View all Events
Event Culture Culture & Society

Conservatism, Classical Liberalism, and Public Life

Wednesday December 2020


Daniel Burns Associate Professor of Politics, University of Dallas
James Patterson Associate Professor of Politics, Ave Maria University
Stephanie Slade Managing Editor, Reason Magazine
Andy Smarick Senior Fellow @smarick

In recent years, new strands of thinking on the political right have brought into question American conservatism's attachment to classical liberalism. Nationalists, populists, integralists, and other varieties of post-liberals would empower a centralized state—and thus deemphasize individual liberty—in order to promote a particular conception of the common good. This would amount to a fundamental reformation of American conservatism.

However, there is also a budding counter-reformation, which draws from longstanding American political traditions and principles pre-dating our founding. In these traditions, we find not a rejection of liberalism, but an emphasis on ordered liberty, which leads to a vibrant public life rooted in local democracy, mediating institutions, and public service. The key is to recover neglected concepts like self-government, civic virtue, and volunteerism.