Politics today, though it must deal with the most serious matters, is a great deal lacking in seriousness. This is due partly to a lack of thoughtfulness among politicians: to their inability, or refusal, to appreciate the questions of principle that are always involved, however unacknowledged, in political action. We therefore need a strong (in Coleridge’s phrase) clerisy. But our intellectuals, by and large, are not up to the task. Steeped in a utopianism whose origins lie far back in religious dissent, they exhibit an ignorant political romanticism that finds innocence abroad and evil-doing at home. Today’s left-wing intellectuals, and the troops of the enlightened who trail after them in public and private life, are not moved by ordinary emotions of fear and anger when their country comes under deadly terrorist attack—they are full of understanding. Their moral vainglory would cut the throat of liberty once again, threatening...


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