Jonah Goldberg (born 21 March 1969) is the former editor of National Review Online and now the website's Editor-at-Large. He's also a contributing editor to National Review's print magazine. He writes a weekly column for the Los Angeles Times which is syndicated to many other newspapers and websites as well as also frequently appearing on CNN. He's a well known conservative thinker and is known for his geekier side: frequently referencing Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, The Simpsons, his anthropomorphic couch, and his dog Cosmo in his pieces. He daily posts online on The Corner at National Review Online. Goldberg in 2008 published his first book, Liberal Fascism which reached number one on the New York Times Bestseller List for hardbacks in its seventh week on the list.
- 1 Quotes
- 1.1 2000s
- 1.1.1 2000
- 1.1.2 2001
- 1.1.3 2002
- 1.1.4 2004
- 1.1.5 2005
- 1.1.6 2006
- 1.1.7 2007
- 1.1.8 2008
- 1.2 2010s
- 1.2.1 2014
- 1.2.2 2018
- 220.127.116.11 Andrew Breitbart would tell Steve Bannon to stay in Europe (2018)
- 18.104.22.168 War on the Right (2018)
- 22.214.171.124 Are We to Blame for the Alex Jones Problem? (2018)
- 126.96.36.199 When Evil Becomes Inconvenient (2018)
- 188.8.131.52 Liberals' Irritable Mental Gestures (2018)
- 184.108.40.206 Breaking democratic norms was rampant before the anonymous op-ed. Now it's a free-for-all (2018)
- 220.127.116.11 The Government Can’t Love You (2018)
- 18.104.22.168 Socialism is So Hot Right Now (2018)
- 22.214.171.124 Liberalism, Conservatism, and the End of History (2018)
- 126.96.36.199 It's Wrong to Assume Kavanaugh Would Be a Partisan Justice (2018)
- 188.8.131.52 The Price of Victory (2018)
- 184.108.40.206 If You Think Our Politics Can’t Get Uglier Than the Kavanaugh Fight, Think Again (2018)
- 220.127.116.11 Nikki Haley's Excellent Timing (2018)
- 18.104.22.168 A Free People Must Be Virtuous (2018)
- 22.214.171.124 Say No to a Parliament of Tribes (2018)
- 1.2.3 2019
- 1.1 2000s
- 2 External links
A Continent Bleeds (2000)
- "A Continent Bleeds" (3 May 2000), National Review
- Africa is a mess. It is a mess by any civilized measure of human progress. It is a mess by most uncivilized measures of human progress.
A Truly Great America (2000)
- "A Truly Great America" (3 May 2000), National Review
- Great civilizations create great cathedrals, and the cathedrals of this generation should be in outer space. Cathedrals inspire rich and poor people alike to believe great things are possible. The Mars Polar Lander cost the average American the price of half a cheeseburger. A human lander would cost the average American more — perhaps even ten cheeseburgers! So be it. That is no great sacrifice.
Who the Hell Do You Think You Are? (2000)
- "Who the Hell Do You Think You Are?" (10 May 2000), National Review
- [C]onservatism is not supposed to be against change or progress... It is supposed to be skeptical of grandiose or reckless schemes which throw out the good in pursuit of the perfect.
Restoring the "Hidden Law" (2000)
- "Restoring the 'Hidden Law'" (17 July 2000), National Review
- Imagine if a friend, or even a son or brother, told you, "Hey, guess what I did last night? I stole a car and then I stole a cop car, I shot at some cops (presumably family men), and resisted arrest every step of the way." My response would be: A) "I hope they beat your ass"; B) "Gee, did they beat your ass?"; C) "How come they didn't beat your ass?"; or D) "Come with me right now so I can take you down to the station so they can beat your ass." There is no E) none of the above.
- If you're too stupid to understand that a philosophy that favors a federally structured republic, with numerous restraints on the scope and power of government to interfere with individual rights or the free market, is a lot different from an ethnic-nationalist, atheistic, and socialist program of genocide and international aggression, you should use this rule of thumb: If someone isn't advocating the murder of millions of people in gas chambers and a global Reich for the White Man you shouldn't assume he's a Nazi and you should know it's pretty damn evil to call him one.
- A rising economic tide is bad for people who live off of the poverty of others.
- One of the main reasons American liberals adore Europe is that Europe still worships its intellectuals. In America, intellectuals are mostly for entertainment. But across the pond, these folks get to do real damage. Why, just this spring a small Italian village had its barbershop cited by the local magistrate because its shaving brushes did not conform to the standard set by the European Union. I am not making this up.
- There was an NPR story this morning, about the indigenous peoples of Australia, which might make a good column. Apparently they want to preserve their culture, language, and religion because they're slowly disappearing, which is certainly understandable. But, for some reason, they also want more stuff — better education, housing, etc. — from the Australian government. Isn't it odd that it never occurs to such groups that maybe, just maybe, the reason their cultures are evaporating is that they get too much of that stuff already? Indeed, I'm at a loss as to how mastering algebra and biology will make aboriginal kids more likely to believe — oh, I dunno — that hallucinogenic excretions from a frog have spiritual value. And I'm at a loss as to how better clinics and hospitals will do anything but make the shamans and medicine men look more useless. And now that I think about it, that's the point I was trying to get at a few paragraphs ago, when I was talking about the symbiotic relationship between freedom and the hurly-burly of life. Cultures grow on the vine of tradition. These traditions are based on habits necessary for survival, and day-to-day problem solving. Wealth, technology, and medicine have the power to shatter tradition because they solve problems.
Free-Market Boring…Losing Consciousness (2001)
- "Free-Market Boring…Losing Consciousness" (24 January 2001), National Review
- Boredom is a powerful incentive to come up with bad ideas, especially for intellectuals. "Capitalism," says Irving Kristol, "is the least romantic conception of a public order that the human mind has ever conceived." The reason it's so unromantic is that it doesn't tell people what to do and that can be very frustrating for intellectuals who want to tell people what to do. Indeed, court intellectuals have always been more influential where the people are less free, because when an intellectual persuades a dictator or a socialist prime minister (a small distinction to be sure), their advice gets translated into reality. When an intellectual says, "It would be a better society if all beer was free" a free-market politician would, or at least should, say "Maybe, but what can I do about it?"
Cynthia McKinney's Last Stand (2001)
- "Cynthia McKinney's Last Stand" (29 October 2001), Goldberg File, National Review Online
- Dissent is morally neutral. You can correctly call yourself a dissident because you like to kick puppies, but at the end of the day, you're just a jerk who likes to kick puppies.
- "DOGS, KIDDIE PORN & STAR TREK: (Hey, that’s a good book title). Unfortunately, I was out with Cosmo when the conversation got interesting around here. First of all, while I think it is wrong to judge dogs by human political categories they most certainly aren’t liberals. Dogs may try to run your life, but they do not much care about running the lives of people they’ve never met. And still, they are willing to judge others -- and admit it. They are morally pragmatic, loyal and willing to share with family while outraged or flummoxed by the idea of taxation for the benefit of people or dogs they don’t know. They firmly believe in sexual harassment as a modus vivendi. They believe nature is a tool. They are not vegetarians and reject animal rights. They chuff at egalitarianism. In short, I think they are Monarchists; they believe in something very close to a Great Chain of Being with humans and dogs at the top (and, even at the top humans and dogs have different ranks)."
Jersey Dems vs. Democracy (2002)
- "Jersey Dems vs. Democracy" (4 October 2002), National Review
- An idiot is no smarter if a billion people agree with him and a genius is no dumber if a billion people don't.
- I think Rummy should walk up to the table, take the oath, offer his prepared apologies and explanations and then, at the end of his remarks, he should take out a long Japanese knife. He should then cut off his pinky. If this Yakuza style contrition doesn't work he should look to the ranking Democrat on the committee and continue removing fingers until he gets a Shogun-like nod that his offering is acceptable. He should then wrap-up up his hand, curtly bow, and then say 'I am now pleased to take your questions.'
- (May 2004)
- My first piece of advice — and I mean this from the bottom of my heart — is that we should not get so carried away that we adopt a Logan's Run policy in which conservatives beyond a certain age are twirled around the ceiling of a big stadium and then blown-up to the cheers of younger conservatives.
- I bet you anything I could destroy Milton Friedman in a debate about economics — so long as the audience was comprised of five year olds. He may have a Nobel Prize, but I can make offensive sounds with my armpit. Advantage: Goldberg!
- I suppose in John Kerry's world good diplomacy lets the boys in the bar finish raping the girl for fear of causing a fuss. Okay, that was unfair.
- Across the media universe the questions pour out: Why is Dan Rather doing this to himself? Why does he drag this out? Why won't he just come clean? Why would he let this happen in the first place? Why is CBS standing by him? Why . . . why . . . why? There is only one plausible answer: Ours is a just and decent God.
- In John Kerry's world, it's a defense to say your oldest friends aren't dishonest, they're merely whores.
- Disenfranchisement is something the government does to you. It's not something you do to yourself. If you can't figure out how to fill in the ovals or punch the chads—and some minority of voters will always botch it—that doesn't mean your right to vote was rescinded. It means that you didn't take your right to vote seriously enough to pay attention to the instructions.
- Take the two leading liberal columnists at the New York Times, Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman. As we all know, one's a whining self-parody of a hysterical liberal who lets feminine emotion and fear defeat reason and fact in almost every column. The other used to date Michael Douglas.
- “[Thanksgiving is] my favorite holiday, I think. It's without a doubt my favorite American Holiday. I love Christmastime, Chanuka etc. But Thanksgiving is as close as we get to a nationalist holiday in America (a country where nationalism as a concept doesn't really fit). Thanksgiving's roots are pre-founding, which means its not a political holiday in any conventional sense. We are giving thanks for the soil, the land, for the gifts of providence which were bequeathed to us long before we figured out our political system. Moreover, because there are no gifts, the holiday isn't nearly so vulnerable to materialism and commercialism. It's about things -- primarily family and private accomplishments and blessings -- that don't overlap very much with politics of any kind. We are thankful for the truly important things: our children and their health, for our friends, for the things which make life rich and joyful. As for all the stuff about killing Indians and whatnot, I can certainly understand why Indians might have some ambivalence about the holiday (though I suspect many do not). The sad -- and fortunate -- truth is that the European conquest of North America was an unremarkable old world event (one tribe defeating another tribe and taking their land; happened all the time) which ushered in a gloriously hopeful new age for humanity. America remains the last best hope for mankind. Still, I think it would be silly to deny how America came to be, but the truth makes me no less grateful that America did come to be. Also, I really, really like the food.
- "Thanksgiving" (24 November 2004), The Corner, National Review
- I consider the Fourth a patriotic holday more than a nationalist one. We are celebrating the signing of a text, the establishment of a set of laws and principles on the Fourth of July. The Fourth is about political liberty and national independence. It is, for all its pomp and circumstance, a fairly secular and rational holiday. Meanwhile, Thanksgiving plays upon the mystic chords of memory and is prior to and independent of many of things we celebrate on the Fourth. Anyway, I agree its a fair criticism and probably just highlights different perspectives. And, yes, the food on the Fourth of July is really, really good. I am all about hotdogs, beer and barbecue.
Patriot Games (2004)
- "Patriot Games" (21 April 2004), National Review
- Why is it fair game to question conservatives' love or loyalty to children or to their fellow man, but beyond the pale to question liberals' love of country?
- I do think my judgment is superior to (Juan Cole's) when it comes to the big picture. So, I have an idea: Since he doesn't want to debate anything except his own brilliance, let's make a bet. I predict that Iraq won't have a civil war, that it will have a viable constitution, and that a majority of Iraqis and Americans will, in two years time, agree that the war was worth it. I'll bet $1,000 (which I can hardly spare right now).
- I'd love to have a complete, easy to access collection of quotes-by-me somewhere out there. Why? I dunno. Because it'd be even cooler?
- I wish to hearby announce that Wikipedia represents the highest, greatest, achievements of human life to date. I shall henceforth replace the phrase "the greatest thing since sliced bread" with the phrase "the greatest thing since Wikipedia." That is so long as what it posts about me is accurate or at least inaccurately extremely flattering.
- Everywhere, unthinking mobs of "independent thinkers" wield tired clichés like cudgels, pummeling those who dare question “enlightened” dogma. If “violence never solved anything,” cops wouldn’t have guns and slaves may never have been freed. If it’s better that 10 guilty men go free to spare one innocent, why not free 100 or 1,000,000? Clichés begin arguments, they don’t settle them.
Unhappy Warrior (2005)
- "Unhappy Warrior" (23 September 2005), Goldberg File, National Review Online
- The porkbusters fight is fun now, but not since early cave men tried to train grizzly bears to give them tongue-baths has a project seemed more obviously doomed to end in disappointment. Expecting Congress — of either party — to give back pork which has already been approved and passed into law is like expecting crack whores to give refunds days after services have been rendered.
- (12 December 2006); "Unbelievable" an item in The Corner blog at National Review Online, December 12, 2006, posted at 9:37 a.m.
- Making meaningful distinctions is not hypocrisy, it's called "thinking."
Dissident Chicks (2007)
- "Dissident Chicks" (12 February 2007), The Corner, National Review
- But, the people who criticized these people were … what? I am so disgusted with people who think free speech is defined as being able to say what you think without being criticized.
Liberal Fascism (2008)
- Liberal Fascism (2008)
- [I]n many respects fascism not only is here but has been here for nearly a century. For what we call liberalism--the refurbished edifice of American Progressivism--is in fact a descendant and manifestation of fascism... Progressivism was a sister movement of fascism, and today's liberalism is the daughter of Progressivism.
- p. 5
- Fascism is a religion of the state. It assumes the organic unity of the body politic and longs for a national leader attuned to the will of the people. It is totalitarian in that it views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified to achieve the common goal. It takes responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well-being, and seeks to impose uniformity of thought and action, whether by force or through regulation and social pressure. Everything, including economy and religion, must be aligned with its objectives. Any rival identity is part of the "problem" and therefore defined as the enemy. I will argue that contemporary American liberalism embodies all of these aspects of fascism... You can see why the Marxist left would resist the idea that Hitler was a revolutionary. Because if he was, then either Hitler was a force for good, or revolutions can be bad.
- p. 63
What is Social Justice (2014)
- In short, “social justice” is code for good things no one needs to argue for -- and no one dare be against.
- I'll never tire of the people so vexed by me they have to insist I am irrelevant. I may be irrelevant, but I clearly matter to you.
- Twitter post (7 September 2018)
- The world's oldest globalist institution? Catholic church.
- "The Remnant Tapes" (13 September 2018), National Review
- States have a habit of forming when the rules say “line starts here for free stuff.” Whoever manages the line becomes the “state” after a while.
- Twitter post (9 October 2018)
- We often dismiss controversies or concerns by waving our hands and saying something like, “Oh, that’s merely symbolic,” as if the meaning we give to symbols is somehow irrelevant compared with more tangible things. But symbolism — the way we reduce broad concerns, agendas, and visions to images or rituals — has played a defining role in human life since there have been humans. Try burning a flag or a cross in front of the wrong audience and then tell me symbolism is nothing.
- "The Border Wall Is a Symbol of Our Symbolic Politics" (28 December 2018), National Review
- Both flag burners and flag wavers can agree on one thing: The flag has meaning beyond the merely instrumental necessity of having a piece of cloth that identifies a legal jurisdiction.
- "The Power of Symbols in Our Politics of Digust" (28 December 2018), National Review
- The rifts between Shia and Sunni, Eastern Orthodox and Catholic, Israelis and Palestinians, Tibetans and Chinese, obviously have real political, theological, or economic substance behind them, but they are often reduced to symbolism. If you study the history of nationalism, it is often a story of symbols. What flag shall we fly? What icon shall we mount? What books will we revere — or burn?
- "The Border Wall Is a Symbol of Our Symbolic Politics" (28 December 2018), National Review
Andrew Breitbart would tell Steve Bannon to stay in Europe (2018)
- "Andrew Breitbart would tell Steve Bannon to stay in Europe" (14 March 2018), The Los Angeles Times
- One of the things that motivated my old friend Andrew Breitbart was his righteous indignation at being called a racist. That's a running theme in his book, "Righteous Indignation".
- He would also advise conservatives not to be deterred if their opponents on the left unfairly called them racists — something he rightly believed happened all the time. Indeed, one of the things that got him out of bed in the morning was fighting the media-Democratic narrative that conservatives are all a bunch of racists.
- In one famous episode, members of the Congressional Black Caucus walked through a crowd of tea party protesters seeking a provocation. Subsequently they claimed the attendants screamed the N-word and other epithets at them. The press reported it all as fact. Andrew, noting the sea of cameras and iPhones at the event, offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who could provide proof of the CBC's claims. No one came forward. That was the Andrew Breitbart I was proud to call my friend.
- If Andrew were still around, I bet he'd tell Bannon to stay in Europe — and not just because his tendency to wear several shirts seems more consistent with European fashion. Bannon's understanding of conservatism is entirely European.
- Conservatism in America has always been deeply traditionalist, sometimes too much so. But at the core of the modern conservative movement has been the effort to protect, defend and conserve the traditions of a liberal revolution, grounded in the best arguments of the enlightenment (slavery notwithstanding). Bannon's potted blood and soil nationalism and racially tinged populism runs counter to that project and the best and highest ideals of conservatism and America itself. He turned Andrew's Breitbart.com into a "platform" (his word) for the alt-right seeking to inject European swill into the American body politic. Let him stay in Europe and hand out torches for the marchers. His un-American schtick has no place here. I'm sure Andrew would agree.
War on the Right (2018)
- "War on the Right" (4 May 2018), National Review
- Life isn't binary — and neither is politics. If you are adrift in the ocean, your enemy isn’t just sharks; it’s thirst, hunger, drowning, and despair itself. If you face your predicament assuming the only thing you have to worry about is being eaten by a shark, you might fend off the sharks, but you will also probably die. Indeed, by ignoring other threats, you’d probably make yourself more vulnerable to a shark attack.
Are We to Blame for the Alex Jones Problem? (2018)
- "Are We to Blame for the Alex Jones Problem?" (10 August 2018), National Review Online
- [W]e live in a popular-front moment, where no one on “our side” is worth criticizing too much, if at all, and everyone on “their side” is evil. This has as much to do with ratings and page views as it does with ideology. Moths chase light, but the incentive for politicians, producers, and pundits is to follow the heat. I’m still torn over how people such as Mark Zuckerberg should deal with slanderous carnival barkers like Alex Jones. But I’m convinced a lot of people are to blame for the problem reaching Zuckerberg’s desk in the first place.
When Evil Becomes Inconvenient (2018)
- "When Evil Becomes Inconvenient" (24 August 2018), National Review Online
- [N]early every political evil can be found on display in China: slavery, discrimination, religious persecution, xenophobia, tyranny, mass-political indoctrination, colonialism, cultural genocide, and so on. And yet, the outcry against these things in America and the West is a tiny fraction of what it was with regard to South Africa in the 1980s or Israel today. Why? Some of the political answers are pretty obvious — and have much merit. A few that come to mind: China is non-Western, and many of these sins are supposed to be unique to white Europeans; China is a victim (or “victim”) of colonialism, and so we shouldn’t judge it harshly; China is very powerful, and realpolitik dictates that we be diplomatic; and so on.
- The coalition instinct is the programming that helped us form strategic groups that advance our self-interest. We are a social species and cooperation is what helped us skyrocket to the top of the food chain.
Liberals' Irritable Mental Gestures (2018)
- "Liberals’ Irritable Mental Gestures" (4 September 2018), National Review Online
- [L]iberals are going to have to make peace with the possibility that their political enemies aren’t always the cartoon villains they so desperately want them to be.
Breaking democratic norms was rampant before the anonymous op-ed. Now it's a free-for-all (2018)
- "Breaking democratic norms was rampant before the anonymous op-ed. Now it's a free-for-all" (11 September 2018), The Los Angeles Times
- For Obama, and millions of liberals, Trump is the fruition of years of right-wing perfidy. He has more of a point than many of my colleagues on the right care to admit. For instance, I never subscribed to the “birther” conspiracy theory that Trump exploited to such effect, but I failed to appreciate the damage being done by letting it fester. But Obama also has a massive blind spot that many on the left share. The tit-for-tat dynamic of norm-breaking goes back decades, and Obama has played his part. When running for president in 2008 and 2012, Obama let his lieutenants demonize John McCain and Mitt Romney as racists.
- Obama violated not just democratic norms but also his constitutional oath by effectively granting amnesty to millions of immigrants in the country illegally despite having insisted that he did not have the power to do so.
- Pence has a point. But he has little standing to make it.
- Falsely accusing critics of “treason,” castigating law-enforcement agencies for prosecuting allies, and telling police they should rough up suspects is inconsistent with Trump’s oath — and Pence’s. But these days, oaths, like norms, are for everybody else.
The Government Can’t Love You (2018)
- "The Government Can’t Love You" (14 September 2018), The G-File, National Review Online
- [S]egments of the Right, who denounced phrases like “economic patriotism” when it passed Barack Obama’s lips but nod and cheer when similar phrases come out of the mouths of “nationalists.” They see the state as the key to fostering a new social solidarity because it alone speaks for their new idol — or “strong god” — of the Nation. Passionate nationalists, like passionate socialists, ultimately believe that the State can love you, and if the right people take it over, the divisions that are inevitable in a free society will be knitted together by some government initiative. But that is not love, it is lust. It is a lust for power and victory for your vision over all others.
Socialism is So Hot Right Now (2018)
- "Socialism is So Hot Right Now" (17 September 2018), Commentary
- One common tactic [socialists like to use] is to point to countries that liberals like and dub them real-world models of socialism. Thus Scandinavian countries with generous social safety nets become the real-world proof that socialism works. Others will just point to government-run programs or institutions—national parks, the VA, whatever—and say “socialism!” (What about Venezuela? “Shut up,” they explain.)
- [S]ocialism has never been a particularly stable or coherent program, a point I made in these pages in 2010. It has always been best defined as whatever socialists want it to be at any given moment. That is because its chief utility is as a romantic indictment of the capitalist status quo. As many of the defenders of the new socialist craze admit, socialism is the off-the-shelf alternative to capitalism, which has been in bad odor since at least the financial crisis of 2008.
- [S]ocialism’s durability as a concept owes almost nothing to economics and almost everything to the desire for power...
- [T]o talk about socialism as a function of practical politics means gliding past its underlying appeal. After all, there are countless other ideologies that can be similarly reduced to the desire for power expressed by certain elites or certain segments of the aggrieved masses themselves. The most obvious example is, of course, nationalism, which has more in common with socialism than is ordinarily believed. From the French Jacobins to the Italian Fascists, nationalists tend to be in favor of state-directed economics, the redistribution of wealth, and a collectivist or communal organization of society. What unites all of these movements is a sense that liberal democratic capitalism doesn’t provide a sense of social solidarity. It is too atomizing, too cut-throat, and mostly unconcerned with how we should all live together.
- Socialism as a thoroughgoing system had failed. But the central emotion behind it had not. And that emotion has only deepened...
- Millennials who supported Bernie Sanders almost certainly don’t care about the weedy specifics of his health-care plans. They do not want to live in a country with an economic system that could never have produced the iPhone or the Internet. What they want is a greater sense of social solidarity.
- Capitalism—at least as Sanders & Co. understand it—is not fulfilling. It doesn’t provide a sense of meaning and solidarity. It rewards—in their minds—the few and punishes the many. There must be a better, more humane way, in which we’re all in it together and sacrifice is shared. The word “social” comes from the Latin socii, meaning allies. People want to feel that they are allied with one another, fighting toward a common goal together for the good of the tribe, marching to the same drumbeats. This is innate in us. Our tribal brains crave social solidarity every bit as much as our palates crave foods that are sweet, fatty, or salty. We can train ourselves to resist the cravings or channel them toward productive ends. But very few of us can eliminate the craving itself.
- The problem is that the central government in a sprawling country of over 325 million can’t provide solidarity (without resorting to anti-democratic means)—only the institutions of civil society (faith, family, etc.) can fill the holes in our souls.
- The major difference between the left and the right when it comes to any movement dedicated to overthrowing the free-market order—corporatist, authoritarian, etc.—is which groups will be the winners and which groups will be the losers. A left-wing system might empower labor leaders, government bureaucrats, progressive intellectuals, universities, certain minority groups, and one set of industries. A right-wing system might reward a different set of industries as well as traditional religious groups and their leaders, an ethnic majority, aristocrats, or perhaps rural interests. But both systems would be reactionary in the sense that they rejected the legacy of the Lockean revolution...
- [W]hat makes a libertarian in America a “right-winger” makes him a “liberal” in most of Europe.
- [C]apitalism is as much to blame for the consolidation and homogenization of nations as champions of progressive central planning are, if not more so.
- As America’s Founders well understood, a society enjoying a multiplicity of institutions, interests, and intact communities (i.e., factions) is much more difficult to subjugate by a single central power, be it a king, a dictator, or a bureaucracy.
- We can debate how much socialism there was in Hitler’s National Socialism. It is remarkable, however, that many of the people insisting that Norway or Sweden is obviously socialist even though they both are more free-market than Hitlerite Germany are aghast at the suggestion that the National Socialists were…socialists.
- The sense of local community, the feeling of espirit de corps, the satisfaction one gets from belonging to a settled traditional or even tribal order, and the feeling of centeredness and place one gets in the family: These are all wonderful things. But they can, and often do, become poisonous, oppressive, and even tyrannical when the state tries to impose them on the entirety of society. When we try to make the macrocosm of society like the microcosm of the family or tribe, we destroy it every bit as much as when we try to make the microcosm operate according to the rules of the macrocosm.
Liberalism, Conservatism, and the End of History (2018)
- "Liberalism, Conservatism, and the End of History" (17 September 2018), The Corner, National Review Online
- After the rise of socialism and the retreat of monarchical and clerical rule, liberalism became, in effect, the new conservatism in that it took on the mantle of the status quo.
It's Wrong to Assume Kavanaugh Would Be a Partisan Justice (2018)
- "It's Wrong to Assume Kavanaugh Would Be a Partisan Justice" (5 October 2018), National Review
- Progressives have won so many policy battles by relying on activist courts to do things they could not achieve at the ballot box, they’ve come to see an activist Supreme Court as a birthright. As a result, the Court has been politicized far more than it should be.
The Price of Victory (2018)
- "The Price of Victory" (5 October 2018), The G-File, National Review Online
- Judges are not typically expected to remain dispassionate when they’ve been accused of gang rape, nor should they be.
If You Think Our Politics Can’t Get Uglier Than the Kavanaugh Fight, Think Again (2018)
- "If You Think Our Politics Can’t Get Uglier Than the Kavanaugh Fight, Think Again" (10 October 2018), National Review
- This is how we got here. It will get worse because there are no incentives to be better. It won’t end well either, but at least it will feel familiar.
Nikki Haley's Excellent Timing (2018)
- "Nikki Haley's Excellent Timing" (12 October 2018), National Review
- [T]he U.N. is the best arena in the world for picking the right enemies.
A Free People Must Be Virtuous (2018)
- "A Free People Must Be Virtuous" (14 October 2018), G-File, National Review Online
- At the end of the day, happiness is derived from love — love for others and others’ love for you. When I say “love” I do not mean simply romantic love, though that is obviously one of the greatest wellsprings of true happiness. I mean the love one feels from friends, and the love for places and things that brings people together for shared purpose.
- The modern doctrines of diversity and multiculturalism are a kind of homogenizing totalitarianism. Its acolytes want every institution to be filled with people who look different but think alike. What our society needs is not more “diversity” of this sort but more variety. Different communities and institutions need to be able live differently, because it is only with this kind of variety that a diverse people can find places where they all feel at home and where they can all find a kind of meaning that suits them as individuals.
- [I]nstitutions and communities need to be able to exploit their comparative advantages. It’s not just that the Marine Corps demands more from its members than the Peace Corps; it’s that the Marines demand different things. For some people, being a Marine would be a kind of living Hell; for others it is a reason to live. That’s what the individual pursuit of happiness means.
- One of the great things about liberalism is that it allows for more paths for just that pursuit. In tribal society, there was little to no division of labor beyond what was rooted in age and sex. In feudal monarchies and modern totalitarianisms alike, there is division of labor, but it is imposed on people by rulers: “You will be a soldier.” “You will be a fry cook.” “You were born to be a slave or a serf.” In a free society, you have choice. It’s not perfect: You can’t choose to be a Marine if you do not meet the requirements, but you are free to try.
- [T]here has never been a society in all of human history where the average person did not have to work. Sure, some crapulent prince could lay around all day and do nothing, but everyone else had to till the soil or pound the anvil or carry a spear.
- [W]ork is good. Work is virtuous and inculcates virtue. Work gives people a sense of meaning and of being needed. Obviously, not everyone feels such satisfaction in the job they have now, but that dissatisfaction is precisely the motivation people need to find the job that might provide it. That motivation inspires virtue, too.
- Some people work just to make the money to support the other things in their life that provide meaning, be it a family or a cause or a hobby that may seem silly to you or me but is central to their individual pursuit of happiness. Some people don’t work for money at all. Priests, stay-at-home parents, and volunteers in a thousand different institutions aren’t pursuing wealth; they are pursuing meaning through love and love through meaning.
- [S]ocialists are romantics in that they want to curate their lives entirely based on their own feelings.
- The only society in which it is remotely possible for people to design their lives in the manner Marx fantasizes is one that is incredibly rich and incredibly free. We are nowhere near there yet, but it’s worth pointing out that if you plucked any laborer from another era and toured him or her around America today, they’d think that we were remarkably close.
Say No to a Parliament of Tribes (2018)
- "Say No to a Parliament of Tribes" (15 October 2018), The Corner, National Review Online
- I understand that identity-politics arguments are supposed to trump everything else these days, but the idea that all Americans of Asian, black, and Hispanic heritage have homogeneous political interests and identities is both ridiculous and grotesque.
- Everyone’s decrying tribalism, and yet the idea that we should rejigger the constitutional order to make sure that Asian Americans in California have the same “representation” in the Senate as Hispanics in, say, Texas or Rhode Island is profoundly tribal. Maybe Hispanics in Texas have different political interests than Hispanics in California? Maybe Hispanics — an incredibly diverse category of people — don’t vote based upon an abstract designation?
- [B]ending the system to the idea that the government in Washington should see the country as a bunch of competing racial and ethnic groups with no particular or meaningful attachment to place and community, whose only relationship to government is unmediated through state and local government, is precisely the sort of thinking that Arthur Schlesinger lamented... If it makes you sad that California doesn’t have more clout in the Senate, fine. But playing statistical games based on race and ethnicity is a pernicious way of approaching that problem.
- Look, I know very well there are many kinds of socialism. But wherever socialism has teeth, it veers closer to gangsterism because it depends on the use of arbitrary power, either by the state or, in essence, the mob. If you really want economic equality, you need to take money from people who earned it and give it to, or spend it on, people who didn’t. “Fighting income inequality” doesn’t change the fact that the state is using force based upon an aesthetic conceit about how society should look.
- "The Failure of the Deal" (15 February 2019), National Review
- Keeping Germany from acting too German (or at least too Prussian) is an important lesson of history.
- "Nationalism and Nationism" (3 April 2019), National Review
What's So Great About Western Civilization (2019)
- "What’s So Great about Western Civilization" (19 April 2019), National Review
- One of the things I tell new parents is something that was told to me when my daughter still had that new-baby smell: “Prepare for long days but short years.” No statement more succinctly captures the exhaustion, excitement, and melancholy nostalgia that come with parenthood. I have no doubt whole books have not covered it more eloquently.
- [T]he immediate assumption that praise for, or pride in, Western civilization is a species of bigotry and racism is a perfect example of the sort of civilizational suicide I describe in my own book on the subject.
- But the weird thing is that many of the people who are outraged by benign nationalism or the benign pan-nationalism that is pride in Western civilization take no umbrage when someone from Iran or China says they think their civilization is best. This of course is a manifestation of the ancient cult of identitarianism, which the best traditions of the West have battled internally at great cost for thousands of years. Saying Western civilization is great hurts the feelings of some people invested in some other source of identity. And it hurts the feelings of some Westerners because they think it’s a sign of enlightenment to get offended on other people’s behalf or to denigrate the society that gave them their soap box.
- We “borrow” stuff from other cultures constantly, starting with Christianity itself. This is particularly true of America, which is why our menus read like the requested meal plans from a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly. This profound lack of self-awareness manifests itself most acutely among progressives who wear their Europe-envy on their sleeves. Oh, they’re so much more civilized over there. Well, what civilization do you think “over there” is part of?
- The way you sustain and improve upon a culture is by fostering a sense of gratitude for what is best about it. You celebrate the good in your story while putting the bad in the correct context. Conservatism is gratitude...