In response to news that Howard University is disbanding its Classics Department, Cornell West reminds us that Frederick Douglas and the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. were inspired and nurtured by the classics. West argues that the attack on the classics is an attack on the soul and symptom the moral and spiritual rot of American culture.
Sara Cederberg looks at the now perennial “crisis of the humanities” and writes that one reason for the crisis is “the fact that there is no longer a case to be made for the cultivation of the soul.” If the humanities emerged as a project of national storytelling so that humanists were engaged in the “preservation and cultivation of the nation’s soul,” the turn to science as the dominant cultural force has left the humanities adrift.
Louis Menand writes a long and important account of the “New Left” as it emerged in the cultural politics of the 1960s. Pace Menand, the core tenets of the “New Left” are a fight against “the system” and an understanding of politics as an existential struggle in self-actualization.
It is well known that we are suffering a crisis in truth alongside hyper-partisanship and a massive loss of trust in public institutions. As part of that hyper partisan atmosphere, however, it is usually the case that everyone thinks it is only the “other” side that spreads lies and misinformation.
Nadav Eyal writes that our time will be remembered for what it lacks and for what it destroys. It is a period of negation and nihilism consumed by a rage against the machine and a distrust of the system. Writing in the 1960s, Hannah Arendt saw that the glorification of violence witnessed in both theory and practice was in large part driven by a global sense of powerlesseness...