Thought for the Day

Thought for the Day: C.S. Lewis on ‘Subjectivism’

Featured image From C.S. Lewis’s essay “The Poison of Subjectivism”: One cause of misery and vice is always present with us in the greed and pride of men, but at certain periods in history this is greatly increased by the temporary prevalence of some false philosophy. Correct thinking will not make good men of bad ones; but a purely theoretical error may remove ordinary checks to evil and deprive good intentions of »

Thought for the Day: Hating Bill Clinton

Featured image Hating Bill Clinton was thought to have been an obsession of the right, but as I have been tracking for a while, the left has been turning against him for a long time now. And over the transom from Princeton University Press comes the galleys to a forthcoming book, A Fabulous Failure: The Clinton Presidency and the Transformation of American Capitalism, written by two professors who lean to the left (is »

Thought for the Day: Tocqueville on the Administrative State

Featured image We have noted here several times the way in which executive agencies in the administrative state obliterate the separation of powers by the convenience of having their own “administrative law judges” to adjudicate disputes over an agency rule or action. Turns out Tocqueville was also on to this problem in 1840, where he saw the trends in Europe and cautioned that they might follow eventually in the United States: The »

Thought for the Day: Tocqueville on “Depraved” Equality

Featured image Another prescient passage from Democracy in America that describes our own time with uncanny accuracy: There is in fact a manly and legitimate passion for equality that incites men to want all to be strong and esteemed. This passion tends to elevate the small to the rank of the great; but one also encounters a depraved taste for equality in the human heart that brings the weak to want to »

Thought for the Day: Tocqueville Anticipates How Wokery Grows

Featured image From Volume Two, Part Two, Chapter 1 of Democracy in America, on “Why Democratic Peoples Show a More Ardent and More Lasting Love for Equality than for Freedom”: Political freedom in its excesses is able to compromise the tranquility, the patrimony, the lives of particular persons—and one encounters no men so limited and so flighty as not to realize this. On the contrary, only attentive and clairvoyant people perceive the »

Thought for the Day: Tocqueville on the Insatiability of Equality

Featured image For our second installment of Tocqueville week, we turn to  Chapter 3 of Book II of Democracy in America, where Tocqueville explains how equality in practice has become an amplifying feedback loop, to use a modern description: The hatred men bear for privilege is increased as privileges become rarer and less great, so that one would say that democratic passions are more inflamed in the very times in which they »

Thought for the Day/Week: Tocqueville on the Roots of MEOW

Featured image I had the pleasure of spending three days last week at a series of events with the great Prof. Jean Yarbrough at UCLA’s Center for Liberal Arts and Free Institutions (podcast coming shortly), chiefly on Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. We were especially concentrating on Book II of that classic work, where Tocqueville examined the issue of equality in the American mind. I might just make this a week of Tocqueville »

Thought for the Day: Racism Now, Racism Tomorrow, Racism Forever

Featured image M. Stanton Evans, writing way back in 1988: The Democratic-liberal argument is in effect assuming that, if a malfeasance is committed by a member of a minority group, then it is ipso facto “racist” to say anything about it. By this criterion, only if a crime is perpetrated by a white Anglo-Saxon male can the treatment  of the malefactor be a public issue. . . The charge of racism operates »

Thought for the Day: Sowell on the Left & “the Common Man”

Featured image It would be easy to do a daily quote from Thomas Sowell, as there is no shortage of great ones. (Fortunately there is a dedicated Twitter feed for this.) But now and then we should. So: One of the bittersweet things about growing old is realizing how mistaken you were when you were young. As a young political leftist, I saw the left as the voice of the common man. »

Thought for the Day: Don’t Use the F-Word!

Featured image The mainstream media roundly mocked Ronald Reagan when he remarked, back in the 1970s, that “fascism was really the basis of the New Deal.” August Reagan told reporters: “Anyone who wants to look at the writings of the Brain Trust of the New Deal will find that President Roosevelt’s advisers admired the fascist system. . .  They thought that private ownership with government management and control a la the Italian »

Thought for the Day: Paul Johnson on Trump

Featured image A reader brings to my attention what Paul Johnson had to say about Trump back in April, 2016: America has been a land of unrestricted comment on anything–until recently. Now the U.S. has been inundated with PC inquisitors, and PC poison is spreading worldwide in the Anglo zone.  For these reasons it’s good news that Donald Trump is doing so well in the American political primaries. He is vulgar, abusive, »

Thought for the Day: Me, on the Decline and Fall of Academic History

Featured image I have a chapter on “When Reason Replaces Wisdom: How the Neglect of History and Statesmanship Has Diminished Political Science,” just out in a multi-author collection from Bloomsbury Academic entitled Applied History and Contemporary Policymaking, edited by Robert Crowcroft of the University of Edinburgh. Here’s an excerpt: Today academic history is going through something of an identity crisis, with the number of undergraduate majors in the discipline plummeting while its academic »

Thought for the Day: The Cachet of the Oppressed

Featured image Harvey Mansfield, writing in 1986 (in America’s Constitutional Soul) about the ill-effects of official government and ideological sanction for dependency: When the government declares war on poverty, everyone wants to be poor. Individuals driven to their interest dependencies try to find shelter in their weakness, both as individuals too weak to receive the equal treatment their government is handing out to everyone but themselves and as groups too weak to »

Thought for the Day: Paul Johnson (RIP), on Modern Times

Featured image Sad news out of Britain this morning of the passing of the great historian Paul Johnson at the age of 94. He was one of my models (along with the Hungarian historian John Lukacs) of how to write history—a style I have described as the “analytical narrative.” I once got to ask Johnson if he accepted that label for his style of work, and he readily embraced it, acknowledging that »

Thought for the Day: Hamilton on Biden’s Corruption

Featured image News item: A government watchdog is demanding the US attorney probing Hunter Biden in Delaware investigate tens of millions in anonymous donations from China to the University of Pennsylvania, where an academic center is named for his father, President Biden. The Ivy League college raked in a total of $54.6 million from 2014 through June 2019 in donations from China, including $23.1 million in anonymous gifts starting in 2016, according »

Thought for the Day: The Party Switch

Featured image From Gerard Baker’s Wall Street Journal column today: In not much more than a generation, virtually all the protagonists, values and identities of ideological competition have swapped places. Not very long ago, college-educated professionals voted for Republicans in vast numbers, while blue-collar workers picked Democrats. Now a college degree is the most reliable indicator of Democratic preference; the proletariat is dependably Republican. Liberals used to be passionate defenders of free »

Thought for the Day: University Fraud?

Featured image William Deresiewcz, reflecting on his experience teaching in Yale’s English department more than a decade ago: At Yale, in an English department that was perennially ranked in the top ten, we were overjoyed if half our graduating students found positions. That’s right—half. Imagine running a medical school on this basis. A Christopher Newfield points out in Unmaking the Public University, that’s the kind of unemployment rate you’d expect to find »