Conservative != Libertarian
By Arnold Kling
Daniel Klein and Jason Briggeman find that leading conservative magazines are not libertarian. This is no surprise. Read Jordan J. Ballor. He cites an essay by Russell Kirk. This essay leaves no doubt about the distinction between Kirk’s conservatism and libertarianism.
Or go back to Ballor’s post here, where he writes of
the legitimate and even divine institution of civil government.
The Kirk position, as I understand it, is that if all respect for authority disappears, society as we know it will cease to function. Respect for authority has to include respect for the state.
Libertarians and progressives share a distrust for hierarchical authority. However, progressives do trust the authority of professional, independent technocrats.
As I have said before, when you ask somebody where social progress (human rights, economic growth, peace) comes from: a conservative will argue for religion; a progressive will argue for great progressive movements and leaders; and a libertarian will argue for liberty and markets.
I think there is room somewhere for a secular conservative. That is, for someone who respects the learning embodied in traditional values and beliefs, without assigning them a divine origin.
I continue to place my faith in the many non-governmental institutions of civil society. These can change and adapt. Unlike government, they can shrink or disappear when they are failing to provide benefit.
On the issue of respect for authority, I would like to see people respect rules and norms of the groups and organizations with which they interact. I think that respect for a governmental judicial system is a good thing. However, I will go no farther than that. The state is not divine. My opinion is that the state historically derives from gangs of thugs demanding protection money from settled farmers and herders. It has evolved to be less overtly gangsterish in some respects. However, its evolution has not been entirely positive. The government has become a prime status prize for which individuals and groups contend. The results of this status contest for most ordinary individuals are decidedly mixed.