[EconTalk] Michael Brendan Dougherty on My Father Left Me Ireland

Michael Brendan Dougherty on My Father Left Me Ireland

15/07/2019 by EconTalk: Russ Roberts

Web player: http://podplayer.net/?id=75949434
Episode: http://files.libertyfund.org/econtalk/y2019/DoughertyIreland.mp3

Author and journalist Michael Brendan Dougherty talks about his book My Father Left Me Ireland with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Dougherty talks about the role of cultural and national roots in our lives and the challenges of cultural freedom in America. What makes us feel part of something? Do you feel American or just someone who happens to live within its borders? When are people willing to die for their country or a cause? These are some of the questions Dougherty grapples with in his book and in this conversation.

Listen Date: 6 October 2019 (2019-10-06)


  • I found this episode and guest annoying. The entire thrust of the argument was “Old style nationalism and loyalty looks really romantic and I wish it were back.” There is zero consideration for what we lose and what we gain from such a movement.
  • In fact, it seemed like whenever Russ Roberts brought up the point of nationalism and war being linked, that Michael Dougherty would suddenly remember “Oh yes, war’s a terrible thing.”
  • The whole grumble about how the permissive atmosphere of growing up in the 90s left you untethered – bah, it sounds to me like a more diffused victim complex.
  • I was also a little aghast at how he describes having to choose and think for yourself about how to do a funeral or remembrance, as opposed to just carrying out traditional rituals, as a bad thing. No, we want people to think. And the second guessing yourself on whether you’ve done the right thing or not is cruel, but the death of a loved one is cruel, and ritual numbing it – why not just do heroin instead?
  • Again with the praise for Tribe.
  • There was a sort of diatribe against measuring things when it came to parenting – or perhaps even yourself – which again leaves me a little queasy, considering I’m someone who needs that measurement going on to stay mentally stable. I agree that we might be measuring the wrong things, but that’s an argument to keep updating the things you measure, or to be aware of the limitations of measurement, not to throw measurement out altogether.
  • The last bit of the podcast, with explorations of what it would take to practically rebuild a sense of community, was the only interesting part.


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