Thanks, Winston (and Bruce).
A few, random thoughts regarding the current posts.
Conservatism, as I see it, can do little in this world of sorrows without allies. An alliance of the humane right—those who oppose the growth of Leviathan, Demos, and Mars at home and abroad—seems nothing short of prudent. Conservatives, libertarians, Catholics, Jews, Protestants, virtuous Ciceronians, and non-bomb throwing anarchists, should fight together, defending all that is good in our western tradition. Any success, of course, is unforeseeable. This uncertainty of victory, however, doesn’t lessen the duty to fight as men.
In the 1930s, T.S. Eliot gave a profound speech regarding the role of the Catholic in the modern world. In it, he said “The Catholic should have high ideals—or rather, I should say absolute ideals—and moderate expectations: the heretic, whether he calls himself fascist, communist, or democrat or rationalist, always has low ideals and great expectations.”
This is as true of the conservative as of the Catholic. A conservative libertarian alliance would only further the ends of the conservative in his search for the reflections of the good, the true, and the beautiful in this world while simultaneously reminding man of his fallen nature.
Would a conservative become lost in a pan-right alliance, as you justly ask Winston? Not necessarily. In fact, a true conservative should be the last to lose what should be conserved. Additionally, because he’s not an ideologue and because he believes in principles, not ideological sound bites, he should remain steady in his own convictions. More importantly, he knows that God rules this world and all of Creation, and that His truths are timeless and absolute—not subject to anything but interpretation and implementation by men. Men can lose truth, mock it, or ignore it—but it remains there to be uncovered, generation after generation, eon after eon.
Additionally, the state is, at best, a necessary evil. At worst, it’s an intolerable tyranny, whether soft or hard in its oppression. Conservatives recognize this truth, generally, but libertarians feel it in every fibre of their being. For America, there is no greater danger at the moment than the outrageous growth of the state—in every aspect of our lives.
Finally, I don’t think we can justly identify all libertarians, for example, with utilitarians. Some libertarians are utilitarian, to be sure. Frankly, I don’t think it’s ever possible for a conservative to ally himself with a utilitarian of any stripe with any hope of success. By definition, the utilitarian rejects the humane. But, many libertarians—at least the ones I know and read—reject any non-humane understanding of the human person and the world. Godkin, Nock, Otteson, etc., embrace liberalism in its best sense—wisdom of things beyond this world.
Anyway, some ill-formed thoughts. Thanks for the blog, Winston. It’s necessary and good, to be sure.
Books mentioned in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.