When I first came across Adrian Vermeule’s obscure article titled Conspiracy Theories, coauthored with Cass Sunstein, I had never heard of him. He writes for the big leagues now, as a chaired professor at Harvard Law School. You write long essays about public morality and authority for The Atlantic.
Power should never serve morality, any more than morality should serve power.
Who wants to argue against morality in our public life? Who will say no, I think our public life is better when it is immoral? Yet you want to give the state power to impose moral thought and behavior on everyone? That’s probably the most immoral proposal I have ever heard. Power should never serve morality, any more than morality should serve power. These two realms of human life do not mix, no matter how much we want powerful people to be good, or how dearly we would like to see good people wield power.
That reasoning recalls the Devil’s seduction in C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters. How did Adrian Vermeule come to think this way?
Beyond Originalism: The dominant conservative philosophy for interpreting the Constitution has served its purpose, and scholars ought to develop a more moral framework.
The Emerging Right-Wing Vision of Constitutional Authoritarianism: Law professor Adrian Vermeule thinks America would be better off without individual liberty. It’s an increasingly popular view among a faction of conservatives.
Coronavirus Gives the Illiberal Right Fever Dreams of Power: Hungary’s Viktor Orbán consolidates power, Harvard’s Adrian Vermeule fantasizes about wielding it, and many of those who oppose authoritarian conservativism beg Donald Trump to close the country down.