recommendation: Anne Applebaum's article in current "Atlantic"

Our current state of affairs explains what I find so valuable about Anne Applebaum’s article in the current issue of The Atlantic. Titled “A Warning from Europe: The Worst Is Yet to Come,” the piece is primarily concerned with Poland and Eastern Europe. The reason why the article is so effective for Americans, in my view, is precisely that it is not about the United States. The historical and political developments in Poland that Applebaum reports look very similar to developments taking place here: the elevation of loyalty over ability, the growth of an anti-immigrant xenophobia, and a narrowing definition of citizenship and patriotism. But the fact that most Americans are uninterested and uninformed about, say, the 2010 plane crash that killed Polish president Lech Kaczyński means that her treatment does not immediately trigger some kind of “for or against” reaction.

[more after the jump]

Read More

S-USIH roundtable on A Commercial Republic: final entry

book cover.jpg

The last entry in the Society for U.S. Intellectual History's online roundtable about my book, A Commercial Republic: America's Enduring Debate over Democratic Capitalism, went up today. After Tuesday's entry from Tim Lacy, Lawrence Glickman's Wednesday post, and the beatdown I got yesterday from Stewart Winger, today's contribution is from me. I was glad to have the opportunity to address the insights of all of these historians.

My post is a bit long, but hopefully worth the time. It is fairly subjective, written in first person, and covers my own motivations in writing the book. In it I address Winger's substantive criticisms by primarily agreeing with him, but I also found his tone less than collegial. I tried to engage in the spirit of Glickman's review, in which he used the book as a point of departure for meditations on various subjects. I used his post in a similar fashion, to muse about two meanings of liberalism, the nature of evidence in intellectual history, and the definitions of democracy and capitalism. Read my post here.

S-USIH roundtable on A Commercial Republic: third entry

book cover.jpg

The third entry in the Society for U.S. Intellectual History's online roundtable about my book, A Commercial Republic: America's Enduring Debate over Democratic Capitalism, posted this morning. After Tuesday's entry from Tim Lacy, and Lawrence Glickman's post yesterday, the latest review breaks with the trend a bit. That is to say, its writer, Stewart Winger, finds little of value in the book. In his view, its thesis is fairly obvious and not even advanced consistently. He has other concerns too: it's not short. You can read it here.

S-USIH roundtable on A Commercial Republic: second entry

book cover.jpg

This week the Society for U.S. Intellectual History will be hosting an online roundtable about my book, A Commercial Republic: America's Enduring Debate over Democratic Capitalism, on its blog. A review from Tim Lacy went up yesterday, and today's entry, from Lawrence Glickman, is available here. Glickman's reading of the book finds him discussing three major themes: the role of Liberalism in the book's narrative; the use of historical precedents in explaining later developments; and the reliance of elite sources as evidence, both in my book and in intellectual history more broadly.

S-USIH roundtable on A Commercial Republic: first entry

book cover.jpg

This week the Society for U.S. Intellectual History will be hosting an online roundtable about my book, A Commercial Republic: America's Enduring Debate over Democratic Capitalism, on its blog. The first entry, by Tim Lacy, is up now. Like me, Tim was an original founder of the blog and, later, the society itself. Unlike me, he is still there, fighting the good fight on behalf of U.S. intellectual history. Tim's contribution offers a great summary of the book's major points, along with a few friendly criticisms. He also places it in a contemporary context, since it is now four years old. A lot happened in that time! Read the first entry in the roundtable here.

great book review on political rhetoric of "free market"

Law professor James Kwak just published a fantastic review in the Washington Monthly of Steven K. Vogel's new book Marketcraft: How Governments Make Markets Work. I mean "fantastic review" in both senses of the phrase: Kwak has nothing but praise for Vogel's book, and his essay itself is an insightful piece of writing that touches on two of my favorite subjects—the inanity of conservative paeans to the "free market" and the frustratingly tepid nature of Democratic economic policy—at the same time.

[more after the jump]

Read More