June 2021

Selected articles, including Martin Gurri on the reactionary dilemma facing America's elites; Wilfred McClay on the urgent need to improve civic education; and Lenore Skenazy on integrating risk into parenthood.

Happy Fourth of July! I'm celebrating by, among other things, finally publishing June's month-in-review. Better late than never, as they say.

The Establishment Strikes Back--For Now

Martin Gurri in City Journal

The elites seem remote and powerful, but they are trying to impose a structure of control inherited from another century on the tectonic forces loose in our own. They are stuck in the reactionary’s dilemma. The past was a golden age but is gone forever, while the present is a nightmare of digital rage and political nihilism and is thus “unacceptable.” The search for a way back will lead deeper into the chaos. There’s no switch to turn off the web, no time machine to the twentieth century, no script in which the dream of control doesn’t slip out of control. Reaction and revolt, like Biden and Trump, are manifestations of the same pathology afflicting our troubled age.

The Route to Re-enchantment

Harrison Pitt in Quillette

Whatever pockets of piety remain, religion in the West is no longer a shared collective possession. But despite living as disenchanted materialists, we have not lost our natural thirst for purpose and meaning. If the post-Christian experience has taught us anything, it is that when cultures abandon their traditional myths they erect hastily constructed modern ones out of the ruins.

Civic Education, Rightly Understood

Wilfred M. McClay in City Journal

We do ourselves and the young no favors by prettifying or oversimplifying the past and failing to give an honest account of our failures as well as our triumphs... But we also do no favors to ourselves or to the truth if we fail to honor the magnificent achievements of our history and leave them out of the accounting entirely, as has become too often the case. We need to remember that one of the civic functions of history, one of the chief reasons we endeavor to record the past and teach it to the young, is to serve as a vessel of shared memory, imparting to each generation a sense of membership in its own society, a sense of living connection to its own past—one that can unite us and strengthen us in hard times.

Kids Need Freedom, Too

Lenore Skenazy in Persuasion

The problem with a society devoted to zero risk is that kids grow up overprotected and under-socialized. They miss out on the thrilling experience of fending for themselves, crucial in forging confidence. They miss out on learning to assess risk and dealing with minimal danger without constantly deferring to an authority.

A dynamic society requires citizens who appreciate that difficulties and failures are a part of life and that’s OK. Just as kids recover from a bike crash or playground fight, they can bounce back from failure and frustration in their adult lives, too. This is possible only if children grow up with some independence so that they arrive at adulthood with the resilience to handle life on their own.

Texas's Camping Ban Will Help the Homeless

Judge Glock in City Journal

Most homeless advocates oppose camping bans. They argue that the government should provide every homeless person with permanent housing before forcing anyone off the streets. But the evidence shows that there’s no reason to delay: camping bans improve the lives of the homeless by helping them find the shelters and services they need.