tv Foreign Perspectives on America CSPAN April 28, 2019 9:00pm-10:01pm EDT
we need to have meaningful consent so a consumer can make an inform the decision about using a product or is not. >> watch it monday night at 8:00 eastern oncommunicators" an 2. author james nolan looks at observations made by four notable foreign visitors during different times of u.s. history. he focuses on their thoughts regarding the relationship between individuality and conformity in america and considers the relevance of their analysis today. mr. nolan's author of "what they saw in america, alexis de tocqueville, max weber, gk chesterton, and so you could to -- sayyid qutb." good evening, and thank you for being with us tonight. i would like to say hello to those watching the talk on
c-span. i am will randolph and i am a first year mcconnell scholar here. it is an honor for me to serve as the mc tonight. nolan,st is dr. james the washington glad in 1859 professor of sociology. he is the author of several books including what we are here to discuss this evening, "what they saw in america, alexis de tocqueville, max weber, gk chesterton, saint copy." -- sayyid qutb." this will wrap up a year-long study on american political culture inspired by de tocqueville's "democracy in america." dr. nolan holds a master degree and doctoral degrees from the university of virginia. his teaching and research interests: the general areas of laws in society, -- interests
fall in the general areas of loss and society and others. he has received several awards including the national endowment for the humanities scholarship and a fulbright scholarship. we look forward to dr. williams engaginglan's discussion on dark strands and bright threads, what they saw in america. he has agreed to take questions following his remarks. these wait for one of our mcconnell scholars to bring you the microphone when you are asking your question. i invite to join me -- i now invite you to please join me in welcoming dr. nolan to the podium. [applause] you, will, and thank you, dr. greg, for sponsoring and inviting me to be here. i am delighted. in "democracy in america," alexis de tocqueville observes
the majority lives in perpetual adoration of itself. only foreigners can make certain truths reached the ears of americans. while keeping with this , different, my study project, "what they saw in america," listens to four different visitors. seeks to learn something from their assessments about the united states. on what thefocusing visitors saw on the ground, where did they go, who did they talk to, what did they see it, and pays attention to the common themes discernible in the observations that came from there it visits which stand it. a period of 20 years. dark strands and bright threads comes from another source, martha bayless' book in which ' viewssiders outsiders
of america but her focus is on outside views of those around the world based on her travels and listening to what people ind about the united states a more contemporary project. she identifies america's positive and laudable attributes as well as it less admirable qualities, dark shreds, which make up the tapestry of society. like martha bayless, i found both dark strands and bright threads. among the various common themes i found tonight, i want to focus in particular on the themes of individualism and conformism and the role that local volunteerism plays in mitigating tensions represented in these paradoxical tendencies. at the end of the talk i will reflect on the visitors' findings and apply recent trends
and developments. i begin with de tocqueville. after four months of traveling around the united states, he ,rrived in boston september 9 1831. he had his friend and traveling beaumont life de to boston and found agreeable the elite class of notables with which they associated, the boston brahmins crowd which included john quincy adams. in boston de tocqueville observed local social and political life, learn from his , and began to ponder things that would focus in his important insights. at the end of three weeks, he entered into his notebook when he discerned were the great social principles, ruling american society. the first, the majority may be mistaken on some points, but
finally it is always right and there is no moral power above it. second, every individual private person, society, community or nation, is the only lawful judge of its own interest, and provided he doesn't harm that of others, nobody can interfere. tocqueville put his think on a paradox which he would continue to ponder throughout his travels and would ultimately discuss at length in his classic book democracy in america. he discussed a society that both extolled the independence and freedom of the individual while it also encouraged conformity to the sovereign majority. de tocqueville saw america as a nation of individualists who were conformist or a society with contradictory tendencies towards individual independence and conformity with the crowd. considering the first, it was in boston where tocqueville heard
for the first time the idea of the tyranny of the majority. it was a concept he would hear about again from a number of interlocutors. ultimately in his book he wrote ominously about it. he said the majority have an immense power in fact and a power of opinion almost as great. once it has formed on a question, there is no obstacle -- i shall not say stop but even delay its advance. allow it the time to hear the complaints of those it crushes as it passes. the consequences of the state of things are dire and dangerous for the future. he saw a new despotism and sort of oppression that inhibited not minority views but thinking of individual thoughts. he said i do not know any country where in general less independent of mind and freedom than inssion reign
america. tocqueville and beaumont were surprised to find higher levels of conformity among americans than they had expected. boston, their times in they traveled into the american frontier. -- intoded a trip from what was called michigan territory, between saginaw and detroit back and forth. it took -- they took a journey and wrote about it or they were inspired by their relatives who had written about in very romantic terms america's wilderness and tocqueville wanted to experience it. trip, they were surprised with what they found. first of all, they had trouble getting help, planning the trip. the americans they encountered in setting up for the trip couldn't understand why they would be interested in the
wilderness for its own sake. so they strategized about this and they then feigned interest in purchasing property. only then did the americans give them more attentive insistence -- assistance. the american pioneer was no different than the east coast city dweller, same clothes, mind, language, pleasures, he observed. beaumont noted from new york and the great lakes "i looked in vain for intermediate degrees of american society." instead he found the same men, passions and way of life. it is a strange thing, he observed, the american nation is made up of all the peoples on the earth and no nation presents as a whole such uniform characteristics. reflecting on these tendencies and motivating -- meditating on the despotic potential, took felt worried about the u.s. it,ming a nation, as he put
"of nothing more than a heard of timid and industrious animals." he observed even in monarchical systems where opposition to monarchs where sometimes express, there was more freedom of thought than in the u.s. if ever freedom is lost in america, wrote tocqueville, one will have to blame the omnipotence of the majority. interestingly this would not be the first time one of my visitors use the image of the d to describe americans. chesterton offered the last hysteria of the herd instinct. of a herd.alked a russian exile who came to america in the mid-70's similarly warned of the dangerous tendencies in america to form a herd.
for tocqueville the majority was only the first part of the puzzle. he also wrote in his network -- his notebook, the contrasting and ostensibly mitigating principle that every individual is the only lawful judge of his own interest. he regarded unrestrained individualism as untenable. life risked ated perilous and favored decline into barbarism. so how de tocqueville reconcile these contradictory inclinations , a society that extolled the virtues of individualism while it also encouraged conformity to majoritarian sentiment? the key lies in his conceptualization of what he called self-interest rightly understood. as he saw it, one recognized that to realize aspirations of personal well-being, one had to
cooperate with others. in his words each man perceives he is not independent of those like him as he had first fancied. support he must often lend his cooperation. such cooperative behavior which restraint and benefited the individual took on two related forms in america. voluntary associations and local level governing practices. tocqueville found voluntary associations to be ubiquitous and every imaginable kind in america and he was impressed. in his book he wrote americans of all ages, conditions, mines constantly unite. not only do they have industrial , butndustrial association they have 1000 other kinds, religious, grave, mortal, futile. to found faith
seminaries, to raise churches, to distribute books to send missionaries. they create hospitals, prisons, schools, everything. very impressed by this. toldodus operandi, he was he it had become natural to americans. it was not mandated or financed by bureaucratic authority. were local ands habitual, part of the very marrow of americans' collective but decentralized life together. he thought the habits of volunteerism and local governing practices served to draw the independent individual out of himself or herself and into involvement with others, preventing the potential perils of a selfish withdrawal from --iety, associate -- sza from society.
it was a barrier against conforming. in some men he saw local level volunteerism as a key feature of american life that helped reconcile the countervailing tendencies of individuals and conformity as he found vital to the success of american democracy. very essential. i will turn to our next visitor. listthe german so seals a -- german sociologist max weber visited with his wife, he also detected conformity and individualistic tendencies for he saw these mitigated by voluntary association. with saw -- he also saw emerging from a different source. according to weber, protestant sects provided a template for voluntary associations more broadly. the schema of the sect was the
prototype for the tremendous flood of associations that penetrated every granny -- every nook and cranny of american life. this followed from the example of the protestant sect. like tocqueville, weber saw this as a powerful feature of american democracy and which helped to tender tendencies towards individualism. whoever sees democracy as a mass fragment into adams is -- atoms is mistaken. the genuine american democracy was never such a fan file. bey were concluding it would inaccurate to say it is a sand pile of unrelated individuals. he even kind of speculated about the possibility of taking the model of voluntary associations
to germany. this would be great, but he realized it would not really transfer. either it would be regarded as illegitimate or at best, once voluntary association was started, it would be taken over by the agents of the state apparatus. he saw this positive trait of american life, the bright thread of american society as uniquely american and something that would not easily transfer to his home country. on to our english visitor, gk chesterton who visited twice in 1921 and again in 1931. chesterton picked up on individualism and conformism paradox first to do it by tocqueville and expanded by trying to show how american individualism actually led to conformism. americans according to chesterton value and venerate the individual. in this exultation, however, he
noted a curious contradiction, namely that american individualism is the reverse of individuality, something tocqueville said in different terms. chesterton explained this by pointing to the habits fostered capitalistesses of a society where men are trying to compete with each other, he said, they are trying to copy each other. they become standardized by the standard of self. americans were vulnerable to this habit of competing with and copying others according to chesterton because they are self-conscious people who are sensitive and concert -- conscious of criticism. this leads to uniformity. there is a vividness of the self to produce similarity. it is when they are self-conscious that they are like each other. the conformist tendencies he observed among americans led him
to conclude individualism is the death of individuality. one way to understand chesterton's point is to consider the general processes of homogenization he saw in america more broadly. chesterton viewed american hotels as uniquely uniform and contrasted them with a more idiosyncratic charm of the english inn. he also observed, as did his withfrances who traveled him, that american fashion tended to be uniform as well. he said americans stress well, one might say american women look well but do not compare with europeans look different. forormist tendencies were chesterton not limited to the uniform features of american hotels or dress styles and conformism could result in a dangerous and unforgiving uniformity of public opinion. in chesterton's words, it can be
a prairie fire. it is up everything that opposes that eats up everything that opposes it. minority views could be treated harshly and unfairly. he saw this as a threat to democracy. the danger of democracy is not anarchy but convention. this was not the whole of the story. there was much he liked and admired. for one like his predecessors, he saw voluntary association as an admirable and sustaining future. he went so far as to call this spontaneous social organization soul andr that is the success of democracy. he said americans are in high spirits, humane ideals are creative, they abound in unofficial institutions. he noted favorably the leaves and saw the building blocks of
cities built out of a love of comrades. he was a great admirer and defender of main street america. very much appreciated the friendliness and hospitality and democratic spirit that he experienced when he lived for six weeks in south bend, indiana in 1930. it bothered and puzzled him sinclair lewis had been awarded the nobel prize in literature, the first american to receive one. his father that is bothered chesterton because he felt sinclair lewis was mocking main street and he, chesterton found main street america to be one of america's most laudable assets. chesterton talked about the importance of local governing practices, societal arrangement he saw on the decline and which he thought americans should work to recover.
a true democracy observed was a system where the people knew and lived near those who governed them. he argued we should make policies as local as possible. he added while making a serious point that we should keep politicians near enough to kick them. chestertonville, noted the individualistic tendencies. while he wished for more local governance, he liked the still salient habit of joining together. we saw the power that is the sole and success of democracy. to my fourth and final visitor, the egyptian sayyid qutb, who and 1950.etween 1940 he was less attentive to volunteerism and association life even though he participated in a number of associations including the international club at colorado state college in greeley where he lived for six
months in 1949. he joined a number of church clubs which he wrote about in his accounts. tended to emphasize instead the individualistic rather than the communal among americans great evening walks through wouldy, colorado, qutb note the lawns. he saw the flowering plants and the streets like guarded pathways. he observed the residence who took care of these -- residents who took your review caused ever interacted. they spent leisure time working hard watering private yards and gardens of this is all they appeared to do. he saw their preoccupation with individual lawns as a selfish, non-communal and utilitarian sort of activity. qutb was not alone in making a general assessment on these general inclinations. his interpretation should be
qualified by the observations of a later french visitor, who also spent time in the u.s. and wrote about what he saw and spent time about the same time that qutb was here. unlike qutb, the frenchman observed in mid-20th century america, still flourishing, as he who it -- he put it, the daily bread of the american people. sounding much like tocqueville, he had positive thoughts of the communities and brotherhoods. disposed to do -- talk of the warning signs, he detected tensions between tendencies of individual freedom and efforts to preserve community and conceded in partial agreement with qutb that a genuine sense of community may have been on the decline. ok.
so what of volunteerism and civic engagement today? what relevance to these views have for us making sense of this phenomenon today. there is a range of views on this question. some suggest that tocqueville's concerns about unrestrained self interested individualism have at least in part been realized. this is certainly what the found in their 1985 study of middle-class americans. interviews,erous they discover that the dominant moral languages of contemporary society at that time were expressive individualism and utilitarian individualism. less evident today is the rightly understood part of the individuals in paradox. as individualism has advanced,
so has civic engagement declined. books much discussed talksg alone, this man about the decline of american volunteerism and social capital. you may have read the book. others like sociologist todd fisher, are more optimistic about the persistence of volunteerism of americans. he sees it not only as defining american trait but a quality of america that remains even today. fisher calls into question putnam's findings, arguing that while certain forms of association have declined, others have emerged to take their case. club's, pta kiwanis groups, but there are more self-help troops, book clubs, yoga and hiking groups. what has remained, argues
fisher, is joining habits. nevertheless, even fisher acknowledges the binding nature of group association has changed. the quality of contemporary life discussed in princeton sociologist's group on small groups. small groups have emerged precisely because other forms of social capital have declined. 40% of americans he reports are part of some kind of small group. he observes these groups can be seen on the one hand the most recent manifestation of america's joining tendencies. on the other hand he concedes there is some relative difference -- qualitative difference compared to earlier forms of associational life. they are less binding, centered on individuals' needs and
problems and are easier to enter and exit. the social contract binding members together in small groups serves only the weakest of obligations. talk ifyou have time, you feel like it, never criticize, leave quietly if you become to satisfy. arguably the weaker ties and the greater ease of exiting is even more pronounced in so-called digital communities. several recent studies show while new media technologies offer more avenues for connection, they may actually be fostering greater distance. according to jack reynolds and richard schwartz, new forms of digital to balaji offer a limited substitute for communicating by real physical presence. sherry turkel argues in "alone americans areugh
increasingly connected, electronically, they are more alone. even fisher was sanguine about the continuing inclinations of americans to join together, wonders at what point having options for more people to exit more groups creates a society in which too little is certain, too little can be counted on and people often are left behind sometimes by an unsubscribed email. i should also add on the topic of social media that had often cited benefit is the opportunity it gives people for individual self-expression. it is understood facebook and other venues represent license where one can express one's unique and highly individualized self. in terms of tocqueville, individualism part of the paradox. the technology writer christine rosen discovers even hear one
finds a curious conformism. to approximate this paradox, she says facebook and other forms of social media are "an overwhelmingly [indiscernible] uniqueness,s distinctive sameness." it is a medium that reflects the individualism and conformism paradox detected by our visitors. whether fostered by new social media technologies or other factors, evidence of growing disconnectedness among americans is difficult to ignore. the number of one-person households in the u.s. has increased from 7.7% in 1940 to in 2017.0 228% in 2017. lydia -- nearly half of the
people in manhattan live alone. the decline in the number of people with -- discuss important matters. nearly one quarter of respondents reported not having a symbol -- single person they could talk important matters. even enthusiasts for the problems offered with greater digital technology while -- worry about people connecting with people who share -- who already share their own views and prejudices, reinforcing them. what ethan zuckerman calls cyber balkanization. it militates against the bridging capital roger putnam view as important for revitalizing civic engagement and building levels of trust among americans from different backgrounds. that people in the u.s. still seek out opportunities to join together, whether in small
groups, online communities or other venues, is suggestive of long-standing inclination among form americans to long-standing association. so regardless of the social capital achieved, it is an invitation of the enduring propensity. we talk in terms of american national character, the inclination to join with one another, whether or not the venues we pursue actually achieve social capital, the fact we are inclined is indicative of the persistence of this. governings the practices, this is something alexander still saw in the u.s. ton he visited from 1976 1994. he was unabashedly critical on a number of features of american life including commercialism and conformist tendencies, he was also deeply appreciative of a number of qualities of american
society including the small-scale democratic self-governing practices he witnessed when he lived in new england. inparing to return to russia february 1994, he thanked the people of cavendish, vermont. he said here and in surrounding towns i have observed a sensible and sure process of grassroots democracy in which the local relation solves most of his problems on its own, not waiting for the higher authorities. he would site new england -- he would cite new england when he tried to promote democracy in his own country. on aosing let me end hopeful note. in a recent book "our towns,", it is suggested america's bright thread of volunteerism and local civic engagement is experiencing an exciting and promising
resurgence. for several years between 2013 and 2017, they flew in their plane to cover 100,000 miles. the specific goal was to study america's local civic life. they did so during a time when our national level of politics and political discourse arguably was becoming polarized, incendiary and dysfunctional. what they found as they visited 29 small cities including louisville, kentucky. a majority of the cities were in the so-called flyover states. isy found local civic life flourishing. individuals from a range of backgrounds and perspectives are working together at the local level to solve a variety of problems. they also found they didn't talk much about national politics. i want to give a couple of examples from their book.
one of these was in michigan. they found a vibrant town center seamlessly integrated with hope college, the institution of higher learning. -- place thatce makes things. one resident said one reason the state -- town still florist was local industries stayed in holland and had reinvented themselves over time and stay connected. one of the businesses that stayed in holland and reinvented itself was a recycling business. they recycle virtually any item that has been discarded in america's throwaway culture. items are cleaned, repurposed for resale and reuse. they employed 600 people including ex-inmates. they also visited louisville and were taken in by the innovative
work by a manufacturing thing called first build. it was a spinoff of ge and presented a vibrant form of local manufacturing that were -- moved away from the bureaucratic industries and towards a small-scale form of production involving creativity, craftsmanship, flexibility and innovation. they noticed also that it provided a workspace for to practiceschools and participate. when they visited, a number of university of louisville students were there. i found as a general rule cities with colleges or universities tended to be doing better at reinvigorating their downtowns and cultivating active and engaged local civic life. they think they were hesitant to offer that. they did find if there was a college or university, intended
to do better in these efforts of building social capital. they also visited columbus, mississippi where they found not only the industry moving in to the racially mixed and low income region but a vibrant two-year boarding school for high school students and a community college that was working to train people in their region to work in these new industries. in columbus they highlighted the work of palmer house, a privately funded orphanage that started in 1895 and made recent changes that were noteworthy. they shifted from large dorm style living to smaller cottages where six to eight students would live -- children would live with a host parent. another thing was they started a csa, community supported agriculture, farm. not only does this produce revenue for the palmer house but
children from the orphanage work on this small farm and learn valuable skills and pocket money. in a number ofs places around the country and they are a example of local community building that tocqueville would have celebrated and it is a new phenomenon. the first in the u.s. started not far from where i live in massachusetts, and only in 1985. are 6000.e another example of a local level and community building they found were the increasing number of micro or craft breweries. this is a relatively new development. in the 1970's the u.s. had a few hundred breweries, large-scale industrial types. by 2017 there were 5000, many of which are small, local craft breweries that they found as
they traveled around. so significant was this indicator according to them of vibrant social capital that they identified local craft breweries as one of the most reliable signs of civic energy in the united states. chesterton, who visited between 1921 and then again in 1931, his visits book ended the experiment with prohibition. he was relentlessly critical because he thought it was terrible. but prohibition did not prevent chesterton during his visits from consuming his share of a variety of locally produced beer. at one point even though he was critical of prohibition, he proposed he liked prohibition and wanted to take it back to england. i have never had so much good homebrew, he said. me close with one of his famous paradoxical statements. of america's bright threads,
gestures and said, the best things do not travel and yet you must travel to find them. what he found in traveling to america where the commendable qualities of local level governance, associational life, volunteerism and small-scale local enterprises. these were alone the brightest of america's bright threats they discovered. as we have heard, they detected dark strands including trends toward lonely individualism and suffocating majoritarian sentiment. indications that these darker strands may also be intensifying. recents from the fellows travels give us hope local level civic engagement is still alive and may even be experiencing something of a resurgence and revitalization. this is possible because our visitors viewed these qualities
as an antidote to the potential dangers of hype and federalism and the tyranny of the majority and the vital feature of american democracy, which chesterton viewed as the power that is the sole and success of -- soul and success of democracy. thank you. [applause] i understand i have time to take a few questions. and we have students who have mics that will walk up to you to ask the question. much for a very informative talk. my question really relates to how you see or how you think other than tocqueville, who was really of a different era, the bicoastal versus the internal strands coming today within the
united states? james: so our visitors visit both the coasts and the middle america, if you will. chesterton during his second visit went all the way to california and up and down the west coast and qutb, the last leg of his journey was california. in their work, they cover 29 cities in total and were intentional about making sure the majority were in the flyover states. part of their argument or their conclusion was that that part of america gets ignored. and in fact we just pay attention to national politics and you just pay attention to
new york to washington, san francisco and los angeles. they were intentional about visiting these places and not focusing on the coasts. the most hopeful thing is that in visiting these other places, they found national politics didn't define the way in which individuals related to one another. they were much more interested in taking care of their own local needs and interests, and in fact they did a good job of integrating people into their local community from other places and you had people of different views and backgrounds and political dispositions working together. to say in asso far much the less they talked about national politics, the better they were doing. >> who would you say, or who
would they say today, would be the closest to america in all of those features, what country or continent if any would be closest to us? james: my visitors? in my visitors' observations and inasmuch as they compared the u.s. to other countries, which would be most like the united states? that is interesting. all of them constantly made comparative observations. tocqueville said i never made an observation in america without france on my mind. he always was thinking comparatively. ins is different from france this way. chesterton is often comparing england to the united states. paradoxes and of he himself is making
comparisons. weber did this as well. tocqueville, on the bit about associational life, weber wanted to bring it to germany, he said it wouldn't go. we are used to top-down, this volunteerism, it wouldn't work. and tocqueville observed something similar. was sent by the ministry of the interior to study america's prisons. that was his ostensible reason for coming. they do a good job of visiting america's prisons and wrote a book on it. they made a similar conclusion. they said american penitentiaries are good for these reasons and for these reasons, it would not work in france. it would not transfer. he doesn't answer your question but it is meant -- they were mindful of their home countries
for the one article that qutb in the united states, he published greeleyhe fulcrum" in was a story about an ejection giving earth to other countries -- -- egyptian giving earth egypt being the mother that gave birth to other countries. one rebelled. he was thinking of a comparison. i don't know i can answer what they saw as being the closest because their observations were always in contrast, always what is different. there wasn't much observation about, this is like this country. >> so i have seen alexis de
tocqueville's "democracy in america." what other volume of work has been done by your other visitors and how much is to be read. james: in particular about america? so going back to de tocqueville, three books were written about america. "democracy in america,", one on penitentiaries and there was one that was about race. tocqueville and beaumont were going to write a book together but somewhere along the journey they decided not -- to write separate pieces. really interestingly they both wrote home about this. beaumont said, i'm about to embark on the work that will immortalize me. who has read marie? oh really? that is amazing. and tocqueville wrote to his
brother, "i don't know, i am finishing up here. i might be able to write something respectable." is acracy in america" great classic. the commentary is comical. weber wrote some things. his most famous work, the spirit of capitalism, is about america. theas a list in two essays, first before he came to america and the second after he returned. it really is. his quintessential embodiment of the spirit of capitalism, anyone know who it is? benjamin franklin. it is about america. he wrote an essay called protestant sects, all based on his time in america. it is interesting. originally it was meant to be part of, the third part, but for whatever a reason it was left
out. there was a great book by a historian named -- the book is weber in america. it is the princeton university press, and i commend it. name is escaping me, but it is very carefully researched, well documented. chesterton wrote two books. one is called "what i saw" and the other is called side life. they were both written after his visit. he wrote essays about america. wrote a series of articles published in the called "the america that i have seen." it is not extensive that significant. sprinkled throughout his work he makes various references to
america. he published a book before he came here called "social justice in islam," and it went through a number of revisions here you can see it works america into it -- revisions. you can see he works america into it. he introduces pieces which were largely critical if you look at the different -- and i would recommend, there is a section on qutb's time in america by a historian named john calvert, has anhy on qutb that expensive -- extensive kind of america section. >> thank you for speaking with us today. i know you have already mentioned some of the initial motivations for weber as well as
tocqueville and qutb to come to the u.s. and their initial rationales for their visits. could you explain more about chesterton's initial motivations for his visits and how his initial expectations for what he would find compared with his eventual later studies and observations? chesterton was very famous at the time. himt of people don't read anymore. he has forgotten. that at the time he was immensely popular. basicallyed with journalists following him everywhere. it was a wonderful for me because the newspaper accounts of his travels, hounded by journalists, like paparazzi, so es hated it. franc she said i never knew i was married to an important man
until i came to america. his motivation was financial. he and his brother had a journal going, and it was struggling financially and he offered -- was offered money to give speeches. his agent set of talks around the united states through the second time also was more financially motivated. he was asked to give a series of six weeks of leicester's -- weeks of lectures at notre dame university and he would travel around during his time at the south end and after. that was the motivation. chesterton claimed he came with a blank slate like he really wanted to get out of his mind and impressions of america. he was intentional in that. he said i will go and not write a book about america. he says i will have a blank slate. i will not let my prejudice
shaped things. one of the first things he writes about is his criticism of prohibition. he made a joke as he was coming in to new york about the statue of liberty and had this joke, we should rephrase patrick henry and say, give me death because liberty was gone because people couldn't drink. he did have strong views. chesterton, he was very was veryng because he comical and gave lectures and you would think, how is that going to enable a guide to make sense of america but a number of people said this, he was observant. almost misleading because he was this large, very large, 300 pound man, very kind of disheveled looking. he would have piercing insights. anyone ever watched the detective series columbo?
remember the detective in that and he is the kind of guy? that was based in part on chesterton and his character father brown, the father brown mysteries is something he wrote. know how not insightful he could be because he didn't look like, but he had penetrating insights. really remarkable. he was a much death very friendly visitor, there was much he liked about america. -- there was much he liked about america. cried. left, people they had a fiction for the family -- affection for the family they lived with. appreciation of the kind of small-town life, the democratic spirit of small-town and that sort of thing. >> we have time for one more
question. i thought you were pointing behind me. thank you. it has been one of the most thought-provoking lectures i have come to in a long time. i appreciate your survey of opinions of the united states. i am a great fan of james fallow . his work at the atlantic and surveys of china. so out of work character for him. i find it almost looking for good rather than being as critical as he has been say with china and the transpacific partnership and everything. then i listen to you. did you find him to be -- james: pollyannaish? >> yeah. there was no talk of the small-town life and crisis. and they say they didn't
expect to find what they found. they said that. we didn't expect to find -- they were going as i mentioned at a time when our national discourse seems to be completely fraught and polarized and so forth. they say they were really surprised. they were intentional about trying to go to places that are not often heard. they want that. they were intentional about that. coasts that get all the attention, the big cities. they were surprised. i guess i wouldn't be a celebratory about everything they observed as they were, but i found in the main and reading the book it was an honest affection and the small-scale things they observed were laudable and worthy of celebration and quite hopeful.
i get your point, you are like, really? though,o admit, even not all of what they found i would have been celebratory about, but on the whole, i was persuaded and tended to agree with them. >> ladies and gentlemen, would you thank me -- join me in thanking dr. nolan for his time and expertise? [applause] of theank you on behalf mcconnell center, we would like to present you with this gift. james: do you want me to open it? >> you can do that later. james: i will wait. >> now we will do our book drawing for dr. nolan's book, "what they saw in america." if you would, please. james: here we go.
sid. all right. i don't think i can read your last name. >> feel free to come up. james: i will sign it so you can't sell it on ebay. >> i wouldn't want to. i want to read it. james: >> enjoy. thank you very much. james: [applause] >> thank you all very much. great talk. we ask that you all would be safe going home and that you would join us again in the fall as we resume our public lecture series next year. thank you and have a safe drive home. [applause] [captions copyright national
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announcer: the mayo clinic is consistently ranked as one of the top hospitals in america. brothers william and charlie mayo founded the clinic in 1889. next, we visit rochester minnesota to learn about the , origins of the mayo clinic and its role in the community today. >> the mayo clinic is an american institution. it is at the heart of our country in many respects. it is the world's first and largest private multispecialty group practice. that is a big, formal term. what it really means is specialists working together in a highly organized way, devoting a whole range of unique, diverse talents for the sole purpose of serving the needs of each individual patient. it is a model that the mayo family d