Peter Lawler is Dana Professor of Government and former chair of the department of Government and International Studies at Berry College. He serves as executive editor of the journal Perspectives on Political Science, and has been chair of the politics and literature section of the American Political Science Association. He also served on the editorial board of the new bilingual critical edition of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, and serves on the editorial boards of several journals. He has written or edited fifteen books and over 200 articles and chapters in a wide variety of venues. He was the 2007 winner of the Weaver Prize in Scholarly Letters.\r\n\r\nLawler served on President Bush's Council on Bioethics from 2004 – 09. His most recent book, Modern and American Dignity, is available from ISI Books.\r\n\r\nFollow him on Twitter @peteralawler.
So I'm spending the week speaking at and otherwise participating in the national honors program of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute--a conservative educational foundation.
The students are spectacularly impressive. They come from many of our elite institutions, but also from various small colleges. With one exceptIon, thery're all undergratuates or new graduates. Here's the one exception: a young women who was homes chooled, entered a state college at age 14, graduated at 17, and now is well on her way to a Ph.D in a leading program in political theory at 20. She was very disappointed with college because all about reading boring textbooks and too many students bragging about just getting by. She's now in love with really hard real books--by authors such as Plato, Aristotle, Tocqueville, St. Augustine, Pascal, Leo Strauss, Eric Voegelin, and many others, and she now has the time to indulge the heck out of her real passion while she is still very young.
Educational theorists will note that I didn't detect any hint of possible deficient socialization in her case. I did notice excellent manners, amazing self-confidence, a real love and respect for her family and friends, and a very rare ability to talk with people of all ages as her "peers." That means, of course, that she's singularly free from "peer pressure."
The first thing anyone would notice at this program is the very wide diversity of opinion among the professors present. It's even very hard to say why they all could be called conservative.
Perhaps none them are libertarian, though. One very erudite speaker quoted Marx's Communist Manifesto with approval on capitalism devaluing all forms of human excellence untethered to productivity, and he praised the achievement of Germany's Christian Democratic form of social democracy as a genuine and more humane alternative to capitalism and socialism. (I'm not saying I agree in either case: Marx knew he was exaggerating to foment revolution, and certainly it's clear enough that Christian democratic parties of Europe don't have much of future.)
Another very prominent professor here said that conservatives these days should oppose the the emptiness of globalized or radically displaced techno-progressivism. He's an admirer of the virtue defended by the agrarian writer Wendell Berry. He's all about returning real power back to localities and even restoring the relative autonomy of local economies. It's also clear that he tends to vote Democratic (as does Berry). There's a strong faction of professors and students with him, and they will have none of the libertarianism that people so often mistakenly confuse with conservatism. They don't even think highly of our founding philosopher, John Locke, and they argue that the Anti-Federalists were often right about the danger of America becoming more of a empire devoted to selfish individualism than a republic.
At the same time, there are professors and students around who are big on defending the Lockean understanding of liberty that is behind our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. They oppose the kind of Progressivism that leads to Big Government, and they are at least fellow travelers with the Tea Partiers. But even these guys aren't libertarians; they also emphasize respect for the authority of our Founders and the indispensability of serious religion, devoted citizens, and strong families for sustaining our liberty. But they don't think we can or should go back to Berry's farm.
I will say more later.
These five main food groups are important for your brain's health and likely to boost the production of feel-good chemicals.
We all know eating “healthy” food is good for our physical health and can decrease our risk of developing diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. What is not as well known is that eating healthy food is also good for our mental health and can decrease our risk of depression and anxiety.
Infographics show the classes and anxieties in the supposedly classless U.S. economy.
For those of us who follow politics, we’re used to commentators referring to the President’s low approval rating as a surprise given the U.S.'s “booming” economy. This seeming disconnect, however, should really prompt us to reconsider the measurements by which we assess the health of an economy. With a robust U.S. stock market and GDP and low unemployment figures, it’s easy to see why some think all is well. But looking at real U.S. wages, which have remained stagnant—and have, thus, in effect gone down given rising costs from inflation—a very different picture emerges. For the 1%, the economy is booming. For the rest of us, it’s hard to even know where we stand. A recent study by Porch (a home-improvement company) of blue-collar vs. white-collar workers shows how traditional categories are becoming less distinct—the study references "new-collar" workers, who require technical certifications but not college degrees. And a set of recent infographics from CreditLoan capturing the thoughts of America’s middle class as defined by the Pew Research Center shows how confused we are.
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