The Crisis of Liberty in the West

By Ryan Anderson

Originally published on March 7, 2017 on

The West faces a deep crisis of liberty. Full human flourishing is hindered by the dawning collapse of civil society and by crony capitalism and cultural cronyism. Natural law arguments, with their appreciation of rights and duties, provide a better framework than natural rights or utilitarian arguments for understanding economic liberty; a natural law conception of social justice recognizes the state’s role in economic justice but also requires respect for the proper authority of society. Globalization and new technologies are only a part of the problem. The solution to the crisis requires a better intellectual foundation for freedom and a renewed common understanding of what human flourishing looks like. This lecture was delivered as the annual Calihan Lecture on December 1, 2016, in London, England, at a conference sponsored by the Acton Institute on “The Crisis of Liberty in the West” at which Dr. Anderson received the Michael Novak Award for “outstanding scholarly research concerning the relationship between religion, economic freedom, and the free and virtuous society.”