Michael Oakeshott, Rationalism, and America’s Present Condition

Michael Oakeshott (1901-1990), an English philosopher and political theorist, is remembered by Alberto Mingardi in a post at Econlib: He was a self-confident thinker who did not search for others’ approval. He had an impressive career but somehow outside the mainstream, was remembered by friends (like Ken Minogue) as a splendid friend who cared about […]

Can Libertarianism and Conservatism Be Reconciled?

This post is inspired by an article in The Objective Standard, which proclaims itself the preeminent source for commentary from an Objectivist perspective, objectivism being Ayn Rand‘s philosophy of reason, egoism, and capitalism. The writer, with whom I have jousted sporadically for 15 years, will go unnamed here because I want to emphasize his ideology, […]

Intellectuals and Authoritarianism

In the preceding post I quoted the German political theorist, Carl Schmitt (1888-1985). The quotation is from a book published in 1926, seven years before Schmitt joined the Nazi Party. But Schmitt’s attraction to authoritarianism long predates his party membership. In 1921, according to Wikipedia, Schmitt became a professor at the University of Greifswald, where […]

Tragic Capitalism

Capitalism, when it isn’t being used as a “dirty word” by “socialist democrats” (the correct rendering, and an oxymoron at that), simply entails three connected things: There is private ownership of the means of production — capital — which consists of the hardware, software, and processes used to produce goods and services. There are private […]

Conservatism vs. Ideology

In “Rescuing Conservatism” I distinguish between “true” conservatives — persons who are conservative by disposition, not ideology, — and faux conservatives — bloviators like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and Michael Savage. I go on to say that [in] the conservative view, government would … be limited to making and enforcing the few rules […]

“Conservative” Confusion

Keith Burgess-Jackson is a self-styled conservative with whom I had a cordial online relationship about a dozen years ago. Our relationship foundered for reasons that are trivial and irrelevant to this post. I continued to visit KBJ’s eponymous blog occasionally (see first item in “related posts”, below), and learned of its disappearance when I I […]

Disposition and Ideology

In two recent posts (here and here), I’ve drawn a line (perhaps a fuzzy one) between disposition and ideology. I claim that conservatism is first of all a disposition, that is, a temperament or tendency. By contrast, such “isms” as libertarianism, modern (statist) “liberalism”, straight-out socialism (undisguised as “liberalism”), and faux conservatism are ideologies, that […]

Leftism: A Bibliography

LAST UPDATED ON 11/08/19 Many of the sources listed below are quoted or referred to in “Leftism“. Others are relevant to the discussion there and at many other posts on this blog. Many of my posts that address leftism directly and tangentially can be found by clicking here. A visit to “Favorite Posts” will quickly […]

Leftism

Throughout this essay I use “left” and its cognates rather than “progressive” or “liberal” (in the modern, authoritarian sense). The latter terms exemplify doublespeak, an indispensable tool of leftism, inasmuch as “progressives” often endorse regressive economic and social policies, and “liberals” embrace a sanitized version of fascism. This essay draws on many years of reading […]

Leftism

Throughout this essay I use “left” and its cognates rather than “progressive” or “liberal” (in the modern, authoritarian sense). The latter terms exemplify doublespeak, an indispensable tool of leftism, inasmuch as “progressives” often endorse regressive economic and social policies, and “liberals” embrace a sanitized version of fascism. This essay draws on many years of reading […]

Social Justice vs. Liberty

The original position is a central feature of John Rawls’s social contract account of justice, “justice as fairness,” set forth in A Theory of Justice (TJ). It is designed to be a fair and impartial point of view that is to be adopted in our reasoning about fundamental principles of justice. In taking up this […]

The Authoritarianism of Modern Liberalism, and the Conservative Antidote

Liberalism of the modern variety is a manifestation of authoritarianism — a statement that will surprise no one but a liberal (a.k.a. progressive) and many libertarians. Libertarians? Yes, because there are many who side with modern liberals in wishing to use the power of the state to impose an agenda that suppresses freedom of speech, […]

“The Great Debate”: Not So Great

I was drawn to Yuval Levin‘s The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left because some commentators on the right had praised it. But I was disappointed by The Great Debate for two reasons: repetitiveness and wrongheadedness (with respect to conservatism). Regarding repetitiveness, the philosophical differences between Burke and […]

Parsing Political Philosophy (II)

This is a work in progress. The first version is here. This version expands the range of political stances by adding Despotism to Anarchism, Minarchism, and Statism. Also, this version goes into more detail about the differences between various stances. I’m leaving the first version in place because I’ve linked to it and quoted from […]

Conservatism as Right-Minarchism

W. Winston Elliott III delivers an apt appreciation of Russell Kirk and conservatism: [Kirk’s The Conservative Mind] does not supply its readers with a “conservative ideology”: for the conservative abhors all forms of ideology. An abstract rigorous set of political dogmata: that is ideology, a “political religion,” promising the Terrestrial Paradise to the faithful; and […]

Society and the State

Michael Oakeshott writes: A modern state, as it emerged from a medieval realm, a patrimonial estate, a military protectorate, or a collection of colonial settlements, had three distinct features that it has never lost: an office of authority, an apparatus of power, and a mode of association…. …[S]ince a modern state has never ceased to […]

Externalities and Statism

In “Regulation as Wishful Thinking,” I say negative things about the main excuse for regulation, which is the existence of so-called negative externalities. This post focuses on the concept of externality and the absurdities to which it leads. An externality — in case the term is new to you — is a cost or benefit […]

Human Nature, Liberty, and Rationalism

Michael Shermer writes about political philosophy and human nature in “Liberty and Science” at Cato Unbound: In the Realistic Vision, human nature is relatively constrained by our biology and evolutionary history, and therefore social and political systems must be structured around these realities, accentuating the positive and attenuating the negative aspects of our natures. A […]