A declaration of a new conservativism

Fareed Zakaria’s Capitalist Manifest can be read at www.newsweek.com/id/201935.

Tired of the old political flapdoodle pitting top down hard-right arguments against funny money far-left foolishness? Join my contrarian conservative movement.

It’s an attempt at salvaging a proud intellectual tradition from the hands of folks I call preservatives, whether conservative or liberal, who prefer the status quo debate to the real work and joys of freedom. More later on preservatives.

In the middle of the 19th century, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published the Communist manifesto, with which Marxists befouled more than a century of political economy. Left-leaning Utopian notions remain in its debt.

Last week, I bought Newsweek because commentator Fareed Zakaria published in it his capitalist manifesto. The cover headline was “The Capitalist Manifesto: Greed Is Good (To a Point).” Right, but not far right. It sparked an idea.

So without further preamble, here is one contrarian’s “Contrarian Conservative Manifesto.”

A contrarian conservative (call us Duocons) views change as inevitable, but is wary that governmental change often aims to alter rules to benefit me and mine or you and yours. Spare me level-playing-field talk. A field of dreams from dubious schemes is more like it.

A Duocon is a classic liberal, a mildly progressive libertarian without the anti-defense stance. Duocons know liberty inhibits centralized power in the hands of a few. A book recommendation follows: The Road to Serfdom by Austrian School economist and classic liberal Friedrich Hayek.

A Duocon knows money and property are illusory joys, but people pursue them as a stand-in for happiness because they are stalking horses for freedom. This requires the rule of law, but no slavish mentality toward the bramble bush of laws from fallible human beings. The enemy is authoritarianism not civil authority, until they’re the same.

Duocons know nations represent accidental but significant sets of societal and cultural relationships that must be defended after assault (get Osama Bin Laden). Attacking others (i.e., Iraq) without provocation is neocon nonsense. Solid defense, yes, but the worst offense is to become offensive. Once, Americans didn’t start wars, we finished them.

Duocons know no one understands all the physical and metaphysical mysteries, so we render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God/Goddess (or godlessness) what is due in such realms. This means the Golden Rule is rational, and if Caesar curbs liberty in God’s or the state’s name, duocons work toward change without violence.

Duocons know the United States is a fluid democratic republic. They understand outcomes are tied to our inputs, take responsibility for their own contributions and value those of others without envy or turf battles. They revere independence and interdependence in building community. It doesn’t take a village; it takes villagers.

Duocons know taxes are a necessary evil, but the yo-yo cost of modern money (interest rates, etc.) foists on us the most evil and hidden tax of all—inflationary/deflationary swings. We know money and property come from opportunities with which freedom rewards us, but freedom is jeopardized by currency instability.

Perhaps that last should be first. Sound currency beats an inflated or temporarily deflating Federal Reserve note. Cheap money, too costly in the long haul, is what sparked this sorry mess in which our own economy likely is a greater threat than outside enemies.

Call it the 800-pound guerrilla in the room.

Manifesto bottom line: A Duocon seeks to conserve the best, jettison the rest—a tough task.

P.S. Folks I call preservatives (far left or far right) are akin to the stuff in supermarket foods—they just add shelf time to stale and indigestible food for thoughtlessness.