Left and Right

A Constructive Critique of David Brooks

I would be far more critical of David Brooks than this guy, but this piece makes some interesting points.

By Greg Thomas

My late grandfather, Horace Thomas Sr., back in the 1970s when I was an adolescent, would explain to me the distinction between destructive and constructive criticism. The former has the intent and effect of tearing down, the latter builds up towards improvement and greater depth. These distinctions would serve as a heuristic guide as I stepped into a professional role as a jazz and cultural critic. This distinction also lays the foundation for the following guest post by political philosopher Steve McIntosh, the founder of the Institute for Cultural Evolution, a think tank for which I serve as a Senior Fellow.

Steve’s thoughts and frameworks have been the subject of several previous posts, including “Staking Out Higher Ground” and “Jam Sessions of the Mind: Democratic Conversations.” In this article, originally published at The Developmentalist site, Steve constructively critiques New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks with the intention of building better and more accurate lenses through which to understand current American social and political reality—and how we can evolve and grow beyond our current state of intense political polarization.

For the past twenty years, political and social commentator David Brooks has been an influential voice in American culture. At times, I’ve found his opinions to be timely and even inspirational. But I also often find myself balking or groaning at his views. The middle-brow accessibility of his writing helps him speak to a wide audience. Yet it’s this same accessibility that prevents him from being taken seriously in many intellectual circles. I do, however, take Brooks seriously and thus offer the following constructive critique.


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