Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Vermeule’s Gleeful Illiberal Legalism


Few have been brave enough to flesh out what the Ahmarist, or “anti-Frenchist,” vision of the common good should be. Some have said articulating specifics is beside the point, that Ahmarists’ refreshing achievement is unapologetically asserting a common good exists, even if they decline to say what, exactly, it is. And then, there are guys like Adrian Vermeule, writing in The Atlantic, brave enough, at least, to flesh out a vision of sorts. Vermeule calls it “common-good constitutionalism”, which he describes as “an illiberal legalism that is not ‘conservative’ at all, insofar as standard conservatism is content to play defensively within the procedural rules of the liberal order.” When Vermeule writes,

[U]nlike legal liberalism, common-good constitutionalism does not suffer from a horror of political domination and hierarchy, because it sees that law is parental, [emphasis added] a wise teacher and an inculcator of good habits. Just authority in rulers can be exercised for the good of subjects, if necessary even against the subjects’ own perceptions of what is best for them—perceptions that may change over time anyway, as the law teaches, habituates, and re-forms them. Subjects will come to thank the ruler whose legal strictures, possibly experienced at first as coercive, encourage subjects to form more authentic desires…

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. ACF PoMoCon #10: The Benedict Option


Folks, here’s a podcast for the weekend–my conversation with Rod Dreher on traditional conservatism’s new moment. We talk about his books, about Christian communities facing the Pink Police State (hat tip to our friend James Poulos) and the need to retrieve pre-modern resources for communities of faith. We also talk about what Rod has learned from Christians surviving communism (hat tip to our friend @FlaggTaylor).

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The National Conservatism Conference in Rome


Friends, I don’t usually do reporting, but I made an exception for the second National Conservatism Conference in Rome where I finally met our own @melissaosullivan! I don’t remember anyone else from Ricochet being there, so, as I said, I’ll do the reporting.

Let me start with the important things: Rome on February 3-4 is bright, clear, with intense blue skies, scarcely a cloud, the temperatures rise to the low 60s, winds get strong, sometimes approaching 20 mph, and the cypresses and pines are evergreen. You can see the gulls’ padded feet in the Tiber working rhythmically against the current. You can see the Romans go around in winter coats with silly little pocket dogs. It is paradise with occasional chills. Not a lot of tourists, either, so I recommend it if you’re ever in the mood to visit a city where they have big buildings from 2,000 years ago and they make decent coffee, too.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Vaclav Benda and The Long Night of the Watchman

Me, Kamila Bendova, and Martin Palous (a close ally of both Benda and Havel and former Ambassador to the United States).

I’m the editor of a recently published edition of the essays of Vaclav Benda called The Long Night of the Watchman. Benda, who died in 1999, was a central figure in the Charter 77 movement in the former Czechoslovakia. I met his wife, Kamila Bendova, on my first trip to interview former dissidents back in 2011 and wrote about that encounter right here on Ricochet.

It was at that meeting that I asked if anyone had spoken to her about getting her late husband’s essays into an English translation. It took a bit longer than I had hoped, but it’s finally out and I hope it gets the wide audience it deserves.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Russell Moore vs. the Media


I was fortunate enough to be invited to an event sponsored by The Trinity Forum here in Nashville, TN. Rod Dreher (The Benedict Option), Russell Moore (Onward), and Sister Mary Magdalene (Professor of Theology at Aquinas College) had a very engaging and enlightening conversation about how Christians should live in a post-Christian America. One of the most memorable moments was when Russell Moore described a typical exchange with a journalist:

The first question is about sexuality.

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“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society, or wide circles of the Christian community, realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the Gospel and the […]

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Good Afternoon! Next on Thinking It Through with Jerome Danner (Podcast): My next guest is Bethany Mandel, a stay-at-home mother of 3 children, a freelance writer on politics and culture, a Senior Contributor at The Federalist, amongst other publications, such as the Forward and First Things. She also just so happens to be on The LadyBrains Podcast. I invited her to […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.