by S. M. Hutchens
When progressivism and conservatism are treated as habits of mind or purely philosophical viewpoints, they (not unlike Stoicism and Epicureanism) may be freely abstracted from life and in an abstract state treated dialectically as complementary modalities. But as soon as a historical-existential (i.e., non-abstract) component is introduced, those who use the terms become responsible for defining them in accordance with the reality of things.
I have noticed that people who call themselves moderates typically wish to level a skewed moral playing field (one in which, for example, progressives privilege sodomy and want the Ten Commandments removed from public view) by equalizing conservatism and progressivism, treating the latter in accordance with its more abstract form as forward-looking open-mindedness, but burdening conservatism with its more vicious, unjustly repressive historical expressions, in line with the polemics necessary to establish and defend modern liberalism. (I won't blame Norman Podhoretz for this observation, but derived it from pondering his Why Are Jews Liberals?) This kind of "moderate" is in fact, in accord with the reality of his associations, a partisan—thinly but ostentatiously clad in the mantle of objectivity.
S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.
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