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Week in Review

We just posted the latest installment in series of essays exploring what might follow the currently decaying blue model. Before you tackle it, however, we advise you to chew over the introductory essay we posted last week. We today find ourselves facing a serious policy deficit from both the right and the left, and that’s tied up with each side favoring either an absolutely smaller government or a more broadly empowered government, respectively. We think it needn’t be that way. Indeed, the future will likely prove both dogmas obsolete:

At the heart of the enduring liberal ideal is a truth that is often forgotten in today’s political debates: the relationship between order and liberty does not have to be zero sum. More government can mean less freedom, and more freedom can mean less government—but things don’t always work out that way.


The secret of Anglo-American civilization has been its ability to combine the two elements of order and liberty at successively higher levels of both. To think constructively about our future we shouldn’t be thinking about a zero sum tradeoff between order and freedom; we should be thinking about how to build the kind of order that extends our liberty in new and important ways.

An important developing story this past week has been the push to enact some kind of more effective gun control in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre. Though creative libertarian groups used 3D printers to manufacture high-capacity magazines in an effort to show the futility of legal restriction, the true challenge faced by proponents of stricter gun laws lies in the structure of our legislature: strict gun control laws simply will never pass the Senate. Better, then, to be more pragmatic about it and look at what can be done. Better treatment for the mentally ill might fit the bill:

But if as a practical matter we can’t do much to keep dangerous weapons out of the country, we can do something about keeping dangerous people away from them. This is not just a question of background checks; it is also a question of rebuilding our ability to protect society from people whose mental state makes them a threat to society at large. In dealing with the potentially violent mentally ill, we need to balance the potential danger to society more effectively against the loss of individual freedom. Building better facilities for the mentally ill and being more proactive about putting dangerous people in them is a necessary precaution given the abundance of weapons in these United States. In any case, making treatment more readily available and providing better services and more support for the families and friends of the mentally ill is a good thing in and of itself.

The MSM is only now starting to wake up to something plain as day: there’s a clear line connecting the evolving mess in North Africa to the botched intervention in Libya, which has the Obama administration’s fingerprints all over it. (Could it be that now that the election is behind, reporters will try to call it as it is?) We’ve tried to keep our readers abreast of what’s going on in this fast-evolving crisis. We’ve also tried to point them to great backgrounders and criticism, like this from Gregory Mann, and these from AI editor Adam Garfinkle. Stay tuned, more to come.

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