Influencing politics through culture

THE ACADEMY OF PHILOSOPHY AND LETTERS was founded in recognition that the direction of society is set by its most deeply held beliefs and aspirations. These are molded by culture in the broad sense, as represented by universities, the arts, churches, publishing, museums, and entertainment. Acting on the minds, imaginations, and moral-spiritual sensibilities of a society’s members, the culture shapes their general perception of reality and their likes and dislikes—for good or ill. Politics does not operate independently of the culture but reflects it. Though politics can also shape culture, being able to exert educational and other cultural influence is ultimately more important than winning elections. Major and long-range change presupposes a transformation of the culture. Read More.

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Next year’s conference will take place June 2-4, 2022, at the College Park Marriott, on the University of Maryland campus in suburban Washington, DC.

“After Disorder: Looking Backward to Move Forward”

For decades, commentators have wrung their collective hands over the decline of the American Republic, the vulgarization of culture, and the desecration of sacred symbols (religious and political). Yet crime declined and our economy prospered. What is there to worry? The violence, social mayhem, technocratic arrogance, bureaucratic incompetence, and government overreach of 2020 and 2021 have given lie to the charade. As our law enforcement failed at home to protect our cities and our military failed abroad to win its war in Afghanistan, our society seems to have at last harvested the bitter social fruit of cultural seeds sown for decades. This much seems clear. But what do we do now?

Fortunately, the human race did not spring from the earth yesterday. Our past shapes—while it does not dictate—our future. This conference will explore the roots of present disorder as well as mine the past for political parallels and cultural comparisons that may aid in the forging of a humane cultural, social, and political order. What are the parallels between our current circumstances and those of the West in the 1960s or the 1930s? 1916 Russia? Late Republican Rome? Periclean Athens? China at the end of the Han dynasty? We invite papers that explore lessons we can learn from the past to understand the present and to plan for the future.

Submit proposals (not more than 300 words) to

Register for the conference here.

Read APL Members’ recent articles and books here.