Edmund Burke’s Critique of the French Revolution (Paul Krause, July 19, 2024, Discourses on Minerva)

[W]hat we will concern ourselves with is Burke’s analysis of “revolution society” and “constitutional society” and what is entailed in both.

Burke’s constitutional society is a well-ordered society from organic evolution with ancient and longstanding roots; a quintessentially conservative disposition. A constitutional society is the particularized manifestation of universal truths: such as the right to associate, right to organize government, right to dismiss corrupt rulers, etc. A constitutional society is a society of laws and “regulated liberty” for without laws and proper regulations no society can be orderly, effective in its composition and conduct, and have the legal means and juridical precedents to maintain itself while also allowing the means of dismissal, improvement, and ingenuity.

One of Burke’s key arguments in favor of organic institutionalism is how institutionalism has a transcendent character to it. That is, it is larger than the self. Organic institutionalism is our inheritance. It is what our ancestors worked and bequeathed to us. We honor our ancestors in accepting this inheritance. And we honor our ancestors in improving what they have bequeathed to us. We do this so as to bequeath to our progeny, children, a future too. In this manner the chain of history is tied together: past, present, and future are all linked together in the contract between dead, living, and to be born:

This policy appears to me to be the result of profound reflection, or rather the happy effect of following nature, which is wisdom without reflection and above reflection. A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temperament and limited views. People who never look back to their ancestors will not look forward to posterity. Besides, the people of England know well that the idea of inheritance provides a sure principle of conservation and a sure principle of transmission, without at all excluding a principle of improvement. . . . Whatever advantages are obtained by a state proceeding on these maxims are locked fast as in a sort of family settlement, held tight for ever. By a constitutional policy that follows the pattern of nature, we receive, hold, and transmit (i) our government and our privileges in the same way as we enjoy and transmit (ii) our property and (iii) our lives.

As Burke so poignantly reflects, a society that looks upon its ancestors with scorn, or doesn’t look upon its ancestors at all, doesn’t concern itself with the future either. It becomes selfish and self-centered and works only for oneself rather than others. Atomization results when one becomes self-absorbed and lifts oneself up as the center of the world and of history.

A constitutional society, however imperfect, is something ultimately good and that evolves in progress. It is good because it has established and worked to improve, the legal traditions, rights, liberties, and traditions which any society’s first principle of organization and development need. For Burke, the rejection of the organic and constitutional society is not only a rejection of nature, it is a rejection of humanity’s creaturely nature – it makes humans into God as humans believe they can create, from nothing (creatio ex nihilo) the perfect society.

Burke argues that France had its opportunity to transform itself. As a result of missing this opportunity, however, the “revolution society” is the opposite of an organic and constitutional society. The impetus of revolution is to destroy.


Sorting nationalism and patriotism with John Lukacs (Brad East, Oct 7, 2019)

Let me close with a sample set of quotations on the topic of nationalism. I commend the book along with Lukacs’s voluminous output to any and all who find themselves interested by this (pp. 35-36, 71-73; my bold print, for emphasis): […]

“After 1870 nationalism, almost always, turned antiliberal, especially where liberalism was no longer principally nationalist. …

“The state was one of the creations of the Modern Age. Its powers grew; here and there, sooner or later, it became monstrously bureaucratic. Yet—and few people see this, very much including those who prattle about ‘totalitarianism’—the power of the state has been weakening, at the same time the attraction of nationalism has not.

“Hitler knew that: I have, more than once, cited his sentence from Mein Kampf recalling his youth: ‘I was a nationalist; but I was not a patriot.’ Again it is telling that in Austria ‘national’ and ‘nationalist’ meant pro-German, and not only during the multinational Habsburg monarchy and state. Well before the Second World War an Austrian ‘nationalist’ wanted some kind of union with Germany, at the expense of an independent Austrian state. This was also true in such diverse places as Norway or Hungary or other states during the Second World War: ‘national’ and ‘nationalist’ often meant pro-German.

“Nationalism, rather than patriotism; the nation rather than the state; populism rather than liberal democracy, to be sure. We have examples of that even among the extremist groups in the United States, too, with their hatred of ‘government’—that is, of the state. We have seen that while true patriotism is defensive, nationalism is aggressive; patriotism is the love of a particular land, with its particular traditions; nationalism is the love of something less tangible, of the myth of a ‘people,’ justifying everything, a political and ideological substitute for religion; both modern and populist. An aristocratic nationalism is an oxymoron, since at least after the late seventeenth century most European aristocracies were cosmopolitan as well as national. Democratic nationalism is a later phenomenon. For a while there was nothing very wrong with that. It won great revolutions and battles, it produced some fine examples of national cohesion. One hundred and fifty years ago a distinction between nationalism and patriotism would have been labored, it would have not made much sense. Even now nationalism and patriotism often overlap within the minds and hearts of many people. Yet we must be aware of their differences—because of the phenomenon of populism which, unlike old-fashioned patriotism, is inseparable from the myth of a people. Populism is folkish, patriotism is not. One can be a patriot and cosmopolitan (certainly culturally so). But a populist is inevitably a nationalist of sorts. Patriotism is less racist than is populism. A patriot will not exclude a person of another nationality from a community where they have lived side by side and whom he has known for many years; but a populist will always be suspicious of someone who does not seem to belong to his tribe.

“A patriot is not necessarily a conservative; he may even be a liberal—of sorts, though not an abstract one. In the twentieth century a nationalist could hardly be a liberal. The nineteenth century was full of liberal nationalists, some of them inspiring and noble figures. The accepted view is that liberalism faded and declined because of the appearance of socialism, that the liberals who originally had reservations about exaggerated democracy became democrats and then socialists, accepting the progressive ideas of state intervention in the economy, education, welfare. This is true but not true enough. It is nationalism, not socialism, that killed the liberal appeal. The ground slipped out from under the liberals not because they were not sufficiently socialist but because they were (or at least seemed to be) insufficiently nationalist.

“Since it appeals to tribal and racial bonds, nationalism seems to be deeply and atavistically natural and human. Yet the trouble with it is not only that nationalism can be antihumanist and often inhuman but that it also proceeds from one abstract assumption about human nature itself. The love for one’s people is natural, but it is also categorical; it is less charitable and less deeply human than the love for one’s country, a love that flows from traditions, at least akin to a love of one’s family. Nationalism is both self-centered and selfish—because human love is not the love of oneself; it is the love of another. (A convinced nationalist is suspicious not only of people he sees as aliens; he may be even more suspicious of people of his own ilk and ready to denounce them as ‘traitors’—that is, people who disagree with his nationalist beliefs.) Patriotism is always more than merely biological—because charitable love is human and not merely ‘natural.’ Nature has, and shows, no charity.”


American Berserk (ROSS BARKAN, JUL 16, 2024, Political Currents)

Trump is a criminal, a pathological liar, a narcissist, and an inveterate bully. He has few deeply held beliefs. As a politician, he has no regard for the mechanics of government or the analysis of policy. He is, as his critics say, vacant. And he is also a genius—not in the sense of a soaring I.Q. or an aptitude for the sciences or any ability to make computations that most human brains cannot. He is, in no way, an intellect. His genius is for the all-American, for publicity, for having the native foresight, buried deep in his viscous core, to understand what he had to do. He had to perform. He had to shout fight, he had to hunt out the cameras, he had to get his fist in the air, he had to apprehend, somehow, what this all meant before the secret service barreled him away. He himself, in the hospital, seemed astounded by his own power. “A lot of people say it’s the most iconic photo they’ve ever seen,” he told Michael Goodwin, the sycophantic New York Post columnist. “They’re right and I didn’t die. Usually you have to die to have an iconic picture.” This is the platonic ideal of a Trump quote: self-aggrandizing, incorrect, and aimed straight, like an arrow into the heart, at all that he will ever care about, and all he has gained. He is known. He is forever known. He has fame, and the best kind, the American kind, that which, like Cronos, devours whatever else is on this Earth, so men and women in Paris and Egypt and Kampala can think of him and dream of him and even bear his likeness, this image of the blood and the flag and the fist, on a cotton t-shirt. What else, near death, can Trump long for? The presidency is beside the point. If he wins, as everyone seems to think he will, he’ll only get four more years anyway, no matter what they tell you about American Hitler. Trump has no genius for governing or genuinely dominating others; he cannot, like Napoleon, stand up a new empire or, like the Nazis and the Soviets, make fascism as real as the gun pressed to your temple. His political machine runs on the exhaust fumes of his own mania, and it can do little to discipline the states, the little republics of federalism that will choose, if governed by Democrats, to shirk Trumpism. Soon, Trump will be eighty, and this milestone will either be celebrated in the Oval Office or at Mar-a-Lago, in permanent exile as a two-time presidential loser.


How major rules are surging under the Biden administration (Clyde Wayne Crews • 07/15/2024, Competitive Enterprise Institute)

We’ve taken a look at the total numbers of significant regulations issued this year in the Biden administration as well as at the subsets of those rules affecting small business and state/local governments.

We have also pondered implications of the Congressional Review Act and the pressure it placed upon the administration to issue its costliest and most ambitious rules before late summer.

Waiting too late would render rules vulnerable to being overturned by a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution of disapproval should there be a change in administrations in 2025. That’s because the CRA stipulates that rules not finalized before the final 60 legislative days of the 118th Congress would be candidates for overturn.

Against this backdrop, on July 5, the day after Independence Day, the White House released the Spring edition of the twice-yearly Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions depicting agency rulemaking priorities.

The new Agenda depicts 3,698 rules in the pipeline from more than 60 departments, agencies and commissions. These rules are comprised of those at the pre-rule, active (proposed and final) and long-term stages, as well as rules completed over approximately the past six months (that is, since the Fall 2023 Agenda).

Among the 3,698, there are 287 “Sec. 3(f)(1) Significant” (S3F1) rules in the new Spring Agenda.


Liberal Nationalism, Abraham Lincoln, and the Unification of Italy (Miles Smith, July 15, 2024, Providence)

American liberals in the nineteenth century weren’t libertarians, nor were they agnostic on the relationship between the state, order, and liberty. But they did believe the state should be limited, and that it could not and should not exercise coercive authority on matters of conscience. Nations were good, so long as they gave their people true freedom.

Only liberal regimes are legitimately sovereign.


Donald Trump and the language of violence (Gil Duran & George Lakoff, JULY 14 2024, frame Lab)

[N]o one has done more to inject violence into our political discourse than Trump.

He demonizes his political opponents as “animals,” “scum” and “vermin.” He calls for jailing his opponents without cause and forcing them to stand before military tribunals. He speaks of the “bloodbath” that will occur if he loses the election. When a deranged man attempted to murder House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer, Trump mocked the incident as his audience laughed.

Trump creates serious fear in the minds of many Americans with his promises to destroy democratic norms and become a dictator on “day one” if he gets re-elected president. On January 6, 2021, he urged his supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol and did nothing as they launched a violent insurrection to overturn the 2020 election. At the Capitol, Trump’s followers hunted Nancy Pelosi and chanted “hang Mike Pence.”

None of this justifies the attempt on his life – or any kind of political violence against anyone. Yet Trump has continually framed American politics as a violent struggle requiring bloodshed.


Inflation News Is Still Exaggerated by Dubious Shelter Estimates (Alan Reynolds, 7/11/24, Cato)

Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation has been zero for two months. Over the past 12 months, prices of food at home are up 1.1 percent, and energy prices are up 1 percent. Yet headlines keep focusing on the 12-month averages of 3 percent for the total CPI and 3.3 percent for “core inflation” (less food and energy). But there is a big problem: Those 3–3.3 percent figures do not reflect a broadly defined measure of inflation since they are largely dominated by shelter costs.

Widely criticized Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates of rent and owners’ equivalent rent (a price nobody pays) account for a third of the total CPI and over 40 percent of the core CPI.

That is why suspiciously extreme estimates of shelter inflation (known to lag reality by 12–18 months) have continually exaggerated reported inflation since July 2022.


Emancipating the Constitution From Non-Originalist Precedent: In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Chevron, originalists must address the problem of bad precedent. (John O. Mcginnis & Mike Rappaport, 7/11/24, Law & Liberty)

The biggest challenge to the rise of originalism is precedent. Although originalism is enjoying more support in the judiciary and in the academy than it has in a century, hundreds of non-originalist Supreme Court precedents still shape our legal world. That means originalists face a clear dilemma: If they allow these precedents to dominate, constitutional doctrine will remain non-originalist […] Conversely, if originalists systematically overturn non-originalist precedent, they risk disrupting established rules and causing legal instability.

It is not surprising that the justices are just beginning to grapple with this fundamental issue.

Maintaining the violence that was done to the Constitution is the worst alternative.


“It’s Time to Play Ball, British Style”: A hot dog, a Pimm’s cup and two national anthems: The cultural dissonance of watching America’s pastime in London. (IMOGEN WEST-KNIGHTS, JULY 9, 2024, The Dial)

I have seen one baseball game before, two years ago at Yankee stadium in New York. The sport itself felt incidental to me: It seemed that you could treat the game as a location in which to drink a beer more than anything else. The primary impression I took away was one of overwhelming Americanness. What could a baseball game in London possibly feel like, so far from its native home? What is the appeal of this most American pastime to Brits? I went to the Phillies Mets game to find out.


Itchen for fishing: Good fishing, books and beer remind us that not everything is awful (Patrick Galbraith, 7/11/24, The Critic)

What you’ve got to understand, he explained, as he sat at his desk — a desk which comes from the original Lutyens-designed Country Life office — is that most of the media in this country tells you why you’re wrong or why somebody else is. What Country Life does, he explained, is it makes people feel good about themselves. It sounds simple but Country Life is one of the only magazines in Britain that sees its profits jump year on year. As the world becomes more miserable, people seek it out more and more.

I like the dogs and the chalk streams and the literature and the food

I think, though, there’s something else going on too. We live in a period when everybody wants to talk Britain down. “Tell me”, a well-known novelist’s husband said to me recently at a book festival we were both speaking at, “about how awful it is to be a young person in Britain.” The thing is, I replied, I quite like it. I like the dogs and the chalk streams and the literature and the food. I like English cheese, pubs, and London in winter.

We walked back along the bank, each of us with our fish, then we sat in the pub in Twyford and had a beer. “What I think it is”, I said to Mark, is that Country Life provides an antidote to this bleak and self-fulfilling narrative that everything here is awful.

we yearn to be the heroes of our own narratives, which is made difficult be how affluent and peaceful modern life is. So we cosplay a drama that does not exist.