Our established religion

Yuval Levin says that the religious liberty issues raised by the response to the Indiana Religious Freedom law involves not just the First Amendment’s right to the “free exercise” of religion, but maybe even more so to the clause forbidding the “establishment” of religion.  What we have today being imposed is a single, authoritative religious ideology, equivalent to a state church:  that of progressive liberalism.

Levin then delves into James Madison on this subject and contrasts his position to that of John Locke, who advocated “toleration” of different views on the part of individuals but would not allow their institutional expression, since that had to be limited by the ideology of the state church. [Read more...]

Totalitarianism reconsidered

Some intellectuals are arguing that democracy cannot effectively address climate change–and, indeed, makes it worse–and that what we need to save the planet  is to eliminate political freedom and to turn towards a totalitarian government.  Others don’t go quite that far, but they hold up as the role model for effective government the People’s Republic of China.  (Never mind that China has the worst pollution on the planet!)

After the jump, an excerpt that demonstrates this from a study of the “Sustainability” ideology by the conservative academic organization the National Association of Scholars.

[Read more...]

Rand Paul throws his hat into the ring

Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) announced that he is running for president.  The pro-life Libertarian offers something different from the typical alternatives.  Like conservatives, he would have a smaller government and support free market economics.  Like liberals, he would have a non-interventionist foreign policy, be skeptical of big corporations, and promote civil liberties.  Do you think this could be a winning combination?  [Read more...]

The internet’s utopian libertarianism

The Washington Post has a fascinating article about a manifesto written in 1996 entitled  A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace.  (Click the link.  It’s worth reading.)  The piece is by John Perry Barlow, who articulated a utopian high-tech libertarianism that still influences the tech industry and internet culture.  His writing lauds the radical freedom and spiritual changes made possible in the cyberworld, and it is also deadset against any kind of big government, with its regulations and controls.

Read the piece by Jacob Silverman, who has written a book on the subject, excerpted and linked after the jump.  Silverman critiques Barlow for his libertarianism and his opposition to government, maintaining that his successful crusade to keep the internet independent of the government simply allowed private corporations to take over and to do what he did not want government to do.  What do you think of this? [Read more...]

The Twelve Principles of Conservatism (from 1960)

I blogged about the death of M. Stanton Evans, one of whose accomplishments was to draft “The Sharon Statement” articulating 12 principles that would serve as rallying points for the conservative movement in the 1960s.  The Intercollegiate Studies Institute has published them in an attractive graphic, which I reproduce after the jump.

Read it and consider:  Are these statements still relevant to today’s issues over fifty years later?  Are they enough to bring together conservatives of different stripes today?   Are there any additional or different issues that need to be addressed for our time?  For example, this says that the major threat to liberty today is communism, and that we must work for victory rather than co-existence over this threat.  Well, that victory was won.  What would be the major threat to liberty today?  Radical Islam?  Big government?  New left wing ideologies?   What other statements would you suggest adding to this list? [Read more...]

Liberal and Illiberal Atheists

The London Guardian has published a fascinating in-depth article about atheism, its history and its different varieties.  The author, John Gray, is himself an atheist, but he subjects what he calls today’s “evangelical atheists” to a withering critique.  He especially criticizes the notion assumed  by so many “new atheists” that if we just get rid of religion, the rise of science will bring “liberal” values–freedom, equality, human dignity, universal benevolence, etc.   Gray shows that there is no way to get from science alone to moral values of any kind, and certainly not liberal values.

In fact, atheists, historically, have often held “illiberal” values.  For example, mainstream atheists before World War II tended to be social darwinists, with a strong strain of eugenics and racist biology.  Then there is Soviet atheism, which rejected individual freedom, and the atheism of Friedrich Nietzsche, who critiqued liberal values as deriving from Christianity, hating them both.  I would add that prominent strain today beloved by many conservatives, the atheism of Ayn Rand, with her “virtue of selfishness.”  Gray does say that of course he and his fellow atheists can be moral, but the question is, what morality are they to follow?  And science, he says, won’t give an answer.  Read an excerpt and follow the link after the jump. [Read more...]


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