Berkowitz in WSJ: American Right is a Cauldron of Debate

Professor Peter Berkowitz finds that the tensions in modern conservatism compel conservatives to wrestle with the consequences of change more fully than progressives, thus engaging greater debate within the political right.

Berkowitz discusses the source of the divisions within the right and the arguments of Kirk, Hayek, and Strauss that he believes "are essential to understanding not only where we come from but where we should head."

The Conservative Mind: The American right is a cauldron of debate; the left isn't, Opinion Journal, May 29, 2007. By Peter Berkowitz.

"There can not be a conservative soul today in the way one can speak of a liberal soul or spirit. Whereas the latter revolves around the paramount good of freedom, modern conservatives, while loving liberty, differ over its position in the hierarchy of goods most in need of preservation, and indeed differ over the paramount good. Yet the writings of Kirk, Hayek and Strauss do form a family. All developed their ideas with a view to the 20th century totalitarian temptations of fascism and communism. All agreed that liberal democracy constituted the last best hope of modern man. And all showed that defending liberty involves a delicate balancing act.

"Conservatives, facing uncertainty about George W. Bush's legacy, and the reality of their own errors and excesses, have good reason just now to read and ponder Kirk, Hayek and Strauss. Progressives, too prone these days to perceive difficult moral and political questions as one-sided and too keen to characterize their allies at home in the defense of liberty as enemies, have good reason to do so themselves."

Read the article