Magazine May 25, 2009, Issue

Is There an American Mind?

Allen C. Guelzo challenges the idea of American mindlessness.

Do Americans have minds?

  

Of course not. “The greater part of the public, and a greater part even of the intelligent and alert public, is simply non-intellectual,” declared Richard Hofstadter in his bluntly titled Anti-intellectualism in American Life in 1963. Of course not, agreed Daniel Boorstin, Hofstadter’s contemporary and (in many ways) nemesis. “When,” Boorstin asked, “has a culture owed so little to its few ‘great’ minds or its few hereditarily fortunate men and women?” Of course not, chortled Henry Louis Mencken, the king of the debunkers, in the 1920s. Precisely because America was the great engine of democracy, it was

Allen C. GuelzoMr. Guelzo is the senior research scholar in the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University and the director of the James Madison Program’s Initiative on Politics and Statesmanship.

In This Issue

Articles

Politics & Policy

Socialized Failure

The health-care systems of all developed countries face three unrelenting problems: rising costs, inadequate quality, and incomplete access to care. A slew of recent articles, published mainly in medical journals, ...

Features

Politics & Policy

Diagnosis

We are bombarded with messages about the need for health-care reform. But we are not always clear about the problem we are trying to solve. Most Americans are satisfied with ...
Politics & Policy

Placebo

The key congressional committees have yet to introduce the legislation that will carry Democrats’ hopes for “universal coverage” — i.e., a government guarantee that all Americans will have health insurance, ...
Politics & Policy

Prescription

The most powerful constituency in the debate over the future of health care in the United States comprises those families enrolled in stable, employer-based health plans run by large and ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Hinge of History

In this important debut book, Michael Kimmage — a young scholar who promises to become one of America’s preeminent intellectual historians — addresses himself to the journeys of two Columbia ...
Politics & Policy

Four Nights

Salzburg, Austria The summer festival that takes place here in this fair city is a very big deal: probably the most prominent music festival in the world. It stretches for ...
Politics & Policy

A Strange Voyage

Across more than 40 years of Star Trek — the five television incarnations, the eleven motion pictures, the galaxy knows how many novels — there have been few sequences as ...

Sections

Happy Warrior

Happy Warrior

I was in one of those hotels where they give you the New York Times whether you want it or not. And, even if you leave it in the corridor, ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ In a recent press conference, a New York Times reporter asked President Obama what had “enchanted” him the most during his first 100 days as president. Obama might have ...
The Bent Pin

The Bent Pin

Pleasantly Peasantry The sudden transformation of the American consumer from drunken sailor to Silas Marner is the talk of the economic meltdown. After barely a year of hard times, we have ...
The Long View

The Long View

The Literary Arlen Specter From the Oresteia of Aeschylus, trans. Arlen Specter: [Enter Chorus of Argive elders, very old men who carry staves to help them stand up. As they speak, servants ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

THE INHERITANCE Blond, you favored your mother, But named John, after your dad, You inherited all he had: A farm in debt, an old hound, Long-horns and Rhode Island Reds, Guinea and pea fowl, A family of ...

Most Popular

History

Thanksgiving Is Not a Lie

We live in a time of heedless iconoclasm, and so one of the country’s oldest traditions is under assault. Thanksgiving is increasingly portrayed as, at best, based on falsehoods and, at worst, a whitewash of genocide against Native Americans. The New York Times ran a piece the other day titled, “The ... Read More
History

Thanksgiving Is Not a Lie

We live in a time of heedless iconoclasm, and so one of the country’s oldest traditions is under assault. Thanksgiving is increasingly portrayed as, at best, based on falsehoods and, at worst, a whitewash of genocide against Native Americans. The New York Times ran a piece the other day titled, “The ... Read More
Culture

On Being Grateful

My mother always enjoyed making Thanksgiving dinner. She took a traditional Southern woman’s pride in being a good cook, following her mother’s recipes, and my family made a rare display of kindness by declining to inform her that she was a fairly dreadful cook, one whose kitchen alchemy on the electric range ... Read More
Culture

On Being Grateful

My mother always enjoyed making Thanksgiving dinner. She took a traditional Southern woman’s pride in being a good cook, following her mother’s recipes, and my family made a rare display of kindness by declining to inform her that she was a fairly dreadful cook, one whose kitchen alchemy on the electric range ... Read More
U.S.

Gratitude: What We Owe to Our Country

Editor’s Note: The following essay by National Review founder William F. Buckley comes from the first chapter of his 1990 book, Gratitude: Reflections on What We Owe to Our Country. I have always thought Anatole France’s story of the juggler to be one of enduring moral resonance. This is the arresting and ... Read More
U.S.

Gratitude: What We Owe to Our Country

Editor’s Note: The following essay by National Review founder William F. Buckley comes from the first chapter of his 1990 book, Gratitude: Reflections on What We Owe to Our Country. I have always thought Anatole France’s story of the juggler to be one of enduring moral resonance. This is the arresting and ... Read More