13 Feb Announcing the Official Release of My First Book, Crisis of Responsibility
While the wait has felt like forever for me (patience is not my strongest character trait), my first book, Crisis of Responsibility: Our Cultural Addiction to Blame and How You Can Cure it (Post Hill Press), officially releases today.
A little overview of the book can be found here, but essentially the theme is this: The wave of populism that has raged against the machine of elitism and institutionalism for the last several years is an understandable but wholly inadequate response to the largest plagues in our society. Rejecting the false promises of big institutions will not be enough. We suffer from a crisis of responsibility, where our first instinct is to point the finger elsewhere when assessing our problems, and usually to do this in the direction that our own partisan and tribal impulses take us. The end result will not be a diminished “establishment,” but rather a re-empowered one, emboldened by the renewed hope in the state and big institutions that inevitably follows the failure of an anti-establishment movement. The solution to avoiding this is pure and simple: We need a resurgence of individual responsibility, up for the task of self-government, and that must lead to the rebuilding of the mediating institutions in society necessary for healthy civic life.
The extraordinary Walter Lippman once said:
“My hope is that both liberty and democracy can be preserved before the one destroys the other. Whether this can be done is the question of our time, with more than half the world denying and despairing of it. Of one thing we may be sure. If it has to be done at all, we must be uninhibited in our examination of our condition … we must adopt the habit of thinking as plainly about the sovereign people as we do about the politicians they elect. It will not do to think poorly of the politicians and to talk with bated breath about the voters. No more than the kings before them should the people be hedged with divinity.”
The book does not look to give an excuse for bad policy, or bad governance. In fact, the book diligently looks at proper policy situations in many of the alleged bogeymen of our age (immigration, free trade, higher education, automation, school choice, big government, crony capitalism, and more). But belying all pursuit of effective and wise policy is an acknowledgment that there is a narrative baked into the contemporary dialogue which is simply false: That essentially the society is ready to flourish, but is being held back by outside forces. Indeed, incompetent and often evil outside forces must be vanquished, but the agent responsible for the outcomes of our own lives is, well, ourselves.
“Self-discipline, a sense of justice, honesty, fairness, chivalry, moderation, public spirit, respect for human dignity, firm ethical norms – all of these are things which people must possess before they go to market in compete with each other. These are the indispensable supports which preserve both market and competition from degeneration. Family, church, genuine communities, and tradition are their sources.”
– Wilhelm Ropke
My prayer for this book is that readers are taken in by the story, particularly the journey through the financial crisis that led to one of the most distorted and counter-factual narratives of a major historical event, ever. But more than the reader’s enjoyment of the story and anecdotes that compose it, my prayer is that in reading the book the message will strike readers as hopeful, possible, and even inevitable.
We do suffer from a crisis of responsibility in this country, and the results that will come from not addressing it will look far worse than the results of too many years of global elitism.
And the fruits from addressing it will be delicious to all who grab hold of the beauty of a free and virtuous society.