All posts filed under: American History

Domestic Extremist: A Practical Guide to Winning the Culture War (Peachy Keenan)

My aunt, one of my father’s two sisters, died in 2020, at the age of eighty-five. She never married, because when she was young, she convinced herself that what mattered was having a career—in her case, as a virologist. She attended all the best schools: Miss Porter’s; Bryn Mawr; and Harvard Medical School, graduating in 1959. She was pretty, quirky, engaging, but most of all, she thought she was always the smartest person in the room. She believed, she knew, that by placing career over family, she would earn a Nobel Prize. She did not get a Nobel Prize.

“The China Convergence” (N. S. Lyons)

We Americans sense that we live in an empire of lies. We want to understand the people and systems which control our country and society. At a minimum, we want to know how and by whom we are ruled, and what that means for both the present and the future. But we can trust no source of information, because we know every channel of knowledge has been corrupted. Thus, inquiry usually ends in frustration, in obvious falsehoods peddled to us, or in esoteric conjectures which seem the more popular the more unlikely they are.

America’s Cultural Revolution: How the Radical Left Conquered Everything (Christopher Rufo)

Christopher Rufo has earned a stellar reputation as both analyst of, and strategist against, the poison of “critical theory.” In America’s Cultural Revolution, with verve, precision, and clarity, he explains what critical theory is, where it came from, and how, over the past fifty years, it was used by the Left to conquer America. His real target, however, is much older, because critical theory is merely the latest iteration of Left ideology, inevitably corrosive and parasitical, conceived in the Enlightenment and birthed in 1789. And, no surprise, the fruit of the Left’s latest conquest has been the same as always—the extreme degradation of a decent, productive society. Rufo’s explicit purpose is to inspire a counter-revolution. This is a tall order. After all, despite successes Rufo and his allies have had in several quarters, the Left today utterly dominates all areas of American life, not only all levels of government, directly or indirectly, but also private enterprise, education, media, culture, the military, and religious institutions. That this has led America to a dead end is irrelevant …

Regime Change: Toward a Postliberal Future (Patrick Deneen)

Vladimir Lenin taught that “he who says A must say B.” He was correct, but Patrick Deneen has not listened. Deneen says A, that our Regime, our ruling class, is destructive and evil. But he then refuses to say B, that the Regime is therefore wholly odious and illegitimate, and before any new system is possible, it must be destroyed. Instead, Deneen’s response to A is magical thinking. When the people peacefully complain enough, you see, the Regime will dismantle itself voluntarily and hand over power to a new ruling class, which will hold and implement opposite views on every matter under the sun. This absurd fantasy, even when cushioned within much fancy philosophy, harms rather than advances the postliberal project.

Throw-Back Thursday: Edwin Arlington Robinson: A Poet’s Life (Scott Donaldson)

[This was originally published on October 17, 2017.] I have zero creative talent.  The pinnacle of my own ability to draw is stick figures, and not good ones.  I cannot sing or play an instrument.  I cannot write fiction.  I do not understand iambic pentameter.  Thus, I tend not to express any opinion about poetry, and I certainly don’t write any.  But I have always liked the poetry of Edwin Arlington Robinson, which when I was young was still included in older anthologies of poetry.  Whether they were directed at children or not I cannot say, but I read some of his poetry at around five years old, and it has stuck with me.  I doubt very much if children, or adults, are exposed to him today, even though a hundred years ago he was the nation’s most famous poet.  This biography, written ten years ago, is an excellent corrective to today’s ignorance.

“Caesar & Beyond”—My Appearance with Auron MacIntyre

Now available is my discussion with Auron MacIntyre. We talk about Caesar, of course, but also much more, including the (likely limited) role of people such as ourselves in the new society. You can find the episode here on YouTube. You can follow Auron on his very popular YouTube channel, at his Substack, or on Twitter and Gab. You can support his work on Subscribestar, as well.

Breakfast with the Dirt Cult (Samuel Finlay)

In 1952, Ralph Ellison published, to great acclaim, his first and only novel, Invisible Man. The book narrated how Ellison’s protagonist, a black man, suffered social oppression. But that was long ago, and one thing black people definitely don’t suffer anymore is oppression. Rather, many dish it out, aided by their allies of other races, as seen most dramatically in the terroristic Floyd Riots, but it happens every day in every organization in America. The targets are, most of all, those at the bottom of today’s social hierarchy—heterosexual (that is, normal) white men outside the professional-managerial elite. And Samuel Finlay’s Breakfast with the Dirt Cult is, one might say, the new Invisible Man.

Dark Age America: Climate Change, Cultural Collapse, and the Hard Future Ahead (John Michael Greer)

I am both pessimist and optimist about our future. I expect our civilization, that of the West, to end entirely, and soon. Yet at the same time, I believe we can have an intensely bright future thereafter—not a return, certainly, but something wholly new, informed by the wisdom and knowledge of the past. Moreover, I think that technology, rightly ordered and used, will be a pillar of that future, if we reach it. John Michael Greer, a man hard to categorize politically, agrees with my pessimism, but not with my optimism, especially as regards the future use of technology. Today we will explore whether I should amend my beliefs, through the prism of Greer’s Dark Age America.

The Man from the Future: The Visionary Life of John von Neumann (Ananyo Bhattacharya)

This is a disappointing book. Not awful, but not good. The Man from the Future manages to take the life of the polymath John von Neumann and to make it dull, never giving us any real sense of the man, although we do get some sense of his accomplishments. Beyond that, it’s filled with bad history about ancillary matters, making the reader wonder about the veracity of core biographical matters. And worst of all, the author, Ananyo Bhattacharya, wastes our time by endlessly trying to shoehorn into von Neumann’s story fantasy contributions by supposedly marginalized people, who are unknown because they did nothing worth noting. All this turns what might have been an excellent book into a chore.

Fentanyl, Inc.: How Rogue Chemists Are Creating the Deadliest Wave of the Opioid Epidemic (Ben Westhoff)

Fentanyl, Inc. updates Sam Quinones’s seminal 2015 Dreamland, about the American opioid epidemic, focusing on the synthetic opioid fentanyl, the use of which has exploded in the past five years. No doubt, increasing drug use is a very important topic for the future of America. Unfortunately, Ben Westhoff’s book covers it in a disorganized and blinkered fashion, where the author shrinks from obvious conclusions. The title itself shows the problem. It implies some fictional central entity controls the fentanyl trade, and points the finger at imaginary “rogue chemists.” A much more accurate title would be Fentanyl: How the Chinese and the Mexicans Are Deliberately Killing Americans.