ISI’s First Principles website is playing host to a discussion on the limits of liberty featuring a piece by Joseph R. Stromberg and another by yours truly. Peter Lawler has jumped into the com-boxes and attempted to define Porchers in relation to Tea Partiers. I think he’s guilty of oversimplification at best and perhaps outright error. Thoughts?

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Mark T. Mitchell
Mark T. Mitchell is the co-founder of Front Porch Republic. He is the Dean of Academic Affairs at Patrick Henry College and the author of several books including Plutocratic Socialism, Power and Purity, The Limits of Liberalism, The Politics of Gratitude, and Localism in Mass Age: A Front Porch Republic Manifesto (co-editor).


  1. Oversimplification, definitely. Outright error? To the extent that he is speaking of FPR as a whole, probably, though if you narrow your view sufficient to pick out differences between various Front Porch authors, he’s not entirely wrong.

    • From my end, that seems right, Russell. I was a little frustrated that Lawler gave potential readers a too easy, “capitalism vs. big government, us vs. them” story line. I’d like more self-identified conservatives to wrestle with Mitchell’s claim that the anthropology of classical liberalism actually works for, rather than against, the centralized state.

      • Steve, here I have some rough thoughts on just that:

        I don’t know how coherent or helpful my ramblings are, but the posts to which I link, from Dan McCarthy and Daniel Larison, may be of interest.

        Additionally — and perhaps you’ve read The Quest for Community, in which case I’m boring you (and I apologize), —, as Prof. Mitchell discusses in his essay, for Nisbet this was a crucial point, one that he thoroughly considers in Quest.

        Somewhat tangentially — at least in so far as one may argue that it’s not a fair representation of classical liberalism, but corrupt version thereof tending more toward mercantilism — Tim Carney writes extensively (in two books and at the Washington Examiner) about the pro-centralization tendencies of big business.

  2. To define one’s self through denigrating others is sure sign of intellectual larceny….a cowardice of the hit and run type and so doubly wrong.

    The modern era has habituated itself to branding and what passes for intellectualism these days is generally little more than some form of timid branding, stuffing conceits into the void where courage once resided.

    “Porchers” and “Tea Partiers”. I am only relieved that the world is not nearly so monolithic as some would have it. Though, to be sure, too many wish it so.

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