No man enters the presidency prepared for the office, yet few chief magistrates have managed a stage entry as startlingly rife with incompetence and impropriety as Donald Trump. The reason is that the inherent, inertial conservatism of the office disciplines most of its occupants.
Barry Goldwater famously told the Republican National Convention in 1964 that "extremism in the pursuit of liberty is no vice and ... moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." Begging to differ is Aurelian Craiutu who joins this episode to discuss his new book, Faces of Moderation, a profound study of thinkers such as Raymond Aron, Michael Oakeshott, Isaiah Berlin, and others, who defended freedom and constitutional government against ideologues of all types.
The 2016 election was a victory for the Republican party but it was hardly a resounding one for classical liberalism at least as historically defined. Classical liberalism, for instance, has reflected an enthusiasm for free trade along with other free markets. But Donald Trump ran the most aggressively anti-free trade platform of any major party nominee Democratic or Republican in the last century.
But rather than simply bemoaning the fact, classical liberals need to take account of it, because the anti-trade turn is a part of the greatest challenge classical liberalism has ever faced: how to address the ever faster rate of social and economic change. The freedom to make such transformations through technology and trade creates very substantial wealth but it disrupts people’s lives, making them less liberal and more eager for state protection than before.
There can be no doubt that such disruption was at the heart of Trump’s victory.
According to Livy’s History, the Roman consul Publius Decius Mus sacrificed himself to the gods by “leap[ing] upon his horse and dash[ing] into the middle of the enemy” in a ritual that secured victory for his embattled army. One hopes the polemicist using Decius as a pseudonym in a much discussed broadside against Never Trumpers, having anonymously expressed an opinion with which somewhere north of 40 percent of Americans agree, is safe. The republic almost certainly will be.
Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 classic film, Rashomon
Final grades were due a few days ago, and for those of us who teach, grading season has just come to a close. With visions of student papers dancing in my head, I can’t keep from thinking, Rashomon is a perfect movie for our culture.
Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan
Teaching young people is getting harder. Every year, there is more they don’t know and more they are unready to acquire. Here’s a glimpse into the nature of the obstacles.
Twilight of the American Republic: The new Liberty Law Talk presents a different way of thinking about American Exceptionalism. This discussion with author Justin Litke considers how the twentieth century emergence of an expansive American Exceptionalism relates to the frayed constitutional consensus of the American founding. What did Michael Oakeshott think of the American founding? That's the question taken up by Elizabeth Corey in this week's feature review essay on Gene Callahan's book Oakeshott on Rome and America. Alberto Mingardi @ Econ Lib on Germany trading its political stability for economic stupidity. Then again, there's much of that going on these days. The…
This month’s Liberty Forum considers the ideas of the English political philosopher Michael Oakeshott. Timothy Fuller, Elizabeth Corey, and Justin Shubow evaluate Oakeshott’s contributions on the rule of law and the threats to political and individual liberty posed by advocates of telocratic government, that is, the use of law to achieve ideological conclusions. Below are excerpts from this month’s Forum.