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Few have been brave enough to flesh out what the Ahmarist, or “anti-Frenchist,” vision of the common good should be. Some have said articulating specifics is beside the point, that Ahmarists’ refreshing achievement is unapologetically asserting a common good exists, even if they decline to say what, exactly, it is. And then, there are guys like Adrian Vermeule, writing in The Atlantic, brave enough, at least, to flesh out a vision of sorts. Vermeule calls it “common-good constitutionalism”, which he describes as “an illiberal legalism that is not ‘conservative’ at all, insofar as standard conservatism is content to play defensively within the procedural rules of the liberal order.” When Vermeule writes,
[U]nlike legal liberalism, common-good constitutionalism does not suffer from a horror of political domination and hierarchy, because it sees that law is parental, [emphasis added] a wise teacher and an inculcator of good habits. Just authority in rulers can be exercised for the good of subjects, if necessary even against the subjects’ own perceptions of what is best for them—perceptions that may change over time anyway, as the law teaches, habituates, and re-forms them. Subjects will come to thank the ruler whose legal strictures, possibly experienced at first as coercive, encourage subjects to form more authentic desires…