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.

Is Natural Law Sufficient to Defend the Founding?

By |2020-07-26T00:55:31-05:00July 26th, 2020|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Aristotle, Books, Natural Law, Philosophy, Reason|

As Robert R. Reilly explains in “America on Trial,” the United States restored the founding of government based on reason in a Constitution that produced the most successful government experiment in history. If the American Founding was a rational and social success, why has the American experiment now come under modern attack? America on Trial: [...]

Understanding Genes, Decadence, and the Decline of Empires

By |2020-06-01T13:59:14-05:00June 1st, 2020|Categories: Charles Murray, Civil Society, Civilization, Culture|

We have become victims of our very success in producing a comfortable life so that nothing new seems worth much further effort. The United States and the West might even be as decadent as was ancient Rome, which managed decline for centuries. Why not the United States too? Everyone on the right seems to have [...]

Building American Institutions During a Cultural Crisis

By |2020-03-29T18:36:22-05:00March 29th, 2020|Categories: Books, Civil Society, Conservatism, Culture War, Social Institutions|

In his latest book, Yuval Levin presents irrefutable evidence of America’s weakening attachment to its core institutions of family, community, voluntary associations, religions, and political parties. His goal, however, is to move beyond today’s ideological culture war and show how commitment to institutions puts us on an edifying path to belonging, social status, personal integrity, [...]

Impeachment, the End of an Era, and the Conservative Challenge

By |2020-01-14T14:46:46-06:00January 14th, 2020|Categories: Conservatism, Donald Trump, Government, James Madison, Liberalism, Politics|

It is difficult to know when an era has ended. The events dominating the news today—presidential impeachment, deep state subversion of secret surveillance courts, confused and prolonged wars, out-of-control debt and government spending, and a radicalized educational and media culture—suggest something quite profound is threatening American governance. But it is not so clear precisely what. [...]

The Fusionist Fight Over Everything

By |2019-11-04T06:29:37-06:00November 4th, 2019|Categories: American Republic, Conservatism, Libertarianism, Traditional Conservatives and Libertarians|

The divide between conservatism’s old elements may represent the “end” of the fusionism that built the “conservative movement” and, after a half-century, of the dominance of this thinking within one of America’s major political parties. The intellectual battle between the factions claiming the brand “conservatism” has become “the fight over, well, everything” perceives even outsider [...]

Critiquing Robert Kagan’s Enlightenment Liberalism

By |2019-10-30T12:06:44-05:00May 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 the [...]

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 in [...]

Understanding Voegelin’s Critique of Locke

By |2019-11-21T19:44:32-06:00November 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 |2020-06-14T17:03:22-05:00October 29th, 2018|Categories: Books, History, Nationalism, Political Philosophy, Politics|

Yoram Hazony’s "The Virtue of Nationalism" sees the world as composed of two “antithetical” types of government: universalist empires and free nation-states. The problem is that everything in the book is forced into that all-inclusive doctrinal dichotomy. The Virtue of Nationalism, by Yoram Hazony (305 pages, Basic Books, 2018) Yoram Hazony’s The Virtue of Nationalism has the [...]

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 youth [...]

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 is [...]

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 the [...]

Patrick Deneen on “Why Liberalism Failed”

By |2020-08-04T06:19:03-05:00March 26th, 2018|Categories: Books, Conservatism, History, Liberalism, Politics|

Patrick 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. Why Liberalism Failed by Patrick J. Deneen (Yale University Press, 2018) Patrick J. Deneen’s Why Liberalism Failed is just what the philosophical doctor [...]

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 the [...]

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