The good-freedom distinction and my critics
There is no end to the issues that the good/freedom distinction, a.k.a. the traditionalism/liberalism distinction (discussed here), can illuminate. In the linked entry, it illuminates the fallacious conservative belief in spreading democracy to Muslim nations.
For another example, it illuminates the repeated criticisms of me over the years that I want to be the “pope of conservatives” and dictate to everyone what conservatism is.
A conservative saying this to me shows that his highest principle is freedom. He doesn’t believe in definitions and standards based on the true and the good, because such standards would interfere with everyone’s freedom to define conservatism as he likes.
If the conservatives criticizing me for my attempts to define conservatism were truly conservative, then they would say to me, “Mr. Auster, I don’t agree with your definition of conservatism. I think it is too narrow. In my understanding, conservatism means such and such.” If they were to argue that way, it would show that they also believe in definitions and standards based on the true and the good, and we could have a discussion about what the best definition of conservatism is. But that is not what they say to me. Instead, without exception, they object to the very act of defining conservatism, an act they see as tyrannical. By which these critics show that they are, at their intellectual core, liberals.