Policy can tax vice and remunerate virtue. But policy cannot do what churches, fathers, mothers, friends, and coworkers can do, which is to invite individuals into fruitful, sacrificial communities.
Openness to love is the only satisfying defense against the supposed conflict between private happiness and the common good, the only thing that can convert the common good from an abstraction to a lived reality. The most important element of the common good, therefore, is that all of the members of the community regard themselves, somehow, as friends.
The contemporary academy betrays its vocation precisely insofar as it seeks to usurp the wonder of the world and to transpose that wonder onto its own ingenuity. “Look,” says the contemporary scholar, “let me show you how this-or-that is really just an exercise of power. I alone have had the vision to see it.”
Sohrab Ahmari’s new book enlightens in many respects, while falling short before the tribunal of moral and political prudence. Still, it succeeds admirably in making the case for “the wisdom of tradition” as the one thing most needful today.
If stopping gestation no longer inevitably entails the death of a fetus, then the entire landscape of abortion rights and jurisprudence has fundamentally changed.
The greatest enemy of our freedom, which we all must confront, whether we live under a totalitarian regime or in a free society, is our deep-seated tendency to create and cling to a simplistic, false notion of our identity.
I’m not only trying to show younger people the futility of a life based on achievement, but to show that there are ways of thinking about achievement that are better for your soul. One of them is to see your desire to achieve as being inspired by a vision of the good. Ultimately, in the highest things, you end up not thinking about yourself. Once you become excellent at something, whether that’s teaching or writing or being a tax attorney or being a doctor, you’re actually looking for the good of other people. It’s about how you make the lives of others better and encourage them in their pursuits.
My snapshot of freshman orientation highlights some of the failures of higher education. Too many universities today no longer teach students how to think but what to think. Instead of a marketplace of ideas, campus has become an echo chamber of ideas. But outspoken students (and faculty) can save the university by thoughtfully and deliberately making their voices heard.
A growing number of jurisdictions have taken steps to pass bans on “conversion therapy,” a term referring to efforts or interventions to change or suppress the sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI) of persons. These bans enforce a message of expressive individualism—that the only acceptable response is to “affirm” a person’s SOGI—and rest on a faulty anthropology on sex and gender. They infringe upon aspects of individual and group autonomy, and they negatively impact public order, health, and moral considerations.
Yuval Levin is right that we need a “party of the Congress,” a group of members who are committed to exercising the constitutional powers of the House and Senate, not just competing against the opposing party. Because the House is the weaker of the institutional links, the only way the institution of Congress will have a chance to be strengthened is if a “party of the Congress” forms in that chamber. This will require opening up House rules to give rank-and-file members greater opportunities for success as entrepreneurial bipartisan legislators.
Free market dogmas are inapplicable to the managerial oligarchy. A politically coordinated cabal of opaquely owned companies is not private property in the way a local coffeeshop is. To do nothing while a managerial mob uses the wealth we have entrusted to them to seize power over us is a betrayal of ourselves, our nation, and our posterity.
Stories of encounters between strangers and princesses were common in ancient cultures. The two most famous, about Moses and Odysseus, seem to present a choice between passivity and activity, peace and violence. But the question becomes both more complicated and more interesting when we turn to the princess-and-stranger narrative to end all others.