Since the June 2007 introduction of the iPhone, scientific evidence has been mounting that we are suffering from an attenuated attention span while our ability to comprehend and use abstract reasoning is weakening. Writing in National Affairs, Adam Garfinkle argues that the loss of “deep literacy” has widespread neurophysiological costs.
The Brexit referendum, the election of Donald Trump and the rise of populist parties attest to deeply-rooted challenges to liberalism’s underlying premises. Writing in The Critic, Nick Timothy reviews two new books documenting liberalism’s naïveté and subsequent geopolitical failures. To put things right, argues Timothy, we need to chart a course that is both conservative and pragmatic.
The median age of coronavirus death in most countries is 80. The young and middle-aged are at minimal risk. But the media have suppressed this key fact, with many insisting everyone is in equal peril. Heather MacDonald, writing in The Spectator USA, examines how the media abuses language to keep people frightened and prepare the citizenry for any future re-lockdown.
The pandemic has triggered an explosion of “temporary” government programs. The economist Robert Higgs sees little evidence that governments ever relinquish such newly added scale and power. Writing in City Journal, Robert Tierney argues that politicians and hysterical media have created a “crisis of crises.” We need to be wary, he warns, of political leaders who exploit our fears.
Moments of crisis dissolve our ordinary comforts and reveal our true nature. The Greek historian Thucydides documented how the 5th century BC plague of Athens led the Athenians to licentiousness and a hubristic disregard for all law. Pavlos Papadopoulos, writing in Law and Liberty, suggests that like the Athenians, we are forced by our own pandemic to confront our culture’s less savoury aspects.
Reading The Rites of Spring, Modris Eksteins’ brilliant account of how the First World War destroyed European civilization, led Rod Dreher to ponder the meaning of 40 million unemployed Americans. Eksteins depicted how the Europeans failed to imagine the civilizational catastrophe that was upon them. Dreher, writing in The American Conservative, wonders if anyone can truly grasp the significance of the coronavirus pandemic.
Officialdom is using the coronavirus to find fresh pretexts to expand its authority. Matthew B. Crawford, writing in Unherd, observes how political and aesthetic preferences have become moralized in safety talk. As some teenaged mountain bikers in California discovered, bureaucrats now claim a bullet-proof halo of public-spiritedness to sweep aside whole domains of human activity.
Our schools and universities suffer from an enervating cultural cringe, condemning Western civilization as morally defective while teaching students to praise every culture but their own. Eminent historian Andrew Roberts issues a clarion call in the National Review to restore the teaching of Western achievements and values. Without the West, Roberts argues, the world would resort to a neo-Darwinian free-for-all.
Matt Taibbi, writing in Substack, casts a critical eye at the American media’s response to the FBI’s railroading of General Flynn. For Taibbi, the Democratic Party and its media lapdogs have abandoned any pretence at protecting civil liberties. He thinks the media have lost their minds and wonders what happened to the party he grew up with.
It’s not just the U.S. that attributes the pandemic to Beijing’s malfeasance. Australia, France, and Britain have all condemned the Communist regime for covering up the coronavirus threat. Not Canada. Writing in The American Conservative, Nico Johnson argues that Justin Trudeau’s politically expedient handling of China erodes the democratic institutions he was elected to protect.