John Marini was one of the first conservative thinkers in 2016 to recognize that Donald Trump posed an existential threat to the administrative state, in a series of articles that are included in a recent collection we highly recommend, Unmasking the Administrative State: The Crisis of American Politics in the Twenty-First Century. In this second half of our conversation (take in the first part here if you missed it), Glenn Ellmers helps us draw John out further on these deeper aspects of the problem, noting that conservatives might actually find some insight into the authoritarianism of the administrative state from an unlikely source—certain French social theorists, in particular Foucault.

Now I know what you’re thinking, and yes, references to Foucault usually summon my gag reflex, too, but you should hear out John and Glenn on this point. From time to time I bait Lucretia with the suggestion that we can sometimes turn the left’s dogmas against them, and she usually doesn’t buy it, but here we may see some support for this idea.

From there we also have John revisit a role he played in the evolution of the thought of Clarence Thomas. In the late 1980s, John Marini along with Ken Mausgi were special assistants to Thomas when Thomas was the chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and a lot of their work for Thomas consisted of informal seminars, often over brown bag lunches, discussing first principles of political philosophy and how to apply them to modern times. (This was back before the term “brown bag lunch” was prohibited by the language police).

And finally we touch on John’s long time interest in classic films, especially those of John Ford and Frank Capra, from whom one can learn a lot about America and American politics. We barely scratch the surface here, and so we’ll have to have John back soon for a special episode dedicated wholly to film. Until then, however, enjoy part 2 of our conversation with John Marini.

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  1. WilliamWarford Coolidge

    I taught 11th and 12th graders in a film class at a charter STEM school in SoCal. Predominately Latino. My kids LOVED Liberty Valance, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Casablanca. We did a unit, “Four by Ford” (Stagecoach, Searchers, Liberty Valance, The Quiet Man).  I explained to them that it was possible to tell a powerful story with a strong moral message while using not a single f-word, nude scene, or explicit violence. They had never seen anything like it. Many told me started watching old films on their own. 

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  2. Leslie Watkins Inactive
    Leslie Watkins

    Thanks so much for these foundational episodes! Really fills a void for me!

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  3. Noell Colin the gadfly Coolidge
    Noell Colin the gadfly

    Some really good insights I never thought of or heard before… 
    Can John be on the Three Whiskey Happy Hour?    

    Upbeat News - Turns Out, ‘Puppy Dog Eyes’ Are An Evolutionary Development


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  4. Quickz Member

    This was like a fantasy come true. Thanks so much!

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