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Are conservatives living on islands inhabited by rugged individualists? Are liberals living in egalitarian solidarity gulags along with the poor and bereft?

No thinking liberal lusts after true solidarity, though he or she might wish it inflicted on someone else. No thinking conservative wants the nasty, brutish and short life of the “free” savage. None of us can survive for long without the blessings of civilization.

Liberty is a precious and intensely valuable condition that is enjoyed by the individual or not at all. But it exists only under modern conditions and only when a given civilization is committed to its protection. When we speak of ordered liberty we are describing the result when liberty is held as a reciprocal value, protected by law on condition that one may forfeit one’s claim to liberty by trampling on the liberty of another. In the most sophisticated, liberty-friendly civilizations, liberty is protected vis-a-vis other citizens and from the depredations of the government itself – accomplished through a robust protective legal mechanism like the US constitution.

Without a liberty-friendly civilization, capable of protecting freedom, no individual is free to be or not to be a liberal, to be or not to be a conservative.

The modern dichotomy is an entirely different animal. It is between authoritarian bureaucracies and the activities of non-conforming creative individuals and communities. I suspect that the dichotomy between “Nanny Bureaucrats” vs. “Civilized Individualists” will prove more descriptive, more relevant and more apt.

Copyright © 2012 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

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