Truthful words about liberalism, from an unexpected source

Australian traditionalist conservative Mark Richardson is heartened to find, in the Oxford Companion to Philosophy, serious philosophical criticism of liberalism. Indeed, the criticism is of a type that might have been written by a traditionalist conservative. For example, the book favorably references the conservative argument that liberalism, in its endless pursuit of the unfettered exercise of individual choice,

will undermine the forms of family and community life which help develop people’s capacity for choice and provide people with meaningful options. On this view, liberalism is self-defeating—liberals privilege individual rights, even when this undermines the social conditions which make individual freedoms valuable.

I would just add that the criticism of liberalism just quoted, which is, indeed, central to traditionalist conservatism, would never be heard from mainstream American conservatives. For them, conservatism means a set of positions that are designated as “conservative,” such as lower taxes, or repealing Obamacare, or fighting al Qaeda, or defending Sarah Palin from leftist attacks. But the concept of a social and moral order that is, among other things, the very basis of the individual liberties that the conservatives support, is beyond the ken of today’s conservatives.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 04, 2010 10:55 AM | Send

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