I wonder whether anyone else finds it, if not quite ominous, at least suggestive, that the National Constitution Center is now hosting a traveling show on the Emperor Napoleon. The Center’s President and CEO, in promoting the exhibit, describes Napoleon as “one of history’s most iconic political figures.” Bureaucratic imperialism with an icon at its apex: not what the authors of the constitution envisioned (except maybe Hamilton), but arguably what we have come to.

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Mark Shiffman
Mark Shiffman was born in north Florida to the son of expatriated New York secular Jews and the daughter of small town, pillar of the community southern Presbyterians. After spending much of his childhood in Alaska and California, he discovered in his Tennessee adolescence, first reluctantly and then gratefully, that more than half his heart belonged to the South. He occasionally rediscovers this viscerally when his body descends below the Mason-Dixon line from his northern exile in Philadelphia, where he has also brought his wife into exile from her lifelong home of Chicago. They live in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia with their two sons, having moved from one of the more successfully racially integrated neighborhoods in America (Hyde Park) to one of the most. Mark received his education from the McCallie School in Chattanooga and the surrounding mountains and trees, St. John’s College in Annapolis and the Santa Fe desert, Pendle Hill outside Philadelphia and the woods around Crum Creek, the University of Chicago and the icy prairie winds, and the Catholic Worker House and grimy streets of New York City. He is assistant professor in the Department of Humanities and Augustinian Traditions and affiliate faculty member in Classical Studies at Villanova University. He has also taught at Brooklyn College, Notre Dame, the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania. His current projects include books on the political philosophy of Plutarch and on the meaning of modern individualism, as well as a translation of Aristotle’s On the Soul (Focus Press).


  1. Perfect……the wankers and widgets of the Beltway Byzantium yammer about “Constitutional Principles” and the latest Supreme Court nominee while the Center named after the pesky document finances a tribute to Napoleon. The country has been yearning for a Napoleon it can have as its own…it thought it had a kind of HeeHaw “Naploneon” with the everyman’s beer hall companion W but it seems its still looking. One wonders if the show details the little Corsican’s trouncing by the Haitians leading up to his bargain basement sell of the Louisiana Purchase…..one of the biggest blunders in European History….after the Russian Campaign of course….

    This isn’t ominous, it’s just part of the humor of the current burlesque aborning in the New World Weimar.
    Cabaret always sounds better in German but the english language is just guttural enough to make a worthy show of it.

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