"We are free by nature because we can become free, in the course of our development. And this development depends at every point upon the networks and relations that bind us to the larger social world."
The contemporary anti-government sentiment, which began with Ronald Reagan’s one-liners on state malfeasance, reached a fever pitch with the ascendency of the Tea Party. But the modern Republican party has abandoned the intellectual conservative tradition, argues Roger Scruton at First Things. On the topic of rights, Scruton says: “We have rights that shield us from those who are appointed to rule us…[b]ut those rights are real personal possessions only because government is there to enforce them—and if necessary to enforce them against itself.”
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What’s the Big Idea?
Government is an extension of the same ties that form small communities, indeed the kind favored by conservatives and federalists alike. Today government is a response to an increasingly complex world which small communities are often ill-equipped to grapple with. Our desire for freedom depends on stable social relationships, which the government can help guarantee: “We are free by nature because we can become free, in the course of our development. And this development depends at every point upon the networks and relations that bind us to the larger social world.”