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Fall 2018 / Volume II, Number 3
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Finance and the State

Postal Banking’s Public Benefits

The financial crisis of 2008 made clear to the public, in a way that had not been apparent for some time, that banks depend for their existence and operation on a structural framework created by the federal government. But policymakers as well as the public at large do not have a clear view of the…

Financing Long-Term Care

Long-term care involves services that meet a person’s health and personal care needs when they are no longer able to perform these tasks safely on their own. Nearly eleven million people in the United States use some form of long-term care, and that number is projected to double…

The Rise of the Financial Economy

Remember auction rate securities? For decades, financial institutions hosted “auctions” of these fixed-rate instruments for buyers and sellers. They were considered so safe, and the auctions (where the interest rate would be “reset” depending on the level of interest in the securities, among other factors) so routine, that auction rate securities became an alternative to money…

Radical Markets versus Sensible Politics

Market-based reforms were used in the 1980s—really invented as a concept in the run-up to the 1980s—to counteract the excesses and failures of post–World War II social policy. At the time, marginal income tax rates in excess of 70 percent had shifteind income into unproductive tax-optimization vehicles instead of savings and investment. Excessive urban rent controls were a disincentive…

Radical Possibilities

An Anatomy of Radicalism

What is radicalism really about? When does it make sense? Do we need it now? These seem to be impossibly abstract questions. At first glance, everything turns on the substantive commitments of those who purport to be radical. Do they believe in theocratic rule? In authoritarianism? In decentralization? In economic growth? In liberalism? In the collapse of liberalism? In property rights? In free markets? In self-government? In liberty? In freedom from discrimination on the basis of race and sex? In executing or imprisoning…

Ernst Lubitsch, Censorship, and Political Correctness

Theodor Adorno turned around Benedetto Croce’s patronizing historicist question about “What is dead and what is alive in Hegel’s dialectic.” If Hegel is really alive as a thinker, then the question to be raised is the opposite one: “How do we today stand in the eyes of Hegel?” Exactly the same holds for Ernst Lubitsch. The question is not “What does an increasingly forgotten filmmaker have to say to us?” but rather, “How would our comedy of manners appear in the eyes of…

Confucianism and Meritocracy: Light from the East

Ex oriente lux. With the spring academic term finished, I am in Japan and China, ostensibly to give papers at several Japanese and Chinese universities, but really to learn more about meritocracy debates in contemporary Asia. There has been a heated debate going on there among political theorists about the forms of governance most consistent with ancient Confucian political thought. The debate tracks the theoretical shadowboxing Confucian scholars have been doing for the last two…

Conservative Critiques of Capitalism

The 1984 Republican Party platform lauded what it called “democratic capitalism” for having produced, “in the United States and elsewhere, an unparalleled ability to achieve political and civil rights and long-term prosperity for ever-growing numbers of people.” In 2016, the GOP platform continued…

The Three Fusions

Media headlines to the contrary, there is at present no authentic debate between globalists and nationalists in the West. Paradoxical as it may seem, this is because there are no authentic globalists. Worse than any open conflict between the two is the confusion that results from the absence of one. This confusion with respect to…

Crime and Popular Culture

Incarceration as Incapacitation: An Intellectual History

Explaining the dramatic rise of incarceration in the United States has been surprisingly difficult. Theories abound, but they are continually defeated by the vastness and complexity of the American criminal justice system. For a time, the prime suspect was the War on Drugs, which President Obama described as “the real reason our prison population is so high.” Numerically, this never made sense, given that drug offenders are a small fraction of state prisoners. Mandatory minimums and three-strikes laws were tangible reforms that attracted a great deal of attention. But as causal explanations they, too, wither under scrutiny. “There’s not a lot of evidence that the amount of time spent in…

The Criminal as Entrepreneur

The latest iteration of rap beef—this time between the multiplatinum hitmaker Drake and the street-credible lyricist Pusha T—had all of the attributes of the tradition, only it was fueled by the warp speed of social media and the glitz of a calculated marketing plan. Witty innuendo, gossip, and slick production were married to the Spotify playlist algorithm and Instagram stories. But there was something…

Breaking Bad: Walter White as Nietzschean Hero

Meet Walter White: once a promising chemist with a PhD from Caltech, at age fifty, he appears to be an unre­markable teacher at a public high school in Albuquerque. When he tries to offer a passionate introduction to chemistry on the first day of class, most of his students stare blankly while a few flirt in the back of the room…

Memory and Reconstruction

Reconstruction and the End of History

The years between 1865 and 1877 form the period in American history known as Reconstruction—reconstruction, in this case, meaning the rebuilding of the federal Union which had been dis­rupted by the attempt of eleven Southern states to secede from that Union in order to protect legalized slavery. It might have been a new era of…

Christopher Lasch and the Digital Return of Memory

If the headlines are to be believed, the instability and uncertainty of the global situation, especially in the West, is the dangerous result of the politics of nostalgia. From Europe to the United States, from Russia to Latin America, political analysis has been explaining today’s unanticipated resurgence of illiberal, reactionary, and na­tionalist…

Online Exclusives

  • Hamilton’s Revolutionary Financial System

    At George Washington’s invitation, Hamilton eagerly accepted office as the nation’s first treasury secretary. Though only 34 years old, he had long considered the severe economic and financial problems facing the country…

  • Clean Rooms and Dirtbags

    Conservative Canadian professor Jordan Peterson and socialist Brooklynite podcast Chapo Trap House have a lot in common. They each make around a hundred thousand dollars a month from Patreon donations. They each inspire both adoration and revulsion, while rejecting, in different ways, forms of political…

  • Poland at 100 Years of Independence

    The hundredth anniversary of the reclamation of Polish independence is cause to celebrate. Poles will celebrate. Yet national and international responses will also be colored by the nation’s recent political controversies, and the tensions of international liberalism. I suspect…

  • What V. S. Naipaul Taught Me about Posturing

    Readers rightly praise V. S. Naipaul’s incandescent prose, his narrative power, and his bracing sense of humor. But for me his art also had another value: Naipaul taught me the value of honesty over posturing. We posture when we pretend to have feelings and opinions…

  • The Eclipse of Catholic Fusionism

    The argument that America is at risk of theocratic domination has always been hyperbole—a rallying cry rather than an analysis of our political situation. Even as the nomination of a Supreme Court justice stirs up liberal fantasies of The Handmaid’s Tale, the threat of a…

  • North Korea’s Search for Totality

    In early April, I participated in the Pyongyang Marathon, organized for the birthday of the Great Leader, Kim Il-sung (1912–1994), founder of the Kim dynasty. He is the father of the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il (1941–2011), and the grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong-un.…

  • Privilege and Idolatry

    In May of 2005, the late David Foster Wallace delivered one of the wisest, most demanding commencement speeches in recent memory. The speech is titled “This Is Water,” a phrase drawn from the following joke: “There are these two young fish swimming along, and they…

  • Nicholas II: A Tsar’s Life for the People?

    On July 16 and 17, Russia will mark one of the most sensitive centenaries in its recent history: the slaughter of Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, his wife (the Anglo-German Empress Alexandra), five children, and four remaining servants at point-blank range by a Bolshevik firing…

  • Robert Kaplan’s World

    In 1994, five years after the Berlin Wall fell, American businessmen, journalists, and foreign policy intellectuals generally remained under the trance of the “end of history.” Events still shook enlightened consciences—the Rwandan genocide, the Yugoslav Wars, the first World Trade Center attack—but for the most…

  • The European Banking Union: Intentions and Reality

    Emmanuel Macron’s recent proposals for European reform have concentrated on fiscal issues but also include the demand that the European banking union should be completed, since its third pillar (a pan-European deposit guarantee scheme) is not yet implemented. The formation of the European banking union,…

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