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 “In Defense of Freedom” by Frank Meyer

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PostSubject: “In Defense of Freedom” by Frank Meyer   “In Defense of Freedom” by Frank Meyer Icon_minitimeSun Jan 03, 2021 8:14 pm

Sixty years ago, Frank Meyer confronted challenges to traditional American conservatism from the left and from within conservatism itself. Meyer’s challenges were similar to our own today. Although published long ago, it reads like it was written yesterday.

Like Meyer we live in revolutionary times. The left in recent years has overthrown the definitions of home, family, and marriage that had stood for millennia. Even more recently, the equally established definition of gender has been changed by the current revolution—stunningly, by the pen of Antonin Scalia’s successor. And now they have turned their angry guns on our history, monuments, American culture, security in our homes and persons, and the goodness of America. To accept these changes would be the opposite of conservative, and acquiescence of radical revolution.

Combining political power with economic and social power leads inevitably to tyranny. The American Founders sought to separate political power from both economic and social power, separate political power between three branches, and limit political power to enumerated powers only. This genius has long been both the fortress of our political freedom and the wellspring of our economic and social prosperity.

Conservatives must join together to repair the breach, not pick up the left’s battering ram for the purpose of empowering government with even more economic and social power for supposedly conservative ends, thinking this would save their side of the fortress. Such a project not only abandons modern American conservatism, even more importantly, it also retreats from the Founding.

As Meyers shows, traditionalism without individual freedom leads to authoritarianism; individual freedom without traditional morality leads to moral rot and economic corruption. Neither tradition nor individual freedom by itself is conservatism; alone “the temptation to tyranny becomes irresistible, and the political conditions of freedom wither.”

If we forget or reject our conservative heritage, in Meyer’s words, “we should be casting away some of the most powerful among our weapons” against the left. Re-reading Meyer can arm and strengthen us for the battles ahead.

—Wes Dyck is vice president of personnel at The Heritage Foundation.
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