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.

The Flawed Foundation of the European Union

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Seeking to give the slip to her young charge, Cecily, in order to take a flirtatious spin around the garden with the elderly unmarried local vicar, Dr Chasuble, on whom the aging governess has set her sights, the redoubtable Miss Prism in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, instructs her that

‘you will read your Political Economy in my absence. The chapter on the Fall of the Rupee you may omit. It is somewhat too sensational… Even these metallic problems have their melodramatic side.’

As some have observed, the joke here is ultimately on the playwright, since currency collapses are indeed sensational. One need only think of how traumatic was the collapse of Germany’s mark after World War I and of the ensuing tragic events to appreciate just how dramatic a currency collapse can be.

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The U.N. Human Rights Council at Work

At a recent emergency session to discuss Israel’s military operation against Hamas, the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolution—proposed by Palestine, which enjoys observer status there—to convene a special enquiry into whether Israel has been guilty of any war crimes in its current action in Gaza.

Speaking during the proceedings, at which, among the Council’s 47 members, only the United States voted against the resolution, Navanethem Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, remarked of the Israeli Defense Forces operation in Gaza:

There seems to be a strong possibility that international law has been violated in a manner that could amount to war crimes.

Ms. Pillay, a former South African judge, has a remarkable record of scenting out when there have been human rights violations.

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Adam Smith, Rationalized

Smith

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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The Egalitarian Fallout of Vergara v. California

Last week, in what promises to be the start of a protracted and important judicial battle, a judge in California struck down five statutes in the state’s Education Code on the grounds that they prevented children attending public schools from receiving an education that is commensurate with their state constitutional right to equal protection under the law. The statutes judged unlawful were those preventing Californian district school boards from withholding tenure from incompetent teachers or firing them once they had gained it, plus another obliging them to give priority to their more long-serving, but less effective, teaching staff over more recent, but more effective, teaching appointments when, for economic reasons, lay-offs had to be made.

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Talked to Death

Recently, the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the appeal of a man convicted and sentenced to a one-year prison term for having aided the suicides of two depressed people through advice and encouragement he had offered them over the Internet.

The grounds on which the appellant successfully challenged his conviction were that the statute under which he had been prosecuted and convicted — and which proscribed ‘encouraging, advising or assisting another in committing suicide’ — violated his First Amendment right to free speech.

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Star Wars Trumps Culture Wars in Britain

anglican_cathedral.During the run-up to Easter this year, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron had the temerity to assert publicly (and on more than one occasion) that Britain is a Christian country, suggesting also that it is no bad thing that it is. For having publicly espoused such politically incorrect sentiments, fifty-five prominent British humanists came down on him like a ton of bricks, excoriating him for false and divisive statements they claimed that he had made.

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Jewish Learning, Human Liberty

Maimonides

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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Plutocrat Protection Act

Hot on the heels of the latest annual Bilderberg get-together in Berkshire, England, political leaders at the just-concluded G8 summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, announced that the EU and US intend to broker a free-trade agreement between them by the end of next year, with talks towards one due to begin next month.

How should supporters of free-markets respond to the news of such an agreement – with jubilation, indifference, or dismay? Prima facie, such a deal can only be good news. The removal or lowering of tariffs fosters trade and thereby supposedly facilitates mutually beneficial international division of labour which in turn, by fostering a greater interdependency between nations, reduces the chances of war between them.

In reality, however, the prospect of such an agreement is anything but a cause for celebration for freedom lovers.

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