Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Living Faith Does Not Need to Be Conserved

I have claimed that there is no such thing as American conservatism that is not libertarian. That is, the only possible kind of conservatism is one that aims to preserve institutions that protect liberty. A conservatism that claims to be cultural is either not American or not really conservative. The reason is that American institutions were started from scratch and had little to do with the Medieval approach to government that existed in England and Europe at the time of the colonies' founding. The Americans started their free market approach to political economy despite instructions from the British companies that funded them to do otherwise. They established churches that were frequently at odds with established religion in England and Europe. Theirs was not a traditionalist belief system but one based on living faith.

A living faith is NOT CONSERVATIVE. A direct belief does not require adherence to past tradition. It can, but it does not have to. Thus, anyone who claims that their faith is "traditional" either comes from a specific faith that is traditionalist or else lacks faith and simply mimics past practice in the name of tradition. The first is fine, the second seems weak kneed to me. In either case, people who believe these things cannot be said to be particularly American or to preserve American values any more than people to whom faith is revealed directly or who find a new faith.

It is the people of living faith and living ideas who are true Americans. Whether that faith is traditional is beside the point. But it is ONLY INSTITUTIONS THAT PROTECT LIVING FAITH that can be said to be truly American institutions. Enforced conservatism in faith is anti-American because it is anti-libertarian.

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