Podcast: Gary Saul Morson on the New "Leninthink"

The humanities professor joins us to talk about “cancel culture” and the many new varieties of online shaming.

June 11 2020
About the authors

A weekly podcast, produced in partnership with the Tikvah Fund, offering up the best thinking on Jewish thought and culture.

Gary Saul Morson is the Lawrence B. Dumas professor of the arts and humanities at Northwestern University and the author of, among other books, Anna Karenina in Our Time (Yale).

This Week’s Guest: Gary Saul Morson


Discussions about “cancel culture”—the practice of stigmatizing and ostracizing a person or institution deemed to have transgressed political correctness—have lately become ubiquitous in the United States. American culture seems to be undergoing a kind of revolution, fomented in social media, that is reshaping the contours of our public life: from the campus to the boardroom to the newsroom, the cost of having said or thought the wrong thing can now put one’s reputation and livelihood at risk. And there is little path for the accused to enjoy ablution, to wash away the sin of wrongthink.

In this podcast, editor Jonathan Silver is joined by Gary Saul Morson, professor of the arts and humanities at Northwestern University, to discuss his 2019 New Criterion essay “Leninthink.” Morson’s essay is not about Lenin the man, nor is it about Communist ideology. Leninthink is, rather, anti-ideological: a cast of mind and a political tactic that utilizes ideology to wage political revolution. At a time when cancel culture threatens to tear down the universities, the museums, and the press, Morson’s study is more important than ever.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.



For more on the Tikvah Podcast at Mosaic, which appears roughly every Thursday, check out its inaugural post here.

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More about: Political correctness, Politics & Current Affairs