Donald Devine

Donald Devine

About Donald Devine

Donald Devine is senior scholar at the Fund for American Studies. He is the author of America’s Way Back: Reclaiming Freedom, Tradition, and Constitution and Reagan’s Terrible Swift Sword: Reforming and Controlling the Federal Bureaucracy. He served as President Reagan’s director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Critiquing Robert Kagan’s Enlightenment Liberalism

By |2019-05-07T10:20:32-05:00May 6th, 2019|Categories: Conservatism, Democracy, Donald Trump, Liberalism, Natural Rights Tradition, Politics, Tyranny|

While Robert Kagan basically dismisses church and community in the development of liberalism, can there be any sadder but more important concession than his own admission that “liberalism has no particular answer” for what can legitimize its rights? An essay is meant to be very, very important when it consumes four giant pages in [...]

Science Lost in Math

By |2019-07-03T13:39:30-05:00January 29th, 2019|Categories: Beauty, Books, Mathematics, Science|

Now, when the subatomic world and the cosmological universe seem to reveal some of the inconsistencies in modern theoretical physics, could the whole idea of a world sitting on fundamental elements be in question? Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray, by Sabine Hossenfelder (304 pages, Basic Books, 2018) Sabine Hossenfelder’s little book Lost [...]

Understanding Voegelin’s Critique of Locke

By |2019-06-13T11:51:55-05:00November 30th, 2018|Categories: American Republic, Books, Democracy, Eric Voegelin, John Locke, Philosophy, Political Philosophy|

No matter how conservative intellectuals try, they just do not seem able to escape John Locke. Jonah Goldberg’s well-received Suicide of the West proudly called America’s Declaration of Independence “echoes of” the great English Enlightenment philosopher John Locke, saying U.S. history was “more Locke than anything Locke imagined.”  He inspired “a government but not a state”: a government with power [...]

The Virtue of Nationalism

By |2019-08-15T11:49:24-05:00October 29th, 2018|Categories: Books, History, Nationalism, Political Philosophy, Politics|

The Virtue of Nationalism, by Yoram Hazony (305 pages, Basic Books, 2018) Yoram Hazony’s The Virtue of Nationalism has the great virtue of an easy summary... well, a reasonably easy one. The first sentence presents the author’s thesis that the world is composed of two “antithetical” types of government: universalist empires and free nation-states. There were earlier [...]

Is God Dead… or Is It Nietzsche?

By |2019-06-27T12:47:45-05:00August 10th, 2018|Categories: American Republic, Atheism, Christianity, Europe, Religion|

The world has been and will continue to be overwhelmingly traditionally religious, whatever intellectuals like Nietzsche might have expected to the contrary, thus confirming those philosophers who contend that all civilizations must be supported by such moral frameworks… San Diego State University recently announced what it called perhaps the largest ever study of American [...]

Jonah Goldberg’s Intricate Story of Romantic Suicide

By |2019-04-16T16:28:26-05:00June 7th, 2018|Categories: American Founding, Books, Christianity, History, Western Civilization|

Suicide of the West, by Jonah Goldberg (464 pages, Crown Forum, 2018) Jonah Goldberg’s Suicide of the West is truly Socratic, in the original sense of thinking through a fundamental problem and working arduously to a new understanding. It is a journey of mysterious discovery that any reader should find exhilarating. This wonderful book [...]

René Girard’s Challenge to Fusionism

By |2019-05-23T12:45:04-05:00May 23rd, 2018|Categories: Civilization, Conservatism, Culture, Eric Voegelin, Politics, Western Civilization|

At a minimum, a restoration of conservative thought requires paying attention to primitive history and to what it might tell us about the things that fusionism has long assumed are most important about tradition—as well as what this new knowledge reveals about the viability of freedom… Modern American conservatism rose in the 1950s under [...]

Why Liberalism Failed

By |2019-09-29T12:45:53-05:00March 26th, 2018|Categories: Books, Conservatism, History, Liberalism, Politics|

Why Liberalism Failed by Patrick J. Deneen (Yale University Press, 2018) Patrick J. Deneen’s Why Liberalism Failed is just what the philosophical doctor ordered to address the present disarray within the conservative intellectual movement: It is a prescription that requires going back to the very basics. The author’s first shock treatment is to define conservatism as [...]

Donald Trump and the Future of Conservatism

By |2017-09-01T15:57:29-05:00June 11th, 2017|Categories: Conservatism, Donald Trump, Featured, Government, Politics, Traditional Conservatives and Libertarians|

One of the most important lessons of Mr. Trump’s electoral victory was that classically-liberal rhetoric and positions were not very important to voters. It turned out that they wanted a candidate who promised to help, not one who knew his Hayek… Six months of the Trump Administration have turned conservatives into Alices peering through [...]

Is Capitalism the Enemy of the Family?

By |2017-04-03T23:04:41-05:00April 3rd, 2017|Categories: Capitalism, Civilization, Economics, Family|

Does capitalism—in its need for efficient, low-paying, and universal labor—have a vested interest in family weakness?… Independent Institute Research Fellow Allan C. Carlson is probably America’s top intellectually-serious social conservative thinker, as he has demonstrated over the years as former President of the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society and author of books such [...]

John Locke: The Harmony of Liberty & Virtue

By |2019-03-07T10:25:16-05:00February 15th, 2017|Categories: American Republic, Civil Society, Featured, Federalist Papers, Freedom, John Locke, Leo Strauss, Liberty, Philosophy|

Government remains limited in civil society because God gave man the ability, through work and reason, to subdue the earth and thereby improve his life by the use of pri­vate property... Understanding Locke John Locke is one of the few major philoso­phers who can be used to provide a theoret­ical and moral foundation for American [...]

How Should Conservatives Respond to President Trump’s Nationalism?

By |2019-08-22T11:22:31-05:00January 30th, 2017|Categories: Donald Trump, Eric Voegelin, Leo Strauss|

Whether or not President Trump is successful with a principled nationalistic agenda or with a more pragmatic one, more traditionally-oriented conservative intellectuals must do some serious thinking, either acceding to nationalism or pragmatism or finding a new story… Donald Trump is nothing if he is not forthright. In his Inaugural Address, the President could [...]