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The New Nonconformist Conscience

From Web Exclusives

Mozilla’s Brendan Eich, the Miami Dolphins’ Don Jones, HGTV’s Benham brothers: 2014 has been a good year for those seeking to enforce the new moral orthodoxy by depriving others of their livelihood. It’s bad enough to see people joining these bandwagons without pausing to reflect on dark side of such feeding frenzies, but even more dispiriting are those who argue, in the cold light of their own reflection, that such tactics are righteous. Continue Reading »

Counterfeit Goods

From the Aug/Sept 2014 Print Edition

Republishing the early work of a novelist who has hit it big is usually a bad idea, but there are exceptions to the rule. It is interesting, for example, to learn that Patricia Highsmith’s second novel was a sympathetically drawn lesbian love story with a happy ending, since the psychological . . . . Continue Reading »

Bloodless Moralism

From the February 2014 Print Edition

Dame Rebecca West had a theory that the history of civilization since Christ could be divided into three panels like a triptych. In the first panel, stretching roughly from the Crucifixion to the Middle Ages, the language of theology so dominated learned debate that all complaints were expressed in . . . . Continue Reading »

Cronyism's Charms

From the May 2013 Print Edition

Against Fairness by Stephen T. Asma Chicago, 224 pages, $22.50 Stephen Asma buries in the endnotes of Against Fairness the information that he is from Chicago, but I think it ought to be mentioned up front. His book is a counterintuitive defense of favoritism, nepotism, tribalism, and patronage, . . . . Continue Reading »

The Language of Addiction Takes Over

From First Thoughts

There was a period, shortly before the Bolshevik Revolution, when the history of the Russian temperance movement became thoroughly intertwined with the history of Russian social reform in general. “The history of the Russian temperance movement” may sound like a world’s-shortest-book joke, . . . . Continue Reading »

Sex in the Meritocracy

From the February 2013 Print Edition

When Yale first bowed to the spirit of meritocracy and began admitting large numbers of students from outside the New England upper class, it set in motion a nationwide arms race among high-achieving high school students. After fifty years of escalating competition, it is no longer enough to have . . . . Continue Reading »