Patrick Deneen on Conservatives versus libertarian Live Now’ers

I came across this old 2008 column by Front Porch Republic writer and blogger Patrick Deenen, called Peak Oil – Liberals vs. “Conservatives”, that is eerily prescient considering the split that seems to have developed here with the pro-biotech, pro-gay marriage, global-warming-denying, and-i’ve-got-a-gun libertarians and the social conservatives.

What may be most productive in coming years is to stop calling this cadre of economic libertarians – what we now call “the Right” or even conservatism – conservatives. There is nothing they want to conserve – nothing in the natural or moral ecology. They are rapacious exploiters who want to use every last natural and cultural reservoir for their own immediate profit – even at the price of leaving nothing for their children. Recall, it was Dick Cheney who said “Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis all by itself for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.” Probably true, but it’s a damned good place to start, and we fool ourselves if we think we are not going to need substantial reservoirs of personal and political virtue in coming years.

Soon, if not soon enough, I predict, there will be a party of conservatives and a party of “live now’ers.” Live now’ers have original sin on their side, and are likely to win a lot of votes until it’s clear that the grasshopper was wrong and the ant was right. Then they will tell us it’s time to get the guns. Are you sure that’s the side you want to be on?

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