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Category: Liberalism

Soulcraft in a Complex Society

In recent years, conservative commentators have criticized how the individualism of the neoliberal age has undermined the moral and ethical foundations of community in America. Yuval Levin’s 2014 essay “Taking the Long Way” argues that too many people on both the right and left are committed to a thin vision of liberty, defined simply as…

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The Derivations of Charles Koch

Despite himself illustrating their pitfalls, Koch has dedicated his life to constructing mental models. “He thinks he’s John Galt,” says one colleague, comparing Koch to the philosopher-hero of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Koch’s writings do little to dispel that assess­ment. In The Science of Success, Koch claims to have discovered, well, the science of success. Just as the natural world operates in accordance with fixed laws, Koch explains, so do fixed laws govern human well-being. Those same laws apply a fortiori “to the miniature societies of organizations”…

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The Road to Hell

The overall thrust of Power’s argument is to deny the need for any accounting of how good intentions can drive perverse results in the use of state power abroad. Only copping to forgivable or unintentional mistakes, it pushes back against the possibility of ethical com­promise in crossing the Rubicon from government critic to government service…

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The Century of Chinese Corporatism

Since its foundation in 1949, the People’s Republic of China has engaged with corporatism as a model for organizing societal interests. China’s corporatist elements, misunderstood as they often are by foreign observers, help to explain its economic successes and political resiliency. Across a variety of different forms of corporatism—some heavy-handed, some too decentralized—China has man­aged…

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Corporatism for the Twenty-First Century

Ask voters about American politics, and they typically respond that it is ever more polarized, fragmented, divisive, and hyper­partisan. A recent report indicated that 78 percent of voters are un­happy with increasing partisan divisions. Beyond the issue of polar­ization, there is also a problem of performance. Satisfaction with American political institutions is decreasing. The dominant…

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Ending the Interregnum: A Way through the Culture War

Politics is fundamentally agonistic. Not all interests and desires can be harmonized. Periods of cultural and economic hegemony sup­plant one another through material and ideational conflict. Within these periods there are winners and losers. Competing political parties quibble at the margins, but it is rare that an election gives rise to more than superficial change.…

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Liberalism and the National Question

Three recent books provoked by the Trump presidency grapple with identity and nationalism, drawing radically different conclu­sions. Jill Lepore, a Harvard historian and staff writer at the New Yorker, wishes that “nation-states didn’t already exist.” She finds them abhor­rent. Nevertheless, she allows that as long as the world is organized into nations, it is probably necessary for the United States to be one, with the caveat that ours must be a dry, creedal affair, based on a commitment to democracy and the Constitution with no ethnicity involved. Except, that is…

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Will Shifting Party Coalitions Change Policy Priorities?

America’s two major political parties appear to be in the process of swapping their historic coalition constituents. With that shift, many of our assumptions about what it means to be a Democrat or a Republican are coming apart at the seams. The most significant development seen in recent polling data is the exodus of college-educated…

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The Characterless Opportunism of the Managerial Class

My first reaction to the work of Barbara Ehrenreich was one of complete indignation and contempt. A professor had assigned Ehrenreich’s book Nickel and Dimed (2001) for an English prerequisite at my commuter college—the urban satellite campus for two major universities intended to cater to low-income and nontraditional students. (Go Jaguars!) The book was a…

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The Socialist Revival

As the Berlin Wall crumbled in 1989, so too, it seemed, did the dream of socialism. The German sociologist Rolf Dahrendorf declared, “The point has to be made unequivocally that socialism is dead and that none of its variants can be revived for a world awakening from the double nightmare…

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