R.R. Reno is editor of First Things.
We’re in the midst of a crisis. The New York Times reports that Angus Deaton and Ann Case, two Princeton economists, have identified increases in suicide and drug and alcohol related deaths among high school educated white Americas as the cause for a remarkable spike in the overall death rate for . . . . Continue Reading »
Good for Carly Fiorina. She challenged complacency about our abortion regime. Referring to the tapes released this summer that exposed Planned Parenthood’s harvesting of body parts from aborted children, at the second Republican primary debate she said, “I dare Hillary Clinton [and] Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’ This is about the character of our nation.”
The next day the usual suspects denounced her, saying the tapes show nothing of the sort. In his New York Times column, Paul Krugman writes off the anguished testimony of a former Planned Parenthood technician as “just assertions” and then, with his usual nuance, implies that Fiorina is “deliberately spreading a lie.” The ever-reliable Gloria Steinem called Fiorina’s remarks “a 100 percent lie.”
The relevant footage is to be found in “Human Capital: Episode Three,” beginning at 5:39 with an interview with Holly O’Donnell, a former technician for a company that secures and provides fetal body parts for medical research. With visible anguish, she describes a procedure in which she participated. It required the dismemberment of a living fetus to remove its brain. For two or three seconds, footage is shown of a living, second-trimester fetus so that viewers can visualize what O’Donnell describes. Continue Reading »
Written by Friedrich Hayek during World War II, The Road to Serfdom sought to shape thinking about the post-war reconstruction of society. Hayek believed the West faced a decisive choice. Are we to affirm the central importance of individual freedom? Or will we embrace central planning and socialism, which is the road to serfdom? Today, the relevance of this passionate, once important book is much diminished. We’re not on a path toward socialism. Our problem is the opposite. The greatest threat we face is an untethered individualism and an atomized society. We’re living in a dissolving age, not a collectivist one.The most widely read book by a progressive economist in recent years is Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. He argues that capitalism generates significant inequalities that, if unchecked, will continue to grow. Instead of following up this analysis with a call for socialism or some other progressive utopia, however, he ends his book by making policy recommendations designed to save capitalism from its own excesses. Continue Reading »
The following is a preview segment of R. R. Reno's “The Public Square” from our upcoming November issue. Another segment can be found here. A group of bishops from around the world gathers in Rome this week. The synod’s topic is the family. But the underlying issue is . . . . Continue Reading »
Last fall, in preparation for this fall’s Synod on the Family, an extraordinary synod met in Rome. Between that meeting and this year’s, a Vatican-appointed committee produced a document. It’s called the Instrumentum Laboris, the working document to guide deliberation. Reading it is a depressing experience. It reminds me of how weak Catholicism’s intellectual culture has become, at least in some official circles.
The majority opinion in Obergefell, written by Justice Kennedy, opens with a grand claim about the nature of freedom: “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity.” From this premise the decision follows. Add a truism of our age, which is that homosexual desires constitute an “identity,” and the syllogism is complete. The Constitution’s promise of liberty requires us to redefine marriage to allow men to marry men and women to marry women so that they can “express their identity.”In this issue, Michael Stokes Paulsen analyzes Kennedy’s legal reasoning, such as it is. But I want to stick to his claim about liberty’s relation to identity. For this claim expresses a false and dishonest view.On the one hand, Kennedy suggests that my identity is more than my will or free choice. It’s essential to me, and a just society provides the freedom to live in accord with my essential identity. Taken a certain way, that’s correct. I have an identity as a rational animal, and genuine freedom must include the liberty to make and consider arguments. Our constitutional rights of free speech and freedom of the press serve to promote that kind of freedom. I’m also a social animal, as well as a religious one. The constitutional rights of freedom of association and religion honor those aspects of my identity. Continue Reading »
- Two French Uber executives were arrested in Paris in late June, charged with running an illegal taxi service. A few days earlier, protests by French taxi drivers had rocked Paris. At issue is Uberpop, an app that matches riders with drivers who don’t have professional licenses or insurance. The French government says it violates a number of laws regulating taxi service. Uber insists that this facet of its business is part of an informal “sharing economy,” not a taxi company.
This French kerfuffle is but one skirmish in a global conflict. During the modern era, the nation state has been the most powerful force in society. This has been especially true in France, which invented the modern bureaucratic, administrative state during the Napoleonic era. It is a conceit of Silicon Valley that technology now allows us to vault over all limits, including those imposed by the state, ushering in a utopia of freely cooperating individuals. Thus the feel-good notion of a “sharing economy.”
The trial of the Uber executives is scheduled for late September, unusually soon in a country where investigations often drag on for years. This suggests that the French government is eager to demonstrate its ability to exercise control over multi-national corporations doing business there. I’ll be interested to see the outcome, given my skepticism of a techno-capitalist future that promises freedom from politics. Continue Reading »
First Things stands for something. Many things, actually. One of them is a commitment to reality-based conservatism, both in matters of faith and of public life. I mention this, because I've decided to end our hosting of Maureen Mullarkey’s blog.Maureen has a sharp pen and pungent style. Her . . . . Continue Reading »
Francis and the dialectics of exclusion Continue Reading »
It was a modest speech, one generous to the American experience but lacking in the sharpness this pontiff is sometimes capable of. The repeated use of the term “dialogue” was irritating. It's a buzzword among today's technocrats. They use it as a softening word, one that signals that . . . . Continue Reading »