Jul 1 • 1HR 25M

The Empire Struck Back

Current Events in Year Zero

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An ongoing inquiry into the ideological fever that overtook the governing and chattering classes of America during the Trump years
Episode details

“So the basic claim is that, okay, there may have been this need, contingently, one time, for the court to act; but if you create a super weapon, it's something that whoever gets control of it, will find a tempting, non-democratic way of getting their policy done. That's what the Lochner era had been about. That's what the liberals used it for, instead of taking civil rights, gender equality to the country, and saying, ultimately, this is something on which we have to find a way to convince our fellow citizens, they relied on the super weapon. And of course, as you would predict, the Empire struck back. And really since the 1970s, the Supreme Court is a story in this last phase of the conservatives struggling and succeeding in getting control of that super weapon.”

Today’s podcast once again interrupts the retrospective gaze at the online culture war of the ROAD TO YEAR ZERO series and the pedagogical approach of the SYLLABUS and soon to be launched REMEDIAL READING series to catch up with current events, as we periodically will when current events both become pressing and can benefit from a longer run perspective.

This week I spoke with Samuel Moyn, professor of history and law at Yale University, and author of the book Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War, about the recent Dobbs decision and what he regards as the misguided reliance on the Supreme Court as an instrument of progressive change.

And finally, a reminder to become a paid subscriber and get a head start on the reading for the next episode of the Syllabus Series: Samuel Huntington, American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony (Harvard University Press, 1983), chs. 1-3.