Last Men and Women: George Scialabba and the Challenge of Modernity

Episode 62 · December 7th, 2023 · 1 hr 20 mins

About this Episode

Jake and Phil are joined live at Fairfield University by the great critic and essayist George Scialabba to discuss Last Men and Women

At a time of war, impending ecological disaster, and partisan rage, our commitments to the modern, liberal order are being questioned like never before. Do we understand ourselves best as individuals or as members of a community? Must we renew our absolute commitment to political freedoms, or accept greater state control to deal with the dangers and allures of new technologies? Should the future be post-liberal, neo-liberal, or some other, perhaps more frightening and electrifying possibility? For the past forty-four years the critic George Scialabba has been engaging in arguments with both the critics and proponents of modernity, staking out a commitment to liberty and mass democracy even in light of powerful challenges.

On December 4th at 4:30pm George Scialabba will join Phil Klay and Jacob Siegel for a live recording of Manifesto! A Podcast. The three will discuss the price we pay for modern liberalism, and George’s commitment to it nonetheless (the essay “Last Men and Women,” originally for Commonweal Magazine and included in his latest book, Only A Voice, published by Verso Books, outlines the basics of his argument)

George Scialabba is the quintessential critic’s critic, an outrageously learned and subtle thinker whose stylish, witty and elegantly argued reviews have served as guides to the modern age for generations of writers and intellectuals. Christopher Hitchens, Norman Rush, James Wood, and Vivian Gornick have all declared themselves devotees—while Richard Rorty declared his essays “models of moral inquiry.” An award-winning essayist and critic, his writing has appeared in the Nation, Dissent, bookforum, Riritan, n+1, and the Boston Review among many others. He is a Contributing Editor at the Baffler and the author of six essay collections and a memoir, How to Be Depressed.