Robert A Licht

Publications by Robert A Licht

The Emergent Morality

If a new sect have not two properties, fear it not, for it will not spread. The one is the supplanting or the opposing of authority established, for nothing is more popular than that. The other is the giving license to pleasures and a voluptuous life.
Francis Bacon, Essays, “Of Vicissitude of Things” Read More »

American Modernity and the Jews

What is the place of religion in the American polity? Which view of this matter is good for America, and which for the Jews? This essay first elaborates the now-dominant libertarian vision of religion in the American republic, a view prevalent among Jews and endorsed by the Jewish polity, by means of a discussion and critique of Leo Vfeffer’s God, Caesar and the Constitution: The Court as Referee of Church-State Confrontation. It is argued that the Constitution is improperly understood as a blueprint for a secular “open society/’ founded on the principle of radical individual autonomy, to be protected against both church and state by a supreme, rights-defending judiciary. Read More »

Communal Democracy, Modernity, and the Jewish Political Tradition

This article describes the emergence of liberal democracy, then compares and contrasts liberal democracy with communal democracy, showing the latter to be a prior form of democratic self-government. It then discusses the two in the perspective of self-government and rights, the two dimensions of democracy. Having given the United States as the best example of liberal democracy and Switzerland as the best modern example of communal democracy, it then goes on to explore the Jewish political tradition and how it is also an example of communal democracy. The article then turns to the crisis of modernity and the Jewish polity and how the modern commitment to liberal democracy
won over a majority of Jews even as it posed problems for the Jewish polity, examining classical Judaism and pluralism, looking for accommodations between the two in the contemporary Jewish polity.
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