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Robinson suggests that the dogmatists of neoliberal economics – with its overriding mission “to debase human life in order to produce more, faster” – are the heirs to the eugenicists and behaviourists of yesteryear, determined to reduce human beings to a narrowly defined notion of self-interest, stripped of all their wondrous complexity.
In an essay, where the focus is on the knowledge itself, it is put to the front of sentences.
For example: This is not to say that both kinds of sentences can be used in both types of writing.
In Britain and America alike, the policy of marginalising the liberal arts in higher education – through a combination of funding cuts and aggressive managerialism – is typically justified in utilitarian terms.
In an age of heightened global competition, so the argument goes, the liberal arts are an indulgent luxury; if the West continues to funnel scarce resources into them, it may ultimately lose out to countries like China and India in the great struggle for economic supremacy.
In a lecture given in February 2016, Robinson speaks of the need to refine our understanding of American Puritanism in order to appreciate its progressive essence.
She recalls a dinner party conversation about affairs between students and teachers: when Robinson highlighted the power imbalances between superiors and subordinates, her British interlocutor found her stance quaint and prudish.The purpose of an essay is to use what is known about a subject to prove an argument or point of view.Not all of the knowledge of a topic may be used in an essay, but only what is relevant to the argument.Bell begins with teaching her audience why she was raised to believe that the Earth's soil can help the world love themselves.She gave many examples on why her family and herself loved the land so much.“This country,” Robinson observes, “is in a state of bewilderment that cries out for good history.” The idea of a monolithic “white” America does a disservice to the cultural and religious heterogeneity of that country’s Western European heritage, let alone its legions of migrants from Africa, Eastern Europe and the Far East.She notes the irony that many of those early waves of historic migrants had been fleeing conflicts and persecutions rooted in precisely the kind of sectarianism that Trump is promoting: “Those who invoke the idea of a ‘real America’ would like to import a problem history that has so far spared us.” Theology features prominently in these pages.Written between 20, the essays and lectures gathered in comprise a spirited defence of American liberalism at a time when it finds itself singularly beleaguered.The antagonism between Trump supporters and their liberal opponents plays out as a rhetorical battle for the mantle of American patriotism: at one end, commentators like Robinson appeal to a national tradition of pluralism and dissent; at the other, Trumpism rallies around the imagined memory of an ethnically and culturally homogeneous United States.Robinson links the decline of religiosity with the amoralism of the free market ideology that has dominated American culture since the Reagan years.“In the infinitely smaller conceptual world allowed to human existence when metaphysics is disallowed,” she writes, “there is no language to describe human conduct in moral terms.” She pointedly reminds us that the Western universities started out as theological institutions, and it is “the ebbing away of theology that has made them seem to many to be anomalies, anachronisms, and burdens”.