Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is often loosely cited to support even looser claims that America is declining. But Gibbon’s observation that in ancient Rome “a cloud of critics, compilers, of commentators, darkened the face of learning” does resonate with something that's gone wrong in American liberal-arts education. In his telling, Rome’s loss of its republican virtues had left its later writers and orators in “very unequal competition with those bold ancients” who had expressed “their genuine feelings in their native tongue” and, "living under a ... Read More
About Jim Sleeper
Jim Sleeper is a writer on American civic culture and politics and a lecturer in political science at Yale. He is the author of The Closest of Strangers: Liberalism and the Politics of Race in New York (1990) and Liberal Racism (2002). His reportage and commentary -- sampled extensively at www.jimsleeper.com -- have appeared in Harper’s. The New Republic, The Nation, The New Yorker, The Washington Monthly, Commonweal, Democracy Journal, and many other publications. He blogs frequently for Talking Points Memo at www.tpmcafe.com A former political columnist for the New York Daily News, Sleeper is a member of the editorial board of the quarterly Dissent.