A few months ago, there was a short discussion on View from the Right about the initial ascendency of liberalism in America. One thread in the argument was whether cultural liberalism has been pursued by the elite for reasons of material self interest. I have no opinion about it, but I wish to reproduce a quotation by Robert Locke that Kristor added. It is from Locke’s article in Front Page Magazine, “Is Capitalism Conservative?”
What post-cold-war conservatives should stand for is free-market capitalism on purely economic issues, plus strong non-economic institutions. What all these institutions have in common is that they impose a certain social order in the name of certain values, but they are not for sale for money. The institutions I have in mind:
Naturally, all these things are susceptible to corruption by economic values, but their essential purposes are not economic, and frequently contrary to pure economic efficiency. They are not capitalist, but they are not socialist either. This is a key point when every objection to the liquidation of our society in the name of the almighty dollar is met with the epithet “socialist.”
We should aim to be a capitalist economy, but not a capitalist society.
What an excellent point! We rarely hear such wisdom because Americans conflate conservatism with the currently pursued policies of the Republican Party. Reductionism remains reductionist, whether the man misjudging be a Communist or a banker.