Anyone who studies the organizations and individuals who opposed liberalism in the cold war years, and advanced an alternative position, face what Rothbard called the, “conceptual chaos of conservatism.”76 The most publicized attempt to resolve the apparent contradictions between conservative traditionalists and conservative libertarians came in Frank S. Meyer’s ‘fusionist’ approach to the problem, first aired in ‘Freedom, Tradition, Conservatism.’ Published in Modern Age, in 1960, Meyer’s article attempted to find a common ground for all conservatives by stressing that both doctrines originated from the same source. The founding fathers, he argued, “created a political theory and a political structure based upon the understanding that, while truth and virtue are metaphysical and moral ends, the freedom to seek them is the political condition of those ends.”77 Meyer insisted traditionalists did not appreciate that the libertarian desire for the political end of individual freedom was only the first, but crucial, condition whereby they could conduct a personal search for the metaphysical and moral end of truth and virtue. Meyer, like Lord Acton, believed that libertarians, “‘take the establishment of liberty for the realization of moral duties to be the end of civil society.’”78
Meyer then explained to libertarians that the traditionalist insistence on an organic moral order did not obstruct the libertarian position on the political end of individual freedom, and that they should accept, as traditionalists did, that “the only possible basis of respect for the integrity of the individual person and for the overriding value of his freedom is belief in an organic moral order.”79 Meyer’s ‘fusionism’ took as its uniting theme the assertion that only the freedom of choice, the freedom from coercion, could make any action virtuous. In somewhat tortured language, Meyer set forth a theory of conservatism that is Christian libertarianism in all but name. Christian libertarians do not want to establish the Kingdom of God on earth, an organic moral order, by coercion. They wish to see a Christian society, devoted to the development of individual personality, arise from the virtuous choice of individuals persuaded by the truth of the Scriptures. As a doctrine that recognizes the political end of freedom is nothing more than the means for individuals to determine what their duties to others are, Christian libertarianism still holds relevance today. Meyer warned that political freedom, “failing a broad acceptance of the personal obligation to duty and to charity, is never viable,” ending with the “licentious war of all against all.”80 The Christian ‘Rock of Ages’ recognized Meyer’s caution against individual freedom without moral principles long ago, and, presumably, will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
In 1964, Milton Heimlich, a business associate, wrote to Pew advising him to desist from financing ‘fascist’81 organizations; a reference to Pew’s reported support for The John Birch Society. Pew replied: “All of my life I have fought for the freedom of the individual—for the antithesis of the centralization of power which created such horrors as we witnessed in Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy, and which we see today in Mao Tse-tung’s China and Khruschev’s Russia.” And that, “I have also done what I could to promote a return to God, for Divine guidance is the desirable condition under which to give expression to individual freedom.”82 Many may not agree with the philosophy of Christian libertarianism, but as the opposite face of the totalitarian ideologies that slaughtered countless millions of people in the twentieth century, it deserves more than the cursory attention it has received so far from historians of the conservative intellectual movement. Study that will, perhaps, reveal that America’s claim to ‘Exceptionalism’ finds its foundation in the country’s respect for the religious justifications for individual freedom.