Why I, Too, Am Not a Conservative

Why I, Too, Am Not a Conservative

The Normative Vision of Classical Liberalism

James M. Buchanan

Nobel Laureate James Buchanan collects in this volume original and recent hard-to-find essays exploring liberalism and conservatism as distinct ways of looking at and thinking about the realm of human interaction. Classical liberalism is presented here as a coherent political and economic position, as distinguished from both modern liberalism and conservatism.

Chapter 8: The Sense of Community in Hayekian Moral Order

James M. Buchanan

Subjects: economics and finance, public choice theory, politics and public policy, public choice

Extract

* INTRODUCTION Politics By Principle, Not Interest: Toward Nondiscriminatory Democracy, which I wrote jointly with Roger Congleton, was published by Cambridge University Press in April l998. Coincident with its publication, Professors Hartmut Kliemt and Manfred Tietzel convened a Liberty Fund conference at Spitzingsee, Bavaria, to discuss the book’s argument, which represents an extension of Hayek’s emphasis on the generality principle as a critical element in a free society, and especially as that principle was developed in the treatise The Constitution of Liberty (1960). In particular, our book’s central normative thrust is that the generality principle should be extended to include the workings of majoritarian politics. The most important criticism of our book that emerged in the conference discussion concerned our failure to treat the potential relevance of the generality norm for the sense of community that adherence to such a norm might embody. This subject matter could have been, and perhaps clearly should have been, handled as an additional chapter.1 Our acknowledged omission in this respect, however, parallels that of Hayek himself, who does not seem explicitly to have recognized the presence of communitarian elements in his own description of the moral order of liberal society. Indeed, the word ‘community’ appears only infrequently in the indices of the relevant Hayek works. In part, of course, such an oversight or neglect stems from the fact that ‘communitarianism,’ as a serious philosophical perspective, had not made its appearance during Hayek’s productive years. The purpose of this chapter may, therefore, be stated to...

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