In an effort to promote amity between Left and Right Blogistan, we start a new feature here at the Reality-Based Community, designed to show our appreciation for those on the Right whose work, writings, and efforts deserve our support or respectful attention.
The first installment is The Liberty Fund, whose books you should take a look at, and even buy, if you are so inclined. The Fund publishes many classics of western thought that have gone out of print, and does so in beautifully-produced editions at extremely reasonable prices. Lawyers will be familiar with Philip Kurland and Ralph Lerner’s The Founders Constitution, which is a must for those interested in the Constitution. Where else can you get a virtually complete set of The Works of Adam Smith (8 volumes)? A steal for only $74!
So, in the words of every other post at The Corner, why is this conservative? Two reasons.
First, the Liberty Fund takes “liberty” to mean “economic liberty”, which in turn it takes to mean completely free market, libertarian economics (in addition to their important works of history, philosophy and political theory). You might want to skip over their editions of the Complete Works of Ludwig von Mises. (I certainly do.). But it’s all there if you want it.
Second–and more importantly–for much of the 1970’s and 80’s, many (although certainly not all) liberals in the academy developed a hatred for political history and philosophy, dismissing them as the products of so many dead white males. What began initially as a laudable and vital attempt to study the neglected history of African-Americans, indigenous peoples, women, gays, immigrants, and other subordinated peoples, later metastasized into a contempt for the western canon and the great tradition of liberal political thought. Part of this was about the bottom line: humanities departments had very limited funding, and so the attacks on traditional learning became more vitupretive as faculty slots became scarcer.
Most of this has since died down, but in the meantime, it was often left to conservatives to keep the flame alive. The Liberty Fund did so, and for that they deserve our thanks and appreciation.