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(Jack Howard Burke, in The American Conservative, April 9, 2018) In the summer of 1987, a relatively unknown University of Chicago political science professor and philosopher named Allan Bloom published an academic book entitled The Closing of the American Mind. It was a surprise hit that unexpectedly thrust him into the national spotlight and earned him, among other distinctions, a nationally broadcast interview on William F. Buckley Jr.’s Firing Line. Bloom’s book, whose principal focus was the deeply worrying state of higher education in America—and which he and his colleagues only forecast would be a modest success—remained atop The New York Times nonfiction bestseller list for four continuous months. This professorial account from the inside, a “Notes from the Underground” on how the American university had been intellectually corrupted over the past 25 years, had clearly struck a chord. It was a work that held, and continues to hold, lessons for every thinking American citizen. In 380 unrelenting pages, citing examples from philosophy, history, religion, and politics, Bloom argued that the American university had rejected the tradition of academic integrity dating back to Plato and Aristotle, capitulated to the demands of the ideologically aggressive student organizers of the 1960s, and replaced its basic pursuit of intellectual truth with a self-serving and quasi-fascist belief in moral relativism. This, he argued, was having grave ramifications for society at large. Bearing the evocative subtitle “How higher education has failed democracy and impoverished the souls of today’s students,” the book was angrily condemned by several voices on the left (perhaps most notoriously by William Greider in his October 1987 Rolling Stone article), and sparked a high-profile public debate on the vitality of American culture, the philosophical atmosphere at the American university, the moral character of post-1960s American youth, and just where, exactly, the United States as a society was headed.
Come on out for a Neighborhood “Housewarming” Wine 🍷 & Cheese 🧀 afternoon party with friends and neighbors in Friendship Heights! Just bring your favorite wine (or cerveza) and cheese to share! RSVP right here or Text[masked]. We look forward to seeing you that Sunday! Luis & Cathi
The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution is a 1971 collection of essays by Ayn Rand, in which Rand argues that religion, the New Left, and similar forces are irrational and harmful. Most of the essays originally appeared in The Objectivist. A revised edition appeared in 1975, and an expanded edition edited by Peter Schwartz was published in 1999 under the title Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution (Wikipedia).
America has a God-shaped hole in its heart, argues New York Times bestselling author Ben Shapiro, and we shouldn't fill it with politics and hate. In 2016, Ben Shapiro spoke at UC Berkeley. Hundreds of police officers were required from 10 UC campuses across the state to protect his speech, which was -- ironically -- about the necessity for free speech and rational debate. He came to argue that Western Civilization is in the midst of a crisis of purpose and ideas. Our freedoms are built upon the twin notions that every human being is made in God’s image and that human beings were created with reason capable of exploring God’s world. We can thank these values for the birth of science, the dream of progress, human rights, prosperity, peace, and artistic beauty. Jerusalem and Athens built America, ended slavery, defeated the Nazis and the Communists, lifted billions from poverty and gave billions spiritual purpose. Jerusalem and Athens were the foundations of the Magna Carta and the Treaty of Westphalia; they were the foundations of Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. Civilizations that rejected Jerusalem and Athens have collapsed into dust. The USSR rejected Judeo-Christian values and Greek natural law, substituting a new utopian vision of “social justice” – and they starved and slaughtered tens of millions of human beings. The Nazis rejected Judeo-Christian values and Greek natural law, and they shoved children into gas chambers. Venezuela rejects Judeo-Christian values and Greek natural law, and citizens of their oil-rich nation have been reduced to eating dogs. We are in the process of abandoning Judeo-Christian values and Greek natural law, favoring instead moral subjectivism and the rule of passion. And we are watching our civilization collapse into age-old tribalism, individualistic hedonism, and moral subjectivism. We believe we can reject Judeo-Christian values and Greek natural law and satisfy ourselves with intersectionality, or scientific materialism, or progressive politics, or authoritarian governance, or nationalistic solidarity. We can’t. The West is special, and in The Right Side of History, Ben Shapiro bravely explains that it’s because too many of us have lost sight of the moral purpose that drives us each to be better, or the sacred duty to work together for the greater good, or both. A stark warning, and a call to spiritual arms, this book may be the first step in getting our civilization back on track.