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June 15, 2024

PI Newsletter #81

  1. Swedish schools to erase ancient history from history class

Due to lack of lesson time, the Board of Education now suggests that the History subject must be radically changed.

At the upper grades 7-9, where pupils are 13-15 years old, there will no longer be any history taught dated older than the year 1700. All studying of the democratic cradle in ancient Greece, Rome, or The Swedish Great Power era (1611-1718) when Sweden ruled the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea, will be erased from history class.

Pupils in the upper grades must focus more on the 19th century, with particular focus on the Holocaust, the cold war and the ideas that have formed Sweden during the post-war era. This includes raising awareness about gender issues, migration, and racism.  There will, however, be time enough to cover Western slavery and colonialism during the 18th century and onward.  



  1. Why Western Elites Should Stop Lecturing Hungary

Radio Free Europe plans to return to Hungary — a quarter-century after the US-government broadcaster left the small Central European country following the end of the Cold War. As The New York Times reported last month, the move “is likely to be taken as something of an affront to the current government.”

No kidding. The Times article ran under the grave headline: “Radio Free Europe Is Poised to Return to a Less Free Hungary,” and it gravely noted that the proposal “reflects Hungary’s drift away from a free and open government and is a blow” to Team Trump’s outreach to Budapest.

The liberal foreign-policy establishment frets that Hungary has drifted away from the community of democracies under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. But Orbán is, in fact, wildly popular. What Washington’s “defend-democracy” types really fear is that Hungary has become less liberal — not less democratic.

Which is why they want to spend your tax dollars to persuade errant Hungarians to vote better (though they would never put it so bluntly).

Neither the insult nor the ham-fisted nature of the outreach has escaped the Hungarians. “It is heavily unfair to say there is no freedom in Hungary,” Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó told me in an interview at the Hungarian consulate last week. “Radio Free Europe gets it wrong if they think Hungarians will give their outlet a positive reception.”



  1. “Oikophobia”: Our Western Self-Hatred

[…]This exchange was similar to many that I have had in countries all around the Western world. They reveal a civilization that has stopped believing in itself, that hates itself, and that is, therefore, unwilling to defend the values of individual freedom, democracy, and scientific and scholarly skepticism that have been handed down to us since antiquity. We are all familiar with this phenomenon, and every single day brings news stories in which oikophobia is involved. To mention just a couple among literally thousands of clearly oikophobic incidents of recent times: this past July the San Francisco School Board voted to remove a mural of George Washington from one of its public schools because of its purported racism; the group leader of American volunteer teachers in Africa some years ago informed the volunteers that residing in a foreign culture had taught her that the United States deserved the 9/11 terrorist attacks because of U.S. foreign policy (I know this because I was one of the volunteers). Actions and statements of this kind have become perfectly commonplace by now, and we all know about them, but most people cannot explain why things are this way. How can it have come to such cultural self-hatred? The answer lies in an oft-repeated historical process that takes a society from naïve and self-promoting beginnings to self-contempt and decline.  […]

This is where oikophobia sets in. Diverse interests have created that view each other as greater enemies than they do foreign threats. Since the common civilizational enemy has been successfully repulsed, it can no longer serve as an effective target for and outlet of people’s sense of superiority, and human psychology generally requires an adversary for the purpose of self-identification, and so a new adversary is crafted: other people in the same civilization. Since this condition of leisure and empowerment, as well as a perception of external threats as non-existential, are the results of a society’s success, success is, ironically, a prerequisite for a society’s self-hatred. What Freud has called the “narcissism of small differences” (in Civilization and Its Discontents)—the urge to compete against others even through minor distinctions like a virtuous action or the newest gadget—becomes one motivation through which a particular interest expresses its superiority over others.

This “domestic” competition means that by rejecting one’s culture as backward, one automatically sets oneself above all the other interests that are parts of that culture. Earlier in the civilizational development, the cooperation of a larger proportion of the people is essential for survival at a time when the state is poorer and individuals more reliant on one another for basic security. But once the society has taken off and become affluent, there is greater opportunity to excel and more room, therefore, for people to start criticizing their own culture in an effort to get ahead personally. People are always self-interested, of course, but the gulf between immediate self-interest and the interest of the state is smaller when the state itself is smaller and weaker.


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