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Oppression by Indifference

Almost all Western democracies other than the United States provide public support to parents who wish to send their children to private schools with a distinctive religious character. In the Netherlands, this policy was ­formalized by the Pacificatie of 1917, which resolved seven decades . . . . Continue Reading »

Building to No Purpose

Architecture can reflect the progress of a civilization, but Hudson Yards is not about civilization. Its buildings reflect the futility of a “progressive” design sensibility cut off from the past and wedded to novelty and formal dissonance as ends in themselves. The mixed-use development rises . . . . Continue Reading »

Private Faces in Public Places

If the stature of a poet is measured by how well his words stick in the reader’s mind and refurbish our language, then W. H. Auden is one of the dominant English voices of the twentieth century. It is ironic that he came to “loathe” (his word) some of his best-remembered work. The most . . . . Continue Reading »

Civil War Catholics

In recent decades, the Civil War has received an increasing amount of attention from historians. Some of this scholarship has focused on the role religion played in the war. In The Civil War as a Theological Crisis (2006), Mark Noll describes the Civil War as a turning point in the . . . . Continue Reading »

Inherited Merit

The system hasn’t failed; it has succeeded too well. Patrick Deneen said this about liberalism. Now Daniel Markovits is saying it about meritocracy. Markovits, a professor of law at Yale, argues that a system that once promoted social mobility has created a self-perpetuating class of elites. His . . . . Continue Reading »

Identity as Ideology

Like many persons possessing limited insight into the future, I had supposed that, with the collapse of the Soviet Empire, utopianism would die out in the Western world. I was mistaken. Identity politics in the West is veering in the direction of totalitarianism. A book I read . . . . Continue Reading »

Homesick for Eternity

In 2018, Barack Obama urged his Facebook followers to read Why Liberalism Failed by Patrick Deneen. We live, Obama said, in a time of “increasing disillusionment with the liberal democratic order.” He traced this disillusionment to a trend that liberal democracies ignore at their own . . . . Continue Reading »

The World Turned Upside Down

After the Second World War, American intellectuals promoted a grand narrative about the origins and development of Western civilization. The purpose of this narrative was less academic than political. Its goal at home was to catechize a diverse country in an open-ended story that celebrated the . . . . Continue Reading »

Thirty Years at First Things

This is our 300th number, marking thirty years of publication. In early 1989, Richard John Neuhaus had no inkling that he was about to found First Things. A Lutheran pastor noted for his incisive religious and political commentaries, he was busy running the Center on Religion and Society. The Center . . . . Continue Reading »

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