Magazine December 17, 2020, Issue

Fusionists and Fissionists

Frank Meyer vs. Russell Kirk and Brent Bozell 

Frank Meyer, the intellectual progenitor of “fusionism,” disliked the term. It was one of those labels — “neoconservatism” is another — invented by an opponent. He did not believe he was putting anything together anew, but rather recovering the “truly Western philosophy of freedom.”

His project was to get libertarians and traditionalists to unite as more than allies of convenience. Each group was right about something: Virtue is the chief end of man, but freedom his chief political end. Each group was wrong only insofar as it denied the truth the other emphasized. Libertarians erred by exalting an individualism without moral

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Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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