According to Don Arthur, classical liberals don’t really belong with conservatives. Australian conservatives are ‘market friendly’, but they don’t rate individual liberty that highly so they aren’t really liberals. What keeps classical liberals with conservatives is less ideology than
social networks and personal loyalties. Most of Australia’s classical liberals are woven into organisations and social groups that bind them to conservatives. … As a result, realignment probably won’t happen until this generation of middle-aged classical liberals shuffles off the public stage and makes room for the next generation.
Social networks and personal loyalties do create ‘stickiness’ on both sides of politics. But within non-party politics, it’s still not clear to me that even on ideological grounds Australian classical liberals aren’t more likely to fit with Australian conservatives than Australian ‘progessive fusionists’; pro-market, socially liberal, social democrats.
Though some Labor governments could be described as ‘progressive fusionist’, party positions rarely map neatly onto intellectual life. ‘Progressive fusionism’ does not seem to me to be widely represented in intellectual circles (Andrew Leigh?, Nick Gruen?, Fred Argy?), because most progressives are either anti-market or economically illiterate (or indeed both). There are no progessive fusionist think-tanks or institutions. From a liberal perspective, progressives tend to have the same problem Don attributes to the conservative right, of missing out half of liberalism.
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