“How to Save British Farming (and the Countryside).” This summer I read James Rebanks’s new book English Pastoral. My short take is that it’s excellent. My long take on Rebanks’s three books (and Beatrix Potter) will be in the spring issue of Local Culture. While you’re waiting to get your hands on his book, though, read his new essay:
The sensible people in farming increasingly realise that we have to reconcile two complex demands — we have to work out how to farm productively but in healthy ecosystems, which in some cases we are going to have to rebuild. I am not at the cutting edge of this “regenerative agriculture”, or a guru of it; for most of my life I thought the people talking about this stuff were cranks. I am a second wave enthusiast, and have come to realise that the “cranks” are right, and the post-war mainstream ideas are deeply flawed.
“Welcome the Covid Influencer.” Anne Helen Petersen writes about what happens when a pair of students who have been paid to be brand ambassadors for a university contract COVID-19: “American higher ed has become . . . a slew of brands, eager to partner with other brands (aka the contemporary student) who will heighten the visibility and desirability of their institution and the lifestyle they could have there.”
“Love or Hate them, Pandemic Learning Pods are Here to Stay—and Could Disrupt American Education.” Hannah Natanson reports on the grassroots educational structures that are forming this fall around the country.
“Treasures of Knowledge.” If you’re intimidated by teaching your children, Sally Clarkson has some easy advice: read aloud. “If we gave our children great food for thought, so to speak, and gave them an appetite for how satisfying learning could be, they would be able to access anything they wanted to learn for the rest of their lives. Developing the desire to learn was foundational to our children’s growing in mental muscle and acquiring more education the rest of their lives as a personal habit and goal.”
“No Power without Wisdom: Learning COVID’s Hard Lesson.” Shannon Vallor warns that “overreliance on isolated scientific and technical capabilities has led us to underinvest in the kinds of expertise needed to prevent deep neglect of growing social, political, and moral vulnerabilities in our communities.”
“God Is Dead. So Is the Office. These People Want to Save Both.” Nellie Bowles describes the “new corporate clergy” who come up with rituals to make shapeless work tasks seem meaningful: “They blend the obscure language of the sacred with the also obscure language of management consulting to provide clients with a range of spiritually inflected services, from architecture to employee training to ritual design.” Sounds idyllic.
“Whose Justice? Which Peace?” Breaking Ground ran a series of three essays considering current civil unrest in light of the Peasants’ Revolt and Martin Luther’s response. Myles Werntz critiques Luther and argues that “order and justice are intertwined, for a society with order but without redress is only a criminal organization, and justice cannot be founded on injustice.”
“Wildfires Across Northern California Devastate Farmers and Farmland.” Hannah Ricker describes how farmers in California are trying to cope with the blazing wildfires.
“The Mountains Where Manna Flows From Trees.” Emiliano Ruprah profiles Giulio Geraldi, one of the last manna farmers in Sicily.
“Republicans Have Another Option. It’s Not Trumpism.” Samuel Goldman defends the viability of an updated fusionism and responds to a classic FPR essay by Christopher Shannon about Brent Bozell.
“Why Not Anarchy?” Daniel McCarthy explains what it means to be a “Tory Anarchist” and outlines some points of conjunction between conservatism and anarchy. In some respects, his account parallels the argument Alexander Salter made in FPR last year.
“The Anarchist Case for Small Business.” Will Collins draws on James C. Scott’s excellent Two Cheers for Anarchism to defend the particular goods of those small businesses most imperiled by the pandemic and urban unrest. (Recommended by Bill Kauffman.)
“David Graeber, Anthropologist and Author of Bullshit Jobs, Dies Aged 59.” Sian Cain’s obituary for David Graeber recounts the life and work of this anarchist author.
“My Old (and Peaceful) Kentucky Home.” Bill Kauffman gives Kentucky legislators—and one of the state’s authors—good grades for their dovish commitments.
“The Age of the Mega-City is Over.” James Howard Kunstler predicts we’ll see a migration out of large urban centers.
“The Return of Strong Law?” Graham McAleer reviews Pierre Manent’s Montaigne: Life without Law and takes stock of Montaigne’s view of the law: ”Montaigne holds immense prestige in France, and Manent clearly admires him. However, the metaphysics of nonchalance—otherwise known as human rights—misstates the autonomy of human standing and gives short shrift to the great ideal of law, ‘its high finality, which is to regulate action,’ as Manent puts it.”
“A Politics of Nietzschean Righteousness.” Bradley C. S. Watson reviews Mark Mitchell’s Power and Purity: “Mitchell has done us a great service by locating the source of our national embarrassments in Nietzsche—a far more plausible candidate than John Locke.”
“John Muir and Race: Biographer Argues for Nuanced View of the Environmentalist.” Finn Cohen talks with Donald Worster about the recent controversies around Muir’s legacy. Worster’s extensive knowledge of Muir’s papers and written statements help him portray the complex reality of this original proponent of National Parks.
“Toward a Conservative Environmentalism.” Nate Hochman asks, “What would a conservative environmentalism actually look like?” His answer centers on a “love of place,” or what Scruton calls oikophilia.
“Disdain for the Less Educated Is the Last Acceptable Prejudice.” Michael J. Sandel outlines the problems with credentialism: “Building a politics around the idea that a college degree is a precondition for dignified work and social esteem has a corrosive effect on democratic life. It devalues the contributions of those without a diploma, fuels prejudice against less-educated members of society, effectively excludes most working people from elective government and provokes political backlash.”
“The End of History and the Fast Man.” Adam J. White reviews Matthew Crawford’s new book, Why We Drive, and argues that it clarifies the ways in which “our choice between driving and being driven, between making and being made, is ultimately a choice between republican self-government and administrative rule.”