they arrive) leads them to consume nothing more in the present because they aren’t yet alive.[citation needed]

So taking from the young and unborn and giving to the elderly should lead to a decline in national saving. In a 1996 paper with Jagadeesh Gokhale and John Sablehaus, Kotlikoff showed that the ongoing massive redistribution from young and future savers to old savers was responsible for the postwar decline in U.S. saving.[8]

Notwithstanding his many studies overturning Ricardian Equivalence, on both theoretical and empirical grounds, Kotlikoff has a paper showing why intergenerational transfers may have no impact on the economy in a world of purely selfish life-cycle agents. The argument presented is simple. Once younger generations have been maximally exploited by older generations (who are assumed to have the ability to redistribute from the young to themselves), older generations can no longer extract resources for free, meaning they can no longer leave higher fiscal burdens for future generations without handing over a quid pro quo. At such an extreme, intergenerational transfers, per se, are no longer feasible because the young will refuse to accept them.[citation needed]

Policy reform proposals

Kotlikoff has written that the economic future is bleak for the United States without tax reform, health care reform, and Social Security reform in his book The Coming Generational Storm and other publications.[9]

Taxes

Kotlikoff has been a supporter of the FairTax proposal as a replacement for the federal tax code, contributing to research of plan’s effects and the required rate for revenue neutrality.[10] In 2010, Kotlikoff offered his own tax proposal, titled the Purple Tax (a blend of red and blue), a consumption levy that he says cleans up some problems with the FairTax.[11][12]

His plan calls for a 15% final (17.5% nominal) sales tax. The FICA tax ceiling is gone and the 7.65% of the employees contribution is applied on everything after $40,000 but the employer pays 7.65% on the employees entire salary.[13]

Finance

Kotlikoff’s proposed reform of the financial system,[14][15][16] discussed in Jimmy Stewart Is Dead, called Limited Purpose Banking, transforms all financial companies with limited liability, including incorporated banks, insurance companies, financial exchanges, and hedge funds, into pass-through mutual funds, which do not borrow to invest in risky assets, but, instead, allows the public to directly choose what risks it wishes to bear by purchasing more or less risky mutual funds.[17] According to Kotlikoff, Limited Purpose Banking keeps banks, insurance companies, hedge funds and other financial corporations from borrowing short and lending long, which leaves the public to pick up the pieces when things go south.[17] Instead, Kotlikoff argues Limited Purpose Banking forces financial intermediaries to limit their activities to their sole legitimate purpose—financial inter-mediation.[17] It would substitute the vast array of extant federal and state financial regulatory bodies with a single financial regulator called the Federal Financial Authority (FFA), which would have a narrow purpose namely to verify, disclosure, and oversee the independent rating and custody off all securities purchased and sold by mutual funds.[17]

Healthcare

In his 2007 book, The Healthcare Fix, Kotlikoff proposed a major reform of the U.S. healthcare system, subsequently dubbed “The Purple Health Plan”,[18] that would do away with MedicareMedicaid, employer-based healthcare, and health exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act.[19] In their place, every American would receive a voucher for a basic health insurance policy, whose coverages would be established by a panel of doctors such that the total cost of all vouchers remained within a fixed share, e.g., 10 percent, of GDP.[18][19] The voucher would be provided by the government at no cost and its amount would be individually risk-adjusted, i.e., sicker people would receive larger vouchers.[18][19] No health insurance company providing the basic insurance plan could turn anyone away and those who could afford supplemental health insurance plans would be free to purchase them.[18][19]

According to Kotlikoff, the plan provides universal basic health insurance, retains private provision of healthcare, limits government healthcare spending to a fixed share of GDP, and avoids adverse selection.[18][19] Kotlikoff has denounced critics of the plan such as economist Paul Krugman and President Obama for demagoguery over word voucher—arguing that the current health care law relies on vouchers.[20] He argues that the current Medicare program is unsustainable and that we have no choice but to embrace a plan with vouchers.[21] In order to highlight his Purple Plans, Kotlikoff ran for the nomination of the Americans Elect platform in its short-lived effort to field a third party candidate in the 2012 Presidential election.

Political parties

Kotlikoff fervently dislikes both political parties and has called for a third party.[22] In January 2012, Kotlikoff announced his plans to run as a third party candidate for President of the United States in 2012. Kotlikoff said he would seek the presidential nomination of the non-partisan advocacy group Americans Elect.[1][23][24] He announced in May that he would also seek the nomination of the Reform Party of the United States,[25] but ended the bid after the Americans Elect board decided to not field a 2012 presidential ticket.[26]

Other ventures

Kotlikoff is the President of Economic Security Planning, Inc., a company that markets ESPlanner, an economics-based personal financial planning software program,[27] a simplified version of which is available on-line for free use by the public,[28] and “Maximize My Social Security”, a software program that helps Americans decide which Social Security benefits to take and when, to get the highest lifetime benefits.[29]

Books

  • The Economic Consequences of the Vickers Commission, Civitas, 2012.
  • The Clash of Generations, (with Scott Burns), MIT Press, 2012.
  • Jimmy Stewart is Dead – Ending the World’s Ongoing Financial Plague with Limited Purpose Banking. John Wiley and Sons, 2010.
  • Spend ‘Til the End – The Revolutionary Guide to Raising Your Living Standard, Today and When You Retire. Simon & Schuster, (with Scott Burns), 2008.
  • The Healthcare Fix – Universal Insurance for All Americans, MIT Press, 2007.
  • The Coming Generational Storm, (with Scott Burns), MIT Press, 2004.
  • Generational Policy, The 2002 Caroli Lectures, MIT Press, 2003.
  • Essays on Saving, Bequests, Altruism, and Life-Cycle Planning, MIT Press, 2001.
  • Generational Accounting Around the World, co-edited with Alan Auerbach and Willi Leibfritz, NBER volume, University of Chicago Press, 1999.
  • Macroeconomics: An Integrated Approach Second Edition, (with Alan Auerbach), MIT Press, 1998.
  • Macroeconomics: An Integrated Approach (with Alan Auerbach), Southwestern Publishing Co., 1994.
  • Generational Accounting, The Free Press, 1992.
  • What Determines Savings, MIT Press, 1989.
  • The Wage Carrot and the Pension Stick: Retirement Benefits and Labor Force Participation(with David Wise), The W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 1989.
  • Dynamic Fiscal Policy (with Alan Auerbach), Cambridge University Press, 1987.
  • Pensions in the American Economy (with Daniel Smith), University of Chicago Press, 1983.
  • Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security (with Philip Moeller and Paul Solman), Simon and Schuster, 2015.[30]

References

Notes

  1. Jump up to:a b Gaylican, Christine (January 9, 2012). “Will an Economist Make a Difference as the next American President?”International Business Times. Archived from the original on July 1, 2012. Retrieved January 17, 2012.
  2. ^ Kotlikoff, Laurence J.; Spivak, Avia (1981). “The Family as an Incomplete Annuties Market”. Journal of Political Economy89 (2): 372–391. doi:10.1086/260970.
  3. Jump up to:a b Kotlikoff, Laurence J.; Summers, Lawrence H. (1981). “The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation”. Journal of Political Economy89 (4): 706–732. doi:10.1086/260999.
  4. ^ Kessler, Denis; Masson, Andre (1989). “Bequest and Wealth Accumulation: Are Some Pieces of the Puzzle Missing?”. Journal of Economic Perspectives3 (3): 141–152. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.511.4342doi:10.1257/jep.3.3.141.
  5. ^ Generational Accounting, The Free Press, 1992. Kotlikoff
  6. ^ Dynamic Fiscal Policy (with Alan Auerbach), Cambridge University Press, 1987.
  7. ^ On the General Relativity of Fiscal Language
  8. ^ Gokhale, Jagadeesh; Kotlikoff, Laurence J.; Sabelhaus, John (May 1996). “Understanding the Postwar Decline in U.S. Saving: A Cohort Analysis”. NBER Working Paper No. 5571doi:10.3386/w5571.
  9. ^ The Coming Generational Storm: What You Need to Know about America’s Economic Future Archived 2006-08-28 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Kotlikoff, Laurence (2005-03-07). “The Case for the ‘FairTax (PDF). The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-06-14. Retrieved 2006-07-23.
  11. ^ Coy, Peter (2011-10-19). “Herman Cain’s Other Tax Plan”. Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Retrieved 2012-02-03.
  12. ^ Kotlikoff, Laurence. “The Purple Tax Plan”. Retrieved 2012-02-03.
  13. ^ Purple Tax Plan
  14. ^ Niall Ferguson; Laurence Kotlikoff (December 2, 2009). “How to take moral hazard out of banking”The Financial Times. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  15. ^ Martin Wolf (April 27, 2010). “Why cautious reform is the risky option”The Financial Times. Retrieved 23 August2011.
  16. ^ Laurence J. Kotlikoff (March 17, 2010). “Jimmy Stewart Is Dead”http://www.huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  17. Jump up to:a b c d Kotlikoff, Laurence (April 5, 2011). Jimmy Stewart Is Dead: Ending the World’s Ongoing Financial Plague with Limited Purpose Banking. Wiley. ISBN 978-1118011331.
  18. Jump up to:a b c d e The Purple Health Plan
  19. Jump up to:a b c d e Kotlikoff, Laurence (September 7, 2007). The Healthcare Fix. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0262113144.
  20. ^ Kotlikoff, Laurence (June 15, 2011). Vouchercare’ Is the Right Name for Medicare: Laurence Kotlikoff”Bloomberg.
  21. ^ Obama Might Trade Parties With Paul Ryan: Laurence Kotlikoff, Business Week
  22. ^ Kotlikoff, Laurence (July 19, 2011). “A Third-Party Candidate Is Coming: Laurence Kotlikoff”Bloomberg.
  23. ^ Censky, Annalyn (January 5, 2012). “Econ professor to run for president”CNNMoney. Retrieved January 17, 2012.
  24. ^ Palmer, Kimberly (January 10, 2012). “Economist Laurence Kotlikoff Announces Presidential Bid”U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved January 17, 2012.
  25. ^ “Kotlikoff to Seek Reform Party Presidential Nomination”Independent Political Report. May 11, 2012. Retrieved May 12,2012.
  26. ^ “Kotlikoff ends Reform Party presidential bid”Independent Political Report. June 5, 2012. Retrieved June 9,2012.
  27. ^ ESPlanner
  28. ^ Basic ESPlanner
  29. ^ Maximize My Social Security
  30. ^ Kotlikoff, Laurence; Moeller, Philip; Solman, Paul (2015). “Get What’s Yours”Simon and Schuster.

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurence_Kotlikoff

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Victor D. Hanson — Mexifornia: A State of Becoming and The Case for Trump — Videos

Posted on December 17, 2018. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

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Historian Victor Davis Hanson on why he supports Trump

Victor Davis Hanson – Mexifornia: A State of Becoming

May 31, 2003 – Mr. Hanson was interviewed about his book Mexifornia: A State of Becoming, published by Encounter Books. The book looks at the hybrid culture emerging in California and who benefits from different political stances. He responded to telephone calls from viewers.

Victor D. Hanson on Obama’s Last Year & the Problem w/ Elites in Society

Victor Davis Hanson — The New Old World Order

Victor Davis Hanson – Postmodern Ideologies Dismanteled

Victor Davis Hanson: How the left elite cheats the public

Victor Davis Hanson – Immigration Rhetoric vs Reality

Victor Davis Hanson – The 4 Groups that Benefit from Illegal Immigration

Victor Davis Hansen- Keynote Address: California at the Crossroads

 

The Case for Trump Hardcover – March 5, 2019

From an award-winning historian and regular Fox contributor, the true story of how Donald Trump has become one of the most successful presidents in history — and why America needs him now more than ever
 
In The Case for Trump, award-winning historian and political commentator Victor Davis Hanson explains how a celebrity businessman with no political or military experience triumphed over sixteen well-qualified Republican rivals, a Democrat with a quarter-billion-dollar war chest, and a hostile media and Washington establishment to become president of the United States — and an extremely successful president.
Trump alone saw a political opportunity in defending the working people of America’s interior whom the coastal elite of both parties had come to scorn, Hanson argues. And Trump alone had the instincts and energy to pursue this opening to victory, dismantle a corrupt old order, and bring long-overdue policy changes at home and abroad. We could not survive a series of presidencies as volatile as Trump’s. But after decades of drift, America needs the outsider Trump to do what normal politicians would not and could not do.

 

Victor Davis Hanson

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Victor Davis Hanson
Hanson giving a lecture at Kenyon College in May 2005

Hanson giving a lecture at Kenyon College in May 2005
Born September 5, 1953 (age 65)
Fowler, California, U.S.
Occupation Writer, historian, farmer
Subject Military history, history of ancient warfare, ancient agrarianismclassics

Victor Davis Hanson (born September 5, 1953) is an American classicistmilitary historian, columnist, and farmer. He has been a commentator on modern and ancient warfare and contemporary politics for National ReviewThe Washington Times and other media outlets. He is a professor emeritus of classics at California State University, Fresno, and is currently the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in classics and military history at Stanford University‘s Hoover Institution. He chairs the Hoover working group on Military History and Contemporary Conflict as well as being the general editor of the Hoover online journal, Strategika. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College where he teaches an intensive course on world, ancient or military history in the autumn semester, as the Wayne and Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History since 2004.[1] Hanson is the author of Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power (2001), a New York Times best-selling book.

Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and was a presidential appointee in 2007–2008 on the American Battle Monuments Commission that oversees the cemeteries and monuments of U.S. war dead abroad. Hanson is a student of current affairs, particularly regarding the U.S. in the Middle East, national defense issues and illegal immigration. He is also a fifth-generation landowner, growing raisin plants on a family farm in Selma, California, where he resides, and is a commentator on social trends related to farming and agrarianism.

Early life, education and today

Hanson, who is of Swedish and Welsh descent, grew up on a family farm outside of Selma, California in the San Joaquin Valley and has worked there most of his life. His mother, Pauline Davis Hanson, was a lawyer and a California superior court and state appeals court justice, his father was a farmer, educator and junior college administrator. Along with his older brother Nels, a writer, and fraternal twin Alfred, a farmer and biologist, Hanson attended public schools and graduated from Selma High School. Hanson received his BA with highest honors in classics and general college honors, Cowell College, from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1975[2] and his PhD in classics from Stanford University in 1980. He is a Protestant Christian.[3] He also won the Raphael Demos scholarship at the College Year in Athens (1973–74) and was a regular member of the American School of Classical Studies, Athens, 1978–79.

Hanson is currently a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and professor emeritus at California State University, Fresno,[4] where he began teaching in 1984, having created the classical studies program at that institution.

In 1991, Hanson was awarded an American Philological Association‘s Excellence in Teaching Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top undergraduate teachers of Greek and Latin, and he was named distinguished alumnus of the year (2006) at University of California, Santa Cruz.[4] He has been a visiting professor of classics at Stanford University (1991–92), a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California (1992–93), an Alexander Onassistraveling fellowship to Greece (1999), as well as Nimitz Fellow at UC Berkeley (2006) and held the visiting Shifrin Chair of Military History at the U.S. Naval AcademyAnnapolis, Maryland (2002–03), and often the William Simon visiting professorship at the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University (2009–15), and was awarded in 2015 an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the graduate school at Pepperdine. He gave the Wriston Lecture in 2004 for the Manhattan Institute. He has been a board member of the Bradley Foundationsince 2015, and served on the HF Guggenheim Foundation board for over a decade.

Since 2004, Hanson has written a weekly column syndicated by Tribune Content Agency,[5] as well as a weekly column for National Review Online since 2001, and has not missed a weekly column for either venue since he began. He has been published in The New York TimesWall Street JournalThe Times Literary SupplementThe Daily TelegraphAmerican Heritage, and The New Criterion, among other publications. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal (2007) by President George W. Bush, as well as the Eric Breindel Prize for opinion journalism (2002), and the William F. Buckley Prize (2015). Hanson was also awarded the Claremont Institute’s Statesmanship Award at its annual Churchill Dinner, and the Bradley Prize from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in 2008.[4]

Writing

Hanson’s Warfare and Agriculture (Giardini 1983), his PhD thesis, argued that Greek warfare could not be understood apart from agrarian life in general, and suggested that the modern assumption that agriculture was irrevocably harmed during classical wars was vastly overestimated. The Western Way of War (Alfred Knopf 1989), for which John Keegan wrote the introduction, explored the combatants’ experiences of ancient Greek battle and detailed the Hellenic foundations of later Western military practice.

The Other Greeks (The Free Press 1995) argued that the emergence of a unique middling agrarian class explains the ascendance of the Greek city-state, and its singular values of consensual government, sanctity of private property, civic militarism and individualism. In Fields Without Dreams (The Free Press 1996, winner of the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award) and The Land Was Everything (The Free Press 2000, a Los Angeles Times notable book of the year), Hanson lamented the decline of family farming and rural communities, and the loss of agrarian voices in American democracy. The Soul of Battle (The Free Press 1999) traced the careers of Epaminondas, the Theban liberator, William Tecumseh Sherman, and George S. Patton, in arguing that democratic warfare’s strengths are best illustrated in short, intense and spirited marches to promote consensual rule, but bog down otherwise during long occupations or more conventional static battle.

In Mexifornia (Encounter 2003)—a personal memoir about growing up in rural California and an account of immigration from Mexico—Hanson predicted that illegal immigration would soon reach crisis proportions, unless legal, measured, and diverse immigration was restored, as well as the traditional melting-pot values of integration, assimilation, and intermarriage.

Ripples of Battle (Doubleday 2003) chronicled how the cauldron of battle affects combatants’ later literary and artistic work, as its larger influence ripples for generations, affecting art, literature, culture, and government. In A War Like No Other (Random House 2005, a New York Times notable book of the year), a history of the Peloponnesian War, Hanson offered an alternative history, arranged by methods of fighting—triremes, hoplites, cavalry, sieges, etc.) in concluding that the conflict marked a brutal watershed event for the Greek city-states. The Savior Generals (Bloomsbury 2013) followed the careers of five great generals, arguing that rare qualities in leadership emerge during hopeless predicaments that only rare individuals can salvage.

The End of Sparta (Bloomsbury 2011) is a novel about a small community of Thespian farmers who join the great march of Epaminondas (369/70 BC) into the heart of the Peloponnese to destroy Spartan hegemony, free the Messenian helots, and spread democracy in the Peloponnese.

In addition, Hanson has edited several collected essays (Hoplites, Routledge 1991), Bonfire of the Humanities (with B. Thornton and J. Heath, ISI 2001), and Makers of Ancient Strategy (Princeton 2010), as well as a number of his own collected articles (An Autumn of War [2002 Anchor], Between War and Peace [Anchor 2004], and The Father of Us All [Bloomsbury 2010]). He has written a number of chapters for scholarly works such as the Cambridge History of War, and the Cambridge History of Ancient Warfare.

Carnage and Culture

Hanson is the author of the 2001 book Carnage and Culture (Doubleday), published in Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries as Why the West Has Won, in which he argued that the military dominance of Western civilization, beginning with the ancient Greeks, results from certain fundamental aspects of Western culture, such as consensual government, a tradition of self-critique, secular rationalism, religious tolerance, individual freedom, free expression, free markets, and individualism. Hanson’s emphasis on cultural exception rejects racial explanations for Western military preeminence and disagrees as well with environmental or geographical determinist explanations such as those put forth by Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997).[6]

According to Hanson, Western values such as political freedomcapitalismindividualismdemocracyscientific inquiryrationalism, and open debate form an especially lethal combination when applied to warfare. Non-Western societies can win occasional victories when warring against a society with these Western values, writes Hanson, but the “Western way of war” will likely prevail in the long run. Hanson emphasizes that Western warfare is not necessarily more (or less) moral than war as practiced by other cultures; his argument is simply that the “Western way of war” is unequaled in its emphases on devastation and decisiveness, fueled by superior technology and logistics.

Carnage and Culture examines nine battles throughout history, each of which is used to illustrate a particular aspect of Western culture that Hanson believes contributes to the dominance of Western warfare. The battles or campaigns recounted (with themes in parenthesis) are the Battle of Salamis (480 BC; free citizens), the Battle of Gaugamela (331 BC; the decisive battle of annihilation), the Battle of Cannae (216 BC; civic militarism), the Battle of Tours/Poitiers (732; infantry), the Battle of Tenochtitlan (1521; technology and reason), the Battle of Lepanto (1571; capitalism), the Battle of Rorke’s Drift (1879; discipline), the Battle of Midway (1942; individualism), and the Tet Offensive (1968; dissent).

Though Carnage and Culture appeared before the September 11 attacks of 2001, its message that the “Western way of war” will ultimately prevail made the book a bestseller in the wake of those events. Immediately after 9/11, Carnage and Culture was re-issued with a new afterword by Hanson in which he explicitly stated that the United States government would win its “War on Terror” for the reasons stated in the book.

The American military officer Robert Bateman in a 2007 article on the Media Matters for America website criticized the Hanson thesis, arguing if Hanson’s point about Western armies preferring to seek out a decisive battle of annihilation is rebutted by the Second Punic War, where the Roman attempts to annihilate the Carthaginians instead led to the Carthaginians annihilating the Romans at the Battle of Cannae.[7] Bateman argued that Hanson was wrong about Western armies’ common preferences in seeking out a battle of annihilation, arguing that the Romans only defeated the Carthaginians via the Fabian Strategy of keeping their armies in being and not engaging Hannibal in battle.[7] In his first response, Hanson argued that Bateman was engaged in a “puerile, politically correct” attack on him, and accused Bateman of being motivated by current left-wing politics rather a genuine interest in history.[8] In a second response, Hanson called Bateman’s use of personal, adolescent invectives such as “pervert”, “feces”, and “devil”, as unprofessional and “unhinged”, and had no role in scholarly disagreements, accusing Bateman of being poorly informed of history and geography, as well as engaging in conduct unbecoming a U.S. Army officer.[9] Hanson declared that Bateman was incorrect about the Battle of Yarmoukarguing that the Golan Heights were at the edge of the Eastern Roman Empire, instead of being in the center as Bateman argued, and claimed that the Romans lost because of divided leadership rather than as a result of superior Islamic generalship as Bateman had contended.[9]

In his final responses, Hanson argued that Bateman was unfamiliar with any foreign language, did not understand the practice of translation or scholarly citation, and was utterly confused by basic issues of geography and history.

United States education and classical studies

Hanson co-authored the book Who Killed Homer?: The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom with John Heath. This book explores the issue of how classical education has declined in the US and what might be done to restore it to its former prominence. This is important, according to Hanson and Heath, because knowledge of the classical Greeks and Romans is necessary to fully understand Western culture. To begin a discussion along these lines the authors state, “The answer to why the world is becoming Westernized goes all the way back to the wisdom of the Greeks—reason enough why we must not abandon the study of our heritage”.[10]

Hanson and Heath, in their populist argument for a return to undergraduate teaching, fault the academic classicists themselves for the decline, accusing them of becoming so infected with political correctness and postmodern thinking, not to mention egoism and money-grubbing (grants, visiting professorships, conference-hopping, promotion based on unreadable publications), that they have lost sight of what Hanson and Heath feel the classics truly represent. They say it this way, “the study of Greek in the last twenty years became a profession, a tiny world—but a world of sorts nonetheless—of jets, conferences, publicity, jargon, and perks.”[11]

The political scientist Francis Fukuyama, reviewing Who Killed Homer? favorably in Foreign Affairs, noted,

The classicists Victoria Cech and Joy Connolly have found Who Killed Homer? to have considerable pitfalls. Reviews of the book have noted several problems with the authors’ perception of classical culture.

Per Victoria Cech, Director of Grants & Program Development,[13]

Per Joy Connolly, Professor of Classics at New York University,[15]

Political views

Hanson is a traditional conservative who voted for George W. Bush in the 2000 and 2004 elections.[17]

He has been described as a neoconservative by some commentators, for his support of maintaining U.S. troops to rebuild society after successful military interventions,[18][19] and has stated, “I came to support neocon approaches first in the wars against the Taliban and Saddam, largely because I saw little alternative.”[20] In 2005, Hanson wrote of why he did not find the Democratic Party populist or reflective of its prior concerns: “The Democratic Party reminds me of the Republicans circa 1965 or so—impotent, shrill, no ideas, conspiratorial, reactive, out-of-touch with most Americans, isolationist, and full of embarrassing spokesmen.”[21]

More recently, Hanson has appeared to reject the term neoconservative, writing in a 2016 column “Hillary’s Neoliberals” that the term neoconservative was coined in the 1970s to describe liberals who moved right on social issues and on maintaining deterrence during the Cold War.[22] Hanson has critiqued the decision of several neoconservatives to declare their support for Hillary Clinton as preferable to Donald Trump on grounds that Clinton has a long history of abuse of office, and is mired in scandal over violations of national security statutes as well as influence peddling between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department. Hanson has attacked these neoconservatives as “neoliberals” who were never entirely proper conservative, arguing that these people had joined the Republican Party out of distaste for the Democratic Party, which had nominated as the presidential candidates George McGovern in 1972 and Jimmy Carter in 1976 as opposed to converting to conservatism.[22] Hanson ended his column that there were now two emerging factions in America—the proverbial ordinary Americans supporting Trump vs. the elites of both the Democratic and Republican parties supporting Clinton.[22] Hanson wrote: “A mostly urban, highly educated, and high-income globalized elite often shares more cultural and political affinities with their counterparts on the other side of the aisle than they do with the lower-middle and working classes of their own parties. Just as Hillary Clinton may feel more comfortable with the old neoconservatives, Trump supporters have little in common with either Clintonites or neocons. Clinton versus Trump is a war of NPRCBS, and the New York Times against the National Enquirerconservative talk radio, and the Drudge Report. Clinton supporters such as former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, onetime Bush officials Hank Paulsonand Brent Scowcroft, and billionaire Meg Whitman certainly have nothing in common with Republican Trump supporters such as Mike Huckabee and Rush Limbaugh. Culture, not just politics, is rapidly destroying—but also rebuilding—traditional political parties.”[22]

Hanson was a defender of George W. Bush and his policies,[23] especially the Iraq War.[24] He was also a vocal supporter of Bush’s Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Hanson wrote of Rumsfeld that he was: “a rare sort of secretary of the caliber of George Marshall” and a “proud and honest-speaking visionary” whose “hard work and insight are bringing us ever closer to victory”.[25]

On the issues pertaining to the constant political turmoil in the Middle East, Hanson emphasizes the lack of individual and political freedom, as well as transparency and self-critique, in many Middle Eastern nations as a major factor retarding economic, technological and cultural progress. He further relates the root cause of radical Islamic terrorism to insecurities resulting from a failure to achieve parity with the West, and a reactionary need to regain honor and pride.[26]

Iraq War

Hanson believed that the Iraq War, given the repeated serial violations by Iraq of UN sanctions, congressional mandates, and the threats that Saddam Hussein posed, in a post-9/11 climate, to the long-term security of the Middle East, was a necessary and worthwhile undertaking—and was, after a flawed occupation, eventually a laudable success that had led to a workable government in 2009 and relative calm in Iraq: analogous to the foundations of the successful American occupation of South Korea in the latter 1950s that led to the democratic society of today. However, he stated in 2008 that he, “… disagreed with many of the decisions made about the Iraq war,” such as the dissolution of the old Iraqi army.[20]

Hanson argued that the “surge” of 2007 had largely won the Iraq War by the beginning of 2009, and that rise of the Islamic State terrorist group which seized control of much of Iraq in mid-2014 was the result of what Hanson sees as the unwise withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq in December 2011, which he blames on the Obama administration.[27] Hanson argued that if only American troops had stayed in Iraq after December 2011, then the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki would have been less sectarian and the Islamic State group would have never emerged.[28] Hanson argued that the December 2011 withdrawal from Iraq was motivated to help improve Obama’s chances of reelection in 2012, an act that he compared to being equivalent to the United States pulling its troops out of South Korea in 1955, arguing if only the Americans had stayed in Iraq, then that nation would have evolved into a Near Eastern version of South Korea.[29]

The U.S. and the world

In 2004, Hanson gave a mostly favorable review to the book Colossus by the British historian Niall Ferguson, where Ferguson argued that the United States should be an imperial power in the sense of preserving the post war order of global free trade, communications, and commerce, and the principal problem with Americans was that they were unwilling to embrace global leadership in the same way that people in 19th century Britain did.[30] Hanson found much to approve of in Ferguson’s book, writing: “In reality, we should be natural imperialists, given our wealth and expertise. Americans are also endowed with an exceptional moral sense. We are a generous people, whose checkered imperial interventions in the past rarely proved profitable or exploitive.”[30] Hanson agreed with Ferguson that the principal problem with Americans was an unease at playing the role of an imperialistic power, argued that post-1945 histories of Germany and Japan proved the beneficial results of American occupation and predicted that Iraq under American occupation would become just as much a prosperous and democratic society as Germany and Japan are.[30] Hanson praised Ferguson for his defense of the British Empire as a benevolent force and his thesis that the United States should play the same role in the world as the British Empire, writing: “Does Ferguson propose a new American liberal empire? In fact, he does almost, but not before noting that the British Victorians themselves got a bad rap as exploitive colonialists. In fact, the record of the 18th and 19th centuries prove exactly the opposite: Former and once-prosperous colonies, following autonomy, quickly turned into self-induced miseries, while Britain itself thrived as never before once free of these costly obligations. Empire turns out not to be a means of making money, but instead an idealist pursuit to keep sea lanes open, bullies at bay and nations trading rather than fighting. The world has been lucky to have the Americans fill this vacuum, inasmuch as the British once did a pretty good job of it as well.”[30] Hanson, well before the immigration and financial crises of the EU, also praised Ferguson for his very negative picture of the European Union as being both “busy triangulating with our enemies” and “running huge trade deficits with us as we supply their own security needs.” He appears to agree with Ferguson that Europe is undemocratic, and statist, but that with a population in decline and even worse entitlement overspending than the U.S., a more broken melting pot, and socialist response to these issues ensuring Europe will be unable generate the unity or idealism required to supplant the U.S.[30]

Israeli–Arab conflict

In his article Israel did it, Hanson asked why Israel, during the 2006 Lebanon war, was being blamed for responding to attacks by Hezbollah.[31] Hanson was critical of the Middle East policies of the administration of Barack Obama and accused the Obama administration of distancing itself from Israel, despite its exceptional position as a tolerant Western nation in the Middle East, and of preferring the Palestinian Authority and Hamas despite their being anti-Western.[32]

Race relations

Hanson has often argued that in a 21st-century multiracial America there is little overt racism on the part of whites, and that generic complaints of racism too often are automatic from an often privileged African-American elite that uses such charges of racism to advance careerist concerns not often synonymous with those in the inner city.[33] In reference to the Gates affair in which the Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested in his home when a white policeman responded to a report of a possible break-in, Hanson argued that the policeman’s actions were understandable given that “… African-American males commit crimes at rates both higher than the general population’s, and at levels higher than other minority groups that likewise struggle with poverty and systemic unfairness.”[34]

In a 2012 column titled “The New Racial Derangement Syndrome”, Hanson argued again that class considerations now more often trump racial differences, and that racism in modern America is not confined to any one particular group, citing various statements by prominent African-Americans such as Morgan FreemanSamuel L. JacksonJamie FoxxChris Rock and Rob Parker that he saw as racially chauvinistic and often blatantly anti-white, and thus as signs of a new “racialist derangement” sweeping across black America that had set back considerable progress in making racial considerations prior to 2009 incidental rather than essential to an American citizen’s identity.[35] In a 2015 column titled “The Weariness of the Whiners”, Hanson illustrated the paradoxes of race and class, by citing the talk show hostess Oprah Winfrey‘s claim that she was a victim of racism when a clerk at the Trois Pommes boutique refused to show a $38,000 handbag to her.[33] In a 2016 column, “The New Segregationism”, Hanson lamented growing racial polarization, mostly on the part of elites who take refuge in racial chauvinism when their own careerist concerns are unmet. He used as an example of what he sees as the unlikelihood of the claim that there is anti-black racism in modern America in the complaint by the actor Will Smith that he was not nominated for an Oscar.[36]

Hanson has been critical of the group Black Lives Matter, which he maintains is a group based on “racial chauvinism” and “whining” which has told a “series of lies”—beginning with the “hands up don’t shoot” untruth in the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown—about the supposedly statistically-proven epidemic of police killings of black men, the majority of which Hanson argued were found to be justified on the basis of current police practice and protocols.[37] Hanson claimed that responsibility for declining racial relations often rested with Barack Obama, whom Hanson suggested had deliberately inflamed racial tensions between whites and blacks, with a series of gratuitous and racially charged commentaries, dating from the 2008 campaign to editorializing about the Trayvon Martin killing case, as a way of securing the votes of black Americans for the Democrats.[38] Hanson faulted Obama for having “…systematically adopted a rhetoric and an agenda that is predicated on dividing up the country according to tribal grievances, in hopes of recalibrating various factions into a majority grievance culture. In large part, he has succeeded politically. But in doing so he has nearly torn the country apart. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to suggest that no other recent president has offered such a level of polarizing and divisive racial bombast.”[39]

Hanson has also been consistently critical of unchecked and unmonitored illegal immigration into the United States from Mexico and the Central American republics, which he sees as threatening to overwhelm the United States with millions of Spanish-speakers who make assimilation difficult and some of whom he charges have criminal records and do not establish a record of work history. In a 2014 column “1984 Redux: Orwellian Illegal Immigration” Hanson wrote that Hispanic groups that use the name La Raza are racialists who have “hijacked” America’s immigration policy to permit non-diverse, illegal, and unrestricted illegal immigration into the United States to further demographically-based political agendas, and who have made often false claims of suffering continual racial prejudice from a supposed prejudiced white majority, while arguing that Latinos as members of La Raza should keep themselves separate from the rest of Americans.[40] Hanson has condemned groups such as the National Council of La Raza as he argued that term La Raza has an unfortunate history as a “racialist term,” whose origins he claims go back to Francoist Spain of Francisco Franco and Benito Mussolini‘s fascist Italy, and those Mexican-American leaders who self-identify with the Francoist term La Raza are themselves guilty of operating as racial separatists.[41] In this regard, Hanson has voiced qualified support for Donald Trump‘s plans to deport illegal immigrants from the United States, after offering a chance for green card residence to those who were vetted and found to have no criminal record, no history of public support, and residence of some duration. Blanket deportation policy, Hanson argued, would be as “unworkable”, as is the present open-borders status quo.[42]

Hanson is also opposed to the unvetted, and often illegal mass influx of mostly young male refugees from the war-torn Middle East into Europe, alluding to the resulting tensions in EU society by using premodern/postmodern allusions to H.G. Well’s 1895 novel The Time Machine that the millions of Muslims fleeing to Europe are the “Morlocks” (i.e. a fierce underclass) who will devour the Europeans who are “Eloi” (i.e. largely defenseless and overly refined creatures).[43] Hanson wrote that: “Europe’s immigration policy is a disaster—and for reasons that transcend the idiocy of allowing the free influx of young male Muslims from a premodern, war-torn Middle East into a postmodern, pacifist, and post-Christian Europe.”[43] Hanson has called the German Chancellor Angela Merkel “unhinged” for welcoming about a million refugees fleeing from the Syrian Civil War into her nation without plans to assimilate or integrate such numbers, instead of sending them to their countries of origin. Hanson has denied that all Syrians fleeing into Europe are refugees from the civil war, writing that uncharacteristically most refugees are “…young, single men from the Middle East who pour into Europe not as political refugees but as opportunists eager for European social largesse”.[44] Hanson wrote “Merkel’s disastrous decision to open the borders of Germany—and with them Europe’s as well—is proving both selfish and suicidal.”[44] Wether Hanson was talking about the continued uninterrupted traveling within the Schengen Area or the lack of enforcement of the external European Union border was unclear.

Along the same lines, Hanson has argued that history proves that multi-cultural societies have too often proved disastrous failures, and that only way of preventing a society from collapsing into tribal bloodbaths is a “common culture, one that artificially suppresses the natural instinct of humans to identify first with their particular tribe”.[39] As an example of what he sees as a law of history, Hanson wrote: “The Italian Roman Republic lasted about 500 years. In contrast, the multiracial Roman Empire that after the Edict of Caracalla in AD 212 made all its diverse peoples equal citizens endured little more than two (often violent) centuries.”[45] Along the same lines Hanson wrote in the 2016 column “Diversity: History’s Pathway to Chaos” that: “Emphasizing diversity has been the pitfall, not the strength, of nations throughout history”.[46] Hanson charged that the current celebration of diversity was destroying America and ended with the statement if the celebration of diversity did not end: “Otherwise, we will end up as 50 separate and rival nations—just like other failed states in history whose diverse tribes and races destroyed themselves in a Hobbesian dog-eat-dog war with one another.”[46] In a 2013 column titled “Western Cultural Suicide”, Hanson wrote: “Multiculturalism—as opposed to the notion of a multiracial society united by a single culture—has become an abject contradiction in the modern Western world… Western hosts lost confidence in the very society that gives us the wealth and leisure to ignore or caricature its foundations. The result is that millions of immigrants flock to the West, enjoy its material security, and yet feel little need to bond with their adopted culture, given that their hosts themselves are ambiguous about what others desperately seek out.”[47]

Writing about the murder of a British soldier by two Nigerian Muslims on the streets of London in May 2013, Hanson wrote the murder reflected what he viewed as cultural decline, stating: “In Britain, as in the West in general, deportation is a fossilized concept. Unity is passé. Patriotism is long suspect. The hip metrosexual cultures of the urban West strain to find fault in their inheritance, and seem to appreciate those who do that in the most cool fashion—but always with the expectation that there will be some poor blokes who, in terms of clean water, medical care, free speech, and dependable electricity, ensure that London is not Lagos, that Stockholm is not Damascus, and that Los Angeles is not Nuevo Laredo.”[47] Through acknowledging that in the early years of the American republic that to be American was to be white, Hanson argued that the “ultimate logic” of the American constitution led to the United States becoming a society where “multiracialism under one common culture” was the norm, but unfortunately in the late 20th century “multiculturalism, in which each particular ethnic group retained its tribal chauvinism and saw itself as separate from the whole” become the new norm.[45]

In July 2013, the Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech when he mentioned that as a black man the need to deliver “the Talk” to his children, namely he would have to inform his children that some, mostly white people who were going to hate them not because what they did, but simply because of their skin color. In response to Holder’s speech, Hanson wrote a column titled “Facing Facts about Race” where he offered up his own version (and others’) of “the Talk”, namely the need to inform his children to be careful of young black men when venturing into the inner city, who Hanson argued were statistically more likely to commit violent crimes than young men of other races, and that therefore it was understandable for the police to focus on groups with the highest statistical crime rates, which turn out to be young black males.[48]

Hanson wrote his father once had been robbed by young black men, and had given him “the Talk” warning his son to exercise caution in known crime-ridden areas and to note that African-American male youth have a far higher incidence of assault than other groups; and Hanson added that having been robbed himself by black men, he had given “the Talk” warning his children to avoid situations when in dangerous areas and to exercise caution there when encountering groups of young African-American men when alone, whom Hanson argue were statistically more likely to have had criminal records.[48] Hanson therefore criticized Holder and Obama for suggesting that racism may have been a factor in the trial of Hispanic George Zimmerman who had been charged and acquitted of murder with the shooting death of Trayvon Martin—and especially for intruding in an ongoing criminal case before a jury had even been selected.[48] Hanson argued that Zimmerman was later found by a jury of his peers to be justified in shooting Martin in self-defense, and he suggested that Obama was alluding to racism being a factor in the case, to distract attention from his then unpopular presidency.[48]

Referring to the concurrent case at the time of two Vietnamese-Americans killed by a black convicted felon, Hanson wrote: “The world will long remember Trayvon Martin, but few people—and certainly not Barack Obama or Eric Holder, who have a bad habit, in an increasingly multiracial country, of claiming solidarity on the basis of race—will care that Khin Min and Lina Lim were torn to pieces by bullets and a knife. Few will care that they died in a vicious assault that had nothing to do with stereotyping, Stand Your Ground self-defense, weak gun laws, insufficient federal civil-rights legislation, or any of the other causes of interracial violence falsely advanced by the attorney general—but quite a lot to do with an urban culture that for unspoken reasons has spawned an epidemic of disproportionate violent crime on the part of young African-American males.”[48]

Criticism for his views on race relations

In response to “Facing Facts About Race”, the American writer Ta-Nehisi Coates accused Hanson of racism and stupidity.[49] Referring to Hanson’s “Talk”, Coates wrote: “Let us be direct—in any other context we would automatically recognize this “talk” as stupid advice. If I were to tell you that I only employ Asian-Americans to do my taxes because “Asian-Americans do better on the Math SAT,” you would not simply question my sensitivity, but my mental faculties. That is because you would understand that in making an individual decision, employing an ancestral class of millions is not very intelligent. Moreover, were I to tell you I wanted my son to marry a Jewish woman because “Jews are really successful,” you would understand that statement for the stupidity which it is … There is no difference between my argument above and the notion that black boys should be avoided because they are overrepresented in the violent crime stats. But one of the effects of racism is its tendency to justify stupidity.”[49]

The Anglo-American journalist Andrew Sullivan called Hanson’s column “spectacularly stupid”, writing: “Treating random strangers as inherently dangerous because of their age, gender and skin color is a choice to champion fear over reason, a decision to embrace easy racism over any attempt to overcome it”.[50] The American journalist Arthur Stern called “Facing Facts About Race” an “inflammatory” column based upon crime statistics that Hanson never cited, writing: “His presentation of this controversial opinion as undeniable fact without exhaustive statistical proof is undeniably racist.”[51] The Anglo-American journalist Kelefa Sanneh in response to “Facing Facts About Race” wrote that Hanson was wrong to claim that white and Asian-Americans were all victims of black criminals, writing: “It’s strange, then, to read Hanson writing as if the fear of violent crime were mainly a “white or Asian” problem, about which African-Americans might be uninformed, or unconcerned—as if African-American parents weren’t already giving their children more detailed and nuanced versions of Hanson’s “sermon,” sharing his earnest and absurd hope that the right words might keep trouble at bay.”[52]

The Anglo-American journalist John Derbyshire, who was fired from the National Review for writing a similar column in 2012 titled “The Talk: Nonblack Version”, came to Hanson’s defense, praising him for “spot-on observations” about race relations in modern America, through he argued that his column was much superior.[53] In “The Talk: Nonblack Version”, Derbyshire, who had earlier been criticized by Hanson on his advocacy for racial stereotyping well beyond the context of traveling in high crime areas, went well beyond what Hanson had advocated, telling his children not to live in cities with black mayors, never to help a black person in distress, to avoid all public gatherings with large numbers of black people and only have a few black people as friends to avoid allegations of prejudice.[54]Contra Coates, Derbyshire argued in support of Hanson that the best way to avoid being a victim of crime was: “..stay well clear of crowds of unfamiliar blacks. Might application of those rules leave someone with hurt feelings? Probably. So in this pan we have some stranger’s hurt feelings. In the other pan, we have our kids’ safety. What’s the beam doing, Ta-Nehisi?”.[53] Hanson in response to Sanneh’s essay accused him of a “McCarthyite character assassination” and “infantile, if not racialist, logic”.[55]

Confrontation with Iran

Hanson has argued that the U.S. may be forced to take a much more confrontational stance towards Iranian violation of prior nuclear enrichment prohibitions, advocating, if necessary, unilateral responses to the country should it continue its aggressive acts of war. On the Hugh Hewitt show in August 2007, Hanson stated, “We really need to start doing some things beyond talking, and if that is going into Iranian airspace, or buzzing Iranians, or even starting to forget where the border is and taking out some of these training camps, we need to do that and send a message, because they’re a paper tiger. They really are.”[56] In a 2014 column Hanson faulted the Obama administration for engaging in “appeasement” of Iran and of fruitlessly attempting to negotiate an end to the Iranian program to acquire nuclear weapons, predicating if Iran continued enrichment unchecked that: “Accordingly, it is more than likely that in the next two years Iran will become a nuclear power.”[57] As of November 2018, Iran is still not a nuclear power.

China

Hanson has argued that China is an increasingly aggressive power that is set upon eventually dominating East Asia. In a 2014 column titled “Is China copying the Old Imperial Japan?”, Hanson answered his question in the affirmative.[58] Hanson maintained that economically successful Asian nations without the deterrent power of the United States are naturally inclined to expansionism.[58] Hanson claimed that Japan, as a result of late nineteenth-century Meiji era reforms, had become powerful at the same time the United States had temporarily retreated into isolationism which allowed Japan to embark upon an imperialistic foreign policy; that the same thing was happening today with China and the United States under the leadership of Barack Obama.[58] Along these lines, Hanson has cited China for attempting to create its version of “Greater East Asia co-prosperity sphere”, which would incorporate all of East Asia.[59]

Russia

Hanson repeatedly accused President Barack Obama of engaging in “appeasement” of Russia. Hanson argues that Vladimir Putin is the embodiment of “eternal Russia”, an aggressively expansionist and anti-Western nation whose people are innately anti-democratic. In a 2012 column titled “History Never Quite Ends”, Hanson wrote: “From the czars to the Soviet Communists to Vladimir Putin’s cronies, there is something about constitutional government and liberal rule that bothers Mother Russia. The more that progressive outsiders seek to lecture or reform Russians, the more likely they are to bristle and push back with left-wing or right-wing nationalist strongmen. At present, we do not know whether there will be a Czar Vladimir, Comrade Putin, or Putin Inc. in charge, but we fear it does not matter much”.[60] Hanson depicts modern Russia in unflattering terms as “…a disaster of a declining population, corruption, authoritarianism, a warped economy, and a high rate of alcoholism.”[61] Precisely because Russia is so weak, Hanson claims that Putin is driven to aggression against his neighbors with the overwhelmingly support of the Russian people out of a sense of hurt pride and a desire to make Russia great again.[61] In 2014, Hanson called Putin “evil”, writing: “Putin is almost Milton’s Satan—as if, in his seductive evil, he yearns for clarity, perhaps even a smackdown, if not just for himself, for us as well. He is not the better man than Obama but, again like Milton’s Satan, the more interesting, if only because he reminds of us of our own limitations.”[62] In a 2015 column, Hanson wrote about what he views as the aims of Russian foreign policy that:

Hanson stated that Obama’s much heralded “reset” of relations with Russia in 2009 had “empowered” Putin and, in this way, Obama was responsible for the outbreak of the war in Ukraine in 2014.[28][62][63][64] In 2009, Hanson wrote about the “reset”: “…former Soviet republics understand that Russia’s Putin has a de facto green light to “readjust” their present-day, “ad hoc” borders—with President Obama about as clear on any future dispute as candidate Obama was about Georgia.”[65] In 2014, Hanson predicted that Russia might very well invade Estonia in the near future, stating: “Future targeted states, perhaps like Estonia, should understand that they are slated to play the 1939 role of Poland after the earlier Anschluss and dismemberment of Czechoslovakia.”[66] In 2014, Hanson predicted that the Russian-dominated Eurasian Economic Union, which Hanson calls the “Russian Union” would continue to grow, writing: “Soon the Russian Union could dwarf the European Union, as the former consolidates and the latter threatens to fragment.”[67]

In 2015, Hanson wrote:

In another 2015 column, Hanson wrote about he sees as Putin’s mindset that:

Hanson is opposed to the Russian intervention in the Syrian civil war, which he argues is a part of a bid by Putin to construct an anti-American Russian-Syrian-Iranian-Iraqi alliance that will dominate the Middle East and intimidate the Gulf states.[70] Hanson has made the claim that the primary responsibility for the outbreak of the Second World War was not due to Adolf Hitler, but was rather due to the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and the French Premier Édouard Daladier who failed to maintain credible threats of deterrence.[71] Hanson has argued Obama has likewise failed to maintain a credible threat of deterrence, and as such, the world is on the verge of another war comparable to the Second World War.[71] Hanson has predicted that Putin will sometime in the near-future invade one or more of the Baltic states if the United States does not provide more deterrence to Russia.[72]

In 2017, Hanson wrote about the Russia–United States relations:

Works

References …

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Davis_Hanson

 

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