Individual Liberty and Its Good and Bad Uses

A civilization treats individual liberty as a gift to be nurtured. An anti-civilization treats it as a nuisance to be eliminated. A pseudo-civilization treats it as a toy to be played with. In other words, a civilization sees it as a gateway to virtue, an anti-civilization sees it as an obstacle to power, while pseudo-civilization sees it as a ticket to self-indulgence.

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What Liberty Allows for and What it Demands

Liberty allows for recklessness, but it demands accepting its consequences; it does not repress vices, but it encourages the development of virtues; it tolerates diversity, but it excludes it from ventures based on unanimity; and it does not condemn self-love, but it flourishes in the love of one’s neighbor.

In other words, liberty does not fight against things that are morally neutral, it does not respond to evil with greater evil, and it is a necessary condition of doing good. Thus, there is no good reason whatever to give up on it, but there are infinite good reasons to use it ever more fully.

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On the Crucial Role of Unobvious Virtues

When it turns out that the greatest enemy of truth is not falsehood, but gibberish, it turns out that the greatest intellectual virtue is not deductive brilliance or factual erudition, but common sense. When it turns out that the greatest enemy of decency is not hatred, but arbitrariness, it turns out that the greatest moral virtue is not kindness or mercy, but perseverance. When it turns out that the greatest enemy of good taste is not vulgarity, but ostentation, it turns out that the greatest aesthetic virtue is not elegance or refinement, but moderation. And when it turns out that the greatest enemy of civilization is not barbarity, but infantilism, it turns out that the greatest cultural virtue is not sophistication, but integrity.

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Word, Action, and Entrepreneurship

The Mengerian-Misesian tradition in economics is also known as the causal-realist approach – in other words, it studies the causal structure of economic phenomena conceived of as outgrowths of real human actions. Thus, it finds verbal descriptions and declarations economically meaningful only insofar as they can be linked with demonstrated preferences and their causal interactions. In this paper, I investigate how the approach in question bears on topics such as the economic calculation debate, deliberative democracy, and the provision of public goods. In particular, in the context of discussing the above topics I focus on market entrepreneurship understood as a crucial instance of “practicing what one preaches” in the ambit of large-scale social cooperation. In sum, I attempt to demonstrate that the Mengerian-Misesian tradition offers unique insights into the logic of communicative rationality by emphasizing and exploring its indispensable associations with the logic of action.

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A One-Sentence Recipe for Civilizational Revival

Today’s anti-civilization is a mix of economic authoritarianism (“do whatever you are told”) and social infantilism (“be whatever you want”). Civilization requires the very opposite: a mix of economic libertarianism (“do what you want”) and social maturity (“be what you ought”).

Hence the following one-sentence recipe for civilizational revival: get rid of scientism and “postmodernism” in favor of Aristotelian Thomism, get rid of legal positivism in favor of natural and common law, and get rid of social democratic statism in favor of classical liberalism/libertarianism.

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Modern Civilization: Impressive, but Not Great

Modern civilization is uniquely capable of rebuilding great cathedrals, but it is uniquely incapable of building great cathedrals. It is capable of spectacular recreation, but it is spectacularly incapable of creation. It commands unprecedented resources, but it often uses them in an unprecedentedly unresourceful manner. It is remarkably long on qualitative potential, but remarkably short on qualitative achievement.

In other words, it is an all-purpose tool without a purpose: an embodiment not so much of a tragically necessary tradeoff, but of a tragically wasted opportunity. Thus, what it needs is not will, but discipline, not progress, but direction, not freedom from arbitrary discrimination, but freedom to prudent discrimination, and not unrestricted self-realization, but the unhampered pursuit of virtue.

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