Fuse/Public Humanist Commentary — Spreading a Desire for the Good Things in Life

By Bill Marx.

I have written another piece for the Mass Humanities blog, The Public Humanist. It is a reaction, admiring but skeptical, to John Armstrong’s recent polemic In Search of Civilization: Remaking a Tarnished Idea (Graywolf Press).

On the one hand, this is a lucid and sane pitch for the value of a concept of civilization lightened of its ideological and snobbish freight. Yet Armstrong’s strong argument is at its weakest when he attempts to make the spread of civilization a matter of better salesmanship (“Desire Leadership”) rather than intellectual development.

Take a look at the piece and leave a comment. Is civilization dead? Have the barbarians won? How do we reverse the marginalization of culture and the humanities when those who are supposed to convince a wider public of their value—professional academics, the arts industry—betray their mission to civilize?

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