Daniel McCarthy

Daniel McCarthy is editor at large of The American Conservative (amconmag.com).

We Might Need a Prince of the Potomac

Within days of Donald Trump’s inauguration, George Orwell’s 1984 shot to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list. Trump’s America is not Big Brother’s Oceania or Airstrip One. (Hillary Clinton’s America would not have been, either.) But however far Orwell’s dystopia is from becoming our reality, it’s good for Americans to reacquaint themselves with his warnings. They might do the same for Friedrich Hayek’s warnings in The Road to Serfdom. On the other hand, there’s a sense in which, valuable as these books are, it’s too late to return to them. America has already gone down a road to serfdom, if not…

Read More

In response to: He Tried to Warn Us

More Responses

Why the Worst Now?

The Road to Serfdom’s publication was one of the intellectual and political turning points of the 20th century. The bloom was starting to come off the rose of socialism and Hayek explained why—in clear, crisp, and precise language and in a spirit of respect for those who had believed or still believed in socialism. I’m…

Read More

Father Knows Best

In many key respects, F.A. Hayek’s fears that the modern social-democratic welfare state would lead to totalitarianism did not come to pass. Even soft despotism seems only to have been partially realized. However, rereading The Road to Serfdom in the opening days of Donald Trump’s presidency offers an uncomfortable glimpse of where our national politics…

Read More

Grasping at the Straws of Public Virtù

Friedrich Hayek did not predict Donald Trump, and President Trump is not the central planner of Professor Hayek’s dark imaginings. The question is whether Hayek’s analysis of the central planner can help explain the Trump phenomenon. The claim of my February Liberty Forum essay was that it could. In assessing that claim, I have the…

Read More

From the Nation State to the New Church

Mankind is not easily rid of theology once it gets the bug. The nation-state tried to erase the distinction between earthly power and absolute right, but the attempt failed, with the result that the modern nation-state, its professed secularism notwithstanding, is once more coming under the tutelage of a clerisy. Almost since its beginning the nation-state has implied self-government in matters spiritual as well as temporal. It aspired to be an integral unit within whose borders a people were fully sovereign, answerable only to God—and perhaps not even to God, for what power could gainsay the people’s interpretation of His commands?…

Read More

More Responses

Loving the Democratic State Moderately

Ralph Hancock begins his interesting essay[i] be reminding us that, despite its internal contradictions and failures, the modern state has become the only conceivable political form in our post-modern world. This should be puzzling since the record is far from being a convincing successful story. At its best, the modern state has allowed us to…

Read More