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No matter how far we are from Election Day, there is always a new scrap of information to be assimilated into our long-term forecasts.I was an assistant editor at this magazine during the 2008 campaign, when I witnessed a lot of wide-ranging conversations about the political future. Bush years had been kind to ) were still in thrall to liberal interventionism.No one I know is entirely happy with this state of affairs.
We carefully parse the public and private behavior of actors, musicians, and tech developers for its political meaning, and we do our shopping and our cultural consumption with this knowledge close at hand.
We are acutely aware of the political implications of every decision we make, and when we aren’t there is always someone waiting on social media to remind us of them.
What Lewis was attempting to defend was not economically productive STEM research but the pursuit of learning with no obvious practical benefit, what we might romantically term “the life of the mind,” or, more bluntly, culture. If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure the search would never have begun. Eliot, Simone Weil, and Jacques Maritain—through the war.
(“Culture in War-Time” was the subtitle he initially gave the talk.) Lewis didn’t argue, as today’s humanists like to do, that this pursuit teaches “critical thinking” or some other skill necessary for the challenges of the moment. We are mistaken when we compare war with “normal life.” Life has never been normal. Jacobs focuses on Christian thinkers, but, as he acknowledges—and as has been outlined in other recent books such as Mark Greif’s —intellectuals of all stripes were concerned in these years with much the same problem.
The roughly three fifths of Americans who disapprove of Trump have felt a persistent sense that all of our resources must be mobilized toward the goal of resistance.
With the midterm election passed, an energized Democratic majority in the House eager to frustrate the president’s agenda, and dozens of would-be candidates stepping up to offer their vision of a post-Trump world, there are many hopeful signs that the tide has turned.The problem may be worse than ever, but it has been trending in one direction for roughly a generation.Each of the past four presidential elections has been widely viewed as the most important ever.He merely noted that if there were no place for “intellectual and aesthetic activity” in wartime, there would be no place for it at any time, because, he said, war does not fundamentally change our situation—“it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it”: Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. which follows Lewis and a handful of other writers— W. As the war went on, the total mobilization that had just begun when Lewis gave his sermon came to look in many eyes almost too successful; the industrial technocrats who’d been put in charge of society in the name of wartime efficiency were not likely to cede their control when the fighting was done.Among religious and secular humanists alike, there was a growing worry that, to use a phrase that Reinhold Niebuhr popularized, they might win the war but lose the peace.Of course, the fight isn’t over, but it may not be too soon to concern ourselves with winning the peace.hen I try to envision a better future, I find myself hoping for a society in which we all spend a little less time thinking and talking about politics. Never before has the political, in the narrowest, electoral sense of the word, so saturated every corner of our lives.On our way to work in the morning we catch up on the latest news from Washington, at our desks during the day we procrastinate by posting and tweeting about it, and at home each night we relax—if that’s the word—by watching Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert make it into a joke.We have come to expect political gestures at sporting events, awards shows, and other places where they were once notably rare.No one was entirely sure how to respond to the expected arrival of the Obama Administration.I remember one conversation in particular, in which a senior editor argued that with the departure of Bush from office we were entitled to a “peace dividend”—that is to say, we would all have a sudden surplus of attention that could be devoted to other matters.