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Photo by Arleen wiese on Unsplash

By Andrew Latham, Crisis Magazine, Aug. 12, 2021

Andrew Latham is a professor of political science at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota for the past two decades. He is the author, most recently, of Theorizing Medieval Geopolitics: War and World Order in the Age of the Crusades …


The louder he talked of the common good, the faster we counted our spoons. That’s not the original quote, of course. What Ralph Waldo Emerson actually wrote over a century and a half ago was, “the faster he talked about his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.” But the sentiment is the same: that virtuous talk of honor and the common good must always be accompanied by an awareness that something less than virtuous might be afoot—that we might be in danger of being deprived of something precious under cover of sonorous and earnest-sounding declarations of private or public virtue.

And counting our spoons we should be. For over a year now, America has been subject to a dizzying array of extraordinary economic and public health measures—including proposals for vaccine passports  …