Posts Tagged ‘liberalism’

Brooks on Liberalism

Monday, July 13th, 2020

According to David Brooks, liberalism promotes emotionless rationality, atomized individuals, and base self-“interest” detached from moral meaning. Of course that is nonsense, and Brooks does not name a single liberal who advocates such things.

Brooks is right about some things. He writes, “We have to have the open exchange of views that is the essence of liberalism.” And he advocates a “morality of personalism,” an “effort to see the full depth and complexity of each human person.” But of course that just is an aspect of liberalism properly conceived.

Goldberg on Locke

Saturday, July 11th, 2020

Jonah Goldberg has an interesting article out, “The Most Serious Attacks on the Founding Come From the Right.” One of Goldberg’s claims is that John Locke, although very influential on the American Founding, was not as influential as often assumed: “There’s ample evidence that his work in epistemology and psychology—then called ‘natural philosophy’—impressed the Founders greatly. But the Second Treatise on Government . . . simply wasn’t the Book That Changed Everything. I don’t say any of this to disparage Locke, but simply to note that Locke reflected ideas and principles that were already thick on the ground at the time.” He cites an article by Oscar and Lilian Handlin along these lines.

Goldberg also defends (classical) liberalism in his Newsweek column. He makes a lot of great points, but I think he concedes too much ground here: “There are a myriad downsides to radical individualism. America’s troubles today are inextricably linked with the breakdown of the family, local institutions, communities, organized religion and social trust.” What we might call atomistic individualism has always been a straw man version of individualism.

An aside: Goldberg mentions an article by Joseph Stengel on the origins of the Fourth Amendment.