against “the common good”

Wendell Berry once wrote, “Community is a concept, like humanity or peace, that virtually no one has taken the trouble to quarrel with; even its worst enemies praise it.” Precisely the same is true of “the common good.” No one will claim to be against the common good; everyone will claim to be for it, from Viktor Orban to Xi Jinping, from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Adrian Vermeule. It appears on both sides of every political equation, so those equations can therefore be simplified by crossing it out. Its invocation leaves us precisely where we were before it was mentioned.