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  • First Principles Series Report posted November 1, 2011 by Robert G. Kaufman The First Principles of Ronald Reagan’s Foreign Policy

    Abstract: A neo-Reaganite grand strategy offers the surest guide for restoring and sustaining American greatness in the 21st century. It incorporates the principles of the Founding without slighting the perennial imperatives of power and geopolitics. It inoculates us from the pessimism of unrealistic realists, who underestimate the possibility of provisional…

  • First Principles Series Report posted July 5, 2011 by Johnathan O'Neill The First Conservatives: The Constitutional Challenge to Progressivism

    Abstract: Although it is readily apparent that conservatism is united in its principled hostility to modern Progressive Liberalism, it is often more difficult to pin down just what the movement stands for. Johnathan O’Neill suggests that a focus on defending and preserving the Constitution could unite the otherwise fractious conservative movement. In this spirit,…

  • First Principles Series Report posted April 1, 2011 by Richard M Reinsch, II Still Witnessing: The Enduring Relevance of Whittaker Chambers

    Abstract: Whittaker Chambers is best known today as the veteran Soviet spy who became, in William F. Buckley Jr.’s words, “the most important American defector from Communism” when he testified against members of his underground Communist cell in the 1930s. Yet Chambers did more than reject Communism: He revealed a key problem with modern liberalism. In his…

  • First Principles Series Report posted March 7, 2011 by Bruce S. Thornton America the Delusional? Overcoming Our European Temptation

    Abstract: Once a colossus dominating the globe, Europe today is a doddering convalescent plagued by economic sclerosis, unaffordable entitlements, an impending demographic collapse, and a large unassimilated Muslim population. In addition, the EU’s reliance on soft power has left it unable to project global power and fulfill its promise to be an important player in world…

  • First Principles Series Report posted February 1, 2011 by Bruce Caldwell Ten (Mostly) Hayekian Insights for Trying Economic Times

    Abstract: The economist Friedrich Hayek attempted in his writings to spotlight the interlocking set of ideas­—constructivist rationalism, scientism, socialism, “the engineering mentality”—that was leading the West down what he famously called the road to serfdom and to propose in its place a return to a revitalized form of classical liberalism. In this essay, Professor…

  • First Principles Series Report posted January 11, 2011 by Peter C. Myers Frederick Douglass’s America: Race, Justice, and the Promise of the Founding

    Abstract: Nearly 50 years after Martin Luther King delivered his memorable “I have a dream” speech, there is a growing consensus that the civil rights movement, despite some important victories, has been a failure. While conceding that these critics have a point, Peter C. Myers faults them for embracing a radical critique of America that rejects America’s founding…

  • First Principles Series Report posted December 6, 2010 by Marion Smith The Myth of Isolationism, Part 1: American Leadership and the Cause of Liberty

    Abstract: American statecraft has been grounded, both morally and philosophically, in the principles of human liberty and America’s sense of justice. Thus, the true consistency of American foreign policy is to be found not in its policies, which prudently change and adapt, but in its guiding principles, which are unchanging and permanent. America is a defender of liberty…

  • First Principles Series Report posted October 15, 2010 by Matthew Spalding, Ph.D. America’s Founders and the Principles of Foreign Policy: Sovereign Independence, National Interests, and the Cause of Liberty in the World

    Abstract: America’s Founders sought to define a national good that transcended local interests and prejudices. The national good included the common benefits of self-defense and prosperity that all Americans would realize by participating in a large, commercial nation able to hold its own in an often hostile world. But it was only with the constitutional rule of…

  • First Principles Series Report posted August 30, 2010 by Thomas G. West The Economic Principles of America’s Founders: Property Rights, Free Markets, and Sound Money

    Abstract: Although there are many scholarly treatments of the Founders’ understanding of property and economics, few of them present an overview of the complete package of the principles and policies upon which they agreed. Even the fact that there was a consensus among the Founders is often denied. Government today has strayed far from the Founders’ approach to…

  • First Principles Series Report posted August 3, 2010 by John Adams Wettergreen Bureaucratic Tyranny or the Renewal of Self-Government: The Beginning of Centralized Administration in America

    Abstract: Conservatives have often charged that the great centralizing tendencies in American government were a product of the New Deal. As the late Dr. Wettergreen shows in this essay, first published in 1988 as a chapter in The Imperial Congress, a book produced by The Heritage Foundation and the Claremont Institute, the true culprit was not FDR but LBJ, as the full…

  • First Principles Series Report posted July 13, 2010 by The Reverend Robert A. Sirico The Moral Basis for Economic Liberty

    Abstract: Today, those who defend free markets and capitalism often do so solely on managerial or technical grounds, but economic liberty needs a moral defense as well. Defense of economic liberty without reference to morality will ultimately prove injurious to liberty itself. Rightly understood, capitalism is simply the name for the economic component of the natural…

  • First Principles Series Report posted May 5, 2010 by Lee Edwards, Ph.D. Standing Athwart History: The Political Thought of William F. Buckley Jr.

    Abstract: In the mid-1950s, the danger of an ever-expanding state was clear, but conservatives could not agree on an appropriate response, including whether the greater danger lay at home or abroad. The three main branches of conservatism—traditional conservatives appalled by secular mass society, libertarians repelled by the Leviathan state, and ex-Leftists alarmed by…

  • First Principles Series Report posted September 2, 2009 by Paul Rahe, James W. Ceaser, Ph.D., Thomas G. West Soft Despotism, Democracy's Drift: What Tocqueville Teaches Today

    Editor's Note: The following exchange is adapted from a public conversation among Paul Rahe (Hillsdale College), James Ceaser (University of Virginia), and Thomas West (University of Dallas) that took place at The Heritage Foundation on April 16, 2009, the date of release for Paul Rahe's book SoftDespotism, Democracy's Drift, and the 150th anniversary of the death…

  • First Principles Series Report posted August 20, 2009 by Brian Brown Extended Republic or Centralized Nation-State? Herbert Croly, Progressivism, and the Decline of Civic Engagement

    It has often been observed that the 20th century was the most violent in world history. Wars dominated world affairs on an unprecedented scale. What has been less often noted, particularly in the American experience, is the number of wars declared by national governments on social problems like poverty and drugs--and the appallingly low victory rate in those…

  • First Principles Series Report posted June 1, 2009 by Mark David Hall, Ph.D. Justice, Law, and the Creation of the American Republic: The Forgotten Legacy of James Wilson

    James Wilson was one of six men to sign both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. In the Federal Convention of 1787, he spoke more often than all but one other delegate (Gouverneur Morris), and by all accounts he played a critical role in framing the Constitution. His early defense of the proposed Constitution and his leadership…