“Land, Limits and the Scandal of Reparations.” Allan Carlson lays out the long and tragic history that has dispossessed so many American farmers—and particularly black ones—of the land. He concludes with some promising policy suggestions. Carlson’s proposals are too sane to be enacted in our current political landscape, but they remind us that our current economic and racial and ecological injustices are not inevitable; we could do much better.
“What We Lost When Gannett Came to Town.” Elaine Godfrey chronicles the decline of a local paper. This is a familiar genre by now, but she does an exceptional job showing why it’s a problem we need to address: “The paper’s reliable attention made us feel like our little part of Iowa mattered and that we did, too. This is what The Hawk Eye gave us. Back then, we took it for granted.” Godfrey goes on to identify one of the core goods that local papers serve: “often overlooked are the more quotidian stories, the ones that disappear first when a paper loses resources: stories about the annual Teddy Bear Picnic at Crapo Park, the town-hall meeting about the new swimming-pool design, and the tractor games during the Denmark Heritage Days. These stories are the connective tissue of a community; they introduce people to their neighbors, and they encourage readers to listen to and empathize with one another.”
“Indoctrination Sessions Have No Place in the Academy.” Elizabeth Corey and Jeffrey Polet write in the Chronicle about the ways in which DEI-style trainings are inimical to the purpose of universities: “Trainings now aim at ends that are not only tendentious but even contrary to one of the chief ends of the university itself, which is the pursuit of truth. The problem is that ‘training’ tends to assume that the truth is already known. It claims expert knowledge of truths about such complex and abstract things as ‘justice’ and ‘race’ and ‘gender.’ But when these ‘truths’ are, in fact, a matter of reasonable disagreement and current political contestation, the trainings become indoctrinations.”
“Ostracizing Claremont.” Speaking of the pursuit of truth, Patrick Deneen argues that the APSA’s decision to exclude Claremont panels from its recent meeting is a troubling development: “Th[e] inquiry into the nature of the good regime within existing imperfect regimes is an inherently precarious undertaking, and has almost always taken place at the edges of society—a tradition dating back to Socrates’s challenges to democratic Athens. Today’s academics claim to be the heirs of Socrates, but far more resemble the mendacious Sophists who sought his imprisonment and death by claiming that his questions were too dangerous for the regime to permit.”
“What Is the CDC?” Ari Schulman traces the nebulous, conflicting functions of the CDC and America’s public health authorities: “Our public health agencies are everywhere and nowhere, alpha without omega, beginning without end. No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.”
“Public Health or Power Play?” Mark Mitchell asks some crucial questions about the vaccines and considers the political context: “‘Politicized science’ is being used as a club to bludgeon dissenters into submission. But this is not science, for science requires open and free inquiry. It is not politics, either, for legitimate politics requires free and vigorous debate. It is, instead, naked power masquerading as science.”
“Has America Lost Its Story?” Wilfred M. McClay defends the need for narrative, for story, in understanding ourselves and our communities: “just as a picture is worth a thousand words, so a story is worth much more than a thousand propositional statements. A great and powerful story is a seaborne vessel carrying many meanings in its holds, and able to acquire others in the course of its journey.”
“Now Explain What the Problem Is.” Teresa M. Bejan shows how academics tend to use “problematic” to dismiss certain groups without having to justify the dismissal: “Problematic is highly efficient. But it is also disastrous for learning.”
“Casino Capitalism, Literally.” Helen Andrews eviscerates the casino “industry” and draws analogies to Big Tech: “Has our moral response to Big Tech been handicapped by the fact that its closest analogue recently became respectable overnight? Might the values we abandoned be ones we once again find ourselves needing?”
“Steppe of the Spirit.” Sam Buntz warns that our imaginative commons or “dialogic space—the space in which real meeting, real encounter, becomes possible”–are being enclosed. He draws on Illich to point toward artistic making as a viable response. (Recommended by Adam Smith.)
“The Life of the Land: A Cautionary Tale.” Mark Clavier offers a parable that can fruitfully be read alongside Wendell Berry’s essay “The Gift of Good Land.”
“Facebook Is Weaker Than We Knew.” Kevin Roose assesses Facebook’s health: “Facebook’s research tells a clear story, and it’s not a happy one. Its younger users are flocking to Snapchat and TikTok, and its older users are posting anti-vaccine memes and arguing about politics. Some Facebook products are actively shrinking, while others are merely making their users angry or self-conscious.”
“Changing of the Seasons.” Brian Miller reflects on autumn and the death of loved ones.
“Why Dante’s Divine Light Still Shines.” Robert Chandler considers Dante’s far-reaching legacy through brief notes in response to several recent books on the poet. What shines through these, in part, is the way so many readers have fallen in love with Dante’s comedy: “The Purgatorio is, above all, a search for meaning, and in the final cantos Beatrice enables Dante to understand that the only source of meaning is love.” (Recommended by Scott Newstok.)
“Death and Forgiveness.” In a searing and searching essay, Joseph M. Keegin recounts how his quest for forgiveness led him through many Greek and Eastern philosophers and finally to Christ.
“A World Ordered Only By Search.” L.M. Sacasas draws on Ivan Illich’s incisive book In the Vineyard of the Text to generate a set of observations about how shifts in media technologies alter memory, meaning, and our sense of self.