Tag: Robert Nozick

Thoughts on Charleston

So much excellent stuff has been written on the murders in Charleston, I hesitated to weigh in. But one part of the story that I thought could use some amplification is the politics of safety and security in this country, from the backlash of the GOP through today, how that intersects with the politics of racism. So I took it up in my column for Salon. I’m not sure I said exactly what needed to be said or what I wanted to say: for some reason, the precision and specificity I was aiming for here proved to be more elusive than usual. So if you find that the article misses its mark, I’ll understand. Here are some excerpts: In response to Wednesday’s […]

Nozick: Libertarians are “filled…with resentment at other freer ways of being”

I don’t know how I missed this the previous times I read Nozick, but John Holbo—in a terrific paper on liberalism, conservatism, and ideal theory, which is due to appear in a forthcoming volume of Nomos—points me to this revealing line from Nozick’s preface to Anarchy, State, and Utopia. This is how Nozick characterizes his libertarian comrades: Many of the people who take a similar position [as Nozick’s] are…filled, paradoxically, with resentment at other freer ways of being. From his lips to your ears. Or, as I wrote in The Reactionary Mind: Neither is conservatism a makeshift fusion of capitalists, Christians, and warriors, for that fusion is impelled by a more elemental force—the opposition to the liberation of men and […]

Isn’t It Romantic? Burke, Maistre, and Conservatism

  Over at The American Conservative, political theorist Sam Goldman offers a thoughtful response to The Reactionary Mind. Among its many virtues, Goldman’s post manages to get my argument right. As we’ve seen, that can be something of a challenge for some reviewers. Goldman also agrees with me on some fundamentals. Conservatism, he says, is a reactionary ideology. It is a defense of hierarchy against emancipatory movements from below. It’s not a disposition or an attitude; it’s not a philosophy of liberty or even of limited government.  (It supports the idea of limited government, Goldman says, but that’s a consequence, not a premise, of the theory.)  It is first and foremost a coherent set of ideas about inequality that gets […]

Love for Sale: Birth Control from Marx to Mises

From Marx… In On the Jewish Question, Marx famously critiques liberal theorists of religious freedom on the grounds that they merely wish to emancipate the state from religion. Assuming—wrongly, it turns out—that the 19th century state, or at least the American state, had indeed been fully emancipated from religion (e.g., there was no official state religion, no specific confessional requirement for the exercise of political rights, etc.), Marx notes that the American people are nevertheless quite religious. This leads him to the observation that “to be politically emancipated from religion is not to be finally and completely emancipated from religion, because political emancipation is not the final and absolute form of human emancipation.” We may be free of religion at […]