“The Corruption of the Best: On Ivan Illich.” Geoff Shullenberger takes the occasion of David Cayley’s intellectual biography of Ivan Illich to offer a reassessment of Illich’s thought. In particular, Shullenberger explains Illich’s work on gender, which earned him opprobrium in the final decades of his life: “The weakening of the vernacular regime of gender-specific spaces, activities, and tools enabled modern societies to recast men and women as performers of abstract labor in exchange for wages. Industrial capitalism, he argues, thus replaces gendered humans, whose lives play out in the distinct gendered spheres of their particular culture, with a unisex homo economicus.”
“Why we Need the Apocalypse.” Mary Harrington musters plenty of examples to verify the wisdom of an old observation: “grand top-down plans often seem indifferent to predictable human consequences.” (Recommended by Martin Schell.)
“Catholic College Aims to Provide Degree and Trade Certificate for $15K per Year.” Jeremiah Poff reports on an interesting new educational program: “Once students graduate from the Catholic College of St. Joseph the Worker, they will have earned a bachelor’s degree in Catholic studies while becoming carpenters, electricians, masons, or heating, ventilating, and air conditioning technicians.”
“Empathy and Its Limits.” Jacob A. Bruggeman reviews American Made: What Happens to People When Work Disappears, in which Farah Stockman, an educated, coastal elite, tries to understand and empathize with industrial workers from Indiana. The results are mixed, but Bruggeman concludes, “In a word, work matters. It shapes our lives and gives them meaning. Its nature may change, but work remains a central component of human life. While empathy is vital, reinvesting work with dignity and grace will ultimately require more than seeing through workers’ eyes.”
“US Sues Chicken Producers, Alleging They Conspired to Keep Wages Down.” Michael Hirtzer and Leah Nylen unpack the $85 million settlement chicken processors agreed to with the DOJ: “The settlement is designed to resolve a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department that accused the poultry producers of conspiring for at least two decades on collaborating and assisting competitors in making decisions about workers compensation, including wages and benefits, and exchanging information about current and future compensation plans. The processors also engaged in ‘deceptive practices; under the so-called tournament system, where growers are penalized if they underperform.” Cargill is still closing a $4.5 billion merger with Sanderson, so the industry continues to consolidate.
“Did the Best Chess Player in the World Just Give Up?” Emily Belz responds to Magnus Carlsen’s announcement that he won’t defend his title by pondering the meaning of excellence and the way in which even those who excel should respond to their limits: “When is giving up laziness, and when is it a proper understanding of our human limitations?” This question is not an easy one to answer, but all of us, “whether chess players, shipbuilders, writers, or teachers,” can respond to it by considering “how we can love the gifts we have with excellence while embracing our own finitude.”
“An Education for Lincoln’s Heaven.” Dan Olson finds much wisdom in The Black Intellectual Tradition: Reading Freedom in Classical Literature by Anika Prather and Angel Adams Parham: “Like King’s nonviolent resistance and Cooper’s ‘head, hand, and heart’ — Prather and Parham find in Christian classical education a moral means to achieve moral ends.”
“Most Third Parties have Failed. Here’s Why Ours Won’t.” In their pitch for their new political party, David Jolly, Christine Todd Whitman, and Andrew Yang at least make a convincing case that our two dominant political parties have foundered.
“David Foster Wallace’s Final Attempt to Make Art Moral.” Jon Baskin looks at the late work of David Foster Wallace and uncovers the contradiction at its heart: “Learning to ‘see what’s useful and what isn’t’ may appear to be predominantly a matter of self-discipline or character, and at times this was how Wallace treated it. But Wallace’s late works reveal an increasing awareness that separating the useful and the useless also requires an ethical judgment: it means determining what is, or should be, worthy of our committed attention.”
“Authority Is Dead, Long Live Authority.” Educator Cassandra Nelson explores the disrepair of authority as a concept and practice, drawing on Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, Plato, and others to establish that “Virtue doesn’t reside in the sky, or the cloud, or any form of abstraction; it must be passed from one person to the next. By reinforcing and augmenting the foundations of civilization, we invite the next generation to become builders too.” (Recommended by Sarah Soltis.)
“Don’t Blame Dostoyevsky.” A defense of Russian culture from a Russian writer. Amid the Russian-Ukrainian war, great Russian literature and poetry speak, as they long since have, against criminal state power, instead addressing the “eternal, cursed questions” we all may be privy to. (Recommended by Sarah Soltis.)
“Once Upon a Time Near Verona.” Nadya Williams examines the roots of “rootedness,” and she includes discussions of restlessness, Rome’s pagan poets, and the early Christians along the way. Williams’s conclusions regarding Claudian’s “beautiful lie” may challenge Porchers’ notions of place but, at the very least, it attests to the complexity required in our conceptions of the rooted life. (Recommended by Sarah Soltis.)
“Manchin and Schumer’s Astonishing Climate Deal.” Robinson Meyer breaks down the climate bill being debated in the US Senate: “In a move that seemed to shock almost all of their colleagues, the two men unveiled a nearly completed bill that will reduce the federal budget deficit, reduce greenhouse-gas pollution, invest in new energy infrastructure, and lower health-care costs.”