‘Who Decides?’ We Do, through Our Institutions

Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States by Howard Chandler Christy, 1940 (Wikimedia)
Adrian Vermeule uses a fundamental question to fashion a straw man and justify abandoning the constitutional order. There is a better way.


n his latest essay at the Postliberal Order Substack, Harvard law professor Adrian Vermeule takes aim at conservatives (or, as he likes to call us, “right-liberals”) who resist the post-liberal call for the vigorous exercise of unfettered political power. In it, he uses my recent Law & Liberty piece, “A Maxim for Power-Skeptical Conservatism,” as an example of a naïve failure to recognize that power inevitably infuses all aspects of social life.

To make his point, Vermeule considers two forms of the question “Who decides?” What he calls the “local” question is the familiar issue of how political authority is distributed

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