Triumvirate of Political Virtues

In writing elsewhere on my political thought and political identity, I have described myself as a “conservatively-tempered progressive populist American nationalist.” In various places I’ve sought to flesh out the values and policies that such a political temperament entails; but here, I will elaborate on the prime metaphysical virtues necessary for my ideal polity-political philosophy being, of course, the pursuit of a practical utopia.


First, the classical liberal ideal of liberty. Liberty is the freedom for the individual to pursue happiness as he or she sees fit, so far as possible unburdened by constraints imposed by government, society, and institutions. It is both the freedom of the individual and the propensity of the individual to sharpen their skills and talents, to associate as they please, and to build a life for themselves sufficient to sate their desires. In the ideal society, individuals are as free to craft their own lives as possible, within reason.


Of course, liberty wholly untrammeled leads to Hobbesian anarchy, and thus must be checked and limited. Therefore the crucial counterbalance to liberty is the classical ideal of duty. Duty is the respect for and observance of natural law and constructed institutions and traditions so as to maintain the stability and justice of a society and the honor of the citizen. The foundations of states are laid in blood and sweat, quite antithetical to the ideal of liberty; and thus the maintenance of order, and all the blessings and rights which come in its wake, are purchased by the effort of heroes. Duty must not be overdone, lest it become stifling; but it is crucial for the maintenance of liberty itself.


Such contrary virtues, those of happiness and sacrifice, must be held in wise, just balance with each other. Either becomes monstrous when it defeats the other entirely. And therefore prudence, the careful balancing of values, means, and goals, is crucial to effective statecraft. Prudence preserves the balance of liberty and duty and thus perpetuates both.

Any good citizen or statesman must practice and live both liberty and duty in their lives, if they are to be an effective component of the society in which they lie. And every good citizen, but especially every good statesman, must practice and live prudence- for only through prudence can the fine lines of any situation be discerned and acted upon.

By combining and ordering liberty, duty, and prudence, a republican polity may remain strong, free, and just. These three political virtues must be cultivated by any citizen or statesman seeking to live their citizenship and statecraft well.

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