Adrian Vermeule, Ralph S. Tyler, Jr. Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School
The Annual Herbert W. Vaughan Lecture on America’s Founding Principles
Liberal rulers undermine their own rule. They are compelled, by the peculiarly dynamic character of their faith and its accompanying sacramental liturgy, to violate a central precept of Ragion di Stato, the natural art of politics: the precept not to unnecessarily disrupt the traditions, the mores and life-ways of the broad mass of the population, or, where those traditions must be disrupted in substance, at least to preserve the outward forms of tradition. Liberalism is incapable of respecting this constraint because to do so would betray its inner nature, which is to publicly and conspicuously celebrate its great liturgy, the Festival of Reason, the dynamic overcoming of the darkness, superstition, and slavish authoritarianism of the irrational past. The result of this dynamic is unrest, animosity, and eventually political reaction and backlash from the subject population.