Two Liberalisms of Fear

John Gray

In the longer perspective of history, “multiculturalism” does not denote one moment in a local debate about American identity; it signifies the normal condition of humankind.

“Beyond Boundaries”

Tulasi Srinivas

“The time is coming fast when the whole world will gather here.” Sathya Sai Baba

What Money Shouldn’t Buy

Michael J. Sandel

Is it true that there's nothing wrong with commodification that fair terms of social cooperation cannot cure?

The Universe in a Grain of Sand?

Johann N. Neem

Those committed to human rights at the global level should seek not to universalize the particular but rather to particularize the universal.

From the Editors

Joseph E. Davis and Jennifer L. Geddes

Thinking more deeply about how we can inhabit the public sphere with others.

Beyond Tocqueville’s Telescope

Arlie Hochschild and Sarah B. Garrett

To what degree have we turned away from the public sphere and the obligations it lays upon us? Has this happened across all realms of life, or more in some realms and less in others?

American Culture Facing China’s Rise

Jeffrey C. Alexander and Hans Andersson

How America has long viewed China exerts no small influence on which path Washington will follow in its material and cultural relations with the People’s Republic. 

The Language Deficit

From the Editors

An Modern Language Association (MLA) study calling for curricular reform that addresses the need for increased language instruction and incorporates cultural and historical reflection. 

Reflections on the Crisis in the Humanities

Richard Wolin

The civic and practical goals of humanistic learning are necessarily related to the project of human autonomy, for there can be no autonomy apart from the provisos and attributes of self-knowledge.

Humanism

Richard Sennett

In a world filled with mobile people—economic immigrants and political exiles in particular—an old humanist ideal might help us to give shape to our lives.

Last Man or Overman?

Michael E. Zimmerman

If the clever human life form were to project its power in the form of technologically advanced, artificial offspring, would Nietzsche offer a principled objection, and if so, what would be its basis?

One Nation Under Fear

Mark Edmundson

We have become a nation and a people that simply cannot abide risks.

Recovering the Vernacular

Thomas Fitzgerald

Venues now available for many more competing voices, together with the multiplying perspectives of our times—hailed as liberating diversity—serve as dispensation to believe in anything, everything, or nothing.

Re-enchantment and Iconoclasm in an Age of Images

Anna Marazuela Kim

Much like the old wars of religion that shaped Europe, the new wars are fought on the ground of the image.

When Science Went Modern

Lorraine Daston

This was the nightmare of scientific progress: The truths of today would become the falsehoods—or at least the errors—of tomorrow.

On Frank Speech

Matthew B. Crawford

The role of frank speech in democratic culture is something worth considering, especially in light of the renewed ferment over political correctness.

The Unhappiness of Happiness

William M. Chace

Selfish dreams and the pleasures of individualism never go away.

Monumental Woes

B.D. McClay

Symbols, like events, never float free from their context.

The Jefferson Brand

Timothy C. Jacobson

Between Jefferson’s profession of faith in the virtues of republican simplicity and the style of his own life the contradiction could hardly be greater.

Liberal Democracy and the Unraveling of the Enlightenment Project

James Davison Hunter

The question now is whether contemporary American democracy can even be fixed. 

Not Melting into Air

John M. Owen

Today the threat against liberalism is one of atrophy rather than violent death.

A Legacy of Payback

John J. Lennon

The first time I heard about Heather Ann Thompson’s Blood in the Water, I was in the Attica Correctional Facility’s auditorium-chapel, attending a twelve-step meeting.

Cosmopolitanism vs. Provincialism

Nancy Isenberg and Andrew Burstein

American politics thrives on exploiting confusion about real and perceived interests, whether those interests are tied to region or class, or both.

The Ideology of Anti-Ideology

Donald Dewey

We have harbored an ideology expressive of all-inclusiveness—one referred to with deceptive informality as the “American way of life.”

Shame, and “Those” Monuments

James McWilliams

The image moved me: Robert E. Lee, that icon of the Confederacy, whose likeness in bronze once towered several stories over New Orleans, was, after 132 years, gone, relegated (for now) to municipal storage.

What Makes Me Black? What Makes You White?

W. Ralph Eubanks

Race is an absurdity. Yet as a means of defining and separating people, it retains its power. 

The Lost Art of Dying

Thomas Pfau

Death is experienced as the total absence of meaning and, consequently, as something not to be understood but merely to be managed by drawing on medical ingenuity, pharmaceutical resources, and the (increasingly limited) forbearance of insurance companies.

Belonging to Europe

Jonathan D. Teubner

Far from being the hope of cosmopolitan liberal democracy, Europe is experiencing a reemergence of the national identities and antagonisms that European values and the union they were meant to bring about were supposed to prevent.

Biotech Cockaigne of the Vegan Hopeful

Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft

If we succeed in growing meat, we will do more than change human subsistence strategies forever.

There Are Only Alternatives

Ajay Singh Chaudhary

If there is one, overarching, redeemable quality to our moment, it is that ours is a time in which there can only be alternatives.

Good on Paper

Nan Z. Da

Books, reading, and literature cultivate “a way of being in time.”

Does Religious Pluralism Require Secularism?

Jennifer L. Geddes

What emerges in the essays in this issue is actually not one secularism, but rather a range of secularisms—French, American, Indian, and others— that can be compared, evaluated, and improved upon.

The Roots of the Arab Spring

Joseph E. Davis

While structures of power may change quickly, the building of a new social order is a longer and more precarious process.

The American Dream

Joseph E. Davis

How the American Dream—hope in the future—competes in these times with a pervasive pessimism.

Liberatory Education

Leslie W. Lewis

Education in the service of reparation can heal and make whole both individual persons and all of us.

Liberalism Strikes Back

Rita Koganzon

Liberalism today finds itself in the strange position of being the political philosophy that everyone lives by and no one wants to defend.

The Great Wall of Trump

Nancy Isenberg

What historical category truly contains a Trump? 

An Ever More Perfect Novel

Tyler Malone

The Great American Novel? Why are we still banging on about that old thing?

Paper Revolutions

Richard Hughes Gibson

If projects like E-Estonia mark a break with paper, they also represent the continuation of an administrative order made possible by the first paper revolution.

Toward a Culinary Ethos for the Twenty-first Century

Rachel Laudan

Never has food been delivered in such abundance, so far, or so safely.

The King’s Two Bodies and the Crisis of Liberal Modernity

Isaac Ariail Reed

We are living through a vertigo in political culture.

Richard Nixon, Modular Man

Phil Christman

What to make of Richard Nixon?

The Odd Couple

Natasha Zaretsky

Both Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey endorse the same belief: that there are only winners and losers.

Unbecoming American

Johann N. Neem

As a child, I thought that to be American was to believe in individuality, to support pluralism and equality, and to celebrate common holidays and eat common foods.

Blood Sports

B.D. McClay

True crime is not quite about watching people die, but it does require an interest in the subject.

A Grand Turk in Washington

Kevin Blankinship

Writing a book about Thomas Jefferson means entering a very crowded field.

Cohesion

Nadav Samin

America is at an inflection point.

Unveiling Our New Modernity

Jonathan D. Teubner

We are coming to see our world as increasingly discontinuous with the twentieth century.

The Machine Pauses

Stuart Whatley

Technology always holds the key to our salvation. The question is whether it also played a role in our original sin.

Learning from Typhoid Mary

B.D. McClay

Genuine risks to public health are commingled with selective punishment and prejudice.

Quantifying Vitality

Jackson Lears

Statistics in the Progressive Era were more than mere signs of a managerial government’s early efforts to sort and categorize its citizens.

Schooling in the Age of Human Capital

Daniel Markovits

Metrics do not and, in fact, cannot measure any intelligible conception of excellence at all

Into the Whirlpool

Rebecca Lemov

How predictive data put brainwashing on the spin cycle.

The Amodernist

Jay Tolson

Péguy’s critical stance toward both broad coalitions made him neither a modernist nor an antimodernist, but something quite distinctive and instructive.

Mind the Gap

Matt Dinan

Modernity needs to be revealed to us, because it so successfully hides its true character, insulating itself against revision and correction.

If These Walls Could Talk

Matthew D. Rodrigues

On our own sensitivity to the magnetism of objects.

Faulkner as Futurist

Carl Rollyson

For Faulkner, all of time existed as a moment, during which all could be changed: past, present, and future.

How to Cook a Wolf under Lockdown

Laurel Berger

As the crisis wears on, I find myself wondering about the code of hospitality.

Dissent and Solidarity

James Davison Hunter

King’s arguments for freedom and justice were not only constitutional but also profoundly ethical.

To Make the World Select for Democracy

John M. Owen

Cosmopolitan liberalism has reshaped international institutions and practices.

Taming the Furies

Martha Bayles

Every society in history has limited speech in some way, yet some have remained freer than others.

How Enduring the Promise?

Andrew Lynn

It is fair to say that a new economic populism has been rendered impotent by cultural identity markers that shape voting patterns.

America, the Exceptional?

Steve Lagerfeld

Once attacked for rejecting American exceptionalism, liberals now are in almost sole possession of it.

Why I Am a Socialist

Sam Adler-Bell

It is the irreducibly human dimensions of the radical life that are to be most cherished, and most feared.

Whose Humanities?

Edward Tenner

The humanities may have suddenly mattered more than ever, but their support was also as fragile as it had been for decades.

Another Betrayal of the Intellectuals

Jonathan D. Teubner

A historian charts the evolution of her own center-right liberalism.

The Wagner Effect

Charlie Tyson

Far beyond the opera house and the concert hall, we are living in a world Wagner helped make.

The Unbearable Burden of Invention

Witold Rybczynski

A corollary of giving priority to invention is that imitation, once the foundation of creativity in architecture, is banished.

The Great Simplifier

Mark Dunbar

If John Brown failed at anything, he failed at saving us from ourselves.

Thinking the Worst of Ourselves

Jackson Arn

We might be murderers, and we might not, but isn’t it safer to assume we are and be proven wrong? Maybe not.

Left Behind

Nancy Isenberg

The trouble with euphemism.

The Strange Undeath of Middlebrow

Phil Christman

Everything that was once considered lowbrow is now triumphant.

Paul Valéry and the Mechanisms of Modern Tyranny

Nathaniel Rudavsky-Brody

All modern forms of government presume an objectification of their citizens.

Toward an Incarnational Aesthetic

Ashley C. Barnes

On locating the sublimity of art within the world and within history.

There’s Nothing Normal about Normal

Noah J. Toly

On the surface, “normal” might seem harmless, charmingly self-deprecating, maybe even endearing.

The Dehumanization Debate

Oliver Traldi

Why do people commit acts of cruelty?

Honoring a Vet

Leann Davis Alspaugh

Returning to base, Davis and the other pilots heard their orders for the next day: Attack Kiska Harbor with everything they had regardless of the weather.

Recognizing Art

Leann Davis Alspaugh

When El Greco heard the insultingly low valuation for his work, he launched a long and bitter court battle that quietly changed the perception of artists and art in Spain.

What’s Behind Trump’s Wall?

Johann N. Neem

Do Trump’s supporters represent a new Know-Nothing movement?

Speaking Truth to Power

Leann Davis Alspaugh

As we remember the Challenger disaster, let’s not forget the engineers who tried to convince NASA not to send up the Space Shuttle on a cold morning thirty years ago.

High Hopes

Carl Desportes Bowman

Just as Obama became a symbol of progressive diversity, Trump has become a symbol of longing for a pre-Obama America.

In Self-Isolation with The Plague

John Rosenthal

To the relatives of the dead, the plague is here. 

False Positive

Eric B. Schnurer

How are we to respond when faced with competing  uncertainties?

A Painter Crawling toward God

Leanne Ogasawara

A deeply personal encounter with the plague.

The Dance of the Porcupines

Marie Kolkenbrock

There is a risk that we will compensate for the current sense of crisis and isolation with too much closeness.

Faulkner as Futurist

Carl Rollyson

Faulkner’s treatment of the past means much for the nature of our future.

Story of a Photograph

John Rosenthal

The man who approached me on Chartres Street looked like he’d been tossed away.

Tortoises and Tigers: The Pleasures of a Long Read

Richard Hughes Gibson

Why read long books? Well, if you have to ask…

When Disaster Is an Invaluable Lesson

Jay Tolson

Donald Trump’s manner was a declaration of indifference toward the values that make democracy possible.

A History Lesson from Alexander Hamilton

Richard Hughes Gibson

The events of January 6 went off script.

Is Trumpism Marxism?

Ronald Osborn

On the dangerous absurdity of political caricature.

More Than Just a Word

Richard Hughes Gibson

Americans have been making arguments about the nature of their unity from the beginning.

Dare We Call It Charisma?

Mark Edmundson

A trick that only the most gifted demagogues can bring off.

Frederick Douglass and the American Project

Richard Hughes Gibson

It would be hard to blame him if he had lost faith in the republic.

Do We Absolutely Disagree?

Alan Jacobs

Well known free speech advocates may not always be free speech absolutists.

Reading Wealth of Nations and Meeting Adam Smith

Richard Hughes Gibson

To measure the Wealth of Nations, you had to inspect the shirts on people’s backs and the shoes on their feet.