Czeslaw Milosz: Poet Laureate of Freedom

[A review of Milosz: A Biography by Andrzej Franasszek, edited and translated by Aleksandra and Michael Parker, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge University, 2017, 526 pp., $35] “What is poetry which does not save/Nations or people?” – Czeslaw Milosz (“Dedication”) In the 1970s – the last full decade before Poland finally freed itself from the shackles of communist control –Lech Walesa, the leader of Solidarity, the Soviet bloc’s first trade union, was arrested on more than one occasion. Continue Reading...

Lenin’s Trip to Infamy

One hundred years ago, the man Winston Churchill dubbed a “plague bacillus” journeyed back from his exile in Europe to eventually seize the reins of power in his native Russia. Vladimir Lenin’s itinerary could not have been more fraught with peril and subterfuge, which makes it an ideal framing story for a recap of the rise of 20th century totalitarianism. Continue Reading...

Liberalism in all things except liberalism

Samuel Gregg, director of research at the Acton Institute, recently published a review of Maurice Cowling’s 1963 book Mill and Liberalism, in which Cowling warns of the tendency towards “moral totalitarianism” in John Stuart Mill’s “religion of liberalism.” Gregg acknowledges fifty-four years after Cowling’s warning, “significant pressures are now brought to bear on those whose views don’t fit the contemporary liberal consensus.” The book’s analysis “provides insights not only into liberal intolerance in our time but also into how to address it.” Mill was not the “secular saint of tolerance” many suggest he was. Continue Reading...

What did Alexis de Tocqueville actually think?

Honoré Daumier (French, 1808 – 1879 ), Alex. Ch. Henri de Tocqueville, 1849, lithograph, Rosenwald Collection Samuel Gregg, research director at the Acton Institute, recently published a review on the new translation of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Recollections: The French Revolution of 1848 and Its Aftermath in which Tocqueville, the “quintessential man of theory,” gets dirty about the politics of the French Revolution. Continue Reading...

Financial endeavors can serve the common good

“Gregg lays out a careful and detailed argument for the proposition that, done well, financial endeavors can serve the common good,” says Adam J. MacLeod in a review of Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg’s most recent book For God and Profit: How Banking and Finance Can Serve the Common Good. Continue Reading...