Partronizing Liberalism

As long ago as 1959, the sainted leader of modern Conservatism, William F. Buckley Jr. observed that Liberals in his time did not recognize Conservative thought as a competing intellectual perspective or philosophy. Rather, if they even thought at all about Conservatism, it was as a pathology that moderns were growing out of or that people needed to be cured of.

It is, therefore, of some amusement that a recent issue of Social Justice published “When Morality Opposes Justice: Conservatives Have Moral Intuitions that Liberals May Not Recognize,” by Jonathan Haidt and Jesse Graham, psychologists at the University of Virginia. The plucky thesis of their argument is that it may not be the case that all Conservatives are morally evil. Rather, some (probably a minority) may have a “moral intuitions” that are not entirely shared by Liberals. As a Conservative, perhaps I should offer some thanks for this small gracious concession.

It should be noted that this conclusion emerged from psychologists who, I suppose, are qualified to render a clinical conclusion that Conservatism is not necessarily aberrant behavior. Discussion and debate between Conservatives and Liberals should reside the Politics or Philosophy Departments of universities, but first Conservatives, I suppose, need to be professionally certified as eligible to participate in open discussion.

In fairness, some elements of the paper criticize the presumption of some liberals who assume that their positions can be the only moral ones. We are gently informed, for example, that some scholarly research indicates that “some portion of the conservative [1] opposition to affirmative action is truly based on concerns that affirmative action programs sometimes violate the principle of merit.” Gee, I would like to know when providing opportunities to people on the basis of the race or gender does not violate the principle of merit.

Haidt and Graham write as reasonable people. However, articles in scholarly journals are supposed to represent original ideas. The fact that such an article was necessary indicates just how insular and arrogant Liberals and particularly the Liberal intelligentsia in academia have become.

[1] A lower case “conservative” indicates a conservative temperament. The authors should have capitalized“Conservative” since it is a competing political philosophy or ideology. Their punctuation suggests that the authors, despite their openness, are still treating Conservatism as a mental condition rather than a set of consistent ideas..

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