Labor, Land, and Racism.” Brian Volck reviews Berry’s new book, which comes out next month: “For Berry, there are no autonomous people and no isolated social problems. Thus, while acknowledging that ‘it is obvious that race prejudice or white supremacy is the original and fundamental mistake in the European conquest of this country,’ he sees questions of structural racial discrimination as part of a larger discussion about an economy founded on the abuse of the land and its inhabitants: displacing Native people, depleting the soil, destroying landscapes with extractive industries, and targeting the small family farm for extinction.”

Public Opinion at 100.” André Forget revisits Walter Lippmann’s classic on the one hundredth anniversary of its publication. Unfortunately, the problem Lippmann identifies persists and has worsened, and any “solution” exacerbates as many problems as it might ameliorate: “Initially, Lippmann hoped that journalism could be reformed—that by pointing out errors, he and others could help raise standards of truth-telling across the industry, leading to greater accuracy and objectivity in reporting. But the more he studied the problem, the more complex it seemed to become.”

China is Committing Genocide. The World has no Plan to Stop It.” Sigal Samuel considers why, despite all we know about what is happening to the Uyghurs, there has been little political will to take any meaningful action: “China is a huge market. Its ability to manufacture products cheaply and its abundance of cheap labor makes it invaluable to international businesses. ‘These are all things that have made governments around the world very rich,’ added Grose. ‘Now we’re seeing the limits of what liberal democracies want to do to stop violence, when the way to stop violence is to have it affect your own pocketbook.’”

Walking Istanbul.” Chris Arnade strolls through the city and reflects on community, religion, addiction, and what makes for a good life.

The Hobbit King.” Tom McTague calls King Charles a “hobbit king” who reigns over a more locally minded kingdom, a Shire rather than an empire: “Today, regardless of the rights and wrongs of Brexit, the instinct to return to the Shire seems entirely reasonable. Britain, like the Shire, has no shortage of problems requiring repair.”

On the Need for Property and Virtue.” Michael P. Federici praises Mark T. Mitchell’s new book, published by FPR Books, titled Plutocratic Socialism: The Future of Private Property and the Fate of the Middle Class: “In Mitchell’s view, if the problem is the concentration of political and economic power into fewer hands, then the solution is the decentralization of power and the expansion of the middle class.” Federici goes on to argue that part of the means by which this goal might be achieved is a more responsible and magnanimous leadership class who would use their wealth and power to steward a culture of virtue. Federici seems to be calling for something akin to what Patrick Deneen defends as “aristopopulism.”

Plural Visions.” Jessica Swoboda takes stock of what she’s learned through a series of conversations about the purpose of and audience for literary criticism. How do more popular venues relate to the traditional forum of scholarly journals? Swoboda invites us to see “argument as relation, as interaction; a push and pull, a give and take, not a fight to the death with permanent winners and losers.”

Move Over, Açai—It’s the Pawpaw’s Time.” In a short piece for The New Yorker, Yasmine AlSayyad talks with Michael Judd, a Pawpaw evangelist, about the growing appetite for this fruit.

The Dirty War over Covid.” Ari Schulman is perhaps the most sane analyst of our collective responses to COVID, and his lengthy essay on what went wrong and what we can learn from our mistakes is astute: “My view of the Covid Technium, then, is not as clear-cut as the picture of a “biosecurity state.” Yes, there were vaccine mandates and passports, masking theater, draconian testing and isolation regimes in university and bien-pensant corporate halls, the CDC eviction moratorium, and a daunting list of other abuses, with much worse yet on the wish lists of planners. But there was more that was not done that would have been better targeted at the immediate material problem.”

The Discipleship of Work.” Rory Groves expands our understanding of the value and purpose of labor: “Scripture makes it clear that work is not solely about making stuff. God intended something else to occur in the process. We may be growing tomatoes or crafting fine furniture. But we are also shaping souls.”

Ban Banned Books Week.” Matthew Walther calls the bluff of so-called “banned” books week: “Naturally proponents of this movement, which is really a marketing campaign for publishers, don’t actually mean that you should pull up Amazon or march down to your local bookseller and get a copy of Mein Kampf. They are thinking of different ‘banned books.’ Unfortunately for them, when you actually look at the lists, you realize that virtually none of the books being trotted out has ever truly been banned.”

Okefenokee Heavy and Precious.” Janisse Ray’s lyric essay about this swamp in southeast Georgia is accompanied by remarkable photographs by Gregory Miller. They lay out the beauty and needs of this region: “The people of Okefenokee are in a double bind. They want good jobs, but they love the swamp. They’re proud of it. They love fishing in it. Their people lived in it before it became a wildlife refuge. It’s their home. They’re swamp people.”

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Ari’s piece was…well, challenging. I appreciate how he didn’t play his hand, really, until the end. As someone who fell into category one of the skepticism, it definitely was worrying the way I saw how callous people could be to make a point…but I also found myself tempted to go to that extreme as well. Definitely a “tax collector and pharisee” moment, in that being ~right~ about something doesn’t always indicate my heart and mind are in the proper place.

    I do think, ultimately, a lot could have been avoided if the table was open to discussion from the get go. On the one hand, I understand why there was a desire to keep things contained, so to speak, but when you suffocate any form of dissent and criticism, it’s going to fester. And fester it did.

  2. Hear hear, on the criticism of banned books week. The aura of self-righteousness is pretty nauseating. If we need a “week” at all, it should be “get off your damned phone and read a book” week.

  3. Ari’s piece is full of holes, starting with his unquestioning belief in the accuracy of tests (not to mention ignoring the pattern of more tests = more positives = more panic). It wasn’t just Biden’s decision to ignore rapid testing, as Eban implied. Travel protocols here in Indonesia suddenly shifted from antigen test required to PCR requires to booster required in a matter of weeks this past Aug-Sept. It was a global push to sell off vaccines that had been created to combat a 2019 virus before the inventory became worthless.

    He also sounds like a true believer in pushing N95 over cloth masks as something “not done” but would have been a great idea. If you’ve read anything about N95 (ingeniously designed, but not washable/re-usable, in contrast to KN95 fakes), you know that they can’t be worn for more than about 8 hours. They get clogged, interfere with breathing, and must be discarded.

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