Venezuela’s Agony, the Catholic Church, and a Post-Maduro Future

One of history’s less palatable lessons is that dictatorial regimes can stay in power a long time. We can talk endlessly about humanity’s insuppressible yearning for liberty, but if a government retains its security apparatus’s loyalty and the will to use force, dictatorships can be very resilient in the face of popular discontent.

The good news is that such regimes can also collapse at the most unexpected moments.

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The Late Michael Novak, Who Helped Bring Down The Soviet Union, Had Unusual Insights On Business

Michael Novak, who died recently at age 83 from colon cancer, was a philosopher and theologian of the first rank. His writings on capitalism, democracy and religion had an enormous influence in the 1980s and 1990s. In fact, they provided critical intellectual underpinnings that led to the demise of Soviet communism.

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The Crisis of Liberty in the West

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.

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A Turn That Went a Long Way: Remembering Michael Novak

Any adequate account of the swirling currents in Catholic intellectual life during the decades following the Sixties and Vatican II—think names like Wills, Greeley, Berrigan, Ruether, Hesburgh, Buckley—would have to give a major place to Michael Novak, who died at age eighty-three on February 17.

Novak was a frequent contributor to Commonweal from the late 1950s to the middle ’70s. In these pages and in the National Catholic ReporterTimemagazine, and elsewhere, he was a skillful exponent of the work of Vatican II and a passionate champion of the radicalism arising from campus opposition to the war in Vietnam.

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What on Earth Happened on November 8?

For some 150 years, the loudspeakers of progressivism boasted of the meritocracy of the college-educated, political policy by “experts,” and steady increases of the power of the federal government for the sake of “progress.” At the same, progressives disparaged the American founding, individual achievement, and business corporations. (Progressivism could be true only if the American founding were wrong.) The legend held that progressivism would lead to disinterested government — whereas corporations were the sole incubator of self-interest. Good and evil were easy to define: Good was more government, evil was more corporate power.

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