Magazine September 7, 2020, Issue

Against Disunion

Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. (Ted Thai / The Life Picture Collection via Getty Images)
A 1991 book by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., vital for today

Very rarely does the whole world face the same problem at the same time. I’m not talking about the staples: aging, want, crime, and the rest. I’m talking about something specific, such as the coronavirus. It is truly a common enemy, worldwide. It’s as though Earth had been invaded by hostile extraterrestrials.

Has this extraordinary situation served to draw the world closer? Not that I can tell.

Well, how about the coronavirus in one country (to adapt a phrase from Stalin)? I have the United States in mind. Has this common enemy served to draw Americans closer? On the contrary, it has

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Max the Hamster

The pandemic, the shutdown, and the riots reveal, of the cities, the truth of that ancient bureaucratic adage: Don’t ever take a vacation.

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