Political Reporter on Bob Cesca vs. David Brooks

What eludes Mr. Cesca’s grasp is an  understanding that Brooks is a propagandist. And the Pop Sociology of Marc J. Dunkelman, of The Watson Institute, is used as part of the central Conservative Party Line of the decay and degeneration of American life. A long quote from the W.W. Norton web page advertisement for ‘The Vanishing Neighbor:The Transformation of American Community’ is illustrative of the claims that must have impressed Mr. Brooks, or the members of his research team.

‘A sweeping new look at the unheralded transformation that is eroding the foundations of American exceptionalism.

Americans today find themselves mired in an era of uncertainty and frustration. The nation’s safety net is pulling apart under its own weight; political compromise is viewed as a form of defeat; and our faith in the enduring concept of American exceptionalism appears increasingly outdated.

But the American Age may not be ending. In The Vanishing Neighbor, Marc J. Dunkelman identifies an epochal shift in the structure of American life—a shift unnoticed by many. Routines that once put doctors and lawyers in touch with grocers and plumbers—interactions that encouraged debate and cultivated compromise—have changed dramatically since the postwar era. Both technology and the new routines of everyday life connect tight-knit circles and expand the breadth of our social landscapes, but they’ve sapped the commonplace, incidental interactions that for centuries have built local communities and fostered healthy debate.

The disappearance of these once-central relationships—between people who are familiar but not close, or friendly but not intimate—lies at the root of America’s economic woes and political gridlock. The institutions that were erected to support what Tocqueville called the “township”—that unique locus of the power of citizens—are failing because they haven’t yet been molded to the realities of the new American community.


This public relations of ‘a sweeping new look’, ‘identifies an epochal shift in the structure of American life’ or this claim about the root of the present American disorder: The disappearance of these once-central relationships—between people who are familiar but not close, or friendly but not intimate—lies at the root of America’s economic woes and political gridlock. What is elided from this narrative is the part played by the rise of Republican Nihilist politics, that  can be traced from the Generation of Treason of post WWII to the 2008 election of Barack Obama.(Not forgetting the creation of the New Democrats as representative of the discarding of the New Deal tradition of FDR.) The claims of Mr. Dunkelman’s book and its exploitable apolitics, dovetails with the propaganda of Mr. Brooks: that elides from a potential, or actual political conversation the facts of the political/social present, and the rise of  Republican Nihilist politics.

Political Reporter


Added April 15, 2016 2:35 PDT

On page 72 of Michael Flavin’s book Benjamin Disraeli: the novel as political discourse, Mr. Flavin paraphrases from Disraeli’s political novel Coningsby,  about Conservatism: first a question: what will you conserve? and then an observation that the Party ‘offers no redress for the Present, and makes no preparation for the Future’ . How more apt might that question and observation be to the current  Republican Party?











About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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