Donald Livingston

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Secession Becomes Thinkable
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Secession Becomes Thinkable

American Secession: The Looming Threat of a National Breakup; by F. H. Buckley; Encounter Books; 184 pp., $23.99

 


When asked whether a state can constitutionally secede from the United States, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia brushed the question aside,

Faithful Son
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Faithful Son

Boyd Cathey is an 11th generation Carolina Tar Heel who was mentored by and worked with Russell Kirk.  The Land We Love: The South and Its Heritage is written reverentially, just as one might reflect on the memory of one’s

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The Strange Career of Individualism

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What is individualism? John Stuart Mill answered this question with a theory of rights. Mill looked for a “simple” theoretical principle that could distinguish the liberty of the individual from that of the state. Not only is there no such

Secession and American Republicanism
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Secession and American Republicanism

When the American colonists seceded from Britain in 1776, Europe was shared out among great monarchies.  Only Switzerland was republican, but Americans were determined to enjoy a republican style of government in the New World.  The republican tradition went back

David Hume: Historian
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David Hume: Historian

Intellectual historians commonly group Voltaire, Edward Gibbon, William Robertson, and David Hume as the four greatest 18th-century historians.  If limited to only one of these authors, we would do well to begin with Hume.  For one thing, Hume is the

What Is Wrong With Ideology?
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What Is Wrong With Ideology?

Ideology is an intellectual pathology that has gripped the West for about three centuries.  At times, we have been told that ideology is at an end.  This was said after the close of World War II, when the most ideological

The Natural History of the Night Watchman State
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The Natural History of the Night Watchman State

Liberalism, in all its guises, is a vision of the final form of political association.  All history is viewed as a slow and painful struggle toward the realization of the liberal state.  Other forms of political association are not denied

Aristotelian Worms in the Leviathan
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Aristotelian Worms in the Leviathan

Is there such a thing as the proper size of a political order?  Westerners have inherited three visions of political size and scale: the Aristotelian polis; the Christian commonwealth; and the Hobbesian modern state.  For Aristotle, the point of

The Ancestry and Legacy of the Philosophes
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The Ancestry and Legacy of the Philosophes

Edmund Burke records that two thirds of the Anglican clergy initially supported the French Revolution.  He wrote Reflections on the Revolution in France to show that the Revolution was not merely an understandable effort at reform but an entirely unique

Losing Federalism
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Losing Federalism

Human liberty has two distinguishable but inseparable dimensions: the liberty of the individual to act according to his own reason and the corporate liberty of a moral community to pursue a vision of the good lived out in institutions and

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A “Containment Policy” for the New Cold War

Americans regularly accept expropriations—legal, moral, and economic—from the central government that would have driven our 18th- and 19th-century ancestors to arms.  The Constitution reserves to the states and local communities all powers necessary to provide legal protection for valuable ways

Diseconomies of Scale
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Diseconomies of Scale

“Free trade,” like “free love,” is a beguiling abstraction that hides more than it reveals.  Absolute free trade would be an exchange of commodities between two people without the coercive intervention of a third party.  But economic exchange is always

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We Are All Immigrants Now

Poll after poll shows that the vast majority of Americans want stricter controls on immigration. Yet it should be clear that our ruling class is not going to impose stricter controls or even enforce its own laws. What does this

Barbecue Shacks, Palmetto Groves, and Other Schools
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Barbecue Shacks, Palmetto Groves, and Other Schools

The smog of political correctness hangs heavily over most American colleges and universities. Since the politically correct are intolerant, support only their own style of research, and hire and tenure only their own kind, this condition may well he with

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A Bad Lie

The great evil of the modern age is the ability of modern states to destroy or suppress independent social authorities and to concentrate power to the center. The horrors of the 20th century—world wars, totalitarian revolutions, mass killings of millions

The Strange Career of Individualism
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The Strange Career of Individualism

What is individualism? John Stuart Mill answered this question with a theory of rights. Mill looked for a “simple” theoretical principle that could distinguish the liberty of the individual from that of the state. Not only is there no such

M.E. Bradford and the Barbarism of Reflection
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M.E. Bradford and the Barbarism of Reflection

        “The hours of a wise man are lengthened by his ideas.”—Joseph Addison

This is the first critical study of M.E. Bradford, whose untimely death in 1993 silenced the most eloquent voice ever raised on behalf of the permanent things as

Decentralists or D.C. Centralists?
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Decentralists or D.C. Centralists?

As we approach the end of this century, and indeed of a millennium, there is more than the usual tendency to reflect on things human and divine. One thing we should ponder is that the 20th century, often praised as

One Nation Divisible
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One Nation Divisible

Something extraordinary has happened over the last decade or so—something neither the Republican nor Democratic leadership seems to understand. A large and growing number of Americans are now openly saying that much of what the central government does is not

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One Nation Indivisible

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

There is irony in the fact that although prayer

David Hume and American Liberty
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David Hume and American Liberty

David Hume’s History of England was one of the most successful literary productions of the 18th century. It became a classic in his lifetime and was published continuously down to 1894, passing through at least 167 posthumous editions. The young