Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Contradiction of a Conservative

The respected conservative columnist James J. Kilpatrick died Sunday. Here's his summary of his political philosophy as reported in the New York Times obituary:

Conservatives believe that a civilized society demands orders and classes, that men are not inherently equal, that change and reform are not identical, that in a free society men are children of God and not wards of the state. Self-reliance is a conservative principle. The work ethic is a conservative ethic. The free marketplace is vital to the conservative’s economic philosophy.

Note the contradictory endorsement of orders, classes, inequality -- and the free market. As Mises and others have long pointed out, the free market respects none of those other values. Freedom means social and cultural evolution, unguided by coercive authority. It means the constant potential for the upsetting of tradition as people discover new ways to live and do things.

Amazingly, conservatives still have not learned that lesson, which is why at best they are poor advocates of economic freedom. For evidence, see the hassle over gay marriage.

Read more on this issue in my review of the movie Chocolat and Steve Horwitz's discussion of the evolution of marriage and family.

3 comments:

Vince said...

This post is exactly why I believe foundations are so important, Sheldon.

Bruce Majors said...

John Howard I feel that your argument is very flawed.

(1) You seem to have a bit of Gaia worship or Christian Science in your world view: if God wanted people to live through small pox he would let them, and medical technology shouldn't be curing them. You just substitute infertility for infection.

Of course you would no doubt make some distinction between technology that removes defects to an intended wholeness or flourishing, and technologies that alter or pervert it. I.e., you have to have some notion of how only a male and female together represents God's or Nature's order or plan. So that a man and a woman together complete each other and represent the perfection and flourishing of each, but two men or two women could not represent such. Because in Nature two lower mammals of the same sex don't fuck. Or rather, when they do, since anyone who has herded cows has seen them do it, there is no issue.

One wonders if you would also argue that a biotechnology that increases one's longevity or intelligence is evil, since it alters what Nature gave us? Perhaps only 80 years and an IQ in the 100-140 range represent wholeness and anything more is perversion? Any future biotechnology that allows people to see infrared or ultraviolet, perceive gravitational variations at a distance, read thoughts, etc. would all be perversions, not expansions of human flourishing?

(2) How ridiculous to suggest that only government could fund biotechnologies you find threatening and others find revolutionary. If anything one suspects that the government has caused the wastage of resources in this area and prevented biotechnolgies from emerging.

For any libertarian researchers or journalists I have a tip in this area. After having my first child, the old fashioned way (using my aunt's recycled and sterilized garlic pickle jar) with a heterosexual woman, in the late 90s, I started to have another child with a lesbian friend in the 00s. More medical technology and medical industry was going to be used in the second case. It turns out that under the Bush regulatory explosion, any medical professionals involved in artificial insemination by donor must now require the male donor to take an HIV test. But not the relatively inexpensive HIV test everyone takes for their own peace of mind, for blood donations etc. A new HIV test (the nucleic acid HIV test or some such), which only two or three laboratories in all of the United States can perform, and which cost several hundreds of dollars a pop. No doubt because of some rent-seeking donor to the Republican (and/or Democratic) parties who owns the labs or patents. And because people using fertility technologies are cash cows who are already paying tens of thousands of dollars for fertility treatments, so the government ticks get in line to tax a little of that monetary blood stream.

Anonymous said...

The problem with your line here is that American movement "conservatives" are not conservatives in the academic sense. Their ideology is a modern and in fact anti-traditional one stemming from Enlightenment rationalism, a hybrid of classical liberalism and a Protestant cultural outlook unique to American history. Real Conservatism in its pure form is a cultural, rather than political or economic doctrine, and as such has nothing to do with either free markets or corporate capitalism....read http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2010/09/is-there-a-conservative-tradition-in-america/ for a better understanding.