Shaun Rieley

About Shaun Rieley

Shaun Rieley is Associate Director for Programs and Development at The American Conservative. He has held positions at several nonprofit organizations in the Washington, D.C., area, focused on veterans policy, education policy, and philanthropy. He holds a Ph.D. in political theory from The Catholic University of America, and an M.A. from St. John’s College, Annapolis, where he studied philosophy, political theory, and literature. As an undergraduate he studied political science at the University of Delaware. Shaun served as an enlisted infantryman in the Army National Guard for nine years, which included overseas tours in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Dangers of a Woke Military

By |2021-04-05T16:39:21-05:00April 5th, 2021|Categories: American military, Democracy, Equality|

It is utterly shocking that the Department of Defense would target a private citizen for voicing an opinion, and then celebrate its attack using words that would ordinarily be reserved for enemies of the country. When it attempts to “smite” citizens for the mere act of questioning a matter of public policy, the military moves [...]

Eva Brann, National Treasure

By |2021-01-21T12:11:35-06:00January 21st, 2019|Categories: Eva Brann, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Liberal Learning, Truth, Wisdom|

In a moment when the forces of ideology seem to threaten to overwhelm the voice of sanity and civility, Eva Brann’s imaginative conservatism offers another way—a way rooted in, as she has put it, “talking, reading, writing, listening”… Editor’s Note: This essay is part of a series dedicated to Senior Contributor Dr. Eva Brann of St. John’s [...]

Inquiring into the Western Tradition: A ‘Great Books’ Education

By |2018-04-06T22:10:18-05:00April 6th, 2018|Categories: Education, Great Books, Humanities, Liberal Arts|

A great books education exposes students to the best “inquirers” in the Western Tradition. Scientists and mathematicians are certainly inquirers. The best of them seek wisdom about nature, God, human beings, and the relationship among them. However, there are other ways of inquiring into these realities. The great poets, philosophers, historians, and theologians, for example, [...]

Tyranny in American Political Discourse

By |2021-04-14T06:52:31-05:00April 2nd, 2017|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, American Republic, Aristotle, Democracy in America, Featured, Plato, Russell Kirk, Timeless Essays|

There is a strong case to be made that the United States is creeping ever closer to tyranny. For if the rule of law is undermined, political rule will then be, by definition, tyrannical. The word “tyranny” has a long history in American political discourse. Since at least the American Revolution, Americans have used the [...]

Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society

By |2017-03-02T22:20:10-06:00October 1st, 2016|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, Books, Christianity, Civil Society, Featured|

In 1939, as the storm clouds of World War II were gathering in Europe, famed modernist-poet-turned-Anglo-Catholic, T.S. Eliot, penned an essay entitled “The Idea of a Christian Society,” in which he lays out a vision of a Christian society over and against the powerful totalitarian ideologies of communism and fascism. Eliot, however, is careful to [...]

Redeeming Quentin Tarantino

By |2016-08-25T16:50:59-05:00July 23rd, 2016|Categories: Books, Featured, Film|

The nature of philosophy, viewed from a certain angle, is to think about the deep meaning imbedded in ordinary things. Plato’s Socrates made his reputation by challenging people that he encountered to question their own assumptions about the meaning of various ordinary concepts that, upon reflection, prove to be deeper than they seem: justice in [...]

Seeking a Humane Political Order: The Limits of Rationalism

By |2016-03-04T16:24:39-06:00February 2nd, 2016|Categories: Culture, Edmund Burke, Featured, Morality, Philosophy, Reason|

Of the perennial debates in political theory, perhaps none is more enduring or contentious than that regarding the extent of power that human beings possess over their political and social order. This question is as old as political philosophy itself, with Plato taking up the question of the best society in his Republic. Since then, [...]

Holding the Center: Eva Brann’s “Then and Now”

By |2016-03-11T10:42:12-06:00January 21st, 2016|Categories: Books, Eva Brann, Featured, Great Books, Imaginative Conservative Books|

As a graduate of St. John’s College, Annapolis (Master of Arts, 2013), I am proud be associated with a college that is home to such a national treasure as Eva Brann. Whimsical yet sometimes dense, Ms. Brann’s writing is always a pleasure to read, even when it requires the reader to put in hard work—and [...]

Laudato Si’: Pope Francis, the Environment & Liberal Learning

By |2015-09-20T09:38:56-05:00August 22nd, 2015|Categories: Featured, Great Books, Pope Francis, Science|

Much has been written about Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’. On the American Right, there has been much hand-wringing over his handling of climate change, whereas the American Left has been praising it for the same reason. The Right’s opposition is largely rooted in a combination of economic arguments and suspicion of the science supporting [...]

The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, & the Birth of Left and Right

By |2020-12-18T17:09:47-06:00July 2nd, 2014|Categories: Books, Edmund Burke|

Yuval Levin’s “The Great Debate” does a valuable service in working toward promoting more reflection in our political debates, by examining the all-too-often unspoken assumptions implicit in our political discourse. The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Left and Right, by Yuval Levin (296 pages, Basic Books, 2013) When Russell Kirk [...]

Tyranny in American Political Discourse

By |2017-10-11T23:23:05-05:00December 1st, 2013|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, Politics, Revolution, Tyranny|Tags: |

The word “tyranny” has a long history in American political discourse. Since at least the American Revolution, Americans have used the word to describe political actions they find distasteful. But what is tyranny? Some have defined tyranny to be identical with monarchy; others identify it with any form of government which is not democratic, or [...]

Veterans Day and Civil Society

By |2020-11-10T09:59:29-06:00November 11th, 2013|Categories: Military, Veterans Day|Tags: |

This Veterans Day, I would encourage you to remember and honor veterans, but less because what they have done, and more because of what their service represents—that is, a space for robust civil society, and human flourishing. Our nation has been at war now for more than a decade. Since the first troops were sent [...]

Reflections on St. John’s College: The Conservative Contrarian

By |2017-08-01T13:19:57-05:00May 25th, 2013|Categories: Conservatism, Liberal Learning, St. John's College|Tags: |

I have always been something of a contrarian. I have never been content to simply accept what “everyone knows” as given. This—perhaps paradoxically—is precisely what leads me, in many ways, to my conservative disposition; but I will return to this point presently. It was also this contrarian impulse which led me to St. John’s College. [...]

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