As you can see from these chapter summaries, the contributors to this new collection cover topics ranging from the European Union model of governance to the growing ranks of unmarried women, examining how each is undermining our liberties.
Introduction: Where Have All the Grownups Gone?
This collection of essays is an attempt to reinvigorate an old discourse about freedom that went out of style with the Cold War.
The Decline of American Press Freedom
Self-censorship due to fear of public backlash, either in the form of violence or, even more cowardly, loss of advertising revenue, is becoming a real threat to our freedoms of speech and the press.
The Closing of the Liberal Mind
Calling yourself a “liberal” is now as much a statement of selfhood and personal style as it is a political statement. This compels modern liberals to unquestioningly adhere to certain ideas, lest they jeopardize their self-image and sense of belonging in a movement.
The New Dogma of Fairness
The modern understanding of fairness has been warped to mean “equal outcomes for all” when in fact it means equal opportunity. The government cannot be in the business of trying to ensure that life is fair.
The Urge to Regulate
Regulation of various industries may have some positive outcomes, but the amount of red tape and government bureaucracy one needs to navigate in order to do something as simple as open a lemonade stand is making it increasingly difficult to live the American entrepreneurial dream.
Richard A. Epstein
The Isolation of Today’s Classical Liberal
The most important domestic threat to political liberty in the United States today is that neither party exhibits a deep commitment to classical liberal values of private property and freedom of contract and association.
Single Women as a Threat To Freedom
Single women used to rely on husbands to provide economic and personal security, but as more and more women forego marriage for one reason or another, they are becoming increasingly dependent on the state, even if that means sacrificing some freedom and autonomy.
The Loss of the Freedom to Fail
Despite our best efforts to erase the idea of failure from our social fabric, the old saying that “in order to succeed, you have to be willing to fail” still rings true. Any attempt to subvert the freedom to fail is also an attack on the freedom to succeed.
The European Union as a Threat to Freedom
The EU, an organization that was founded to imitate the American model of federal statehood, is now positioning itself as an alternative and direct competitor to the American ideal of representative government.
Bad Political Theatre
Most political theatre has proven incapable of challenging audiences because it panders to liberal prejudice. It thus suppresses genuine dissent and is therefore a threat to freedom.
The Rise of Antireligious Orthodoxy
Militant atheists are waging a campaign against belief that goes beyond simply removing it from the public sphere. They are seeking to obliterate it in the private sphere as well and, in doing so, are violating the very freedoms they claim to uphold.
Multiculturalism and the Threat of Conformity
Ironically the modern emphasis on diversity and the accompanying regime of sensitivity has resulted in a forced intellectual conformity that threatens freedom.
Robert D. Kaplan
The Tyranny of the News Cycle
Of all tyrannies, that of the mob may be the worst. And with their nonstop barrage of information the perpetuators of the news cycle go to every length imaginable to capture our collective attention, making an unthinking, uncritical mob of us all.
America is the “default power” in the world today because most countries ultimately trust us more than any potential rival. Any attempt to undermine America’s preeminent position in the world is a grave threat to the advocates of freedom.
Students Against Liberty?
The American college campus is one of the most repressive environments in the country when it comes to free speech. Not only are students failing to understand the importance of respecting someone else’s opinion, but administrators are actually using their authority to stifle genuine dissent.
Barry C. Lynn
Belief in False Gods
The prevailing attitude these days seems to be that certain phenomena like the march of globalization or the rise of new technologies cannot be stopped. Whether their progress is good or bad may be a matter for debate, but it is crucial that we stop viewing these things as outside our control. To view present-day phenomena as inevitable is to forfeit control of your own destiny.
The Fairness Doctrine
The enforcement of a law that any broadcast medium voicing one political opinion must voice another, dissenting opinion will be the beginning of the end of free speech. To join the workings of the state with the workings of the media would bring us dangerously close to totalitarianism.
The War on Negative Liberty
Rather than encouraging government to keep us from smoking or making poor financial choices or eating unhealthy things, we should be championing “negative liberty” or freedom to do as we please, with as little interference as possible.
The Abandonment of Democracy Promotion
Although democracy promotion was brought into discredit by the failures of the last administration, the current one has retreated too far from this traditional and crucially important goal of American foreign policy.
Mark T. Mitchell
Ingratitude and the Death of Freedom
When we lose our sense of gratitude for the gifts of freedom, when it is treated merely as an item to be consumed or a right to be demanded, freedom itself is in jeopardy.
Michael C. Moynihan
With the collapse of the USSR, it seemed that capitalism had proven itself as the best of all possible economic models. However, the most recent round of economic turmoil has inspired a resurgence of anticapitalist intellectuals who call for a fundamental rewriting of the rules that underpin America’s free-market system.
The Rise of Mass Dependency
The problem is not that government bureaucracies won’t spend money providing services to disadvantaged neighborhoods. To the contrary, billions of dollars are being poured into programs, institutions, and bureaucracies whose actual result is to turn once-active citizens into permanent dependents.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds
Liberty and Complacency
Vigilance means being able to recognize threats to our liberty, organize a response, and ensure that our response is effective. The likelihood that we, as a people, are able to muster enough conviction, unity, and resolve to do all three is anything but certain.
Naomi Schaefer Riley
Threats to Philanthropic Freedom
Spurred on by special interest groups acting in the name of diversity and the public good, Congress is giving serious consideration to new laws that could give the government control over how private philanthropies spend their money and who they hire.
The New Behaviorists
Behavioral scientists hope to make us happier, healthier, and more productive by creating atmospheres that encourage us to make the right choices. Their efforts, regardless of their benevolent intentions, may limit or even deny our freedom of choice.
Despite the promise of the Internet, the convention of anonymity has evolved a political culture that is frequently twisted with self-righteous hatred, fear, paranoia, and threats of physical violence. As this howling rage becomes more commonplace on the web, it is starting to spill over into the real world as well.
Shariah in the West
The call for introduction of Shariah in non-Muslim countries is a new and radical concept, without support in Islamic legal traditions; yet while some American politicians are trying to accommodate it under the principle of “reasonable accommodation,” it would be almost impossible for Americans to accommodate the demands of Shariah without subverting our own legal protections.
Participatory Culture and the Assault on Democracy
Popular culture used to draw people to what they like, but now it draws people to what everyone else likes. And as everyone asserts their entitlement to participation, popularity replaces originality as a standard of excellence—you end up with what you might call an egalitarian antidemocracy, in which interactive mobs scorn and marginalize the democratic equalizer of true talent.
Christina Hoff Sommers
The U.N. Women’s Treaty as a Threat to Freedom
America is one of the few countries in the world not to have signed the U.N.’s seemingly innocuous Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Though there is now increased pressure to sign on to this thirty-year-old resolution, it would do very little to improve the position of American women. More importantly, it would subordinate our national sovereignty to an outside organization.
The Illusion of Innocence
America has at various times been guilty of deep hypocrisies, claiming to represent freedom while suppressing African Americans, women, Native Americans, etc. As a way of absolving their guilt, activist liberals want to engineer dramatic “good works” that are virtual exhibitions of innocence, often at the expense of personal liberty.
Orthodoxy and Freedom in International Aid
Most large international aid organizations are constrained by their own deeply ingrained practices and by their over-reliance on one-size-fits-all solutions. In order to become more effective they need to drop their over-reliance on convention and allow their employees more freedom to experiment and craft individualized solutions for their clients.