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Radical Conservatism: The Right's Political Religion Hardcover – September 20, 2006
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"A vigorous and well-documented critique of the ruling assumptions and intellectual arguments of many of the leading figures among American conservatives. It will spark debate from Toplin's targets and supply ammunition for critics of dogmatic thinking on the right. Lively and hard-hitting, it also provides students with the basis for many stimulating exchanges in and out of the classroom." -- Lewis Gould
About the Author
Robert Brent Toplin is Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and the Film Review editor of The Journal of American History. He is also the principal developer of four historical dramas that have appeared nationally on PBS Television.
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But the analysis, it seems to me, is telling on his critical point: what he calls "radical conservatism" (and now seems to be mainstream Republicanism) has abandoned the kind of balanced pragmatism that long characterized Republican leadership. Wendell Wilkie, Thomas Dewey, Robert Taft, Dwight Eisenhower, Howard Baker, etc. and other even more moderate Republican leaders of past generations would have scorned the kind of ideological fanaticism that assumes that the market is always right and government activism of any kind is always wrong.
Perhaps it's a matter of "leaders" following a broader rebellion against the role of modern government, but he clearly demonstrates that the abandonment of rational analysis in favor of an ideological outlook that is quasi-religious makes it very difficult for the kind of bipartisan cooperation that most Americans say they want.
The bottom line is that people have a right to keep what they earn, and the State is entitled to none of it. If we wish, we may decide to voluntarily contribute just enough to maintain minimal order, but the State does not have a right to force anyone to do anything other than protect basic property rights (as classicaly understood) and Constitutional Liberties as understood and expressed by the Founding Fathers. A weakened expression of Mill's harm principle applies here.
Those who express different views are simply looking for an excuse to buy votes by picking your pockets through the crude, authoritarian mechanism of redistribution. As a result, we're all the poorer for it; progressivism has therefore become regressive, perhaps without knowing any better. This clumsy approach to policy is fine until such mindless thugs gain power. Hold fast to your rapidly falling standard of living, and hope for gridlock!