Old Americans for Freedom

The Wall Street Journal’s “Notable and Quotable” section this morning reminds us that M. Stanton Evans was the author of the “Sharon Statement,” the founding manifesto of Young Americans for Freedom. It is called the “Sharon Statement” because it was adopted at a meeting at William F. Buckley’s home in Sharon, Connecticut. I was not even two years old at the time of its writing, so I took no notice of it then, but I came to know a number of people who were there, “present at the creation,” so to speak.   A few of them are faithful readers of this site (you know who you are out there, M.U.!), and perhaps now wish to be known as Old American for Freedom.

In any case, the Journal excerpts some of the Sharon Statement, but it is compact enough that it is worth posting the whole thing here for anyone who may not have ever seen it:

“The Sharon Statement”

Adopted in conference at Sharon, Connecticut, September 11, 1960

In this time of moral and political crises, it is the responsibility of the youth of America to affirm certain eternal truths.

We, as young conservatives, believe:

That foremost among the transcendent values is the individual’s use of his God-given free will, whence derives his right to be free from the restrictions of arbitrary force;

That liberty is indivisible, and that political freedom cannot long exist without economic freedom;

That the purpose of government is to protect those freedoms through the preservation of internal order, the provision of national defense, and the administration of justice;

That when government ventures beyond these rightful functions, it accumulates power, which tends to diminish order and liberty;

That the Constitution of the United States is the best arrangement yet devised for empowering government to fulfill its proper role, while restraining it from the concentration and abuse of power;

That the genius of the Constitution—the division of powers—is summed up in the clause that reserves primacy to the several states, or to the people, in those spheres not specifically delegated to the Federal government;

That the market economy, allocating resources by the free play of supply and demand, is the single economic system compatible with the requirements of personal freedom and constitutional government, and that it is at the same time the most productive supplier of human needs;

That when government interferes with the work of the market economy, it tends to reduce the moral and physical strength of the nation; that when it takes from one man to bestow on another, it diminishes the incentive of the first, the integrity of the second, and the moral autonomy of both;

That we will be free only so long as the national sovereignty of the United States is secure; that history shows periods of freedom are rare, and can exist only when free citizens concertedly defend their rights against all enemies;

That the forces of international Communism are, at present, the greatest single threat to these liberties;

That the United States should stress victory over, rather than coexistence with, this menace; and

That American foreign policy must be judged by this criterion: does it serve the just interests of the United States?

If you merely update the reference to Communism by swapping it out with radical Islam, you’d have a perfectly serviceable manifesto for today.  Which is rather the point of conservatism.

By the way, over on Twitter I’ve been posting periodically some of Stan’s better one-liners, such as:

When you’re young, you should be conservative. And then as you get older, you should become . . . more conservative.

That government is best which McGoverns least.

Responses