His [Samuel Johnson’s] was a hungry man’s hard-hearted view of life, more like Merle Haggard’s conservatism than like his later friend Edmund Burke’s.
—Adam Gopnik, “Man of Fetters,” The New Yorker (8 December 2017)
(The comparison is unnecessary—and grossly inaccurate if you imagine New Yorker readers taking it as gospel—but the affinity between all three holds: a political or social orientation that moralizes yet [mostly] eschews complaint & guards against its own transformation into universalist aggression. How many times have you seen Johnson, Burke, or Merle Haggard lyrics* used as a rhetorical bludgeon?
*”Fightin’ Side of Me” &”Okie from Muskogee” don’t count. Hell, the latter was so plasticized with irony—well-nigh Chaucerian levels—that the Hag could never consistently articulate what he was doing with that song in interviews.)