Arnold Kling on George Packer, David Hackett Fischer, Walter Russell Mead and America’s Four Traditions

Interesting discussion here from Arnold Kling:

In a recent essay drawn from a forthcoming book, George Packer says that American society has fractured into four groups. But David Hackett Fischer noticed these same four traditions, dating back to the first English settlers, in his carefully-researched book, Albion’s Seed. Fischer’s concept then became the basis of Walter Russell Mead’s book on tensions in American foreign policy, Special Providence.

George Packer rediscovers four traditions

Kling goes on to offer what he sees as the correlation between Packer and Fischer and Mead but he also offers his own take on the traditions. But I wanted to highlight his conclusions which is borne out of a frustration I share. How the libertarian perspective seems to be the bogeyman these days while ever increasing government never seems to be blamed for failure:

Free America has become the scapegoat of nearly everyone. Conservatives blame libertarians for social and economic disorder. Progressives blame libertarianism for inequality and injustice. Populists dream of taking power from the elites. But I believe that we will see in the rest of this decade that big government only exacerbates the disorder, inequality, and power imbalances that it purports to solve.

[vigorous nodding by me]

After Nationalism, Enjoying the Bible & The Politics of Catastrophe

Or, reviews of books I want to read…

One of the conundrums of book addiction is that you soon collect more books than you can hope to read but you have also built up a habit of reading book news and reviews which leads you to want more books. Rinse, repeat…

Allow me to share that problem with you by sharing reviews of books that I want to read.

Mark Melton reviews After Nationalism: Being American in an Age of Division by Samuel Goldman at National Review:

Since independence, citizens have bickered over who “we” are — the essential question of nationalism, which focuses on a people with a strong common identity — yet every attempt to maintain a cohesive identity has failed. Today in this concise book, Goldman responds to commentators who believe that citizens must return to some overarching identity and purpose. He argues that this task is difficult when the conditions that allowed previous unity no longer exist. Moreover, nationalists do not reasonably explain programs that could reignite a meaningful shared identity. In contrast, he favors the opposite course — accepting increased localism with smaller communities for a diverse citizenry.

Sympathy for Nationalists, but Little Hope

Over at Front Porch Republic, Zach Pritz reviews Matthew Mullin’s Enjoying the Bible:

We have become so conditioned to read every text as an instructional manual that we become frustrated when the meaning of poetry and Scripture are not clear. This diagnosis sets the stage for Enjoying the Bible. Recovering the art of reading Scripture requires teachers, pastors, and parents to train students to exchange their “Cartesian eyes” for the right pair of reading glasses. Mullins has lifted his lantern and taken the step forward to guide us out of the darkness of Biblical illiteracy.

Reading with Our Hearts: A Review of Enjoying The Bible

Lastly, at The American Conservative Jonathon Van Maren tackles Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe by Niall Ferguson

It is characteristic for conservative historian Niall Ferguson to have produced an exceptional history during a pandemic. Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe is a sweeping chronicle of global disasters large and small from the dawn of recorded history to the end of 2020; a detailed account not only of previous pandemics, but an embryonic analysis of the moment we are currently living through and “a diary of the plague half year.” For those seeking to ground themselves in historical context after the topsy-turvy events of the past year, Ferguson’s latest offering will prove invaluable.

Putting the COVID Crisis in Context

The worldview of liberalism is that there is a critical mass of benighted and dangerous people who believe “disinformation” that has been implanted in their brainstem by vicious religious ideologues, homophobic Russian gangsters, or awkward conservative uncles who remained unslaughtered by their clever nieces last Thanksgiving. The Big Brotherhood of national media outlets announces the expert consensus, and using the powers of social conformism on social media and just social censorship by social-media companies, the Ministry of Truth can help the smooth governing of the people toward their inevitable destinies out of the backward past and into the utopia where the arc of history finally lands like a rainbow terminating into a pot of gold.

Your life mistakes, like responding with your genuine thoughts to Google’s solicitation for comment on internal woke religion, or being crowned Queen of Love at some crackers Veiled Prophet’s dinner dance, will be ruthlessly unearthed by the media to make an example of you in the present. The media’s “mistakes” will be gently erased and amended, hopefully without anyone noticing at all.

The Media’s Memory-Hole Privilege

Those Who Disappeared by Kevin Wignall

Having read all of the awesomely named Kevin Wignall‘s books, when given the opportunity to grab Those Who Disappeared on NetGalley I jumped at the chance. And like most Wignall books, I can say that I enjoyed this one and read it pretty quickly.

When a man’s body is discovered in a Swiss glacier thirty years after he went missing, his son, Foster Treherne, hopes he’ll finally have closure on what happened to the father he never met. But then the autopsy reveals signs of a struggle, and what was assumed to be a tragic accident suddenly looks more sinister.

Foster tracks down his father’s old friends, but when he starts to ask questions it becomes clear that there’s something they don’t want to tell him. While some are evasive, others seem to wish the body had never been found. What exactly is their connection to each other, and why are they so reluctant to discuss the day his father disappeared? Who are they trying to protect?

If he wants to uncover what really happened, Foster must follow the trail of secrets and lies—no matter how devastating the consequences, and what they might reveal about his father. Because the truth can only stay buried for so long…

It was a thought provoking and engaging read. Wignall’s characters are always interesting and unique and Faster is no exception

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