No Democracy Without Cultural Gratitude

This excellent essay about the terminal sociopolitical rot that afflicts Western culture was published at Henryk Broder’s website Die Achse des Guten. Many thanks to JLH for the translation:

No Democracy Without Cultural Gratitude

Guest author Egon Flaig
December 13, 2017

“Western societies are completely demoralized. There is no longer notice taken of the whole which allows policy to be made… Western societies are practically not states anymore…They are just collections of lobbies… where everyone can prevent action against his interests.”

That is how Cornelius Castoriadis diagnosed the debilitation of institutionalized decision-making, in the newspaper Libération. The final stage of a pluralism, in which the social sectors pursue only their own particular interests and are no longer interested in subjecting themselves to the common good, ends in the inability of governments to carry out political decisions against the social sectors. The political loses its autonomy and the motto of republican pluralism — e pluribus unum — becomes meaningless. What was not yet obvious to Castoriadis 36 years ago was that society could fragment still further, i.e., into parallel societies which are in the same territory, but alien to one another, and do not integrate into a common political culture.

It is our task to consider what this fragmentation means for the future of democracy. European democracies are crumbling because our demos — the citizenry — is devolving into culturally hostile parallel societies. A shockingly high percentage of them resist the expectation that they should integrate into a people of participating citizens. Those who resist integration believe that they owe Western culture nothing. Even worse: this belief afflicts a growing portion of the citizenry. If this ingratitude continues to grow, we Europeans will lose three things — science, democracy and human rights. Societies depend on barter, communities on sacrifice. If we were merely members of society, we would be business partners with no further obligations to others. But communities, for one thing, are held together by common norms; for another, by the consciousness of a solidarity that enables its members to defend one another, even without remuneration, and possibly even to make the ultimate sacrifice for this solidarity.

Republican communities require even more of what distinguishes the citizen from the subject. They encourage their members to actively participate in common decisions. This is what constitutes the citizen and distinguishes him from the free subject. Since people are not born adult, the generations function as a hinge between a state’s biological reproduction and the mortality of its individuals. Every culture is realized through the communication and interaction between the generations. Cultural treasure manifests itself as an enormous collection of artifacts and institutions. This capital is solidified work and effort, objectified activity, accumulated by means of tradition, i.e., the handing on of accomplishments, skills and knowledge from one generation to another. This intergenerational transfer surpasses by multiples the transfer between cultures. Immanuel Kant left no doubt about what that means: “Gratitude is obligation […] As to the extending of this gratitude, it goes not only to contemporaries, but also to forebears, even those who cannot be named with certainty.” From this, Friedrich Schiller deduced the duty to feel an obligation to posterity, because only then does the duty of gratitude to forebears make sense.

The reason for being grateful cannot be gainsaid, because it appears to us in the form of a thousandfold accomplishments. Of the many features of Western culture, several are especially relevant to our present direction. Let us note three that are now in great danger: 1) European culture alone, in Greek antiquity, produced institutionalized republics and democracies, and again found its way to a republican order in the Middle Ages. 2) It was also alone in doing away with slavery in difficult battles worldwide, and thus formulating human rights. 3) And finally, during Greek Classicism, it was the first to develop scientific thinking and the sciences.

We are indebted to this culture for a great legal universalism and the equality of men and women. We are indebted for all that to the generations before us. All those accomplishments were hard won, and we can lose them so quickly. But precisely this “losability” has disappeared from discussions of cultural self-consciousness. The naive majority of the media and political elite has long since lost sight of it, and an increasing percentage of academic elite no longer considers that we could lose it all. Should it go so far that these accomplishments were considered unquestioned givens, then we would mutate to amnesiac troglodytes, stumbling through history as parasites.

When Gratitude Turns to Rejection

That is what is threatening the Western world. Ingratitude is the title of Alain Finkielkraut’s work, in which he ponders the relationship of cultural heritage and republican tradition. His thoughts are similar to those brought up against Habermas in the “battle of the historians” in 1986-87. If Western memorial culture predominantly recalls crimes, the reference to the collective past will be negative, and the gratitude to past generations will disappear and change to rejection. If that happens, orientation will be lost and the only traction will be in a hyper-moralism with no standards of its own. A glance at universities and schools confirms this diagnosis. A current in cultural scholarship that fancies itself “critical,” and its consequent effect on lower education levels, is dead set upon renovating alleged “historical injustice” and “remembering” it. Lesson plans in humanistic and sociological specialties have changed focus, to ripping historical epochs — with their attendant, specific moral and political conceptions — out of their diachronically anchored area of impact, to judge them by present-day standards of good and evil. So these things are de-historicized in order to moralize over them.

Thus, all the advanced civilizations to this point in history can be dismissed as slavery systems, sexist and xenophobic regimes. A sense of moral superiority can be instilled in pupils and students, disposing of any obligation to preserve the spiritual treasures of those epochs, and making any curiosity about them suspect. Ultimately, these are the remote control effects of “anti-colonialism,” i.e., the New Left ideology since the 1950s, which denied the colonialism of the Chinese, the Persians, the Turks and above all, the Arabs, in order to exclusively label European expansion since the end of the 15th century “colonialism.” The New Left created a radically new picture of world history. All that is bad in the world began with European expansion, and salvation depends on the victory of the peoples of the Third World over Western colonialism and imperialism. As this anti-imperialist view of history became hegemonic, about the middle of the 1970s, two denials of history came up — the first concerning racism and the second concerning slavery and its abolition. Anti-colonialist ideology has marked classic racism as a European product. But where did the racism of skin color begin? Not with the Greeks, not with the Romans not in the European Middle Ages. It comes from Arabic culture.

The Abolition of Slavery

Bernard Lewis and David Goldenberg documented this beginning. In hot and cold climates, Arab geographers perceived the reason that “Browns” are complete human beings, while “Whites” in the north and “Blacks” in the south turned out inferior. Not until 500 years later did this racism reach Europeans, brought by the many translations of the medical writings of Persian philosopher and scientist Avicenna (980-1037 AD). Skin color racism first found purchase In 17th century Europe, when the slavery practiced there was almost exclusively black. Historians could check the sources — they are all translated. Yet the dogma is firmly set in new generations of historians that racism is a European product.

The second denial concerns the abolition of slavery. As Orlando Patterson has established, all advanced civilizations practiced slavery, and even a fair number of pre-state societies. It is by no means a natural thing that we are living In a slavery-free society. We owe this privilege to the political destruction of the slavery system in the 19th century, carried out above all by the British, and later the French, effected by blockades of the West African coast and finally through direct intervention on the African continent to stop the perpetual slavery wars, which ultimately meant making the continent into a protectorate.

This fight to abolish slavery is unique in world history. The discussions with their poignant texts are among the significant sources for the rise of human rights. There is no trace of such a discussion in all the other advanced cultures of the world. In the Islamic world, there is not one fatwa forbidding slavery. Instead, slavery is considered impractical at the moment. That is a matter of scholarly certainty. And yet the New Left denies both these historical facts. And this denial continues today in the post-colonial studies whose ideologies still infect the cultural studies in Western universities.

Under cover of (quite anti-Kantian) “criticism,” a belief-based mindset is methodically being created — a presumption of being authorized to judge past times, and condemn them — and all of this by means of blatant falsifying of historical facts, that is, out-and-out fake history. In this way, enormous guilt relationships can be postulated between synchronously existing cultures. And so the idea of owing something to past generations can be rejected as malicious posturing.

The Generation of Destroyers Returns

This takes its toll. If the younger generation is released from its inter-generational obligations, then it is delivered helplessly to the tremendous power of “living in the moment.” Those normative and semantic guardrails that orient us and keep us from obeying the most ridiculous imperatives, and falling victim to every moral high, topple over. What philosopher Michael Großheim called the “shrinking of the time horizon” is expressed in political culture as a spiritual one-dimensionality. On the one hand, it understands Enlightenment to be that kind of “clearing up” of which the generation of destroyers so fatally boasted after WWI. On the other, it does not hold back from flooding society with towering waves of demands.

Our public culture suffers from a condemnation of gratitude in almost every respect. The entitled are ungrateful on principle, and the whole media world — in lockstep with almost all NGOs — is programmed to drive entitlements to the absurd or invent new ones. The attitude of “I owe nothing, so I must give nothing back” is suicidal for any culture, as it is for a political community. So we should be alarmed by statements that absolutely deny the existence of a national culture.

As French President Macron said on February 5, 2017 in Lyon, “There is no French culture, There is a culture in France — it is diverse.” Thus did the author of a pre-doctoral thesis[1] on Hegel negate that culture that had for a long time justly enjoyed the reputation of being “the” culture. Any educated person will admit that Western commonalities of people in our cultural circle are much greater and more intensive than national particularities, for the national cultures rest upon a mighty Western pedestal. But that there are cultural particularities and they are lovingly tended — in daily discourse as well as in literature, music, theater and journals — can only be denied by someone who is without any education or fanatically ideological.

That distinguishes the French president from the social-democratic integration officer, Aydan Özoguz. When she maintains that there is no specific German culture, she reveals the extent to which she has personally and consciously refused to accept a culturally determined value system. If there is no German culture, then there is no obligation for immigrants to integrate into it. Therefore, she was able to demand legalizing child marriages and forced marriages in Germany.

Macron abolishes the idea of gratitude. Indeed, what the unenlightened barbarian Özoguz is saying in Germany is less threatening than the anathema of an intellectual who assisted Paul Ricoeur for two years in producing his book, “La mémoire, l’histoire, l’oubli.”[2] Disclaiming the existence of French culture, Macron propagates that globalist ideology that reduces people to their potential as workers. Such a purely economically-motivated existence with no cultural content is expected to spread across the planet as unhindered as the flow of capital, making state borders an evil remnant of a world that has been discarded. And then, of course, as the chief ideologues of globalism maintain, every national culture becomes a barrier, excluding and discriminating. Out of an abundance of caution, this discussion of total inclusion leaves the question open, of what a “diverse culture” is supposed to be.

Actually, the intellectual Macron knows as well as any educated person that human cultures — as we have been told from Herodotus to Lévi-Strauss — must radically reduce diversity, just to construct semantic horizons and ensure normative orientation. Macron, with the self-contradictory concept of “diverse culture” liquidates the idea of any culture at all. This mindless concept is no sooner translated into the circular discourses on political usage, than it obviates that double integration without which human culture cannot endure. First, integrating the foreigner into our political culture; second, integrating following generations into our moral, esthetic, scientific and political value system.

Macron, who recently opined in Berlin that economic solidarity is the decisive component for a united Europe, is raising the rejection of gratitude to a cultural-political maxim. And meanwhile, the rejection of gratitude is destroying the foundations of every republic. Rejecting the cultural past means making the feeling of political belonging a burdensome discomfort. And thus disappears the consciousness of common bonds and with it the willingness to sacrifice for the community. So people of the present time are no longer capable of holding on to historical reference points. The belief in owing nothing is a principal cultural phenomenon of the Postmodern. It undermines not only knowledge but also democracy, because it creates a one-dimensional consciousness, consisting partly of a cobbled together past, and partly of a shriveled-up absolute synchrony. Such a consciousness drains the solidarity of citizens, a solidarity that is of existential importance to democracies. Democracy cannot be preserved without knowing what foundations it rests upon. That knowledge will disappear along with gratitude if our historical memory is replaced by fake history.

The Forebears to Whom We Owe Our Thanks

Gratitude to the cultural past is a cardinal prerequisite for a sufficiently civil self-image from which our democracies can be nourished. To avoid misunderstandings: This past is not a biological one, not a genealogical one, but a cultural one. The Liberal John Stuart Mill wrote in 1846 that the Battle of Marathon was more important for English history than the Battle of Hastings, in which the Normans conquered England. Mill did not hesitate to regard the victory of the Athenians over the Persians in 490 BC as an “event in English history.” Why? Because that small Greek state that defended itself against an Asian world empire brought democracy to fruition and handed it on to posterity. The political thought of the Greeks served as an intellectual reference point when self-governing municipal communes arose in the West in the Middle Ages and also when the English political system was republicanized. As we learn from Mill, cultural forebears are not the biological ones. They are the forebears we owe thanks to, because they have left us accomplishments that are decisive for our cultural identity. And if the historical culture in our educational institutions does not succeed in producing a gratitude for historical accomplishments, then a united Europe will not occur. For political solidarity never arises from economic interests but always from common values and a common history where there is something to hold onto and be thankful for.

Perhaps we need a political philosophy of gratitude. Should such a thing arise, it would be based on the disturbing sentence of Seneca: “Underneath everything is the ungrateful one. For all…evil comes from the ungrateful one, without whom hardly any great crime would occur.” Would it be gratitude, not just political community, that ultimately holds human society together?

The Greek philosophers never abandoned the idea of a social contract between free and independent individuals. Did the non-theoretical thinking and therefore underestimated Roman look deeper? Before any contract, there is a uniting, which even goes beyond what Plato invoked in his Crito as “silent agreement to the social contract.” Ultimately, every political community depends on gratitude to its forebears. Particular attention was paid to this fact in Roman culture. Because of that, the Romans possessed, in pietas, a virtue alien to the Greeks. In the Roman view of the world, forebears definitely did not have to be biological, but also those whose cultural and social heritage one enters, as if being adopted. If that gratitude loses its strength, then — for the Roman philosopher — all social obligations dissolve and all social discourse ends.

In Seneca’s terms, we may conclude: If gratitude to the founders of our enlightened culture turns into ingratitude, the European republics will disintegrate, and it won’t matter whether that happens in two generations, or in three. At first, a process like this is hardly noticeable. Anyone “living in the moment” will deny it. The fate of European culture is being decided in the contention of entitlement and sacrifice, and this battle will be decided by the forces of gratitude or ingratitude. It is not yet lost. It is up to us to follow the advice Hölderlin gave us:

The divine ones say, let the human being try everything,
So that, greatly nourished, he learns to be thankful for everything,
And understands the freedom
To set out to wherever he wants.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Egon Flaig, professor emeritus of ancient history, author of numerous books, among others, World History of Slavery (2009), Against the Current, For a Secular Republic Europe (2013), The Defeat of Political Reason (2017).


1.   The DEA or “diplôme d’études approfondies” was a non-doctoral advanced degree in France from 1964 to 2005.
2.   “Memory, History, Forgetting” in University of Chicago published study.

71 thoughts on “No Democracy Without Cultural Gratitude

  1. What a great essay! Thank you MMs Egon Flaig, HenrykHoder, and the translator JLH. And thanks to the editors of Gates of Vienna… I believe we are indeed witnessing the twilight of the Great Western Civilization. What will come next we don’t know. But let’s not despair: here in Europe, after the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages came the Renaissance… and us!
    With gratitude, a regular reader of Western Europe from South Western France

    • We know now that the so-called “Dark Ages” were caused by the Arabs’ incessant raids along the Med and into the Atlantic and north to the Black Sea. They took millions of slaves.

      Emmet Scott is an excellent teacher regarding that long period from ~ 700 AD ff, all the way to 15th century or so to understand why the West went “Dark”. Why do you think the Italian navigator, Columbus, was hired on by the royals in Spain to find a new route to the Spice Islands??

      If you don’t have time for his book(s) – see our sidebar – then read his essays in New English Review, here:

      And then go on to Bill Warner’s Political Islam site to understand why we were terrified to the point of forgetting what was done to the West. A massive cultural PTSD, one we seem to be repeating. See his video, now at over four million views:

      As someone afflicted with developmental PTSD, I instantly understood what he is saying in that video.

      • I am reminded of Mr. Obama a few years into his presidency spouting off about the contributions Islam gave to our country (US).
        The only contribution Islam gave to our country was the formation of the US Navy and Marines to fight the Barbary Pirates, Islamist’s, in the Med.
        I wasn’t the greatest student in high school but this struck a rather discordant tone… I went on to research it further.
        There is absolutely nothing positive that Islam brought to North America, absolutely nothing and at best one can find one koran at Jamestown probably brought to the new world by an African slave that was proselytized to Islam in Africa..
        Mr. Obama went on to tell of the fabulous Eid dinner put on by Thomas Jefferson. The fact is that the envoy from North Africa was in the states to negotiate captured Islamic ships for captured American sailors that had been turned into slaves. This Islamic man was a freak in our capitol and everyone wanted to meet him, including Thomas Jefferson. It is no wonder that Pres. Jefferson wanted to meet him, having read the Koran which he imported from Germany several years prior.
        I bring this up because it really hit me how an uneducated populace can be swayed by revisionist propaganda.
        Who knows anything about this anymore? Why wouldn’t the majority of Americans take Mr. Obama’s word for it? They know nothing better and it certainly is a convenient narrative. Who is willing to check this out other than a 60+ yr old that did rather poorly in world history in grade school?

        • You’ll probably appreciate this story:

          So what did Jefferson learn from the Koran? As early as 1786, Jefferson, who was serving as the ambassador to France, and John Adams, the Ambassador to Britain, met in London with Ambassador Abdrahaman, the Dey of Tripoli’s ambassador to Britain, in an attempt to negotiate a peace treaty based on Congress’ vote of funding. Peace would come at a price. If America wanted “temporary peace,” a one-year guarantee, it would cost $66,000 plus a 10% commission. “Everlasting peace” was a bargain at $160,000 plus the obligatory commission. This only applied to Tripoli. Other nations would also have to be paid. The amount came to $1.3 million. But as we saw above, there was no assurance that the treaties would be honored. In vain Jefferson and Adams tried to argue that the United States were not at war with Tripoli. In what way had the U.S provoked the Muslims, they asked? Ambassador Abdrahaman went on to explain “the finer points of Islamic jihad” to the Koranically challenged Jefferson and Adams. In a letter to John Jay, Jefferson wrote the following:

          The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman [Muslim] who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.[5]

          Abdrahaman was paraphrasing the Koran’s “rules of engagement” found in the 47 Surah: “Whenever you encounter the ones who disbelieve [during wartime], seize them by their necks until once you have subdued them, then tie them up as prisoners, either in order to release them later on, or also to ask for ransom, until war lays down her burdens.” Unless a nation submitted to Islam, whether it was the aggressor or not, that nation was by definition at war with Islam. It’s no wonder that Jefferson studied the Koran. He realized that if Americans ever capitulated, the Muslims would be singing “From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of A-mer-i-ca.”


          Many of his quotes are taken from Joseph Wheelan’s Jefferson’s War: America’s First War on Terror 1801-1805

          I believe Obama was a Muslim and perhaps a devout Communist, as were his parents and grandparents (whether his father was the Kenyan, Obama, or his teenage mother’s neighbor in Hawaii, Frank Marshall (also later BHO’s mentor) doesn’t matter here; both men were Communists. BHO’s desire to “transform America” was learned in the bosom of his America-hating family. Rolling back the damage seems possible now.

          Every day I still wake up and thank God Hillary was rightfully deprived of the Oval Office. I will probably continue doing so as long as I draw breath. Trump can’t do anything bad enough to make me ever change my mind on that one. She would have been Obama on steroids.

      • I just finished watching Bill Warner’s video – should be part of basic education in history. Alas – ain’t gonna happen, as we all here know.

        Thanks for the link, Dymphna.

        • I watched it,too. I take up about six of those four million views. I’ll bet Bill Warner was an extremely gifted teacher of physics and math.

          When he mentions Vanderbilt University, that’s where he taught. I don’t know if he was teaching in 2001, but obviously, he immediately began to turn his own ability to learn towards the problems of Islam. That video was made in 2012 (I think) and by then he had the subject down cold.

          At his website, he’s made available inexpensive books available to the public.

          Right at the top is a 3.25 video about “good people”. Which, if you hang out at GoV, you’re *not*.

      • I followed your links but Emmet Scoots essays in the New English review are now being blocked.

        If you click on the titles it simply says the site can’t be reached.

        Would it be possible to reproduce them on gates of Vienna?

        • I got the New English link just fine, and every link to an Emmet Scot essay worked for me. So, either something changed between the time you and I accessed them, or there’s some corruption in your browser.

          There’s another possibility I can think of. If I recall, you don’t live in the US. Perhaps in the country you live in, your links are being blocked, either by the government, the ISP, or the New English review itself.

          If this is the case, the solution is to get a subscription to a VPN server like CyberGhost, which can make you appear to be in any country you choose. So, if you live in censored Germany, you make the server think you’re in the US.

          • I do subscribe to CyberGhost, a VPN service that will allow you to appear like you are in any country you choose.

            I accessed the New English Review site identified as being in the United Kingdom and then as being in Germany. The links worked in both cases.

          • Thank you all for the feedback.I am writing from Australia.I suspect that my computer user profile is under constant attack due to my love of politically incorrect thought and discourse.

    • What will come next? “To the next thousand years belongs Dostoevsky’s Christianity.” (Not sure if I have the quote exact, but it captures the essence).

      • Wonderful essay .I hope it stays up for a while because it really is worth reading pondering and reading again

  2. What a piece! Some of the statements are so deep … Thanks, Baron, for bringing this.
    I agree with the first comment that we should not despair: our West may wake up from his fatal slumber – still a chance.

  3. At the risk of being branded a simpleton, acknowledging my agreement with virtually everything the author said that I understood, and more then I thought I would so do, I think in a nut shell one of the problems that strikes me right in the head is the average age of reporters on some of the main stream newspapers, papers like the NY Times, et al (Dymphna correct my source if I’m incorrect please) is 27. As we used to say, “still wet behind the ears.”

    If they are not corrupted by opinions they pass off as fact, some knowing, some not, many are woefully ignorant and/or inaccurate of history.

    • Yes, ignorance of history will cut you to shreds if you try to approach with bare barbarian hands. Which is what those NYT wet-behind-the-ears J-school reporters suffer from – deep ignorance of history.

      This essay is excellent, but I wouldn’t try to digest it in one sitting. Read it through first, and then re-read in sections unless you’ve intellectually metabolized it. A lot of work, but worth it.

      For example, Southern Americans are deeply imbued with a sense of gratitude toward their history. That’s why statues of Robert E. Lee (and others) are more than just cultural icons. They represent a debt to the past which resonates with Southerners. They realize the attempts by the SPLC to erase the past is deeply Marxist and soul-killing.

      This sentiment is reflected in patriot groups like Oath Keepers. Here is the Virginia branch:

      The Jews understand this concept well, as do Catholics. Both have a liturgical cycle which repeats itself every year. These reminders of where they’ve been allowing them to see better where they’re going. Thus the deeply moving plaint in the Psalms:

      By the rivers of Babylon,
      There we sat down and wept,
      When we remembered Zion.

      Upon the willows in the midst of it
      We hung our lyres.

      For there our captors demanded of us songs,
      And our tormentors mirth, saying,
      “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.

      How can we sing the LORD’s song
      In a foreign land?

      It may be that the European remnant will be saying this Psalm, yet again, as the continent sinks into darkness.

      This is an important essay. Bookmark it; I certainly have. It will take me many readings to tease out everything…though I must admit I’m reeling from the idea that Macron studied under Paul Ricouer. All he seems to have gotten from it is the ability to hold two discordant ideas in one hand…Ricouer was so much more than that.

      • I forgot to say, Mike, that the reason Southerners have kept the memory of the past burning brightly is that – except for Gettysburg – the battles and skirmishes of The Civil War all took place in the South. It was easier for the north, as victors, to forget. But here, in addition to losing The War, we had a very long painful period of punishment during the so-called “Reconstruction”. And so many *places* with their minie-balls, and pieces of uniform, and earthworks, made it hard to forget. We live only a few miles from Appomattox, the place of surrender. It has been well-preserved without making it plastic.

        Going the other way, we can visit the last skirmish of the war before the Surrender, the Battle of Sayler’s Creek – actually several battles. Every April, in both places, there are commemorations since these were the last gasp of the South.

        Virginia abounds in memories…the burning of Richmond, or the god-awful Battle of the Crater in Petersburg. We had nothing like Sherman’s march through Georgia – which Europe’s military studied and put into practice – but like the rest of the South, Virginia was impoverished.

        Had Lincoln lived, the post-war period, which lasted into the early 20th century might have been less heavy-handed. But Lincoln’s wisdom went to the grave with him.

        And that’s why Remembrance is so heavy here. We cannot afford to let the SPLC break our monuments and our memories, pushing them all into the oubliette.

    • In 1980 I was enrolled in the basic first semester course at Columbia Univ School of Journalism, supposedly the best in the country. I was shocked by the shallowness, ignorance, far left bias and self righteousness of the overwhelming number of students. They were devoid of any sense of professionalism. In fact journalism is not a profession as it lacks any kind of rigor. And these are the children who now run the newsrooms. Of course the idea of gratitude to a cultural tradition would mystify them.

      • Having been born behind the Iron Curtain and spending the early 1980’s at the (technical) college, I did imbibe that spirit of dissent and disdain our professors almost imperceptibly inoculate into our minds: real socialism is a farce, communist party is evil, all must backfire sooner or later and the dictatorship will fall like a house of cards.

        The moment in 1989 when it really happened – vertigo. One of the strongest feelings of freedom and relief after the retarded late realsocialist era literally disintegrated in a matter of days.

        Certainly a very different experience than yours … and perhaps one of the forming factors explaining why I deeply feel the said gratitude and clearly see Ancient Greeks and American Forefathers as my ancestors – in the very same sense the essay above is explaining the “cultural ancestry”.

        • You have described it so well – the sense of vertigo that accompanies the relief at being freed. As a teenager, I felt the same toward Cardinal Mindzenty’s courage, i.e., awe and gratitude that he stood up against tyranny.

      • I wanted to go to Marquette to study journalism but back then there was no money…now, ironically, I’ve been told my writing style is “journalistic”. Or others have said I write “like a man”. I consider the latter a compliment. But jornolists are in such sad repute, I was better off as a house organizer…or restaurant chef…or social worker…just to name a few “professions” I’ve toured.

        • No Dymphna, you don’t write like a journalist. That is formula scribbling. You are an elegant writer! The best professor I ever had, a Soviet scholar and a liberal –but a scholar with the highest standards — would criticize a student presentation in his seminar if it was shallow and superficial as “journalistic.” They simply don’t know anything of substance. They are trained to do one thing: how to report a fire.

  4. Here is an interesting thought to consider, “What was the effect of air conditioning and automatic sprinkler systems upon the community?” People no longer sat on the porch waiting for the house to cool down and no one was out watering their lawn as the sun was going down. The result was an end to neighborhood discourse as everyone was now gathered around the TV set and glued to the latest sitcom. Even in my own neighborhood people do not talk to one another even though we have all lived here for almost 20 years. Maybe we do need an EMP bomb to turn off the lights and TV and bring us back to our senses. Maybe then we will get our community back and our government also. Just a thought.

    • Yes. The downside, however, is that an EMP would kill off about 90% of the population. For the survivors, life would be nasty, brutish, and short.

      There’s no pleasant way out of the mess we have gotten ourselves into.

      • Oh well, back to waiting for the Millennium. I miss those halcyon summer days of playing out side and listening to the adults discuss current events. By the late 1960s the TV had taken things over completely. No, I won’t say that it was all planned even though it certainly had the appearance of having been thought out in advance. So just how do you restore the community?

      • Realistically – if we follow the events as they happen, and if we try to “connect the dots”, the mess is getting – messier. Messier by the month.

        To get out of that mess will require sacrifice we probably can’t fathom now. It is my conviction that the sacrifice will be bloody, painful and millions will lose their lives.

        We do not know when and how the events escalate in that point when all hell breaks loose. You, Baron, posted the other day a good essay on the “singularity is coming” theme …

        I see only one positive factor nowadays – Trump’s presidency: “billionaire at the barricades” as Laura says. And as a man without faith in the Almighty, more often I catch myself unexplicably thinking: God save Donald Trump.

    • James Agee wrote a beautiful prose poem, “Knoxville: Summer of 1915” describing the type of scene you recall. Samuel Barber set it for soprano and orchestra; it makes me very nostalgic for an experience I never knew.

    • Agreed. Gratitude is indeed the correct response here. Your comment made me realize how often I do feel thankful when I read something that makes me see things in a new way. Emmet Scott’s work has that effect on me. And Gabriel Marcel’s moral philosophy was the same. Process theology, too. And Bill Warner’s work.

      My discovery, in late 2017, of Jordan Peterson’s work, has that same effect: a profound gratitude that there are such people in the world, fighting back against the tide of leftist propaganda, engaging young people so they have a fighting chance in the midst of swirling garbage.

  5. I have a question for Westerners.

    I’m a Pole. Is it important for you living in western Europe and North America to view how Central and East Europe perceive the future and new political and social arrangements in Europe?

    Quite frankly we are sick of the Western patronizing and prejudiced attitude toward us.
    After all, there are almost 200 millions white, homogeneous of us in this part of Europe.

    Can we have a sincere discussion ?

    • Continuing from the essay and from Dymphna on gratitude…and moving to address Eastern Europe;

      “…we are sick of the Western patronizing and prejudiced attitude toward us.”

      Now I will go straight to my own wild opinion and I will generalize.

      Northwest Europe has been able to expand its wealth and industry very freely for several centuries, excepting only those times when they created their own problems.

      They enjoyed this freedom, and as often happens with those who are fortunate, may have indulged the idea that they deserved it. In some degree they did deserve it, but not entirely.

      They had this freedom in part because the countries of southern and eastern Europe were endlessly fighting for their lives against jihadi or Mongol conquest.

      France, in fact, declined to help at the gates of Vienna in hope that if Austria fell, France might pick up some scraps.

      In short, NW Europeans were NOT at all grateful for all the causes of their good fortune and may not even have known what those causes were. This may even explain why leftist ideologies were able to thrive on virtue signalling at first ONLY in northwest Europe. It is much more comfortable to virtue signal than it is to actually know anything.

      I do not know if this will be helpful, but it could be. I did notice Max’s comment….

      I am aware that there are few places outside GoV where I could make such a comment and expect to be understood, not in the West anyway.

      • In short, those who were quite comfortable for too long began to forget the causes of their good fortune. One cause was Judeo-Christian-Greco-Roman thought. Another cause was the endless fighting for their lives that southern and eastern Europeans were stuck with, which spared western Europeans of it.

      • Didn’t France also allow Muslim pirates free access to the port of Marseilles?

      • The demographics tell the entire story. Sounds like Hosea 4:10

        “And they shall eat, and not have enough; they shall play the harlot, and shall not increase; because they have left off taking heed to Jehovah.”

        Lots of sex, lots of food and material wealth, but still it remains a non reproducing culture, which means it is a dead culture.

    • You won’t find many people with that “West European” attitude here—including the ethnic Western Europeans among us. The title of the blog is a part of our history too, just like the Greeks at Marathon. It memorializes the Polish relief of a Vienna mortally threatened by the Turks. In this country, there is at least one statue in Boston, and bridges etc, named for the Polish equivalents of the Frenchman Lafayette and the German von Steuben—Tadeusz Kościuszko and Kasimierz Pulaski.

      And now, it is the Visegrad group, especially Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic who are defending the rights of peoples to have their own cultures and manage their own affairs. (Enthusiastically seconded by the newest party in the Bundestag, which received proportionately more of its support in the east of Germany.) Many of us, I suspect, believe that the future of freedom in Europe lies the east.

      • My view is that Eastern Europe will remain an island of calm and peace within an increasingly dangerous lawless Europe.
        Western Europeans will clamour for shelter in Eastern Europe.

        For Eastern Europe will be a beacon of hope ,good sense, social cohesion ,law and order. Meanwhile Western Europe will become an increasingly dark , socially fragmented, chaotic , perverted maelstrom from which people will be desperate to escape .

        Western Europe is in the process of total collapse .

        The average Western European politician has all the mental acuity of a 3 year old.Political Correctness actively blinds them to reality and renders them incapable of both logic and critical thought .

        In effect therefore the ship of Western Europe is the ship of the dammed, captained by a willfully hysterically blind ,insane captain.

        Eastern Europe is the West’s only hope.

        But do not expect gratitude from Western Europe.
        They will never admit their debt to the East because that would involve admiting that their worldview was wrong and that that Eastern European worldview was right.

        And they simply lack the spiritual grace , the moral fortitude and the self awareness to do so.

        • Well … being so called “Eastern European” by birth (we really do not like the epithet “Eastern”, to tell you the truth :-)), I would be more sober about the “only hope”.

          My view is simple: there is “certain” hope. Do not forget the inter-dependencies of V4 economies with the “Old West” – notably with Germany. IF Germany goes under, some V4 countries – the Czech Republic for example – will have extremely hard time to survive: and that’s going to be the time when their “worldview” and similar lofty principles will be stress-tested.

          The V4 countries still may be the beacon of hope you see. 40 years of communism taught us quite a lot – and yes, the Western Europe was unaware of what is really going on behind the Iron Curtain – at least its intellectual “elites” were not during their social-democratic slumber, hence the last 30+ years of increasing morass in those countries.

          Also, not all countries of V4 are “religiously conservative” like Poland. Christianity is not exactly a driving force … capability of rational, almost reflexive deduction from obvious facts (3rd-world immigration causes this and that, free speech is violated when A and B hold etc.) and yes – respect and even admiration for America – is the main strength I can discern.

          • …” being so called “Eastern European” by birth (we really do not like the epithet “Eastern”..
   is used to humiliate and intimidate..
            “Superior Beings from the West” are not capable to learn from History..Lack of this capacity will extinguish their existence.. and is already happening..

          • Max, I don’t understand. Why is saying “Eastern European” an epithet? It is used to differentiate east from western European. I grew up when Eastern Europe’s neck was under the boot of totalitarianism. It has since seemed like a miracle that the V-4 have resurrected themselves (surely no one did it for them) to become the proud countries they are now.

            To me, saying “Eastern Europe” is a sign of pride, but then I’m just looking at it from the outside. What would you want someone to say instead of that?

  6. ‘the New Left denies both these historical facts’

    After the synchronised ‘multikulti is a disaster’ announcements from various European leaders (such as Cameron, Sarkozy and Merkel), that were meant to help ward off ‘populism’ and also some recognition that multikulti, as predicted, was a disaster (although it’s still promoted at a state and corporate level).

    It’s not without some considerable irony that the liberal EU consensus, after spending decades undermining and quashing any nationalist sentiment in their respective countries in order to facilitate the EU, has a new approach, essentially as a response to Islamic non-integration, that extolls the value of ‘values’- British ‘values’, French ‘values’, German ‘values’, European ‘values’, although few are able to say what exactly these ‘values’ are or if they do, they are progressive ‘values’. For example to oppose mass immigration and Islamisation is to be against European ‘values’, or so we are told by the likes of Merkel.

    In the UK, the leftist-dominated university system is discussing the ‘decolonisation’ of the curriculum, while it more or less allows the bloodiest, racial-based slave-trading, imperial force in history, a free pass.

    Right across the Western world, one can now get a Masters in ‘white-washing Islam’.

    An imperialist force that is still expanding, and has infiltrated Western Universities, which apparently now provide: ‘The Best Indoctrination Money Can Buy’.

    It was in this context some whiner, I forgot who, appeared on Channel 4 news to suggest replacing English authors like the one who “wanted to classify people like” him. Jon Snow (the CH4 presenter not the fictional character) asked: “with whom would you replace this author?”

    The interviewee replied “Ibn Khaldun”.

    Some say he is the greatest thinker the Muslim world has ever produced but presumably because the false narrative of whites “invented the slave system” (heard in a BBC ‘documentary’) and racism, had blinded the ‘decoloniser’ being interviewed on Channel 4 or he maybe he hadn’t actually read Ibn Khaldun, or if he had, I wonder how he would explain that sentiments such as the one below?

    Ibn Khaldun: “Beyond [known peoples of black West Africa] to the south there is no civilization in the proper sense. There are only humans who are closer to dumb animals than to rational beings. They live in thickets and caves, and eat herbs and unprepared grain. They frequently eat each other. They cannot be considered human beings.” Therefore, the Negro nations are, as a rule, submissive to slavery, because [Negroes] have little [that is essentially] human and have attributes that are quite similar to those of dumb animals, as we have stated.”

    Yes, they should teach Ibn Khaldun, they should put the racist, Arab slave-trade, the supremacist, expansionist and imperialist aspects of Islam in historical context.

    Showing that the European empires and abysmal slave-trade were hardly unique and most damning of all for those claiming reparations: the British “spent more on enforcing abolition than was ever made from conducting the trade.”

    Which of course would still exist if under Sharia and indeed does still exist in several African countries,

    Khaldun’s succinct description should begin any course on Islam: “In the Muslim community, the jihad is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and the obligation to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force…Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations.”

    Which, if accusations from the likes of Nick Lowles of Hope not Hate had any logic, could be considered ‘Islamophobic’.

    In this deeply disingenuous statement of double-think HnH have ever produced and that’s saying something; gives one an idea of the left’s utter moral and intellectual confusion over Islam.

    HnH quoted in the Guardian:

    ‘“Counter-jihadists” believe western civilisation is under attack from Islam, and that secular, liberal society is aiding Islam through mass immigration into Europe and policies of multiculturalism’.

    Ibn Khaldun, who was according to leftist doctrine, a ‘racist Islamophobe’, (that is, if leftists followed logic), was the best suggestion the ‘decoloniser’ could come up with, to replace an English author on an English literature class, in England.

    Perhaps the false liberal narrative wherein history starts with the Atlantic slave-trade and the European empires, is so convincing and pervasive, even racists and fascists get a pass, as long as they’re not European.

    As such the real agenda becomes apparent.

    • This is another one that needs to be broken up into shorter comments. It has over 700 words.

      Since I tend to be verbose, I can sympathize with the tendency to want to provide as much information as possible. However, in general, if you’ve gone past two links, it’s too long.

      • Lol, sorry, point taken, I did prattle on somewhat today.
        In my defence I’m usually not quite so ‘verbose’ but in future will bear the two-link, rule of thumb in mind.

    • Wow fantastic post- lucid succinct absolutely brilliant.I feel privileged to have been able to read it.

      Is there any way I can tweet it?

      It’s so brilliant it deserves to be shared more widely .

      • Itinerant I shall certainly be looking out for your posts with great interest from now on .

      • “Is there any way I can tweet it?”

        Each comment has its own link. Right click on the dark Date and Time at the beginning of the comment. Select the “copy link address”.

        When tweeting, you can paste the address. Generally on twitter, you get credit for only about 22 characters with a link, so you have room for a comment.

        I’ll make a few other comments.

        As Itinerant noted but didn’t emphasize, the intellectual battle has been won, but the war is still being lost. In other words, most people, particularly people in the bloodsucking bureaucracies, are not in the least interested in logical arguments. It gets confusing because they constantly accuse you of being illogical and ignorant, yet they literally scream when you try to apply logic or research to their closely-held delusions.

        Another observation is that the essay is a perfect explanation of cultural Marxism. The basic premise of cultural Marxism is that contemporary Western culture and civilization needs to be dissolved. Flaig’s essay is literally a roadmap, pointed backwards, of what needs to be done to dissolve a culture. It’s possible to view the cultural Marxist theorists as evil geniuses, aware of all the factors Flaig mentions which are necessary to preserve a culture. Like an evil doctor who knows exactly how to kill, the cult Marxists know exactly how to kill a culture.

        • Sometimes it’s worth it to use a URL shortener so you can have more room for your comment, if needed. I like Tiny URL. It’s the simplest, not needing registration:

          The user just shows up with the long URL on their clipboard, pastes it in, and Tiny does the rest. It doesn’t need you to sign in, maintain a password, etc.

      • I can’t tell if you’re being serious but if so feel free, although comment is a bit ranty to say the least, and as Dymphna suggests should really be cut into several I can’t tell if you’re being serious but if so feel free, although comment is a bit ranty to say the least, and as Dymphna suggests should really be cut into several comments.

        • Sorry guys, didn’t see the repeat in previous comment.
          I’ll just stop posting from a mobile device, too many mistakes.

  7. I commented on this last night, and lost it before I saved and submitted, so I’ll try again, although I suspect I won’t do as well in getting my thoughts across.
    I get a creepy impression from what I read here – don’t get me wrong, it is excellent writing, and I love the over-all content, or at least what appears to be the content. Let me explain a bit:

    “The final stage of a pluralism, in which the social sectors pursue only their own particular interests and are no longer interested in subjecting themselves to the common good, ends in the inability of governments to carry out political decisions against the social sectors. The political loses its autonomy and the motto of republican pluralism — e pluribus unum — becomes meaningless.” – The first thing I get from here is “subjecting themselves to the common good” – This looks, to me, not unlike “it takes a village to raise a child”. The next – “the political loses its autonomy” – wait a minute, since when is the political autonomous? Shouldn’t they be representative of the desires of the voters who elected them? – “The motto of republican pluralism – e pluribus Unum – becomes meaningless.” Since when is this translated in this way? From many, one – is the translation I’m most familiar with. How did anyone get republican out of that? The pluralism, I might understand, but it is used in the wrong context here, as in toward the plural, not from them.

    There is constant, and seemingly inappropriate reference to democracy throughout the essay. I will give that Europeans, even educated Europeans have a completely different understanding of democracy than do Americans – well some Americans, but the impression I get from this writing is that “democracy” is being described more, or less, as socialism-light, not actual democracy, perhaps, neo-democracy? Again, this is just the impression I get.

    I realize Egon Flaig is a much better versed, and deeply educated individual than I am, and what I know may be mostly incorrect, but some of the history points made here don’t quite match what I understand to be history. – Such as:
    “The Greek philosophers never abandoned the idea of a social contract between free and independent individuals. Did the non-theoretical thinking and therefore underestimated Roman look deeper?” – Socrates, Plato? Both early adherents of primitive Marxism, he even made note of the Plato “crito”, and while Aristotle broke the mold, in some ways, he made little attempt to change the politics of the time; As for the Romans, they were an early version of National Socialism, which Hitler himself laid out in Mein Kampf as an admirable attempt that failed only because the Romans didn’t realize the danger of the Jews (his opinion, not mine).

    I agree 100% that this is a well-written and compelling composition on the need for society to have a greater appreciation for historical accomplishments. I also make no attempt to convince anyone that I can see something in this writing that no one else understands. I just get the impression that there is something lurking under the surface – intentionally – which is not visible to the casual reader. I suspect it is just my paranoia about any European attempting to qualify Democracy as a valid governmental form of – population control. He’s not writing about individuals of a free society coming together to form a mutually beneficial government here, he is writing about the subjects of a society conforming to the requirements of the people in charge of their lives whether they be elected, or just a neighbor.

    That’s my take, anyway.

    • Beautiful example of critical thinking…
      I like to add some mine..
      ..” “The Greek philosophers never abandoned the idea of a social contract between free and independent individuals. Did the non-theoretical thinking and therefore underestimated Roman look deeper?”…

      …”between free and independent individuals.”..
      On the subject hi is omitting important fact that waist population Greek and Roman society was enslaved..
      As a matter of fact any free citizen could be a Slave any time( for example…not paying debt in the due time)..
      Whole concept mentioned “democracy’s” was build around this specific social arrangement ..
      Our comprehension of “democracy” is misguided..

    • Ric Gaston –

      I think Mr. Flaig is criticizing the Greek there, and suggesting that the Romans might have had a deeper understanding?

      The Romans went through different political stages, so I would think it is a bit unkind to overall dismiss them as fascists.

      The Roman thinkers that Mr. Flaig probably has in mind, like Cicero, were Republicans. I never studied Cicero or Roman thinkers systematically, but did read quite a few of their works just for my own pleasure, and I recall how deeply troubled for example Cicero was by the state of the Republic, and by contemporary political events.

  8. I want to say thank you for your comment to my question..
    I wont idealized CEE area.. I/m just trying to understand what is made from that WALL in lack of acceptance people,culture, right to self-determination in building own future people from CEE..
    We look the same,having similar dreams..Lowe our children,families and friends.
    What gives the Westerners right to think they are Superior ?
    This exactly attitude all this years i/m encountering in North America and Europe..
    I/m well educated trying to be kind and compassionate …what i was geting was that smirk when people learn i/m Polish born NOT Canadian….
    Long time ago Danish girlfriend ( my social level) simply dump me when she learned i/m Polish born..
    Her explanation was that she will jeopardized her life because of that..
    That made me thinking if it was in NA & West Europe some sort of mass brainwashing and stigmatizing toward people from CEE ??
    I was “detain” for 1 year and directly kick out of Poland in 1983..(Solidarity)
    Since that i was living,working in Toronto-Canada..
    3 yers ago i decided to go back to Poland..
    Huge part in this decision ,play social rejection all this years by Canadian (Anglo-saxons we call them WASP’s)
    Triggering point was Murder at Vancouver Airport by Canadian Police, Robert Dziekanski..
    Since that i know i can be next.. to be continued..

    • Max –

      “some sort of mass brainwashing and stigmatizing toward people from CEE” – yes, I recall that brainwashing, from school.
      Do you know what your – Central Eeastern European people’s – fault was, in the eyes of our so-called “intellectuals”? You rejected socialism.

      Pretty much all of our teachers, with few exceptions, thought that the Socialist states of Eastern Europe were something to aspire to. They found it deeply disturbing people there would be unhappy. If the Eastern Europeans live in such great states, but protest, then the fault must lie with the people, right? (I am being sarcastic)

      When the wall came down, for the “intellectuals” of what was then Western Germany, it was time for mourning, not celebration.

      • My experience exactly.University lecturers in my day declared themselves ardent Marxists and openly instructed us to write our essays from the Marxist perspective if we wished to to pass.

        • The majority of primary and secondary teachers in the UK are Labour or LibDem supporters.
          By the time some students apply to university, they try to show off, ‘in a move described by Oxbridge admissions tutors as “out-Lefting” each other.’
          Over a hundred Islamic ‘extremists’ spoke at British universities in the academic year 2016/17 but apparently the only time students protested, was when the ‘extremist’ was Tommy Robinson.
          It says much about the bias and indoctrination in the British education system.

      • Very interesting comment!

        I have never believed that this would be the case but recently I started to have such a suspicion – that the Western academia, left-leaning intellectuals, admirers of “social state” – whatever views the “progressive intelligentsia” holds – somehow emotionally admire our fallen, pathetic, intellectually inferior “realsocialism” the CEE countries HAVE to endure, mainly because of their puppet governments and their masters in Moscow.

        Your sarcastic comment may be revealing the truth more than you (want to) think …

        • I wasn’t being sarcastic I was just stating the facts.

          After the wall came down I met a former lecturer of mine on campus.

          He and his like minded effete Western would be communist pals had made a pilgrimage to Russia hoping to see a model community based on the ideals they fondly imagined Marx embodied.

          What he saw finally convinced him that he had been taken in hook line and sinker by an evil ideology .He had the good grace to admit it to me.

      • …”You rejected socialism”…
        There was no Socialism in this part of Europe..
        It was brutal Russian Imperialism and Colonization under new ,ideological banner ..It was run by appointed crocks and criminals using “socialist ideology” as a metaphorical “fig leaf”to cover theirs Crimes..Russia like a Germany never give up on their Imperial ambitions..
        and is happening Today as we speak ..
        EU is used by Germans as a tool of political and economical colonization and submission of CEE..Imperium cannot exist without Colonies .. Poor contemporary German Nazis are as much blind as in the Hitler time..
        It looks like there will be no Germany in our life time..but Myth of Deutschland über alles, Über alles in der Welt..will remain..


  9. Max and Lu—
    Please keep coming back to GoV. Your input gives us new balance, and I hope the interchange will be profitable for you too.

    • I really like this site.So much to learn here.

      Intellectual level and knowledge “fathers founders” of this blog and their friends is on the highest Academic level.

      Simply outstanding..Being here is like attending to the Mass of Reason.

      Sometimes I’m a bit too harsh in my opinions…I see the World and Life only in White and Black, with nothing in-between. Pure Polarization…

      So much Pain in me, seeing what [is] happening to my fellow Man and [to] the World created by God, that Pain is taking over sometimes [the] better part of me.


      • Max, your cri de coeur is moving. It is difficult to look unflinchingly at what is happening throughout the West without losing hope. We’ve been doing it for years, and the Baron has been doing so in depth, twelve or more hours a day. Every day. He hasn’t lost hope: this is beyond all of us so we support one another as best we can.

        All I can suggest is that you not lose hope because in the end, all things work for the greater glory of God. Despite the bloody, mangled corpse of the 20th century, we’re still here, still moving forward, and still, from among us, come heroes of the moment that inspire us all. None of them set out to be heroic, they just stepped up when it was necessary.

        • I can imagine what impact it has on both of you and your life..
          What you doing here is Sacred and Priestly
          You are the servant of Truth and your blog is a Temple..
          There is already reward waiting for you in Everlasting Life
          On personal note i couldn’t take it anymore surrounding me “reality” in NA..
          I moved here…Serenity and Sanity..i/m felling like having detox…
          Spiritual and Religious life present everywhere..and constantly all the time..
          People aspect you to talk about, God,Truth,Soul..
          Living in NA or West Europe made me forget that we are Spiritual Beings and flesh is only to serve us..
          You will be in my prayers..Regards….Maxymilian

  10. A very quotable essay by Prof Egon. But, he apparently writes or is published only in German. I would appreciate any links to other translations of his works into English.

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