Jedediah Purdy

  • Votes of No Confidence

    Could there be a more propitious time to come out, as the title of Jason Brennan’s book announces, Against Democracy? From the Brexit vote to the Trump nomination, both liberal and conservative bien-pensants are grumbling that, if this is what the people decide, then maybe the people should not decide after all. If that is your mood, Brennan has catnip for you.

    Brennan divides citizens into three gimmicky species: hobbits, who don’t care much about politics and just want to live their lives; hooligans, keenly interested in politics, who tend to be hyper-partisan and filter everything through

  • License to Kill

    TERRORISM WORKS, at least against America. The Al Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001, did pretty much what they were designed to do—they drew the United States into a fruitless invasion of Afghanistan and a catastrophic war in Iraq. The Iraq War, in turn, furnished the petri dish in which the ISIS bacillus incubated. Now ISIS has broken with Al Qaeda and all but destroyed neighboring Syria, threatening a regional war and dragging the United States toward confrontation with Russia in the Levant. As a certain brutal candidate for the Republican presidential nomination might say, that is a huge

  • Black-Robed Reactionaries

    For most of American history, progressives have not loved the Supreme Court. Four years before the Civil War broke out, Chief Justice Roger Taney ruled that white settlers’ slaves were protected “property” under the Constitution—a status that would, in Taney’s view, forever prohibit African Americans from becoming citizens of the United States. In the early twentieth century, the court struck down minimum-wage laws and other protections for workers. The Fourteenth Amendment’s promise of “equal protection of the laws,” adopted in 1868, had no application to women until the 1970s. An interpretation