Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Jim Leach


The nomination of Jim Leach to head the National Endowment for the Humanities is welcome news. His comments reveal that he has an appreciation of the importance of culture to society in general and to our society in particular:

America somehow thinks that leadership relates to governance, and it certainly does. But society is much bigger than governance, and some of the truly great leadership of our society is outside the governance arena. Our culture is more shaped by the arts and humanities than it often is by politics. And in a difficult times the arts, sciences and humanities vastly increase in significance. And this is one of these times.
Leach understands that society is not just about politics, and that culture is important in human flourishing. In recent years the universality of our political principles has been overstated to such an extent that Americans were made to think that we have no specific culture — indeed, that it was a kind of offense to think we did — but simply a set of principles and procedures applicable to all mankind everywhere and in every hour. Principles, procedures, ideas are only as good as the culture that underlies them. The American Founding is indeed stirring and inspiring, but we can’t be reciting the Declaration of Independence morning, noon, and night.


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