Our (allegedly) quarterly fundraiser is over at last. Time to pack up the lunchbox, retrace our steps along the girder, pick up the welding torch, and get back to work.
The seven days of our recent bleg far exceeded any previous week of fundraising. Given the hard times and straitened circumstances that most of us are living through, the generosity expressed by our donors was gratifying and humbling.
The geographic range of people who contributed was also amazing — as near as I can tally it, here is the final breakdown of locations:
From the USA: California, Washington D.C., Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
From elsewhere: Australia, Austria, Brazil, the British Virgin Islands, Canada, Denmark, the Faeroe Islands, Flanders, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.
Dymphna is still firing on only two or three cylinders, so some of the thank-you notes haven’t gone out yet. Bear with her; she’s slowly catching up.
Once again, many thanks to everyone who donated. With your help, this modest endeavor will be able to continue indefinitely.
One of our donors wrote and asked me: “Suppose you had a really rich benefactor — what would you do if someone were to donate a million dollars to the cause?”
Ah…. Fantasy time!
In my idle moments I sometimes imagine:
A million isn’t much of an endowment, but still…
It’s a nice dream. I picture an outfit like the Manhattan Institute, which is an excellent organization that employs a variety of scholarly authors. Our foundation would also require a glossy quarterly publication, perhaps resembling City Journal, but featuring a more classical style of cover art:
“But Baron,” you ask, “why ‘The Löbel Bastion’? Do you enjoy being obscure?”
Well, yes, I do. But it’s also true that the Löbel Bastion played an important role in the Siege of Vienna in 1683, and it fits in well with the Gates of Vienna theme.
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The bastions were projecting sections of the city’s fortifications that allowed the defenders to fire on the flanks of the besiegers. As the Turks came nearer to reducing Vienna in September 1683, they approached the city walls closely enough to tunnel under the Löbel Bastion and lay mines. Portions of the walls had collapsed from previous explosions, and the garrison was forced to close the breaches with temporary repairs that became more and more flimsy as the damage to the walls increased.
On the climactic day of the siege — September 11th, 1683 — the Turks had tunneled deep under the Löbel Bastion and laid a large mine. Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa and his generals calculated that this charge would blow a big enough hole in the defenses to allow the Turks to enter the city. September 12th was to be the day when the Turks finally broke the siege.
As a result, the besiegers committed most of their resources south of the city, leaving their left flank relatively unprotected. Even when King Jan III Sobieski of Poland began his descent from the hills to the north and approached the city with his Winged Hussars, the Grand Vizier remain focused on the Löbel Bastion, certain that his troops were about to storm the city.
The murk of history obscures exactly what happened to the Turkish mine, but legend has it that the defenders dug a counter-tunnel, and sent a young boy — who was the only person who could fit through the end of the hastily-dug shaft — to stop the mine from exploding. According to the story, the young man extinguished the fuse just before the powder detonated.
In any case, the mine failed to explode. The Löbel Bastion held. Sobieski and his men rolled up the Turks’ left flank while the garrison sallied forth from the city, routing the besiegers. The Grand Vizier and his janissaries fled eastward in panic, leaving behind their tents, baggage, captives, and slaves.
The humiliation that Kara Mustafa inflicted upon the Sultan through his ignominious defeat was too much to bear, and the Grand Vizier was ritually garrotted a few months later.
The Löbel Bastion is a fitting metaphor for the current state of Western Civilization. Like the walls of Vienna, our culture has been sapped, undermined, weakened, and is now near collapse.
There are a few defenders left behind the walls who have yet to flee, and they are ready to fight to the last man to defend their city. Nobody knows whether relief will come in time, so all we can do is counter-tunnel in hopes of sending an urchin along the shaft to thwart that final explosion…