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]

Reading, Re-reading and Reinventing Paul

I have something of an obsession with the idea of reading more deeply in a subject and thus coming away with a deeper knowledge of one specific topic, idea or area of thought.  Please note that I said “the idea of” as I have pursued this idea in theory a great deal more than I have actually practiced anything like it.

This is why I have a rather large collection of books on conservatism for example.  Or the entire American Presidents Series.  Why I purchased a number of books that act as primary documents of sorts for Black History Month.  Oh, and shelves of books on myths, legends and fairy tales.  I often act as if collecting books on a subject will force me to read more deeply in a topic and thus gain knowledge (see yesterday’s post).

Alas, I rarely get beyond a book or two and soon the collection stares at me from the shelf mocking me… (I never got to the primary source books for Black History Month).
a stack of books on Paul
But I am here not to castigate myself, but to report on my current assignment which I am actually managing to stick with so far: reading books on Paul (another of my mini-obsessions).

Read so far:

Currently (re)reading:

Planning to read:

Stretch Goals:

What about you?  Any themes to your reading this summer? Any obsessions in your book collecting?

Mindlessly seeking information, never finding knowledge?

This was posted to my Hey World feed on March 6.  I decided that I should keep all my content here, so am posting it below. I am mulling a response/follow-up which I will post here as well.

Reading Jonah Goldberg’s G-File this morning kicked off another round of ruminating about digital media.

I have been thinking about my presence in, and use of, technology and the digital world for some time. I started blogging twenty years ago.  I joined Twitter in 2008. I was the manager of new media for a U.S. Senate campaign.  I currently manage social media for a state agency as part of wider communications duties.

And I have been wrestling with how to responsibly and intelligently manage this interaction nearly from the start.  When I was a freelance consultant doing digital advocacy, I was constantly wrestling with what they now call “work-life balance.”  I had to learn to not constantly look at a screen; particularly when I moved into the world of “smart” phones (starting with a Blackberry).

The internet never shuts off so when does the workday end?  How do you separate your work online from your personal social media and from “normal” life? These questions and more were always bouncing around in my head.
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The Real Mary Poppins, How Foucault Won the Right & the Children’s Table of Literature

As I attempt to get back on the blogging horse so to speak, what better than that classic of blogging days past, the link collection post? Below, some articles I find interesting…

Sarah Schutte discusses the real Mary Poppins at National Review:

Mary Poppins first alighted at No. 17 Cherry Tree Lane in 1934, changing the lives not only of the Banks children but of countless readers around the world. Those exposed only to Julie Andrews’s charming portrayal of Mary Poppins (for indeed, you must always refer to Mary Poppins by her full name) in the 1964 Disney film may find the character in Travers’s book rather jarring — even downright unpleasant. Vain, haughty, snobby, abrupt, Travers’s nanny causes our Disneyfied senses to revolt in favor of the sweeter film character. But this is to give the “real” Mary Poppins short shrift, and naysayers will miss out on some of the most whimsical stories ever penned.

The Real Mary Poppins Reminds Us to Wonder

ICYMI, Ross Douthat had an interesting column on how How Michel Foucault Lost the Left and Won the Right:

Taken together, the essays tell a story that’s surprising at first but reasonable once you accept its premises: If Foucault’s thought offers a radical critique of all forms of power and administrative control, then as the cultural left becomes more powerful and the cultural right more marginal, the left will have less use for his theories, and the right may find them more insightful.

How Michel Foucault Lost the Left and Won the Right

Over at The Dispatch Guy Denton talks with Christopher Buckley about humor sitting at the “children’s table” of literature:

Buckley recognizes today what Wolfe and Heller understood before him: that there is no richer source of literary material than real life, and that real life is a comedy. Readers crave stories of equal scale and strangeness to their everyday experiences in what Wolfe described as this “wild, bizarre, unpredictable, Hog-stomping Baroque country of ours.” The quotidian in America is often ridiculous, and the ridiculous demands to be parodied.

The View from the Children’s Table

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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