Because what follows is, to a certain extent, the kind of argument criticized by nishi (though in a way that I believe caricatures the actual argument as it is presented in its totality), I think it might prove interesting to use this passage from Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism as the jumping off point for a discussion of modern conservatism as it stands against modern liberalism (which, I’ve argued, has been co-opted by progressives and, in many ways, no longer resembles liberalism as it was understood in relation to the country’s founding).
Note: this particular passage is taken from a larger discussion on eugenics:
There’s a general consensus among liberal historians that Progressivism defies easy definition. Perhaps that’s because to identify Progressivism properly would be too inconvenient to liberalism, for doing so would expose the eugenic project at its core. The most obvious reply — that progressives were merely representing the age they lived in — fails on several levels. For one thing, the progressive eugenicists had non-progressive, anti-eugenic adversaries — premature conservatives, radical libertarians, and orthodox Catholics — whom the progressives considered to be backward and reactionary. For another, arguing that progressives were a product of their time simply reinforces my larger argument: Progressivism was born of the fascist movement and has never faced up to its inheritance. Today’s liberals have inherited progressive prejudice wholesale, believing that traditionalists and religious conservatives are dangerous threats to progress. But this assumption means that liberals are blind to fascistic threats from their own ranks.
Meanwhile, conservative religious and political dogma — under relentless attack from the left — may be the single greatest bulwark against eugenic schemes. Who rejects cloning most forcefully? Who is most troubled by euthanasia, abortion, and playing God in the laboratory? Good dogma is the most powerful inhibiting influence against bad ideas and the only guarantor that men will act on good ones. A conservative nation that seriously wondered if destroying a blastocyst is murder would not wonder at all whether it is murder to kill an eight-and-a-half-month-old fetus, let alone a “defective” infant.
Mainstream liberalism is joined at the hip with racial and sexual-identity groups of one kind or another. A basic premise shared by all these groups is that their members should be rewarded simpy by virtue of their racial, gender, or sexual status. In short, the state should pick winners and losers based upon the accidents of birth. Liberals champion this perspective in the name of antiracism. Unlike conservatives who advocate a color-blind state, liberals still believe that the state should organize society on racial lines. We are accustomed to talking about this sort of social engineering as a product of the post-civil-rights era. But the color-blind doctrine championed by progressives in the 1960s was a very brief parenthesis in a very long progressive tradition. In short, there is more continuity between early Progressivism and today’s multiculturalism than we think.