Latest Essays

Gary Cooper looking askance at his newly acquired butler in a scene from the Frank Capra film Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

Reframing our Debates about Capitalism

There is a flaw in the reasoning behind our infernal, never-ending, society-splitting debate concerning socialism vs. capitalism, and I want to point it out.

To start with, imagine the lives of our hunter-gatherer ancestors.

(Notice I say “our” with confidence because, even though I don’t know who you are or where you were raised or what you look like, I do know that you, like all of us humans, are descended from one or more tribes of hunter-gatherers.)

Green World

The Era of Environmental Accommodation is Over

When historians look at the long span of our human history, they try to make sense of our arc of cultural evolution by breaking it up into phases: the agrarian era, the industrial era, the digital era, and so forth. But of course, there are multiple perspectives we can use for this sort of exercise. Perhaps the most important perspective to consider is the relationship of our human population to the rest of our world.
Abandoned House with a Trump electoral sign

Undoing Trumpism

Even if we are fortunate enough to defeat Donald Trump in 2020, that won't mean the end of Trumpism.

Many of the things that Trump came to stand for were around before his candidacy – and, in fact, helped him to get elected – and they won't simply vanish on their own. If we're foolish enough to think they will, then we're engaging in as much magical thinking as The Donald is when he claims that COVID-19 will simply disappear all by itself.

Louis Armstrong Stamp

Can the US Become a Truly Egalitarian Society?

As with many of us, I've been thinking deeply lately about the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breanna Taylor, and so many other people of color, and wondering how and why these atrocities continue to occur in my country, and what we can do to turn things around. I've concluded that there are basically two types of human societies, with very different ways of thinking about themselves.
Young couple standing on the jetty and watching sunrise

8 Big Lessons We Can Learn from the Pandemic

Suffering through a pandemic is a terrible way to have to learn a lesson or two about the nature of humanity.

But it's what we have, so we may as well make use of it.

What can we learn from our current crisis? Not so much in the “I should have stocked up on more toilet paper” vein, but in terms of understanding more about who we are and our place in the universe? You know: big picture stuff?

Here are my thoughts.