Conservatism Inc. has been re-evaluating itself and contemplating some sort of re-invention for many months. I don’t know why, exactly. The essays, however, have been numerous — and mainly too boring to share.
The brief note at the link is representative of a theme: That conservatives are really, really, “classical liberals.”
I’m like, “OK, if you say so.” But I have my doubts that it is useful to point this out.
Two specific things attracted me to conservatism once I became politically aware. (That would be during my long-haired, protest-for-peace-and-Gaia days; a long time ago.) Most important was the idea that society is always multi-generational. The consequences of this one, simple observation are enormous in every practical way I can imagine. Less important, but equally attractive was that conservatives as pundits tended to be better thinkers and writers. Thus, one day I eschewed forever The New York Times in favor of The Wall Street Journal because I grew tired of fallacy and factual incompetence.
So, while I agree that liberty is the most important political concept of the present age, I’m skeptical that re-branding Conservatism Inc. as “classical liberalism” will do much to advance the cause. The real problem is that too many people have too many wrong ideas about liberty. Some like to argue, for example, that “You can’t be free when you are poor.”
If I could advance just one concept of liberty to young people, I would warn them not to think of it in existential terms. Think, instead, of liberty as a political arrangement. That way you can focus better on the design questions. For example: What must it take to have a free country?