Beyond obvious political polarization and the rancor that generates, Alexandra Hudson says that contemporary America—and the world—is “otherizing” people in a way that makes us all worse off by threatening our ability to peacefully coexist. In her new book The Soul of Civility: Timeless Principles To Heal Society and Ourselves, Hudson draws on the writings of figures from antiquity through Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr. to show how to reawaken classical liberal virtues of mutual respect and tolerance in a world seemingly hell-bent on putting politics at the center of human meaning.
We talked about the difference between civility and manners, the need for and limits of civil disobedience, Hamas terrorism and the rules of war, and whether the decline of religion, family, and traditional forms of community spell the end of self-governance. Hudson publishes a Substack called Civic Renaissance, “a newsletter and community dedicated to ennobling our public discourse with the wisdom of the past.”
This episode was taped live in New York City as a Reason Speakeasy, a monthly, unscripted conversation with outspoken defenders of free thinking and heterodoxy. Go here to listen to past Speakeasy events and go here to learn about upcoming ones (including one on October 23, featuring Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott discussing their new book, The Canceling of the American Mind). This event was cosponsored by Young Voices, “a nonprofit talent agency and PR firm for a rising generation of heterodox thinkers.” Go here to learn more about them.