The Vice of Republics

Thus dwelt together in love these simple Acadian farmers: dwelt in the love of God and man. Alike were they free from fear, that reigns with the tyrant, and envy, the vice of republics. Henry W. Longfellow, Evangeline We do not have to look far to see what the poet meant when he flagged envyContinue reading “The Vice of Republics”

Public Opinion & Propaganda

In this seminal essay, Robert Nisbet explains how our contemporary obsession with popular opinion constitutes a deadly distortion of the logic of genuine republican government. Though good government rests on the consent of the governed, and public policy ought to be based on a refinement of public views, this does not mean that rulers oughtContinue reading “Public Opinion & Propaganda”

Possessing All Things

But in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God: As having nothing, and possessing all things. 1 Corinthians 6:4, 10 There is nothing which is not the possession of the wise person, except what is contrary to virtue. The whole world is his possession, since he uses it all as hisContinue reading “Possessing All Things”

The Evil Eye of Envy

Is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is thy eye evil because I am good? Matthew 20:15 Certain laborers have been laboring in vineyard since “early in the morning.” Having “borne the burden of the day and the heats,” they justly feel they have earned the penny that was promised them.Continue reading “The Evil Eye of Envy”

Beyond the Power of Man

Omnipotence in itself seems to me something bad and dangerous.  Its exercise seems to me beyond the power of man, whoever he may be; and I see only God who can, without danger, be all powerful, because his wisdom and his justice are always equal to his power. There is no authority on earth so respectableContinue reading “Beyond the Power of Man”

The Single-Issue Fallacy

Recently, a prominent elected official, in an effort to appear to promote national unity, blessed us with a blanket denunciation of half of her fellow citizens and coreligionists. Catholics who voted for Donald Trump, according to Nancy Pelosi, “were willing to sell the whole democracy down the river for that one issue.” That “one issue”Continue reading “The Single-Issue Fallacy”

What Government is Supposed to Do

Among those of our contemporaries still inclined to ask, many might be surprised to hear what James Madison believed to be the purpose of government. It was not material prosperity, or peace defined as the absence of conflict. Nor was it the defense of individual rights or property interests, per se. Rather, according to Madison:Continue reading “What Government is Supposed to Do”

Telling the Whole Truth about our Deepest Desires

In Plato’s Gorgias, Socrates wins a debate against the budding rhetorician Polus by calling the latter as witness against himself. Rejecting Socrates’s contention that justice is good and beautiful, Polus attempts to defend the sophisticated view that, despite its ugliness, injustice is useful in helping us to acquire whatever we desire. When pressed, Polus cannotContinue reading “Telling the Whole Truth about our Deepest Desires”