The Corner

Fusionism Revisited

Daniel Larison has a thoughtful, and skeptical, reply to my earlier post on New Fusionism. The comments to the post are also quite interesting.

It makes me realize that I don’t think I spelled out one of the predicates of my argument sufficiently. I think that the prevalence of the social conservative worldview, broadly defined, is on a long-term downward trajectory in the United States. I make this as an attempt at a descriptive, not normative, statement.

This obviously might change. To some extent, this trend is a product of increasing material abundance, and a truly catastrophic reduction in living standards would likely reverse it, as an example. But the environment in which we live increasingly is one in which it grows ever-more-difficult to maintain a national legal regime that permits any implicit or explicit preferences for a traditional way of life.

What this means for traditionalists is that the best they can hope for is a national government with minimum scope of authority, because it will tend to use whatever authority it has for ends that they don’t like.

As I’ve argued previously, I think that a proper understanding of libertarian thought should call for restraint in imposing uniform national rules, even some rules designed to prevent localities from restricting some individual autonomy.

This is not an alliance of soul mates, but one of shared interests. This also implies a view of politics that is more about building sewers than cathedrals. It’s necessary work, and in a certain frame of mind can be inspiring in its effects; but it’s low to the ground and full of muck.

Jim Manzi is CEO of Applied Predictive Technologies (APT), an applied artificial intelligence software company.


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