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Today I link to Will Wilkinson’s lengthy, unapologetic take-down of David Brooks’s novel, The Social Animal.

This blog was founded on the idea that the conventional left-right spectrum does a disservice to political discourse.  I built a new model of discourse, which recognizes both political pundits’ convention left-right leanings, and their tendency to criticize members of their own side.  I furthermore argued that thinkers ought to evaluate each other both on the basis of ideological leanings, and on the quality and innovation of ideas being presented.

The reason I link to this review, is that it doesn’t make any sense to analyze it through the lens of the conventional spectrum.  Wilkinson is a libertarian-leaning moderate conservative.  Brooks is a more populist moderate conservative.  Ideology, that’s not too far distant.  But Wilkinson is fiercely attacking , because he objects to the quality of the arguments presented.  He’s calling out Brooks as a hack, an unthinking moderate conservative, or at least that he hasn’t thought through the ideas as well as Wilkinson has.

Of course, I take Wilkinson’s writing a 2,400 word review, however scornful, as indicating some degree of implicit praise of Brooks’s work.  Wilkinson is using Brooks’s high-profile writings as a focal point around which he advances his and other writers’ views on a number of important topics.  Wilkinson’s throwing down the gauntlet, challenging Brooks to respond to his arguments.  And while Wilkinson might be harsh, Brooks is a NYT columnist, able to withstand the flames of young libertarian whippersnappers.  Whether Brooks responds to Wilkinson or not, this is an example of high-quality discourse.

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  1. […] Contrarian Moderate, Ben writes about Will Wilkinson’s takedown of David Brooks. The reason I link to this review, is that it […]

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