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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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Liberalism and the Invisible Hand

Liberalism as a concrete sociopolitical order rests upon a series of invisible hand systems: free competition in explicit economic markets, free competition in the marketplace of ideas, institutional competition among branches of government, and so on. Yet liberal faith in these systems far outruns any of the social-scientific mechanisms or evidence adduced to support…

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Losing Momentum: A Warning from the Fracturing British Left

In mid-November 2018, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez issued a rallying cry that was not given sufficient attention. She called on left-wing activists to take over the Democratic Party. Her chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti went one step further, openly calling on left-wingers to primary sitting Democrats. Together with YouTube personalities Cenk Uyger and Kyle Kulinski, Chakrabarti is…

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Toward a Party of the State

As critiques of liberalism have become more pronounced, alarm bells about possible alternatives to liberalism have grown louder. These alarms, ironically enough, have often been sounded most emphatically by American writers who otherwise describe themselves as conservatives. In response to the recent challenges to liberalism, conservatives have generally dropped the pretense that they are anything…

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