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"Tradition?? The only good traditions are food traditions. The rest are repressive."

"There are two ways to think. The first is to trust to your ancestors, your religious leaders, or your charismatic professors. The second is to question, to challenge, to explore history for meanings, and to analyze issues. This latter is called Critical Thinking, and it is this that is the mission of my web site. "

Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman  

August 2017

Resentment and Torchlight Parades

It was unsettling, to say the least, to see a resurrection of America?s perennial underbelly marching with torches in mid-July. They revived Hitler?s use of torchlight parades by brown-shirted thugs, marching through Germany?s streets terrorizing (or inciting) the public. A new generation of young Nazis is out there again, just as the old generation has died off. What are they so angry about?

When this country was founded, only a minority of our population in 1776 supporte more...


Iran's Simmering Rebellion

Misaugh Parsa, a Dartmouth professor, has published a fascinating book, Democracy In Iran: Why it Failed and How it Might Succeed (2016). He sought answers to why countries such as Taiwan and South Korea, both military dictatorships, accepted representative democracy in the late 20th century, while Iran's many attempts at democratization always failed. This comparison is interesting because all three of these countries once enjoyed a comparable level of economic development. Taiwan and South Kor more...


Is There Democracy in Iran's Future?

I was in and out of Iran the year (1978) just before the country fell to an Islamic Revolution. As an observer, it was clear that a revolt was brewing; young demonstrators were marching daily, howling for the Shah to step down (actually, the chant was "death to the Shah"). This sort of turmoil had roiled the country before: in the 1920s when the new shah, Reza Pahlavi, outlawed the veiling of women; in 1952, when a populist prime minister wanted to nationalize the oil company run by Brit more...


"Palace Intrigues" in Art and History.

Governing well is not easy, and governing well under a democracy is not the most efficient system. The ancient Greeks, such as Plato, tried to imagine how to set up a republic, speculating with his friends what running an ideal society should require. It is obvious that the most efficient system of government is a dictatorship; however, that efficiency is trumped when the dictator has a bad character. There are few "philosopher kings" in history; far more, even when beginning with good i more...