On Politics

Britain’s vote for independence from Europe (“Brexit”) and the election of Donald Trump in 2016 were watershed events, realigning the politics of the English-speaking nations and the world beyond. But what do these events mean? My own efforts to understand the rapid changes in our political world have been in three areas:

What Is Nationalism?  Both Brexit and Trump represent a turn toward nationalism. In recent essays and in my forthcoming book The Virtue of Nationalism, I revisit the Anglo-American origins of the belief in the freedom of nations, and argue that a world of independent nations is still the best form of political order for mankind.

What Is Conservatism?  With British and American conservatism in disarray, I have been writing on the foundations of Anglo-American conservative political thought. Anglo-American conservatism is an irreducibly nationalist political tradition, but it is also inseparable from religion and the Bible, limited government, and an historical empiricism (or “common sense”) that makes it skeptical of claims to universal reason. For an introduction, read my essay “What Is Conservatism?” together with the historian Ofir Haivry.

The Bible and Political Life.  Many would be happy if we could remove the Bible from modern political life. But we can’t. The modern state is born out of Protestant political theories strongly shaped by the Hebrew Bible (“Old Testament”). I’m interested in making this clear–and in getting a clear view of what is happening to us as the Bible is removed from the public life of nations.

Other background you may want to know is this: As an undergraduate at Princeton in 1984, I founded the campus conservative journal, which I named The Princeton Tory. Later, in the early 1990s, I worked as an aide to Israel’s opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, accompanying him to the Madrid peace talks and assisting in the publication of two of his books. Beginning in 1994, I was head of the Shalem Center, for many years consdered Israel’s leading conservative think-tank.

 

Books

The Virtue of Nationalism (New York: Basic Books, 2018).

The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel’s Soul (New York: Basic Books and The New Republic, 2000).  

 

Articles

“Conservative Democracy,” First Things (January 2019), pp. 19-26.

“The Current Crisis in Israel’s Constitution,” in Simon Rabinovitch, ed., Defining Israel: The Jewish State, Democracy and the Law (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 2018), pp. 145-157.

“What Is Conservatism?” with Ofir Haivry, American Affairs 1 (Summer 2017)

“Nationalism and the Future of Western Freedom,” Mosaic (September 2016)

“The Bible and Leo Strauss,” Perspectives on Political Science 45 (Summer 2016), pp. 190-207.

“The Political Thought of the Biblical Narrative, Genesis-Kings,” Jonathan Jacobs, ed., Judaic Sources and Western Thought, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).

“Does the Bible Have a Political Teaching?” Hebraic Political Studies, (Winter 2006)

“Judaism and the Modern State,” Azure 21 (Summer 2005)

“On the National State, Part 1: Empire and Anarchy,” Azure 12 (Winter 2002)

“The Jewish Origins of the Western Disobedience Tradition,” Azure 4 (Summer 1998)

 

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