Practical Freedom, Part III

How free are a people? Tell me whether they know the names of their neighbors along the block, and what their children are doing on a sunny day in June.

Practical Freedom

At every pass we have absorbed laws, not of morality, which are liberating, but of etiquette, which is a curb on adventure and genius, and of security and sloth, which deaden the soul.

Trust Across the Ages

What we’re after cannot be captured in statistics: some sense of how far our practical liberty extends, protected not by policemen, penal codes, or forensic criminology but by trust in our countrymen.

Lessons from Another World

Booker T. Washington believed that his work succeeded because it was in concord with immutable laws of human nature. But we now believe that there is no such thing as human nature.

Is America Even a Nation of Laws?

The sheer gigantism of the state makes it impossible for people to know what the relevant laws are, for most spheres of human action; and it is a short step from not knowing the law, to seeing that nobody else knows it, to shrugging and not caring what it is.

Scorch the Field

It is good for us to play sometimes, and not fight. In reality, people are united by what the political utilitarian cannot recognize: by play and song and worship.

A Reign of Error

What we think about things can be as important as the things themselves, because it forms our moral stance toward the world. But what if our thoughts are in error?

Kangaroo Nation

We ruin reputations, we tear down monuments to our flawed benefactors, we destroy lives with a glee and a certitude that would make the old inquisitors blush.

The Indispensable American Family

Someone may say we ought to live in open sewers, because filth and disease are subversive; or that we ought to cut ourselves with razors, because razors are edgy. What response can you give to him? He has placed himself outside of moral reasoning entirely.

The Expectations Abyss

On our side of the abyss, the 16-year-old boy is dying slowly of intellectual asphyxiation in school and online. On that side of the abyss, the biggest manufacturer of women’s clothing in Cleveland is advertising for a likely lad to come and do office work, with high hopes set forth for a well-remunerated career.