The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class
Urbanologist Joel Kotkin writes about more than the United States, but America may be returning to medievalism faster than most. The pre-Reformation church opposed a dynamic economy and was content with poverty and social immobility. Capitalism gave multitudes the opportunity to improve their condition and build a solid middle class. Today, leading figures in media and academia ignore the need for broad-based development and are content to praise high-tech ascendancy. As in feudal days, Kotkin sees more gated cities coming, along with the prospect of authoritarian overlords facing peasant rebellions. He’s on the side of a modern yeomanry made up of small-business owners and skilled workers and opposes environmental leftists who fly their private planes to conferences that lament climate change.
Why Didn’t We Riot? A Black Man in Trumpland
It’s good to read many, but if you choose to read just one book explaining why only a small minority of blacks voted for Donald Trump, despite Democratic Party failures, this forceful one should be it. Isaac J. Bailey, an eloquent journalist and Davidson College professor, views the present through the prism of a lynching past in which many Christians were complicit. Bailey tells of victims like Mary Turner, burned alive in 1918, with an unborn child cut from her stomach and stomped on by attackers, after she protested the lynching of her husband. Why Didn’t We Riot is provocative reading, and I can see why Bailey is not thrilled when he and other blacks gain praise “for swallowing our anger.”
Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents
I liked Rod Dreher’s previous book, The Benedict Option, but told him that if harassment of Christians grew to the point where that option became essential, so would the unwillingness of empowered authorities to live and let live. Dreher’s new book is a manual for spiritual survival if a surveillance state imposes secularism on all. He summarizes well what we can learn from those who lived under 20th-century totalitarianism: Stand firm but let bitterness stand down. Learn from history to avoid becoming hysterical. Appreciate the value of suffering but be merciful to those whose capacity is less. Practice hospitality and do not fear being seen as weird. Speak up with the truth but don’t worry about being prudently silent at times.
God and Mammon: Chronicles of American Money
Author Lance Morrow was a Luce-ist for years and at age 81 is still a lucid essayist. Morrow wrote 150+ cover stories for Henry Luce’s Time and often explained ideas by describing binaries, dueling visions. In this book he connects 2020 protests to the 115-year-old debates between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. Morrow describes two schools of thoughts on how to use money to do good—philanthropy and charity, or government. He notes two schools of journalistic history-writing—Thucydides vs. Herodotus—but overlooks the Apostle Luke. Morrow even shows how “money and literary intellect would evolve into feuding parallel cultures”: Harvard professor William James sometimes played golf with John D. Rockefeller and called him “a man ten stories deep, and to me quite unfathomable.”