Seven Spheres of Influence

I read in a recent piece by David Brooks that, “Over the past seven months, the number of people who say government is doing too many things better left to business has jumped from 40 percent to 48 percent, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.”  My first reaction was, “Remember last year when ‘business’ ruined our economy?’”  My second reaction was, “Why must we choose between only two options, business or government?”  Continue reading “Seven Spheres of Influence”

For on his brow I see that written which is Doom

One of the sharpest social critics of 19th century European industrial capitalism was…Charles Dickens. Those who have read Karl Marx’s writings see the world that he is attacking; those who have read Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, Bleak House, or A Christmas Carol will see that same world. However, we find the world described by Dickens, because it is novelized, less abrupt and perhaps more understandable. Continue reading “For on his brow I see that written which is Doom”

Our National Books

In a book I recently read (that I wish I had read 20 years ago), A Thomas Jefferson Education, the author speaks of national books.  “A national book is something that almost everyone in the nation [note the use of “nation” rather than “country”] accepts as a central truth.”  Each nation has its own books, although in some cultures the national “books” are (or were in the past) oral traditions.  These books have much to do with the establishment of a national identity and culture.  They can be good (War and Peace) or bad (Mein Kampf), religious (Bhagavad Gita) or secular (Shakespeare).

 

The book cites Allan Bloom’s assertion that America’s national books through its first 150 years were the “Declaration of Independence” and the Bible.  But somehow in the 1950s and 60s familiarity with these national books dropped off dramatically.  The problem this causes is immense—we no longer have these essential works as the foundation of our culture.  This begs the question: What has replaced them? Continue reading “Our National Books”