More on the Failure of Classical Liberalism

Being for liberalism or democracy (the two are distinctly different things!!) is not the default Christian position. Many Protestants, and American Protestants in particular, have a very bad habit of thinking Christianity and democracy go hand in hand. They do not. Christianity, for the vast majority of history, has existed in non-democratic contexts and often thrived. There is nothing wrong with celebrating the achievements of liberal democracies because the achievements are impressive, but the defenders of liberal democracy downplay the weaknesses of this form of government, which we are starting to fully appreciate.

( Daniel Strand )

The dialogue intensifies. No longer is the idea that there is perhaps something fundamentally flawed with what has become of classical liberalism just a subject for stuffy academics in tweed. Common-sense informs us that there is a significant disconnect between the metaphysical reality that has been integral to Western Civilization and our current culture. Things simply do not make sense and many people have a difficult time understanding just how we got here. Many are starting to wake up to the fact that arguments over the Constitution, limiting government and culture are destined to fail and that subtle but certain authoritarianism is a distinct possibility.

My book, Retrenchment, is an additional, if meager, contribution to this dialogue, began perhaps as far back as 1981 in our current era by Schaeffer, fleshed out by Hoppe, masterfully articulated by MacIntyre, and finally given a name by Dreher. The idea that the very thing many hold so dear, “the ideals of democracy and Americanism”, may have gone terribly wrong and is poised to end in socialism and authoritarianism or soft totalitarianism is difficult to swallow. Most ‘conservatives’ have come to believe in American exceptionalism, how could it have all ended up so wrong? We need a lot more ordinary folks, like me coming to understand, talk about and write about this issue. It will not just go away nor self-correct.

These are tough issues, and the implications and questions these issues raise are uncomfortable. Yet, they are vitally important. We need those Kirkean guys in tweed and the old men sitting around at country stores, each in their own ways, to begin discussing these issues.

Things have changed, the culture is lost and is not likely to be gained back. As Hoppe pointed out in Democracy, the God that Failed, western democracies began to move toward failure since the mid-19th century. The idea that government is a moral agent -flawed -, combined with a propensity to expand governmental power and forgo Constitutional constraints were the hallmarks of this demise. And – the culture has abandoned truth, and long-held Christian metaphysical reality, we see the cost of all of this – if only just now in a glimpse. Worse is to come I am afraid.