Catholics, Punditry, Progressives & Rubes-Ross Douthat At The NY Times

Full piece here.

Douthat responds to E.J. Dionne’s ‘The Reformicons‘ and Andrew Sullivan’s ‘Reform Conservatism.’ It’s interesting to note that Dionne is a liberal Catholic progressive Democrat (concern-trolling at its finest), and Sullivan a gay, Catholic British emigre, aligning with progressives on many social and political issues (Obama is the ‘true conservative‘), and Douthat a more conservative Catholic columnist for the NY Times, who’s written a book on the subject ‘Grand New Party.’

This seems a pretty BosWash and Catholic affair.

Perhaps Dionne and Sullivan are gazing with warier eyes upon religious and social conservatives now that the progressive coalition in power may be running out of steam, and Obama’s approval numbers are running lower lately.


‘The reality is that, except in truly exceptional cases, our politics is better off in the long run when views held by large proportions of the public are represented in some form by one of our two parties. Right now (to run down a partial list of divisive cultural issues), a plurality of Americans want the immigration rate decreased; about half the country opposes affirmative action; more than half supports the death penalty; about half of Americans call themselves pro-life. Support for gay marriage and marijuana legalization has skyrocketed, but in both cases about 40 percent of the country is still opposed. Even independent of my own (yes, populist and socially conservative) views, I think these people, these opinions, deserve democratic representation: Representation that leads and channels and restrains, representation that recognizes trends and trajectories and political realities, but also representation that makes them feel well-served, spoken for, and (in the case of issues where they’re probably on the losing side) respected even in defeat’

The wheels are turning, and like politicians, many a pundit’s limp body has been pulled from the gears of electoral politics and predictions about the future.

Predictions are hard, especially about the future.

Pluralism And Majoritarianism And All That-Some Links

Ross Douthat at the NY Times: ‘Why Liberalism Needs Pluralism

Watch those radical roots:

‘…much of progressivism is straightforwardly organized around the idea of the state-as-liberator, and inclined to see “the private life of power” as a greater threat to true liberty than either the tyranny of the majority or the kindly despotism of the administrative state.’

One of this blog’s primary concerns is that modern liberalism, as practiced with its progressive, collectivist and activist roots, has not addressed vital concerns between the individual and the collective, which can soon lead to the ‘tyranny of the majority or the kindly despotism of the administrative state’ as Douthat points out.

It’s not always as grave as that, but current liberal politics, with pressure from below, has been busy dragging 60’s feminist, environmentalist, and Civil Rights activism back into political discourse (to say nothing of New Deal, Big Labor, and other, older entitlement programs).

Perhaps Douthat’s piece also highlights a gap between many libertarians and conservatives that will very tough to bridge: Some libertarian ideas lead to anarchic consequences, and a vigorous libertarian defense of the individual contradicts many social and religious conservative organizing principles as well.


On that note, if you want to see where labor activism in progressive politics can lead (unions and politicians generally fighting for the cause, their paychecks and their pensions first, the actual concerns of children later), look no further than California:

‘But after those basic protections were enshrined in law decades ago, labor leaders pushed legislators to expand rights and entitlements for public school teachers—at the expense of educating kids. In the last ten years, only 91 teachers out of about 300,000 (.003 percent) who have attained permanence lost their jobs in California. Of those, only 19 (.0007 percent) have been dismissed for poor performance

This is neither economically nor politically sustainable, and places impossible demands upon our institutions. As for the mayor of New York City:

‘The people are to show “the leaders the path.” But, it turns out, there is only one, progressive path, already marked out with thick hedges on each side. All we’ve really got to do is make sure everybody’s in the lane–get’em all signed up. The means has become the end–“universal” enrollment, not universal achievement–and the work of the good neighbor a matter of paperwork, not particular care or love’

The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.New liberty away from Hobbes?: From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’…Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

Ross Douthat At The New York Times: ‘Huntington’s Conflicts, Fukuyama’s World’

Full piece here.

‘But at the same time, Huntington’s partial vindication hasn’t actually disproven Fukuyama’s point, because all of these conflicts are still taking place in the shadow of a kind of liberal hegemony, and none them have the kind of global relevance or ideological import that the conflicts of the 19th and 20th century did. Radical Islam is essentially an anti-modern protest, not a real alternative … China’s meritocratic-authoritarian model has a long way to go to prove itself as anything except a repressive Sino-specific kludge … Chavismo and similar experiments struggle to maintain even domestic legitimacy … and what Huntington called the Western model is still the only real aspiring world-civilization, with enemies aplenty, yes, but also influence and admirers in every corner of the globe.’

Related On This Site:  From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s WorkFrom The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel HuntingtonFrom Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’

Francis Fukuyama has started a center for Public Administration at Stanford…it’d be interesting to imagine a conversation between Eric Hoffer and Fukuyama: Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest: ‘Mexico And The Drug Wars’…Has Fukuyama turned away from Hegel and toward Darwin?Update And Repost-Adam Kirsch Reviews Francis Fukuyama’s Book At The City Journal: ‘The Dawn Of Politics’

Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

The NY Times op-ed writer and a practicing Catholic? William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Update And Repost: Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

A Few Thoughts On Foreign Policy-Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Conservative Principles Of World Order’

Ross Douthat At The NY Times: ‘Burke in America’

Full post here.

 ‘But I think the underlying point is sound: You can’t found an American conservatism on Burke alone, for the solid Burkean reason that he wasn’t an American, and thus wasn’t in the business of defending our particular particularities. But Burke read through/alongside Tocqueville is a different matter, and seen in that light I think the father of British conservatism’s place in the intellectual canon of the modern American right is deserved and secure.’

Related On This SiteSome Quotations From Leo Strauss On Edmund Burke In ‘Natural Right And History’ Carl Bogus At The American Conservative: ‘Burke Not Buckley’

From George Will on Stephen Colbert:  “What conservatives say is that we will protect you against idealism.” Originalism vs. The living constitution: George Will Via The Jewish World Review: ‘True Self-Government

Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution

The NY Times op-ed writer and a practicing Catholic? William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Repost-From The Spiked Review Of Books Via The A & L Daily: ‘Rescuing The Enlightenment From Its Exploiters’… Behavioral economics and libertarian paternalism and below all that some liberal totalitarianism (the personal is political crowd)…Ross Douthat Responds To Paul Krugman At The NY Times: ‘Can We Be Sweden?’

Two Tuesday de Blasio Links

Ross Douthat At The NY Times: ‘The Contradictions Of Liberal Populism:

Are a lot of wealthier, liberal-minded, New Yorkers really prepared to go full de Blasio if their own money and hard work end-up on the table (er, I mean, the People’s Table)?


‘…it seems to me that in New York and nationally, the class interests of the so-called HENRYs (“high earners, not rich yet”) still basically align with some form of late-1990s Clintonism rather than the more sweeping post-Obama populism than liberals are getting excited about today.’

De Blasio will have to maintain the kinds of real-estate, Wall Street, and union negotiations that all NYC mayors have to maintain (he is a landlord of sorts, managing the rents), but he’s clearly going heavy on the unions.  I’d say he’s not just committed to public education, mainly through wealth extraction, he’s committed to his own coalitions and bedfellows controlling public education.  It may prove tough to keep wealthier New Yorkers on-board alongside the grit and ever-present corruption of big-city machine politics.

Many NYC and national media outlets seem committed to a kind of soft liberalism that clearly leans Democratic on many issues, so de Blasio can’t afford to neglect the deep reserves of mainstreamed green public sentiment, sex and gender equity issues, and technocratic diversity-speak that form the stuff of campaigns either.  Fewer media outlets may want to be seen on the fast track to progressive paradise and Leftist solidarity, but will simply feel more comfortable holding the soft liberal ideals aloft any chance they get, especially if it gets ugly.

On that note, Thomas Sowell, ex-Marxist, had this to say about de Blasio’s inauguration speech in the ‘Trickle-Down Lie‘:

‘But, contrary to Mayor de Blasio, this is not a view confined to people on the “far right.” Such liberal icons as Presidents John F. Kennedy and Woodrow Wilson likewise argued that tax rates can be so high that they have an adverse effect on the economy.’

***Thanks to a friend, I nominate this SNL skit for an appropriate de Blasio nickname.

Related On This Site:  What Will De Blasio’s New York Look Like?-Some LinksSandinistas At The NY Times: ‘A Mayoral Hopeful Now, de Blasio Was Once a Young Leftist’Two Links On Diane Ravitch & School Reform

Richard Epstein At Defining Ideas: ‘City Planners Run Amok’Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’...The Irish were a mess:  William Stern At The City Journal: ‘How Dagger John Saved New York’s Irish’

A Few Thoughts On Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: “Why Blue Can’t Save The Inner Cities Part I”

Politicians and politics likely won’t deliver you from human nature, nor fulfill your dreams in the way you want: anarchy probably won’t either: Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’

Josh Barro At Business Insider: ‘Dear New Yorkers: Here’s Why Your Rent Is So Ridiculously High’

Ross Douthat At The NY Times: ‘Why The Right Fights’

Full piece here.

Have conservatives lost-out to successive waves of liberalism in the past century, waves which have gradually entrenched enough interests in the government and built-up enough public sentiment to a point where the inertia is just too great to resist a larger State?

Douthat argues this to a rather large audience, or at least tries to explain the current partisan divide as he sees it:

‘So what you’re seeing motivating the House Intransigents today, what’s driving their willingness to engage in probably-pointless brinksmanship, is not just anger at a specific Democratic administration, or opposition to a specific program, or disappointment over a single electoral defeat. Rather, it’s a revolt against the long term pattern I’ve just described: Against what these conservatives, and many on the right, see as forty years of failure, in which first Reagan and then Gingrich and now the Tea Party wave have all failed to deliver on the promise of an actual right-wing answer to the big left-wing victories of the 1930s and 1960s — and now, with Obamacare, of Obama’s first two years as well.’

Where do you draw the line at equality of opportunity, and how is that line shifting during an especially strong period of egalitarianism and partisanship?

Also On This Site:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

The NY Times op-ed writer and a practicing Catholic? William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Don’t get Borked, at least if you’re openly religious and aiming for higher office:  Bork had his own view of the 1960′s: A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.  He has a big vision with some holes in it, but it’s one that embraces change boldly.

Once you take apart the old structure, you have to criticize the meritocracy you’ve helped create: David Brooks At The NY Times: ‘Why Our Elites Stink’

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on ConservatismCharles Murray At The New Criterion: ‘Belmont & Fishtown’

More On The Washington Post, Technology and The Role Of The Media-Ross Douthat At The NY Times: ‘How The Post Was Lost’

Full piece here.

Is Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ acquisition of the Washington Post going to allow him to place the paper in your living room, or on your Kindle, or some other mobile device?


Bezos could attach the brand (if not the institution) to his ‘free cash flow‘ model, one which aims to be where you are and win your loyalty with great service and ease of use.   You may already be streaming movies online, downloading books to your Kindle, and having groceries shipped to your home.   With logistics, constant innovation, and by eschewing percentage margins, he’s kept Amazon elastic, and focused on you, the customer.

On the other hand, Bezos may also not be all that interested, or even able, to merge what he does best with the Washington Post and its obligations.  It could end up little more than a vanity purchase, one with a rather minimal $250 million price-tag, ending-up on the ash-heap like Newsweek.

The Post’s acquisition is apparently part of a longer, slower process, an old media model that’s been dying, and just about to die, for quite some time.  The more the old revenue streams and the old models dry-up (the online streams haven’t replaced them), the worse the journalism tends to be.  It’s been a death-spiral for many with skin in the game.

Ross Douthat’s answer is to suggest that the new technology has helped create a nationalized market for media outlets, and thus, the Washington Post couldn’t compete with Politico:

‘Today, though, it’s Politico rather than The Post that dominates the D.C. conversation, Politico rather than The Post that’s the must-read for Beltway professionals and politics junkies everywhere, and Politico rather than The Post that matches the metabolism of the Internet.’

He finishes with:

‘What Bezos can deliver, in other words, is a newspaper war, with clear and pressing stakes. For The Post to thrive again, Politico must lose.’

Is Politico the Post’s real competition?  To some degree, perhaps. 

Here’s Bill Virgin, discussing the failure of one of Seattle’s two dailies:

‘To put all the blame, or even the bulk of it, on those factors is not only too convenient, but also downright deceptive. It obscures a long-standing truth about this business: American newspapers have been and continue to be, as a sector, the worst-run of any industry in this country.

The Internet may have helped weaken the precipice upon which the newspaper industry was standing, and the recession may have given it a helpful stomp to send us into the chasm. But it was the industry itself that walked out onto a ledge of crumbling shale and stood waiting for it to collapse.’

What is it that journalists create of real value to people?  Facts and information?  Checks on politicians, local events, and corruption? Reinforcement of a political ideology and a worldview?

What is it that journalists’ seek?  Truth?  To practice their craft of writing and offer a public service? Career advancement?  Influence?

Addition:  Douthat has a follow-up here.

***Douthat mentions the British comedy ‘Yes, Prime Minister‘ as a source for who reads the Newspapers.


Here’s a good American version.

Related On This Site:  Jeff Bezos, Founder Of Amazon, Acquires The Washington Post

Jack Shafer At Slate: ‘Nonprofit Journalism Comes At A Cost’..

From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die? From Slate: Jack Shafer On The Pulitzer Prize-Who Cares?  Who Reads The Newspapers?

The Newseum Opens On The Mall: More From The Weekly Standard

A Free Lunch?-Megan McArdle At The Daily Beast: ‘How To Get Ahead On Facebook Without Really Trying’

Malcolm Gladwell argues here that apart from the information/journalism divide, the technology still ultimately costs something as well…”Free” is a utopian vision, and I suspect Gladwell knows this pretty well:  From The New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Priced To Sell”

A Few Thoughts On Same Sex Marriage-Ross Douthat At The NY Times: “Religious Liberty And The Gay Marriage Endgame’

Full post here.

Religious conservatives had better be nice, or at least start planning ahead, advises Douthat:

‘If religious conservatives are, in effect, negotiating the terms of their surrender, it’s at least possible that those negotiations would go better if they were conducted right now, in the wake of a Roe v. Wade-style Supreme Court ruling, rather than in a future where the bloc of Americans opposed to gay marriage has shrunk from the current 44 percent to 30 percent or 25 percent, and the incentives for liberals to be magnanimous in victory have shrunk apace as well.’

One way to look at this:  There’s been a long, steady decline of religion’s influence in the public square, and more broadly throughout American culture.  The gay marriage argument was lost some time ago in the public mind, for various reasons and the not-good-enough reasons made against it.

I believe it’s important to look at the concomitant rise in Civil Rights activism since the 60’s, often enacted into law, driving more freedom for ever more groups of people and individuals along the way.  Because individual liberty is vital to our Constitutional project, and central to American thinking, Americans tend to be swayed when they look at lack of liberty for others as an issue of individual liberty for themselves.

Some of these Civil Rights and freedom movements, as I see them, are inextricably linked with ideological Leftism.  These are the rights-based, identity-group, victimhood brands of activism which can scoop up the  individual into a net, set him on the stove, and cook him for dinner.

There is the liberation theology of Rev Wright’s church.  There is the progressive agenda which seeks socialized control of public goods and shrinks private wealth, eroding political freedoms. There is anti-humanist environmentalism.  There is ideological feminism carting its decades of bad statistics, purity tests and political-power seeking along with it.

Gays and lesbians tend to do best when they put the matter in terms of individual liberty.  They’re your children, friends and neighbors, after all.  They’re individuals and people.

As a movement, though, I suspect many are quite happy to attach themselves to the Civil Rights train and its ideological discontents.  I also suspect many gays and lesbians are happy to continue the move away from social and religious conservatism, and many traditions and customs woven into our institutions which have stood us well.

I can’t help but have sympathy with gays and lesbians, and don’t begrudge them their freedom (I’m American after all), especially those free-thinkers and defenders of liberty despite the opprobrium they’ve received.

Despite this, I know many of the forces driving change in our society continue to follow the logic inherent in some of the reasons behind those changes,  serving some interests and not all, encouraging us to overlook basics regarding human nature and political power.

Onward we go.

Addition:  Daniel McCarthy at the American Conservative The Supreme Court’s Gay-Marriage Gradualism.

Related On This Site:  The NY Times op-ed writer and a practicing Catholic? William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism

How does Natural Law Philosophy deal with these problems, and those of knowledge?  Yes, Edmund Burke opposed the French revolution Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution

Repost-’Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’..From Fora Via YouTube: ‘Thomas Sowell and a Conflict of Visions’

Charles Murray is trying to get virtue back with the social sciences: Charles Murray At The New Criterion: ‘Belmont & Fishtown’Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People

Jesse Walker At Reason Links To Ross Douthat: ‘”The Meritocracy As We Know It Mostly Works To Perpetuate the Existing Upper Class’

Douthat’s column here.

Full post here

Walker quoting Douthat:

“…elite universities are about connecting more than learning, that the social world matters far more than the classroom to undergraduates, and that rather than an escalator elevating the best and brightest from every walk of life, the meritocracy as we know it mostly works to perpetuate the existing upper class.”

The WASP work ethic is still there, somewhere.  I still believe it’s possible to salvage a core educational mission and maintain economic dynamism and greater social mobility, but many people attracted to higher ed and entrenched there will naturally not agree.

From the comments section at Reason, which captures the sentiment nicely, and is wonderfully typical of comments at Reason:

‘Because there’s a large sector of our economic and cultural life dominated by nonprofits, foundations, and quasi-governmental organizations that are insulated from competition, have an outsized impact on economic and political policy, and are dependent on their own perceived intellectual prestige for influence.

Those organizations are infested with Ivy League graduates.

Destroy that sector by eliminating its funding, its tax advantages, and its connections to mixed-economy state policy, and I won’t care who goes to the Ivy League.’

We’ve backed our way into a lot of this.  I suppose there are always some sour grapes involved with State school, land-grant folks like myself.

Interesting reads:

-Kenneth Anderson at Volokh, during Occupy!: The Fragmenting Of The New Class Elites, Or, Downward Mobility

-Thoughts about our political class: Francis Fukuyama And Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘None Of The Above’

-Angelo Codevilla’s polemic: America’s Ruling Class-And The Perils Of Revolution.

-Megan McArdle at The Daily Beast: America’s New Mandarins

Related On This Site: Yes, they have high standards, but try and find an NPR story that doesn’t digest the days’ news without mention of feminism, environmentalism, diversity, multiculturalism: This leads to a rather liberal political philosophy.  Peace, justice (social justice) and all that: A Few Thoughts On NPR And Current Liberal Establishment Thinking Under Obama…Hate Is A Strong Word-Some Links On The BBC, The CBC, & NPR

Megan McArdle At The Daily Beast: ‘The Absurd Lies Of College Admissions’

Should you get a college degree, probably, but you also probably shouldn’t lose sight of why you’re going and divorce yourself entirely from the cost:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

Repost: Mark Cuban From His Blog: ‘The Coming Meltdown in College Education & Why The Economy Won’t Get Better Any Time Soon’…From The New Criterion: ‘Higher Ed: An Obituary’,,,Ron Unz At The American Conservative: ‘The Myth Of American Meritocracy’

The Hoover Institution Via Youtube: Charles Murray On ‘Coming Apart’

The libertarian angle, getting smart, ambitious people off of the degree treadmill…or the very few for whom college doesn’t work:  From The American Interest: Francis Fukuyama Interviews Peter Thiel-’A Conversation With Peter Thiel’ I think it’s going too far, trying to apply libertarian economics onto education, but Milton Friedman on Education is thought-provoking.

A deeper look at what education “ought” to be:  A lot like it is now?: A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

Allan Bloom thought about some of this in The Closing Of The American Mind, at least with regard to what he saw as a true liberal arts education: Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’

Harvard is no place for Larry Summers, at least running the place: Repost-Revisting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?From The Harvard Educational Review-

Ross Douthat Responds To Paul Krugman At The NY Times: ‘Can We Be Sweden?’

Full piece here.

Douthat’s original piece here.

‘The Swedish experience does demonstrate that it’s possible for a welfare-state society to survive the waning of religion and the decline of traditional marriage without sacrificing middle class prosperity. But this success is founded on a level of cultural homogeneity and an inheritance of social capital that simply isn’t available in a polyglot republic-cum-empire like our own.’

Riffing on Douthat: If liberty means extending liberty, or aiming to extend liberty to ever more groups of people through State involvement and a more moral bureaucratic class redistributing resources through the most up to date thinking or the new economic models, then at what cost does this occur to the creation of wealth?   Can you even compare Sweden and the U.S effectively?  What hard evidence do we have that these policies will work?  More deeply: Who is in charge and how do such people ‘know’ what is best for others?


I remain skeptical of some work by Charles Murray, but he had some interesting ideas on Sweden fifteen years back.  That model has not been as successful in assimilating immigrants and maintaining Swedish birth rates nor arguably economic dynamism, and there is a pendulum which can swing back darkly to the right, to nationalism, racial identity and the baggage of the past:

“In every town was a beautiful Lutheran church, freshly painted, on meticulously tended grounds, all subsidized by the Swedish government. And the churches are empty. Including on Sundays. Scandinavia and Western Europe pride themselves on their “child-friendly” policies, providing generous child allowances, free day-care centers, and long maternity leaves. Those same countries have fertility rates far below replacement and plunging marriage rates. Those same countries are ones in which jobs are most carefully protected by government regulation and mandated benefits are most lavish. And they, with only a few exceptions, are countries where work is most often seen as a necessary evil, least often seen as a vocation, and where the proportions of people who say they love their jobs are the lowest.”

As Murray suggests, the prevailing European secular habit of mind (which shuns overt religious faith) has also transposed a lot of Christian metaphysics (and a lot Marxist materialist/socialist/social democrat/communist thought) into the modern European state.  Many religious values continue of course, but are also, in part, maintained by that state.  That state, in turn, can limit much dynamism and freedom we take for granted here in the U.S..


Continuing towards a theme, the rise of nanny-statism in the U.S. (banning Big Gulps and ‘nudging‘ people toward decisions you want them to make) partially has its roots in behavioral economics, and Cass Sunstein’s libertarian paternalism (he makes some interesting arguments):


From an article at CATO:

“If behavioral economics has taught us anything, it’s that humans are vulnerable to framing effects. In other words, how people make choices turns on seemingly irrelevant aspects of the situation, such as the order in which options are presented, the other (unchosen) options presented at the same time, which option is designated as the “default,” and so on.

The new paternalists, having learned this lesson well, frame the public policy debate in a way that encourages paternalistic interventions. They have done so in at least three ways.”

Click through for more.  A lot of people have plans for you and me.  A lot.


Here’s a quote from Arthur Schopenhauer:

“Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world.”

Related On This Site:  From Michael Totten At World Affairs: “Noam Chomsky: The Last Totalitarian”Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge…Martha Nussbaum criticizing Chomsky’s hubris in Martha Nussbaum In Dissent–Violence On The Left: Nandigram And The Communists Of West Bengal

The West is less violent?  I’m not sure I’m convinced by Pinker, anyways: At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas HobbesFrom Reason.TV Via YouTube: ‘Steven Pinker on The Decline of Violence & “The Better Angels of Our Nature”‘

Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen have plans for America and India, and it involves much more state involvement here in America:  Amartya Sen In The New York Review Of Books: Capitalism Beyond The Crisis

Have you downloaded the apps…and the concepts of Enlightenment and post Enlightenment liberty that can lead to runtime errors and fiscal failure? Sachs and Niall Ferguson duke it out: CNN-Fareed Zakaria Via Youtube: ‘Jeff Sachs and Niall Ferguson’

Repost-From The NY Times: Review Of Christopher Caldwell’s Book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West”Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest-’The Two Europes’

The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.New liberty away from Hobbes?: From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’…Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

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