“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 When Winthrop died in 2006, her dissertation was still unpublished despite the protestations of her husband, Harvey Mansfield, perhaps the dean of conservative political philosophy in this country.
“The situation for 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is worse now than it has ever been since the start of the Israeli military occupation in 1967,” according to “The Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion.” The report, published by a coalition of non-government organizations, describes an alarming shortage of humanitarian and commercial supplies in Gaza. Drinking water and electricity fall well below demand. Sewage flows into the Mediterranean Sea. With unemployment around 40 percent, the economy is collapsing.
In his “Theses on Feuerbach,” the young Karl Marx proclaimed, “[P]hilosophers have only hitherto interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it” (emphasis in original). Mission statements of several of our preeminent colleges and universities follow suit. The primary purpose of liberal education, according to these formal pronouncements, is not to understand the world but to remake it.
The first decade of the 21st century called into question the United States’ capacity to advance freedom and democracy abroad. The century’s second decade has provoked controversy about the relation between nationalism and liberal democracy. Greater attention to the preconditions for and impact of freedom and democracy, and to the persistence and varieties of nationalism, would contribute to the formulation of a foreign policy for the third decade of the 21st century that would be more suitable to U.S. interests and principles.
In the United States, conservatism and liberalism — often to the consternation of conservatives and liberals — are ineluctably intertwined. This turns out to be true of foreign affairs as well as of domestic affairs. Attention to this entwinement helps bring into focus the key question concerning the contemporary dispute about the post-World War II international order and the United States’ role in maintaining it: What policies best advance America’s interest in conserving freedom?
Many progressives think that independence from religious belief is a crucial source of the power of human rights. According to many conservatives, the spurning of faith reflects a dangerous delusion inscribed in human rights doctrine. Amid the bad blood and casual vituperation that do daily damage to American politics, correcting the error common to the left and right that human rights are one thing and religion entirely another might contribute to rebuilding common ground.
The term “liberalism” ranks among the most contested in our political lexicon. It should also be regarded as among the most vital. In the large sense, liberalism names the modern tradition of freedom. Liberalism so understood was the dominant strand in our nation’s founding. Appreciating the standard accusations against it and why it is worthy of defense is crucial to conserving the best of the American constitutional tradition.
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.
We continue our preview of the new (Summer) issue of the Claremont Review of Books hot off the press. It went into the mail on Monday and is accessible online to subscribers now. Buy an annual subscription including immediate online access here for the modest price of $19.95. If you love trustworthy essays on, and reviews of books about, politics, history, literature and culture, the CRB may be for you.
In early July, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched the Commission on Unalienable Rights. “The commission’s mission,” he explained in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, “isn’t to discover new principles but to ground our discussion of human rights in America’s founding principles.” The announcement of the panel’s existence and mandate immediately triggered a barrage of skepticism, indignation, and anger. The misunderstandings that the criticisms embody underscore the urgency of the commission’s work.
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.
As the second decade of the 21st century draws to a close, the American experiment in free and democratic self-government confronts two decisive challenges. One stems from an illiberal and anti-democratic great power abroad. The other arises from an obdurate attack on America’s commitment to freedom and democracy at home. Despite disparate sources, they are interconnected: To meet the challenge from without, the United States must prevail over the challenge from within.
In the last decade and a half, India and China have both engaged in extensive economic reforms, in effect bringing their joint population of some 2.3 billion into the worldwide system of capitalism and free trade. Those 2.3 billion people, many of whom are extremely well educated, are by and large willing to work harder and for less pay than are Americans. Are India and China's expanding and modernizing economies threatening America's long global dominance of science, technology, and industry? If so, what should we do about it? Peter Robinson speaks with Craig Barrett, Stephen Moore, and Peter A. Thiel.
Key policy changes are needed to prevent the United States from being overwhelmed by rapidly rising health care costs in the years ahead, according to an article by Peter Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office, in the Spring 2008 Issues in Science and Technology...
Many petroleum experts predict that world oil production will peak by the end of the decade. Will the United States soon be entering a period of worsening energy shortages and soaring energy costs? And, if so, what should the government to do about it? Or will the ever-improving technological efficiencies of the free market provide access to virtually endless sources of new energy? Peter Robinson speaks with Peter Huber and Jonathan Koomey.
Over the past several years, biotechnology companies, in a race to find possible new drugs, have deluged the U.S. Patent Office with tens of thousands of requests for patents on pieces of human DNA. Are gene patents being granted inappropriately, before gene functions are fully understood? Are gene patents encouraging or hindering the progress of medicine and the development of new drugs? Some critics have a broader objection to gene patents, arguing that it is inappropriate to give a company the exclusive right to genetic material that is inside us all. Are gene patents, as they suggest, patents on life?
Building America's electricity system was one of the great achievements of the twentieth century, providing inexpensive energy to homes and businesses throughout the country. But in the twenty-first century, two crises occurred. In 2001, California experienced massive electricity shortages, leading to rolling blackouts and skyrocketing electrical bills. And in 2003, a blackout swept across eight states in the Midwest and Northeast, leaving tens of millions in the dark. Why did these problems arise now, after a century of progress? Were they the result of ill-advised attempts to deregulate the utility industry? Or is more deregulation actually the solution?
The presidential election of 2000 highlighted the significant demographic divisions between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. The strength of the Republicans lies in the South and in the middle of the country. But the voters that carried those regions for George W. Bush, mostly white and Protestant, are shrinking as a proportion of the overall United States population. Are these demographic changes a serious problem for the Republicans? If so, what can they do to bring groups that have traditionally been Democratic—Hispanics, blacks, and Catholics, for example—into the Republican Party?
The September 11 attacks in New York and Washington have already cost America thousands of lives and billions of dollars in damages. But those are only the direct costs. How severe and how lasting will the impact be on our economy as whole? And how will new burdens on the federal government, including a military buildup and a bailout of the airline industry, affect fiscal policy? Should the government cut taxes or increase spending to get the economy moving again?
In 1998, India and Pakistan detonated nuclear weapons, becoming the first new nations in three decades to join the club of nuclear powers. Today other nations, such as North Korea and Iran, are on verge of doing so as well. Why is the nonproliferation regime, which seemed to work well for so many years, failing now? Has the Bush administration's response to the new dangers of proliferation been appropriate, or will it make the danger worse?