Wendell Berry writes in defense of the University Press of Kentucky: “If it should happen, this destruction would amount to an act of censorship, for the knowledge made available by the Press belongs to the people of Kentucky, to readers now and to come. It is a part of our commonwealth, which the governor and the government are entrusted to protect, not destroy.”
“A Little More Crafty.” If you enjoyed Bethany Hebbard’s review of Cræft, you should also read Gracy Olmstead’s review over at the University Bookman: “We often associate artisanship with specific products: craft beer, artisan bread, a piece of hand-carved furniture. But Langlands explores cræft beyond consumerism and kitsch, beyond the comfort of our buying-focused society.”
“Tending the Digital Commons: A Small Ethics toward the Future.” Alan Jacobs compares social media ecology to natural ecology. Drawing on J. R. R. Tolkien, Jacobs asks “What, in media ecology, might count as ‘clean earth to till’? And how might it be cultivated by those who accept responsibility—the responsibility of stewardship, which disavows ‘rule’ and ‘mastery’?” In seeking to imagine how to preserve a kind of digital commons in opposition to the “walled industrial sites” of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest, Jacobs recommends building a domain of one’s own. This is a thoughtful essay, but I’d like to see Jacobs say more about how our online interactions can take place within responsible institutional communities. Otherwise, I worry that building individual domains fosters personal branding more than it does any sort of digital commons; I’m not at all convinced that having a domain of one’s own is, in itself, an act of taking responsibility for one’s speech. Nevertheless, his warnings against corporately-controlled platforms are important.
“When Twenty-Six Thousand Stinkbugs Invade Your Home.” (Recommended by Jeff Tabone.) Kathryn Schulz writes about the effects brown marmorated stinkbugs have had in the US since their arrival here in 1996:
Very few household pests destroy crops; fleas and bedbugs are nightmarish, but not if you’re a field of corn. Conversely, very few agricultural pests pose a problem indoors; you’ll seldom hear of people confronting a swarm of boll weevils in their bedroom. But the brown marmorated stinkbug has made a name for itself by simultaneously threatening millions of acres of American farmland and grossing out the occupants of millions of American homes. The saga of how it got here, what it’s doing here, and what we’re doing about it is part dystopic and part tragicomic, part qualified success story and part cautionary tale. If you have never met its main character, I assure you: you will soon.
In a thoughtful interview, William Cavanaugh discusses how his thinking on localism has developed since the resurgence of nationalism:
The critique of globalization in Being Consumed did not anticipate the resurgence of nationalism as a reaction against globalism. I argue for a complex relationship between the global and the local, founded in a kind of Eucharistic imagination that is simultaneously particular and universal. I would write the chapter on globalization slightly differently were I doing it today, considering the pathologies of nationalism, which is neither global nor local. It seems to me that contemporary nationalism further attenuates the virtues of old-fashioned patriotism. Today’s nationalism is less about self-sacrifice, and more caught up in the same kind of mutual self-display that consumerism exhibits.
Cavanaugh goes on to call Catholics “to focus more effort on local, grassroots initiatives, sowing seeds of hope and creating the kinds of community in which people can encounter each other face to face as persons, as bearers of the image of God. This is our primary politics.”
“Confiscating the Nation.” Michael Brendan Dougherty defends nationalism against its globalist pooh-poohers, arguing that “post-nationalist political structures are anti-democratic” and their purpose, at least implicitly, is to “get rid of accountability from below.” Next week FPR will be running three essays that each, in their own way, defend forms of identity that are even more embodied and local than nationalism and so seek to escape both cosmopolitan abstraction and nationalism’s tendencies toward racism or xenophobia. Stay tuned.