From Jonah Goldberg in National Review, Fusionism Today:
What’s not supposed to change are principles. Of course, this isn’t strictly true, either. An essential part of moral progress is stripping timeless principles away from the time-bound ones. The Code of Hammurabi was an important moral advance on what came before it, but most would agree that it’s good we moved on from the idea that fathers could sell their kids as slaves or cut off the hands of their children if they struck their father. The timeless principle buried amid the barbaric baggage is the idea of parental authority. But, like most worthy principles, it is limited by other, competing principles.
Fusionism was an idea championed most forcefully by Frank Meyer, the longtime literary editor of National Review. He argued that libertarianism — then often called “individualism” — and traditionalism are the twin pillars of conservatism and, more broadly, of a just and free society. The chief obligation of the state is to protect individual liberty, but the chief obligation of the individual is to live virtuously. Coerced virtue is tyrannical: Virtue not freely chosen is not virtuous. Or as Meyer himself put it: “Truth withers when freedom dies, however righteous the authority that kills it; and free individualism uninformed by moral value rots at its core and soon brings about conditions that pave the way for surrender to tyranny.”
Rothbardians, Randians, and other hyper-individualists are often inmates of their single idea, refusing to temper it with others. “An individualist,” Ayn Rand wrote, “is a man who says: ‘I’ll not run anyone’s life — nor let anyone run mine. I will not rule nor be ruled. I will not be a master nor a slave. I will not sacrifice myself to anyone — nor sacrifice anyone to myself.’” When thoughts are presented in such stark light, all nuance is lost in shadow. It is fine and good to say one will be neither master nor slave, but what about brother or sister, father or son? What about neighbor, friend, or simply fellow citizen? Social solidarity, whether at the intimate level of the family or the broad level of the nation, requires a vastly complex ecosystem of obligations and dependencies that fall to the cutting-room floor when we apply the razor of hyper-individualism.
Simply put, we live in a populist moment when many of the gatekeepers have either abandoned their posts to join the mob or stand lonely vigil at gates that are no longer needed because the walls are crumbling. To borrow a phrase from Julien Benda’s landmark Treason of the Intellectuals, our age is marked by the “political organization of hatreds.” What McCarthy did with letters and telegrams, President Trump does with Twitter.