Conservative or authoritarian?

Here’s one more paragraph from David Brooks’ essay in the Jan-Feb 2022 issue of The Atlantic, “What Happened to American Conservatism?

Conservatism is essentially an explanation of how communities produce wisdom and virtue. During the late 20th century, both the left and the right valorized the liberated individual over the enmeshed community. On the right, that meant less Edmund Burke, more Milton Friedman. The right’s focus shifted from wisdom and ethics to self-interest and economic growth. As George F. Will noted in 1984, an imbalance emerged between the “political order’s meticulous concern for material well-being and its fastidious withdrawal from concern for the inner lives and moral character of citizens.” The purpose of the right became maximum individual freedom, and especially economic freedom, without much of a view of what that freedom was for, nor much concern for what held societies together.

I quote David Brooks, George Will, Peggy Noonan, Anne Applebaum and other conservatives of substance because I believe the most critical issue facing our nation is how to discern the difference between conservatism and authoritarianism.

, From Andrea Mitchell’s 6-minute January 14, 2021 interview with Timothy Snyder, Yale University historian of fascism

2 thoughts on “Conservative or authoritarian?”

    1. Yes, he is one of the clear voices. He is in touch with Europeans who are resisting the authoritarians there, and he’s been sounding the warnings here. His little book on Tyranny is very good.


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