Friedrich Hayek once noted that “A successful free society will always in large measure be a tradition-bound society.” In pursuit of Hayek’s wisdom, this podcast with Donald Devine America’s Way Back: Reclaiming Freedom, Tradition, and the Constitution focuses on his attempt to revive fusionism by harmonizing freedom and tradition in the manner once proposed by Frank Meyer.
While conservatives and libertarians have long been fractured, Meyer attempted in a series of essays almost fifty years ago to find the principles that would unite them. He observed that individual freedom emerges from the religious and moral heritage of the West. However, this freedom presupposes virtue that individuals must practice in order to be free. This heritage of freedom and its underlying principles forever remove the state from possessing a comprehensive ordering role in the lives of its citizens. So the state should not and cannot make virtuous individuals, but freedom, Meyer argues, requires virtue and the commitment to excellence in the use of one’s choices. Freedom is high drama and welcomes family, religion, and the arts of association for its support. Believing that we are a nation exhausted by the size of government and the inefficacy of our major parties to defend the American tradition of liberty, Devine discusses why we need to recover Meyer’s fusionism today.