Class is in SESSION: Dan McLaughlin’s thread on American history makes New York Times look even more desperate

It’s rare that we come across a thread that actually gives us goosebumps. Sure, we read and cover a lot of pretty awesome threads (and a whole lot of dumpster fires), but it’s rare that this editor reads a thread and has an epiphany.
Like we did reading Dan McLaughlin’s thread on American history and classical liberalism …
Trust us, this is EPIC.
Go read on the decades of William Wilberforce's uphill battles against slavery in Parliament - @ericmetaxas tells the story very dramatically - if you think Britain was on the eve of banning slavery in 1775, much less that the colonists in Massachusetts were worried about that.

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The Revolution was fought, in part, by slaveowners. It was not, for most of its participants, fought *for* slavery.

The Constitution was written, in part, by slaveowners. It avoided disrupting slavery. But it was not written *for* slavery, nor to increase its power vs 1786.

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Words matter.
Context matters.
History matters.
Keep reading.
The whole reason the Republican Party exists is bc America had universal Founding principles to go back to, when opponents of expanding slavery wanted to fuse that cause with broader political movements that drew on the same sources. If that's a lie, so is everything Lincoln did.

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5. Let's talk a little here about classical liberalism, the ideology of the American Founders & the Lincoln Republicans. Classical liberalism is not the same as conservatism. But by marrying it to conservatism, American conservatives created a uniquely powerful fusion.

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Shew, thanks for numbering your tweets, Dan.
6. Conservatism, of course, begins with the particular & familiar and in Lincoln's words, "adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried." Community. Order. Hearth & home. Without stated principles, conservatism is tribal because humans are tribal.

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7. Progressivism, as the opposite of conservatism, in theory rejects the tribe in favor of The State, but in every practical iteration, because it empowers The State to bestow favors, it not only picks favorites but develops theories to make some tribes more equal than others.

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Told you.
So good.
8. The greatness of classical liberalism is that it is both universal & constraining: it makes promises that defy tribal category, & it limits state power & state favor in ways that ameliorate the natural tribal tendency.
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And this is where we got goosebumps.
Yeah, we’re political nerds, deal with it.
9. Classical liberalism can be reconciled, if always imperfectly, with conservatism; fusion of the two gives content & continuity to the society under classical liberal governance while restraining the tribal tendency by forcing it to work within a framework of universal ideas.
See Dan McLaughlin's other Tweets
10. Classical liberalism cannot, by contrast, be reconciled with progressivism, as progressivism rejects the idea of neutral rules or their authority to restrain whatever is deemed "progress," and requires for its justification a hierarchy of groups rather than equal individuals.
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11. The connection between modern progressivism & identity-politics grievance is too fundamental to be capable of restraint by neutral principles, & progressive intellectuals often reject the concept of neutral principles or of the primacy of individual over group identity.
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12. Conservatism, when married to classical liberalism, preserves a natural balance: group identity exists organically in communities, but the state must stay evenhanded towards individuals. For conservatives, that equilibrium takes work. For progressives, it is anathema.
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A natural balance.
13. Discrediting neutral-principles classical liberalism as always a pretext for group identity politics is THE ballgame for progressivism; it's the biggest intellectual prize & one that pervades progressive academia. Reframing the American Founding as a lie is make-or-break.
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14. For Republicans, by contrast, the party ceases to have any reason to exist if we buy into the progressive premise of an endless struggle of group identities, rather than adhering to the tried & tested Lincoln formulation of a government of universal, individual principles.
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15. This is why so many conservative intellectuals recoil at Trumpism, aside from Trump's persona: because it cedes the first principle to progressivism, rather than wielding the legacy bequeathed us by Washington & Lincoln. In that sense, both fights are the same fight.
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16. The conservative reaction to the 1619 Project cannot be understood outside the context of that ongoing debate over whether the classical liberal doctrines of 1776, 1787, & 1865 were, and remain, the legitimate ideological backbone of the American way.
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17. You need not to be any more a friend of slavery than Abe Lincoln was to adhere to those ideas; without them his cause would have failed, as would MLK's. A society without neutral, universal principles has no language with which to persuade the majority against its interests.
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18. Of course, classical liberal principles alone did not defeat slavery, nor Jim Crow; there was also an older, shared language, that of Christianity, in which to reproach the majority in the name of its own principles. Today's Right critics of Lincolnism get this half right.
See Dan McLaughlin's other Tweets
19. If we lose the shared language of classical liberalism, then both Right & Left are left with no better choice than to choose the strongest fighter for their tribe. Most of human history goes this way, & we know where it ends.
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20. Lincoln saw the American Founding as legitimate, and in its legitimacy he found the tools to defeat slavery. His example even helped inspire more illiberal regimes, from Egypt to Russia to Brazil, to abandon servitude.
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The tools to defeat slavery.
21. Progressivism, lacking such touchstones of external legitimacy, can never impose on its own constituencies such a demand. It can only follow the logic of the tribe, by which the favored in-group is to be rewarded by sacrifice of the out-group.
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22. For all these reasons, any effort to delegitimize the very ideas that were used to dismantle American slavery & segregation should be regarded with suspicion. That doesn't mean we bury the reality or history of enslavement; Lincoln & Douglass faced it graphically.
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23. But it does mean that we still hold those same truths to be self-evident. And we still see America as the shining city on the hill because it was founded on them. America was never without sin, but the nature of our Founding is what allowed sin to be condemned as such.
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24. In short: slavery is the "yes, but" of the American Founding. It is no basis to discredit its greatness, but rather the reason why the Founding principles remained vital to keep examining.
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25. If you get that wrong, if you embrace instead the collective & the group over "ALL men are created equal" no matter who their ancestors were, then you will always be against the friends of liberty wheresoever they are found. Individual liberty was good then, and it still is.
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You instead embrace the collective over ‘ALL men are created equal’.

So good.
Class is in SESSION: Dan McLaughlin’s thread on American history makes New York Times look even more desperate Class is in SESSION: Dan McLaughlin’s thread on American history makes New York Times look even more desperate Reviewed by Your Destination on August 20, 2019 Rating: 5

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