I read with interest John Rutledge’s article in The Washington Times on AFF’s libertarian vs. conservative debate.
In my view, some such confrontations are interesting. But I’d be careful not to generate too much of a good thing. Once every five years may be sufficient.
As you probably know, I provide a lot of practical training to conservatives and to libertarians. More than 40 years ago, Frank Meyer persuaded me that, for most practical purposes, there are no insurmountable incompatibilities in these two strains of thought.
Further, I consider it absolutely essential that the forces of liberty and order, freedom and tradition, work together frequently in the public policy process. We have in common some very dangerous and powerful enemies, and those enemies would destroy all that we value if they could.
Impractical intellectuals seem to delight in disputing vigorously with all who differ with them in any way. But the actual, meaningful contests in the public policy process, such as elections and legislative battles, are generally between two alternatives, neither of them perfect.
On such occasions, practical people most often should take sides.
To hold out for an impossible but perfect alternative and never take sides can be fatal politically.
One of my favorite stories which illustrates counter-productive pig-headedness concerns the struggle among the Bourbons (the French legitimists and Orleanists) after the 1870 Franco-Prussian war that overthrew Napoleon III.
In the next national elections, the Bourbon royalists won a majority, but some royalists wanted the legitimist Bourbon heir on the throne and other royalists wanted the heir to the Bourbon-Orleanist King Louis Philippe.
After much negotiation, it was agreed that the Duc de Chambord, the legitimist heir, would become king. And since he was old and childless, his successor would be the Count de Paris, the Orleanist, who would be next in line for the throne by ancient French law.
The two aspirants agreed to this arrangement, but they could not agree on what would be the restored monarchy’s flag.
The legitimist insisted on the ancient fleur de lis flag, golden lilies on a white field. The Orleanist insisted on the tricolor, the revolutionary red, white, and blue stripes that his ancestor, Louis Philippe, adopted after the successful July 1830 revolution against the legitimists.
In the French National Assembly, the combined monarchists had a majority, but they couldn’t agree on which flag to use. They bickered for years and eventually lost their combined majority, which probably ended forever any chance of a Bourbon restoration. France remains a republic.
If conservatives and libertarians act in the 21st Century as Bourbons did in the late 19th Century, the most important principles we share could be similarly lost for all time.
Morton Blackwell is president of the Leadership Institute.
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Joseph Hammond
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Emma Elliott Freire