roman diary

Europe has long since been rebuilt. It moves in fits and starts toward a greater unity and a federal system closer to that of the United States than the former Soviet Union. Nationalism has never really gone away, though, especially in Italy, where it’s enjoying a resurgence of sorts under the bombastic “Forza Italia” party of Berlusconi. And, in what is perhaps the greatest difference between Wilson’s time and mine, when my plane touched down in Rome the new ruins were all behind me, in New Orleans. At no time since the end of the cold war has American dominance seemed more precarious, our superior attitudes more shambolic, our government so manifestly incompetent and indifferent to human suffering. Although a nominal liberal, I’m no less implicated in this indifference than our president and his cronies. In my newfound European refuge, I too have turned my back on my fellow citizens, as I lead my good life as a strange kind of American courtier, or, as I prefer to think of it, a member of a monastic order of artists, writers, intellectuals, and academics who, like the medieval monks of long ago, live within a walled cloister, its security assured by those captains of industry who still feel enough pricks of conscience to wash their money in the blood of culture.

more from Marco Roth at n+1 here.