Public Opinion in James Bryce’s “The American Commonwealth”

By |2019-02-07T13:02:45-05:00February 7th, 2019|Categories: Books, Community, Democracy, James Bryce, Political Philosophy|

We see that the creation of one’s own opinions is to a large degree a community affair. According to James Bryce, the individual has a powerful role in crafting a nation’s political discourse, but can only be involved in doing so if they act in concert with others. This neither denies the possibility of conflicting [...]

Lord Acton and the American Civil War

By |2019-02-07T12:32:08-05:00February 7th, 2019|Categories: American Republic, Civil War, Classical Liberalism, History, John C. Calhoun, South|

Lord Acton believed that the wrong side won the American Civil War. Such a judgment could hardly be said to be a minor detail of someone’s historical worldview, yet this judgment has somehow been obscured… “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Among Catholic students of political thought, few figures are more liable [...]

Franklin Pierce, Political Protest, & the Dilemmas of Democracy

By |2019-01-08T23:01:25-05:00January 8th, 2019|Categories: American Republic, Christianity, Civil Society, Civilization, Constitution, Democracy, Government, History, Ordered Liberty, Political Philosophy, Religion|

Franklin Pierce’s suspicions reflected a tension within the antebellum Democratic Party in relation to slavery—how can we reconcile an advocacy of democratic decision-making with the existence of transcendent moral values, the Constitution with the Bible? On the stump in New Boston, New Hampshire in early January 1852, Franklin Pierce gave a long oration during [...]

History on Proper Principles: The Legacy of Forrest McDonald

By |2019-01-11T16:43:51-05:00January 7th, 2019|Categories: Alexander Hamilton, American Founding, American Republic, Federalist Papers, Forrest McDonald, History, Literature, Timeless Essays|

Forrest McDonald demonstrated that the historian above all must be a pragmatist who looks at the reality of the past as it was, who gets his hands dirty by putting in long hours of research, who makes sense of vast quantities of data, and who then communicates what he has found in an understandable and [...]

Versailles at 100

By |2018-12-31T12:59:10-05:00January 1st, 2019|Categories: Civilization, Democracy, Europe, History, Mark Malvasi, Nationalism, Senior Contributors, War, Western Civilization, Woodrow Wilson, World War I, World War II|

The Great War, in Woodrow Wilson’s view, had to become precisely what the delegates to the Congress of Vienna feared: a moral crusade, an instrument of social and political revolution… For American president Woodrow Wilson, the First World War was the “war to end all wars” by making “the world safe for democracy,” not [...]

Liberty and Liberal Education

By |2018-12-26T15:36:02-05:00December 25th, 2018|Categories: American Republic, Civil Society, Classical Education, Education, Great Books, Liberal Arts, Liberal Learning, Western Tradition, Wyoming Catholic College|

Free citizens are necessarily invited to follow the Delphic injunction, “know thyself,” that is addressed to all mankind; and their success or failure in responding to this invitation is crucial for the preservation or loss of their liberty… Liberal education is the distinctive educational tradition of the West; so, too, is liberty our distinctive political tradition. [...]

America’s Ship of Fools

By |2018-12-15T22:18:22-05:00December 15th, 2018|Categories: American Republic, Civil Society, Civilization, Faith, Government, Politics, Religion, Western Civilization|

Although somewhat overshadowed by the allegory of the Cave, the myth of the ring of Gyges, and other powerful images found in Plato’s Republic, the account of the ship of fools is still memorable and compelling. While Socrates—the Athenian philosopher and mentor of Plato—is discussing with his young friends the nature of justice and the [...]

Edmund Burke and the Calculation of Man

By |2018-12-07T16:24:11-05:00December 7th, 2018|Categories: American Republic, Bradley J. Birzer, Civil Society, Community, Conservatism, Edmund Burke, Edmund Burke series by Bradley Birzer, Politics|

As Edmund Burke began to wind down his very long letter—that which would become 1790’s Reflections on the Revolution in France—he returned to the question of first principles and right reason, especially in regard to the nature of the human person. At his best and most natural, Burke argued, men understood themselves as spirited [...]

The Libertarian Constitutional Fantasy

By |2018-12-03T23:16:10-05:00December 4th, 2018|Categories: Conservatism, Constitution, Libertarianism|

Debates regarding the role of the courts used to be waged primarily between conservatives, who were opposed to “judicial activism,” and liberals, who contended that the U.S. Constitution was a “living” document susceptible of a flexible interpretation. In recent years, however, libertarian scholars such as Georgetown Law professor Randy Barnett have altered the course of [...]

Manifest Destiny and the American Nimrods

By |2018-11-30T22:04:59-05:00November 30th, 2018|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Bradley J. Birzer, History, Nationalism, Politics, Revolution, Social Order, Tyranny|

Standing with his father as they watched the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775, eight-year-old John Quincy Adams must have wondered in amazement at the bloody and brutal nobility of it all. And, what must he have thought as he traveled from one European seat of government to another as his father attempted to [...]

Understanding Voegelin’s Critique of Locke

By |2018-11-30T21:59:17-05:00November 30th, 2018|Categories: American Republic, Books, Democracy, Eric Voegelin, John Locke, Philosophy, Political Philosophy|

Eric Voegelin 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 [...]

The Political Thought of Edgar Allan Poe

By |2018-11-30T12:46:08-05:00November 29th, 2018|Categories: Democracy, Edgar Allan Poe|

Edgar Allan Poe vigorously denounced the Jeffersonian ideal of democracy. He had no sympathy with abstract political notions such as those which had produced liberal republican theory in America and elsewhere. Like Edmund Burke, Poe was highly suspicious of the “well-constructed Republic”… The opinion has been often stated that Edgar Allan Poe was bizarre [...]

How Do We Restore the American Order?

By |2018-11-25T22:00:14-05:00November 25th, 2018|Categories: American Republic, Civilization, Culture War, Freedom, John Horvat, Ordered Liberty|

This is America’s tragic situation: The unifying framework of the American creed is now broken. The result is an America that is coming apart… On every American coin, there is the Latin expression, e pluribus unum, meaning “one out of many.” The motto is a celebration of the variety found in America expressed by [...]

Harmony and Order: Giving Thanks

By |2018-11-23T23:30:14-05:00November 21st, 2018|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Bradley J. Birzer, Christian Living, Community, First Amendment, Leisure, Mayflower Compact, Thanksgiving|

In a season of disharmony, discord, distrust, and disorder, it is often painful to stop, to pause, and to give oneself distance enough to consider what must be recognized as good, and true, and beautiful, even in what seems a cesspool of existence. To give thanks, though, is not only necessary, it is salubrious! In [...]