Tag: ACF

ACF PoMoCon #16: Pat Deneen on Lawler


Here at the ACF we’ve started a series of podcasts to remember the late professor of political philosophy and public intellectual Peter Lawler on the third anniversary of his death. Peter was a friend and mentor to many of us at the ACF, as well as many others. The first in the series is a discussion with Prof. Pat Deneen of Notre Dame, who has become famous for his book, Why Liberalism Failed, one of the rare books recommended both by conservatives and former president Barack Obama. We talk about Tocqueville, Strauss, the dangers democracy faces, and the right style for conservatives–the debate between post-modern conservatism and traditional conservatism! Friends, listen, read some Peter Lawler, and share our podcast!

Liberty Valance and the Cactus Rose


So a friend sends me news from the desert! This picture reminded me of the cactus rose in Liberty Valance, a contender for the greatest movie made in America–or anywhere, John Ford’s finest statement on the arrival of the Declaration of Independence, of justice, the laws, and a lawyer (Jimmy Stewart) who teaches a girl (Vera Miles) to read (her Bible, to begin with), to dream of real roses, and to choose the future. But in the past, there’s this other man (John Wayne), who knows she loves the cactus rose–a hardy growth which is beautiful over against the sublime desert–deadly, indifferent to man, eternal. There’s always that lingering memory of nature. The beauty of the vast wild American West reminds us always of freedom.


Titus Digest


Friends, if you’re looking for conservative cultural criticism, I’m your huckleberry, especially this week. To begin with the burning problem of burning down cities, here’s my op-ed today at Law & Liberty, hot off the presses, about how Senator Tom Cotton turned the weapons of liberalism against the liberals in his New York Times op-ed. I explain the terrible things liberalism has done to black Americans and why the lie of systemic racism is necessary to the seemingly moderate elite liberals as it is to the obviously mad Progressive activists.

As a companion piece, here’s my debut in the American edition of the Spectator yesterday: I remind America of black conservatism–focusing on family, community, work, and justice through legal action — not just because liberals have silenced the inconvenient voices of American treasures like Denzel Washington, but because young conservatives need him as much as young black men do.

ACF Asia #9: Stray Dog


I talked to John Wilson and Joseph Bottum about Kurosawa’s Stray Dog, a movie about honorable policemen dealing with a generation of lost, confused Japanese youth in the aftermath of WWII, under American occupation, in a period when refounding Japan requires refounding the authority of the laws. Given our time of riots, when Americans are learning how many mad young men and women there are among us, this may be more urgent than we can have liked.

ACF Critic Series #38: Dark City


This week, I talked to Justin Lee about Alex Proyas’s Dark City, the sci-fi neo-noir cult hit of 1998! (Perhaps eclipsed by the Matrix, which came out in 1999 and told a surprisingly similar story, indeed, the production of the latter bought props and sets from the former…)  A man who loses his memory is chased by alien powers through a city of perpetual night, but discovers his super-natural powers in the process. Everything from Plato’s cave to our modern problem with innovation is in discussion.

ACF Memorial Day: Patton


So we’re celebrating Memorial Day and I wrote an essay on Patton, the greatest American war movie. It’s a good day to watch the movie again, and to remember the great man. In my essay, I talk about the importance of great men in times of crisis, the limits of institutions and the specific character of the modern executive, and the way this ties to American character.

If I may also recommend VDH on Patton, perhaps as good a starter for conversation as the movie itself:

ACF Masters #8: Sullivan’s Travels


Since we’re facing a new Great Depression, here’s a comedy for our times: Sullivan’s Travels, Preston Sturges’s adventure through Great Depression America. From Hollywood to the chain gang, from hoboing on trains to a Southern church where black people sing about Moses setting them free. Prof. Zena Hitz has a new book out, Lost in Thought, about the pleasures and the worth of the intellectual life.

ACF Asia #8: Drunken Angel


So here’s more Kurosawa–the doctor and the gangster, a story about Enlightenment, equality for women, American influence in post-war Japan more broadly, the importance of science for the modern regime, and of course we make some notes about the way we are ourselves now rebelling against the authority of doctors. This was Kurosawa’s first movie with Toshiro Mifune, who runs away to the story, to the point that people put his face on the poster, though he’s not the titular angel!

ACF Founders #4: An Independent Empire


Friends, here’s my conversation with Michael Kochin about how to run a modern empire. His new book, An Independent Empire: Diplomacy & War in The Making of The United States, covers the American Revolution and the task of dominating the continent in the face of Indian tribes and European powers. We talk about the conflicts between means and ends in the early administrations, the rise and fall of the Federalist party, then the Republican party, the original parties in government in America, and the ways in which practical men like James Monroe might make better presidents than studious lawyers like James Madison, or the different kinds of Founders.

ACF PoMoCon #15: Chris Arnade, ‘Dignity’


I interviewed writer/photographer Chris Arnade about his book Dignity, an all-American journey of 400,ooo miles around America for the best part of a decade, trying to fulfill the promise of Christianity and democracy, that everyone should count in some way as a human being. We talk about front-row and back-row America, the new education-based elites and the people they have forsaken while claiming to champion, about the resilience of faith in America and the desire for community taking root at McDonald’s in places that have nothing else, and about the hope and despair of the people our public discourse and media ignore. You can get his wonderful book on Amazon.

ACF Special Podcast: Hitchcock Anniversary


April 29 is the 40th anniversary of Hitchcock’s death, so I thought I’d share our podcasts on his wonderful movies. The conversation, however, will be a commemorative free-for-all — come one, come all! What are your Hitchcock memories, questions, and praise for the remarkable poet of a modernizing America? If you’re looking for a recommendation, mind you — the wonderful French director Eric Rohmer wrote a book about Hitchcock.

ACF Asia #7: The Bad Sleep Well


The podcast’s back to Kurosawa: This week we’re talking about The Bad Sleep Well, a wonderful 1960 revenge drama about the corruption of post-War Japanese elites. Crony capitalism, murder, traditions traduced, false identities, and Jody Bottum and John Wilson to talk to me about it. Next week we’re talking about Kurosawa’s Drunken Angel, for those who want a recommendation!

ACF PoMoCon #13: Very Online Conservatism


My series on new developments and developing writers in conservatism continues. Here’s my PoMoCon talk with Tanner Greer, who’s writing a book on America since 2003 for Tyler Cowen, about old conservatism’s Trump-shock and new, Very Online Conservatism’s Great Awokening shock. Tanner has an NRO essay criticizing Reform Conservatism while agreeing with its reformist intentions and time-honored purposes. He argues that older conservatives worry about politics, whereas newer conservatives seem to worry about the very ground of politics. The previous assumptions about institutions are upended, down to the family, so it’s no longer a matter of how should we be doing things, but who even are we!

ACF PoMoCon #12: Plague Politics


Pete Spiliakos and I talk about politics in the age of the plague–what’s so insane about supply-side economics, what it means to think politically and prudentially, what the common good requires, and how to understand our weaknesses that we may deal with them. Fear is good, seriousness is required, preparing for the crisis unfolding, and planning for overcoming it is the sequence we need to go through. Pete and I have praise for Tucker Carlson and Sen. Tom Cotton, and a lot of criticism for everyone else.

ACF PoMoCon #11: The Three Waves of Liberalism


This weekend, the podcast’s back to cultural criticism–Oliver Traldi and I continue our series of conversations about the world the internet is making. We about the quarrel between Progressives and liberalism, about the noble free speech stand of the Intellectual Dark Web and their difficulties with accounting for that nobility, about generational politics–Boomers, X-ers, Zoomers, and Millennials fighting it out to define American culture anew, the transformation of the internet from a place of anonymity to competitive exhibitionism, and also Aristotle’s treatise on the soul!

ACF Critic Series #37: Network


So what kind of society is the TV society? Paddy Chayefksy’s Network suggests it’s one where everything from news to terrorism becomes a fantasy for us to consume, safely, if stranded, in front of our screens. One where human beings are reduced to humanoids. At the end of the age when TV matters, it’s good to look at its beginnings–we might recognize social media as the last form TV takes. For the audience interested in the conversation, my friend Telly Davidson has a book on media and politics, Culture War.

ACF PoMoCon #10: The Benedict Option


Folks, here’s a podcast for the weekend–my conversation with Rod Dreher on traditional conservatism’s new moment. We talk about his books, about Christian communities facing the Pink Police State (hat tip to our friend James Poulos) and the need to retrieve pre-modern resources for communities of faith. We also talk about what Rod has learned from Christians surviving communism (hat tip to our friend @FlaggTaylor).

ACF Asia #6: Kurosawa, ‘High and Low’


Time for more Kurosawa: I talk High and Low with Jody Bottum and John Wilson. This is a good pair for the big new Oscar winner, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite; it’s also a story about envy and class, about the rapid modernization of a country, in this case, Japan, in that, South Korea, and the crisis of justice. Kurosawa is quite Dostoevskian in his treatment of resentment and nihilism, a fitting way to end his series of modern movies.

ACF Asia #5: Parasite


Friends, here’s my conversation with Peter Paik on the big Oscar winner, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite. We talk about the movie as a story of the conflict between liberalism and Korea’s older ways. We try to explain the new social and economic situation in South Korea, but also Bong’s interest in character study that reveals virtues and vices that reverse the judgments implied in the class analysis liberalism usually offers. This is not a story about wicked rich people, or systemic inequality, vs. innocent or virtuous poor people. It’s about the desire for self-mastery and the desire for comfort, or the difference between absorbing suffering and fleeing anxiety.