The deluge of content covering every possible topic makes it harder, not easier, to become quickly familiar in a new area or stay up-to-date with new developments in an area of expertise. The challenge is compounded by shifting political and intellectual currents rehabilitating overlooked works and shining a spotlight on novel policy approaches. Through the Required Reading project, American Compass collaborates with experts engaged deeply on a topic or theme to create an annotated set of recommended (admittedly not required) sources.
A long-standing intellectual tradition offers not only a comprehensive critique of market fundamentalism and consumerism, but also a constructive path forward. Stretching back over a century, and vibrant as ever today, this work returns repeatedly to several key themes: the unavoidable tension between market dynamism and social stability; the necessity of production for national and individual well-being; the importance of an economy’s diversified productive capacity; and the need for national solidarity, which depends upon a common culture that reinforces reciprocal obligations. These ideas are the impetus for American Compass and the readings suggested here, selected through input from American Compass’s membership, trace the evolution of this school of thought and can hopefully help to clarify contemporary political debates and trends.