I Practise Philosophy as Art.” Gesine Borcherdt talks with philosopher Byung-Chul Han about his recent book: “I think trust is a social practice, and today it is being replaced by transparency and information. Trust enables us to build positive relationships with others, despite lacking knowledge. In a transparency society, one immediately asks for information from others. Trust as a social practice becomes superfluous. The transparency and information society fosters a society of distrust.” (Recommended by Rob Grano.)

Taking Stock And Looking Forward: Food System Overhaul.” Civil Eats interviews Austin Frerick, Ruth Reichl, and Ricardo Salvador about the prospects for improving the US food system. Frerick’s ongoing research on grocery stores and monopolies are of particular interest.

Against Champagne Socialists.” Jason Brennan and Christopher Freiman ponder questions of individual versus collective action. I don’t agree with all the distinctions they make, but their underlying questions are worth considering: “One possibility is that wearing a left-wing ideology is a sort of cover for living a right-wing life. Perhaps this partly explains why elite universities are so left-wing. They sell elite status, but they cover this up with incessant praise of social justice. It could be that Harvard is a right-wing institution that undermines social justice, but if it never stops talking about equality, maybe you won’t notice.”

What the 1619 Project Got Wrong.” James Oakes has a long essay detailing the shortcomings of the 1619 project’s history and why these shortcomings matter. His argument hinges on the relationship between slavery and capitalism: “having failed in all these ways, the 1619 Project leaves its readers ignorant of one of the great problems in the history of the United States, indeed of the modern world. The problem can be stated succinctly: capitalism gave rise to both slavery and antislavery. Put differently, slavery became a problem within the history of capitalism.”

How Hospitality Shapes Us.” Gracy Olmstead meditates on how receiving unexpected hospitality blessed her and her family and motivated her to look for more ways to extend hospitality.

The Radicalization of J.D. Vance.” Simon van Zuylen-Wood talks with Vance and several others to try to make sense of his campaign style, the shifting pieces of American politics, and the possibilities of National Conservatism.

Walking With Virgil: Dante’s Divine Comedy and the Art of Spiritual Friendship.” Ryan Diaz turns to Dante for help in thinking about the relationship between friendship and spiritual growth: “Finding ourselves requires that we first find men and women to guide us. Without guides to point us in the right direction, we face the impossible task of self-discovery. By examining Dante’s journey and his companions, we can come to learn how spiritual friendship aids us in our journeys and ultimately how communal life shapes our souls.”

In Latest Effort to Combat Rising Prices, White House to Offer $1 Billion in Aid for Smaller Meat-Industry Producers.” Jeff Stein reports on the Biden administration’s plans to bolster smaller meat processors. The part about reducing inspection costs in particular sounds promising. As Brian Miller wrote me when recommending this story, however, “the devil is in the details.” Civil Eats has a bit more on the context of this announcement.

John Deere Unveils Automated Tractor at CES Show.” The BBC reports on John Deere’s plans for farmerless farms. Apparently instead of increasing the eyes-to-acres ratio, as Wes Jackson talks about, Deere aims to increase the cameras-to-acres ratio.

Will Britain Survive?” Tom McTague travels the constituent nations of Britain and ponders whether this political entity will endure: “it seems to me that Britain’s existential threat is not simply the result of poor governance—an undeniable reality—but of something much deeper: the manifestation of something close to a spiritual crisis.”

Coming Apart in the Hoosier State.” Aaron Renn reviews Farah Stockman’s American Made: What Happens to People When Work Disappears and praises its “human-centered story about the social costs of offshoring and deindustrialization.” His conclusion, though, suggests some important ways in which her account could be supplemented.

Why Democrats Are So Bad at Defending Democracy.” David Brooks has some advice for Democrats trying to pass election reform—go local: “Maybe the best way to repulse a populist uprising is not by firing up all your allies in the Northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C.”

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture