The decline of Western civilization, redux

A review of Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics Is Destroying American Democracy by Jonah J. Goldberg, Crown Forum, 2018, 442 pp., $28. Suicide of the West is intended as a “serious” work, which it is indeed. Continue Reading...

Why government is not just a necessary evil

In the Federalist Papers James Madison claimed that, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” But is that true? James R. Rogers, an associate professor of political science at Texas A&M University, explains why some form of government would be necessary even if man were still in a prelapsarian state of nature: [E]ven without the Fall, there would be a role for civil government for the duly recognized person who exercises civil authority. Continue Reading...

Jerry Pournelle, Russell Kirk Conservative: RIP

Jerry Pournelle passed away in early September and is memorialized in this week’s “Upstream” segment of the Radio Free Acton podcast. An accomplished man in many fields in both the public and private sectors, he perhaps is best known as the author and co-author of a shelf-full of science-fiction novels. Continue Reading...

How Christopher Columbus helped bring the School of Salamanca to the Americas

Every Columbus Day gives rise to endless debates and recriminations over the impact of Christopher Columbus’ expedition upon the indigenous peoples of the Americas. No honest observer can dismiss the injustices perpetrated after Columbus’ landing (nor before it), but one benefit of his voyage has been forgotten: It inadvertently exposed the Americas to the School of Salamanca. Continue Reading...

The Importance of Incompetence

An illustration of the Peter Principle. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.   Today at Public Discourse, I argue that in addition to idealism and self-interest, incompetence needs to be recognized as a more important factor in politics: [U]nless we add incompetence as a category of analysis, we will tend to view every victory for our own team as a triumph of justice or freedom or equality (idealism), and every failure the result of deep and convoluted corruption (self-interest). Continue Reading...