A thoughtful conservative vision for 21st-century America

The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of IndividualismThe Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism by Yuval Levin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Levin analyzes 21st-century America from a compelling perspective, seeing the widespread nostalgia for a more unified post-WWII America as one of the major political difficulties that we face. Both liberals and conservatives often have this sense of nostalgia, even if they remember different aspects of the postwar period fondly. Yet he also shows that this was a unique period proceeded by the consolidating trends of progressivism, the Depression, World War II, and the beginning of the Cold War, and that economic and cultural centralization has been giving way to individualism to a greater or lesser degree since the 1950s. As a conservative, Levin wants both liberals and especially conservatives to craft their policies in light of these trends so that institutions like family, work, and religious communities can recover their constructive roles after decades of weakening by political centralization and cultural individualism.

Levin’s interpretation of American history from roughly 1900 to the present had much to recommend it (roughly the first 100 pages of the book), and is really worth reading. The solutions that he proposes in the second half of the book are provocative as well. By the end, it seemed that Levin had reiterated his principles more than enough without the additional specific examples justify the repetition, but the principles are important enough to make that stylistic complaint unimportant.

Levin’s fits quite well with Rod Dreher’s “Benedict Option“, which Levin references favorably.

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