Two fun announcements for the Scholar’s Stage readership.
The most popular thing I published last year was the essay “On Cultures That Build.” In that essay I argued that “in the 21st century, the main question in American social life is not ‘how do we make that happen?’ but ‘how do we get management to take our side?’ This is a learned response, and a culture which has internalized it will not be a culture that ‘builds.’”θ
In this week’s edition of City Journal I have a follow up of a sort to that essay. I begin this new essay with what might seem like an entirely unrelated question: why is speculative “Young Adult” fiction the most popular genre of 21st century America?
If there is one lesson the world should learn from the great pandemic of 2020, it is this: we must discard the myth of panic.
Or at least this is the case I make in an essay I have just published in Palladium. Fear of mass panic was key to delayed action against the epidemic in the PRC:
How does a movement win a war of ideas? What are the mechanisms by which politics and culture change over time? These were the questions behind Frederich Hayek’s 1949 essay “The Intellectuals and Socialism.” Hayek was a believer in free markets and libertarian politics. When he wrote this essay just after the Great Depression and World War II, free marketers like Hayek were an extreme minority. Forty years later the situation had flipped: the ideas of Hayek and his fellow free marketers were setting policy across the Western world. “The Intellectuals and Socialism” presents the strategy they followed to bring about this terrific change in the climate of ideas.
Joining me (Tanner Greer) to discuss Hayek’s seminal essay is Trevor Burrus. Burrus is a research fellow at the Cato Institute whose research focuses on constitutional law. He is the senior editor of the Cato Supreme Court Review and the co-host of the popular libertarian podcast Free Thoughts.
The full show notes for this episode are available at www.scholars-stage.org.
Over at the Duck of Minerva Daniel Nexon has posted a reflective essay on the way the political science blogosphere has changed over the last two decades. Nexon’s IR-themed group blog was one of the first “political science blogs” of the aughts; at the old blogosphere’s height it was the largest academic-IR themed blog on the internet. I first encountered it around that time, when debates from the “strategy sphere” were spilling into the larger online conversation. America was debating the wisdom of the surge and our path forward in the Middle East, and blogs like Duck of Minerva dove into the controversy.
Though he couches his disappointment in diplomatic language, Nexon is bummed about the state of online poli-sci…
Scott Rozelle and Natalie Hell’s book Invisible China is an interesting if somewhat dry look at the development challenges China faces over the next 20 years. Chinese officials are perhaps the book’s main target audience. Rozelle and Hell worry that unless Communist officialdom takes drastic action soon, China will be stuck in what has been called the “middle income trap.”
But this post is not about China. Rather, it is about what China did to Mexico. Mexico is the cautionary tale Rozelle and Hell want to scare Chinese officials with. “If you don’t reform now,” they seem to argue, “what you did to Mexico will be done to you!” That is a boogeyman worth fearing.
We are told that we “lost the culture war.” I dissent from this view: we never waged a culture war. Conservatives certainly fought, there is no denying that. We fought with every bit of obstruction and scandal our operatives could muster. But this was not a culture war. Rather, America’s conservatives fought a political war over culture.