Unfit for Liberty

By |2017-06-08T14:44:57-05:00June 7th, 2017|

“A people may prefer a free government but if, from indolence, or carelessness, or cowardice, or want of public spirit, they are unequal to the exertions necessary for preserving it; if they will not fight for it when it is directly attacked; if they can be deluded by the artifices used to cheat them out [...]

The Lie of the Open Society

By |2019-03-16T10:19:41-05:00June 6th, 2016|

II John Locke The related problems of “the public orthodoxy” and “the open society” were major concerns of  Willmoore Kendall throughout his professional career. In his reappraisal of John Locke in 1941, Kendall’s Locke emerged as an exponent of the public orthodoxy as expressed through the majority. As Kendall sees it, in Lockean thought, “In [...]

In Defense of Elitism

By |2015-04-14T01:26:10-05:00April 7th, 2015|

There is a very famous phrase, “the tyranny of the majority,” that was introduced into political discourse by two near contemporaries in the nineteenth century. Alexis de Tocqueville, the famous French writer who wrote Democracy in America, travelled around this country trying to understand how it is that people can survive without an aristocracy. [...]

The Reality of the Politically Correct Ideology

By |2015-04-04T17:10:13-05:00April 4th, 2015|

Jonathan Chait burned up the Internet with his critique of so-called political correctness.[1] Among many responses, Amanda Taub’s stands out for its denial of Mr. Chait’s basic premise.[2] According to Ms. Taub: …there’s no such thing as “political correctness.” The term’s in wide use, certainly, but has no actual fixed or specific meaning. What [...]

Is Academic Freedom Inherently Good?

By |2015-03-21T17:34:55-05:00March 21st, 2015|Tags: , |

Rarely do opinion pieces in college newspapers emerge as subjects of national controversy, but a recent essay by Harvard student Sandra Y.L. Korn has generated widespread denunciation among conservatives. Her essay—entitled “The Doctrine of Academic Freedom”*—argues for dispensing with longstanding commitments to “academic freedom” in favor of what she calls “academic justice.” Academic freedom [...]

John Stuart Mill: False Prophet of Liberty

By |2014-08-20T16:56:41-05:00August 21st, 2014|

As long as there have been “libertarians,” there has been hero worship of John Stuart Mill. This Nineteenth Century utilitarian author, most famously of On Liberty, has been looked to as a kind of fount of holy writ for individualism. And Mill was an individualist. Unfortunately, he was not a supporter of liberty in [...]

John Stuart Mill Reconsidered

By |2014-06-09T18:36:45-05:00June 5th, 2014|Tags: |

Jeremy Bentham I remember visiting a professor of mine a few years ago during her office hours and seeing a “Bush/Cheney 1984” bumper sticker tacked on her cork-board. That was, I admit, probably my first experience with academic bias, and I was shocked. I asked her what she meant by it. Her [...]

Conservatives and Libertarians: Uneasy Cousins

By |2018-11-09T13:02:13-05:00July 15th, 2012|Tags: |

By common assent modern conservatism, as political philosophy, springs from Edmund Burke: chiefly from his Reflections on the Revolution in France, published in 1790. That book is of course more than a brilliantly prescient analysis of the Revolution and its new and fateful modes of power over individual lives; the Reflections is also, through its [...]

John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty

By |2018-10-16T20:25:23-05:00May 12th, 2011|

“By the time he was eight, he knew nearly everything the doctor of philosophy knows nowadays, to put the matter mildly; but what his intellectual training lacked was the higher imagination, and for that he groped inveighing all his life long. J.S. Mill became all head and no heart, in which character he represents [...]