"Community" oriented entities like Fannie Mae in other words become more "shameless" in their money-dealings when the "proper risk" has been picked up by the taxpayer, thus making the economy less stable for the overall community.
In addition, Dionne argues that America "rose to power and wealth on the basis of a balance between the public and the private spheres, between government and the marketplace, and between our love of individualism and our quest for community." Dionne wants to claim that prior to 2008, conservatives even believed with sociologist Robert Nisbet that conservatism was about something larger than the family unit: "[Conservatism] insisted upon the primacy of society to the individual -- historically, logically, ethically."
As Christopher Chantrill wisely noted in an earlier essay that scrutinized Dionne's thin understanding of history: "If you want to understand conservatism today, you must start with the fact that conservatives today believe that the liberal welfare state destroys "'community.'"
This is a compelling point that echoes what all great conservative thinkers from Aristotle and Tocqueville to Burke and even the more Lockean inspired Hayek have concluded regarding the ideal relationship between individualism and community. In other words, creative analysis regarding the tension between self-interest and community has mostly been a product of great conservative thinking.
On the other hand, when modern day liberals like E.J. Dionne endeavor to convince conservatives that the conservative tradition regards "society" as primary and the individual as secondary he is betraying in my opinion a more socialist and/or fascist conception of power rather than a healthy illustration of community. In short, when liberals today invoke "community" they most probably have in mind "planning" and "power."
And since nowhere in Dionne's essay does he mention the word "freedom" Americans need to be highly concerned about Dionne's apparent sleight of hand between "robust role for government," "society" and "community."
Indeed, F.A. Hayek noted in his book The Mirage of Social Justice that what Dionne calls the "robust role for government" actually "destroys public spirit" and "deadens" community participation:
"Nothing can have a more deadening effect on real participation by the citizen than if government, instead of merely providing the essential framework for spontaneous growth, becomes monolithic and takes charge of the provisions for all needs which can be provided for only by the common efforts of many. . . . The present tendency of governments to bring all common interests of large groups under their control tends to destroy real public spirit; and as a result an increasing number of men and women are turning away from public life who in the past would have devoted much effort to public purposes."
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