C. P. Snow titled his last book, written shortly before he died, “A Coat of Varnish.” What he meant, as he put it, was that “Civilization is hideously fragile.” Civilization, that is to say, is like a thin coat of varnish spread on top of human savagery. The varnish looks terrific, but scratch…

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  • Issue Quarter Between the Issues
  • Issue Year 2017
  • Sub Heading On Populism, Part IV
Since human beings settled into communities — that is, since most of us stopped being hunter-​gatherers — a primary goal of mankind has been to improve how we are governed. We wanted governments that were more representative, fair, and efficient, governments that could improve our economic circumstances and defend themselves (and us) from outside influence or destruction.…

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  • Issue Quarter Between the Issues
  • Issue Year 2017
  • Sub Heading On Populism, Part III
Between the first and second world wars, most of the European governments — Britain and, to a lesser extent, France, being exceptions — lived lives that were, to paraphrase Hobbes, weak, unstable, and short.

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  • Issue Quarter Between the Issues
  • Issue Year 2017
  • Sub Heading On Populism, Part II
Civilization is like a very fine suit of clothes that is just slightly too small for us. The term “populism” derives from the Latin, populus, meaning “people.” It doesn’t mean “people” in the sense of “There are a lot of people who don’t read my blog.” It means “people” in the sense of…

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  • Issue Quarter Between the Issues
  • Issue Year 2017
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