Managerial State

The Sexual Revolution Turns Ugly

How many intellectuals have come to the revolutionary party via the path of moral indignation, only to connive ultimately at terror and autocracy? ∼ Raymond Aron The Sexual Revolution is now out of control. Initially promising freedom, like all revolutions, it has entered something like its Reign of Terror phase and is devouring its own children. As with [...]

Should Catholics Favor Democracy?

What is the best form of government? The question seems pointless. Life is complicated, and a system that worked well then and there may work badly here and now. That is one reason the Catechism tells us that “The diversity of political regimes is morally acceptable, provided they serve the legitimate good of the communities [...]

The Charlie Gard Case Portends a Frightening Future

The case of Charlie Gard, the British baby afflicted with the rare mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome who a London hospital would not discharge to his parents so they could take him to the U.S. for experimental treatment, brought together a number of increasingly portentous trends and realities that have come to define our age. The [...]

Catholics and the Revolutionary State

To what extent should Catholics support an essentially evil government? The question is unaccustomed. The Church views government as natural and necessary, and normally favors obedience even to tyrannical governments as long as the specific command is not at odds with divine or natural law. That’s why Paul told Christians to honor and obey Nero’s [...]

The Church and Divisive, Exclusionary Globalism

Everyone seems to agree that today there's a growing gap between rich and poor, rulers and ruled, the center and the margins, elites and populace. The gap is economic, of course, but more importantly it's social, cultural, and even spiritual. The New York Times, for example, recently admitted the obvious, that they and the rest [...]

Why Liberal Governing Elites Seek to Neutralize Social Issues

Social issues are messy. They have to do with basic human connections, orientations, and aspects of identity. These include family, cultural community, religion, and relations between the sexes. So they have to do with basic and very complicated aspects of life that people feel strongly about. That causes problems for people who run things today. [...]

Put Not Your Trust in Princes

Now that the election is over, the nation’s attention turns to the Trump presidency. Leaving the stage is an administration that made it public policy to assault religious institutions. Many Catholics supported Mr. Trump in the hope that he could secure the future of the Supreme Court and end the more anti-religious policies of the [...]

How Globalism Marginalizes Religious Communities

I recently commented on the current emphasis on marginalization as a central moral issue, and said the tendency should not be idealized. Its basic effect, I suggested, is to support the movement toward an administratively integrated system covering the whole of social and economic life, and thus the interests of the bureaucrats and billionaires who [...]

Should We Rely on Good Sense or Expertise?

In public discussion today, expertise has acquired the authority once held by good sense. The change reflects a change in attitudes toward society and politics. Educated, influential, and well-placed people now want a society run by global markets, financial institutions, and public administration based on supposedly neutral expertise. As such people's response to Brexit shows, [...]

Re-evaluating Today’s Human Rights Regime

Everybody favors human rights—the US, the EU, the UN, the leaders of the Church, and indeed all respectable public figures. But what are they? There doesn't seem to be a good explanation. They are rights we have simply as human beings, but what does that mean? It might mean that each of us has a [...]

The True Benedict Option for Our Time

Catholics who concern themselves with political and social issues, and non-Catholics who believe in a social order that takes natural law and human nature seriously, face trends that seem overwhelming and point toward a social order with no concern for most of what makes us human. Hence the talk about the “Benedict option,“ which seems [...]

Making Sense of the Progressive Mind

People who reject secular progressivism, especially in its more highly developed forms, are often puzzled by its proponents. Do they really believe what they say they believe, for example, that diversity is always strength, or traditional religion and morality are dangerous and irrational bigotries, or there are no significant differences between men and women? Some [...]

The Best Way Forward For the Church

Things look bad in the Church and Western world just now. The Church, humanly speaking, seems to be destroying herself through unresisted absorption in a secular world with which she has ever less in common. What was once her real, though imperfect, reflection—the civilization of the West—is also destroying itself through willful rejection of moral [...]

Can Virtue Heal the American Right?

We’ve come to that agonizing point in our political process when each political party must choose its champion. Republicans are trying to decide in whose hands to place their party’s fate. The inexperienced but well-spoken Marco Rubio? Rand Paul, a man of intelligence and conviction who nonetheless selected drone strikes as the issue most worthy of a [...]

Owing Our Souls to the New Company Store

There is a scene in one of my favorite movies, John Ford's How Green Was My Valley, that I find myself recalling as I survey the moral soot that has descended and thickened upon the land of my birth. The patriarch of the family, Gwilym Morgan, has come home from a day in the coal [...]

Can a Catholic be a Collectivist?

Should Catholics today work, as a matter of conscience, toward ever broader bureaucratic responsibility for human well-being in general? That result seems to follow from current ways of thinking. “Love thy neighbor” implies an ethic of mutual assistance. The democratic view that we act through government, together with the industrial approach to getting things done [...]

The Destruction of Thought

Thought is the attempt to understand the good, beautiful, and true in an orderly way. Man is naturally reasonable and oriented toward those things, so it’s a normal part of life. Even so, it depends on conditions that may not be present. It requires calmness and steadiness of attention, a world that is understood as [...]

Democracy is Dead

Democracy is dead. I say so not because I have ceased to believe in it. I retain a half guilty affection for that worst of all forms of government, except for most of the rest. I say so because everyone else has ceased to believe in it.
     Yesterday I asked my students what [...]

Collaboration with Secularists Undermines Catholic Social Goals

To all appearances, everyday life is becoming ever more at odds with the Catholic vision of what it should be. It’s becoming less like life as traditionally conceived, a network of relationships, loyalties, and purposes, many of which are natural or transcendent and therefore enduring. Instead, it’s becoming more like eBay, Facebook, a government office, [...]

Why “Progressives” Favor the State Over Society

The New York Times was abuzz March 5. The board of trustees of South Carolina’s Erskine College—a small, liberal arts college historically associated with the Presbyterian church—had issued a statement declaring that the school considered "all sexual activity outside the covenant of marriage [as] sinful and therefore ultimately destructive of the parties involved.” Not only did [...]

Common Core: Twenty-First Century Peonage

A young man and woman arrive at the office of the town clerk to procure a marriage license. They're all smiles, until the secretary hands them a document to sign, wherein they read this remarkable sentence: “The State, conceding to the parents the making of their children's bodies, asserts its primacy in the making of [...]

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