Magazine December 31, 2013, Issue

Two Roads Diverged

The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left, by Yuval Levin (Basic, 296 pp., $27.99)

Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine were contemporaries who shared the view current in the Age of Enlightenment that government and society could and should be perfected. Coincidentally, both were also masters of language. From the storms and upheavals of their day, however, they drew very different conclusions about how to achieve the desired social perfection. In short, Burke argued for reform, Paine for revolution. In most parts of the world today the political process still veers between the opposing poles of continuity and the clean break.

In public life, there are frequent references and compliments to both men as well. At

In This Issue

Articles

Features

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Built to Last

Has the Founders’ revival peaked? The big bios of the big names, now in big paperback editions, still sit on bookstore shelves, like Pleistocene megafauna, yet the subject stimulates feelings ...
Politics & Policy

Generation Gaps

A couple of times while writing this review I almost typed “Bill Clinton” instead of “Pat Conroy.” That’s not surprising. The former president and the bestselling novelist who wrote The ...
Politics & Policy

Broken Heartland

I was not entirely looking forward to Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, mostly because I worried that the movie, about an old man taking stock of his life on a Plains-state road ...

Sections

Politics & Policy

Letters

Appalachian Immigration Reading Kevin D. Williamson’s article (“Left Behind,” December 16) reminded me of my experience working with urbanized Appalachians in the Indianapolis neighborhood known as Stringtown back in the early ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ Maybe Kim Jong Un’s uncle tried to talk to him about Obamacare over Thanksgiving. ‐ Supporters of Obamacare decided to start saying that the website is now basically working, never ...
Athwart

The New Inequality

For about 47 minutes the president successfully moved the conversation to income inequality, the very existence of which proves that the fundamental transformation of America into a grey smear of ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

PICTURESQUE Rising ambitiously, they set a goal Of smoking out the red, reluctant sun, Which smolders like some just-embarrassed coal. Whatever looks to start has not begun, But still the clouds’ bombastic undersides – All glowing ...
Happy Warrior

Heading South

Whether or not Nelson Mandela was emblematic of the new South Africa, his memorial service certainly was. Thamsanqa Jantjie, the lovable laugh-a-minute sign-language fraud who stood alongside President Obama gesticulating ...

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