“‘The Fish Rots from the Head’: How a Salmon Crisis Stoked Russian Protests.” Anton Troianovski traces the complex politics in an eastern Russian region where precipitous declines in salmon runs have led to protests against Putin.
“Individual and National Freedom: Toward a New Conservative Fusion.” Brad Littlejohn tries to reclaim the notion of “freedom” from the inconsistencies and contradictions it has suffered in recent political discourse. I remain skeptical that the nation can provide the best context for coherent, meaningful exercise of freedom, but Littlejohn is surely right that freedom—as potency rather than mere possibility—requires a community and limits. And to his credit, he acknowledges the potential pitfalls of national freedom: “It is no wonder why the localist devotees of Wendell Berry and Patrick Deneen look on nationalism with such a jaundiced eye.”
“Liberty Displaced.” Daniel McCarthy traces the connections between place and politics and describes the dysfunctions that ensue when our economies, cultures, and politics are deracinated.
“Gretchen Whitmer is America’s Most Incompetent Politician.” I doubt she deserves this title—there’s a lot of competition for the most incompetent politician these days—but Matthew Walther is right to criticize Whitmer’s veto of a bill that would prevent COVID-19 patients from being sent to nursing homes.
“What Makes a Life.” Jessica Hooten Wilson reviews Christopher Beha’s new novel, The Index of Self-Destructive Acts, and compares it to Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground.
“The Revolution of Bernard Bailyn.” Daniel N. Gullotta narrates Bailyn’s legacy and the debates that still swirl over the “contagion of liberty” he saw at the root of the American Revolution.
“Misinformation and Fake News in a Pandemic.” Robbie Bolton, L.M. Sacasas, and I talked about misinformation and our digital media ecosystem.
“An Algorithm Determined UK Students’ Grades. Chaos Ensued.” Amit Katwala reports on the mess caused by trying to use an algorithm to assign grades to students who were unable to take their A-levels due to the pandemic.
“Growing Pains.” The coronavirus has led to a brief yet sudden decline in economic activity. Shannon Osaka surveys the discussions around whether economic growth is desirable or sustainable: “Fifty years after Limits to Growth, many economists and environmentalists are reconsidering its lessons, questioning whether economic growth is in fact compatible with a sustainable world — and if not, how else governments can measure the success (or failure) of modern societies.”
“Why Rebranding Higher Education as “Job Training” is an Offence to Humanism.” Zena Hitz warns that “reducing education to job training is not only a partial or limited view. It is sinister.”
“Gates ‘Failing Green Revolution in Africa.’” Stacy Malkan reports on the controversies surrounding the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (funded largely by Bill Gates) and its policies that have incentivized African farmers to switch to modern seeds and commodity crops.
“From Farm to Factory: The Unstoppable Rise of American Chicken.” Why is chicken so cheap and abundant? Sarah Mock gives a good history of the industrial consolidation and careful breeding that lie behind modern chicken.
“A New Row-Cropping System in Iowa Offers Some Reasons for Optimism.” Ricardo Salvador describes Zach Smith’s method for alternating corn and grazing. Bringing grain and livestock, plants and animals, back together is essential for healthy agriculture.
“Roger Scruton’s Architectural Morality.” Lewis McCrary articulates Scruton’s rich vision for building places that humans would want to inhabit: “To be Scrutopian is a way of identifying, preserving, and creating beautiful places.”
“When Place Becomes Paramount.” Anne Snyder talks with Joe Nail and Benya Kraus about Lead for America, a non-profit that encourages and equips young people to return home and serve local institutions.
“Donald Hall’s Amanuensis.” Wesley McNair describes Kendel Currier’s role in Hall’s final decades and her contributions to his writing and life.