David Brooks is not required to be the paragon of wisdom on a daily basis. As a lead columnist for the New York Times and a pundit who has virtually become at least half the face of public TV news, he is established enough to lope along in the prosperity typical of the despised establishment. This is an acerbic way of saying that David has outdone himself with the op-ed I am embedding below. The reason is that he has given us a serious prompt.

David has openly admitted that we need a new National Narrative. We most surely do. And I hazard a guess that I am hardly the only one who will try to outline what that narrative should contain.

Fallible nation

Fallibility will be the required ingredient of a new national narrative. We are not the land of the free exactly. We are not the home of the brave. Fallibility is what Charles Sanders Pierce, our greatest philosopher, insisted was the essential character of our existence as human beings. We are all prone to error. He said this as a scientific man who had utterly no patience with the complacency of a scientism he saw creeping inexorably over the land.

Peirce was a scientist through and through, just as Wittgenstein was a mathematician through and through. But both of these prophetic souls knew we are utterly imperfect. We get only part of everything. We have a wonderful brief for free living in our spacious land and our great declarative documents, but greed and venality and genocidal lassitude are present and accounted for.

We are a fallible people.


Binary is when it is my way or the highway. It marks us as a nation inured to violence. That means we accept violence as a matter of course. We do so as a huge and powerful global military juggernaut that has no real interest in the values it claims to embrace. The values of money and power and domination trump any talk of democracy.

If we are going to have a proper nation we need to do more than write a new narrative. We need to create one. We need to dismantle the plutocratic, military, properly-named deep state.


We are inclined to follow messiahs.

We are open to the seductions of cult leaders. Jonestown was not an anomaly. It was the logical end of a national fascination with achieving heaven on earth. The only problem is that when this translates into religion and politics it becomes harmful and even lethal.

The warnings in this article must be heeded by all who are concerned with moving forward. Without admitting our fallibility, rejecting binary thinking, and avoiding cultlike behavior, we will make the same mistakes over and over. We will repeat our way to oblivion.