During the weekend I said in comments here that I would love to see a book about spontaneous or emergent order that crossed disciplines. Well, by golly, now there is one — and it’s by Matt Ridley, who penned The Red Queen and Genome. Turns out he’s a member of the House of Lords, to boot. He appeared on Monday’s EconTalk, which has been the source of some of my favorite reads here in the last few years. They talked about language, morality, the history of science, and the reversal of American political parties in the late 19th century, in which the ‘liberal’ party became illiberal. Their conversation can be enjoyed or read here.
Bill Kauffman recently joined Jim Kunstler on the KunstlerCast to yak about localism, American literature, and a little politics. (Jim’s most recent political post: “Between the Obscene and the Unspeakable.”) I had the rotten luck to discover this one yesterday right before going to work, and so had wait for hours and hours until I could listen to two very colorful small-town partisans enjoying one another’s company. Kunstler, for those who have joined me recently, penned The Geography of Nowhere and The Long Emergency. The first was a godsend for me, articulating a lot of unease and longing, and the latter has sharply influenced me over the past few years. Kauffman, of course, is a barrel of fun. Neither of these guys can be put into a political party: Kunstler claims to be a Democrat, but he has such visceral contempt for virtually everyone involved on both sides that I think it’s a lesser-of-evils decision for him: more Democrats than Republicans make mouth-sounds about the futility of playing god overseas. What brings these fellas together, though, is their shared localism. They both believe in the virtue of small-town America over the suburbs and big cities, though in addition to the communal aspects Kunstler holds small towns to be less fragile, economically. Both gentlemen practice what they preach, living in New York villages…and Kunstler, patiently awaiting the collapse of globalization, homesteads.
So, if you want to listen to some interesting conversations, this week is off to a good start.