Mark, that is an excellent article you linked to, and one worth reading. It points out how ideas and beliefs we assume are conservative are really liberal. Basically we’ve all accepted liberal premises in one form or another. The pursuit of market “freedom” by “conservatives” is one example. The final paragraph sums it up well, as does this excerpt:
“So what are some of the liberal “fruits” we see today? One could point to a dramatic attenuation of Catholic culture, belief, and practice; or the triumph of capitalist materialism, with its reduction of persons to units of consumption and debt; or an advertising-driven popular culture that belches up one obscenity after another; or a vast national security state that lurches from war to war in the name of
“freedom”; or the divinization of “choice,” which reaches its apex in abortion on demand; or the pulverizing of civil society, ground to fine powder between the state and the market. This is who we are now: secular, rationalist, relativists all, and thoroughly liberal. The blessings of liberty, indeed.”
I don’t get how you can (correctly) denounce the Dark Enlightenment but endorse what is essentially the same reactionary authoritarianism.
Today’s hyper-capitalism, which is embraced by many conservatives, is called neoliberalism because it came from classical liberalism. So when we think we’re reacting against liberals by promoting, for example, the unregulated “free market,” we’re supporting neoliberalism. We’re unwitting participants in the liberal echo chamber.
“In order to explain neoliberalism I think it is crucial to understand
its duel character as being both reactionary and progressive…Neoliberalism only emerged in the 1930s when liberals started to
confront the failures of classical liberalism and redevelop the
progressive elements in an ‘unorthodox’ fashion so as to direct social
change. That’s basically why they are not simply reactionary in terms of
preventing socialism. It’s important to not underestimate the
progressive element of neoliberalism in its strategic function of
guiding social change.”
“The other very important aspect, which we see now in the US Republican
election campaign, is that neoliberals, particularly in the US, built a
very solid political alliance with the religious right. This is not the
same as the work within the neoliberal networks in terms of the
intellectual pluralism of neoliberalism. It is a straightforward
“Many of these people were building bridges to the religious right even
though their economic policy ideas did not necessarily coincide and they
frequently disagreed on issues like abortion or gay rights, for
example. Nevertheless, the secret behind the Reagan and George W. Bush
administrations was that they managed to build a very strong strategic
alliance between the camp of neoliberalism and the camp of the religious
“So neoliberals on the one hand want to be the party of progress, like the classical liberals who were of course fighting against feudalism and guiding the transformation of society, but on the other hand neoliberals are against the socialist transformation of society, which makes them a very strong force in the conservative camp.
“So there’s a huge contradiction and clearly neoliberalism cannot be understood without understanding this double feature: the connection to liberalism through emphasising progress and individualism, and on the other hand being a part of conservatism against socialism.
Neoliberals have been closely connected to right-wing parties of
different colours: Christian Social Democrats, right-wing Tories in the UK, Republicans in the US and even military dictatorships, which are absolutely committed to preventing changes sought by social movements. Theoretically they can be on the other side of the conservatives in terms of basic philosophy. But politically they are strong allies of a whole range of conservatives.”