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Material presented as lecture but not put in print.

Why the Great Reset had to happen

Here’s my talk from the July 2022 Roman Forum Summer Symposium. The theme of the conference was the Great Reset, and my talk was on why it had to happen.

The “Great Reset” comes out of very long-term trends in thought and social organization. On the intellectual side these trends are obvious at least since the scientific revolution of the 17th century, on the institutional side since the rise of the modern state and later the industrial revolution. Their roots of course go much deeper.


Liberal modernity: ultimate and indestructible?

Here’s another Roman Forum talk, this one from the 2019 Summer Symposium, held in Gardone, Italy, on July 8-19, 2019. It’s about the political, social, and moral black hole we seem to have fallen into:


How does Trad Catholicism look to outsiders?

Here’s the text of my talk at the 2021 Roman Forum Summer Symposium-in-Exile, delivered in Huntington, Long Island, on July 5, 2021:

Trads and Normies

James Kalb

1 Introduction

Today I will talk about what the traditionalist movement looks like to other Catholics. What would make people interested in it? What would horrify them?


Trads and normies

I deliver a lecture on how Catholic traditionalists look to non-traditionalists at the Roman Forum 2021 conference.


The Left and human nature

[I gave the following talk at the 2014 conference of The H. L. Mencken Club.]


Liberal Values and the Seduction of the American Right

The following is a talk delivered at the 2011 Conference of the H. L. Mencken Club.

Why has American conservatism been such a flop? It finds it impossible to define what it wants, stick with it, and defend it. The result is that it never wins and never even stands its ground.

To understand what’s happened you have to go to basics.


PC: The Cultural Antichrist

Here’s a talk I gave yesterday at the annual conference of the H. L. Mencken Club.

The title of my talk is PC: The Cultural Antichrist.

It’s an odd title, but political correctness is an odd tendency. It’s a bit uncanny. It doesn’t fit in with how we normally think about things. That’s why we don’t know what to make of it. People try to laugh it off, but it doesn’t laugh off.


A Global EU? International Affairs and Contemporary Liberalism

I’ve attached the text of a talk I gave at the H. L. Mencken Club conference.

The twilight of reason

Here’s the text of a talk I gave at the first annual conference of The H. L. Mencken Club. (Actually, I only had time to present the first 3/5 or so of the talk. The remainder was mostly a rehash of previous talks, though, so maybe it’s just as well.)


What is to be done?

Here’s the text of remarks regarding “The Future of Conservatism” I made on a panel at an ISI conference at Yale.


Awakening from reason's sleep

Here is the text (plus or minus a few ad libs) of a lecture delivered at the Roman Forum conference in Gardone, Italy, on July 3, 2008.


Reason gone mad

I gave a talk about reason, scientism and liberalism at a recent conference put on by the Roman Forum. Here’s a *.pdf of the talk’s written form.

American liberalism and the prospects for American reconstruction

Here’s a talk I gave on June 2, 2007 as a member of a panel at the annual meeting of the Academy of Philosophy and Letters (a new organization for conservative scholars):

We’ve all been talking today about where we are and what to do about it. I’ve been asked to sketch those issues with an emphasis on American liberalism.

American liberalism

It’s hard to discuss liberalism in America because we’re in the middle of it and because liberalism takes so many different forms.


The laws of the city

(An outline of a talk given at Montfort Academy, Katonah, New York, on April 2, 2005)


Closeness and permanence.


Common background and future.

Public life.

Complete society.

Aristotle: man is a zoon politikon.


How are things set up from the standpoint of what people owe each other and what they can expect from each other? When are those things enforceable? How do you enforce them?

Thomas Aquinas: “Law is an ordinance of reason for the common good, promulgated by him who has care of the community.”


Breaking the shackles of feminism

Boldly venturing into the belly of the beast, I went to Canada last week and gave a talk on “sexism” at a conference on Breaking the Shackles: The Global Burden of Oppression at Upper Canada College in Toronto (“college” means “high school” in this case). In the event the visit turned out perfectly pleasant. The lefties seemed to skip over points that if noted would create actual issues, but I found them more ideologically self-satisfied than ill-tempered. Also, Michael Levin was there, on another panel, and that gave me some moral support and steeled me to present my own thoughts and then face the talk my fellow-speaker gave on Little Red Riding Hood.


Liberalism -- What and Why?

Delivered April 7, 2001 at the St. Justin Martyr House of Studies in Shohola, Pennsylvania

I. Introduction

Today we will be discussing liberalism, which is a subject we all know something about. It is so much around us that it is difficult to get perspective on it and see what it is. That can make it hard to know where to begin. What I’ll try to do today is present a very general perspective on liberalism: what it is, where it comes from, and what to do about it.

I should say, by way of clarification, that when I say “liberalism” I’m speaking more of an overall view of things than of particular issues. Someone could take a liberal view on a particular issue, capital punishment say, without being what I would call a “liberal.” I’ll develop what I mean by the word in the course of the talk.


Liberalism: What, Whence and Whither?

A Lecture by James Kalb

Presented at a Telos Conference, May 20, 2001

Today I will present a very general perspective on liberalism: what it is, where it comes from, where it might go.

I’m a lawyer, and after preparing my remarks I realized that they took a lawyer’s point of view. What I had done was look at a series of decisions � the political changes people agree are liberal � and looked for the common principle that explained them. Then I looked at the authorities to explain the principle. Since it is political philosophy we are talking about, the authorities are accepted ways of thinking, how everyone thinks the world is, what seems sensible and rational. So what I will present is not a set of beliefs and institutions that constitutes liberalism, but a principle of change and its basis, together with some implications of that principle. It seems to me that presentation corresponds to the nature of liberalism as something that understands itself as progressive, and therefore changing, but also as universal and rationally compelling, and therefore unified at least in its concept.

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