Stories of Decline, Stasis, and Progress

Peter Levine asks, “Why do we feel compelled to argue from decline?” in areas where objective measures suggest progress or growth: You can care deeply about public education, civic education, teenagers’ behavior, or–if you must–gun rights, but there is no basis for arguing that these things are worse than they used to be. I am… Continue reading Stories of Decline, Stasis, and Progress

Greece and the European Union

This Newsnight piece paints a picture of the widespread breakdown of the Greek social compact: What was no joke were the clashes between police and the hardline protesters.[…] Time and again, on the grounds of confronting the rioters, police made incursions into large masses of peaceful protesters. […]I can tell you from repeated experience, it… Continue reading Greece and the European Union

Direct Action

Martin Luther King, Jr. on direct action: In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably… Continue reading Direct Action

The Virtues of Conservatism

(Caveat Lector: I am not a conservative. However, recent reflections on institutional experimentation have reminded me of some of the virtues of the philosophical movement that goes under that name.) With the publication of The Reactionary Mind, Corey Robin has taken up Phil Agre’s old point that conservatism is the defense of aristocracy and privilege.… Continue reading The Virtues of Conservatism

This is What Epistocracy Looks Like

Most academics know some version of the critique of elite rule, administrative power, and centralized regulation by experts. Hannah Arendt called bureaucracy the “rule of No Man;” Michel Foucault described the overlap of legislative power, knowledge-production, and the apparatus of discipline and control; Iris Marion Young defended simple street activism against the demand that political… Continue reading This is What Epistocracy Looks Like