This website is mostly a collection of things I’ve written, with a weblog for current thoughts and comments, various resources I’ve accumulated, and a forum to discuss them and related topics.
The following are descriptions of some of the pieces. You can also see many of them organized hierarchically online or look at my other, more dramatic, introductory page. And selected pieces can be found crossposted to Taki’s Magazine and Alternative Right.
If you want a more unified presentation, you can read my book The Tyranny of Liberalism: Understanding and Overcoming Administered Freedom, Inquisitorial Tolerance, and Equality by Command. (You can buy a signed copy of the book here.)
I hope you find something of interest during your visit,
What is the current situation, and how did we end up here?
- An online interview at 2Blowhards covers the general ground: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.
- The grand setting: what is the modern outlook? what do we do about it? Here’s a review of Return to Philosophy, by Thomas Molnar, with whose views on modernity I generally agree.
- My short essays The One, the Many, and the Alternative Right; Alternate modernities: a retrospective; and No horizontal way out; and my short lecture PC: The Cultural Antichrist, do the same.
- Culture Wars Page. An analysis of what’s at issue, with resources and links.
- Historical analysis: “Traditionalism and the American Order”. An essay on the interplay of liberalism and traditionalism in America. America has been based on explicit liberalism and implicit traditionalism. The balance has been lost, which very likely means the end of America.
- An essay on Emerson, the philosopher of America. What does it mean about our country that he is so futile and self-contradictory?
- A review of Christopher Hitchens’ No One Left to Lie To: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton. Clinton’s place in the grand scheme of current politics.
- A review of Kevin Kelly’s Out of Control, whose celebration of hypermodernity suffers from inner contradictions.
Liberalism and the Managerial State
- “American liberalism and the prospects for American reconstruction”, a short talk about liberalism and what to do about it.
- “PC and the Crisis of Liberalism”. Grand analysis: liberalism has reached a totalitarian dead end. Too bad, because it’s the only public philosophy going.
- Development of some of the same thoughts: an essay on “The Tyranny of Liberalism”.
- An analysis of fundamental liberal concepts and their consequences in general: “Liberalism: Ideal and Reality”.
- Some specific consequences: “Liberalism and Its Meaning for Christians”.
- Is Social Conservatism Necessary? Yes it is, when the alternative is the totally managed society.
- “Liberalism—What and Why?”, and “Liberalism—What, Whence and Whither?”, an essay and a couple of lectures that go into the sources of liberalism in the scientific revolution of the 17th century.
- A review of Paul Gottfried’s trilogy on managerial liberal society, After Liberalism, Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt and The Strange Death of Marxism.
- An earlier and shorter review of After Liberalism alone.
- A review of The Politics of Human Frailty, a work by Christopher J. Insole, an English academic, that is intended as a theological defense of political liberalism.
- A review of Peter Hitchens’ Abolition of Britain. A case study of the same.
- “Reflections on Liberal Tolerance”. Picks up a theme of the preceding—why “tolerance” has become so intolerant.
- “What is the EU?”.
- “What’s Wrong with Human Rights?”
Equality, defined and enforced comprehensively, has become fundamental to politics and accepted public morality. Taken to the current extremes it crowds out other concerns and becomes a destructive force. The writings above touch on why that has happened; these go into some of the implications.
- Anti-Inclusiveness FAQ. So what’s wrong with a comprehensive anti-discrimination regime? Answer—by destroying legitimate particularity and networks of local informal connections it destroys culture and therefore the possibility of a tolerable way of life.
- Inclusiveness: A Book to Be. A series of pieces on what inclusiveness is, why it’s a problem, and what to do about it.
- “Freedom, Discrimination and Culture”. More on the problems with Civil Rights.
- “Vindicating Stereotypes and Discrimination”. An essay on the function of stereotyping that concludes that it is always and necessarily with us, that the current campaign opposes only certain forms of stereotyping, basically those that relate to institutions other than market and bureaucracy, and that we’d be better off dealing with the issues more rationally in the light of what sort of social relations best suit human life.
- “Anti-racism”. An analysis of antiracism as an ideology, its nature and social, cultural and philosophical origins.
- Antifeminist Page. Short essay and links.
- “The Pope’s Left-turn on Immigration”. Did John Paul’s comments on the subject really make sense?
What are the possible sources of renewed order?
What does the future hold?
Medieval Iceland and ancient China, discussed in essays above, suggest ideal forms of social order based on principles that have often appealed to traditionalist and libertarian conservatives: for Iceland, individual freedom and law; for China, reverence for the past and poeticization of the given; for both, individual integrity.
Events depend of course on realities as well as ideals. An extremely important reality today is the technological abolition of distance, which presents the problem of multiculturalism—the institutionalization of moral incoherence. Here are speculations on how the pieces might fit together:
- “Ibn Khaldun and Our Age”, an essay on the 14th century Tunisian. A great political thinker, and the theoretician of radically multicultural posthistorical society. If all else dissipates you still have the changing relative cohesiveness of human groups as a political determinate. Maybe he has something to say to us.
- “The Amish, David Koresh, and a Newer World Order”. How multi will multiculturalism get? Will it just be stylistic variations on pop culture providing a facade for technological hedonism or does human life demand something deeper? How can MTV and the internet be combined with the transcendent and human integrity? If it can’t, will public life collapse and everything become altogether inward turning? All very speculative, but one must start somewhere.
- For a system of international law consistent with particularism and tradition, see my pages on Human Rights.
The neo-Levantine vision of the future set forth in the first two essays just mentioned suggests another principle that has often appealed to conservatives: particularism, especially in the form of ethnic and religious connections. That may be what buries liberalism, along with the corruption and incompetence that are the natural result of the lack of moral coherence to which it leads.
A neo-Levantine society would not be perfect. If the world turns in that direction it’s not clear to what extent it will be possible to moderate particularisms and combine them with the broad humane culture of Confucius or the respect for the individual of the Icelandic sagas. In other words, it is not clear how civilized the society will be that succeeds the liberal order.
The Catholic Option
A restoration of Christendom seems the best way to square the circle, but many consider that a pipe dream. As always, we must do what we can and hope for the best.
- Liberalism, Tradition and the Church deals with the essential flaws of liberalism, the need for an authoritative tradition, and the corresponding necessity of something very like the Catholic Church for social cohesion and even human knowledge in the current situation. Apart from my book, it’s my most comprehensive treatment of the issues.
- Awakening from Reason’s Sleep, is a talk on the same topic that begins to develop some of the specifics of a Catholic reconstruction. I’ve also published an expanded version of the same talk.
- You can read interviews with me with Catholic publications that touch on the topics I cover in my book and on this website here and here.
- Student writings on legal history. In law school I spent most of my time on legal history. In a sense, the papers I wrote then all deal with the practical relation between God and Caesar, ideals and power.
- Kaufelt, Jonathan D., and Kalb, James B., Developments Since the Revenue Act of 1978: While Congress Slept.
- Posts to internet mailing lists and newsgroups. Ten years of rants.
If you want to know who I am, here’s a brief resume.