‘Instruction by which we may profit’: A guide to reading Tocqueville’s ‘Democracy in America’ (Part 1)

When Alexis de Tocqueville authored Democracy in America, a two-volume treatment of America, he wrote it “to find there instruction by which we ourselves may profit.” By “we,” Tocqueville was referring to his fellow Frenchmen, but although he may have written those words in 1835, we as Americans of the 21st century also have plenty to profit from Tocqueville’s wisdom, if we’ll but receive it. Continue Reading...

The end of black conservatism?

On December 27, 2016, at the age of 86, Thomas Sowell published his last column. After publishing dozens of books and hundreds of columns, Dr. Sowell’s retirement may mark the beginning of the end of an era of black intellectuals who were champions of political and economic liberty. Continue Reading...

How 2016 election turnout data encourages humility

The following graph, in various forms, is making the rounds: [Image removed.] The suggestion of the graph (and usually of commentary by those who share it) is that Sec. Hillary Clinton lost to President-elect Donald Trump because Democrats didn’t turn out to vote for her like they did for President Obama. Continue Reading...

Virtuous envy?

Edward Feser, with a nod to Thomas Aquinas, discusses whether there might be such a thing as virtuous Schadenfreude. As Feser puts it, “On the one hand, the suffering of a person is not as such something to rejoice in, for suffering, considered just by itself, is an evil…. Continue Reading...

Beware the post-election narratives

In his best-selling book The Black Swan, probabilist Nassim Nicholas Taleb warns against the need for easy narratives to explain the unexpected. Given how unexpected the result of this Tuesday’s election was, it is worth taking some time to review what Taleb calls “the narrative fallacy.” According to Taleb, The narrative fallacy addresses our limited ability to look at sequences of facts without weaving an explanation into them, or, equivalently, forcing a logical link, an arrow of relationship, upon them. Continue Reading...