Tools: Work Done Right

By |2021-06-14T15:02:14-05:00June 14th, 2021|Categories: Books, History, John Willson, Labor/Work, Timeless Essays|

Tools are a significant part of the permanent things, but they are also relative to time, place, and function. That is, we are tool-using animals, whether it is a flint-edged knife, or the one supposedly developed by Jim Bowie, or the Swiss Army knife. Or to put it another way, we are an ingenious species, [...]

Progressivism, School Safety, and Common Sense

By |2018-03-15T01:01:07-05:00March 14th, 2018|Categories: 2nd Amendment, Culture, Education, John Willson, Politics|

There is something uniquely awful about children getting gunned down. But in terms of school security, the good news is that we are still free enough to use existing laws and institutions to experiment in states and local communities, in government and private schools, to see what works… One principle that should unite all serious [...]

An Imaginative Conservative’s “Man of the House”

By |2017-05-17T23:27:21-05:00May 17th, 2017|Categories: Books, C. R. Wiley, Family, John Willson, Virtue|

The theme of C.R. Wiley’s “Man of the House” is that the Great Progressive Fallacy—the individual is the moral center of the culture, and that the state is the individual’s protector—serves only the forces of destruction… Man of the House: A Handbook for Building a Shelter that will Last in a World that is Falling [...]

What Do Conservatives Do with Donald Trump Now?

By |2021-01-06T18:10:31-06:00May 4th, 2016|Categories: Donald Trump, Forrest McDonald, John Willson, Politics, Presidency, Republicans|

Donald Trump has felt the pulse of the people and taken into account the meaning (and limits) of the Constitution and come up with the outlines of a plan that is both reasonably coherent and (dare I say?) conservative. “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” —Sun-tzu, ca. 400 BC; or Machiavelli, 1520 AD [...]

Stephen Masty, R.I.P.— Imagining the Epiphany

By |2016-01-08T05:18:30-06:00January 8th, 2016|Categories: Christianity, Death, John Willson, Literature, Stephen Masty|

Editor’s Note: Stephen Masty, a Senior Contributor to The Imaginative Conservative, passed away December 26th at the age of sixty-one. We pay tribute to him with this essay by John Willson, who was Steve Masty’s teacher at Hillsdale College and who eventually became Steve’s student. They have been friends for forty years. The Test of the [...]

Poverty & the Pursuit of Happiness: Arthur Brooks’ “Conservative Heart”

By |2015-12-04T08:07:09-06:00November 17th, 2015|Categories: Books, Featured, Happiness, John Willson, Modernity|

The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America, by Arthur C. Brooks (Broadside Books, 2015) The great Elton Trueblood, who really did write about happiness, said many times that you can write a book of any length, but if you want people to read it, make it around 100 pages. [...]

Uncle Put & the American Paradox of Individualism & Community

By |2019-07-03T13:39:12-05:00November 13th, 2015|Categories: American Republic, Featured, History, John Willson, Literature|

The last clear memory I have of my great-uncle Atwood Putnam (yes, his ancestors were those Putnams, including “Old Wolf” Israel, but we never got any of the money—well, more about that later) was of him chasing several of his great-grandchildren down the gravel driveway that led to his shack, barefoot, floppy red felt hat [...]

Do We Really Understand What an Economy Is?

By |2021-04-21T15:36:59-05:00September 21st, 2015|Categories: Economics, Essential, Faith, Family, Featured, Forrest McDonald, John Willson, Labor/Work, Timeless Essays|

It is up to our “little platoons” to restore the respect for work that alone can restore health to an economic order. It is a long road, but a good start on going down the that road is to read carefully our historians and poets. M. Stanton Evans once said, in defense of free markets: [...]

Great and Not So Great Society

By |2017-07-12T23:16:09-05:00May 31st, 2014|Categories: Featured, John Willson, Politics, Presidency|

Presidency, n. The greased pig in the field game of American politics. Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary The history of the American Presidency from George Washington to Barack Obama is the single most convincing empirical argument against the theory of evolution. – Paraphrased/plagiarized from several wise observers; often said about Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, William [...]

Forever Young: Kent State, “Ohio”

By |2014-05-24T10:04:52-05:00May 14th, 2014|Categories: John Willson, Politics, Tyranny|

Glenn Frank One of our great cultural temptations since the 1960s is to think of songsters as poets. Stephen Foster never claimed to be, nor did Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, or Oscar Hammerstein. Suddenly, in the 60s, the likes of Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, David Crosby and (slightly later) Bruce Springsteen moved up [...]

Gerhart Niemeyer, Refugee

By |2017-12-09T13:26:15-06:00January 30th, 2014|Categories: Christianity, Gerhart Niemeyer, John Willson, World War II|

Brad Birzer was thinking, the other day, about intellectual refugees from Nazi Germany and other parts of Nazi-controlled Europe during the years leading up to and including World War II. He asked me if I knew Gerhart Niemeyer’s story. I told him that I do, from Gerhart’s son Paul’s loving and very competent biography of [...]

Football: Bastion of the Republic

By |2014-09-22T14:02:35-05:00December 23rd, 2013|Categories: Culture, John Willson, Sports|

I came across this the other day, from the Washington Times: Kids flee football in light of NFL violence, Pop Warner participation plummeting. The author is Nathan Fenno, and I hasten to say that I am the last man in the world to wish to kill the messenger. His article is on the whole fair, although [...]

John Lukacs’s Valediction

By |2013-11-19T06:06:25-06:00November 18th, 2013|Categories: John Lukacs, John Willson|Tags: |

John Lukacs and Wendell Berry This is the best introduction to the historical craft of John Lukacs. History and the Human Condition does not replace the much longer Remembered Past, a wide-ranging selection of Lukacs’s works also published by ISI Books. But this work, a coda to the author’s career, contains just the right mixture of [...]

Speaking of Bow Ties…and Real Shaving

By |2014-01-22T14:26:02-06:00July 29th, 2013|Categories: Culture, John Willson|

In the early 1980s, I became one of six men in the Western World who knew how to tie a bow tie, all by myself, and I did not know who the other five were. I ceased wearing them after a colleague said to me, “John, you look like a…Liberal!”  Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. had made [...]

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