by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In the meantime, the National Review readers among you can read John Hood’s positive review of that book in the latest issue.
To describe modern conservatism as the celebration and preservation of progress may set certain thinkers’ teeth on edge. But it’s the right choice, as a matter of principle and as a tool of persuasion. The best defenses of both traditionalist conservatism and libertarianism are grounded in reality, not in abstractions or idealism. One need not share any particular theology to recognize that man is an imperfect creature prone to mistaken, self-destructive, and hurtful choices. And one need not be an Objectivist or an anarcho-capitalist to conclude that governments, being full of such imperfect creatures wielding the power of coercive violence, are unlikely to do better at achieving “the Good” than individuals acting on their own or through voluntary associations.
When the Founders enshrined the principles of liberty and limited government in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, that was a great leap forward in human affairs. So were subsequent events such as the abolition of slavery, the invention of the private corporation, the birth of worldwide free trade in goods and ideas, and the final defeat of totalitarianism (at least in its secular-Fascist and Communist forms). The American Right seeks to explicate, protect, and build on these gains. For this we need make no apologies or concessions. We recognize that modern liberalism is illiberal and that modern progressives are actually backward-looking control freaks hostile to dynamism and progress. In my experience, young conservatives and libertarians are, as Cooke puts it, “passionate and ambitious,” quite proud to defend “the most successful, virtuous, and radical political philosophy in the history of the world.” They think the Left is lame. They’re right.
The Conservatarian Manifesto is full of brilliant insights and powerful arguments.