Nationally syndicated columnist George F. Will last night told 650 people at the Kennedy School of Government that conservative leaders have created a "national decadence" by focusing too much attention on free market capitalism.
Without directly indicting the administration of President Reagan, Will said politicians of the right should shift their priorities toward creating a strong, centralized government to preside over a new conservative welfare state.
As it now exists, the government uses its power to foster an emphasis on self-interest, rather than bolstering a strong "common character," Will, who is widely considered a leading conservative thinker, said.
The Pulitzer Prize winning journalist argued that the leaders of a conservative welfare state must acknowledge that "government is not efficient at providing goods and services" but can improve the nation's morale by creating "a modern citizenship based on a sense of shared values and a shared state."
The Inner Life
Will's speech was the conclusion of his three-part Godkin Lecture series, an annual presentation at the University which honors Edwin L. Godkin, founder of The Nation magazine.
In his first two addresses, Will traced the origins of the prevailing belief that states should remain morally neutral and argued that this view will lead to a flawed society.
Regardless of what philosophy they adhere to, governments inevitably "affect the inner life of man," he said.
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