Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rick Santorum: a principled critic of liberalism?

How's this? A leading Republican politician once made a principled criticism of liberalism. Back in 2005, Jonathan Rauch wrote a review of Rick Santorum's book It takes a family: conservatism and the common good. Rauch described Santorum's argument as follows:
In Santorum's view, freedom is not the same as liberty. Or, to put it differently, there are two kinds of freedom. One is "no-fault freedom," individual autonomy uncoupled from any larger purpose: "freedom to choose, irrespective of the choice." This, he says, is "the liberal definition of freedom," and it is the one that has taken over in the culture and been imposed on the country by the courts.

Quite different is "the conservative view of freedom," "the liberty our Founders understood." This is "freedom coupled with the responsibility to something bigger or higher than the self." True liberty is freedom in the service of virtue --not "the freedom to be as selfish as I want to be" or "the freedom to be left alone" but "the freedom to attend to one's duties--duties to God, to family, and to neighbors."

That's pretty good for a mainstream politician. Lawrence Auster once observed that,
liberalism consists in the belief that there is no good or truth higher than the self

Santorum explicitly rejects this liberal denial of a good or truth higher than the self; he believes that the self is rightly oriented to objective virtues.

Similarly, Santorum is not radically individualistic. He recognises that there is a common good and that families are a natural unit of society.

I don't write this as an endorsement of Santorum. I don't have a good understanding of his wider policy positions. Rejecting some of the philosophical foundations of liberalism doesn't necessarily turn you into a worthy traditionalist.

But it does demonstrate that it's possible to bring traditionalist criticisms of liberalism into political debate.

7 comments:

  1. The things you point to are reasons why I have been an admirer of Rick Santorum. His thinking seems to proceed from Christian, specifically Catholic morality, which is radically different from and better than liberal morality. And when he gets to a fork in the road, he goes the Christian way instead of trying to go down both roads at once, or like many Catholic politicians choosing the liberal road while saying that that the pro-"choice" liberal principles they have chosen actually are Christian morality.

    Yes I think he is a principled critic of liberalism.

    My reservations about him are the same ones I have about Christianity in general. He's been a poor defender of White interests, for example on immigration (including illegal immigration), and while I can't remember the details his views on foreign policy are belligerent enough that I put him in the mainstream "yes more wars for Israel" camp as opposed to Ron Paul, and he will sign onto anti-White agendas and fads like the George Zimmerman / Treyvon Martin affair without hesitation or restraint.

    White people can't survive in the long run with leaders that don't defend their interests, that exhaust the will and treasuries of the people in war for a dominant unfriendly minority, and that eagerly assume that in any clash between non-White and someone described as White, the White side must be "malicious" and have "perverted views" and so on. Chronic betrayal from above imposes excessively heavy costs on White people, even just in terms of Darwinian fitness.

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  2. Rick Santorum has talked about how English should be taught and not Spanish. That's not race realism but at least he seems to get that something needs to bind citizens of a nation. Some commonality.

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  3. That's true. He's right on that and many other things.

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  4. Romney will win the nomination but Santorum has had a good run. Considering that Romney has out-spent Santorum by 10 to 1, it shows the enormous potential power of the conservative, family values politician - they just need to be better organised in the future to go all the way. Cory Bernadi is Australia's answer to Rick Santorum, and conservative Aussies should support him, he is the one!

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  5. Anonymous: "Considering that Romney has out-spent Santorum by 10 to 1, it shows the enormous potential power of the conservative, family values politician - they just need to be better organised in the future to go all the way."

    Rick Santorum organized the best he could, and campaigned as hard as he could. He failed because the base of his support has no money to give him.

    This is the fatal flaw for principled opposition to liberalism. Those with big money do not support any principled opposition to liberalism.

    This is also the fatal problem for White identity politics, which is my hobby horse. It may be in the long term interests of Whites as a whole, but that's irrelevant politically unless the people with big money support it in the here and now, and they certainly don't.

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  6. This is the fatal flaw for principled opposition to liberalism. Those with big money do not support any principled opposition to liberalism.

    Daybreaker is right in this observation as much as I hate to blame all of the world's ills on the elites.

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  7. Those with big money do not support any principled opposition to liberalism.

    So we have to start with things that don't require big money.

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