The Corner

Yearning For Freedom

I’m basically on Derb’s side of this argument. I don’t think everyone wants freedom. Indeed, when we get around to coming up with a new metaphysic, I think we’re going to need to include the fact that the human brain is wired to prefer tribal organization. All of the big “isms” of the 20th century — communism, fascism, socialism, environmentalism, progressivism — are predicated on a truly reactionary vision which tries to recreate tribal living on “modern” lines.Communism is a tribalism of class, fascism is tribalism of nation, Nazism is tribalism of race, Jihadism is a tribalism of religion, etc etc. Indeed, egalitarianism itself is a form of tribalism, if you ask me. It comes from the instinctive jealousy which says “no one should have more than his share of mastodon.”

For all the b.s. we’ve heard from “revolutionaries” these last 200 years, there has been only one truly revolutionary political idea: liberalism (of the classical variety). Locke, the founding fathers, Adam Smith et al.: these were the most radical thinkers of the last 2,000 years because they tried to break the logic of tribalism. Freedom is what we have in a state of nature and it naturally terrifies us. Which is why we like to live in the tribal arrangements we evolved in. Liberty, on the other hand, is a human invention requiring civic education and commitment to certain enduring principles. It takes work precisely because it doesn’t come naturally.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, will be released on April 24.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Update on Alfie Evans

In the few hours since I sent in the piece below, a remarkable succession of events has occurred that paint the decision of the UK authorities in ever-bleaker colors. In the hospital, Alfie was removed from the respirator in accordance with the court’s decision. For the moment, however, he has continued ... Read More
Sports

Hurray for the NBA

Last month, just before the Final Four, I did a Q&A on college basketball with our Theodore Kupfer. Teddy K. is back, by popular demand, joined by two other experts: Vivek Dave, an old friend of mine from Michigan, who has long lived in Chicago, and David French, National Review’s Kentucky Kid, now ... Read More
Economy & Business

Trade Misunderstandings

I was distracted by other policy topics last week but not enough not to notice Peter Navarro’s article in the Wall Street Journal, headlined “China’s Faux Comparative Advantage.” Considering Navarro’s position in the White House, it is unfortunate that it demonstrates some serious misunderstandings ... Read More
Culture

Monday Links

A Supercut of Epic Movie Explosions. Can You Solve These 10 Medieval Riddles? The cost to make a Margherita pizza: $1.77. How much restaurants charge on average for a pizza: $12. The actual costs of restaurant foods. Vintage animation lessons -- how to make things cute. London's "Great ... Read More
World

On Trade, No One Is Waiting for Washington

President Donald Trump’s flips and flops on trade are now as ubiquitous as his 5:00 a.m. tweets. Many predicted that trade-expansion efforts would come to a standstill and world commerce would suffer amidst all the uncertainty. Instead, the precise opposite has happened. In the last few months, it’s become ... Read More
National Security & Defense

Trump’s Syria Quandary

President Trump raised eyebrows recently when he ended a tweet lauding the airstrikes he’d ordered against chemical-weapons facilities in Syria with the words “mission accomplished.” The phrase, of course, became infamous in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, when President Bush used it in a speech ... Read More