Make plans to join FPR in Louisville on September 14th for our fall conference: Paying Tribute to Wendell Berry.
“The Integralist Mirroring of Liberal Ideals.” Timothy Troutner offers a critique of both liberalism and integralism. He concludes that “we must begin not with grandiose integralist dreams about a revived Habsburg Empire or schemes for a ‘long march through the institutions,’ but with something far humbler: local communities organized around the works of mercy.” Such local communities “are workshops for imagining, along with non-Catholics of good will, an end to capitalism and the replacement of liberal democracy with something that preserves its achievements.”
“Finding Community In Finance.” Joseph Bottum reviews Raghuram Rajan’s The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave the Community Behind for The Washington Free Beacon. He argues Rajan rightly identifies community as a necessary and neglected pillar of culture but fails to identify what constitutes community.
“Why Politicians Will Talk about Anything but Our Ballooning National Debt.” Jon Gabriel has a helpful—if terrifying—graph showing the unsustainability of our national debt. It’s too bad neither major party cares about the deficit anymore: “When I was a young, naive conservative, I thought that Republicans didn’t like debt. Even if they spent too much, at least Reagan, the two Bushes, and”tea party” congressmen talked a good game. But now the GOP has joined the Democrats in viewing uncontrolled spending as irrelevant.”
“Aristopopulism: The Fusionism America Needs.” John Burtka IV makes a compelling case that “elites need Middle America and Middle America needs elites.”
“Aristopopulism: A Political Proposal for America.” Patrick Deneen delivered a lecture at First Things this week, and you can watch it via their Facebook page. Near the end he makes some bold policy proposals that indicate how aristopopulism might be enacted.
“Go Home to Your ‘Dying’ Hometown.” Michele Anderson writes for The New York Times about her experience moving back to her small town in rural Minnesota. (Recommended by Jeff Polet.)
“Writing from the Edge of the Middle.” Veery Huleatt reviews Meghan O’Gieblyn’s Interior States: Essays for University Bookman.
You may disagree with O’Gieblyn’s description of religious belief, but that hardly negates the depth of her loss. These twinned themes of loss and the shape of story accompany O’Gieblyn’s explorations of topics as varied as Alcoholics Anonymous, the Creation Museum, John Updike, apocalypticism and the environment, Mike Pence, Michigan’s water, the legacy of Henry Ford. “[E]ven when a person outwardly denounces a long-standing belief, the architecture of the idea persists and can come to be inhabited by other things. This is as true of cultures as it is of individuals.”
“Objects of Despair: Fake Meat.” After reading that review of Meghan O’Gieblyn’s book, you may want to read her new monthly column “Objects of Despair” for The Paris Review. Her first one considers meatless hamburger patties as a scientistic attempt to atone for our ecological crimes: “Today, it is not Christ but science that declares all things clean.”
“Art Cullen is Bringing Rural Farm Politics to the National Stage.” Twilight Greenaway interviews Art Cullen for Civil Eats. Among other topics, they discuss the similar pressures that local journalists and local farmers face: “Traditionally, Iowa was a state full of independent farm business owners. Similarly, the state used to have 300 independent newspapers. And now, there are just a few of us left out here in the wilderness. The same thing happened with agriculture; independent operators went to work for Smithfield, Murphy Farms, etc. and the whole [system] consolidated.”
“The Imperial Presidency.” Joel Kotkin worries that “we increasingly face the prospect of alternating presidential dictatorships”: “Like Roman citizens, Americans seem to be losing patience with republican institutions that seem incapable of addressing key environmental and human rights issues through reasoned compromise.”
“The Geography of Partisan Prejudice.” Amanda Ripley, Rekha Tenjarla, and Angela Y. He, writing in The Atlantic describe a recent study on partisanship: “In general, the most politically intolerant Americans, according to the analysis, tend to be whiter, more highly educated, older, more urban, and more partisan themselves.” The methods are certainly worth questioning, but these findings suggest the standard portrayal of urbanites as more tolerant than rural inhabitants is wrong.
“Why are Urban and Rural Areas so Politically Divided?” Rahsaan Maxwell thinks that the urban-rural divide, both in America and Europe, is driven largely by geographically disparate economic opportunities.
“Is This the End of Recycling?” Alana Semuels reports for The Atlantic on the effects of China’s decision to stop taking much of our recycling: “This end of recycling comes at a time when the United States is creating more waste than ever.”
“Prophet of the Human-Built World: An Introduction to John Ruskin.” Alan Jacobs writes in Comment about how Ruskin’s aesthics shape his understanding of technologies: “The first question [Ruskin] would have us ask ourselves is this: As we observe the world that we have built and are building, what do we prefer to beauty, and why?”