C. S. Lewis’s old tutor, whom he called Kirk or Knock or The Great Knock, was an irascible old Ulsterman who would regularly get exasperated by people who lacked intellectual discipline and even basic curiosity. He would sometimes say to such people, “You can have enlightenment for ninepence but you prefer ignorance.” That’s you. You can do better, and God help your sorry-ass soul if you don’t try.Continue reading
I’m still not above watching vapid reality shows about meth-addicted Tiger tamers. Nor am I dismissive of the compelling fare we find on streaming media — we are living in a golden age of middlebrow culture. Certainly the world doesn’t need another writer praising the virtues of Moby-Dick. And that’s not my point. Sitting here in isolation, I come to praise the elemental beauty and depth that can be found only in great works of literature. Moby-Dick demanded my attention, imagination, and time. — David Harsanyi on reading Moby Dick
“There is much that is in need of reform in American life. But reform is not very much in fashion among populists, who are ensorcelled by the much more exciting prospect of revolution — and destruction.”Continue reading
Has Romney at times been calculating? Of course. He’s a politician. But the suggestion that he is not an honest or decent man because he was “disloyal” to such a profoundly dishonest and indecent man is an exercise in mobbish immorality and the madness of crowds.Continue reading
We are where we are in American politics, in part, because all these big-picture projects succeeded in enriching private interests … but failed to achieve their stated public goals. The “shock therapy” delivered to Russia midwifed Putinism instead of a prosperous American ally. The war in Iraq ushered in a regional conflict that’s still burning to this day. Chimerica worked out better for the Chinese than for many working-class Americans, and far better for the Chinese Politburo than for the cause of liberty. And the self-justifying doctrine of the present elite — that you can serve the common good while in office and do well for yourself afterward — became far more implausible when the elite’s projects kept failing even as the officeholders kept on cashing in.
Where the post-liberals have a point is that humans are happiest in communities, families and institutions of faith. The solution to the culture wars is to allow more freedom for these “little platoons” of civil society from which people draw a sense of meaning and belonging. If Sacramento wants Drag Queen Story Hour, so be it. If some other community holds a socially conservative version of the same, that’s fine too.
What America needs is less talk of national unity — from the left or the right — and more freedom to let people live the way they want to live, not just as individuals, but as members of local communities. We don’t need to move past liberalism, we need to return to it.Jonah Goldberg
Instead of the virtues of classical republicanism, the romance of nationalism, the ructions of democracy, many modern liberals give us a vision of an Open Society that is informed by the dreams of Communism itself, a withering away of nationality, religions, social distinctions, and even the family that occurs underneath the tutelage of liberal democratic capitalism rather than a Communist party. That is why, so often, the legal suppressions aimed at Christianity are aimed at things like the principled refusal to profit from one’s labor. None of these cases involve the systematic and conspiratorial deprivation of goods, as Jim Crow did. What offends the modern liberal is something else. The mere assertion of a higher good beyond the Open Society, and beyond ourselves, something higher than profit, is itself counted as an injury, as treasonous.Michael Brendan Dougherty