Tagged: Democracy

Joke of the Day (Courtesy of Senator Lee)

Utah senator Mike Lee, one of those Republicans who for a few minutes looked like a relatively serious man of principle in a political environment utterly dismissive of both seriousness and principle, has yet again displayed his essential triviality, as is all too typical among those “principled conservatives” who have allowed themselves to get sucked down the Trump drain over the past four...

Government By Lawyers

Reading Senator Ted Cruz’s latest mealy-mouthed lies on behalf of his owners, Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, this time regarding the supposed “historical precedent” of McConnell’s hypocrisy in rushing to confirm Trump’s supreme court nominee weeks before an election, I found myself returning to the question we have all asked ourselves at one time or another: Why are so many politicians in the...

On Comfort and Freedom

In my “Impolitic Reflections,” I noted Plato’s antagonism toward democracy, rooted in his presumption that the majority of men will always have appetitive natures, and therefore be unfit to direct a city that wishes to be just and wise. For this reason, I explained, he has his Socrates argue that in founding a good city, “you would never place any of its decision-making...

Impolitic Reflections

Plato’s Socrates begins his great political speculation with the presumption that the vast majority of men in even the best imaginable city will be ruled by appetite, from which he infers that if you actually wanted a city to be governed wisely, you would never place any of its decision-making authority in the hands of the innately and irreversibly appetitive majority. The modern...

The Self-Government Machine

How much of the challenge of political philosophy is rooted in deficiencies of available language? How many essential truths have failed to reach the ears they needed to reach at the critical moment, merely because the individuals who saw those truths lacked universally familiar points of reference with which to communicate their lightning bolts with sufficient precision, or at least with the shattering...

Democracy in Vignettes

On September 29th, 2001, less than three weeks after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, one of America’s tentative popular steps back to some semblance of normalcy was the return of Saturday Night Live (filmed, of course, in New York). In an attempt to earn the right to make silly jokes again, the show began, in typically modern maudlin fashion, with...

Maxims on Modern Democracy

A citizenry proves itself untrustworthy with power, even essentially unworthy of self-government, to the extent that they are collectively sanguine, let alone enthusiastic, about the kind of people they are invariably asked to vote for. To be successful at the highest levels of democratic politics is to expose oneself as the kind of character who overvalues short-term gain, who is always prepared to...

The Totalitarian Tipping Point

I am sometimes accused of exaggerating the threats to modern civilization, or of engaging in hyperbole in discussing today’s political trends. I am certainly not one inclined to feel self-deludedly sanguine about the current state of things, or blind to rising evils and dangerous follies. I note this merely to preface an anecdote that demonstrates the extent to which we are all, even...

An Open Letter to David Hogg

Dear David, (We boring adults typically begin correspondence with expressions like “Dear So-and-So,” even when addressing a person with whom we have strong disputes. We call it being civil, i.e., decent and respectful even toward those with whom one disagrees. Civility seems the most effective and mature pattern of behavior when dealing with others in most contexts, particularly as an alternative to things...

How Democracies Perish, Deathbed Edition

This is the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of How Democracies Perish, an analysis of the spread of world communism by Jean-François Revel, one of freedom’s most serious French defenders since Tocqueville. At the heart of this work, Revel details “The Tools of Communist Expansion,” among which the most relevant for understanding our current situation comes in Chapter 16, “Ideological Warfare and Disinformation.”...