Not-So-Random Thoughts (XXIV)

“Not-So-Random Thoughts” is an occasional series in which I highlight writings by other commentators on varied subjects that I have addressed in the past. Other entries in the series can be found at these links: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX, XX, […]

Natural Law and Natural Rights Revisited

An esteemed correspondent took exception to my statement in “Natural Law, Natural Rights, and the Real World” that I “don’t accept the broad outlines of natural law and natural rights,” which I had summarized thus: Natural law is about morality, that is, right and wrong. Natural rights are about the duties and obligations that human […]

Intelligence, Assortative Mating, and Social Engineering

UPDATED 11/18/16 (AT THE END) What is intelligence? Why does it matter in “real life”? Are intelligence-driven “real life” outcomes — disparities in education and income — driving Americans apart? In particular, is the intermarriage of smart, educated professionals giving rise to a new hereditary class whose members have nothing in common with less-intelligent, poorly […]

McCloskey on Piketty

UPDATED 01/07/15 The left loves Thomas Piketty‘s Capital in the Twenty-First Century because it lends pseudo-scientific backing to some of the left’s favorite economic postulates; to wit: Income inequality is bad, even if real incomes are rising across the board. Why is it bad? It just is, if you’re an envious Marxist. But also… Income […]

The Barbarians Within and the State of the Union

As empires die, the barbarians usually gather at the gates, preparing a final rush. Unfortunately our savages are already inside. They are in the public schools, the universities, and downtown in the cities. They make our movies, set social policy from afar, instill appropriate values in our children. They do not know that they are […]

About Democracy

I want to be clear about this: Yesterday’s post was a criticism of the left’s hypocrisy and authoritarianism (and viciousness). It was not a defense of democracy. I have written many times about the insidious effect of democracy on liberty. This is may be my best effort (from part VI of my series on practical […]

Understanding Hayek

In an earlier post, I deployed the following statement by Michael Oakeshott: How deeply the rationalist disposition of mind has invaded our political thought and practice is illustrated by the extent to which traditions of behaviour have given place to ideologies, the extent to which the politics of destruction and creation have been substituted for […]

Evolution, Human Nature, and “Natural Rights”

This post is so long that I have put the main text below the fold. The following annotated outline may tempt you to read on or prompt you to move along: I. Why This Post: Background and Issues Do humans have natural ends that have arisen through evolution? If so, does this somehow imply the […]

More about Consequentialism

In “‘Natural Rights’ and Consquentialism” I attacked (with logic) the concept of natural rights, and observed that rights — when properly understood as man-made bargains — are consequentialist to their core, arising as they do (in part) from empathy and (in part) from self-interestedness. This observation squares with something I said in “Rights, Liberty, the […]

Tocqueville’s Prescience

I have added Joseph Epstein’s new book, Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy’s Guide, to my wish list. My urge to own the book arises from a review in The American Spectator. The reviewer (Larry Thornberry) observes that Tocqueville understood the constant conflict in democracies between liberty and equality, and the threat too much emphasis on […]

The Real Constitution and Civil Disobedience

INTRODUCTION I have no doubt that there is a “real” Constitution. Randy Barnett makes a good case for it: Under our system, the Supreme Court has the last word on whether a statute challenged as unconstitutionality will be upheld or nullified. But it does not have the power to change the written Constitution, which always […]

Fascism and the Future of America

Many commentators, including me, have said that our government is either fascistic or well on its way to being fascistic. What I mean when I refer to fascism in America — and what most commentators mean — is this: [A] system in which the government leaves nominal ownership of the means of production in the […]

Preemptive (Cold) Civil War

Parts I – IV are recommended as supplemental to “The Constitution: Myths and Realities“, which adapts the action recommendations of part V. I. PROLOGUE This post is driven by what I have seen of leftism over the years. Just a few hours before its scheduled publication I read a piece by Richard Jack Rail, “Our […]


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 […]

Polarization and De Facto Partition

I started this post on the day before election day. Don’t you have the feeling that Election 2016 will result in greater political polarization, not less? I do. For one thing, both Clinton and Trump are polarizing figures. It seems unlikely that either of them will do things (or try to do things) that will […]

About Those High-Ranking Shills

In the midst of a funny post about the likely failure of an attempted military coup to keep Obama in office, Kurt Schlichter makes this observation: The problem for Obama is that a significant portion of the most important element, the military, has nothing but contempt for him. That does not include the military’s senior […]

Independence Day 2016: The Way Ahead

Prudence…will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations…reduce them […]

The Answer to Judicial Supremacy

This long post, which seems to violate my resolve to avoid long posts, was almost complete when I began my blogging hiatus in August 2015. I took a bit of time today to finish it. INTRODUCTION I begin with the supposed similarity of Kim Davis’s refusal to issue same-sex “marriage” licenses and George Wallace’s anti-integration […]

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 […]