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Author: Nathanael Blake (Nathanael Blake)

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Conservative Liberalism, Liberal Despotism: Part 2

Liberal doctrines necessarily require disenfranchising and punishing those who hold rival beliefs. Liberal ideology is jealous, and will have no other gods before it. American conservatives should reject this revolutionary liberalism and the attempts to make it the central principle of our national heritage. We need not deny that liberal ideas influenced the Founding, but we ought to follow our forefathers in tempering them.

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Conservative Liberalism, Liberal Despotism: Part 1

An oddity about our current debates over liberalism and America is that both sides view the American Founding, and thus America, as fundamentally influenced by classical liberal ideology. They only disagree over whether classical liberalism is good or bad. But the historical record shows that liberal ideology was one influence among many, not that it was the definitive one.

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The Long Autumn of Our Content

Ross Douthat’s depiction of our society in his new book, The Decadent Society, should unsettle defenders of the status quo; his assessment of its potential resilience should give pause to those who are eagerly awaiting its fall and planning for what comes next. Decadence may be worse, and yet more permanent, than we think.

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The Age of Miracles and Misery Machines

We have more material comforts than kings and merchant princes of old, and technological progress has wrought what would once be considered miracles. Yet our culture makes every effort to promote dissatisfaction, for there is money to be made when people are unhappy or bored with what they have. In an age of miracles, our phones are becoming misery machines.

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Sweeney Trump and the Hollow Men

There are reasons to care which denizens of the wasteland hold political authority, but rejuvenating the wasteland is the more important task. Without recognizing the decadence of our culture, denouncing (or defending) the latest tweet from the president is just a desultory wind swirling dust and ashes.

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We Were Parents

When my wife and I mourned the miscarriage of our child, we were not mourning the loss of “potential life.” Hope for a potential life is what we had when we dreamed and prayed for pregnancy; hope for the potential of an existing life is what we had during the pregnancy. When our pregnancy ended, we mourned the loss of a life, of an irreplaceable human person whose particular genetic composition will never be repeated.

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Outrage Mobs Might Be More Forgiving If They Believed in Hell

Without a Christian framework, but with a strong sense of sin, seemingly minor wrongs and slights are seen as representative expressions of the injustices of society as a whole. But there is no one to grant absolution to the repentant, or to redeem the world from its fallen state. Each wrong is indelible, and so there is only sin and punishment. Forgiveness becomes impossible when every discrete wrong is bundled into a secularized version of original sin.

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The Dual Legitimation Crisis: Elitism, Populism, and Political Power

Because liberal Western democracies are ostensibly rooted in the theory of popular sovereignty, elite disdain for the people creates another legitimation crisis—one that many fail to recognize. It is not simply that the people have lost confidence in the elites and their governance, or that the elites struggle to speak for (and even to) the people. Disdain for the people also unmoors elite authority.

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The Romance of Ordinary Marriage

It is fashionable to mock as bland and boring the ordinary men and women living out their married lives together, but they are often engaged in a quest far more challenging and romantic than anything the bohemian libertine will attempt.

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The Consuming Self

Americans increasingly identify with our consumption. When combined with political tribalism, the result is the increasing refusal to do business with members of other political or cultural groups. In the end, an identity based on consumption will only consume itself.

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