Magazine July 18, 2011, Issue

Was Malthus Right?

(Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters)
What’s Wrong with Benevolence: Happiness, Private Property, and the Limits of Enlightenment, by David Stove, edited by Andrew Irvine (Encounter, 221 pp., $23.95)

‘We live in an age in which humanity is the fashion.” So Sir John Hawkins (he had the misfortune to write the other biography of Dr. Johnson) lamented in 1787. David Stove, an Australian philosopher whose lucid and original writings have provoked fresh interest since his death in 1994, knew what Sir John meant. In his posthumously published book What’s Wrong with Benevolence, Stove argues that a misplaced faith in the virtues of altruism is the great humbug of our age, one that has conjured a welfare state of such colossally good intentions that, even as it devours the substance

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Michael Knox Beran — Mr. Beran is a lawyer and writer. His book WASPs: The Splendors and Miseries of an American Aristocracy is to be published in August.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann regularly gives GOP leaders heartburn, rapping them for cutting spending deals with the White House.

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