The Tower and the Sewer
The New York Review of Books

June 20, 2024

Catholic postliberal thinkers opposed to modern liberal individualism are less interested in transforming people’s unhappy lives through the power of the gospel than in jockeying for political power as the vanguard of a conservative revolution...

The Once and the Now

Spring, 2023

Nostalgia is a mood that mixes pleasure and pain in equal measure....

Lambs and Wolves

Fall, 2021

Everyone needs experience with experience. Certain pious protectors of the innocent labor under the illusion that piety can only be preserved by waging a war against it...

Treason of the Intellectuals
Tablet Magazine

December 7, 2021

The French thinker Julien Benda made a high-minded case for the moral transcendence of the truth. The flaws in his argument show why speaking truth to power is a fraught endeavor...

The Writer Apart
The New York Review of Books

May 13, 2021

Thomas Mann never abandoned the conviction that artistic freedom can serve as a check—quite literally, a reality check—on the claims of politics. While Mann the artist became a political democrat, he never became a democratic artist—a subtle but crucial distinction...

On Indifference

Autumn, 2020

Americans’ relation to democracy has never been an indifferent one — or a reasoned one. For us it is a matter of dogmatic faith, and therefore a matter of the passions...

Farewell to America’s Modern Democratic Patriotism?
Reset Dialogues

November 20, 2020

I don’t think it is much of an exaggeration to say that we are developing two very different national characters today. And not just in the United States, but also in other democracies that have been turned inside out by the global economy...

Keep Your Wits
The New York Review of Books

November 5, 2020

It’s been four years now and you have not been yourself. You were no more prepared for Donald Trump’s election than anyone else was. It left you stupefied and outraged. It also left you with an unwelcome sense that you no longer knew your country...

A Letter on Justice and Open Debate
Co-Written by Mark Lilla, Harper's Magazine

July 7, 2020

Our cultural institutions are facing a moment of trial. Powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society, not least in higher education, journalism, philanthropy, and the arts...

No One Knows What’s Going to Happen
The New York Times

May 22, 2020

Stop asking pundits to predict the future after the coronavirus. It doesn’t exist...

Ross Douthat Has a Vision of America. It’s Grim.
The New York Times

February 25, 2020

“Since Apollo,” the New York Times columnist Ross Douthat writes in his clever and stimulating new book, “we have entered into decadence.”

Two Roads for the New French Right
The New York Review of Books

December 20, 2018

Something new is happening on the European right, and it involves more than xenophobic populist outbursts. Ideas are being developed, and transnational networks for disseminating them are being established...

How Colleges Are Strangling Liberalism
The Chronicle of Higher Education

August 20, 2017

Donald Trump is president of the United States. This momentous event has turned our campuses upside down. The day after his victory some professors held teach-ins, some students asked to be excused from class, and now many have gotten engaged and have been joining marches and attending raucous town-hall meetings...

The Dog that didn’t Bark: The Disappearance of the Citizen

August 18, 2017

Anyone who was raised during the Cold War, as I was, was brought up with a strong sense that liberal democracy had external enemies. The Second World War had been fought against the fascists, and afterwards the Soviet Union, China, and their client states challenged democratic governments around the world...

The Liberal Crackup
The Wall Street Journal

August 11, 2017

It is time to admit that American liberalism is in deep crisis: a crisis of imagination and ambition on our side, a crisis of attachment and trust on the side of the wider public. The question is, why? Why would those who claim to speak for and defend the great American demos be so indifferent to stirring its feelings and gaining its trust? Why, in the contest for the American imagination, have liberals simply abdicated?

The End of Identity Liberalism
The New York Times

November 18, 2016

It is a truism that America has become a more diverse country. It is also a beautiful thing to watch. Visitors from other countries, particularly those having trouble incorporating different ethnic groups and faiths, are amazed that we manage to pull it off...

How The French Face Terror
The New York Review of Books

March 24, 2016

Intellectuals, no less than politicians, respond to crises based on what they think they learned from earlier ones. It is difficult to see what is genuinely new in an emergency, harder still to admit ignorance in the face of it...

France: Is There a Way Out?
The New York Review of Books

March 10, 2016

Economic stagnation, political stalemate, rising right-wing populism—this has been France’s condition for a decade or more. So has nothing changed since the Charlie Hebdo killings?

La fin des illusions d’une France sans frontières (French)
Le Monde

November 21, 2015

En août 2014, j’arrivai à Paris pour y passer une année sabbatique et écrire en toute tranquillité. Vu de New York, Paris m’apparaissait un petit hameau où je pourrais flâner et bien bouffer, loin de la marche de l’Histoire...

The Strangely Conservative French
The New York Review of Books

October 22, 2015

Two and a half weeks after the Swedish Academy announced that the French novelist Patrick Modiano would receive the 2014 Nobel Prize for Literature, the French minister of culture, Fleur Pellerin, appeared on a popular television show to talk about herself and her work...

Slouching Toward Mecca
The New York Review of Books

April 2, 2015

The best-selling novel in Europe today, Michel Houellebecq’s Soumission, is about an Islamic political party com- ing peacefully to power in France. Its publication was announced this past fall in an atmosphere that was already tense...

France: A Strange Defeat
The New York Review of Books

March 19, 2015

For three days the sirens never stopped in Paris. They began on the morning of January 7 right after two French Muslim terrorists infiltrated the offices of Charlie Hebdo in the Marais and killed twelve people...

France on Fire
The New York Review of Books

March 5, 2015

On January 13, two days after millions in France marched to commemorate those assassinated by Islamist radicals the week before, Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls gave a stirring speech in the French National Assembly that was celebrated by socialists and conservatives alike as among the best in recent memory...

Isaiah Berlin Against the Current
The New York Review of Books

April 25, 2013

It was an anecdote he liked to tell. In 1944, while working at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., Isaiah Berlin was called back to London on short notice, and it happened that the only plane available to take him was a loud, uncomfortable military bomber...

Daniel Bell (1919–2011)
The New York Review of Books

April 7, 2011

It is a great advantage in life to have had a god that failed. Nothing human, and certainly nothing modern, will be alien to you...

The Beck of Revelation
The New York Review of Books

December 9, 2010

The weather cooperated with Glenn Beck on the August morning of his “Restoring Honor” rally. Or maybe it was a higher force. The skies were clear, it was hot but not Washington unbearable, and the crowd, prepared with lounge chairs and water bottles, was serene...

The Tea Party Jacobins
The New York Review of Books

May 27, 2010

A little over a decade ago I published an article in these pages titled “A Tale of Two Reactions”. It struck me then that American society was changing in ways conservative and liberal commentators just hadn’t noticed...