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China and the Rule of Law

If any political concept could be said to have universal appeal, it would have to be the rule of law. Virtually no government rejects the idea of the rule of law. On the contrary, most, if not all, governments claim to seek its realization. In 1992, the World Bank official­ly deemed the rule of law…

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Indispensable Nation Nostalgia

What might be called “Indispensable Nation Nostalgia” represents a misty remembrance of things past by a certain stratum of elite Americans. These pangs tend to afflict a fairly narrow group of people who run, or used to run, foreign pol­icy, along with the coterie of folks that think and write about foreign policy at think tanks and ideas-oriented publications…

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The New Brazilian Right

Ten years ago, Brazil was a left-wing success story. The Workers’ Party’s generous cash-transfer programs for poor families, bank­rolled by buoyant commodity prices and constructed on a preexisting foundation of fiscal discipline, helped to lift millions out of pov­erty. Constitutional order was maintained. The economy grew, and arrangements were reached between the reigning patronage party…

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Houellebecq’s Unfinished Critique of Liberal Modernity

For a brief moment, just before the end of Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel Sérotonine, a ray of hope seems to galvanize its protagonist. For a short while he seems to recover his lust for life. Having languished for years without a sense of purpose…

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Nationalism’s Dividends

Here are some facts about China from the World Bank: Since initiating market reforms in 1978 . . . China has expe­rienced rapid economic and social development. GDP growth has averaged nearly 10% a year—the fastest sustained expan­sion by a major economy in history—and more than 850 million people have lifted themselves out of poverty.…

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Algorithmic Governance and Political Legitimacy

In ever more areas of life, algorithms are coming to substitute for judgment exercised by identifiable human beings who can be held to account. The rationale offered is that automated decision-making will be more reliable. But a further attraction is that it serves to insulate various forms of power from popular pressures. Our readiness to…

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McLuhanomics: The Medium versus the Market

Why has digital technology so scandalously betrayed the expectations set by market liberalism? What accounts for the vast divergence between the starring role digital tech was meant to play in the global consummation of market liberalism and the dis­ruptive, discrediting, disillusioning role it actually is playing? Why did liberal experts and liberal economics get it…

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The Liberal International Disorder

Foreign policy as practiced by the United States, especially in recent decades, enjoys a special distinction. The chaos engendered by its voluntarist will to power is painfully obvious…

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The Return of the Hidden Persuaders

Critiques of advertising are back. Ten years ago, casual talk about how advertising influences behavior would have come across as weird and paranoid—the preserve of the online conspiracy fringe. Today it is everywhere. Leading journalistic outlets fret over something resembling mind control. Politicos talk in ominous tones of stolen elections and Manchurian candidates. And government…

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The Illiberal Arts

For thousands of years, the liberal arts were not liberal, and that is why they are increasingly unwelcome in our time. An honest study of the past is unsettling in a liberal age, because a person who learns to venerate earlier cultural traditions, from Homer to the baroque, may come to venerate the values to…

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