The new opium of the people, our post-pandemic institutions, and Sir Roger Scruton on T. S. Eliot - Intercollegiate Studies Institute

The new opium of the people, our post-pandemic institutions, and Sir Roger Scruton on T. S. Eliot

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Identity Politics, Opium of the People

You’ve probably heard the phrase “religion is the opium of the people.”

You probably also know who said it: Karl Marx.

It’s no secret that Marx wasn’t fond of religion . . .

. . . but what many people overlook is that Marx understood the void that religion filled.

So what happens when religion goes into decline? Something else fills the void.

Identity Politics: The New Religion

Writing in First Things, Carl Trueman looks at the rise of identity politics—and he challenges conservatives who want to dismiss it.

Identity politics, he says, responds to a real sense of suffering and oppression.

So how can America get off this drug? Trueman has two important insights to help you think through this problem.

This is a must-read for anyone who wants to thoughtfully combat identity politics, critical race theory, and grievance culture.




Yuval Levin on Our Post-Pandemic Institutions

No one can predict the future.

But Yuval Levin has done a better job than most.

On January 21, 2020, he published his book A Time to Build. In it he predicted a dark future for America if we didn’t rebuild our social and political institutions.

Little did he know how quickly that future would unfold.

“I’m Not an Optimist—but I Am Hopeful”

Now, after a year of unprecedented unrest, Levin is reexamining his book.

In an interview with Public Discourse, he explores what he got right . . . and what he got wrong.

In this interview you’ll learn:

  • the part of 2020 Levin never saw coming
  • the dangers of “populist demolition crews”
  • why Levin is more hopeful than Ross Douthat . . . but also gloomier
  • why “communication is overrated” but “communion is underrated”
  • why elites can’t (and shouldn’t) go away

Read this interview to understand why A Time to Build is such an important book . . .

. . . and why ISI is awarding it the 2021 Conservative Book of the Year award.

You can come see Levin receive the award and speak about his book at our dinner on Friday, June 25. The dinner will be a highlight of ISI’s Homecoming Weekend.



Because our student editors and writers are bravely bringing conservative ideas to their campuses, we’re highlighting their efforts here.


WashU’s COVID-19 Restrictions Need an Update via the Danforth Dispatch

We Are Not a Symptom; We Are a Remedy via the Miami Patriot


Sir Roger Scruton on the Conservative Philosophy of T. S. Eliot

Here’s something you don’t want to miss:

One of the greatest conservative minds of the 21st century on “the greatest poet writing in English in the 20th century.”

In this classic article, Sir Roger Scruton shows why T. S. Eliot offers a conservative vision of the world that is far richer than anything you usually encounter.

With Eliot, you go beyond sloganeering and shallow ideology to see:

  • how to preserve tradition while still engaging in the modern world
  • how to confront the “vague jargon” of our social and political life
  • how to restore a sense of wonder in an age of skepticism
  • how the “humanist heresy” has corrupted our world

This is Scruton at his best. Check it out.



ISI’s Inaugural Homecoming Weekend, June 25–26

Yes, you can come hear Yuval Levin speak at our Conservative Book of the Year Dinner on June 25.

But that dinner will be just one of many highlights during ISI’s inaugural Homecoming Weekend!

This past year has reminded us all of the importance of something Levin highlights throughout his award-winning book:


Communication isn’t enough. We need communion—being together.

And that’s exactly what you’ll get at ISI’s Homecoming Weekend.

“After a year of isolation, there are few people with whom I’m more excited to reconnect than my fellow ISI alumni.” That’s a message we recently received from alumna Elise Amez-Droz.

Lots of students, alumni, faculty, and supporters are telling us the same thing. So reserve your spot at Homecoming now.

This is your chance to experience that “ISI magic” again.



“Rage and frenzy will pull down more in half an hour than prudence, deliberation, and foresight can build up in a hundred years.”
―Edmund Burke


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