Category Archives

Archive of posts published in the category: Philosophy

Republicanism and Aristocracy

The third aristocracy identified by McLaughlin is a cultural aristocracy embedded in media, entertainment, higher education, and increasingly in corporations and public school.  To the extent that this aristocracy projects values and rules that are in conflict with a large portion of the population, there is a reaction similar to the reaction to the previous political and economic aristocracies.

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Principles and Ideology

Principles are not accountable to ideologies; ideologies are accountable to principles.

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Liberty is Boring

“Because the hatred of adjacent heretics is more intimate and more intense than the hatred of distant infidels, these rightists end up doing things that would be otherwise inexplicable,”

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When Philosophy Gets Democratized

“We see this wonderful paradox today that democratic intellectuals want more democracy than the American people—who are not intellectuals—want. They speak for the people and ask for reforms that the people themselves haven’t thought of or aren’t demanding or wouldn’t care about really but for their intellectuals, who impose on them.”

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Why The Radicals Devour Their Own

“As every good utopian knows, The Plan cannot fail — The Plan can only be failed. And that is how the people-over-profits socialist humanitarians of the 20th century ended up murdering more than 100 million people in the pursuit of fairness and social justice.”

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Dignity and Due Process

“Due process is giving legal form to your rights. To have rights is to be dignified.”

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Too Much Democracy Undermines Democracy

“Rule of the people requires that the power of the people be limited, spread out, and qualified, and argued out. “

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Democracy is Vulgar

“He’s more authoritarian, but that’s just what democracy is, when it isn’t made moderate and deliberate by constitutions. So he’s the underside of our system. And he’s the very kind of enemy that we were warned against at the very beginning.”

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Culture and Economics

“So each thinks it’s losing, because it’s losing what it most wants. But if you look at those two things—economics and culture—that just goes back to the two rights in Locke: economics, private property; and culture, toleration. “

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A Liberal Democracy is a Limited Democracy

A liberal democracy is a limited democracy.  Without that immensely important modifier, democracy is ripe for tyranny.

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Private Property and Toleration

“So the intellectuals were no longer allies or friends of businessmen and became enemies. This happens with Rousseau. The whole idea of keeping together these two social currents of liberalism—namely, private property and toleration—gets lost. What we have today are mostly progressive intellectuals.”

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The Only Loyalty that Matters

“If you are not used to the intellectual compartmentalization required of an American politician, it can be jarring to hear, e.g., Senator Sanders demanding “revolution” at 10 a.m. and denouncing “insurrection” at 10:15 a.m”

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The Sanctuary of the Courts

The difference between progressives and conservatives today is far greater than their positions on issues; that is merely a distraction.  There is a fundamental difference between their position on the purpose of government, their understandings of human nature and knowledge,  and their philosophy that ensues from that understanding.

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Progressive Contradictions and Ironies

The first contradiction is the drive to greater democracy while driving more policy making to unelected administrators. Progressive thinkers like Goodwin, Wilson, and Dewey had a faith that bureaucrats would better serve the public interest objectively than elected officials.  They replaced the separation of powers with the separation of politics from administration. Their belief that administration would not be subject to political partisanship seems naive today.

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The General Will

Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson turned this upside down, contending that property rights should be determined according its ability to serve the greater good, the general will. This shift of the Progressive Era from the primacy of minority rights to a majoritarian will defines the progressive shift in American politics.  The question is who or what determines the will of the majority. For Wilson it was the president as the sole official elected by all the people.

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Electing the Proper Elites

Our government attempted to bring the best features of a monarchy, and aristocracy and and democracy together without the faults; an ambitious project.  Our representatives are not just reflections of a majority will; but executors of judgment with an eye towards more that the next election.  This means that sometimes they must say “no” to the populist majority.  The Constitution makes this easy on some issues but not all.

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Checking Government Power

Not only is the growth of central government power antithetical to the founding principles, it has proven as short of necessary competence as it is short of legitimacy.  As economics has rivaled politics for our attention new scholarship has observed the dispersed nature of knowledge that separates knowledge from power at the federal level.

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An Objective Moral Order

“To atheists like Mr. Dawkins, Sacks applied a beloved aphorism, adapted from an Oxford don: On the surface he’s profound, but deep down he’s superficial.”

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Free Speech Revisited

“Such cases show what happens when our heightened eagerness to take offense meets institutions’ innate desire to avoid trouble. If hearing a contrary opinion feels like a personal assault, then any potentially controversial statement is equivalent to shouting fire in a crowded theater. It’s much easier for a business or a school to avoid trouble, and potential liability, by shutting down discussion altogether.”

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Acid Pragmagtism

“By pragmatism’s own metaphors, their philosophy is like an acid that dissolves dogmas. The problem with acid is that it never knows when to stop burning. That’s why liberals are constantly discovering new crises that require more government solutions. Suggesting to activist liberals that maybe some day they could just go home and get a real job elicits nothing but bewilderment or rage when you bring it up.”

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