The Free Market Does Not Exist Without
Morals and Culture
Translated By Aneta Paszczynska
01 February 2013
Edited by Kyrstie Lane
Poland - Rebelya - Original Article (Polish)
Neoconservatives' opinions do not have much in common with the views of the founding fathers of American conservatism. Neoconservatives say that the essence of conservatism is not the free market economy or Americanization of the world, but the natural law common to all of Christian civilization, says professor Grzegorz Kucharczyk.
Interviewed by Mateusz Rawicz.
Does conservatism still have a future in the U.S. after Obama's victory?
I do not think that Obama's victory was a major blow to conservatism. A negative view of American conservatism was created in the beginning of the 20th century when neoconservatives began their domination, took over media and imposed their solutions on American policy. The opinions of the neoconservatives do not have much in common with the views of the founding fathers of American conservatism.
And what are their views?
By saying the founders of American conservatism, I mean various thinkers and authors who, after 1945, were called "new" conservatives, not to be confused with neoconservatives like Russell Kirk, Richard Weaver or Ferenc Molnar of Hungary. They were traditional Catholics, convinced that the essence of conservatism, and American conservatism, is not a free market economy. They were followers of conservatism all over the world in the style of American democracy. They were sure that promoting Americanism in the world was also harmful to America itself. The essence of conservatism is natural law. Their opinions led them to oppose communism; every one of them was an anti-communist, and some of them were well-versed in what the communist ideology was.
What is different between the conservatism of Russell Kirk and liberal views?
Kirk avoided the word “capitalism.” He was certain that the free market economy is natural and came from the human predisposition to care for one's family. He considered it to be a good thing. He was not a socialist nor had he any tendency toward it. Citing Adam Smith, the father of economic liberalism, he argued that moral values are also important in economics because they are crucial in shaping the economy, which means that a country will not have a truly free market in economic terms if the society lacks strong moral values. Another important thing for Kirk was the culture of liberal dominance. The most crucial thing in the presidency of Ronald Reagan was the question of the so-called right to abortion or the reversal of the trend in liberal education.
What did he think of neoconservatives?
He accused them of a hostile takeover of American conservatism. Neoconservatives are a group of liberal publicists and culture experts who started to drift toward conservatism in the 1960s and '70s. A decade later, they took over conservative institutions, and today all of the major foundations, led by the Heritage Foundation and the National Review, are in the hands of neoconservatives. Although Kirk died before conservatism was totally overcome by neoconservatism, he had been observing this process and complained to them that their liberal past was imposing ideological patterns in the world. Americanization, in the political meaning of the word, is one such ideological pattern. We have seen this in the beginning of the 21st century: for example, the war in the Iraq and striving to build democracy in the Middle East. Kirk blamed neoconservatives for spreading the model of American democracy as the only possible constitutional solution in various places around the world. He also accused them of not noticing cultural or moral issues like fighting for liberalization of abortion law, holding back the mounting pressure of the homosexual lobby and destruction of the American education system. Moreover, like some American conservatives, he did not agree with supporting Israel.
Why go back to Kirk's views?
Kirk's conservatism had its origins in Catholicism. Polish and European conservatives subscribe to his conservatism, and this conservatism is common for the whole of Christian civilization and is based on natural law, which in Kirk's belief should be manifested in politics and culture. He saw that literature had a great impact on the culture of nations and politics. He considered literature an important factor in shaping conscience and politics. This should be particularly relevant to the Poles, since at the end of the 19th century our literature and politics were created by the great bards.
Professor Grzegorz Kucharczyk is an academic lecturer and author of dozens of works published in Poland and abroad, including "With a Trowel and a Pair of Compasses: Secularization of France in 1870-1914," “Fears of Gazeta Wyborcza,” “Polish Political Thought Until 1939” and works on Russell Kirk (1918-1994) and American conservative political thought. The interview shown above was published for the first time in the weekly magazine Nasza Polska [Our Poland] on Jan. 29, 2013.*
*Editor’s Note: The titles of Professor Kucharczyk’s works have been translated from Polish.
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