The Corner


Classical (and Pessimistic) Liberalism

I think my ongoing disagreement with Michael Brendan Dougherty might be explained (Michael, I trust, will let me know if he disagrees) this way: Michael and other likeminded anti-liberals take a relatively optimistic view of the state and what it might reasonably be expected to accomplish, and a relatively pessimistic view of the people and what they might get up to left to their own devices. I take the opposite view: I believe that the modern democratic state is inclined to be slightly more savage and backward than the demos that constitutes it.

I think that in the American case the evidence is largely on my side. And not only in the American case: The Germans, it seems to me, are better than their government, though I think Germany is reasonably well-governed. The French certainly are better than their government. I would trust the first 2,000 names in the Budapest telephone book over Viktor Orbán and his mafia. But, if I am not mistaken, Michael is a little better inclined toward Orbán than I am.


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