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Dear Conservatives

This open letter is one of two winners from the 2015 ESFL essay contest. Look for the other contest winner tomorrow: “Dear Progressives.”

To My Friends on the Right

We sometimes discuss the flawed proposals of progressives when it comes to the economy: that their investment programs don’t work and that higher taxes will lead us to the same bankrupt position that France is in these days. But that’s not entirely what I wanted to address in this piece. We do have considerable disagreements, and it pains me to see that all too often, the principles you apply to advocate a free market economy abandon your mind when you make a moral argument on social change.

Every argument we have ends with the same vague, unsettling, and frustrating idea you express that I trust individuals too much, or at least more than most people do. Before we get into what you think is my exceedingly worrying amount of trust, let’s just see how much we trust you already. First, you are able to read this letter, make up your mind about it, and discuss it with friends and family. You can proceed to spread and discuss that message with friends and family and make it circulate in the free market of ideas.

You’re also absolutely capable of holding your moral values, applying and rooting for them, and thereby influencing an institution stronger than every government and court system: social norms.

Things I would consider to be senseless to respect and that are not even laws today will still be respected out of the fear of marginalization. In that sense, your conservatism very often has the upper hand, and no government intervenes in that sort of moral playing field.

So far, you’re not in any disagreement with the concept of classical liberalism. As classical liberals, we believe in self-ownership and in the capabilities one can develop when given responsibility, but socia…

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