You know me, I'm usually here in my remote outpost in Madison, Wisconsin, and I'm glad to be back home again. As my previous post hints, I was severely out of my milieu in Chicago. I was participating in a Liberty Fund conference that involved six hour-and-a-half discussion sessions, all focused on readings by or about the writings of Frank S. Meyer, who wrote a book called "In Defense of Freedom," which is an attempt to fuse libertarianism and traditionalism. I might write more about what was in these readings, but let's just say it took the extreme position about limiting government as much as possible.
Sitting around a big table, with no audience, there were 16 of us, including Meyer's son, Eugene S. Meyer (the President of the Federalist Society), several journalists (two from Reason magazine and Jonah Goldberg from the National Review), and various academics all of whom seemed to feel well at home in the libertarian/conservative environment. Would you have imagined that your humble blogger felt cozy and comfortable there? Oh, no, no, no, no. Virtually every word out of my mouth was an observation about something no one was talking about and that would -- back in Madison, Wisconsin -- have been said at the earliest possible moment. So there I was, the resident liberal.
I am struck -- you may think it is absurd for me to be suddenly struck by this -- but I am struck by how deeply and seriously libertarians and conservatives believe in their ideas. I'm used to the way lefties and liberals take themselves seriously and how deeply they believe. Me, I find true believers strange and -- if they have power -- frightening. And my first reaction is to doubt that they really do truly believe.
One of the reasons 9/11 had such a big impact on me is that it was such a profound demonstration of the fact that these people are serious. They really believe.
I need to be more vigilant.