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tv   ISI Conservative Book of the Year Award - Yuval Levin A Time to Build  CSPAN  December 27, 2021 5:00am-5:25am EST

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brian broome reflects on his life and memoir punch me up to the gods most of these authors have appeared a book tv you can find their programs a book tv.org put the authors name in the search bar at the top of this page. book tv continues note television for serious readers. >> good evening my name is john burtka i'm the president of intercollegiate studies institute. am pleased to welcome you to our annual conservative book of the year award. this year'swe winner is yuval levin. he is the author of the book "a time to build" from family and community to congress and the campus. how recommitting to our institution can revive the american dream. i met yuval levin about five years ago i been a longtime fan of his work he was an isi lever phyllo was introduced to him by e-mail. i wasas a young fan so i had
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listened to his podcast i had read his books. i showed up at his office very eager with a notepad of about 30 questions and tried to make my way through these questions and about 45 minutes. it peppered him with questions about edmund burke, thomas paine, about rebuilding associations of civil society and i think he thought it was amusing and endearing because i was a student sitting at his seat at the end of the conversation he told me i had a big job in front of me which at the time i just become the executive director of the american conservative and about four years later the summaries of the same thing to me of a big job ahead of you when i came to isi. one of the things i love about yuval takes young conservative leaders under his wing. he mentors them he speaks with them and there are so many young people in d.c. who got
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connected to each other and got connected in their careers and jobs because of the work yuval does. i personally owe a debt of gratitude to yuval produce a been a mentor ands a friend i think he is one of the most profound and deepest thinkers on the right today. his book makes a refreshing case for a bottom up vision for how to restore, revive and rebuilt america by supporting and renewing our local institutions, our churches, our schools, voluntary associations i'm sure he will share with us tonight insights conservative book award winner including bill mcclay, brett burrs or daniel hammond, angela and many more.
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senior editor and contributing editor to national review please help me in honoring our esteemed guests yuval levin. [applause] >> thank you very much i appreciate that. i remember well the list of questions was very daunting to look at when you looked at the room and you check through them one by one. am quiteck sure i offered no useful answers but i was very impressed. it is really a great pleasure to be here and enormously humbling to see so many
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friends gathered here and appreciate isi, what is done for me since i was an undergraduate coming to isi program. and what it is done for so many people like me who have looked for substance and looked for community and trying to make their way through an often hostile culture can bee connected to the ideas that are central to us as americans were just talking at dinner about how energetic isi is now how much great work it is doing. how great the publications are. it is a high watermark for isi even among thehe other finalists probably will soon they're all
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my book in shouldn't say temporary insanity that added up to the life of the culture for temporary insanity and permanentt sanity in the sense of american and in the worthiness of the civilization that has been passed down to us. rooted also in a sense that gift is so valuable because it can enable us toha deal with permanent human problems the ones we always face.
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our culture has been a long train of insanity because it forgets those problems are durable and that we have to learn from the ways in which they have been dealt with by wise men and women over centuries and millennia. we know better now we do not need the institutions and the rules and the convictions in the paths to truths they have paid for us. some remind college students the people who most need that reminding, theyy did not invent the human condition. it was here before them they have something to learn from how people have understood it and the hunger for meaning is not new either. there ways of feeding that hunger that a lot better that they are tooof often offered where they. are. that act of reminding of reasserting and reapplying enduring truths in new time is what conservatives are for.
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it is oftenen countercultural because our culture is a mass exercise and self harm. beingrc countercultural does not mean it'ss progressive. on the contrary culture presses over and over to regress back to pre-civilization and barbarism now and to resist that pressure exactly to make real progress possible. that i think is a core insight of conservativism. it's what it means to say it is a conservative book. means it's a book built upon an understanding of the human person that may be obnoxious not to a lot of our culture but is conducive to true culture to the genuine preconditions for the flourishing of the human person. tony suggested i see a few words here about the book on the off chance someone might not have read it o among you. what i want to do very brief fields but the argument of the book in the context of that concertth of insight i just
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began with that conservative purpose and to suggest how it applies to the predicament we now find ourselves in america and i i will do it briefly a promise. i conservative book is almost unavoidably a book rooted in an idea of the human person as a creature in need of formation in need of genuine culture for a lot of conservative books either begin or end with that basic idea and can be read in a sense both beginning and ending on its face the book you're doing me the great honor of honoring here of recognizing tonight ends with that conservative insight it tries to walk the readerr toward it and hope it might reach readers who don't start out as conservatives and provided amazon does not ban it might make the readers where they are in rock them rightward over time take them by the hand and show them something of a different way than they been shown to the argument begins from america's contemporary social crisis. our crisis that anyone with eyes can see kenzie we live in
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a divided and dysfunctional in ways that can be measured by the tools of economics but in relational terms is a breakdown of sociology that's ultimately best understood as a breakdown of institutions. so what are institutions? durable social forms of the structures of human society. the shapes, the contours of what we do together print some institution technically legally formalized. many are durable forms of another sort we can speak of the institution of marriage are of a particular tradition or profession of institution that they are durable as essential it does keep its shape over time so we can shape the realm of life in
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which it operates flash mobs are not institutional. but most important was distinct about ant institution is that it is a form of the deepest sense as a structure, a contour, it is the shape of the hold the organization that speaks of its purpose and function's that a social form an institution is not just a bunch of people it's a bunch of people order together to achieve a purpose, to pursue a goal to advance an ideal in a way that gives each of them in relation to the others that means institution are formative ofna us. we structure our interactions of the structure of rush they shape our habits or expectations are also the shipper characters in her souls they to form us that formative role has a lot to do with how institutions relate to that social crisis that we are living through. we think of the role of institutions in american live now wein tend to start with our loss of trust in them that the trend we hear a lot about it's
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a cliché by this point measures are very easy to find across a very wide array of institution for the branches ofpo the national government, to corporations to labor unions medias schools universities americans and losing trust trust in institutions for a long time now. that loss of trust is accelerated in the century but what do we actually mean only say we don't trust institutions? t? part of the answer has to do sense of confidence whether theye are really up to the task they claim for themselves but the core of the answer has to the formative character of institutions to say we don't trust institutions is to say forming trustworthy people. every significant institution carries out a significant task in our society educating children or enforcing the law are providing service meeting a need at does that by establishing a structure and a process a form for combining people's efforts toward that work. and in the process institution
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forms those people to carry out that task effectively, responsibly and reliably. shapes the people in it to be trustworthy. it gives them a particular form makes them into a particular human type. there is such a thing in the world as an accountant, a journalist or member of congress not to mention a mother or a priest. we tend to trust such people when they take that form seriously. when they let it shape them into something better than they were before. a lot of that formation takes the shape of setting boundaries institutions and powers by constraining us, trust in accountant not because he trusts the rule there's things in accountant would not do and so i have some confidence in what he does do. i trust aof journalist to the extent any of us could remember a time we trusted a journalist. [laughter] because that person's work is formed by a process of verification and i lose my trust for that person when i
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lose my sense that process actually is able to form constraint and shape that individual that kind of loss can happen in a variety of ways a lot might evolve plain corruption institution fails to form trustworthy people shield their misbehavior when a bank treats us customer or member of the clergy abuse as a child opposite kind of gross abuse of power undermines public trust in institutions that's a familiar form of corruption but it is not new airplaney examples of inter- time but there's a lot examples at any time it does not exactly explain our distinct loss of confidence in institutions now another related a different way which institution can lose our trust fails to impose an ethic on the people in it altogether. does not even see that formation and its purpose. when the people in the institution no longer see a mold of their character or their behavior but just of the platform for themselves to perform on, to raise their
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profiles to be seen. we don't think ever institutions as informative but performative burden politicals institutions are stages for performative outbreak when university becomes just a venue for virtue signaling, when journalism is indistinguishable they become harder to trust they're not asking for our trust they are just asking for our attention. the book lays out how that kind of thing has happened in a series of key american institutions in congress the executive corporate america and parts of civil and religion two. it looks at the role of that in spite of the evolution of a meritocracy in the character of our elites. ultimately think through some steps we can push back and trends given my role here how should i behave? not just what do i want or
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what do i need but as a member of congress or teacher or scientist what should i be begins his next question read to recognize we require formation in order to be capable of freedom. as a sick work and serve insight the human person is made in a divine image but is born unready for freedom crooked or fallen prone to advice or sin that person requires formation in order to be free if that person is properly formed capable of extraordinary things. the opposite view is a core premise now that the human person is born free but everywhere is an chain by oppressive institutions and so that person requires liberation inra order to be free rather than formation. a huge amount of hinges on the purpose of our politics is to sustain formative institutions
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or to liberate the individual. almost everything hinges on that certain lease at the core of what we come to think of as a culture war in our society. to where the court institutions of formation the family in the church the school the university are all subjects of intense controversy in dispute. its white argument about our need for formative institutions that are formative but substantive ones not how to turn down the temperature in the culture wars it's about which side is right and wrong. in a sense the aim of this book is to begin for people's everyday experience of social crisis went to walk them toward an understanding of the fundamental anthropology but here among friends who take that as their premise to its possible to read the book on the other direction shed the light in a different way. i am jewish i would like to try to read books right to left as well as leftew to right. if you read this book from the end to the beginning from the
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anthropological premise of conservatism toward an understanding of a cultural crisis that makes the case a failure to begin and understand fault for our societies sorry state it argues for restoration of our commitment to thosese institutions from the bottom up as a way to recover flourishing in modern america. the trouble her institutions are is not a function of some vague in particular implications of that does not bemoan the culture war would produce the left are at fault for what is gone wrong the path to recovery depends upon reassertion of the other side of the conservative side.
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more persuasive more effective more successful in shaping the next generation and say by the way it's not quite a coincidence that can be read both forward and backward the texas frame is something like a set of concentric circles with a first and last of its nine chapters are both about the broad contours of her cultural crisis the second and next-to-last of the importance of formation the third and seven chapters are about politics and civil society and the fourth and six are about media a and social media the middle chapter the fifth chapter the heart of the book is the heart of the case the fifth chapters about the university and it is not by coincidence the university is at the core of the argument i enwould want to make i will close with this because obviously let's me return to isi essential work. the universities of the center of the crisis we confront in part it is the source of a lot of ourot society's most terrible
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ideas. this is a crisis of terrible ideas and some important way that the center trustworthy elites are formed now this is a kind of crisis of elite formation. also at the center because of what the university can and must be a place where we can come to understand ourselves ass human beings and as citizens as individuals and as a nation. that ideal means the university something to fight for not just something to fight against. in defending some space for it to persist room for us to be heard and be persuasive and offer some portion of the rising generation something nourishing that they are being fed now that is what success can look like. it's important for him to the humble, modest yet ambitious idea of success this is a moment where the shenanigans parts of the left can easily drive us crazy but we have to be careful not to go crazy to keep ourselves a focus on the formation of the rising generation this has to be of
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the sensitivity to the inescapable fact solutions have to begin withut us, with me, with you, not just with them. however deeply be miters and the roots of the crisis were living throughts your cannot way to a cure. even if the problems we face a router in the corruption of others solutions to them have to begin with us or at least with thinking about how we can help change others which in a free society means thinking about how we can persuade others and therefore how we can make we offer more appealing, more attractive to others. hewe do not think enough about that now and so we fail to notice how unattractive some of what we offer has become. the more attractive does not mean bending to fashion on the contrary countercultural confidence is a very appealing in a moment like this. but it doesn't mean beating people where they are starting with their sense of what has gone wrong,ha taking their hand rocking t them right were confident they will see why they should go if we show them.
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and that surely meansns avoiding despair in the effort to do so. despair is terribly offputting especially to serious younger people. more importantly just bears a mistake it is unjustified. is a failure ofnd hope and gratitude. our case has to begin not with the depravity of the status quo but with the potential for renewal that is inherent in her best traditions. not with resentment but with love and promise. we start with what other side doesit wrong let alone what it has done wrong with us we could only reach the already persuaded to reach the persuadable with to start with what we have to offer and we have a lot to offer. conservatives are appealing we show the rising generation where their inheritance is appealing and how offers access to the deepest stores of wisdom and justice and sanctity and happiness. they clearly want all of those things but they're being told their inheritance offers none of them and it is up to us to
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show them otherwise we should always ask ourselves are we doingar that? and it's doing it at the center of the action in the belly of the beast in the university that work could not be morere important is above all he want to thank you for and thank you for this recognition for this humbling honor for this chance to see so many friends in this chance to talk with you little bit, thank you. [applause] [applause] [applause] politics and prose bookstore in washington d.c. recently hosted a virtual event with megan stone and rachel vogelstein who spoke about the global impact of the me two
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movements. for me i'd been working working on the 2016 presidential campaign when out winning election the first woman president of the united states was really surprised in the aftermath of that election is a wave of women's activism not only here in the united states but around the world back down to the 217 it's on every continent is organized transnationally in ten weeks because of this activism begin to track this activism is hard to see not only an increase of women raising their voices moving to that "me too" movement to go global starting
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in october and also an incredible rise in a broad range of countries two places in the middle east that would surprise you were struck by this incredible wave and it actually had the opportunity to host a women's activists at the council where she was advocating against discrimination and sexual abuse against women. begin trading stories but these stories are not being told in the american media. lucky for me megan agreed to join together and we took this journey around the

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