A Thousand Small Sanities: ‘White dude’ mansplains US liberalism

Book review: “White liberal dude” Adam Gopnik assesses the left in Trump's America

American writer Adam Gopnik. Photograph:  Mondadori via Getty Images

American writer Adam Gopnik. Photograph: Mondadori via Getty Images

Adam Gopnik’s reputation precedes him – talented but perhaps a little too facile and pleased with himself, parading in the New Yorker his fabulous life. Imagine then, per his latest work A Thousand Small Sanities, Gopnik turning “centrist dad” to extol (read “mansplain”) to his radical-curious Trump-traumatised daughter the virtues of liberalism, considered by many today to share these besetting vices: precious, preening, elitist.

Gopnik is an easy mark. And he’s set himself a thankless task: rehabilitating a shrivelled husk-like (“Dukakis in a tank”) split-the-difference creed forsaken by the cool kids. Found complacent and insufficient to the times, it exists for leftists strictly in negative space, defined by what it isn’t. Through the depredations of neoliberalism, not to mention the “consent-manufacturing” of its brass, it’s even assumed a sinister cast. And it fares little better on the right; held to be an agent of soul-sick materialism, fount of permissive ersatz values, purveyor of anomie and slippery slope relativism.

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