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Our friend Patrick Deneen calls out our friend Jonah Goldberg.

I patiently await Jonah’s explanation of whether or not socially (and economically--Patrick’s correction) conservative Catholics are, by his lights, fascists.

Update: Jonah’s response is here. The difficulty of an "American" conservatism is that, to the extent that the American tradition is "liberal," and hence dynamic (note the care with which Madison in Federalist #10 wrote of the [dynamic]faculty connected with the acquisition of property rather than of property [perhaps more static] itself), there is no ancien regime to be conserved. To the extent that it’s American, our tradition doesn’t readily lend itself to traditionalism. Our principles can perhaps be read in a way that maintains a creative tension between dynamic classical liberalism and "natural law" (which is conservative, but not particularist or traditionalist). And I’m willing practically to fudge lots of stuff to head off things I regard as much worse (including Obama’s apotheosis of the moment), but theoretical clarity is a good thing.

Update #2: Read the comments on Patrick’s post.

Discussions - 33 Comments

Socially AND economically conservative. Which makes us liberal? Who can say? Interesting times...

I assume you mean economically conservative as in critical of capitalism? Would that be less than two cheers? No cheers? Only raspberries?

Excellent remarks by Deneen. I've seen Goldberg describe conservatism as wanting to conserve classical liberalism, which seems to be a declaration of non-conservatism.

But the truth seems to be that his political identity is not fully formed.

The GOP cannot be the political arm of the Chamber of Commerce, which is what it seems to want to be.

Maybe a cheer and a half. Markets (note the plural) within the city, not a vice versa. To cite Brooks from today:


"A conservatism that recognizes stable families as the foundation of economic growth is not hard to imagine."


Here adding "communities" (which are in turn supportive of families), an economy that is destructive of these would need restraint, that is, governance by the polity. Indeed, I fault Brooks's formulation only insofar as it reverses the necessary priorities: economic growth should be embraced only to the extent that it can serve families and communities.

One might suspect you of having studied Book I of Aristotle's Politics.

Sure sounds like socialism to me. Maybe national socialism.

While I don't agree with everything Pat says, I do think JG had that coming.

Joe: Aristotle is certainly instructive here. I believe that Aquinas also says something along the lines that viewing the polis in a strictly economic way is silly.

Patrick: Do you see Huckabee as a corrective to the Republican emphasis on market at the expense of families?

Goldberg has a rather non-responsive response up.

So let me just assert my belief that American conservatism does in fact seek to conserve liberal institutions (though not necessarily the progressive ones folks like Mike Huckabee like). This is a point both Sam Huntington and Friedrich Hayek agreed on, and I stand with them.

The key question is one of priorities, and I think its fair to say that Goldberg places market forces above most of the things which conservatives (including Sam Huntington and Hayek) have prized.

Question: is there really a desperation for an abortion candidate among the NR types? Goldberg?

John is absolutely right. Conserving classical liberalism is not conservatism; it is liberalism - classical liberalism. (For certain historical reasons this gets murky. There is a reason that free-marketers like Hayek were considered conservative and right wing in their day even though Hayek resisted the term. They were rebelling against the newer impulse toward economic collectivism in favor of what was at the time viewed as the older way.) Most American conservatives will have some elements of classical liberalism, but they can't be entirely classical liberals or they cease to be conservatives. This goes back to that liberal conservative vs. conservative liberal discussion we have had.



I do think Jonah is learning. He has had too many battles with paleos not to.

Given the widespread support for Giulaini at NRO, the answer seems to be yes. But I believe the main bone of contention is the relative priority to be attached to free markets.

Goldberg cites Hayek as an influence, but Hyaek was not as much a free market fundamentalist as many Republicans are these days.

Where is the alleged support for Guiliani at NRO? Most of them are Romney or Thompson guys. It's true, they don't particularly like Huckabee, and a few (Sullivan) don't like him because he's an evangelical. But most don't like him because he's too liberal. As an evengelical conservative, I hold the same viewpoint. And I worry that Huckabee, who is really more of a left-wing Christian, will define Christian candidates as such in future Republican races.

This thing isn't over though. NH could turn out to be a tie and then - it's not out of the realm of possibility that contrary to conventional wisdom, conservatives in South Carolina could reject Huckabee in favor of Romney or Thompson. Both Governor Sanford and Senator DeMitt recently won elections as conservatives across the board against candidates who were primarily evangelical, Bob Jones types.

I should add that Caleb V, having spent some time in S.C. working for a socially conservative organization, knows whereof he speaks.

john: The thing with Giuliani is that he may be a pro-choice candidate, but what if his practices result in the end life people want? Is that not possible?

Can we not make a distinction between Giuliani and, say, Obama? On this issue they are NOT the similar.

Erik, I almost agree w 16 but not quite. Rudy can't be trusted unless I says with conviction that ROE was wrongly decided. Otherwise he looks like a Souterite (precedent-no-matter-what). Caleb might be right and might not. Huck is not a Bob Jones type. But all hope is not lost for Romney, in my view. Thompson has yet to really rise from the dead, though.

Thanks Prof. K.,

I would add that Huckabee's support group (evangelicals and home schoolers) in Iowa, is likely to be more split in SC. I can't speak to the situation with IA homeschoolers, but in SC, many are equally moved by their belief in economic and national security conservatism as by their social conservatism. Thus Thompson or Romney might be appealing candidates. Furthermore, as time passes, people will hear more about Huckabee's ethical lapses and everytime Ed Rollins is shown looking angry on TV (ala his interview with Wallace on Fox) it will give voters another reason to question his judgement.

The key for the other candidates is to not attack Huckabee because he's an evangelical, but because he's not really a conservative. There is a huge southern baptist contigent in South Carolina, but they are very conservative and have long memories; long enough to remember that back in the 80s Huckabee wasn't an ally in the liberal-conservative theological wars in their denomination. That will come into play as well.

I'm beginning to think that just as many republicans said that they liked Guiliani before they knew much about him, and seemed to quickly drop their support as news about his positions and ethical lapses came out in the news; evangelicals may make the same shift regarding Huckabee.

Hadn't seen your post before I replied Prof. Lawler. You're right, Huckabee isn't really a Bob Jones type. If he was, I might think he had a better shot against a Mormon candidate. But he's really quite a lefty on taxes and spending, illegal immigration, healthcare and global warming. That might appeal to some of the crunchy cons at NLT, but at least at this point, I don't think that view makes up a big portion of the republican base.

I'd hesitate to make sweeping generalizations about the future of the Republican Party based on this election however (i.e. David Brooks), simply because it is such an anomaly. There are 6 contending candidates that can factor in double figures in any given state and several are competing for the same type of voters. And there is no clear establishment candidate. It’s just a strange election. But lots of fun from a political-science perspective.

Where is the alleged support for Guiliani at NRO? Most of them are Romney or Thompson guys

I count Brookhiser, Schiffern, Frum, McCarty, and Geghearty in the Rudy camp. It's not "alleged". I think there is one Thompson supporter, and even KLO seems to have gone off Romney.

john: The thing with Giuliani is that he may be a pro-choice candidate, but what if his practices result in the end life people want? Is that not possible?

As an exercise in logic, sure, its possible. As a plausible outcome from a Giuliani presidency, it is almost impossible. Even presidents who have wanted to put anti-Roe judges on the court have struggled to do so. You think a pro-Roe president and a Democratic Senate will give a better result?

I see we've left the Deneen-Goldberg discussion far behind.

Dr. K., but it is arguable that the American tradition is "liberal." And the ancien regime was not Crown and an established church, but it was not absent either. There was still a Church and an old order they felt worth preserving.



Ironically, a lot of paleos agree with the neocons and believe that America is hopelessly liberal (a lot of them Catholics still sore about the Reformation), I'm just not one of them.

[Huckabee is] really quite a lefty on taxes and spending, illegal immigration, healthcare and global warming.

Maybe so, but so are Giulaini and McCain, and to a lesser degree Romney. It's odd to watch people who stubbornly refuse to notice the way Rudy McRomney deviate from conservative orthodoxy suddenly getting upset about Huckabee.

Why, its almost as if their stated objections are not their real ones.


Immigration? Giulaini and McCain are the two worst candidates.

Global warming? Giuliani and McCain both said its a serious problem and want the Feds to do something about it.

Healthcare? Look at Romneys healthcare plan.

Taxes and spending? McCain opposed the Bush tax cuts. Giulaini went to court to get the line item veto tossed in order to keep the pork flowing to NYC.

And so on. This sudden concern that Huckabee is not the second coming of Goldwater is a little curious, given the serious and unremarked shortcomings of the others.

"Why, its almost as if their stated objections are not their real ones."



Amen John. I have been banging that drum for a while. The issue seems more to be that Huckabee doesn't mouth the right rhetoric, not what he actually does. So Huckabee spent a lot as Gov. Right, but was Bush a budget slasher in Texas? You've got to be kidding me. But the establishment was all over him, and then McCain was evil incarnate. It is just not credible to me. The objections to Huck are elitist and anti-evangelical. He is not one of the boys. He is not beholden to them. Obviously none of them have given him any money.

John and Red,

I think your objections to my comment are misplaced. You're overgeneralizing and it hurts your argument. I'm not a McCain or Guiliani guy by any means. I prefer Thompson of the bunch, but I could live with Romney. I'd view any of the others as a dissapointment. I'm an evangelical, former homeschooled student and an aspiring academic - certainly not the wallstreet republican the two of you seem to despise so much. Save the hyperbole. And please, don't start off by assuming I don't mean what I say.

To the extent that it’s American, our tradition doesn’t readily lend itself to traditionalism.

And so we circle back to the Civil War again. :)

I'm not a fan of Huckabee. I just think that complaints that he is a liberal, coming from people who do not level the same charge at Giuliani, are confused at best. If NRO has ever noticed that Giuliani is a liberal, and not simply on abortion, then they have kept their thoughts to themselves. Half the people there are cheering for him. NR is no longer a conservative publication, it's a liberal one with some conservative tinges.

The difficulty of an "American" conservatism is that, to the extent that the American tradition is "liberal" ....

The American tradition is not liberal. Liberalism worships concentration of power. America was founded on the idea that concentration of power was a bad thing to be resisted at all costs. Unless you consider the last fifty years to constitute a tradition ...

The American tradition is not liberal.

I beg to differ. Many of the above comments have used the term "classical liberalism." This is the grounding of the American regime: a commitment to individualism, equality, liberty of thought, and acquisition of property. Some might recall in Storing's "What The Anti-Federalists Were For" that he began his study of the Anti-Feds with the supposition that he would find a non-liberal tradition within their ranks, but he failed to find it. The regime Lincoln was defending was a liberal regime. But let us not confuse the liberalism of the founding with the progressivism of today whose origins are not liberal, most notably in the rejection of nature as the foundation of our politics. When we attack liberalism properly understood we should recognize that we are parting ways with the American founding. That is not a judgment, simply an observation. A sober analysis, such as provided by Tocqueville, would recognize the many virtues of the liberal regime while noting that liberalism is an incomplete vision of man and must therefore be leavened by things from outside liberalism, for example traditional religion.

Jon, as I noted, some of my fellow paleos agree with you. They think America was throughly corrupted by liberalism. So some paleos would start with the same assumptions about the "founding" (even that word is loaded with liberalism) that the neos do. Of coarse the neos, who are a type of liberal, celebrate it instead of bemoan it.



But if America was so liberal, why were there property restriction on voting, slavery, male only voting, religious tests for office in many states, such poor treatment of the Indians, etc. America embraced certain elements of liberalism, and I believe that was for the better. But we were not wholesale liberal in the way the French Revolution was for example. The South was certainly not egalitarian. It was a very aristocratic society even without slaves. They looked upon their European and classical heritage fondly and as something to be preserved.



While the motives of some of the anti-Federalist, who were a mixed bag, might have been couched in liberal rhetoric, the system they were trying to preserve of radical decentralization and localism was closer to the ancient system than was a centralized nation state.

Caleb, I wasn't necessarily referring to you. I was just making an observation about the establishment cons who are Huck bashing. I can criticize Huck's spending habits because I have been banging the Constitutionalist drum for years. George Will, a big-government conservative who called Ron Paul's Constitutionalism an anachronism can not credibly criticize Huckabee on spending. If these guys were really serious about spending and taxes they would endorse Ron Paul. Ron Paul should be the Club for Growth's dream candidate.



They are too heavily invested in their reflexive militarism and interventionism to think rationally.

This is the grounding of the American regime: a commitment to individualism, equality, liberty of thought, and acquisition of property.

That's a very incomplete list. And somewhat inaccurate. The Founders were not big on individualism or equality, as we understand these words today.

When we attack liberalism properly understood we should recognize that we are parting ways with the American founding.

It's always possible to engage in sematics, but liberalism properly understood began with JS Mill. The Founders did not use the word, and they rejected the core ideas of liberalism, chiefly its interest in concentrated power.

Lincoln was an un-conservative figure, in fact a liberal one, in that he sought to wrest power from the states and consolidate it in DC.


A sober analysis, such as provided by Tocqueville, would recognize the many virtues of the liberal regime while noting that liberalism is an incomplete vision of man and must therefore be leavened by things from outside liberalism, for example traditional religion.


A sober analysis would recognize that liberalism cannot bear for anything to be outside its juristiction. We this this impulse in action all around us on both the domestic and international stage.

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