Making Sense of It

Maybe the only satisfying thing about the November 8 election of Donald Trump as president was the shock on the part of America’s pollsters, media, and leadership class, as the inconceivable actually happened.
Why did it happen? Continue Reading »

Lasch, Populism, and Conservatism

The recent issue of Modern Age contains a commemorative essay by Susan McWilliams marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of Christopher Lasch’s The True and Only Heaven: Progress and its Critics. McWilliams reminds readers that Lasch offers a positive analysis of populism that speaks to the current political malaise. As part of his critique of the cult of progress, Lasch attempted to ground politics in the intuitions of the petty bourgeoisie and the populist tradition that gave life to those intuitions. He saw in petty-bourgeois culture a moral realism that recognized the cost and limits of human existence, reinforcing a healthy skepticism of progress. The “small proprietors, artisans, tradesmen, and farmers” of the petty-bourgeois world were the least likely “to mistake the promised land of progress for the true and only heaven.” Continue Reading »

What We've Been Reading—11.4.16

I've spent much of my free time over the past two weeks watching the AMC series The Walking Dead. I had avoided the series for some time on account of its gore, but since starting it I have (with some prudent skimming and skipping) found it engaging and reasonably thoughtful. Meanwhile, on the strength of Eamon Duffy's review in the current issue of First Things, I have been reading Carlos Eire's new history Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650. Continue Reading »