The View From 1776
Saturday, October 17, 2009
The Heart of True Conservatism
John Tierney, a lonely voice for reason on the New York Times, describes the individualistic, truly conservative findings for which Elinor Ostrom of Indiana University shared the Nobel Economics Prize.
True conservatism isn’t a matter of supporting big business. It’s respecting individual rights and preserving customs and traditions. Within the realm of customs and traditions, Edmund Burke’s “little platoons” are the foundation of civil society, the vast body of citizens interacting outside the immediate family and not within the formal and coercive framework of the political state. These are the large numbers of voluntary associations and groups that citizens evolve over long periods of time to cope with local needs and problems.
The underlying thesis is that individuals, working together in trial and error efforts over time, fashion customs and rules of behavior for specific locales or industries that are far more effective and less intrusive or burdensome that one-size-fits-all edicts from a socialist political state.
The opposing instinct of liberal-progressives is that every problem requires a new government agency to promulgate thousands of rules laying down in intricate specificity what can and cannot be done.
As Mr. Tierney writes:
Dr. Ostrom discussed the damage that had been done by those who had supplanted the local institutions:
International donors and nongovernmental organizations, as well as national governments and charities, have often acted, under the banner of environmental conservation, in a way that has unwittingly destroyed the very social capital