For the past week I’ve been reading Pauline Kleingeld’s new book Kant and Cosmopolitanism:The Philosophical Ideal of World Citizenship published by Cambridge University Press. I measure a book by it’s first one hundred pages, so I have spent the last week concentrating on engaging with Professor Kleingeld’s impressive and enlightening scholarship. She is a first rate thinker and writer, who takes as her subject matter other thinkers, whose ideas are worthy of extended examination. Reading a great book has a remarkable intellectually revitalizing power.
I have missed Mr. Brooks essays in the Times of last week and am catching up on my reading, today. In his essay of February 13, 2012 titled The Materialist Fallacy exploits his perennial theme of American Decadence, and the first indicator of that pernicious decadence is out of wedlock births. Mr. Brooks is morally conventional to the nth degree,though his is not an unconscious moral conformity, but rather a conformity in service to the politically defensible Conservatism that he continually champions. In the first part of his essay he carefully defines the historical territory of American society and politics, of recent memory, and shows his unrivaled ability to a engage in a self-serving reductionism carefully engineered to fit his conclusions. He is an adept propagandist. But the defense of contemporary sociological scholarship and it’s conclusions about the importance of stability to the well being of children, and their potential for success in learning, growing and leading both productive lives as citizens, and as persons is not the actual question here, but the question of Mr. Brooks defending the dubious scholar Mr. Charles Murray and his latest publication Coming Apart. The question of what policies should be constructed using sociological scholarship, as a tool to engage in successful state interventions in the lives of citizens, not withstanding Mr. Brooks’ assurances to the contrary, is not the project of Conservatism 2012. “Starve the Beast” in the words of the Social Darwinist and political ideologue Grover Norquist, allied to a concerted effort of Republican Governors and state legislators, in twenty one states, to suppress the votes of people unable to obtain state issued photo identity cards is the real face of Conservatism, not the carefully modulated and intellectually respectable moralizing of Mr. Brooks.