Balance in All Things

I thought this guy was me when I first read the subtitle of his blog. But I am not a mac-user.

His criticism of Sullivan is similar to mine though. Sullivan champions an idealized form of conservatism that is so distant from what actual conservatives believe that most actual conservatives reject Sullivan as one of their own. Perhaps using Scott Adams sniff and lump strategy, he seems have lumped all liberal thinking together with communism and socialism. As Arnold points out here, Sullivan often claims that the best bits of liberal thinking are actually conservative:

So obsessed is he with his one-dimensional view that Sullivan event tries to attribute to pragmatic conservatism such initiatives as the extension of the franchise to working men and then to women. As Brooks notes, this won’t wash. The great social and political leaps of imagination and courage did not spring from conservatism, and it’s silly to pretend otherwise.

Arnold does us all a great service by pointing out how both unrestrained liberalism and unrestrained conservatism tend to spin out of control and suggests that the tension between the two is the recipe for progress.

Sullivan and many others misdiagnosed the disease back in the 1980s: like Margaret Thatcher, they thought that there was no such thing as society, identified liberalism with socialism, and concluded that everything apart from conservatism should be flushed down the drain. What we can now see is that conservatism without liberalism cannot stand: it is too easily warped by the forces of reaction, just as it has been for the last two hundred years.

The challenge is simply this: how do we restore the creative balance between liberalism and conservatism: between compassion and prudence, between idealism and skepticism, between inventing the future and learning from history?

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Ragged Clown

Based in San Jose, California

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