In most democratic nations around the world, coalitions of the mainstream right include both classical liberals and conservatives. Depending on the voting rules of the nation, that coalition takes place informally within a single party, as in the United States, or formally across parties, as in the proportional parliamentary systems of Western Europe. These two fundamentally different political sensibilities are drawn together by a common enemy—the social engineering of the left. Both classical liberals and conservatives value personal responsibility, which is often undermined by the grand plans of big government. Social engineering also requires a scope of collective authority that trenches on the liberty valued by classical liberals and unravels the social traditions valued by conservatives. The happy result is fusionism—the united front of both classical liberals and conservatives against socialists and social democrats.
Technological acceleration could threaten fusionism. First, it may speed up the rate of social change, making traditions hard to maintain through civil society. Conservatives may be tempted to think that the state can provide a bulwark against social transformation. Fast technological change has created tensions between conservatives and classical liberals before (witness Tories versus Manchester liberals in nineteenth century England), but the rate of change today seems to me faster than ever and the possibilities for division between classical liberals and conservatives correspondingly greater.
More importantly, technology is beginning to permit personal re-engineering, pitting values of autonomy against values of a more tradition-bound (and frequently religiously based) view of what it means to be human.