David Conway

David Conway is a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Westminster-based social policy think-tank Civitas: Institute for the Study of Civil Society which he joined in 2004 and where he worked full-time as a senior research fellow for five years, after leaving academia following a thirty year career teaching Philosophy at various British universities. Professor Conway's numerous publications include A Farewell to Marx; Classical Liberalism: The Unvanquished Ideal; Free Market Feminism; The Rediscovery of Wisdom; In Defence of the Realm; A Nation of Immigrants? A Brief Demographic History of Britain; and Liberal Education and the National Curriculum.

Why Did They Kill?

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Almost nightly, our TV screens berate us with images of atrocities in far-flung places perpetrated by the likes of ISIS and Boko Haram. Watching them, it is chastening to reflect that, less than three quarters of a century ago, savagery on an even far larger scale and a more organized basis was rampant throughout Europe, committed at the behest of the democratically elected government of one of that continent’s most civilized and cultured nations. What drove the land of Schiller, Kant, and Mozart to descend to such depths of depravity forms the subject of Dan McMillan’s informative and thought-provoking How Could…

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Assessing Religious Terror

religious terror

Since 9/11 numerous books have been written about religiously motivated terror. Many have been vitiated by the excessive keenness of their authors to play down the role of Islam in motivating it or else to exaggerate that of other religions in instigating it. One such author is Mark Juergensmeyer. Widely heralded as an authority on "Christian terrorism", Juergensmeyer has described Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh as a Christian terrorist, without any evidence religion entered into his motives for carrying out the bombing. He has similarly denied that the Muslim faith of the Tsarnev brothers inspired them to carry out the Boston…

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The Yanks Made Us Do It

The central question addressed by Samuel Gregg in his timely ruminations about the Anglosphere is how ready and willing its member nations are to “collectively shape the global order” through collaboration beyond that in which they already engage. His chief contention is that, while the nations of the Anglosphere jointly possess the necessary economic, demographic, and military means to be much more assertive globally, certain key political leaders lack the will to turn it into a more assertive player. Of these reluctant leaders, one is said to be President Obama. “Of all postwar American presidents,” Gregg writes, “Obama seems the least…

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Snubbing the Anglosphere

Samuel Gregg rightly concludes that the political cooperation required for the nations of “the Anglosphere” to act as an effective international bloc rests upon choices by leaders. Cultural ties and longstanding security relationships open possibilities, but pursuing them requires conscious decision. To elaborate on Gregg’s analysis, one would have to consider what presuppositions and concerns…

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Crisis of Identity: Here, There, and in the Canuckosphere

Samuel Gregg’s thoughtful Liberty Forum essay on the prospects for a functional “Anglosphere” leaves me perplexed. He is no Pollyanna on the matter, but to my mind he underestimates some monumental intellectual and practical difficulties confronting statesmen who would try to move the English-speaking peoples from ad hoc cooperation in various areas, animated by real…

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The Meteoric Rise of ISIS

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The last page of this brief but powerful book displays a portrait of its author, Patrick Cockburn. His world-weary demeanor speaks volumes about the gravity of the subject—the unexpectedly sudden, meteoric rise in Syria and Iraq of sundry Islamist terror groups, of which the most brutal went until recently by the acronym of ISIS. The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria even more recently contracted its name to Islamic State so as to indicate that it has now become a global caliphate to which all Muslims should give their fealty. Cockburn, the Baghdad-based Middle East correspondent of the British newspaper…

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A Separate Peace


Israel’s military operation in Gaza earlier this year, Protective Edge, and the Jerusalem synagogue massacre this week lend great salience to the issue debated in this book by two emeritus professors of religion. One, an American–born rabbi, Dan Cohn-Sherbok, argues for the moral and legal legitimacy of the creation in 1948 of Israel as a Jewish state, as well as the current need for a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. His co-author, Mary Grey, is a Christian feminist liberation theologian who considers Israel’s creation both morally illegitimate as well as ill-advised. In her view, Israel was grounded upon…

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A Vindication of Commercial Society


In the Wealth of Nations Adam Smith outlines a commercial society: When the division of labour has been once thoroughly established, it is but a very small part of a man's wants which the produce of his own labour can supply. He supplies the far greater part of them by exchanging… the produce of his own labour… for such parts of the produce of other men's labour as he has occasion for. Every man thus lives by exchanging, or becomes in some measure a merchant, and the society itself grows to be what is properly a commercial society. The last sentence of the…

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Adam Smith, Rationalized


Recent years have seen a veritable renaissance in Adam Smith scholarship. Most is devoted to revising a previously widespread image of him, especially within libertarian circles, as an advocate of unbridled capitalism and of correspondingly minimal government. Instead, much recent Smith scholarship has sought to portray the eighteenth century Scottish philosopher as having been far more communitarian-minded and favourably disposed towards more than the minimum government provided by the legendary night-watchman state. The latest Smith scholar to join in this revisionary project is Jack Russell Weinstein, a professor of philosophy at the University of North Dakota and director of its Institute…

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Jewish Learning, Human Liberty


Mounted above the gallery doors of the House Chamber on Capitol Hill are 23 marble bas relief plaques of figures selected on account of their contributions towards establishing the principles underlying American law. Arranged in two groups of 11 on either side of chamber, these figures face a full-faced portrait of Moses situated in the center. In several cases, such as the figures of Thomas Jefferson and William Blackstone, the connection with American legal principles is fairly obvious. The personages whose association is less obvious include the medieval Cordovan rabbi and philosopher, Moses Maimonides. His thought and writing are barely studied…

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Reclaiming Britain’s Commodity of Liberty

Au Revoir, Europe

While more than enough is happening domestically to keep Americans fully occupied, it will not have escaped the attention of many of them that the political tectonic plates of Europe are currently moving in ways contrary to the direction in which America has sought to steer them since the end of World War Two. What is called today the European Union was very much the brainchild of the United States. By means of it, America sought to prevent further internecine conflict in Europe, as well as to enmesh Germany within an alliance that would prevent it falling under Soviet influence. In…

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Misunderstanding the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment

American Religious Neutrality

‘Government in our democracy, state and national, must be neutral in matters of religious theory, doctrine, and practice…  The First Amendment mandates governmental neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion.’ So Justice Abraham Fortas declared in delivering the Supreme Court ruling in Epperson vs. Arkansas. That ruling struck down an Arkansas statute, enacted in 1928, prohibiting Darwinian evolution from being taught in its state schools and universities. In explaining the reasons for the Court’s ruling, Justice Fortas stated: There is and can be no doubt that the First Amendment does not permit the State to require that teaching and…

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