In “Why Liberalism Failed,” Patrick Deneen makes an eye-opening contribution to the critique of liberalism. Equating liberalism with the modern tradition of freedom, he distills abuses of state power, nature, culture, technology, and education that are undertaken in freedom’s name yet leave citizens less self-sufficient, less disposed to cooperate, and less capable of looking beyond material goods and social status to the cultivation of character and to the claims of duty.
The swearing in of the 116th Congress next month returns divided government to Washington. A Democratic-controlled House coupled with a fortified Republican Senate majority is likely to exacerbate the rancor and vitriol that have suffused national politics since long before Donald Trump’s theatrical announcement in the summer of 2015 that he was running for president.
“Nothing is so obscure it does not deserve to be found.” These words are from Delba Winthrop’s 1974 dissertation on Book III of Aristotle’s Politics, a document high on the list of things that deserve to be found. When Winthrop died in 2006, her dissertation was still unpublished despite the protestations of her husband, Harvey Mansfield, perhaps the dean of conservative political philosophy in this country.
Patrick Deneen’s disdainful review last month in the Washington Post of George Will’s splendid new book, “The Conservative Sensibility,” reasserts fashionable misconceptions about liberalism, conservatism, and America. The review — and, more importantly, the book — provide an occasion to clarify the character of the conservatism that takes its bearings from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and from the ideas about human nature and freedom that undergird them.
Perhaps at no time since the decade or so preceding the Civil War have debates about America’s commitment to fundamental rights been as rancorous as today. Yet at no time have fundamental rights in the United States been enjoyed by so wide and diverse a population as they are now. The contrast in contemporary America between the public rancor and the political reality reflects an estrangement from history and an accompanying loss of perspective.
Following World War II, Japan reinvented itself both politically, as it adopted the institutions of democratic government, and economically, as it became a dominant producer and exporter of consumer goods. These reforms were so successful that, ten years ago, experts were predicting that Japan would overtake the United States as an economic superpower. Instead, Japan experienced a decade of recession and economic stagnation that continues still. What happened? Is this a sign of serious structural problems in Japan's political and economic institutions? In other words, is it time for Japan to reinvent itself once again? If so, how should the United States alter its relationship with a new Japan?
Is democracy—that is, free elections—to be desired at all times for all nations? Or are nations more successful when they establish the rule of law, property rights, and other constitutional liberties first? For the United States, this is no longer an academic question. America is deeply involved in nation-building in Afghanistan and Iraq. Should the establishment of democracy in these countries be the first priority for the United States, or is securing public order and the rule of law more important?
In his first term, President George W. Bush has had difficulty getting his nominees to the federal courts of appeal confirmed by the Senate. The Democrats have taken the almost unprecedented step of threatening filibusters to prevent floor votes on certain nominees. Has the judicial appointments process become the latest victim of bitter partisan politics? Or has the judiciary brought this state of affairs on itself by advancing a doctrine of judicial supremacy, leaving the executive and legislative branches no choice but to resort to political litmus tests for nominees? What does this situation bode for the next Supreme Court nomination? And what, if anything, should be done to reform the process?
Journalist Christopher Hitchens discusses neoconservatives and the left, his break with The Nation magazine over his support of the war in Iraq, and his tour of the three members of the "axis of evil."
In recent years, a movement has been calling for the United States government to pay reparations for slavery in America. What does the federal government owe the descendants of slaves in this country? Should such reparations be viewed as a gesture of recognition for past wrongs or as an attempt to actually correct those past wrongs? Would payment of reparations erase the lingering economic problems in the African American community or would they do more harm than good? And if reparations are a good idea, who should receive them, all African Americans or just those descended from slaves?
Thou Shalt Not Kill—perhaps the most famous moral commandment in the western world. And yet Judeo-Christian religious leaders have also created a doctrine that can justify killing—commonly known as Just War Doctrine. What sort of military action does Just War Doctrine permit and what sort does it proscribe? Is America's campaign against terrorism a just war?
Admirers and critics have two diametrically opposed views of President George W. Bush. The admirers see a compassionate conservative at home and defender of the nation against terrorism and rogue states abroad. Critics see a radical conservative at home who led the nation into a destructive and unnecessary war abroad. Why do conservatives and liberals so often seem to be describing two different men when discussing President George W. Bush? Is it possible to find any common ground on which view of President Bush is closer to the truth?
The controversy sparked by the Sept. 15, 2009, publication of the Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, otherwise known as the Goldstone Report, may appear to exclusively concern the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. . . .
Be careful when one uses the superlative case—best, most, -est, etc.—or evokes end-of-the-world imagery...
On July 29, 1981, barely six months into his presidency and in the face of an economic crisis of historic proportions, Ronald Reagan succeeded in persuading both houses of Congress to pass dramatic tax cuts that set the stage for nearly three decades of vigorous economic growth...
Don't be misled by how little was said about Iran in the major speeches recently delivered by President Barack Obama at Cairo University and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Bar-Ilan University...
In an effort to restore the teaching of our nation's founding principles at colleges and universities and produce the next generation of professors prepared to effectively teach America's history and institutions, new academic centers of excellence are now active at the University of Chicago; University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Texas, Austin; and Emory University...
It is fairly certain that a book titled "The Party of Death" is not calculated to bridge differences, find common ground or in any other way still the controversy that has roiled American politics for more than 30 years…
Factions, argued James Madison in Federalist No. 10, had ever been the bane of governments grounded in the consent of the governed. However, an improved political science informed the new charter of government that he and his fellow delegates drafted a few months before in Philadelphia over the course of the summer of 1787. Well-designed institutions that minimized freedom’s costs offered a more promising approach to preserving freedom. So effective is Madisonian political science that it provides remedies for such up-to-date threats to freedom as social media and the giant companies that monopolize the provision of information about us and about others.
In 1965, Congress voted to change the laws that had restricted immigration into the United States for more than four decades. The Immigration Act of 1965 resulted in a wave of increased immigration that continues today. How do recent immigrant groups compare with those of the last great wave of immigration a century ago? Are they successfully integrating into American culture or threatening America's cultural stability? Should immigration once again be restricted, or should we concern ourselves with helping immigrants assimilate when they arrive?