“In Memoriam: Gerald Russello.” Susannah Black remembers the life of a fine man who, among other things, served as the editor of the University Bookman: “He was convinced that this writing and reading and talking and arguing and institution-building and movement-making, and these friendships we build, are not just fun but important; that this is part of the work of carrying on the world.” Over at the University Bookman, David G. Bonagura, Jr. reflects on his character: “One thing Gerald never sought was glory for himself or his works. Yes, he was proud of his intellectual work and of his service to the Russell Kirk Center as editor of The University Bookman. But he never talked about himself, and he was quick to deflect any deserved praise to others before he would turn the conversation back on his interlocutor.” See also these tributes from Bradley Birzer, Dan McLaughlin, and Morgan A. Pino. I did not know Gerald personally, but we corresponded regularly; he published a review I wrote, we alerted each other to books or essays of interest, and we looked for ways that FPR and the University Bookman could collaborate. What strikes me about his public, intellectual work is how good he was at tending a flourishing garden of conversation. He celebrated and fostered good writing about good books, and by so doing he refused the lure of narrow partisanship or growing his “platform” at any cost. His voice and sanity will be greatly missed.
“The Prophet of Re-Alignment: Reading Michael Lind in the Ruins of the Old Republic.” Brad Littlejohn offers a thoughtful account of one of today’s more interesting and iconoclastic political thinkers. I don’t agree with all of Lind’s conclusions, but he rightly gores many of the sacred cows of our partisan age: “Throughout his career, Lind has presented a vision of American nationalism that avoids any of the ugly racial overtones the term often carries, and an incisive analysis of the profound class dynamics that continue to determine access to economic and political power in twenty-first century America.”
“The American Right’s Civil War.” Mary Harrington tries to make sense of the tensions and contradictions on display at the National Conservatism conference.
“After a Contentious Election, Des Moines Needs New Ways of Talking.” Nathan Beacom is working to revive institutions that can carry on more local conversations: “It’s time to find a new way of talking to each other here in Des Moines and in Iowa. Rather than let the terms of conversations be set by national entities who profit from our anger, why not get back into a room together and think for ourselves? The Des Moines Lyceum was once the place to do that, and, after more than a century, it’s making a return on Nov. 11.”
“What the Meat Industry Can Learn from the Downfall of Belcampo.” Beth Hoffman considers what went wrong with Belcampo and tries to imagine a more sustainable and just system for raising beef.
“We Can’t Wait for Universities to Fix Themselves. So We’re Starting a New One.” Pano Kanelos left the presidency at St. John’s College in Annapolis to launch a new university. His critique of current universities mostly rings true, but there are also many small liberal arts colleges doing extraordinary work right now, and a fancy board and splashy launch do not an institution make. Still, there’s a lot of promise in their vision, and it will be interesting to see if this gets off the ground.
“Icelandverse.” In this crazy age, it can be hard to pull off humor. So much of our political and technological discourse feels like self-parody. But this short “product” announcement is a delightful response to Meta.
“Marginal Prophets.” In his typically humorous and perceptive manner, Matthew Walther suggests that too many economists act like magicians: “Marshall’s economics cannot account for modern economic conditions, but Frazer is an infallible guide to our cult-like belief in Marshall’s economics.”
“A Good that is Common.” Patrick Deneen parses different kinds of freedom and argues that we need a politics that makes common goods—including most fundamentally prayer—more, well, common.
“The Dirty Little Secret: Government Works.” Andy Smarick reminds us to shift our political focus homeward: “We should constantly bear in mind that state and local governments are the beating heart of American politics. They spend more than $3 trillion annually, more than the amount of federal discretionary spending. They spend most of their revenue on the issues that touch our daily lives, like welfare, education, and health. Moreover, Americans trust local institutions like public schools and the police far more than they trust Congress; and they trust their local and state governments more than they do the federal government. Yet we’re inundated with stories about a junior Congressperson’s incendiary press release or a Senator’s hectoring of a hearing witness.”
“The Berry Center Presents: Virtual Kentucky Arts And Letters Day 2021.” On Saturday evening, the Berry Center is hosting an online celebration of Kentucky authors. They have quite a lineup: “Frank X Walker, Maurice Manning, Bobbie Ann Mason, Crystal Wilkinson, Ronald Davis, Gurney Norman, Ed McClanahan, Jayne Moore Waldrop, Mary Ann Taylor-Hall, and Wendell Berry for our 6th annual Kentucky Arts & Letters Day. You will also hear from Wendell Berry Farming Program of Sterling College students and writers Clayton Spencer, Sally Rother, and Paul Borntraeger, as well as a special story from Henry County Judge-Executive John Logan Brent.”
“What Elite Commentary Gets Wrong about J.D. Vance.” Sean Speer seeks to make sense of Vance’s apparent shift from a bridge-builder to a pugilistic fighter: “it’s not enough to attribute these changes to Vance’s politics to mere political opportunism. That’s a necessary yet insufficient explanation. There’s something deeper going on here. Progressives who lament the loss of another ‘genteel’ conservative ought to ask themselves whether their own uncompromising politics have played a role.”
“What the Poppy Really Means.” Mary Harrington reflects on what exactly we remember on Remembrance Day: “less obviously, we also mark the start of an ongoing, monumental collective effort of forgetting.”
“Surviving the Show: The New Asceticism of Ivan Illich.” L.M. Sacasas draws on the work of Illich to attempt to answer a provocative question: “Might we do better to think about attention not as a resource that we pay or squander at the behest of the attention economy and its weaponized digital tools but rather as a bodily skill that we can cultivate, train, and hone?”