Frank S. Meyer

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Frank S. Meyer (1909-1972) was an American conservative thinker who developed the political philosophy of fusionism, to link the schools of libertarianism and social conservatism. Once a member of the Communist Party of the USA, he became a cofounder of the American Conservative Union and National Review. In his 1962 book, In Defense of Freedom: A Conservative Credo he stated the goal of modern conservatism was to
to create a society in which men are free to pursue virtue but not enforce virtue at the point of a gun. [1]

His approach was to show the factions where each was right and wrong. To Libertarians, he said "You are right; freedom is the only political end. But that does not mean it is the only end. Without using force, intellectuals must persuade people of the virtuous path and must not be afraid to make moral judgments. After all, freedom itself is based on the moral principle that men are endowed with inalienable rights by their creator."

To traditionalists wanting to restore social values, his message was "you are right when you say that a large leviathan state corrupts individuals by taking over functions of society, but you cannot destroy leviathan by proposing a group of mini-leviathans called communities. A community is nothing more than a group of individuals who voluntarily come together to achieve a common purpose. However, a community cannot force a man to be virtuous. In order for a man to achieve virtue, he must make a choice between good and evil, and the government should not interfere between man and his Maker."

From the latter position, he argued that using state power to enforce Christianity was anti-Christian. He himself was Christian and converted to Catholicism while dying.

Murray Rothbard, while respecting his integrity, saw him as more libertarian than traditionalist. In Rothbard's view, modern conservatism formed in reaction to the New Deal and to statism. He believed the only commonalities between the factions were "opposition to egalitarianism, to compulsory levelling by use of state power." [2]

Having rejected Communism, Rothbard saw him as favoring U.S. strong U.S. militarism, and uncritically embracing anyone who opposed the Soviets and Communism. In Rothbard's view, this allowed Truman-Humphrey social democrats to enter the conservative movement, and, after Meyer's death, eventually replace fusionism with neoconservatism.[3]

References

  1. Frank S. Meyer, Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty
  2. Murray Rothbard (1981), "Frank S. Meyer: The Fusionist as Libertarian Manqué", Modern Age
  3. Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., ed., Frank Meyer and Sydney Hook, Essays of Murray N. Rothbard