Tag: Political Philosophy

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The other day, I started publishing some notes on the way to think about fascism. You have there an insistence on the theoretical origins & orientation of radical politics that you might not often see. At any rate, I offer it as a corrective of the kind of scholarship that has led people to say things like, […]

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Mr. Goldberg is one of the most pleasant people American conservatism can now boast. He seems very humane & loves dogs. One reads his comments on American politics with a sense of ease–moral ease–this is a man who distinguishes principle from expedience & who desires to be intellectually honest, like Max Weber told educated people […]

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Is The Communist Manifesto Misunderstood?

 

In college, I was surprised when an honest and charitable philosophy professor I very much admired claimed that Karl Marx is misunderstood. Marx would not have supported communism as we have known it, he told me. What was seen at the hands of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, or even Gorbachev was not communism as Marx envisioned it.

Next week, Ubisoft will release the next grand episode in its popular series of historical playgrounds, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. Because the overarching theme of the Assassin’s Creed series (about as philosophically consistent as Star Wars) is a conflict between the freedom-loving Assassins and conspiring Templar oppressors, the game’s setting in Victorian London will emphasize struggles for power among the classes of industrial British society.

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I was going to post the following to Rachel Lu’s “Why I am Not a Libertarian.” Alas it’s rather lengthy, I’ve prefaced it with some thoughts of my own, and so I thought it best to post it here for reflection or discussion. What’s below is from a dialogue between Bill Kristol and Harvey Mansfield. […]

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Knowledge Is Not Ideology

 
IMG_0661
This model is almost as pretty as Ezra Klein. Almost.

There’s a natural human presumption — particularly noticeable among technology and science-loving leftists — that greater knowledge leads to greater consensus. That is, agreement is just one voxsplanation, one chart, or one Neil deGrasse Tyson special away.

Freedom Through Natural Law

 

While one bishop (the pope) offered a sadly forgettable speech before Congress, another bishop hit one out of the park at the World Meeting of Families.

Though I believe Christians of all sorts would appreciate Bishop Robert Barron’s full speech, this bit about acquiring freedom through adherence to natural law should be accessible to non-Christian Ricochet members as well. This is what is meant by the famous claim, “the truth will set you free.”

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I expect most people on Ricochet have lives to live, so that the experience of folks who live out fantasies might be of some exotic interest, in the way visiting Europe has been interesting to Americans, every now & then, but not too soon after escaping the dead hand of the past… I expect, further, […]

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My fellow traditionalists, you don’t get it. SCOTUS did not disregard the obvious authority of states to define marriage requirements. From the progressive perspective, the definition of marriage remains unchanged. From that perspective, what changed is that a wrongfully excluded class of people has been granted access to that which the states continue to define. Preview […]

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Xenophon, The Cyropaedia: The Inauguraral Discussion

 

Anabasis_bigXenophon, a well-born Athenian, spent most of his political life in Sparta. He understood his duties as a citizen thus: in battle, he fought for Sparta against Athens; at least one of his sons fought for Athens and died in battle.

Xenophon lived from about 430 to 355 BCE, making him a contemporary of Plato. The Cyropaedia, or the Education of Cyrus, is his biography of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the first Persian (or Achaemenid) Empire. Machiavelli loved this work of theory, which was written in seven books.

The title is typical of Xenophon. Most of the Cyropaedia treats the speeches and acts of the adult Cyrus; only a part of the first book concerns his education. Perhaps Xenophon means to suggest the disproportionate importance of education–the child is father to the man. But the use of the genitive construction is ambiguous; he might mean the education Cyrus received, but he might also mean the education Cyrus offers us (as a founder of an empire, one assumes).

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Some of you may know, I’m a pol.sci lifer. Recently, I’ve started working on my political theory again, reading Machiavelli & Xenophon. Are there any takers for reading & talking? Whether you’ve read these books before or not, I’d like it if you gave this a try–whether you like politics, war, history or philosophy, there […]

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Generations ago, many women sought professional freedom equal to that of men. They didn’t seek to mandate that all women must work outside the home. They just wanted the option. But then a strange thing happened. The market adjusted to this influx of female professionals by raising the average family’s cost of living. Preview Open

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A fellow parishioner used to work at the FBI as an investigator of counterfeit money. In training, he said, they focused exclusively on the features of real American currency. They did not study examples of counterfeit dollars. It’s the sort of thing that’s surprising and yet makes good sense. If the agents had extensively studied […]

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Is the division between Left and Right purely political? Or is it pre-political? Is an identical division found between theologians, for example, that suggests a general perception of the world which colors all of one’s philosophies and judgments? This topic is open to all, but allow me to provide a specific example which is more […]

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I have little respect for Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a judge, but occasionally she does have a point.  Suppose an employer’s sincerely held religious belief is offended by health coverage of vaccines, or paying the minimum wage or according women equal pay for substantially similar work? Preview Open

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I see statements like this a lot here, but usually only in relation to the marriage issue. I could say the same thing about other issues, such as abortion: “I don’t see how somebody else’s abortion affects me.” As another example, so far this year there have been 108 murders in Chicago. I live in […]

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Totalitarian Democracies and Cloistered Kings

 

shutterstock_141024430When President George W. Bush and many others were trumpeting the need for democracy throughout the world, some conservatives were keen to remind us that “democratic” is only an adjective in the USA’s formal identity as a democratic republic. The noun — the republic — is primary. Still, it has become normal to cite democracy as the fundamental principle on which any free society is built.

Yet, as has become increasingly evident in Western governments, democracy and the totalitarian impulse are not mutually exclusive. Expansion and centralization of power seem to be the natural inclination of any government, regardless of how that power is derived. The emergence of the nanny state in America did not slow with the Amendment affording citizens the direct election of Senators or with improved communication between voters and representatives.

As conservatives, we don’t seek Utopian perfection in government. We acknowledge that no system can completely overcome the complexity, the errors, and the temptations of human interaction. So my question is not: “What alternative to democracy can keep government limited and local?” Rather, it is this humbler but equally difficult question: “Do democratic systems offer the best possible restraints on centralization and expansion of power?”

Human Rights, Free Movement, and the Social Contract

 

TheSocialContractA libertarian’s driving concern is with maximizing the fundamental rights of all people. I often find myself bumping up against the “Social Contract,” which works as a circuit breaker to that logic. Up until now, I’ve tried to wave away the Social Contract, as most radical libertarians tend to do because of its inconvenience.

I have since concluded this is the wrong way to go about it. It’s foolish to ignore the utility of the Social Contract and the good that has come about under it, even if it is correct that it ultimately should be replaced by something better.

Part of what makes the Social Contract so useful is that it attempts to guarantee the rights of those under it. Presumably, the Social Contract does not give us fundamental rights, but instead asks us to curb some of our fundamental rights for guaranteed benefits. We give the state the power to coerce taxes from us so that it can protect us from harm and run a system that respects our private property.