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The Age of Spectacle; Connecting the Dots of American Politics (In Person – 3 Sessions))
10/16/2023 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm EDT
Welcome to Braver Seminars, the newest addition to Braver U!
Braver Angels will bring together a small group of individuals across the political spectrum for an online seminar consisting of three 90-minute sessions over the course of three weeks. In order to participate, students must be members of Braver Angels and must be able to attend all three sessions of the seminar:
- Session I: Monday, October 16th from 5:30pm – 7:00pm ET
- Session II: Monday, October 23th from 5:30pm – 7:00pm ET
- Session III: Monday, October 30th from 5:30pm – 7:00pm ET
Why does American politics in our modern day seem so stupid? Why do we recall a time of higher standards of discourse and statecraft and citizenship, and look around our own contemporary ruins and find them wanting?
The fact is our times have declined; the foundations of American civilization are rooted in a. faith in every human being’s capacity to shape themselves towards higher levels of reasoning and self-command, the Enlightenment ideal broadened to democratic citizenship and institutionalized in political order. The numerous trends against this—the decline of deep literacy, the general affluence and decadence of our material culture, cyberaddiction and the retreat of the physical world, and more—all combine in the great social cancer of Spectacle, a malady infecting our media and our politics and our daily lives in ways all too familiar.
But for all the structural and cultural gloom of our age of spectacle, it is possible to counter its insidious effects enflaming polarization and social division. We can start with ourselves, with our approaches to knowledge and discourse. We can build social movements committed to older ideas of truth and practice. We can even adjust our institutions in the direction of a saner view on political possibility and reality.
Adam Garfinkle is an American political scientist and historian, and the founding editor of The American Interest. Garfinkle received his Ph.D. in international affairs from the University of Pennsylvania and has taught at some of the country’s leading institutions. His research interests lie in foreign policy, national security, and Judaism.