Magazine November 3, 2008, Issue

Obama’s Core

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (back), and Republican Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, embrace as they appear together at a forum on national service at Columbia University in New York, September 11, 2008. (Mike Segar/Reuters )
The West, for him, is not the best

Leon Trotsky’s The Russian Revolution does not occupy a high place in the literature of conservatism. But the old Bolshevik could on occasion be perceptive. Analyzing the improbable rise of Rasputin, he noted how frequently shamanism flourishes in the bowels of a decaying oligarchy, when the languishing elites crave the stimulus that only a certain kind of messianic figure can give. The commissar had a point. In the fourth Eclogue, Virgil beguiled the patricians of the collapsing Roman republic with a vision of a miraculous child who would inaugurate a golden age. Eighteen centuries later such charlatans as Mesmer and Cagliostro

Michael Knox Beran — Mr. Beran is a lawyer and writer. His book WASPs: The Splendors and Miseries of an American Aristocracy is to be published in August.

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