Political Essay of the Year

I know, I know, I’ve been gone so long someone should’ve revoked my Ricochet privileges. Yet, hard as it is to believe, I don’t actually do this for a living and I’ve been buried under two separate book deadlines for three months and have hardly had time to breathe. By way of apology for my absence, let me offer up a link to what I think may well be the best short political essay of the year:  On “Tyranny and Liberty,” by the matchless Myron Magnet of City Journal. I won’t even try to quote from it—you can read the whole thing in fifteen minutes and it’s so succinct, eloquent and erudite, I guarantee you’ll find it like swallowing a book whole. You’ll be a lot smarter when you finish it than you were when you started. Unless you’re Peter Robinson, then you’ll just…  sort of go on being smart.

If someone has seen a better short political essay this year—or one anywhere near as good, I’d love to hear about it.

  1. Robert Lux

    Thomas West and Douglas Jeffrey’s essay, “The Rise and Fall of Constitutional Government in the United States.”  Just recently reissued and revised. 

  2. Mama Toad

    Mr. Klavan — I hope you will be getting back to Klavan on the Culture soon as well? My 14-year-old son keeps watching the same ones over and over, and checks his Youtube channel obsessively to see if a new one has been uploaded. Oh wait, that’s me. We missed you!

  3. Robert Lux

    Sorry, wrong link.  Here is the revised and updated version.  It’s a gem.  

  4. Misthiocracy

    Hey, waitadoggoneminute!

    If you don’t do this for a living, shouldn’t you be chipping in for Rob’s lattes?!

  5. Mama Toad

    Having read the above posts, I did a little research — Mr. Klavan, is it correct that Klavan on the Culture videos are no more, and that your videos will only be at GBTV? If so, I weep little sad tears. But I will rally. 

  6. Copperfield

    So good to hear from you, Mr. Klavan. I was on the verge of posting “Where the $&/! Is Andrew Klavan?”. Thanks though; I’ve been using your “The History of Western Culturein 2 1/2 Minutes” in a presentation lately. You’ve probably read it, but Charles Murray’s speech “The Europe Syndrome and the Challenge to American Exceptionalism” is pretty good, though delivered over two years ago now. http://www.american.com/archive/2009/march-2009/the-europe-syndrome-and-the-challenge-to-american-exceptionalism Look forward to the new books. Cheers.

  7. Robert Lux

    And, yes, welcome back Klavan.  I, too, sorely miss your Klavan on the Culture videos. 

  8. Freesmith

    Nice to hear from you, Drew.

    Magnet – author of the seminal work “The Dream and the Nightmare,” which Michael Medved confessed was instrumental in easing him into his “Right Turns,” reinforces a point suggested by Fred Siegel in a WSJ article touted earlier today on Ricochet by Peter Robinson. It is my central belief.

    Everything bad started when the Democrats were allowed to claim and then keep the mantle of civil rights idealists for themselves.

    Read Magnet’s article. Kelo is a finding that the people can fight and many states have. But Abbott, a much more egregious judicial decision, rolls on and on, year after year, sucking NJ dry – because nobody has the cojones to “attack” such an idealistic, well-intentioned, anti-racist ruling.

    No politician in either party in Jersey wants to be thought of as “anti-black,” despite the fact that the “pro-black” policy implemented through the judicial ruling in Abbott has been a total, abject failure.

    Nothing will change until that changes, until Republicans start hanging Abbott, Camden and Detroit around the necks of the Democrats.

  9. Peter Robinson

    I’ll get to the essay tomorrow, Drew.  Tonight?  I just want to say welcome back–and phew.  I’ve been spent weeks now wondering whether it was something I said.

  10. Terrell David

    To answer Myron, no hell no.  

    Liberty and Tyranny, The Conservative Manifesto is a must read here and now. 

  11. LowcountryJoe

    The essay Andrew links-to quotes Madison from one of his Federalist Papers.  But I’ve come to believe that Madison may have been part of the problem with his push for the new constitution which replaced the older one.  I have read that the main weakness with the AoCaPU was that each of the states were not making sufficient contributions to fund its operation [the horror!].  Given that any new central-government legislative act would have required unanimous consent under the AoCaPU, I could see issues that would have been difficult to resolve but not impossible if leverage-over-membership were exercised.  

    But in its simplicity, the Articles had two distinct provisions, working hand-in-hand, to avoid tyranny: a truly de-centralized government with state sovereignty at its core and the ability for citizens to move freely — and reside wherever — within those sovereign states.  This enabled people to choose which way they wanted to be governed; a marketplace for a governance in which to partake in.  In other words, state governments would have had to compete against one another to maintain their citizens and it would have driven each of them to an optimal balance. 17th amendment anyone?  

  12. lakelylane

     Thanks for the great read, Andrew. His “culture” video’s are on GB tv. 

  13. KC Mulville

    It’s a mark of liberalism that the arguments usually work from the outside in, meaning they start with the group’s general welfare and make demands on individuals to support the group as a whole, ignoring the individuals’ own welfare.

    • The redistribution of wealth is a classic example; liberals see nothing wrong with taking from individuals and giving it to others, so long as the group is “better off.” 

    • Obamacare works the same way. Individuals may rightly calculate that they need no insurance at present, but they’re forced to pay for others, on the premise that the whole will be better off. Obamacare justifies this by calling the non-payers “freeloaders,” but that’s only true if the non-payer actually uses care for which he hasn’t bought insurance … what about those people who don’t pay, but don’t use healthcare either?

    Never mind the theory of it – the practical flaw in that approach is that individuals don’t pursue the interest of the state first. They pursue their own self-interest first. Liberals work under the delusion that citizens should look first to support the state (that they direct), as if that was less “selfish.” 

  14. David Williamson

    Err, yes, the founders would be appalled by what their Republic has become, after more than 100 years – on the fast track to a failed European Superstate.

    Someone needs to write an essay on this, after Mr Levin’s book?

    Oh, yes, welcome back Mr Klavan – also glad to see you on Mr Beck’s Interwebs (he explains all this much better).