Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Will not dyspeptic about Lindsey

While I’m on a Saturday-before-Sunday GFW kick, here’s his generally laudatory review of Brink Lindsey’s The Age of Abundance. Here’s GFW’s conclusion, which I’m not sure some of my dyspeptic friends will share, if they get around to reading the book (I probably will):

He believes that “the common commitment to chase that horizon became the glue that held an increasingly pluralistic society together.” Piffle. America’s remarkable social cohesion is not reducible to that. We are a creedal nation, dedicated to a proposition, which is approximately this: All people are created equal and have a right to spacious freedom that produces unequal outcomes.


Lindsey rightly says that “today’s typical red-state conservative is considerably bluer on race relations, the role of women and sexual morality than his predecessor of a generation ago.” And “the typical bluestate liberal is considerably redder than his predecessor when it comes to the importance of markets to economic growth, the virtues of the two-parent family and the morality of American geopolitical power.” In “the bell curve of ideological allegiance,” the large bulging center has settled, for now, on an “implicit libertarian synthesis, one which reaffirms the core disciplines that underlie and sustain the modern lifestyle while making much greater allowances for variations within that lifestyle.” If so, material abundance has been, on balance , good for us, and Lindsey’s measured cheerfulness is, like his scintillating book, reasonable.

I vented a little of my own dyspepsia about Lindsey’s general conclusion here, here, here, and here.

Discussions - 4 Comments

Joe, I hadn't read your TAE essay before and I agree with your brand of dyspepsia. A true conservative statesman today would see the general tendency to libertarianism to be as dangerous to the prospects for a great and just America as the marxist threat was in the 30's and 40's. He would act so as to restore a regime built on foundations, whether of history or nature, or some combination.

I would add to your comment on the South in one of NLT posts referenced, that southern support for the First New Deal particularly was due to the availibility of federal assistance for the first time since the war for what was a conquered and still desolated region. It's also true that southern political thought both ante and post bellum was much more communitarian than the Yankee brand.

George has descended into a kind of condescending kind of happy talk that ought to insult not only real conservatives and real liberals but real libertarians. His last several columns have established his nouveau irrelevance.

My current favorite "happy talk" sentence, a reference to Lindsey's argument which GW does not directly criticize, is the one about
"emancipation from preoccupation with subsistence" having been a "boon" because it has reduced "stress," thus in turn reducing the appeal of "inflexible moral norms." Restful in the midst of prosperity. Lindsey's book strikes me as a sort of elaborate and I hope feckless argument for a society suited for democratic despotism.

He believes that “the common commitment to chase that horizon became the glue that held an increasingly pluralistic society together.” Piffle. America’s remarkable social cohesion is not reducible to that. We are a creedal nation, dedicated to a proposition, which is approximately this: All people are created equal and have a right to spacious freedom that produces unequal outcomes.

Can anyone familiar with Dr. Will's oeuvre point to a reference that said syndicated columnist takes any interest at all in the literature of sociology or social psychology or has some basis for insisting his own impressionistic opinions of what generates social peace in this country are manifestly superior to Mr. Lindsey's?

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