Philosophy

Sam Haselby: Why did the secular ambitions of the early United States fail? – Aeon Essays

In hindsight, American secularism has experienced both clear victories and stark defeats. The Anglo-Protestant heresy of making all members of the political community into Luther’s sovereign individuals has become something of an American orthodoxy. Who is more consistently certain that

Posted in Noted & Quoted, Political Philosophy, Religion

Peter Baker: Rise of Donald Trump Tracks Growing Debate Over Global Fascism – The New York Times

Mr. Paxton, the fascism scholar, said he saw similarities and differences in Mr. Trump. His message about an America in decline and his us-against-them pronouncements about immigrants and outsiders echo Europe in the 1930s, Mr. Paxton said. On the other

Posted in Noted & Quoted, Political Philosophy, Politics

Benjamin Wittes: Trump and the Powers of the American Presidency (Part I) – Lawfare

The presidency’s very virtues as an office—relative unity and vertical integration—make it impossible to render abuse-proof. It is vested with a truly awesome thing:”the executive power” of the entire federal government. There are simply too many ways to abuse that power

Posted in Noted & Quoted, Political Philosophy, Politics Tagged with:

Nathan Heller: The Big Uneasy – The New Yorker

Wasn’t free self-expression the whole point of social progressivism? Wasn’t liberal academe a way for ideas, good and bad, to be subjected to enlightened reason? Generations of professors and students imagined the university to be a temple for productive challenge

Posted in Culture & Entertainment, Noted & Quoted, Political Philosophy Tagged with: ,

Michael Warren: Progressivism’s Macroaggressions – WSJ

How did liberals become so hopelessly illiberal? In “The Closing of the Liberal Mind,” Kim R. Holmes suggests that “the loss of historical memory as to what liberalism was is actually a key to understanding what it is today.” Mr.

Posted in Books, Noted & Quoted, Political Philosophy Tagged with: , ,

David Marcus: How Anti-White Rhetoric Is Fueling White Nationalism – The Federalist

Treating people equally has given way to making all of us ambassadors for our race. This is a classic theme in critical race theory, that people of color carry a burden of representation that white people do not. But foisting

Posted in Culture & Entertainment, Noted & Quoted, Race

Comment Elsewhere: To @BurtLikko under “How to Fix a Broken Elephant: Prologue”

Every other re-othered, just like we like it.

Posted in Comments Elsewhere, Featured, Political Philosophy, Politics Tagged with: ,

After

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How Local Churches Anger The God Of Government – The Federalist

Throughout the book, Leeman maintains that the consensus between Protestant and Enlightenment thought has produced a confusion that is now eroding the very religious liberty the American founders sought to protect. As the culture wars escalate, so does the possibility

Posted in Books, Noted & Quoted, Political Philosophy, Religion

…so who are the “noble liars” now?

When I asked whether the prospect of this same kind of far-reaching spin campaign being run by a different administration is something that scares him, he admitted that it does. “I mean, I’d prefer a sober, reasoned public debate, after

Posted in Neo-Imperialism, notes, Political Philosophy Tagged with: , ,

From the Featured Archives

Noted & Quoted

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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