I hope readers will be patient with my efforts. Kautz sets out to defend the classical liberalism of Locke (seventeenth century), and he is very direct in spelling out the key features of this liberalism. Later, he admits that there are important weaknesses in the classical liberalism he supports.
I'll continue, though, with Kautz's description of the classical liberal worldview:
The natural condition of human beings ... is one of suspicion and hostility, an incipient war of all against all. (p.32)
This is too pessimistic a starting point. There is a natural fellow feeling existing between groups of people which is ignored here. Is there not at least some loyalty and cooperation between members of the same family? Or between members of the same ethny or nation?
Classical liberals are starting with a radically individualistic view of the human condition: that a natural state of affairs involves just me as an individual fighting against everyone else as an enemy.
But this is an unstable situation, one that almost inevitably leads to the establishment of tumultuous and illiberal political communities that do not make peace their overriding objective, where petty warfare is soon replaced by partisan warfare - often between rich and poor, sometimes among religious sects or other parties animated by one or another of the bizzare opinions contrived by the imaginations of men. (p.32)
This is what the faulty starting point leads to. If the state of nature is solitary individuals at war with each other, then what is required are artificial political communities which "make peace their overriding objective".
This won't be easy to achieve. After all, men will still by nature be inclined to a state of war against everyone else. There is a danger, in the Lockean liberal view, that the political community will be used not to secure peace between warring individuals, but as a weapon in the war of one faction of the community against another (partisan warfare).
Therefore, it is terribly wrong, in the Lockean liberal view, to be partisan about anything, including religion or politics. Not surprisingly, we are then told that it doesn't matter if we aren't partisan about such matters, as they have no basis in reality but only represent "bizzare opinions contrived by the imaginations of men".
This fear that any kind of group loyalties will unleash "the incipient war of all against all" has very damaging repurcussions:
Liberal theorists and politicians fear partisan (class, religious, ethnic, ideological) warfare above all, not simply the relatively petty quarrels of individuals. There is, indeed, a kind of communitarian logic about war: human beings at war seek allies because they have enemies. And alliances, sects, and parties will soon conceive the ideologies or dogmas that are necessary to justify oppressing the others, thus arming the warlike passions by civilizing them. (p.32)
Given the assumption that it is wrong to be partisan about anything, even ethnic loyalties are ruled out of bounds. We are to live, in the Lockean view, as solitary individuals restrained from war against all others by membership of a liberal political community.
Note too the Lockean liberal view of how partisan loyalties emerge. If we are by nature solitary individuals at war against everyone else, then partisan loyalties are driven simply by the need to seek alliances in war so that we may dominate and oppress others. Therefore, ethnic loyalties or religious beliefs don't represent anything real in themselves, but are simply a cover, a justification, for the getting of power over someone else.
... the most likely or natural path to political community is not a social contract, but a partisan struggle, because the passions (which suggest war) are more powerful than reason (which suggests peace), in the beginning. (pp.32-33)
A new element is added here. If an "incipient war of all against all" is natural, then the natural passions are bad - very bad. So these passions must be replaced by reason and by moderation.
Kautz sums up as follows:
It follows, say liberals, that there is no natural political community, but only this choice: we may endure life in one of those unhappy communities that transform the natural war of all against all into the more sanguinary and civilized wars of party against party or sect against sect; or we may construct a rational and peaceful political community on the basis of a social contract among free individuals who promise mutual self-restraint, or moderation.
... And so, in establishing liberal community, we must understand that the only truly common goods are peace and the means to peace (above all, private liberty and prosperity, as well as habits of public moderation), since peace is the necessary condition of security in the possession of all private goods.
All other speeches about so-called "common goods" are merely the (foolish or fraudulent) ideologies or dogmas of this or that party or sect. (p.33)
So the only common good that can be recognised is peace (although we may also seek material prosperity and a culture of public moderation).
So let's run through some of the problems associated with Lockean liberalism as outlined by Kautz:
a) there are no natural forms of human community, only an artifical political community
b) ethnic or religious loyalties are ruled out of bounds as being "partisan"; they are assumed to be made up for the purposes of conducting a more civilised form of the individual "war of all against all", so that one group in society may dominate and oppress another
c) the natural passions are considered bad and dangerous and are held to be opposed to reason
d) a community may have no common goods except the basic, initial aim of securing a rational, artificial peace between naturally warring individuals
Should conservatives accept such a world view? I don't think so. Moderns seem to swing between overly negative and optimistic views of human nature. The Lockean view is too negative and too individualistic. It is a view which radically limits the goods that humans may pursue: human passions are rejected as dangerous and irrational; religion and ethnicity are rejected as dangerously partisan and as imaginary constructs for the waging of war against others; and there can be no communal goods apart from the acquisitive pursuit of wealth and the maintenance of peace.
It is a cold and shallow account of human society. Nor is it likely to succeed in its one basic aim of keeping the peace, as it doesn't recognise, and so cannot preserve, the natural sources of loyalty, cooperation and unity in society.