• Matthew Crawford, “How Race Politics Liberated the Elites”
The white bourgeoisie became invested in a political drama in which their own moral standing depends on black people remaining permanently aggrieved. Unless their special status as ur-victim is maintained, African-Americans cannot serve as patrons for the wider project of liberation. If you question this victimisation, you are questioning the rottenness of America. And if you do that, you are threatening the social order, strangely enough. For it is now an order governed by the freelance moralists of the cosmopolitan consensus. Somehow these free agents, ostensibly guided by individual conscience, have coalesced into something resembling a tribe, one that is greatly angered by rejection of its moral expertise.
• Roland Elliot Brown, “Jocko vs. Evil”
Part of what makes Willink’s “evil” podcasts remarkable is that, though he would be unlikely to call himself an intellectual (he is highly intelligent but sometimes seems surprised to learn of the types of conversations going on in academic or media settings) he operates on what has long been considered intellectual territory, covering subjects Americans might typically expect to read about in The New York Review of Books. Willink’s audience appears to be comprised (at a guess) largely of US military types and first responders, martial artists, athletes, entrepreneurs, and the patriotic wing of the self-help crowd. In some instances, he may be reaching an under-served audience, parts of which could be expected to end up on the frontiers of good and evil in their working lives.
• Honoria Plum, “2020 Escape to Wodehouse”
Wodehouse has often been classified as escapism, as grounds for derision by his critics or apology by admirers. But in 2020, readers are giving themselves permission to look for literary escape and are finding Wodehouse is just the tonic they’re after.
It’s no longer possible to keep up with the many articles and Wodehouse recommendations that continue to pop up, particularly online, but I’ve included a selection from 2020 for further reading at the end of this piece.
• Will Collins, “Memoirs of a Microaggressor”
The legacy of mass affluence, combined with a surplus of college graduates and a recent narrowing of economic opportunities, has introduced the educated middle classes to neuroses formerly reserved for the aristocracy. The subtle means of distinguishing oneself from the crude and the ignorant have changed — racially-tinged snobbery has been replaced by performative anti-racism — but the goal of signifying status remains.
• Gary Saul Morson, “Fyodor Dostoevsky: Philosopher of Freedom”
Dostoevsky understood not only our need for freedom but also our desire to rid ourselves of it. Freedom comes with a terrible cost, and social movements that promise to relieve us of it will always command a following.