“Is Democracy a Transcendent Good?”
Edwin Dyga
New Oxford Review (March 2021)

How has a movement dedicated to the promotion of moral order in the public square, known broadly as “mainstream conservatism,” come to advocate ideas and policies that traditionally characterized its opponents’ worldview and objectives? There is an obvious consensus between both ends of the mainstream political spectrum concerning “democracy” and “freedom,” but conservatives rarely question or analyze the underlying assumptions and meaning of these terms. Used as rhetorical devices to elicit moral outrage or concern, appeals to these concepts as “values” have become emblematic of an abstract discourse that was once idiosyncratic of leftist theory but is now common to conservative rhetoric as well. This has resulted in a transformation of conservatism’s worldview and, in some respects, even inverted its domestic policy agenda.

“The Origins of Woke Madness”
Jonathan B. Coe
Crisis (March 3)

The origin of the Woke madness is complex, but its etiology has at least two prominent sources: (1) an indoctrination from without; and (2) a predisposition from within. The former has been thoroughly catalogued in describing how institutions like the media, universities, and the entertainment industry shape the culture around us. The latter has been explored a lot less and takes us back to Genesis and even before the foundation of the world. It looks at such things as our Adamic DNA and the influence of Satan as the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Things Worth Dying For: Thoughts on a Life Worth Living
Archbishop Charles Chaput
(Henry Holt Ltd, $35, 272 pages)

For too many of us, freedom no longer means the ability to know, to choose, and to do what’s morally right; rather, it means what the scholar D.C. Schindler described as “freedom from reality” itself.  It’s a freedom literally “diabolical” in the sense of the original Greek roots of the word: dia (between) and ballo (throw), meaning roughly to split apart or divide.  As a result, we relentlessly try to reimagine the world to suit our desires, and then coerce others into believing our delusions.

“How Declining Fertility Rates May Deliver Us into Oblivion”
Joel Kotkin
Daily Beast (March 15)

Ultimately this is a choice we need to make. We could choose to create a kind of woke utopia, where children and families are rare, upward mobility is constrained, and society ruled by a kind of collective welfare system that rewards inactivity and stagnation. But to those who value the permanence of our society, and the remarkable importance of children, this is something close to a dystopia. To be sure, a smaller, older society may emit fewer greenhouse gasses per capita, but at the end we confront a society that will be less innovative, less dynamic and, in the most profound sense, distinctly less human.

“The Case for One More Child”
Ross Douthat
Plough (Winter 2021)

But to argue that the American future depends on pushing our birthrate back above replacement level, as Matthew Yglesias did in his recent book One Billion Americans, remains an eccentric argument to many people: an interesting idea, maybe, but not a particularly urgent one, and certainly not the sort of issue that would make the cut of questions for a presidential debate. Which is a bit crazy, when you stop to think about it. Whether a society is reproducing itself isn’t an eccentric question; it’s a fundamental one. The birthrate isn’t just an indicator of some nebulous national greatness; it’s entangled with any social or economic challenge that you care to name.