Editor’s note: This essay appeared in Capitalism and the Common Good According Michael Novak: A Law and Liberty Symposium on First Things.
Rusty Reno’s recent editorial in First Things, which took aim at Michael Novak’s 1982 book The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, was uncharitable. It also missed its target.
On Friday, National Review published a scathing editorial in opposition to Donald Trump as the Republican candidate for President, followed by the statements of 22 prominent conservatives ranging from neocons like Bill Kristol, to social conservatives like Cal Thomas and Michael Medved, to radio/television personalities like Glenn Beck. The editorial slammed Trump as “a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones.” True to pugnacious form, Trump fired back, asserting that “the late, great William F. Buckley would have been ashamed of what happened to his prize.”…
How does one proceed in an imperfect, erring world? What is a wise statesman to do amidst error? Differentiating wisdom from folly is only part of the story. Reintroducing wisdom into the world, slowly and in manageable chunks so that it can be digested even as it is not quite recognized as wisdom—that is a task too big for any person. This is the old problem of reconciling wisdom and consent.
Reconciling these two takes prudence. But what does prudence demand? We ask ourselves this question constantly in politics.
The current Liberty Law Talk is with Sam Gregg on his newest book, Becoming Europe. Mac Owens reviews this week for Law and Liberty the 2013 Bancroft Prize book Lincoln's Code by John Fabian Witt. Here's the link to my earlier podcast with Witt on the book. So is slower economic growth the result of widening inequality? That's the question David Henderson @ Econ Log asks in his survey of Scott Winship's excellent work on economic inequality. Featured on the front page of Liberty Fund's online mothership is the great economist Paul Heyne with a link to his timely essay "Economics is a…
David Sloan Wilson is an interesting biologist. He is most known as a strong advocate of group selection and favors employing evolution to understand human behavior.
Wilson has a piece up where he seeks to explore the reasons why Paul Ryan, who he terms a religious fundamentalist, was attracted to Ayn Rand’s atheistic approach. While Wilson argues that religious fundamentalism and Randianism seem to be radically different views, they have more in common than at first appears.
Wilson argues that both views do not recognize tradeoffs. They see their recommendations as good for everyone. Wilson writes:
Rand created a system of thought that is just like religious fundamentalism in portraying a world without tradeoffs. This begins to explain her enduring appeal. She offers a world that has been simplified to the point where the only choice is to head toward glory (the pursuit of self-interest) and away from ruin.
Yesterday, I posted on people's preferences for Capitalism and Freedom versus Free to Choose. I also noted that one's preference may turn on which book one read first. The same issues of preference and timing arises with Hayek's two great works -- The Constitution of Liberty and Law, Legislation, and Liberty (LL&L). For me, the better work is The Constitution of Liberty, and not surprisingly I read it first. (In fact, I read it in that critical period of 1977-1978 when I was becoming persuaded of libertarian ideas. ) So my preference for it may reflect what I called in my…