In response to: What Worlds Have They to Conquer?: A Higher Ed Dystopia
No man enters the presidency prepared for the office, yet few chief magistrates have managed a stage entry as startlingly rife with incompetence and impropriety as Donald Trump. The reason is that the inherent, inertial conservatism of the office disciplines most of its occupants.
In response to: Why Freedom Is a Legal Concept
I am delighted to have had the opportunity to read Professor Grosby’s Liberty Forum essay and to be invited to comment on it. I am especially happy that Professor Grosby has focused on the rule of law as a legal concept, as opposed to arguing that it's a political or philosophical concept. For unlike much philosophical theorizing about the rule of law, which tends to get bogged down in interminable semantic nitpicking or debating whether Nazi Germany really had the rule of law, Professor Grosby is seeking to distill the essence of the rule of law as a legal and…
Steven Grosby’s rich Liberty Forum essay combines, as his writing always does, a sensitivity to history with a careful attention to theoretical problems. I am tempted to engage him on the terrain of history, in the hope of prompting still more from him on the Middle Ages; were I just a listener, that is what…
Steven Grosby’s essay is an excellent contribution on the formal and procedural elements that must be upheld to maintain the rule of law. Grosby’s essay, however, invites us to unpack what kind of “reason” is inherent in law and to ask what it means for law “to rule.” The 13th century theologian and philosopher Thomas…
Best to begin by acknowledging one’s mistakes. In the original Liberty Forum essay given the title “Why Freedom Is a Legal Concept,” I referred to the often quoted statement, so important for liberty and the rule of law, of Henry de Bracton, that “above the king is the university of the realm”—that is, “there is…
The 2016 election was a victory for the Republican party but it was hardly a resounding one for classical liberalism at least as historically defined. Classical liberalism, for instance, has reflected an enthusiasm for free trade along with other free markets. But Donald Trump ran the most aggressively anti-free trade platform of any major party nominee Democratic or Republican in the last century.
But rather than simply bemoaning the fact, classical liberals need to take account of it, because the anti-trade turn is a part of the greatest challenge classical liberalism has ever faced: how to address the ever faster rate of social and economic change. The freedom to make such transformations through technology and trade creates very substantial wealth but it disrupts people’s lives, making them less liberal and more eager for state protection than before.
There can be no doubt that such disruption was at the heart of Trump’s victory.
According to Livy’s History, the Roman consul Publius Decius Mus sacrificed himself to the gods by “leap[ing] upon his horse and dash[ing] into the middle of the enemy” in a ritual that secured victory for his embattled army. One hopes the polemicist using Decius as a pseudonym in a much discussed broadside against Never Trumpers, having anonymously expressed an opinion with which somewhere north of 40 percent of Americans agree, is safe. The republic almost certainly will be.
Final grades were due a few days ago, and for those of us who teach, grading season has just come to a close. With visions of student papers dancing in my head, I can’t keep from thinking, Rashomon is a perfect movie for our culture.