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Fascism

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Benito Mussolini (left) and Adolf Hitler(right), the fascist leaders of Italy and Nazi Germany, respectively

Fascism (/ˈfæʃɪzəm/) is a form of radical, right-wingauthoritarian ultranationalism,[1][2][3][4] characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy,[5] which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.[6] The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I before it spread to other European countries.[6] Opposed to liberalismMarxism, and anarchism, fascism is placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.[6][7][8][9][10][11]

Fascists saw World War I as a revolution that brought massive changes to the nature of war, society, the state, and technology. The advent of total war and the total mass mobilization of society had broken down the distinction between civilians and combatants. A “military citizenship” arose in which all citizens were involved with the military in some manner during the war.[12][13] The war had resulted in the rise of a powerful state capable of mobilizing millions of people to serve on the front lines and providing economic production and logistics to support them, as well as having unprecedented authority to intervene in the lives of citizens.[12][13]

Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete and regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties.[14] Such a state is led by a strong leader—such as a dictator and a martial government composed of the members of the governing fascist party—to forge national unity and maintain a stable and orderly society.[14] Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature and views political violence, war, and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation.[15][16][17][18] Fascists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky(national economic self-sufficiency) through protectionist and interventionist economic policies.[19]

Since the end of World War II in 1945, few parties have openly described themselves as fascist, and the term is instead now usually used pejoratively by political opponents. The descriptions neo-fascist or post-fascist are sometimes applied more formally to describe parties of the far-right with ideologies similar to, or rooted in, 20th-century fascist movements.[6][20]

Contents

Etymology

The Italian term fascismo is derived from fascio meaning “a bundle of sticks”, ultimately from the Latin word fasces.[21] This was the name given to political organizations in Italy known as fasci, groups similar to guilds or syndicates. According to Mussolini‘s own account, the Fascist Revolutionary Party (Partito Fascista Rivoluzionario or PFR) was founded in Italy in 1915.[22] In 1919, Mussolini founded the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento in Milan, which became the Partito Nazionale Fascista (National Fascist Party) two years later. The Fascists came to associate the term with the ancient Roman fasces or fascio littorio[23]—a bundle of rods tied around an axe,[24] an ancient Roman symbol of the authority of the civic magistrate[25] carried by his lictors, which could be used for corporal and capital punishment at his command.[26][27]

The symbolism of the fasces suggested strength through unity: a single rod is easily broken, while the bundle is difficult to break.[28] Similar symbols were developed by different fascist movements: for example, the Falange symbol is five arrows joined together by a yoke.[29]

Definitions

Historians, political scientists, and other scholars have long debated the exact nature of fascism.[30] Each group described as fascist has at least some unique elements, and many definitions of fascism have been criticized as either too wide or narrow.[31][32]

One common definition of the term focuses on three concepts:

  1. the fascist negations (anti-liberalismanti-communism, and anti-conservatism);
  2. nationalist authoritarian goals of creating a regulated economic structure to transform social relations within a modern, self-determined culture; and
  3. a political aesthetic of romantic symbolism, mass mobilization, a positive view of violence, and promotion of masculinity, youth, and charismatic leadership.[33][34][35]

According to many scholars, fascism—especially once in power—has historically attacked communism, conservatism, and parliamentary liberalism, attracting support primarily from the far-right.[36]

Historian Stanley Payne identifies three main strands in fascism. His typology is regularly cited by reliable sources as a standard definition. First, Payne’s “fascist negations” refers to such typical policies as anti-communism and anti-liberalism. Second, “fascist goals” include a nationalist dictatorship and an expanded empire. Third, “fascist style” is seen in its emphasis on violence and authoritarianism and its exultation of men above women and young against old.[37]

Roger Griffin describes fascism as “a genus of political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populistultranationalism“.[38] Griffin describes the ideology as having three core components: “(i) the rebirth myth, (ii) populist ultra-nationalism, and (iii) the myth of decadence”.[39] Fascism is “a genuinely revolutionary, trans-class form of anti-liberal, and in the last analysis, anti-conservative nationalism” built on a complex range of theoretical and cultural influences. He distinguishes an inter-war period in which it manifested itself in elite-led but populist “armed party” politics opposing socialism and liberalism and promising radical politics to rescue the nation from decadence.[40]

Robert Paxton says that fascism is “a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion”.[41]

Racism was a key feature of German fascism, as they made the Holocaust a high priority. According to the historiography of genocide, “In dealing with the Holocaust, it is the consensus of historians that Nazi Germany targeted Jews as a race, not as a religious group.”[42] Umberto Eco,[43]Kevin Passmore,[44] John Weiss,[45] Ian Adams,[46] and Moyra Grant[47] stress racism as a characteristic component of German fascism. The Encyclopedia Britannica says, “Hitler envisioned the ideal German society as a Volksgemeinschaft, a racially unified and hierarchically organized body in which the interests of individuals would be strictly subordinate to those of the nation, or Volk.”[48] Fascist philosophies vary by application, but remain distinct by one theoretic commonality. All traditionally fall into the far-right sector of any political spectrum, catalyzed by afflicted class identities over conventional social inequities[6]

Historian John Lukacs argues that there is no such thing as generic fascism. He claims that National Socialism and communism are essentially manifestations of populism and that states such as National Socialist Germany and Fascist Italy are more different than similar.[49]

Position in the political spectrum

Most scholars place fascism on the far right of the political spectrum.[6][7][8][9][10][11] Such scholarship focuses on its social conservatism and its authoritarian means of opposing egalitarianism.[50][51] Roderick Stackelberg places fascism—including Nazism, which he says is “a radical variant of fascism”—on the political right by explaining: “The more a person deems absolute equality among all people to be a desirable condition, the further left he or she will be on the ideological spectrum. The more a person considers inequality to be unavoidable or even desirable, the further to the right he or she will be”.[52]

Fascism’s origins, however, are complex and include many seemingly contradictory viewpoints, ultimately centered around a myth of national rebirth from decadence.[53] Fascism was founded during World War I by Italian national syndicalists who drew upon both left-wing organizational tactics and right-wing political views.[54]

Italian Fascism gravitated to the right in the early 1920s.[55][56] A major element of fascist ideology that has been deemed to be far-right is its stated goal to promote the right of a supposedly superior people to dominate, while purging society of supposedly inferior elements.[57]

In the 1920s, the Italian Fascists described their ideology as right-wing in the political program The Doctrine of Fascism, stating: “We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the ‘right,’ a fascist century”.[58][59] Mussolini stated that fascism’s position on the political spectrum was not a serious issue for fascists: “Fascism, sitting on the right, could also have sat on the mountain of the center … These words in any case do not have a fixed and unchanged meaning: they do have a variable subject to location, time and spirit. We don’t give a damn about these empty terminologies and we despise those who are terrorized by these words”.[60]

Major Italian groups politically on the right, especially rich landowners and big business, feared an uprising by groups on the left such as sharecroppers and labour unions.[61] They welcomed Fascism and supported its violent suppression of opponents on the left.[62] The accommodation of the political right into the Italian Fascist movement in the early 1920s created internal factions within the movement. The “Fascist left” included Michele BianchiGiuseppe BottaiAngelo Oliviero OlivettiSergio Panunzio, and Edmondo Rossoni, who were committed to advancing national syndicalism as a replacement for parliamentary liberalism in order to modernize the economy and advance the interests of workers and common people.[63] The “Fascist right” included members of the paramilitary Squadristi and former members of the Italian Nationalist Association (ANI).[63] The Squadristi wanted to establish Fascism as a complete dictatorship, while the former ANI members, including Alfredo Rocco, sought to institute an authoritarian corporatist state to replace the liberal state in Italy while retaining the existing elites.[63] Upon accommodating the political right, there arose a group of monarchist fascists who sought to use fascism to create an absolute monarchy under King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy.[63]

After King Victor Emmanuel III forced Mussolini to resign as head of government and placed him under arrest in 1943, Mussolini was rescued by German forces. While continuing to rely on Germany for support, Mussolini and the remaining loyal Fascists founded the Italian Social Republic with Mussolini as head of state. Mussolini sought to re-radicalize Italian Fascism, declaring that the Fascist state had been overthrown because Italian Fascism had been subverted by Italian conservatives and the bourgeoisie.[64] Then the new Fascist government proposed the creation of workers’ councils and profit-sharing in industry, although the German authorities, who effectively controlled northern Italy at this point, ignored these measures and did not seek to enforce them.[64]

A number of post-World War II fascist movements described themselves as a “third position” outside the traditional political spectrum.[65] Spanish Falangist leader José Antonio Primo de Rivera said: “[B]asically the Right stands for the maintenance of an economic structure, albeit an unjust one, while the Left stands for the attempt to subvert that economic structure, even though the subversion thereof would entail the destruction of much that was worthwhile”.[66]

“Fascist” as a pejorative

The term “fascist” has been used as a pejorative,[67] regarding varying movements across the far right of the political spectrum.[68] George Orwell wrote in 1944 that “the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless … almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist'”.[68]

Communist states have sometimes been referred to as “fascist”, typically as an insult. For example, it has been applied to Marxist regimes in Cuba under Fidel Castro and Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh.[69] Chinese Marxists used the term to denounce the Soviet Union during the Sino-Soviet Split, and likewise the Soviets used the term to denounce Chinese Marxists[70] and social democracy (coining a new term in “social fascism“).

In the United States, Herbert Matthews of The New York Times asked in 1946: “Should we now place Stalinist Russia in the same category as Hitlerite Germany? Should we say that she is Fascist?”.[71] J. Edgar Hoover, longtime FBI director and ardent anti-communist, wrote extensively of “Red Fascism”.[72] The Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s was sometimes called “fascist”. Historian Peter Amann states that, “Undeniably, the Klan had some traits in common with European fascism—chauvinism, racism, a mystique of violence, an affirmation of a certain kind of archaic traditionalism—yet their differences were fundamental….[the KKK] never envisioned a change of political or economic system.”[73]

Professor Richard Griffiths of the University of Wales[74] wrote in 2005 that “fascism” is the “most misused, and over-used word, of our times”.[32] “Fascist” is sometimes applied to post-World War II organizations and ways of thinking that academics more commonly term “neo-fascist“.[75]

History

Nineteenth-century roots

According to Encyclopædia Britannica[better source needed] the roots of fascism are either tied to the Jacobin movement or a 19th-century backlash against the Enlightenment.[76] Historians such as Irene Collins and Howard C Payne see Napoleon III, who ran a ‘police state’ and suppressed the media, as a forerunner of fascism.[77] According to David Thomson,[78] the Italian Risorgimento of 1871 led to the ‘nemesis of fascism’. William L Shirer[79] sees a continuity from the views of Fichte and Hegel, through Bismarck, to Hitler; Robert Gerwarth speaks of a ‘direct line’ from Bismarck to Hitler.[80] Julian Dierkes sees fascism as a ‘particularly violent form of Imperialism‘.[81]

Fin de siècle era and the fusion of Maurrasism with Sorelianism (1880–1914)

The historian Zeev Sternhell has traced the ideological roots of fascism back to the 1880s and in particular to the fin de siècle theme of that time.[82][83] The theme was based on a revolt against materialismrationalismpositivism, bourgeois society and democracy.[84] The fin-de-siècle generation supported emotionalismirrationalismsubjectivism and vitalism.[85] The fin-de-sièclemindset saw civilization as being in a crisis that required a massive and total solution.[84] The fin-de-siècle intellectual school considered the individual only one part of the larger collectivity, which should not be viewed as an atomized numerical sum of individuals.[84] They condemned the rationalistic individualism of liberal society and the dissolution of social links in bourgeois society.[84]

The fin-de-siècle outlook was influenced by various intellectual developments, including Darwinian biologyWagnerian aestheticsArthur de Gobineau‘s racialismGustave Le Bon‘s psychology; and the philosophies of Friedrich NietzscheFyodor Dostoyevsky and Henri Bergson.[86] Social Darwinism, which gained widespread acceptance, made no distinction between physical and social life, and viewed the human condition as being an unceasing struggle to achieve the survival of the fittest.[86] Social Darwinism challenged positivism’s claim of deliberate and rational choice as the determining behaviour of humans, with social Darwinism focusing on heredity, race, and environment.[86] Social Darwinism’s emphasis on biogroup identity and the role of organic relations within societies fostered legitimacy and appeal for nationalism.[87] New theories of social and political psychology also rejected the notion of human behaviour being governed by rational choice and instead claimed that emotion was more influential in political issues than reason.[86] Nietzsche’s argument that “God is dead” coincided with his attack on the “herd mentality” of Christianity, democracy and modern collectivism; his concept of the übermensch; and his advocacy of the will to power as a primordial instinct, were major influences upon many of the fin-de-siècle generation.[88] Bergson’s claim of the existence of an “élan vital” or vital instinct centred upon free choice and rejected the processes of materialism and determinism; this challenged Marxism.[89]

Gaetano Mosca in his work The Ruling Class (1896) developed the theory that claims that in all societies an “organized minority” will dominate and rule over the “disorganized majority”.[90][91]Mosca claims that there are only two classes in society, “the governing” (the organized minority) and “the governed” (the disorganized majority).[92] He claims that the organized nature of the organized minority makes it irresistible to any individual of the disorganized majority.[92]

French nationalist and reactionary monarchist Charles Maurras influenced fascism.[93] Maurras promoted what he called integral nationalism, which called for the organic unity of a nation and Maurras insisted that a powerful monarch was an ideal leader of a nation. Maurras distrusted what he considered the democratic mystification of the popular will that created an impersonal collective subject.[93] He claimed that a powerful monarch was a personified sovereign who could exercise authority to unite a nation’s people.[93] Maurras’ integral nationalism was idealized by fascists, but modified into a modernized revolutionary form that was devoid of Maurras’ monarchism.[93]

French revolutionary syndicalist Georges Sorel promoted the legitimacy of political violence in his work Reflections on Violence (1908) and other works in which he advocated radical syndicalist action to achieve a revolution to overthrow capitalism and the bourgeoisie through a general strike.[94]In Reflections on Violence, Sorel emphasized need for a revolutionary political religion.[95] Also in his work The Illusions of Progress, Sorel denounced democracy as reactionary, saying “nothing is more aristocratic than democracy”.[96] By 1909 after the failure of a syndicalist general strike in France, Sorel and his supporters left the radical left and went to the radical right, where they sought to merge militant Catholicism and French patriotism with their views—advocating anti-republican Christian French patriots as ideal revolutionaries.[97] Initially Sorel had officially been a revisionist of Marxism, but by 1910 announced his abandonment of socialist literature and claimed in 1914, using an aphorism of Benedetto Croce that “socialism is dead” because of the “decomposition of Marxism”.[98] Sorel became a supporter of reactionary Maurrassian nationalism beginning in 1909 that influenced his works.[98] Maurras held interest in merging his nationalist ideals with Sorelian syndicalism as a means to confront democracy.[99]Maurras stated “a socialism liberated from the democratic and cosmopolitan element fits nationalism well as a well made glove fits a beautiful hand”.[100]

The fusion of Maurrassian nationalism and Sorelian syndicalism influenced radical Italian nationalist Enrico Corradini.[101] Corradini spoke of the need for a nationalist-syndicalist movement, led by elitist aristocrats and anti-democrats who shared a revolutionary syndicalist commitment to direct action and a willingness to fight.[101] Corradini spoke of Italy as being a “proletarian nation” that needed to pursue imperialism in order to challenge the “plutocratic” French and British.[102] Corradini’s views were part of a wider set of perceptions within the right-wing Italian Nationalist Association (ANI), which claimed that Italy’s economic backwardness was caused by corruption in its political class, liberalism, and division caused by “ignoble socialism”.[102] The ANI held ties and influence among conservatives, Catholics and the business community.[102] Italian national syndicalists held a common set of principles: the rejection of bourgeois values, democracy, liberalism, Marxisminternationalism and pacifism; and the promotion of heroismvitalism and violence.[103] The ANI claimed that liberal democracy was no longer compatible with the modern world, and advocated a strong state and imperialism, claiming that humans are naturally predatory and that nations were in a constant struggle, in which only the strongest could survive.[104]

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Italian modernist author of the Futurist Manifesto (1909) and later the co-author of the Fascist Manifesto (1919)

Futurism was both an artistic-cultural movement and initially a political movement in Italy led by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti who founded the Futurist Manifesto (1908), that championed the causes of modernism, action, and political violence as necessary elements of politics while denouncing liberalism and parliamentary politics. Marinetti rejected conventional democracy based on majority rule and egalitarianism, for a new form of democracy, promoting what he described in his work “The Futurist Conception of Democracy” as the following: “We are therefore able to give the directions to create and to dismantle to numbers, to quantity, to the mass, for with us number, quantity and mass will never be—as they are in Germany and Russia—the number, quantity and mass of mediocre men, incapable and indecisive”.[105]

Futurism influenced fascism in its emphasis on recognizing the virile nature of violent action and war as being necessities of modern civilization.[106] Marinetti promoted the need of physical training of young men, saying that in male education, gymnastics should take precedence over books, and he advocated segregation of the genders on this matter, in that womanly sensibility must not enter men’s education whom Marinetti claimed must be “lively, bellicose, muscular and violently dynamic”.[107]

Benito Mussolini (here in 1917 as a soldier in World War I), who in 1914 founded and led the Fasci d’Azione Rivoluzionaria to promote the Italian intervention in the war as a revolutionary nationalistaction to liberate Italian-claimed lands from Austria-Hungary

World War I and its aftermath (1914–1929)

At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, the Italian political left became severely split over its position on the war. The Italian Socialist Party (PSI) opposed the war but a number of Italian revolutionary syndicalists supported war against Germany and Austria-Hungary on the grounds that their reactionary regimes had to be defeated to ensure the success of socialism.[108] Angelo Oliviero Olivetti formed a pro-interventionist fascio called the Fasci of International Action in October 1914.[108] Benito Mussolini upon being expelled from his position as chief editor of the PSI’s newspaper Avanti! for his anti-German stance, joined the interventionist cause in a separate fascio.[109] The term “Fascism” was first used in 1915 by members of Mussolini’s movement, the Fasci of Revolutionary Action.[110]

The first meeting of the Fasci of Revolutionary Action was held on 24 January 1915[111] when Mussolini declared that it was necessary for Europe to resolve its national problems—including national borders—of Italy and elsewhere “for the ideals of justice and liberty for which oppressed peoples must acquire the right to belong to those national communities from which they descended”.[111] Attempts to hold mass meetings were ineffective and the organization was regularly harassed by government authorities and socialists.[112]

German soldiers parading through Lübeck in the days leading up to World War I. Johann Plenge‘s concept of the “Spirit of 1914” identified the outbreak of war as a moment that forged nationalistic German solidarity

Similar political ideas arose in Germany after the outbreak of the war. German sociologist Johann Plenge spoke of the rise of a “National Socialism” in Germany within what he termed the “ideas of 1914” that were a declaration of war against the “ideas of 1789” (the French Revolution).[113]According to Plenge, the “ideas of 1789” that included rights of man, democracy, individualism and liberalism were being rejected in favor of “the ideas of 1914” that included “German values” of duty, discipline, law and order.[113] Plenge believed that racial solidarity (Volksgemeinschaft) would replace class division and that “racial comrades” would unite to create a socialist society in the struggle of “proletarian” Germany against “capitalist” Britain.[113] He believed that the “Spirit of 1914” manifested itself in the concept of the “People’s League of National Socialism”.[114] This National Socialism was a form of state socialism that rejected the “idea of boundless freedom” and promoted an economy that would serve the whole of Germany under the leadership of the state.[114] This National Socialism was opposed to capitalism because of the components that were against “the national interest” of Germany, but insisted that National Socialism would strive for greater efficiency in the economy.[114][115] Plenge advocated an authoritarian rational ruling elite to develop National Socialism through a hierarchical technocratic state.[116]

Impact of World War I

Fascists viewed World War I as bringing revolutionary changes in the nature of war, society, the state and technology, as the advent of total war and mass mobilization had broken down the distinction between civilian and combatant, as civilians had become a critical part in economic production for the war effort and thus arose a “military citizenship” in which all citizens were involved to the military in some manner during the war.[12][13] World War I had resulted in the rise of a powerful state capable of mobilizing millions of people to serve on the front lines or provide economic production and logistics to support those on the front lines, as well as having unprecedented authority to intervene in the lives of citizens.[12][13] Fascists viewed technological developments of weaponry and the state’s total mobilization of its population in the war as symbolizing the beginning of a new era fusing state power with mass politics, technology and particularly the mobilizing myth that they contended had triumphed over the myth of progress and the era of liberalism.[12]

Members of Italy’s Arditi corps (here in 1918 holding daggers, a symbol of their group), which was formed in 1917 as groups of soldiers trained for dangerous missions, characterized by refusal to surrender and willingness to fight to the death. Their black uniforms inspired those of the Italian Fascist movement.

Impact of the Bolshevik Revolution

The October Revolution of 1917—in which Bolshevik communists led by Vladimir Lenin seized power in Russia—greatly influenced the development of fascism.[117] In 1917, Mussolini, as leader of the Fasci of Revolutionary Action, praised the October Revolution, but later he became unimpressed with Lenin, regarding him as merely a new version of Tsar Nicholas.[118] After World War I, fascists have commonly campaigned on anti-Marxist agendas.[117]

Liberal opponents of both fascism and the Bolsheviks argue that there are various similarities between the two, including that they believed in the necessity of a vanguard leadership, had disdain for bourgeois values and it is argued had totalitarian ambitions.[117] In practice, both have commonly emphasized revolutionary action, proletarian nation theories, one-party states and party-armies.[117] However, both draw clear distinctions from each other both in aims and tactics, with the Bolsheviks emphasizing the need for an organized participatory democracy and an egalitarian, internationalist vision for society while the fascists emphasize hyper-nationalism and open hostility towards democracy, envisioning a hierarchical social structure as essential to their aims.

With the antagonism between anti-interventionist Marxists and pro-interventionist Fascists complete by the end of the war, the two sides became irreconcilable. The Fascists presented themselves as anti-Marxists and as opposed to the Marxists.[119] Mussolini consolidated control over the Fascist movement, known as Sansepolcrismo, in 1919 with the founding of the Fasci italiani di combattimento.

The Fascist Manifesto of 1919

In 1919, Alceste De Ambris and Futurist movement leader Filippo Tommaso Marinetti created The Manifesto of the Italian Fasci of Combat (the Fascist Manifesto).[120] The Manifesto was presented on 6 June 1919 in the Fascist newspaper Il Popolo d’Italia. The Manifesto supported the creation of universal suffrage for both men and women (the latter being realized only partly in late 1925, with all opposition parties banned or disbanded);[121] proportional representation on a regional basis; government representation through a corporatist system of “National Councils” of experts, selected from professionals and tradespeople, elected to represent and hold legislative power over their respective areas, including labour, industry, transportation, public health, communications, etc.; and the abolition of the Italian Senate.[122] The Manifesto supported the creation of an eight-hour work day for all workers, a minimum wage, worker representation in industrial management, equal confidence in labour unions as in industrial executives and public servants, reorganization of the transportation sector, revision of the draft law on invalidity insurance, reduction of the retirement age from 65 to 55, a strong progressive tax on capital, confiscation of the property of religious institutions and abolishment of bishoprics, and revision of military contracts to allow the government to seize 85% of profits.[123] It also called for the fulfillment of expansionist aims in the Balkans and other parts of the Mediterranean,[124] the creation of a short-service national militia to serve defensive duties, nationalization of the armaments industry and a foreign policy designed to be peaceful but also competitive.[125]

Residents of Fiume cheer the arrival of Gabriele d’Annunzio and his blackshirt-wearing nationalist raiders, as D’Annunzio and Fascist Alceste De Ambrisdeveloped the quasi-fascist Italian Regency of Carnaro (a city-state in Fiume) from 1919 to 1920 and whose actions by D’Annunzio in Fiume inspired the Italian Fascist movement

The next events that influenced the Fascists in Italy was the raid of Fiume by Italian nationalist Gabriele d’Annunzio and the founding of the Charter of Carnaro in 1920.[126] D’Annunzio and De Ambris designed the Charter, which advocated national-syndicalist corporatistproductionism alongside D’Annunzio’s political views.[127] Many Fascists saw the Charter of Carnaro as an ideal constitution for a Fascist Italy.[128] This behaviour of aggression towards Yugoslavia and South Slavs was pursued by Italian Fascists with their persecution of South Slavs—especially Slovenes and Croats.

Italian Fascists in 1920

In 1920, militant strike activity by industrial workers reached its peak in Italy and 1919 and 1920 were known as the “Red Years”.[129]Mussolini and the Fascists took advantage of the situation by allying with industrial businesses and attacking workers and peasants in the name of preserving order and internal peace in Italy.[130]

Fascists identified their primary opponents as the majority of socialists on the left who had opposed intervention in World War I.[128] The Fascists and the Italian political right held common ground: both held Marxism in contempt, discounted class consciousness and believed in the rule of elites.[131] The Fascists assisted the anti-socialist campaign by allying with the other parties and the conservative right in a mutual effort to destroy the Italian Socialist Party and labour organizations committed to class identity above national identity.[131]

Fascism sought to accommodate Italian conservatives by making major alterations to its political agenda—abandoning its previous populismrepublicanism and anticlericalism, adopting policies in support of free enterprise and accepting the Catholic Church and the monarchy as institutions in Italy.[132] To appeal to Italian conservatives, Fascism adopted policies such as promoting family values, including promotion policies designed to reduce the number of women in the workforce limiting the woman’s role to that of a mother. The fascists banned literature on birth control and increased penalties for abortion in 1926, declaring both crimes against the state.[133] Though Fascism adopted a number of anti-modern positions designed to appeal to people upset with the new trends in sexuality and women’s rights—especially those with a reactionary point of view—the Fascists sought to maintain Fascism’s revolutionary character, with Angelo Oliviero Olivetti saying: “Fascism would like to be conservative, but it will [be] by being revolutionary”.[134] The Fascists supported revolutionary action and committed to secure law and order to appeal to both conservatives and syndicalists.[135]

Prior to Fascism’s accommodations to the political right, Fascism was a small, urban, northern Italian movement that had about a thousand members.[136] After Fascism’s accommodation of the political right, the Fascist movement’s membership soared to approximately 250,000 by 1921.[137]

Fascist violence in 1922

Beginning in 1922, Fascist paramilitaries escalated their strategy from one of attacking socialist offices and homes of socialist leadership figures to one of violent occupation of cities. The Fascists met little serious resistance from authorities and proceeded to take over several northern Italian cities.[138] The Fascists attacked the headquarters of socialist and Catholic labour unions in Cremona and imposed forced Italianization upon the German-speaking population of Trent and Bolzano.[138] After seizing these cities, the Fascists made plans to take Rome.[138]

Benito Mussolini with three of the four quadrumvirsduring the March on Rome (from left to right: unknown, de Bono, Mussolini, Balbo and de Vecchi)

On 24 October 1922, the Fascist party held its annual congress in Naples, where Mussolini ordered Blackshirts to take control of public buildings and trains and to converge on three points around Rome.[138] The Fascists managed to seize control of several post offices and trains in northern Italy while the Italian government, led by a left-wing coalition, was internally divided and unable to respond to the Fascist advances.[139] King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy perceived the risk of bloodshed in Rome in response to attempting to disperse the Fascists to be too high.[140] Victor Emmanuel III decided to appoint Mussolini as Prime Minister of Italy and Mussolini arrived in Rome on 30 October to accept the appointment.[140] Fascist propaganda aggrandized this event, known as “March on Rome“, as a “seizure” of power because of Fascists’ heroic exploits.[138]

Fascist Italy

Historian Stanley G. Payne says Fascism in Italy was:

A primarily political dictatorship….The Fascist Party itself had become almost completely bureaucratized and subservient to, not dominant over, the state itself. Big business, industry, and finance retained extensive autonomy, particularly in the early years. The armed forces also enjoyed considerable autonomy….The Fascist militia was placed under military control….The judicial system was left largely intact and relatively autonomous as well. The police continued to be directed by state officials and were not taken over by party leaders…nor was a major new police elite created….There was never any question of bringing the Church under overall subservience…. Sizable sectors of Italian cultural life retained extensive autonomy, and no major state propaganda-and-culture ministry existed….The Mussolini regime was neither especially sanguinary nor particularly repressive.[141]

Mussolini in power

Upon being appointed Prime Minister of Italy, Mussolini had to form a coalition government because the Fascists did not have control over the Italian parliament.[142] Mussolini’s coalition government initially pursued economically liberal policies under the direction of liberal finance minister Alberto De Stefani, a member of the Center Party, including balancing the budget through deep cuts to the civil service.[142] Initially, little drastic change in government policy had occurred and repressive police actions were limited.[142]

The Fascists began their attempt to entrench Fascism in Italy with the Acerbo Law, which guaranteed a plurality of the seats in parliament to any party or coalition list in an election that received 25% or more of the vote.[143] Through considerable Fascist violence and intimidation, the list won a majority of the vote, allowing many seats to go to the Fascists.[143] In the aftermath of the election, a crisis and political scandal erupted after Socialist Party deputy Giacomo Matteotti was kidnapped and murdered by a Fascist.[143] The liberals and the leftist minority in parliament walked out in protest in what became known as the Aventine Secession.[144] On 3 January 1925, Mussolini addressed the Fascist-dominated Italian parliament and declared that he was personally responsible for what happened, but insisted that he had done nothing wrong. Mussolini proclaimed himself dictator of Italy, assuming full responsibility over the government and announcing the dismissal of parliament.[144] From 1925 to 1929, Fascism steadily became entrenched in power: opposition deputies were denied access to parliament, censorship was introduced and a December 1925 decree made Mussolini solely responsible to the King.[145]

Catholic Church

In 1929, the Fascist regime briefly gained what was in effect a blessing of the Catholic Church after the regime signed a concordat with the Church, known as the Lateran Treaty, which gave the papacy state sovereignty and financial compensation for the seizure of Church lands by the liberal state in the nineteenth century, but within two years the Church had renounced Fascism in the Encyclical Non Abbiamo Bisogno as a “pagan idolotry of the state” which teaches “hatred, violence and irreverence”.[146] Not long after signing the agreement, by Mussolini’s own confession the Church had threatened to have him “excommunicated”, in part because of his intractable nature and that he had “confiscated more issues of Catholic newspapers in the next three months than in the previous seven years”.[147] By the late 1930s, Mussolini became more vocal in his anti-clerical rhetoric, repeatedly denouncing the Catholic Church and discussing ways to depose the pope. He took the position that the “papacy was a malignant tumor in the body of Italy and must ‘be rooted out once and for all,’ because there was no room in Rome for both the Pope and himself”.[148] In her 1974 book, Mussolini’s widow Rachele stated that her husband had always been an atheist until near the end of his life, writing that her husband was “basically irreligious until the later years of his life”.[149]

The National Socialists of Germany employed similar anti-clerical policies. The Gestapo confiscated hundreds of monasteries in Austria and Germany, evicted clergymen and laymen alike and often replaced crosses with a swastikas.[150] Referring to the swastika as the “Devil’s Cross”, church leaders found their youth organizations banned, their meetings limited and various Catholic periodicals censored or banned. Government officials eventually found it necessary to place “Nazis into editorial positions in the Catholic press”.[151] Up to 2,720 clerics, mostly Catholics, were arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned inside of Germany’s Dachau concentration camp, resulting in over 1,000 deaths.[152]

Corporatist economic system

The Fascist regime created a corporatist economic system in 1925 with creation of the Palazzo Vidioni Pact, in which the Italian employers’ association Confindustria and Fascist trade unions agreed to recognize each other as the sole representatives of Italy’s employers and employees, excluding non-Fascist trade unions.[153] The Fascist regime first created a Ministry of Corporations that organized the Italian economy into 22 sectoral corporations, banned workers’ strikes and lock-outs and in 1927 created the Charter of Labour, which established workers’ rights and duties and created labour tribunals to arbitrate employer-employee disputes.[153] In practice, the sectoral corporations exercised little independence and were largely controlled by the regime and employee organizations were rarely led by employees themselves, but instead by appointed Fascist party members.[153]

Aggressive foreign policy

In the 1920s, Fascist Italy pursued an aggressive foreign policy that included an attack on the Greek island of Corfu, aims to expand Italian territory in the Balkans, plans to wage war against Turkey and Yugoslavia, attempts to bring Yugoslavia into civil war by supporting Croat and Macedonian separatists to legitimize Italian intervention and making Albania a de facto protectorate of Italy, which was achieved through diplomatic means by 1927.[154] In response to revolt in the Italian colony of Libya, Fascist Italy abandoned previous liberal-era colonial policy of cooperation with local leaders. Instead, claiming that Italians were a superior race to African races and thereby had the right to colonize the “inferior” Africans, it sought to settle 10 to 15 million Italians in Libya.[155] This resulted in an aggressive military campaign known as the Pacification of Libya against natives in Libya, including mass killings, the use of concentration camps and the forced starvation of thousands of people.[155] Italian authorities committed ethnic cleansing by forcibly expelling 100,000 Bedouin Cyrenaicans, half the population of Cyrenaica in Libya, from their settlements that was slated to be given to Italian settlers.[156][157]

Hitler adopts Italian model

Nazis in Munich during the Beer Hall Putsch

The March on Rome brought Fascism international attention. One early admirer of the Italian Fascists was Adolf Hitler, who less than a month after the March had begun to model himself and the Nazi Party upon Mussolini and the Fascists.[158] The Nazis, led by Hitler and the German war hero Erich Ludendorff, attempted a “March on Berlin” modeled upon the March on Rome, which resulted in the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich in November 1923.[159]

International impact of the Great Depression and the buildup to World War II

Benito Mussolini (left) and Adolf Hitler (right)

The conditions of economic hardship caused by the Great Depression brought about an international surge of social unrest. According to historian Philip Morgan, “the onset of the Great Depression…was the greatest stimulus yet to the diffusion and expansion of fascism outside Italy”.[160] Fascist propaganda blamed the problems of the long depression of the 1930s on minorities and scapegoats: “JudeoMasonicbolshevik” conspiracies, left-wing internationalism and the presence of immigrants.

In Germany, it contributed to the rise of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, which resulted in the demise of the Weimar Republic and the establishment of the fascist regime, Nazi Germany, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. With the rise of Hitler and the Nazis to power in 1933, liberal democracy was dissolved in Germany and the Nazis mobilized the country for war, with expansionist territorial aims against several countries. In the 1930s, the Nazis implemented racial laws that deliberately discriminated against, disenfranchised and persecuted Jews and other racial and minority groups.

Fascist movements grew in strength elsewhere in Europe. Hungarian fascist Gyula Gömbös rose to power as Prime Minister of Hungary in 1932 and attempted to entrench his Party of National Unity throughout the country. He created an eight-hour work day, a forty-eight-hour work week in industry and sought to entrench a corporatist economy; and pursued irredentist claims on Hungary’s neighbors.[161] The fascist Iron Guard movement in Romaniasoared in political support after 1933, gaining representation in the Romanian government and an Iron Guard member assassinated Romanian prime minister Ion Duca.[162] During the 6 February 1934 crisisFrance faced the greatest domestic political turmoil since the Dreyfus Affair when the fascist Francist Movement and multiple far-right movements rioted en masse in Paris against the French government resulting in major political violence.[163] A variety of para-fascist governments that borrowed elements from fascism were formed during the Great Depression, including those of GreeceLithuaniaPoland and Yugoslavia.[164]

Integralists marching in Brazil

In the Americas, the Brazilian Integralists led by Plínio Salgado claimed as many as 200,000 members although following coup attempts it faced a crackdown from the Estado Novo of Getúlio Vargas in 1937.[165] In the 1930s, the National Socialist Movement of Chile gained seats in Chile‘s parliament and attempted a coup d’état that resulted in the Seguro Obrero massacre of 1938.[166]

During the Great Depression, Mussolini promoted active state intervention in the economy. He denounced the contemporary “supercapitalism” that he claimed began in 1914 as a failure because of its alleged decadence, its support for unlimited consumerism and its intention to create the “standardization of humankind”.[167] Fascist Italy created the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction (IRI), a giant state-owned firm and holding company that provided state funding to failing private enterprises.[168] The IRI was made a permanent institution in Fascist Italy in 1937, pursued Fascist policies to create national autarky and had the power to take over private firms to maximize war production.[168] While Hitler’s regime only nationalized 500 companies in key industries by the early 1940s,[169] Mussolini declared in 1934 that “[t]hree-fourths of Italian economy, industrial and agricultural, is in the hands of the state”.[170] Due to the worldwide depression, Mussolini’s government was able to take over most of Italy’s largest failing banks, who held controlling interest in many Italian businesses. The Institute for Industrial Reconstruction, a state-operated holding company in charge of bankrupt banks and companies, reported in early 1934 that they held assets of “48.5 percent of the share capital of Italy”, which later included the capital of the banks themselves.[171] Political historian Martin Blinkhorn estimated Italy’s scope of state intervention and ownership “greatly surpassed that in Nazi Germany, giving Italy a public sector second only to that of Stalin’s Russia”.[172] In the late 1930s, Italy enacted manufacturing cartels, tariff barriers, currency restrictions and massive regulation of the economy to attempt to balance payments.[173] Italy’s policy of autarky failed to achieve effective economic autonomy.[173] Nazi Germany similarly pursued an economic agenda with the aims of autarky and rearmament and imposed protectionist policies, including forcing the German steel industry to use lower-quality German iron ore rather than superior-quality imported iron.[174]

World War II (1939–1945)

In Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, both Mussolini and Hitler pursued territorial expansionist and interventionist foreign policy agendas from the 1930s through the 1940s culminating in World War II. Mussolini called for irredentist Italian claims to be reclaimed, establishing Italian domination of the Mediterranean Sea and securing Italian access to the Atlantic Ocean and the creation of Italian spazio vitale (“vital space”) in the Mediterranean and Red Sea regions.[175] Hitler called for irredentist German claims to be reclaimed along with the creation of German Lebensraum(“living space”) in Eastern Europe, including territories held by the Soviet Union, that would be colonized by Germans.[176]

Emaciated male inmate at the Italian Rab concentration camp

From 1935 to 1939, Germany and Italy escalated their demands for territorial claims and greater influence in world affairs. Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935resulting in its condemnation by the League of Nations and its widespread diplomatic isolation. In 1936, Germany remilitarized the industrial Rhineland, a region that had been ordered demilitarized by the Treaty of Versailles. In 1938, Germany annexed Austria and Italy assisted Germany in resolving the diplomatic crisis between Germany versus Britain and France over claims on Czechoslovakia by arranging the Munich Agreement that gave Germany the Sudetenland and was perceived at the time to have averted a European war. These hopes faded when Hitler violated the Munich Agreement by ordering the invasion and partition of Czechoslovakia between Germany and a client state of Slovakia in 1939. At the same time from 1938 to 1939, Italy was demanding territorial and colonial concessions from France and Britain.[177] In 1939, Germany prepared for war with Poland, but attempted to gain territorial concessions from Poland through diplomatic means.[178] The Polish government did not trust Hitler’s promises and refused to accept Germany’s demands.[178]

The invasion of Poland by Germany was deemed unacceptable by Britain, France and their allies, resulting in their mutual declaration of war against Germany that was deemed the aggressor in the war in Poland, resulting in the outbreak of World War II. In 1940, Mussolini led Italy into World War II on the side of the Axis. Mussolini was aware that Italy did not have the military capacity to carry out a long war with France or the United Kingdom and waited until France was on the verge of imminent collapse and surrender from the German invasion before declaring war on France and the United Kingdom on 10 June 1940 on the assumption that the war would be short-lived following France’s collapse.[179] Mussolini believed that following a brief entry of Italy into war with France, followed by the imminent French surrender, Italy could gain some territorial concessions from France and then concentrate its forces on a major offensive in Egypt where British and Commonwealth forces were outnumbered by Italian forces.[180] Plans by Germany to invade the United Kingdom in 1940 failed after Germany lost the aerial warfare campaign in the Battle of Britain. In 1941, the Axis campaign spread to the Soviet Union after Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa. Axis forces at the height of their power controlled almost all of continental Europe. The war became prolonged—contrary to Mussolini’s plans—resulting in Italy losing battles on multiple fronts and requiring German assistance.

Corpses of victims of the German Buchenwald concentration camp

During World War II, the Axis Powers in Europe led by Nazi Germany participated in the extermination of millions of Poles, Jews, Gypsies and others in the genocide known as the Holocaust.

After 1942, Axis forces began to falter. In 1943, after Italy faced multiple military failures, the complete reliance and subordination of Italy to Germany, the Allied invasion of Italy and the corresponding international humiliation, Mussolini was removed as head of government and arrested on the order of King Victor Emmanuel III, who proceeded to dismantle the Fascist state and declared Italy’s switching of allegiance to the Allied side. Mussolini was rescued from arrest by German forces and led the German client state, the Italian Social Republic from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany faced multiple losses and steady Soviet and Western Allied offensives from 1943 to 1945.

On 28 April 1945, Mussolini was captured and executed by Italian communist partisans. On 30 April 1945, Hitler committed suicide. Shortly afterwards, Germany surrendered and the Nazi regime was systematically dismantled by the occupying Allied powers. An International Military Tribunal was subsequently convened in Nuremberg. Beginning in November 1945 and lasting through 1949, numerous Nazi political, military and economic leaders were tried and convicted of war crimes, with many of the worst offenders receiving the death penalty.

Post-World War II (1945–present)

Juan PerónPresident of Argentina from 1946 to 1955 and 1973 to 1974, admired Italian Fascism and modelled his economic policies on those pursued by Fascist Italy

The victory of the Allies over the Axis powers in World War II led to the collapse of many fascist regimes in Europe. The Nuremberg Trials convicted several Nazi leaders of crimes against humanity involving the Holocaust. However, there remained several movements and governments that were ideologically related to fascism.

Francisco Franco‘s Falangist one-party state in Spain was officially neutral during World War II and it survived the collapse of the Axis Powers. Franco’s rise to power had been directly assisted by the militaries of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany during the Spanish Civil War and Franco had sent volunteers to fight on the side of Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union during World War II. The first years were characterized by a repression against the anti-fascist ideologies, a deep censorship and the suppression of democratic institutions (elected Parliament, Constitution of 1931, Regional Statutes of Autonomy). After World War II and a period of international isolation, Franco’s regime normalized relations with the Western powers during the Cold War, until Franco’s death in 1975 and the transformation of Spain into a liberal democracy.

Giorgio Almirante, leader of the Italian Social Movement from 1969 to 1987

Historian Robert Paxton observes that one of the main problems in defining fascism is that it was widely mimicked. Paxton says: “In fascism’s heyday, in the 1930s, many regimes that were not functionally fascist borrowed elements of fascist decor in order to lend themselves an aura of force, vitality, and mass mobilization”. He goes on to observe that Salazar “crushed Portuguese fascism after he had copied some of its techniques of popular mobilization”. [181] Paxton says that: “Where Franco subjected Spain’s fascist party to his personal control, Salazar abolished outright in July 1934 the nearest thing Portugal had to an authentic fascist movement, Rolão Preto’s blue-shirted National Syndicalists […] Salazar preferred to control his population through such “organic” institutions traditionally powerful in Portugal as the Church. Salazar’s regime was not only non-fascist, but “voluntarily non-totalitarian,” preferring to let those of its citizens who kept out of politics “live by habit”.[182] Historians tend to view the Estado Novo as para-fascist in nature,[183]possessing minimal fascist tendencies.[184] In Argentina, Peronism, associated with the regime of Juan Perón from 1946 to 1955 and 1973 to 1974, was influenced by fascism.[185] Between 1939 and 1941, prior to his rise to power, Perón had developed a deep admiration of Italian Fascism and modelled his economic policies on Italian Fascist policies.[185]

The term neo-fascism refers to fascist movements after World War II. In Italy, the Italian Social Movement led by Giorgio Almirante was a major neo-fascist movement that transformed itself into a self-described “post-fascist” movement called the National Alliance (AN), which has been an ally of Silvio Berlusconi‘s Forza Italia for a decade. In 2008, AN joined Forza Italia in Berlusconi’s new party The People of Freedom, but in 2012 a group of politicians split from The People of Freedom, refounding the party with the name Brothers of Italy. In Germany, various neo-Nazi movements have been formed and banned in accordance with Germany’s constitutional law which forbids Nazism. The National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) is widely considered a neo-Nazi party, although the party does not publicly identify itself as such.

Golden Dawn demonstration in Greece in 2012

After the onset of the Great Recession and economic crisis in Greece, a movement known as the Golden Dawn, widely considered a neo-Nazi party, soared in support out of obscurity and won seats in Greece‘s parliament, espousing a staunch hostility towards minorities, illegal immigrants and refugees. In 2013, after the murder of an anti-fascist musician by a person with links to Golden Dawn, the Greek government ordered the arrest of Golden Dawn’s leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos and other Golden Dawn members on charges related to being associated with a criminal organization.

Tenets

Robert O. Paxton finds that the transformations undertaken by fascists in power were “profound enough to be called ‘revolutionary.'” They “often set fascists into conflict with conservatives rooted in families, churches, social rank, and property.” Paxton argues:

[F]ascism redrew the frontiers between private and public, sharply diminishing what had once been untouchably private. It changed the practice of citizenship from the enjoyment of constitutional rights and duties to participation in mass ceremonies of affirmation and conformity. It reconfigured relations between the individual and the collectivity, so that an individual had no rights outside community interest. It expanded the powers of the executive—party and state—in a bid for total control. Finally, it unleashed aggressive emotions hitherto known in Europe only during war or social revolution.[186]

Nationalism

Ultranationalism combined with the myth of national rebirth is a key foundation of fascism.[187] Dylan Riley argues that in Italy in the early 1920s:

Neither organized socialism nor the Italian liberals championed the democratic demands of the left nationalists. Fascism stepped into this vacuum, constituting itself as an antisocialist and antiliberal civil society movement. It was the failure of this counterhegemonic movement that would lead to the fascist seizure of power. Veterans’ organizations are the clearest manifestation of civic mobilization in postwar Italy.[188]

The fascist view of a nation is of a single organic entity that binds people together by their ancestry and is a natural unifying force of people.[189]Fascism seeks to solve economic, political and social problems by achieving a millenarian national rebirth, exalting the nation or race above all else and promoting cults of unity, strength and purity.[41][190][191][192][193] European fascist movements typically espouse a racist conception of non-Europeans being inferior to Europeans.[194] Beyond this, fascists in Europe have not held a unified set of racial views.[194] Historically, most fascists promoted imperialism, although there have been several fascist movements that were uninterested in the pursuit of new imperial ambitions.[194]

Totalitarianism

Fascism promotes the establishment of a totalitarian state.[195] It opposes liberal democracy, rejects multi-party systems and supports a one-party state. Mussolini’s The Doctrine of Fascism (1932) – partly ghostwritten by philosopher Giovanni Gentile,[196] who Mussolini described as “the philosopher of Fascism” – states: “The Fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State—a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values—interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people”.[197] In The Legal Basis of the Total State, Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt described the Nazi intention to form a “strong state which guarantees a totality of political unity transcending all diversity” in order to avoid a “disastrous pluralism tearing the German people apart”.[198]

Fascist states pursued policies of social indoctrination through propaganda in education and the media and regulation of the production of educational and media materials.[199][200] Education was designed to glorify the fascist movement and inform students of its historical and political importance to the nation. It attempted to purge ideas that were not consistent with the beliefs of the fascist movement and to teach students to be obedient to the state.[201]

Economy

Fascism presented itself as a third position,[when?] alternative to both international socialism and free market capitalism.[202] While fascism opposed mainstream socialism, it sometimes regarded itself as a type of nationalist “socialism” to highlight their commitment to national solidarity and unity.[203][204] Fascists opposed international free market capitalism, but supported a type of productive capitalism.[115][205] Economic self-sufficiency, known as autarky, was a major goal of most fascist governments.[206]

Fascist governments advocated resolution of domestic class conflict within a nation in order to secure national solidarity.[207] This would be done through the state mediating relations between the classes (contrary to the views of classical liberal-inspired capitalists).[208] While fascism was opposed to domestic class conflict, it was held that bourgeois-proletarian conflict existed primarily in national conflict between proletarian nations versus bourgeois nations.[209] Fascism condemned what it viewed as widespread character traits that it associated as the typical bourgeois mentality that it opposed, such as materialism, crassness, cowardice, inability to comprehend the heroic ideal of the fascist “warrior”; and associations with liberalism, individualism and parliamentarianism.[210] In 1918, Mussolini defined what he viewed as the proletarian character, defining proletarian as being one and the same with producers, a productivist perspective that associated all people deemed productive, including entrepreneurs, technicians, workers and soldiers as being proletarian.[211] He acknowledged the historical existence of both bourgeois and proletarian producers, but declared the need for bourgeois producers to merge with proletarian producers.[211]

While fascism denounced the mainstream internationalist and Marxist socialisms, it claimed to economically represent a type of nationalist productivist socialism that while condemning parasitical capitalism, it was willing to accommodate productivist capitalism within it.[205] This was derived from Henri de Saint Simon, whose ideas inspired the creation of utopian socialism and influenced other ideologies, that stressed solidarity rather than class war and whose conception of productive people in the economy included both productive workers and productive bosses to challenge the influence of the aristocracy and unproductive financial speculators.[212] Saint Simon’s vision combined the traditionalist right-wing criticisms of the French Revolution combined with a left-wing belief in the need for association or collaboration of productive people in society.[212] Whereas Marxism condemned capitalism as a system of exploitative property relations, fascism saw the nature of the control of credit and money in the contemporary capitalist system as abusive.[205] Unlike Marxism, fascism did not see class conflict between the Marxist-defined proletariat and the bourgeoisie as a given or as an engine of historical materialism.[205] Instead, it viewed workers and productive capitalists in common as productive people who were in conflict with parasitic elements in society including: corrupt political parties, corrupt financial capital and feeble people.[205] Fascist leaders such as Mussolini and Hitler spoke of the need to create a new managerial elite led by engineers and captains of industry—but free from the parasitic leadership of industries.[205] Hitler stated that the Nazi Party supported bodenständigen Kapitalismus(“productive capitalism”) that was based upon profit earned from one’s own labour, but condemned unproductive capitalism or loan capitalism, which derived profit from speculation.[213]

Fascist economics supported a state-controlled economy that accepted a mix of private and public ownership over the means of production.[214] Economic planning was applied to both the public and private sector and the prosperity of private enterprise depended on its acceptance of synchronizing itself with the economic goals of the state.[215] Fascist economic ideology supported the profit motive, but emphasized that industries must uphold the national interest as superior to private profit.[215]

While fascism accepted the importance of material wealth and power, it condemned materialism which identified as being present in both communism and capitalism and criticized materialism for lacking acknowledgement of the role of the spirit.[216] In particular, fascists criticized capitalism not because of its competitive nature nor support of private property, which fascists supported—but due to its materialism, individualism, alleged bourgeois decadence and alleged indifference to the nation.[217] Fascism denounced Marxism for its advocacy of materialist internationalist class identity, which fascists regarded as an attack upon the emotional and spiritual bonds of the nation and a threat to the achievement of genuine national solidarity.[218]

In discussing the spread of fascism beyond Italy, historian Philip Morgan states:

Since the Depression was a crisis of laissez-faire capitalism and its political counterpart, parliamentary democracy, fascism could pose as the ‘third-way’ alternative between capitalism and Bolshevism, the model of a new European ‘civilization’. As Mussolini typically put it in early 1934, “from 1929…fascism has become a universal phenomenon… The dominant forces of the 19th century, democracy, socialism, liberalism have been exhausted…the new political and economic forms of the twentieth-century are fascist'(Mussolini 1935: 32).[160]

Fascists criticized egalitarianism as preserving the weak, and they instead promoted social Darwinist views and policies.[219][220] They were in principle opposed to the idea of social welfare, arguing that it “encouraged the preservation of the degenerate and the feeble.”[221] The Nazi Party condemned the welfare system of the Weimar Republic, as well as private charity and philanthropy, for supporting people whom they regarded as racially inferior and weak, and who should have been weeded out in the process of natural selection.[222] Nevertheless, faced with the mass unemployment and poverty of the Great Depression, the Nazis found it necessary to set up charitable institutions to help racially-pure Germans in order to maintain popular support, while arguing that this represented “racial self-help” and not indiscriminate charity or universal social welfare.[223] Thus, Nazi programs such as the Winter Relief of the German People and the broader National Socialist People’s Welfare (NSV) were organized as quasi-private institutions, officially relying on private donations from Germans to help others of their race—although in practice those who refused to donate could face severe consequences.[224] Unlike the social welfare institutions of the Weimar Republic and the Christian charities, the NSV distributed assistance on explicitly racial grounds. It provided support only to those who were “racially sound, capable of and willing to work, politically reliable, and willing and able to reproduce.” Non-Aryans were excluded, as well as the “work-shy”, “asocials” and the “hereditarily ill.”[225] Under these conditions, by 1939, over 17 million Germans had obtained assistance from the NSV, and the agency “projected a powerful image of caring and support” for “those who were judged to have got into difficulties through no fault of their own.”[225] Yet the organization was “feared and disliked among society’s poorest” because it resorted to intrusive questioning and monitoring to judge who was worthy of support.[226]

Action

Fascism emphasizes direct action, including supporting the legitimacy of political violence, as a core part of its politics.[17][227] Fascism views violent action as a necessity in politics that fascism identifies as being an “endless struggle”.[228] This emphasis on the use of political violence means that most fascist parties have also created their own private militias (e.g. the Nazi Party’s Brown shirts and Fascist Italy’s Blackshirts).

The basis of fascism’s support of violent action in politics is connected to social Darwinism.[228] Fascist movements have commonly held social Darwinist views of nations, races and societies.[229] They say that nations and races must purge themselves of socially and biologically weak or degenerate people, while simultaneously promoting the creation of strong people, in order to survive in a world defined by perpetual national and racial conflict.[230]

Age and gender roles

Members of the Piccole Italiane, an organization for girls within the National Fascist Party in Italy

Members of the League of German Girls, an organization for girls within the Nazi Party in Germany

Fascism emphasizes youth both in a physical sense of age and in a spiritual sense as related to virility and commitment to action.[231] The Italian Fascists’ political anthem was called Giovinezza (“The Youth”).[231] Fascism identifies the physical age period of youth as a critical time for the moral development of people who will affect society.[232]

Walter Laqueur argues that:

The corollaries of the cult of war and physical danger were the cult of brutality, strength, and sexuality….[fascism is] a true counter-civilization: rejecting the sophisticated rationalist humanism of Old Europe, fascism sets up as its ideal the primitive instincts and primal emotions of the barbarian.[233]

Italian Fascism pursued what it called “moral hygiene” of youth, particularly regarding sexuality.[234] Fascist Italy promoted what it considered normal sexual behaviour in youth while denouncing what it considered deviant sexual behaviour.[234] It condemned pornography, most forms of birth control and contraceptive devices (with the exception of the condom), homosexuality and prostitution as deviant sexual behaviour, although enforcement of laws opposed to such practices was erratic and authorities often turned a blind eye.[234] Fascist Italy regarded the promotion of male sexual excitation before puberty as the cause of criminality amongst male youth, declared homosexuality a social disease and pursued an aggressive campaign to reduce prostitution of young women.[234]

Mussolini perceived women’s primary role as primarily child bearers and men, warriors—once saying: “War is to man what maternity is to the woman”.[235] In an effort to increase birthrates, the Italian Fascist government gave financial incentives to women who raised large families and initiated policies intended to reduce the number of women employed.[236] Italian Fascism called for women to be honoured as “reproducers of the nation” and the Italian Fascist government held ritual ceremonies to honour women’s role within the Italian nation.[237] In 1934, Mussolini declared that employment of women was a “major aspect of the thorny problem of unemployment” and that for women, working was “incompatible with childbearing”. Mussolini went on to say that the solution to unemployment for men was the “exodus of women from the work force”.[238]

The German Nazi government strongly encouraged women to stay at home to bear children and keep house.[239] This policy was reinforced by bestowing the Cross of Honor of the German Mother on women bearing four or more children. The unemployment rate was cut substantially, mostly through arms production and sending women home so that men could take their jobs. Nazi propaganda sometimes promoted premarital and extramarital sexual relations, unwed motherhood and divorce, but at other times the Nazis opposed such behaviour.[240]

The Nazis decriminalized abortion in cases where fetuses had hereditary defects or were of a race the government disapproved of, while the abortion of healthy pure German, Aryan fetuses remained strictly forbidden.[241] For non-Aryans, abortion was often compulsory. Their eugenics program also stemmed from the “progressive biomedical model” of Weimar Germany.[242] In 1935, Nazi Germany expanded the legality of abortion by amending its eugenics law, to promote abortion for women with hereditary disorders.[241] The law allowed abortion if a woman gave her permission and the fetus was not yet viable[243][244] and for purposes of so-called racial hygiene.[245][246]

The Nazis said that homosexuality was degenerate, effeminate, perverted and undermined masculinity because it did not produce children.[247] They considered homosexuality curable through therapy, citing modern scientism and the study of sexology, which said that homosexuality could be felt by “normal” people and not just an abnormal minority.[248] Open homosexuals were interned in Nazi concentration camps.[249]

Palingenesis and modernism

Fascism emphasizes both palingenesis (national rebirth or re-creation) and modernism.[250] In particular, fascism’s nationalism has been identified as having a palingenetic character.[187]Fascism promotes the regeneration of the nation and purging it of decadence.[250] Fascism accepts forms of modernism that it deems promotes national regeneration while rejecting forms of modernism that are regarded as antithetical to national regeneration.[251] Fascism aestheticized modern technology and its association with speed, power and violence.[252] Fascism admired advances in the economy in the early 20th century, particularly Fordism and scientific management.[253] Fascist modernism has been recognized as inspired or developed by various figures—such as Filippo Tommaso MarinettiErnst JüngerGottfried BennLouis-Ferdinand CélineKnut HamsunEzra Pound and Wyndham Lewis.[254]

In Italy, such modernist influence was exemplified by Marinetti who advocated a palingenetic modernist society that condemned liberal-bourgeois values of tradition and psychology, while promoting a technological-martial religion of national renewal that emphasized militant nationalism.[255] In Germany, it was exemplified by Jünger who was influenced by his observation of the technological warfare during World War I and claimed that a new social class had been created that he described as the “warrior-worker”.[256] Jünger like Marinetti emphasized the revolutionary capacities of technology and emphasized an “organic construction” between human and machine as a liberating and regenerative force in that challenged liberal democracy, conceptions of individual autonomy, bourgeois nihilism and decadence.[256] He conceived of a society based on a totalitarian concept of “total mobilization” of such disciplined warrior-workers.[256]

Criticism

Fascism has been widely criticized and condemned in modern times since the defeat of the Axis Powers in World War II.

Anti-democratic and tyrannical

Hitler and Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in Meeting at Hendaye, on 23 October 1940

One of the most common and strongest criticisms of fascism is that it is a tyranny.[257] Fascism is deliberately and entirely non-democratic and anti-democratic.[258][259][260]

Unprincipled opportunism

Some critics of Italian fascism have said that much of the ideology was merely a by-product of unprincipled opportunism by Mussolini and that he changed his political stances merely to bolster his personal ambitions while he disguised them as being purposeful to the public.[261] Richard Washburn Child, the American ambassador to Italy who worked with Mussolini and became his friend and admirer, defended Mussolini’s opportunistic behaviour by writing: “Opportunist is a term of reproach used to brand men who fit themselves to conditions for the reasons of self-interest. Mussolini, as I have learned to know him, is an opportunist in the sense that he believed that mankind itself must be fitted to changing conditions rather than to fixed theories, no matter how many hopes and prayers have been expended on theories and programmes”.[262] Child quoted Mussolini as saying: “The sanctity of an ism is not in the ism; it has no sanctity beyond its power to do, to work, to succeed in practice. It may have succeeded yesterday and fail to-morrow. Failed yesterday and succeed to-morrow. The machine first of all must run!”.[262]

Some have criticized Mussolini’s actions during the outbreak of World War I as opportunist for seeming to suddenly abandon Marxist egalitarianinternationalism for non-egalitarian nationalism and note to that effect that upon Mussolini endorsing Italy’s intervention in the war against Germany and Austria-Hungary, he and the new fascist movement received financial support from foreign sources, such as Ansaldo (an armaments firm) and other companies[263] as well as the British Security Service MI5.[264] Some, including Mussolini’s socialist opponents at the time, have noted that regardless of the financial support he accepted for his pro-interventionist stance, Mussolini was free to write whatever he wished in his newspaper Il Popolo d’Italia without prior sanctioning from his financial backers.[265] Furthermore, the major source of financial support that Mussolini and the fascist movement received in World War I was from France and is widely believed to have been French socialists who supported the French government’s war against Germany and who sent support to Italian socialists who wanted Italian intervention on France’s side.[266]

Mussolini’s transformation away from Marxism into what eventually became fascism began prior to World War I, as Mussolini had grown increasingly pessimistic about Marxism and egalitarianism while becoming increasingly supportive of figures who opposed egalitarianism, such as Friedrich Nietzsche.[267] By 1902, Mussolini was studying Georges Sorel, Nietzsche and Vilfredo Pareto.[268] Sorel’s emphasis on the need for overthrowing decadent liberal democracy and capitalism by the use of violence, direct actiongeneral strikes and neo-Machiavellianappeals to emotion impressed Mussolini deeply.[269] Mussolini’s use of Nietzsche made him a highly unorthodox socialist, due to Nietzsche’s promotion of elitism and anti-egalitarian views.[267]Prior to World War I, Mussolini’s writings over time indicated that he had abandoned the Marxism and egalitarianism that he had previously supported in favour of Nietzsche’s übermenschconcept and anti-egalitarianism.[267] In 1908, Mussolini wrote a short essay called “Philosophy of Strength” based on his Nietzschean influence, in which Mussolini openly spoke fondly of the ramifications of an impending war in Europe in challenging both religion and nihilism: “[A] new kind of free spirit will come, strengthened by the war, … a spirit equipped with a kind of sublime perversity, … a new free spirit will triumph over God and over Nothing”.[106]

Ideological dishonesty

Fascism has been criticized for being ideologically dishonest. Major examples of ideological dishonesty have been identified in Italian fascism’s changing relationship with German Nazism.[270][271] Fascist Italy’s official foreign policy positions were known to commonly utilize rhetorical ideological hyperbole to justify its actions, although during Dino Grandi‘s tenure as Italy’s foreign minister the country engaged in realpolitik free of such fascist hyperbole.[272] Italian fascism’s stance towards German Nazism fluctuated from support from the late 1920s to 1934, when it celebrated Hitler’s rise to power and meeting with Hitler in 1934; to opposition from 1934 to 1936 after the assassination of Italy’s allied leader in AustriaEngelbert Dollfuss, by Austrian Nazis; and again back to support after 1936, when Germany was the only significant power that did not denounce Italy’s invasion and occupation of Ethiopia.

After antagonism exploded between Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy over the assassination of Austrian Chancellor Dollfuss in 1934, Mussolini and Italian fascists denounced and ridiculed Nazism’s racial theories, particularly by denouncing its Nordicism, while promoting Mediterraneanism.[271] Mussolini himself responded to Nordicists’ claims of Italy being divided into Nordic and Mediterranean racial areas due to Germanic invasions of Northern Italy by claiming that while Germanic tribes such as the Lombards took control of Italy after the fall of Ancient Rome, they arrived in small numbers (about 8,000) and quickly assimilated into Roman culture and spoke the Latin language within fifty years.[273] Italian fascism was influenced by the tradition of Italian nationalists scornfully looking down upon Nordicists’ claims and taking pride in comparing the age and sophistication of ancient Roman civilization as well as the classical revival in the Renaissance to that of Nordic societies that Italian nationalists described as “newcomers” to civilization in comparison.[270] At the height of antagonism between the Nazis and Italian fascists over race, Mussolini claimed that the Germans themselves were not a pure race and noted with irony that the Nazi theory of German racial superiority was based on the theories of non-German foreigners, such as Frenchman Arthur de Gobineau.[274] After the tension in German-Italian relations diminished during the late 1930s, Italian fascism sought to harmonize its ideology with German Nazism and combined Nordicist and Mediterranean racial theories, noting that Italians were members of the Aryan Race, composed of a mixed Nordic-Mediterranean subtype.[271]

In 1938, Mussolini declared upon Italy’s adoption of antisemitic laws that Italian fascism had always been antisemitic,[271] In fact, Italian fascism did not endorse antisemitism until the late 1930s when Mussolini feared alienating antisemitic Nazi Germany, whose power and influence were growing in Europe. Prior to that period there had been notable Jewish Italians who had been senior Italian fascist officials, including Margherita Sarfatti, who had also been Mussolini’s mistress.[271] Also contrary to Mussolini’s claim in 1938, only a small number of Italian fascists were staunchly antisemitic (such as Roberto Farinacci and Giuseppe Preziosi), while others such as Italo Balbo, who came from Ferrara which had one of Italy’s largest Jewish communities, were disgusted by the antisemitic laws and opposed them.[271] Fascism scholar Mark Neocleous notes that while Italian fascism did not have a clear commitment to antisemitism, there were occasional antisemitic statements issued prior to 1938, such as Mussolini in 1919 declaring that the Jewish bankers in London and New York were connected by race to the Russian Bolsheviks and that eight percent of the Russian Bolsheviks were Jews.[275]

See also

References …

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

 

 

 

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Voltaire’s Revolution

Voltaire, the pen name of François-Marie Arouet (1694-1778), was one of the most influential leaders of the French Enlightenment. His defense of individual freedom of conscience and his criticisms of religious fanaticism and oppressive orthodoxy had a telling effect on Western history, inspiring several leading founders of America’s new laws.

This is the first English translation of many of his key texts from his famous pamphlet war for tolerance, written from 1750 to 1768, originally published under pseudonyms to avoid imprisonment and to educate the average citizen. Included are “The Sermon of Rabbi Akib” (a searing attack on anti-Semitism),  “Prayer to God” (from the famous Treatise on Tolerance), the hugely popular “Catechism of the Honest Man,” “The Dinner at Count Boulainvillier’s,” and other witty, sometimes acerbic pieces that point out the errors in the Bible, the corruption of the clergy, and the religiously-inspired persecutions, both of his day and across the ages. Many of these pamphlets were burned in a losing battle by the authorities.

With a lengthy introduction and copious notes by the editor and translator, plus an appendix including first-hand accounts of the battle by noted mathematician and French revolutionary Condorcet, Frederick the Great, Irish writer Oliver Goldsmith, and others, this excellent compilation will be a welcome addition to the libraries of anyone with an interest in human rights and freedom of thought.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/voltaires-revolution/fgqpf3h0d0nr?activetab=pivot%3aoverviewtab

 

G.K. Noyer

GOODREADS AUTHOR

 

Born  suburb of Detroit, The United States

 

Influences Voltaire, Norman Torrey, René Pomeau, Theodore Besterman, Haydn Mason, …more

 

Member Since December 2010

A writer from Michigan, where she wrote for a PBS affiliate and radio, GK Noyer lives in France (not because of Voltaire, but it helped the research). Predominantly a TV scriptwriter and translator for years, this is her first book, and the 20+ years of research it reflects was first undertaken in view of writing a screenplay on Voltaire. A few years back, the discovery of the near disappearance of the Enlightenment from our schoolbooks along with the increasing polarization over religion then suggested that this book might be a better place to start. Here are a couple of reviews that offer more details: http://www.openlettersmonthly.com/boo…
and http://www.factsandarts.com/essays/g-…More links and info are available on the GK Noyer Fac…more

Voltaire Biography

voltaireVoltaire (21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778) was a French writer, essayist, and philosopher – he was known for his wit, satire, and defence of civil liberties. He sought to defend freedom of religious and political thought and played a major role in the Enlightenment period of the eighteenth century.

“Love truth, but pardon error.”

– Voltaire

Voltaire was a prolific writer, producing more than 20,000 letters and over 2,000 books and pamphlets. Despite strict censorship laws, he frequently risked large penalties by breaking them and questioning the establishment.

Short Biography of Voltaire

voltaire

Voltaire was born François-Marie Arouet, in Paris. He was educated by Jesuits at the Collège Louis-le-Grand (1704–1711), becoming fluent in Greek, Latin and the major European languages.

His father tried to encourage Voltaire to become a lawyer, but Voltaire was more interested in becoming a writer. Instead of studying to be a lawyer, he began writing poetry and mild criticisms of the church and state. His humorous, satirical writing made him popular with sections of Paris society, though they also started attracting the attention of the censors.

In 1726, he was exiled to England after being involved in a scuffle with a French nobleman. The nobleman used his wealth to have him arrested, and this would cause Voltaire to try and reform the French judicial system. After this first imprisonment in the Bastilles, he changed his name to Voltaire – signifying his departure from his past. He also used numerous other pen names throughout the course of his life, in a bid to escape censorship.

Voltaire spent three years in England, where he was influenced by British writers, such as William Shakespeare and also the different political system, which saw a constitutional monarchy rather than an absolute monarchy as in France. He also learnt from great scientists, such as Sir Isaac Newton. Voltaire was particularly impressed by the Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, such as Adam Smith and David Hume, saying once:

“We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation”

Although he had much in common with fellow French Enlightenment philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, the pair often disagreed and had a prickly relationship. However, after Rousseau wrote Emile / Vicaire Savoyard, Voltaire offered Rousseau a safe haven because he appreciated Rousseau’s attack on religious hypocrisy. Rousseau regretted not replying to Voltaire’s offer.

On returning to France, he wrote letters praising the British system of government and their greater respect for freedom of speech. This enraged the French establishment, and again he was forced to flee Paris.

Seeking a safe place, Voltaire began a collaboration with Marquise du Chatelet. During this time, Voltaire wrote on Newton’s scientific theories and helped to make Newton’s ideas accessible to a much wider section of European society. He also began attacking the church’s relationship with the state. Voltaire argued for the separation of religion and state and also allowing freedom of belief and religious tolerance. Voltaire had a mixed opinion of the Bible and was willing to criticise it. Though not professing a religion, he believed in God, as a matter of reason.

“What is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason.” On Catholicism

In a letter to Frederick II, King of Prussia, (5 January 1767) he once wrote:

“Ours [religion] is without a doubt the most ridiculous, the most absurd, and the most blood-thirsty ever to infect the world.”

In 1744, Voltaire returned to Paris, where he began a relationship with his niece, Marie Louise Mignot. They remained together until his death.

For a brief time, he was invited by Frederick the Great, to Potsdam. Here, Voltaire wrote more articles of a scientific nature, but later incurred the displeasure of the king as he started satirising the abuses of power within the state.

In 1759, he wrote his best-known work – Candide, ou l’Optimisme (Candide, or Optimism) This was a satire on the philosophy of Leibniz. After a brief stay in Geneva, he settled for 20 years in Ferny on the French border.

In his later life, Voltaire continued to write and also to support persecuted religious minorities. He was visited by some of the leading European intellectuals of the day – such as James Boswell and Adam Smith.

In 1778, he died after shortly returning to Paris. Some of his enemies claimed he made a deathbed conversion to Catholicism, but this is disputed.

In February of that year, fearing he would die, he wrote:

“I die adoring God, loving my friends, not hating my enemies, and detesting superstition.”

Voltaire was secretly buried before a pronouncement could be made public.

Three years after his death, on 11 July 1791, he was brought back to Paris to be enshrined in the Pantheon. It is said up to a million people came to see Voltaire – now considered a French hero and fore-runner of the French revolution.

Influence of Voltaire

  • Voltaire revolutionised the art of history. He sought to avoid bias and included discussion of social and economic issues, moving away from dry military accounts.
  • Voltaire argued for an extension of education, hoping greater literacy would free society from ignorance.
  • Voltaire wrote poems and plays, including two epics. Voltaire politicised writing by showing that even poetry and romance could be laced with satire and political polemic. Often it was indirect criticism that was most effective.
  • Voltaire was a passionate and persistent critic of those in power who misused their position. By attacking the abuses of the absolute monarchy and church, he paved the way for a less deferential attitude which was a significant underlying cause of the French revolution.
  • At a time of religious persecution, Voltaire illustrated how religious dogmas were created by human ignorance and led to needless bloodshed and suffering.
  • Voltaire was a key figure of the enlightenment which sought to use a range of scientific and literary books to explain the underlying nature of life. Voltaire believed no one book or dogma could explain everything. But, true understanding required the use of reason and an open mind.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Biography of Voltaire”, Oxford, www.biographyonline.net – 3 February 2013. Last updated 7 February 2018.

Voltaire Quotes

“It does not require great art, or magnificently trained eloquence, to prove that Christians should tolerate each other. I, however, am going further: I say that we should regard all men as our brothers. What? The Turk my brother? The Chinaman my brother? The Jew? The Siam? Yes, without doubt; are we not all children of the same father and creatures of the same God?”

– Voltaire A Treatise on Toleration (1763)

https://www.biographyonline.net/writers/voltaire.html

Voltaire’s Revolution 2mn

LITERATURE – Voltaire

Voltaire on Religion (Philosophical Dictionary / French Enlightenment)

Who was Voltaire? A history of Voltaire

Will Durant—The Philosophy of Voltaire

What Was the Enlightenment? AP Euro Bit by Bit #25

Jordan Peterson – Reconciling Science and Religion

Jordan Peterson (June 01, 2018) – Enlightenment now Steven Pinker

“One of the impediments to enlightenment is attachment” Jordan Peterson

“The worst snake of all is malevolence” Jordan Peterson on the snake within

 

PRAISE

“An essential book for Anglophones studying Voltaire, philosophy, and the separation of religion from government.”

Portland Book Review

“I count myself as a Voltaire enthusiast but had never bothered to unearth some of these gems… No other book offers such a lively collection of Voltairian prose in so few pages.”

Facts & Arts

“It would be nice to think Voltaire’s Revolution will add to the ranks of the admirers. If this much wit and brilliance (all very adroitly translated) can’t manage that, probably nothing can.”

Open Letters Monthly

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/249737/voltaires-revolution-by-gk-noyer/9781633880382/

Voltaire

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Voltaire
Portrait by Nicolas de Largillière, c. 1724

Portrait by Nicolas de Largillière, c. 1724
Born François-Marie Arouet
21 November 1694
ParisKingdom of France
Died 30 May 1778 (aged 83)
Paris, Kingdom of France
Resting place Panthéon, Paris, France
Occupation Writer, philosopher
Language French
Nationality French
Alma mater Collège Louis-le-Grand
Partner Émilie du Châtelet (1733–1749)

Philosophy career

Era Age of Enlightenment
Region Western philosophy
French philosophy
School Lumières
Philosophes
Deism
Classical liberalism
Main interests
Political philosophyliteraturehistoriographybiblical criticism
Notable ideas
Philosophy of history,[1] freedom of religionfreedom of speechseparation of church and state

François-Marie Arouet (French: [fʁɑ̃swa maʁi aʁwɛ]; 21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778), known by his nom de plume Voltaire (/vɒlˈtɛər/;[2]French: [vɔltɛːʁ]), was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit, his criticism of Christianity, especially the Roman Catholic Church, and his advocacy of freedom of religionfreedom of speech, and separation of church and state.

Voltaire was a versatile and prolific writer, producing works in almost every literary form, including plays, poems, novels, essays and historical and scientific works. He wrote more than 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets.[3] He was an outspoken advocate of civil liberties, despite the risk this placed him in under the strict censorship laws of the time. As a satirical polemicist, he frequently made use of his works to criticize intolerance, religious dogma and the French institutions of his day.

Biography

François-Marie Arouet was born in Paris, the youngest of the five children of François Arouet (19 August 1649 – 1 January 1722), a lawyer who was a minor treasury official, and his wife, Marie Marguerite Daumard (c. 1660 – 13 July 1701), whose family was on the lowest rank of the French nobility.[4] Some speculation surrounds Voltaire’s date of birth, because he claimed he was born on 20 February 1694 as the illegitimate son of a nobleman, Guérin de Rochebrune or Roquebrune.[5] Two of his older brothers—Armand-François and Robert—died in infancy, and his surviving brother Armand and sister Marguerite-Catherine were nine and seven years older, respectively.[6] Nicknamed “Zozo” by his family, Voltaire was baptized on 22 November 1694, with François de Castagnère, abbé de Châteauneuf [fr], and Marie Daumard, the wife of his mother’s cousin, standing as godparents.[7] He was educated by the Jesuits at the Collège Louis-le-Grand(1704–1711), where he was taught Latin, theology, and rhetoric;[8] later in life he became fluent in Italian, Spanish, and English.[9]

By the time he left school, Voltaire had decided he wanted to be a writer, against the wishes of his father, who wanted him to become a lawyer.[10] Voltaire, pretending to work in Paris as an assistant to a notary, spent much of his time writing poetry. When his father found out, he sent Voltaire to study law, this time in CaenNormandy. But the young man continued to write, producing essays and historical studies. Voltaire’s wit made him popular among some of the aristocratic families with whom he mixed. In 1713, his father obtained a job for him as a secretary to the new French ambassador in the Netherlands, the marquis de Châteauneuf [fr], the brother of Voltaire’s godfather.[11] At The Hague, Voltaire fell in love with a French Protestant refugee named Catherine Olympe Dunoyer (known as ‘Pimpette’).[11] Their affair, considered scandalous, was discovered by de Châteauneuf and Voltaire was forced to return to France by the end of the year.[12]

Voltaire was imprisoned in the Bastille from 16 May 1717 to 15 April 1718 in a windowless cell with ten-foot-thick walls.[13]

Most of Voltaire’s early life revolved around Paris. From early on, Voltaire had trouble with the authorities for critiques of the government. As a result, he was twice sentenced to prison and once to temporary exile to England. One satirical verse, in which Voltaire accused the Régent of incest with his daughter, resulted in an eleven-month imprisonment in the Bastille.[14] The Comédie-Française had agreed in January 1717 to stage his debut play, Œdipe, and it opened in mid-November 1718, seven months after his release.[15] Its immediate critical and financial success established his reputation.[16] Both the Régent and King George I of Great Britain presented Voltaire with medals as a mark of their appreciation.[17]

He mainly argued for religious tolerance and freedom of thought. He campaigned to eradicate priestly and aristo-monarchical authority, and supported a constitutional monarchy that protects people’s rights.[18][19]

Name

The author adopted the name Voltaire in 1718, following his incarceration at the Bastille. Its origin is unclear. It is an anagram of AROVET LI, the Latinized spelling of his surname, Arouet, and the initial letters of le jeune (“the young”).[20] According to a family tradition among the descendants of his sister, he was known as le petit volontaire (“determined little thing”) as a child, and he resurrected a variant of the name in his adult life.[21] The name also reverses the syllables of Airvault, his family’s home town in the Poitou region.[22]

Richard Holmes[23] supports the anagrammatic derivation of the name, but adds that a writer such as Voltaire would have intended it to also convey connotations of speed and daring. These come from associations with words such as voltige (acrobatics on a trapeze or horse), volte-face (a spinning about to face one’s enemies), and volatile (originally, any winged creature). “Arouet” was not a noble name fit for his growing reputation, especially given that name’s resonance with à rouer (“to be beaten up”) and roué (a débauché).

In a letter to Jean-Baptiste Rousseau in March 1719, Voltaire concludes by asking that, if Rousseau wishes to send him a return letter, he do so by addressing it to Monsieur de Voltaire. A postscript explains: “J’ai été si malheureux sous le nom d’Arouet que j’en ai pris un autre surtout pour n’être plus confondu avec le poète Roi“, (“I was so unhappy under the name of Arouet that I have taken another, primarily so as to cease to be confused with the poet Roi.”)[24] This probably refers to Adenes le Roi, and the ‘oi’ diphthong was then pronounced like modern ‘ouai’, so the similarity to ‘Arouet’ is clear, and thus, it could well have been part of his rationale. Voltaire is known also to have used at least 178 separate pen names during his lifetime.[25]

Early fiction

Voltaire’s next play, Artémire, set in ancient Macedonia, opened on 15 February 1720. It was a flop and only fragments of the text survive.[26] He instead turned to an epic poem about Henry IV of France that he had begun in early 1717.[27] Denied a licence to publish, in August 1722 Voltaire headed north to find a publisher outside France. On the journey, he was accompanied by his mistress, Marie-Marguerite de Rupelmonde, a young widow.[28]

At Brussels, Voltaire and Rousseau met up for a few days, before Voltaire and his mistress continued northwards. A publisher was eventually secured in The Hague.[29] In the Netherlands, Voltaire was struck and impressed by the openness and tolerance of Dutch society.[30] On his return to France, he secured a second publisher in Rouen, who agreed to publish La Henriadeclandestinely.[31] After Voltaire’s recovery from a month-long smallpox infection in November 1723, the first copies were smuggled into Paris and distributed.[32] While the poem was an instant success, Voltaire’s new play, Mariamne, was a failure when it first opened in March 1724.[33] Heavily reworked, it opened at the Comédie-Française in April 1725 to a much-improved reception.[33] It was among the entertainments provided at the wedding of Louis XV and Marie Leszczyńska in September 1725.[33]

Great Britain

In early 1726, a young French nobleman, the chevalier de Rohan-Chabot, taunted Voltaire about his change of name, and Voltaire retorted that his name would be honored while de Rohan would dishonor his.[34] Infuriated, de Rohan arranged for Voltaire to be beaten up by thugs a few days later.[35] Seeking compensation, redress, or revenge, Voltaire challenged de Rohan to a duel, but the aristocratic de Rohan family arranged for Voltaire to be arrested and imprisoned in the Bastille on 17 April 1726 without a trial or an opportunity to defend himself.[36][37] Fearing an indefinite prison sentence, Voltaire suggested that he be exiled to England as an alternative punishment, which the French authorities accepted.[38] On 2 May, he was escorted from the Bastille to Calais, where he was to embark for Britain.[39]

Elémens de la philosophie de Neuton, 1738

In England, Voltaire lived largely in Wandsworth, with acquaintances including Everard Fawkener.[40] From December 1727 to June 1728 he lodged at Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, now commemorated by a plaque, to be nearer to his British publisher.[41] Voltaire circulated throughout English high society, meeting Alexander PopeJohn GayJonathan SwiftLady Mary Wortley MontaguSarah, Duchess of Marlborough, and many other members of the nobility and royalty.[42] Voltaire’s exile in Great Britain greatly influenced his thinking. He was intrigued by Britain’s constitutional monarchy in contrast to French absolutism, and by the country’s greater support of the freedoms of speech and religion.[43] He was influenced by the writers of the age, and developed an interest in earlier English literature, especially the works of Shakespeare, still relatively unknown in continental Europe.[44] Despite pointing out his deviations from neoclassical standards, Voltaire saw Shakespeare as an example that French writers might emulate, since French drama, despite being more polished, lacked on-stage action. Later, however, as Shakespeare’s influence began growing in France, Voltaire tried to set a contrary example with his own plays, decrying what he considered Shakespeare’s barbarities. Voltaire may have been present at the funeral of Isaac Newton,[a]and met Newton’s niece, Catherine Conduitt.[41] In 1727, he published two essays in English, Upon the Civil Wars of France, Extracted from Curious Manuscripts and Upon Epic Poetry of the European Nations, from Homer Down to Milton.[41]

After two and a half years in exile, Voltaire returned to France, and after a few months living in Dieppe, the authorities permitted him to return to Paris.[45]At a dinner, French mathematician Charles Marie de La Condamine proposed buying up the lottery that was organized by the French government to pay off its debts, and Voltaire joined the consortium, earning perhaps a million livres.[46] He invested the money cleverly and on this basis managed to convince the Court of Finances that he was of good conduct and so was able to take control of a capital inheritance from his father that had hitherto been tied up in trust. He was now indisputably rich.[47][48]

Further success followed, in 1732, with his play Zaïre, which when published in 1733 carried a dedication to Fawkener that praised English liberty and commerce.[49] At this time he published his views on British attitudes toward government, literature, religion and science in a collection of essays in letter form entitled Letters Concerning the English Nation (London, 1733).[50] In 1734, they were published in French as Lettres philosophiques in Rouen.[51][b] Because the publisher released the book without the approval of the royal censor and Voltaire regarded the British constitutional monarchy as more developed and more respectful of human rights (particularly religious tolerance) than its French counterpart, the French publication of Letters caused a huge scandal; the book was publicly burnt and banned, and Voltaire was forced again to flee Paris.[18]

Château de Cirey

In the frontispiece to Voltaire’s book on Newton’s philosophy, Émilie du Châteletappears as Voltaire’s muse, reflecting Newton’s heavenly insights down to Voltaire.[52]

In 1733, Voltaire met Émilie du Châtelet, a mathematician and married mother of three who was 12 years his junior and with whom he was to have an affair for 16 years.[53] To avoid arrest after the publication of Letters, Voltaire took refuge at her husband’s château at Cirey-sur-Blaise, on the borders of Champagne and Lorraine.[54] Voltaire paid for the building’s renovation,[55] and Émilie’s husband, the Marquis du Châtelet, sometimes stayed at the château with his wife and her lover.[56] The relationship had a significant intellectual element. Voltaire and the Marquise du Châtelet collected around 21,000 books, an enormous number for the time.[57] Together, they studied these books and performed experiments in the natural sciences at Cirey, which included an attempt to determine the nature of fire.[58]

Having learned from his previous brushes with the authorities, Voltaire began his habit of keeping out of personal harm’s way and denying any awkward responsibility.[59] He continued to write plays, such as Mérope (or La Mérope française) and began his long research into science and history. Again, a main source of inspiration for Voltaire were the years of his British exile, during which he had been strongly influenced by the works of Sir Isaac Newton. Voltaire strongly believed in Newton’s theories; he performed experiments in optics at Cirey,[60] and was one of the sources for the famous story of Newton and the apple falling from the tree, which he had learned from Newton’s niece in London and first mentioned in his Letters.[41]

Pastel by Maurice Quentin de La Tour, 1735

In the fall of 1735, Voltaire was visited by Francesco Algarotti, who was preparing a book about Newton in Italian.[61] Partly inspired by the visit, the Marquise translated Newton’s Latin Principia into French in full, and it remained the definitive French translation into the 21st century.[18] Both she and Voltaire were also curious about the philosophies of Gottfried Leibniz, a contemporary and rival of Newton. While Voltaire remained a firm Newtonian, the Marquise adopted certain aspects of Leibniz’s arguments against Newton.[18][62] Voltaire’s own book Elements of Newton’s Philosophy made Newton accessible and understandable to a far greater public, and the Marquise wrote a celebratory review in the Journal des savants.[18][63] Voltaire’s work was instrumental in bringing about general acceptance of Newton’s optical and gravitational theories in France.[18][64]

Voltaire and the Marquise also studied history, particularly those persons who had contributed to civilization. Voltaire’s second essay in English had been “Essay upon the Civil Wars in France”. It was followed by La Henriade, an epic poem on the French King Henri IV, glorifying his attempt to end the Catholic-Protestant massacres with the Edict of Nantes, and by a historical novel on King Charles XII of Sweden. These, along with his Letters on the English mark the beginning of Voltaire’s open criticism of intolerance and established religions.[citation needed] Voltaire and the Marquise also explored philosophy, particularly metaphysics, the branch of philosophy that deals with being and with what lies beyond the material realm, such as whether or not there is a God and whether people have souls. Voltaire and the Marquise analyzed the Bible and concluded that much of its content was dubious.[65] Voltaire’s critical views on religion are reflected in his belief in separation of church and state and religious freedom, ideas that he had formed after his stay in England.

In August 1736, Frederick the Great, then Crown Prince of Prussia and a great admirer of Voltaire, initiated a correspondence with him.[66] That December, Voltaire moved to Holland for two months and became acquainted with the scientists Herman Boerhaave and ‘s Gravesande.[67] From mid-1739 to mid-1740 Voltaire lived largely in Brussels, at first with the Marquise, who was unsuccessfully attempting to pursue a 60-year-old family legal case regarding the ownership of two estates in Limburg.[68] In July 1740, he traveled to the Hague on behalf of Frederick in an attempt to dissuade a dubious publisher, van Duren, from printing without permission Frederick’s Anti-Machiavel.[69] In September Voltaire and Frederick (now King) met for the first time in Moyland Castlenear Cleves and in November Voltaire was Frederick’s guest in Berlin for two weeks;[70] in September 1742 they met in Aix-la-Chapelle.[71] Voltaire was sent to Frederick’s court in 1743 by the French government as an envoy and spy to gauge Frederick’s military intentions in the War of the Austrian Succession.[72]

Though deeply committed to the Marquise, Voltaire by 1744 found life at the château confining. On a visit to Paris that year, he found a new love—his niece. At first, his attraction to Marie Louise Mignot was clearly sexual, as evidenced by his letters to her (only discovered in 1957).[73][74] Much later, they lived together, perhaps platonically, and remained together until Voltaire’s death. Meanwhile, the Marquise also took a lover, the Marquis de Saint-Lambert.[75]

Prussia

Die Tafelrunde by Adolph von Menzel: guests of Frederick the Great at Sanssouci, including members of the Prussian Academy of Sciences and Voltaire (third from left)

After the death of the Marquise in childbirth in September 1749, Voltaire briefly returned to Paris and in mid-1750 moved to Prussia at the invitation of Frederick the Great.[76] The Prussian king (with the permission of Louis XV) made him a chamberlain in his household, appointed him to the Order of Merit, and gave him a salary of 20,000 French livres a year.[77] He had rooms at Sanssouci and Charlottenburg Palace.[78] Life went well for Voltaire at first,[79] and in 1751 he completed Micromégas, a piece of science fiction involving ambassadors from another planet witnessing the follies of humankind.[80] However, his relationship with Frederick the Great began to deteriorate after he was accused of theft and forgery by a Jewish financier, Abraham Hirschel, who had invested in Saxon government bonds on behalf of Voltaire at a time when Frederick was involved in sensitive diplomatic negotiations with Saxony.[81]

He encountered other difficulties: an argument with Maupertuis, the president of the Berlin Academy of Science and a former rival for Émilie’s affections, provoked Voltaire’s Diatribe du docteur Akakia (“Diatribe of Doctor Akakia”), which satirized some of Maupertuis’s theories and his abuse of power in his persecutions of a mutual acquaintance, Johann Samuel König. This greatly angered Frederick, who ordered all copies of the document burned.[82] On 1 January 1752, Voltaire offered to resign as chamberlain and return his insignia of the Order of Merit; at first, Frederick refused until eventually permitting Voltaire to leave in March.[83] On a slow journey back to France, Voltaire stayed at Leipzig and Gotha for a month each, and Kassel for two weeks, arriving at Frankfurt on 31 May. The following morning, he was detained at the inn where he was staying by Frederick’s agents, who held him in the city for over three weeks while they, Voltaire and Frederick argued by letter over the return of a satirical book of poetry Frederick had lent to Voltaire. Marie Louise joined him on 9 June. She and her uncle only left Frankfurt in July after she had defended herself from the unwanted advances of one of Frederick’s agents and Voltaire’s luggage had been ransacked and valuable items taken.[84]

Voltaire’s attempts to vilify Frederick for his agents’ actions at Frankfurt were largely unsuccessful. Voltaire responded by composing Mémoires pour Servir à la Vie de M. de Voltaire, a work published after his death that paints a largely negative picture of his time spent with Frederick. However, the correspondence between them continued, and though they never met in person again, after the Seven Years’ War they largely reconciled.[85]

Geneva and Ferney

Voltaire’s château at Ferney, France

Voltaire’s slow progress toward Paris continued through MainzMannheimStrasbourg, and Colmar,[86] but in January 1754 Louis XV banned him from Paris,[87] so instead he turned for Geneva, near which he bought a large estate (Les Délices) in early 1755.[88] Though he was received openly at first, the law in Geneva, which banned theatrical performances, and the publication of The Maid of Orleans against his will soured his relationship with Calvinist Genevans.[89] In late 1758, he bought an even larger estate at Ferney, on the French side of the Franco-Swiss border.[90]

Early in 1759, Voltaire completed and published Candide, ou l’Optimisme (Candide, or Optimism). This satire on Leibniz‘s philosophy of optimistic determinism remains the work for which Voltaire is perhaps best known. He would stay in Ferney for most of the remaining 20 years of his life, frequently entertaining distinguished guests, such as James BoswellAdam SmithGiacomo Casanova, and Edward Gibbon.[c] In 1764, he published one of his best-known philosophical works, the Dictionnaire philosophique, a series of articles mainly on Christian history and dogmas, a few of which were originally written in Berlin.[37]

From 1762, he began to champion unjustly persecuted people, the case of Huguenot merchant Jean Calas being the most celebrated.[37] Calas had been tortured to death in 1763, supposedly because he had murdered his eldest son for wanting to convert to Catholicism. His possessions were confiscated and his two daughters were taken from his widow and were forced into Catholic convents. Voltaire, seeing this as a clear case of religious persecution, managed to overturn the conviction in 1765.[91]

Voltaire was initiated into Freemasonry a little over a month before his death. On 4 April 1778, Voltaire attended la Loge des Neuf Sœurs in Paris, and became an Entered ApprenticeFreemason. According to some sources, “Benjamin Franklin … urged Voltaire to become a freemason; and Voltaire agreed, perhaps only to please Franklin.”[92][93][94] However, Benjamin Franklin was merely a visitor at the time Voltaire was initiated, the two only met a month before Voltaire’s death, and their interactions with each other were brief.[95]

House in Paris where Voltaire died

Death and burial

Jean-Antoine Houdon, Voltaire, 1778, National Gallery of Art

In February 1778, Voltaire returned for the first time in over 25 years to Paris, among other reasons to see the opening of his latest tragedy, Irene.[96] The five-day journey was too much for the 83-year-old, and he believed he was about to die on 28 February, writing “I die adoring God, loving my friends, not hating my enemies, and detesting superstition.” However, he recovered, and in March he saw a performance of Irene, where he was treated by the audience as a returning hero.[37]

He soon became ill again and died on 30 May 1778. The accounts of his deathbed have been numerous and varying, and it has not been possible to establish the details of what precisely occurred. His enemies related that he repented and accepted the last rites given by a Catholic priest, or that he died under great torment, while his adherents told how he was defiant to his last breath.[97] According to one story of his last words, his response to a priest at his deathbed urging him to renounce Satan was “Now is not the time for making new enemies.”[98] However, this appears to have originated from a joke first published in a Massachusetts newspaper in 1856, and was only attributed to Voltaire in the 1970s.[99]

Because of his well-known criticism of the Church, which he had refused to retract before his death, Voltaire was denied a Christian burial in Paris,[100]but friends and relations managed to bury his body secretly at the Abbey of Scellières in Champagne, where Marie Louise’s brother was abbé.[101] His heart and brain were embalmed separately.[102]

Voltaire’s tomb in the Paris Panthéon

Regarding Voltaire as a forerunner of the French Revolution, the National Assembly of France had his remains brought back to Paris, and enshrined in the Panthéon on 11 July 1791.[103][d] It is estimated that a million people attended the procession, which stretched throughout Paris. There was an elaborate ceremony, complete with an orchestra, and the music included a piece that André Grétry had composed especially for the event, which included a part for the “tuba curva” (an instrument that originated in Roman times as the cornu but had recently been revived under a new name).[106]

Writings

History

Voltaire had an enormous influence on the development of historiography through his demonstration of fresh new ways to look at the past. Guillaume de Syon argues:

Voltaire recast historiography in both factual and analytical terms. Not only did he reject traditional biographies and accounts that claim the work of supernatural forces, but he went so far as to suggest that earlier historiography was rife with falsified evidence and required new investigations at the source. Such an outlook was not unique in that the scientific spirit that 18th-century intellectuals perceived themselves as invested with. A rationalistic approach was key to rewriting history.[107]

Voltaire’s best-known histories are History of Charles XII (1731), The Age of Louis XIV (1751), and his Essay on the Customs and the Spirit of the Nations (1756). He broke from the tradition of narrating diplomatic and military events, and emphasized customs, social history and achievements in the arts and sciences. The Essay on Customs traced the progress of world civilization in a universal context, thereby rejecting both nationalism and the traditional Christian frame of reference. Influenced by Bossuet‘s Discourse on the Universal History (1682), he was the first scholar to make a serious attempt to write the history of the world, eliminating theological frameworks, and emphasizing economics, culture and political history. He treated Europe as a whole, rather than a collection of nations. He was the first to emphasize the debt of medieval culture to Middle Eastern civilization, but otherwise was weak on the Middle Ages. Although he repeatedly warned against political bias on the part of the historian, he did not miss many opportunities to expose the intolerance and frauds of the church over the ages. Voltaire advised scholars that anything contradicting the normal course of nature was not to be believed. Although he found evil in the historical record, he fervently believed reason and educating the illiterate masses would lead to progress.

Voltaire explains his view of historiography in his article on “History” in Diderot’s Encyclopédie: “One demands of modern historians more details, better ascertained facts, precise dates, more attention to customs, laws, mores, commerce, finance, agriculture, population.” Voltaire’s histories imposed the values of the Enlightenment on the past, but at the same time he helped free historiography from antiquarianism, Eurocentrism, religious intolerance and a concentration on great men, diplomacy, and warfare.[108][109] Yale professor Peter Gay says Voltaire wrote “very good history”, citing his “scrupulous concern for truths”, “careful sifting of evidence”, “intelligent selection of what is important”, “keen sense of drama”, and “grasp of the fact that a whole civilization is a unit of study”.[110]

Poetry

From an early age, Voltaire displayed a talent for writing verse and his first published work was poetry. He wrote two book-long epic poems, including the first ever written in French, the Henriade, and later, The Maid of Orleans, besides many other smaller pieces.[citation needed]

The Henriade was written in imitation of Virgil, using the alexandrine couplet reformed and rendered monotonous for modern readers but it was a huge success in the 18th and early 19th century, with sixty-five editions and translations into several languages. The epic poem transformed French King Henry IV into a national hero for his attempts at instituting tolerance with his Edict of Nantes. La Pucelle, on the other hand, is a burlesque on the legend of Joan of Arc.

Prose

Frontispiece and first page of an early English translation by T. Smollett et al. of Voltaire’s Candide, 1762

Many of Voltaire’s prose works and romances, usually composed as pamphlets, were written as polemicsCandide attacks the passivity inspired by Leibniz’s philosophy of optimism through the character Pangloss’s frequent refrain that circumstances are the “best of all possible worlds“. L’Homme aux quarante ecus (The Man of Forty Pieces of Silver), addresses social and political ways of the time; Zadig and others, the received forms of moral and metaphysical orthodoxy; and some were written to deride the Bible. In these works, Voltaire’s ironic style, free of exaggeration, is apparent, particularly the restraint and simplicity of the verbal treatment.[111] Candide in particular is the best example of his style. Voltaire also has—in common with Jonathan Swift—the distinction of paving the way for science fiction’s philosophical irony, particularly in his Micromégas and the vignette Plato’s Dream (1756).

In general, his criticism and miscellaneous writing show a similar style to Voltaire’s other works. Almost all of his more substantive works, whether in verse or prose, are preceded by prefaces of one sort or another, which are models of his caustic yet conversational tone. In a vast variety of nondescript pamphlets and writings, he displays his skills at journalism. In pure literary criticism his principal work is the Commentaire sur Corneille, although he wrote many more similar works—sometimes (as in his Life and Notices of Molière) independently and sometimes as part of his Siècles.[112]

Voltaire’s works, especially his private letters, frequently contain the word “l’infâme” and the expression “écrasez l’infâme“, or “crush the infamous”.[113]The phrase refers to abuses of the people by royalty and the clergy that Voltaire saw around him, and the superstition and intolerance that the clergy bred within the people.[114] He had felt these effects in his own exiles, the burnings of his books and those of many others, and in the hideous sufferings of Jean Calas and François-Jean de la Barre.[115] He stated in one of his most famous quotes that “Superstition sets the whole world in flames; philosophy quenches them.”[116]

The most oft-cited Voltaire quotation is apocryphal. He is incorrectly credited with writing, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” These were not his words, but rather those of Evelyn Beatrice Hall, written under the pseudonym S. G. Tallentyre in her 1906 biographical book The Friends of Voltaire. Hall intended to summarize in her own words Voltaire’s attitude towards Claude Adrien Helvétius and his controversial book De l’esprit, but her first-person expression was mistaken for an actual quotation from Voltaire. Her interpretation does capture the spirit of Voltaire’s attitude towards Helvetius; it had been said Hall’s summary was inspired by a quotation found in a 1770 Voltaire letter to an Abbot le Riche, in which he was reported to have said, “I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.”[117] Nevertheless, scholars believe there must have again been misinterpretation, as the letter does not seem to contain any such quote.[e]

Voltaire’s first major philosophical work in his battle against “l’infâme” was the Traité sur la tolérance (Treatise on Tolerance), exposing the Calas affair, along with the tolerance exercised by other faiths and in other eras (for example, by the Jews, the Romans, the Greeks and the Chinese). Then, in his Dictionnaire philosophique, containing such articles as “Abraham”, “Genesis”, “Church Council”, he wrote about what he perceived as the human origins of dogmas and beliefs, as well as inhuman behavior of religious and political institutions in shedding blood over the quarrels of competing sects. Amongst other targets, Voltaire criticized France’s colonial policy in North America, dismissing the vast territory of New Franceas “a few acres of snow” (“quelques arpents de neige“).

Letters

Voltaire also engaged in an enormous amount of private correspondence during his life, totalling over 20,000 letters. Theodore Besterman‘s collected edition of these letters, completed only in 1964, fills 102 volumes.[118] One historian called the letters “a feast not only of wit and eloquence but of warm friendship, humane feeling, and incisive thought.”[119]

In Voltaire’s correspondence with Catherine the Great he derided democracy. He wrote, “Almost nothing great has ever been done in the world except by the genius and firmness of a single man combating the prejudices of the multitude.”[120]

Religious views

Voltaire at 70; engraving from 1843 edition of his Philosophical Dictionary

Like other key Enlightenment thinkers, Voltaire was a deist.[121] He challenged orthodoxy by asking: “What is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason.”[122][123] Voltaire held mixed views of the Abrahamic religions but had a favourable view of Hinduism.

In a 1763 essay, Voltaire supported the toleration of other religions and ethnicities: “It does not require great art, or magnificently trained eloquence, to prove that Christians should tolerate each other. I, however, am going further: I say that we should regard all men as our brothers. What? The Turk my brother? The Chinaman my brother? The Jew? The Siam? Yes, without doubt; are we not all children of the same father and creatures of the same God?”[124]

In one of his many denunciations of priests of every religious sect, Voltaire describes them as those who “rise from an incestuous bed, manufacture a hundred versions of God, then eat and drink God, then piss and shit God.”[125]

Christianity

Historians have described Voltaire’s description of the history of Christianity as “propagandistic”.[126] Voltaire is partially responsible for the misattribution of the expression Credo quia absurdum to the Church Fathers.[127] In a letter to Frederick II, King of Prussia, dated 5 January 1767, he wrote about Christianity:

La nôtre [religion] est sans contredit la plus ridicule, la plus absurde, et la plus sanguinaire qui ait jamais infecté le monde.[128]
“Ours [i.e., the Christian religion] is assuredly the most ridiculous, the most absurd and the most bloody religion which has ever infected this world. Your Majesty will do the human race an eternal service by extirpating this infamous superstition, I do not say among the rabble, who are not worthy of being enlightened and who are apt for every yoke; I say among honest people, among men who think, among those who wish to think. … My one regret in dying is that I cannot aid you in this noble enterprise, the finest and most respectable which the human mind can point out.”[129][130]

In La bible enfin expliquée, he expressed the following attitude to lay reading of the Bible:

It is characteristic of fanatics who read the holy scriptures to tell themselves: God killed, so I must kill; Abraham lied, Jacob deceived, Rachel stole: so I must steal, deceive, lie. But, wretch, you are neither Rachel, nor Jacob, nor Abraham, nor God; you are just a mad fool, and the popes who forbade the reading of the Bible were extremely wise.[131]

Voltaire’s opinion of the Bible was mixed. Although influenced by Socinian works such as the Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonorum, Voltaire’s skeptical attitude to the Bible separated him from Unitarian theologians like Fausto Sozzini or even Biblical-political writers like John Locke.[132] His statements on religion also brought down on him the fury of the Jesuits and in particular Claude-Adrien Nonnotte.[133][134][135][136] This did not hinder his religious practice, though it did win for him a bad reputation in certain religious circles. The deeply Christian Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote to his father the year of Voltaire’s death, saying, “The arch-scoundrel Voltaire has finally kicked the bucket …”[137] Voltaire was later deemed to influence Edward Gibbon in claiming that Christianity was a contributor to the fall of the Roman Empire in his book The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:

As Christianity advances, disasters befall the [Roman] empire—arts, science, literature, decay—barbarism and all its revolting concomitants are made to seem the consequences of its decisive triumph—and the unwary reader is conducted, with matchless dexterity, to the desired conclusion—the abominable Manicheism of Candide, and, in fact, of all the productions of Voltaire’s historic school—viz., “that instead of being a merciful, ameliorating, and benignant visitation, the religion of Christians would rather seem to be a scourge sent on man by the author of all evil.”[138]

However, Voltaire also acknowledged the self-sacrifice of Christians. He wrote: “Perhaps there is nothing greater on earth than the sacrifice of youth and beauty, often of high birth, made by the gentle sex in order to work in hospitals for the relief of human misery, the sight of which is so revolting to our delicacy. Peoples separated from the Roman religion have imitated but imperfectly so generous a charity.”[139] Yet, according to Daniel-Rops, Voltaire’s “hatred of religion increased with the passage of years. The attack, launched at first against clericalism and theocracy, ended in a furious assault upon Holy Scripture, the dogmas of the Church, and even upon the person of Jesus Christ Himself, who [he] depicted now as a degenerate”.[140] Voltaire’s reasoning may be summed up in his well-known saying, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities“.

Judaism

According to Orthodox rabbi Joseph Telushkin, the most significant Enlightenment hostility against Judaism was found in Voltaire;[141] thirty of the 118 articles in his Dictionnaire philosophiquedealt with Jews and described them in consistently negative ways.[142][143] For example, in Voltaire’s A Philosophical Dictionary, he wrote of Jews: “In short, we find in them only an ignorant and barbarous people, who have long united the most sordid avarice with the most detestable superstition and the most invincible hatred for every people by whom they are tolerated and enriched.”[144]

On the other hand, Peter Gay, a contemporary authority on the Enlightenment,[141] also points to Voltaire’s remarks (for instance, that the Jews were more tolerant than the Christians) in the Traité sur la tolérance and surmises that “Voltaire struck at the Jews to strike at Christianity”. Whatever anti-semitism Voltaire may have felt, Gay suggests, derived from negative personal experience.[145] Bertram Schwarzbach’s far more detailed studies of Voltaire’s dealings with Jewish people throughout his life concluded that he was anti-biblical, not anti-semitic. His remarks on the Jews and their “superstitions” were essentially no different from his remarks on Christians.[146]

Telushkin states that Voltaire did not limit his attack to aspects of Judaism that Christianity used as a foundation, repeatedly making it clear that he despised Jews.[141] Arthur Hertzberg claims that Gay’s second suggestion is also untenable, as Voltaire himself denied its validity when he remarked that he had “forgotten about much larger bankruptcies through Christians”.[clarification needed][147]

Some authors link Voltaire’s anti-Judaism to his polygenism. According to Joxe Azurmendi this anti-Judaism has a relative importance in Voltaire’s philosophy of history. However, Voltaire’s anti-Judaism influences later authors like Ernest Renan.[148]

According to the historian Will Durant, Voltaire had initially condemned the persecution of Jews on several occasions including in his work Henriade.[149] As stated by Durant, Voltaire had praised the simplicity, sobriety, regularity, and industry of Jews. However, subsequently, Voltaire had become strongly anti-Semitic after some regrettable personal financial transactions and quarrels with Jewish financiers. In his Essai sur les moeurs Voltaire had denounced the ancient Hebrews using strong language; a Catholic priest had protested against this censure. The anti-Semitic passages in Voltaire’s Dictionnaire philosophique were criticized by Issac Pinto in 1762. Subsequently, Voltaire agreed with the criticism of his anti-Semitic views and stated that he had been “wrong to attribute to a whole nation the vices of some individuals”;[150] he also promised to revise the objectionable passages for forthcoming editions of the Dictionnaire philosophique, but failed to do so.[150]

Islam

Voltaire’s views about Islam remained negative as he considered the Quran to be ignorant of the laws of physics.[151] In a 1740 letter to Frederick II of Prussia, Voltaire ascribes to Muhammad a brutality that “is assuredly nothing any man can excuse” and suggests that his following stemmed from superstition. Referring to the prophet, Voltaire continued in his letter, “But that a camel-merchant should stir up insurrection in his village; that in league with some miserable followers he persuades them that he talks with the angel Gabriel; that he boasts of having been carried to heaven, where he received in part this unintelligible book, each page of which makes common sense shudder; that, to pay homage to this book, he delivers his country to iron and flame; that he cuts the throats of fathers and kidnaps daughters; that he gives to the defeated the choice of his religion or death: this is assuredly nothing any man can excuse, at least if he was not born a Turk, or if superstition has not extinguished all natural light in him.”[152]

In 1748, after having read Henri de Boulainvilliers and George Sale,[153] he wrote again about Mohammed and Islam in an article, “De l’Alcoran et de Mahomet” (On the Quran and on Mohammed). In the article, Voltaire maintained that Mohammed was a “sublime charlatan”[f] Drawing also on complementary information in the “Oriental Library” of Herbelot, Voltaire, according to René Pomeau, had a judgement of the Qur’an where he found the book in spite of “the contradictions, the absurdities, the anachronisms”, “rhapsody, without connection, without order, and without art”.[154][155][156][157] Thus he “henceforward conceded”[157] that “if his book was bad for our times and for us, it was very good for his contemporaries, and his religion even more so. It must be admitted that he removed almost all of Asia from idolatry” and that “it was difficult for such a simple and wise religion, taught by a man who was constantly victorious, could hardly fail to subjugate a portion of the earth.” He considered that “its civil laws are good; its dogma is admirable which it has in common with ours” but that “his means are shocking; deception and murder”.[158]

In his Essay on the Manners and Spirit of Nations (published 1756), Voltaire deals with the history of Europe before Charlemagne to the dawn of the age of Louis XIV, and that of the colonies and the East. As a historian he devoted several chapters to Islam,[159][160][161] Voltaire highlighted the Arabian, Turkish courts, and conducts.[157][162][163][162] Here he called Mohammed a “poet”, and stated that he was not an illiterate.[164] As a “legislator”, he “changed the face of part of Europe [and] one half of Asia.”[165][166][167] In chapter VI, Voltaire finds similarities between Arabs and ancient Hebrews, that they both kept running to battle in the name of God, and sharing a passion for the spoils of war.[168] Voltaire continues that, “It is to be believed that Mohammed, like all enthusiasts, violently struck by his ideas, first presented them in good faith, strengthened them with fantasy, fooled himself in fooling others, and supported through necessary deceptions a doctrine which he considered good.”[169][170] He thus compares “the genius of the Arab people” with “the genius of the ancient Romans”.[171]

Drama Mahomet

The tragedy Fanaticism, or Mahomet the Prophet (FrenchLe fanatisme, ou Mahomet le Prophete) was written in 1736 by Voltaire. The play is a study of religious fanaticism and self-serving manipulation. The character Muhammad orders the murder of his critics.[172] Voltaire described the play as “written in opposition to the founder of a false and barbarous sect.”[173]

Voltaire described Muhammad as an “impostor”, a “false prophet”, a “fanatic” and a “hypocrite”.[174][175] Defending the play, Voltaire said that he “tried to show in it into what horrible excesses fanaticism, led by an impostor, can plunge weak minds”.[176] When Voltaire wrote in 1742 to César de Missy, he described Mohammed as deceitful.[177][178]

In his play, Mohammed was “whatever trickery can invent that is most atrocious and whatever fanaticism can accomplish that is most horrifying. Mahomet here is nothing other than Tartuffe with armies at his command.”[179][180] After later having judged that he had made Mohammed in his play “somewhat nastier than he really was”,[181] Voltaire claims that Muhammad stole the idea of an angel weighing both men and women from Zoroastrians, who are often referred to as “Magi“. Voltaire continues about Islam, saying:

Nothing is more terrible than a people who, having nothing to lose, fight in the united spirit of rapine and of religion.[182]

In a 1745 letter recommending the play to Pope Benedict XIV, Voltaire described Muhammad as “the founder of a false and barbarous sect” and “a false prophet”. Voltaire wrote: “Your holiness will pardon the liberty taken by one of the lowest of the faithful, though a zealous admirer of virtue, of submitting to the head of the true religion this performance, written in opposition to the founder of a false and barbarous sect. To whom could I with more propriety inscribe a satire on the cruelty and errors of a false prophet, than to the vicar and representative of a God of truth and mercy?”[183][184] His view was modified slightly for Essai sur les Moeurs et l’Esprit des Nations, although they remained negative.[185][186][125][187] In 1751, Voltaire performed his play Mohametonce again, with great success.[188]

Hinduism

Commenting on the sacred texts of the Hindus, the Vedas, Voltaire observed:

The Veda was the most precious gift for which the West had ever been indebted to the East.[189]

He regarded Hindus as “a peaceful and innocent people, equally incapable of hurting others or of defending themselves.”[190] Voltaire was himself a supporter of animal rights and was a vegetarian.[191] He used the antiquity of Hinduism to land what he saw as a devastating blow to the Bible’s claims and acknowledged that the Hindus’ treatment of animals showed a shaming alternative to the immorality of European imperialists.[192]

Views on race and slavery

Voltaire rejected the biblical Adam and Eve story and was a polygenist who speculated that each race had entirely separate origins.[193][194] According to William Cohen, like most other polygenists, Voltaire believed that because of their different origins blacks did not entirely share the natural humanity of whites.[195] According to David Allen Harvey, Voltaire often invoked racial differences as a means to attack religious orthodoxy, and the Biblical account of creation.[196]

His most famous remark on slavery is found in Candide, where the hero is horrified to learn “at what price we eat sugar in Europe” after coming across a slave in French Guiana who has been mutilated for escaping, who opines that, if all human beings have common origins as the Bible taught, it makes them cousins, concluding that “no one could treat their relatives more horribly”. Elsewhere, he wrote caustically about “whites and Christians [who] proceed to purchase negroes cheaply, in order to sell them dear in America”. Voltaire has been accused of supporting the slave trade as per a letter attributed to him,[197][198][199] although it has been suggested that this letter is a forgery “since no satisfying source attests to the letter’s existence.”[200]

In his Philosophical Dictionary, Voltaire endorses Montesquieu‘s criticism of the slave trade: “Montesquieu was almost always in error with the learned, because he was not learned, but he was almost always right against the fanatics and the promoters of slavery.”[201]

Zeev Sternhell argues that despite his shortcomings, Voltaire was a forerunner of liberal pluralism in his approach to history and non-European cultures.[202] Voltaire wrote, “We have slandered the Chinese because their metaphysics is not the same as ours … This great misunderstanding about Chinese rituals has come about because we have judged their usages by ours, for we carry the prejudices of our contentious spirit to the end of the world.”[202] In speaking of Persia, he condemned Europe’s “ignorant audacity” and “ignorant credulity”. When writing about India, he declares, “It is time for us to give up the shameful habit of slandering all sects and insulting all nations!”[202] In Essai sur les mœurs et l’esprit des nations, he defended the integrity of the Native Americans and wrote favorably of the Inca Empire.[203]

Appreciation and influence

According to Victor Hugo: “To name Voltaire is to characterize the entire eighteenth century.”[204] Goethe regarded Voltaire to be the greatest literary figure in modern times, and possibly of all times.[205] According to Diderot, Voltaire’s influence on posterity would extend far into the future.[206][g] Napoleon commented that till he was sixteen he “would have fought for Rousseau against the friends of Voltaire, today it is the opposite…The more I read Voltaire the more I love him. He is a man always reasonable, never a charlatan, never a fanatic.”[207] Frederick the Greatcommented on his good fortune for having lived in the age of Voltaire, and corresponded with him throughout his reign until Voltaire’s death.[208] In England, Voltaire’s views influenced GodwinPaineMary WollstonecraftBenthamByron and Shelley.[205] Macaulay made note of the fear that Voltaire’s very name incited in tyrants and fanatics.[209][h]

In Russia, Catherine the Great had been reading Voltaire for sixteen years prior to becoming Empress in 1762.[208][210] In October 1763, she began a correspondence with the philosopher that continued till his death. The content of these letters has been described as being akin to a student writing to a teacher.[211] Upon Voltaire’s death, the Empress purchased his library, which was then transported and placed in The Hermitage.[212] Alexander Herzen remarked that “The writings of the egoist Voltaire did more for liberation than those of the loving Rousseau did for brotherhood.”[213] In his famous letter to N. V. GogolVissarion Belinsky wrote that Voltaire “stamped out the fires of fanaticism and ignorance in Europe by ridicule.”[214]

In his native Paris, Voltaire was viewed as the defender of Jean Calas and Pierre Sirven.[205] Although he failed in securing the annulment of la Barre‘s execution for “blasphemies” against Christianity, despite a protracted campaign, the criminal code that sanctioned the execution was revised during Voltaire’s lifetime.[215] In 1764, Voltaire successfully intervened and secured the release of Claude Chamont for the crime of attending Protestant services. When Comte de Lally was executed for treason in 1766, Voltaire wrote a 300-page document absolving de Lally. Subsequently, in 1778, the judgment against de Lally was expunged just before Voltaire’s death. The Genevan Protestant minister Pomaret once said to Voltaire, “You seem to attack Christianity, and yet you do the work of a Christian.”[216] Frederick the Great noted the significance of a philosopher capable of influencing judges to change their unjust decisions, commenting that this alone is sufficient to ensure the prominence of Voltaire as a humanitarian.[216]

Under the French Third Republic, anarchists and socialists often invoked Voltaire’s writings in their struggles against militarism, nationalism, and the Catholic Church.[217] The section condemning the futility and imbecility of war in the Dictionnaire philosophique was a frequent favorite, as were his arguments that nations can only grow at the expense of others.[218] Following the liberation of France from the Vichy regime in 1944, Voltaire’s 250th birthday was celebrated in both France and the Soviet Union, honoring him as “one of the most feared opponents” of the Nazi collaborators and someone “whose name symbolizes freedom of thought, and hatred of prejudice, superstition, and injustice.”[219]

Jorge Luis Borges stated that “not to admire Voltaire is one of the many forms of stupidity” and included his short fiction such as Micromégas in “The Library of Babel” and “A Personal Library.”[220] Gustave Flaubert believed that France had erred gravely by not following the path forged by Voltaire instead of Rousseau.[221] Most architects of modern America were adherents of Voltaire’s views.[205] According to Will Durant:

Italy had a Renaissance, and Germany had a Reformation, but France had Voltaire; he was for his country both Renaissance and Reformation, and half the Revolution.[204] He was first and best in his time in his conception and writing of history, in the grace of his poetry, in the charm and wit of his prose, in the range of his thought and his influence. His spirit moved like a flame over the continent and the century, and stirs a million souls in every generation.[222]

Voltaire and Rousseau

Voltaire’s junior contemporary Jean-Jacques Rousseau commented on how Voltaire’s book Letters on the English played a great role in his intellectual development.[223] Having written some literary works and also some music, in December 1745 Rousseau wrote a letter introducing himself to Voltaire, who was by then the most prominent literary figure in France, to which Voltaire replied with a polite response. Subsequently, when Rousseau sent Voltaire a copy of his book Discourse on Inequality, Voltaire replied, noting his disagreement with the views expressed in the book:

No one has ever employed so much intellect to persuade men to be beasts. In reading your work one is seized with a desire to walk on four paws [marcher à quatre pattes]. However, as it is more than sixty years since I lost that habit, I feel, unfortunately, that it is impossible for me to resume it.[224]

Subsequently, commenting on Rousseau’s romantic novel Julie, or the New Heloise, Voltaire stated:

No more about Jean-Jacques’ romance if you please. I have read it, to my sorrow, and it would be to his if I had time to say what I think of this silly book.[225]

Voltaire speculated that the first half of Julie had been written in a brothel and the second half in a lunatic asylum.[226] In his Lettres sur La Nouvelle Heloise, written under a pseudonym, Voltaire offered criticism highlighting grammatical mistakes in the book:

Paris recognized Voltaire’s hand and judged the patriarch to be bitten by jealousy.[225]

In reviewing Rousseau’s book Emile after its publication, Voltaire dismissed it as “a hodgepodge of a silly wet nurse in four volumes, with forty pages against Christianity, among the boldest ever known.” He expressed admiration for the section in this book titled Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar, calling it “fifty good pages…it is regrettable that they should have been written by…such a knave.”[227] He went on to predict that Emile would be forgotten after a month.[226]

In 1764, Rousseau published Lettres de la montagne, containing nine letters on religion and politics. In the fifth letter he wondered why Voltaire had not been able to imbue the Genevan councilors, who frequently met him, “with that spirit of tolerance which he preaches without cease, and of which he sometimes has need”. The letter continued with an imaginary speech delivered by Voltaire, imitating his literary style, in which he accepts authorship for the book Sermon of the Fifty—a book whose authorship Voltaire had repeatedly denied because it contained many heresies.[228]

In 1772, when a priest sent Rousseau a pamphlet denouncing Voltaire, Rousseau responded with a defense of Voltaire:

He has said and done so many good things that we should draw the curtain over his irregularities.[228]

In 1778, when Voltaire was given unprecedented honors at the Théâtre-Français,[229] an acquaintance of Rousseau ridiculed the event. This was met by a sharp retort from Rousseau:

How dare you mock the honors rendered to Voltaire in the temple of which he is the god, and by the priests who for fifty years have been living off his masterpieces?[230]

On 2 July 1778, Rousseau died one month after Voltaire’s death.[231] In October 1794, Rousseau’s remains were moved to the Panthéon, where they were placed near the remains of Voltaire.[232][i]

Louis XVI, while incarcerated in the Temple, had remarked that Rousseau and Voltaire had “destroyed France”, by which he meant his dynasty.[233][j]

Legacy

Voltaire perceived the French bourgeoisie to be too small and ineffective, the aristocracy to be parasitic and corrupt, the commoners as ignorant and superstitious, and the Church as a static and oppressive force useful only on occasion as a counterbalance to the rapacity of kings, although all too often, even more rapacious itself. Voltaire distrusted democracy, which he saw as propagating the idiocy of the masses.[235] Voltaire long thought only an enlightened monarch could bring about change, given the social structures of the time and the extremely high rates of illiteracy, and that it was in the king’s rational interest to improve the education and welfare of his subjects. But his disappointments and disillusions with Frederick the Great changed his philosophy somewhat, and soon gave birth to one of his most enduring works, his novella Candide, ou l’Optimisme (Candide, or Optimism, 1759), which ends with a new conclusion: “It is up to us to cultivate our garden.” His most polemical and ferocious attacks on intolerance and religious persecutions indeed began to appear a few years later. Candide was also burned and Voltaire jokingly claimed the actual author was a certain ‘Demad’ in a letter, where he reaffirmed the main polemical stances of the text.[236]

He is remembered and honored in France as a courageous polemicist who indefatigably fought for civil rights (as the right to a fair trial and freedom of religion) and who denounced the hypocrisies and injustices of the Ancien Régime. The Ancien Régime involved an unfair balance of power and taxes between the three Estates: clergy and nobles on one side, the commoners and middle class, who were burdened with most of the taxes, on the other. He particularly had admiration for the ethics and government as exemplified by the Chinese philosopher Confucius.[237]

Voltaire is also known for many memorable aphorisms, such as “Si Dieu n’existait pas, il faudrait l’inventer” (“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him”), contained in a verse epistle from 1768, addressed to the anonymous author of a controversial work on The Three Impostors. But far from being the cynical remark it is often taken for, it was meant as a retort to atheistic opponents such as d’HolbachGrimm, and others.[238] He has had his detractors among his later colleagues. The Scottish Victorian writer Thomas Carlyle argued that “Voltaire read history, not with the eye of devout seer or even critic, but through a pair of mere anti-catholic spectacles.”[239]

The town of Ferney, where Voltaire lived out the last 20 years of his life, was officially named Ferney-Voltaire in honor of its most famous resident in 1878.[240] His château is a museum. Voltaire’s library is preserved intact in the National Library of Russia at Saint Petersburg, Russia. In the Zurich of 1916, the theatre and performance group who would become the early avant-garde movement Dada named their theater The Cabaret Voltaire. A late-20th-century industrial music group then named themselves after the theater. Astronomers have bestowed his name to the Voltaire crater on Deimos and the asteroid 5676 Voltaire.[241]

Voltaire was also known to have been an advocate for coffee, as he was reported to have drunk it 50–72 times per day. It has been suggested that high amounts of caffeine acted as a mental stimulant to his creativity.[242] His great-grand-niece was the mother of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Catholic philosopher and Jesuit priest.[243][244] His book Candide was listed as one of The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written, by Martin Seymour-Smith.

In the 1950s, the bibliographer and translator Theodore Besterman started to collect, transcribe and publish all of Voltaire’s writings.[245] He founded the Voltaire Institute and Museum in Genevawhere he began publishing collected volumes of Voltaire’s correspondence.[245] On his death in 1976, he left his collection to the University of Oxford, where the Voltaire Foundation became established as a department.[246][247] The Foundation has continued to publish the Complete Works of Voltaire, a complete chronological series which is expected to reach completion in 2018, reaching around 200 volumes, fifty years after the series began.[247][248] It also publishes the series Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, begun by Bestermann as Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, which has reached more than 500 volumes.[247]

Chronology

Works

Non-fiction

History

Novellas

  • The One-eyed Street Porter, Cosi-sancta (1715)
  • Plato’s Dream (1737)
  • Micromégas (1738)
  • The World as it Goes (1750)
  • Memnon (1750)
  • Bababec and the Fakirs (1750)
  • Timon (1755)
  • The Travels of Scarmentado (1756)
  • The Two Consoled Ones (1756)
  • Zadig, or, Destiny (1757)
  • Candide, or Optimism (1758)
  • Story of a Good Brahman (1759)
  • The King of Boutan (1761)
  • The City of Cashmere (1760)
  • An Indian Adventure (1764)
  • The White and the Black (1764)
  • Jeannot and Colin (1764)
  • The Blind Judges of Colors (1766)
  • The Princess of Babylon (1768)
  • The Man with Forty Crowns (1768)
  • The Letters of Amabed (1769)
  • The Huron, or Pupil of Nature (1771)
  • The White Bull (1772)
  • An Incident of Memory (1773)
  • The History of Jenni (1774)
  • The Travels of Reason (1774)
  • The Ears of Lord Chesterfield and Chaplain Goudman (1775)

Plays

Voltaire wrote between fifty and sixty plays, including a few unfinished ones.[249] Among them are:

Collected works

  • Oeuvres complètes de Voltaire, A. Beuchot (ed.). 72 vols. (1829–40)
  • Oeuvres complètes de Voltaire, Louis E.D. Moland and G. Bengesco (eds.}. 52 vols. (1877–85)
  • Oeuvres complètes de Voltaire, Theodore Besterman, et al. (eds.). 144 vols. (1968–2018)

See also

References …

Bibliography

Further reading

In French

  • Korolev, S. Voltaire et la reliure des livres // Revue Voltaire. Paris, 2013. #13. pp. 233–40.
  • René PomeauLa Religion de Voltaire, Librairie Nizet, Paris, 1974.
  • Valérie Crugten-André, La vie de Voltaire [1]

Primary sources

  • Morley, J., The Works of Voltaire, A Contemporary Version, (21 vol 1901), online edition

External links

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

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Steven Pinker – Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress — The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined — The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature — Videos

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Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress featuring Steven Pinker

STEVEN PINKER: ENLIGHTENMENT NOW

Stephen Fry & Steven Pinker on the Enlightenment Today

Enlightenment Now | Steven Pinker | RSA Replay

Dr. Steven Pinker, Harvard University – Collective Impact

The Personal Philosophy of Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker & Charlie Rose – “The Better Angels of Our Nature”

Prof. Steven Pinker – The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity

A History of Violence: Steven Pinker at TEDxNewEngland

The Great Debate: ORIGINS OF VIOLENCE (OFFICIAL) – (Part 1/2)

The Great Debate: ORIGINS OF VIOLENCE (OFFICIAL) – (Part 2/2)

Steven Pinker on Human Nature

Understanding Human Nature with Steven Pinker – Conversations with History

Steven Pinker – The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

Steven Pinker – The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

Steven Pinker: Human nature and the blank slate

Steven Pinker – The Genius of Charles Darwin: The Uncut Interviews

Steven Pinker — On psychology and human nature

 

Steven Pinker Books

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My new favorite book of all time

For years, I’ve been saying Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature was the best book I’d read in a decade. If I could recommend just one book for anyone to pick up, that was it. Pinker uses meticulous research to argue that we are living in the most peaceful time in human history. I’d never seen such a clear explanation of progress.

I’m going to stop talking up Better Angels so much, because Pinker has managed to top himself. His new book, Enlightenment Now, is even better.

Enlightenment Now takes the approach he uses in Better Angels to track violence throughout history and applies it to 15 different measures of progress (like quality of life, knowledge, and safety). The result is a holistic picture of how and why the world is getting better. It’s like Better Angels on steroids.

Pinker was generous enough to send me an early copy, even though Enlightenment Now won’t be released until the end of February. I read the book slowly since I loved it so much, but I think most people will find it a quick and accessible read. He manages to share a ton of information in a way that’s compelling, memorable, and easy to digest.

It opens with an argument in favor of returning to the ideals of the Enlightenment—an era when reason, science, and humanism were touted as the highest virtues. (Gates Notes Insiders can get a preview of this section of the book.)

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I’m all for more reason, science, and humanism, but what I found most interesting were the 15 chapters exploring each measure of progress. Pinker is at his best when he analyzes historic trends and uses data to put the past into context. I was already familiar with a lot of the information he shares—especially about health and energy—but he understands each subject so deeply that he’s able to articulate his case in a way that feels fresh and new.

I love how he’s willing to dive deep into primary data sources and pull out unexpected signs of progress. I tend to point to things like dramatic reductions in poverty and childhood deaths, because I think they’re such a good measure of how we’re doing as a society. Pinker covers those areas, but he also looks at more obscure topics.

Here are five of my favorite facts from the book that show how the world is improving:

  1. You’re 37 times less likely to be killed by a bolt of lightning than you were at the turn of the century—and that’s not because there are fewer thunderstorms today. It’s because we have better weather prediction capabilities, improved safety education, and more people living in cities.
  2. Time spent doing laundry fell from 11.5 hours a week in 1920 to an hour and a half in 2014.This might sound trivial in the grand scheme of progress. But the rise of the washing machine has improved quality of life by freeing up time for people—mostly women—to enjoy other pursuits. That time represents nearly half a day every week that could be used for everything from binge-watching Ozark or reading a book to starting a new business.
  3. You’re way less likely to die on the job. Every year, 5,000 people die from occupational accidents in the U.S. But in 1929—when our population was less than two-fifths the size it is today—20,000 people died on the job. People back then viewed deadly workplace accidents as part of the cost of doing business. Today, we know better, and we’ve engineered ways to build things without putting nearly as many lives at risk.
  4. The global average IQ score is rising by about 3 IQ points every decade. Kids’ brains are developing more fully thanks to improved nutrition and a cleaner environment. Pinker also credits more analytical thinking in and out of the classroom. Think about how many symbols you interpret every time you check your phone’s home screen or look at a subway map. Our world today encourages abstract thought from a young age, and it’s making us smarter.
  5. War is illegal. This idea seems obvious. But before the creation of the United Nations in 1945, no institution had the power to stop countries from going to war with each other. Although there have been some exceptions, the threat of international sanctions and intervention has proven to be an effective deterrent to wars between nations.

Pinker also tackles the disconnect between actual progress and the perception of progress—something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. People all over the world are living longer, healthier, and happier lives, so why do so many think things are getting worse? Why do we gloss over positive news stories and fixate on the negative ones? He does a good job explaining why we’re drawn to pessimism and how that instinct influences our approach to the world, although I wish he went more in depth about the psychology (especially since he’s a psychologist by training). The late Hans Rosling explains this more fully in his excellent new book Factfulness, which I plan to review soon.

I agree with Pinker on most areas, but I think he’s a bit too optimistic about artificial intelligence. He’s quick to dismiss the idea of robots overthrowing their human creators. While I don’t think we’re in danger of a Terminator-style scenario, the question underlying that fear—who exactly controls the robots?—is a valid one. We’re not there yet, but at some point, who has AI and who controls it will be an important issue for global institutions to address.

The big questions surrounding automation are proof that progress can be a messy, sticky thing—but that doesn’t mean we’re headed in the wrong direction. At the end of Enlightenment Now, Pinker argues that “we will never have a perfect world, and it would be dangerous to seek one. But there is no limit to the betterments we can attain if we continue to apply knowledge to enhance human flourishing.”

The world is getting better, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. I’m glad we have brilliant thinkers like Steven Pinker to help us see the big picture. Enlightenment Now is not only the best book Pinker’s ever written. It’s my new favorite book of all time.

https://www.gatesnotes.com/Books/Enlightenment-Now

5 books I loved in 2018

If you’re like me, you love giving—or getting!—books during the holidays. A great read is the perfect gift: thoughtful and easy to wrap (with no batteries or assembly required). Plus, I think everyone could use a few more books in their lives. I usually don’t consider whether something would make a good present when I’m putting together my end of year book list—but this year’s selections are highly giftable.

My list is pretty eclectic this year. From a how-to guide about meditation to a deep dive on autonomous weapons to a thriller about the fall of a once-promising company, there’s something for everyone. If you’re looking for a fool-proof gift for your friends and family, you can’t go wrong with one of these.

Educated, by Tara Westover. Tara never went to school or visited a doctor until she left home at 17. I never thought I’d relate to a story about growing up in a Mormon survivalist household, but she’s such a good writer that she got me to reflect on my own life while reading about her extreme childhood. Melinda and I loved this memoir of a young woman whose thirst for learning was so strong that she ended up getting a Ph.D. from Cambridge University.

Army of None, by Paul Scharre. Autonomous weapons aren’t exactly top of mind for most around the holidays, but this thought-provoking look at A.I. in warfare is hard to put down. It’s an immensely complicated topic, but Scharre offers clear explanations and presents both the pros and cons of machine-driven warfare. His fluency with the subject should come as no surprise: he’s a veteran who helped draft the U.S. government’s policy on autonomous weapons.

Bad Blood, by John Carreyrou. A bunch of my friends recommended this one to me. Carreyrou gives you the definitive insider’s look at the rise and fall of Theranos. The story is even crazier than I expected, and I found myself unable to put it down once I started. This book has everything: elaborate scams, corporate intrigue, magazine cover stories, ruined family relationships, and the demise of a company once valued at nearly $10 billion.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century, by Yuval Noah Harari. I’m a big fan of everything Harari has written, and his latest is no exception. While Sapiens and Homo Deus covered the past and future respectively, this one is all about the present. If 2018 has left you overwhelmed by the state of the world, 21 Lessonsoffers a helpful framework for processing the news and thinking about the challenges we face.

The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness, by Andy Puddicombe. I’m sure 25-year-old me would scoff at this one, but Melinda and I have gotten really into meditation lately. The book starts with Puddicombe’s personal journey from a university student to a Buddhist monk and then becomes an entertaining explainer on how to meditate. If you’re thinking about trying mindfulness, this is the perfect introduction.

https://www.gatesnotes.com/About-Bill-Gates/Best-Books-2018

Wrapping up 2018

What I learned at work this year

Every Christmas when I was a kid, my parents would send out a card with an update on what the family was up to. Dad’s law firm is growing, Mom’s volunteer work is going strong, the girls are doing well in school, Bill is a handful.

Some people think it is corny, but I like the tradition. These days, at the end of each year, I still enjoy taking stock of my work and personal life. What was I excited about? What could I have done better?

I thought I would share a few of these thoughts as 2018 concludes.

One thing that occurs to me is that the questions I am asking myself at age 63 are very different from the ones I would have asked when I was in my 20s.

Back then, an end-of-year assessment would amount to just one question: Is Microsoft software making the personal-computing dream come true?

Today of course I still assess the quality of my work. But I also ask myself a whole other set of questions about my life. Did I devote enough time to my family? Did I learn enough new things? Did I develop new friendships and deepen old ones? These would have been laughable to me when I was 25, but as I get older, they are much more meaningful.

Melinda has helped broaden my thinking on this point. So has Warren Buffett, who says his measure of success is, “Do the people you care about love you back?” I think that is about as good a metric as you will find.

It may sound grand, but I think the world is slowly going through a similar transition to a broader understanding of well-being. For most of human history, we have been focused on living longer by fighting disease and trying to grow enough food for everyone. As a result, life spans have gone up dramatically. Technology has played a key role in that through vaccines, medicines, and improved sanitation.

We still need a lot of innovation to solve problems like malaria or obesity, but we are also going to be focusing more on improving the quality of life. I think this will be the thrust of many big breakthroughs of the future. For example, software will be able to notice when you’re feeling down, connect you with your friends, give you personalized tips for sleeping and eating better, and help you use your time more efficiently.

There are not the same clear measures of these things as there are for diseases, and there may never be. But there is nascent work in this field and I think it is going to accelerate.

As I look back on the year, I am also thinking about the specific areas I work on. Some of this is done through our foundation but a lot of it (such as my work on energy and Alzheimer’s work) is not. What connects it all is my belief that innovation can save lives and improve everyone’s well-being. A lot of people underestimate just how much innovation will make life better.

Here are a few updates on what’s going well and what isn’t with innovation in some areas where I work.

Alzheimer’s disease

 I saw two positive trends in Alzheimer’s research in 2018.

I saw two positive trends in Alzheimer’s research in 2018.

One is that researchers focused on a new set of ideas about how to stop Alzheimer’s.

The first generation of theories, which dominated the field for years, emphasized two proteins called amyloid and tau. These proteins cause plaques and tangles in the brain, clogging up and killing brain cells. The idea was to stop the plaques and tangles from forming. I hope these approaches pay off, but we have not seen much evidence that they will.

In the past year, researchers have doubled down on a second generation of hypotheses. One theory is that a patient’s brain cells break down because their energy producers (called mitochondria) wear out. Another is that brain cells break down because part of the immune system gets overactivated and attacks them.

This is a great example of how improving our understanding of biology will reduce both medical costs and human suffering.

The other trend this year is that the Alzheimer’s community focused on getting more and better access to data. We’re working with researchers to make it easier for them to share information from their studies broadly so that we can better understand questions like how the disease progresses.

Over the past few years, the U.S. government has dramatically stepped up funding for Alzheimer’s research, from $400 million a year to over $2 billion a year. There is also a big push to create better diagnostics.

The only problem where I don’t yet see a clear path forward yet is how to develop more efficient ways to recruit patients for clinical trials. Without a simple and reliable diagnostic for Alzheimer’s, it’s hard to find eligible people early enough in the disease’s progression who can participate in trials. It can take years to enroll enough patients. If we could find a way to pre-screen participants, we could start new trials more quickly.

But there is so much momentum in other areas—scientific tools, better diagnostics, improved access to data—that as long as we can solve the recruitment problem, I am confident that we will make substantial progress in the next decade or two.

Polio

 I thought we would be closer to eradicating polio today than we are.

I thought we would be closer to eradicating polio today than we are. Unfortunately, there were more cases in 2018 than in 2017 (29 versus 22).

I underestimated how hard it would be to vaccinate children in places where there’s political violence and war. Families move around to escape fighting, which makes it hard to keep track of children and make sure they get all the doses of the vaccine. Or sewage systems get destroyed, allowing the virus to spread as children come into contact with an infected person’s excrement.

This is a key reason why Afghanistan and Pakistan have never been free of polio—in fact they are the only two countries that have never been free of polio.

I spend a lot of time on polio, part of it talking to the funders to make sure they continue their commitment even though eradication is taking longer than any of us would like. I remind them of the huge benefits of success, and the risk that the disease will return in a big way if we don’t finish the job.

I also remind them what a difference innovation is making. We’re now able to test sewage samples to track the virus and find the source before an outbreak starts. And the global health community is finding creative ways to work in war zones, having stopped outbreaks in Syria and Somalia in recent years.

Finally, I am hopeful about a new oral vaccine being tested in Belgium and Panama. The results should be out in 2019, and if this one proves effective, it would overcome some of the problems with previous oral vaccines when they’re used in places where few children are immunized. The new vaccine could be in use as soon as 2020.

Despite all the challenges, I am still optimistic that we can eradicate polio soon.

Energy

Global emissions of greenhouse gases went up in 2018. For me, that just reinforces the fact that the only way to prevent the worst climate-change scenarios is to get some breakthroughs in clean energy.

Some people think we have all the tools we need, and that driving down the cost of renewables like solar and wind solves the problem. I am glad to see solar and wind getting cheaper and we should be deploying them wherever it makes sense.

But solar and wind are intermittent sources of energy, and we are unlikely to have super-cheap batteries anytime soon that would allow us to store sufficient energy for when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. Besides, electricity accounts for only 25% of all emissions. We need to solve the other 75% too.

This year Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the clean-energy investment fund I’m involved with, announced the first companies we’re putting money into. You can see the list at http://www.b-t.energy/ventures/our-investment-portfolio/. We are looking at all the major drivers of climate change. The companies we chose are run by brilliant people and show a lot of promise for taking innovative clean-energy ideas out of the lab and getting them to market.

Next year I will speak out more about how the U.S. needs to regain its leading role in nuclear power research. (This is unrelated to my work with the foundation.)

Nuclear is ideal for dealing with climate change, because it is the only carbon-free, scalable energy source that’s available 24 hours a day. The problems with today’s reactors, such as the risk of accidents, can be solved through innovation.

The United States is uniquely suited to create these advances with its world-class scientists, entrepreneurs, and investment capital.

 Unfortunately, America is no longer the global leader on nuclear energy that it was 50 years ago.

Unfortunately, America is no longer the global leader on nuclear energy that it was 50 years ago. To regain this position, it will need to commit new funding, update regulations, and show investors that it’s serious.

There are several promising ideas in advanced nuclear that should be explored if we get over these obstacles. TerraPower, the company I started 10 years ago, uses an approach called a traveling wave reactor that is safe, prevents proliferation, and produces very little waste. We had hoped to build a pilot project in China, but recent policy changes here in the U.S. have made that unlikely. We may be able to build it in the United States if the funding and regulatory changes that I mentioned earlier happen.

The world needs to be working on lots of solutions to stop climate change. Advanced nuclear is one, and I hope to persuade U.S. leaders to get into the game.

The next epidemic

In 1918, the Spanish flu killed 50 million people worldwide. It still ranks as one of the deadliest natural disasters ever.

I had hoped that hitting the 100th anniversary of this epidemic would spark a lot of discussion about whether we’re ready for the next global epidemic. Unfortunately, it didn’t, and we still are not ready.

People rightly worry about dangers like terrorism and climate change (and, more remotely, an asteroid hitting the Earth). But if anything is going to kill tens of millions of people in a short time, it will probably be a global epidemic. And the disease would most likely be a form of the flu, because the flu virus spreads easily through the air. Today a flu as contagious and lethal as the 1918 one would kill nearly 33 million people in just six months.

I have been studying this for several years. To be prepared, we need a plan for national governments to work together. We need to think through how to handle quarantines, make sure supply chains will reach affected areas, decide how to involve the military, and so on. There was not much progress on these questions in 2018.

 There has been progress toward a vaccine that would protect you from every strain of the flu.

The good news is that there has been progress toward a vaccine that would protect you from every strain of the flu. This year I visited the U.S. National Institutes of Health in Maryland and got an update from some of the people leading this work.

The challenges of making a universal flu vaccine are fascinating. All strains of the virus have certain structures in common. If you’ve never been exposed to the flu, it’s possible to make a vaccine that teaches your immune system to look for those structures and attack them. But once you’ve had the flu, your body obsesses over the strain that got you sick. That makes it really hard to get your immune system to look for the common structures.

So it is clear how we could make a universal vaccine that would protect anyone (such as the very young) who has never been exposed to the flu before. But for anyone who has already had the virus, it is a lot harder. The problem is a long way from being solved, but new research money is coming in and more scientists are working on it.

To make the most of these scientific efforts (some of which our foundation is funding), the world needs to develop a global system for monitoring and responding to epidemics. That is a political matter that requires international cooperation among government leaders. This issue deserves a lot more focus.

Gene editing

Gene editing made the news in November when a Chinese scientist announced that he had altered the genes of two baby girls when they were embryos. What is unprecedented about his work is that he edited their germline cells, meaning the changes will be passed down to their children. (The other, less controversial type of gene editing involves somatic cells, which aren’t inherited by future generations.)

I agree with those who say this scientist went too far. But something good can come from his work if it encourages more people to learn and talk about gene editing. This might be the most important public debate we haven’t been having widely enough.

The ethical questions are enormous. Gene editing is generating a ton of optimism for treating and curing diseases, including some that our foundation works on (though we fund work on altering crops and insects, not humans). But the technology could make inequity worse, especially if it is available only for wealthy people.

I am surprised that these issues haven’t generated more attention from the general public. Today, artificial intelligence is the subject of vigorous debate. Gene editing deserves at least as much of the spotlight as AI.

I encourage you to read up on it whenever you have a chance. Keep an eye out for articles in your news feed. If you are willing to read a whole book, The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee is very well done. This story is one to follow, because big breakthroughs—some good, some worrisome—are coming.

Looking ahead

 I am making a resolution for 2019.

Although I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions, I have always been committed to setting clear goals and making plans to achieve them. As I get older, these two things look more and more like the same exercise. So I am making a resolution for 2019. I am committing to learn and think about two key areas where technology has the potential to make an enormous impact on the quality of our lives, but also raises complex ethical and social considerations.

One is the balance between privacy and innovation. How can we use data to gain insights into education (like which schools do the best job of teaching low-income students) or health (like which doctors provide the best care for a reasonable price) while protecting people’s privacy?

The other is the use of technology in education. How much can software improve students’ learning? For years we have been hearing overheated claims about the huge impact that technology would have on education. People have been right to be skeptical. But I think things are finally coming together in a way that will deliver on the promises.

I will be posting updates on these and other issues on the Gates Notes.

In the meantime, Melinda and I are working on our next Annual Letter. The theme is a surprise, though it is safe to say we’ll be sharing some positive trends that make us optimistic about the future. We’ll send the letter out in February.

I hope you have a happy and healthy start to 2019.

https://www.gatesnotes.com/About-Bill-Gates/Year-in-Review-2018

A Failed Quest for Meaning

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, by Steven Pinker (Viking, 576 pp., $35)Professor Steven Pinker of Harvard has written a 500-plus-page advertising pamphlet for the Enlightenment. He doesn’t quite make the sale, in spite of his having the good fortune to be pitching the best product . . . ever, really.

Good Steven Pinker argues that the Enlightenment represented an escape from dogma, one in which the emerging combination of the scientific method and political liberalism put every claim and creed to the test of reason. Bad Steven Pinker believes — and believes hard — that the Enlightenment is itself a dogma and a tribe and a scripture. Case in point: Countering the argument that Enlightenment ideals fail because people are not perfectly rational actors, Pinker writes, in emphatic italics: “No Enlightenment thinker ever claimed that humans were consistently rational.” Throughout his new book, Enlightenment Now, he offers that same observation repeatedly, as though it were not only dispositive but self-evidently so. From Spinoza to Laplace to Pinker: There is no escaping apostolic succession, after all.

Professor Pinker, like Saint Paul, has a great talent for making the good news sound positively dreadful — unbearable, even. Which is a shame, because there is so much good news in his book. And charts! Goodness, are there charts, charts and charts and charts charting the rise of human flourishing on every axis from educational attainment in India to female literacy in Pakistan to anti-black hate crimes in the United States. Hooray, and well done, humanity. If those are the charts, then bring on the charts!

But this isn’t a book about charts, really. This is a book about the Meaning of Life.

Professor Pinker begins with an anecdote about a student who, after a lecture, asked him, “Why should I live?” After satisfying himself that this was not a case of suicidal ideation or mere smart-assery, he answers:

As a sentient being, you have the potential to flourish. You can refine your faculty of reason itself by learning and debating. You can seek explanations of the natural world through science, and insight into the human condition through the arts and humanities. You can make the most of your capacity for pleasure and satisfaction, which allowed your ancestors to thrive and thereby allowed you to exist. You can appreciate the beauty and richness of the natural and cultural world. As the heir to billions of years of life perpetuating itself, you can perpetuate life in return.

He goes on in that mode for a while, and even the most casual reader will notice that he offers a great deal of “You can” but no “You should.” Which is to say: He does not answer the question. As it turns out, he answers the question neither in short nor at length. “Explaining the meaning of life is not in the usual job description of a professor of cognitive science,” he writes, “and I would not have had the gall to take up her question if the answer depended on my arcane technical knowledge or my dubious personal wisdom.” No, he appeals to a higher power: “But I knew I was channeling a body of beliefs and values that had taken shape more than two centuries before me and that are now more relevant than ever: the ideals of the Enlightenment.”

It was reason that led most of the Enlightenment thinkers to repudiate a belief in an anthropomorphic God who took an interest in human affairs. The application of reason revealed that reports of miracles were dubious, that the authors of holy books were all too human, that natural events unfolded with no regard to human welfare, and that different cultures believed in mutually incompatible deities, none of them less likely than the others to be products of the imagination.

That is fairly sloppy stuff: There is the fallacious appeal to authority (“most of the Enlightenment thinkers”), the failure to understand the claims of the other side (of course reports of miracles are dubious: miracles are unlikely — that is what makes them miracles), the ad hominem (it would hardly come as a shock to any Christian familiar with the biography of Saint Peter that he was “all too human” — accompanying the Prince of Peace in His last days, Peter got into a knife fight), the juvenile (as a matter of logic, it simply is not the case that if not all religious claims can be true simultaneously, then all of them must be false), etc. None of this stuff is very much germane to Professor Pinker’s argument; he simply cannot help himself. If you doubt that this is base, tribal, googly-eyed, us-vs.-them stuff, consider this bit: “Early governments pacified the people they ruled, reducing internecine violence, but imposed a reign of terror that included slavery, harems, human sacrifice, summary executions, and the torture and mutilation of dissidents and deviants. (The Bible has no shortage of examples.)” This appears a few sentences above mentions of the Chinese civil war and Idi Amin. Of course it is the case that accounts of violent episodes can be found in the Bible, but that is not why the Bible appears in that sentence. It appears as a tribal signifier. Us ain’t Them.

Better that Professor Pinker should have taken the advice of A. J. Ayer and eliminated the metaphysics altogether. It isn’t as though the real-world problems of fanaticism and primitivism would have left his volume too slender: The Islamic State exists, and, if it’s explicit anti-intellectualism you’re looking for, consider the etymology of “Boko Haram” — literally, “Books are forbidden.”

In metaphysics as in politics and poker, it is hard to beat something with nothing, and, as ethics go, “The universe is headed for heat death, eventually” isn’t exactly compelling. Marcus Aurelius advised his reader not to worry too much about life, death, or reputation, because, soon enough, we’ll be dead, everybody who knew us will be dead, everybody who might have remembered us will be dead, etc. “‘This man was the last of his house’ is not uncommon upon a monument,” the emperor-philosopher wrote. “How solicitous were the ancestors of these men about an heir! Yet someone must, of necessity, be the last.” Which is sunshine in a glass compared with maximum entropy.

The problem for Professor Pinker is that there isn’t any really good way to get from just the facts to an ethical creed, from the reason and science of his subtitle to the humanism. He tries to get around this with rarity: Humans and human institutions (along with sentient beings and life in general) are examples of low-entropy situations, which are very rare in the universe. Professor Pinker in fact follows the rhetoric of the creationists and intelligent-design cranks (he must shudder to do so) when he explains the Law of Entropy: “If you walk away from a sandcastle, it won’t be there tomorrow, because as the wind, waves, seagulls, and small children push the grains of sand around, they’re more likely to arrange them into one of the vast number of configurations that don’t look like a castle than into one of the tiny few that do.”

The echo of the Reverend William Paley’s Divine Watchmaker is unmistakable. Professor Pinker uses his story for a different purpose, of course: While those who would seek to discredit evolution argue that the fact of the universe argues for a creator in the same way that the existence of a watch implies the existence of a watchmaker, Professor Pinker argues that the rarity of the orderly bits of the universe makes them special, valuable, interesting. But: To whom? And: Says who? There isn’t anything about the Second Law of Thermodynamics that says, or even implies, that we should prefer thermodynamic disequilibrium over thermodynamic equilibrium. It’s only temporary, anyway. There isn’t any scientific reason to prefer a world with humans in it to one without, or a world with happy humans in it to one with unhappy humans in it. (“And what if God prefers your tears to your studying?” asked Rabbi Mendel, no relation to the Right Reverend Gregor Mendel, who laid the foundations of genetics when he wasn’t running the abbey in Brno.) If you want to get from thermodynamics to politics and ethics, there’s a bit more work involved than Professor Pinker has here done. “We’re the Enlightenment, we’re the good guys, follow us!” won’t do it.

This is unfortunate, because Professor Pinker believes that the ideals of the Enlightenment “are now more relevant than ever”: There are challenges to the Enlightenment, to liberalism, and to material progress. Tribalism is, at the moment, resurgent, no less here in the United States than abroad: President Trump is being joined at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference by Marion Maréchal–Le Pen. The new tribalists of the West are not very much impressed by the low prices at Walmart, the improving quality of life in urban China, or the rising literacy rate among Afghan girls. Neither is Boko Haram. Neither is the Islamic State.

And that is what makes the author’s failure here all the more dismaying. Professor Pinker, and many others like him, understand the Enlightenment as a force of oppositionto the civilization that produced it, the civilization we used to call “Christendom.” Professor Pinker’s account has the new gospel of Enlightenment arising from the muck of Christian civilization, with its witch hunts and inquisitions, protected by a few true believers toward whom we still look today for guidance. But the actual Enlightenment happened in the Christian world. They had gunpowder in ancient China, but the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution happened where they happened, and when they happened, for a reason. To properly defend the Enlightenment and its ideals requires grounding the Enlightenment in the culture that produced it, which offends Professor Pinker’s cosmopolitan instincts, to say nothing of his instinct for sneering at Christianity.

“Cult” is the first syllable in “culture,” and Professor Pinker’s professed humanism is a creed, not a scientific deduction. A creed grounded in what? Being nice? The scientific method? Please. It’s grounded in a tribal identity, a little tribe comprising Professor Pinker, Sam Harris, and the ghost of Christopher Hitchens. That sounds like a fun dinner party, but it’s hardly the basis for a civilization. Pinker is dead-on about much — and much that is important — but he remains limited by what must be described as intellectual pettiness, which isn’t what you want in a book professing to lay out the meaning of life.

https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2018/03/19/steven-pinker-enlightenment-now-review-failed-quest-meaning/

Books by Steven Pinker

https://www.thriftbooks.com/a/steven-pinker/202210/?mkwid=s|dc&pcrid=301999411142&pkw=&pmt=b&plc=&pgrid=34947186125&ptaid=dsa-266516562683&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIh_6j9OXS3wIVy7fACh0oCAC1EAMYASAAEgLbO_D_BwE

 

Steven Pinker

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Steven Pinker
102111 Pinker 344.jpg
Born
Steven Arthur Pinker

September 18, 1954 (age 64)

MontrealQuebec, Canada
Nationality Canadian
American
Notable work
Spouse(s)
  • Nancy Etcoff
    (m. 1980; div. 1992)
  • Ilavenil Subbiah
    (m. 1995; div. 2006)
  • Rebecca Goldstein (m. 2007)
Alma mater
Awards Troland Award (1993, National Academy of Sciences),
Henry Dale Prize (2004, Royal Institution),
Walter P. Kistler Book Award (2005),
Humanist of the Year award (2006, issued by the AHA),
George Miller Prize (2010, Cognitive Neuroscience Society), Richard Dawkins Award (2013)
Scientific career
Fields Evolutionary psychologyexperimental psychologycognitive sciencepsycholinguisticsvisual cognition
Thesis The Representation of Three-dimensional Space in Mental Images (1979)
Doctoral advisor Stephen Kosslyn
Influences Noam Chomsky[1]
Website www.stevenpinker.com

Steven Arthur Pinker (born September 18, 1954) is a Canadian-American cognitive psychologistlinguist, and popular science author. He is Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, and is known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind.

Pinker’s academic specializations are visual cognition and psycholinguistics. His experimental subjects include mental imagery, shape recognition, visual attention, children’s language development, regular and irregular phenomena in language, the neural bases of words and grammar, and the psychology of cooperation and communication, including euphemisminnuendo, emotional expression, and common knowledge. He has written two technical books that proposed a general theory of language acquisition and applied it to children’s learning of verbs. In particular, his work with Alan Prince published in 1989 critiqued the connectionist model of how children acquire the past tense of English verbs, arguing instead that children use default rules such as adding “-ed” to make regular forms, sometimes in error, but are obliged to learn irregular forms one by one.

In his popular books, he has argued that the human faculty for language is an instinct, an innate behavior shaped by natural selection and adapted to our communication needs. He is the author of eight books for a general audience. Five of these, The Language Instinct (1994), How the Mind Works (1997), Words and Rules (2000), The Blank Slate (2002), and The Stuff of Thought (2007), describe aspects of the field of psycholinguistics and cognitive science, and include accounts of his own research. In the sixth book, The Better Angels of Our Nature (2011), Pinker makes the case that violence in human societies has, in general, steadily declined with time, and identifies six major causes of this decline.

His seventh book, The Sense of Style (2014), is intended as a general style guide that is informed by modern science and psychology, offering advice on how to produce more comprehensible and unambiguous writing in nonfiction contexts and explaining why so much of today’s academic and popular writing is difficult for readers to understand. His eighth book, Enlightenment Now (2018), continues the optimistic thesis of The Better Angels of Our Nature by using social science data from various sources to argue for a general improvement of the human condition over recent history.

Pinker has been named as one of the world’s most influential intellectuals by various magazines. He has won awards from the American Psychological Association, the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society and the American Humanist Association. He delivered the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh in 2013. He has served on the editorial boards of a variety of journals, and on the advisory boards of several institutions. He has frequently participated in public debates on science and society.

Biography[edit]

Pinker was born in MontrealQuebec, in 1954, to a middle-class Jewish family. His parents were Roslyn (Wiesenfeld) and Harry Pinker.[3][4] His grandparents emigrated to Canada from Poland and Romania in 1926,[5][6] and owned a small necktie factory in Montreal.[7] His father, a lawyer, first worked as a manufacturer’s representative, while his mother was first a home-maker then a guidance counselor and high-school vice-principal. He has two younger siblings. His brother Robert is a policy analyst for the Canadian government, while his sister, Susan Pinker, is a psychologist and writer who authored The Sexual Paradox and The Village Effect.[8][9]

Pinker married Nancy Etcoff in 1980 and they divorced in 1992; he married Ilavenil Subbiah in 1995 and they too divorced.[10] His third wife, whom he married in 2007, is the novelist and philosopher Rebecca Goldstein.[11] He has two stepdaughters: the novelist Yael Goldstein Love and the poet Danielle Blau.

Pinker graduated from Dawson College in 1973. He received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from McGill University in 1976, and earned his Doctorate of Philosophy in experimental psychology at Harvard University in 1979 under Stephen Kosslyn. He did research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for a year, after which he became an assistant professor at Harvard and then Stanford University.

From 1982 until 2003, Pinker taught at the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, was the co-director of the Center for Cognitive science (1985–1994), and eventually became the director of the Center for Cognitive neuroscience (1994–1999),[12] taking a one-year sabbatical at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1995–96. As of 2003, he is the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard; from 2008 to 2013 he also held the title of Harvard College Professor in recognition of his dedication to teaching.[13] He currently gives lectures as a visiting professor at the New College of the Humanities, a private college in London.[14][15]

About his Jewish background Pinker has said, “I was never religious in the theological sense … I never outgrew my conversion to atheism at 13, but at various times was a serious cultural Jew.”[16] As a teenager, he says he considered himself an anarchist until he witnessed civil unrest following a police strike in 1969, when:

As a young teenager in proudly peaceable Canada during the romantic 1960s, I was a true believer in Bakunin’s anarchism. I laughed off my parents’ argument that if the government ever laid down its arms all hell would break loose. Our competing predictions were put to the test at 8:00 A.M. on October 17, 1969, when the Montreal police went on strike … This decisive empirical test left my politics in tatters (and offered a foretaste of life as a scientist).[17]

Pinker identifies himself as an equity feminist, which he defines as “a moral doctrine about equal treatment that makes no commitments regarding open empirical issues in psychology or biology”.[18] He reported the result of a test of his political orientation that characterized him as “neither leftist nor rightist, more libertarian than authoritarian.”[19] He describes himself as having “experienced a primitive tribal stirring” after his genes were shown to trace back to the Middle East, noting that he “found it just as thrilling to zoom outward in the diagrams of my genetic lineage and see my place in a family tree that embraces all of humanity”.[20]

Pinker also identifies himself as an atheist. In the 2007 interview with the Point of Inquiry podcast, Pinker states that he would “defend atheism as an empirically supported view.” He sees theism and atheism as competing empirical hypotheses, and states that “we’re learning more and more about what makes us tick, including our moral sense, without needing the assumption of a deity or a soul. It’s naturally getting crowded out by the successive naturalistic explanations.”[21]

Research and theory[edit]

Pinker in 2007.

Pinker’s research on visual cognition, begun in collaboration with his thesis adviser, Stephen Kosslyn, showed that mental images represent scenes and objects as they appear from a specific vantage point (rather than capturing their intrinsic three-dimensional structure), and thus correspond to the neuroscientist David Marr‘s theory of a “two-and-a-half-dimensional sketch.”[22] He also showed that this level of representation is used in visual attention, and in object recognition (at least for asymmetrical shapes), contrary to Marr’s theory that recognition uses viewpoint-independent representations.

In psycholinguistics, Pinker became known early in his career for promoting computational learning theory as a way to understand language acquisition in children. He wrote a tutorial review of the field followed by two books that advanced his own theory of language acquisition, and a series of experiments on how children acquire the passive, dative, and locative constructions. These books were Language Learnability and Language Development (1984), in Pinker’s words “outlin[ing] a theory of how children acquire the words and grammatical structures of their mother tongue”,[23] and Learnability and Cognition: The Acquisition of Argument Structure (1989), in Pinker’s words “focus[ing] on one aspect of this process, the ability to use different kinds of verbs in appropriate sentences, such as intransitive verbs, transitive verbs, and verbs taking different combinations of complements and indirect objects”.[23] He then focused on verbs of two kinds that illustrate what he considers to be the processes required for human language: retrieving whole words from memory, like the past form of the irregular verb[24] “bring”, namely “brought”; and using rules to combine (parts of) words, like the past form of the regular verb “walk”, namely “walked”.[23]

In 1988 Pinker and Alan Prince published an influential critique of a connectionist model of the acquisition of the past tense (a textbook problem in language acquisition), followed by a series of studies of how people use and acquire the past tense. This included a monograph on children’s regularization of irregular forms and his popular 1999 book, Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language. Pinker argued that language depends on two things, the associative remembering of sounds and their meanings in words, and the use of rules to manipulate symbols for grammar. He presented evidence against connectionism, where a child would have to learn all forms of all words and would simply retrieve each needed form from memory, in favour of the older alternative theory, the use of words and rules combined by generative phonology. He showed that mistakes made by children indicate the use of default rules to add suffixes such as “-ed”: for instance ‘breaked’ and ‘comed’ for ‘broke’ and ‘came’. He argued that this shows that irregular verb-forms in English have to be learnt and retrieved from memory individually, and that the children making these errors were predicting the regular “-ed” ending in an open-ended way by applying a mental rule. This rule for combining verb stems and the usual suffix can be expressed as[25]

Vpast → Vstem + d

where V is a verb and d is the regular ending. Pinker further argued that since the ten most frequently occurring English verbs (be, have, do, say, make … ) are all irregular, while 98.2% of the thousand least common verbs are regular, there is a “massive correlation” of frequency and irregularity. He explains this by arguing that every irregular form, such as ‘took’, ‘came’ and ‘got’, has to be committed to memory by the children in each generation, or else lost, and that the common forms are the most easily memorized. Any irregular verb that falls in popularity past a certain point is lost, and all future generations will treat it as a regular verb instead.[25]

In 1990, Pinker, with Paul Bloom, published the paper “Natural Language and Natural Selection”, arguing that the human language faculty must have evolved through natural selection.[26] The article provided arguments for a continuity based view of language evolution, contrary to then current discontinuity based theories that see language as suddenly appearing with the advent of Homo sapiens as a kind of evolutionary accident. This discontinuity based view was prominently argued by two of the main authorities, linguist Noam Chomsky and Stephen Jay Gould.[27] The paper became widely cited and created renewed interest in the evolutionary prehistory of language, and has been credited with shifting the central question of the debate from “did language evolve?” to “how did language evolve”.[27][28] The article also presaged Pinker’s argument in The Language Instinct.

Pinker’s research includes delving into human nature and what science says about it. In his interview on the Point of Inquiry podcast in 2007, he provides the following examples of what he considers defensible conclusions of what science says human nature is:

  • The sexes are not statistically identical; “their interests and talents form two overlapping distributions”. Any policy that wants to provide equal outcomes for both men and women will have to discriminate against one or the other.
  • “Individuals differ in personality and intelligence.”
  • “People favor themselves and their families over an abstraction called society.”
  • Humans are “systematically self deceived. Each one of us thinks of ourselves as more competent and benevolent than we are.”
  • “People crave status and power”

He informs the listeners that one can read more about human nature in his book, Blank Slate.

Pinker also speaks about evolutionary psychology in the podcast and believes that this area of science is going to pay off. He cites the fact that there are many areas of study, such as beauty, religion, play, and sexuality, that were not studied 15 years ago. It is thanks to evolutionary psychology that these areas are being studied.[21]

Popularization of science[edit]

Pinker in 2011.

Human cognition and natural language[edit]

Pinker’s 1994 The Language Instinct was the first of several books to combine cognitive science with behavioral genetics and evolutionary psychology. It introduces the science of language and popularizes Noam Chomsky‘s theory that language is an innate faculty of mind, with the controversial twist that the faculty for language evolved by natural selection as an adaptation for communication. Pinker criticizes several widely held ideas about language – that it needs to be taught, that people’s grammar is poor and getting worse with new ways of speaking, the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis that language limits the kinds of thoughts a person can have, and that other great apes can learn languages. Pinker sees language as unique to humans, evolved to solve the specific problem of communication among social hunter-gatherers. He argues that it is as much an instinct as specialized adaptative behavior in other species, such as a spider‘s web-weaving or a beaver‘s dam-building.

Pinker states in his introduction that his ideas are “deeply influenced”[29] by Chomsky; he also lists scientists whom Chomsky influenced to “open up whole new areas of language study, from child development and speech perception to neurology and genetics”[29] — Eric LennebergGeorge MillerRoger BrownMorris Halle and Alvin Liberman.[29] Brown mentored Pinker through his thesis; Pinker stated that Brown’s “funny and instructive”[30] book Words and Things (1958) was one of the inspirations for The Language Instinct.[30][31]

The reality of Pinker’s proposed language instinct, and the related claim that grammar is innate and genetically based, has been contested by many linguists. One prominent opponent of Pinker’s view is Geoffrey Sampson whose 1997 book, Educating Eve: The ‘Language Instinct’ Debate has been described as the “definitive response” to Pinker’s book.[32][33] Sampson argues that while it may seem attractive to argue the nature side of the ‘nature versus nurture’ debate, the nurture side may better support the creativity and nobility of the human mind. Sampson denies there is a language instinct, and argues that children can learn language because people can learn anything.[33] Others have sought a middle ground between Pinker’s nativism and Sampson’s culturalism.[34]

The assumptions underlying the nativist view have also been criticised in Jeffrey Elman‘s Rethinking Innateness: A Connectionist Perspective on Development, which defends the connectionist approach that Pinker attacked. In his 1996 book Impossible Minds, the machine intelligence researcher Igor Aleksander calls The Language Instinct excellent, and argues that Pinker presents a relatively soft claim for innatism, accompanied by a strong dislike of the ‘Standard Social Sciences Model’ or SSSM (Pinker’s term), which supposes that development is purely dependent on culture. Further, Aleksander writes that while Pinker criticises some attempts to explain language processing with neural nets, Pinker later makes use of a neural net to create past tense verb forms correctly. Aleksander concludes that while he doesn’t support the SSSM, “a cultural repository of language just seems the easy trick for an efficient evolutionary system armed with an iconic state machine to play.”[35]

Two other books, How the Mind Works (1997) and The Blank Slate (2002), broadly surveyed the mind and defended the idea of a complex human nature with many mental faculties that are adaptive (Pinker is an ally of Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins in many disputes surrounding adaptationism). Another major theme in Pinker’s theories is that human cognition works, in part, by combinatorial symbol-manipulation, not just associations among sensory features, as in many connectionist models. On the debate around The Blank Slate, Pinker called Thomas Sowell‘s book A Conflict of Visions “wonderful”,[36] and explained that “The Tragic Vision” and the “Utopian Vision” are the views of human nature behind right- and left-wing ideologies.[36]

In Words and Rules: the Ingredients of Language (1999), Pinker argues from his own research that regular and irregular phenomena are products of computation and memory lookup, respectively, and that language can be understood as an interaction between the two.[37] “Words and Rules” is also the title of an essay by Pinker outlining many of the topics discussed in the book.[25] Critiqueing the book from the perspective of generative linguistics Charles Yang, in the London Review of Books, writes that “this book never runs low on hubris or hyperbole“.[38] The book’s topic, the English past tense, is in Yang’s view unglamorous, and Pinker’s attempts at compromise risk being in no man’s land between rival theories. Giving the example of German, Yang argues that irregular nouns in that language at least all belong to classes, governed by rules, and that things get even worse in languages that attach prefixes and suffixes to make up long ‘words’: they can’t be learnt individually, as there are untold numbers of combinations. “All Pinker (and the connectionists) are doing is turning over the rocks at the base of the intellectual landslide caused by the Chomskian revolution.”[38]

In The Stuff of Thought (2007), Pinker looks at a wide range of issues around the way words related to thoughts on the one hand, and to the world outside ourselves on the other. Given his evolutionary perspective, a central question is how an intelligent mind capable of abstract thought evolved: how a mind adapted to Stone Age life could work in the modern world. Many quirks of language are the result.[39]

Pinker is critical of theories about the evolutionary origins of language that argue that linguistic cognition might have evolved from earlier musical cognition. He sees language as being tied primarily to the capacity for logical reasoning, and speculates that human proclivity for music may be a spandrel — a feature not adaptive in its own right, but that has persisted through other traits that are more broadly practical, and thus selected for. In How the Mind Works, Pinker reiterates Immanuel Kant‘s view that music is not in itself an important cognitive phenomenon, but that it happens to stimulate important auditory and spatio-motor cognitive functions. Pinker compares music to “auditory cheesecake”, stating that “As far as biological cause and effect is concerned, music is useless”. This argument has been rejected by Daniel Levitin and Joseph Carroll, experts in music cognition, who argue that music has had an important role in the evolution of human cognition.[40][41][42][43][44][45] In his book This Is Your Brain On Music, Levitin argues that music could provide adaptive advantage through sexual selectionsocial bonding, and cognitive development; he questions the assumption that music is the antecedent to language, as opposed to its progenitor, noting that many species display music-like habits that could be seen as precursors to human music.[46]

Pinker has also been critical of “whole language” reading instruction techniques, stating in How the Mind Works, “… the dominant technique, called ‘whole language,’ the insight that [spoken] language is a naturally developing human instinct has been garbled into the evolutionarily improbable claim that reading is a naturally developing human instinct.”[47] In the appendix to the 2007 reprinted edition of The Language Instinct, Pinker cited Why Our Children Can’t Read by cognitive psychologist Diane McGuinness as his favorite book on the subject and noted:

One raging public debate involving language went unmentioned in The Language Instinct: the “reading wars,” or dispute over whether children should be explicitly taught to read by decoding the sounds of words from their spelling (loosely known as “phonics“) or whether they can develop it instinctively by being immersed in a text-rich environment (often called “whole language”). I tipped my hand in the paragraph in [the sixth chapter of the book] which said that language is an instinct but reading is not.[48] Like most psycholinguists (but apparently unlike many school boards), I think it’s essential for children to be taught to become aware of speech sounds and how they are coded in strings of letters.[49]

The Better Angels of Our Nature[edit]

Violence in the middle ages: detail from “Mars” in Das Mittelalterliche Hausbuch, c. 1475 – 1480. The image is used by Pinker in The Better Angels of Our Nature, with the comment “as the Housebook illustrations suggest, [the knights] did not restrict their killing to other knights”.[50]

In The Better Angels of Our Nature, published in 2011, Pinker argues that violence, including tribal warfare, homicide, cruel punishments, child abuse, animal cruelty, domestic violence, lynching, pogroms, and international and civil wars, has decreased over multiple scales of time and magnitude. Pinker considers it unlikely that human nature has changed. In his view, it is more likely that human nature comprises inclinations toward violence and those that counteract them, the “better angels of our nature”. He outlines six ‘major historical declines of violence’ that all have their own socio/cultural/economic causes:[51]

  1. “The Pacification Process” – The rise of organized systems of government has a correlative relationship with the decline in violent deaths. As states expand they prevent tribal feuding, reducing losses.
  2. “The Civilizing Process” – Consolidation of centralized states and kingdoms throughout Europe results in the rise of criminal justice and commercial infrastructure, organizing previously chaotic systems that could lead to raiding and mass violence.
  3. “The Humanitarian Revolution” – The 18th – 20th century abandonment of institutionalized violence by the state (breaking on the wheel, burning at the stake). Suggests this is likely due to the spike in literacy after the invention of the printing press thereby allowing the proletariat to question conventional wisdom.
  4. “The Long Peace” – The powers of 20th Century believed that period of time to be the bloodiest in history. This to a largely peaceful 65-year period post World War I and World War II. Developed countries have stopped warring (against each other and colonially), adopted democracy, and this has led a massive decline (on average) of deaths.
  5. “The New Peace” – The decline in organized conflicts of all kinds since the end of the Cold War.
  6. “The Rights Revolutions” – The reduction of systemic violence at smaller scales against vulnerable populations (racial minorities, women, children, homosexuals, animals).

The book was welcomed by many critics and reviewers, who found its arguments convincing and its synthesis of a large volume of historical evidence compelling.[52][53][54][55][56] It also aroused criticism on a variety of grounds, such as whether deaths per capita was an appropriate metric, Pinker’s atheism, lack of moral leadership, excessive focus on Europe (though the book covers other areas), the interpretation of historical data, and its image of indigenous people.[57][58][59][60][61][62][63][64][65][66][67]

English writing style in the 21st century[edit]

In his seventh popular book, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century (2014), Pinker attempts to provide a writing style guide that is informed by modern science and psychology, offering advice on how to produce more comprehensible and unambiguous writing in nonfiction contexts and explaining why so much of today’s academic and popular writing is difficult for readers to understand.

In a November 2014 episode of the Point of Inquiry podcast, host Lindsay Beyerstein, asked Pinker how his style guide was different from the many guides that already exist. His answer,

The Thinking Person’s Guide because I don’t issue dictates from on high as most manuals do but explain why the various guidelines will improve writing, what they do for language, what they do for the reader’s experience, in the hope that the users will apply the rules judiciously knowing what they are designed to accomplish, rather than robotically.[68]

He also indicated that the 21st century was applicable because language and usage change over time and it has been a long time since William Strunk wrote Elements of Style.[68]

Public debate[edit]

Pinker is a frequent participant in public debates surrounding the contributions of science to contemporary society. Social commentators such as Ed West, author of The Diversity Illusion, consider Pinker important and daring in his willingness to confront taboos, as in The Blank Slate. This doctrine (the tabula rasa), writes West, remained accepted “as fact, rather than fantasy”[69] a decade after the book’s publication. West describes Pinker as “no polemicist, and he leaves readers to draw their own conclusions”.[69]

In January 2005, Pinker defended Lawrence Summers, president of Harvard University, whose comments about a gender gap in mathematics and science angered much of the faculty. Pinker noted that Summers’s remarks, properly understood, were hypotheses about overlapping statistical distributions of men’s and women’s talents and tastes, and that in a university such hypotheses ought to be the subject of empirical testing rather than dogma and outrage.[70] Edge.org ran a debate between Pinker and Elizabeth Spelke on gender and science.[71]

In 2009, Pinker wrote a mixed review of Malcolm Gladwell‘s essays in The New York Times criticizing his analytical methods.[72] Gladwell replied, disputing Pinker’s comments about the importance of IQ on teaching performance and by analogy, the effect, if any, of draft order on quarterback performance in the National Football League.[73] Advanced NFL Stats addressed the issue statistically, siding with Pinker and showing that differences in methodology could explain the two men’s differing opinions.[74]

In 2009, David Shenk criticized Pinker for siding with the “nature” argument and for “never once acknowledg[ing] gene-environment interaction or epigenetics” in an article on nature versus nurture in The New York Times.[75] Pinker responded to a question about epigenetics as a possibility for the decline in violence in a lecture for the BBC World Service. Pinker said it was unlikely since the decline in violence happened too rapidly to be explained by genetic changes.[76] Helga Vierich and Cathryn Townsend wrote a critical review of Pinker’s sweeping “Civilizational” explanations for patterns of human violence and warfare in response to a lecture he gave at Cambridge University in September 2015.[77]

Steven Pinker is also noted for having identified the rename of Phillip Morris to Altria as an “egregious example” of phonesthesia, with the company attempting to “switch its image from bad people who sell addictive carcinogens to a place or state marked by altruism and other lofty values”.[78]

Pinker continued to court controversy through his 2018 book Enlightenment Now, in which he argues that enlightenment rationality has driven tremendous progress and should be defended against attacks from both the left and right. The Guardian criticized the book as a “triumphalist” work that has a “curious relationship to intellectual history” and overestimates the role of campus activists in mainstream discourse.[79] While promoting the book on the NPR show 1A, Pinker caused a minor social media backlash when he said that “I don’t think Malcolm X did the world much good.”[80][81][82]

In a debate with Pinker, post-colonial theorist Homi Bhabha argued that Enlightenment Now sees the perils of the modern age such as slavery, imperialism, world wars, genocide, inequality etc as glitches rather than costs for enlightenment’s gifts. But Pinker responded that the natural state of humanity has been poverty and disease, and knowledge has improved human welfare.[83]

Awards and distinctions[edit]

Pinker in Göttingen, 2010

Pinker was named one of Time‘s 100 most influential people in the world in 2004[84] and one of Prospect and Foreign Policy100 top public intellectuals in both years the poll was carried out, 2005[85] and 2008;[86] in 2010 and 2011 he was named by Foreign Policy to its list of top global thinkers.[87][88] In 2016, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.[89]

His research in cognitive psychology has won the Early Career Award (1984) and Boyd McCandless Award (1986) from the American Psychological Association, the Troland Research Award (1993) from the National Academy of Sciences, the Henry Dale Prize (2004) from the Royal Institution of Great Britain, and the George Miller Prize (2010) from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society. He has also received honorary doctorates from the universities of NewcastleSurreyTel AvivMcGillSimon Fraser University and the University of Tromsø. He was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, in 1998 and in 2003. On May 13, 2006, he received the American Humanist Association‘s Humanist of the Year award for his contributions to public understanding of human evolution.[90]

Pinker has served on the editorial boards of journals such as Cognition, Daedalus, and PLOS One, and on the advisory boards of institutions for scientific research (e.g., the Allen Institute for Brain Science), free speech (e.g., the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), the popularization of science (e.g., the World Science Festival and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry), peace (e.g., the Peace Research Endowment), and secular humanism (e.g., the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the Secular Coalition for America).

Since 2008, he has chaired the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and wrote the essay on usage for the fifth edition of the Dictionary, which was published in 2011.

In February 2001 Steven Pinker, “whose hair has long been the object of admiration, and envy, and intense study”,[91] was nominated by acclamation as the first member of the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS) organized by the Annals of Improbable Research.

Bibliography[edit]

Books[edit]

Articles and essays[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ C-SPAN | BookTV “In Depth with Steven Pinker” November 2nd 2008
  2. ^ “Steven Pinker”Desert Island Discs. 30 June 2013. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  3. ^ Pinker, S. (2009). Language Learnability and Language Development, With New Commentary by the Author. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674042179. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  4. ^ https://mobile.twitter.com/sapinker/status/990944371578109952
  5. ^ Annie Maccoby Berglof «At home: Steven Pinker»
  6. ^ Curious Minds: How a Child Becomes a Scientist
  7. ^ Pinker, Steven (June 26, 2006). “Groups and Genes”The New Republic. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  8. ^ Shermer, Michael (2001-03-01). The Pinker Instinct. Altadena, CA: Skeptics Society & Skeptic Magazine. Retrieved 11 September 2007.
  9. ^ Steven Pinker: the mind reader The Guardian Accessed 25 November 2006.
  10. ^ Biography for Steven Pinker at imdb. Retrieved 12 September 2007.
  11. ^ “How Steven Pinker Works” by Kristin E. Blagg Archived 2014-10-17 at the Wayback MachineThe Harvard Crimson Accessed 3 February 2006.
  12. ^ Curriculum Vitae (PDF)Harvard University, retrieved June 23, 2017
  13. ^ Pinker, Steven. “Official Biography. Harvard University”. Pinker.wjh.harvard.edu. Archived from the original on 29 December 2005. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  14. ^ “The professoriate” Archived June 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., New College of the Humanities. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  15. ^ “Professor Stephen Pinker”, New College of the Humanities. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  16. ^ “Steven Pinker: the mind reader” by Ed Douglas The Guardian Accessed 3 February 2006.
  17. ^ Pinker, Steven (2002), The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human NaturePenguin PutnamISBN 0-670-03151-8.
  18. ^ Pinker, Steven, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (Viking, 2002), p. 341
  19. ^ “My Genome, My Self” by Steven Pinker The New York Times Sunday MagazineAccessed 10 April 2010.
  20. ^ “DNA and You – Personalized Genomics Goes Jewish”The Forward. 12 August 2011. Retrieved 13 August 2011.
  21. Jump up to:a b Grothe, D.J. (23 February 2007). “Podcast:Steven Pinker – Evolutionary Psychology and Human Nature”. Point of Inquiry with D.J. Grothe. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  22. ^ The nature of the language faculty and its implications for evolution of language
  23. Jump up to:a b c Pinker, Steven. “Steven Pinker: Long Biography”. Harvard University. Archived from the original on 29 December 2005. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  24. ^ Pinker has written a piece on The Irregular Verbs Archived 2014-06-06 at the Wayback Machine., stating that “I like the Irregular verbs of English, all 180 of them, because of what they tell us about the history of the language and the human minds that have perpetuated it.
  25. Jump up to:a b c Pinker, Steven. “Words and rules (essay)” (PDF). Harvard University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 August 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  26. ^ Pinker, S. & Bloom, P. (1990). Natural language and natural selection. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13 (4): 707‐784
  27. Jump up to:a b Christine Kenneally“Language Development:The First Word. The Search for the Origins of Language”. Archived from the original on 2014-07-14.
  28. ^ “The 20th Anniversary of Steven Pinker & Paul Bloom: Natural Language and Natural Selection (1990)”. Replicatedtypo.com.
  29. Jump up to:a b c Pinker, Steven (1994). The Language Instinct. Penguin. pp. 23–24.
  30. Jump up to:a b Pinker, Steven (1998). “Obituary: Roger Brown” (PDF)Cognition66: 199–213 (see page 205). doi:10.1016/s0010-0277(98)00027-4. Archived from the original(PDF) on 2015-05-18.
  31. ^ Kagan, Jerome (1999). “Roger William Brown 1925-1997” (PDF)Biographical Memoirs77: 7.
  32. ^ “The ‘Language Instinct’ Debate”. University of Sussex.
  33. Jump up to:a b “Empiricism v. Nativism: Nature or Nurture?”. GRSampson.net. Retrieved 8 June2014.. More at The ‘Language Instinct’ Debate
  34. ^ Cowley, S. J. (2001). The baby, the bathwater and the “language instinct” debate. Language Sciences, 23(1), 69-91.
  35. ^ Aleksander, Igor (1996). Impossible Minds. pp. 228–234. ISBN 1-86094-030-7.
  36. Jump up to:a b Sailer, Steve (30 October 2002). “Q&A: Steven Pinker of ‘Blank Slate. United Press International. Retrieved 10 May 2014.
  37. ^ Pinker, Steven. “Words and Rules (book)”. Harvard University. Archived from the original on March 30, 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  38. Jump up to:a b Yang, Charles (24 August 2000). “Dig-dug, think-thunk (review of Words and Rules by Steven Pinker)”London Review of Books22 (6): 33.
  39. ^ Pinker, Steven. “The Stuff of Thought”. Harvard University. Archived from the originalon 9 May 2008. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  40. ^ Levitin, D. J.; Tirovolas, A. K. (2009). “Current Advances in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Music”. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences1156: 211–231. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04417.xPMID 19338510.
  41. ^ Perlovsky L. Music. Cognitive Function, Origin, And Evolution Of Musical Emotions. WebmedCentral PSYCHOLOGY 2011;2(2):WMC001494
  42. ^ Abbott, Alison (2002). “Neurobiology: Music, maestro, please!”. Nature416: 12–14. doi:10.1038/416012a.
  43. ^ Cross, I. (1999). Is music the most important thing we ever did? Music, development and evolution. [preprint (html)] [preprint (pdf)] In Suk Won Yi (Ed.), Music, mind and science (pp 10–39), Seoul: Seoul National University Press.
  44. ^ “Interview with Daniel Levitin”. Pbs.org. May 20, 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  45. ^ Carroll, Joseph (1998). “Steven Pinker’s Cheesecake For The Mind”. Cogweb.ucla.edu. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  46. ^ Levitin, Daniel. 2006. This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, New York: Dutton/Penguin.
  47. ^ Pinker, Steven (1997), How the Mind Works, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, p. 342
  48. ^ Pinker, Steven (2007), The Language Instinct (3rd ed.), New York: Harper Perennial, p. 186
  49. ^ Pinker, Steven (2007), The Language Instinct (3rd ed.), New York: Harper Perennial, pp. PS14
  50. ^ Pinker, Steven (2011). The Better Angels of Our Nature. Allen Lane. p66
  51. ^ Pinker, Steven. “The Decline of Violence”. IAI. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
  52. ^ Horgan, John (October 3, 2011). “Will War Ever End? Steven Pinker’s new book reveals an ever more peaceable species: humankind”Slate.
  53. ^ Boyd, Neil (January 4, 2012). “The Empirical Evidence for Declining Violence”HuffPost.
  54. ^ Brittan, Samuel (22 October 2011). “The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and its Causes by Stephen Pinker”The Spectator.
  55. ^ Coffman, Scott (28 September 2012). “Book Review: ‘The Better Angels of Our NatureCourier Journal. Archived from the original on 19 January 2013.
  56. ^ Kohn, Marek (7 October 2011). “Book Review: ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and its Causes’, By Steven Pinker”The Independent. UK.
  57. ^ Epstein, R. (October 2011). “Book Review”Scientific American.
  58. ^ Boyd, Neil (January 4, 2012). “The Empirical Evidence for Declining Violence”HuffPost.
  59. ^ Gray, John (21 September 2011). “Delusions of peace”Prospect Magazine. UK.
  60. ^ “Correspondence”. Claremont Review of Books. 2012-05-02. Archived from the original on 20 December 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  61. ^ Herman, Edward S.; Peterson, David. “Steven Pinker on the alleged decline of violence”International Socialist Review.
  62. ^ Edward S. Herman and David Peterson (2012-09-13). “Reality Denial: Steven Pinker’s Apologetics for Western-Imperial Volence”. Retrieved 2014-12-30.
  63. ^ Kolbert, Elizabeth (3 October 2011). “Peace In Our Time: Steven Pinker’s History of Violence in Decline”The New Yorker.
  64. ^ Pinker, Steven (November 2011). “Frequently Asked Questions about The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined”.
  65. ^ Laws, Ben (21 March 2012). “Against Pinker’s Violence”Ctheory.
  66. ^ “The Big Kill – By John Arquilla”Foreign Policy. 2012-12-03. Retrieved 22 January2013.
  67. ^ Corry, Stephen. “The case of the ‘Brutal Savage’: Poirot or Clouseau?: Why Steven Pinker, like Jared Diamond, is wrong” (PDF). Survival International. Retrieved 30 May2014. (Summary at The myth of the ‘Brutal Savage’)
  68. Jump up to:a b “Steven Pinker: Using Grammar as a Tool, Not as a Weapon”Point of InquiryCenter for Inquiry. 10 November 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  69. Jump up to:a b West, Ed (17 August 2012). “A decade after Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate, why is human nature still taboo?”The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  70. ^ “PSYCHOANALYSIS Q-and-A: Steven Pinker” The Harvard Crimson Accessed 8 February 2006.
  71. ^ “The Science of Gender and Science: Pinker Vs. Spelke, A Debate”. Edge.org. 16 May 2005. Retrieved 10 May 2014.
  72. ^ Pinker, Steven (2009-11-15). “Malcolm Gladwell, Eclectic Detective”The New York Times.
  73. ^ “Let’s Go to the Tape”The New York Times. 2009-11-29.
  74. ^ Burke, Brian (2010-04-22). “Steven Pinker vs. Malcolm Gladwell and Drafting QBs”. Advanced NFL Stats. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  75. ^ Steven Pinker’s “probabilistic” genes, David Shenk
  76. ^ Exchanges At The Frontier 2011“, BBC.
  77. ^ Human violence and morality http://online.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/doi/pdf/10.3828/hgr.2015.7
  78. ^ Pinker, Steven (2007). The Stuff of Thought. Penguin Books. p. 304.
  79. ^ Davies, William (2018-02-14). “Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker review – life is getting better”The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  80. ^ “Steven Pinker Looks At The Bright Side”1A. Feb 14, 2018. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  81. ^ “Paloma Saenz on Twitter”Twitter. Retrieved 2018-05-12.[non-primary source needed]
  82. ^ “David on Twitter”Twitter. Retrieved 2018-05-12.[non-primary source needed]
  83. ^ “Does the Enlightenment Need Defending?”IAI TV – Philosophy for our times: cutting edge debates and talks from the world’s leading thinkers. 2018-09-13. Retrieved 2018-12-04.
  84. ^ “Steven Pinker: How Our Minds Evolved” by Robert Wright Archived 2005-12-30 at the Wayback MachineTime Accessed 8 February 2006.
  85. ^ “The Prospect/FP Top 100 Public Intellectuals” Archived 2009-12-01 at the Wayback MachineForeign Policy (free registration required) Accessed 2006-082-08
  86. ^ “Intellectuals”Prospect. 2009. Archived from the original on September 30, 2009.
  87. ^ “The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers (2010)”Foreign Policy. Foreignpolicy.com. 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-12-03. 69. Steven Pinker
  88. ^ “The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers (2011)”Foreign Policy. Foreignpolicy.com. 2011. Archived from the original on 2012-01-30. 48. Steven Pinker: For Looking on Bright Side
  89. ^ National Academy of Sciences Members and Foreign Associates Elected, News from the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Sciences, May 3, 2016, retrieved 2016-05-14.
  90. ^ “Steven Pinker Receives Humanist of the Year Award”American Humanist Association. May 12, 2006. Archived from the original on June 15, 2006.
  91. ^ “The Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists”Annals of Improbable Research. Retrieved 2018-01-14.

External links[edit]

Interviews[edit]

Filmed talks[edit]

Debates[edit]

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

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Sharyl Attkisson — The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News CONTROL What You See, What You Think, and HOW YOU VOTE — Videos

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Sharyl Attkisson – The Smear

Ingraham: The judgment and injustice of Kavanaugh

Attkisson: Media no longer follows rules because of Trump

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Sharyl Attkisson – Trump DOJ & State Withholding Fast & Furious Documents

Lars Larson Show with Sharyl Attkisson

Sharyl Attkisson speaks out about Obama-era surveillance

Sharyl Attkisson: why she left CBS

PLC2015 Sharyl Attkission Q and A

How Real Is Fake News? | Sharyl Attkisson | TEDx University of Nevada

Sharyl Attkisson: “Journalism is suffering from a crisis of its own making”

Sharyl Attkisson Keynote: The Rightful Owners of Public Information

“Investigative Journalism and the Obama Administration” – Sharyl Attkisson

Atkisson: I’ve never seen journalists so uncurious about spying

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Sharyl Attkisson: ‘Government Hacked Me” | msnbc

Sharyl Attkisson Talks “Stonewalled”

Richard Nixon Foundation
Published on Mar 11, 2015
March 10, 2015: Author of Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation and Harassment in Obama’s Washington The Emmy-award winner spoke of how she was the target of hacking and surveillance while reporting in Washington DC and offered an incisive critique of the media and the shrinking role of investigative journalism in today’s world. Sharyl Attkisson has been a journalist for more than 20 years. During that time she has exposed scandals and covered controversies under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Q&A: Sharyl Attkisson

Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson is television’s most original Sunday news program. The program specializes in fearless reporting on untouchable subjects to bring you stories you won’t see anywhere else. The host is investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson, five-time Emmy Award winner and recipient of the Edward R. Murrow award for investigative reporting. Attkisson is backed by a team of award winning journalists.

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Full Measure: Season 3, Episode 38

FULL MEASURE: April 15, 2018 – DNA Database

FULL MEASURE: April 1, 2018 – Snowflake Syndrome Part 2

FULL MEASURE: February 18, 2018 – Washington’s Press

FULL MEASURE: February 18, 2018 – Russia Probe

FULL MEASURE: January 21, 2018 – Cram Culture

FULL MEASURE: January 21, 2018 – Trump and Media

Full Measure Continuing Coverage: Swamp Creatures

FULL MEASURE: November 12, 2017 – The Big Miss Revisited

FULL MEASURE: October 29, 2017 – High-Speed Spending

Sharyl Attkisson
American author
Sharyl Attkisson is an American author and host of the weekly Sunday public affairs program Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson, which airs on television stations operated by the Sinclair Broadcast Group. She was formerly an investigative correspondent in the Washington bureau for CBS News. Wikipedia
BornJanuary 26, 1961 (age 57 years), Sarasota, FL

 

Sharyl Attkisson

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Sharyl Attkisson
AttkissonB52.jpg

Attkisson on a USAF B-52 in 1999
Born Sharyl Lynn Thompson
26 January 1961 (age 57)
SarasotaFloridaU.S.
Residence Leesburg, Virginia
Education
Occupation Writer, journalist, television correspondent
Spouse(s) James Howard Attkisson (m. 1984)
Children daughter (born ~1995)
Website sharylattkisson.com
fullmeasure.news
Notes

Sharyl Attkisson (born January 26, 1961[4]) is an American author and host of the weekly Sunday public affairs program Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson, which airs on television stations operated by the Sinclair Broadcast Group.[5] She was formerly an investigative correspondent in the Washington bureau for CBS News. She had also substituted as anchor for the CBS Evening News. She resigned from CBS News on March 10, 2014, after 21 years with the network. Her book Stonewalled reached number 3 on The New York Times e-book non-fiction best seller list in November 2014[6] and number 5 on The New York Times combined print and e-book non-fiction best-seller list the same week.[7]

 

Early life

Attkisson was born in 1961 in SarasotaFlorida.[8] Her step-father is an orthopedic surgeon, and her brother is an emergency room physician. Attkisson graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in broadcast journalism in 1982.[9]

Career

Attkisson began her broadcast journalism career in 1982 as a reporter at WUFT-TV, the PBS station in Gainesville, Florida. She later worked as an anchor and reporter at WTVX-TV Fort Pierce/West Palm Beach, Florida from 1982–1985, WBNS-TV, the CBS affiliate in Columbus, Ohio from 1985–86, and WTVT Tampa, Florida (1986–1990).[10]

1990s

From 1990–1993, Attkisson was an anchor for CNN, and also served as a key anchor for CBS space exploration coverage in 1993.[11] Attkisson left CNN in 1993,[12] moving to CBS, where she anchored the television news broadcast CBS News Up to the Minute and became an investigative correspondent based in Washington, D.C.[10]

She served on the University of Florida‘s Journalism College Advisory Board (1993–1997) and was its chair in 1996.[10] The University gave her an Outstanding Achievement Award in 1997. From 1997 to 2003, Attkisson simultaneously hosted CBS News Up to the Minuteand the PBS health-news magazine HealthWeek.[13]

2000s

Attkisson received an Investigative Reporters and Editors (I.R.E.) Finalist award for Dangerous Drugs in 2000.[14] In 2001, Attkisson received an Investigative Emmy Award nomination for Firestone Tire Fiasco from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.[15]

In 2002, she co-authored a college textbook, Writing Right for Broadcast and Internet News; later that same year she won an Emmy Award for her Investigative Journalism about the American Red Cross.[10] The award was presented in New York City on September 10, 2002.[16] Attkisson was part of the CBS News team that received RTNDA-Edward R. Murrow Awards in 2005 for Overall Excellence.[14]

In 2006, Attkisson served as Capitol Hill correspondent for CBS,[17] as one of a small number of female anchors covering the 2006 midterms.[18] Attkisson was part of the CBS News team that received RTNDA-Edward R. Murrow Awards in 2008 for Overall Excellence.[14]

In 2008, Attkisson reported that a claim by Hillary Clinton to have dodged sniper fire in Bosnia was unfounded: Clinton’s trip to Bosnia was risky, Attkisson said, but no real bullets were dodged. Attkisson was on the trip with Clinton.[19] The day after Attkisson’s report on the CBS Evening News, Clinton admitted there was no sniper fire and said she “misspoke.” [20][21] In 2009, Attkisson won an Investigative Emmy Award for Business and Financial Reporting for her exclusive reports on the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and the bank bailout.[14] The award was presented on December 7 at Fordham University‘s Lincoln Center Campus in New York City.[22]

2010s

Attkisson returned to the University of Florida as a keynote speaker at the College of Journalism and Communications in 2010.[9] That same year, she received an Emmy Award nomination for her investigations into members of Congress, and she also received a 2010 Emmy Award nomination for her investigation into waste of tax dollars.[23] In July 2011, Attkisson was nominated for an Emmy Award for her Follow the Money investigations into Congressional travel to the Copenhagen climate summit, and problems with aid to Haiti earthquake victims.[14][24]

In 2011, Paul Offit criticized Attkisson’s reporting on vaccines as “damning by association” and lacking sufficient evidence in his book Deadly Choices .[25] In the medical literature, Attkisson has been accused of using problematic rhetorical tactics to “imply that because there is no conclusive answer to certain problems, vaccines remain a plausible culprit.”[26]

In 2012, CBS News accepted an Investigative Reporting Award given to Attkisson’s reporting on ATF’s Fast and Furious gunwalker controversy. The award was from Accuracy in Media, a non-profit news media watchdog group, and was presented at a Conservative Political Action Conference.[27]

In June 2012, Attkisson’s investigative reporting for the Gunwalker story also won the CBS Evening News the Radio and Television News Directors Association’s National Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Video Investigative Reporting. The award was presented October 8, 2012 in New York City.[28] In July 2012, Attkisson’s Gunwalker: Fast and Furious reporting received an Emmy Award.[29]

On March 10, 2014, Attkisson resigned from CBS News in what she stated was an “amicable” parting.[30][31] Politico reported that according to sources within CBS there had been tensions leading to “months of hard-fought negotiations” – that Attkisson had been frustrated over what she perceived to be the network’s liberal bias and lack of dedication to investigative reporting, as well as issues she had with the network’s corporate partners, while some colleagues within the network saw her reporting as agenda-driven and doubted her impartiality.[31]

Later that year, her book Stonewalled: One Reporter’s Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington (Harpers) was published.[7] In this work, she accused CBS of protecting the Obama administration by not giving enough coverage to such stories as the 2012 Benghazi attack and slow initial enrollments under Obamacare.[32] The book was a New York Times Best Seller.[7]

The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote was published by HarperCollins in summer 2017.[33]

Report of Attkisson’s computer being hacked

In May 2013, while still employed at CBS, Attkisson alleged that her personal and work computers had been “compromised” for more than two years.[34] CBS News stated that it had investigated her work computer and found evidence of multiple unauthorized accesses by a third party in late 2012.[35] The U.S. Department of Justice denied any involvement.[36] In her 2014 book, she reported that a forensic examination revealed that her personal computer was hacked with keystroke logging spyware, enabling an intruder to read all her e-mail messages and gain access to the passwords for her financial accounts.[37]

In late January 2015, Attkisson appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee[38] during a confirmation hearing for Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee to replace outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder. As part of her appearance in front of that committee, a report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) was released[39] stating that “their investigation was not able to substantiate… allegations that Attkisson’s computers were subject to remote intrusions by the FBI, other government personnel, or otherwise” and the deletion seen in Attkisson’s video “appeared to be caused by the backspace key being stuck, rather than a remote intrusion”.[40][41][42] “CBS News told the OIG that they did not conduct any analysis on her personal computer.”[43]

In February 2015, The Washington Examiner clarified that the OIG did not examine the CBS News computer that Attkison claimed was compromised, but only inspected Attkisson’s personal devices.[44]

In March 2015, Attkisson and her family filed a suit against Holder, Patrick R. Donahoe and unnamed agents of the US Department of Justice, the US Postal Service and the United States in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia claiming to have been subject to illegal surveillance activities.[45][46] Her claim was dismissed in 2017, with the court finding “that the complaint fails to allege sufficient facts [which] make a plausible claim that either defendant personally engaged in the alleged surveillance”.[47]

Personal life

Attkisson has reached fourth-degree black belt in taekwondo.[8] She is married and has a daughter.[48]

References

  1. Jump up^ GROVE, LLOYD (November 4, 2014). “Sharyl Attkisson: ‘I Don’t Care What People Think’ About My Reporting”Daily Beast. Retrieved 2017-11-19.[permanent dead link]
  2. Jump up^ Peterson, Nolan (March 13, 2014). “Return to her roots”.Siesta Key Observer. Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  3. Jump up^ Florida, Marriages, 1970 – 1999, Certificate 010953, Volume 5540
  4. Jump up^ Gill, Kay (2007). Who, a Directory of Prominent PeopleOmnigraphicsISBN 9780780808096. Retrieved December 4,2012.
  5. Jump up^ Erik Wemple (April 22, 2015). “Sinclair Broadcast Group to launch Sunday show hosted by Sharyl Attkisson”The Washington PostNash Holdings LLC. Retrieved November 22,2015.
  6. Jump up^ “NYT Best Seller List”The New York Times. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  7. Jump up to:a b c “Best Sellers: Combined Print & E-Book Nonfiction”The New York Times. November 23, 2014. Retrieved November 4,2015.
  8. Jump up to:a b “Sharyl Attkisson, Investigative Correspondent”. CBS. Archived from the original on November 21, 2013. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  9. Jump up to:a b “21st Century Newsroom”University of Florida. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  10. Jump up to:a b c d “Sharyl Attkisson full biography”. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on August 16, 2013. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  11. Jump up^ Hogan, Alfred. “Televising the Space Age: A descriptive chronology of CBS News special coverage of space exploration from 1957 to 2003” (PDF). University of Maryland. p. 260. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  12. Jump up^ “TV Notes”Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. May 28, 1993. p. 42. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  13. Jump up^ “Sharyl Attkisson–About This Person”The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  14. Jump up to:a b c d e “Sharyl Attkisson profile”CBS News. Archived from the original on November 19, 2013. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
  15. Jump up^ “The 22nd Annual News and Documentary Emmy Award Nominees Announced by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences” (PDF). National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. July 19, 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 29, 2014. Retrieved December 29, 2014Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson
  16. Jump up^ “23rd Annual; News & Documentary Emmy Awards – With Prominent 9/11 Coverage”Emmy online.org. Archived from the original on November 23, 2010. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
  17. Jump up^ “Sharyl Attkisson Is Named Cbs News Capitol Hill Correspondent”. CBS Corporation. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  18. Jump up^ Stanley, Alessandra (November 8, 2006). “Election Coverage Still a Men’s Club”The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  19. Jump up^ “Video shows tarmac welcome, no snipers”Tampa Bay Times. March 25, 2008. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
  20. Jump up^ “Clinton says she “misspoke’ about dodging sniper fire”The New York Times. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  21. Jump up^ “Clinton say she “misspoke” about sniper fire”CNN. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  22. Jump up^ “7th Annual Business & Financial Emmy Awards – Nominations”Emmy Oonline. Archived from the original on April 26, 2013. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
  23. Jump up^ “Full List of Nominations for the 2010 News and Documentary Emmy Awards: Television Industry news, TV ratings, analysis, celebrity event photos”TVWeek. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  24. Jump up^ Attkisson 2011 Emmy nomination Archived September 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., emmyonline.tv; accessed October 28, 2014.
  25. Jump up^ Offit, Paul (2011). Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us AllISBN 0465023568.
  26. Jump up^ Kata, Anna (28 May 2012). “Anti-vaccine activists, Web 2.0, and the postmodern paradigm – An overview of tactics and tropes used online by the anti-vaccination movement”Vaccine30(25): 3778–3779. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.11.112.
  27. Jump up^ “Loesch, Attkisson to receive AIM awards”Politico. February 7, 2012. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  28. Jump up^ “2012 National Edward R. Murrow Award Winners”. Radio Television Digital News Association. Archived from the originalon October 15, 2012. Retrieved June 13, 2012.
  29. Jump up^ “33rd Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards nominations” (PDF). Emmy Online. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
  30. Jump up^ Macneal, Caitlin (March 10, 2014). “CBS Investigative Reporter Sharyl Attkisson Resigns From Network”Talking Points Memo. Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  31. Jump up to:a b Byers, Dylan (March 10, 2014). “Sharyl Attkisson resigns from CBS News”Politico. Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  32. Jump up^ Smith, Kyle (October 25, 2014), “Ex-CBS reporter’s book reveals how liberal media protects Obama”New York Post, retrieved November 3, 2014
  33. Jump up^ “New book: Sharyl Attkisson reveals the ghastly world of political smears, fake news”The Washington Times. July 4, 2017. Retrieved August 5, 2017.
  34. Jump up^ Mirkinson, Jack (May 21, 2013). “CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson: My Computers Were Compromised, ‘Could Be Some Relationship’ To DOJ Scandals”The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 1,2014.
  35. Jump up^ “CBS News Confirms Sharyl Attkisson’s Computer Breached”The Huffington Post. June 14, 2013. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
  36. Jump up^ “Sharyl Attkisson’s Computer Not Compromised, DOJ Says”The Huffington Post. May 22, 2013. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
  37. Jump up^ Smith, Kyle; Golding, Bruce (October 27, 2014), “Ex-CBS reporter: Government agency bugged my computer”New York Post, retrieved October 28, 2014
  38. Jump up^ “Why is Sharyl Attkisson testifying at Loretta Lynch’s confirmation hearing?”The Washington Post.
  39. Jump up^ “DOJ OIG Report – Sharyl Attkisson”Scribd.
  40. Jump up^ Hattem, Julian. “Watchdog: Attkisson wasn’t hacked, had ‘delete’ key stuck”The Hill. Retrieved 2016-04-05.
  41. Jump up^ Groch-Begley, Hannah; Strupp, Joe (October 31, 2014). “Computer Security Experts: Attkisson Video Of Purported “Hacking” Likely Just A Stuck Backspace Key”Media Matters for America. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  42. Jump up^ Fisher, Max (October 31, 2014). “The video of Sharyl Attkisson getting “hacked” actually just shows a stuck delete key”Vox. Retrieved November 2, 2014.
  43. Jump up^ “Media Matters report on Attkisson claims”Media Matters for America. January 29, 2015.
  44. Jump up^ T. Becket Adams (February 3, 2015). “Sharyl Attkisson: What was left out of reports on hacking”The Washington Examiner. Retrieved 22 November 2015The IG did not rule out computer intrusions. It did not substantiate but neither did it rule out.
  45. Jump up^ “Attkisson sues government over computer intrusions”The Washington Post. May 1, 2015. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  46. Jump up^ “Editorial Opinion re Attkisson” (PDF). The Washington Post. January 5, 2015. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  47. Jump up^ Judge Tosses Reporter’s Claim of Obama-Era Wiretaps
  48. Jump up^ “Attkisson biography”Television newsc enter. Retrieved March 11, 2014.

External links

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

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Lawrence B. Lindsey — Conspiracies of The Ruling Class: How To Break Their Grip Forever — Videos

Posted on August 11, 2018. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Books, Business, Communications, Computers, Congress, Constitution, Crisis, Documentary, Economics, Elections, Faith, Family, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Food, Freedom, Friends, government, government spending, history, History of Economic Thought, Investments, IRS, liberty, Life, Macroeconomics, media, Mobile Phones, Monetary Policy, Money, Newspapers, Non-Fiction, People, Philosophy, Photos, Political Correctness, Presidential Candidates, Radio, Radio, Rants, Raves, Resources, Speech, State, Strategy, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Television, Television, Terrorism, The Pronk Pops Show, Video, War, Wealth, Welfare, Wisdom, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Lawrence B. Lindsey

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Lawrence B. Lindsey
Governor Lawrence B Lindsey 140501.jpg
4th Director of the National Economic Council
In office
January 20, 2001 – December 12, 2002
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Gene Sperling
Succeeded by Steve Friedman
Personal details
Born July 18, 1954 (age 64)
PeekskillNew YorkU.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Susan Lindsey (Divorced 2013)
Children 3
Residence Clifton, Virginia
Education Bowdoin College (BA)
Harvard University (MAPhD)

Lawrence B. “Larry” Lindsey (born July 18, 1954) is an American economist. He was director of the National Economic Council (2001–2002), and the assistant to the president on economic policy for the U.S. President George W. Bush. He played a leading role in formulating President Bush’s $1.35 trillion tax cut plan, convincing candidate Bush that he needed an “insurance policy” against an economic turndown. He left the White House in December 2002 and was replaced by Stephen Friedman after a dispute over the projected cost of the Iraq War. Lindsey estimated the cost of the Iraq War could reach $200 billion, while Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld estimated that it would cost less than $50 billion.[1]

 

Biography and achievements

Lindsey was born on July 18, 1954 in Peekskill, New York. He graduated from Lakeland Senior High School in Shrub Oak, New York in 1972. An alumnus of Alpha Rho Upsilon fraternity at Bowdoin College, he received his A.B. magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Bowdoin and his A.M. and Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.

He is the author of The Growth Experiment: How the New Tax Policy is Transforming the U.S. Economy (Basic Books, New York, 1990, ISBN 978-0465050703), Economic Puppetmasters: Lessons from the Halls of Power (AEI Press, Washington, D.C., 1999, ISBN 978-0844740812), What A President Should Know …but most learn too late: An Insiders View On How To Succeed In The Oval Office (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., Maryland, 2008, ISBN 978-0742562226), and Conspiracies of the Ruling Class: How to Break Their Grip Forever (Simon & Schuster, 2016, ISBN 978-1501144233). Also he has contributed numerous articles to professional publications. His honors and awards include the Distinguished Public Service Award of the Boston Bar Association, 1994; an honorary degree from Bowdoin College, 1993; selection as a Citicorp/Wriston Fellow for Economic Research, 1988; and the Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award from the National Tax Association, 1985.

During the Reagan Administration, he served three years on the staff of the Council of Economic Advisers as Senior Staff Economist for Tax Policy. He then served as Special Assistant to the President for Policy Development during the first Bush administration

Lindsey served as a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for five years from November 1991 to February 1997. Additionally, Lindsey was Chairman of the Board of the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, a national public/private community redevelopment organization, from 1993 until his departure from the Federal Reserve.

From 1997 to January 2001, Lindsey was a Resident Scholar and holder of the Arthur F. Burns Chair in Economics at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. He was also Managing Director of Economic Strategies, an economic advisory service based in New York City. During 1999 and throughout 2000 he served as then-Governor George W. Bush’s chief economic advisor for his presidential campaign. He is a former associate professor of Economics at Harvard University.

Lindsey is Chief Executive Officer of the Lindsey Group,[2] which he runs with a former colleague from the National Economic Council and writes for The Wall Street JournalWeekly Standardand other publications. He was a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Controversies

Lindsey is famous for spotting the emergence of the late 1990s U.S. stock market bubble back in 1996 while a Governor of the Federal Reserve. According to the meeting transcripts for September of that year, Lindsey challenged the expectation that corporate earnings would grow 11½ percent a year continually. He said, “Readers of this transcript five years from now can check this fearless prediction: profits will fall short of this expectation.” According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, corporate profits as a share of national income eroded from 1997 until 2001. Stock prices eventually collapsed, starting their decline in March 2000, though the S&P500 remained above its 1996 level, casting doubt on the assertion that there was a stock market bubble in 1996.

In contrast to Chairman Greenspan, Lindsey argued that the Federal Reserve had an obligation to prevent the stock market bubble from growing out of control. He argued that “the long term costs of a bubble to the economy and society are potentially great…. As in the United States in the late 1920s and Japan in the late 1980s, the case for a central bank ultimately to burst that bubble becomes overwhelming. I think it is far better that we do so while the bubble still resembles surface froth and before the bubble carries the economy to stratospheric heights.” During the 2000 Presidential campaign, Governor Bush was criticized for picking an economic advisor who had sold all of his stock in 1998.[citation needed]

According to the Washington Post,[3] Lindsey was on an advisory board to Enron along with Paul Krugman before joining the White House. Lindsey and his colleagues warned Enron that the economic environment was riskier than they perceived.

Cost of the Iraq War

On September 15, 2002, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Lindsey estimated the high limit on the cost of the Bush administration’s plan in 2002 of invasion and regime change in Iraq to be 1–2% of GNP, or about $100–$200 billion.[4][5] Mitch DanielsDirector of the Office of Management and Budget, discounted this estimate as “very, very high” and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stated that the costs would be under $50 billion.[1] Rumsfeld called Lindsey’s estimate “baloney”.[6]

As of 2007 the cost of the invasion and occupation of Iraq exceeded $400 billion, and the Congressional Budget Office in August 2007 estimated that appropriations would eventually reach $1 trillion or more.[7]

In October 2007, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that by 2017, the total costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could reach $2.4 trillion. In response, Democratic RepresentativeAllen Boyd criticized the administration for firing Lindsey, saying “They found him a job outside the administration.”[8]

Presidential Campaign Leadership

Lindsey has been a senior advisor to several Republican campaigns. He led the economic team for then Governor George W. Bush’s successful presidential campaign in 2000, earning the trust of the future President who said at the time “I am very fond of Larry Lindsey and I value his advice”. [9] During the 2008 Presidential election, Lindsey served as Fred Thompson’s Senior Economic Advisor. [10] In 2012, Lindsey predicted on election day that Republican Mitt Romney would defeat President Obama. [11] In April 2016, Lindsey supported Ted Cruz over his only remaining opponent, current President Trump, explaining that Cruz was the best candidate because he had an economic program deserving of the “top grade”. [12]

References

  1. Jump up to:ab Wolk, Martin (2006-05-17). “Cost of Iraq war could surpass $1 trillion”. MSNBC. Retrieved 2008-03-10Back in 2002, the White House was quick to distance itself from Lindsey’s view. Mitch Daniels, director of the White House budget office, quickly called the estimate “very, very high.” Lindsey himself was dismissed in a shake-up of the White House economic team later that year, and in January 2003, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the budget office had come up with “a number that’s something under $50 billion.” He and other officials expressed optimism that Iraq itself would help shoulder the cost once the world market was reopened to its rich supply of oil.
  2. Jump up^ http://www.thelindseygroup.com/bios/
  3. Jump up^ Once a Friend and Ally, Now a Distant MemoryWashington Post
  4. Jump up^ Davis, Bob (September 16, 2002). “Bush Economic Aide Says the Cost Of Iraq War May Top $100 Billion”The Wall Street Journal. Reprinted in Congressional Record, vol. 148, issue 117, 107th Congress, pp. S8643-S8644.[dead link]
  5. Jump up^ Engel, Matthew (September 17, 2002). “Cost of war put at $200bn, but that’s nothing, says US adviser”The Guardian. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  6. Jump up^ Bryne, John (2008-03-18). “Price of Iraq war now outpaces Vietnam”. The Raw Story. Archived from the original on 2008-03-21. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
  7. Jump up^ Bender, Bryan (2007-08-01). “Analysis says war could cost $1 trillion”The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-03-10.
  8. Jump up^ “Congress told of war costs up to $2.4 trillion by 2017”The Register-Guard. October 25, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-25.[dead link]
  9. Jump up^ Gosselin, Peter “Bush’s Economic Advisor Lindsey Is Man of Contradictions”LA Times, 02 January 2000.
  10. Jump up^ “Larry Lindsey Named as Fred Thompson’s Senior Economic Advisor”, 17 September 2007.
  11. Jump up^ “Larry Lindsey Changes Election Prediction”,CNBC, 6 November 2012.
  12. Jump up^ “Grading the candidates: Larry Lindsey”,CNBC, 18 April 2016.

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_B._Lindsey

Lawrence B. Lindsey

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  • Tax policy
  • Monetary policy
  • Fiscal policy
  • International economic development
Lawrence B. Lindsey has held leading positions in government, academia, and business. He has been assistant to the president and director of the National Economic Council at the White House. He also served as a governor of the Federal Reserve System, special assistant to the president for domestic economic policy, and senior staff economist for tax policy at the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. Mr. Lindsey taught economics at Harvard University and is currently president and CEO of the Lindsey Group. He is the author of Economic Puppet Masters (AEI Press, 1999) and The Growth Experiment (Basic Books, 1990).

Experience

  • President and CEO, Lindsey Group, 2003-present
  • Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council, White House, 2001-2002
  • Chief Economic Adviser, George W. Bush Campaign, 1999-2000
  • Arthur F. Burns Scholar in Economics, AEI, 1997-2001
  • Managing Director, Economic Strategies, 1997-2001
  • Chairman, Board of the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, 1993-97
  • Governor, Federal Reserve System, 1991-97
  • Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Economic Policy, White House, 1989-91
  • Associate Professor, Harvard University, 1984-89
  • Citicorp/Wriston Fellow for Economic Research, 1988
  • Senior Staff Economist for Tax Policy, President’s Council of Economic Advisers, 1981-84

Education

Ph.D., M.A., economics, Harvard University
A.B., Bowdoin College

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Brexit Breaking British Establishment and Prime Minister May with Betrayal of Brexit — Videos

Posted on July 14, 2018. Filed under: Agriculture, Banking, Blogroll, Business, College, Communications, Computers, Congress, conservatives, Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Crisis, Culture, Diasters, Documentary, Education, Elections, Employment, Energy, Entertainment, External Hard Drives, Faith, Family, Farming, Food, Fraud, government spending, Health, Inflation, Investments, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, Macroeconomics, media, Monetary Policy, Money, Natural Gas, Newspapers, Oil, Philosophy, Political Correctness, Politics, Radio, Radio, Rants, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulations, Resources, Reviews, Security, Strategy, Success, Systems, Tablet, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Television, Wealth, Welfare, Wisdom, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Trump tells Theresa May her soft Brexit plan will ‘kill’ any US trade deal after Britain leaves the EU, adds Boris will make a great PM and blames Sadiq Khan for terrorism in explosive start to UK visit

  • Trump said the PM has ignored his advice on Brexit negotiations, explaining: ‘I would have done it differently’
  • Sources close to president earlier warned lucrative transatlantic trade deal cannot happen with a soft Brexit 
  • It comes after May used a lavish welcome dinner for Trump at Blenheim Palace to press her case for a deal

Donald Trump sent the Special Relationship into meltdown today after lobbing a series of extraordinary verbal hand grenades at Theresa May on his visit to the UK.

The US president tore up diplomatic niceties to deliver a series of crushing blows to the PM, warning that her soft Brexit plan would ‘kill’ a trade deal with the US – and heaping praise on Boris Johnson, who quit in protest earlier this week.

Rampaging unapologetically into domestic politics, Mr Trump said Mrs May had ignored his advice to face down the EU in negotiations and condemned slack controls on immigration.

The bombshell intervention left ministers struggling to come up with a response, just hours before Mrs May is due to host the president at Chequers for talks on the second anniversary of her premiership.

Downing Street is braced for him to double down on his criticism at a joint press conference in what could be a devastating humiliation as she struggles to cling on to power amid a huge revolt by Tory Eurosceptics.

Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan was sent out to try to put a brave face on the embarrassment this morning, stretching credibility by insisting the government did not regard Mr Trump’s behaviour as ‘rude’.

‘Donald Trump is in many ways a controversialist, that’s his style, that’s the colour he brings to the world stage,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Chancellor Philip Hammond, in Brussels for meetings, suggested the president had not yet studied the government’s Brexit plans properly.

But many MPs made no effort to hide their outrage – with universities minister Sam Gyimah tweeting: ‘Where are your manners, Mr President?’

Tory backbencher Sarah Wollaston raged that Mr Trump was ‘determined to insult’ Mrs May. In a sign of the growing chaos in UK politics, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry also leapt to Mrs May’s defence, branding him ‘extraordinarily rude’.

 ‘She is his host. What did his mother teach him?’ Mrs Thornberry said.

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are welcomed at Blenheim Palace by Britain Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip May

From left, first lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip May watch during the arrival ceremony at Blenheim Palace

Awkwardly grabbing Theresa May hand – in a replay of their White House meeting last year – Trump was treated to a fanfare welcome by the Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards bands

Video playing bottom right…
President Trump's wife Melania wore a floor-length, pleated buttercup yellow gown for her first visit to Britain as First Lady

Trump and Melania in formal attire

President Trump and his wife walked hand-in-hand to Marine One which flew them from London to the evening’s gala dinner

US First Lady Melania Trump, US President Donald Trump, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip May stand on steps in the Great Court watching and listening to the bands of the Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards perform a ceremonial welcome

Theresa May has used a lavish welcome dinner for Donald Trump at Blenheim Palace to press her case for an ambitious new trade deal with the US after Brexit

Theresa May has used a lavish welcome dinner for Donald Trump at Blenheim Palace to press her case for an ambitious new trade deal with the US after Brexit

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (L) and her husband Philip May

Trump and May

Fanfare: Bandsmen from the Scots, Welsh and Irish Guards welcomed the Presidential party to Blenheim Palace last night

Dignitaries including International Trade minister Liam Fox (centre) awaited the President's arrival for the Blenheim dinner

Mr Trump’s outburst emerged last night just as Mrs May feted him at a lavish business dinner at Blenheim Palace – the family home of his hero Winston Churchill in Oxfordshire.

As the leaders posed for the cameras, even holding hands at one point, it was revealed that Mr Trump had launched a full-scale attack on Mrs May’s leadership in an interview with The Sun before arriving in Britain.

Giving a withering assessment of her Brexit plan to align with EU rules to ease trade and keep a soft Irish border, he said: ‘If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal. I actually told Theresa May how to do it, but she didn’t listen to me’.

Sources close to the president earlier warned that a lucrative transatlantic trade deal would be impossible if the UK keeps close ties with Brussels – effectively meaning Britain must choose between the US and EU.

In an interview with the British newspaper, Mr Trump said he thought Boris Johnson would make a ‘great prime minister’ and that he was ‘saddened’ the former foreign secretary was out of the government.

The president also renewed his war of words with Sadiq Khan, saying the London mayor has ‘done a very bad job on terrorism’.

He said he thought that allowing ‘millions and millions’ of people into Europe was ‘very sad’ and pointed to crime being ‘brought in’ to London, criticising the Labour mayor for failing to deal with it.

Europe, he added, is ‘losing its culture’ because of mass migration and warned it will never be the same again unless leaders act quickly.

‘Look around,’ he said. ‘You go through certain areas that didn’t exist ten or 15 years ago.’ He added: ‘Allowing the immigration to take place in Europe is a shame.’

The White House tried to go on cleanup duty after the explosive interview.

‘The President likes and respects Prime Minister May very much,’ White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

‘As he said in his interview with the Sun she ‘is a very good person’ and he ‘never said anything bad about her.’ He thought she was great on NATO today and is a really terrific person.’

Donald Trump and Theresa May give press conference at Chequers
Protests against Mr Trump are taking place in central London today, with a 'Baby Trump' blimp flying in Parliament Square

In an apparent plea to the president to remember his allies when he meets Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in Monday, May noted that Britain and America work closely together in the interests of their shared security, 'whether through targeting Daesh terrorists or standing up to Russian aggression'

She continued: ‘He is thankful for the wonderful welcome from the Prime Minister here in the U.K.’

Discussing protests – including the decision by anti-Trump activists to fly a giant blimp of the president wearing a nappy over the capital – he said they made him feel unwelcome in London.

He added that he used to love the city, but now feels little reason to go there because of the animosity directed towards him.

But he did say he respected the Queen, telling The Sun she is a ‘tremendous woman’ who has never made any embarrassing mistakes.

And the president also said he loves the UK and believes the British people ‘want the same thing I want’.

Mrs May had been trying to use the lavish welcome dinner for Mr Trump at Blenheim Palace to press her case for an ambitious new trade deal with the US after Brexit.

The president arrived in Marine One in a tuxedo alongside First Lady Melania, wearing a floor-length, pleated buttercup yellow gown.

Awkwardly grabbing Theresa May’s hand – in a replay of their White House meeting last year – Trump was treated to a fanfare welcome by the Welsh, Irish and Scots Guards’ bands.

The president was given a performance of Amazing Grace featuring a bagpipe solo during his red-carpet reception as well as Liberty Fanfare and the National Emblem.

Critics of the Prime Minister’s proposals for future relations with the EU claim that her willingness to align with Brussels rules on agricultural produce will block a US deal.

That is because Washington is certain to insist on the inclusion of GM crops and hormone-enhanced beef, which are banned in Europe.

But addressing the US president in front of an audience of business leaders at Winston Churchill’s birthplace, Mrs May insisted that Brexit provides an opportunity for an ‘unprecedented’ agreement to boost jobs and growth.

Noting that more than one million Americans already work for British-owned firms, she told Mr Trump: ‘As we prepare to leave the European Union, we have an unprecedented opportunity to do more.

Mrs May said that the history, language, values and culture shared by the UK and US 'inspire mutual respect' and make the two nations 'not just the closest of allies, but the dearest of friends'

A member of security cleans the limousine of U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at Blenheim Palace this evening