The Shareware Scene, Part 1: The Pioneers
Hayek’s chapter on “Why the Worst Get on Top” in his classic work, The Road to Serfdom, diagnosed the populist impulse that would lead to the demand for ceding power to a “man of action.” This is “the position which precedes the suppression of democratic institutions and the creation of a totalitarian regime.”
If you wanted to summarize the intellectual uncertainties of conservatives in the Trump era, you could say that the right is trying to figure out whether the unwritten American constitution it imagines itself defending still exists. And if it doesn’t, or if it’s failing, whether that means that “limited government” as a slogan and strategy is increasingly irrelevant when it comes to shaping the society that conservatives would like America to be.
I think people use ideas to justify their desires more than the ideas shape their desires. But that’s a topic for another day.