August 25, 2014
CONSERVING THE REPUBLIC:
Ceaser's 14 Conservative Points (Peter Augustine Lawler, August 24, 2014, National Review)
Posted by Orrin Judd at August 25, 2014 7:23 PM[A]fter considerable reading, I think I've found the tightest and most illuminating summary of Ceaser's conservative public philosophy (or political science?). I've reduced what he says in his Designing a Polity (pages 149-51) to fourteen propositions. [...]1. "American conservatism is devoted to conserving the American republic. It can have no higher or nobler goal." [...]6. "Conservatism conserves the American republic by giving appropriate support to biblical religion. Biblical religion has been the main source of our ethical system, one of self-restraint and belief in something beyond material existence. . . . Original liberal theory was in some formulations cool to religion, and it often failed to acknowledge or appreciate how much liberal society had borrowed from its storehouse of religious capital."7. "Liberalism does not require . . . neutrality [between faith and nonbelief], and conservatism does not recommend it."8. "Conservatism conserves the American republic by promoting 'the tradition,' which refers, beyond religion and the Enlightenment, to the classical Greek and Roman ideals of virtue and excellence."9. "Conservatives subscribe to the liberal principle of equality of rights, but they do so in no small part because it makes room for the emergence of inequalities and excellences."10. "The tradition also provides a theoretical basis for a hierarchy of standards, allowing conservatives to criticize without apology the vulgarity that pollutes any society and runs rampant in ours."11. [Conservatives see that] "original liberalism often had such [hierarchical, anti-vulgar] inclinations . . ., but it engaged too easily on attacks on the classics and, in rationalist exuberance, went too far in elevating utility at the expense of nobility. . . . Modern liberalism, with its focus on compassion . . . allied itself culturally with relativism, which is the application of the idea of equality to all thought."