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  Road to the Middle Class
Sunday February 1, 2015 
by Christopher Chantrill Follow chrischantrill on Twitter









1930s analysis

UK spending

US bailout

US gov debt

US budget

US revenue

US spending

sisters, sisters


















Hume Policing the Frontier Between the Observed and the Unobserved

OUR judgments about cause and effect, according to David Hume in his Treatise of Human Nature, are nothing more than projections of our sense impressions, prompted by the "force and liveliness" of those impressions.

But where do the debutantes of forceful and lively impressions go after their first presentation to the monarch of our mind? They subside on the couches of the Memory and the Imagination, says Hume, and memory is "much more lively and strong than those of the imagination." A "perfect idea" is an impression that has entirely lost its vivacity. Thus banished to a nether world without the strong light of vivacity, our perfect ideas in the imagination are subject to the fancy and may stray to thoughts of "winged horses, fiery dragons, and monstrous giants." The natural thing is for ideas of the memory to fade away and become mere imagination. But sometimes ideas of the imagination can reacquire force and vivacity and counterfeit as memory. It is the practice of "liars", says Hume, by frequent repetition of their imaginary ideas, to end up believing them as reality.

Obviously, we cannot use the perfect idea of the imagination in any process of inferring from the observed to the unobserved.

But Hume famously goes further than this. He argues that there is no basis in reason to infer the unobserved from the observed at all. All we can argue is "constant conjunction." When we experience impressions in constant conjunction we come to believe they are related, from the force and vivacity of the impressions and their constant conjunction.

But notice that Hume does have a theory of cause and effect. He assumes that when people see a constant conjunction their minds are driven to assume that if one event occurs the other must necessarily follow. So he does believe in reason. The other approach is to assume that everything is contingent, that mental conjunctions are just as unprovable as conjunctions between forceful and vivacious impressions, that everything is merely a tissue of unprovable assertions and predictions.

The modern approach is the way of settled science. The more that theory about separate impressions gets confirmed and the more that predictions about cause and effect are successful, the more we are justified in putting our faith in their causal connection. But you never know. The practical thing to do is assume that everything works as advertised. Until it doesn't.

perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 01/30/15 10:39 am ET

Get a Clue from Magical Thinking

EVERYBODY sneers at magic these days. Because we are all scientists now. So Richard Fernandez chuckles as he takes a look at the widespread resort to magical thinking abroad in the world today. In Venezuela the government is out of money, but its leader President Nicolas Maduro is promising more free stuff. Free school stipends, free housing. No cutbacks to social welfare. How would the ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 01/30/15 10:36 am ET

What Middle-Class Economics Really Looks Like

PRESIDENT Obama introduced a new catchphrase in his 2015 State of the Union speech: Middle Class Economics. As he put it: [M]iddle class economics is -- the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, everyone plays by the same set of rules. Then he sharpened his definition. [M]iddle-class economics means helping working families feel ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 01/29/15 12:36 pm ET

Free Stuff, Public and Private

WE all know about government "free stuff". It's what governments do; they keep their supporters on-side with free stuff. What could go wrong? The answer is: Greece and Argentina. At some point, governments tend to run out of other peoples' money to give away. What do they do? Generally, they lie, cheat and steal some more, through devaluation of the currency and seizure of bank accounts. Then ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 01/28/15 1:05 pm ET

|  February blogs  |  January blogs  |


Georg Simmel’s Sociology

Thomas Piketty’s Capital

The Spirit Level

McCloskey’s “Bourgeois Era”


Download latest e-book draft here.


A New Manifesto
A spectre is haunting the liberal elite—the spectre of conservatism.


The Crisis of the Administrative State
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Government and the Technology of Power
If you scratch a social reformer, you will likely discover a plan for more government.

Business, Slavery, and Trust
Business is all about trust and relationship.

Humanity's Big Problem: Freebooters and Freeloaders
The modern welfare state encourages freeloaders.

The Bonds of Faith
No society known to anthropology or history lacked religion.

A Critique of Social Mechanics
The problem with human society reduced to system.

The Paradox of Individualism
Is individualism the gospel of selfishness or something else?

From Multitude to Civil Society
The larger the government, the smaller the society.

The Answer is Civil Society
In between the separated powers.

The Greater Separation of Powers
If you want to limit power then you must limit power.

Conservatism Three by Three
Conservatism, political, economics, and cultural.

The Culture of Involvement
Imagining lives without the welfare state

The Poor Without the Welfare State
Can the poor thrive without the welfare state?

The Middle Class Without The Welfare State
How would the middle class live without all those middle-class entitlements?

From Freeloaders to Free Givers
The path to the future lies through moral movements.

The Real Meaning of Society
Broadening the horizon of cooperation in the “last best hope of man on earth.”

conservative manifesto



AAM Book of the Day

Brace, C.L., The Dangerous classes of New York

AAM Books on Education

Andrew Coulson, Market Education
How universal literacy was achieved before government education

Carl Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic
How we got our education system

James Tooley, Reclaiming Education
How only a market in education will provide opportunity for the poor

James Tooley, The Miseducation of Women
How the feminists wrecked education for boys and for girls

E.G. West, Education and the State
How education was doing fine before the government muscled in

AAM Books on Law

Hernando De Soto, The Mystery of Capital
How ordinary people in the United States wrote the law during the 19th century

F. A. Hayek, Law Legislation and Liberty, Vol 1
How to build a society based upon law

Henry Maine, Ancient Law
How the movement of progressive peoples is from status to contract

John Zane, The Story of Law
How law developed from early times down to the present

AAM Books on Mutual Aid

James Bartholomew, The Welfare State We're In
How the welfare state makes crime, education, families, and health care worse.

David Beito, From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State
How ordinary people built a sturdy social safety net in the 19th century

David Green, Before Beveridge: Welfare Before the Welfare State
How ordinary people built themselves a sturdy safety net before the welfare state

Theda Skocpol, Diminished Democracy
How the US used to thrive under membership associations and could do again

David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry
How modern freemasonry got started in Scotland

AAM Books on Religion

David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
How Christianity is booming in China

Finke & Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
How the United States grew into a religious nation

Robert William Fogel, The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism
How progressives must act fast if they want to save the welfare state

David Martin, Pentecostalism: The World Their Parish
How Pentecostalism is spreading across the world


I don’t know what to do, you guys
lefty Frank DeBoer worries that PC shaming is making enemies.

How to live in a liberal world
Must read for conservative students: Jonah Goldberg equips you for battle

Occupy the syllabus
special snowflakes don't want to study Hegel and Marx and Foucault in a course on classical social theory 'cos they are white males.

A misleading chart on welfare spending
plus an OK one that shows that welfare recipients face a 50% marginal tax rate.

Harvey Mansfield on the Democrats
what are the limits to progress and equality?

> archive


cruel . corrupt . wasteful
unjust . deluded



After a year of President Obama most Americans understand that the nation is on the wrong track. But how do we find the right track? Americans knew thirty years ago that liberalism was a busted flush. Yet Reaganism and Bushism seemed to be less than the best answer.

But where can we turn? Where are the thinkers and activists of the old days? Where do we find the best ideas? And how do we persuade our present ruling class to loosen its grip on power so that we can move the locomotive of state back onto the right track?

With all of our problems it seems like the worst of times.

In fact, this is the best of times. Under the radar a generation of great thinkers have been figuring out what went wrong and conjuring up visions of a better future. This book, "An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism" is an introduction to their ideas, and to the great future that awaits an America willing to respond to their call.

Although this book is addressed to all Americans, conservative, moderate, and liberal, and looks to a nation that transcends our present partisan divide, I must tell you that liberals will have the most difficulty with the book. The reason is simple. I am asking liberals to give up a lot of the power they have amassed in the last century. But we are all Americans, and we must all give up something for the sake of the greater good.


I am Christopher Chantrill and I am writing this book in full view. I'll be blogging on the process and the ideas, and I'll be asking you, dear readers, to help. Read the blog. Read the articles as they come out on American Thinker and ponder over the draft chapters here on this site.

Then send me your reactions, your thoughts, and your comments. You will help more than you know.



The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm

Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust

Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


©2014 Christopher Chantrill

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