Managerial State

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 [...]

Lawless: Obamacare and Federal Power

When referring to the nationalizing of medicine known as the Affordable Care Act, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said, “We have to pass the law to see what's in it.” “[Law] is nothing else than an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by him who has care of the community, and promulgated,” [...]

Inclusiveness: A Harmful Ideology

We hear a lot about inclusiveness, but the topic is never discussed analytically. The idea seems to be that it’s warm and fuzzy and what Jesus would do, so it’s obviously a good thing. The result is that our world is being remade for the sake of a goal that hasn’t been thought through. With [...]

Conservatism: Its Meaning and Prospects

Conservatism at bottom is resistance to the technocratic project, the modern attempt to turn the social world into a sort of universal machine for the maximum satisfaction of preferences. That project has been growing up for a long time. It comes out of an understanding of knowledge and the world with its roots in the [...]

The Real Lessons of Prohibition

In October, 1919, a heavily “progressive” Congress passed the Volstead Act enforcing the Eighteenth Amendment, prohibiting, for almost all purposes, the production, sale, and distribution of alcoholic beverages. There are two things everybody has learned from Prohibition. First, it is wrong to try to legislate morality. Second, you cannot do it, for Prohibition failed. But [...]

When a Political Party Abandons Its Principles

 [A political party is] a body of men united, for promoting by their joint endeavours, the national interest, upon some particular principle in which they are all agreed. —Edmund Burke All too many people in the mainstream press, and even among the Republican Party faithful, have been expressing extreme relief that Republican Party leaders “compromised” [...]

A Catholic Response to the Demise of Rational Public Discourse

To follow the news today is to get the impression that public life, in the sense of rational discussion oriented toward some reasonable understanding of the common good, has come to an end. Everyone notices the partisanship, the bad faith, the indifference to truth, and the substitution of entertainment for hard news. Catholics in particular [...]

Liberalism Depends on That Which It Destroys

Why does it seem that orderly, prosperous, and well-run societies are usually less religious, but the less religious a society becomes the more disorderly it gets? The situation is complex, it’s hard to do comparisons, and polling results are subject to a great deal of interpretation, but general trends seem clear. Northern and Western European [...]

A U.S. Constitution for Our Dystopian Present

We the People of the United States of America, to relieve ourselves of the burdens of virtue and the nuisance of self-government, and to secure the blessings that flow from the collective and the isolated individual, do establish this Constitution. There shall be a Supreme Court of the United States, composed of nine lawyers.  All [...]

The Church’s Growing Role: Oppose Anarchy & Totalitarianism

Is the world getting better or worse? It’s an important question, since the value of current social policy depends on the answer. Ordinary people tend to see current tendencies as a problem, but opinion leaders are more likely to discredit the past in favor of youth, novelty, and progress. With that in mind, mainstream public [...]

Catholicism Must Be a Sign of Contradiction

Last month I noted that Catholics need settings in which they can lead a Catholic life among Catholics. For most of us, loving God and living as Christians take schooling and support, which we aren’t going to get from the world at large. That may be one reason the Apostle Paul’s letters focus more on [...]

Unlearning the Errors of Our Secular Age

I pointed out a month or two ago that the kind of meritocracy we have makes people stupid, mostly because it’s based on a technological attitude toward human life. Thought has an order, but not one we can fully grasp, so if it’s reduced to certified expertise and made a sort of industrial process it [...]

A Catholic Response to Utopian Modernity

The world goes its own way without much regard for the Church, because it has very little regard for truth—that is to say, for reality. The problems go to the roots of current ways of thinking. The modern movement of thought began as an attempt to attain security and certainty by emphasizing what is practical [...]

We Ignore Sex at Our Peril

Sex is too central to human life to avoid as an issue or to stand outside and describe objectively, and it touches us too closely for people to discuss calmly. Those qualities make it an ideal issue to settle through authoritative traditions. Functional societies do so and life goes on. If such traditions are lacking, [...]

The Sixties Regime in Power: The Dangerous Shortcomings of the Managerial Class

Apart from short intervals of confusion, every society has networks of influential people who cooperate to maintain their authority and advance their goals. There is always a ruling class, and we have seen that the Sixties were a period in which a new one consolidated its position. That class, which for the most part still [...]

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