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Habits of Liberty: Part II

Culture—understood as something not only thought, but enacted and embodied—shapes our articulation of values. Liberty, I have suggested, wears a different aspect under the present centralized bureaucracy than it did during the phase of our free-market republic. Christopher Lasch describes a related shift in our idea of “democracy”: “The word has come to serve simply as a description of the therapeutic state. When we speak of democracy today, we refer, more often than not, to the democratization of “self-esteem.” The current catchwords—diversity, compassion, empowerment, entitlement—express the wistful hope that deep… Read more Habits of Liberty: Part II

Habits of Liberty: Part I

The Declaration of Independence tells us that government derives its “just powers from the consent of the governed” who lay “its foundation on such principles and organiz[e] its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” Liberalism thus substitutes liberty or choice for any “abstract and eternal justice, beyond all local custom or convenience.” It is agnostic and agonistic regarding questions of ultimate value. A liberal nation discovers and effects its choice by means of polls and market, and because that… Read more Habits of Liberty: Part I