Below is a link to our first podcast, a 52-minute interview of Jonathan Rauch, a Brookings scholar and journalist who is one of America’s sharpest and most original thinkers, by Stuart Taylor Jr., president of Princetonians for Free Speech. The subject is Jonathan’s highly acclaimed new book, The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth. It is a deep dive into how Western thinkers have used evidence and logic since the enlightenment to determine what is true and what is false, making possible enormous progress in science, medicine, philosophy, politics, law, and other human affairs.
Most important for today’s world, Rauch explains the threats to all this progress, to the health of what he calls the reality-based community, and even to our way of life, from the Trumpist “firehose of falsehoods” on the far right and the totalitarian cancel culture that is coming to dominate academia, the news media, and other educated elites on the left. The book includes a muscular defense of free speech, which is vital to the constitution of knowledge.
The many glowing reviews include those of columnist George Will, who calls Rauch “a James Madison for this era,” and former American Civil Liberties Union president Nadine Strossen, who says: “Starting from first principles and applying them to headlines as recent as the storming of the U.S. Capitol in 2021, The Constitution of Knowledge provides the map we've been waiting for.”
By Khoa Sands ‘26
The idea of decline has always held a certain allure to historians and politicians alike. The high prophet of this declinism was Oswald Spengler, whose 1918 book The Decline of the West has become a motivating treatise for the American New Right. For these modern-day doomsayers, the United States is predestined to ruin, beset by internal crises of spiritedness and domestic politics as well as external threats of rising challengers to the US-led world order. These concerns are not unfounded – a revanchist China will be the largest geopolitical crisis of the twenty-first century and any casual observer of American politics can attest to the sorry state of domestic politics in America today.
Matthew Wilson, Daily Princetonian
Excerpt: As I write this essay, the despicable poison of Jew-hatred has taken a firm hold at so many college campuses, Princeton included. Here at Princeton, activists proudly chant “Intifada” and demand the complete eradication of the world’s only Jewish state; elsewhere, from Cornell, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania to Ohio State and Cooper Union, frightening (and sometimes violent and illegal) exhibitions of anti-Jewish attitudes abound.
For the most part, university responses to these shameful displays have been tepid and restrained. these same universities, despite being so reticent to speak out now, have a prolonged public history of weighing in on a wide array of hotly contested and politically controversial topics. At Princeton, for instance, recent years have seen official statements issued deploring Supreme Court rulings on abortion and affirmative action, condemning a jury verdict, and attacking a professor for his political views. On Hamas’s terrorist attacks? No official statements.