Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Liberty and Libertarianism


I am a little surprised at the number of writers more or less allied with the conservative side who, regarding the Gates case, defend the “right” of citizens to yell at a cop and create a huge ruckus when the law comes to investigate a possible crime in their home. Conservatism is about liberty, yes, but ordered liberty, as the marvelous words of “America the Beautiful” have it, “America! America! / God mend thine every flaw / Confirm thy soul in self-control / Thy liberty in law.”  

Libertarianism as a philosophical outlook can be bracing and thought-provoking, and in some places it overlaps with conservatism, but the two are not identical, as these kinds of responses seem to show.  As Mark Levin writes in his new book, cited here:
But the Conservative believes that the individual is more than a producer and consumer of material goods.  He exists within the larger context of the civil society — which provides for an ordered liberty. The Conservative sees in the free market the harmony of interests and rules of cooperation that also underlie the civil society.  
And as Peter Berkowitz writes in reviewing Levin’s book, cited at same link:

Because both liberty and tradition are good, because each provides the other crucial support, and because at the same time they often reflect opposing impulses and issue contradictory demands, the conservative, who cherishes both, is constantly called upon to strike a prudent balance between them, or exercise moderation.


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