What the Left and the Right Get Wrong About Liberalism

COMMENTARY Conservatism

What the Left and the Right Get Wrong About Liberalism

Nov 30th, 2021 6 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Joseph Loconte, Ph.D.

Director, Simon Center for American Studies

Joseph is Director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies and AWC Family Foundation Fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
Vintage engraving features a moment of prayer in the first session of the Continental Congress on September 5, 1774. Keith Lance / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

In the debate over American democracy, the progressive Left and the religious Right have this in common: They both cling to nostalgic fiction about the past.

The American experiment in human freedom, for all of its flaws, is a rebuke to the Hobbesian project.

The American Revolution in self-government was a Lockean revolution, and its renewal is inconceivable apart from the religious ideals that gave it birth.

In the deepening debate over the future of American democracy, the progressive Left and the religious Right have this in common: They both cling to nostalgic fictions about the past. Their revisionist histories, rooted in secularism on the one hand and sectarianism on the other, would propel our politics in the same direction: toward the Leviathan imagined by Thomas Hobbes, an omnicompetent state that offers security and prosperity at the price of freedom.

This piece originally appeared in the National Review