Encouraging our Elites

Writing to Alexander Dubček, would-be communist reformer in 1960s Czechoslovakia, Václav Havel has this to say about the importance of political leadership: A politician—and any social elite, for that matter—is not merely a “function” of society. Society is also, to a certain extent, a “function” of its politicians and its elites. These elites act onContinue reading “Encouraging our Elites”

The Slothful Tyrant

In the first volume of Democracy in America, Tocqueville warns us about a new and sinister form of oppression to which modern democratic peoples are susceptible: “the tyranny of the majority.” In olden times, abusive rulers used harsh punishments to coerce their subjects, and even just rulers were surrounded by flatterers seeking to harness publicContinue reading “The Slothful Tyrant”

Probable Cause

Claes G. Ryn is professor of politics at The Catholic University of America. He describes himself as “largely alienated from both of the American parties,” and in any case not a partisan of Donald J. Trump. Over at The American Conservative—a journal that has largely pooh-poohed allegations of widespread fraud in our recent presidential election—RynContinue reading “Probable Cause”

Why Study the Science of Servitude?

When a man “is a participator in the government of affairs”—on a daily, and therefore (for most of us) on a local basis—“he will let the heart be torn out of his body sooner than his power be wrested from him by a Caesar or a Bonaparte.” So spoke Jefferson. Tocqueville heartily agreed. As SocratesContinue reading “Why Study the Science of Servitude?”

Talking about Tyranny

In the 19th chapter of his Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes dismisses tyranny from the lexicon of modern political science. To speak of a ruler as tyrannical is nothing but name-calling. Enlightened persons cannot believe “that the government is of one kind when they like it, and another when they mislike it.” Hobbes’s intention in emotionalizing theContinue reading “Talking about Tyranny”