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Utopian Temptation

Why Liberalism Failedby patrick j. deneenyale, 248 pages, $30 Patrick Deneen asserts that liberalism has failed. He also asserts (in a recent article) that “the exceedingly narrow victory of Donald Trump may be understood as the last gasp of a dying conservatism that has been destroyed by American . . . . Continue Reading »

Illiberal Democracy

Demopolis: Democracy Before Liberalism in Theory and Practiceby josiah obercambridge, 222 pages, $24.90 Liberal democracy is a modern synthesis. Liberalism—a respect for human or natural rights; limits on the scope and power of public authority; state neutrality on fundamental questions of, . . . . Continue Reading »

Postliberal Theology

Blood pressure is rising. Folks are worried about “illiberalism.” In a November issue of the Washington Post, Anne Applebaum warned of a rising “neo-Bolshevism” assailing the West: “Donald Trump, Viktor Orban, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and Jaroslaw Kacyniski.” Others have more . . . . Continue Reading »

The Metaphysics of Democracy

Liberalism began as a political project that sought to curtail the role of religion in public life. Religious impulses haven’t proven easy to expel, however, even in secular societies. Contemporary secular liberalism aspires to be a universal project that supplants traditional religion and . . . . Continue Reading »

Our Secular Theodicy

I live in Berkeley, one of the most religious cities in America. Its churches are being converted into mosques and Buddhist temples, but its one true faith endures. A popular yard sign states its creed: “In This House, We Believe: Black Lives Matter, Women’s Rights are Human Rights, No . . . . Continue Reading »

You Can Say That

While I was talking with our longtime contributor Hadley Arkes this month, he quoted a statement that I haven’t been able to get out of my head: “One man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric.” It’s a simple maxim, easy to remember, with balance and brevity plus the air of a schoolmarm’s . . . . Continue Reading »

Döllinger’s Unquiet Grave

The Pope and the Professor:  Pius IX, Ignaz von Döllinger, and the Quandary of the Modern Age by thomas howardoxford, 312 pages, $45 John Henry Newman aside, Ignaz von Döllinger (1799–1890) was the greatest Catholic theologian of the nineteenth century. He came of age amid a golden . . . . Continue Reading »

Politics After Liberalism

The Politics of Virtue: Post-Liberalism and the Human Futureby john milbank and adrian pabstrowman and littlefield, 418 pages, $39.95 Among the ideas that compete to determine the world’s future, one can count Catholicism, Islam, and (until recently) Marxism. But only one is dominant, . . . . Continue Reading »

Liberal Tradition, Yes;
Liberal Ideology, No

There are rumors of economic and political heresy at First Things. My reassessment of Michael Novak’s Spirit of Democratic Capitalism earlier this year raised suspicions that I’m guiding the journal in an “anti-capitalist” direction. Some say the magazine flirts with . . . . Continue Reading »

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