Mizzou and the Master of Our Universe

Matthew Continetti, Washington Free Beacon, November 13, 2015.


The temptation to dismiss Wolfe as a mere gadfly or ironist or stylist has been around for a while. Resist it. He is not only a bestselling author but a thinker of originality and power. How to describe his philosophy? Begin with Darwin, add some Zola and a dash of Swift, pour contents into a vat of Max Weber, and stir vigorously.

The paramount concern of man, Wolfe believes, is status: how to achieve it, how to display it. “Status groups, Weber contended, are the creators of all new styles of life,” Wolfe said in his 2007 Thomas Jefferson lecture. He’s made a career of investigating these cliques of status competition and the novel manners and rituals they produce—stock car racing, Las Vegas casinos, surfers, strip clubs, the counterculture, race hustlers, the hermetically sealed insane asylum that is the college campus. His reporting isn’t an end in itself. It’s a seismograph, detecting social tremors before they reach the borders of American middle class life.

Washington Free Beacon