Thursday, October 27, 2005

Goldberg on Buckley and Conservatism

If you want to understand American conservatism, this is a must read.

I'm worried about his book, though. Goldberg is excellent on conservatism, but he may spend too much time on the evils of Progressivism-to-modern Liberalism. Mistakes were made, no doubt, but I hope he gives original modern liberals like FDR a fair hearing. The impulse for FDR, it seems to me, is not just the social engineering, state-solves-everthing impulse of many of the progressives, though that certainly is a part.

The answer comes in the name itself. FDR chose to call what he was doing "liberalism," the implication being that he was concerned about individual freedoms and ability to achieve. FDR believed that the greatest threat to that freedom and ability to achieve was an increasingly impersonal threat of modern business interests. FDR was using the state to try and protect individual freedoms from those interests. He went to excess here and there, because centralized state power becomes overbearing far easier than dispersed and theoretically competitive businesses do. But I think, and I'm willing to change my mind on this, the line from Progressivism runs more directly to huge statist solutions like communism and fascism than American modern liberalism.

For all of his problems, FDR was trying to save capitalistism and democracy agaisnt very real threats, for that he deserves much credit, or at least a fair hearing.

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