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What are conservatives for? Or: How community isn’t always communist

When Democrats about cooperation and collective action, they typically mean government action. This has pushed conservatives to fly the individualist flag. That’s fine, but maybe the real rival of government isn’t individual autonomy as much as voluntary cooperation.

As Ross Douthat put it, in the context of the Obama administration’s efforts to outlaw most Catholic institutions that operate according to Catholic teaching, “When government expands, it’s often at the expense of alternative expressions of community, alternative groups that seek to serve the common good.”

Conservative Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has been on this subject for a week or so now. Today at Heritage, he gave an interesting talk. One excerpt:

Ours has never been a vision of isolated, atomized loners. It is a vision of husbands and wives; parents and children; neighbors and neighborhoods; volunteers and congregations; bosses and employees; businesses and customers; clubs, teams, groups, associations … and friends. The essence of human freedom, of civilization itself, is cooperation. This is something conservatives should celebrate. It’s what conservatism is all about.