Will the Earth Ever Have Too Many People?

At the beginning of human history, God gave mankind a mandate to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Sometime later—around the 19th-century—people started wondering, “Is the earth close to being filled with humans?” In 1798, Thomas Malthus predicted that if current birth rates persisted, many in Great Britain would starve to death. Continue Reading...

Gertrude Himmelfarb ‘Threads the Needle’ on Lord Acton Biography

Biographers suffer from a myriad of temptations. Gertrude Himmelfarb, in her bibliography to the newly republished Lord Acton: A Study in Conscience and Politics, recalls how Acton’s first biographer, Ulrich Noack struggled mightily to reconcile contradictions and tensions in Acton’s thought and in doing so lost much of the man himself. Continue Reading...

John D. Rockefeller’s Special Gift to the World

Whether derided as a devil of modern industry or hailed as a saint of modern philanthropy, oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller remains a controversial figure. Although the reality of the man is surely complex, those who attack his legacy tend to indulge in more than a few historical errors and economic myths, painting him as a supreme symbol of all that is wrong with industrialization and capitalism. Continue Reading...

Samuel Gregg: Fear and Loathing Stalk the West

Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg, writing for The American Spectator, looks at the telltale signs of a great civilization in decline. Many of us think of civilizational failure in terms of a society’s inability to withstand sudden external encounters. Continue Reading...

Acton University Lecturer: Islam’s Fatalism

Longtime Acton University lecturer (and author of “Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty”) Mustafa Akyol discusses the recent tragic deaths at Mecca in The New York Times. More to the point, Akyol talks about the fatalism which seems inherent in Islamic theology. Continue Reading...

Video: Donald Devine On America’s Way Back

The Fall 2015 Acton Lecture Series kicked off on September 17 with an address from Donald Devine, Senior Scholar at the Fund for American Studies, and formerly – and most famously – Ronald Reagan’s Director of the Office of Personnel Management, where he earned the nickname “Reagan’s Terrible Swift Sword of the Bureaucracy” from the Washington Post. Continue Reading...

Was the Civil War About Slavery?

What caused the Civil War? That seems like the sort of simple, straightforward question that any elementary school child should be able to answer. Yet many Americans—including, mostly, my fellow Southerners—claim that that the cause was economic or state’s rights or just about anything other than slavery. Continue Reading...