“On Integration.” Jesse McCarthy and Jon Baskin critique the kind of anti-racism made popular by Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility. Instead, they follow Harold Cruse in advocating for actions that would strengthen the social fabric of smaller communities:
While intellectuals may imagine themselves as part of a deracinated community of the mind, for most people to feel they truly have a stake in America, Cruse saw, they need to own a piece of their communities. That means owning property (not just perpetually renting); owning businesses (not merely working in someone else’s); and developing credible and accountable political and civic leadership from within.
“The Russell Kirk Center 25th Anniversary Virtual Gala.” The good folks at the Kirk Center offer an hour-long tour of Kirk’s Mecosta home and talk about their ongoing work to cultivate cultural renewal.
“The Higher-Ed Doom Loop.” Patrick Deneen (and many others) responds to a question from the editors of the Chronicle: “What’s at Stake for Higher Ed in the Election?” Deneen offers good advice that holds true regardless of who wins: “The best course would be for those of us living and working at universities — who would, I hope, agree that it is best not to be a weathervane of the federal government — to make ourselves less reviled or viewed as a partisan operation by opening ourselves to legitimate debates and increasing the presence of faculty and students of genuinely different perspectives and views.”
“Paul Kingsnorth’s Alexandria.” Rod Dreher interviews Kingsnorth about environmentalism, religion, and his new novel. Dreher describes Kingsnorth “as a Gen X English Wendell Berry.” It’s a fascinating interview, and they touch on several themes central to the conversation at FPR: as Kingsnorth tells Dreher, ”The big issue — the resounding global question, the one we are so desperate to ignore — is the reality of limits.”
“It’s Not the Economy: Big Tech, Anti-Trust, and the Future of Political Liberalism.” Anthony Barr takes stock of the antitrust case against Google: “As a critic of Big Tech, I welcome the congressional scrutiny. But I am skeptical of the overall framing of this issue because it reflects a faulty belief regarding economic and political liberalism.”
“Red Is for Remembrance.” Caitrin Keiper remembers the life of a beloved teacher and grapples with the haunting absence of infertility.
“Faith Comes Through Hearing.” Christian Wiman ponders a beautiful poem by Carol Ann Duffy and considers the gift of the Word who speaks.
“Solitude and Solidarity.” Ian Marcus Corbin writes that “to put things very, very mildly, the reason-based argument for cosmopolitanism hasn’t entirely succeeded,” and he proposes a different view of human solidarity, one rooted in solitude.
“Bridging the Divide Within Feminism.” Leah Libresco Sargeant responds to the conversation around Justice Amy Coney Barrett to consider what a conservative feminism might entail. Amber Lapp’s contribution to this discussion argues that conservative feminism will have to reject market fundamentalism.
“How to Reopen the American Mind.” Jon Baskin and Anastasia Berg look to institutions beyond the academy who might sustain an enduring conversation about how to live well:
Bloom’s insights are vindicated today not only by the shrinking enrollments in English, history and philosophy departments, but also by the rise within those departments of conceptions of humanistic education that privilege scientistic knowledge accumulation, political activism and the cultivation of “analytical skills” thought to be prized in Silicon Valley. But, ironically, it is these very developments that also reveal the folly of the argument in Closing — that questions about the virtuous life and just societies could be addressed only within the confines of academia.
“Wendell Berry Wants to Shoot a Drone.” Josh Retterer draws on Berry’s recent interview with Tim DeChristopher to consider Berry’s understanding of Christian humility and grace.
“Reading In Praise of Folly in 2020.” Elizabeth Stice recommends an Erasmian approach to our political and cultural divisions: ”we can criticize without cruelty and comment without malice.”
“The Future of English Farming, Tosh the Sheepdog Puppy, and Parenting in Lockdown.” James Rebanks reports on the state of his farm as COVID drags on and British farming policy stands at a crossroads.
“Politics at the End of the World.” Onsi Kamel turns to Augustine for wisdom regarding how to think about politics in a time of turmoil. Augustine’s insistence that ”all earthly happiness is precarious” should frees us from placing ultimate hope in political goods.
“The Opportunities We Lost Under Trump.” Ross Douthat mourns the lessons politicians have failed to learn from Trump: “too many of the figures, Republican and Democrat, who are poised to be restored to their prior positions on the chessboard resemble the restored Bourbons after Napoleon, having ‘learned nothing and forgotten nothing’ across the last four years. Which suggests that what we’ve lost above all in the Trump years is the chance not to repeat the experience soon enough.”
“Workers and Capitalists of Rural Pennsylvania Unite.” Timothy Carney offers a rough rubric for distinguishing Trump supporters from Biden supporters in this swing state: “Beltway Republicans have always liked to draw the line between the folks who sign the back of a paycheck versus those who sign the front, but the Democrats’ old dichotomy is more telling these days. Do you shower before work or after work? The folks trending to the Democrats tend to shower and put on a crisp collared shirt for work, whereas for the folks trending Republican, work clothes are for getting dirty, even if your last name is on your work shirt.”
“Solzhenitsyn: More Than Fashionable.” John Wilson reviews a new collection of essays on Solzhenitsyn and argues he’s a writer and thinker still worth reading.