“Scruton Makes His Case.” John G. Grove reviews a new collection of Scruton’s essays and finds that they display his optimistic “pessimism[, which] paradoxically leads us to fields of hopeful labor by turning our eyes away from the lofty and unattainable dreams of the visionary to the world right in front of us, which always presents us with opportunities to do good and resist evil.”
“Searching for Capitalism in the Wreckage of Globalization.” Oren Cass, in a lengthy and important essay, argues that, contra recent dogma, capitalism and globalization are opposed to one another: “Globalization destroys [the mutual dependence between capital and labor], instead urging the owners of mobile capital to forsake the interests of their fellow citizens and search for higher profits through labor arbitrage abroad. A democratic republic’s vast working and middle classes will rightly reject such an arrangement, forcing elites to choose between restoring capitalism by constraining capital or entrenching their own economic prerogatives by subordinating the democratic process. That’s as good a description as any of the precipice at which America now stands.” As Cass argues, the classic free market theorists assumed local, domestic bounds on the movement of capital, and if we want to defend the free market, we can’t pursue free trade.
“The Perils of Inaction.” In a similar vein, Patrick T. Brown weighs in on a debate at Law & Liberty regarding the role the federal government should play fostering a healthy economy: “A Burkean approach to trade would suggest that we give greater deference to its potential impact on towns and families, instead of racing headlong into a future where greater liberalization would solve the problems it itself was creating.”
“The Makers of the Snowflake Generation.” No one can accuse Jeff Polet of excessive sentimentality: “Nisbet lamented his era of ‘self-spelunking, awareness-intoxication, and ego-diving.’ Fate spared him our present moment. One expects teenagers to be all passion and no reason, and one expects them to be egocentric, but it’s the job of adults to break them of these habits. Instead, our schools—primary, secondary, and post-secondary—not only encourage this behavior, they denounce any resistance to it as a form of the bogeymen the students are told to fear.”
“Technocratic Dreams and Unattached Kids: Why the Care of Young Children Can’t Be Outsourced.” Tara Thieke weaves together her own experience as a childcare worker and recent studies showing the long-term consequences of pre-K to warn that sending our children to institutions imposes real stress: “The signal that our increasing institutionalization of early childhood is leading to negative outcomes is an opportunity for us to re-examine our relationship with our children and ourselves.”
“Leo Marx, 102, Dies; Studied Clash of Nature and Culture in America.” Leo Marx, author of the brilliant book The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America, passed away last week. John Motyka gives an overview of his life and work, but his classic study of nature and technology in the American imagination remains a necessary book to think with.
“Ethanol: The Fuel That Powers Putin.” David Frum argues that the war in Ukraine, and the impending wheat shortages that are likely to follow, presents the perfect opportunity to end the US’s foolish ethanol subsidies: “The ethanol program is a giveaway so big, so entrenched, and so wasteful that laughter might seem like the best response. But as we laugh, we’re missing that America’s ethanol madness has strengthened Russia’s grip upon the world’s food supply.”
“Escaping American Tribalism.” William Deresiewicz writes about his experience as a progressive who has gradually become alienated—or, as he puts it, “disgusted”—at what progressivism has become: “To live within a tribe is to enjoy the reassurance that you’re one of many. To leave one — to break one’s attachments, to call down the condemnation of one’s peers and friends — is necessarily to feel that you’re alone. But you are not alone.”
“Wartime’s Macabre Predictions of a Populist Defeat.” Michael Brendan Dougherty cautions against drawing simple political conclusions from the unfolding war in Ukraine.
“The Cancellation of Russian Culture.” Gary Saul Morson draws on the Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn to give an important reminder: “If Russian history teaches anything, it is that such “moral clarity” has no limits. If all right is on one side, then anything—literally anything—one says or does is justified. . . . When everything is black and white, sooner or later everyone is at risk.”
“Splendour of Fire, Speed of Lightning.” Paul Kingsnorth meditates on St. Patrick and Celtic Christianity: “it is patient. It is patient like Patricius was. He left us an island whose monks, as Cahill demonstrates, took into themselves, copied and kept alive all of classical and Christian learning in the face of barbarian fires. He left us a leafy, wet, strange and magical Christianity, entwined with the spirit of this Atlantic island.”
“Technology and the Soul: The Spiritual Lessons of Digital Distraction.” Joshua Hochschild ponders how social media and smartphones threaten to deform our souls. By putting classic philosophers and contemporary neuroscientists in conversation, he outlines some ways in which we might counter these deformative—and perhaps demonic—pressures.
“Concentric Roots.” Benjamin Woollard examines a set of fictional characters whose disordered loves reveal the dangers of detachment: “They long for that which is farthest afield and neglect that which is closest at hand.”