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Introducing America After Dobbs:
A Public Discourse Resource
- An ideologically captured university creates the illusion of consensus on questions that in fact are highly contested off campus. That makes public disagreement a puzzling and unintelligible phenomenon. It creates a cascade of resentment and negative sentiment throughout the rest of the elite classes towards any dissenting views in the public square. It shatters a society’s understanding of itself and its role in the world, of what social flourishing looks like.
- National Review midwifed and nurtured the modern conservative movement into being. Conservatism today is in a very different situation from the one that Bill Buckley confronted in 1955. There is this vast conservative enterprise now; it’s kind of hydra-headed. But the basic need is, first, to think about the circumstances in which we find ourselves and how to apply conservative principles to them—or a conservative disposition, if one prefers—and second, how to build a coalition that is large enough to take these ideas off of the shelf.
- We’re not born being patriots. It’s not something that’s inscribed in our moral DNA; rather, it’s something that has to be cultivated. It is love of country. But as Edmund Burke famously wrote, “To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely.” What does it mean to have a lovable country, and what should the honest patriot do or think?
- William McCormick, SJ, has written a new and welcome interpretation of Thomas Aquinas as a political thinker. His reading of Aquinas suggests that the political common good, as an intermediary between human and divine things, is a subject for ongoing inquiry, sensitive to the exigencies of a fallen world. McCormick holds that the “pedagogy of politics” unfolds teleologically as a community—in and through common deliberation and action—comes to greater knowledge of itself and its own ends.
- Robert Zaretsky’s book, Victories Never Last: Reading and Caregiving in a Time of Plague seeks to apply the wisdom of six writers—Thucydides, Marcus Aurelius, Michel de Montaigne, Daniel Defoe, Albert Camus, and Mary Shelley—to his own experiences of pandemic. For all its fascinating reflections, the book offers the reader no account of theodicy, and provides no systematic handbook for making sense of global pandemic. Nonetheless, he successfully shows that great books and thinkers of bygone eras continue to assert their relevance.
- In Belief and Cult: Rethinking Roman Religion, Jacob Mackey argues that the ancient Romans’ participation in polytheistic rituals necessarily implied that they believed in their gods. But his discussion of Roman religion would have been even more persuasive if he had spent more time discussing ancient documents and less time explaining modern theories of belief and practice.
- Although social contract theory is a prominent feature of the American founding, it is both unsound and harmful to a proper understanding of politics. This fact presents a challenge to any form of conservatism that is based on protecting and promoting the principles of the American founding.
- Moral differences over abortion need to be understood as differences of vision. While pro-life advocates rightly appeal to fundamental human equality, they also must respond to those who have difficulty seeing early human life as fully amongst us. Overcoming this difficulty requires developing a sense of awe and reverence before the sheer fact of human existence, as well as addressing common ways of looking away from the full moral reality of abortion.
- “We shall not cease from exploration,” wrote T. S. Eliot in “Little Gidding,” “And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time.” Such is the task of a liberal education, rightly understood. It is a liberating exploration that results not in being permanently uprooted and alienated but in being more fully at home in the world that we already inhabit—and more fully able to enhance it, beautify it, ennoble it, and sustain it.
Collections from the Archives
- There’s a lot to commend about EA. It endorses good stewardship of resources; it recognizes the dignity of every human being; and it pushes back against the kind of presentism that disregards generations to come. But some iterations of EA should give us pause. Its core defect is its tie to utilitarianism, which is ultimately untenable as a philosophy.
- In a republic such as ours, the people grant certain prerogatives to the state, for the government exists by the consent of the people. The people do not beg for privileges and rights from the state. Parents have by nature, by justice, the right to educate their children. The state does not have a similar right to educate children; instead, parents permit the state to educate children.
- It is not only fraudulent physicians and deluded therapists at fault for mutilating our children—they too are victims, in part. They also have been deceived, subject to the disintegration and dissolution of reality entrenched in our moment. Too many people are not flourishing in our society, and they are damaged and being damaged with false visions of emancipation.