The right will begin to redeem itself and begin to be taken seriously when elected officials begin to establish patronage for their constituents. As the left has EBT cards, student loan forgiveness, and cushy university jobs for Fauci et al...the right must mandate manufacturing jobs returning to the rust belt (using tax incentives, straight cash payments from the treasury, and tariff penalties for noncompliance), income tax exemptions for large families, and expansion of social security into ironclad pensions for those 65 and older, just to name a few.

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I agree with tax incentives for large families. The U.S. median age has increased almost 10 years in the last 3-4 decades. That rate of aging will lead to economic stagnation. Japan and China are already suffering greatly from an aging populace, and the U.S. is not far behind. We need far more young people, which will require larger families and expanded immigration.

More young people will also help greatly with the actuarial problems with Social Security. Not sure what sort of expansion of Social Security you are advocating. Expansion is probably not fiscally responsible, but we can preserve the (very popular) system we have if we add more people in the 18-40 age range, and they have more babies.

I strongly disagree with you on government mandated jobs for the rust belt and more tariffs. Excess government regulation (particularly of the energy industry) and tariffs have been significant causes of our current inflation problem. We need more capitalism, not more government regulation.

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More capitalism and less government intrusion lol....it's 1985 all over again!!!

The proprietors of this website can say this much better than I can, yet the GOP must return to being the party of McKinley: Allergic to military deployment overseas, protectionist and ready to use tariffs, and highly suspicious of mass immigration.

In other words, socially conservative and fiscally liberal.

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Given that order and liberty are in natural tension (as one waxes the other wanes), there are two central issues on your position (following Kirk) that order must predominate over liberty. One is the matter of HOW MUCH (i.e., to what extent) order must predominate. Granted, in any society liberty without order means total chaos, but order without liberty in a society means total oppression. In order to reverse our current "disorder," in a postliberal society how much liberty will need to be surrendered for the society to be properly ordered--that is, how far does order-over-liberty need to go? The second issue has to do with WHAT KIND of liberty will need to be surrendered, that is, what specific liberties, and whose liberties, will need to be constrained (and perhaps eliminated?) for society to be properly ordered?

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I never made the connection between cultural Marxism and the imposition of disorder. I frequently stand accused of "authoritarianism" (knowing full well I am by no means a 'conservative', let alone a Libertarian) in political discussion with friends and not knowing why I disagree with the accusation, this is enlightening to me.

I like the idea of leaning on liberty within order- it reminds me of an image Fr Mike Schmitz (iirc) used to describe the need for moral rules in the Catholic Church. In short, his image was that we are allowed freedom on a grassy plain which has a sheer cliff on all sides, and the commandments are the fence that keeps us from falling. It makes perfect sense to me that this sort of order is lost in a society so bent on 'personal freedom' at all costs.

Looking forward to part 2!

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Sep 20, 2023·edited Sep 20, 2023

Thanks, Patrick, for this interesting discussion.

It occurred to me that maybe what's missing here is reflection on anthropology. It seems like what enables the confusion in how order relates to freedom is how virtually no modern political groups think seriously about how order can yield freedom only if and when both concepts are – *per classical tradition* – affirmed as teleological in nature.

The idea of order would have to be that "x is intrinsically ordered toward y," correct? To advocate reducing or eliminating x's constraints (i.e., its ordered-ness) then gets into a problematic notion of freedom. Or is there some other way seriously to speak of what you call "bad freedom?"

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George McKenna

Brilliant analysis of what has become a dichotomous relationship between liberty and order. I'm right on board with you, but may I make a verbal-linguistic observation? Over the past several decades the word "order" has acquired a heel-clicking sound that may turn off readers who would otherwise be much attracted to your thesis. What if, instead of "order," you used the term "freedom"? In an article entitled "Liberty to Do What?, which I wrote for an anti-abortion journal (The Human Life Review, Fall 2022) I made an argument in some ways similar to yours, but instead of "order" I used the term "freedom." What inspired that was my reading of the giant 2004 book by historian David Hacket Fischer, Liberty and Freedom. His analysis of the two ideals, especially the tension between them, was very similar to yours, and he supplied a creditable linguistic history of their very different usage.

I do, very much, like order, but perhaps some of your younger readers may need to be led into its bracing waters more slowly.

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Thank you for another elucidating text Professor.

I would like, however, to raise two questions which arose to me while reading your article:

1) I agree that Anglo-Saxon conservatism in the 20th century was highly influenced by the rise of totalitarianism and tended since then to favor freedom instead of order. Nonetheless, I believe there was a modern reaction which favored order: fascism. Though it was a revolutionary movement, its main aim was to violently impose order following the failings of 19th century liberal-capitalism and the communist insurgences of the second half of the 19th century, which were movements that focused mainly on freedom or liberation.

There is however a main difference between the fascist and the classical understandings of order: the former was based on power over others and the transcendental elevation of the state, while the latter was focused, as you state in the present article, on the moderation of the individual, in his education in virtues and vices, which would reflect on the life and health of the political community. Is this interpretation correct?

2) Could the invocation of order be associated with a continental conservative tradition, mostly present in the 19th century and early 20th century France and in some countries in Europe throughout the 20th century (Portugal, Dolfuss’ Austria, Spain)? Is your use of the concept of order extracted, for instance, from the works of Joseph de Maistre, who painted the real world in catastrophic disastrous terms?

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I understand the superficial appeal, but foreign isolationism, economic protectionism, and anti-immigration will just lead to economic stagnation and military weakness. It would be constant recession or even depression, which eventually leads to revolution.

Promotion of capitalism, rule of law, individual rights, and democracy is the basis for the United States being the most economically and militarily powerful, stable, and successful country in the history of the World. I am fascinated that the founders of the Post-Liberal Order (very intelligent people) would throw that away for some dreamed authoritarian utopia that has never existed. Based on your picture, you seem young (I am a baby boomer), so maybe some time will bring wisdom.

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Economics is downstream of culture, at least a little (though material conditions are important for culture). The best economy in the world will not indefinitely sustain a decadent and disordered society. And even if it did, the material goods of a nation do not take priority over its spiritual goods. And on top of all this, America's material success is dwindling. I'm not sure what you think the postliberals are "throwing away" at this point except a system that has failed spiritually and is cracking materially as well.

P.S. - If you read the writings of the post-liberal order's founders, you will not find a utopian among them.

P.S.S. - Do you not see that importing citizenry from foreign countries and exposing the entire market to global pressures is really bad for the average person and their way of life? What does your brand of conservatism manage to conserve other than economic dominance for the upper classes of proposition nations?

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Thanks for your thoughtful reply!

On economics, by what metrics do you believe "America's material success is dwindling." There are downturns in business cycles periodically, but America's economic prosperity in the last 75 years has been extraordinary. The U.S. is the unquestioned economic hegemon, and the most prosperous country in world history. Free market capitalism creates winners and losers, but the opportunity for economic success is available to every American, based on their abilities.

On culture, you have every right to advocate for cultural changes you prefer. But so do progressives and liberals. To me, the most important aspect of American culture to conserve is fidelity to our Constitutional Republic, including promotion of Madisonian Democracy and peaceful transfer of power after elections. In our system, if you want your preference for the culture to predominate, you will need to persuade your fellow citizens. Over the last several decades, the left has been much more successful in persuasion than has the right.

To me, the greatest economic and cultural threat is our country's aging population. It will eventually lead to the economic decline you mention, which will lead to further cultural decline. Neither a liberal or conservative culture will stop that decline. The only remedy is tens of millions more productive young people. Other than through greatly expanded legal immigration, how would you address this demographic problem?

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Sep 9, 2023·edited Sep 9, 2023

As another poster said to you earlier, the founders of this website can and have stated much better replies to your questions in various articles and books than I can here. I will try to keep it brief:

1. American debt is ballooning, home acquisition and the "American Dream" are becoming unattainable goals for most of the younger generations. Free market capitalism creates many losers among our own citizens -- Deneen has a whole chapter in Regime Change about the pitfalls of meritocracy.

2. Your belief in a libertarian American founding based on pluralism is historically dubious. We had Sabbath and obscenity laws, and severe restriction on freedom of speech and immigration, until the decades after WWII. The left has expanded our understanding of the constitution, the right has foolishly agreed, and now that the left has power, they are restricting this understanding once again, with a perverted rather than Christian ethos.

3. You recognize a real disorder -- an aging population. But instead of asking why this might be happening at the cultural level, you immediately jump to a quick and foolish cure-all -- import millions of young foreigners. Again, not only will this harm the native population and culture (see how well this is working in France), it will not fix the underlying problem. Many foreigners become liberalized and fail to meet replacement population after a generation or two anyway. You can't import your population in perpetuity.

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Circling back on this discussion. Some comments below on immigration and debt, and then I address what I think is the vital issue.

In 1980, the U.S. median age was around 30. Today, it is around 39. You are correct that expanded legal immigration is not a cure all for our demographic problems. This demographic problem is likely not reversible. Gen X in the U.S. did not produce nearly enough children. The older millennials are close to aging out of child bearing years, and there are not enough young millennials and Gen Z, and not enough interest in families. Expanded legal immigration and tax incentives for having children can hopefully mitigate the problem. If you have some other realistic solution, I would love to hear it. There is no culture change magic wand.

Immigration to Europe has largely been refugees from Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East. They have little prospects in Europe other than sucking up social services. Expanded U.S. immigration on the other hand would integrate people from Mexico and Central South America, who want to work and can be integrated into already strong Hispanic communities in the U.S. Expanded immigration should also include foreign STEM graduates of American universities, who would also have great job prospects.

Regarding national debt, we know what works, based on the 1990s, when the U.S. actually had budget surpluses. The 1990s solution was expanded free trade, expanded immigration, and tax increases on the wealthy.

But my major concern is how policy decisions are made in the U.S. The foundation of America's success is representative democracy, peaceful transfer of power, capitalism, protection of private property ownership, and fidelity to the Constitution and rule of law. In a word, liberalism. America without liberalism is not really America any more. If "post-liberal order" means pushing back on intolerance and authoritarian impulses of the progressive left, I am all for it. But it appears the new right may wish to subvert representative democracy and rule of law. There is nothing less consistent with order than that.

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Representative democracy, peaceful transfer of power, protection of private property rights, fidelity to the rule of law and Constitution... these are not exclusive to liberal regimes. The disordered emphasis on "freedom" that you see in free market capitalism and progressivism, on the other hand...

Forgive me for skipping the rest of your post. Incentives for having children we agree on. A certain amount of responsible immigration could help pad economic fallout, like you said.

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Been reading your book, then got bogged down a bit (instead reading Substack articles). Loved this piece and will get me back to finishing the book and probably re-reading again. Thought provoking article that stirs some thoughts about my own personal disorders (not medical ones or arguably psychological ones; simply the importance of keeping one’s personal and professional universe in order).

Yes, I realize this article is not intended as motivation for self-help, but it does speak to me that way. Look forward to the next installment.

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Fantastic piece. Thank you.

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